Where we last left off in “Game of Thrones,” many important upcoming meetings and reunions were being set up. This week’s episode is all about the encounters themselves, with many predicted storylines coming to fruition — in concert with a few unexpected ones.
“The Queen’s Justice” begins with what was probably fans’ most anticipated development, the arrival of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) at Dragonstone. The Northerner was effectively invited over by Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and she recognizes her importance in making this meeting happen. “I’ve done my part. I’ve brought ice and fire together,” she tells Varys (Conleth Hill). With her role to play effectively terminated, she plans to leave for Essos. Suspicious of the Melisandre and her sway, the Spider is glad to see her go, urging her to stay away for good; however, she promises to return to Westeros before her death.
Soon after Jon makes landfall and meets Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) advisors, it is clear that the instant bond he formed with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in season one has faded little, and the two greet each other with a genial handshake before catching up about their unlikely rises to power.
Not all the dynamics are so easy, though, as Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), after a prim introduction, asks Jon and his men for their weapons; it wouldn’t be the first time a Targaryen has taken advantage of a Stark guest, so the King in the North is understandably hesitant. However, Jon and Daenerys’ people maintain their graces in earnest, still hoping to steer clear of any major conflicts.
Finally, the much-anticipated meeting happens, with Missandei unfurling Daenerys’s full tongue-twister of a title for the first time in a while. Tensions between the Dragon Queen and King in the North don’t take long to rise — when Davos quickly takes issue with Dany referring to Jon as a lord rather than as a king, she clarifies that she intends fully for him to swear fealty to her, as his Stark ancestor did to her own forebear.
When Jon brings up the White Walkers, implying that the battle for the Iron Throne is child’s play, Dany takes offense at his trivialization of what has become her life’s mission. In essence, however, they share the mission that Dany introduced last episode: to preserve the lives that inhabit the land they wish to rule.
Jon soon finds himself on a cliffside, brooding over his entrapment (and complimented by Tyrion for his skill at brooding). He is, it seems, rapidly losing hope of ever solving the issue of the White Walkers, especially now that his ships are in the claws of the Dragon Queen.
Tyrion, perhaps taking pity on Jon as well as understanding the new importance of his alliance in light of the loss of the Dornish and the ironborn, discusses the wights that so plague the Northerner’s mind. “It’s almost a relief to confront a comfortable, familiar monster like my sister,” he confides in Jon, reassuring his friend that he shares his fear about the White Walkers. Eventually, Tyrion is able to convince Dany to provide Jon with the Dragonglass he needs up North, and the Northern and Southern leaders finally reach a tenuous understanding — but she still refuses to acknowledge him as King in the North without calling him a rebel.
Title struggle with Jon aside, Dany’s well established alliances are faring even worse after Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) attack at the end of last episode. During the battle, Yara (Gemma Whelan), Ellaria (Indira Varma) and her only remaining daughter Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) were captured as gifts for Cersei (Lena Headey).
Now, we see Euron delivering his prizes, riding into King’s Landing as a hero while dragging his prisoners behind his horse as commoners cheer. Theon (Alfie Allen), who escaped the battle by jumping overboard, is hauled onto one of the few ships left in the Greyjoy-Targaryen alliance — with a reinvigorated reputation as a coward.
Cersei gives Euron one of her rare smiles when she sees Ellaria, the murderer of her daughter Myrcella (Aimee Richardson), in chains and covered in dirt on the floor before her throne. However, she still only promises Euron her hand in marriage after the war’s conclusion. He is smug nonetheless following his success at sea, crassly asking Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) about Cersei’s sexual preferences.
Cersei herself has already begun to exact revenge on Ellaria. With two of her daughter’s murderers gagged, bound, and at her mercy, she has full rein to revel in her power over them. While pacing around their dingy prison cell guarded by Oberyn’s (Pedro Pascal) murderer, Cersei takes her time quietly intimidating the pair with the panache of her sigil’s lioness before finally arriving at their punishment: forcing Ellaria to witness her own daughter’s slow death at the hands of the same poison that killed Myrcella.
Back up in the North, Sansa (Sophie Turner) faces fears about the coming winter, although less for the dead army’s growing strength than for Winterfell’s dwindling resources. She nonetheless tries her best to make plans to feed the residents and Stark bannermen as well as for the Northern troops who might arrive to provide support.
Impressed by her natural leadership, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) attempts to once more whisper advice into her ear. Sansa is loathe to pay attention to him at first, but seems to acquiesce to his suggestion that she play Westeros like a game of chess and visualize all the possible situations before the arrive so as to best be able to react. Should she heed him, the Stark heiress might rise to the puppetmaster role that Littlefinger and Varys have thus far monopolized.
Another Stark soon returns to Winterfell, and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Sansa have a heartfelt reunion (of course with the Stark theme playing in the background). Bran has changed a lot from the carefree younger brother Sansa remembers from her childhood, however, through his forays into warging and encounters with the dead and children of the forest alike.
While eagerly trying to understand her brother’s new role as the Three-Eyed Raven, Sansa soon finds herself ill at ease with her Bran’s new sense of spirituality. After his taciturn recollection of her traumatic wedding to Ramsay Bolton — an event he hadn’t been present at — Sansa uncomfortably excuses herself. Having haunted his sister with the ghosts of her own past, Bran is left alone once more at Winterfell’s weirwood.
Another unlikely reunion also happens this episode — that of Jorah (Iain Glen) and his health. Looking much happier and freshly descaled, he is free to leave the Citadel when Archmaester Ebrose (Jim Broadbent) declares him officially greyscale free.
Sam (John Bradley) manages to keep his place in training due purely to his skill in performing a difficult procedure, a feat for which the Archmaester can scarcely conceal his respect. Being the only living man to have halted mature greyscale, Sam is now presumably a hot commodity in Westeros.
Casterly Rock and Highgarden
Back at Casterly Rock, Dany’s invasion, headed by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), has begun. After making short work of the initial gate, however, he and the rest of the Unsullied are concerned to find the Lannister military much shorter staffed than anticipated.
Grey Worm’s fear is not unfounded, as Jaime leads a Lannister attack upon Highgarden, backed up by the seasoned fighters Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner). Soon, the Tyrells’ troops are overwhelmed, and Jaime seeks out Olenna (Diana Rigg) to accept her surrender.
Olenna is gracefully prepared to concede, but not before she dispenses some more unlikely advice, warning Jaime of Cersei: “She’ll be the end of you.” While Jaime hastily ends their conversation there, we know that his doubts towards his sister have already been planted. Ironically, as Jaime gives her a painless poison to end her own life, Olenna admits to heading up Joffrey’s (Jack Gleeson) own poisoning. The Lannister commander reacts with a tight-jawed moment of grief, and no more. How his sister might react will be another story.
Sahana Rangarajan covers “Game of Thrones.” Contact her at [email protected].