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Monday, 14 August 2017

Game of Thrones S7E5: Eastwatch

Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 5

We are now officially in the second half of this series, and man, it has flown by -- and yet, oddly, it almost feels like not a lot has happened, even though this series has, objectively speaking, been jam-packed, with several engagements between Daenerys' and Cersei's forces, Jon going to Dragonstone to negotiate with Daenerys, Sam learning some vital information, and Bran and Arya both returning to Winterfell.

Fans who aren't suffering from anterograde amnesia will remember that last week saw Daenerys and the Dothraki kicking Jaime's behind up and down the Reach in what was probably the biggest battle of the series so far; Sansa being understandably upset that one of her siblings is an assassin and the other one hasn't even the most basic decorum; and Cersei meandering around with Mark Gatiss, one of the two showrunners of Sherlock, and promising him cash.

Picking up this week, Daenerys returns to Dragonstone fresh from retaking the Reach, thwarting Cersei's plans, and killing off all the Tarlys whose names end with 'on,' only to discover that Jon has received a message from Bran: The Night King and his armies are marching on Eastwatch-on-the-Sea. At Tyrion's suggestion, Jon, Gendry, and Jorah head to Eastwatch and join up with Tormund and the Brotherhood in an attempt to capture a wight, intending to show it to Cersei; meanwhile, Tyrion approaches Jaime with offers of an armistice. At the Citadel, the Maesters dismiss Bran's warnings; while in Winterfell, Arya falls into a trap laid by Littlefinger to turn her against Sansa.

Also, Tyrion is displeased with the horrors of war.

Okay, first thing's first, let's talk about the most stupid part of this episode: Arya falling, hook line and sinker, for Littlefinger's glaringly obvious ploy with Sansa. The show sets us up to think that Arya is suspicious of Sansa, and if this was series one Arya, who didn't get along well with Sansa, I'd maybe buy it -- but series seven Arya, who has held her family forefront in her mind for years, wouldn't be.

Moreover, I think Arya's canny enough not to fall for this trick. It -- Okay. Let's break this down: Arya trails Littlefinger. She sees him talking to one of his allies, who later brings him some paper and says that Maester Luwin's record-keeping was extensive. Littlefinger then puts it in his room and leaves (but is watching from afar) and Arya goes in and finds it, seeing that it's a letter Sansa wrote way, way back in series two where she, under duress, writes to Robb to ask him to bend the knee to Joffrey, claiming that they're 'treating her well.'

Arya's not stupid. She knows that Sansa was Cersei's captive at the time, and she sure as hell knows that Joffrey and Cersei could have dangled any number of threats over Sansa's head to make her write that. Moreover, she should immediately see that there's something unusual going on here: Why, when Littlefinger has been at Winterfell for months, would he go get that letter now? Why bother getting it at all, when it didn't work and Robb's long dead? Why keep it instead of destroying it immediately in one of the convenient burning torches right next to him? 

We the audience know that he's only getting it because he wants to isolate Sansa from Arya, who at the moment is the biggest threat to him in Winterfell, but even from Arya's character-eye view, that should seem fishy.

Arya should at least be suspicious enough of it to not immediately jump to the conclusion that Sansa is a wrong'un. What, has she been channeling the fandom?

(Perhaps weirder still, Littlefinger should not be this sloppy, and yet here we are.)

Varys and Tyrion having a chat.

The majority of the rest of the episode (one very frustrating sequence where Sam completely ignores crucial plot information notwithstanding) revolves around the start of the Catch-A-Dead-Guy-And-Show-Cersei Plan, or Operation This-Would-Never-Work-Except-Now-Everyone-Can-Teleport-Around-Westeros-Apparently, as it's known.

The first key part of this plan involves Tyrion meeting with Jaime (which also gives us some very entertaining sequences involving Davos, and the return of Gendry, born but soon to inevitably die in a White Walker attack because his character is painfully extraneous to the story), which is a decently emotional scene. Peter Dinklage is an astounding actor, among the best in a cast filled with excellent acting talent, and while I'm not a fan of Jaime, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is no slouch either.

(This also brings us the revelation that Cersei is pregnant, which is wonderful news, except now she has to die in the next nine months of in-world time, or else have a miscarriage, which would be pretty horrifically traumatic -- As the prophecy states: "The king will have twenty children and you will have three. Gold will be their crowns, and gold their shrouds." Cersei has already had three children. I don't believe she's lying to Jaime, either, that's honestly not Cersei's style.)

The second part of the plan involves Jon going North and apparently forming the League of Unnecessary Characters. No, seriously, is anyone going to even notice if Beric, Clegane, or Thoros die? Would anyone shed any tears for Jorah? I like Gendry and Tormund, but would their deaths even change the story at all?

Would Jon dying significantly diminish the story? Perhaps not! That is a nice cloak, though.

It's an oddly circuitous approach to the show's 'anyone can die' schtick: Anyone can die because none of these characters has a point, meaning that, much like the poor Sand Snakes, they can easily become grist for the organ grinder that is Game of Thrones.

Next week will seemingly divide its action between the League's foray beyond the Wall, Arya confronting Sansa, and Tyrion confronting Daenerys, so it's prediction time!

Beric is going to die. He's going to die -- in the books, he's already being set up to die to bring Jon back to life by passing on the fire that Lord of Light gave him, but more importantly, he has a super-cool flaming sword, and since this show loves giving Jon things he hasn't earned, Jon's going to need that. I predict that Jon's going to die again and Beric is going to revive him at the cost of his own life, or possibly that he'll go down swinging against the Night King.

Either Gendry or Clegane will die. Not both, I think, though, and out of the two I'd bet money on it being Gendry, because the writers seem to have a bit of a love affair with Clegane. Tormund will most likely survive, Thoros most likely won't.

I suspect Sansa and Arya's confrontation will prompt Arya to leave Winterfell again and start heading to King's Landing. The show rather pointedly cut out the part of the prophecy where Cersei is killed by her younger brother, so I'm throwing my chips on Arya successfully killing her and then abandoning her identity as 'Arya Stark' entirely -- not next episode, but eventually.

Tyrion confronting Daenerys is going to either make Daenerys change her ways or make her exile Tyrion, I think, and I'd lean towards the latter: Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke are brilliant in scenes together, and the show is unlikely to want to let that go.

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