Game of thrones recap: dragon ex machina

     

The penultimate episode of the penultimate season for trò chơi of Thrones shakes us to lớn our core và changes the game.

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The episode begins strong with the Magnificently Mad Seven picking up where they left off, walking Beyond the Wall. As far as I am aware, this is the first time since season 3 that Game of Thrones has filmed in the snowy reaches of Iceland, và returning to lớn those glistening glaciers suits the series well. It feels as much like a homecoming as any Stark reunion—and a bit warmer than the last two, as well.

Along the walk, Jon Snow và Jorah Mormont have a heart-to-heart that is plenty overdue. It’s akin to lớn long-lost brothers discovering one another. Aye, Jorah was the son that Jeor Mormont begat while Jon Snow is the one he wanted. It’s such a welcome moment of genuine character building—and without too much concern for plot, which is a blessed relief in season 7—that I can overlook that they would’ve surely discussed this during their weeks long boat ride between Dragonstone and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Yet here we are with Jorah learning the nature of his father’s fate: murdered by mutineers in the snow.

It’s an ignominious end for a great man, something that Jon can relate to. Ned’s fate was no more deserved than Jeor, and lượt thích Jorah, Jon was thousands of miles away, helpless lớn seek his vengeance, which came in the unrelated kích hoạt of others. At least Jeor had justice. That và perhaps Jorah’s everlasting shame of being his family’s đen sheep is why he wisely demurs reclaiming Longclaw as his own. Jon attempts khổng lồ give the Bear Knight his father’s sword, which is his birthright. But Jorah knows probably the only thing Jeor liked about his son in the over is that he left the sword when he fled Ned Stark’s blade.

On that note, Jon might finally suggest he’s learning the cautions of governance by revealing he is glad that Eddard failed to take Jorah’s head. Then again, Jorah wound up saving who is increasingly likely khổng lồ be Jon’s royal love, so what choice does he have? Comparatively, Jorah has an easy one, và he makes it again. He will never have a child to pass Longclaw down to. Even in the unlikely sự kiện that Jorah Mormont survives this war, he would have no interest in taking a wife, and amusingly I cannot imagine Daenerys would much care for that either. Ser Friendzone must keep lớn his post. So Jon must pass it to lớn his own heirs. And given that he is currently courting a woman who cannot have children, those heirs might include…

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Arya and Sansa. These two really are not using their time before the Long Night descends very well. Which is why despite all the dramatic spectacle Beyond the Wall, and the devastating angst of seeing my two favorite Starks go for each other’s throats, this subplot actually feels the most in line with George R.R. Martin. Perhaps because it is beginning to be the only subplot left.


Whereas much the rest of Game of Thrones season 7 has coalesced into Jon Snow trying lớn convince Daenerys, and now Cersei, into believing the dead are coming for us all, & how the two queens react lớn this news, it is in Winterfell where fantasy is supplanted by suspicion, paranoia, và treachery. This is all khổng lồ say, it is where Game of Thrones’ true heart lies. The fact that this creeping distrust is between two characters whom fans have waited years to lớn see reunite is both a bit contrived on the part of showrunners David Benioff và D.B. Weiss, và yet perfectly in keeping with the Martin goal of making fans rue the idea of satisfaction. Plus, Arya hating on Sansa is perfectly in line with their interactions from season 1, which is also where Arya appears lớn have stunted in emotional growth after so much tragedy.


Indeed, we see that beginning year echoed in Arya & Sansa’s first scene together while overlooking the frosty Winterfell courtyard. Perched somewhere between frigid anger và the mist of a long forgotten summer, Arya anticipates Sansa’s arrival by reminiscing about their dead father. Prior lớn even the first episode of Game of Thrones, wherein Arya sneakily shows up Bran Stark to lớn the older boys’ delight with a bullseye shot fired from a stolen bow, there was a quiet afternoon where Ned apparently watched Arya practice with her solitary arrow until she landed her first shot.

Arya’s disdain for the patriarchy a childish Sansa so lovingly embraced is what really seems to lớn bring fire to Arya’s words. It was against the rules that she should use a bow, even though both she and her father knew that it was her passion. These rules meant she must steal a lonely arrow lớn practice… và it’s the rules that allowed Sansa lớn become a hostage khổng lồ the Lannister House that brought so much misery to lớn the Stark family.

Of course Arya does not see it only that way. During their very first reunion this season, Arya begrudgingly asked if she must now hotline Sansa “Lady Stark.” The older girl teased yes, but Arya didn’t nói qua in the laugh. Tellingly, she has not called her sister Sansa this whole season. She has simply been hissing “milady” và its variances at the only nearby blood relation who’s not on a permanent LSD trip. Tonight, Arya more than hissed. Unsurprisingly, she considers the letter that a 14-year-old or so Sansa wrote while in the clutches of Cersei as proof that Sansa is not a real Stark. Rather, Arya all but contends “Lady Stark” is a traitor lớn their house, no worthier of her current seat than Theon Greyjoy was in season 2. Seven Hells, I imagine Arya is not too far pressed away from giving Sansa the Reek treatment.

Arya proves she has neither a head nor understanding for the political trò chơi that dons the moniker of her TV show. Sure, she is a damn good assassin. Maybe the best given what she did to House Frey. But she cannot see beyond power nguồn moves as reckless và as cruel as Walder Frey’s very own. Her suggestion to behead any lords who displease her last week was certainly a Walder-esque idea, & her musing on the prospect of sharing that letter with the Northern lords is equally foolish. For whatever she thinks of Sansa, the Northerners are already growing weary of their absentee king. If Arya gives them reason lớn doubt Sansa as well, they may all come lớn the conclusion that this mythical Army of the Dead, which none of them have seen, is not worth spending the Long Night in Winterfell for; they’ll go home and deal with it in their own ways.

Forget about the possibility of wearing Sansa’s face—Arya is in danger of making them all just so many cosmetics for the Night King’s power.

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Intriguingly, the show is in some ways addressing the “haters” of Sansa Stark this season by considering the assumption that her youth and naïveté does not excuse her mistakes in season 1. This could include the situation Arya is misreading—that Sansa should have spit in Cersei’s face và died screaming just to mildly annoy the Lannisters—as well as Arya’s real grievances: Sansa was a spoiled, self-centered child who looked down on her baby sister. And for that, Littlefinger’s plan is working more well than he could have hoped… albeit, I doubt he intends for Sansa to kết thúc up dead, which is definitely on the menu.

Admittedly, this entire plotting is derived from the television contrivance that Arya will not tell Sansa where she got that note, as that would clear up this whole misunderstanding in Three’s Company fashion. But unlike most other TV tropes that Game of Thrones has begun indulging during the last two seasons, this one is drawn from genuine character psychologies, và I can believe Arya at the height of her killing prowess, & thereby arrogance, would enjoy dangling her badassery over Sansa’s head. At least in their first encounter about the letter.

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And lớn her credit, Arya does have one point: Sansa craves power. On a show like Game of Thrones that isn’t necessarily a sin. At times it can actually be a virtue. As Sansa says after finally breaking her shell of false modesty, she won the Battle of the Bastards. In so many words, she asks Arya to bend the knee. And this avarice for power nguồn makes Sansa a liar when she pretends she is happy Jon Snow alone wears the North’s crown. However, desiring power và wishing ill on her brother are two separate things.

Sansa is correct in her reading of the danger Arya offers the Starks, and not just her own standing. But her desire khổng lồ maintain the latter is why she only confides this lớn Littlefinger, & thus his plans turn to lớn his advantage as the daughter of Catelyn Tully moves further back into his sphere of influence. This leads to lớn a chilling moment where Littlefinger points out that Brienne would always protect both sisters… and Sansa sends Brienne away.

Some viewers might be confused by this move, but it isn’t because she suspects only Brienne can best represent her interests with Cersei; Sansa does this because she doesn’t want Brienne around for if/when she makes a drastic move against Arya. It’s a grotesque thought and, again, a self-centered one. Not that it proves ill-prudent.

I honestly still do not think this storyline ends with one sister murdering the other… but the series surely made me hesitate on that notion when Arya catches Sansa snooping in her quarters. Sansa is probably right to fear her little sister even before discovering the bag of gruesome Halloween masks. Và frankly, this sequence very well could have ended with Sansa getting lớn learn about Arya’s needle work.


On a purely speculative basis, if Sansa had played the lying game with Arya and claimed she does not covet a crown, I definitely think Arya would have reveled in slapping the older Stark at the very least. And when Arya lifted the knife, I still wonder if Sansa had not stood her ground & had instead attempted lớn flee or talk her way out of this—cooperate instead of electing Cersei’s torture—whether Arya wouldn’t have taken her face. Khổng lồ threaten khổng lồ murder her own sister & pretend to be the Lady of Winterfell suggests that it’s a fantasy Arya has considered, and perhaps the only reason she passed on it is because Sansa behaved more like what Arya describes as a “warrior” than a lady, và didn’t flinch.

Again, it comes down khổng lồ the patriarchy they both grew up in, & from Arya’s vantage her older sister has wrapped herself in it for materialistic gains. Of course this is a presumptuous reading. Sansa & Arya are really two sides of the same coin. One wanted to lớn be lượt thích her mother, the other like her father. Each had fantasies about being a storybook lady or a storybook knight, but due khổng lồ the culture they were raised in, neither got anything short of a bastardization of that dream. Arya is a warrior, but one who must murder in the dark & without honor, perhaps not even a soul; Sansa is a lady, but she is no queen, and she learned that in truth, highborn ladies for all their etiquette are considered little more than property. They are more alike than they realize.

Yet here we are with the fear now moving in the other direction: Sansa knows Arya has a letter that could destabilize her (and technically also Jon’s) power. She also knows lil’ sis is cray-cray and might gut her like a stable boy. With Brienne gone & Littlefinger whispering in her ear, does she order lớn have her own sister killed?

No, I still suspect if Game of Thrones wanted one Stark lớn murder the other, it would have been tonight in Arya’s bedchamber. Instead, they will yet have that Three’s Company conversation & lure Littlefinger to his doom. Ideally before the statue of Lord Eddard Stark. With that said, I wonder if the Stark sisters will ever be family again after tonight.

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The only other break from the kích hoạt north of the Wall occurred on Dragonstone, & this unto itself is a prelude of the tragedy to come. It begins pleasantly enough with Daenerys và Tyrion able to lớn just have a drink as acquaintances and colleagues, if not great friends. Although Tyrion certainly lays it on thick trying lớn get it there. As Daenerys goes into full rom-com mode to lớn complain about the boys in her life who’ve done boyish things—as in Drogo, Jorah, Daario, và now Jon Snow—it was all Peter Dinklage likely could do to stop himself from going complete BFF and say, “Girl, you don’t need any of them.”

Instead, he does the other BFF tic and helpfully points out lớn Dany that she is talking about Jon Snow an awful lot. Yet things become less cordial (and more interesting) when the subject turns khổng lồ strategy. While preparing for the meeting to come with the Lannisters, Daenerys admits she has a temper simply by getting angry in her refusals of that fact.


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