There is a lull in Westeros after last week’s epic battle. Still it bodes for darker times ahead as we catch another glimpse of the incoming army of the dead on this week's episode, "Eastwatch."
First, we return to Daenerys’ field of fire. It seems that Jaime and Bronn survive as they pull themselves out of the river on the opposite bank.
In the battlefield, we see the devastation wrought by Drogon’s breath. Daenerys gathers the remaining lords with her dragon rising behind her. With Tyrion by her side, she gives them a choice, kneel to her or die. While most choose to bend the knee, Randall Tarly is defiant, showing his xenophobia towards foreigners and the Essos raised Queen. Daenerys sentences him to death, and Dickon chooses to join his father.
Both are burned by Drogon’s breath, despite Tyrion’s appeal, and are instantly incinerated, which weirdly is actually more humane than beheading since they are instantly turned to ashes. This however strikes fear at the remaining defiant lords and they all bend the knee.
Daenerys has gotten a lot of flak for burning the wagons of food during the battle. But the truth is that her strategy is sound, since even a few wagons could have gotten away to King’s Landing if she had waited to capture them. Denying the enemy is a basic tenet of war. And she wouldn’t have needed them, but by destroying the Tarly and Lannister armies, she now has control of the Reach and its fertile agricultural lands.
At King’s Landing, Jaime delivers the bad news to Cersei. He tells her that this is not a war that they could win. He also tells her about Olenna’s confession.
Daenerys meanwhile flies back to Dragonstone. Drogon lands in front of Jon and to Daenerys’ surprise, the dragon allows Jon to touch him. He is the first person aside from Daenerys to be able to do this, which further affirms his Targaryen blood. Of course the two monarchs still have no idea about this as Daenerys goes down to talk with her Northern counterpart, and the dragon flies way to join the two others flying in the horizon.
Daenerys asks Jon about the “knife at the heart” comment that Ser Davos spoke about. Jon is evasive and does not reveal what really happened. To his relief they are interrupted by the Dothraki who have brought with them the newly healed Ser Jorah Mormont.
Daenerys is tearful as she hugs her original protector and friend. He once again offers his allegiance and service to the queen. As Dany gratefully accepts, he eyes Jon with a certain suspicion and perhaps jealousy. A traitor is dangerous, but a jealous lover is even more so.
In the North, we get a sense of just how powerful Bran’s magic is now. From Winterfell he wargs into an entire flock of ravens who fly to Eastwatch, which is by the sea and beyond the wall. He finds the marching army of the dead, and we see how vast it is. The Night King senses the intrusion and he looks at the sky somehow dispersing the birds flying overhead.
Bran’s mind returns to Winterfell and he flinches at the mental attack. He immediately orders the Maester who is watching over him to send out messages by raven to the rest of Westeros.
One of those messages makes it way to the Citadel in Oldtown. The Maesters debate its authenticity, and Sam who is in the same room as them, tries to vouch for Bran. The Archmaester wants more facts, before he uses the influence of the order to advise the lords to help defend the wall. This frustrates Sam who ultimately walks out.
At Dragonstone, Varys and Tyrion debate Daenerys’ actions on the battlefield. Varys is worried about the Queen’s ruthlessness and admonishes the Hand of the Queen to try to steer her in the right direction.
Tyrion sees a message in the hand of the spymaster and asks him about it. It’s for the King in the North, Varys says. The imp asks him what it says and is told "nothing good."
Later, Jon reads the message at the council chamber in the castle. He shares the news about Bran and his favorite sibling Arya being alive. “I’m happy for you,” Daenerys says, but she wonders why he looks so glum. Isn't that Jon's normal look?
Jon explains that Bran saw the army of the dead marching to Eastwatch. He then says that he needs to go home, but the Queen points out that he once said that didn’t have enough men to defend the wall. Jon answers that he will fight with what they have, unless Daenerys wants to join him. Oh, how romantic.
Dany though has no wish to leave her newly conquered lands to Cersei. Tyrion though advises that they might be able to convince his sister to put aside the war and help them if they could show her one of the undead.
Tyrion says he will talks to Jaime whom Cersei trusts. A plan is put forward for Ser Davos to smuggle the imp to King’s Landing so that he could parley his brother.
Ser Jorah then offers to venture beyond The Wall to capture one of the undead. Jon says that the free folk will aid them, and that he will join Ser Jorah and lead the expedition himself.
Daenerys eyes turn to worry and says that she hasn’t given Jon permission to leave. But Jon answers that he is a King himself and does not require her permission to go. He however asks for her trust to help save all of their people.
Back at Winterfell though, political games are afoot. There seems to be mutiny as there is a faction that seems to want Sansa to rule. Arya takes note of this, she tells Sansa of her worry, and she cautions her sister about her seeming love of power.
Meanwhile in the South, Tyrion and Davos have made their way by boat to King’s Landing. Later Bronn, who seems to have contacted his old friend, Jaime, beforehand, brings Jaime to Tyrion in the caverns underneath the Red Keep.
Tyrion brings his proposal to Jaime. Meanwhile at flea bottom in King’s Landing, Ser Davos finds Gendry back at work being a blacksmith again. He asks the young man to join him once again to help them with the war ahead. Gendry is unsurprised and is ready, he joins the Onion Knight and brings his own weapon, a great Warhammer.
They make their way to the hidden beach near the Red Keep. Two gold cloak guards spot them and Ser Davos is able to smooth talk and bribe them. However, Tyrion arrives and the guards recognize him, and so Gendry has to use his hammer to dispatch the two, and then the group leaves.
Jaime then walks in to the Queen’s chamber as Cersei and Qyburn are having a meeting. The Maester takes his leave, as Jaime delivers Tyrion’s proposal to his twin.
Cersei is unsurprised, and her brother figures out that she already knows about the meeting, clearly her spies are good. She says that she will accept an accommodation, and she will be playing a longer political game. She then reveals that she is pregnant and she kisses and hugs her brother but warns him about betraying her again.
At Dragonstone, Ser Davos brings Gendry to Jon. Gendry immediately reveals that he is Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. The two bond over their fathers’ strong friendship. And Jon allows him to join them on their venture and they proceed to leave. On the shore Tyrion and Daenerys bid their farewells to Ser Jorah. Jon joins them and also says his goodbye to the Dragon Queen.
At Oldtown, during a conversation during a study, Gilly reveals an interesting tidbit to Sam. Apparently, a certain Maester who records everything including his bowel movements had given an annulment to a certain Prince Rhaegar, who went on to marry someone else in a secret ceremony in Dorne.
If this is what I think it is, there is an actual record of Crown Prince Rhaegar’s annulment and then subsequent marriage to Lyanna Stark. There is proof of Jon Snow’s claim to the Iron Throne, and this puts him ahead of Deanerys in the succession!
Anyhow this may come to light later. But back to Sam who is now frustrated at the Maester’s indifference, he has a breakdown and actually decides to steal the books he needs for his research on ways to defeat the Night King. And under the cover of night, Gilly, Little Sam, and Sam leave Old Town and are probably heading towards The Wall.
At Winterfell, Baelish seems to be plotting in the shadows. But Arya the magical assassin is keeping a watch over him. She spots him receiving an old note from the Maester, a message by Raven, that he asks if it is sure that it is the only copy at Winterfell.
When he leaves his chamber, she searches his room and finds the old note. It is the letter that Sansa wrote to Robb and Catelyn, way back after Ned was killed. She wrote it under duress of course, but it can be damning since it reveals Sansa asking her brother to swear fealty to Joffrey.
Arya and Sansa never really got along, and the younger one would probably not understand the context that it was written under duress. This may drive a wedge between them, a plan that Baelish may have initiated since he watches Arya leave his chamber. Hopefully the bond between the Starks prove stronger than Baelish's machinations. Or hopefully Bran, who sees everything, would choose to intervene.
Meanwhile Jon’s party finally arrives at Eastwatch. As it turns out the brotherhood without banners is there as well, after being thrown into the dungeon by Tormund Giantsbane. The group also wishes to go beyond the wall. Gendry who was one of them does not trust them, but Jon says he needs everyone since they have a common enemy.
And soon enough the brotherhood, together with Jon, Ser Jorah, Gendry, Tormund, and other wildlings venture northwards to the army of the dead.
Finally a good proper fantasy quest in Game of Thrones!