Oh Gods, oh gods, oh gods, Olenna.
If you’ve got to go, what a way to do it.
Cersei may have gotten particularly close with Jaime this episode, but you used your final moments to deliver the most devastating of all blows.
Brava, brava, life will not be the same without you.
That final prick from the Queen of Thorns capped off a fantastic episode in which OH YEAH JON AND DANY FINALLY MET AND IT WAS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED AND OH GODS PLEASE KISS ACTUALLY NO DON’T AND TYRION CRACKED A JOKE ABOUT JON BEING BROODY AS HE WAS LITERALLY STANDING ON A CLIFF AND I MAY HAVE COLLAPSED IN TEARS AND DEEP SEXUAL LONGING.
My heart is still pounding. This episode was full of inexorable goodness (often in the form of inexorable badness) and if anybody tries to pull any BS line that “meh, nothing happened” then I give you full permission to SASS THEM LIKE SANSA. And we’ll get to her Sassness in due course.
As Hamlet, mad north-north-west, might say – it was words, words, words. I drowned in all those delicious wordy words. At the end of all that verbal outpouring Cersei is up, Dany is down, Jorah is less scabby, Bran is kinda freaky, and even Bronn turns up.
So, my Beloved Throners, get cosy, get sexy, grab a Pepsi Max or your delicious caffeinated beverage of choice, and let’s devour this thinky, meaty, juicy, doughy, tender, fleshy… sorry, what were we talking about again?
Season 7, Episode 3: “The Queen’s Justice” or “I Totally Didn’t Realise Which Queen That Would Refer To”
I don’t know about you, Beloveds, but like 1995 dance wonders Alex Party, this episode just wrapped me up, in your love, your love takes me higher. And you bet I want to need your sweet, sweet touch, to keep this thing alive, ooh ooh.
It was an hour-long embrace of diplomacy, negotiation, statecraft, intrigue, bravado, tactics, counter-tactics, disaster, triumph and suspiciously pink lipstick.
If last week saw our favourites and not-so-favourites make choices, this week saw some of the consequences of those decisions. It was a case study in power dynamics too - how can you exert power over somebody who doesn’t recognise your power? And in the face of losing your power, how do you take it back?
It’s going to be hard to chose Best Moments or Best Lines this week because the entire sequence of events on Dragonstone was one glorious combination of longed-for interaction liberally peppered with dialogue equal parts sparkling and cutting.
A superb tracking shot of the beachside boat arrival. Jon and Ser Davos being greeted by Tyrion, Missandei and a hefty new Dothraki chief. Banter about bastards and dwarves and battle scars. The Northmen’s boat and weapons being taken away. Ser Davos making small talk with Missandei about her homeland. Tyrion saying Sansa is smarter than she lets on, and Jon replying “She’s beginning to let on”. Jon and Davos hitting the deck when the dragons did a fly-by, and Tyrion’s retort that “you never really get used to them”. Kate Bush standing on some very wuthering heights telling Varys she was heading back to Volantis, but would return because - cue foreboding music - they both have to die in this strange land of Westeros.
Missandei’s introduction of Queen Daenarys Stormborn with all associated titles was gloriously answered with the Onion Knight’s succinct “This is Jon Snow. He’s King in the North.” At once we knew that neither Dany nor Jon were going to just roll over and do what they were told, and all of Pavlov’s dogs could not rival the amount of saliva I produced in those moments.
Jon, ever mindful of the big, big picture, isn’t that keen to “bend the knee” as much as I know he’d enjoy it if he just relaxed and maybe had a hot bubble bath with me. Dany quite rightly has gotten through her often miserable existence (her speech about her life experiences was brilliantly delivered) by keeping hard faith in her identity as the last Targaryen and Queen of Westeros. She places importance on removing Darth Cersei from the Iron Throne, and she gets rightly upset by Jon’s seeming dismissal of it as “childish”.
It’s Tyrion and Davos who do all the proper diplomacy here; they are voices of realpolitik amidst the Ice and Fire steaming up the throne room. Even Davos gets a bit carried away talking about Jon’s sacrifices, and Jon has to give him a Look that says “Ix-nay on the esurrection-ray.”
Things come to a head when Jon says he will not forsake the trust of his Northmen by pledging allegiance to Dany’s cause; and Dany returns fire by accusing him of being in open rebellion.
Varys thankfully breaks the tension by running - yes, we actually saw that, Varys, the Spider, running - into the throne room with some late breaking news. Jon and Davos are hurried away (“Am I your prisoner?” “Not yet” is my new “I love you” “I know”), and Varys breaks the news of Euron Greyjoy’s decimation of Yara Greyjoy’s fleet.
It is not the start to her war of conquest that Dany wanted. Just moments before, Jon had said the fact she wasn’t using her dragons to take King’s Landing in order to spare the lives of thousands of innocent people meant that at the very least she was better than Cersei.
And he was right. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Cersei has no such compunctious visitings of nature; she’ll chart whatever course she needs for brutal victory. The Two Queens have very different definitions of "The Queen's Justice", and for Dany, the chickens have come home to roost.
Speaking of cocks, Euron Greyjoy has a right stiff one as he parades through Fleabottom dragging Yara Greyjoy behind his horse, with Ellaria Sand and her surviving daughter Tyene in tow.
He even stays on his stallion right up to the foot of the Iron Throne, harking back to Tywin Lannister’s entry after the Battle of the Blackwater. He presents his “gift” of Ellaria and Tyene, and again claims Cersei’s hand as his prize. Bitch is clever about her answer - “When the war is won.” That is a nice get-out-of-jail free card, Cersei, props to you.
Meanwhile, it’s been bugging me since he first appeared but I’ve FINALLY cracked the mystery of who Euron Greyjoy reminds me of. I’m sorry to strand a preposition but I’m just excited to share my new nickname for the Bad Beast of the Narrow Sea:
Yes, it’s the fiery Scotsman known for playing strong and strange (stronge?) characters with indeterminable accents (Obi-Wan Kenobi? What the hell was that, anyway?) He’s grittier, grimier and grabbier, certainly, but the resemblance is sound.
Undaunted by Cersei’s clear lack of interest in his proffered ring, Euron turns instead to Jaime and asks for tips on whether a proffered ring might be a sex position she enjoys. Jaime warns Euron about the fickle nature of crowd adoration, but the pirate don’t care. He’s getting off on the power and the glory holes.
“Did he just say ….?!?!” was my reaction to Euron MacGregor’s suggestion that Cersei and Jaime might enjoy in flagrante de-recto. I’m surprised he didn’t follow up with a description of where he’d like to put two other fingers. That really would be a Shocker.
Speaking of “the pink”, that’s exactly what Cersei’s lips were when she confronted Ellaria Sand in a Black Cell (“the stink”?) over the murder of Myrcella Water.
“Funny,” I thought while watching. “Looks like Cersei’s been down to Sephora and picked herself up a fresh glossy fuschia number. Must be Tarte.”
(If you’re not into cosmetics, that was a very funny brand joke, but I swear I don’t spend large swathes of time watching YouTube tutorials on how to make myself less hideous.)
Cersei’s revenge on the woman who murdered her daughter was calculated and perfectly executed. She enjoyed it too, taking her time to remind Ellaria of Oberyn’s death, to highlight just how well The Mountain was doing given the Red Viper had all but killed him during their duel, and goodness, isn’t Tyene a perfect Dornish beauty? How proud she must be… as a mother. She even referenced how powerful Ellaria must have felt in killing Myrcella, pouring salt into the wounds of a woman now bound in chains forever.
Finally, that Chekhov’s lipstick was deployed, revisiting Ellaria’s own crime against her. In between the evil, there was genuine anguish on Cersei’s part - Tyrion always said her one redeeming feature was how she loved her children, and the line “I didn’t have a mother, but Myrcella did” made me almost feel sorrow for Cersei.
Of course she followed it up with a very rigorous and take-charge sexcounter with Jaime, so the fact that killing is kind of getting her hot now is really quite a turn-off. Not for Jaime though, as he doesn’t put up much of a resistance, and doesn’t even seem to mind that much that Cersei is openly bragging to servants (“Yeah, we’re gonna need some new sheets in here. WOW did we WRECK that 500 count Egyptian cotton”).
The ramping up of Cersei’s masculine side (the hair, the clothes - now even icier - and the attitude) seems confirmed when she takes a meeting with Mycroft Holmes, aka, head of the Iron Bank of Braavos.
“Your father’s daughter, indeed,” is his summary after she teases out the real reasons why the bank wants its money back. As she points out, the Lannisters always pay their debts, but dragons do not…. and with a profitable investment in slavery gone sour, is the Iron Bank really willing to risk more on the Dragon Queen? She is, after all, a Marxist revolutionary, not an aggressive capitalist like Cersei. She’s going to make the trains run on time, damnit.
Give me two weeks, Cersei says, and I’ll give you your money. She’s confident, that’s for sure. And hell, things are definitely looking up for Cersei. And yet, and yet… I cannot help but think that her power is that ‘shadow on the wall’ Varys once described. An illusion. Watch your back, Mycroft Holmes.
At this point, Cersei and Dany may be rival Queens of Westeros, but can I get a HOLLER for Sassy Sansa, Queen of the F**king Universe?
She is in charge and in form as the Protector of Winterfell in Jon’s absence: getting food supply logistics for the Long Night sorted and demanding to know why breastplates aren’t being leather-clad to ward off cold.
Sansa is ALL OVER this governing shit, and we know it, and we love it, particularly when she gives Littlefinger another dose of Grade A Sansa Sass:
Baelish: I know Cersei better than anyone here...if you turn your back on her….
Sansa: You don’t know Cersei better than anyone here.
Baelish: I only meant to say...
Sansa: ...that the woman who murdered my mother, father and brother is dangerous? Thank you for your wise counsel.
But the seeping genital wart can’t let it rest, and carries on with his typical wicked whispering, telling her not to fight in real locations but in her mind, and to expect every outcome - including the worst outcomes - from everybody, to avoid surprise. Thing is, it’s NOT the worst advice he’s ever given (That was “Oh hey you’ll be fine here with Ramsay”) but because it’s Littlefinger I cannot even STAND it. Sansa, you know your own mind. Don’t let that stupid little goatee wear you down.
Baelish’s whispering is interrupted by news that SOMEONE is at the gates. Of course, we were all expecting Arya, but it turns out to be Bran, lugged all the way no doubt by poor Meera Reed, who really is the unheralded hero of this piece. But don’t worry, gorgeous girl, I’ve got you covered…with some early 90s Aussie soft pop rock a la Craig McLachlan and Check 1-2:
I said heyyyyy Meera
Tell you Meera what I want to do
Make the Starks all bow to you
Bran was lame, he couldn’t climb
You hauled his ass that whole damn time
You brother popped his clogs but still
You helped Bran in that northern chill
White Walkers blew it all aside
It’s not your fault that Hodor died
Heyyyy Meera (woo-ooh)
I said Heyyyyyy Meera (woo-ooh)
Bran though is chill AF. He’s more Zen than Richard Gere getting a Stilnox massage in a Tibetan monastery.
“Hello Sansa,” he intones, like he’s just been out to the shops for some milk, and not on a wild crazy ride of death and internal sight-seeing. Sansa sensibly bursts into tears and throws herself on her baby bro, her hardass exterior overcome with familial devotion and relief.
Later, in the Godswood, the siblings catch up on all the years they’ve missed together, the events of which Bran seems to be a little bit too familiar with. “I’m sorry all that happened to you on your wedding day, in your nice dress, lookin’ so pretty and all,” he says somewhat stonily. Like, I know you’re an otherworldly supernatural being, dude, but maybe a bit less matter-of-fact?
Sansa says he’s the Lord of Winterfell now, but Bran isn’t interested in lording. He’s the Three-Eyed Raven, according to the Three-Eyed Raven, who trained him to be the Three-Eyed Raven, once he himself moved on, to become another Three-Eyed Raven, back in the past, which is presently the future, and so now can only be the Three-Eyed Raven.
“Huh?” is Sansa’s sensible reply, but her bro just Bransplains it away, saying “It’s too difficult, you wouldn’t understand, I’m an Operating Thetan 458 now, my E-Meter readings are off the charts, I gotta go audit this weirwood.”
Freaked out, Sansa makes her excuses and leaves. What happened to her little baby bro? Why is it so difficult to explain what a “Three-Eyed Raven” does? And wow, did puberty really kick in with the lower voice, or what?
My favourite line in that scene was Bran’s sombre response to Sansa saying “I wish Jon were here”. Bran agrees, saying “I need to talk to him” in a tone so ominous there may as well have been a crack of thunder and a “dum-dum dahhhhhh!” Jon’s been over in Dragonstone bagging out House Targaryen and it’s going to be awkies when he comes home to a prodigal brother with An Inconvenient Truth Bomb.
Over in Oldtown, Ser Jorah Scabmont has made a remarkable recovery from greyscale. I can picture the sponsored Instagram content now: “It’s a miracle! I rested up, ate kale and thought positively, and my greyscale just disappeared! Thanks, Citadel, you’re a wellness wonder. #fitspo #nofilter #tag4likes @dragon_queen”
Maester Jim Broadbent asks about excisions and unguents, but Jorah has no idea what an unguent is, which is a fair enough question because until I just looked it up I thought it meant to not “guent” something.
The knight is sent on his way to go hang around Daenarys and snap up any crumbs of her affection, but Sam’s impression of Jesus healing the lepers does not go unnoticed by his superior.
Because he’s a human being with working eyes, Maester Jim Broadbent can’t be mad at Sam Tarly’s face, and even tells him to be proud of effecting a cure that better and more experienced Maesters could not have done. However, he’s not off the hook for disobeying orders entirely.
Sam’s punishment? Make copies of all these decaying ancient manuscripts, says Maester JB. OH NO, says Sam, please can’t I clean more chamber pots? No, says Maester JB, you must immerse yourself in all this PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE which absolutely WILL NOT CONTAIN CLUES ON HOW TO HELP SAVE THE WORLD I’M SURE. Remember, Sam - bezoars good, sectumsempra bad.
Back on Dragonstone, Jon Snow is being Jon Snow SO HARD it actually made me feel weak. If you look up the term “Byronic hero” in the Big Book of Character Types there’s a picture of Jon Snow brooding on a cliff. I only got through it because Tyrion made some on par jokes about Jon Snow brooding on a cliff. Bless you Tyrion.
My poor beloved. I objectify him so, but he has some real world problems that aren’t just going to go away because he’s incredibly good-looking. Dany’s removed his means of escape from the island. Nobody believes him about White Walkers. And all that wind is going to mess up his man bun.
Then, in a surprise confession, Tyrion announces that he actually does believe Jon about the White Walkers, because he was stupid enough to ignore all sensible advice about avoiding Dragonstone and actually rocked up. Thanks… I guess?
Furthermore, Tyrion reminded Jon of the whole ruddy purpose of his trip to Dragonstone in the first place - the need to mine dragonglass from the mighty store of it on the island.
Tyrion convinces Dany to let Jon have the resource - after all, it means nothing to her. “Give him something by giving him nothing,” he tells her, making her question whether he is in fact offering wisdom from the ages, or just passing off his own thoughts as great insights.
Either way, it prompts a sweet scene between Dany and Jon on a lookout, watching as Viserion and Rhaegal circle the rocky outcrops. “I named them after my brothers… you lost two brothers as well?” And with that piece of shared sadness, finally, eventually, communication.
Dany doesn’t say that she believes Jon’s story, but does offer him the dragon glass, and the support of her forces to mine it. Jon almost looks happy.
The detente may have come just at the right time, because with the final events of the episode, Dany is going to need allies.
With Yara Greyjoy out of the picture, Dany and Tyrion turn their attention to Casterly Rock, and their surprise sneak attack via the sewers. Turns out Tyrion had spent his time wisely while trying to sneak hookers around without his Dad finding out.
Tyrion’s narration as the action happens is inspiring: “The army only fights for my sister out of fear, but the Unsullied fight for freedom and the woman who gave it to them… Casterly Rock is impregnable, but as a wise man once said, give me ten good men and I’ll impregnate the bitch....” It’s all very uplifting, isn’t it?
Except it’s wrong.
Grey Worm knows something is up when the fight is too easy. “Where are they?” he questions a dying Lannister soldier. “Where are the rest of the Lannister soldiers?”
Turns out Jaime Lannister had pulled a Robb Stark switcheroo, and left only a small reserve of men to guard Casterly Rock, a property that’s not as important as it once was, given Cersei and Jaime’s base in the capital.
The rest of the army - with Jaime at the head, backed up by the oathbreaker Tarlys and Bronn! - marched on Highgarden, seat of the Tyrells, which is quickly overwhelmed. “It’s not our forte,” Olenna admits, after asking how her troops fared.
This final scene with Olenna Tyrell just broke me, in the best possible way. It was honourable, and truthful, and almost kind, with both of them knowing this was her end. Jaime, for his part, took some comfort in the fact he’d talked his sister out of having the matriarch publicly humiliated before her death, or have her head stuck on a spike afterwards.
When he offers her poison, her only question is whether it will hurt, then she downs it immediately. Ye gods, she’s good. She’s already insulted Cersei and Joffrey in classic Olenna style (“He really was a c***), but it’s only after she drinks that she delivers the coup de grace - that she, not Tyrion, arranged Joffrey’s murder. Her declaration, and the affect it had on Jaime, took my breath away.
“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”
It was a genius, dastardly move worthy of someone with the rat cunning of Olenna Tyrell. In those last moments of powerlessness, she exacted a final victory over the all-conquering Lannisters. She’s gone now, and House Tyrell will be gone, with the Rains of Castamere underscoring the scene. But she did not die a loser like many others, including arguably her children and grandchildren. She went out on her own terms.
That stunning finale aside, it doesn’t stop things looking rather dicey for Dany as we head into the second half of the season (Yes! already! What’s that about?!). She’s lost the Tyrells, she’s lost the Dornish, she’s lost the good Greyjoys (Theon’s on a ship somewhere, he’ll turn up again). She was talked out of going flying on her dragons to do a spot of ship-burning, but her team is rapidly running out of options. A full-scale (hur hur) attack on King’s Landing might still provide a victory, but what would that display of power cost her?
Yay! Best Moments
Gods, so many. Sansa owning Baelish is up there, as it Olenna’s final f*** you to Jaime Lannister. Also, for what it's worth, I adored Sam's interaction with Maester JB, especially when he explained how he cured Jorah's greyscale: "I read the book, and followed the instructions." Godsdamnit, my father was right.
Zing! Best Lines
Everything Tyrion said on Dragonstone, but in particular this answer to Jon’s question on how to make people believe him:
“People’s minds aren’t made for problems that large. White Walkers, the Night King, Army of the Dead. It’s almost a relief to confront a comfortable, familiar monster like my sister.”
And this response to Daenarys pondering Davos’ statement that Jon took a knife to the chest:
“You must forgive them their flights of fancy. It’s dreary in the north.”
A tie between Euron’s wandering fingers and a reminder that Jaime and Cersei do, in fact, do it. Ewwwwwww.
I’m getting a horrible sense that Jaime Lannister’s end may be nigh. As head of the army (the Pongo to Euron’s Matlow, thanks Gran for those WW2 armed forces references), he has more power now than ever, and yet he cuts a tragic figure. Olenna is not wrong when she describes Cersei as a disease she helped spread. The most affected victim is Jaime, and it’s an affliction far worse than Jorah’s greyscale. Jaime’s arc could be one of redemption if he could just overcome his sister’s power over him. But is he strong enough to turn Kingslayer into Queenslayer?
Thank you so much for reading, precious kittens. Gosh I hope it made sense. All that fresh air on Dragonstone went to my head. As always, a huge thank you to my Beloved Patreon subscribers, in particular Brett C, Robert L, Annette R, Sam B and Peta & Mark from Canberra. I love you like I love Jon Snow stroking a foster kitten.