(Considering this is an episode recap, it should go without saying that there are many spoilers ahead for the Aug. 13 episode of “Game of Thrones.”)
The fifth episode of “Game of Thrones” Season 7, “Eastwatch,” is upon us. And as the episode title suggests, the various characters are finally headed back to the Wall to start dealing with the White Walker threat.
But first things first: What happened to Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) at the end of “The Spoils of War?” They did, in fact, avoid getting toasted by dragon fire. In addition, they also didn’t drown. The episode starts with Bronn dragging Jaime out of the river a ways away from where the battle took place. They’re alive and uncaptured.
Bronn, for his part, is concerned about what Jaime was planning when he rode straight at a dragon armed only with a spear and some hope. And while we don’t fully believe his practiced cynicism, as Bronn tells Jaime, until he gets what he’s owed, only Bronn gets to kill Jaime.
Jaime notes that he needs to tell Cersei what happened with the dragons, because if Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) were to unleash them, there’s no way they can win the war. Bronn agrees, and notes, “Dragons are where our partnership ends.” But again, we don’t fully believe his cynicism since he keeps sticking his neck out for people other than himself (see below.)
But most of the Lannisters didn’t get away. Back at the battlefield, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) surveys the destruction, and it’s pretty horrifying, particularly as a sad version of “The Rains of Castamere” plays, mashed up with “Blood of My Blood,” AKA Daenerys leitmotif. Daenerys tells the captured Lannisters that she’s going to make the world better, and if they bend the knee, they can help — but if they don’t they’ll die. When Drogon roars, everyone bends — except Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner) and his son, Dickon (Tom Hopper) and a handful of others.
Randyll gets on a kick about how he supports a queen who was born in Westeros, where Tyrion has backed a foreign invader whose Hand murdered his father. Tyrion suggests they send Randyll to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch, but Randyll refuses, saying Daenerys isn’t his queen and thus can’t make him take the black. Randyll starts to go to his execution, but Dickon stops them. If they kill his dad, they have to kill Dickon too.
Tyrion counsels against executing them, especially Dickon, who he says they could toss in prison for a few months to get him to wise up, and noting that it’s not great to annihilate great houses. But Daenerys has made up her mind, and Tyrion can’t question her in public. She has the two Tarlys roasted alive by dragonfire. Tyrion is visibly shaken — Targaryens burning people alive is not a great look. But it did get the remaining holdouts to bend the knee to Daenerys.
Meanwhile, at the Red Keep in King’s Landing, Jaime has returned and goes to meet with Cersei (Lena Headey). Jaime’s got bad news: Having seen Dothraki and dragons in action, he’s reached a logical conclusion about the war:
“This isn’t a war we can’t win,” Jaime tells her.
Cersei notes there’s zero chance of them walking away if they were to sue for peace, since Jaime killed the Mad King, and Daenerys thinks she’s winning the war. Cersei notes that maybe Tyrion will intercede on their behalf, as way of apology for killing their father, Tywin (Charles Dance), and their son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Jaime tells Cersei that it was Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) who really killed Joffrey, but it doesn’t change things for Cersei. They have no choice but to fight.
Back at Dragonstone, Drogon arrives with Daenerys on his back, and finds Jon Snow (Kit Harington) waiting on the cliffside. Drogon charges over to him, and Jon stands his ground, and even reaches out to touch Drogon. The man and the beast have a moment, and it’s clear the dragon, for whatever reason, trusts the King in the North. It’s a huge moment, since the prophecy from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books has suggested to fans for years that “the dragon has three heads,” and we’ll see Daenerys riding dragons along with two other people. This is a pretty good argument that Jon will be one of the dragonriders.
After the dragons leave, Daenerys tells Jon that she has fewer enemies now, thanks to the successful battle. She also asks him about the knife Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) told her Jon took in the heart for his people. Before he has a chance to explain, someone else shows up: Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Having been cured of greyscale, he pledges himself to her service again. “It would be my honor,” Daenerys answers, and showing her faith in him, hugs him — a huge show of trust, since greyscale is passed by touch.
Over at Winterfell, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is finally doing something useful instead of just creeping out his siblings after being gone for years. He’s taken control of a ton of ravens with his warg powers and sends them north, beyond the Wall, to see what the Night King is up to. What he learns is a big problem. The absolutely huge Army of the Dead is marching on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the eastern castle of the Night’s Watch. Fans will remember that that’s the castle Jon sent Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and the rest of the Free Folk to guard.
Bran orders ravens sent out to warn everyone of what he’s just seen.
Meanwhile at Citadel (HQ of the maesters), the raven has arrived and the maesters are discussing Bran’s message while Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West) works nearby. As the maesters are making fun of the message about the Army of the Dead, Sam vouches for Bran, since he let him through the Wall. Bran survived for years, Sam says, where no one else could.
Sam suggests that Oldtown use its authority to convince everyone to prepare to fight the Army of the Dead. Archmaester Marwyn (Jim Broadbent) says he’ll send a raven to Winterfell for clarification, but the maesters still don’t really buy the warning from the North.
Back at Dragonstone, Tyrion tells Varys (Conleth Hill) what he saw on the battlefield. Tyrion is obviously still troubled about what he saw, but he makes some excuses. He knows a ruler has to make tough choices and be ruthless at times. But Varys reminds him of what it was like to be an adviser to the Mad King. He kept telling himself, “I’m not the one doing it,” he says, as the Mad King burned people alive.
“Daenerys is not her father,” Tyrion says.
“And she never will be — with the right counsel,” Varys responds. “You need to find a way to make her listen.”
The war council deals with Bran’s message, which is also Jon’s realization that Arya (Maisie Williams) and Bran are still alive. Jon needs to go North, he says, and Daenerys says she can’t send her troops to go with him, because Cersei will march in and take what Daenerys currently holds.
Tyrion has a plan: Bring a wight to King’s Landing to show Cersei and convince her of the threat from the White Walkers. They only need one dead soldier to prove to everyone that the Night King is real. But Varys notes that they’ll have to convince Cersei to grant them an audience. Davos suggests he can smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing to talk to Cersei and Jaime and convince them.
“With the Queen’s permission, I’ll go North and take one,” Jorah says. “You told me to find a cure so I could serve you. I’m ready to serve you.”
And Jon says he’ll be going on the raid too. With his experience with the White Walkers, he has to. Daenerys says he hasn’t given her permission, but as King in the North, he says he doesn’t need it.
“I put my trust in you, a stranger, because I knew it was the best chance for my people, for all our people,” Jon says. Now “I’m asking you to trust in a stranger. Because it’s our best chance.”
Back at Winterfell, the Northern lords are ready to throw their support behind Sansa (Sophie Turner), since Jon keeps wanting to leave. Sansa reminds them that Jon is King in the North, but it’s clear things are shifting. After the discussion in the main hall, Sansa and Arya discuss what’s happening in the lord’s chambers. Arya’s not happy that the lords insulted Jon, but Sansa knows she needs to play politics and keep the lords happy.
“Winterfall didn’t fall into our hands,” Sansa says. “We took it back. I’m sure cutting off heads is very satisfying, but it’s not how you get people to work together.”
Arya doesn’t buy it. She tells Sansa she’s thinking about what might happen if Jon doesn’t come back, and how she’ll hold onto power. The two sisters weren’t friends before, and it seems like they aren’t now.
At King’s Landing, Davos and Tyrion land on the beach to sneak into the city. Bronn brings Jaime beneath the Red Keep, tricking him into meeting Tyrion. Jaime’s not happy to see Tyrion, and is angry with him for murdering Tywin, not to mention betraying the family and whatnot.
“Daenerys will win this war,” Tyrion tells him, trying to get Jaime to listen. “You’re a military man, you must know there’s no way around it. Daenerys is not her father. She’s even willing to suspend hostilities if Cersei agrees to certain terms.”
“If you want Cersei to bend the knee you can ask her yourself,” Jaime returns.
“I don’t. Daenerys doesn’t. Not now, anyway. She has a more important request,” Tyrion tells him.
We go with Davos to
“Wasn’t sure if I’d find you,” Davos says. “Thought you might still be rowing.” Gotta love it when “Game of Thrones” references memes about it.
Davos recruits Gendry to go with him. He says he’s been getting ready for something and didn’t know what it was, but he wasn’t planning on making swords for the people who killed his father, King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). And he’s made himself a war hammer, just like King Robert famously wielded.
They head down to the boat Davos and Tyrion arrived in, and they’re accosted by a pair of soldiers from the city watch. Davos bribes them and uses some smooth talk to get out of there, but then Tyrion arrives. The soldiers turn around to grab Tyrion, but Gendry puts his war hammer to use and takes them both out.
Back in King’s Landing, Jaime interrupts Qyburn (Anton Lesser) with Cersei, and pointedly asks what he was doing in Cersei’s chamber. Cersei blows off the question.
Jaime tells Cersei about his meeting with Tyrion, but she already knows. She sees the call for an armistice and the threat of the Night King as an opportunity to outthink her opponents. And there’s a further wrinkle: She’s pregnant with another of Jaime’s babies, she says. As they embrace, she reminds Jaime, “Never betray me again.”
Back at Dragonstone, Davos brings Gendry to meet Jon Snow, warning him to keep his identity a secret. But Gendry immediately tells Jon who he is. “Our fathers trusted each other — why shouldn’t we?” Gendry volunteers for the chance to go North of the Wall. Baratheons and Starks have been allies for years, and now they’re pals again. Pretty cool.
Davos counsels against everyone going north and getting killed, but neither Jon nor Gendry will listen.
“Nobody mind me,” Davos returns. “All I’ve ever done is live to a ripe old age.”
Tyrion sees everyone off, and has a moment with Jorah, with whom he had a complicated kidnapper-kidnappee relationship. Daenerys shows up a second later, Jon and Daenerys have another pointed moment. Their relationship is definitely building in a romantic direction.
In Oldtown, Sam is busy transcribing more scrolls as his punishment for helping Jorah, while Gilly (Hannah Murray) is having a good time reading all of them. She discovers something pretty important in there, from the high septon who served the Mad King. The septon wrote that he annulled the marriage of one “Prince Ragger” — who we can safely assume is Rhaegar Targaryen, the son of the Mad King and Dany’s brother who was killed by Robert Baratheon during Robert’s Rebellion. The septon also performed a secret wedding ceremony for the prince — presumably to Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister and the true mother of Jon Snow. If Lyanna and Rhaegar were actually married when Jon was born, that would mean Jon Snow isn’t a bastard — he’s Jon Targaryen, the trueborn heir to Prince Rhaegar (and probably the Iron Throne).
With all the garbage work Sam’s been given at the Oldtown, he finally gets fed up and leaves, bringing some of the maesters’ books with him.
“I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men,” Sam says. He’s off to get something done for a change, instead of waiting for the maesters to believe him about the White Walkers.
Over in Winterfell, Arya is watching Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), who’s up to his usual intrigue. Arya secretly follows him around, watching him meet with spies and lords. Finally, she sees Maester Wolkan (Richard Rycroft) bring a document that once belonged to Maester Luwin. Littlefinger confirms whatever it is is the only copy in Winterfell, and then thanks him.
Arya breaks into Littlefinger’s chamber to find out what he’s up to. She searches his room and finds the document. She leaves soon after, and we discover that it’s Littlefinger watching Arya — and that he probably planted the document for her benefit. Littlefinger still has some plans.
Finally, we get to Eastwatch, with Jon meeting Tormund with the rest of his crew. They want to go north of the Wall, and Tormund tells him they’re not the only ones. He’s captured The Hound (Rory McCann), Ser Beric (Richard Dormer) and Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), who are all headed north too. Gendry doesn’t think they should trust them.
“There’s a greater purpose at work,” Beric says. “We all serve it, whether we know it or not.”
Jon agrees to take them with him, and it’s time to go. The gate in the Wall opens, and the party of some of the best killers in “Game of Thrones” is ready to go try to capture a wight from the Army of the Dead.