Monday, August 14, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x05 Recap: "Eastwatch" (Keeping It In the Family) [Contributor: Melanie]

Original Airdate: August 13, 2017

Is my introduction to these posts even worth it any more? Even I just want to jump right into the HOLY COWness of all of this. In spite of another “filler” episode, laying down groundwork and setting up Game of Thrones’ infamous penultimate episode gambit this was a crazy ride. There were reunions in nearly every scene, first meetings for characters, and the return of a long-awaited fan favorite. Yes, that’s right, Gendry finally stopped rowing long enough to get back on camera.

There was also a HUGE revelation that proved a long-held fan theory about the nature of Jon Snow’s conception and birth. He was never a Snow to begin with.


Bronn pulls Jaime out of the Mariana’s Trench that somehow appeared in the Blackwater Rush last episode. They escape and make their way back to King’s Landing. Tyrion walks the battlefield, sullen, while Dany rounds up the survivors and tells them she plans to create a better kingdom for them than Cersei ever did, asking only that they bend the knee to her in return. Some do, but the Tarly men are noticeably stubborn. Dany and Tyrion both try to talk sense into them but they refuse to bow to a foreign invader. She has them executed by immolation a la Drogon and the rest of the Lannister hold-outs drop to their knees.


Dany returns and is greeted by Jon, who not only faces down Drogon but reaches out his hand and places it on the dragon’s snout. Drogon is calm and allows Jon to continue the interaction before Dany dismounts. She informs Jon her campaign was a success and she believes, in the long run, it was beneficial to the whole of the Seven Kingdoms under Cersei’s rule. Their discussion is interrupted when a group of Dothraki arrive with a visitor claiming to be a friend of Dany’s: Jorah Mormont. They have a happy reunion.

Tyrion is concerned by Dany’s behavior and attempts to rationalize it. Varys says he too once tried to rationalize Aerys’ actions until it was too late, but believes Daenerys is not her father or too far gone that Tyrion’s counsel won’t be able to calm her. He then reveals he received a raven from Sansa. Jon is distraught to find his entire family at Winterfell, vulnerable to the march of the White Walkers at Eastwatch. He asks Dany’s permission to return home but she is reluctant to let him leave to march to his death. Tyrion devises a plan where they capture a wight and bring it to Cersei to make a play for an alliance against the White Walkers with their combined forces.

Jorah volunteers to go and retrieve the corpse, much to Dany’s dismay. Jon also says he’ll go as the only person who has previously fought them. Later, Dany has a heartfelt goodbye with Jorah and a tension-filled one with Jon.


Jaime returns horrified by the battle and tells Cersei it is a war impossible to win. She decides she’d rather die fighting than surrender to Daenerys. Later, Davos and Tyrion sneak into the city where Tyrion has arranged Bronn to bring Jaime to him. The two have a less than warm reunion and Tyrion informs him of the White Walkers and their plan to bring proof. Jaime relays this information to Cersei who knew Jaime went to meet with Tyrion and warns him not to betray her again. He reveals Olenna murdered Joffrey but Cersei reveals that she is pregnant, wiping away Jaime’s doubts. She decides an armistice with Dany is more beneficial, at the moment, than a prolonged war.

In Flea Bottom, Davos finds Gendry, the bastard son of King Robert, working at his old blacksmith shop. He recruits Gendry to their fight up North and, after a brief run in with Goldcloaks, he, Gendry, and Tyrion safely make it out of the city.


The maesters receive a raven calling for aid against the White Walkers because of Bran’s visions of their march. They laugh it off, angering Sam who begs them to do something about it because he’s seen the Walkers beyond the Wall. They agree to ascertain the truth of Bran’s visions before doing anything, and Sam storms out. Later he’s pouring over scrolls, looking for any clues to the defeat of the White Walkers while Gilly reads to him interesting facts and footnotes she finds in various scrolls. She asks him what an annulment means and reads a brief record of a Prince “Ragger” getting his marriage annulled in Dorne in order to marry another woman. Sam, frustrated, ignores her and decides it is time for them to leave in order to help Jon and the others more directly.


The Northmen continue to have trouble trusting Jon’s judgement. Sansa does not disagree with them, but brushes aside their desire to place her on the Northern throne. Arya is irritated that her sister did not defend their brother but Sansa argues she cannot afford to lose their bannermen. Arya suggests dealing with them as criminals of treason, executing them, but Sansa refuses. They part on icy terms.

Later, Arya follows Littlefinger around the castle as he speaks discreetly with several individuals and places a letter under his bed. She sneaks into his room and removes it. It is the letter Sansa was once forced to write to Robb, asking him to surrender and swear fealty to Joffrey. From the shadows, Littlefinger watches with satisfaction at his planted information.

Bran has a vision of the army of the dead and the Night’s King heading to the Wall.


Jon and company arrive at Eastwatch where they reunite with Tormund and find he has taken the Hound and his entourage prisoner. After some debate, they decide to work together, going beyond the Wall to face down the evil beyond.


Let’s knock the reunions out of the way first. When last Dany and Jorah saw each other, he was dying of Greyscale and she was queen in Meereen. She sent him to find a cure for his incurable illness (Targaryen genes allowed Dany to never be sick in her life so she doesn’t really understand the concept, forgive her). He did it and is now back on Dragonstone. Her welcome of him was warm, though not as heartfelt as some might have hoped. It was likely the productive of zero time for longing glances but it also seemed to be in place to create the ever present tension of Jorah being head over heels for a queen who sees him as her oldest and most trusted friend and nothing else.

We also saw the return of Gendry who finished his massive rowing expedition of season four to be recruited by Davos to fight beyond the Wall. He takes quickly to Jon for both their positions as bastards and the friendship their fathers shared long ago. Gendry is reunited with Thoros of Myr, whom he still holds a grudge against for giving him up to Melisandre.

Let’s begin with the massive reveal that fans have suspected for some time: Jon was not a bastard. There is a blink and you miss it reference to a prince once annulling his marriage to a Dornish woman. The prince in question was Rhaegar; the Dornish woman was his Martell wife, Ellia. This, in all likelihood, means he married Lyanna during their year in hiding, before she gave birth to their son Jon. This makes him not only a legitimate Targaryen, but with the best claim to the throne, if we follow the Targaryen bloodline. Why does this matter? Well, we’re not really sure yet. Jon has shown his distaste for crowns. But it does almost 100% lock in the chances of Jon and Dany marrying considering A) the Targaryen practices of incestuous marriages to ensure bloodlines, B) Dany’s need to ensure her claim stays strong by marrying it to Jon’s (literally), and C) the massive bedroom eyes going on between them all episode.

There is a second hint about Jon’s heritage earlier in the episode when Drogon allows him to reach out his ungloved hand and touch him. This is a highly symbolic moment. Targaryens hold an innate bond to dragons, only those of that bloodline have ever been able to get near a dragon. In A Dance With Dragons, a character with distant Targaryen ancestry attempts to touch one of Dany’s dragons, only to be roasted alive. Drogon, able to sense the connection in Jon’s heritage to him, has no qualms. If Dany took note of this, she really didn’t let on.

That connection will likely be put to use when Jon finds himself in a bad way beyond the Wall next week and Dany sends some dragons to rescue him...oh, and all those other people he went with, was there even other people there? She didn’t notice.

On a less political note, there is something sweet about the growing bond between Dany and Jon. He was raised a bastard, unwanted by the only mother figure he knew, and treated as a half-brother by his siblings. Dany grew up a slave to the only family she knew and a beggar on the streets. The powers that be in the world of Game of Thrones have plucked these two orphans from obscurity and unlucky lives, raised them up, and brought them together. And, after all, Maester Aemon (who was actually Dany and Jon’s uncle) said before dying, “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.” The last Targaryens are no longer alone. It might be the one sappy, nice thing this show will allow us to have.

This is part of the reason I’m not entirely sure Jon will ever find out about his heritage, at least not in the big bombastic reveal we’re all hoping for. No matter what his last name has been, Jon has been a Stark and a Northman through and through. He was raised as Ned Stark’s son, he was one of two of Ned’s children who actually “had the look” of the First Men as opposed to the classic Tully beauty (the other being Arya), he carries a sword with a wolf hilt and has a direwolf companion like his siblings. His allegiance and identity lie in Winterfell so I don’t see him jumping for joy and dropping everything to be king if he finds out what he really is. In fact, he might even abdicate his claim in favor of Daenerys because, as I’ve mentioned before, I believe the Prince and Azor Ahai to be two separate people given the description of one as a ruler and one as a warrior. Jon has lead the fight against the White Walkers so far and Daenerys has united half a million people from different cultural backgrounds into one, cohesive nomadic kingdom of her own. It doesn’t need to be reiterated by me for the millionth time that Jon and Dany are two sides of the same coin with almost identical pasts.

And there is still the conclusion of Cersei’s prophecy: that a younger queen will take away all she holds dear. I foresee the longheld theory that Dany will use Dragon’s fire to melt the throne, just as her ancestor Aegon used Balerion’s fire to forge it.

What we can all agree on is that Rhaegar was a massive, massive word I cannot say in this review for abandoning his wife for another woman because “prophecy told him so.” There are some dubious things about Rhaegar’s annulment and the legal and social implications that we can save for another day. Just know that he’s a massive turd.

I’d like to close out the recap for this week with yet another call-out of the gender double standard that has plagued Game of Thrones and its fandom for years. This time, I’m talking about Sansa. She’s gotten the brunt of the sexist and flat-out misogynistic comments over the years with (male) fans calling her “whiny” for her years spent enduring emotional and physical abuse at the hands of Joffrey and the Lannisters. You know, when she was a twelve-year old girl trapped, all alone, in the capital and her brother refused to trade any prisoners to free her because she was a girl and therefore not worth it.

The show did a fairly good job of coding her in a sympathetic light, but that didn’t stop the (male) fanbase from complaining about her storyline and even complaining about her rejection of the Hound’s affection for her because he rescued her from would-be rapists and apparently she owes him?? Now she is the eldest Stark in Winterfell and, with Bran giving up his claim to lordship of the castle, she is the rightful Lady Stark in her own right. But, the Jon fanboys aren’t seeing it that way (and, unfortunately, neither is Arya). In their eyes, Jon is, at best, a bastard, born in Dorne, who is a disgraced member of the Night’s Watch. At worst, he’s not a Stark at all, but the legitimate son of another House entirely who has now abandoned his post as King in the North. He has no claim to the title he holds, and they might very well go back on their election of him as their king. I’m not saying they should, but what I am saying is Sansa isn’t dealing in any sort of back alley betrayal. She’s the legitimate Lady Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North and I wouldn’t even have to explain this if she was a man.

But, anyway, there’s only two episodes left of the penultimate season of Game of Thrones!


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