So my prediction didn’t quite come true, huh? Turns out Jaime is alive and well after last week’s battle, with Bronn miraculously rescuing the fully-armored knight from the river. I’m not upset that Jaime survived (since I still believe he will ultimately kill Cersei), but the show has to avoid getting too reckless with the consequences of war. Game of Thrones has never looked for convenient ways to save characters from danger, unlike the Hobbit films. They have long proven that anyone can die; they did kill off Randyll and Dickon Tarly in this episode, but those two were never going to play an integral part in the overall story. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but given the evidence, you can forgive me for thinking they were actually going to kill Jaime. I will never apologize for proposing an original opinion that doesn’t blindly line up with the general consensus (hence the creation of this blog). Anyway, let’s move on to the meat of the episode.
Perhaps we should start with Tyrion’s plan to bring evidence of the army of the dead before Cersei. While I agree that providing visible proof makes sense on a strategic level, it still sounds like an incredibly dangerous plan that may not even come to fruition. How in the world are Jon and his band of brothers planning to capture one soldier that is most likely surrounded by several thousand others (as one reviewer noted, it’s turned into a Saving Private Ryan situation)? Even if they do manage to bring it back to King’s Landing, there’s no guarantee Cersei would simply drop her schemes and join their fight. The conflict seems manufactured to move the story along quickly, but I’ll wait to see what happens with the “Magnificent Seven” first before passing further judgment.
But what I really enjoyed about this episode lies with two sources. First, I was absolutely thrilled about Gendry’s reintroduction (and Davos delivering the line “thought you might still be rowing”). He was always a great side characters whose story never received a proper conclusion, so it felt right to bring him back now and pair him with fellow “bastard” Jon Snow. You could tell he was itching to fight with his newly-crafted hammer (his father’s weapon of choice). In truth, the show needs more people like Gendry around: ones who understand the dire threat lurking and choose not to sit around waiting for it.
The second moment that prompted my use of the happy Chris Pratt face was the revelation that Jon is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, not born out of wedlock as most people believed. This is the most concrete evidence we’ve received to support the R + L = J theory (the only Game of Thrones theory I’m willing to entertain) and it was Gilly of all people who revealed the information! Hannah Murray is a treasure for playing innocent so perfectly. This gives Jon a more legitimate claim to the throne than Daenerys; whether we ever see that come to a head remains unclear, but it sure looks that way. Props to the writers for subtly dropping clues here and there so when they are finally paid off, we all feel like happy Chris Pratt.
The shortcomings mainly concern Cersei’s apparent pregnancy. I don’t believe for a second that she is actually with child and it might just be a ploy to keep Jaime confused, but surely that wasn’t the only method she could’ve used. I just fail to see how this sudden bombshell actually makes sense in context or whether the show will devote the necessary time to explore it. In addition, Sam’s rather quick decision to leave the Citadel doesn’t feel earned. Yes, the various maesters have repeatedly ignored his advice, but Sam always seemed to bounce back and prove himself useful in another fashion. It’s probably a casualty of faster pacing, but it had a jarring effect nonetheless.
Speaking of which, I wanted to end by lending my thoughts on the reviewers who complain that the characters are traveling around too quickly. These people clearly haven’t been paying enough attention to the structure of the show; Benioff and Weiss and have repeatedly stated that all storylines do not follow the same timeline. Jorah Mormont showing up at Dragonstone doesn’t mean he magically transported himself from Oldtown. The show just cuts out the unnecessary travel time so it can spend its time on more important matters. Do you really want to watch the boring journey that Jorah took to get back to Daenerys? No, I don’t think you do. I openly criticize several elements of the show, but this is one I have to defend from the naysayers.
“Eastwatch” is undoubtedly a setup episode, but it’s an effective one. The writers have been deftly moving the pieces around the board for several seasons now to prepare us for presumably an action-packed and epic finale. Just when I thought Littlefinger had ceased to be useful, he comes firing back with a plan to turn the Stark sisters against each other. Just when I thought they had forgotten about the Hound, he teams up with Jon Snow of all people. Game of Thrones keeps finding new ways to bring characters together while maintaining a clear endgame. There are many callbacks and references that require some additional studying, but when you’ve invested in a show for seven seasons and they pay those off, it’s worth every last minute.