She’s As Cold as (The Queen’s Just)Ice
Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7 Episode 3, “The Queen’s Justice”
Welcome to SEASON 7 of HBO’s prestige snuff series, GAME OF THRONES. This is a SPOILER-RICH scene-by-scene recap of episode three, “The Queen’s Justice.” If you’re looking for a spoiler-free recap, sit back and consider what the word “recap” means.
Davos? Is It Me You’re Looking For?
Once again, we start with waves crashing on the beaches of Dragonstone. It’s like a metaphor for a realm that’s lost at sea; or a coming sea change to the rulers, citizens and ultimate fate of the Seven Kingdoms; or a roiling, ever-changing conflict; or a production crew that didn’t want to waste any of the footage they shot from a boat off the coast of Ireland.
In a meet-cute that’s been teased for so long it’s almost tantric, two fan favorites are finally going to meet. This is the moment viewers have been clamoring for, discussing in forums and dissecting from every possible angle — Ser Davos Seaworth finally returns to the shores of Dragonstone to meet Tyrion Lannister, the man who foiled his naval attack on King’s Landing in season two. The Onion Knight and the Half-Man, The Hand of Baratheon and the Lion of Lannister, finally meeting in person. With the end of the series approaching, it feels like this is what they’ve been building towards the entire time.
Also, Jon Snow is going to meet Daenerys Targaryen. Whatevs.
Tyrion and Missandei are on the beach, flanked by Dothraki armed with some nasty weapons. Tyrion and Jon have some laughs about the fact that both their families kind of disowned them from birth, then Tyrion introduces Missandei as the Queen’s most trusted advisor. She goes on to not advise Dany a single time for the rest of the episode.
Missandei also moonlights as the weapon check girl, disarming Jon and Davos before leading them towards the castle as “guests.” Davos spits his best old man game at her in his adorable Fleabottom accent, and while it makes us all melt a little, we know her heart belongs to Grey Worm.
The Great Stairway of Dragonstone
Last week Littlefinger basically described his Penthouse fantasies about Sansa and Catelyn to Jon Snow in the crypts of Winterfell. Walking up the long stairway to the castle, Tyrion takes an opposite tack — he volunteers just how much he didn’t consumate his marriage with Sansa. He may be the Half-Man, but he’s not much for small talk.
Dany’s dragons to a show-of-force flyby, buzzing the visitors’ heads. Tyrion implies that they do this a lot, which is a great argument for the Citadel to stop messing around with greyscale and get to work on inventing elevators.
Living on the Edge
From the cliffs above, Varys and Melisandre are watching the party ascend to the castle. Varys asks Mel why she doesn’t want to go touch base with the dude she essentially brought here, and she says she’s already done her job — she “brought ice and fire together.”
“In fact, it’s almost like… a song of ice and fire,” she says, in my mind. And then she winks directly into the camera.
In the understatement of all understatements, Melisandre admits that burning Shireen alive was a mistake, but before she Gendrys the FO across the Narrow Sea, she has one more prophecy: she and Varys will both die in Westeros.
Varys seems dismayed by this, despite the fact that he was born in Westeros, spent most of his life in Westeros, has vowed to serve the Queen of Westeros, and — while he’s incredibly smooth — is no longer a spring chicken. It’s hard to face mortality, I guess, especially when you’re hearing about it from a woman who can raise the dead.
Epic Reign Battles of History
Missandei introduces Jon Snow to Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains, the Highlander, the Last Jedi, the Girl Who Lived, esquire.
Davos introduces Dany to Jon Snow, the King in the North.
(It’s not the length of the title, it’s what you do with it. i.e., travel to Dragonstone and get taken captive.)
Jon and Dany have a circular conversation. Jon wants Dany’s help to fight the Night King and his Army of the Dead, but Dany doesn’t believe they exist; Dany wants Jon to bend the knee, but he has no reason to believe she’ll be a better ruler than Mad King Aerys was, and there are more important things to worry about besides (see said Army of Dead).
Dany wants Jon to see her as her own person, a ruler who has done good for the people across the sea, and not judge her for her father’s failings; Jon wants Dany to see him as his own person, and not expect him to bend the knee to her family just because the Starks of old did.
Dany, Jon, Davos and Tyrion all take turns making dramatic steps forward, until they’re standing toe to toe. Then, just before they can lean into a four-person kiss, Varys arrives and whispers something into Dany’s ear — maybe about how terrible her Yelp reviews will be if she keeps treating guests this way.
She sends them off to their rooms with the WiFi password, where they’re free to check out any time they want, but they can never leave.
Varys tells her that Yara’s fleet has been scuttled, and that her Iron Islander and Dornish allies are no more. That just leaves the Unsullied, the Dothraki and the Reach. Maybe a good indie band, but not exactly the dream team for taking over the Seven Kingdoms.
I’m On a Boat
Literal and figurative wet blanket Theon Greyjoy gets hauled out of the waters of the Narrow Sea by a ship crewed by other Iron Islanders. Are they part of Yara’s Iron Fleetlet, and they somehow escaped? Are they part of Euron’s Iron Fleet, preparing Theon for more months of dehumanizing torture? Who cares?
Euron in Five, Four, Three, Two…
A sneering, preening Euron Greyjoy leads Ellaria Sand, her daughter Tyene and Yara Greyjoy through the streets of King’s Landing. They get the all-you-can-scrape-off-and-eat buffet treatment that Cersei got not too long ago, when the High Sparrow marched her through the streets to atone for her sins — albeit with slightly more clothing.
With winter coming and Highgarden in open rebellion, there must be a food shortage in King’s Landing, but somehow they have plenty of vegetables to throw at the prisoners. Save your rotten food for naked captives, people! The splat is so much more satisfying! It’s called rationing!
Touch of Greyjoy
Euron takes the prisoners to our second queen of the night: Cersei, sitting on the Iron Throne. Now that he’s delivered the gift he promised last week, he’s ready to tie the knot and become the King of the Seven Kingdoms. Cersei offers Euron her hand in marriage — after the war is over. Because what could possibly happen between now and then?
As the crowds cheer for Euron, he and Jaime have the least plausible aside ever. Four feet from Cersei, Euron and Jaime spit threats at each other—and Euron lets it slip he heard the gossip that Jaime and Cersei are lovers. In the crowd, three peasants die from clapping for so long under this dialogue.
Cersei Don’t Play
In the Black Cells under King’s Landing, Cersei pours salt on a captive Ellaria and Tyene, talking about when the Mountain killed her lover Oberyn. “If only he hadn’t taunted him, he could’ve walked away,” she taunts, without walking away. This is called foreshadowing.
Cersei gives Tyene a poison kiss — the same way Ellaria killed Cersei’s daughter Myrcella — right in front of her. And she hams it up like a prize ham who won “Best Ham” at the Ham Festival on All Ham’s Eve. Qyburn informs Ellaria that the poison will kill Tyene, for sure, within hours or days or weeks… and Ellaria will be chained up, watching the whole thing.
[ASIDE: I think this may actually be a fake out. Once, in college, my roommate got on my computer while I was gone and left porn playing at full volume, which I could hear in the hallway when I came back. So, the next time he came back to the room, I told him I had put something very embarrassing on his computer, in some folder that he was sure to open at a very inopportune time. I hadn’t put anything on his computer, of course; the goal was to drive him insane, and eventually he was pleading to know where I had hidden something. I think this might be that. Except, you know—slightly less pornography-based.]
Cersei returns to her chambers, where Jaime is waiting, and they go at it like the world is ending, or like it’s their son’s funeral all over again. (Yes, that happened.)
The next morning, one of Cersei’s handmaids comes to the door, and the Queen on the Iron Throne is totally done hiding her relationship with Jaime. Targaryens did it, Freys did it, even educated Fleabottomers did it — what’s the big deal? She requests some clean sheets to get rid of their love stank, and leaves to see a man about a debt.
Mycroft Holmes has arrived from the Iron Bank of Braavos to collect on their loan to the throne. Cersei promises to make good on her debt at a later date.
First Euron, then killing Tyene, now paying the Iron Bank—Cersei is like Chinese Democracy good at putting things off.
Jon Snow is brooding on a cliff. Tyrion comes to brood too. They brood together, about brooding. They should have their own spinoff where the brood in Hawaiian shirts and solve crimes.
Jon wants to leave, because he’s pretty good at it. He left Winterfell, left the Wall, left the Wildlings, left the Night’s Watch and left Sansa. He wrote the book on leavery. Tyron, meanwhile, truly believes that Daenerys is the right person to help Jon, the North, and the entire Seven Kingdoms. Jon is just moving too fast with his “join me or everyone you know will be murdered and join the army of the dead” schtick.
Jon settles on a smaller first request: no army, no dragons, just the dragonglass under Dragonstone.
Tyrion takes this request to Dany, and urges her to extend this small olive branch; otherwise she’s going to keep burning through allies faster than she can gain them, and her numbers at the moment are not looking great. Also, if dragons are flying around with the greatest of ease, maybe armies of the dead aren’t the craziest thing in the realm after all.
Back on Dragonstone’s 10 Million Steps for Dating My Teenage Dragon, Jon finds Dany looking out at the ocean, getting her brood on. They both shake their heads and chuckle about that nutty Tyrion, and Dany offers him all the dragonglass he can carry and all the men he needs.
The Westeros Wing
In Winterfell we get our Queen Hat Trick for the epsiode with Sansa Stark, acting Queen in the North. She’s playing every Stark child’s favorite game, counting grain for the winter.
She does a classic walk-and-talk through Winterfell with the castellan, the maester and Petyr “Yes I Grew This Moustache on Purpose” Baelish. If there’s one thing being a Stark has prepared her for, it’s getting ready for winter, and she handily seizes the reins of leadership to ensure that they have food and insulated armor to meet the season.
Petyr tries to convince Sansa that he’s still the smartest one in the not-room, but she’s done suffering his foolishness; she’s the queen, and he’s starting to look more and more like one of those fish that hang onto the bottom of a shark for a free ride.
Littlefinger shares his life philosophy about how to survive in Westeros: If you’re ready for anything, you’ll never be surprised. Everyone is your enemy and your friend, depending on what you need from them. Dance like nobody is watching, and like everyone is watching. Wear sunscreen. On second thought, forget the sunscreen. You may not have heard, but Winter is Coming.
Then Bran arrives from the Wall, wearing a coat of dead squirrels. Sansa hugs him anyway.
Just Thinkin’ ‘Bout Three Eyed Raven Stuff
In the godswood, Bran speaks slowly and cryptically, like a wise old sage, and kind of looks like John Lennon. He casually explains to Sansa that he can now see everything that has happened and that will happen, out-Littlefingering Littlefinger. Then he makes fuck me eyes at the heart tree and starts talking about how he’s the Three-Eyed Raven, and the Walrus, and the Eggman, coo-coo-cachoo.
Also, he mentions that he kinda-sorta-maybe watched Ramsay Bolton rape and torture Sansa through his mystical third eye. Classic family reunion stuff. Just another Christmas in Winterfell.
Back at the Citadel, Sam Tarly has cured Jorah “Sexy Grampa” Mormont in just one easy treatment! Time for Jorah to take off once again, until it’s dramatically appropriate for him to reappear and/or he grows back a liiiittle more of his natural skin.
Sam does the bravest thing he’s ever done and shakes hands with Jorah, then quickly exits to obsessively wash them.
The Archmaester is a little peeved at Sam for breaking protocol, but gives him an “attaboy” for thinking outside the box. Then he asks him to copy, by hand, a table covered in rotting scrolls—the equivalent of writing “i will not attempt to cure greyscale” 100 times on the chalkboard.
The Battle (Montage) of Casterley Rock
In her map room, Dany is done playing the “avoid unnecessary casualties” card. She wants to send her dragons and burn up Euron’s entire fleet. But first, they have a chance to turn the tables a bit in their favor — Tyrion’s Unsullied sneak attack on Casterley Rock.
When he was a young man, Tyrion was master of the sewers in Casterley Rock. Tywin gave his son this position as an insult, but Tyrion turned it to his advantage by making a secret passageway to sneak hookers into his room. Grey Worm brings his howling commandos through the sewer, and they open the gates to let the Unsullied army in.
In short order, they kill every every soldier in Casterley Rock… or do they?
Euron’s Iron Fleet sweeps in behind them to take out their ships, trapping them the same way Dany had hoped to trap Cersei in King’s Landing with Yara’s fleet. The Unsullied are stuck on permanent vacation in Casterley Rock, taking another one of Dany’s pieces off the board.
The Old Reach Around
The Lannister Army isn’t at Casterley Rock. They’re attacking Highgarden, the capitol of the Reach.
Jamie leads the army with Randyll Tarly and Bronn. That’s right — Bronn is back! He doesn’t lead the city watch anymore, but he’ll still come spit a verse for the right price.
They straight murder they Reach’s entire army, like a hot sellsword through butter. Jaime walks up the castle stairs to Olenna Tyrell’s chamber, where she’s waiting, somehow. Maybe the Unsullied dropped her off on the way to Casterley Rock. For everyone keeping track of queens, she’s the fourth of the night, if you count her nickname, “The Queen of Thorns.”
Jaime does the Bond villain thing and explains to Olenna how his army emptied the larders and vaults at Casterley Rock and left, trapping the Unsullied there to starve. It’s an old trick he learned from Robb Stark in the Battle of the Whispering Wood.
Olenna knows she’s about to die, and she goes out insulting Jaime and everyone in his family, calling Cersei a monster and Joffrey a cunt. Classic Olenna. May we all spend our dying moments the same way — doing what we love.
Jaime tries brooding on for size himself, believing — or trying to convince himself—that the ends justify the means. Then he gives Olenna poisoned wine, which she gulps down like a 21 year old on Spring Break.
With her last words, Olenna admits that she, not Tyrion, was the one who poisoned Joffrey.
Suck it, Kingslayer. Credits.
NEXT WEEK: The Spoilers of War
All images: HBO