In High Valyrian, pronouns have no gender. And based on this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, one can’t help but wonder what other quirks might emerge when translating the language to Westerosi.
But first, let’s talk about Tyrion’s plan. Creating a literal siege around King’s Landing mirrors Drunk Queen Cersei’s own understanding of the board. And it is the safest way to wrest the Iron Throne from her. Starving the people will erode her control quickly and even the Mountain cannot withstand that many people ready to slit Cersei’s throat. But perhaps more ingenious is the plan to attack Casterly Rock head on and remove the Lannisters’ great power: economic pressure. If successful, it means the end of House Lannister as we’ve known it. It also suggests Tyrion really is all in with regards to Daenerys’s plan to break the wheel.
At the same time, I will admit I agree with Olenna Tyrell. The peoples of Westeros are children and for far too long their petty whims and squabbles have prevented a peace that could exist. Seven Hells, even before the Targaryens arrived in Westeros and forged the Iron Throne, the Kingdoms engaged in the very same power plays which make their world vulnerable to Ice. Perhaps a true display of shock and awe will prove more effective than laying siege to the capital. In fact, Daenerys may have no choice if the attack on Casterly Rock goes as well as Yara’s commute back to Dorne.
In a stunning and well-directed turn of events, Euron claimed his prized in the form of Myrcella’s poisoner Ellaria Sand. He also took two of the Sand Snakes off the board and kidnapped Yara. While I’ve always jokingly sided with the backward Iron Men, this was an outcome I did not anticipate. Euron finally proved to be a bold leader even if his belief in the Drowned God is questionable. Also, I have to reaffirm my allegiance to Yara. No one is better to suited to sit the Seastone Chair (I don’t care what the show calls it) and I hope fortunes will reverse again. To see Euron finally received in the Watery Halls would be a special thrill — no matter how much I respect his attack on Yara’s fleet.
Meanwhile, Reek has lost his name and title once again.
The mid-sea battle does raise questions about Dorne. With the Ellaria off the board for the moment, will Dorne vote to continue supporting Daenerys? Will a Martell appear out of the Water Gardens to maintain the alliance? There are other children of Oberyn Martell who could be running things in the Sand Snakes’ stead, I suppose. Also, it is unclear if Tyene was killed or left for dead. Perhaps she will continue to raise the banners for the Mother of Dragons.
Sam’s quiet strength continues to be admirable. Not only has he sent word to Jon about the cache of dragonglass at Dragonstone, but he has defeated the security measure inside the Citadel to aid Jorah. I suppose it makes sense that he would be able to cure greyscale with his fearlessness, but I wonder if it will finally see him kicked out from the Maester order. One of his breaches in protocol has to lead him back to Winterfell, right?
I also have to wonder if this is what Randyll Tarly is betting on. He’s made no attempt to recover the sword Sam stole. He also made a half-hearted promise to Jamie to support Drunk Queen Cersei. In the case of Randyll Tarly, I always think back to the last pages of A Dance of Dragons, in which Kevan Lannister considers him to be the greatest threat to the Lannister regime left in the world. Sadly for Kevan, he died shortly thereafter and will never know the outcome. At that meeting, Randyll made a similar pledge to Kevan that his TV counterpart made to Jamie. Unfortunately, I don’t think Jamie knows to be wary of a man clearly unimpressed with Lannister tactics. One imagines Randyll believes he can elevate his family beyond Warden of the South or hedge on his no-good son doing right.
Either way, Drunk Queen Cersei will no doubt rely on Qyburn’s latest technological horror when the war comes to her feet.
The Tarlys have also made one unexpected contribution to the War to Come: inadvertently assuring the meeting between Jon and Daenerys. Like Jon, we’ve seen the army of the dead and we know Jon’s choice to make for Dragonstone is correct. For once, even Lyanna Mormont is wrong in her belief that he should stay in the North. Sadly, I think it will weaken his position in the short term. But it may also clear the way for Sansa — now Regent of the North — to secure the Vale and deal with Little Finger. At least, I hope those are her moves in the days to come. Lord Baelish has finally revealed his intentions toward her and it is utterly disgusting. Hopefully Sansa is ready and waiting with Ramsay’s hungry dogs.
Oh, but that upcoming meeting! The exact nature of the Prince Who Was Promised has been redefined as “Prince or Princess” thanks to Missandei’s more acute sense of High Valyrian. But is it possible that even she is missing a key translation? Perhaps it was a Prince and Princess who were promised. Then again, even Melisandre admits that prophecies are dangerous. The Lord of Light has led her down a costly, ugly road to get to this place and she has plenty to answer for because of it. Perhaps R’hllor will allow her to live just long enough to see the true nature of the prophecy revealed.
But for all the major moves made in this episode, the quieter moments stand out. Lord Varys’s speech of fealty to Daenerys was remarkable and Conleth Hill deserves recognition for that scene alone. So does Diana Rigg for her wise and sharp-tongued counsel. Maisie Williams also secured an Emmy, I think, for her reunion with Hot Pie. Played almost entirely from her eyes, she turns from a living weapon into a human again. And as much as I want to see Arya revenge herself upon the remaining people on her list, I much rather see her reunited with the Starks of Winterfell.
Lastly, I wanted to point out the sex scene. For all the remarkable things Game of Thrones does right, it so often gets sex wrong. It’s frequently a cheap gimmie used to distract you while Maesters explain the plot. Just as often, tt ends up being used as an ugly plot motivator or to underscore the depravity of the Ice and Fire world. But with Grey Worm and Messandei’s scene, we finally see sex as something vulnerable and, at least seemingly, equitable. I’m willing to be wrong here if provided with a strong argument that it was entirely about looking at Nathalie Emmanuel naked, but their conversation gave it a sense that both were baring all. I suppose that intent would be stronger if we were allowed to see just what is unsullied about Grey Worm; offering the scene true equality. For the moment, though, I’m willing to believe that it is a scene in which two people want to be together — not for reasons of politics or money or other duplicities, but just because the moment was finally upon them and that it could all be gone with the dawn.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO.