As we head into the last dozen or so episodes of Game of Thrones, plotlines are finally starting to combine in meaningful ways and tons of otherwise isolated characters are finding themselves all in one room. It's cathartic, to be sure, but bringing all these threads together has left a few tangled bits along the way. After the season seven premiere was over, we still had a lot of lingering questions.
When Daenerys and her massive fleet roll up on Dragonstone at the end of the episode, it's a big moment. Khaleesi has finally come back to Westeros, and at the home of her ancestors, no less. Even the dragons seem to know how important this place is. But uh, why is it completely empty? You'd think that there would be SOMEONE left hanging around in this gargantuan castle. Who else is going to sweep these giant floors?
Okay, so the "nerd answer" is that Stannis Baratheon abandoned Dragonstone and took every last man, woman and child with him. Sounds like the kind of pragmatic power play Stannis would go for. But while Dragonstone doesn't have much in the way of resources or habitability, it has been acknowledged that it's a place of substantial strategic significance. You'd think that someone like Cersei would have locked that down while Stannis was away for what must have been weeks at the very least, but nope, there's just this huge ass castle up for grabs on the edge of Westeros. Call it a freebie, I guess.
A lot of people are focused on Euron Greyjoy's new look, but we should address what in the hell he thinks he's doing, and why. As we see in the episode, Euron suggests an alliance between the Lannisters and like half of the Greyjoys. There are, let's say, a few problems with this. Just for starters, Jaime points out that the Greyjoys betrayed the Lannisters in recent memory (we'll get back to that).
But the real kicker here is what Euron said at the kingsmoot, the vote for the next ruler of the Iron Islands. It basically boiled down to Euron and Yara trying to persuade a crowd that they could build a better life, and a better fleet for the Ironborn. Euron ended up winning by claiming he was going to go across the sea and win over the dragon queen.
So this blowhard built his whole sales pitch around teaming up with Daenerys, but instantly drops that plan the moment his niece is about 10 minutes away on stolen ships. Why in the world would his men follow him after he broke the first promise he made in record time? Is no universe safe from dishonest politicians?
We've never seen exactly how the dark magic of the Faceless Men works, so we're left to speculate just how all those skinned faces end up on the assassins. Up until the end of last season, I always assumed that it was a special trick that only someone (or uh, no one) like Jaqen H'ghar could pull off. But as it turns out, even though Arya is hundreds if not thousands away from Faceless Men HQ, she can easily disguise herself as anyone she kills.
I could almost get behind the idea that the Faceless Men taught Arya how to cut an shape a human face juuust right so it looks natural when you slip it on your own head. But she's also changing her height and most importantly, mimicking the exact voice of Walder Frey in the opening scene. So does Arya know magic? If so, shouldn't she need some kind of potions or gear or ingredients or something from the Faceless Men HQ? Could she teach Hot Pie this trick if she wanted to? I have a feeling we'll never get answers on this one. Maybe that's for the best -- I think we could all use more scenes like this one.
One tricky thing about a show with so many plotlines is it's sometimes hard to tell when events are occurring in relation to each other. For example, it took Varys the space of one episode to get from Dorne to Meereen, which would take days if not weeks. But in the case of Sam and Gilly, a trip from the Wall to Oldtown took an entire season. I don't want specific timestamps and text callouts during every scene, but the passage of time is almost impossible to nail down in this show. There's no better example of this than Gilly's son, also named Sam. In the season seven opener, he looks like he's three, mayyybe four years old. But here he is in the middle of season six:
Little guy is basically an infant here. When and how did he grow up so fast? It couldn't have taken years to get to Oldtown, right? So are we to believe that horrific montage of Sam cleaning out bedpans lasted for months and months on end? Even if you consider the idea that Sam's story is slightly "behind" everyone else in the timeline, that doesn't make sense when you consider a very stony Jorah is locked up in a weird leper cell somewhere. It's almost as if this dragon incest ice zombie show has some logical inconsistencies.
Jaime Lannister in the show is in a very different place than he is in the books. In tonight's episode, he seems doubtful but still ultimately faithful to his murderous tyrant sister, Cersei. In the books, he's pretty much completely done with her bullshit. So why isn't Show Jaime more like Book Jaime, especially considering Show Cersei just blew up all of her enemies in King's Landing?
Remember, this is the Kingslayer we're talking about. Jaime broke his oath as a kingsguard, murdered Aerys Targaryen and has been reviled ever since -- even if he did it all to save the city from wildfire. You know, the exact same volatile stuff that Cersei used to set off a small green nuke in the middle of the city? The same action that caused poor Tommen to kill himself? And Show Jaime isn't even approaching the anger of someone whose lunch got stolen out of the work fridge. You can tell they're planting seeds of conflict between the siblings, but that they're starting out this season on such agreeable terms is a little unbelievable, even for incest twins.
I'll admit it, I'm incredibly out-of-touch. I'm not familiar with Ed Sheeran's music at all, so as much as I'd like to, I can't rightly jump on the hatewagon for this guy. That said, I do know who he is -- it's hard to miss his face if you spend any time on the internet. Which is why it was so jarring when he did show up in an extended bit with Arya. The scene itself was fine, and Sheeran wasn't terrible or even incompetent. But his very presence was jarring. I have to assume he won't stick around for the rest of the series (we may even see his corpse next week, who knows), but this odd bit of stunt casting really took me out of the moment.
Game of Thrones has had plenty of musicians guest star in way more important scenes. The drummer for Coldplay was at the Red Wedding, of all things, and you hardly noticed him. So why go about the cameo this way when it's been done so subtly in the past? Maybe the fact that we're talking about it means the show has done its job. After all, there needed to be some kind of watercooler moment for the first episode of this season, and there's no ancient naked lady getting into a bathtub this year.