In the ‘Game of Thrones’ recap, Jon leads a funeral procession as Daenerys plans for her invasion but she soon finds out that Cersei Lannister has been playing the game of thrones much longer…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
In the aftermath of the Battle of Winterfell, there appeared to be only one last war left to fight but that may not be the case any longer.
While the living were able to withstand the Army of the Dead, the losses were massive and everybody is left in mourning for the people who didn’t survive. Still, Daenerys Targaryen always saw the war against the dead not only as a necessary battle that had to be won but an essential fight that would help bring the North to her side.
Sadly despite Daenerys sacrificing a huge part of her army as well as one of her dragons, the North seems in no hurry to trust her and if anything, they are turning their allegiance towards the former King in the North, Jon Snow. That only serves to further frustrate Daenerys because of the secret that she knows about Jon and his rightful claim to the Iron Throne.
The Stark family really does take center stage in much of the episode as we see Arya Stark refusing to celebrate her triumph over the Night King before shifting her focus to unfinished business in King’s Landing.
Meanwhile, Sansa Stark has not only proven to be a capable leader but she’s showing the skills she learned watching ‘Littlefinger’ Petyr Baelish wield his words like a sword for several years before finally turning the tables on him. Now she’s the one manipulating people to her will, which seems to be with an end goal of putting Jon on the Iron Throne instead of the Dragon Queen.
And finally we return to King’s Landing but not before Cersei strikes first at Daenerys, causing her even more catastrophic losses, with a war for the Iron Throne looming in the penultimate episode next week.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ titled ‘The Last of the Starks’…
Funeral for Friends
Following the war against the Army of the Dead and the Night King being defeated, the people left alive still have to grieve for those who were lost. Among them were Jorah Mormont, Theon Greyjoy and Dolorous Edd of the Night’s Watch — and the people closest to them had to say their goodbyes.
A particularly sad moment was Sansa bidding farewell to Theon while pinning a Stark family crest on his chest. In the end, Jon gives a speech before all of the bodies are set aflame on the funeral pyre.
“We’re here to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters. To our fathers and mothers. To our friends, our fellow men and women who set aside their differences to fight together and die together so that others might live. Everyone in this world owes them a debt that can never be repaid. It is our duty and our honor to keep them alive in memory for those who come after us and those who come after them for as long as men draw breath. They were the shields that guarded the realms of men. And we shall never see their like again.”
~ Jon Snow
The somber funeral then leads to a raucous night of drinking and food inside the Great Hall at Winterfell. The first bit of celebration happens after Daenerys properly introduces herself to Gendry after he helped forge the weapons that armed her soldiers in the battle against the dead.
Gendry is the last known son of former king Robert Baratheon and while his father may have done everything in his power to take the throne from Daenerys’ father, she is forgiving of his family’s transgressions. In fact, Daenerys thanks Gendry for his service by legitimizing him, which means he is a bastard no longer.
“No, you are Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm’s End, the lawful son of Robert Baratheon, because is what I have made you.”
~ Daenerys Targaryen
From growing up in the slums of King’s Landing to a new place as a Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Gendry has definitely made his way in the world. In the wake of this news, Gendry seeks out Arya and asks for her hand in marriage.
While he was nervous about having sex with her a few days earlier, Gendry is now ready to profess his love while bending the knee to ask her to become his wife. Unfortunately for Gendry, Arya isn’t the marrying type.
She knows that Gendry will be a wonderful husband to some woman and he should make a fine new Lord of Storm’s End but she’s not planning to be there to witness either actually happen.
“But I’m not a lady. I never have been. That’s not me.”
~ Arya Stark
Meanwhile back in the hall, Sansa sits down with ‘The Hound’ Sandor Clegane for the first time in several years. She once feared him while living in King’s Landing but Sansa soon found out that ‘The Hound’ might be one of the only people with no allegiance to her or her family that just tried to protect her. ‘The Hound’ has heard of the atrocities that happened to Sansa after he left her there in King’s Landing and he wonders what would have become of all of them if she would have just left with him during the ‘Battle of Blackwater Bay’.
Sansa isn’t one to live with regret because through all the awful things she’s suffered, the end result was the strong, smart powerful woman who is now effectively leading the North alongside her ‘brother’.
“Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a Little Bird all my life”
~ Sansa Stark
As for Jaime, Tyrion, Brienne and Podrick, they decide to play a drinking game in the wake of their win in the Battle of Winterfell. It’s the same game that Tyrion played with Shae and Bronn several seasons ago where you make a statement about a person and if it’s true, they must drink or if it’s not true, you must drink.
The game is going well until Tyrion asks Brienne if she’s a virgin and that strikes a nerve so she gets up and leaves. She even shuns Tormund’s advances as Jaime then rushes off to speak to her.
Jaime ends up in Brienne’s quarters where they continue their conversation while the former leader of the Kingsguard starts removing his clothing because it’s too hot in there. Passions eventually flare and Jaime goes to bed with Ser Brienne as they give into their instincts that have been brewing for several years already.
As for the celebration, Tormund is cheering on Jon Snow like a conquering hero — he rode on the back of a dragon and lived to tell about it after all. Daenerys watches from the shadows as the man she loves — who also has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne — is being cheered and embraced while she is still seen as an outsider invading the North.
Daenerys finally calls on Jon later that night but after the two share a kiss, it’s the former bastard who pulls away. He can’t forget his true heritage — or the fact that he’s been shagging his aunt. Daenerys is also concerned but for different reasons.
She knows that Jon is beloved by his people and now he actually has the rightful claim to the Iron Throne that she has believed belonged to her ever since Khal Drogo turned her brother’s head into a golden statue. The only way Daenerys sees this ending is either Jon keeping this a secret or the news gets out and then suddenly everybody is questioning her rule.
“You can say nothing. To anyone, ever. Never tell them who you really are. Swear your brother and Samwell Tarly to secrecy and tell no one else or it will take on a life of its own and you won’t be able to control it or what it does to people. No matter how many times you bend the knee, no matter what you swear.”
It seems somewhat disingenuous to the character that Daenerys would suddenly become so irrational, even in the face of a bombshell secret, but she’s certainly being painted as the future ‘Mad Queen’. If that is the route that ‘Game of Thrones’ goes in these final two episodes, it will surely be disappointing, especially considering the time we’ve spent learning to love Daenerys as a just queen and a benevolent ruler.
Either way, Jon can’t keep anymore secrets from his family and he can’t promise Daenerys that he’s going to hide this information away from the people he loves the most.
The Last War
The war council reconvenes after the Battle of Winterfell has ended.
While Queen Daenerys has received a pledge of loyalty from the new prince in Dorne and Yara Greyjoy took back the Iron Islands, the bigger problem remains getting Cersei Lannister off the Iron Throne and out of King’s Landing without killing millions of people who live within that city.
The problem now is that Daenerys’ army has been greatly diminished by the fight against the Army of the Dead. Half her troops have been eviscerated, the same with the Northern armies as well as the Knights of the Vale. Daenerys still has two dragons (for now) and a powerful group of Unsullied and Dothraki at her command but she can no longer claim to win the numbers game with Cersei, especially not after she hired 20,000 sellswords from the Golden Company to do her bidding.
“The balance has grown distressingly even”
~ Lord Varys
Despite just fighting a huge battle, Daenerys believes now is the time to move on King’s Landing to take the Iron Throne away from Cersei. While she’s been fighting wars to the North, Cersei has just been meticulously planning and plotting to remain the queen and Daenerys refuses to let her sit on the Iron Throne for another night without a fight.
“We have won the Great War now we will win the Last War. In all Seven Kingdoms, men will live without fear and cruelty under their rightful queen.”
~ Daenerys Targaryen
As much as Daenerys wants to rip Cersei out ‘root and stem’, Tyrion and Varys remind her that the goal is to win back the Iron Throne, not to kill all the people who are currently living in King’s Landing under her rule. As much as Daenerys could fly over the capital and rain down dragon fire, she doesn’t want to rule as the queen of the ashes.
Tyrion reminds Daenerys that starving people once turned on her father when he could no longer provide for them. He predicts the people in King’s Landing will do much the same when they realized that Queen Daenerys means them no harm so long as Cersei Lannister no longer sits on the Iron Throne.
The other problem that Daenerys faces is continued bad blood with Sansa, who requests that the Northern troops be given time to rest and recuperate before walking south to fight her war. Daenerys believes that Sansa is rebuking the agreement that the North would fight for her if she fought for them. Jon ultimately overrules Sansa and tells Daenerys that the Northern troops will fight at her command.
Ultimately, Daenerys agrees to a siege rather than a war — Jon and Ser Davos will lead the armies by foot down the Kingsroad where they will surround King’s Landing from outside the walls. Daenerys will take a smaller group of Unsullied and Dothraki by boat from White Harbor to Dragonstone where they will prepare to launch the offensive that will cut off King’s Landing from receiving any food supplies.
Following the war council, Jon meets with his sisters and Bran in the Godswood while trying to understand their continued rebellion against Daenerys despite what she did for the North. Both Arya and Sansa can’t seem to trust Daenerys no matter what she does and they believe the only people they can rely upon are family.
After watching the Starks get decimated for several years it’s understandable why Sansa and Arya would be less than trusting of any outsider promising to be a just ruler. Sansa and Arya believe this should be a Stark family decision but there’s only one problem…
“I’ve never been a Stark.”
~ Jon Snow
As much as Jon wants to keep the secret to protect Daenerys, he can’t lie to his family and he tells Bran to inform them of his true heritage. Jon may still be part Stark but he is truly Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
He swears them to secrecy but as the old saying goes — only two can keep a secret if one of them is dead. By the end of the episode, more people find out about Jon’s true parents and it’s no longer a secret — it’s vital information.
Later that night while Tyrion and Jaime are enjoying a drink, they are paid a visit by Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, who has arrived in the North wielding a crossbow with a few demands for his former employers. Cersei has promised Bronn the Lordship over Riverrun in exchange for murdering her treasonous brothers but he’s been convinced ever since running into Daenerys and her dragons that she would be the one sitting on the Iron Throne when the fighting was finished.
Tyrion once promised Bronn whatever anyone offers to kill him, he would double it to stay alive and that’s one oath he’s going to have to keep. Bronn wonders what would be double of Riverrun and Tyrion suggests it would be Highgarden, the former ancestral seat to House Tyrell that is no more after the entire family was destroyed with Lady Olenna being the last to die.
Jaime scoffs at Bronn’s request because no mercenary is going to rule in Highgarden.
“That’s how all the great Houses started isn’t it? With a hard bastard who was good at killing people. Kill a few hundred people, they make you lord. Kill a few thousand, they make you king.”
Bronn has a point and eventually both Jaime and Tyrion concede — if Daenerys wins the war, he will become the new Lord of Highgarden. Bronn also tells them his fighting days are finished and he’s going to sit on the sidelines until this battle is done so he can claim his prizes.
The day has come for Daenerys to lead her troops out of the North as she prepares to fight for the Iron Throne. Jon will lead the soldiers on food down to the capital while Daenerys will take the dragons and her ships back to Dragonstone to prepare for the siege.
As he’s preparing to leave, Jon is met by his old friend Tormund Giantsbane, who tells him that he’s taking the Wildlings back north of the Wall where they belong. They were fleeing south because of the threat off the Night King and the Army of the Dead. Now that’s been dealt with and Tormund feels like he belongs back there rather than living in Westeros.
As they say their final goodbyes, Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost with him because a direwolf has no real place south of the Wall. Poor Ghost was still beat up from battle with half an ear missing and Jon can’t even bother to say goodbye to him with a rub behind the head. Instead he just looks at Ghost before preparing to leave.
Jon gets one more goodbye from his best pal Samwell Tarly and his lady Gilly.
It turns out that Gilly is pregnant with Sam’s child and if they have a boy, they plan on naming him Jon. It’s unclear where Sam and Gilly are going but it would seem to make the most sense that they would return to Horn Hill — the seat of House Tarly. Sam would be the rightful lord now that his father and brother are dead and he could raise his family there as Tarly’s alongside his mother and sister.
Before Tyrion boards his ship to leave, he stops for a final conversation with Sansa as he continues to speak Daenerys’ praises while trying to convince her to join their side. Sansa still questions if Daenerys is truly the right queen to sit on the Iron Throne and she wonders if Tyrion’s loyalty is as much about fear as it is belief in Daenerys.
Tyrion again fires back by defending her but before allowing him to leave, Sansa decides to impart some information on her ex-husband. She then tells Tyrion the truth about Jon — that he is actually Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
“Tyrion — what if there’s someone else? Someone better.”
Why does Sansa tell him this information while simultaneously betraying her brother’s trust?
The main reason is that Sansa doesn’t believe in Daenerys much less trust her rule as queen. Sansa would rather see her brother/cousin sit on the Iron Throne. There was a time when Ned Stark could have potentially taken the Iron Throne during Robert’s Rebellion but instead he handed that over to his best friend.
Now it appears Sansa is playing the game of thrones by wielding the information she has like a weapon — much like Littlefinger did so many times in the past. As much as he betrayed her over the years, Littlefinger did manage to pass along some real wisdom to Sansa and now she’s using it to sow seeds of doubt amongst Daenerys’ most trusted advisors while hopefully putting Jon into the real position of power when the war is done.
And finally, ‘The Hound’ gets on his horse all by himself as he prepares to ride south for King’s Landing as well. As much as he might want to be alone, he’s soon joined by Arya Stark, who is also on horseback with business to handle in the capital.
‘The Hound’ says he never plans on returning and Arya says the same. By all accounts, ‘The Hound’ is heading to King’s Landing to kill his brother — so get ready for that long awaited ‘Clegane-bowl’ we’ve all been talking about for years — and as for Arya, perhaps she’s going to finally cross off one last name from her kill list.
On the boat ride back to Dragonstone, Tyrion tells Lord Varys the troubling news he just learned from Sansa about Jon Snow.
Varys has been worried about Daenerys’ state of mind lately, especially after she impetuously decided to conquer the Iron Throne without allowing for much time to recoup after the Battle of Winterfell.
During the party in the Great Hall after the fighting was done, Varys couldn’t help but notice how isolated Daenerys was during the celebration. Jon was being crowned king by his friends, Gendry enjoyed his new role as Lord of the Stormlands but there was Daenerys all by herself, alone and isolated without Ser Jorah Mormont by her side and the troops loyal to her cut in half.
The conversation between Tyrion and Varys is cut short after the ships drop anchors just outside Dragonstone when Daenerys flies overhead with her dragons — and Rhaegal is hit with a spear from a scorpion. Two more follow — one directly to the neck — and Rhaegal flutters and falls into the sea.
As Daenerys turns the corner, she finds that Euron Greyjoy and his fleet have been waiting at Dragonstone for her arrival.
They prepare to fire off more spears at Daenerys but she manages to fly away on Drogon before they can take down her last dragon. Rather than fly behind the fleet and rain down dragon fire (because the ships can’t turn around that fast), she rushes to get away while the scorpions then begin blowing apart her ships.
Each scorpion bolt rips through the ships as Tyrion and the rest of Daenerys’ advisors are forced to jump into the sea to survive. They eventually all wash up on the shores of Dragonstone except one is missing — Missandei never found her way to that beach and instead becomes a prisoner of Euron Greyjoy in service of Queen Cersei Lannister.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei celebrates her latest victory while revealing that she’s opened up the gates to the Red Keep so all the people can join her. Cersei is essentially using the people of King’s Landing as a human shield of sorts — if Daenerys wants to burn down the Red Keep, she’s going to be killing thousands upon thousands of her potential subjects at the same time.
She also rewards Euron with good news — she’s pregnant with their child, which only further cements their relationship and his loyalty towards her.
“When the war is won, the Lion shall rule the land, the Kraken shall rule the sea, and our child shall one day rule them all.”
~ Cersei Lannister
Obviously, Cersei is actually pregnant with Jaime’s kid but she lied to one king about all of their children so it’s pretty much her thing at this point. Telling Euron that she’s pregnant with a prince only helps to keep him loyal to her for the long haul. And now that she’s captured one of Daenerys’ most trusted advisors, she has leverage as well.
Back at Dragonstone, Daerneys is understandably upset after another of her ‘children’ has been killed and she’s no closer to her goal of taking the Iron Throne. Daenerys is ready to just rain down fire on the capital but Varys begs her not to give into her anger over this latest setback.
Varys promised Daenerys two seasons ago that if he ever questioned her judgment that he would say it to her face rather than plot behind her back. Varys tells her that this course of action would be wrong and against everything she’s ever stood for as a queen of the people.
Tyrion agrees and he eventually convinces Daenerys to a parlay at King’s Landing — they will ask for Cersei’s unconditional surrender and in exchange she will be allowed to live. Daenerys agrees to the meeting but once again she’s not happy about the advice she’s receiving.
In a private meeting, Varys continues to voice his concerns over Daenerys’ decision making and after learning about Jon Snow, he wonders if perhaps the former ‘King in the North’ would be a more effective leader. Varys knows by blood that Jon has a greater claim to the Iron Throne and as much as people may love a queen, they’ve always been loyal to kings.
Tyrion reminds Varys that he’s speaking treason right now and add to that, Jon Snow has made it perfectly clear that he wants nothing to do with sitting on the Iron Throne.
“Have you considered the best ruler might be someone who doesn’t want to rule?”
Once again this seems somewhat disingenuous to these characters that Varys would just suddenly abandon Daenerys and jump over to Jon Snow but then again as Tyrion points out, he’s been ‘loyal’ to several kings throughout history. Melisandre promised that Varys would die in Westeros the same as she did so perhaps his treason will be the reason the ‘Spider’ is finally caught in his own web of deceit.
Back in the North, Sansa receives word of Daenerys’ defeat at Dragonstone and it doesn’t take long before Jaime finds out as well. Jaime had opted to stay behind at Winterfell as a guest of Sansa Stark while he continued his new relationship with Brienne but upon hearing about Cersei’s latest attack, he packs up his horse and prepares to ride back to King’s Landing.
Brienne attempts to stop him while reminding Jaime that he’s become a good man and he’s no longer beholden to his sister any longer.
“You think I’m a good man? I pushed a boy out a tower window, crippled him for life, for Cersei. I strangled my cousin with my own hands just to get back to Cersei. I would have murdered every man, woman and child in Riverrun for Cersei. She’s hateful and so am I.”
~ Jaime Lannister
Jamie mounts his horse and rides out into the night while Brienne is left crying in the wake of his exit. As much as this would appear to be Jamie returning to Cersei’s side, it might actually be more likely that this is a giant rouse because he knows there’s no coming back for his sister.
There have long been beliefs that Jamie would be the one to finally finish Cersei, while living up to his nickname the ‘kingslayer’ or in this case a ‘queenslayer’. In the books, Cersei receives a prophecy from a witch telling her about marrying a king and how her children would die but then also mentioning that her death would come at the hands of the ‘volonqar’, which is high Valyrian for ‘little brother’. Remember while they are twins, Cersei was born ahead of Jaime — but this part of the prophecy wasn’t actually mentioned in the show so it’s tough to say if that will play out or not.
Regardless, Jaime’s hasty exit may seem like betrayal but something tells me he’s not going back to the dark side just yet.
Finally, Daenerys leads her troops to the shores of King’s Landing for a meeting with Cersei where they will demand that she lay down her arms and surrender the Iron Throne. Qyburn meets with Tyrion and he passes along a message that the queen won’t be surrendering on this day or any day to come.
Tyrion then walks past Qyburn and talks directly to his sister while Daenerys looks on with her trusted friend and advisor Missandei chained at the edge of the wall just waiting to be executed.
Tyrion tells his sister that he knows she’s not a monster because he’s seen how she behaved with her own children. She loved them more than anything else in the world and now she’s pregnant again. He begs her to surrender and live rather than fight and die, possibly risking the life of her unborn baby.
Now it’s interesting to note that Tyrion squawks on and on about Cersei’s baby but Euron Greyjoy has to wonder how he knows exactly? Euron believes he just impregnated Cersei so how would Tyrion know about their child coming into the world?
Despite his best efforts, Cersei just looks down at her brother with scornful eyes before walking over to Missandei with one last message.
Cersei: “If you have any last words, now is the time”
A second later, ‘The Mountain’ Gregor Clegane decapitates Missandei — her head and lifeless body tumble down to the ground as Daenerys and Grey Worm are forced to watch with horrified looks on their faces.
Cersei has now declared war and Daenerys turns back towards her troops with a similar look of disdain washed over her face. She wants the Iron Throne and now Daenerys will take it back through fire and blood.
Judging by the conclusion of this episode, the war for the Iron Throne will be fought next week in the penultimate hour of ‘Game of Thrones’. Don’t miss a minute of the action next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on HBO with a full recap to follow on Nerdcore Movement!