It’s becoming abundantly clear that this season (and, probably, next season as well) is digging deep into SuperfanService. It’s seriously rewarding people who know and remember everything about this show. What I mean is, the callbacks are coming thick and fast.
In Winterfell, Petyr tries to make nice with Bran by gifting him the knife that was used in Bran’s attempted murder. Creepy, Petyr! Not that I expected any less of you! Bran is unimpressed, because Bran is unimpressed with everything, but he manages to freak Petyr out by referencing his ‘chaos is a ladder’ line that Petyr used back in, what, the first season? Bran knows everything.
Except how to be a good friend. Meera shows up and Bran immediately guesses that she’s leaving and going home. Of course, he’s right. He basically goes, ‘K, thanks. See ya.’ And Meera, flabbergasted, reminds him that Hodor and her brother died for him, and she nearly died for him, and also dragged his ass all the way back south to the Wall, so maybe some kind of human emotion might be warranted here? Or a bigger thank you than you give the person who lights your fire in the morning or passes the salt? Oh, Bran.
But there’s another Stark reunion! Arya’s back, in a scene that mirrors one from veeeeery early in season one. Soldiers at the gate give her a hard time, but she has no trouble slipping past them and creeping down to the crypt to check out her father’s grave. Sansa finds her down there, and they have a sweet but somewhat subdued reunion. Later, Sansa watches her sister spar with Brienne, in an excellent fight scene that makes it clear Arya’s come a loooong way. (Also, when Brienne asks who taught her to fight, Arya responded with, ‘No one,’ which even I got. Cute, GoT.)
Arya reunites with Bran, too, of course. And, of course, he saw it all coming, so he’s not as excited or surprised as one might expect. He does give Arya the knife Petyr handed off to him, pointing out that he has no need for it. But a skilled assassin like Arya sure could use a good knife, right?
While those Starks are reuniting, the one remaining (non)Stark is still cooling his heels at Dragonstone. Not that Jon’s just sitting around, mind. He’s found that dragonglass, and he’s so excited he brings Dany into the cave to show her. This is the closest to giddy I think we’ve ever seen Jon. And speaking of things that turn one’s head, the sparks between these two, they are a-flying! Jon also shows her some cave carvings he’s found that were evidently done by the Children of the Forest. Amongst a number of symbols (which are apparently motifs that show up in scenes with Dany and Jon over the years) are drawings of Children uniting with Men to fight the White Walkers. He insists this means all the stories are true. Dany agrees to help him in this fight, if he’ll just bend the knee already. Jon still isn’t playing that game. Guess the only thing left is for the two of you to marry, unite your sides, and be on an equal footing, right? I mean, you’re both Targaryens, so it’s perfect!
Down south, gold looted from the Tyrells is making its way to King’s Landing, so Cersei can finally pay back the Iron Bank. The IB representative is impressed but admits they’ll really miss those interest payments. Cersei suggests they may all keep working together, because now she’s planning to hire a Free Cities-based mercenary group known as The Golden Company to help her regain control over the Seven Kingdoms. Further updates and events warrant.
Word of the Phyrric victory at Casterley Rock has reached Dany, and she’s starting to get a bit peeved at Tyrion for so far failing to come up with a plan that doesn’t end up costing them allies and resources. She accuses him of not wanting to fight his own family and then asks Jon for his opinion. She wants to ride her dragons to King’s Landing and just burn the Red Keep and finish this thing. Jon agrees that might end this, and that Cersei sucks, but Dany would be killing a lot of innocent people too, and is that really the sort of ruler she wants to be?
Not long afterward, Theon and the men who rescued him come ashore, and Jon’s one of the first people Theon sees. Theon’s face has, ‘Oh, shit,’ written all over it. Jon stalks over, grabs him and, with barely suppressed rage, tells him that what he did for Sansa is the only thing keeping him alive right now. Fair enough.
Dany has come to a decision. As Jaime, Bronn, and Tarley father and son escort the Lannister army and the grain looted from Highgarden, a massive hoarde of Dothraki come charging over the hill and attack. That would be terrifying enough, but accompanying them is Dany, riding Drogon, who willingly starts immolating Lannister soldiers left and right. This battle is intense. Screaming soldiers, blood, fire, smoke, chaos. Dany looking scary as hell, and almost like she’s enjoying this. Tyrion looking on from a distance, devastated, whispering for his brother to forgive him.
Bronn is unhorsed but manages to gather himself and goes running for one of those massive dragon-spear-crossbow contraptions, which they had the forethought to bring along with them. He takes aim and manages to hit Drogon, who goes into a full dive. It looks like this might be it for Dany, but who are we kidding? She, I think, is the most likely to live to the final episode, at least. The dragon recovers enough not to crash. Dany climbs down from him (amongst all this battle craziness, mind) and tries to yank the bolt out of his hide. Jaime sees her and thinks this is his chance. He grabs a spear and runs right at her, ignoring the fact she’s standing right beside a wounded dragon. Drogon is not happy with Jaime for threatening his mummy and unleashes a stream of fire. Jaime’s only saved by Bronn grabbing him and yanking him out of the way. Unfortunately, he gets yanked right into the river, and the last thing we see is Jaime, in full armour, sinking like a stone.