With the completion of four episodes in Season 7 of Game of Thrones, various plot lines and narratives have been established drumming up anxious anticipation amongst it’s legion of fans.
So far, there have been few disappointments in Season 7. The acting is once again superlative, from Euron Greyjoy’s gloating psychosis to Olenna Tyrell’s epic exit from life. The battles have been fantastic, with Episode 4 ‘The Spoils Of War’ providing two or three moments of genuine, white-knuckled horror.
For followers of Westeros are quietly (not that GOT fans are ever quiet) satisfied as to how season 7 has unfolded so far. It is an experiment in television consolidation as reunions occur and pivotal characters meet for the first (or last!) time. If one takes a closer look at Season 7, it’s essentially a tale of a dozen meetings; Jon & Daenerys, Jon & Tyrion, Sansa & Arya, Bran & Sansa, Cersei & Euron, Olenna & Jaime, Sam & Jorah, Jon & Theon etc.
Central characters collide for the first time as the three regionalised plots are brought into one script. Some of these assemblies have been depicted with extreme care and precision, such as Daenerys and Jon Snow’s first ever head-to-head at Dragonstone. Two of the leading characters on the show match wits and demands and it’s a privileged viewing experience that one can perceive with depth and varying interpretations.
This is Daenerys’s first test as an actual politician-come-conqueror in Westeros and she is woefully out of her depth in her initial exchanges. . From the moment of hilarious, formal introductions (‘This is Jon Snow…..He’s King In The North’), she imparts a history lesson, suggests that Jon Snow bend the knee and get’s visibly shaken by his brusque dismissal. She even tries the velvet glove after the mailed fist, asking for forgiveness for her father’s crimes and painting a reasonable picture of rule with her at the helm. Again, she is directly refused. When the entitlement that she believes comes of being her father’s daughter is shattered by Jon Snow, her reactions are delightfully fraught with self-doubt, immaturity and anger. Her admonition of Tyrion when Jon refuses to ‘bend the knee’ (more on that later) is that of a petulant star child throwing a fit in her entourage’s direction when her wishes aren’t met. She lists down her strengths, her armies and her dragons to cow her opponent. When that further fails to move him, she goes down the victimhood route, recalling her trials and tribulations as the last member of a hunted lineage.
The differences yet similarities between Jon & Daenerys is enthrallingly bought out in this initial exchange. A Queen with a dynasty of rule behind her meets a bastard with no birthright. Yet by deeds and actions, they inspire fanatical devotion in their adherents, caused only by the magnanimity of their rule. The King in The North and The Mother Of Dragons are crucial to the conclusion of this epic and their anticipated collaboration (and dragon rides?) is mouth-watering for GOT fans. Moving them closer together is the diplomatic brilliance of Tyrion Lannister, Hand of The Queen.
Opposing them will be the newly formed Greyjoy-Lannister alliance. Ever since Ramsay disappeared post The Battle Of The Bastards last season, Westeros cried out once more for an antagonist worthy of the opprobrium. In stepped Euron Greyjoy, laden with leather gear, maniacal chuckle and contemptuous sneer. His taunting of Jaime (both subtly and directly) has provided many chuckles while his battle prowess showed the viewers of why he was so deadly. Butchering the Sand Snakes (Phew!), he then captures Yara Greyjoy & Ellaria Sand to bring Cersei her first victory and the revenge she has feverishly waited for since her daughter’s death. Now, with Jaime either captured or incapacitated, it’s inevitable that Cersei will turn to Euron, with disastrous effects for Westeros. Euron’s screen time should be considerably enlarged from this point on. If he provides us any more moments like the unforgettable mockery of Theon (‘What A Twat’), it’ll be worth it.
Which brings us to our main antagonist and pet hate, Cersei Lannister, First of Her Name etc. While her initial position looked rather hopeless, she has managed to stem the tide with some adept strategic decisions and (most likely) a traitor amongst Daenery’s confidantes. With the capture of Ellaria Sand and her daughter, Tyene, Cersei was able to exact a merciless, excruciating end on the woman who murdered her daughter. Ellaria would live, only to see her daughter die, to see her rot and wither away, while she is force-fed to keep her suffering intact and eternal.
She also managed to get rid of her adversary, Olenna Tyrell. This doughty old battle axe provided many a witty highlight to the storyline, lending both condescension and amused sarcasm to enemies and allies both. Her confession was one of the truly riveting scenes of Season 4, with her pseudo-sad recounting of Joffreys death eliciting both admiration and a sense of wonder at this woman’s gall. Even on the doorstep of defeat and death, she couldn’t keep herself from letting you know that she was smarter than even you suspected all this time.
Up North, the Stark family reunion is in full swing, with Bran being the creepy uncle no one particularly wants to know anymore. From tactlessly reminding Sansa of the night she was raped to letting Littlefinger know he’s been peeking at his script, his 3 Eyed Raven moniker is forcing the inhabitants of Winterfell to tread lightly around him. In addition, everyone’s favourite assassin, Arya Stark is forcing Sansa to feel like the underachieving Stark sibling, after a hypnotic sword-fight with Brienne of Tarth. Sansa herself, is acting Queen In The North and while this traumatised, resilient woman is capable of smart decisions, Littlefinger’s whispers could steadily unbalance an uneasy North in the absence of their King.
The battle in Episode 4, The Spoils of War has been the highlight of the season so far. The ambush of the Dothraki, Drogon’s appearance and the sight of Lannister men burning brought the battle into vivid clarity as much as Dickon Tarly’s stupefied face. This was the first time we’ve seen Daenerys’s dragons in actual combat and they did not disappoint. The chaos of battle was exponentially emphasized with the element of fire, with a series of sensational directorial takes in Bronn’s walk through the camp portraying burning soldiers screaming in horror, soldiers on fire walking insensibly, painfully numb to their flesh being alight and Bronn’s quick thinking in ensuring he is still alive on this ‘Field of Fire’.
The introduction of the element of fire and burning men seem to have a profound effect on Jaime Lannister, reminding him of Kings past. His expression as he surveys his troops melting like wax candles, screaming for their gods and mothers, remind him who’s daughter Daenerys Targaryen is and his role in stopping her father. Likely, he felt the pull of destiny before galloping his horse in a gallant, mad dash towards the Dragon Queen. For him, there will be no question that she must be stopped, especially after this experience of hell on earth where he watched his men stripped of all their flesh in a molten stew. Intriguingly, Tyrion Lannister’s muttered ‘flee you idiot’ when he spots his brother, reminds the viewers that his loyalties would continually be torn, as did his apparent shame whilst the Dothraki deride the fighting skills of his people.
With a cinematic ending to the episode, a few things remain in the air for viewers to speculate feverishly. Is Jaime actually dead? Is the Scorpion Bolt poisoned? What will the Iron Bank do now that Cersei’s gold is no more? Who is the traitor in Daenery’s camp? Will Cersei’s ‘scorpions’, now proven in battle, bring down a Dragon or two before we’re done?
Episodes 5- 7 could not be more anticipated than it is currently.