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Game of Thrones “The Queen’s Justice” 

Game of Thrones “The Queen’s Justice”
Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

At the end of last season, and even throughout this season’s premiere, it seemed Daenerys had all the means to stroll in and take the Iron Throne without much difficulty. It seemed like good had a chance to triumph over evil, and swiftly with the support of the masses. Of course, this is Game of Thrones. Ned Stark would certainly want to have a word with anyone who thinks it would be easy for the good guys to win. And so the question I’ve had is this: what roadblocks will delay, prevent, deflect, or destroy Daenerys’s seemingly simple path to success? 

Photo Credit: HBO

Our first obstacle happened last week, with Euron and his attack on Daenerys’s fleet of Dornish ships. “The Queen’s Justice” introduced the second obstacle, and it’s significantly more intriguing than Euron, which is the fact that Cersei is just better at the game than Daenerys. She’s meaner, smarter, and more prepared than anyone gives her credit for. As Lady Olenna says, she’s a monster. But she’s the monster who is making Daenerys look like a fool.

“The Queen’s Justice” was an old-school talky episode, a welcome change of pace from last week’s episode filled with incoherent battles and symbolic wolf attacks. Game of Thrones is at it’s best when the politicking is happening, when longer conversations that reveal truths and hint at secrets are the stars of the show. And we got plenty of that in this episode.

Photo Credit: HBO

Two of secondary characters got a dedicated scene that brought up more questions than answers. Varys and Melisandre are both wild cards; we really have no idea what their long game is. Varys has no interest in loyalty for the sake of loyalty; he’s loyal to himself and to the people of the realm only, which was made quite obvious by Daenerys last week.  Melisandre, always an outsider, seems genuine in her duty to the Lord of Light, but she’s done serious damage in the name of something holy. Varys has recorded distaste for magic, so it’s unsurprising that he wants Melisandre to leave and never return. But she says she must come back to die in this foreign land, as he must as well. I don’t know what that means, but first with her emphasis on the prophecy of the prince or princess promised, and now with ambiguous lines like this, Melisandre serves as an important conduit in the greater mythology of the Game of Thrones world.

Photo Credit: HBO

And speaking of the prophecy, Jon Snow and Daenerys, both of who have been tapped as possibly “the chosen one” finally meet and it goes as well as expected. I thoroughly enjoyed these scenes for a few reasons. One, it’s rare to see two characters that have been around since the beginning, but have never really interacted, get to meet. And the strangeness of it all makes the contrast between characters heighten. It makes Daenerys seem irritatingly haughty and arrogant. It makes Jon Snow seem sort of dopey and frustratingly stubborn. But the biggest shout out goes to Tyrion, who brings life to scenes in a way that no other character on the show does. His dynamic presence goes a long way at giving these scenes some texture, even though he is mostly just acting as a mediator (or translator, because Jon Snow and Dany might as well be aliens to each other).

Sansa and Bran have a less productive conversation, entirely because, frankly, Bran is magical weirdo now. This should have been an epic reunion, but it wasn’t at all, which is actually a refreshing way to paint reunions. There have already been a number of dramatic reunions between family, especially with Sansa. Realistically, Bran leaving as a child and returning as an adolescent is a significant change in itself. Even if he wasn’t the Three-Eyed Raven, the rift that happens over the years can sometimes make reuniting less fulfilling than expected. It makes me wonder how the inevitable Arya reunion will go considering how startlingly different she is.

And finally the last conversation of the episode was between Lady Olenna and Jaime. Olenna has been essential to multiple characters as a sagacious mentor-figure, and she plays the part for Jaime even as he is only present to kill her. She tells him what we already know: Cersei is a monster and she will be his downfall. And she imparts wisdom until she swallows her poison, at which point she gets to go out with a bang, admitting her part in Joffery’s murder. Olenna’s role (in cahoots with Littlefinger) has been heavily suggested for some time, so this doesn’t really work as a big reveal. But it was a delightful moment of retribution for fan-favorite.

Above all else “The Queen’s Justice” showed how much can happen in an episode of Game of Thrones without a lot of bombastic effects. There was significant forward momentum—after all in just this episode Bran made it to Winterfell, Daenerys agreed to give let Jon Snow mine for dragonglass, Jorah got cured of greyscale, the Lannisters took Highgarden, and Cersei got her revenge on Ellaria. We did, of course, technically have a battle scene, but the taking of Casterly Rock was purposefully diminished by having Tyrion narrate it as it occurred, an adept method of signaling to the audience that this was not the key scene to be paying attention to. If Game of Thrones can continuing balancing momentum with pace, we could be in store for a redemptive back half of the season.

Other thoughts:

  • The line Cersei said about lying in bed going over everyone she wanted to kill was eerily similar to how Arya functions. 
  • I loved Sansa being awesome at ruling Winterfell. I also loved the bit when Tyrion said that Sansa was smarter than she let on and Jon responded with “She’s starting to let on.” #SansaForPresident
  • Bran needs to talk to Jon and I can’t help but wonder how much longer it will be before his true parentage is revealed.
  • Although Tyrion was this episode’s MVP, Davos rescued Jon Snow from potentially the most embarrassing business meeting ever, since Jon basically forgot who he was for a minute.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

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