We start at the Wall, where Sansa and Brienne have finally arrived. Before Jon Snow left
Yes, I completely expected Jon to have left before Sansa arrived and poor Sansa to spend yet more episodes lost and hopeless. So I was happy to see this
I’m also really happy to see that Sansa is the one showing steel here. While Jon Snow is tired of fighting and just can’t do it any more, Sansa who has been through as much or more than Jon Snow, is determined to fight. She’s not stopping. She’s not letting her home be occupied by Ramsay
And when Ramsay sends a menacing letter which Jon deems far too nasty for Sansa to read, she insists on reading it aloud. She is not the child she once was (and she apologises for how she treated Jon, her illegitimate half brother), there’s a lot more steel to her and she’s determined to get Jon to rally the wildlings and the lords of the North. Especially when they learn Ramsay has Rickon
Brief interlude with Ramsay who is still terrible and kills Osha. Gah, you bring her back to sacrifice her so casually? Game of Thrones Osha could have been an interesting character. And you’re making Ramsay boring – he always does the worst thing no matter what it is.
Help may be coming from an unexpected quarter – to the joy of no-one, Petyr Baelish is back, manipulating Lord Robin. I don’t think “manipulating” even counts her. Really, Baelish’s talents are wasted on this kid. Anyway, Baelish wants the knights of the Vale to bring down Ramsay because Baelish has finally realised that Ramsay is a feral dog that needs to be put down. Really, considing he’s such a genius manipulator he should have known better. How did he miss this?
The Vale was maybe the one kingdom who had avoided all these shenanigans.
At the capital of the shenanigans, Margaery is still imprisoned but she’s certainly not breaking no matter how many redemption stories the High Sparrow tells. Unlike her brother who is a quivering broken wreck because of course he is. You wouldn’t think he was a skilled warrior and war veteran or anything would you?
Cersei and Jaime have finally got the Small Council to listen, working around Tommen because Tommen is still too worried about Margaery and the High Sparrow. She goes to Olenna and under the threat of Margaery having to endure what Cersei did, Cersei has a plan: the Tyrells (with the second largest army in the Seven Kingdoms) bring their soldiers to town and thoroughly murder the High Sparrow
It’s not a complex plan. It also smells like a plot to get the Tyrells to take the backlash. C’mon Olenna, you’re more cunning than this.
And over to Essos where Tyrion is trying to play politics with the Masters of Slavers bay, trying to negotiate some kind of peace. Missendei and Grey Worm are not remotely impressed with his willingness to deal with the people who enslaved them. And Missendei has NO patience for Tyrion trying to pretend he understands slavery – she shuts him right down. They also don’t appreciate him basically ambushing them and forcing them to agree with him to try and pacify the angry former slaves of Mereen. Tyrion is more than a little terrible to them. Both of them have every right to stab him – and to be extremely unimpressed with his “you can keep slavery for 7 years”
He is playing politics with people’s lives. At the same time, he is actually playing politics which really just shows how terrible Daenery’s rulership was – because she didn’t rule. She made no attempt to bring the factions together or, as Tyrion points out, she tore down their old system and has not put anything in its place (and one of the Masters points out that Daenerys was pretty much still a master). Daenerys doesn’t seem to know how a city works and has just left it. Tyrion’s treatment of Missendei and Grey Worm is terrible here and the deals he is making are throwing a lot of innocent people in terrible conditions – but part of the fault rests with Daenerys effectively leaving Tyrion with the utter mess she left behind due to her terrible ruling. He has to climb into this midden and make something work from it
Which brings us to Daenerys: Jorah and Daario, in between talking about having sex with her because why respect your queen, or any woman help “rescue her”. And by rescue she means lock the doors to the temple because she’s going to chew out all the gathered Khals before knocking over several braziers. The building, which is definitely not up to health and safety standards, goes up in flames, burning all the Khals to death. Daenerys lives and emerges from the roaring inferno, naked, for all these brown people to fall to her knees and worship her. AGAIN.
And this is Daenerys’s ruling ability. Yeah, I know I’m supposed to say “yay burning rapists” and of course I’m celebrating that. Burn rapists buuuurn. But at the same time their awfulness was pretty much yet another chapter in the long running racist tale of the savagery of the Dorthraki brown people. But she rules because she’s fireproof and has dragons. Yes she’s brave and charismatic but has no actual skill at ruling, no administration and no legitimacy in these foreign nations she is being hailed as the great white saviour god-lady for. She rules because of woo-woo. She rules because of traits she barely has to work at: she rules because of woo-woo she happens to be born with. More, she rules because of the woo-woo she’s born with and her magic causes brown people to fall to their knees in awe.
We have scenes that have Tyrion stumbling through his Valerian to show what an outsider he is – but Daenerys is no less of a foreigner. But she is the Saviour Lady in front of which everyone bows while she utterly fails to provide leadership, skill, administration or any actual ability to help these people. Having asbestos skin is not a reference for leadership.
I still think Jon and Daenerys will marry. (I say this mainly because I know Renee cringes every time I say this. Jon and Daenerys marry).