Note: This review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Episode six, “Beyond the Wall,” leaked early. I didn’t watch it. This review won’t mention any specific events from the next episode, as I don’t know what they are. This review will also contain some theorizing about where the show might go. Those theories could be completely off-base. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t seen the next episode at the time of this writing. With that out of the way, let’s talk about “Eastwatch.”
In a broad sense, I’m encouraged by the events of this episode. As my past reviews have well indicated, I’ve been very underwhelmed with the direction this season has taken, feeling it lacks creativity, surprise, and the excellent dialogue and character motivation of previous seasons. Well, those concerns aren’t completely gone, but at least some cool shit was set up in this episode.
Game of Thrones is officially a tv show. First of all, duh, but if you’ve been reading my reviews up to this point, you’ll know what I mean. Everything that happens on Game of Thrones, happens for a reason. That’s always been the case. What made it interesting was that those things would end up mattering in sometimes small, but always unexpected, ways. That’s no longer the case. This show is now completely chock-full of call-backs and mostly obvious foreshadowing.
Look, I’m glad Gendry is back. There’s no way he would have just disappeared forever — that would have been unsatisfying for most (though I would have been ok with it). The issue is that when the show decides to bring him back, he says he’s literally just been waiting around. Obviously the writers will have some larger purpose for him — and considering he’s a master smelter and Jon just dug up a shit ton of dragonglass, I think that purpose is fairly obvious — but it’s like he’s in some play where when his character walks off-stage and he just stands there, waiting for his next scene. Davos’ “still rowing” comment was cute, but a little too meta for my tastes. It was like Ed Sheeran’s random appearance — it felt exploitative instead of natural.
After everything, I’m glad Arya is at Winterfell, if only so that she could shame the shit out of Sansa. No matter what Sansa thinks, Littlefinger is in her head, continually manipulating events to serve his needs. Sansa is jealous of Jon — and she’s spoiled. She wants her way and refuses to listen to anyone that says otherwise. Thankfully, Arya cut through her bullshit easier than cutting through Walder Frey’s turkey neck, and it appears that the sisters are on somewhat opposite sides. I’m definitely taking Arya on this one.
Littlefinger’s plan is weird to me. I like that I can’t see all the way through it right now, but I’m just not all that interested. He’s clearly trying to drive a wedge between the two, letting Arya find that old message Sansa was forced to write asking Robb to come and pledge fealty to Joffrey. It just seems weird that Arya isn’t smart enough to either see through Littlefinger’s ploy, or to assume positive intent from Sansa. Arya knows — at least in a general sense — what Joffrey and Cersei are like, and how they might have manipulated Sansa into doing something like that. But maybe this is just highlighting that, despite her awesomeness, Arya is still a young girl. I just hope this all plays out by the end of the season. I’m getting bored of Littlefinger stalking in shadows and whispering to everyone. The ideal scenario is that Sansa and Arya are both in on a plan to take Littlefinger down. But I that might be giving them too much credit at this point.
I also don’t believe for a fucking second that the northern lords would be so quick to betray Jon. Sure, they didn’t support him going to see Dany, but that clearly worked out in everyone’s favor. And now he’s going north to fight the White Walkers, literally the exact thing they all signed up to help with. I get that Littlefinger is spreading some bad shit around, but still. There’s no way all these hard northern men are this stupid and fickle. This feels like another example of contrived conflict.
Moving to King’s Landing, am I the only one that thinks Cersei is lying about being preggo? Magic and prophecy have meaning in this world, and that witch said Cersei would have three kids. “Gold shall be their crowns, and their shrouds.” To me, this seems like a ploy Cersei would concoct to keep Jaime on her side — he’s clearly wavering in his faithfulness.
Tyrion’s meeting with Jaime was cool to see. The two of them hadn’t met since Jaime helped Tyrion escape — unwittingly also helped Tyrion murder their father. It was nice, at least, that Jaime knew Tyrion wasn’t responsible for Joffrey’s poisoning. Jaime is such a conflicted character, which makes him more compelling than some others. I really hope he gets out from under Cersei’s sway, but I just don’t see that happening at this point.
Sam is also heading out of Oldtown, and now I’m left wondering why the hell he was ever there. Here are the big things he accomplished: He cured Jorah, which is fine, if not essential. He discovered that dragonglass is underneath Dragonstone, which is easily the most important information gleaned from his trip. However, this could have been discovered in any book he’d find anywhere. For the sake of the story, he didn’t need to go to Oldtown for that. We also got that little comment about Rhaegar (more on that later). Again, important info, but didn’t need to happen at Oldtown. This whole side story just feels pointless, now that Sam is packing his bags. We’ll see where he goes. He doesn’t know his father and brother are dead, or that Jon is currently north of The Wall (assuming this is all happening concurrently). I get Sam’s desire to forge his own path in the history books, but his Oldtown diversion now feels like a waste of time for the audience. I hope at least Jim Broadbent comes back at some point. The archmaester has some sort of faith in Sam, and now that all seems like a mistake.
The whole “let’s go capture a wight so we can prove they exist” thing is completely and utterly cliched, but at least it’ll undoubtedly lead to badassery in the next episode, as Jon and his warriors six head north of The Wall. I’m more annoyed at how contrived the storyline feels. Dany is winning the war against Cersei, though not as easily as anticipated. Cersei has the backing to hire The Golden Company, but not the time. Dany knows fighting the White Walkers matters, but is too stubborn to stop her war against the Lannisters — at least until the plot requires it. It obviously makes sense that Cersei would agree to the cease fire, partially out of curiosity and partially out of biding time. But I just don’t get why Dany would now, after striking a huge blow against the Lannisters, decide to wait. Her character is bordering on going over the Mad King edge, as Tyrion and Varys noted in this episode. Why would she randomly step back like this, other than to stretch the story out? The whole thing just feels kind of forced.
Still, I can’t lie and say I’m not completely and utterly excited to see Jon, Jorah, Tormund, Gendry, Beric, Thoros, and The Hound duke it out with some White Walkers in the next episode. It’s very convenient — but also very cool — that most of these dudes hate each other for one reason or another. I just hope Jon packed some of that fresh dragonglass.
There’s no way they all make it out alive, so where are you placing your bets? Obviously, Jon is safe. I also think Gendry is safe; it would be lame to bring that character back, only to kill him off so quickly. I’m guessing Tormund is also safe, since his little romance with Brienne hasn’t played out, yet. I think the deaths will come from the Brotherhood. I think Beric and Thoros will bite it, leaving The Hound with no one to run with. Thus, he joins Jon’s team. I think the viewers would like that, and Game of Thrones seems more concerned with pleasing its audience than ever before. I could also see Jorah dying, though it would have to be in some heroic way — probably saving Jon. The show has kept him around far longer than they needed to — curing his greyscale and sending him north with Jon. I don’t think the writers would have kept him on if there wasn’t some big part he had to play. But I also don’t think he makes it to the end, and he and Dany can only have so many goodbyes before one of them has to be the last.
Finally, that little comment Gilly made about Rhaegar Targaryen. I’m sure everyone is well-aware of the meaning now that the internet has been losing its shit for a few days, but if not, here’s the breakdown. The implication and context clues lead one to believe that before Jon was conceived by Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled, and then married Lyanna. After the reveal from last season, we thought that Jon was now a Targaryen bastard, rather than a Stark one. But this story, if true, would mean that Jon is a true-born Targaryen, with just as much claim to the Iron Throne as Dany. That’s some pretty crazy shit, right there.
If I had to guess today how Game of Thrones and the battle for the Iron Throne would end, it’s that Jon dies and Dany takes her seat on the throne. As of right now, that super bums me out because it’s pretty obvious that Dany is an incredibly shitty ruler and Jon is amazing, but I think by the time we get to the end of season eight, some of Jon’s patience and righteousness will have rubbed off on Dany’s stubbornness and “conqueror” mentality. Whether there’s any incest involved in that exchange remains to be seen…
PS – Davos is still the best character on the show. His scene with those King’s Landing guards was just the best. Please don’t let him die.
So, what did you think of “Eastwatch?” Who do you think will make it out alive in “Beyond the Wall?” Let me know in the comments below!