This “Game of Thrones” discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin’s books (as well as the occasional fan theory on message boards), but the column will usually only discuss events that have happened on HBO’s televised version. Please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.
Episode 7.01, ‘Dragonstone’
FINAL SCORE: Violence 35, Sex 1
(Scoring is typically one point per killing or instance of nudity, though the reviewer reserves the right to award bonus points for style.)
Totals: Dozens of Frey heirs poisoned in the room that held the Red Wedding; some light sparring in Winterfell.
Notes: It’s unclear exactly how many Freys died at Arya Stark’s wine mixer; no camera angle shows a definitive shot of all the men in the room. But there appear to be eight tables with approximately five men per table. (I rounded down in my scoring because I prefer to be conservative in my death estimates. I’m a blogger, not a staff officer in Vietnam.)
As for whether Arya killed ALL of the Freys, we may just have to take the show’s word for it. According to nerd databases, Walder Frey had 29 children and over 100 descendants, many of whom are still children (here’s a dizzying list of them.) I won’t speculate about what’s canon from George R.R. Martin and what’s creative liberty exercised by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, because that’s a waste of perfectly good time we should use fist-pumping to Arya’s revenge tour.
Totals: One cadaver’s limp penis. You may have missed it if your attention was on the scarred and inflamed liver that the archmaester was pulling out of the open abdominal cavity. SEXY.
Notes: My scoring system is flawed, OK? But what am I gonna do, freak out and change the rules because of one fluke occurrence? No thanks. This isn’t the NFL.
More Like Draggin’ Stone
Five minutes, thirty-three seconds. That’s how much time elapses from the moment we see Dany’s face until she speaks her lone line and the final one of the episode: “Shall we begin?”
The scarcity of dialogue highlights the import of the moment: Varys smuggled Daenerys overseas at a young age to avoid King Robert’s assassins; over the course of six seasons, she has been married and widowed, witnessed the murder of her brother, hatched three dragons, crossed the Red Waste on foot, freed thousands of slaves, gotten marooned in the Great Grass Sea, and immolated just about every enemy who seemed to have her dead to rights. And throughout it all, she just wanted to come home to a land she barely remembered.
Even without context, it’s a pleasure to watch: Dragons flap over the black-sailed armada; Dany makes an unopposed landing in sensibly heeled boots; dramatic wide shots show a gorgeous slab of rocky wilds that will soon experience a 10,000 percent increase in nerd tourism.
But — and yes, I know that everything before the word “but” is horseshit — why is the castle empty? Stannis left with his family and his army, but did he not leave behind a castellan to lead general upkeep of the building and grounds? Or assuming that the castellan deserted after learning of Stannis’s loss in the North, why wouldn’t other residents of the island move into the stronghold? I don’t pretend to understand the mind of a medieval fantasy commoner, but it seems like unlocked, unoccupied castles would invite squatters.
Also: Tyrion is just following Dany silently through the castle? Six seasons of relentless quips, and suddenly he’s mute for the long trek from boat to beachhead to throne room? I get it: He’s being respectful to his queen. But I’m allowed some disappointment when the show presents Dinklage without any of the dinkling we’ve come to know and love.
Subtweet of the week
Longtime readers of the Scorecard will remember Euron Greyjoy as Joshua Jackson on the Russell Crowe diet, but the only thing he’s chewing in this episode is scenery. In a visit to King’s Landing, Euron moves to take everything that Jaime has made his own: Cersei, one-liners, a penchant for kinslaying, even the hottest motorcycle jacket in Westeros (from Episode 5.02, “The House of Black and White”).
I’ve gotten so used to Game of Thrones villains being merciless, sadistic, jerk-faced sociopaths (King Joffrey, Ramsay Bolton) that I’d almost forgotten how enjoyable a charming antagonist can be. Go get Cersei that priceless present, you swaggering, seagoing psychopath.
Ed Sheeran cooked a rabbit for you, girl
I’m sorry, internet: I do not have a hot Ed Sheeran take for you. His music is his music, and you either like it or you don’t. We can squabble about his acting (not great, but not a complete distraction) or his looks (more Hobbit than Lannister), but roasting him for the mere sin of being Ed Sheeran feels like an enervating and pointless detour, especially given Game of Thrones’ long history of incorporating (more interesting) musicians into the show.
However you feel about Ed Sheeran is fine. Your opinion is good.
Worst. Montage. Ever.
As long stretches of wordless action go, the 90-plus seconds of Sam carrying books, emptying bedpans, and serving slop at the Citadel packed more storytelling punch than Dany arriving at Dragonstone. Stomach-turning drudgery: EFFECTIVELY CONVEYED.
It was also an excellent time to turn on closed captioning. A sampling:
‘Think you’re fooling anyone with that top knot?’
I could quibble with the unlikelihood that “top knot” would be in the Westerosi parlance, but seeing as how I was making fun of Thoros of Myr’s medieval comb over as recently as Episode 6.08, I’ll merely offer the Hound a respectful fist-bump.
Other lines in the running for top Sandor Clegane-ism:
- “Why are you always in such a foul mood?” “Experience.”
- “You’re not bad. I don’t hate you. I don’t like you, but you’re not bad.”
Can you beautiful idiots talk before a meeting JUST ONCE?
There’s not much this column can do with scenes of political intrigue. There’s no violence, there’s no sex, there’s not even plunging cleavage or the hint of sexual tension (although when the players are siblings, that’s a pleasant change of pace.)
So what does the North have to offer this week?
- Lady Mormont stuntin’ on old chumps.
- Tormund Giantsbane, still lusting openly for Brienne. I’d happily watch a one-off episode that was only them going on their first date (heavy sparring).
- “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.”
Alternate one-liners for emerging action stars
“The North remembers.” “Winter has come for House Frey.” Like, OK, those are fine. They’re on-brand for House Stark. But they’re not one-liners that will establish Arya alongside the greats of 1980s action movies. Here are some ideas:
- (Last body topples over) “That’s the end of the line.”
- “Walder? I hardly knew her.”
- (Steps over dead body) “I guess you could say I’m … above the Freys.”
- (After the Freys drink, to the tune of “Poison”) “That wine was poisonnnnnnnnned!”
- (Still singing) “Can’t get revenge out of my heaaaaad, that’s why you’re all going to be dead. Can’t get it out of my minnnnnd, your deaths I’ve carefully designed.”
- (Extended dance break where Arya does the Running Man over the bodies) “Poisoned! P-p-p-poisoned! Poisoned!”
Learn a tertiary character’s name: Edd
Oh hey, it’s Jon’s friend. No, not Sam, the other guy. You know, he’s always around when stuff happens but never says anything memorable? I think he maybe took over the Night’s Watch? Yeah, him. Did you know he was at Hardhome? I didn’t remember him being in that episode, either. But Bran says he was, and that sledge-bound warg sees everything.
Anyway, his name is Edd. May we all learn his name before he inevitably gets killed by White Walkers.
- Zombie giants in the army of the undead: three
- Bodies buried in a coda to a forgotten plot point: two
- Length of the “previously on” primer following more than a year without a new episode: two minutes, 21 seconds
- Dead Starks Jon needs to be smarter than: two (at least two)
- “Rocks, bird shit, and a lot of unattractive people.” But enough about Maine!
- Shots of maps depicting Dragonstone before Dany returns to Dragonstone (including credits): three
DNP, Coach’s decision
Future smoochers Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand; Olenna Tyrell and the sick burns of Highgarden; direwolves; Tyrion’s voice; Lord Robin the Breastfed; Theon Greyjoy; Daario Naharis, ruling Meereen to the sounds of emo; the parts of Jorah Mormont that don’t have greyscale.