Climaxing last week on a tremendously exciting, and unexpected, battle sequence, you’d be forgiven to think the third episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 might apply the brakes a little. However, you’d be wrong. HBO’s leading fantasy drama is heightening the pace, intensity, and fallout with each passing hour; delivering thrilling spectacle, character moments, and political intrigue by the barrel-load.
Following on from the brilliant “Stormborn”, we reach what is essentially the halfway point of the season already (devastating news, right?), but “The Queen’s Justice” ensured that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are not at all scrimping, despite the decreased episode count. This is was a simply sensational hour of television, which culminates in a moment so satisfying, you’ll be begging for a second serving.
The Title: “The Queen’s Justice”
What Does It Mean?
Interestingly, this week’s title is actually somewhat misleading. Episode three maintains a primary focus on not merely the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms – Daenerys Targaryen – but all of the core leading females in Westeros. Throughout “The Queen’s Justice”, it becomes evident that actually the correct phrasing is not “justice”, rather “vengeance”.
Queen Cersei Lannister took vengeance on all those who wronged her in Season 6, using Wildfire to blow up the Great Sept of Baelor, and everyone within it, including the likes of The High Sparrow, and nearly the entirety of House Tyrell – former Queen Margaery being just one of the casualties. Dany’s vengeance (or justice, dependant on your stance) has been developing for many years, travelling and freeing those wronged, and in the process forming an unprecedented military force composed of Unsullied and Dothraki soldiers.
However, there’s another Queen who should never be forgotten nor underestimated: Olenna Tyrell. She is, after all, the Queen of Thorns…
Most Shocking Moment:
The above point segues beautifully onto the next: the most shocking moment of “The Queen’s Justice”. Unlike “Stormborn”, this week’s episode does not depart on a sequence of blazing chaos, but it provides a reaction of equal frenzy and magnitude. It is a moment which will be forever cherished by fans, and provides the definitive exit for one of the show’s greatest supporting characters.
Jaime Lannister and his army abandon Casterly Rock, allowing Grey Worm and the Unsullied to overthrow the scattering of Lannister forces stationed. He instead has a bigger plan to execute; taking Highgarden. With the assistance of Sam’s father, Lord Randyll Tarly, and Bronn, the fleet ascend on The Reach, toppling the slight, yet vital, Tyrell troops. After Euron Greyjoy’s surge, Dany’s enemies are taking sizeable portions out of her defence with each passing week. Here’s hoping she won’t soon start to question Tyrion Lannister’s council…
Anyway, Jaime charges inside to find Lady Olenna waiting. She’s seen the damage to her men, and has accepted that the likelihood of her survival is pretty much zero. Gracious, the Kingslayer draws her a glass of wine, and explains that despite Cersei’s hideous desires for her death, he will be gentle; pouring poison into her cup, and explaining that she’ll feel no pain. The poison is presented out of mercy, but actually provides the most perfect irony. The Queen of Thorns gulps down, before revealing that it was actually she who poisoned King Joffrey Baratheon – Jaime and Cersei’s son – at the Purple Wedding. Not Sansa Stark, nor Tyrion, who was fundamentally exiled for the crime. “Tell Cersei I want her to know it was me,” she growls before the episode cuts to black.
Game of Thrones has become infamous for its stunning endings; sequences of shock and awe which leave you gobsmacked, but this was among the greatest mic-drop moments in years – so subtle, yet so massively powerful. Even with her dying breath, Olenna still beat Cersei. We’ll all miss her.
We’ve already established Euron’s successes from last week – delivering Ellaria Sand and her last remaining daughter to Cersei’s feet – after his Iron Fleet demolished Yara’s squadron as they sailed from Dragonstone. However, our biggest agenda from “The Queen’s Justice” brings us back to the Northern chill of Winterfell, which finds Sansa occupying Jon’s seat during his departure.
We all know you cannot trust Littlefinger. He is one of the show’s principal schemers, who will move heaven and earth to fulfil his self-centred goals. Sansa is perhaps the most adept to dealing with Petyr Baelish’s conniving ways, and she continues to keep him with a healthy dose of disrespect, despite plentiful advances. However this week, he provides the young heir with a spoonful of potent, and important, advice. “Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend,” he murmurs as the duo stroll through the wintery grounds.
This statement is undoubtedly back-handed, mind. Clearly Littlefinger is subtly hinting at his key play in Winterfell, and his intentions with Sansa. She is his prize; she is his goal. Throughout Game of Thrones, he has journeyed with the Stark girl, and largely moulded her manoeuvres – not least her marriage to Ramsay Bolton. Baelish understands that people are susceptible to manipulation when they feel isolated or overwhelmed: two emotions Sansa will almost certainly carry whilst her brother is away, and pressures in the North intensify. Perhaps by threatening Littlefinger before he rode to Dany, the King has actually placed his beloved sister is serious jeopardy…
Best Overall Moment:
This week’s episode was laden with fantastic moments – a number of which we’ve mentioned – but slighter scenes, such as Samwell Tarly’s grilling at the Citadel following his successful attempt at curing Ser Jorah Mormont’s Greyscale, all helped amass what was a truly excellent slice of television. However, our best overall moment of “The Queen’s Justice” was the scene we’d all so patiently waited for, and it didn’t disappoint.
Jon Snow and Ser Davos Seaworth arrive upon the lapping shores of Dragonstone. They are greeted by the Hand of the Queen, Tyrion, who is most pleased to see the bastard. The pair are shred of the weapons, and their ship removed from the water by the Dothraki. After pleasantries on the sand, they begin the scenic climb to the awaiting Queen. Just the opulent shots of Dragonstone here are worthy of note – with their shimmering cinematography, and radiant colour palettes – and even a sharp laugh is found when Jon stumbles over after catching a sight of Dany’s dragons swooping up to the turrets of the Targaryen castle.
With such anticipation about the King of the North and the Mother of Dragons’ meeting, the scene could have easily played out with warmth; a reflection of the viewership no doubt, but instead the pair’s long-awaited encounter was steely, cold, and absolutely perfect. Khaleesi expects Jon to bend the knee; to pledge allegiance to House Targaryen like the Starks did before, and join her in battle as they take King’s Landing. Snow couldn’t care less about Cersei – she is merely just another skeleton in waiting if the real enemy (the Night King) isn’t dealt with.
Showing the true potency of their ice and fire, the duo have much in common, despite clear differences in goals and intention. Their friction is separated by Tyrion – who is undoubtedly the star of this week’s episode; getting a host of fine sequences – when he informs his Queen that she needs to give something to Jon in order to earn not only his respect, but his allegiance: dragonglass. A special mention for Davos, too, who delivers a fist-pumping speech about Jon as the King is too humble to do it himself.
We’re three episodes into Season 7, and the quality continues to intensify. “The Queen’s Justice” was a thrilling, captivating, and beautifully explored episode, which delivered the scenes we all wanted, and those we didn’t realise we wanted. A number of people have been commenting on this year’s teleportation, which one must agree with – long, dwelling journeys across the Seven Kingdoms have now vanished in favour of more immediate action – but this has failed to effect the texture or impact of the show’s developmental drama. Whilst seeing the epic lengths of Westeros upon horseback is impressive, Game of Thrones is now firmly on the clock, and with each passing hour, it becomes more and more exciting.