Okay, here goes nothing.
I love the new opening credits. Makes sense given that we are now focused on two locations—Winterfell and King’s Landing. Well, aside from that brief foray to Last Hearth and the super creepy death of baby Lord Umber…although, between the cute echo of Arya at the beginning and the reveal of who he was, as soon as he said he was going back to Last Hearth, I knew he was in for it.
YAY FOR MY STARKLINGS TOGETHER AGAIN. YAY for Arya acknowledging that Sansa is clever! YAY for Arya and Jon having a moment and comparing swords because of course that’s what they’d do. (Less yay for him complaining about Sansa, but I love Arya defending her.) And yay for Jon getting to hug Bran after all this time, even if Bran is not really Bran anymore.
Also yay for Yara somehow still being alive and no longer stuck with Euron! I confess that after the timey-wimey antics of last season, I have absolutely no clue how much time has passed and how long it takes anyone to get anywhere, but I am still happy that Theon figured his shit out and Yara is on her way back to Pyke where she can do her thing and be left the hell alone.
This episode was mostly about reunions. The ones we didn’t quite get last season. Arya and Gendry cautiously prodding one another, echoing lines from seasons ago while being well aware of how far they’ve journeyed since then and how much trauma lies between them. Can they bridge that gap? Who knows? And, let’s be honest, how much time do they have before the Army of the Dead shows up anyway? (And I did love the brief spar between Arya and the Hound.)
The scene between Tyrion and Sansa was very good and I wish it had gone on longer. There is so much unsaid between those two that ought to be said. But I did love her parting words about Cersei. She knows, even if Tyrion doesn’t—or knows, but desperately wants to believe better of his sister when the end of the known world is at hand.
I hope they aren’t taking the route of Sansa being jealous of Daenerys because she’s a glamorous dragon queen or something stupid like that. She made a 100% valid point about food stores and logistics and it would be very easy to frame her hostility as “we planned around protecting the North against the Army of the Dead, not mounting a major military offensive,” which would be completely reasonable. Making the other Northerners hostile does support this reading; after all, the last time a Targaryen got involved in Northern affairs, thousands of people died. One can’t really blame them for being cagey about Daenerys, given the history and the context.
I think all the emphasis on Jon leaving Winterfell as King in the North and returning as Daenerys’ subject—and lover—is less about titles and more about how trustworthy the Northerners think Jon is. They gave him their allegiance and he promptly handed it off to someone else. Obviously that’s not how Jon sees it—he sees it along the same lines as his alliance with the wildlings when he was Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch—but we as viewers also know how well that went down with the Night’s Watch. I just hope he doesn’t end up with yet another dagger through the heart, as I can’t see him coming back from that a second time.
Jon and Daenerys were cute together. I’ll give them that. The dragon riding scene was lovely. And, by Targaryen standards, it’s not that weird. Admittedly, by any other standard, it’s pretty damn weird. Davos ships them too, clearly. It looks like they’ve dialed back the implication that Tyrion is jealous and I hope it stays that way. I like Tyrion and Daenerys as allies and friends, not potential romantic partners. (Dear show, not all male/female relationships need to be about romance and/or sex, sincerely yours, me.)
Of course, that’s all about to blow up in everybody’s faces, though I’ll get to that later because I have hills upon which I intend to die.
Interesting that Cersei did end up sleeping with Euron, though I’m curious to find out whether or not her purported pregnancy is real or if it was something she made up to provoke Jaime. It’s not out of character—or at least it wouldn’t have been out of character several seasons ago. Not sure how I feel about it now. He did bring her an army, and he did make it pretty clear that he could take said army away unless she gives him what he wants. But one of the advantages—arguably—in being queen in her own right is that she no longer needs to use her body as currency. I don’t know. I also just don’t see the appeal of Euron. I appreciate, at least, that Cersei doesn’t seem especially enthused about him post-sex. There was some great side-eye in that scene.
I’m not at all surprised that Cersei enlists Bronn to do away with her brothers. Bronn is known for having no loyalties other than to whoever pays him. It makes him very easy to deal with. As for the Golden Company, they’re an interesting addition this late in the game, especially with no context other than “random mercenaries.” The show is clearly dropping the whole Blackfyre thing since there’s no way for them to backfill that much history in such a short plot space. In any event, we’ll see where that goes, if anywhere.
I’m of two minds about Sam’s reaction to the deaths of Lord Randyll and Dickon. Dickon, I can understand, but Sam’s father was an abusive nightmare of a man who made his life miserable. I’ll be curious to see if they delve further into his processing of those deaths. If his concern truly is the fact that Daenerys executed prisoners for the “crime” of not bending the knee, that’s a valid concern. Indeed, even at the time, her choice to execute them was not exactly framed positively. It was, one might say, a very Cersei thing to do.
Which brings me to the hill on which I intend to die. Jon Snow is not Aegon Targaryen. And this isn’t just a book thing. Even on the show, Aegon Targaryen was murdered by Gregor Clegane during the Sack of King’s Landing. Varys makes mention of it early on and specifically names Aegon as Rhaegar Targaryen’s dead son. It’s just really damn sloppy writing. Even if Jon were legitimized, that wouldn’t be his name. There are plenty of other Targaryen names on offer.
Also, I really, really dislike the implication that Lyanna Stark chose to name her son Aegon, as though she intended to replace the one who died in King’s Landing. The show has already done Elia Martell an awful disservice through that stupid annulment plot point, in spite of how much of a fan favorite her brother Oberyn was and how devastated everyone was when he died in Season 4 while screaming her name and demanding vengeance for her rape and murder. Again, it’s sloppy writing and it’s sloppy writing that erases women of color from a story where they’re already scarce. I know we’re already far enough into this nonsense that it can’t be changed, but I’m not going to stop being irritated about it.
…and then we have Bran and Jaime meeting for the first time since “the things I do for love.” That won’t be awkward at all.
 Jaime and Cersei don’t count. Ever.
 And this is a book thing, but there is zero indication in the books that Rhaegar intended to set aside his wife and delegitimize the two children he already had. The whole point was that he thought he needed three children, not for the succession, but because of the prophecy that “the dragon needs three heads” to beat back the Long Winter. If it doesn’t make sense, that’s probably because we’re meant to take Rhaegar’s actions with a lot of scepticism; even if he was acting for what he believed was the greater good, his actions caused a civil war and the deaths of thousands of innocent people, including his wife and both of his children.