Two Starks in the same place–and at the same time.
Was there a dry eye in the house when Sansa Stark and Jon Snow were reunited at Castle Black? Their mutual astonishment was beautifully played–not a beat too short, nor a beat too long (Kudos to Sophie Turner and Kit Harrington, who are giving terrific performances this season). As they contemplate the present situation, their states of mind couldn’t be further apart. He’s grown weary of the fight; she, showing more and more of her mother’s grit, is determined to retake the North from Ramsay Bolton. Nevertheless by the end of the episode, with his family and Castle Black under threat, he’s back in the fray.
The tenor of this season of GoT has been unlike any other. Despite Melisandre’s magic and Bran’s warging, there’s a new sense of groundedness. Bran and Arya are no longer children; more essential perhaps is that Sansa is longer a pawn. There’s also a feeling of convergence, of an end in sight; in fact the show runners have indicated that there may only be two more truncated seasons of GoT. But more than that it seems having burned through the five “Fire and Ice” novels, the show’s spirit, not just its plot, has been freed in a fundamental way.
However not every storyline shares the blessing of creativity. The show runners may love Ramsey Bolton, his smirk and his weekly brutality show, but all have worn out their welcome. I realize “Less is more” is not exactly GoT’s motto, but as far as Ramsey’s concerned, its application would be most welcome.
On a more positive note this episode served as an excellent tutorial on how to negotiate common interests. Wonder of wonders, the Lannisters and the Tyrells agreed to join forces to break the High Sparrow’s hold on King’s Landing and free Margaery and Loras (Good luck with that). More ominous, though, is the deal Tyrion struck with the Masters of Yunkai, Astapor and Volaris. Sadly, I think Grey Worm and Missandei are right. I sense that our favorite Lannister has seriously misjudged the situation—the Masters’ “best interests” are likely more complicated than he thinks, and his support in Meeren seems to be wearing thin. Dragons to the rescue?
Speaking of deals, Littlefinger has returned, still playing both ends against the middle. His end game has seemingly not changed—claim Sansa and through her, rule the North. Although he’s promised Sansa to the rather simple Robin Arryn, the Lord of the Vale is only Littlefinger’s tool. It takes no effort to foresee that Lord Baelish will drop the kid (literally) once he’s no longer of use. I find it somewhat amusing that Petyr Baelish is a virtual personality clone of Tommy Carcetti, the insatiable politician Aidan Gillen played in another superb HBO series, “The Wire,” without the homicides, of course. Obviously the passage of centuries, albeit in reverse, has not withered his charms.
A few final random thoughts:
Brienne almost stole the show. Whether making her entrance into Castle Black to Thormund’s astonishment, stating that she’ll neither forgive nor forget Renley’s murder, or being revolted by the table fare of the Night’s Watch (or Edd’s manners–it was hard to tell), she just shone.
In the prison scene with Loras, Natalie Dormer as Margaery never looked more like the young Diana Rigg. Great casting for this grandmother/granddaughter team.
Dany does it again! Evidently you don’t need dragons’ eggs to survive a killing fire. Danaerys Stormborn had a definite plan from the start: the smirk she wore throughout that ripe Dothraki judgment scene just said it all.
Onward, “Game of Thrones”!