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The Dose: The union of ice and fire against the queen’s revenge

The Dose: The union of ice and fire against the queen’s revenge

August 02
17:08 2017

By Micheal Vu, Katie Jenkins and Amber Nasser

Revenge is a light shade of pink in Game of Thrones this week, as Queen Cersei shows viewers the meaning of the word “justice.” Episode three had more battles, more deaths and more twists and developments than predicted. As a new thematic choice by producers and directors, this episode had plenty of throwbacks, both far in the past and recent in memory.

Finality is amping up, and the plot points keep getting juicier. So far, Cersei Lannister is winning the battle for Westeros as more of Daenerys’s allies are taken out, and Jon Snow may be forced to play the Obi Wan Kenobi card soon as Daenerys’s only glimmer of hope to help her the war.

“Give us common folk one taste of power, and we’re like the lion who tasted man.”

The private conversation between Melisandre and Varys on the cliffs wasn’t exactly expected. The tension of their fateful meeting broke last episode, but this small scene gave us more important conversation points that always end up relevant later.

Power is constantly a subject of discussion in Game of Thrones. Varys warns Melisandre that once you taste power, it’s difficult to give up, perhaps foreshadowing her return into the halls of nobles later. However, I think the important topic here is his description Varys gives of what power does to people. Though viewers are already wary of both Cersei’s and Daenerys’ temperaments and inclinations at this point, this scene leaves an important thought loose in our minds: absolute power can corrupt absolutely.

The Meeting of Ice and Fire

Fans finally received the dramatic meeting they’ve been anticipating between two major characters — Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow.

It is notable that Jon arrived quickly at Dragonstone, due to this season’s shorted format. The speed of events has increased ever since the premiere, and this most recent episode is no different. In fact, it may be necessary for fans to overlook any gaps in logic concerning movement and information from now on so proper time can be given to the grittier action and drama promised in the last two seasons of this beloved series.

So many similarities and differences dance around Daenerys and Jon in this scene. Unbeknownst to most of the show’s characters, Jon and Daenerys are related, again noted when Drogon swoops over Jon as he tells Tyrion he is not a true Stark.

Jon and Daenerys are also the embodiments – thus far – of ice and fire. While they try to come together, they will always naturally oppose one another. Some may have expected more fireworks, but these two are different people fighting different wars, making any future work together a difficult obstacle.

In this scene, we are called back to the first episode when Daenerys unexpectedly asks Jon for his forgiveness for the crimes her family posed on his so long ago – crimes that haunt everyone in Westeros. She asks him “not to judge a daughter by the sins of her father,” a similar statement which Jon himself gave to the northern houses when deciding the fates of those who betrayed the Starks. Both Daenerys and Jon have been dubbed compassionate and mindful leaders compared to others in Game of Thrones, as they tend to understand their people more than dictate over their lives.

However, having these two opposites form a relationship is going to be a rollercoaster of tension, and the pride that both Daenerys and Jon posses may make matters worse. We have seen Daenerys step down to Jon’s level to set him straight in the throne room, with her fiery-dragon demeanor in tow. We know she is trying to use fear to her advantage now. But what we really need is for these leaders to listen to each other.

“Do you feel powerful now?”

The justice in this episode was poetical, as Cersei used the same poison on Ellaria’s daughter, Tyene, that Ellaria used on Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella. The expressions portrayed by Lena Heady (Cersei), Indira Varma (Ellaria) and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Tyene) in this scene were exquisite.

Though many have been questioning the mental state of Cersei for a while, this scene and the next (the romantic encounter with Jaime) add more and more pieces to who Cersei has become — a monster.

The use of poison was cruel of Cersei, yet satisfying even so. It was admirable to see that Ellaria wasn’t going to give in to Cersei’s torment immediately, but after Cersei’s kiss-of-death, she broke as expected. The only aesthetic issue with this scene was how Ellaria and Tyene’s dramatic pull towards each other is blocked by the camera’s pan-out from the cell. It would have been worth it to spend a few more seconds on the mother and daughter as they cried out for one another, held helplessly back just far enough by their chains.

Dragonstone Diplomacy

In the middle of the episode, the backbone for most of the plot in “The Queen’s Justice,” there is a lot of middle manning done by Tyrion for Daenerys and Jon.

First, when Tyrion meets with Jon, the repetition of ideas already stated call out. Jon repeats his arguments and frustration, and Tyrion repeats the solid, diplomatic thought that Daenerys gave earlier – “Children are not their fathers, luckily for all of us.”

As a show that always subverts expectations, it would unwise to see importance in the repeated idea of this thought. Perhaps the characters will all try to live up to this, but in the end, Jon will react like Ned Stark and Daenerys will react like King Aerys, and history may repeat itself to the same bloody ends. However, if we were ever to root for a hero (or heroes) in Game of Thrones, it would also be for the three who have all stated that children aren’t their parents. Why else bring so many major players together if not to have them think together and act together? Aren’t we still trying to break the wheel of power?

At least there is some progress to be thankful for while Jon and Daenerys play coy. Daenerys’s generosity and good faith is seen in her giving Jon the permission and tools he needs to mine the dragonglass.

There were also some important, poignant moments in these scenes at Dragonstone. Still, no one has brought up the crazy news about Jon coming back from the dead, charging up the tension for when this secret will be revealed. Daenerys also broadly asks viewers to be open-minded as the show goes on, stating “we should all be examining what we think we know.” This was not only a kind of breach of the actor/audience fourth wall, which highlights its foreshadowing import. This was also another example of Daenerys’s compassion, and her determination to be a mindful yet fair ruler.

While we never know when someone will change their mind, it seems as though diplomacy is slowly easing itself into Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion.

“Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend.”

While we are so happy to welcome Bran back to Winterfell, there is no time for pleasantries and catching up for the Starks. Sansa is in charge of ruling the northerners, and Bran needs to meditate and learn more about becoming the three-eyed raven.

All the while, Lord Baelish is still wandering the halls, trying not only to get on Sansa’s good side, but also to manipulate her. He wants her to be scared and on her toes, thinking she is surrounded by enemies. While his advice might be good, to use your head and think out every possible threat, this seems like just another scare tactic.

This scene is also very similar to how the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels are set up, letting us know about all the perspectives of each character, except for Lord Baelish and Varys. Both book readers and show watchers have no idea what Lord Baelish will do next, because we can only guess at his intentions, making him all the more of a threat and a villain than ever before.

Jorah is cured

If hope ever felt lost in Game of Thrones, then this scene was surely a sweet surprise. Sir Jorah can return to the battle at Daenerys’ side thanks to Samwell’s dedication and disregard for the rules. Again, this is a strange example of how time has sped up drastically in season seven. Jorah was in horrible shape in episode one, and now near the end of episode three, he is cured.

And that is just how it is going to be if we want to see every narrative play itself out.

In the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels, when Sam is at the Citadel, he gets kicked out for disobeying the maesters. However, in the show, he is just given a slap on the wrist. Jim Broadbent’s acting and role here reminds me of how the popular series Harry Potter would have dealt with this issue (despite Broadbent’s role as a Professor Slughorn in the Potter movies). In Harry Potter, the good guys always win, and no matter what rules he breaks, Harry gets to stay at Hogwarts. It is curious why a gory show about medieval war would have a plot like this sewn into it, other than for some relief.

It could be that Sam will play a significant role soon, and the show needs him to be learning and fighting his own battles at the Citadel, for some reason, even if his achievements are celebrated with lukewarm reception.

“And now the rains weep o’er our halls’”

In the episode’s last scenes, viewers finally got to see beautiful, sweeping shots of Casterly Rock and Highgarden, maybe for the first and last times. The cinematography was impressive as usual, and again the battles are over rather quickly due to the new time pace that producers must keep up with.

Plot wise, it was interesting to see Casterly Rock taken, even though the rest of Tyrion’s plan completely failed. Clearly, Cersei and Jaime are stronger and smarter than Tyrion expected, which is a nice twist to thrown in just before the mid-season peak. Lady Olenna lives up her name of “the Queen of Thorns” as with her last few breaths she confesses to Jamie that it was she who planned Joffery’s murder back in season four. Yet Jaime doesn’t seem all too fazed by this information.

Though we have seen so many ways in which Jaime and Cersei are alike and working well together this season, Jaime must take a pause here to reflect. In her last few statements, Lady Olenna mentions how Cersei is a monster as well, and that she needs to be stopped. Jaime walks out of the room before lady Olenna dies from poison he gave her, but the fact that Jaime gave her the choice to die peacefully regardless shows the moral conflict he still has about following Cersei’s orders.

In the episodes to come, many characters will be forced to make choices and continue to choose sides.

With an enraged Daenerys shown in the sneak peek for episode four, she may be forced to use her dragons soon and to attack with force. There was also a hint that Arya may make it to Winterfell next episode. As we are now approaching the middle of the season, and as we start to questions who has the power to destroy who, the obvious answers are muddied.

And, as always, to temper any expectations would be wise.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Wikimedia Commons

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Katie Jenkins

Katie Jenkins

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