I fully expected to watch ‘The Queens Justice’ and nothing happens, the episode to end as Jon arrives at Dragonstone and we get to see yet more people maneuver into place for some eventual payoff that the show keeps promising. So imagine my surprise when the show opens with Jon arriving on Dragonstone to be greeted by Tyrion, and there’s payoff from the last couple of episodes as well as build up to the later ones. Watching this episode, it felt like something was finally happening.
Since this episode is all about the Queens I’ll focus in on Cersei, Daenerys, Olenna Tyrell, and give Sansa an honorable mention (since she’s effectively Queen of the North). Daenerys finally meets Jon Snow and the juxtaposition between the two during the meeting a hammers home how practiced Dany is at playing Queen and Jon at leading people who want to be led. During their summit, Dany is every inch the royal, but Jon and Ser Davos both having grown up as individuals with no real social standing, the tactic falls somewhat flat. They get to voice the concern that Dany is going to have to headbutt quite a few times in the coming episodes: Robert overthrew your dad, so we don’t care he was king, your claim doesn’t mean much.
For his part, Jon’s problems are all the opposite of Dany’s, she’s all style no substance, and he doesn’t have any style that’d make nobles want to listen to him. The “winter is coming”/army of the dead might play well with the people in the north, but he’s going to need to change tactics if he doesn’t want to wind up like Ned. Danaerys shifts tactics, with Tyrion’s help, to offer Jon something she thinks is worthless but he desperately wants, offering out her brand of justice, the warm and fuzzy kind where she tries to do right by everyone but also make sure she’s in charge.
If Dany’s justice is warm and fuzzy, Cersei lets her justice be cold and harsh, but we already knew this from the past six seasons, so it’s hardly a shock anymore. The most interesting thing happening with Cersei right now is Euron Greyjoy, who’s every bit as messed up as Joffrey or Ramsey but plays it much more theatrically. I can’t see myself getting bored of him anytime soon. Which is nice considering I was ready to write him off as the ‘crazy and evil Lord of the moment’ who was there to fill a psychopath shaped hole that the aforementioned King and Bolton filled. Cersei is also starting to just stop caring who knows about her and Jamie, while entertaining the possibility of Euron’s proposal, which is an interesting new twist on the Lannister dynamic, really opens up some options for Jamie to do something again rather than wander around the palace and look at Cersei.
Olenna Tyrell has an interesting scene with Jamie (it seems like he’s going to have a lot of stuff to work with soon), talking about her own brand of justice. Finally revealing to Jamie that it was her, rather than Tyrion, that murdered Jeoffery, which gives Jamie more reason to question his sister’s one-woman crusade to see Tyrion wiped off the face of the earth. Annoyingly it never confirms whether Tywin was involved or not; it’s one of the fan theories I enjoyed. That Tywin, being a pragmatist, saw Jeoffery was a mini-Mad King and worked with the Tyrells to get him out of the way and put Tommen on the throne. Jamie’s current arc is shaping up to be one of the most satisfying and if they carry it on I hope we get to see the payoff before the end of this season.
Finally, back in the North, Sansa is making sure everything runs smoothly in Winterfell and continuing her streak of getting in some killer lines at Littlefinger’s expense. Then Bran shows up, claiming to be The Three Eyed Raven and being able to see everything. Sansa naturally doubts this: being the most sensible Stark is an odd position for Sansa, but there she is, pretty much asking for evidence in a world where she’s watched a giant punch through castle gates and is waiting for an army of the dead to descend on her home. At this point, I feel like any stories that someone tells someone else in the North about some magical thing or other deserve believing at face value, but sure. There are innumerable ways Bran could have gone about proving that he has a prophetic vision, tell Sansa about the Tower of Joy (that place Jon was born), tell her Jon is a Targaryen, mention some random time from Sansa’s childhood he couldn’t possibly know about. But this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about, and they go all out, with Bran saying. “I saw you get raped by Ramsey on your wedding night” accompanied by monotone voice and weird slight smile. Is there something about Winterfell that just makes everyone lose any ability to be tactful? First Littlefinger last week and we all remember Ned being about as subtle as a trio of dragons, now Bran; is it the air? The cold? Is there something in the water? I can’t wait for Arya to show up and prove she can change faces in some pointlessly horrible way, like putting on Ramsey’s face to sneak up on Sansa.
This was a pretty high-quality episode of Game of Thrones all in all, but the show needs to stop relying on the sexual assault storylines to prove how terrible the world and the people are, we know the world is awful, just get on with the story, it’s getting gratuitous and aggravating.