Game of Thrones: Season 7, Episode 5 Review “Eastwatch”
Even as the world is decaying into chaos, there's still time for a team up.
After ending the last episode on what may have been the highest point all season, episode five, “Eastwatch” was a bit of a cooldown. But in Game of Thrones, a cooldown episode doesn’t mean the action’s gone anywhere. “Eastwatch” was filled with joyous reunions and the return of old faces, but the most important step taken this week the way things were established for the story to come.
The charred requiem of the loot train battle comes in the form of Jaime and Bronn’s escape from the aftermath--proving that Jaime’s descent into the depths at the end of the last episode was more a metaphor than anything else. As Dany lined up the Lannister survivors, ordering them to bend the knee, the only characters we cared about were making their escape. All the same, the Tarly’s, both father and son, refused to yield to the Dragon Queen, and they both paid with their life. Realistically, their loss wasn’t a pull at the heartstrings as much as it was a reminder that Dany isn’t joking around. A mad queen? No, nothing like her father, not yet. But a ruler who will stop at nothing to reach her throne? Yes, very much so.
But with that in mind, she’s worrying her council, specifically Tyrion and Varys. These two have seen the realities of Westeros all their life, and house loyalty is a golden token that those who spend their lives in Essos may not consider. To incinerate an entire house lineage is to remove a piece from the game board, sure, but it removes them forever. In Westeros, pieces can change color and allegiance easier than being erased entirely.
From a viewer’s perspective, we can see that the Dragon Queen, even after everything, isn’t in full control of what kind of ruler she wants to be. Will she be controlled by emotion or a slave to decisions based fully off of logistics? She’ll need to find that sweet spot, and burning the Tarly’s against the advice of her hand shows that she’s not there yet. It gives the viewer doubt that she’s the one they should be rooting for.
Probably the furthest from anybody’s favorite is Cersei, who rules with a cold fist. Jaime comes back to King’s Landing to tell of the Dragon Queen’s sheer destructive powers and Cersei doesn’t blink an eye. Even in the face of blistering defeat, she’s stolid in her decision to fight. It’s no surprise, but the last person to put their heels into King’s Landing and not let go was the Mad King--they’re drawing similarities every episode.
Cersei’s reveal to Jaime that she’s pregnant is anything but enjoyable, as it’s going to blind Jaime with loyalty once more. From a storytelling perspective, it’s great, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. While Cersei is the Lannister anchor, representing loyalty to lineage, Jaime has fought hard to prove he’s got something more in him, something close to humanity. It’s why we as fans went from hating him to loving him. There’s a chance that the news he’s going to be a father once more is going to return him to his old roots.
The two smaller narrative strands of “Eastwatch” took place in Winterfell and Oldtown. Arya puts her skills as a rogue to the test against the greatest fork-tongue of all time, Littlefinger. While she’s learned a lot, he still outsmarts her and creates a rift between the Stark sisters. Even though his underhandedness isn’t anything new, one has to wonder why Littlefinger is still playing he-said/she-said when he’s fully aware of the death that’s headed their way. What’s still to gain if you rupture the fighting force in the North?
Sam’s actions in the Citadel were inevitable. We knew he wasn’t destined to spend the remainder of the show becoming a Maester in Oldtown, so it’s only right that his departure happened sooner than later. He’s taken all the relevant reading materials that may hold the secret to the white walker’s defeat, and thanks to Gilly, he’s even unknowingly unearthed the fact that Jon has a rightful claim to the throne as a legitimate Targaryen male.
Since Sam isn’t a fighter, unless by happenstance, he’s served as a knowledge base for the viewer. We learn so much through his own discoveries. This is about to be truer than it ever has been before.
The biggest story strand this episode had to offer was Jon and Dany’s attempt to show the Lannisters that it’s time to lay down arms against another and pick them up against a larger, more dangerous force. Through the eyes of Bran, who sees through the eyes of crows, we see the army of the dead march upon Eastwatch, the easternmost castle on The Wall. All season, we’ve known they’re coming, but it’s more blatant now than ever. Bran gives the order to send ravens all across Westeros with the news.
Dany and Jon, they don’t need much more convincing, but to stop their assault against the Lannister forces is like handing Cersei the victory. So a plan is devised to get physical, unliving proof: a white walker they can bring to King’s Landing and force Cersei to acknowledge. Nothing can go wrong with that plan, right?
The first step is getting an inside man--Jaime. Even if Davos is an amazing smuggler, it’s a stretch to imagine Tyrion getting from the coast to the Red Keep unseen, but he seems to manage it just fine.
The tense reunion between the two brothers goes to show that Jaime still has love for his little brother, something could’ve completely vanished. The death of their father by Tyrion’s hands was only because Jaime helped him escape those years ago--and yes, it’s been years. By way of Sam, this episode even acknowledged the passing of time to be much longer than we’re ever shown.
Jaime is reluctant to agree with this plan, but he does. Step one complete. The next step is to actually get the damn thing. Which, wouldn’t you know, leads to the greatest super-team to be assembled in Game of Thrones history.
The assemblage of this super-team is not only one of the most badass events to happen in the entire series, but it brings together characters that not many would ever guess would even share screen time. Jorah, freshly healed and back to serving the Dragon Queen agrees to go with Jon on this dangerous mission, as well as the 3-years removed Gendry who’s returned with Davos from King’s Landing. He’s every bit of his father, a warhammer-wielding spark looking to start a fire. He too will be a welcome addition to the team.
Upon their arrival at Eastwatch, Tormund doesn’t even need convincing to come along. He’s even got some surprise help waiting in the dungeons: The Hound and his Brotherhood friends (kind of), Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion. Seven warriors ready to cross The Wall for a mission that has to get done. It’s inevitable that not all of them will return, but as the camera fades up as the seven make their way into the white wastes, we can’t help but wait to see what happens next.
There are very few episodes that await us this season. The adventures on the north side of The Wall will be the last major events before that of the finale. Together, we’ll be seeing a near-perfect season come to a close, but there’s much more to be done. As Sam heads west, Cersei digs in, and the raiding party heads North, expect much more excitement in the episodes that remain. Winter is here.
Overall Score: 9/10
Reviewed by Henry Kulick