A lot of setup in this episode. There were a couple of good moments for me. Cersei and Jaime's discussion I loved. My biggest concern since we are past source material is consistency with what will happen based on past relayed information with all the episodes of this season and next.
One quick example, Bran was touched by the Night King while he was warging into a weirwood tree and that brought the Night King to his location and broke the spells protecting the Three Eyed Raven and the Children's cave system.
If Bran going through the tunnel at Castle Black doesn't break the enchantment spells at the wall, I have a problem then with consistency of established narrative.
If the White Walkers simply just go around the wall through a castle by the ocean, why is it that they are doing that now instead of earlier sometime over the past several thousand years? If this is something they could have always done it just leaves me scratching my head.
We cut to Walder Frey giving a toast to his sons and family men. It becomes quite clear after a toast they have been poisoned and Walder peels off his mask to reveal Arya Stark who tells his wife that the North remembers and Winter has come to House Frey.
Cut to the the Castle Black Wall gate where Meera Reed and Bran talk Ned into letting them through the wall. (SEE: Unknown. It's unclear whether this simple act of mercy just destroyed thousands of years of spell protection from the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead.)
Cut to Jon at Winterfell where he's asking his Northern alliance folk to scour their records for any mention of Dragonglass and talks to his troops about how they need that to fight the army of the undead. They intend to fashion weapons out of it: spears, pikes and arrows.
He asks Tormund to ask the free folk to man the castles along the wall to protect from the army of the dead.
Against Sansa's opinions Jon gets the Umbers and the Karstarks to bend the knee and gives them back the Last Hearth and Karhold to defend against the White Walkers since they will be the closest to the Wall.
Jon and Sansa come to agreement: Sansa will stop saying things that may undermine his rule and he will stop trying to protect her.
Cersei sends a raven to Jon asking him to bend the knee or suffer the fate of traitors, which he shrugs off for the time being. Sansa warns him about underestimating Cersei and Jon reminds her about the Night King which is a way more imminent threat.
Cut to Cersei and Jaime at King's Landing looking at a map of Westeros on the floor of a planning room. She asks him if he hates or is afraid of her and he says no. She asks his counsel about Tyrion and Dany and he says they will land in Dragonstone (which they do. Skip ahead for details.) He appears to find her delusional when she asks him to help her secure the Lannister family's legacy of ruling a Westerosi Kingdom which will last a thousand years despite being totally surrounded on all sides with no heirs left. The Most telling line: 'I'm the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms...Three kingdoms, at best.'
Euron Greyjoy shows up with a 1000 ships pledging help to the Lannisters. Cersei doesn't trust him and he departs vowing to bring her something that will insure her trust.
Samwell changes bedpans and doles out food to the Maesters and assists the Archmaester with an autopsy of another. He believes Samwell saw the Army of the Undead.
Later than evening, Samwell borrows the Archmaester's keys and borrows some books from the restricted area.
During his daily routine, Samwell collects food dishes from barred rooms. A hand thrusts out of barred off door spy hole and tries to grab at Samwell. It appears Ser Jorah has made it to the Citadel to get help with his Greyscale, however it looks pretty bad. He asks if she has landed yet in Westeros.
Back at Winterfell Lady Brienne asks Sansa why Little Finger is still there and Sansa reminds her that without the Vale Ramsay would still hold Winterfell. Sansa tells Lady Brienne that she knows what he's after (SEE: The Unknown).
Arya hears a song and that lures her to share a Rabbit and black berry wine with Ed Sheeran posing as a Lannister guard (SEE: The Unknown).
The Hound and the Brotherhood without Banners find the house of the man and his daughter that he robbed of gold when he was caring for Arya. He finds their bodies inside. It appears the father took both of their lives to spare them of starvation. A pang of guilt (perhaps) causes the Hound to bury their bodies with the help of the Red Priest, Thoros of Myr. He asks the Hound if he knew them and he denies it. The Hound tries to say a prayer from the Faith of the Seven to give their souls a rest.
Inside the house with the Brotherhood without Banners, the Hound manages to gather up the courage to look into the fire and see the Army of the Dead by the sea going through a Castle that has an Arrowhead.
Samwell's night reading uncovers there is a huge mine of Dragonglass on Dragonstone in one of the books he borrowed and sends a Raven of his findings to Jon.
Dany lands at Dragonstone and gets to work on her plans.
Arya body count: Off the scale now after this episode. It's in the hundreds.
* I have been hoping for years for Wight Giants and this episode didn't disappoint. Wow!
* All of Jon's decisions were very sound and had a nice mixture of being Ned-like honorable and also practical. The Karstarks and the Umbers were given something to fight for besides the Starks; their own castles. It also shows he's willing to forgive them. The Free Folks manning the castles along the wall is also a very practical application. No one is using them and it also gives them something to fight for while teaming up with the Starks.
* The gross of montage of Samwell changing and scrubbing bedpans and showing food being doled out to eat was hilarious. Talk about boiling down the cycle of life and the passage of time. It doesn't get that much more concise does it?
* Cersei's conversation with Jaime was well done. I was expecting her to ask him if he was afraid of her or hated her. It showed me how complicated his situation is with her. I am sure he does hate and fear her; obviously he couldn't show that. She would put him to death in her state. In a lot of ways he's the only grounding tether to reality she has left. He makes a perfect hand of the queen for her right now. Hopefully she listens although she seems to think they will be ruling for thousand years; not sure where the army is coming from to achieve that. She knows they are bankrupt and they are totally surrounded. Unless gold bricks start falling from the sky for the Lannisters I don't see how their position will be sustainable that much longer.
I didn't have an issue with the Hound seeing visions in the flames, however seeing what appears to be the undead army going *around* the wall through a castle by the sea, if true is weak sauce for me. For thousands of years the Night King doesn't attack and then all of a sudden gets the brilliant idea from attacking at a castle by the sea? What prompted this?
* When Bran passed through the gate at Castle Black did he break the spells of protection on the wall?
* Does Samwell know Jon is at Winterfell or will his messages go to Castle Black?
* If Cersei will not enlist the help of the Euron Greyjoy who will fight for her? What does she have up her sleeve besides caches of Wildfire?
* What gift is Euron going to bring to Cersei to win her over?
* Is Arya headed to Winterfell?
* How far are the Brothers without Banners from the wall?
* It appears the army of the dead are walking past a castle by the sea marked by an arrowhead. Why has it taken this long for them to do that? Was it Bran going through the wall to break the spells on the wall?
* How long will Ed Sheeran last in this season?
* What does Little Finger want?
* Will we ever see giant ice spiders?
* How does the Iron Bank of Braavos figured into the Battles to come? Would they protect their investment by assisting Cersei? Or will they go against her?
Game of Thrones Threads at the TV Critic: