Game of Thrones "S7E3 The Queen's Justice" - Review: When Fire Met Ice
Being a big show of my early years, I learned a lot from growing up watching Star Trek TNG (yes... I was a Wesley fan). This ranged from the wider themes like an appreciation of baldness and different cultures learning from each other, to more specific ideas from particular episodes. One of my favourites was a second season episode (21, Peak Performance) featuring Data shocked to be beaten at a strategy game (controlled by 80s VR spirit fingers) by a non-android opponent. Of course, he wins the rematch but only by vastly altering his strategy based on counter-intelligence to hold his opponent in an indefinite stalemate rather than going for an outright victory. That winning isn’t always about going for the win but about playing the smartest. That’s the same interesting direction the war for Westeros is taking, as the full scale conflict boils down to critical strategies and counter strategies across either ends of the board.
The Queen’s Justice – As Jon Snow comes before Daenerys Targaryen, can the King of the North and rightful Queen see eye-to-eye? Meanwhile, current Queen Cersei exacts her vengeance upon the captured Sands of Dorne and the Unsullied attack Casterly Rock.
So after seven seasons, the ice and fire were finally brought together as Jon met Daenerys. It was everything we could have wanted or expected from at last having arguably the show’s three biggest characters in the same room with Tyrion in the wings. Each was carefully given their own moments of strength and intelligence over the others with teases over which way the meeting would turn. The playful exchanges between Davos and Tyrion over being on opposite sides of the battle of The Blackwater were nice touches. They’re disagreement also embodies the long developed core ideal of show: people of power fighting and arguing amongst themselves when they should be uniting against a greater threat. Tyrion also proves his role as the intermediary in this great meeting by getting them both to see their similarities in the way they’ve earned the loyalty of their people by doing everything to protect them from monsters. The only gripe here is Daenerys showing reluctance to believe the army of the dead are real. While it’s long established that almost everyone considers them to be a myth, she's a woman who has encountered dragons and several forms of magic; surely she’d be a little more open-minded to such ideas. Overall, this is still highly entertaining and the result feels like the right one. Although, shudder at the thought, there are only 10 more episodes to go, it still feels too early for pair to be completely aligned. These events leave that door open for when the time comes.
War, what is it good for? Awesome TV that’s what! It’s not an uncommon trick but I really liked the way the episode played out the battle of Casterly Rock, both real events and discussed plans, over Tyrion’s narration. Not only did it allow the events at The Rock to play out more efficiently but it kept the emphasis on the strategizing of the main characters rather than the bloody fighting amongst unnamed extras. The fight scenes themselves were still good but throughout the final act, all the best moments came from witnessing how the planning of both sides played out. So far, the season has done an excellent job in creating adversity and difficulty in Daenerys’ conquest of Westeros. From the Season 6 ending pledging a much more one-sided affair, it’s been fantastic to watch how the likes of Cersei have rallied and responded to the threat. Last week, they struck a decisive first blow and here we see their genuinely believing that with Jamie commanding land and Euron (who is still my MVP of this season) commanding the sea they will be victorious.
Speaking of Cersei, this week she reminded us why she wears the, “love to hate” crown these days, from Joffrey and Ramsay before her. In continuing the season’s trend of bringing events full circle, this sees Cersei completing her journey from, “shame.... shame” rock bottom to making those who wronged her suffer. The script from Benioff & Weiss nails the tone and perspective of her scenes with captive Ellaria Sand by making some justifications towards Cersei’s intent but still portraying her as monster. While Ellaria did murder Myrcella as an innocent and deserves to see justice for that, it’s the horror movie like lengths Cersei takes in this, “Queen’s justice” that fully vilify her. Jamie’s position also harbours a lot of interest. He seems to have accepted defeat over changing Cersei through a combination of Euron’s rivalry and believing she can’t be stopped. This still feels like another step towards Queenslayer territory as accepting that Cersei will never change adds incentive for drastic intervention if she transitions into extreme lengths of madness or cruelty. Not to mention that episodes final moments were not exactly an advocate for Jamie’s mercy.
The Winterfell scenes were more hit & miss for me this week. Sansa’s early tracking shot through the grounds was fantastic in establishing her stepping up in command and doing it well, with some nice shades of Catelyn in her mannerisms. However, the arrival of Bran, despite the happiness of the reunion, was far too vague for its own good. I have a major issue with Bran at this point in the story. We’ve spent a hell of a lot time with him, building up to becoming the Three-Eyed Raven..... yet for now, he seems completely without purpose. We know he’ll feature in fighting The Night’s King eventually but he just seems to be killing time until then. We really need some better exposition over his role as the Three-Eyed Raven other than his new dull DILLIGAF tone of voice and illusions to perving on his sister.
Melisandre’s tease over the fate of her and Varys should spout some good three quarters drunk fan theories. Theon’s future looks to be just like old times (“that bad huh?”), Jorah’s back in the game and we even get a glimpse of Brom again! That makes three for three in strong consistent episodes for the season, each satisfying while leaving plenty still to come. This season certainly won’t be an indefinite stalemate; people are playing to win.