Monday night's episode, 'The Queen's Justice', brought major power shifts... and took away one of our favourite characters
Monday night’s episode of Game Of Thrones, The Queen’s Justice, was a colour-by-numbers showcase of all the things the series has become famous for. Sudden, unexpected power shifts? Tick! Gruesome revenge killings? Tick! Tense throne room stand-offs? Tick! The death of a great character? Boo.
It had been tempting to believe Daenerys might have Westeros in the bag at the beginning of Game of Thrones Season 7. Not least because an alliance with Jon Snow (who conspiracy theorists had correctly predicted was Daenerys’s nephew) was in the works, and given those Targaryens are historically OK with incest, potentially also a romance. .
But after beginning Season 7 with her back against the wall, on Monday night Daenerys’s nemesis Cersei Lannister showed she’s got plenty of fight left.
Here’s why episode three was particularly bad news for Daenerys…
She’s now lost virtually all her key allies
Early on in episode 2 we saw nearly all of Cersei’s enemies band together behind Daenerys: Olenna Tyrell (Highgarden), Ellaria Sand (Dorne), Yara and Theon Greyjoy (Pyke), and our old favourite Tyrion Lannister. The only big power player missing was Jon Snow, but Daenerys had sent a letter summoning him to Dragonstone, so things looked promising.
But then, in just over one episode she seems to have lost the lot. After a violent sea capture orchestrated by Cersei’s would-be husband Euron Greyjoy at the end of episode 2, Yara Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand and her remaining Sandsnake daughter (the other two were killed) are now locked up at King’s Landing.
Thanks to a horribly conceived piece of revenge by Cersei in retaliation for Ellaria’s murder of her daughter Myrcella (which was revenge for The Mountain’s murder of her lover Oberyn Martell), she’s being forced to watch the slow death of her daughter by the same poison that killed Myrcella. Even by Game of Thrones standards it felt pretty dark. Theon, meanwhile, has been fished out of the water somewhere off Westeros, having abandoned his sister. Will he eventually return to save the day? Right now it’s not looking likely.
Tyrion isn’t necessarily the master tactician we believe him to be
He might have used clever tactics to ride (or float) to glory in the Battle of the Blackwater, but Tyrion made a big mistake with Monday night’s siege of his childhood home Casterly Rock. He believed his use of a secret passage under the castle to send The Unsullied in to capture House Lanninster’s seat by surprise would fox his sister and brother, but it turns out Jaime and Cersei had other, more valuable fish to fry: while Tyrion was focusing on his childhood home, Jaime had drained the castle and assembled an army to march on the house of Daenerys’s key ally, Olenna Tyrell. Dying as sassily as she had lived, the Tyrell matriarch was determined to have the last word. After drinking a cup of poisoned wine (her execution), Olenna revealed to Jaime that it was she, not Tyrion, who had killed Joffrey. RIP Queen of Thorns, we’ll miss little burns like these: ‘What did Joffrey name that sword?’ / ‘Widow’s Wail’ / ‘He really was a little c*** wasn’t he?’
With her Tyrell ally defeated, Daenerys has now lost Highgarden (and its army) to Cersei.
Could Jon Snow actually be the ending of Daenerys?
The big reunion between Jon Snow and Daenerys didn’t go as smoothly as we might have hoped. We’ve been given the last six seasons to become enthusiastic members of Team Khaleesi, but Jon’s only prior knowledge of the Mother of Dragons is her father’s reputation as the ‘Mad King’ who burned his grandfather and uncle alive – so no surprises he isn’t rushing to bend the knee.
Daenerys’ ‘I Am Your Queen’ shtick also seemed to jar a little with Snow’s northern pragmatism. ‘This is Jon Snow, King in the North’ Ser Davos said, slightly limply, after Missandei reeled off her Khaleesi’s many titles.
After an initial stalemate, the two ended the episode with Daenerys agreeing to let Jon mine the Dragonglass he needs to fight the White Walkers. But the future of their relationship looks ambiguous. There is one, slightly wild, fan theory that Jon Snow will actually end up killing Daenerys. In the seemingly prophetic legend Sam and Gilly were seen reading about in early released pictures of the series, to save the world Azor Ahai must stab his wife Nissa Nissa in order to forge his powerful blade, Lightbringer.
Some fans have suggested if Jon is the predicted ‘reborn’ Azor Ahai, then Daenerys could be Nissa Nissa. It’s not wholly implausible (given the show’s reputation for throwing massive curveballs) that the final act of the show will see Jon stabbing Daenerys for ‘the greater good.’ But could the show’s writers honestly stomach killing off one of the best-loved characters in the series? We wouldn’t put it past them.