The Dose: The boys are back in “Eastwatch” on this week’s “Game of Thrones”

The Dose: The boys are back in “Eastwatch” on this week’s “Game of Thrones”

The Dose: The boys are back in “Eastwatch” on this week’s “Game of Thrones”
August 22
11:33 2017

By Katie Jenkins and Michael Vu

Buckle up your seat belts boys and girls, because we are more than halfway done with the seventh season of Game of Thrones, and it will be a year-long wait for the final season to reach our anxious fingertips (or 2019 according to rumors).

This week’s episode “Eastwatch” featured many important character moments and reunions as has been the norm this season, and an epic team-up at the end with some of the show’s strongest warriors heading out on a dangerous quest beyond the wall. This week, the plot was driven by intriguing and unexpected character actions, but these actions also had viewers caught up in the questions of morality that have always plagued this show: Who is truly good, and who is truly evil? And will that ever be solidified?

“I offer you a choice…” Join or die

Anyone who has ever seen good television knew that Jaime Lannister wasn’t going to die. It was still relieving nonetheless seeing our conflicted one-handed swordsman saved by his tough-loving battle-partner, Bronn. Though Bronn stated he only saved Jamie for selfish indebtedness, this scene emphasized their humorous and witty friendship and reminded viewers of the complex interconnectedness and histories these characters share.

Though Randyll Tarly’s sacrifice seemed admirable and honorable, it was his stubbornness that killed him and his son. At this point, honor is confusing. Honor just seems like a useless excuse for death, especially thanks to the irony that Lord Tarly was executed by a Tyrell ally, the Tyrell’s whose protective vow Randyll broke.

These scenes show how dangerous war can be because death and war are unforgiving. The last time Daenerys spoke about the wheel of power, she was talking with an optimistic Tyrion about her plans to conquer Westeros. Though now that she is taking over as she intended, Tyrion has so many doubts about her methods and strategies. This animosity only drives viewers to question Daenerys’s morality to an intense degree, since even her military advisor doesn’t trust her decisions.

Though we can’t see the effects yet, Game of Thrones is sowing the seeds of distrust in places we didn’t expect.  

“A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep”

Other unexpected things were revealed when checking in with the Lannisters at King’s Landing. Cersei seems to be shifting the way she rules, shifting the way she uses her power and knowledge. Usually she is bold and brash, making decisions out of anger rather than foresight. Though Cersei’s reaction to Olenna’s secret was dramatic and well-acted, it was strange to see her character fairly calm. In the past, Cersei has gone “scorched earth” when defending her family, but now it is interesting how she seems to be controlling herself more. And now she wants to listen to Daenerys? Again, the makers of this episode wanted viewers to be confused about their own character loyalties. It makes for good drama when you can’t decide who is right from wrong, even though this is the show’s central problem.

Yes, with Cersei being presumably pregnant, her character is now both humanized and vulnerable. However, Cersei has always found power in family, so this pregnancy will only feed her ruthlessness. In fact, she could use the pregnancy as a defensive strategy, playing helpless while pulling the carpet from under her enemies.

“Sometimes strength is terrible”

Before getting into Jon and Daenerys’ discussion on the cliffs, it must be noted how inspiring Jon’s and Drogon’s meeting was (though its drama was tempered by that horribly fake Jon hand, reaching to touch the dragon). The scene was full of intensity, echoed by the lack of dialogue in the first two minutes, and the tight shots of each character’s face (including Drogon’s). This power was also heightened by the character’s surprised reactions to Drogon’s gentleness, and the oh so subtle hint at the R+L=J theory that has been annoyingly well-hidden.

It was skilled for producers to put this scene right before bringing up Daenerys’ ethical dilemma again, because it reminds viewers that we like these characters, we are rooting for Daenerys and Jon. In this episode, Daenerys’ fear tactics are being simultaneously contrasted against her human kindness, also thanks to the re-appearance of her beloved Jorah. When she sees him, Daenerys’ cheeks literally changes from pale to pink in a matter of seconds.

In the inside the episode clip, Creators Weiss and Benioff talked about the unfair challenge that Daenerys has been facing, being held to a higher moral standard than Cersei. It was interesting to hear Benioff say that ultimately, it is up to viewers to decide just and unjust (not up to the characters). Normally, nothing on screen is up to the viewers, especially for Game of Thrones.

While this statement could be a hint at how the show will have no victor, it also hints at the complexities of leadership and power played out in the plot. We all want leaders to protect us, but as Daenerys stated: “We can only help [our people] from a position of strength.”

Meanwhile, at Winterfell…

We have all seen Littlefinger hiding in the shadows of Winterfell, but until this episode, we thought he was on the outs.

However once again, Game of Thrones subverts what we thought we knew.

Thanks to further insight from the inside the episode clip, the creators told us how Littlefinger is trying to drive a wedge between Sansa and Arya by reverse spying. Though we know that the note was Sansa’s forced concession letter to Robb from season two, it seems unclear how Littlefinger will use this information to turn Arya away from her sister, even though the mystery of it all is enough for now.

The plot is wrapped up so tightly that viewers didn’t even know the spy was being spied on until it was necessary to reveal it. And the questions just keep getting longer.

“Wasn’t sure I’d find you… Thought you’d still be rowing.”

One of the biggest reveals this episode was that Robert Baratheon’s bastard Gendry (last seen in season three) was not only alive, but he’d left his row boat long ago.

All jokes aside, it was hopeful to see that a character got to do something he loved for awhile, even though he was doing it for people he hated. And for a show with plenty of recastings, it was warming to see that Joe Dempsie was able to return as his slightly-aged character.

When meeting Jon for the first time, Gendry proves he is a no-nonsense kind of warrior, just like his father. And just like Rob and Ned before them, both Gendry and Jon are forming a kind of bromance viewers didn’t expect to love. It is also heartening and skillful to see that a show as big as Game of Thrones can bring up its own memes and fan theories, without ruining the actor/audience fourth wall.

Sam leaves the citadel.

Sam has had a tough time on this show, being rejected and misunderstood since he was a boy. Though his struggle to be significant is something viewers know well of, Sam’s fight embodies one of the most important concepts of the show: the ethics of politics. It’s ironic that Sam is surrounded by knowledge, yet the wise, bureaucratic maesters still ignore him atop their pedestals.

In order to do anything, Sam needed to get away from the citadel. It is important to note that in the books, Sam was kicked out of the citadel, yet in the show he intentionally left. This added character detail makes Sam more dynamic and also plays along with his new confidence and heroism.

He will read every book ever made to save Westeros, down to the last detail — except for the detail he missed about Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage annulment to Ellia Martel, and his secret other marriage that occurred in Dorne. Everyone should try to keep calm though, as this detail was only added to intensify an immediate viewer response, exciting fans with as much suspense as possible.

All I can say is that the R+L=J drama is so ramped up now, that it’s impact will be atomic.

“Were all on the same side… We’re all breathin’.”

Though Eastwatch on the wall was added to the title credits this episode, it was unfortunate and unfair that viewers only saw the characters there for a few minutes. The shots of the wall were monumentally epic and the way the quest beyond the wall was set up for next week was something to behold. Thanks to the preview for episode six, we know a white walker battle is in our immediate future, possibly with the aide of Beric’s flaming sword.

Once again, this episode brought characters together who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. It is always interesting to watch the past wash back over people once they’ve moved on from it. In fact, why even bring characters back together unless it was to use their pasts against them. Though this group of miscreants has been compared to the “Magnificent Seven,” “the A-Team” and even the “Suicide Squad,” Jon’s crew is full of some of the best soldiers he could have asked for.

And even with all their power, it it curious to wonder how many of them are meant to make it back.

Though our expectations aren’t always met, it is always interesting to wonder what will happen next in a show as complex as “Game of Thrones.” Besides, fans appreciate unique narrative styles. The characters are changing, the game is changing and the past is still highly relevant.

It is important that we get these calls to the past in this series because so many characters were built off their experiences. When people in reality concern themselves with the past, it is always about “what if.”

In Game of Thrones, however, the past is a tool, and those who use its information will be the strongest opponents in this war.

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Katie Jenkins

Katie Jenkins

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