'Game of Thrones': 9 Striking Moments From Season 7, Episode 5, 'Eastwatch'

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO
Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington in Game of Thrones season 7 episode 5.

Not much of “Eastwatch," the fifth episode of the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, actually took place at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, save the final scenes. It was more about what was headed towards there, and how everyone reacted to or ignored it.

Namely -- the army of the dead was marching for Eastwatch, while the living occupied themselves with politics. The detached Maesters at the Citadel, when faced with Samwell Tarley’s sincerity, quip away and pat themselves on the back for how clever they are. The experts meet bits of paper with more bits of paper, while outlaws and bastards band together for action, making for a decidedly anti-political episode.

Only I Get to Kill You. Well, good: Cliffhanger solved, Jaime and Bronn aren’t dead. Unclear how they got so far downstream from the battle without breathing in the meantime, though, especially as the smoke appears to be well away from them.

But We Liked Dickon. Dickon couldn’t help it that his father was a bully to our beloved Samwell. Likeable people die in wars, too. Harsh Randyll was allowed a moment of nobility in standing up to the Dragon Queen, and we saw how Daenerys could appear villainous. If only the rest of his speech after -- “There are no good choices in war” -- wasn't so unfair, just like his judgment of son Sam. Dany was born on Dragonstone... a part of Westeros. Exiles can’t help being raised abroad.

Jaime Delivers a Reality Check to Cersei. King Robert Baratheon, six seasons ago, observed, “Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field.” Robert understood war far better than he understood governing, and hadn’t even met the Dothraki, in battle, as Jaime just did. “Killing our men wasn’t war for them, it was sport," the Queen's close advisor reported. "[Danaerys'] dragon burnt a thousand wagons. Qyburn’s scorpion fired bolts bigger than you. They couldn’t stop it. And she has three of them. This isn’t a war we can win.” This news -- and the revelation that Olenna, not Tyrion, killed Joffrey -- does not sway Cersei from her determination to stay in the war.

Drogon Lets Jon Stroke Him Shhhhh. Nice dragon. Good dragon. Sweet dragon. Drogon behaves more like a pet than a scary monster. He narrows his eyes like a contented cat being stroked, and Jon knows instinctively to take his glove off and touch the black scales. It would also be cool to see Jon bonding with Rhaegal or Viserion, to feed our hunger for multiple dragon riders. But seeing Drogon respond affectionately towards Jon's gentle hand on the muzzle is a nice step in that direction.

Literal Bird’s Eye View. Aside from being scenic, the flight of the ravens towards Eastwatch gives a wonderful sense of how warging would actually work, as Bran wargs into a bird. A single raven’s eyes roll back, turning from black to white, and the ravens take off from Winterfell. Cut to Bran, white eyes rolled back into his head. Then back to the bird; he’s flying, just as the old Three-Eyed Raven said he would, over mountains, past Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, to find the army of the Dead... no sign of dead Giants this time, though.

Confrontation in Front of Dragon Skulls. A real estate agent trying to sell the Red Keep could pitch the basement dragon skull repository as a multifunctional rec room, good for grownup-time with brothel employees, target practice (the skull of Balerion the Dread makes a great dart board!), discreetly entertaining foreign visitors and... awkward family reunions. Jaime and Tyrion push past emotional unfinished business: It’s Tyrion’s final reply about Daenerys -- “She has a more important request [than Cersei's surrender]" -- that surprises Jaime. What could be more important than ownership of the Seven Kingdoms?

Welcome Back, Gendry. I wasn’t sure I’d find you. Thought you might still be rowing.” Actor Joe Dempsie has incorporated some of Mark Addy’s mannerisms into his portrayal of Robert’s bastard blacksmith son, Gendry, who has been out of action for several seasons. Gendry never did learn to swing a sword as Ned offered, but he can make quick work with a gigantic hammer, just like Robert. It’s touching that Gendry would be so impassioned to fight for the memory of a drunk father who never held him. The ensuing beach scene was perfect; no wonder Davos was a suucessful smuggler. I’m not sure I'd want to know what was in that fermented crab, though.

Define "Annulment." Well, there. Gilly just figured the whole series out. Sam misses the importance of Prince “Rag-ger” and his secret remarriage in Dorne, but longtime viewers know what this scene and the pedantic records of boring High Septon Maynard mean. It means that R+L=J is A-OK by the Hays Code standards.

Littlefinger Sets Arya Up? How do we know that the hidden note is a set-up, even before Petyr Baelish’s smarmy face appears in the shadows? Because he hid the note in a supposedly hard-to-find spot. The note, which we see only a fragment of, appears to have been one of the ones that Sansa wrote under duress from King’s Landing while hostage to the Lannisters. If the note were not a ruse, Baelish might have kept it on his person, or kept a guard at the door and hidden the note in plain sight, instead of stuffing it inside a mattress. Or did he guess that Arya would already know that, and double-second-guess him? The question is: who will guess last, Arya, or Littlefinger?

We’re getting a sense of what the fabled Westerosi winter will feel like as it approaches, and the ragtag band of outlaws and bastards heads through the wall to hunt down a wight. Kudos to the costumers for subtly shifting the attire each week to hint at the worsening climate; for example, the Dragonstone-bound cast have all gradually shifted to wearing padded wool lined with fur that visibly moves in the wind, while the Dothraki now sport furs and leathers in place of the sweaty chests and leather vests of prior seasons. The cold can only worsen as we head into next week’s still-unnamed episode.