After last week’s installment, “Stormborn,” ended on a down note, “The Queen’s Justice” was full of long-awaited meetings and reunions. Some encounters are more or less impactful than obvious, with the occasional fun culture clash (watch Jon and the Dothraki sizing each other up in the first scene). All the threads laid over the past seven seasons are now being drawn together. The point of Episode 3 rapidly became clear: to make things harder for Daenerys Targaryen. She can’t just show up with dragons and pronounce the game over. That said, here are some of the key moves played in “The Queen’s Justice.”
A long and bloody tale—and to be honest, I was drunk for most of it. Jon and Tyrion greet each other with mutual respect, respect that they have each struggled to gain from Westeros at large. Much has changed since they last saw each other in Season 1. Back then, Jon was the Bastard of Winterfell, newly arrived at the Wall, and Tyrion was the unwanted younger son of the fully intact House Lannister. Now Jon is King in the North, and Tyrion is Hand of the invading Dragon Queen.
Ice Meets Fire, Finally. But there are no puddles or explosions to be seen. Jon and Daenerys speak to each other exclusively in their capacities as heads of state, and this carries over from the throne room to their one-on-one interactions. The dramatic aim of A Song of Ice and Fire is for Ice to meet Fire—Melisandre even reminds us of the book series title when she says “I have brought Ice and Fire together.” But we’ll need to see more chemistry. Hopefully, we’ll eventually have a scene of Ice and Fire behaving like regular human beings around each other.
Cersei being evil. Also vunerable. While Cersei reminds us of the pain she felt at Myrcella’s death, her method of murdering Tyene Sand is far crueler to Ellaria than Ellaria’s murder of Myrcella. Cersei never had to watch Myrcella rot, although we know that the thought still tortures her. Cersei spoke in season six about imagining the faces of her mother and daughter. She visits her own nightmare of watching a daughter become a rotting corpse upon Ellaria, but the difference is that Cersei enacts a real-life torture on Ellaria that for Cersei was psychological.
Cersei being flagrant. She never would have let anyone catch her in bed with Jaime in past seasons.
The iron bank will have its due. One notable aspect of Game of Thrones is that, while magic is exerting itself, the rising power is that most modern group, bankers. Cersei’s skills at manipulation are eyebrow-raising yet unsurprising, as is her capacity to condone evil. The slave trade is fine with businessmen, so long as there’s no revolution.
Bran/Sansa Reunion. Finally, a true Stark sibling reunion. But it seems anti-climactic. Bran is impassive in his big sister’s embrace. Poor Sansa would probably like for Bran to display some practicality. What is this “Three-Eyed Raven” business anyway? Bran’s experiences beyond the Wall have removed him from the normal sphere of human understanding and interaction. It doesn’t matter that he’s the last trueborn son of Lord Eddard Stark, because it’s his destiny to sit in a tree somewhere. Sansa will have to handle castle management logistics herself, but she’s proving competent so far.
Sam Does Not Get Expelled From the Citadel. But please don’t shake hands with Jorah, Sam! He might still be infectious for all we know! Chances are there will be things worth knowing in those old scrolls and books that Jim Broadbent gives to Sam to transcribe. The Maester appears to have decided that that Sam has a gift for the arcane.
The Drains of Casterly Rock. The Unsullied take Casterly Rock via the drains. It seems brilliant, but of course it’s all too easy. Where are the rest of the Lannisters? It’s a dark moment seeing Bronn riding with them, even though we know he’s always been a mercenary.
Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me. The women in this world were not trained to fight with swords, but the great ones know how to die like warriors, without shirking. Is Lady Olenna able to speak so calmly to Jaime because she knows that everything she has to live for, including revenge, is gone? It’s a sign of the respect owed to Diana Rigg that we don’t see her die or suffer. She looks like a great Flemish Renaissance painting in the final frame.
The Queen’s justice is flawed when enacted in all cases by and towards powerful women. Cersei exacts an unjust level of revenge, Ellaria has her own vengeance turned upon her, Yara gets none (yet?), Daenerys’s is slipping away, and Olenna will not get to enjoy hers for very long. The reactions of the women, in all cases, highlight that Cersei is over the edge of sympathy. Yet Cersei’s unguarded villainy betrays more emotion than Daenerys’s studied imperial façade. Dany has been talking exclusively in regal-speak for many episodes now. It would be nice to have a scene of her reacting like a normal young woman. But it looks like we may finally see a break in her exterior in next week’s episode, “The Spoils of War.”