Game of Thrones: “Eastwatch” Review

"Eastwatch" (2017) - Game of Thrones Review

The Magnificent Seven (or Eight) Prep for Eastwatch Showdown

SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES DOWN BELOW

After the old-school loot train climax last week between Team Dany and Team Lannister, The Spoils of War was clearly the highlight of Game of Thrones Season 7 so far. It’s only fitting that Eastwatch delivers on the down time. It’s weird. This latest episode isn’t consumed with mid-season padding, rather it’s just the calm before the storm. No pun intended at all.

We ended last week with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) sinking to the bottom of the Blackwater Rush. You know, basically pulling a Daniel Craig in the Skyfall opening. But this was one of those few times in Game of Thrones where we weren’t worried for a character’s impending doom. Don’t get me wrong, Jaime is one of the best characters in the show. Still, it’s obvious that he still serves a bigger purpose. Hopefully. Kill Cersei. Cough.

Meanwhile, Dany (Emilia Clarke) demands loyalty from the defeated Lannisters. Drogon alone is the intimidation factor, not so much the Mother of Dragons. Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner) and his son Dickon (Tom Hopper) stand in defiance of this foreign invader. Shocker. They claim loyalty to Cersei, but they’re as loyal to one ruler as Littlefinger is. When one doesn’t suit you, bounce to the next. Yes, they’re Sam’s flesh and blood, but they’re also a bunch of assholes too.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) continues to play the voice of reason, suggesting alternatives to death. Castle Black or a blackened cell don’t sound too bad. But Dany’s true to her word and it takes one “Dracarys” to burn the two alive. To be honest, she hasn’t walked off the precipice of the Mad King – just yet. It’s not like she didn’t give them an option. She’s not going soft on her enemies, but at least she’s within reason. In the end, Dany scored a “W,” especially after week after week of defeat.

Up in Winterfell, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) wargs into raven scouts only to learn that White Walkers are on the move. They’re heading for Eastwatch, the eastern most part of the Wall. He suggest to send ravens to their allies to keep them in the loop. It’s a serviceable segment for Robo-Bran, who isn’t spying on his sisters or Littlefinger this episode. Our creepy Three-Eyed Raven is kept in check – at least for this episode.

Most of the tension up north is between Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). A few of the northern lords are still frustrated with Jon’s decision to go south. “The King in the North belongs in the North.” It’s even suggested that Sansa would be a better ruler than Jon. She still backs Jon, but doesn’t defend him to the fullest. Since the end of Season 6, there’s been that fine line of tension and respect between the two. Remember, she can play “the game” almost up to Littlefinger’s standards. So we still don’t know which wheels are turning in her head.

Arya sees the entire situation as Sansa wanting to take power for herself. She denies it. And Littlefinger plants even more seeds of distrust, leading Arya to that letter Sansa was forced to write early on in the series. After all these years of the Stark kids being away from one another and it honestly hasn’t been the best reunion. Eastwatch feels transitional in the delivery. However, Littlefinger’s scheming is the linchpin of the entire subplot. This is one of those storylines that works as an aside from the main story, but nothing more.

Eastwatch brings the Oldtown arc to an end as well. Sam (John Bradley) is still dealing with the skepticism of the Archmaesters. Bran’s raven from Winterfell arrives, but it’s quickly dismissed. Every week, the Archmaesters grow more and more annoying. Seriously, how much skepticism and cynicism is pumping through that Citadel? Oh they need “more clarification” of what’s going on beyond the wall. It’s stupid delays that like this, which is going to hurt the assault on the White Walkers. Then again, this seems to be the overall theme of Season 7. Everyone wants proof. And we haven’t even checked Cersei off our list.

Sam’s remains frustrated, especially when transcribing the 15,000 accounts of Archmaester Whoever’s bowel moments. I don’t blame him. The only takeaway from this segment is the text about Prince Rhaegar’s annulment. Well if that doesn’t send up R+L=J red flags. It’s glossed over, but it’s pretty obvious that Jon is a Targaryen. Regardless, Sam, Gilly and Little Sam end up leaving the Citadel, stealing some of the texts for further investigation. Hopefully now, Sam can put all of this to good use and answer so many of our burning questions.

Down in Dragonstone, Dany returns from the Roseroad and Jon (Kit Harington) has his first one-on-one with Drogon. Here’s your second red flag. Jon gets his gratuitous How to Train Your Dragon moment. They’re not even keep the whole Targaryen thing a secret anymore. Then again, book readers pieced this all together years ago. Also back is good old Lord Friend Zone (Iain Glen), who’s welcomed back into Dany’s service. Dany and Jorah haven’t seen each other for almost a season, so that turned out to be a bittersweet moment.

Eastwatch puts the rest of the season into motion. While we shouldn’t expect the big battle this year, it’s all about gathering proof and alliances. Going into Season 7, we expected a full-fledged Bitch Bowl 2017. And for a while, that chess match was unfolding as expected. Now it seems that Dany and Cersei may have to join forces like they should if they want to survive. So the plan’s to capture a wight and bring it south as proof.

More pieces are added to the puzzle in King’s Landing. Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is recruited by Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham). Tyrion is smuggled into the capital to speak with Jaime. Cersei (Lena Headey) learns of the meeting, feeling betrayed and skeptical of the entire White Walkers plot. She still pins Joffrey’s murder from Season 4 on Tyrion. Three years later, she finally learns the truth that it was the Queen of Thorns herself.

The episode ends up in Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where so many characters finally converge. Jon, Jorah, Davos and Gendry join The Hound (Rory McCann), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) in the ultimate mission to capture a wight. The Magnificent Seven (or Eight) of Westeros head out into the enemy territory.

Eastwatch might be the weakest episode of Season 7. But after week after week of calculated warfare, we were due for some down time. Dany’s judgment of the Lannisters is the highlight of the episode, but it comes so early on. The rest of the episode is satisfying enough as build-up to next week.

Next Week’s Preview:

8
Great
Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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