The Westeros Avengers are assembling

By James Hibberd
August 13, 2017 at 10:31 PM EDT
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After last week’s massive dragon battle, Game of Thrones let us catch our breath with “Eastwatch” as some major players plotted their next moves, Jon had a revealing moment with Drogon, Littlefinger launched a dangerous scheme, Gendry finally quit rowing, and the character deck was shuffled yet again to deal us a very cool new Westeros Avengers ensemble combining several fan favorites. Let’s begin with:

The Reach: Jaime is alive! Bronn hauls him out. He saved his life yet again. They both react to this like you’d expect: Jaime is consumed by the crushing defeat of his army, while Bronn is focused on the loss of his gold.

Still, Jaime could sound a bit more grateful. Jaime tends to treat Bronn the same way he treats anybody else not of noble birth: as less-than. It’s not personal; it’s just how he’s been raised to view the world. Bronn, bless him, doesn’t care about titles and treats everybody the same. Not well, mind you, but the same. Their conflicting attitudes about their position in life is part of what makes their relationship fun to watch.

Nearby: Dany gives the remaining Lannister army one of her hearts-and-minds campaign stump speeches. It doesn’t go over quite as well as usual. “I know what Cersei has told you…” she says, and you know they’re thinking: Yeah, she told us you’d roast everybody and that’s exactly what you did. This like a presidential candidate trying win Ohio after nuking the population of Cleveland. So Dany throws in a bonus motivator: “Bend the knee or DIE.”

Some do. But not the Tarlys! They don’t want to back some foreign queen and break their vow to Cersei. Or, at least, papa Randyll doesn’t want to. His son Dickon looks like he’d happily take a job as Drogon’s poop janitor if it got him out of this mess, but ultimately he decides to stand with dad.

Tyrion objects to Dany’s harsh ultimatum. Why not just take prisoners? Dany points out she can’t go to Westeros saying, “You get a cell! You get a cell!” like some Targaryen Oprah.

The Tarlys still won’t back down, and Drogon burns them. The remaining Lannister holdouts drop to their knees. Dany’s quite satisfied. That’s more like it! Now if only Jon would do that…

RELATED: Hear the latest from EW’s Game of Thrones Weekly podcast

Dragonstone: Jon greets a returning Dany, who’s all flushed from her battlefield victory. Jon’s odds, I reckon, have never been higher.

She lands Drogon on the cliff. I wonder if, after a battle, is Drogon still hot, like a car engine after a long drive. But this is where things get really interesting. Jon is freaked out by Drogon, but not quite as scared as everybody else usually is. The dragon effects here — that snout, those eyes, those teeth — are incredible.

Suddenly Drogon examines Jon closer, almost sniffing him.

Dany is like: What.

Then Jon reaches out and pets her killer dragon.

Dany is like: What?!

We get a rad close-up of Drogon’s eye really taking in Jon Snow. The dragon is apparently the only character in this scene who knows what’s what.

Dany is shocked and impressed. It’s always cool when your aggressive antisocial pet approves of your date. But it’s so strange Drogon would react this way to some young illegitimate Stark kid…

At this point, I half expect Drogon to turn to Daenerys, clear his throat for the first time, and blurt out: “Hey, you know he’s a Targaryen, right?” Next: Ser Jorah returns to the friend zone 

They’re interrupted by a visitor — Ser Jorah has returned, having recovered from his deadly illness. Dany welcomes him back in his service. At last, they’re reunited. And the best part for lovestruck Ser Jorah: that seductive show-off Daario was left behind at Essos. And now they can finally be tog—

Ser Jorah sees Dany’s new “friend,” Jon Snow. You can just tell the poor guy is thinking: Ah, come on! That’s it, I give up!

Winterfell interlude: Bran can use a flock of birds to spy on the enemy like Saruman. He has a vision of the Night King and the Army of the Dead advancing on Eastwatch — a.k.a. Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, a castle along the far eastern portion of The Wall that Jon sent Tormund to run earlier in the season. Bran wants to do an r-mail breaking news alert to the entire country sounding the alarm. Fly, ravens, fly!

Back to Dragonstone: Team Dany gets Bran’s message about the Army of the Dead and meets for a strategy session. Bran’s warning has triggered Jon’s action-hero reflex: Must. Fight. Night King!

Dany objects, and even threatens not to permit him to leave. She’s still in war-with-Cersei mode. And also, we realize: She doesn’t want Jon to go. Interesting

They argue, with Jon delivering a strong speech about priorities and trust: “I’m asking you to trust a stranger,” he says.

Wait, Tyrion has a plan. No, hear the man out; Tyrion’s plan might not be totally terrible this time! Instead of rushing into battling the dead, let’s go north of the Wall and capture a single wight, and then bring the wight back alive (or, rather, dead, because they’re not actually — look, you know what I mean). Then they just present the wight as proof of the undead to Cersei, who then would be forced to believe them (though I could also totally imagine Cersei being presented with a wight and still not believing if she didn’t want to — “So?” she asks, swirling her glass of wine. “That’s just one, how do I know there are more?”). But in theory, they could all then all join forces to defeat the Night King in the ultimate GoT character mash-up. Simple, wight? Er, right?

So they’re going to need a team. Jon Snow is going, of course. Who else? Oh boy, this is where it gets good. Cue some snappy Oceans 11 assembling-the-gang soundtrack…

King’s Landing: Jaime has a difficult task: convince Cersei she’s losing. If I were her, I’d have men working day and night building a bunch more of those giant crossbows. Did they think they could get by with just one?

“This isn’t a war we can win,” he says boldly, and then gets even more bold by defending Tyrion, noting that Olenna confessed to Joffrey’s murder before she died.

Instead of being slightly comforted by the thought that her brother didn’t kill her son, this just makes Cersei even madder — she could have worked out some elaborate torture chamber for Olenna involving scorpions, roses, and pulleys.

Speaking of which, here’s a rather dark thought: While Cersei and Jaime are having this chat, several floors below, in a well-lit Red Keep cell, Ellaria Sand is still chained to the wall and is now staring at her daughter’s decomposing corpse…yeah, I told you it was dark.

Later, Bronn brings Jaime down into the Skull Room to have a secret meeting with Tyrion. We’ve been wanting this for a while, and you can see how ripped apart Jaime is by the sight of his brother, while Tyrion starts to lapse back into his old defensiveness at the sight of him. “[Our father] was going to execute me; he knew I was innocent. He didn’t hate me because of what I did. He hated me because of what I am,” Tyrion says, and it hurts our hearts. Yet Jaime doesn’t want to hear it. Tyrion offers a cessation of hostilities, which at the moment is definitely advantageous for Team Lannister.

Upstairs, Cersei, it seems, knew about the meeting. She really is playing an advanced game here. Cersei will try to play this to her advantage somehow. She embraces Jaime and warns, “Never betray me again” (referring to Jaime letting Tyrion go). The show continues to lay the groundwork for a pivotal Jaime versus Cersei conflict.

Also, Cersei has news of her own: She’s pregnant! The Lannister line might continue after all. This must give Cersei some hope. Maggy the Frog’s prophecy back when Cersei was a snotty teen said she would have three kids and all would die, and also that somebody younger and more beautiful would come along and take away everything that was important to her. Prophecies, as we know, are not always accurate on GoT. Cersei’s pregnancy suggests Maggy might have missed something. NextBromance of the Bastards

Fleabottom: It’s Gendry! After three seasons away, the bastard blacksmith has put down his oars and is ready to kick ass. Davos notes, “Nothing f—s you harder than time,” which is a neat line, but the years haven’t been bad to Gendry at all. Davos doesn’t need to ask him twice to join their team; he’s down for an adventure. Though even Ser Davos is making “still rowing” jokes (which might be the first time a Game of Thrones actor’s tweet has made it into a script — actor Joe Dempsie tweeted that at the end of season 4).

This was all followed by a scene on a beach where, for a moment, we really believed a conflict with guards on Game of Thrones was going to end in mere bribery instead of their brains getting bashed in, and then it didn’t.

Dragonstone: Gendry arrives. Davos told him to conceal his identity as King Robert’s bastard when meeting Jon. This surprised me because Davos lying to Jon Snow seems like an out-of-character thing for him to do. But the deception sets up a fun exchange when Gendry just blurts out he’s King Robert’s son. Jon and Gendry’s parents were friends. Maybe they can be friends too? Aww. Last season we had Battle of the Bastards. Now can we have Bromance of the Bastards?

Jon gently jokes about Gendry’s father’s weight, and Gendry shoots back a crack at the King in the North’s height, which rather hilariously doesn’t amuse him one bit. Hey, Jon Snow, don’t feel bad; your hair adds at least three inches.

The Citadel: The maesters read Bran’s letter, note the Three Eyed Raven’s claims are “a bit much,” and mock his warning as “magic birds talking to cripples.” It’s always fun on Game of Thrones when characters from one story line began ripping another story line as unrealistic; these guys are like the bloggers of Westeros. Sam tries to convince them to take the Night King seriously, but they’d rather not.

Later, Sam’s trying to study, and Gilly is reciting what sounds like the dullest list of facts in the world. This seems like time for a bathroom break, but the show’s writers have decided to slip in a huge revelation: A High Septon once issued an annulment for Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and married him to somebody else. In secret. In Dorne! The scene didn’t connect every single dot for us, but it doesn’t take much to assume this means Rhaegar married Lyanna Stark — and didn’t just knock her up out of wedlock. Which means Jon Snow is not only a Targaryen, but also a legitimate heir. Arguably he’s the most legitimate heir…assuming Rhaegar is really his father, which hasn’t been explicitly said in the show but is the logical assumption from everything we’ve seen. Also, Jon Snow wouldn’t be a bastard at all. Somewhere in the afterlife, Ser Alliser Thorne is really annoyed.

Basically: Jon, Daenerys, and Gendry all have Iron Throne claims and now they’re all hanging out together (Gendry has one if you consider Robert’s Rebellion legal).

Sam packs up some scrolls and decides to ditch the Citadel and go someplace he can be more useful. He probably thinks he’s learned all he can. He actually knows more than he realizes and would know even more than that if he didn’t interrupt Gilly.

Winterfell: Sansa is listening to the lords complain about Jon Snow being absent. “He is doing what he thinks is best,” she says, which, as Arya rightly points out, is a pretty weak show of support. With Arya sniping at her, now Sansa knows how Jon felt when she was criticizing everything he said in the Great Hall — it’s not as easy as it looks, right?

Creepy Arya accuses Sansa of liking pretty things and wanting more power, then stalks Littlefinger as he obtains a letter from the Winterfell archives. Arya steals the letter, and we see Littlefinger smirking in the shadows. It appears that he wanted her to find it.

From freeze-framing the video, the letter appears to be the one that Sansa was forced by Cersei to write back in season 1 when she was held captive. The letter informed Robb Stark that Ned was a traitor and urged him to swear fealty to Joffrey. Robb Stark and Maester Luwin saw right through it — so her words didn’t change their fate. But Arya and Sansa don’t know that. (By and by, in that season 1 scene, Maester Pycelle, as part of Cersei’s little performance in front of naive Sansa, said: “She’s a sweet thing, your grace, but in 10 years, who knows what treason she may hatch?” — a then-ridiculous comment that seems downright prophetic now given where the Starks stand in rebellion to Cersei). NextThe Dissonant Seven

Eastwatch: Jon is joined on his wight quest by Ser Jorah (let’s face it, Dany would rather not have him staring at her all the time) and Gendry (because he’s really tired of making weapons).

They meet up with Tormund, who’s having a tough time following this faster-paced season, confusedly wondering if the queen they have to convince is “the one with the dragons or the one that f—s her brother.” Tormund’s probably also wondering what’s been going on with Euron and Yara these past two episodes.

They go down into their cells, where they’re keeping three more team members: The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros. Having a man who cannot be killed, like Beric, is always handy when fighting zombie. Gendry is understandably mistrustful since Beric’s gang gave him to Melisandre, but, you know, we all have to get over things.

Does it make perfect sense that these magnificent dissonant seven would all join forces like grubby homicidal Avengers on a mission? Not really! But we totally don’t care — because now we got The Hound and Jon Snow and Gendry and Ser Jorah all hanging out together and there are only two episodes left in the season. It’s like we’ve been drinking from a firehose of GoT crowd-pleasing reunions, meet-ups, battles, and twists and we’ll take it. We’ll take all of it.

More EW coverage of “Eastwatch”:
Joe Dempsie on Gendry’s long-awaited return 
A closer look at the history of the letter Arya found
 Writer Dave Hill explains 5 big ‘Eastwatch’ moments
Thoughts on that big Targaryen revelation
— Our GoT podcast (new episode Monday)

Trivia question! This week is pretty easy. We talked about the history of Cersei bullying Sansa. What was Cersei’s frequently used pet name for her? The winner is chosen at random and receives “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts” mug from the HBO Store, email response to ewdigital@ew.com  

Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO.

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HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.
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