The war of the two queens is now fully underway in another surprise-packed episode of Game of Thrones, which included the long-awaited meeting of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen — among many other developments. There was a major Stark reunion (but not the one you expected), the loss of a fan favorite, a totally disturbing torture scene, and more in the aptly titled “The Queen’s Justice,” an episode that showed Cersei and Daenerys dealing with threats and challenges in rather different ways. But we start with…
Dragonstone: Jon and Davos reach the beach to find Jon’s season 1 travel companion Tyrion waiting to escort him. Davos maintains his composure quite professionally for a man who lost his son when Tyrion blew up his fleet in the Battle of the Blackwater. A dragon dive-bombs Jon, and he throws himself to the ground in shock. Watching GoT characters get freaked out by dragons never gets old; if Westeros had YouTube, it would be full of prank clips showing people getting surprised by dragons (or, as Tyrion puts it, “I’d say you get used to them, but you never really do”).
Jon and Tyrion have an exchange about Sansa where he reassures he never consummated his marriage. Jon makes it sound like he doesn’t care but we suspect he secretly does. “She’s smarter than she lets on,” Tyrion says, to which Jon humorously shoots back: “She’s starting to let on.”
Nearby, Melisandre and Varys have a chat by the cliff. Melisandre doesn’t tempt fate by revealing her presence to Davos, who swore he’d kill her if he sees her again. We’re reminded that Varys really dislikes sorcerers after that mysterious wizard mutilated him as a child.
Varys threatens her not to return to Westeros, to which mind-freak Melisandre replies: “I will return dear Spider, one last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.”
Varys isn’t easily rattled, but this psychic foreshadowing visibly throws him. Does this mean neither of these characters will survive the final season? Not necessarily, but it certainly doesn’t bode well. I would love it if Melsandre actually had no clue how Varys was going to die and was just f—ing with him.
RELATED: Hear the latest from EW’s Game of Thrones Weekly podcast
King’s Landing: Euron has his triumph in the streets, playing the pirate rock star, soaking up the adoration. He’s made good on his promise to bring Cersei a gift. Forced to march behind him are his prisoners, Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene. Yara even wears a leash held by Euron. I suspect Twitter will have Feelings about this. At least, unlike Cersei, the degraded prisoners were allowed to keep their clothes on.
“This is making me hard,” Euron declares, but, really, what doesn’t?
Euron drags his prisoners into the throne room and puts them Cersei’s feet, taking a shot at Jaime by announcing he’s the man who got her justice for the death of Myrcella. Cersei says she will give him the reward he wants — her hand in marriage — but only after they’ve won the war. Euron looks bummed for moment but bounces back quickly to taunt Jaime some more by crudely asking about Cersei’s preferences in bed. Jaime, we suspect, is just biding his time.
Later, Ellaria and her daughter Tyene are chained in the Black Cells. They’re both gagged. This isn’t going to end well, is it?
Enter Cersei, who is not the person you want as your judge, jury, and executioner.
She proceeds with a speech illuminating her thought process about all the different ways she was tempted to deal with Ellaria, who gave innocent Myrcella the literal kiss of death last season in revenge for The Mountain killing Oberyn. At the time, the move seemed like a horribly unfair overreaction on Ellaria’s part. Now it seems like the biggest mistake she could have possibly made. “We all make our choices; you chose to murder my daughter,” Cersei says.
She surprises us by giving Tyene a smooch. But Ellaria knows exactly what this means. Cersei informs Ellaria that she’s poisoned Tyene with a replication of the same slow-acting toxin that will eventually take her life. Ellaria will be forced to watch her daughter perish, unable to touch her or even speak to her. No comfort. Cersei’s thought of everything, and she even orders to make sure the cell’s torches are regularly changed so Ellaria doesn’t miss anything. Damn Cersei. So this is what HBO’s official episode description meant by “Cersei returns a gift.” A Lannister really does pay her debts.
It’s an agonizing fate, and one of the darkest in the show’s history (with a terrific dialogue-free performance by Indira Varma). The scene challenges us to figure out whose side we’re on, if either of them. Cersei is perfectly correct — Ellaria and Tyene killed an innocent victim. Yet how can we also not feel for a woman being condemned to watch her daughter suffer in such a horrific fashion?
After this, Cersei wants post-torture incest sex. We then get a scene of Cersei and Jaime in bed the next morning. It’s a weirdly striking moment, the type of low-key intimate shot we see of couples in so many shows and movies, but have never seen of these two characters before. It makes Jaime and Cersei’s romance seem … normal. Then there’s a knock at the door and — hey, who is this handmaiden who looks like a big city executive assistant? And did Cersei order her staff to copy her haircut? She orders the sheets changed, totally not caring who knows who she’s sleeping with.
— Showrunners on losing that fan favorite: Only character to ‘win her own death scene’
— Game of Thrones actress on that brutal ‘worst nightmare’ Cersei scene
— Bran Stark actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright on his Winterfell reunion
— Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington discuss their first on-screen meeting
Last but not least, this week’s giveaway from the HBO Store! Here is this week’s trivia question: There’s been a lot of poisoning on this season of Game of Thrones, from the death of House Frey in the season premiere, to Cerise’s poisonous Sand Snake kiss, to the final (oddly triumphant) end of the Queen of Thorns. Who was the first victim of poisoning to appear on Game of Thrones?
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