The Citadel: Hope you didn’t have soup for dinner! Too late? Samwell Tarley has finally arrived in the Land of Books and Decorative Chains to read to his introvert heart’s content, and mean ol’ Archmaester Ebrose (played by Jim Broadbent, slipping seamlessly into this world … unlike some people) has put him on latrine and kitchen duty like an Old Town episode of Dirty Jobs. It all opens with a unique sequence for Thrones. Normally the show’s editing style is classical and formal, but here director Jeremy Podeswa uses rapid cutting of Sam’s gross-out jobs for a comedic effect we haven’t seen before.
Co-executive producer Bryan Cogman has pointed out that Sam has found himself in an “anti-Harry Potter” story line: “Sam shows up to this amazing place where he thinks he’s going to get all the answers and all his talents are going to be put to good use. But this ain’t Hogwarts, and the maester is not Dumbledore.” There’s even a Hogwarts-esque restricted section of the library where books are hidden away for advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts. Sam steals a key and begins his studies. If only he had an invisibility cloak and a Marauders Map, this would be a cinch.
Samwell quickly discovers that there’s a lot of White Walker-killing dragonglass at Dragonstone castle (appropriately enough) and plans to send a message to Jon. When you think about where the other characters are, this move has all sorts of intriguing potential outcomes.
We get a jolt (the premiere audience literally yelped) when Ser Jorah, of all people, grabs Sam from a cell where he’s apparently being kept. Jorah wants to know if Daenerys has arrived in Westeros yet. He’s also probably wondering who she’s dating. It’s not clear if Dany’s arrival will trigger something for him or if he’s just trying to keep up on current events. It’s also not clear why Jorah is there. Yes, of course, been seeking treatment for his greyscale. And on this week’s EW podcast breaking down the GoT premiere, Darren Franich and I theorized that Jorah is presumably being contained in this room like a medieval leper due to his contagious condition — he’s being kept separate from the population and given basic humane care as he waits to die and/or gets treatment.
Later, Broadbent’s maester explains the perspective of his organization on world events. They apparently keep themselves removed from world affairs, which is pretty monastic for quasi-scientists. Westeros is facing their bizarro universe version of global warming and its top minds are content to sit on the sidelines. You would think they’d want to be useful. Then again, given how many people in Westeros are murderous thugs who use their swords instead of their minds, all these Citadel nerds probably see that winter is coming and think: Screw ‘em, bring on The Purge!
The maester notes that through the ages, no matter many times doomsayers thought the world was going to end, The Wall has held back the forces of evil each winter. That sounds like potential foreshadowing, with echoes of Potter once again. Remember that line in Sorcerer’s Stone? “As long as Dumbledore is around, Harry, you’re safe.” (Next: Dragon’s Den)