“And Now His Watch is Ended” delivered some of my favorite scenes so far this season. We got lots of Varys and lots of Olenna–even Varys and Olenna together!–and we also get to see a major turning point for Daenerys.
**Spoilers under the cut.**
- The episode opens on a shot of Jaime’s hand, which is now hanging around his neck. This mostly reminded me that it’s been a couple of episodes now since we’ve seen Davos, which sucks because he’s one of my favorite characters. Jaime, meanwhile, is is sorry shape. He’s weak from months of imprisonment; he’s injured and probably suffering from shock and blood loss; and he’s sunk into a deep depression by the loss of the sword hand that is so central to his identity. Also, he just drank horse piss. It’s really kind of awful to see anyone at their lowest point, and this is it for Jaime. Broken Jaime is an enormous change from both the confident, handsome, laughing Jaime of season one and the sarcastic, imprisoned, but somewhat more introspective Jaime of season two.
- Also hard to watch is Brienne’s sheer helplessness to do anything for Jaime. This is expanded upon in the second scene with this pair in this episode as Brienne tries to get Jaime to eat against his protests that he’s dying. Brienne knows what he did for her, but she doesn’t understand why, and I don’t think Jaime understands her determination to see him live either. The truth, I think, is that neither of them are monsters and that they both have at least some sense of honor and justice that guides their actions.
- The thing that rang false to me in the second Brienne/Jaime scene was when Brienne tells Jaime that he “sound[s] like a bloody woman.” A very generous interpretation of that is that Brienne is making a calculated statement that she doesn’t really believe, but that she knows he will feel shamed by, in order to try and snap Jaime out of his depression. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. It bothers me to hear those words come from Brienne’s mouth.
- The second scene of the episode is the first of THREE Varys scenes. Tyrion is visiting Varys to find out if Varys can help him on his quest for revenge against whoever is responsible for trying to have him killed in the Battle of Blackwater. Tyrion is out of luck on that score, but we get to hear the story of how Varys was cut as a boy and how he managed to work his way up to his current position. Conleth Hill is delightful in the rule of Varys, and Tyrion’s face when Varys finally opens the crate is absolutely priceless.
- The Night’s Watch is still at Craster’s, and no one is happy about it.
- Sam goes to visit Gilly and the baby, and Gilly has no time for him unless he knows a way to save her son.
- Bran is having traumatic dreams about his family still. This time it’s Catelyn. Honestly, Bran’s story is one that always bored me in the books, and it’s still mostly boring me on the show.
- Next up is Varys again, but this time he’s with Ros. They have an amusing chat about Podrick, and then Ros tells Varys that Littlefinger is planning to spirit Sansa away.
- Joffrey is giving Margaery a rather gruesome tour of the Great Sept while Cersei and Olenna are discussing wedding plans and how stupid men are.
- I love Joffrey being so smitten with Margaery in spite of himself. It’s like every once in a while he will think that he wants to kill her or that he hates women or something, but then he shakes it off because she knows just what to say to control him and because he’s intrigued by her. She’s not domineering like Cersei, and she’s not passive (or at least passive-seeming) like Sansa, and the people love her in a way that Joffrey has never seen the people of the city love anyone.
- I really enjoyed the conversation between Cersei and Olenna as well. Cersei doesn’t like or trust the Tyrell’s, and she’s jealous of Margaery, but she also seemed to have just a moment in this episode when she felt like Olenna understood her.
- Theon is still traveling with Iwan Rheon and telling him EVERYTHING. Oh, Theon, you poor stupid boy. I did tear up a little at “My real father lost his head at King’s Landing,” though. I’m fairly certain now that Iwan Rheon is Ramsay Snow, and his look of almost orgasmic joy as the tied Theon back to the cross thingy was downright disturbing.
- It’s now Cersei’s turn to try and get Tywin to love her, but it doesn’t work.
- The third and final Varys scene is Varys with Olenna, and it’s wonderful.
- Margaery seeks out Sansa to make friends and to suggest that Sansa could marry Loras. I’m actually a little bugged by this change, although I know it’s trivial and that it really, truly doesn’t make a difference which Tyrell son is offered to Sansa. I even understand why the show writers wouldn’t want to introduce another name of a character that we never get to meet, but there were reasons why Loras wasn’t the son suggested for Sansa in the book, and those reasons still exist in the show.
- Craster and Mormont meet their ends and Sam runs off into the night with Gilly. I thought they did a great job of conveying the chaos of these events, but I would have liked Sam to stay and hear the Old Bear’s last words before leaving.
- Arya and Gendry have finally reached the lair of the Brotherhood Without Banners. We get a better sense of who these men are, and we get to meet Beric Dondarrion, who is inexplicably sexy for a dude who has been so obviously terribly injured. Hopefully we don’t have to wait two weeks for the trial by combat that the Hound is facing.
- The scene that has had everyone talking is where Daenerys hands over her dragon, Drogon, in exchange for 8000 Unsullied soldiers. Honestly, this scene is everything I could have hoped. I’ve always felt that Game of Thrones struggles to convey the epicness of the story that is being told, but this was indeed epic. We got wide shots of rows upon rows of Unsullied. We got Drogon flying and making angry seagull noises. We got the glorious reveal that Dany spoke Valyrian the whole time. We got the smoky ruins of Astapor and Dany dropping her whip as she led her army out while all three dragons fly overhead. I was so disappointed in the Dany storyline in season 2, and it’s really gratifying to see this turning point in her story getting the treatment I think it deserves.