There are no books to work from on Game of Thrones this season — even George R.R. Martin might be surprised with what’s happening on the HBO series — and things could get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, two resident Thrones experts will answer your five most pressing questions.
1. What is Jon and Tyrion’s history together, exactly?
Josh: The big season-one reunion last week was Arya Stark and Nymeria, who hadn’t seen each other since episode two, “The Kingsroad.” In last night’s episode, “The Queen’s Justice,” it was Jon Snow and Tyrion. The last time the bastard and the dwarf (it’s the name of their two-person comedy team; it’s like they, “they” being Tyrion quoting himself say, all dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes) had interacted was an episode later, in “Lord Snow,” where Jon Snow, after forming a warm relationship with this most unlikely of future allies, tells Tyrion, “I’m sorry to see you leave, Lannister.” Tyrion responds, “It’s either me or this cold, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.” At this rate, expect Ser Hugh of the Vale, who died in episode four while jousting with Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, to make a miraculous return next Sunday.
Anyway, back to Jon and Tyrion. The latter originally traveled with King Robert Baratheon to Winterfell, where he met the former; they quickly bonded over both being outsiders. They also formed a relationship over both heading to the Wall, Jon Snow as a member of the Night’s Watch and Tyrion as someone who wanted to piss off the edge of the world. Which he did. And seasons later, Jon Snow pissed off the people beyond the Wall.
Basically the same thing.
There’s also the time Tyrion saved Jon Snow’s life. In a way, he (and the pig that killed Robert) is the real hero of the story. How long will it take before Tyrion can help find a middle ground for Jon and Daenerys to agree on?
Ryan: To quote Mr. Meeseeks, “Ooh, he’s trying!”
If you’re like me, you spent the majority of Jon’s scenes yelling at the television for him to just swear fealty, get the dragonglass, and go save the world. Words are wind, after all. But simple as that solution is, it’s not something Jon Snow would actually do. So Tyrion had to work around both Jon’s unwillingness to compromise his values and Daenerys’ desire to finally get someone from Westeros to kneel. It wasn’t easy, but by the end of the episode, he managed to steer them towards an obvious alliance AND he secured dragonglass for the North. It may not make up for the strategy mistakes he’s made in the war against sister Cersei, but it’s a start.
J: Protecting the realm from the Lannisters and the “walking dead men” (as Tyrion called them) is fine and all, but it’s secondary to the real issue at hand: is it cool to ship Jon Snow and Daenerys? They’re both attractive, they’re both parent-less, they both hate the Lannisters — in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kit Harington even said, “He walks into the room and doesn’t expect to see such a beautiful young woman of similar age to him.” Also, they’re related, but that’s a positive on Game of Thrones. One of the show’s longest-running couples, Cersei and Jamie, are brother and sister, and they clearly have no issues to work out. Targaryens are cool with incest, too.
I’m #TeamJany (Jonerys? Daenerysnow Targaryejon? Probably not that one), because he doesn’t know he’s a Targaryen; she’s incapable of giving birth to a child (at least on the show; it’s different in the books), so there’s no risk of an inbred Joffrey throwing rocks at the dragons; and they don’t even know they’re related. Maybe keep those crazy kids away from Bran, though…
2 What was Melisandre getting at with Varys dying in a “strange country”?
J: It was one of the most ominous comments on a show with countless ominous comments: “I will return, dear Spider, one last time. I have to die in this strange country. Just like you.” What the heck was Melisandre on about?
It’s important to remember her history with Varys, or more accurately, his history with magic. In short, he hates it. Rightly so, considering a “second-rate sorcerer” threw his, um, parts into a fire when he was a child. About that night, he once told Tyrion, “I dream of the voice from the flames. Was it a god, a demon, a conjurer’s trick? I don’t know. But the sorcerer called and a voice answered and ever since that day I have hated magic and all those who practice it.” You know who practices magic? Lord of Light groupie Melisandre. These two hit it off worse than Septa Unella and Zombie Mountain.
Melisandre left Dragonstone to return to Volantis, the home of the Red Temple (she may also be assembling followers to assist in the battle against the White Walkers), while Varys was left to puzzle over her words. It was the first time he looked genuinely unsettled since his conversation with the Red Priestess Kinvara, when he was struck silent after she asked what he heard when his, um, stuff was thrown into the flames. What do you think it was?
R: Whatever it was, it was enough to make him believe what he witnessed wasn’t some cheap parlor trick. And that’s the thing about Melisandre’s latest vision: you know it’s gonna make him extra paranoid moving forward, because he understands intimately that this magic jazz is real. And while Lady Olenna pulled off the best mic drop moment (and then the best drop dead) of the entire season, Mel’s departing snap wasn’t too shabby either.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the Red Priestess fire off a prediction like that, something she used to do nearly every time she showed up. Getting everything so very, very wrong will do that to a person’s confidence, I suppose. Her sticking it to Varys like that shows she’s still got fight left in her, though, fight we’ll unfortunately have to wait until season eight to see.
3. Why was Bran acting so distant to Sansa?
R: Give the kid a break, he just spent several PTSD-inducing months north of the Wall being hunted by the Night King. There’s also the small matter of the Three-Eyed Raven uploading the entire history of Westeros into young Bran’s brain, something that only happened this early into his training because the White Walkers showed up and burned everything to the ground. At this point, Bran knows enough to know how little he knows about his powers, y’know, and there’s no one left to teach him. He’ll have to figure it out himself.
Between the mystic knowledge and warging, it’s clear that Bran has lost touch with what it’s like to be a normal human being. That creepy moment where he reminisced about Sansa’s rape at the hands of Ramsay Snow (“You were so beautiful in your white wedding dress”) was supposed to underscore this. He witnessed the sexual assault of his sister, but one of the key moments that stood out to him was the weather? Legends say the greenseers saw the world through the eyes of faces carved into heart trees by the Children of the Forest, and that comment was a tree-like take on the situation.
But maybe we’re dismissing the humanity still residing in Bran, and his chilly reunion with Sansa had more to do with him knowing she’s headed down a dark path that could doom the North?
J: That’s certainly possible. But let’s not discount the possibility that Bran now thinks he’s too cool — literally and figuratively — for his sister. He’s like a high school student who spends a summer in Italy, and then acts like he’s lived there his entire life when he returns for senior year. “This pasta is fine, but when I was in Naples…” Another, far likelier explanation is that he’s the living embodiment of Littlefinger’s mini-monologue to Sansa. “Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend,” he tells her. “Every possible series of events is happening, all at once. Live that way, and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.” That’s Bran’s life now, except his “all at once” is all of history. You’d be emotionally stone-cold, too, if you had to watch your aunt give birth to your “brother.”
4. How will Cersei repay her debt to the Iron Bank?
R: Jaime basically laid this out during his meeting with Lady Olenna, but I’ll forgive you if you missed the explanation while you fretted over the fate of the Queen of Thorns. Unlike Tyrion, Cersei knew all about Casterly Rock’s gold mines running empty, making the Lannister capitol a strategically unimportant location. So rather than make a stand defending their home, she had Jaime take the lion’s share (heh) of their forces south to the Tyrell capital of Highgarden, leaving enough soldiers on the wall of the Rock to tie up the Unsullied, including a dumbfounded Grey Worm, while Euron sunk their fleet.
It was a pretty sweet plan, helped along by more questionable teleportation that so many main characters in Game of Thrones seem to have mastered lately. Last week, Euron’s fleet was in Shipbreaker Bay, which is on the east coast. Casterly Rock is on the complete other side of Westeros, as far west as you can go. Perhaps this can be explained by a second batch of ships Euron left in the west? The Iron Islands are located just north of the Westerlands, after all. Or maybe it’s just our refusal to recognize what the showrunners have been saying for several seasons: that weeks and months often pass in between scenes and episodes, and we’re all overthinking this show about boobs and dragons.
J: Because you mentioned her, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Lady Olenna. She was the best, wasn’t she? No, really: the Queen of Thorns was my favorite character on Game of Thrones. Her style was impeccable and no one was faster with a sharp-tongued quip — even when she knew death was imminent, she still called Joffrey a “c*nt” and didn’t let a Lannister have the satisfaction of seeing her suffer. My five favorite lines of hers:
1. “If I have to take one more leisurely stroll through this garden I’m going to throw myself off this cliff.”
2. “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met. At a certain age, it’s hard to recall. But the truly vile do stand out through the years.”
3. “A sword swallower, through and through.”
4. “Seduce away, it’s been so long. Though I rather think it’s all for naught. What happens when the nonexistent bumps against the decrepit?”
5. “Killing a man at a wedding! Horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage.”
Again: the best.
5. Okay, so what the heck just happened with the Lannister army?
R: With the Lannister-controlled Westerlands no longer a resource rich powerhouse, the title of richest kingdom in the Seven Kingdoms goes to the Reach, which was in Tyrell hands until Jaime seized it in his golden grasp. We’ve been reminded many times during the show of just how important Highgarden was as an ally. The constant flow of gold and food flowing from the Reach into King’s Landing was the main reason Margaery Tyrell had enough clout to marry her way through a quick succession of three kings.
Fortunately for the Lannisters, it looks like Olenna was a believer in liquid assets. The preview clip for episode four seems to show Jaime headed back to King’s Landing with wagons loaded full of gold. Gold that will repay Lannister debts to the Iron Bank, freeing up enough credit to buy the loyalty of all the important houses in Westeros (or hire soldiers to bring them to heel). I’d say Cersei is getting pretty close to total victory, but there’s a lot of distance from Highgarden to King’s Landing, and you know how Game of Thrones is. The moment you’ve nearly won is usually the moment everything suddenly goes horribly wrong.
BONUS QUESTION: Did Jorah finally (FINALLY) get a new shirt?
After all this time, Jorah finally (FINALLY) got a new shirt.
There’s hope for him yet.