What an episode for touching (longing?) gazes between potential family members, completely awful plans, ignoring the single most important development of this series thus far (ahem, Sam) and of course, impending doom.
Let’s get into it.
At the top of “Eastwatch,” Bronn emerges from the Blackwater Rush with a very much alive Jaime, who is curiously not weighed down by many pounds of armor and also not captured (Dany, what’re you doing?). Jaime, washed anew in fresh perspective, realizes the southern armies have little to no chance against Dany, her Dothraki horde and three dragons. He tells Cersei as much, and unsurprisingly, our girl Cers doesn’t seem to care too much. “We fight and die or submit and die,” she tells Jaime, her resolve steeled after her brother reveals Olenna Tyrell’s role in their son Joffrey’s death.
The third Lannister sibling Tyrion walks amid smoking wreckage left behind after the Loot Train Battle (really, that’s what it’s called). Dany addresses her prisoners of war, Drogon to her back. She runs through her whole “break the wheel” spiel and offers them an option: Bend the knee and join me, or die. Randyll and Dickon Tarly refuse and Dany, shades of the Mad King abound, burns them alive.
Dany returns to Dragonstone on dragonback and lands Drogon in front of Jon. He carefully pets Drogon, who in turn emits the equivalent of a dragon purr. Father of Dragons, perhaps? Just as Dany broaches Jon’s whole resurrection plotline, Jorah returns.
In Winterfell, Bran wargs into a raven and sees the Night King’s army advancing toward Eastwatch By The Sea. He sends a raven to the Citadel where the archmaesters are more than a little skeptical of his tales of the walking dead. Sam attempts to change their minds to mediocre success. “If you tell people the threat is real, they’ll believe you,” Sam implores Archmaester Ebrose, who responds tepidly. While Sam copies scrolls, Gilly reads him some fun facts such as how many windows are in the Sept of Baelor and oh, yeah, how Rhaegar Targaryen annulled his marriage and wed someone else (cough, Lyanna Stark) in secret. Sam, officially Westeros’ biggest idiot, isn’t listening and instead, gets real angsty, steals some scrolls and leaves Old Town, defeated and discouraged by his time there.
Speaking of idiots, Jon hatches a terrible plan. After getting word of his living siblings, he resolves to return to Winterfell. But since he doesn’t have enough men, and Dany can’t pull her forces without risking the South, Jon and company decide to go capture a wight in order to prove to Cersei the army of the dead is real and forge some sort of armistice. Since she’s such a receptive person in general.
Tyrion heads to Kings Landing to meet with Jaime who will broker this deal with their sister. Davos smuggles Tyrion into the city in broad daylight, keeping with this episode’s ongoing genius streak. Jaime offers the plan to Cersei, who sees the advantage to negotiating with Dany, but only to gain the upper hand. Oh, and by the way, Cers is pregnant. Supposedly. Allegedly. Sure.
In Winterfell, Sansa must quell some rumblings of dissent among the Northmen. Her attempts displease Arya, who sees Sansa as a threat to Jon’s standing. The two sisters fall into old squabbles — Arya accuses Sansa of petty ambition, Sansa brushes Arya aside. Arya, though not one for diplomacy, puts her assassin skills to work. Since it appears Littlefinger can, in fact, do more than stand on battlements and scheme pensively, Arya stalks him. She catches him whispering to various Winterfell residents and receiving a curious little scroll from Maester Wolkan. Arya breaks into Littlefinger’s chambers and reads the scrap of paper, ostensibly the message Cersei forced Sansa to write home in season one. The watcher becomes the watched when Arya exits Baelish’s room as he looks on, smiling treacherously from the shadows.
After a tense round of Westerosi Bachelorette on the shores of Dragonstone, Dany bids adieu to both Jon and Jorah, who head to Eastwatch to fetch Tormond. They inform the wildling leader of their (again, terrible) plan, and he recruits a few more for the scouting party from dungeons, where the Brotherhood Without Banners is locked up.
To end the episode, Jon, Jorah, Tormund, the Hound, Thoros, Beric, the newly returned Gendry (!) and his warhammer (pretty much its own person) all head out to fulfill the most ill-fated plan this show has ever seen, their futures as unclear as the blustery path ahead of them.