Game of Thrones: “The Queen’s Justice” Season 7 Episode 3 Review

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Game of Thrones had a somewhat bipolar return with the first two episodes, the first slowly catching us up to everyone’s whereabouts, the second dishing out information and character movements with the haste with which Tyrion reaches for a bottle of wine. But now, the third episode, “The Queen’s Justice” is where HBO’s veteran series gets to show us what it’s made of in its seventh year. Contrary to last week’s mess of sloppy editing and exposition, Mark Mylod returns for a perfectly paced, narratively clever, and all around gorgeous episode of television. Better yet, as Thrones barrels toward its inevitable conclusion, the game just got shaken up in a massive way, proving that no one should underestimate the Mad Queen.

The drama in “The Queen’s Justice” remarkably mostly boils down to two large groupings of characters, save for quick but significant progressions in Winterfell and Oldtown. But the episode starts with Jon Snow and Davos Seaworth landing on the shores of Dragonstone. Jon is greeted by Tyrion, a character lest we forget he bonded with in only the first half of season one. But that bond is significant, and looks like it could work in both he and Daenerys’ favors. Ned’s bastard and the Mother of Dragons have a tense first encounter. Jon refuses to bend the knee to the daughter of the Mad King, which forces Dany to jump to Jon as leader of a kingdom in open rebellion against her. And so it’s Tyrion to temper the situation. But unlike last week where Daenerys challenged and forgave Varys in the span of minutes, the difficult allegiance between Daenerys and Jon is smartly stretched out over an episode, interspersed with Cersei gaining a swift upper hand in keeping her reign alive.

With Euron dragging his prizes through the streets of King’s Landing, Cersei finally gets a chance to enact revenge on Ellaria, killing her daughter with the same poison she used to murder Myrcella. So RIP to the Sandsnakes. After that, Cersei makes a clearly very convincing argument for her victory against Daenerys to a representative from the Iron Bank. Now she has funding, an ally in Euron, and has taken care of most of two of Dany’s most powerful allies. And yet, she’s not done. Where the Unsullied take Casterly Rock with a fair amount of ease (in a well-directed montage guided by Tyrion’s narration), Euron’s fleet is there to destroy their way back to Dragonstone. Meanwhile, Jaime marches on Highgarden, also taking it with ease and eliminating Daenery’s final Westerosi ally.

It is a huge shame to see Olenna Tyrell go, as well as Diana Rigg, who’s been one of the show’s greatest assets since she first appeared. But damn did she go out in style. In a mostly respectful conversation with Jaime, after another well-directed montage following his victorious walk through the city, he spares her all manners of the cruel deaths his sister planned for Olenna. And she, with perhaps even a hint of guidance, tells him that he’ll have to face the monster Cersei has become eventually. It’s true. Jaime is cruel man when we first meet him, but he’s grown in the opposite direction of Cersei. Her thirst for power has never been quenched, while his ability to show mercy has only further manifested. You saw it in his eyes in season six’s finale when he first saw his sister, his lover, sitting on the Iron Throne. Conflict is coming between them, and Thrones has only further complicated our feelings toward them us over 63 episodes now. It’s a testament to how smart the writing on this show can be that a conflict between characters initially introduced as villains can become the emotional crux of their interlinked destinies.

Oh, and Olenna dropped this mic in clueing Jaime in that she was at least partially responsible for Joffrey’s grisly poisoning. Jaime may be far more sympathetic these days, but even in Olenna’s defeat, her final words were just so freaking satisfying.

So where does this leave Daenerys? Her alliances with the Tyrells, the Greyjoys, and Dorne have almost completely fallen apart, on the one potential ally knocking on her door wants to fight an entirely different war. Daenerys has lost the ease of her victory, which is very good for the show at large, while Jon is making some headway on trying to find his own victory. Tyrion and Melisandre both state in “The Queen’s Justice” the many similarities between these young leaders. Now they’ll need each other if either victory is to be had. Their unwavering devotion to each own’s quest is what pushes them apart. Their honor, and their capability of compassion, is what Tyrion sees in them both to bring them together. But after this episode, the future Game of Thrones feels totally uncertain again. Seven seasons in, there’s still no way to get comfortable in any given status quo. That’s part of what makes this one of the most exciting series of all time. But seeing two figures we love, having survived being raped, assassination attempts, and death itself, come together and display the kindness and honor to build Westeros into a better place? The emotion in that is what makes this show an all-timer. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • Bran and Sansa reunited here, but Bran suddenly seems more off than usual. This Stark’s current state could have been further developed in past episodes, but it’s pretty amazing to see Bran and Sansa interact in ways we could have never imagined when we first met them.
  • The Greyscale cure is really dumb, you guys. Like outwardly stupid and obvious. Jorah is just fine now because Sam took tweezers and ointment to him. I’m beside myself in its stupidity, but that is mostly a problem of last week’s episode, or this season at large than it is the otherwise excellent “The Queen’s Justice.”
  • Guess that Melisandre/Arya reunion isn’t happening quite yet. She also predicted Varys’ death. Yikes.
  • I feel like season seven just got blown wide open, and I am so unbelievably relieved. Last week’s episode had me thinking the show would have an easy ending. But alas, there’s tension in the show’s unpredictability again. Fantastic.
  • Seriously have to give Mylod credit here, Dragonstone here was among the most beautifully photographed locations the show has ever delivered.
  • 10 episodes left.

By Matt Dougherty

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