WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead.
I thought of naming this review “When the Stark girls find love”, because of the massive amounts of needless shipping that happens in this one. But then again, there are some beautiful, much anticipated, moments as well.
Honestly, this season so far (only 2 episodes deep) seems more of fan service than anything else. As a fan, this definitely was a good episode, some re-unions, some call backs to season 1, Bran reminding Jaime about “Things we do for love”, Tormund’s miserable effort to flirt with Brienne of Tarth (sorry, Ser, Brienne of Tarth) with Jaime watching in the background; and Tyrion, well, Tyrion being Tyrion.
But despite all these moments, the episode fails to do the most critical thing, drive the story forward. We are into the ‘Endgame’ of the TV series now, and with 33% of it done, why are the show runners focusing on callouts? Also, et tu Arya? For what purpose? How is that meaningful? And, it was uncomfortable to watch (even by GoT standards).
In terms of story, all the main characters (except Cersei & gang, obviously) have reached Winterfell. They’ve met each other, exchanged happenstances, and are gearing up for the coming battle with the Night King and his army of undead. And there’s a lot of contemplation about imminent death, some foreshadowing about who’s going to die and who’s falling in love with whom. Yup, that’s the entire summary of the episode as far as the story is concerned.
Oh, and did I tell you about Jenny’s song? Podrick sings this lovely melody in today’s episode. As the readers of the book will know, it is a song about Daenerys’ great-uncle who gave up his rightful claim to the Iron Throne for a woman named Jenny. Could this be a hint to who rules the seven kingdoms once the war is over? I definitely think so.
The writing and dialogues seem contrived, in certain sections you can make out that even the actors knew this (cue Arya & Gendry scene). With just 4 episodes remaining, one expects fast paced action and closing of story arcs, which is not the case here. The director, David Nutter is best known for the pilots he’s helmed (Supernatural, The Mentalist, Arrow, The Flash…..), and that is probably why this episode seems like a build-up, rather than the culmination of a story told over 68 episodes and 8 years. With the main show-runners (Benioff & Weiss) coming back as writers for the remaining episodes, I hope (and expect) the show to hit higher notes.
I give this episode 3 chirps, extra credits for the fantastic Lannister brothers’ reunion and credits docked for not exploring newer grounds.