Yes, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow meet for the first time in this episode and it’s both as expected and unexpected as predicted. To start, when Jon and Davos first get off the boat at Dragonstone it’s immediately striking how out of his element Jon is. This is the first time we’re seeing him outside of a winter climate and it’s a little jarring. He has a great reunion with Tyrion, calling back to their time together early in season one and starkly reminding us how far they’ve each come. Tyrion does a good job orienting Jon to the environment as well as the dragons who fly overhead. But it’s when they reach the throne room and Dany herself that things get interesting of course, and their conversation is easily the best scene of the episode. It gets off to a nice start with Missandei introducing Dany by all her acquired titles, only for Davos to follow with “this is Jon Snow …he’s King in the North”. Leave it to Liam Cunningham to break the tension. As surreal as it is to see these characters together, I like how it’s not what some fans would be expecting, that they’d instantly bond and team up. Rather the opposite in fact. Though Jon and Dany quickly develop a respect for each other, their differing ideologies and goals form a roadblock. Even after she acknowledges her father’s monstrousness, Jon refuses to bend the knee ,which insults Dany. And when he tells her about the white walkers and the army coming to kill all of Westeros, she naturally doesn’t believe him, even with Davos’ insanely good defence and blunt assertion that once they’re all wiped out “it won’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne”. As we previously saw when he made the case for Stannis at the Iron Bank, Davos would make a really good attorney. But at the end of their meeting, they don’t see eye to eye which they wouldn’t. Neither knows they’re related of course and have never met one another, only heard of their exploits. Dany goes so far as to say Jon’s in open rebellion for declaring himself King and threatens her dragons. She keeps him at Dragonstone as a pseudo-prisoner, something which obviously doesn’t sit well with Jon. But the thing both of them know is that they need each other, Dany especially once she hears word of what happened to to the Dornish-Greyjoy fleet. Both Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington are aware of the significance this scene has, and are very good, letting their characters’ big personalities interact and clash. The fact the scene is full of clever remarks and enjoyable power-playing is a bonus.
Later we get another great scene between Jon and Tyrion where the latter reveals he believes Jon but entreats they come to a compromise. What Jon and Dany do agree to by the end, is that Jon and his envoy may mine the Dragonglass underneath the castle while there, the substance being useless to Dany. However one thing still hangs in the air. During Davos’ case, he blurts out Jon being stabbed in the heart before Jon wisely cuts him off. Dany noticed this, and while Tyrion brushes it off as exaggeration, I’m not sure she does. And just in time, Jon’s resurrector Melissandre decides to high-tail it out of Dragonstone. She knows she’s not safe if Jon or especially Davos finds her there. She has a brief chat with Varys before leaving quietly about how she’ll go to Volantis, and that despite his recommendation she not return, she says she will have to come back to die. Why do I get the feeling this is the last we’ll see of her this season?
Jon couldn’t have left a better person in charge of Winterfell than Sansa, who really is showing great command. On the one hand it’s a bit sudden, but it’s also satisfying to see her authoritatively criticize things like weather inappropriate armour. The big development though is when Bran and Meera return to Winterfell. The reunion between two more Starks is heartwarming of course, but I particularly like this moment because Sophie Turner’s acting conveys the emotion of seeing a brother who she last knew as a child but has now grown into a teenager. Bran is a little different too, he’s completed his training and has become the Three Eyed Raven. And the effect this has appears to be an inability to express emotion. In fairness, he sees everything past and present which would be detaching. It also might be an improvement, because Isaac Hempstead-Wright was never one of the better child actors on the show. He was okay, but clearly not as talented as Maisie Williams or Sophie Turner, so this alteration in his personality might better suit his abilities. Though Bran doesn’t tell Sansa Jon’s secret, he does scare her off by telling her how beautiful she was at her wedding to Ramsay, which considering that context, is wildly inappropriate of him.
There’s celebration in the streets of Kings’ Landing as Euron rides in with his prisoners, making sure to taunt Yara with Theon’s cowardice as they go along. There’s a brief scene of Theon being rescued by one of Yara’s remaining ships and lying about trying to save her, before being called out on it. Yara doesn’t factor a whole lot into the episode, but Ellaria does, being the “gift” Euron promised Cersei. Impressed, Cersei thanks him and implies he’ll get his wish of marrying her after the war is won. Cersei doesn’t take long to devise a punishment for Ellaria, obviously one that would involve killing her captive daughter. They’re both chained in a dungeon across from each other, and as Cersei wickedly boasts of the punishments she’s considered, Lena Headey injects derision and glee into every line. It’s a taste of Ellaria’s own medicine of course -Cersei kisses her daughter with poison exactly the same as what was used to kill Myrcella. She leaves Ellaria chained to the wall, promising she’ll spend the rest of her life watching her daughter die and decay. That is pretty evil. Cersei apparently gets turned on by revenge because she immediately has sex with Jamie; and the following morning in another indication of her growing madness, decides she doesn’t have to hide the incest anymore, perfectly okay when a servant girl enters to see Jamie quite clearly in her bed. There’s another scene in King’s Landing which would be forgettable if not for the presence of the delightful Mark Gatiss as the representative of the Iron Bank, to remind Cersei the crown is still in debt and that they’re considering other investments.
The war continues to rage on as Dany’s forces infiltrate Casterly Rock. Presented over a great monologue from Tyrion about how the castle would be ready for an assault and is generally impenetrable, it’s a pretty cool sequence once it’s revealed Tyrion has intimate knowledge of the castles’ sewer system (having been forced to maintain it as a child), and is therefore privy to a number of secret entrances. With this, her army led by Grey Worm manage to take the castle. But once again, Dany’s road to victory is blockaded by Euron Greyjoy, whose fleet arrives at Casterly Rock to lay siege. It looks like an alliance with Jon may be her only option, even if he’s an independent king.
Furthest from any real conflict is Sam, who’s really getting a lot of deserved screen-time this season. Jorah looks fully healed after that excruciating treatment to his greyscale. Jim Broadbent of course doesn’t buy for a second that it went away overnight. However he’s impressed Sam got the treatment right and saved Jorah’s life, but still punishes him for his unauthorized actions with the task of copying a bunch of old books and letters. Someone in Westeros needs to get around to inventing the printing press. Jorah of course, is heading back to Dany. Though I get the necessity of having to wrap this arc up, it does feel too convenient and a little underwhelming. But maybe Jorah will relapse, who knows?
Another Tarly appears in this episode, and I wonder what Sam would think of his father participating in an attack on his own Lords’ castle of Highgarden. The Tyrells have no hope against the Lannister force led by Jamie (also they paid Jerome Flynn to appear in the background of one scene). When Jamie reaches Olenna’s tower, she’s perfectly accepting of how she’s lost. They actually sit down and have a civil conversation, with Jamie even revealing he borrowed a tactical move of Robb Stark’s to let the enemy think they would work more to defend Casterly Rock. He also reveals he convinced Cersei against a horrible death for Olenna. Typical for her character, Olenna spends her last moments berating Cersei and questioning Jamie’s love for her. She willingly drinks the painless poison Jamie gives her, and then reveals she was the one who orchestrated the death of Joffrey, and that she wants him to tell Cersei that. Dame Diana Rigg is terrific here, and I really like how Olenna manages to have a badass death. She knows she’s lost, so she just wants to stick it to the Lannisters one last time. There’s also a satisfaction that Cersei can’t give her a more painful death for murdering Joffrey -Olenna gets away with just quick poison. Though the episode ends on another loss for the “good guys”, it’s strangely fitting and gratifying.
“The Queen’s Justice” wasn’t as brutal as the title may have implied, but it was a very good episode. Each storyline advanced the plot somewhat, and the scene of Jon and Dany’s first meeting was especially great. There were a number of standout moments from cast members like Headey, Turner, Cunningham, Dinklage, and Rigg as well, and the story continues to get interesting. I feel like we all kind of thought Dany’s conquest would be successful, but it’s running into more than a few speed-bumps even with all her resources. If Casterly Rock falls, I wonder if she’ll not reconsider using those dragons. They’re definitely waiting in the wings to cause some damage.