Warning: This contains spoilers. Not seen Episode 2? Click here to see how to catch up.
Not a classic, this one, it has to be said. Where last week’s manoeuvring was essential, this felt more like tinkering, giving the pieces an extra unnecessary nudge around the square instead of pushing on with a convincing plan of attack. This was just a lot of raven messages, some dithering about the best course of action, and an almighty pirate scrap to finish.
Witty and mischievous editing was used to paper over the deficiencies in the plotting. Jaime telling Lord Tarly there was no better choice for ruling in the south before cutting to another Tarly in the shape of Sam was no accident. Most hilariously, we went from a shot of Sam prising the scales from Jorah’s be-poxed torso to someone tucking into an even more gruesome-looking pie.
Here in this tavern we found Arya, and for a few moments it looked like a girl had forgotten how to have normal human interactions. This is perhaps the downside of becoming a faceless killing machine, that you’re not much fun at social events anymore. But maybe there’s hope for her yet, as Hot Pie (whom you can currently get odds of 500/1 from the bookies to be sitting on the Iron Throne when the show comes to an end, by the way) revealed to her that her family are back in Winterfell.
One of the show’s key – and most enraging – features down the years has been the way in which Arya has been time and again denied reuniting with her family members, sometimes coming agonisingly close, only for them to be, well, slaughtered in the case of the Red Wedding. Or, by the wand of convenience waved by a scriptwriter, not informed that her sister was at the Eyrie when she was right outside. Now that she knows the Starks are home, if she doesn’t ring their doorbell for a reunion in the next episode, we won’t be held responsible for our actions.
Meanwhile, inside the castle, Jon is still trying to convince the lords and ladies of the North of the sense of his plans, and that they should pal up with the Mother of Dragons. It’s pleasing to imagine that Lady Mormont and Captain Darling and the rest never leave that hall, only rousing whenever Jon trundles in to talk politics.
The episode’s best scene was its first, as Varys is made to justify to Dany why he can be so fickle when it comes to backing up a ruler that he himself has helped put into power. It was tense and charged, a fine insight into the pair of them. Into a queen who could still turn out to be as mad as her father – is she perhaps getting a trifle power-crazed? – and a man always professing to be a humble civil servant who just wants what’s best for the realm. It would be quite the turn of events if he’s been playing one hell of a long game and actually fancies a slice of power in the same way that Littlefinger makes no apology for wanting.
Varys and Hot Pie, the only two people left standing in Westeros, fighting to the death bare-chested on the steps in front of the Iron Throne. Place your bets.
Game of Thrones Season 7 is available to buy and download as a box set on pay-per-view VOD.