Wednesday, August 2, 2017

(TV) Game of Thrones: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 Review: The Queen's Justice

(Photo Credit: HBO)
Game of Thrones
Season 7, Episode 3
By Garrett Yoshitomi

The first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series Game of Thrones is based on, was released way back in 1996- 15 years before the first episode of Game of Thrones ever graced our television screens. But, whether you’ve been visiting Westeros for the past 21 years, or just the past six, the wait has been quite real to see long-running plot-lines converge, and for characters, like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, to finally interact with each other after being individually introduced all those years ago. It’s pretty unusual for main characters to spend the majority of a series never meeting each other. Important pieces like Jon, Daenerys, and Cersei Lannister, were scattered to their own corners of the chess board early on; and in a way, have been off starring in their own separate movies, with only the ripples of their actions lapping against each other’s storylines. But, with Game of Thrones marching towards its conclusion, the time for first meetings, as well as long over-due reunions, is finally here- and, we get a big one in season seven, episode three, “The Queen’s Justice.”

(Photo Credit: HBO)
Right off the bat, this week’s episode kicks off with Jon landing in Dragonstone for his meeting with Daenerys. The Starks do not have a kind history of riding south- Branden and Rickard Stark were both killed, pre-show, by the Mad King Aerys Targaryen; Robb Stark lost his life, as well as the War of the Five Kings, at the Red Wedding; and of course, Ned Stark was executed, in the middle of King’s Landing, by Joffrey. Last week, Jon was reminded of this by the other northern houses, as well as his sister, Sansa, but he ultimately deemed the need for allies, in the upcoming fight against the White Walkers, to far outweigh the risk that Daenerys (and by extension, Tyrion Lannister) was trying to lure him into a deadly trap.

(Photo Credit: HBO)
Jon’s instincts prove mostly right, as he enjoys a pleasant, albeit cool, welcome party on the shores of Dragonstone. A familiar face awaits him, though, in Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion accompanied Jon, many moons ago, on his first journey to The Wall. The two bonded over their respective roles as family outcasts- Jon, the bastard, and Tyrion, the dwarf; while also developing a sense of mutual respect for each other, as Jon learned that Tyrion is more than just a spoiled Lannister, and Tyrion saw the potential for leadership, lying within Jon. Despite their diverging paths since then, the respect these two share remains, and their relationship, although short, will likely be the lynchpin in any alliance between the North and Daenerys. Tyrion’s been quiet for most of this season, and in general, he’s seen his role decrease a bit, after joining Dany’s entourage. But, the Hand of the Queen shines in this episode, playing a pivotal role as the connective tissue between Daenerys and Jon.

For most of the series, Daenerys and Jon have been two sides of the same coin. Neither are the immediate heirs to their families, with Daenerys being the youngest of the Mad King’s three children, and Jon, Ned Stark’s “bastard.” However, throughout the past six seasons, both have risen to power in their own respective worlds, learning the virtues and toils of leadership through extensive first-hand experience. Nevertheless, while Jon was able to start at the bottom, learning from others and training as a part of the Night’s Watch, Daenerys was thrust into a leadership role, almost from the get go, and had to scrape and claw for every victory, consolidating power through whatever means necessary- an ethos that could conceivably lead her down a dark path.

(Photo Credit: HBO)
Dating back to last season, there’s been speculation that Daenerys could be shaping up to be one of Game of Thrones’ final antagonists- a last gasp of misdirect before the series gives way to its one true protagonist, Jon Snow, in his fight against the White Walkers. And though, the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains has mostly operated with benevolence, she has a wicked streak about her, and is prone to ruling through fear- evidenced by her tendency to burn people alive and feed those that oppose her, to her dragons. Contrast this with Jon, who slays his enemies, and executes traitors, out of a sense of duty, rather than in a quest for personal gain. Jon has always been more of a reluctant leader, only finding himself in positions of power to serve a greater good. However, while Jon’s reluctant leadership may be more altruistic, let’s not forget where his reluctant leadership got him- stabbed in the heart and left for dead by his own men, at the end of season five. You can bet your Iron Bank account that Daenerys Targaryen would have never let that same fate befall her.

It would be fun to see Daenerys and Jon finally team up, defeat the White Walkers, and ride off into the sunset, atop Drogon and Ghost. It’s an image that most Thrones fans have probably leaned on, at one time or another, to get them through hard times. I think in her heart of hearts, Daenerys is a good, kind person, who cares for her subjects, and strives to be a fair and just ruler for all. It’s been fun spending these past six years rooting for the little Targaryen queen who could, and an endgame where she finds herself sitting in the Iron Throne, reigning over Westeros, isn’t a bad way for Game of Thrones to go out. But, it could be incredibly compelling (and sad) to see Daenerys fall short of this goal- to succumb to her own cruelty in her quest for the Iron Throne, just like many have before her; to fail at becoming the ruler she, and others, believed she was always destined to become. It would be a tragic end to an epic character arc, disappointing to some, but potentially fulfilling depending on how Jon, and the rest of Westeros, rise from the ashes.

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