7:04pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': How the Most Anticipated Meeting Yet Played Out
[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the third episode of Game of Thrones' seventh season, "The Queen's Justice."]
For the first six seasons of the series, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was at arm's length from the central plot of Game of Thrones, and certainly its most prominent setting: Westeros. Only three episodes have passed since her arrival in Westeros, and already the Mother of Dragons has met one of the most prominent figures in the Seven Kingdoms: the King in the North.
That's right: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen have finally crossed paths, quite easily the most anticipated character pairing in the entire history of Thrones. It's yet another massive milestone that the HBO series was able to convey before its arrival in the pages of A Song of Ice and Fire, the sprawling saga from George R.R. Martin on which Thrones is based. It's a meeting of the minds between two rising star rulers, the fulfillment of the show's elemental promise of ice and fire, and one of the precious few times we've seen two Targaryens in the same space at the same time (even if only one of them knows about their true lineage). No pressure.
So, with so much riding on Jon and Dany's first meeting... how did it go?
First of all, it went quickly. The episode wasted little time getting to Jon and Dany's fated meeting, as the King in the North and his loyal companion Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) arrived on the beach of Dragonstone within the very first scene. Before meeting Dany, Jon reunited with someone he hadn't seen in years: Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). Their first scene together since the first season of the series played out as Game of Thrones' response to The Empire Strikes Back's call, with Jon and Tyrion becoming the Han and Lando of Westeros. On their way to Dany's chamber, the Bastard of Winterfell and the Dwarf of Casterly Rock traded notes about their respective journeys. The conversation came to an abrupt end as soon as Dany's dragons sailed overhead. After spending so much time dwelling on the ice monsters in the North, Jon and Davos were left completely speechless by this stunning display of firepower.
"I'd say you get used to them," says Tyrion, "but you never really do."
Next, the moment we waited all series for: Jon and Daenerys in the same room, at the same time. The scene begins in fantastic fashion, with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) listing out all of Dany's various titles. It's an epic announcement for the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass, yadda, yadda, yadda, and one that deserves an equally epic reply from the Stark camp. Leave it to Davos, then, to completely undersell the moment: "This is Jon Snow. He's King in the North." Maybe pad out the resumé a little bit more next time you introduce Jon to a queen, Davos.
The laughs end there, at least for the moment. Instead, tensions between the King in the North and the Dragon Queen escalate, as Jon reveals he's not there to bend the knee. Dany reminds her honored guest that the last officially recognized King in the North was Torrhen Stark, who bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror when he first landed in Westeros three centuries earlier. Jon brings out some history of his own, reminding Dany that her father murdered both his grandfather and uncle in fiery fashion once upon a time. It's the first time Dany shows true remorse toward Jon.
"My father was an evil man," she says of the late Mad King. "On behalf of House Targaryen, I ask for your forgiveness for the crimes committed against your family, and not to judge a daughter by the sins of her father."
Daenerys goes on to describe the years in which the Starks and Targaryen were aligned as the best period in Westeros history. She implores Jon to swear his fealty, retain his status as Warden of the North while surrendering his royal title, and to join together in the fight against Cersei (Lena Headey). But Jon has other plans in mind.
"I'm here because I need your help," he says, "and you need mine."
Jon acknowledges that Dany is "at the very least" better than Cersei, given that she hasn't already launched an assault on King's Landing, threatening thousands of lives for nothing more than a hollow victory. But he also adds that they don't have time to be concerned about the crown, at least not the one in the south. Jon starts to talk about the Night King, though he doesn't broach the subject with much grace: "Right now you and I and Cersei and everyone else are children playing a game, screaming that the rules aren't fair."
Needless to say, Dany does not care for Jon's attitude. "As far as I can see, you're my enemy in the north," she tells him, before launching into what's destined to go down as one of the Khaleesi's single most iconic speeches in all of Thrones.
"I spent my life in foreign lands. So many men have tried to kill me, I don't remember all of their names. I've been sold like a brood mare. I've been shamed and betrayed, raped and defiled. Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen. The world hadn't seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born. The Dothraki hadn't crossed the sea, any sea, until me. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms — and I will."
An impressive argument, and certainly one that a quick mental review of the show's first six seasons will verify as accurate. For his part, Jon's unimpressed: "You'll be ruling over a graveyard if we don't defeat the Night King."
After his rocky start, Davos finally finds some words to talk up his king. He lists out Jon's accomplishments, including how he was the first person to forge a successful alliance between the North and the wildlings, that he was named Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and King in the North due to the respect he's earned from his men and not from his status. ("He's a damn bastard," Davos says, a line drenched in additional layers of irony due to what we know about Jon's true origins; indeed, one of Jon's earlier lines — "I'm not a Stark" — packs more of a punch now than it would have even four episodes ago, doesn't it?) Davos oversteps somewhat when he talks about how Jon literally gave his life for his cause; the king stops his friend from speaking in too much detail, clearly not ready to rehash his own resurrection.
Even with both Jon and Daenerys' extensive credentials listed out in such grand fashion, the two can't come to an agreement. Jon won't bend the knee, and Dany can't work with someone who is in open rebellion against her. The meeting comes to an end when Varys (Conleth Hill) shows up with the word about what happened to the Greyjoy fleet, forcing Dany to dismiss Jon and Davos for the time being. It ends on one final tense exchange, as Jon asks Dany if she considers him her prisoner. "Not yet," she coolly replies.
Later, Jon and Tyrion meet again on the Dragonstone grounds, in a scene that mirrors their final moment together in season one. It was Tyrion's final night at Castle Black, and one of the first of many times Lord Snow would look out at the end of the world from atop the Wall. Both men have changed in so many ways since then, though Tyrion notices one consistency from the good old days: "You're a lot better at brooding than I am."
The two men speak in circles for a while, with Tyrion believing Jon's story about the White Walkers but not having much to offer in the way of getting others to believe the story as well. Jon feels like a fool for accepting Dany's invitation, just like his ancestors before him. He wants to leave Dragonstone and return home to help his people, which causes Tyrion to raise an eyebrow. "Did you become King in the North by giving up so easily?" He tells Jon that he might still be able to provide some service, assuming Jon has a "reasonable" request to make.
With that said, you can go ahead and thank Tyrion for making the deal that keeps both Jon and Dany satisfied for the time being. In an effort to build some goodwill and a potential alliance further down the road, Dany agrees to let Jon mine Dragonstone for all the dragonglass his heart desires. It's a huge gesture of faith, and an enormous help to the cause of the living in the great war to come. It also keeps Jon close by, as Dany continues to contemplate what Davos suggested about how Jon died once upon a time. However, she remains skeptical about the Night King and the White Walkers. When Jon asks if she believes him now, all she offers is a line that would have sound fitting coming from Ygritte (Rose Leslie): "You better get to work, Jon Snow."
And there you have it: two of the show's most important characters, brought together thanks to one of the show's other most important characters. (It sure looks like a dragon with three heads if you ask me.) While their first interactions were freezing cold at best, tensions eventually thawed, much like what happens when ice meets fire — at least, what happens when ice meets fire most of the time. Where do things go from here? A full-scale partnership between Jon and Dany? Could the comparison between Dany and Ygritte take on even more meaning if the Mother of Dragons and the King in the North become more than just reluctant allies? (And if so, awkward!) The possibilities for what's next between these two characters feel limitless at this point — a pretty good spot to be in with only nine episodes left before Game of Thrones ends forever... which, in this case at least, does not mean "in perpetuity."
Here's the best part about Jon and Dany's first meeting: it wasn't even the only major event in this episode. We saw another long-anticipated meeting between two characters, albeit a full-scale family reunion this time: Sansa and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who returned to Winterfell this week. Sadly, Bran isn't the sweet innocent child Sansa remembers. He's the Three-Eyed Raven now, a premise that sounds ridiculous to Sansa at first blush, but takes on eerie new meaning when he starts recalling details about Sansa's wedding night with Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). Sansa walks away from her first real conversation with Bran feeling visibly shaken, and the same feeling isn't lost on viewers.
Further south, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) returns to King's Landing for a Victarion lap after crushing his niece's fleet. Cersei accepts his marriage proposal, but promises nothing will move forward until after the war is won. But she has her own personal victories to enjoy in the moment, as she avenges her daughter's death at the hands (or lips) of Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) by delivering a poisonous kiss of her own to the sole surviving Sand Snake. Cersei tells Ellaria she'll be forced to watch her daughter die incredibly slowly and painfully from the poison, which just might be the worst fate anyone in the Dorne storyline has ever suffered.
The Lannisters score a few other key victories, including a loose partnership with the Iron Bank of Braavos, the surrendering of the relatively worthless (but still impressive) Casterly Rock in favor of securing the much more valuable Highgarden, and the death of one of Cersei's worst enemies: the Queen of Thorns (Dianna Rigg), allowed to drink a painless poison rather than suffer a fate as cruel as the Sand Snakes. But Lady Olenna doesn't die without dishing out some pain of her own, as she tells Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that she was responsible for assassinating Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Will this information recolor how Jaime and Cersei view Tyrion, who they have long believed to be the person who killed their son? And what will happen if the Lannisters ever find out that Lady Olenna wasn't alone in the plot — that Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) was involved as well? Given the speed with which people have been moving this season, it wouldn't be a long trek up to Winterfell.
Three other items of note:
• Melisandre (Carice van Houten) has left Dragonstone, thanks to her fear of retribution from Jon and Davos. She is leaving for Volantis, but promises she will one day return to Westeros, strongly suggesting that she's meant to die in the Seven Kingdoms. What's worse, she heavily implies that she knows how Varys is going to die someday, too — an aside that seems to wedge right beneath Varys' skin. Does it align with what he once heard when he peered into the flames long ago, on the night he was castrated? It's officially time to start fearing for the Spider's safety.
• Yara (Gemma Whelan) is alive for now, as is Theon (Alfie Allen), who is rescued by one of the only ships to survive Euron's attack. When the passengers realize Theon didn't do anything to help his sister, they leave him on the deck to take care of himself. It was hard to picture where Theon's story could be heading following his decision to jump ship during the "Stormborn" battle, and now we have some clarity. He's likely heading back to Dragonstone, but what happens when he gets there? After all, Jon is currently wandering the grounds, and has every reason in the world to hate Theon for his role in betraying the Starks. Will Jon show the man who fake-murdered two of his brothers mercy if they have the chance to meet? Or will he show Theon mercy in the Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) sense of the word?
• Dragonstone looks due for another guest: Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), officially rid of his illness thanks to Sam (John Bradley), who impressively (and improbably) cured the Andal's ailment with nothing more than steady hands and a good mind for following instructions. Sam's work was impressive enough to keep him from getting expelled from the Citadel, but not enough to get him off of human photocopier duty. Hey, it's a better form of duty than Sam's typically used to at the Citadel. Take the wins where you can.
Watch the video below for the Game of Thrones cast's preview of season seven's battles.
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