Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.
Here’s what he found on this week’s “Game of Thrones.”
This show’ll break your heart. Even with the forces we think we’re kinda maybe supposed to be rooting for (sorta? It’s maddeningly unclear) on the march, a lot of bad stuff still manages to happen on “Game of Thrones,” not infrequently to characters you only just started to care about (RIP Dick Tarley).
Yet, it’s not all unstoppable frozen killing machines, deadly mind games, and bright young men cut down in the prime of youth.
Here are the silver linings and genuinely nice moments you may have missed:
1. Drogon shows restraint by not burning literally everything and everyone.
Incinerating a couple of treasonous lords is just another Tuesday for everybody’s favorite flying flame-thrower. This time, however, Drogon had the impeccable fashion sense to leave Dickon and Randyll Tarley’s stylish cloaks behind. How do you say “that’s progress!” in High Valyrian?
Later, the deadly dragon demonstrates even further chill by accepting a face rub from Jon and, even more importantly, not eating and/or barbecuing him (the King in the North, it continuously turns out, is family, but still).
Yeah, Drogon roasted thousands of men to death just last week, but whatever. You gotta figure … when it comes to a giant, amoral, fire-breathing dragon, it’s gonna be two steps forward, one step back.
2. The old guys in the North acknowledge that Sansa wears that wolf queen cloak pretty damn well.
Over the past several episodes, we’ve begun to get the impression that yes, duh, Sansa is actually good at this lording thing. It’s a revelation that finally makes its way through the thick, arbor red-addled skulls of some assorted old northern and Eyrie lords who come to realize this week (a little too late, guys!) that they kinda wish they voted for the competent, savvy woman when they had the chance.* Even Arya finally acknowledges that being the boss seems to agree with her sister, even if she does so grudgingly and passive-agressively with a whiff of “be careful I don’t stab you.”
Sure, Sansa’s a little power hungry (aren’t we all?), but being a wee bit shifty, while not being an outright psychotic murderer is exactly the right posture for the Westerosi ruler who doesn’t want to get shivved, beheaded, burned alive, flayed, eaten by dogs, or some worse thing that, dear God, I hope doesn’t get deployed in season eight.
Inasmuch as anyone can “got this” on “Game of Thrones,” Sansa has got this. And people are finally figuring that out. Slow, but steady, everyone!
Good, too, on Masie Williams for playing their entire interaction like the world’s most annoyed little sister — the contrast with the (significant) stakes was A+.
*There’s a lesson here. It’s going over my head, presently.
3. Cersei allows Jaime some bro time with Tyrion.
Sure, she suspects Tyrion murdered their father (true!) and her son Joffrey (untrue!), but she knows Jaime has a soft spot for his valonqar, she likes Jaime, and, hey, it’s nice for the two of them to get to hang out before the baby (the baby!) arrives.
Also, it never hurts to source a little timely intelligence on your biggest geopolitical foe and turn it to your advantage. But … you know, details. Jaime and Tyrion got their bro time!
4. Arya and Littlefinger kill some time playing hide and seek!
Skulking around a frozen castle, drilling with swords, hauling grain, and trying not to get killed by ice zombies can be stressful. What better way to relieve it than with a fun, friendly game the whole family can enjoy?
It’s a small castle, but Petyr Baelish and the tiniest, most murder-y Stark are both naturals, natch. And while neither finds the other, Arya does uncover a sweet note Sansa wrote home (under duress) way back in season one, urging her brother (RIP Robb Stark) to pledge his loyalty to the Lannisters! What are the odds?
(Even pausing right on the frame, it was next to impossible to make out what this note actually, you know, said. Credit to Twitter user Daemon Blackfyre for doing the old gods’ work here).
5. Pretty much everyone is really putting that teleporter to good use!
Westeros is roughly the size of South America. Yet, this season, and this episode especially, people seem to get around really, really fast. Like the Dothraki last week, Jamie two weeks ago, and Jon before that — basically everyone everywhere has been zipping across the continent at lightning speed, petting dragons one minute and stalking ice zombies the next. Going from glowering around a rocky island fortress to glowering around a distant blacksmith shop and back to glowering on that rocky island in what seems like an hour-and-a-half.
While slow-burn character development has its place or whatever, we’re on season seven here, people! Fast-forwarding this stuff is a marked improvement on previous seasons when characters would spend 17 episodes chatting and riding horses, conquering neighboring cities, or walking from one castle to another very-similar looking castle, like, five miles away.
Mad props to whatever time-traveler saw fit to drop by and introduce quantum teleportation to the Seven Kingdoms. It’s a good look.
But we wouldn’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, which is why it’s super nice that…
6. Sam (accidentally) preserves some sense of story pacing.
Fellas, we’ve all been there. Your girlfriend discovers your best friend is actually the trueborn heir to the Iron Throne, thus solving the whole puzzle of the whole show, but you can’t be bothered because you’re mad about some dumb stuff going on in your personal life.
**what it’s like being a woman**
GILLY: here’s the biggest reveal of the season it says—
SAM: could you shut up I’m tired of this let’s go
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) August 14, 2017
Nevertheless, with everyone blasting themselves to and fro over the content to get that plot stuff done, it’s heroic of Sam to slam on the brakes a little here for the audience, even if it required being unreasonably rude to Gilly in the process.
Hey, at least Little Sam gets to learn how to read!
7. The gang puts aside their differences!
Yeah, it sucks that the one guy (Beric Dondarrion) sold the other guy (Gendry) to a murdering witch, and that the third guy’s (Jorah’s) dad’s job was to kill all of another guy’s (Tormund’s) friends and that yet another guy (the Hound) used to work for the family that killed the guy the sixth guy (Jon) thinks is his dad but isn’t. But credit to The Hound for politely pointing out that none of that matters, and really, they should all be friends and focus on finding a solution to the real head-scratcher: what to do about the horde of walking dead people slowly staggering forth to kill them all.
When you’ve got a suggestion in a group setting, it’s always nice to put it respectfully. Cheers to The Hound for personifying class.
Random acts of niceness:
- Davos gives those two gold cloaks some free, organic Westerosi Fermented Crab Viagra before Gendry brutally war-hammers them to death. Hope it was an enjoyable last few seconds!
- Varys expresses some regret for being adjacent to so many murders. Points, I guess.
That’s all for now! Join me next week when, hopefully, Cersei aces baby yoga, a doubled-over Littlefinger explains the whole silly prank to Sansa and Arya and the Night King calls the entire thing off after realizing eternal life is pretty cool on its own without having to kill a bunch of mortal beings to feel better about yourself.