It’s very telling how I started the previous essay about how everything would hinge on Daenerys’s decisions. Prior to “The Queen’s Justice”, Cersei was more or less written off. She wasn’t completely gone as an antagonist, but her defeat seemed imminent.
By the end of her eponymous episode, Cersei’s defeat doesn’t seem nearly as imminent. She’s abandoned the home of the Lannisters (at least for the moment) to consolidate her power on the fields of war and in King’s Landing. She’s removed what seemed to be her biggest threat: the unpaid debt to the Iron Bank.
Despite as much of a pure villain Cersei is, I do sympathize somewhat with her decision regarding Ellaria and Tyene Sand. As much as the narrative encouraged us to side with Ellaria due to both opposing the Lannisters and supporting the Targaryens, but as Cersei reminds us, Ellaria poisoned a girl to death for no other reason than being related to people she hates. Tyene becomes collateral damage.
I predicted that Jon would bend the knee as long as Daenerys agreed to help fight the army of the dead. I was a bit off. In fact, Dany tried to use that as a tactic, almost as if she’s pleading for proof that someone will bend the knee to her. Jon, meanwhile, is perfectly willing to stand up for the demands of the Lords of the North even when they’re not here to argue their case.
I had predicted how Arya and Sansa’s reunion would take place…but I didn’t think it would be Bran instead. Nothing has really inspired me to invest myself in Bran’s fate. Sure, he was an energetic child that could have been going places, and I didn’t want to see him die of depression-induced malnutrition as he almost did in the books, but since then there simply hasn’t been much to encourage me to take his point of view.
In this episode, he becomes almost antagonistic. He starts with the baffling inability to explain “I inherited a title from the person who trained me to take his place”. He then proceeds to “it’s a shame you were raped here” and then to “you were beautiful the night it happened”. By all indications he has lost all of his humanity; with it would likely go his agency and his relatability. This seems like a baffling direction to take a character on a TV show (unless, of course, the intent truly was to make him into a villain, as one theory suggests), so I hope this is leading up to something.
The only thematic takeaway I can apply to this episode is that it really wasn’t much of anything that I expected. Which is a good thing! I definitely prefer a Game of Thrones where there is something interesting to talk about every week than one that just fulfills my expectations.