Hi all! The final season of Game of Thrones is underway and we’re trying something new. Instead of a regular recap, Myndi and EJ are going to discuss each episode around the water cooler and then share it with you. It’ll be fun!

So before we get to the discussion of “Winterfell”, here’s a short summary of what happened in the episode.

This episode is largely about people arriving at Winterfell and reuniting in various ways. Jon and Daenerys roll in with the Unsullied and the Dothraki and a couple of dragons. Jon and Arya have a sweet reunion, marred only by the fact that everybody thinks Jon sold out the North by bending the knee. He has a less sweet reunion with Bran, who is in full Three-Eyed Raven mode and not interested in emotions. Bran’s also the one who announces that the White Walkers have a dragon and they’ve destroyed the Wall.

Euron Greyjoy brings an army for Cersei but does not deliver on the elephants and that is maybe the thing Cersei has cared the most about in years. Cersei invites him to sleep with her despite telling him that he needs to earn a queen and Euron is super gross about it. Qyburn, on Cersei’s orders, tasks Bronn with killing any of Cersei’s siblings who survive and gives him the crossbow with which Tyrion killed their father.

There are real worries in Winterfell about the food supply and whether the lords in their service will remain loyal, but Jon and Dany go on a dragon ride anyway. Sansa does not believe her ex-husband Tyrion when he says Cersei is sending an army. Arya gets to see both Gendry and the Hound again and both are delightful in their own ways. Daenerys thanks Sam for saving Jorah and then they realize that she’s responsible for the death of Sam’s father and brother. Sam tells Jon about his heritage and it’s hard to tell how Jon feels.

Elsewhere, Tormund and Beric survived the collapse of the wall. They find some other survivors and then find a young boy (Lord Umber) killed and mounted on the wall with those spiral arms that we’ve seen before behind him. And then the boy’s eyes turn icy blue and they have to kill him with fire. Yeah, that’s our show.

And then in the last moments, Jaime Lannister arrives in Winterfell and immediately spots that boy he pushed out a window years ago.

EJ: OK, there’s a lot to talk about but first off, I have a question for you. Both of us started late with this series and you plowed through all seven seasons recently. So this is your first weekly episode. Does it make you crazy to hit the end of the show and know that you have to wait a week and there’s nothing you can do about it? That was a hard transition for me. Also, hey, second question. We’ve literally never talked about this show. Who are your favorite characters? And is there anybody that you really want to see die? (That’s a morbid question, but I need either Arya or the Hound to kill the Mountain.)

Myndi: It doesn’t make me crazy, except for the fact that it felt like the hour went by so quickly!  I’m used to watching at least two episodes at a time, if not three. But, since there’s only six for this entire season, I’m actually sort of grateful that I can only watch one at a time.

My favorite characters…hmmm, that’s tough.  I have grown to love and respect Sansa, who has had quite a memorable journey from entitled brat to the Lady of Winterfell.  I don’t know how you don’t love Tyrion, Arya and Dany. And Brienne…am I the only one who wants her to make out with Jaime before the show ends? Oh, and Sir Davos and Sam are great, but that is probably influenced by the interviews I’ve seen with Liam Cunningham and John Bradley. I desperately want Cersei to die and I want Jaime to kill her.  I’m also right there with you on The Hound killing The Mountain. Dude has had it coming for, ya know, ever.

EJ:  Look, I think Jaime also wants Jaime to make out with Brienne before the series ends.  And I want the both of them to be happy.  So, you brought up Sansa and here’s a thing that jumped out at me this week. Sansa is, I think, the best at being a leader in the traditional sense. Not a general or a wartime commander, but a leader.  Dany and Cersei both have this attitude that they deserve this, and admittedly to very different extents they can’t really break away from that. Jon does not want to be a king. Sansa is in there, watching out for the people of Winterfell. She thinks practically and prioritizes her kingdom.  I was going to save this for the end, but Sansa is my pick to sit on the Iron Throne by the end. And now I’ve gone on for a long time, so if you want to give your Throne Pick, we can get it out of the way. And then I feel like we need to talk about Cersei.

Myndi: That’s a good way to look at it; for example, she was worried about the very practical issue of feeding all these additional armies that are going to be showing up.  Jon and Dany certainly weren’t thinking about that. She has also been in the position of being so close to the worst examples of royalty and seeing exactly what NOT to do. (The Lannisters, her creepy Aunt, Ramsey Bolton) I mean, just between Joffrey and Ramsey, that girl has seen and experienced some truly horrific things.  Jon is definitely reluctant, but I think if he makes it to the end, it seems kind of inevitable to me that he will end up on the Iron Throne. He’s grappling with the bombshell that Sam just dropped, but he’ll work through it and do the right thing, because that’s what Jon Snow (or, rather Aegon Targaryen) does.

EJ:  Yeah, I think Jon taking the throne would make a really satisfying ending to the story.  I can get behind that. And neither of us are going with Cersei because come on. I like the way that the show is separating her from everybody else – virtually all of the main characters are in Winterfell or at least headed there, and it makes her feel more villainous.  I know she’s been through a lot (that Shame walk was a badass moment for her), but I can’t ever forgive her for so much cruelty over the years. That said, her disappointment in not getting elephants was one of my favorite things about her. Now, I’m working from the assumption that she isn’t really pregnant, but I can’t quite work out exactly what she wants from Euron Greyjoy.  Is she trying to keep him loyal by sleeping with him or is that just her admitting to herself that her true love is lost to her?

Myndi:  I’m not sure; I’m never sure with Cersei! I loved that she was visibly bummed about the elephants…she was this close to an actual pout.  Unlike her twin, she is completely irredeemable. I didn’t even feel bad for her when her kids died (obviously, the first one was downright glorious!) I think she thinks Euron will at least give her a fleet of boats on the water, and that will help her case, but I think she’s overestimating her army’s abilities.

EJ:  That’s a good point!  Of all the people in power right now, she’s the one who really has no experience with commanding an army.  Sansa’s a great strategist, Jon and Dany have led armies.  She’s out of her depth here. So, other than Bronn (who I love), none of the important characters are really in King’s Landing anymore.  One thing that jumped out at me in Winterfell was the depth of the history these characters have.  Right up until they started talking, I forgot that Sansa and Tyrion had been married. And Jaime is so far away from who he used to be that it came as such a shock when he shows up and sees Bran and, oh yeah, he kind of set this all in motion when he pushed a child out a window.  Did you have any of those “I’ve been waiting for this!” moments with the reunions? I know Jon and Arya was the big one, but I loved seeing Arya and the Hound together again.

Myndi: Is it bad that I kind of want to smack Bran?  Ever since he became the Three Eyed Raven, he’s just been such a buzzkill!  He totally blew off Jon’s hug, and was all like, “you guys, we don’t have time for reunions! The wall is down and the Night King is coming!”  Way to kill the vibe, dude. I loved seeing Arya and Gendry, who I am hoping can at least have a bit of a flirtation before this ends. I was also happy to see Sam and Jon get the bro hug in before Sam had to deliver the bad news that Jon was boffing his aunt.  Arya and The Hound should make a buddy comedy at some point. Those two are gold.

EJ:  I want to see that movie so much.  For some reason, I automatically assumed they’d be cops and I saw Davos as their grizzled lieutenant, but you didn’t specify cop comedy.  That’s just where I went.  To be honest, Bran has always kind of been the weak link for me – nothing against the actor, but his trip North of the Wall was filled with the kind of stuff that makes me usually check out on the fantasy genre.  All the different magic beings with their D&D rules. And then I never forgave him for not only making Hodor sacrificing himself, but going back in time and breaking Hodor’s brain and ruining his life by forcing him on that path to self sacrifice. That makes it hard for me to like Bran. I like the way they can use his powers to get information across, but every scene he’s in makes me want to yell at him. Just be a person! Now that you mentioned it, how do you think Sam’s reveal affects Jon’s relationship with Dany?  I mean, this isn’t the kind of show where finding out somebody is your aunt ends a sexual relationship, but I think finding out he has a legitimate claim to the Throne might just change Jon – he’s been forced into so many roles up to this point and suddenly he has this life-changing revelation.  I don’t think he’ll betray Dany, but I don’t see any more flirty dragon rides in their future.

Myndi: Yeah, it’s hard to say for sure, though, isn’t it?  I mean, we don’t really know if they’re coupled up with plans to marry or just kind of having fun, do we? They have kept that kind of ambiguous, like everyone’s hedging their bets. I wonder if she will have an issue with it at all, since I believe there was tons of incest in her family, but she seems intent on breaking the pattern there, even if she hasn’t said it out loud.  That dragon ride, though…I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Was it awesome or was it like a grown up version of The Neverending Story?  In the “Behind the Episode” tag, one of the creators mentioned that only Targaryens are even able to ride dragons…but would Jon know that?

EJ:  That dragon ride was pushing it.  I liked seeing the aerial shots of Winterfell, which we usually don’t get to see, but it really is a bit Neverending Story.  (Thanks for the comparison!  I couldn’t pull the name.) And the dragons watching them kiss is such weird joke for this show, but I did laugh at it.  I have one last thing to bring up for this episode, unless you have some points to hit, but the bit with Tormund and Beric. You know, where they have to set fire to a boy.  That was really creepy to me because we haven’t seen the White Walkers really make something like that, and the fact that they took the time to create a tableau is a reminder that they aren’t just zombies.  Also, apparently that spiral pattern behind the boy is a recurring motif in the show. I remember it showing up on the cave walls and I think it matches a pattern of severed body parts from the pilot. I think it might be more just cleverness from the writers rather than something that means anything.  But you’ve seen everything more recently than I have. Do you remember that spiral pattern elsewhere?

Myndi: Yeah, that was creepy!  I really don’t remember it, but it’s getting a lot of attention, so it must be pretty significant.  But if anyone can handle the gruesomeness, it’s Tormund. That guy is up for just about anything. I forgot to mention that I’d like to see him get a shot at Brienne, too.  I wish there was time for that love triangle! I wanted to talk about how great Sam was when he took in the information about his father and brother being killed by Dany’s dragon.  That poor guy went through every single emotion in about 30 seconds. He was basically shunned by his family, but he still loved them, well, at least his brother. Also, where the heck is Melisandre? Oh, and do we truly care where Theon and Yara are headed?  If they want to go back to the God forsaken Iron Islands, I say have at it. That place looks awful.

EJ:  John Bradley was fantastic in that scene!  I’m glad you brought that up. It was such a complicated thing to have to play and it was so beautifully done.  I’d be kind of OK with Theon and Yara going home – I think their arc is resolved and they’ve got all the mileage they can out of shots of a thousand boats.  (By the way, did you go back and look for Martin Starr and Rob McElhenney in the rescue scene? I totally did.) I think we’re stuck with them as long as Euron is around, though.  (I also have a theory that Euron is a time traveler because he just looks so modern and out of place. Like, if he had a cell phone, it wouldn’t be a surprise.) I feel like Melisandre has to turn up – she’s exiled, but she’s so tied to the mythology that she needs to be involved.  And she’s my Game of Thrones crush, so let’s get her back on the show as quickly as possible.

That’s it for this week – we’ve got some research to do into weird spiral patterns and probably some image searches of Melisandre. We’ll be back next week for an episode that looks like it’s going to be a lot of people airing their grievances with Jaime Lannister.

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