"Eastwatch" is the fifth episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. It is the sixty-fifth episode of the series overall. It premiered on August 13, 2017. It was written by Dave Hill and directed by Matt Shakman.
In the Reach
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Goldroad, Ser Bronn pulls Jaime Lannister from the depths of Blackwater Rush, and onto the shore, after Jaime's failed attempt to slay Daenerys Targaryen and end the war. Bronn tells Jaime that the only reason he rescued him is that no one will finish him off until he gets what he wants from him. Jaime, shellshocked, remarks on the destructive power Drogon alone unleashed, and realizes they are in great peril if Daenerys deploys all three in future battles. Bronn assures that he won't be around for such an assault, as Jaime laments his duty to report what happened to Cersei. Bronn thinks it would be safer for him to jump back into the river than deal with Cersei's wrath.
Meanwhile on the Goldroad, Tyrion Lannister grimly assesses the carnage of the battle, seeing the ashes of wagons, horses and Lannister soldiers. The prisoners of war are being herded by the Dothraki to Daenerys, with Drogon perched behind her menacingly and majestically. Daenerys appeals to them, bringing up the rumors spread about her by Queen Cersei, and warnings of brutality that the Dragon Queen would bring - burning down homes, and murdering families. She assures she is not here to murder, but to destroy the wheel of power that rolls over the rich and poor alike, to no one's benefit but people like Cersei Lannister. She offers them a choice - bend the knee and join her in her quest to make the world a better place than ever before, or refuse and die. Tyrion looks at her apprehensively upon hearing this, while most of the soldiers kneel immediately, intimidated by Drogon. However, Randyll Tarly, his son Dickon, and well as a handful of men refuse. Daenerys summons Randyll forward, where he insists he already has a Queen. Tyrion recalls he didn't pledge to Cersei until recently, and that she murdered the rightful Queen, destroying House Tyrell for good. He observes Randyll's allegiances are "flexible" to which Randyll answers there are no easy choices. He reminds Tyrion that Cersei is at least a true Westerosi, and that Tyrion is a kinslayer, having killed his father, as well as supporting a foreigner; bringing savages to their continent. Daenerys accepts his answer, and prepares to carry out a sentence, but Tyrion intervenes with the possibility of sending Randyll to The Wall, instead of death. Randyll replies Daenerys cannot send him to the Wall as she is not his Queen.
Daenerys signals for three Dorthraki men to apprehend him, but Dickon suddenly speaks up insisting he will have to be killed too. Randyll, horrified, tells his son to shut up. Tyrion reminds Dickon that he is the future of House Tarly. and insists that he better bend the knee, reminding him how what happened to House Tyrell, which Randyll silently nods in agreement so his son may be spared. Dickon refuses to relent his decision, thereby Tyrion proposes to Daenerys about having them committed to the cells instead, but Daenerys, being ruthless but pragmatic, does not wish to grant the reputation of putting traitors in chains, or many would take advantage. She resumes to carry out the sentence for them both, as they hold hands. Drogon unleashes his dragonfire, roasting Randyll and Dickon alive and reducing them both to flame and ash in seconds, killing them instantly. Terrified, the remaining soldiers kneel as Tyrion reflects uneasily over the execution.
At the Godswood in Winterfell, Bran Stark wargs into an unkindness of ravens to fly over the Wall into the Lands of Always Winter. Through the ravens, he sees the Army of the Dead led by the White Walkers and the Night King, traveling south towards Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. His reconnaissance continues until the Night King sees the ravens, at which Bran severs the connection. He tells Maester Wolkan that they need to send ravens at once.
Later, in Winterfell's council chamber, Arya Stark observes Regent Sansa Stark presiding over a meeting of the Northern lords. Saying that the King in the North should stay in the north, Lord Robett Glover and Lord Yohn Royce of The Vale of Arryn imply they made a mistake in their choice of ruler and that she take over power in the absence of her half-brother Jon Snow. However, Sansa insists Jon Snow is their true ruler who is doing what he believes is right for their people and that she is his regent. Following the meeting, Sansa confides her frustration in the Northern lords with Arya, who calls Sansa out for diplomatically handling their concerns instead of shutting the lords down. Arya thinks that she should not let the lords get away with insulting Jon and hints at assassinating them. Sansa disagrees, at which Arya calls attention to the fact that Sansa is using their parents' chambers and that she still thinks she's better than anyone else – perhaps she even thinks that she will need the support of the northern lords if she wishes to seize the North for herself, even if she tries not to think of it. Disturbed at her younger sister's homicidal streak and hurt by the accusations, Sansa tells Arya that she has "work to do."
Much later, Arya stalks Petyr Baelish as he is walking through the grounds of Winterfell. She follows Petyr into his personal quarters and catches him chatting with Maester Wolkan. She eavesdrops on Petyr asking Wolkan if he is sure that "this" is the only copy. Petyr replies that Lady Sansa Stark thanks him for his services. After Petyr and Wolkan have left, Arya enters Petyr's chamber and rummages through his study and furniture. While searching through his mattress, she finds a scroll written by Sansa. This turns out to be the scroll that Sansa wrote to their late brother Robb Stark urging him to bend the knee to King Joffrey Baratheon. Arya, unaware that Sansa had written the letter under duress from Cersei in an attempt to save their father Eddard Stark, looks horrified. Arya scrunches up the letter and sneaks out of the room, oblivious to a grinning Littlefinger watching from behind a wall.
At the Citadel, a conclave of Maesters read Bran Stark's message warning of the Army of the Dead but are dismissive of his account. Samwell Tarly, present only to swap out some books, vouches for Bran and tells the Maesters that Bran spent several years surviving in the wilds alone. One Maester mockingly tells Samwell to practice with inscribing instead of entertaining myths and fables. Sam counters that they should use their position as Maesters to warn the people to prepare for the coming Night. Archmaester Ebrose opines that Bran's message could be genuine, but could be disinformation spread by Queen Daenerys. The Maesters agree to send a letter to Winterfell to investigate Bran's claims further, but as they regard the White Walkers as legendary beings akin to the Children of the Forest and the Drowned God, they clearly want to believe Ebrose's misinformation theory. While they agree to investigate Bran's message in further detail, they are skeptical of his claims. After Sam leaves, one of the other Archmaesters asks if it's true that Sam's father and brother were recently burned alive; Ebrose confirms this, and admits that he hasn't had the heart to tell Sam yet.
Later that night, Gilly reads High Septon Maynard's diary. Gilly tells Samwell the High Septon issued an annulment for "Prince Ragger" so that he could marry another woman in Dorne. This new marriage indicates that any children Rhaegar may have with this new wife (presumably Lyanna Stark) are his trueborn children and not bastards. The enormity of the discovery is lost on both of them, with Gilly ignorant of Robert's Rebellion and Samwell being preoccupied with his own misery.
Samwell complaints about having to inscribe the bodily functions of High Septon Maynard. In exasperation with his situation, Samwell stalks out of the room and goes to the library. He grabs several books and other items. After a contemplative look at the atrium of the room, he meets Gilly in the courtyard of the Citadel where she and Sam wait for him in a carriage. When Gilly asks if he is sure whether he wants to give up his studies, Samwell replies that he is "tired of reading about the achievements of better men", quoting his father. They ride off into the night.
The King in the North Jon Snow is walking on the grounds of Dragonstone island when the Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen arrives on the back of her dragon Drogon. Drogon roars at Jon at first and stretches out his head to face the King in the North. Drogon calms down and recognizes Jon as a friend of his master (and possibly sensing his Targaryen ancestry), allowing him to stroke his snout, much to Dany's surprise. When Jon Snow (under slight duress) replies that the dragons are beautiful beasts, Dany responds that the dragons are her children. When Jon Snow observes that she was not gone for long, Daenerys curtly replies that she has fewer enemies to deal with.
Daenerys then asks Jon about the Battle of the Bastards and him "taking a knife in the heart for his people". Without going into detail, Jon replies that Davos Seaworth likes to embellish things. Their conversation is interrupted by the return of a recently-healed Jorah Mormont. Daenerys introduces Jorah to Jon, who says he worked under Jorah's father in the Night's Watch. When Jorah reaffirms his allegiance to her, she accepts his offer of service and hugs him.
Later, Tyrion and Varys talk about the deaths of Randyll and his son Dickon in the Reach. Varys tells Tyrion about how he distanced himself from the Mad King's role in killing Rickard Stark and his son Brandon Stark. Tyrion continues to insist that Daenerys is not her father, and Varys agrees up to a point: Dany may not have her father's madness, but she certainly has a considerable ruthless streak, which in Varys' view must be curtailed by Tyrion's more pragmatic counsel. They discuss a sealed scroll containing Bran Stark's message from the North – which Varys of course, read.
Later, at the Chamber of the Painted Table, Jon tells Daenerys about the news of his half-brother Bran and half-sister Arya Stark's return to Winterfell. He warns Daenerys about Bran's vision of the Army of the Dead marching towards Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Tyrion is present and proposes bring a Wight south in order to prove that the Army of the Dead and the White Walkers are real. Varys opines that it is suicide trying to appeal to Queen Cersei Lannister but Tyrion argues that he can persuade his brother Jaime.
Davos also thinks such a mission is risky even for a smuggler like him. Jorah volunteers to go north to help capture a Wight while Jon volunteers to lead the expedition. Apparently on the verge of tears about the idea of Jon leaving, Daenerys responds that she did not give Jon permission to leave but Jon reminds her that he is the King in the North. He tells her she has the power of life and death over him but that he trusted her even though she was a stranger. He pleads with her to return the favor by trusting him. Later, Davos and Tyrion chat about smuggling before embarking on their mission to infiltrate King's Landing. Davos plans to find Gendry while Tyrion wants to secretly meet with Jaime to find a peaceful solution to the war.
Davos and Tyrion return with Gendry to Dragonstone. At the dragonglass mines, they meet Jon Snow, who is supervising the diggings and excavations. Gendry remarks that Jon is a lot shorter than he expected – and immediately blurts out his true parentage, on the assumption that Jon will value honesty and will appreciate the idea of Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon's bastards joining forces. Gendry volunteers to accompany Jon on his mission to the North to capture a wight and convince Queen Daenerys and Queen Cersei that the true war lies to the North. As Jon Snow and his party including Jorah Mormont prepare to depart on boats for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, Dany and her entourage arrive and bid Jorah farewell. Jorah quips that he is used to saying farewell. Jon warns Daenerys that there is a chance that he might not return and wishes her well in the "wars to come." Dany and Tyrion watch as Jon Snow and his party depart on their boats for Eastwatch.
In King's Landing
Jaime returns to King's Landing to inform Cersei of the defeat. He flatly insists that the Lannisters have no chance of defeating Daenerys, even if Cersei were able to buy enough mercenaries to replace their huge losses; Qyburn's scorpion did little more than anger Drogon, and neither the Lannister soldiers nor any mercenaries will be able to match the huge horde of Dothraki, who Jaime notes killed their men as if it were sport to them, not war. Cersei snidely asks Jaime if they are expected to surrender to a Queen whose throne Cersei occupies and whose father Jaime betrayed and murdered, mockingly remarking that Tyrion could intercede for them with Daenerys.
Jaime reveals to Cersei that Tyrion is innocent of Joffrey's murder, telling her Olenna Tyrell confessed to it. Cersei is dismissive, so Jaime talks her through it, asking her rhetorically if Olenna would prefer Margaery to marry the strong willed and sadistic Joffrey or the emotionally pliable and good-natured Tommen. Effectively, Olenna would have become the true ruler of the Seven kingdoms behind the scenes - in the same way that their father Tywin Lannister became the true ruler of Westeros through his grandsons. Feeling cheated of yet another vengeance, Cersei can barely contain her fury as she laments listening to Jaime, saying Olenna ought to have died screaming. Jaime says she's dead, nonetheless, along with the rest of their family, and that they will go the same way unless they are careful. Jaime sees no other path to victory; Tyrion now stands against his own siblings with a foreign invader possessed of a large, fearsome army and three ferocious dragons.
Later, beneath the Red Keep, Bronn leads Jaime to a sparring session amongst the skulls of the Targaryen dragons, only to discover it is in fact a secret meeting with his estranged brother Tyrion. Jaime is initially angry that Bronn has arranged the secret meeting. Tyrion jokes about Jaime abandoning the Lannister seat of Casterly Rock while Jaime wishes him dead for killing their father Tywin. Snapping, an emotional Tyrion points out that their father knew he was innocent but still condemned him to death nonetheless, having hated him all his life for being born a dwarf. When Jaime demands to know what Tyrion wants, the dwarf responds that Jaime knows that Daenerys will win the war and tells her that Daenerys is willing to make peace with Cersei under certain conditions. He tells Jaime about Daenerys's terms.
Meanwhile, Davos visits Flea Bottom and goes to the blacksmith's shop where Gendry works. Davos confides that he was surprised to find Gendry at the armory he had previously worked at. Gendry responds that he chose the smithy because it lies right under the Queen's nose – and no one has given him a second glance since his return. Davos tells Gendry that he has come to bring him with him, but warns that it will be dangerous, so he should grab a few swords. Gendry agrees, but points out he was never taught to fight properly, and is only good with a hammer... the hammer in question being a huge two-handed warhammer with a stag carved into the head (perhaps similar to the one his master Tobho Mott forged for Robert Baratheon during his rebellion).
Later on the shores of Blackwater Bay, Davos and Gendry prepare to leave on Davos' boat but are spotted by a pair of Gold Cloaks. Davos pretends to be a common smuggler and bribes the guards with coins. He strikes up a conversation with the guards and reassures them that he is transporting fermented crab, an aphrodisiac that is popular with the city's brothels. The guards are satisfied, if slightly disgusted, with Davos's explanation and bribe and prepare to depart, but Tyrion arrives at that exact moment. One of the guards recognizes Tyrion by his scar and asks him to stop. They realize that he is indeed Tyrion Lannister, and immediately see through Davos' deception. Before they can react, however, Gendry kills them both by smashing their skulls in with his hammer. Davos, slightly exasperated, introduces Gendry to Tyrion, who wryly observes "he'll do".
Later, at the Red Keep, Qyburn is visiting Cersei when Jaime enters her chambers. Jaime tells Cersei that he met with Tyrion. When Cersei asks if Daenerys wants to negotiate a surrender, Jaime tells her that Dany is seeking an armistice due to the Army of the Dead. Cersei knows that Bronn secretly organized a meeting between Tyrion and Jaime. Cersei says that perhaps an alliance with Daenerys may be a wiser move, but she still retains her determination to destroy any force that stands against her. She also asks if Jaime plans to punish Bronn for arranging the clandestine meeting with Tyrion. She also reveals that she is pregnant with another of Jaime's children, one who she believes will someday be the heir to the Iron Throne. After reflecting on their late father's advice that the lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep, Cersei hugs Jaime... and whispers in his ear that he is never to betray her again.
After landing at Eastwatch, they meet with the Wildling Tormund who thinks that Jon's plan will lead to their deaths. Tormund asks about having to convince two Queens. Davos volunteers to stay behind at Eastwatch because he regards himself as a liability, given his age and relative lack of fighting ability. They later learn that the Night's Watch has detained members of the Brotherhood Without Banners including Beric Dondarrion, Thoros and Sandor Clegane. Jon and his team meet with the prisoners in the icy cells beneath Eastwatch, where the entire group swiftly establishes their reasons for hating each other. Gendry opines that they should not trust Thoros because the Brotherhood sold him to the Red Witch, raising Davos and Jon's heckles. Thoros, in turn, is surprised to see Jorah, an old comrade and rival from the Siege of Pyke.
While the Wildlings, Mormont, and the Brotherhood Without Banners distrust each other, they decide to put aside their differences to fight against the Army of the Dead. Sandor quips that the cells are freezing. After they are freed, Jon, Jorah, Tormund, Gendry, Sandor, Beric, and Thoros exit Eastwatch's gate and set out into the lands beyond the Wall on their dangerous mission to capture a Wight to bring to Daenerys and Cersei.
- Main: Eastwatch/Appearances
- 18 of 22 starring cast members appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), and Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- Joe Dempsie (Gendry) is restored as a starring cast member commencing with this episode, having been absent since the season 3 finale.
- The episode title is a reference to the castle and port of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, one of only three manned castles left on the Wall. As the only castle on the Wall located on the sea and the closest to Hardhome, it is the most likely place that the White Walkers would attack.
- The Title sequence has been updated from last episode, replacing Pyke with a new animation for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
In the Reach
- Daenerys Targaryen once again uses her speech (from Season 5's "Hardhome") that she's going to "break the wheel" of one conqueror replacing another in wars like a wheel going around, but society never advances because each ruler is as bad as he last and keeps oppressing everyone under them. This metaphor hasn't been used in the novels, and indeed, the idea that Daenerys has some grand hope of reforming all of society is an invention of the TV series - she does want to stop things like slavery and overthrow bad rulers, but fundamentally, she does want to be the hereditary monarch over everyone else.
- Tyrion's own dialogue specifically questions why Randyll Tarly won't submit to Daenerys Targaryen, given that he fought for her own father during Robert's Rebellion (famously winning the only Targaryen victory of the war, at the Battle of Ashford), and that Cersei hasn't even been his queen for long, in fact she got the throne by killing his rightful queen (Margaery Tyrell). Randyll does have a coherent response, that Daenerys might be the Mad King's daughter but to him she's just a foreigner who never spent any of her life in Westeros before, and who brought the Dothraki ("foreign savages") to Westeros. He also makes it clear that he hates Cersei and only served her grudgingly as what he perceived as the lesser of two evils.
- In the books, such attitudes are not entirely without precedent, specifically during the later Blackfyre Rebellions. The first rebellion was a civil war fought by internal factions in Westeros, but after House Blackfyre lost its survivors fled into exile in the Free Cities, and for the next 50 years they sporadically launched four subsequent rebellions. While there they founded the Golden Company to be their core fighting force (which Cersei actually mentioned in the previous episode). By the fourth rebellion, forty years after the first, they were surprised to have very little support from within Westeros itself - even noble Houses who had supported the Blackfyres in the earlier rebellions did not come out to fight for them: by that point, they weren't actually fighting for Daemon Blackfyre, but for his grandson they had never heard of, who wasn't born in Westeros, nor had he ever spent a day of his life in Westeros, and the Blackfyres were leading an army of foreign mercenaries.
- Note the contrast between Randyll's attitudes towards Daenerys, and how other characters are judged by the reputation of their fathers, such as Jorah Mormont and Gendry. Samwell and Jon felt that they owed Jorah simply because Jorah's father saved their lives, while Tormund was angry at Jorah for his father fighting the wildlings. Jon trusts Gendry because their fathers were allies. Other characters outright condemn Daenerys as "the Mad King's daughter" without even knowing her. For Randyll, however, Daenerys's lineage meant nothing either way - with no loyalty to her father's rule or vilification of her for it. He bluntly said that she's just a stranger to him, who's never been in Westeros before, invading with a foreign army.
- Randyll Tarly also makes it clear that he won't submit to Daenerys because he is disgusted with Tyrion - a man who, admittedly, killed his own father Tywin Lannister. Kinslaying carries a heavy stigma in Westeros, and a son killing his own father (with premeditation) is officially the absolute worst kind of kinslaying, regardless of what his father did to provoke it.
- Randyll is somewhat hypocritical when he expresses disgust at Tyrion's kinslaying, given that he threatened to kill his eldest son Samwell if he didn't join the Night's Watch - and he meant it. Of course, Randyll never actually carried out his threatened kinslaying, while Tyrion did.
- Randyll brings up Tywin's death, and his own death is in notable contrast with it. When Tyrion confronted Tywin with a crossbow while he was on the privy, he started trying to explain his way out of the situation, then daring Tyrion on, thinking Tyrion couldn't possibly kill him, despite all of the abuse he had heaped upon him. Randyll, meanwhile, faces death with dignity, and would rather die than accept Tyrion's offer to try to have his life spared by taking the black. Moreover, Tywin mistreated his son so badly his entire life that it ultimately drove his son to kill him, while when Randyll is executed, his son Dickon voluntarily asks to be executed with him, even though Randyll tells him not to, thinking it would be dishonorable to outlive his father.
- House Tarly wouldn't be extinct even if Samwell Tarly doesn't take up its rule due to his vows as a member of the Night's Watch. In Season 6's "Blood of My Blood", when the rest of House Tarly was introduced at Horn Hill, Samwell's older sister Talla Tarly was also introduced into the TV continuity (he has more sisters in the books, but Talla is the only named one). Throughout Westeros, daughters do inherit if they have no eligible surviving brothers, i.e. excluding brothers who gave up their right to inheritance by joining orders such as the maesters, Night's Watch, or Kingsguard.
- Samwell never actually took a maester's vows. He studied for a time but then left without actually joining - Oberyn Martell was stated to have done the same thing back in Season 4. Nonetheless, he is still bound by his vows in the Night's Watch. As already explained in Season 5, however, a monarch has the power to release a man from his vows to the Night's Watch - typically in just these situations, when all of the man's male relatives died, and he needed to leave the Watch to keep his family's male line alive. Stannis Baratheon offered to simply decree that Jon Snow was released from his vows to the Night's Watch so he could legally lead House Stark (later, Jon leaves the Watch after his death and resurrection, saying that he fulfilled his vows as he served the Watch until his death). This has only happened a few times over the centuries, and while technically legal, has always been controversial - Jon actually declined Stannis's offer because he thought no one would take him seriously as head of House Stark if he would so easily set aside his vows to the Watch.
- If the White Walkers are permanently defeated in the upcoming Great War and if they don't kill everyone in Westeros, of course, there might no longer be a need for a Night's Watch, and Samwell would be free to leave and rule House Tarly - though that's a very big "if".
- Tyrion and Varys express their concern that burning the Tarlys will make Daenerys seem like her father, the Mad King, who burned his enemies alive in the throne room. In the Inside the Episode video, showrunner David Benioff said that Daenerys isn't supposed to be outright vindictive or crazy, but ruthlessly rational, and it's supposed to be unclear if she or Tyrion are correct. In her view, she gave Tarly a fair choice about whether to surrender or not, and he refused knowing what would happen, and his execution helped convince other wavering Lannister survivors to bend the knee.
- It seem unfair to compare Daenerys' actions to those of her father's, as the Mad King was a sadist who enjoyed the suffering of his victims, in the books he is even described as being sexually aroused by their suffering while they were being burned. In contrast, Daenerys only use fire as a mean to an end, to show her power over dragons and prompt her enemies to bend the knee like Aegon did during the Conquest of Westeros centuries before her. She is not taking any pleasure in their death, as highlighted by how her utterance of "Dracarys" is more solemn and soft than usual. By the same token, execution by dragon-fire, while "longer" and more painful than a simple beheading, is still swifter than burning someone at the stake and letting the fires slowly consume them, which the Mad King was known to do. Simply put, it took Randyll and Dickon far less time to die than Rickard Stark.
- Tyrion begs Daenerys to give Randyll the option of taking the black and joining the Night's Watch - which has always been customary for defeated lords in Westeros for centuries. It's unknown if Daenerys would have given him the option or not, but it's a moot point, because Randyll then interjected that he wouldn't join the NIght's Watch even if she did extend the offer.
- This episode doesn't give any new insights into where exactly the battle in the preceding episode took place. Jaime and Bronn are washed by the current farther down the river, yet are still not within sight of King's Landing - which seem to indicate that it wasn't the Roseroad/Kingsroad crossing (which has no fords or even a bridge). Other materials state the river is indeed the Blackwater Rush, so the battle seems to have taken place farther up it to the west, apparently at the Goldroad crossing.
- The beginning of the episode reveals that Jaime and Bronn somehow survived drowning, despite the former wearing plate armor, and were washed downriver before pulling themselves up to shore. Reports from early episode outlines vaguely seem to indicate that the idea is they nearly drowned, but the current was strong enough that it washed them farther downstream into a shallower stretch of the river.
- Bronn's exact reasons for continuing to serve the Lannisters despite the fact that they still hadn't given him the full reward they'd promised were brought up in the preceding episode - that they'd given him gold, but not a marriage into the nobility and a castle - but he directly explains his position in this episode. He's already done a lot of work for the Lannisters, they admit that in theory they owe him, but no one else will give him a reward for past things he already did for the Lannisters. Moreover, he was willing to help them when they were winning, but he bluntly tells Jaime that if Daenerys uses her dragons again, that will be the limit at which he simply abandons them. Later in the episode, he's actually falling back into helping Tyrion set up a meeting with Jaime, so he might already be sending out feelers to end up on the winning side.
- Multiple characters in this episode confirm that House Tyrell is officially extinct, in the TV continuity. In the books, there are numerous cousins from younger branches of the family who probably wouldn't be killed in one fell swoop. Thus it was unclear if any others survived after the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor. The TV continuity has officially simplified that now, at least, there are no survivors - apparently making the tacit assumption that any other relatives died off-screen during the Fall of Highgarden. Tyrion says that Cersei "Destroyed House Tyrell for all time" and that "this war has already wiped one great House out of existence". Jaime later says that the Tyrells are "extinct" now, as well.
- The Reach is left with no clear overall leader after this. The Tyrells fought for Daenerys, then the Tarlys helped wipe out the Tyrells with the promise of being made the new Warden of the South - specifically Lord Randyll. With the Tarly army crushed, it's doubtful that Cersei would bestow the empty reward of the title on whoever Randyll's new heir is (Samwell or Talla). Whichever side wins the war will eventually have to raise up a new House to rule, much as the Tyrells replaced House Gardener after the Targaryen Conquest.
- The status of House Martell and Dorne, however, is still left ambiguous. Oberyn Martell has five younger bastard daughters, as the TV continuity also mentioned that as in the books there were eight Sand Snakes altogether. The Coup in Dorne was an invention of the TV series, killing off Doran Martell and his son Trystane, while never introducing Doran's other two children from the books. Even with the three introduced Sand Snakes dead, and with Ellaria a prisoner (the actress confirmed she will not reappear), these other five daughters should still be alive (among them Elia Sand, named in dialogue), who never left Dorne in the first place. Dorne's armies ever never even attacked and must "exist" - Ellaria's ship was attacked on its way to Dorne to pick up Dorne's armies. Someone must be ruling Dorne at this point - though another possible explanation would be that without Ellaria, Dorne's lords have fallen into chaos (House Yronwood has historically seized any opportunity to rebel against the Martells). Nonetheless, the TV series has made no mention of such a possibility, to the point of outright avoiding further discussion of Dorne.
- Tyrion phrased it that "this war" had wiped out "one great House" already. As far as Tyrion is aware, House Baratheon is extinct as well, because he doesn't know about Gendry. It's possible that he's drawing a distinction between "this war", Daenerys's invasion, and the "War of the Five Kings" that preceded it as a separate war.
- More uncertain is why Tyrion didn't include House Martell in that count either, even though Ellaria and the three Sand Snakes have been dispatched as well. There are two possible scenarios, which the TV writers may have simply never devoted thought to: the first is that this confirms the younger Sand Snakes are in fact alive, but doesn't explain why they don't just send Dorne's armies to help Daenerys. The second possibly is that, being bastards, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes were not considered to be "House Martell", and that like the Baratheons, Tyrion considers "House Martell" (Doran and Trystane) to have been killed off in the preceding War of the Five Kings. Ultimately, the situation in Dorne remains unconfirmed.
In the North
- The opening shot of Bran Stark using his Warg powers to enter the minds of ravens follows through on the original Three-eyed raven's promise in the Season 4 finale ("The Children") that he would never walk again, but he would learn to fly.
- The Northern lords, and particularly the Vale lords, question if they should have made Sansa Stark the Queen in the North because Jon has been away for so long, not dealing with their immediate concerns. As others have pointed out, Bran is Ned Stark's last trueborn son and thus should rank ahead of Jon (as a bastard) and Sansa (his older sister) in line of succession - but Bran has essentially indicated that he wants to abdicate, saying he's the "three-eyed raven" now and will never be lord of anything. Apparently this is why no one brings up the issue of Sansa usurping Bran - she is next in line after Bran and would inherit all of his titles. Of course, no one is aware that Jon is really the son of Ned's younger sister Lyanna Stark, and Sansa would outrank Jon in the line of inheritance to Winterfell even if he wasn't a bastard (as seemingly indicated by the journal entry that Gilly stumbles across).
- It's actually unknown if there has ever been a "Queen in the North", back in prior centuries when the North was an independent kingdom. According to legend, House Stark has ruled Winterfell since the Long Night, 8,000 years ago. The North was still divided into petty kingdoms that the Starks spent come centuries absorbing - but it is generally agreed that the Stark kings ruled over a unified North since the beginning of the Andal Invasion, 6,000 years ago. The books have never mentioned a Queen in the North, but also never definitively said that there never was one: it would be odd if, across a span of 60 centuries, there was never even one Stark queen who ruled by her own right of inheritance.
- Not much is known, however, about how the North's inheritance laws functioned in prior centuries. It's said that male-preference primogeniture is specifically "Andal law" - not First Men law. It's unknown if a lord's daughter would inherit ahead of the lord's own younger brother, etc. For all we currently know, they could have excluded women from inheritance, or at the other extreme, outright practiced gender-blind inheritance.
- Sansa argues with Arya about how to handle the Northern and Vale lords - with Arya bluntly saying she thinks a few executions for treason would keep them in line, while Sansa says that there's more to "ruling" than that, and beheadings aren't how you get people to work together, combining their strength towards a common goal. This has shadows of Sansa's original Vale storyarc in the novels - which Season 4 seemed to be setting up, only to then merge Sansa into the Bolton storyline in the north (in which Ramsay Bolton rapes his wife - Sansa never even meets the Boltons in the novels). Instead, Sansa stays in the Vale with Littlefinger, gradually winning over the support of more and more of the Vale lords, through a combination of bribes, funding younger sons to take over Houses that won't come over to their side, and various other subtle political manipulations. George R.R. Martin himself highlighted in a promotional video for Season 4 - describing Sansa's storyarc through the fourth novel - that Sansa doesn't have a sword like Arya, but her skill and strength isn't at killing people herself, but as a political player in the wider "game of thrones". She's better at the courtly niceties and subtle social manipulations which are needed to be a cunning ruler. As Martin put it, the real "players in the game of thrones" aren't the pieces who can use a sword, but those who can manipulate other people around to do what they want, making them their pawns.
- Thus, if Sansa and Arya reunite in the next novel, there may be some loose parallel that Arya just wants to immediately kill lords who start to rival them, while Sansa is a better political player, and argues against Aryan's methods because she wants to gradually win their opponents back into allegiance.
- If you look closely, the fireplace behind Sansa in the main hall scene is decorated with a pattern of Stark direwolf sigils in the stonework.
- To be clear, as Sansa is walking down a corridor with Arya in Winterfell, she doesn't say that Jon expected the Northern lords "to wait here like a ghost". The line is a little muffled, but subtitles confirm she said that Jon expected the lords to "sit and wait here like Ghost", that is, his direwolf. Bryan Cogman confirmed that a scene of Jon saying goodbye to Ghost before he left in "Stormborn" was filmed, but cut for time. Thus Ghost hasn't actually appeared yet in Season 7.
- Sansa accurately recounts that the Starks won back the north and defeated the Boltons with the support of House Mormont, House Hornwood, and the wildlings. The disparity of House Glover only having 500 men left while House Royce has 2,000 is probably illustrative of how badly depleted the North's armies are after many years of war, while the Vale armies are still quite fresh (and the Royces are one of the most powerful Houses in all of the Vale, while the Glovers or of middling power in the North over lightly populated forest lands).
- Simply pausing on the shot of the letter Arya finds in Littlefinger's chamber reveals that it is the letter that Sansa herself sent to Winterfell back in Season 1, while being manipulated by Cersei, begging Robb to surrender the North in exchange for their father Ned's life. Robb later received the letter at Winterfell (in "The Pointy End"), and Maester Luwin confirmed that it was authentic as it was Sansa's own handwriting - but that she was clearly quoting words that Cersei told her to write. This prompted Robb to call all his bannermen and march south to war. Maester Wolkan obtained the letter for Littlefinger from Maester Luwin's archives, and this was set up earlier this season in "The Queen's Justice" when Wolkan told Sansa that Luwin saved an extensive archive of every written letter the castle had ever received.
- Adele Smyth-Kennedy, who plays the Winterfell servant that Littlefinger talks to, is actually one of Emilia Clarke's stand-in doubles (for wide-shots, pickup-shots from behind, etc.).
- This episode seems to imply that Rhaegar Targaryen annulled his marriage to Elia Martell in secret, and married Lyanna Stark (not identified by name) in Dorne. If this is true, it means that Jon is actually a legitimate Targaryen and not a bastard, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, ahead of Daenerys. His birth name remains a mystery.
- The journal that Gilly reads claims that Rhaegar sought an annulment from his wife Elia Martell - with whom he already had two small children, including a son. "Marriage" does not work like that in Westeros. "Divorce" does not exist, only "annulment" of a marriage for specific reasons: such as if the marriage was never consummated, if one of them was already married to someone else, or if the spouse was unable to conceive an heir, etc. What is being described here is divorce, not "annulment" (ending a marriage as opposed to declaring it invalid), which it would be impossible in Westeros for Rhaegar to obtain for a wife who already bore him two small children (one of them a boy, so he couldn't even have been setting her aside to seek a male heir).
- Regardless of how marriage is stated to work in the books the TV series has clearly decided that Annulments are possible as Rhaegar's annulment and new marriage were performed by the High Septon, the leader of the Faith of the Seven. This may have been done to simplify how Jon could be legitimate.
- No one knows exactly what will be revealed about Rhaegar in future novels, but a major theory is that Rhaegar simply intended to polygamously marry Lyanna Stark as his second wife. The Valyrians were known to practice polygamy, and in the original Conquest-generation of the Targaryens, Aegon the Conqueror was simultaneously married to both of his sisters. The Faith Militant later warred with his son Maegor the Cruel over this, and while never giving up their incestuous marriages (they already had an incestuous bloodline), the Targaryens promised to never practice polygamy again. However, a significant hint in The World of Ice and Fire was a potential explanation for why Daemon Blackfyre went to war with his brother out of love for his half-sister, even though he was already married to someone else. An in-universe theory that several historians have is that Daemon simply intended to revive the Targaryen custom of polygamy - or somehow, thought he could get away with it despite it being banned for nearly 200 years. It's possible that Rhaegar, like Daemon Blackfyre, thought he could get away with polygamy in secret. In which case, Rhaegar's "annulment" of his marriage to Elia would be a drastic oversimplification of what really happened in the books.
- For that matter, there is no precedent for a lord getting an "annulment" from a wife who already gave him a male heir - it is impossible, as this would be a "divorce" - and thus there is no precedent for what would happen to Rhaegar's two children by that first marriage. It's possible that the TV writers simply didn't think out the implications of this change. Rhaegar could only ask for an "annulment" by claiming that Elia's first two children weren't actually fathered by him - but there's no evidence he claimed that either. Given that this might not even occur in the novels, it is unclear if Aegon and Rhaenys should be treated as bastards or not (be it Targaryen or Martell bastards), or if the TV writers still intend for them to be Rhaegar's legitimate children. Ironically, if they had simply used the term "divorce" there would be less confusion, as the children of divorced princes (at least in the real world) usually retain their legitimacy.
- In the novels, Elia Martel is believed to be barren after the difficult births of her two children. Rhaegar could possibly use this as an argument despite the fact that his wife already gave him a suitable heir. Rhaegar believed that "The Prince That Was Promised" prophecy was in fact referring to a triarchy of Targaryens and needed another child. Thus it wouldn't make sense for Rhaegar to de-legitimize his first two children, when he wanted a set of three.
- Moreover, if Rhaegar did secretly get an annulment in the books, it was also a poor political move as the Martells were staunch allies of House Targaryen during Robert's Rebellion due to one of their own being part of House Targaryen through marriage. Repudiating his wife and consequently disowning his Targaryen/Martell children would have enraged the Martells if they discovered it. The fact of almost certainly loosing the allegiance of a key ally in a time of war, could explain why Rhaegar kept it secret.
- High Septons do not have names in the books. As the leader of the Faith of the Seven, each High Septon gives up their original name, and is referred to as simply "the High Septon". For that matter, it is forbidden to refer to their original name, even retroactively. This episode claims that Rhaegar's annulment, at the start of Robert's Rebellion, was "High Septon Maynard". There is no septon named "Maynard" in the novels. This "Maynard" will instead be referred to as "High Septon (Robert's Rebellion)". This choice by the screenplayers could be explained just with the need to avoid confusion between the different High Septons who appeared in the show.
- Gilly's mention that this High Septon kept a detailed journal of his entire life, including his bowel movements, actually appears to be a reference to a joke from the novels: when Samwell is reading through books in the Castle Black library looking for information, and notes that a book by Septon Jorquen about Lord Commander Orbert Caswell consists of entry after entry of dull reporting about his bowel movements (AFFC, Samwell I).
- When Samwell leaves Oldtown and the Citadel, he quotes that he's through "reading about the achievements of better men" - which is how his father Randyll derided the scholarly work of the maesters to Sam in Season 6's "Blood of My Blood".
- In the books, the full "Conclave" has many more Archmaesters in it than the eight seen at the council meeting in this episode. This was probably just a subcommittee of some kind going over current issues. Their dialogue also namedrops two historical characters from the books:
- Jenny of Oldstones was a commoner girl who lived half-wild in the forest around the ruins of Oldstones: despite her lowborn status, Crown Prince Duncan Targaryen fell in love with Jenny. His father, Aegon V Targaryen, was an understanding man but marrying a commoner of such lowborn station (living in the woods) was beneath what even he could tolerate, and he gave his son the ultimatum that if he married her he would forsake all right of inheritance. Duncan happily agreed to these terms and married Jenny, abdicating his right to inheritance, and the throne passed to his younger brother. The Archmaester in the episode says that Jenny claimed descent from the Children of the Forest; actually, in the novels, she didn't claim this herself, but her friend and companion was an albino Woods witch who claimed such descent (it's unknown if it was true).
- Lodos the priest-king was a prophet of the Drowned Men on the Iron Islands. After Aegon the Conqueror destroyed the ironborn's armies on the mainland at the Burning of Harrenhal, the few survivors retreated back to their home isles. Lodos was crowned by the other priests and tried to rally the ironborn under him. When Aegon finally invaded with his large army and dragons, Lodos stood on the shore and beseeched the Drowned God to send krakens to destroy Aegon's fleet. When they failed to appear, Lodos filled his pockets with heavy stones, and walked into the sea, saying that he had to "take counsel" with the Drowned God. He never returned.
- It is unclear why Sam didn't try to convince the conclave by telling about his own experience beyond the Wall. Perhaps he thought no one would believe that he actually fought the White Walkers, let alone destroyed one of them (in the books, a few people believed that).
- Drogon approaches Jon Snow inquisitively and sniffs his hand, even letting Jon touch his nose - in the novels, it is thought that only those of the Targaryen bloodline can successfully bond with dragons, and Jon is unknowingly Daenerys's own nephew. Drogon's friendly reaction to him is a major confirmation of his real parentage.
- That Drogon is friendly to him reinforces this even more heavily, as Drogon is the most cantankerous and least friendly to people besides Daenerys. Although the differences in the dragons' personalities aren't as fleshed out in the TV series as they are in the books, TV-Drogon is still much less friendly than TV-Rhaegal or TV-Viserion.
- In the books, Viserion takes a liking to Brown Ben Plumm, the new commander of the Second Sons (who has not appeared in the TV series). Although the friendliest of the three dragons, Viserion's affinity for Plumm extends actually landing on his shoulder while still small; both Plumm and Daenerys only half-jokingly agree this is because of his Targaryen heritage, as he is a descendant of a dragon princess (Plumm is vague as to her identity, but it is relatively easy for readers to figure out who he's talking about).
- Incidentally, through intermarriage, Gendry also has some Targaryen blood - Robert Baratheon was actually Rhaegar Targaryen's second cousin, as his grandmother was a younger Targaryen princess. Thus Gendry is a cousin of both Daenerys and Jon. Gendry only briefly stops on Dragonstone, however, and doesn't interact with Daenerys just yet. As queen, she does, if she so chooses, have the power to legitimize him, and potentially resurrect House Baratheon.
- Jon accurately recalls that he saw Gendry's father Robert during the feast at Winterfell in the Season 1 premiere "Winter is Coming", and Gendry in turn mentions that he met Jon's father Eddard Stark at his shop, in Season 1's "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things".
- With continued irony, Gendry says to Jon that "our fathers fought together", referring to Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark fighting together as allies. The truth of Jon's parentage, however, makes this a cruel joke: Robert and Rhaegar Targaryen "fought together" during an hours-long duel at the Battle of the Trident that ended with Robert killing Rhaegar. Gendry's father literally killed Jon's father.
- Jon lightly mocks Robert by saying that he was a lot heavier (fatter) than Gendry, and Gendry responds by playfully saying Jon is shorter than Eddard, to Jon's chagrin. Kit Harington is actually 5'8" in height, and thus not relatively tall, while Jon in the books is somewhat tall and lean (though he is just a teenager). Ironically, Joe Dempsie (Gendry) is taller at 5'10", yet himself felt self-conscious that he was too short to play Gendry - who, as Robert's son, is very tall and muscular in the novels.
- When Jon Snow receives the letter from Winterfell, he is stunned to learn that Bran and Arya are still alive, saying he thought they were both dead. In the books, no one has any idea they are still alive: Arya hasn't been seen since she evaded capture when her father Ned was arrested, while most still think Theon killed Bran and Rickon at Winterfell. In the TV series, Brienne encountered Arya in Season 4, then later informed Sansa that Arya is still alive - and both of them would presumably have then told Jon. Meanwhile, despite the fact that Bran explicitly told Samwell Tarly not to tell Jon that he's still alive when he went north of the Wall in the Season 3 finale, Sam later told him in Season 4 (even though he kept his promise and never told him in the books). It may be possible to reconcile that because no one has seen Arya or Bran since Season 4, perhaps 2 to 3 years, and despite knowing that the Lannisters and Boltons didn't get them, Jon may have given up hope that they were still alive without any new word about them.
- Davos Seaworth brought along some contraband as part of his cover story that he's a smuggler, in the event that the Gold Cloaks stopped them: fermented crab, which he claims is an aphrodisiac. This may be a reference to the fact that, as Davos has explained before, his own father was a poor crabber.
- Davos comes up with the fake name "Clovis" to call Gendry - this actually isn't a name used by any characters in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels. It is a medieval name, however: Clovis I was the first king of the united Franks in the late fifth century, founder of the Merovingian dynasty (the first kings of what would later become France).
- Jorah Mormont goes through no less than three costume changes during the course of this single episode - unusual for a character who sometimes goes through entire seasons in the same traveling outfit.
- Tyrion gives Jorah a coin for good luck, explaining it is the one coin that the slaver "paid" to both of them in Season 5's "The Gift", when he bought them at a slave-auction in Meereen, which would be the only payment either of them would receive for life (cynically trying to avoid Daenerys's ban on slavery).
- In the previous episode, Davos notes that Jon appears to be attracted to Daenerys; while not explicitly denying it, Jon brushes it off, claiming it is not the time for romance. In this episode, Daenerys shows signs of attraction to Jon, as she appears to be holding back tears when he declares he will return North (and on a mission that he may very well not survive). Jon even playfully refers to this, claiming that if he dies, Daenerys will no longer have to deal with the King in the North, and Daenerys responds that she has "grown used to him".
- Before leaving Dragonstone, Jon tells Daenerys, "I wish you good fortune in the wars to come". This exact line was previously uttered by by Mance Rayder to Stannis Baratheon in the Season 5 premiere "The Wars to Come", and by Arthur Dayne to Eddard Stark in Season 6's "Oathbreaker".
In King's Landing
- Cersei Lannister reveals that she is now pregnant with her fourth child fathered by her own twin brother, Jaime Lannister. A note to wiki editors: pregnancies don't get characters-articles or entries in wiki family trees - the child/children must be born first.
- There are actually some hints as of the fifth and most recent novel that Cersei might be pregnant, but hasn't realized it yet. This book ends with her walk of shame (which happened at the end of Season 5 of the TV series, but events could be delayed). A few times in the fourth novel she complains that her washerwomen must have shrunk her dresses, because they don't fit well anymore; during her walk of atonement in the fifth novel, it is revealed she has stretch marks on her belly. The assumed implication was that she was putting on weight due to her heavy alcoholism by that point, and the stretch marks could be (as Cersei assumed) the result of bearing three children, but she could be pregnant. Moreover, besides Jaime, she was also manipulating men by having sex with cousin Lancel Lannister, the Kettleblack brothers, and indeed, as Tyrion told Jaime teasingly, possibly the court fool Moon Boy (for all anyone knows). Raising the question that Jaime might not even be the father.
- Curiously, the first hint that Cersei might be pregnant now is that Qyburn is seen with her in private offering to give her medication for unspecified "symptoms" - and Qyburn did the same thing back in the Season 4 premiere, "Two Swords". Jaime was in the room and asked what symptoms he could be talking about, and Cersei responded that it wasn't his concern, leaving the question unanswered. Jaime and Cersei hadn't had sex before that, because he only just recently returned to King's Landing after almost two years. The TV writers later confirmed that when George R.R. Martin realized he wouldn't finish the next book before the TV series outpaced it, he had one big final meeting with the showrunners in which he explained the broad outline of what is going to happen in future novels (some things they changed, and some things even he didn't know yet). The TV writers later confirmed that this meeting was after they had finished filming Season 3 (right before it aired) but before they started writing Season 4 - and they were also worried going into Season 5 that they would only get seven seasons instead of the planned eight (which is why storylines began to rush in Season 5). Thus it is possible that the earlier scene in the Season 4 premiere of Qyburn talking with Cersei about unspecified "symptoms" may be some sort of relic about hinting that Cersei would become pregnant again (though given that Jaime only just arrived, it's possible that it was filmed out of order). The parallels between the two scenes are intriguing, but little more can be definitively said. In the final version, it somewhat seems that Qyburn is talking to Cersei about symptoms from her heavy drinking, which Jaime also comments on in the same scene.
- This fourth pregnancy has also opened up a new theory in regards to the prophecy made by Maggy the Frog, where in the books she mentions a little brother who comes to kill her. Naturally, Tyrion is the most obvious suspect as he is her younger brother whom she loathes and he has plenty of reason to want her dead, and Jaime (younger than her by a few minutes) is noticing how she is becoming close to the Mad King whom he killed for trying to burn down the whole city and which Cersei did on a smaller scale with the Great Sept of Baelor. However, should this child prove male and she dies giving birth to him, then she would have been killed by the little brother of Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen.
- Cersei mentions again that she intends to take out loans from the Iron Bank of Braavos to hire new mercenary armies from the Free Cities. She explained in the preceding episode that Qyburn has already been negotiating to hire the Golden Company, the best and largest sellsword company in Essos. It's unknown how they would feel, however, about fighting dragons.
- Cersei's suggestion to Jaime that they should think like their father to defeat Daenerys and actually meet with Daenerys seems to indicate that Cersei may be planning some sort of underhanded tactic, i.e. her own version of the Red Wedding.
- It seems strange that vengeful Cersei knew Tyrion was in her grasp - but did not seize the opportunity to capture him; she still believes he murdered Joffrey. Perhaps she bides her time, intending to capture not only Tyrion but also Daenerys, by pretending she agrees to a truce; such "subtlety", though, is somewhat uncharacteristic for Cersei.
- In the fourth book, Cersei comes up with a series of crude, ill-planned schemes, without any consideration of long-range applications, all of them somehow go wrong. It is beyond her to plot a clever scheme like Tywin would come up with, because, as Jaime commented, she has wits but no judgement and no patience. If she had an opportunity to capture Tyrion in the books, she probably wouldn't miss it even if she could accomplish more by waiting for a better opportunity.
- Jaime recalls that he once told Bronn that he'd cut Tyrion in half if he ever saw him again, for murdering their own father (regardless of the context), which he did back in Season 5's "Sons of the Harpy". This is a bit of nuance from the books that is difficult to convey on-screen: in Tyrion's POV narration chapters, he repeatedly remarks aloud that he intends to kill Jaime (though near the end of the fifth novel it is implied he starts changing his mind). Jaime, on the other hand, never comments aloud or thinks about killing Tyrion prospectively for killing their father; in the beginning of the fourth novel, he only thinks that in retrospect, had he known Tyrion's intention, he would have stopped him from harming their father, by killing him.
- Cersei apparently found out that Tyrion had contacted Bronn to arrange a meeting using Qyburn's network of "little birds" - or any of the other numerous spies in the city.
- Cersei repeats a variation on her rant that she will defeat whatever enemy she encounters, which she gave in "Dragonstone (episode)".
- Cersei reminds Jaime that their father Tywin always said that "The lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of the sheep" - Tywin actually said this to Jaime during his first scene in the TV series, back in Season 1's "You Win or You Die" in the Lannister army camp.
- In the novels, Jaime has no idea who killed Joffrey, and he does not really care (because Joffrey meant nothing to him, and he thinks that Joffrey deserved to die). He hardly makes any inquiries about the murder; he decides to leave the murder mystery unsolved, and make sure no harm happens to Tommen too.
- Cersei, on the other hand, figures out in the novels that the Tyrells are responsible. Annoyed at Margaery's growing influence over Tommen, Cersei suddenly realizes the Tyrells had a strong motive to kill Joffrey: he was too stubborn to be influenced, in sharp contrast to his sweet gentle brother, so the Tyrells had him replaced with Tommen, whom Margaery could easily control as a puppet king. Cersei's additional conclusions, however, are entirely wrong: she believes that Tyrion - not Littlefinger - was the Tyrells' co-conspirator; that the Tyrells helped him escape from prison by bribing the gaolers (that explains, in Cersei's mind, the Tyrell coin which Qyburn found in one of the gaolers' cell); that Tyrion and Sansa are hiding in Highgarden; and maybe the Tyrells were involved in Tywin's murder too. Those conclusions, combined with Cersei's paranoid delusions, drive her to execute her scheme against Margaery, which eventually backfires at her.
- Cersei has reached a point where she doesn't care what the commoners or nobles think, and not only doesn't care if rumor gets out that she's having sex with her brother, but now openly wants to announce that Jaime is the father of her child - basically living like Targaryens, who practiced brother-sister incest for generations. In the novels, they discuss trying to do this, but then say they can't because they're not Targaryens and can't force people to accept their incest using dragons.
- Tyrion Lannister recalls that the last time he was in King's Landing, he had just killed his father with a crossbow (the Season 4 finale, "The Children"), at which Davos Seaworth remarks that the last time he was at the city, Tyrion killed his son with wildfire (referring to Matthos Seaworth, in Season 2's "Blackwater").
- Gendry returns in this episode, after being absent since the Season 3 finale "Mhysa".
- In the Inside the Episode video, the showrunners state that after he left the storyline at the end of Season 3, it was never a question to them of whether he would return, but when he would return. For a few other characters such as Yara Greyjoy or Edmure Tully, the producers would openly tell the actors that they weren't sure if they would reappear on the show two or three years later because their current storyline ended, and they couldn't guarantee that their future subplots from the novels would reappear. Apparently, Gendry did important enough things in their outlines for future seasons that they always knew he'd have to come back eventually.
- In a post-episode interview, Jose Dempsie confirmed that his character Gendry cut his hair very short to try to hide his appearance (because he looks so much like a young Robert Baratheon, who wore his hair long, as Gendry did in earlier seasons). Jaime did the same thing in the novels when he was heading to King's Landing with Brienne, in case they ran into soldiers trying to claim the reward on him - though this actually didn't work, and he got recognized anyway. It may have been a needless precaution for Gendry, because as he said, ultimately the Lannisters didn't even look for him in the capital itself.
- Davos's line about wondering if Gendry was "still rowing" is of course a reference to the widespread internet meme joke when fans asked where Gendry was during the past 3 seasons - the response being that he's "still rowing", after last being seen sent away in a rowing boat. The joke was so popular that much of the cast including Joe Dempsie (Gendry) have repeated it over their social media at one point or another.
- Gendry wields a warhammer in combat - an auspicious trait because his father Robert, who he never met, also famously wielded a warhammer in combat (he actually killed Rhaegar Targaryen with a mighty blow from his hammer that caved in his breastplate).
- Notice that color scheme that Gendry uses to decorate his Warhammer: not just a stag sigil for House Baratheon, but a gold stag on a black hammer. This is the reverse of the normal Baratheon heraldry, a black stag on gold. Bastards in Westeros are forbidden to use their parents' heraldry if they have not been legitimized, so a frequent custom is for bastards to reverse the colors of their parent's heraldry (which is permissible). The TV show hasn't directly established that the same is true in the TV continuity, but this seems to be a nod at the custom.
- Gendry didn't leave the Brotherhood Without Banners in the novels, but stayed with them after Arya left. The TV show condensed Gendry with another one of Robert's bastards (Edric Storm), who Stannis Baratheon acquired and then considered sacrificing in a blood ritual conducted by Melisandre. Instead this was given to Gendry in Season 3. Thus he never went to Dragonstone, was never saved by Davos (who saves Edric), and didn't have reason to be angry at the Brotherhood for "selling" him to Melisandre, as happened in "The Climb" (though they didn't know she intended to kill him).
- Thus, in the book version, after Arya left, Gendry continued to work as a blacksmith for the Brotherhood, operating in or around the Inn at the Crossroads. He later encountered Brienne of Tarth in the fourth novel, as she searched for Sansa Stark, and saved her from Biter, a member of the Brave Companions (the sellswords who cut off Jaime's hands, condensed in the TV series). Thus he hasn't had much of a major role since the third novel... yet.
- The TV version explains that Gendry hid from the Lannisters by going right back where he started, to the Street of Steel in King's Landing (the blacksmiths' quarter) - Davos's reasoning was that hiding right under Cersei's nose would be the last place she'd look. Actually, such a plan is not without precedent in the novels: in the books, Varys simply disappears after Tyrion kills Tywin at the end of the third novel, and only reappears at the end of the fifth novel to kill Pycelle and Kevan Lannister within their chambers in the Red Keep. It is unknown if he left for the Free Cities but then returned, but it is entirely possible that he never left King's Landing in that entire time, but was just hiding in the secret tunnel network (or using disguises). Aegon II Targaryen performed a similar trick during the Dance of the Dragons, hiding on Dragonstone island itself after Rhaenyra Targaryen seized King's Landing - because Dragonstone was Rhaenyra's own home base, and the humble fishing villages on her own island were the last place she would look.
- A few notes on the geography of King's Landing, as internal maps have been provided in the published books: Davos says that he's going to check for Gendry in Flea Bottom, the slum district where they both grew up (and which is a good place for people to hide that don't want to be found) - though Davos later notes in dialogue that he didn't find him where he started looking (Flea Bottom), but back at the Street of Steel. Flea Bottom is at the bottom of Rhaenys's Hill, below the Dragonpit which is atop the hill, on the northeast side of the city. The Street of Steel is on the back side of Visenya's Hill, on the opposite southwestside of the city, near the Great Sept of Baelor on top (or now, that is, near the ruins of the Great Sept). The Red Keep is in the southeast corner of the city, on Aegon's Hill.
- The Street of Steel actually appeared in Season 1, in Gendry's own first scene, when Eddard Stark first found him working at Tobho Mott's smithy. Thus Gendry's reintroduction mirrors his first appearance.
- Tyrion is easily spotted by the Gold Cloaks on patrol - though other characters do remark that there's a good chance he will be spotted, he says he must risk it because only he can get through to Jaime in person. In the novels, when Tyrion goes on the run in the Free Cities (corresponding to Season 5), others suggest that he try to hide his identity - this seems rather futile, so he sarcastically quips that he'll just claim he's one of the other dwarfs who have a horrific and distinctive facial injury.
- When trying to pay off the two Gold Cloaks, Davos asks if the customary bribe is still 5 Gold Dragon coins, and they scoff that he must not have been to the city in a while, because they consider a good bribe to be 15 Gold Dragons (for each of them, a total of 30). Davos was last an active smuggler in the region over 20 years ago, at the end of Robert's Rebellion - this brings up that considerable price inflation has occurred since the War of the Five Kings broke out. Davos thought 5 Gold Dragons was a good-sized bribe in pre-war times: for comparison, before the war broke out, a single Gold Dragon was worth roughly a knight's horse, and thus a considerable amount of money.
- In the Inside the Episode video, showrunner D.B. Weiss admits that the wight-hunt that Jon is going on is an invention of the TV series, an idea "we came up with" which isn't based on events in a future novel.
- For that matter, he says that it's loosely inspired by how Alliser Thorne was sent to King's Landing with the severed hand of one of the two wights (Othor and Jafer) that tried to kill Lord Commander Mormont, to present it as proof their claims were real, but it rotted away to nothing by the time he was granted an audience. Since he alienated Tyrion at Castle Black, Tyrion teased him as if he was talking nonsense; however, the book makes a point that Tyrion thought it might be true, and if the messenger had been not Thorne - Tyrion might have treated him differently. This did not happen in the TV version - it happened in the books, but was omitted from the TV series (though the way the video is edited, it seems that Weiss was explaining that this drew inspiration from that section of the books, not specifically claiming he thought they did it that way in the TV series as well).
- Jon didn't really need to go on an epic wight-hunt in the books: as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, in the fifth novel, he already started ordering his men to try to capture wight stragglers, and specifically, to leave some corpses they found beyond the Wall in the ice cells atop it (which are impossible to climb out of with a ladder), to wait and see if they will reanimate. When questioned about this, Jon explicitly says that they know almost nothing about the wights, and he wants to capture a few so they can try to study them. Bowen Marsh and others, who have already grown displeased at Jon's conduct as the Lord Commander (especially about accepting the wildlings to the Watch), disapprove of the idea.
- It is unclear where the rest of the Brotherhood Without Banners went. There are at least a hundred or so men in the partisan group, but only Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, and Sandor Clegane are present at Eastwatch. All of these other background members were even seen in the Season 7 premiere "Dragonstone", traveling as a group with these three lead members. Tormund says he imprisoned these men when he found them snooping around near the Wall, so it's possible that the others simply retreated or that Beric, Sandor, and Thoros were scouting ahead of the main party - or, the TV writers might just want to wrap up the Brotherhood storyline. Another possibility is that they are being held "in reserve" until the plot has need of them again. They do not attempt to go to the Wall in the novels at all (and there is no wight hunt in the books), but instead stay in the south hunting down members of House Frey.
- Several unexpected reunions occur when Jon Snow's group meets the Brotherhood:
- Jon mentions that he saw the Hound at Winterfell - he was there in the Season 1 premiere "Winter is Coming" for the feast at Winterfell, as part of King Robert Baratheon's entourage (and he also recalled to Gendry how he saw Robert at the feast, earlier in the episode).
- Thoros recognizes Jorah Mormont. As mentioned in several prior TV seasons, they fought side by side at the Siege of Pyke during the Greyjoy Rebellion.
- Gendry is displeased to see the Brotherhood, after they sold him to Melisandre in Season 3 (though they didn't know she would try to kill him). Jon is surprised at the mention of the red priestess, who he later met as well.
- Tormund is surprised to learn that Jorah is Jeor Mormont's son, who was leader of the Night's Watch fighting the wildlings for many years.
- There is no mentioning in the novels that Jeor Mormont used to hunt wildlings "like animals". Tormund perhaps spoke loosely of anger.
- Eastwatch-by-the-Sea debuts as an on-screen location in this episode; it has been mentioned in dialogue since Season 1 - very prominently when Tyrion had Janos Slynt exiled to the Wall in Season 2, and said he was sending him on a ship bound for "Eastwatch-by-the-Sea". No specific scenes have been set there in the current novels, though characters who have been there describe it in passing. It seems to have some kind of docks in the books, though it's possible that larger ships are simply anchored off-shore and use row-boats to get to the coast, as Jon does in this episode. The commander of Eastwatch at the start of the novels is Cotter Pyke, who was mentioned in dialogue in Season 1, though he might not be alive by this point in the TV continuity.
- Eastwatch-by-the-Sea is the second manned castle on the Wall to appear on-screen in the TV series - the third castle overall, if one counts the abandoned ruins of The Nightfort which Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly passed through in Season 3.
- Tormund asks, "How many queens are there now?", and is told there are two: Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. The lords gathered in Winterfell, however, are starting to openly question in council if they should perhaps name Sansa Stark the new "Queen in the North". It's possible that Tormund's line is supposed to be a hint that the number of queens south of the Wall is about to increase yet again, to three.
- At the end of her last chapters in the current books, Littlefinger remarks to Sansa that "What little peace and order the five kings left us will not long survive the three queens, I fear." Then Sansa's POV narration continues: "Three queens?" Sansa did not understand. Nor did Petyr choose to explain. The first two queens are apparently Cersei and Daenerys (Sansa assumed the second was Margaery Tyrell), but it's possible that Littlefinger intends for Sansa herself to be the third queen, capturing the North with the Vale's army (and hopefully remaining as his puppet). There has been fan speculation that Littlefinger's cryptic closing remarks to Sansa were a foreshadowing that the conflict which began as the "War of the Five Kings" will grow into a second conflict dubbed the "War of the Three Queens" as a parallel to the first. The truth of the matter will have to wait until the next novel is released. As it is, within the continuity of the TV series, the War of the Five Kings has indeed transitioned into a new conflict between Daenerys and Cersei: it doesn't have a formal name yet, however, so Game of Thrones Wiki provisionally refers to it as simply "Daenerys Targaryen's invasion of Westeros".
In the books
[This section will be updated with comparisons after the sixth novel is released.]
The episode contains influences from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Chapter 27, Jaime III: Jaime and his sparring partner practice secretly.
- Chapter 28, Cersei VI: A Lannister realizes that the Tyrells had a motive to kill Joffrey.
The episode contains influences from the following chapter of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 69, Jon XIII: At Jon's request, Tormund agrees to lead an expedition north of the Wall from Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
Varys: "You need to find a way to make her listen."
Cersei Lannister: "Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it."
Jon Snow: "Bran saw the Night King and his army marching towards Eastwatch."
Davos Seaworth: "Thought you might still be rowing."
Davos Seaworth: "Bad things are coming."
Jon Snow: "If I don't return, at least you won't have to deal with the King in the North anymore."
Daenerys Targaryen: "I've grown used to him."
Samwell Tarly: "These Maesters... They set me to the task of preserving that man's wind accounting and annulments and bowel movements for all eternity, while the secret to defeating the Night King is probably sitting on some dusty shelf somewhere, completely ignored. But that's alright, isn't it? We can all become slavering, murderous imbeciles enthralled to evil incarnate as long as we can have access to the full records of High Septon Maynard's 15,782 shits!"