We are halfway through the penultimate season of Game of Thrones and the big question looming over the Seven Kingdoms this week is whether or not Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is alive or dead.
At the end of last week’s epic battle in “The Spoils of War,” Jaime ended up drowning in a lake, dragged down by both his gold hand and heavy armor, after being saved from dragon fire by Bronn (Jerome Flynn). Though Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) dragon Drogon just narrowly missed offing Jaime with a blaze of fire and fury, the cold waters of the Reach might finish him off unless one of his Lannister army men come to the rescue.
Sunday’s episode, titled “Eastwatch,” will deal with the aftermath of last week’s Loot Train Attack (that’s the official name designated to the latest GoT battle) and you can bet that Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) is going to be pissed when she hears her army was ambushed and her brother/lover is in the depths of a cold, vast lake.
Let’s break down spoilers and theories for the next episode:
What is Eastwatch?
The title of the episode presumably derives its name from Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, a port and castle along the Wall that is manned by the Night’s Watch. It is only one of three castles along the Wall that is still manned by the protectors of Westeros (along with Castle Black and the Shadow Tower).
Eastwatch-by-the-Sea has a lot of significance to Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) ongoing story arc. Remember, he is trying to convince the people of Westeros that the White Walkers are real, and so is the Night King.
In the teaser trailer (watch above) for “Eastwatch,” Jon is seen telling Dany, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Varys (Conleth Hill) that “Bran saw the Night King and his army marching towards Eastwatch.” That echoes the vision the Hound (Rory McCann) saw in the flames in the first episode of Season 7, “Dragonstone,” when he said: “A wall of ice. The Wall. It’s where the Wall meets the sea. There’s a castle there. There’s a mountain. Looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them.”
Eastwatch-by-the-Sea is the castle closest to Hardhome, which is where the the White Walkers fought the Night’s Watch and the Free Folk in a bloody massacre in Season 5. Earlier in Season 7, Jon sent Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and the remaining Free Folk to Eastwatch to guard the castle.
If Bran and the Hound are correct, we could see a big showdown between humans and the White Walkers in Episode 5, which could eclipse last week’s battle in the Reach.
In “The Spoils of War,” Dany pledged to help Jon in his fight against the army of the dead if he bends the knee and declares her his queen. Will he oblige?
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Is Jaime Lannister alive or dead?
Jon meets Drogon
The first hint that we are inching closer to Jon and Dany learning about Jon’s true parentage and that they are related could come in “Eastwatch.”
It’s only a matter of time before Jon speaks to half-brother Bran and learns that he is, in fact, the son of Dany’s eldest brother Rhaegar Targaryen. Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been teasing the reveal this season; for example, in “The Queen’s Justice,” just as Jon reminded Tyrion “I’m not a Stark,” one of the dragons flew past in a wink-and-nudge moment. (Watch below.)
In the teaser for “Eastwatch,” Dany, riding Drogon, stops right in front of Jon, marking the first personal encounter between Jon and the warrior dragon. What will happen when they meet? As Jaime can attest, Drogon isn’t particularly friendly, but, historically, the Targaryens have a way with dragons. Will Drogon bow to Jon, realizing that there is some symbiotic connection between them?
Is Dany resembling her father?
Based on the pictures from “Eastwatch” and the teaser trailer, Daenerys is doing things her own way and ignoring the advice of her Hand, Tyrion, after losing her closest allies (Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy) early in Season 7 and learning that her Unsullied army is stranded on Casterly Rock.
In a conversation between Tyrion and Varys, the master of spies tells Tyrion he needs to “find a way to make her listen.”
Though Dany has been shown to be a benevolent ruler so far, it seems GoT is sewing in hints of the madness that plagued her father, the Mad King Aerys. It’s notable that last week, in “The Spoils of War,” Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) impressed upon on Jon and Davos—and viewers—how kind and generous Dany is. Later, Dany went against Tyrion’s game plan to take the Iron Throne and acted with haste in her attack on the Reach.
There is mounting evidence that suggests Dany’s quest for the monarchy could be undermined because of her mental state. In the teaser, Tyrion looks concerned when Dany tells the surviving Lannister army men to, “Bend the knee, or refuse and die.” Sounds kind of the dictatorial style her father employed as he descended into madness in the tail end of his reign.
In previous episodes, Cersei and the lords of the Northern houses also remarked that she is the daughter of the Mad King and Targaryens cannot be trusted.
If Dany is going down the path of madness, it’s unlikely she’d end up on the Iron Throne, even if she did have the right to claim it. If only there were another Targaryen alive out there…
Gendry’s rowing home
As Newsweek reported earlier this week, there’s a big comeback in “Eastwatch” as Gendry, the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon, reappears in our story for the first time in three seasons—but what role will he play?
Gendry, like Dany (and Jon), could conceivably lay claim to the Iron Throne himself. He is the only surviving heir of Robert, who was the last legitimate king because Robert’s sons with Cersei, Joffrey and Tommen, who succeeded him on the throne, were actually the byproduct of Cersei’s incestuous affair with brother Jaime.
Gendry’s return to GoT (he last appeared in the Season 3 finale “Mhysa”) could throw the fight for the Iron Throne in flux. Cersei wants him dead, because he could threaten her reign, and Dany might want him dead, too, because he threatens her claim.
But on-set spoiler footage filmed last October shows Gendry actor Joe Dempsie sharing scenes with Ser Davos and Tyrion, who are at least momentarily aligned in the Jon and Dany camp. Will he ally with Dany and/or Jon? The latter makes more sense, because Jon could use his skills as a blacksmith to make White Walker-killing weapons out of the dragonglass Jon procured at Dragonstone in the last episode. Apt timing, too, given that the dead seem to be marching on Eastwatch.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
For more Game of Thrones coverage on Newsweek, click here.
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