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‘Game of Thrones’ Review: ‘The Queen’s Justice’ Delivered a Moment 20 Years in the Making

Game of Thrones The Queens Justice Review
HBO

Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Season 7’s Latest, “The Queen’s Justice”:

Hot crackers, that was some good Game of Thrones. It’s difficult to measure any kind of rhythm or momentum of this shortened seventh season (a grave-digging Hound feels like a lifetime ago), but how is that the meeting of Ice and Fire, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, is barely a third of what “The Queen’s Justice” had to offer? Forget those crazy kids, Sansa and Bran reunited! The Lannisters completely owned Daenerys on two fronts! They killed freaking Lady Olenna! Granted, she’s a minor character living for vengeance and at least as old as Diana Rigg, but there is an untold absence of mercy this season.

Obviously, “The Queen’s Justice” knew well to open with the moment fans had been waiting for, even building to said crescendo with smaller pleasantries like Jon and Tyrion catching up, awkward banter between Davos and Missandei, or Jon’s first sighting of a dragon. Once Jon and Daenerys have finally met one another’s gaze, the framing seems to set them miles away. It’s fitting of Game of Thrones not to make them fast friends just yet, but explore how their respective rises to power look from a world away. Daenerys; daughter of a Mad King clawing to reclaim a legacy most would care to forget, and more interested in destroying the cycle of power than correcting it. Jon; the bastard king uninterested in her birthright, unappreciative of past alliances, and unwilling to sugarcoat the real threat for someone whose interests rest with a metal chair. It’s as electrifying as it is anticlimactic, but considering how unpredictable this new relationship is, their back-and-forth teased a delightful new chemistry sandwiched between all-star Tyrion moments of trying to unite the pair.

Game of Thrones The Queens Justice Review
“If only we were all Targaryens, somehow … ”

That said, Jon and Davos’ point of politics not mattering against the Night King probably weighs the heaviest over this penultimate season; almost dragging down every moment of triumph around it. We’re used to seeing Cersei beaten down*, and it’s absolutely crazy how well the Lannisters outfoxed everyone and enjoyed themselves doing it. No one revels in the spoils of war as much as Euron, of course, but – for all his newly-cemented swagger – I’m still reticent to invest in characters so inevitably swept aside for the final endgame. The same could also be said of cathartic moments like Sansa* successfully lording over Winterfell in ways her parents or tormentors never dreamed – satisfaction is fleeting when you realize how quickly Seasons 7 and 8 will deem it totally irrelevant to the major story.

*Arguably, the producers have reached something of an impasse with Daenerys, to play up the muster of her armies, dragons and overall invincibility, but keep her from sacking King’s Landing on moral principle. The flip side of that is that Cersei, Jaime and Euron have to be built into bigger threats even remotely capable of competing with her, so as to keep the story percolating.

Honestly, Game of Thrones had a hard enough time forging itself into something more than a weekly check-in of various characters; I don’t want to hold it against them that certain huge moments feel superfluous against the so-called “Great War.” Just as whatever purpose Jorah ends up serving is likely more interesting than the two seasons we spent with his greyscale threat, and Sam’s subsequent punishment isn’t likely to keep him out of the game very long. Season 7 simply has to move some of these major pieces off the board in preparation for the final six, and “The Queen’s Justice” offered a stunningly cathartic meld of those big strides working in tandem.

Game of Thrones The Queens Justice Review
Also, we technically never saw Olenna die. YOU ALL KNOW THE RULES.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Between Bran, Tyrion and Jon, there was an incredible amount of men re-litigating Sansa’s sexual history tonight.
  • You know, Melisandre could probably make anything sound sinister and profound with that musical cue.
  • Cersei’s punishment of Ellaria Sand is utterly chilling, but considering the series has only ten episodes left, I’d doubt if she stays in that dungeon forever.
  • Whoever Cersei’s short-haired handmaid was, the internet will adore her tomorrow.
  • Executive producer Bryan Cogman noted on Twitter how well the Season 6 trailer hid Jon Snow’s presence in various shots, and “The Queen’s Justice” similarly unveiled key pairings. Not only was Jon Snow walking down the steps we saw Daenerys perched on in the Comic-Con trailer, but (the now super-creepy) Bran was directly behind Sansa in one of the first three shots of the season.
  • How cruel of Tyrion to quote Bronn, when the episode itself doesn’t let him speak.
  • Good grief, Diana Rigg owned her own death scene.

Game of Thrones Season 7 will continue next Sunday with “The Spoils of War,” airing at 9:00 P.M. on HBO.

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