Yup. There's spoilers down there. Tons of 'em.
With the plot hurtling ahead faster than Euron Greyjoy's Magical Teleporting Ships, episode three still found time to doff its cap respectfully at some key moments from Game of Thrones history, from Jamie wryly admitting he'd picked up battle tips from Rob Stark to Cersei's rather cruelly poetic retelling of Oberyn's death to Olenna, returning the favour for Prince Joffrey.
This was a masterful episode, full of neatly tied bows. Arcs were ended. Action teed up. Memorable dialogue, rather than arrows, flew through the air - and landed. (There were a few arrows). 'The Queen's Justice', you could say, was one for the true fans rather than part-timers, and all the better for it.
I'm giving it a warm-bellied:
Now for the main talking points.
Jon and Daenerys' anticlimax
In any other show in TV history, the meeting of two devastatingly gorgeous leads would have some sort of romantic implication. You'd be waiting for Jon to say something charming (he has never said anything charming) and Daenerys to giggle and for it to cut to them in bed together eating grapes or something.
But thankfully, this is not any other show in TV history and the long-awaited meeting between Jon and Daenerys (who don't know it yet but they're actually brother and sister. No wait! Aunt and nephew. Or is it cousins?) was anything but amicable or easy. There was a wonderful comic moment when the Onion Knight, after hearing Missandei reel off Dani's titles like a boxing promoter, introduced his own man with "this is Jon Snow" (I never love GoT more than when it is contrasting the pomp of the south with the gruff of the north).
Anyway – it all went downhill from there, with Jon refusing to bend the knee and Daenerys appalled to hear a load of silly old bollocks about white walkers when all she wants is to take the Iron Throne. They've entered an uneasy alliance for now, though mainly because all the Dragon Queen's other friends have been killed or captured. Not as easy as it sounds this conquest lark is it?
No one is as evil as Cersei
As soon as Adam and the Ants tribute act Prince Euron arrived to a hero's welcome in King's Landing, dragging the captured Ellaria Sand behind him, you had to wonder what sort of fate Cersi would have in mind for the woman who killed her only daughter (particularly as Ellaria is - let's face it - the most disposable regular character left in the show).
She even listed a few - including having the Franken-Mountain crush her head 'like a duck egg' – during the inevitable gloating scene in the dungeon, but instead Cersei came up with something that was about as evil as anything we've seen in the show far.
Kissing the last remaining Sand Snake, Tyene, with poison on her lips (didn't think that was her usual shade), Cersei made it clear Ellaria would be kept alive and forced, not only to watch her daughter die, but to watch her body rot beside her and, eventually, her skeleton gather dust. For the rest of her natural days. The final shot of mother and daughter writhing at the end of their chains, unable to comfort one another or even speak thanks to the gags in their mouth, was a surprisingly moving end for the storyline that has been the biggest misstep in GoT history. RIP the Sands: you made us care at the very end, if for not a single moment before.
Cersei, meanwhile, confirmed her status as Worst Person Ever in Westeros - a sentiment echoed in both the episode title and in a later speech by Olenna Tyrell who tells Jamie, "your sister has done things I wasn't capable of imagining[....] She's a monster."
The great Stark reunion (no, not that one)
Just as Sansa was enduring another of Littlefinger's increasingly self-parodic rambles about watching her back or something (not really his season so far, is it?), a surprise visitor arrived at the gates of Winterfell.
Not Arya! The other one – Bran – back from his BBC daytime production of The Lion and the Wardrobe beyond the wall. Sansa gave him a huge hug, which Bran endured as stroppy teenagers have endured affection from their elder sisters for centuries, then they went for a long overdue catch up in the woods.
"I'm the three eyed raven. It means I can see everything. Everything that has ever happened to everyone. Everything that is happening right now," Bran explained, sounding a bit like your little brother back from his gap year in Kerala where he did a bit of meditation and now thinks he's sussed out the entire universe. Can we have Arya back soon please? The Stark men have always been a little boring.
"My only place is back with her"
After being cured by a surprisingly dexterous Samwell Tarly, that old goat Ser Jorah Mormont pulled on his tunic and gazed up at the sunlight drifting through his cell window, taking in the fact he had been given a second chance at life. Whatever will he do with it, Big Sam wondered reasonably.
Go back to Bear Island, find a patch of land and live out his days in peace? Get married, have kids, hang up his sword for good?
Of course not. He's off to have another go at 'helping' Daenerys, who at this point really doesn't need some guy she knew at school adding her on Facebook. Can you get a restraining order in Westeros?
RIP Olenna Tyrell
While Cersei got exactly the revenge she wanted for Ellaria, Jamie (the big softie) convinced her that Olenna deserved a more humane end – after capturing High Garden, he handed her a glass of painless poison that she knocked back like a Christmas sherry (quite poignant that, I thought: trapped in perpetual mourning, Olenna was more than ready to leave the gig). Afterwards, she took great delight in letting a huge GoT secret out of the bag – it was she who killed Prince Joffrey way back when, not Tyrion.
Why is this significant? Was it just a parting shot from a thwarted enemy used to getting the last word? Her own tiny bit of 'Queen's justice'? I don't think so. Now Jamie knows the truth, any enmity he could muster for his little brother will be softened. Expect that to have repercussions in the war to come.
Meanwhile, the show's great matriarch is dead. It's a shame: Diana Rigg always had the best lines, and while her death keeps things neat and tidy plot-wise, you did sort of hope to see her right at the very end, offering the Night's King some pithy words of wisdom just as he murders the last human in the Seven Kingdoms.
Some other thoughts
- Tyrion's good at diplomacy - or 'talking', as Dani puts it in this episode - but his military brain doesn't seem up to scratch so far does it? After two strategic blunders, she looks like she needs someone who knows how to fight a battle for her. Is this Jorah's big chance?
- Good to see Bronn back, riding in High Garden next to Jamie, though it was a shame he didn't get a line. Even "bleedin' heck that's a big castle!" would have done.
- Jim Broadbent as Archmaester Ebrose is fast entering the grand canon of best GoT minor characters, isn't he? He manages to make Sam's annoying, good-natured fumbling watchable.
- Admit it: after he finally tasted happiness last week (cough), you expected Grey Worm to die, didn't you? Mind you, now he's facing Euron's Magical Teleporting Ships, he may have to...