Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.
Here’s what he found on this week’s "Game of Thrones."
To think just last week, the characters on this show were curing fatal diseases, caressing each other tenderly, and trading pie recipes.
About that. Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.
Back to reality, I guess.
In an episode that saw handful of fan favorite (and decidedly non-favorite) characters outmaneuvered, boxed in, and poisoned, I'll admit there really wasn't much loving kindness to go around.
Still, it's my job to find whatever glimmer of niceness there is, and because I like my health plan, I reached way down deep and found ... some very nice moments in season seven, episode three of "Game of Thrones."
OK, really, really, really deep.
1. Sansa makes sure her knights are warm 'n cozy!
"No, I haven't read Reinhold Niebuhr, what does he have to say about neo-orthodox realist theology?" Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.
With Jon gone having his dire warnings laughed off and his boat curiously appropriated, would Sansa rise to the challenge of leading the North?
Unsurprisingly, yeah, duh.
At rise this week, we find her striding through Winterfell serving orders to the castle's various similar-looking maesters, making sure the hay goes where it needs to go and, most importantly, getting her southern palls to strap leather on their armor so they don't freeze to death.
Look at those leadership skills blossoming!
Of course, she still has to endure Littlefinger's incessant monologuing. "Every possible series of events is happening all at once," he says, reminding Sansa that, yes, he is taking that freshman philosophy seminar and, yes, he did do all the reading this week.
This is really your game, guy?
It's going to work, isn't it?
2. Some random Ironborn dudes are kind enough to hoist Theon out of the sea!
Oh good, Theon gets to keep on living!
Theon and Yara, seen here in happier times. Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.
A gaggle of clanky boatsmen do the erstwhile heir to the Iron Islands a solid by not just sailing by and letting him drown. They do manage to insult him in the process, but even still, it's more than Theon deserves.
His Uncle Euron, meanwhile, gets a parade down the one street in King's Landing we all know ... and sister Yara gets to join for free! Unfortunately, she has to endure it from the cheap seats where you get rotten vegetables hurled at you. After a long journey, though, maybe it was nice to briefly sniff a decaying tomato or two?
I'd go for it.
3. Cersei allows herself to briefly experience empathy!
"Even though we're enemies, you and I, I understand the fury that drives you."
That line, delivered to a shackled and gagged Ellaria Sand, clocks in at precisely two seconds — the longest sustained appreciation Cersei has ever expressed for another human being's perspective.
Just thinkin' up ways to torture you. Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.
Yes, the very next thing she does is condemn Tyene to a painful death of unknown duration and Ellaria to hanging out with her dead daughter's corpse for weeks or years or decades, but hey! I got Cersei on this week's list of nice moments. Cersei! I didn't even have to cheat.
Oh, and sub-nice thing shoutout to Davids Benioff and Weiss for choosing not to subject us to another implied, gratuitous rape-and-torture-by-Mountain. The scene was clearly, totally headed there until all of a sudden it wasn't and, well ... phew! Good call, everyone.
4. Daenerys treats Jon to an all-you-can-mine obsidian buffet!
The dragon's share of the episode is taken up by a long-winded meeting between Jon Snow and his Aunt Dany (here's the long-speculated, Bran-affirmed family tree from last season's finale) who, strangely, is skeptical about this whole "White Walker" thing despite giving birth to three flying, fire-breathing, sky dinosaurs like, last week. Perhaps it's because she's skeptical of the messenger — the beardy guy with the wolf snuggie who calls himself "king" and won't pledge his allegiance despite the dozens (hundreds) of curvy blades within torso-piercing range.
Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.
Still, the would-be queen needs allies, and so, after apologizing for the time her dad napalmed Jon's grandpa and uncle to death, she tells him to help himself to all the dragonglass he wants and get the heck out.
Sure, she doesn't want the stuff or even really know what it is, but she can tell the guy is earnest, and besides, you gotta respect anyone who comes so far south with a dead animal on their neck.
That's just fashion-forward.
5. Jamie kills Olenna the nice way!
"Oh, one more thing real quick." Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.
The bad news? Cersei manages to foil Tyrion's too-clever-by-half sewer invasion plan by sending the bulk of her army to murder an old lady.
The good news? Jaime is the one who gets to do the murdering, and as a certified Reformed Bad Guy in Good Standing, he lets the Queen of Thorns take the (relatively) easy way out.
In a world in which revenge killing typically consists of beheading, flaying alive, hungry dog-siccing, stabbing-through-the-pregnant-belly, and/or slow neck slicing after force-feeding the blissfully-unaware-condemned his own relatives, a quick, painless poison-in-the-wine counts as a win.
Even when the elder Tyrell lets it slip that she killed Jaime's kid way back in season four, he chooses to sullen himself out of the room rather than revert to Cersei's original head-slicing plan.
Score one for that famous Lannister restraint!
Random Acts of Niceness
- I suppose it's nice that Bran complimented Sansa's dress, but did he really have to bring up her wedding day? Yeah, he wasn't around for the aftermath, but dude is all-knowing and all-seeing. Come on.
- It's cool that Archmaester Ebrose doesn't expel Sam from the Citadel. As long as the Xerox machine is up and running, Sam should be all good.
- Jaime Lannister actually sends his regards to Robb Stark. Nice of him not to hold grudges.
Whew. That was a stretch, y'all!
See you next week when hopefully someone picks Grey Worm up in a Jeep, Bronn stitches Randyll Tarly a lanyard for his broadsword, and Varys makes a friend who doesn't run around vaguely forecasting his doom. Should be fun!