While the older seasons took their time in setting the stage for many a payoff in Game of Thrones, we don't have such luxuries anymore. That explains the hurriedly short trial of Jamie Lannister right at the start of the episode. With that, all three Lannisters have been put on trial and the outcomes for all three have been based on one word, honour - individual, familial and perceived. But what also is interesting is that all three Lannisters have the same emotion that underpinned their trials, remorselessness. In stark contrast (pardon the pun) with Cersei's, Jaime's is probably the greatest redemptive arc we have seen in modern day television and every action of his in this remarkable episode affects us emotionally.
The heartfelt (and only) apology he makes ends with one of the most threatening reveals about his fate. Shocked, he still gathers the courage necessary to move on to the next. His repartee with Brienne of Tarth as they both discuss Podrick can as well be a metaphor for Jaime's arc too. But it doesn't stop there for Jaime and Brienne, who have one of the most brilliant scenes in the series history. It is interesting to note the parallels here. Remember the last time Brienne knelt before a man, one whom she loved, on the eve of the war? There is also a famous book easter egg dropped here in the form of Jaime doing the deed he does. It was much the same way he got his wish fulfilled at the hands of Ser Arthur Dayne, a Kingsguard for Aerys, the Mad King.
Aside from Jaime, this episode had a chock full of foreshadowing for Tyrion in particular. Getting called as a fool for the second week straight doesn't bode well for the man who 'drinks and knows things'. His words with Varys and Ser Jorah soon after doesn't sit well with a man who had found a new lease of life as the Hand of Danaerys Targaryen. Add to that him recalling to Jaime his season 1 wish of how he would like to die, things went dark quite fast for our favourite dwarf. But he dropped a stray sentence in the middle of the episode, where he proclaims that he believes 'we still may live through this' (the only one expressing that in a hopeful manner) and that combined with the rest of his actions only make me ask the question I didn't think I would - Is Tyrion working hand-in-glove with Cersei and is actually a traitor? There is one menacing line he utters about how he would treat Cersei after he meets her at King's Landing. What was the deal that took place in the season 7 finale?
Emotions were running high all episode. Tormund and Edd arrived quite early in the episode and told them they only have till sunrise to prepare their defenses. Soon after, we get numerous small moments that are so typical of Game of Thrones that you alternate between smiling and trying to hold back tears. Be it Sansa's emotional reunion, the meeting between the series' resident atheist and its fire sword toting messenger of god, the sword that Arya really wants from Gendry or the final stand of the remaining Night's Watch.
With the episode coming to its end, the show, just like they had promised in promotions prior, answered the question - who really is the Night King's target? The truth is revealed when the war council meets and puts an elaborate plan for its last stand at Winterfell against the army of the dead. But in true Game of Thrones style, just when you think the answers are all out there, in comes not one but three potential foreshadowings promising things will go absolutely awry. First is the multiple references to the crypts of Winterfell. Second is the final shot of the episode with one glaring omission. And third, and my most favourite, is the song that Podrick sings - Jenny's Song.
Every time a song from the ASOIAF book lore comes to the series, it has had a lasting impact. The Bear and The Maiden Fair in Season 2, Rains of Castamere in Seasons 2 and 3, The Dornishman's Wife in Season 5 and now Jenny's Song. It is the song of Jenny of Oldstones, a peasant girl for whom a Targaryen king threw away his right to rule, for the sake of love. When Pod (and later Florence and The Machine in the end credits) sings the song, the shots that followed reminded me the most of one particular song the most. Pippin's in Lord of The Rings as he sings to Denethor while Faramir goes to his death. Given GRRM's love for LOTR lore, I just hope that the next episode is more a Helm's Deep than Battle of Osgiliath. Either way, I think a lot of tears are guaranteed.
(This story originally appeared on cinemaexpress.com)