J and I enjoyed last week’s “Stormborn” as it both drove the plot forward at an explosive pace while offering something more for us to chew on as viewers. This week, the pace hasn’t let up — but “The Queen’s Justice,” alas, never digs deeper than the surface. In fact, the episode undercuts the enormity of many of its most significant moments with some level of disinterest.
This is most evident in the seminal meeting of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington). J and I discuss how little fanfare the showrunners pay to ice and fire finally meeting face-to-face. Their interactions are stiff and appropriate to their characters, but in a moment that seems so historically significant to the audience, it was an odd choice to play it down with romantic comedy-style humor — often courtesy of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage).
A similar scene plays out as Sansa (Sophie Turner) is reunited with her brother, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). Again, this is a dramatic and exciting moment for two Starks who have been kept apart almost since the beginning of Game of Thrones. I found it intriguing to see how Wright’s performance has evolved since day one, but his strangely detached approach to the Three-Eyed Raven, including his triggering reference to Ramsay Bolton, makes any sense of emotional satisfaction a difficult ask from the audience (or, indeed, Sansa).
Finally, I point out how tired I am of watching women being humiliated at the hands men on Game of Thrones. From Sansa’s treatment several seasons ago to Cersei’s walk of shame to now seeing Ellaria (Indira Varma), Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) beaten and bloody, the show seems to revel in this trope. J points out that this is to no ultimate purpose: this show isn’t about cycles of abuse and doesn’t seem to have any greater point in throwing these scenes at us time and again. It is, to be blunt, a cheap trick used in lieu of proper character development. Never is this clearer than the scene immediately after Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) victory lap, where Cersei (Lena Headey) exacts her revenge on the Sands in a clever and engaging fashion that doesn’t come at the expense of any character’s integrity.
Considering the above, you’d be forgiven for thinking we hated “The Queen’s Justice.” We didn’t. This episode was just a disappointing turn considering what has come before. Let us know how you felt about it in the comments!
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Tune in next week for our discussion of the fourth episode of Game of Thrones Season 7, “The Spoils of War.” Until next time!