‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Episode 5 – Eastwatch

“I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried.”

GOT Recap Eastwatch

Having a “belief” in Westeros is a powerful thing in Game of Thrones. It can help free you from a lifetime of slavery so you can make your own choice on who to follow or serve. It can make you forsake the gods of your ancestors in hopes of currying the favor of another god who can help you become king (or more likely, a god that sends you a seductive priestess that helps you murder your would-be rivals for the throne and is willing to get busy on the Painted Table). It can even lead you to leave your family, join a religious cult, and then wind up getting incinerated via wildfire by your cousin.

In “Winds of Winter,” Tyrion directly mocked the idea of belief by listing all of the things that people tried to get him to believe in but never took. Yet, the most important belief in Westeros right now comes down to one simple question: Do you believe that a massive undead army is coming and that the real war is between the living and the dead?

In “Eastwatch,” Danaerys, Tyrion, and the rest of the Targaryen entourage begin to seriously confront the looming specter that Jon and Davos came to Dragonstone to warn them about. Even though Dany’s entire life has been consumed by her desire to return home and rule the Seven Kingdoms, she has finally been convinced to put all of that on hold to deal with the real evil in the land. When Davos goes to King’s Landing with Tyrion, he hunts down Gendry, who easily decides to join Davos once the Onion Knight tells Robert Baratheon’s son that bad things are coming. At the end of the episode, Jon’s band meets up with Baric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, and The Hound, all whom trekked north to serve the Lord of Light by fighting the approaching White Walkers. In putting all these characters together, “Eastwatch” shows us that belief will get you to make, in the words of Tormund, some “stupid fucking ideas,” such as going beyond the Wall to capture a Wight, but it will also help you understand what the true threat is.

Gendry returns with his stag warhammer
Gendry returns with his stag warhammer

For others like Cersei and the ponderous maesters of the Citadel, self-interest and skepticism has blinded them to the true threat of winter and what is coming. For Cersei, her doubt as to the warnings from the North are deeply ingrained. Back in “The Night Lands,” from Season 2, Cersei scoffed at Tyrion giving credence to Jeor Mormont’s raven about dead men coming alive by castigating Tyrion for believing in “grumpkins and snarks.” For pretty much the entire show and really most of her life, Cersei has lived in the bubble of King’s Landing.

She has little concern for the North, its people, or its plight other than to make sure the North bends to her will. So, it’s unsurprising when she uses Dany’s offer of armistice while they deal with the White Walkers to form her plan to defeat Dany with subterfuge and hold onto the Iron Throne instead of actually helping protect the kingdom she wants to rule from the greatest threat it’s seen in thousands of years. Frankly, the entire plan concocted by Dany & Co. over the Painted Table is laughable as it depends on Cersei believing that the White Walkers are real. Until a White Walker strolls into the Throne Room, Cersei won’t care about defeating them, and it would only be to save herself, not the rest of humanity. Holding onto the Iron Throne and the power that comes with it is all she cares about. She’s willing to lie (possibly) about being pregnant again with Jaime’s child in order to keep him devoted and loyal to her. Why would having a member of the undead brought to her doorstep convince her to change her ways?

Cersei breaks the news to Jamie she's pregnant
Cersei breaks the news to Jamie she’s pregnant

With the maesters, not believing in the White Walkers or warnings from Winterfell is the product of not just doubt about magic and anything that comes with it, but also stronger belief in the maesters’ own self-importance. Even though Sam, a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch and the only person in the Citadel who’s even been close to the Wall or beyond it recently, pleaded with the maesters to believe him based on his own eyewitness accounts, the maesters could not and would not believe Sam because they cannot possibly see beyond their own immediate surroundings.

Despite being the purported keepers of knowledge and tasked with caring about the events and history of the outside world, the maesters dismiss the news from Winterfell as a ploy by Dany to take over Westeros rather than seeing the true plot at hand. Sam’s decision to leave the Citadel and Oldtown came after he realized that the so-called wise men of Westeros were not going to save anyone and that he had to stop reading about other people’s deeds and do it his damn self like he did with saving Jorah.

Sam and Gilly pour over scrolls in the Citadel.
Sam and Gilly pour over scrolls in the Citadel.

Ironically, Cersei and the maesters of the Citadel will likely live longer than many of our true-believer heroes, who set out beyond the Wall on the definition of a fool’s errand. By putting themselves in the definition of harm’s way, Jon and his band are risking their lives and future when the skeptics like Cersei and the maesters never would. Yet, the White Walkers will only possibly be defeated by people willing to believe and understand what the true threat is, not the cowards and cravens of the South.

Scrolls from a Raven

Quick Messages On Scenes from “Eastwatch”

  • Randyll Tarly being too stubborn, racist, and foolish to bend the knee to Dany in favor of standing behind Cersei, a woman who he blatantly criticized to Jaime and only agreed to follow like 15 minutes ago, and getting burnt alive was understandable albeit nonsensical. But Dickon (Rickon? Dickie?) throwing his life away and the possibility of being Lord Paramount of the Reach so he could be loyal to his father was beyond stupid. My guess is the main point of that scene, either than reinforcing how thick and dumb Dickon is compared to his brother, was to set the stage for Sam to one day be the Lord of Horn Hill as he always deserved.
  • Speaking of Sam, the reveal that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were actually fully married and that Jon was not born out of passion but the union of a highborn couple was ironic in that Sam blatantly ignored Gilly the same way he had been ignored by the maesters. It will be curious to see how the show has the truth about Jon’s parents finally revealed. However, I’m not buying that this creates a real issue about who is the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms. It may give Jon a greater bond with Dany, but even if Jon technically would have the better claim to the Iron Throne, no one is picking Jon over Dany when she has three dragons. Remember, Robert had no claim to be King of Westeros, but he took the Seven Kingdoms through force. People will follow the strongest leader regardless of the rights of succession, which are really just guidelines anyway.
  • It may have been a little convenient for some, but I loved the way Gendry was brought back into the fold to make an immediate impact. Great usage rate for the bastard son of Robert Baratheon, not to mention a hilarious meta joke about Gendry still being out there in the rowboat. With so few episodes left, there’s no time to waste, and it was great to see Gendry not only be ready to rock with a badass Stag warhammer of his own, but also be ready to follow Jon into the breach. The back and forth dialogue of Jon and Gendry was a fantastic callback to Ned and Robert busting each other’s balls back in Season 1. If the show doesn’t end with Gendry becoming lord of Storm’s End and helping Jon sit on the Iron Throne, I’ll be a bit bummed out.
  • WESTEROSI AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!! Once again, the show accelerated things by bringing Jon, Gendry, Davos, and Jorah from Dragonstone to Eastwatch in what would have taken probably a quarter of a season if it had happened earlier in the series. I would have been fine with additional GOT episodes in Seasons 7 and 8 if they had wanted to take a slightly slower pace because more GOT is always a good thing, but anyone truly bitching about the pace just seems like nit-picking at this point. What would you rather have: Waiting 2-3 episodes for some momentous stuff to happen or the show hitting the accelerator and bringing together eight fan favorites for a dangerous mission beyond the Wall? I was fist pumping when the gate was raised and they showed the whole gang lined up in Gordon Bombay’s flying V formation before heading into the winter storm, so you know what my answer is.

Contributed By: Scott Chandler


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