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Travels with my Aunt: The Queen’s Justice reviewed.

August 1, 2017

aunt

I was all gasped out by the end.  This was one of those rare episodes where every single scene was absolutely spell-bindingly gaspable.  When you think of the most memorable episodes of Game of Thrones, you tend to think of the obviously climactic ones involving massive great big battles – wildfire – massacre etc. etc. etc.   This was not one of those episodes.

This episode was different in that it wasn’t different – in that it contained the usual proportion of juxtaposed scenes and left us as unresolved at the beginning as we were at the end.  Yet each of these scenes felt like something very special in and off itself.  Even though the episode as a whole had no particular climax or direction, even though it was a portmanteau affair – a carrier bag for a number of necessary and synchronous narratives – the contents of this bag were very special indeed.

Irresolution can be remarkable if done right.  Melisandre (who is understandably hiding from both Jon and Davos and you’re left wondering if Dragonstone is big enough for her to hide effectively for any length of time), suggests that she is the one who finally brought fire and ice together.  And somehow, the predictable consequence of fire and ice being brought together being lukewarm water is itself fascinating.   Jon and Daenerys do not recognise their own kinship and form an intuitive alliance.  Nor does Daenerys throw Jon into a dungeon.  Instead, we have an extended period of awkwardness over protocol and sovereignty.  Nothing could ever live up to our expectations for the Daenerys-Jon meeting, and so we are given a delightful exercise in deliberate bathos.  Still, Jon’s going to be allowed to mine for Dragonglass.

But the gaspings just kept coming.  When Cersei mulls over (because she does a lot of thinking out loud) how to take revenge on her daughter’s murderers, somewhere, somehow, the ghost of Ramsay Bolton is applauding.  He himself could not have done better.  Yes, Cersei is capable of being Ramsay cruel – not just Joffrey cruel. Indeed, apart from incestuous sex, being Ramsay cruel is all she really has left to live for.  Somewhere in the Red Keep, there’s still a Septa being chained up and subject to regular visits from The Mountain.

So far, this year, Cersei has been winning.  Perhaps this is inevitable in terms of crafting a story arc for the remaining episodes, especially as Daenerys started off this season with infantry, cavalry, aerial, and naval supremacy.  Right now, she needs a win though.  Tyrion needs a win even more.  The strategic acumen of the mastermind of Blackwater Bay is looking more than a little rusty.  Perhaps he should go back to drinking a lot.  Perhaps it will help.

Meanwhile, back in Winterfell, Littlefinger’s sanity seems more than a little tenuous. Littlefinger appears to have performed the bizarre philosophical feat of transforming hard-headed realpolitik into a kind of mystical ideology.  His love of “the game” culminates in a speech which makes Sansa wonder if his attempts to see everything in the the world all at the same time has not resulted in his being unable to live on the same planet as anybody else.

And talking of seeing everything all at once – Bran arrives.  As Three Eyed Raven, he’s not one for hugs.  It’s not clear whether Sansa has actually recovered a sibling in any meaningful sense at all.

And pretty soon, we’re going to want some answer to a question that’s been bothering us for some years…  what bloody use is it, actually, being the Three Eyed Raven?  Bran’s mystical properties, his ability to transcend time itself, his holistic sense of all that has been, is, or can be… have yet to demonstrate that they can influence practical policy-making in any plausible way whatsoever?

Unless Bran’s highest purpose is to persuade a few other people to embrace human annihilation at the hands of the White Walker Apocalypse philosophically.

And finally, we have to say goodbye to Diana Rigg.  Could somebody cast her in something good, and quickly?  I’m not sure I can live without her withering put downs. When I was a child I saw her dispatch her enemies with high kicking martial arts moves. I’ve since grown accustomed (channel Rex Harrison’s sprechgesang) to her face, her steely stare,  and above all her barbed tongue. If Diana Rigg is not given filmic and/or televisual opportunity to continue delivering withering put downs very soon, humanity will be the poorer.

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