With not long to go before the end of series 7 (and not long until the end of Thrones proper), I review the best moments of an eventful run of episodes (so far). **Spoilers ahead.**
1) Daenerys at Dragonstone
Throughout a languidly-paced first episode which still managed to hold the attention, everything was leading to this. Daenerys Targaryen, many-monikered heroine of the series, reached her ancestral home. She has spent so much time in the desert generally not making much momentum that this felt important. Even the Mother of Dragons feeling the sand of her home had a significance to it. Then Thrones did its usual and made us impatient for the next instalment when she took an age to utter actual words, saying to Tyrion Lannister ‘Shall we begin?’
2) The Hound sees Red
Everybody’s favourite foul-mouthed fighter was back, here under the protection of the Brotherhood Without Banners, whose knack of not dying is almost as shocking as their portentous Lord-of-Light references. Suffice it to say Sandor Clegane was not much of a fan, as shown by his fruity tirades against Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. But then, when asked to look into the fire, he saw something. As it turns out, it heavily foreshadowed this week’s upcoming episode, but it only confirms that Thrones is not yet done with The Hound (there is even one theory that he is Azor Ahai). It will be intriguing to see what role he has to play.
3) ‘Fight Every Battle’
Silver-tongued strategist Littlefinger imparted yet more wisdom to Sansa Stark in a speech that could yet prove pivotal for her. ‘Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind,’ he says, and ‘Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.’ Whether she has the tactical brains to outlive her more headstrong relation Jon Snow is yet to be seen. On the other hand, most viewers of Thrones likely already know what they want to happen to Littlefinger.
4) Jorah and Sam
When, in second episode ‘Stormborn’, Samwell Tarly prised his way into Jorah Mormont’s greyscale, international viewers winced as one. The cutaway from that scene to the inside of a pie in a tavern is perhaps now disgusting and infamous in equal measure. And yes, Jorah’s being cured may have happened fairly swiftly over a couple of episodes, but let’s not quibble – that handshake felt truly earned. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Jorah and Sam together – but it’s Thrones, so who knows?
5) Bran v Littlefinger
Although only a footnote in fourth episode ‘The Spoils of War’, where altogether more explosive things took place, this remained an interesting moment. Resident Winterfell snoop Littlefinger took Bran Stark to one side to offer him help. Bran, being the powerful individual he now is, smelled an immediate rat. The look on Littlefinger’s face as Bran quoted his own line ‘Chaos is a ladder’ back at him was a picture. There’s the possibility that the devious manipulator may have met his match in the all-seeing young Stark.
6) Who Taught You?
Arya Stark is now back at Winterfell and has experienced a very frosty family reunion. But this scene, where she spars with Brienne of Tarth, shows just how far she’s come since she left the North. Always a spirited person, she wrongfooted Brienne very well here, and her response to who taught her, ‘No-one’, was both masterful and correct. It only set the scene for a likely imminent Stark showdown between her and Sansa. Sparks may yet fly before the series ends.
7) Mad Jaime: Fury Road
This is the moment everyone is talking about. Daenerys acted on almighty impulse and laid siege to the Lannister army when they were en route back to King’s Landing, culminating in a fiery end to ‘The Spoils of War’. After we didn’t think we could handle much more fire, fighting and big-crossbow-heroics from Bronn, Jaime decided to do something foolishly noble and charge at Daenerys. As Thrones does, leaving us uncertain of who to root for while leaving us rooted to our seats, this was a heart-in-mouth end to a thrilling episode.
8) We’ll Be Back In A Bit…
Finally (though perhaps somewhat spoiled by episode 6 leaking online), we come to this. The end of episode 5, ‘Eastwatch’, was another corker, with Jon Snow leading an expedition out beyond the Wall to capture a Wight to convince Cersei Lannister of the wintry threat. Snow, Jorah, Tormund, Gendry, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr and the Hound are out in the icy waste with a common cause, and Avengers and Suicide Squad comparisons have abounded. No matter what follows, this scene alone was quite – you’ll have to forgive me – cool.
Series 7 of Game of Thrones continues tonight and concludes on Sunday 27th August.