Like “Blackwater” and “Watchers on the Wall,” I expected the whole episode to stay grounded in and around Winterfell, providing the rare opportunity to focus solely on the characters in that location instead of jumping between an array of characters and locations. So I was surprised to see the episode partly in Meereen this week. This move ended up working well as we get the needed resolution (Daenerys finally using the three fully grown dragons and the entirety of her forces to defeat the Masters once and for all) and the next step in this storyline (Daenerys allying with Yara and Theon, gaining her first large group of Westerosi allies and getting the extra ships she needs to finally set sail for Westeros). While epic and crucial, both were fairly expected to happen. It was better to happen in an episode where those scenes didn’t need to be the huge punch. The huge punch was obviously provided by the battle for Winterfell between the forces led by Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton. What happened in Meereen was an epic addition to an already incredible episode.
In Meereen I was glad to see there wasn’t drawn-out tension between Daenerys and Tyrion as she grappled with whether or not she should forgive, punish, or reward him for how he fared representing her in her extensive absence. For a while now she’s known that one can never deal or reason with the Masters. In season 5 she executed the freedman (former slave) Mossador when he killed a captured Son of the Harpy who was supposed to stand trial. When talking about the Masters, Mossador said “All they understand is blood!” After the events in the fighting pit from “The Dance of Dragons” (5×09), Daenerys finally understood this, and in “Battle of the Bastards” applied Mossador’s philosophy against the Masters. Tyrion was left to deal with an impossible situation and it’s amazing he and Missandei and Grey Worm and Varys fared as well as they did. Daenerys wisely realizes that and thankfully keeps him as her trusted adviser. This is one way in which, despite the blatant foreshadowing, Daenerys is not like her father the Mad King (see “Blood of My Blood” 6×06 Review: Part 1 for more on the parallels between Daenerys and the Mad King).
As for the alliance forged between Daenerys and Yara (the flirtation between them was palpable) and Theon, the dialogue between the two parties and the pact itself speak volumes to how Game of Thrones has largely become a story of children trying to save the world from destroying itself and paying for the mistakes and or treachery inflicted by their parents. Ned Stark, Catelyn Stark (mistakes, not treachery for those two), Tywin Lannister, the Mad King, Balon Greyjoy, Roose Bolton (mistakes AND treachery for the four of them): Many of these characters were in this episode paying for their parents’ treachery or mistakes, and in all cases except Ramsay, were trying to save the world from destroying itself because of those actions.
Ultimately, this episode delivers on longtime promises. For fans of the books and the show, it’s beyond satisfying to see the Starks finally take back Winterfell and for Daenerys to assert her dominance as the Mother of Dragons. The North Remembers in an episode that is truly A Song of Ice and Fire.