A central conceit of Game Of Thrones thus far is the tendency to make carefully laid plans – then watch as they all unravel. Except where Littlefinger is concerned.
Like a powerless Palpatine, Lord Baelish has been playing the chess pieces of Westeros in a manner that Garry Kasparov would no doubt nod in approval at. Having seen his machinations proceed as he has forseen, he is effectively now lord of the Vale, commander of the armies of House Arryn – and he apparently has his sights set on the Wall. Or has he? We can never tell with him.
But he’s not only the only one. Back up North, we’re privy to the first Stark family reunion of sorts between Jon and Sansa – which is every bit as heartwarming as you’d hope for from a show with few genuine moments of this. Then again, didn’t Jon leave at the end of last week’s episode?
However, this joy is short-lived when we finally see Game Of Thrones’ version of the ‘Bastard’s Letter’ – which in true Game Of Thrones fashion the showrunners manage to make even more graphic and horrifying than the one seen at the end of A Dance With Dragons. Having casually disposed of Osha (our initial happiness at seeing Natalie Tena return has now been stamped on. Boo to them), now Ramsay’s coming for Jon and Sansa. We sense a battle coming along.
Somehow, however, these aren’t the most memorable moments of the episode. No, these take place across the Narrow Sea, where Tyrion does what Tyrion does best: talk people into submission and appeal to their baser interests. He seems to be doing better on the diplomacy front that Daenerys did, although when Grey Worm worries, we worry.
Speaking of Daenerys, it turns out we may have been wrong to doubt her, as she demonstrates by casually decimating the entire Dothraki leadership. She’s been through a rough ride of late, but somehow manages to come out of the situation in an even stronger position than she was previously.
For the first time this season, it doesn’t feel like there’s a filler scene in the entire season – even arguably the least memorably seen, in which Theon has a not-so-happy reunion with his sister Yara, builds up the tension for what’s ahead. And we can’t wait to see what happens.