Game of Thrones season 7, episode 3 review and analysis - "The Queen's Justice"

In last week's Game of Thrones episode, one side drew first blood in the war for the Iron Throne. We saw that conflict escalate on multiple fronts this week, with plenty of tense moments and disturbing revelations to go along with them. What resulted was unquestionably the best episode of this admittedly young season thus far.

Beware: what follows after this paragraph are exhaustive and unabating spoilers for this week's Game of Thrones episode, The Queen's Justice. If you haven't watched the episode yet and you don't want the story spoiled for you, do not read past this paragraph. Consider yourself warned.


The Queen's Justice opens on Dragonstone, with Jon Snow and Davos Seaworth arriving to meet Daenerys Targaryen. Jon, of course, has an ulterior motive that goes deeper than just simply discussing the happenings of Westeros with Daenerys: he wants the massive deposits of dragonglass that lie beneath Dragonstone's castle. With that dragonglass, his army can craft weapons that actually harm the White Walkers, who are marching toward the Wall as all of this plays out.

Daenerys, on the other hand, doesn't take kindly to talk of Jon Snow being the newly appointed "King in the North." She wants him to bend the knee to her, becoming her Warden in the North when she reclaims the Iron Throne for the Targaryen name. As far as she's concerned, the North doesn't have its own king – it's under the control of the Iron Throne just as much as any of the other seven kingdoms in Westeros.

You probably can't find three more stubborn people in the entire Game of Thrones universe than Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen. As of the opening minutes of this episode, they are all in the same place – in the same room, even. Unsurprisingly, Jon Snow doesn't bend the knee to Daenerys and Daenerys does not commit to fighting the White Walker threat. Despite warnings from Melisandre earlier in the season, Daenerys doesn't seem to believe that the White Walker threat is real, and with Cersei practically a stone's throw away from Dragonstone, who can blame her?

Daenerys and Jon are at a stalemate. They both need each other, even though Daenerys at this point thinks that she has all the allies she needs. Beyond the dragonglass, Jon Snow needs more men to fight the White Walker invasion, otherwise the whole realm will be destroyed. When it becomes clear that Daenerys isn't going to pledge men to Jon's battle, he points this out, telling her that even if her campaign against Cersei is successful, she'll only be ruling over a graveyard.

This does little to sway Daenerys, and it isn't long before the two are interrupted by Varys. Daenerys tells Jon and Davos that they'll have food, shelter, and warm baths while they stay at Dragonstone, to which Jon responds by asking if he is now her prisoner. Daenerys tells him "not yet," and the two part ways for the time being.

Varys tells Daenerys of her fleet's defeat en route to Dorne. Varys doesn't know if Ellaria Sand, Yara and Theon Greyjoy, and the Sand Snakes have been killed or captured, but with only a few ships escaping and the rest burned in the Narrow Sea, things certainly don't look good. Of course, we know that Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene Sand have been taken captive by Euron Greyjoy, with the other Sand Snakes being killed in battle and Theon managing to escape.

Later, Jon Snow and Tyrion come across each other on the cliffs on Dragonstone, overlooking the Narrow Sea. Jon is despondent over the fact that no one will believe his warnings, while Tyrion said he came there to brood over the loss of his fleet and two of his allies. Tyrion, to his credit, does believe Jon Snow, and even though he explains why Daenerys is less willing to believe his story, he does ask Jon if there's anything he can do to help in the meantime.

In the next scene, we see Tyrion giving Jon's request for dragonglass to Daenerys. At first, Daenerys questions why she should even concern herself with Jon's desire for dragonglass, but Tyrion points out that Jon Snow and his army in the North are still potential allies – and they're even more critical now that Daenerys's fleet has been wiped out. Tyrion reminds Daenerys that she didn't even know the dragonglass was under Dragonstone, and that "giving him something by giving him nothing" may turn Jon Snow into an ally by the end of it all.

Daenerys agrees with Tyrion, and though she reminds Jon that she won't change her mind about taking the Iron Throne from Cersei or which kingdoms belong to that throne, she'll give Jon the dragonglass, along with whatever men and resources he needs to mine it. Jon asks if this means that she believes him about the Night King, to which she simply replies that he better get to work.

King's Landing

Across Blackwater Bay, in King's Landing, things are looking grim for some of Daenerys's allies. Euron Greyjoy marches Yara, Ellaria, and Tyrene through the streets of the city, leading them to the Red Keep. Once there, he offers Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei – the gift he promised her in the first episode of this season. Apparently, he has other plans for Yara, his niece who betrayed him by taking the Greyjoy fleet and pledging it Daenerys in season six.

Impressed by this gift, Cersei tells the crowd of onlookers that with the Euron in charge of the crown's fleet and Jaime leading the armies, she will bring stability back to Westeros. With one of her greatest enemies at her feet, Cersei certainly seems justified in this newfound confidence.

In the dungeons, we see Ellaria and Tyrene chained and gagged. Cersei is about to have her revenge on Ellaria for killing Myrcella, and given Cersei's penchant for brutality, it's not going to be pretty.

Cersei tells Ellaria that she has spent many nights lying awake and thinking about how she would exact her revenge. She could have Ser Gregor crush her skull like he crushed Oberyn Martell's all those seasons ago, or have him do it her daughter, Tyene. In the end, she says, those would have been too quick. They would have brutal, no doubt, but they would have been too quick for Cersei, who likes to watch her victims suffer.

It's then that Cersei kisses Tyene, and the method of torture becomes immediately clear: Cersei has just poisoned Tyrene using the same exact method Ellaria used to kill Myrcella. With Ellaria and Tyrene both chained to the walls of the same cell, Cersei promises that Ellaria will watch as Tyene succumbs to the poison and rots away into nothing but bone and dust.

After telling Ellaria that they'll force food down her throat if she doesn't eat and commanding that the guards change the touches every few hours so Ellaria "doesn't miss a moment," Cersei leaves the two to sit in that cell and wait for Tyene to die. If Ellaria and Tyene are going to get out of this, it seems like a miracle will have to happen.

After a... night of passion with Jaime (sparked by the fact that Cersei just sentenced someone to die, which makes it even more creepy), Cersei meets with a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos. We're reminded that the crown is heavily in debt, with no gold in its vaults after the carefree spending of Robert Baratheon. The Iron Bank knows about the war for the Iron Throne, and seems to be betting against Cersei in the conflict. In short, the Iron Bank is concerned that it won't receive the money its owed by the Lannisters, but without revealing her plan, Cersei promises that after a fortnight, she'll send this unnamed representative back to Braavos with her debt paid in full.


In Winterfell, Sansa seems to be ruling well in Jon Snow's stead, making plans to fill the castle's food stores for winter and outfit the knights defending the city for the increasingly harsh climate. Littlefinger, in his creepy own way, reminds Sansa that she shouldn't focus all of her attention on the conflict in the North, as Cersei will certainly be looking to take back Winterfell at some point in the future.

Though Sansa claims to understand how much of a threat Cersei is, their conversation is interrupted by a new arrival at the castle's gates. Sansa arrives there to find that it's her brother, Bran, who she hasn't had any actual contact with since season 1. Though she already knew that Bran survived Theon's hostile takeover of Winterfell, she had no proof that he'd made it to this point.

Their reunion is one that brings Sansa to tears, though Bran seems unmoved to be back in Winterfall. It's hard to fault him for this lack of emotion, seeing as he's been through so much. Not only has he survived the vicious cold north of the wall, but he's also lived through attacks by the White Walker while his friends sacrificed themselves to save him. Not only that, but he's looked into the past and witnessed things that will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on present-day Westeros.

Sansa, however, is clearly frustrated by this new, monotonous Bran, if not a little freaked out. Bran tells her that he's the Three-Eyed Raven now, and though he isn't able to explain what, exactly, that means, he does tell her that he thought she looked beautiful the night she got married to Ramsay Bolton. Bran, of course, was nowhere near Winterfell the night she got married, which is confusing enough for Sansa. Add to that the fact that her wedding night was a particularly brutal one, and Sansa loses her desire to catch up with Bran. She leaves him in the godswood to be alone with his thoughts.


In one of the more pleasant scenes of the episode, we find ourselves back in the Citadel with a fully healed but terribly scarred Jorah Mormont. As he's being inspected by Archmaester Ebrose, he makes up a story about how he simply started "feeling better," assuming it was because of the extra rest he received at the Citadel and the change in climate.

Archmaester Ebrose doesn't buy his story, but all the same, he releases him from the Citadel, noting that Jorah's Greyscale seems to be cured and that he's no longer infectious. Jorah thanks Sam for his help in curing his condition, and says that he'll return to Daenerys and help her with her campaign. Before leaving, he shakes hands with Sam, visibly relieved that he's able to touch another person again.

Sam later finds himself before Archmaestrer Ebrose, who is not fooled by the on-the-fly story Jorah tried to feed him. He knows that Sam was the one who performed the procedure to cure Jorah, despite the fact that Ebrose forbade it. Ebrose scolds him for this bit of insubordination, pointing out that he could have infected himself with Greyscale and put the entire Citadel at risk. Since that didn't actually happen, however, Ebrose goes easy on Sam, telling him that he should be proud of saving Jorah's life.

Sam is given little time to celebrate this victory, though, as Ebrose quickly tells him that he needs Sam to make copies of rotting scrolls and transcripts. "You were expecting a reward?" the Archmaester asks. "Your reward is not being immediately expelled from the Citadel."

Casterly Rock and Highgarden

Despite her loss on the Narrow Sea last week, Daenerys still pressed forward with her plan to have her Unsullied army attack Casterly Rock. The Rock is the ancestral home of the Lannisters, and by taking it, Daenerys and Tyrion hope to weaken the Lannister army while limiting bloodshed in King's Landing.

Tyrion explains the siege as we watch it play out. The walls of Casterly Rock are thick and the gates are impregnable. Normally, the Unsullied would have an uphill battle ahead of them, as they would need to scale the walls and attack the city that way. This is complicated by the fact that the Lannister army knows they're coming, and at 10,000 strong, they will put up a good fight.

The siege doesn't seem to be working in the Unsullied's favor, but Tyrion has a trump card up his sleeve. He explains that while his father designed that city from the ground up, he had Tyrion design the sewers – a low job for a low person. Tyrion, being the fan of carnal pleasures he is, used this to his advantage by connecting the sewers to a secret cove, allowing him to sneak women in and out of the city without drawing the attention of his father. An Unsullied squad led by Grey Worm use this secret cove to gain entrance to the city, killing the guards they encounter within and opening the gates for the rest of the Unsullied army to spill in.

The Unsullied easily dispatch the Lannister forces within Casterly Rock, taking the city quickly. There's something wrong, though: there were supposed to be 10,000 soldiers guarding the city, but only a fraction of that number were actually there. Grey Worm asks a dying Lannister soldier where the rest of the army is, only to then see that the ships the Unsullied army sailed in on are being destroyed by Euron Greyjoy.

We quickly discover where the rest of the Lannister army is. Before the Unsullied landed on Casterly Rock, Jaime Lannister mobilized most of his army and marched them to Highgarden, the home of the Tyrells. Highgarden's power lies in its money, not in its army, so the Lannister army takes the city with ease. We don't even get to see the battle play out, just an extended shot of Jaime Lannister walking to Olenna Tyrell's chambers after the battle has been won.

Instead of taking Olenna back to King's Landing to suffer under Cersei, Jaime pours her a glass of wine and poisons it, giving her a painless exit from the world. Cersei wanted to torture Olenna, Jaime says, but he talked her out of it, instead somehow convincing her to let Olenna die with dignity in her home. Before Jaime dumps the poison into Olenna's glass of wine, the two have a short conversation, in which Olenna says that she's sorry for helping Cersei spread her toxic influence across Westeros, and that one day, he'll be sorry too.

Olenna drinks her wine, but before she dies, she reveals to Jaime that she was the one who poisoned King Joffrey back in season four. Joffrey, of course, was not only Jaime's king, but also his son. "Tell Cersei," she says before Jaime leaves. "I want her to know it was me."

Analysis, predictions, and final thoughts

My, how the tables have turned. At the beginning of the season, Daenerys looked poised to take the Iron Throne with ease, but now, just two episodes later, she finds herself in Dragonstone without any of her allies or her Unsullied army. With the Unsullied ships destroyed and the larders in Casterly Rock empty, the Unsullied army will have to march back to Daenerys, who's on the other side of the continent. All Daenerys has now are her Dothraki riders and her three dragons, and those likely aren't enough to lay siege to King's Landing.

Cersei proved once again how ruthless and vicious she can be. She has little tolerance for those who won't bend the knee, and even less for those who are in open revolt against the crown. Barring some kind of deus ex machina moment, Ellaria and Tyene Sand will likely die torturous deaths in the dungeons of King's Landing. Olenna would have met the same fate if Jaime hadn't been able to convince Cersei to let he die in Highgarden.

Giving up Casterly Rock and marching on Highgarden was not only a brilliant preservation move on the part of Jaime Lannister, but one that will make the Lannisters immediately stronger. Remember, the crown is out of money and in severe debt to the Iron Bank, but by taking Highgarden, the Lannisters also take the immense wealth of the Tyrells. The Tyrells have more than enough gold in their vaults to wipe away the Lannisters' debt to Braavos, with enough left over to fund the ongoing war. In three episodes' time, Cersei has gone from a floundering despot at risk of losing her kingdom to the one holding all the cards, and this should be very concerning for fans who have been rooting for Daenerys since the start of the series.

Daenerys is in a bad spot right now, and her stalemate with Jon Snow isn't helping things. Daenerys, now more than ever, needs the support of the North if she's to take the Iron Throne, but she isn't going to get that support by demanding that Winterfell and the minor houses surrounding it bend the knee. The sooner Daenerys figures out that northerners are cut from a different cloth than those who enjoy the summer winds of the south, the better.

And yet, she may not need to. Bran Stark has now returned to Winterfell, and he knows a critical piece of information that has remained a secret for decades: Jon Snow is not Ned Stark's bastard child, but rather the son of Rehgar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Daenerys is not the last living Targaryen, as she claims in this episode, and instead has an unknown nephew in Jon Snow.

Their meeting in this episode is perhaps the most important meeting of the entire series thus far. A meeting of fire and ice, at last giving clear meaning to the title of the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Will the fact that Jon has Targaryen blood coursing through his veins mean that the two are headed for an alliance? It's hard to say, but considering that the North and Dragonstone need to ally if they're going to see either goal accomplished suggests that eventually Jon Snow and Darnerys Targaryen will see eye-to-eye.

Finally, even in victory, Jaime can't catch a break. Though his plan to give up Casterly Rock and take Highgarden worked out swimmingly for him, Olenna Tyrell steals his thunder by revealing that she was the one who killed his son, Joffrey. Before she reveals that, however, she tries to convince Jaime that his sister is a disease and must be stopped for the good of Westeros.

Jaime, obviously, doesn't outright agree with her, but we've seen hints during this season and the last that he already knows it. This conversation with Olenna could very well begin Jaime Lannister's redemption story, and it could ultimately end with him killing his sister to save King's Landing. This is all just a guess on my part, but I think that Jaime has a much more significant role to play in this conflict than we've been led to believe.


As sad as it is to say it, there are only four more episodes to go in this season. Daenerys has her back against the wall, Jon Snow can finally begin constructing dragonglass weapons and mobilizing his army to fight the White Walkers, and Cersei's scheming has been working out perfectly. Things are already coming to a head, and it won't be long before we have a winner sitting atop the Iron Throne.

What did you think of The Queen's Justice? Head down to the comments section and share your thoughts on the episode, along with any predictions you have for the rest of the season!