Recap: 'Game of Thrones' Season 7, Episode 5 -- big characters return

Although not the most action-packed episode to date, “Game of Thrones” still covered a lot of ground in Season 7, Episode 5. Battle lines were drawn, heroes united and a long-lost character made his triumphant return in “Eastwatch.”

[Spoiler Alert: The remainder of this article will discuss Season 7, Episode 5 of “Game of Thrones”]

Fortunately for those drooling for a resolution to last week’s big cliffhanger, things started off right where the left off, with Bronn pulling his pal Jaime out of the water. Not only are they both alive, but they managed to make it far enough away from the battle to evade capture. Bronn has a propensity for slipping through battles without dying, a quality he highlights by making it clear to Jaime that he can’t win and he won’t be around to lose to dragons with him.

Understandably shaken, Jaime makes the long trek back to King’s Landing where he has the unfortunate task of explaining to his sister that they can’t possibly win the war. This is extra hard new to take considering what Daenerys did next. As her hand, Tyrion, surveyed the destruction of his family’s army on the battlefield, his queen explained to her prisoners that they can fight with her or die.

Obviously that’s an easy decision for most who aren’t too filled with pride, but the Tarly family was on the field. Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon were taken captive and refused to bend the knee. Tyrion pleaded with them to preserve their household, but both men refused to betray another person they’ve pledged their loyalty to. With one incredibly violent and grisly breath from her dragon, the remaining Lannister and Tarly forces belonged to the dragon queen. The scene was definitely hard to watch, but it’s worth remembering that Randyll is the man who was incredibly cruel to Sam Tarly -- a man far better than he.

Game of Thrones 7E5

Speaking of Sam, he’s doing his absolute best at the Citadel. However, when news from Brandon Stark in Winterfell reaches them, he’s less-than-pleased with the archmaester’s reaction. He reminds them that it’s their duty to inform the people because they have a trust in the Citadel members. Still, they’ve heard too many uncredible threats to listen. Finally bored with grunt work, and not at all listening to Gilly, he decides that he’s fed up trying to get permission to save the world. He steals a few books and packs up his family into a wagon. He’s now completely AWOL from the Night’s Watch, but who isn’t these days?

Now, it’s worth briefly touching on his biggest flaw here, which was not listening to Gilly. If he had he’d have heard that Rhaegar Targaryen had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled. Soon after, he was married to another in a secret ceremony in Dorne. Any fan that’s been paying proper attention will understand the significance of this little piece of uncovered history. Rhaegar’s new wife is more than likely Lyanna Stark, Jon Snow’s true mother. If this is the case, that would mean Jon Snow is way more than just the King in the North. He’s got a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, possibly more legitimate than Daenerys’. He’s half Stark and half Targaryen in the eyes of history.

This is something that the dragon Drogon may have picked up on when he returned to Dragonstone and let Jon pet him rather than tearing him limb-from-limb. Honestly, he’s a brave man for not jumping immediately off that cliff. He and Daenerys talk, but it’s cut short by the return of an old friend. Jorah Mormont, having cured his greyscale, finally returned to service. However, the reunion is short-lived. Jon soon receives a raven from Brandon, who he thought was dead, informing him that Arya, who he also thought was dead, had returned home. This should have been a sweet moment for Jon, but the rest of the note’s contents were a huge source of bummer.

The army of the dead has reached Eastwatch and the war of the queens has to be postponed if humanity has any hope. Tyrion suggests that Cersei would be willing to understand the threat if she could see it. He suggests bringing her a single soldier as proof. With that, Davos takes him on a clandestine trip to King’s Landing, where Tyrion has a tense reunion with his brother, Jaime. The two haven’t seen each other since Tyrion killed their father. Needless to say, Jaime was conflicted. Before they can properly bury hatchets, the conversation turns to convincing Cersei that the real threat is marching from the north. However, when push comes to shove, Jaime’s honest attempt fails.

At the moment, Cersei is emboldened by her victories and understands that submission means giving Jaime over to a queen whose father he killed.

“So we fight and die or submit and die, I know my choices,” she says.

Besides, she has what she thinks are bigger fish to fry. She tells Jaime she’s pregnant with another one of his children, and that this time she’s not planning to lie about where it came from. They know the people won’t like it, but they don’t seem to care. It’s not like they’ve got a war going on or anything like that.

Meanwhile, Ser Davos took a little stroll to the blacksmithing district to find the long, long, long-lost Gendry. Fans may remember that Gendry is the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Stannis Baratheon tried to use him as a blood bank to do ritual magic for the Lord of Light, but Davos smuggled him out. He was last seen rowing a small boat on the open ocean. Now, he’s angry, yearning for adventure and armed with a beautiful warhammer that he is very much skilled in using.

In order to get Tyrion out, he has to use it on a couple members of the King’s Guard. Needless to say, he’s a good guy to have around in a fight, which is good news since that’s where he’s headed. As soon as he’s introduced to Jon, he reveals his identity to volunteer for the expedition beyond the wall. The hope is for Gendry, Jon and Jorah to link up with Tormund Giantsbane and go on a raid beyond the wall to capture a single soldier.

However, Jon’s extended trip away may not be the best for his claim as King in the North. The heads of the northern households are starting to get antsy, pledging themselves more to Sansa Stark than Jon. Having learned the value of patience, Sansa hears their complaints, but assures them that Jon is still the right person to follow. Arya takes issue with her understanding nature, arguing that she’s too soft on people that are seeking to betray Jon. The last time she saw her sister, she was a materialistic little pill. She has no idea of what Sansa has been through or what she’s learned, but she insists that her real goal is to seize power. Sansa doesn’t outwardly deny it.

Meanwhile, Arya’s mistrust takes her on a little journey around Winterfell, where she follows Littlefinger having secret meetings with the northern generals. Before retiring briefly to his room, he has the maester fetch him the only copy of some scroll in the archives. When Arya breaks into his room to find out what it is, she discovers that he’s hiding the letter that Sansa was forced to write after Ned Stark was beheaded.

It only appeared on screen briefly, but the letter encouraged the Starks to bend the knee to King Joffrey and claimed that Ned was a usurper to the throne. Obviously Sansa was under extreme duress when she wrote this, but that might not be enough of an excuse for Arya. Sadly, planting the seeds of distrust seems to all be a part of Littlefinger’s plan. However, between Brandon, Arya and Sansa waiting for him to make a mistake, he’s playing with fire.

The episode ends on a high note of adventure. At The Wall, Jon and his party find three more members, and they’re pretty fantastic. After looking into the fire and finding some faith in the Lord of Light, The Hound, Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion, all with the Brotherhood Without Banners, have gone north looking to serve. Despite Gendry’s warning not to trust the people who sold him to The Red Woman in the first place, Jon allows them to go given that they’re all on the side of the living. Together, the unlikely group of some of the hardest men in Westeros (plus a few of the freefolk as red shirts) venture north into the snow.