Thoughts on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3, “The Queen’s Justice”

No delays this week, let’s get into the episode…

Overall:

As with last week, this episode felt super-uneven to me. There were some scenes that I liked quite a bit and others that were infuriating. But even more so than last week, I found myself constantly thinking “well, that’s not going to happen in the books” or “I don’t think that’s how this character is going to actually die.” And one of the real danger signs for me is that I could really feel the backstage gears and pulleys, that things happened in this episode – chiefly a string of implausible victories by the Lannisters – not because they were grounded in character or plausibility but because the showrunners need them to happen to raise tension as to whether the “good guys” (ever more foregrounded as Jon, Dany, and Tyrion) are going to succeed ahead of this season’s equivalent of the Battle of the Bastards.

Dragonstone:

These scenes I genuinely liked, in no small part because they felt politically accurate. Here are two sides, both with deep-seated grievances against one another, with overlapping but divergent interests, trying to feel their way to an alliance: the conversations ought to be awkward and driven by a fair bit of tension between the principals, however much they unsubtly signal about Jon’s Targaryen heritage with that “I’m not a Stark” SUDDENLY DRAGONS OVERHEAD business.

A couple things I noted about these scenes:

  • It was quite interesting that Dany actually said she was raped, because her treatment at the hands of Khal Drogo has always been a contentious issue both in the show and in the books, and so having a very definitive statement about how she viewed her lived experience was good.
  • While I liked how focused Jon was on the Army of the Dead, I did feel like he could have done a better job selling it: explain about the Ranging to Hardhome, or the Fist of the First Men, or why the wildlings attacked the Wall. Maybe mention the fact that JON CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD. (Felt like they were holding that back for some reveal, especially with Dany noticing the line about the knife in the heart, but why?)
  • Melisandre and Varys was a bit weird, didn’t really buy that Melisandre is going to fuck off to Volantis so it was good to have that moment where she steps back into her wheelhouse of mysticism by predicting both her and Varys’ death.
  • I thought Tyrion was actually quite good in terms of managing Jon and Dany, finding a grounds however slender for cooperation and doing a bit of legitimate conflict resolution work.

King’s Landing:

Here’s where my head damn near exploded. After establishing quite clearly that everyone knows that Cersei burnt down the Sept of Baelor, now we get cheering crowds applauding Euron Crowseye? There should be riots in the street, or at the very least ominous crowds barely held back by the gold cloaks. The lack of any kind of continuity when it comes to public opinion and political support really does show a stark difference between Benioff and Weiss – who think of the smallfolk as easily swayed dupes – and GRRM, who goes into great detail about their political ideas and actions.

That being said, I did find Euron’s scenes both during his parade and in the throne room rather funny if a bit gross (and I don’t imagine BookEuron would be quite so easily fobbed off with “after the war” promises).

The scene between Cersei and Ellaria/Tyene was, however powerful, dragged out to quite unpleasant lengths, and while I get that they’re trying to emphasize the horrible lingering nature of Cersei’s planned torment of Ellaria, it began to feel gratuitous, especially when you throw performative lesbianism on top of murder and torture. This is one of the scenes where I really felt like “well, this isn’t happening in the books” – if for no other reason than Ellaria isn’t going anywhere near King’s Landing, book Tyene is way too smart to be caught like this and is going by land anyway, and Euron’s busy over in the Reach.

(Don’t really have anything to say with Cersei’s murder boner dub-con instant ass-shot and blowjob scene with Jaime, other than that foreplay is still a thing ,Cersei, and that the ongoing normalization of incest makes no damn sense.)

I also had a real problem with the Iron Bank scene, starting with that nonsense about the Sept being a tragic accident. You can’t have things both ways; either even common soldiers and inn patrons know she blew it up deliberately or it’s a plausible deniability scenario, but not both. Much more problematic is the assertion that the Iron Bank of Braavos invests directly in the slave trade. I’m sorry, but the First Law of Braavos is enforced quite strictly – hence Braavos forcing Pentos to end slavery as a major foreign policy objective, hence the Sealord of Braavos seizing ships in harbor because they held wildling captives. While there might be an argument that. on a continent where most of their neighbors are slave societies, the Braavosi can’t extricate yourself from the broader slave economy, or that the Iron Bank and Braavos are not identical (more problematic when you consider that keyholders of the Iron Bank elect the Sealord) that’s not what Benioff and Weiss wrote.

Winterfell:

It was good to see Sansa being a competent ruler in terms of managing Winterfell’s logistics (and I really appreciated the return of the idea that Winterfell is the common refuge of the North, since that fits in with my theories about Northern political development), even if the leather on breastplates thing made no sense. I was less impressed by Littlefinger’s zen koans, because as cool as his little speech about Batman Gambitting his way through life (however actually impossible in real life, risk is not the same thing as systemic uncertainty) was, we’ve seen Littlefinger get completely blindsided way too often to buy what he’s saying.

The reunion between Sansa and Bran was quite heartwarming, and I generally like Aloof Mystic Bran…except that instead of telling Sansa something important, like about Jon Snow’s true parentage for example, Bran decided to bring up Sansa’s wedding/rape which is just really creepy. Yes, I get they were trying to get across the “seeing through weirwood eyes” since Sansa was standing in front of the weirwood when she was married, but still!

Oldtown:

Jorah going into “spontaneous remission” was funny, Jim Broadbent is the best eye-twinkler in the world, but other than that, a bit perfunctory.

Casterly Rock:

Well, I’m glad Joanna Lannister is happy about the reveal of Casterly Rock, but I was substantially less impressed. Casterly Rock is a goddamn mountain that’s taller than the World Trade Centers and seven miles long, not a modest castle on a cliffside.

On to the battle itself: I quite liked the whole “battle that never happened” business as a way to fake out the watcher, and I liked Tyrion’s use of the sewers to take the castle bloodlessly. So props there.

However, I had bigger problems with two issues: first, it’s been well-established in Season 3 that losing your home castle is a huge blow to your political legitimacy. Why the hell all of the sudden would it be acceptable for the Lannisters to lose Casterly Rock? Why would their soldiers march and fight for them when their homes are left undefended? Again, I feel like there’s a basic lack of world-building consistency that’s been allowed to persist so that the authors can do what they want plotwise.

Second, Euron’s fleet actions are flatly impossible. We know where Euron’s fleet was this episode – with him in King’s Landing – and yet somehow he managed to make it right past Dragonstone  in the Gullet and then all the way around Westeros to Casterly Rock (despite leaving a whole episode later than Grey Worm’s fleet) without Grey Worm’s ships ever spotting him? I’m sorry, the curvature of the earth does not work that way – you can’t stay out of sight on a clear day and still be close enough to suddenly jump your enemy’s fleet, you’d need to be a considerable distance away and you would be spotted ahead of time. I guess they really are making Euron the new Ramsay, because his Magic Fleet is starting to resemble Ramsay’s twenty good men, and not in a good way.

Highgarden:

Another bit that raised my blood pressure. No way in hell Highgarden is taken by 10,000 men, Randyll Tarly or no Randyll Tarly. Mace Tyrell kept 10,000 men as his reserves in the War of Five Kings, let alone the tens of thousands of bannermen who Olenna had been mobilizing for war since last season.

This is where I really felt both the gears going and the “this isn’t happening in the books” at the same time. It’s blatantly obvious that this scene happened for little reason other than to raise the stakes for the “good guys” by giving the “bad guys” Plot Armor until the big battle of the season. Likewise, I don’t buy that, in the books, House Tyrell is going to be destroyed at the hands of the Lannisters, or indeed by anyone else. They may go through some tough times, but I think Garlan and Willas are being positioned to be part of the generation tasked with rebuilding Westeros after the Second War for the Dawn.

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71 thoughts on “Thoughts on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3, “The Queen’s Justice”

  1. Murc says:

    And one of the real danger signs for me is that I could really feel the backstage gears and pulleys, that things happened in this episode – chiefly a string of implausible victories by the Lannisters – not because they were grounded in character or plausibility but because the showrunners need them to happen to raise tension as to whether the “good guys” (ever more foregrounded as Jon, Dany, and Tyrion) are going to suceed ahead of this season’s equivalent of the Battle of the Bastards.

    This is one of the ongoing cardinal sins of the show, especially as it creates ever-more of its own materiel.

    It’s the television equivalent of having your stage crew wearing garishly-colored clown outfits with floppy feet instead of ninja suits. They’re making shit that’s supposed to be invisible highly, gratuitously invisible.

    The lack of any kind of continuity when it comes to public opinion and political support really does show a stark difference between Benioff and Weiss – who think of the smallfolk as easily swayed dupes – and GRRM, who goes into great detail about their political ideas and actions.

    It doesn’t seem to occur to Benioff and Weiss that you can be easily swayed dupes in some ways and still retain agency and have your own political and moral ideas and actions that you’re deeply invested in.

    It seems like to them, you’re either a sheep or a wolf. There’s no room for middle ground. It’s very Randian in some ways.

    While there might be an argument that. on a continent where most of their neighbors are slave societies, the Braavosi can’t extricate yourself from the broader slave economy, or that the Iron Bank and Braavos are not identical (more problematic when you consider that keyholders of the Iron Bank elect the Sealord) that’s not what Benioff and Weiss wrote.

    As one of the guys making that argument, I quite agree here: the Iron Bank being direct investors in the slave trade is total bullshit in the context of the books. I would be very surprised if the Iron Bank didn’t have significant investments in, say, Myrish lacemaking enterprises that are operated by slaves, or if they’d extended lines of credit to businessmen who are in the slave trade, but have exposure to the trade itself directly? Braavos wouldn’t stand for that, I don’t think, even if the Iron Bank tried to argue “we don’t bring any of these slaves to Braavos, so the law is upheld. What’s the big deal?”

    That doesn’t mean it can’t be changed, of course, because the books are not the show, but… what precisely are we gaining with this complete 180 here? Is it to give us ruthlessly amoral capitalists as a villain? Because, you know, on their side if that’s the case, but again, to what end? The Iron Bank in the books is involved in some fairly complex and tricky real economy and political economy questions. What’s their point in the show if they’re just part of Team Establishment Fuckery? Because Team Establishment already has its own shit going on. What additional shit does the Iron Bank bring that justifies making such a big change?

    Casterly Rock is a goddamn mountain that’s taller than the World Trade Centers and seven miles long, not a modest castle on a cliffside.

    To be more fair to the show than maybe it deserves, the castle was far from modest. If that thing existed in the real world in the context of western Europe that would be a grandly huge castle that probably took decades to build, a major fortress and seat of kings. Even in the context of a continent that boasts Storm’s End and the Eyrie, show-Rock would still be a grand and glorious seat.

    It’s only modest in comparison to the Rock that should be.

    • Brett says:

      It seems like to them, you’re either a sheep or a wolf. There’s no room for middle ground. It’s very Randian in some ways.

      It would fit with the obvious fondness they have for the Lannisters. Haven’t they praised Cersei’s supposed political acumen in interviews?

      What additional shit does the Iron Bank bring that justifies making such a big change?

      Over-the-top upping of the stakes, I think. Apparently they need to make Dany as much of an underdog as possible, maybe come up with a plot contrivance to get some of the Vale armies to march south from Winterfell, before they can get on with it.

      Having taken a look at the Show-Rock again over at Lady Joanna’s blog, you know what’s funny? The castle itself (not the location) is a lot like how imagined Highgarden looking. Throw that castle on a hill, surrounding it with a giant hedge maze, and call it “Highgarden” – and I would be praising.

      • Murc says:

        Throw that castle on a hill, surrounding it with a giant hedge maze, and call it “Highgarden” – and I would be praising.

        Brett, your words are very pleasing words to read.

      • Wat Barleycorn says:

        Agree on the Lannister fetish. And they compliment Tywin!

    • artihcus022 says:

      My big problem with the Show stating the Iron Bank is in the Slave Trade is this:

      1) Dany ended the Slave Trade at the end of Season 6. She renamed Slaver’s Bay to the Bay of Dragons and suppressed Volantis and the other cities. If the Iron Bank was affected then they should have acted then when there was something they could have done and not in this much later stage.

      I mean more or less they are saying we are going to punish Daenerys for messing with us, which is not the actions of a self-identified rational actor but a revanchist racist cabal which the Iron Bank is not established as being.

      2) Revolutions may be bad for business, but again here the revolution affected Volantis who is a geopolitical rival for Braavos. Why the hell would the Braavosi not profit from Volantis’ downfall? Geopolitically and logistically, it makes zero sense.

    • Yeah, the pulleys and levers backstage really should never be seen.

      Not sure if pseudo-Randian or pseudo-Machiavellian, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they completely missed that Machiavelli actually argues for regimes based on popular support rather than elite support…

      I think we’ve come to consensus on the Iron Bank – we know from the books at least that they certainly lend to other banks which do invest in slavery, so they don’t have totally clean hands, and Braavos certainly conducts in a fair bit of trade with slave societies, so I doubt they ban all slave-made products from their markets.

      Eh, I don’t feel the show has ever done a great job selling the super-crazy castles, except for maybe Harrenhal.

  2. The show is getting increasingly hard to watch.

    One thing that irked me slightly was Sam and Jorah parting ways after the surgery. I’ve been listening to the Storm of Swords audiobook, and just heard the Sam chapter on the mutiny at Craster’s Keep. As Lord Mormont is bleeding out in Sam’s lap, his dying wish is for Sam, if he ever runs into Jorah, to let him know that he is forgiven, and that he should take the black. You’d think maybe this might have come up, at least a little? Nope.

    Especially for a book series that spends so much time disguising itself as a travelogue, this recent advent of teleportation in Westeros is jarring. Especially in comparison to the first couple of seasons, where the plot was tightly defined and there wasn’t much room for freelancing, the deficiencies of the showrunners and writers sticks out more and more as they fumble off into the unknown.

    • Sean C. says:

      Lord Commander Mormont’s last words weren’t in the TV series, so there would be nothing for Sam to mention to Jorah.

      • Jane P. says:

        A good point. I’m a huge book fan, but as GRRM himself pointed out, this is fiction; there is no right version (at least between the author-sanctioned universes). Show!Commander Mormont is not its book version. Neither is Show!Iron Bank, nor Show!Casterly Rock.

    • I made the same mistake re Jeor’s last words in the show.

      Yeah, it feels like they’ve really thrown off any caution they used to have about the old teleportation and distances are now merely a matter of plot convenience.

  3. Trevor says:

    I do not get the Iron Bank scene at all, and the frantic handwaves at slavery make no sense and do not inspire confidence that B&W will be able to handle that subject in Confederates at all.

    That said, Cersei has some arguments at her disposal. One could point out that if Daenerys Targaryen sits the Iron Throne and the Iron Bank comes to call in the debts Dany will almost certainly argue that those loans were made to the usurper Robert Baratheon and heirs, who killed her father, brother and house and thus she has no responsibility to pay them back in full. The survival of the Baratheon/Lannister (weird that the Lannister Lion is not the sigil in KL in the credits) dynasty is really the best hope the Iron Bank has for full repayment of their loans.

    But instead there’s some vagaries about slavery and suddenly the bank is on her side. Because when one says to loan sharks and repo men that things are a little tight right now but you promise to get them their money eventually, they are instantly understanding and indeed offer to help you out until you get back on your feet.

    • Jim B says:

      I felt like Cersei was sort of implying that Dany wouldn’t honor the Robert-incurred debts to the Iron Bank, but I may have been giving the show too much credit. Pounding that point home harder would have made more sense than the slavery angle.

      I can’t remember the origin of this, but there’s a saying that goes something like: if you owe the bank a million dollars, that’s your problem; if you owe the bank a hundred million dollars, that’s the bank’s problem.

      • Edward Murphy says:

        The quote’s from John Maynard Keynes, and its one which the late Queen Mother’s death proved quite true, as her account with Coutts was famously overdrawn into the millions (the Queen’s remark on said overdraft ‘Coutts would have folded long ago but for Mummy’s overdraft.’, #lifegoals), and was only mentioned to her with great timidity

    • See, that would be a better argument, but Cersei didn’t use it. She could also have mentioned the total loss of the IB’s investment in Stannis, but again…

  4. rewenzo says:

    Thinking about Euron’s magical teleporting fleet, maybe he split up his incredibly enormous fleet last episode and sent half of them to Casterly Rock on the off chance that the Unsullied would show up there? But then why not just attack the Unsullied so that you save the Rock from falling in the first place?

    The problem with Euron’s fleet is that they’re the Spanish Inquisition. They just show up everywhere and anywhere. Everything’s going well for Dany at the Rock? THE FLEET. Yara and Elllaria are chilling on the way to Dorne? THE FLEET. I half imagine Arya will be walking into Sansa’s embrace at Winterfell next week when out of nowhere THE FLEET shows up via some kind of fjord or inlet. At least Monty Python had the courtesy to show the Spanish Inquisition get on a bus to the Old Bailey so you could see them travel.

    As regards the Tyrells, where is their army supposed to be? Are they marching for King’s Landing? Were they on the Greyjoy ships? Don’t they command a ginormous army? Where is it? I’m also aggrieved that Benioff & Weiss think that the Reach is incapable of fighting. Why would they have the Continent’s largest army and navy and be the seat of chivalry, including having famous knights like Loras Tyrell, if they sucked at fighting? Does Randyll Tarly also suck at fighting? What about when they beat Stannis at KL?

    It seems kind of cruel to torture Ellaria like that, but to be fair, killing Myrcella was a huge dick move too.

    In the show, who does Jaime think did kill Joffrey?

    I think Jon wanted to hold off on the “I was dead” thing because (a) it adds another unbelievable element to his story and (b) if he’s warning about an army of the undead, him technically being undead unnecessarily complicates the issue.

    On the other hand, the show has been maddeningly ambiguous about (a) who knows Jon came back from the dead – like, does Sansa know? and (b) who believes it?

    Like, the commander of the night’s watch being murdered and rising from the dead and leaving the Watch should be news in Westeros. There should be a basic question as to how Jon was able to leave the Watch in the first place. But nobody seems to care.

  5. Thrasherlisk says:

    It’s annoying when it happpens in the books, and there Martin at least does a halfway decent job of trying to justify it, re: bullshit military actions meant to hinder the heroes. Here it’s just “hey, two of the most formidable castles on a continent ruled by people who judge individual worth based on how formidable your castle is were taken by storm in less than a day, each. Oh, and btw, Euron installed teleporters on all his ships. Get rekt, Unsullied.”

    Also, I know I’m late to the party on this, but they’ve really totally derailed Jaime Lannister’s character arc. And I don’t just mean in the sense of deviation from the books. They’ve basically gone backwards on the first four seasons of character development.

  6. Ethan says:

    I thought Jaime’s explanation for allowing the capture of Casterly Rock seemed really smart. Without food they can’t hold the castle, and now that their fleet’s been drawn out and destroyed they have to march across a hostile Westerlands and possibly hostile other kingdoms to get back to Dany, starving and being attacked the whole way. Seems legit.

    • Brett says:

      That didn’t bother me that much, either, although Steven does make a good point about the symbolic blow of losing your seat. I’m just going to assume (probably without reason, because I doubt the show-runners thought of it) that Jaime also burned any crops that weren’t already gathered in for winter, and all the neighboring lords as well as Lannisport have closed their gates in preparation for attack.

    • Although as people have pointed out…there’s going to be food in Lannisport.

  7. Steven Xue says:

    This episode was pretty disappointing. I expected the show to have made Highgarden and Casterly Rock look more impressive than what we were given. If that castle was all they had to work with, why not turned it into Lannisport instead? As for Highgarden, couldn’t they have used a renaissance palace or some place that has a lot of flora instead? With the show’s budget and notoriety, I think they could have gotten any place they liked to film.

    I did like the interactions between Dany and Jon. Jon meeting Dany was the highlight of this episode for me. Benioff and Weiss at least did a good job in building the tension between the two based off the historical grievances between their families, yet they are still trying their best to find common ground and work together against their mutual enemies. I wonder if this is setting the stage for a romance between the two?

    Now as to why there isn’t upheaval in King’s Landing and perhaps other places still sworn to the Iron Throne. The way I see it Cersei is playing innocent when it comes to what happened at the Sept of Baelor. She could have if she’s clever pinned it on Dany since killing people with wildfire was her father’s favorite past time, and she has been propagating the myth of how much in common Dany has with her mad father. As for the smallfolk, well if they just conquered the Reach then Cersei could have shipped loads of food back to King’s Landing and is winning over the people with entertainment and excessive feasting to celebrate their recent victories. Lets face it enough food in their bellies and lots of distractions can make the downtrodden forget the horrible things their rulers do.

    Now as to why the Tyrells were beaten so easily. The way I see it with Mace and his children now dead and Olenna being what’s left of their house. Many Reach lords may have come to the correct assumption that the demise of the Tyrells is a foregone conclusion, and therefore they no longer have a stake in serving this soon to be defunct house. I really don’t think Randyll for instance turned his coat out of greed or opportunity but rather believing that with no other Tyrells around and Olenna unlikely to live for many more years and even more unlikely to continue the line, it would be better not just for himself but also the Reach if he were to take Jaime’s offer, help him take the Reach and secure his position as the new Warden of the South so that when Olenna dies there won’t be a lot of infighting in the Reach over who should become their new overlord.

    • Brett says:

      That would be at least an interesting twist on the Reach element. Maybe Lady Olenna was offering troops and support to Daenerys she didn’t really have, since few of them were there to defend Highgarden when the time came.

      • Jim B says:

        That would require one hell of an explanation, though. The Tyrells didn’t really suffer many casualties in the War of Five Kings: their forces spent the first part of the war holding tournaments with King Renly, then they show up at King’s Landing in time to catch Stannis’s already badly-damaged army by surprise.

        I know Mace Tyrell brought a bunch of troops into King’s Landing when he was demanding Margaery’s release, but even if they all stuck around, and all of them were killed in the Baelor’s Sept explosion, that surely isn’t anywhere close to the strength of House Tyrell.

        • Murc says:

          Yeah, in both the books and the show the Tyrell’s have barely gotten their hair mussed. The Reach should still be capable of putting forth a TON of armed men.

        • Trevor says:

          The Lannister Army is literally down to Ed Sheeran at this point. They’ve been mobilized since S1, fighting the Starks, the BWB, Stannis, the Tullys, etc. in that time. They’ve also marched to Riverrun, to KL, back to Riverrun for the siege and now down to the reach. It’s logistically impossible.

          On the other hand, the Tyrell armies have not been in any of the major battles we’ve seen on screen, and the whole host couldn’t have fit in the Sept of Baelor. But, if they didn’t have any scouts informing them an army was marching from KL, they maybe deserved to get the total beating they received.

          But that’s logic talking. Steven is right. Stakes need to be raised for the Battle of the Queens later in the season. With the status of forces at the end of S6, there’s no way Cersei could slow Dany down, even in the magical faerie land where no one holds Cersei responsible for the Sept Explosion. But there’s no tension in a rout when the protagonist’s side has overwhelming numbers and hasn’t alienated their allies. So instead of putting a thumb on the scales, the show has put metal plates on them.

    • The problem with Cersei playing innocent is that they’ve already established the exact opposite.

      And again, if any of these were the case, they ought to have been explained at the time.

  8. olisimpson88 says:

    I think the main word I found about much of this episode was… underwhelming. Years of waiting for the main three characters to be in the same scene, at the same point and so on. And the show somehow for me made it feel very flat. None of the three felt emotive in the scene, no mention of the fact either Lyanna or Rhaeger during the meeting by anyone. Along with the context of her kidnapping that led to the whole rebellion happening in the first place.

    Which is nonsensical considering that Jon is the result of their actions, and they need to be building up to him finding it out beyond a dragon flying over him.

    Nor of Jon making the case as to why the north declared independence in the first place, and that the vale support him as well. This was a moment that should have Jon acting as the king and making his peoples case and what he saw at Hardhome, learnt from Mance and came back from the dead. Or mentioning Maester Aemon and his letters.

    Hell that Stannis came to the Night Watch’s aid via Davos, but that would require D&D to actually acknowledge him in any way, which they don’t so.

    And yet he came off as if he had never done this before with the way his body language was in the meeting. The tension about the history between Stark and Targaryen made sense, but lord I felt this scene really felt a massive stretching on the thumb scale of rule of drama and conflict/idiot ball to prevent them getting to the big plot points.

    Not for the last time they would do this in this episode to keep Cersei as a threat or other stuff that still have my blood boiled even now.

    Yeah, Dany actually saying drogo raped her was good in reminding people of her suffering and what Varys and Viserys put her through by selling her to him. Shame none of this got referred to in the last episode, nor was Clarke (as often in the show) allowed to give emotion that the dialogue needed.

    The Varys and Mel scene felt pure fanservice that added nothing to either the episode or character. Along with giving a hand wave as to why Varys wasn’t in the meeting until the plot called for it, considering that he knows Robert and Ned called off the assassination of her in Season One.

    Kings Landing stuff, It’s just typical D&D bending of lore etc. to favour what they want the plot to be at (all iron bank stuff, which again they never set any ground work for them having anything to do with the slave trade) and continued assassination of Jaime’s character and arc.

    At least Irma is free to finally do better stuff than the stuff she’s gotten these last few seasons. Again D&D think by brutalising scrappies, they are doing good. Making your scrappies suffer doesn’t excuse your poor writing in the first place.

    Along with how much they are still stalling the pacing at this point. Christ does this show really drag itself at times.

    Casterly Rock and Highgarden stuff, again so underwhelming with how they are portrayed and so illogical on many levels on keeping Cersei and co as threat to Dany via Plot Armor that I just starred blank despite Dianna and Niko acting the hell out of their scenes.

    GRM had his thumb on the scale for ACOK for Winterfell and Blackwater, but this sort of writing is just so frustrating.

    Sansa is finally allowed to actually be smart and do stuff other than glare and spite Jon. Littlefingers dialogue was one of those D&D lines they posture as being so witty and clever when it’s just nonsense. He adds nothing at this point to anything.

    Loved the Stark music remix of Sansa and Bran reuniting. Along with Sansa asking Bran sensible stuff at the weirwood tree. I really couldn’t understand why Bran was so aloof and emotionless here. That and being the three eye raven doesn’t get him out of that he’s Ned’s last natural son and heir. But of course the show wouldn’t actually answer that question.

    What with how last season had bastards claim titles and powers without so much as an eye blink.

    The WTF moment was Bran bringing up Sansa wedding night, I mean of all the things he could have said, he referred to that for… what exactly? What does that achieve in the plot other than Bran is acting creepy now? When there wasn’t any sign of this last season. Like the Arya stuff last episode, the writers are just bending characterization to fit their writing.

    Got nothing on Jorah and Sam stuff, just felt there.

    All in all, an episode that frustrated me as the show sadly does too often in the last few seasons, and somehow manage to be underwhelming at the same time to me with stuff that should have landed.

  9. djinn says:

    Is it just me or JSnu seems to be just as stupid as Joffrey? Delivers himself as a hostage to a Targaryen Queen, bring little to no men to mine dragonglass, doesnt use his ressurected status or direwolf companion to impress his counterpart, doesn’t have a consistent argument for a alliance pre-made. Ygritte was right!

    I have to say, Davos is a very calm person, if i was confronted with the person that had my son killed(Tyrion), i would’ve been far less sanguine about it. Davos still remembers that he had a son, right? Brienne was more loyal to Renly then this.

    The KL situation is absurd: the UKIP bombed the Vatican, killing the Pope and the Italian Prime Minister, the Italian President has comitted suicide, and now Farage has declared himself President of Italy with the loud cheers of the population, while he has a public affair with his sister.
    Compare KL in S7 with S2 is like haiku poetry with amazonian rubber production, no relation whatsoever.

    Things Branbot couldve talked about: JSnu parentage, LF role in Ned’s death, Arya’s exploits, Lannisters plans, WW army location…

    So Robb loses WF, hes the King that lost the North. Why does the fall of CR doesn’t do the same to the Lannisters? Is this like the Patriarchy, Feudalism, Travelling technology, Northern memory, foods supplies lines, Moat Caillin situations?

    Didn’t the Tyrell army trashed Stannis at the Blackwater battle led by Loras? So why was Olenna saying that Tyrells can’t fight? Randyll needs no VS sword!

  10. Brett says:

    How are they so bad at doing the connective plot tissue between sequences and thematic stuff after seven seasons of doing this? It should be easier for them to do this in Season 7, now that everybody is back in Westeros – but instead we get Magic Euron Fleets, Jaime teleporting across the continent so he can lead an army to take Highgarden (I would not be shocked if he was back in KL next episode), and the bloody smallfolk cheering in KL for Cersei and Euron.

    Second, Euron’s fleet actions are flatly impossible.

    The only thin rationale I can think of is that Euron left a sizeable portion of his fleet under a subordinate on that side of Westeros in case of an attack on Casterly Rock or the Iron Islands. And then I guess he somehow . . . sent a raven that got there in time? Or they were just on patrol and spotted the incoming fleet carrying the Unsullied? Apparently Euron’s men are the only force in Westeros that actually bothers to use scouts and sentries.

    Well, I’m glad Joanna Lannister is happy about the reveal of Casterly Rock, but I was substantially less impressed. Casterly Rock is a goddamn mountain that’s taller than the World Trade Centers and seven miles long, not a modest castle on a cliffside.

    Both that and Highgarden looked terrible in the distance shots, and as I said in your discussion thread on the episode there is no reason for this. It was going to be a matte painting-style CGI shot no matter what, so it would have cost them minuscule amounts of money extra just to draw them up as they’re depicted in the books. I want to see the bloody Rock and the great Highgarden castle surrounded by a hedge maze, not a generic castle on a cliff and a generic small-looking castle/chateau on a hill.

    • Brett says:

      Okay, caveat on that last point. While I was upset that it wasn’t the Rock, the actual castle seen in that long distance shot (not the location on the cliff) was pretty cool-looking. Swap that in for the castle seen in the long distance shot of Highgarden, surrounded it with a hedge maze (like I said, this is all matte painting-style stuff), and it would look great as Highgarden.

      It just wasn’t the Rock.

  11. JREinATL says:

    that nonsense about the Sept being a tragic accident. You can’t have things both ways; either even common soldiers and inn patrons know she blew it up deliberately or it’s a plausible deniability scenario, but not both.

    I don’t know, it seems not implausible that, given the limited means of communication, different stories are getting around. I could also buy that, especially in KL where Qyburn is in a position to actively spread rumors and disinformation, that you could calm the local population, especially if you coupled it with bread and circuses.

    I’m not saying that this is optimal, just saying that if I’m looking for a way, it’s easy for me to see some plausibility. But I’m also pretty forgiving of this kind of stuff, knowing that if the show has two dozen principal cast members that it has to service every week, some of the backstory has to get left off screen.

    • Andy says:

      The problem is that the people of Kings Landing should know exactly what happened, seeing as they’re all there, and there are enough people locally who know about the tensions between Cersei and the Faith to suss out that no, this isn’t an accident. The people way out on the road far from KL might be expected to have a distorted view of events; instead, the people who should be at the receiving end of the “telephone” game know exactly what happened and the people who live next door to a gaping pit where their cathedral used to be have literally not even a suspicion of what happened.

    • Right, but we’ve only heard the one story, and other than Cersei we’ve never heard anyone else selling the accident line.

  12. artihcus022 says:

    I think I would disagree with you Mr. Attewell about the Dany-Jon meeting: because they felt politically accurate. Here are two sides, both with deep-seated grievances against one another, with overlapping but divergent interests, trying to feel their way to an alliance.

    1) It didn’t feel politically accurate because Jon Snow acts as if the only evidence he has his word when he can cite several testimonials. The fact that the whole of the North ”and” the Vale (Yeah that’s not mentioned for some reason) is mobilized, that King Stannis Baratheon believed in it so much that he dropped all he did and came to the aid of the North (and Ser Davos could bring his own anti-superstition anti-magic street-cred being a Southerner and say this is the real deal).

    Oh and then there’s…Maester Aemon Targaryen…Jon’s Mentor and former holder of “last official Targaryen in Westeros”. It makes no sense from a character viewpoint based on what we see earlier (i.e. Jon is willing to let bygones go bygones, cares about the Long Night) for him to not open with Maester Aemon and bring up the letter written by Dany’s long-lost Great Uncle which would be harder for her to refuse.

    2) Likewise, Tyrion and Danaerys have a perfect rebuttal to Jon Snow’s “the game doesn’t matter” because the same episode gives us logical reasons why the game truly does matter. Sansa mentions dealing with food in the Winter. A United Southern Kingdom would help everyone make it through the Winter. That was also the reason why Davos insisted to Jon back when he was LC to support Stannis (the episode before Stannis left Castle Black).

    Again there was a logical rational reason for both people and it’s just blown mainly for empty personality postures and because the showrunners can shoehorn that “Wight-Hunt” subplot they have planned (and which considering the pitch-perfect accuracy of the leaks is absolutely true).

    • Brett says:

      I don’t really get why the North is so quick to believe Jon’s story about White Walkers. They have nothing but his word, the word of one of Stannis’ former subordinates, and the word of wildlings they don’t like or trust. It feels like they should be more skeptical, even if they’re supportive of Jon himself.

    • Andy says:

      1 – All Jon Snow has is his own word, effectively. Who else is he going to quote? A bunch of not-present Night’s Watchmen? Wildlings? Lets be honest – if Dany doesn’t believe Jon and Davos, there is no reason for her to believe any of the other “evidence” he might present. I’m surprised the Northerners and Valemen are so accepting, in fact; one of the many instances of poor plotting and characterization from Benioff and Weiss. As for Maester Aemon… “your great great uncle, who conveniently died a few months back, agreed with me”. Yeah… real convincing. Again, it’s just his word against her natural skepticism.

      2 – Well, you are fundamentally mis-characterizing this argument. Because if I’m Jon, my argument is “the primary responsibility here is to beat the WW, and hope some portion of humanity survives the ensuing famine.” And understanding that the WW are the primary threat and the logistical problems secondary, if I’m Jon I’m saying that all I have to do is bend the knee to Cersei to get the same support Daenerys might be offering.

      I don’t blame B&W for this as much, but Daenerys’ entire position is ridiculous. She offers an “apology” for the Mad King’s actions but refuses to acknowledge that his complete destruction of the feudal pact means that perhaps her own father caused the justified disintegration of the Seven Kingdoms, and not a bunch of obstinate rebels. I understand her entire claim rests on her bloodline, and she has to lead with that – but it would be nice to see an acknowledgement on her part that she’s learned the lessons of the Mad King and her brother.

      • artihcus022 says:

        As for Maester Aemon… “your great great uncle, who conveniently died a few months back, agreed with me”. Yeah… real convincing. Again, it’s just his word against her natural skepticism.

        In literally ,the same scene she says that faith was what kept her alive and brought her glory. What natural skepticism are you talking about?

        And Maester Aemon is a Targaryen, He’s the brother of Dany’s grandpa…and he was a Targaryen, not some cadet branch or child of some Targ grandma married into another house. It is absurd to pretend that’s not a significant and major connection and that the writers didn’t miss a chance.

        I’m surprised the Northerners and Valemen are so accepting, in fact; one of the many instances of poor plotting and characterization from Benioff and Weiss.

        The fact is they did believe Jon Snow, as did the Night’s Watch and many others, and Stannis believed it, and so on. If the show cannot take it fiction seriously I cannot be expected to take any counter-fiction with any degree of seriousness.

    • JG says:

      I actually buy Jon being bad at explaining or smooth taking Dany. He’s never been good at it and it feels true to character. My main problem is that Jon has shown zero reason why he should be king in the first place.

    • 1. It’s not inaccurate for people to make bad arguments for good causes, I’ve been in meetings where that’s happened.

      2. Except that all-out war to take the Iron Throne isn’t good for food supplies. Armies destroy harvests like plagues of locusts.

      • artihcus022 says:

        The problem is that Jon Snow has made those bad arguments before and he should have had experience. or at least Davos should have given that he’s an experienced hand and negotiator. It’s just not believable that both these characters would be so stupid in that moment with so much at stake.

        I concede the point about the war and food supploies, but I still think that point should have been made because they compromised verisimilitude as much by this point, and saying the Game doesn’t matter, without earning it, is even more unbelievable. Because it just makes the Stark into the Nordic-Aryans of Westeros, the true people of Westeros, which does a disservice to the storyline of every other part of GOT and to Dany and Tyrion’s story.

  13. Schneider says:

    The show has ended to me. They totally killed Casterly Rock and Highgarden… I mean, wtf! The supposed greatest fortress in the world. The one that Aegon himself wouldnt take with dragons. Located above the biggest gold mine in the world. And then we see a little castle with white walls in a small cliff! FUCK D&D!
    Then we have Highgarden. The most beautiful castle in the world. Nah… just a tower in a desolated field! FUCK THEM! Im really mad about this lack of aesthetics for those who should be the most impressive castles ever!
    Not to mention the teleporting armies and fleets everywhere… They are rushing the story and crushing it in the process!

    • JG says:

      Even if you forget the logistics, the downfall of the Tyrells is just completely unsatisying. This has been one of the major factions of the show that we invested lots of time in and they were just easily dispatched in an offscreen battle. Fuck off, D and D.

  14. Brian says:

    I normally just try and apply the MST3K Mantra when watching the show these days, but it was really hard with this episode. I’ve never been good at analyzing themes in stories, but even so, I have *some* clue as to how things should be made to fit together, and I’m the type of person who really enjoys getting into the world-building. Which is more than I can say for D&D…

    About the only objectionable thing I’ve seen listed that I can really defend is Sansa & Bran. My take on it is that Bran is kind of in shock (that is, he’s overwhelmed by the knowledge and everything else), so I can see how he can be insensitive to carrying on about the most traumatic experience of Sansa’s life, even when he knows -or should know- that discussing it would only hurt her.

    • Andy says:

      Also worth noting that it isn’t a totally random memory. She was standing right where they were sitting, so perhaps he’s being overwhelmed by the memories. Not super tactful, and a poor choice on the part of the showrunners, but not an obscene mistake on the level of, well, everything going on related to the Kings Landing plot.

    • Yeah, that was really weird. Of all the things to talk about, why that?

  15. Andrew says:

    My thoughts exactly on the episode. It has troubled me from the first scene in Kings Landing this season, that there has not been a single mention of the smallfolk reacting to the destruction of the Sept of Baelor (and presumably the surrounding houses). Given that we’d seen the Faith feeding the poor as well last season, I’d expect to have at least heard Jaime mention something to Cersei in the map room scene along the lines of, “What are we going to do about the people? They have been rioting for days, ever since you blew up the Sept.” Remember that we saw them attack the royal party in season 2 because they were starving and being ruled by a tyrant: it seems to me that they are in a similar situation now.

    On a more general point on the season so far: I have been wondering all day whether or not I’m being too harsh on the show by comparing it to the books, or woud I be making the same criticisms of any other show if they had such glaring plot holes (the seeming lack of consequences to Cersei’s actions last season, why has no-one questioned her royal legitimacy at all, etc.). I’ve watched a review of the first 2 episodes from a group of non-book readers and they don’t seem to have noticed these plot holes and I suspect they wouldn’t even care if it was highlighted to them, which makes me think that the average show viewer is probably quite happy with the generic plot device of building up the bad guys at the start only to bring them down at the end.

    On the plus side, I am now confident that if the books ever do get finished; they will be so different to the show that the only spoilers the show is providing will be largely superficial (“Hold the door”, R+L=J, etc.).

    • fjallstrom says:

      I was a show-watcher before I read the books and I picked up the books after season five because the plotting was going down into a sinkhole. The Sansa marriage strike in particular. So I figured that they had simply run out of book material. Turned out that wasn’t the explanation in that case.

      So yes, a show watcher can see that the plotting is bad on show terms. Though as I have realised earlier, the audience that cares about political plotting is fairly small. Or at least I assume so.

  16. Jim B says:

    The puppeteer’s strings, or the thumb on the scale, or whatever you want to call it, was really painfully obvious this episode.

    What bothers me more than the implausible military campaigns* is the loss of any nuance of character. Jaime doesn’t seem very conflicted about being Cersei’s ally, but I’m sure that’ll change later this season when the plot calls for it. We didn’t even get an explanation for why Randall Tarly betrayed the Tyrells; presumably, the offer of Warden of the South and the chance to take over the Reach was enough. Which was an explanation that worked perfectly fine for Roose Bolton, because it had been well-established that Houses Bolton and Stark were longtime foes, and that Roose was an especially cold-blooded and ambitious schemer. But with Randall Tarly, I guess it’s enough that Randall was a shitty father to Sam, which makes him a Bad Guy, who therefore is willing to shred his House’s honor to side with the other Bad Guys.

    • Murc says:

      It seems worth noting that in the books, at least, Randyll Tarly has a reputation for loyalty.

      Like, Kevan Lannister was neither so great a politician nor so great a man that his judgment puts paid to all others, but he was no dummy, and he perceived Randyll Tarly as someone who would be loyal to his oaths, duties, and offices, such that making him Hand of the King would be a safe political choice because Randyll would regard his duties as Hand to the Realm as a whole superceding his duties to the Tyrells, like a good Hand is supposed to.

      This doesn’t make him not a shithead, but assuming that Kevan’s read on the man is correct at all it implies that it would take something really extreme to make him betray his liege lord.

      This is why I am somewhat skeptical of the theories regarding him turning his cloak and joining Aegon VI. I think that for that to happen, Mace Tyrell has to be either dead, repudiate the Lannister alliance, or have so spectacularly fucked up that Tarly can’t stomach the incompetence anymore. Of those possibilities, I think the first is most likely.

      • JG says:

        I was skeptical but the History of Westeros people gave some good evidence so I was partially swayed. However I think this episode is telegraphing what will happen in the books. The main problem is that it’s so poorly set up in the show.

      • Ioseff says:

        Randyll Tarly cares for oaths and customs? Wow, I guess fillicide is completely cool. Up to including “But neither will you take the lands and title that are meant for your brother, so I decided…”

        With this you have to see that what Randyll says is that what matters is HIS perspective of what a good lord is, not of society, HIS rules are therefore applied, not society’s, and that if Sam dares to defy him, he will defy society but society will never know.

        Yes, I totally believe his backstabbing Mace, and *hard*, probably with a spiked mace, to show how manly he is compared to the softy “Oaf”

    • JG says:

      Cause durr durr we have to stop the “foreign invaders” (SHE’S LIKE TRUMP. BAD GUYS ARE DA RACISTS). But this woman who has no royal claim and blew up the continent’s center of religion and its leader is totally cool.

      • Ioseff says:

        All approved by the dead creator of Apologism for Lannister Terrorism who is killing a continent so much that his own son who betrayed his dreams of a worthy knight for him and his daughter says that every crow should pay him homage from Castamere to Riverrun, and that is a long treck.

        As someone said on twitter on season 6 finale, the only reason she’s not condemned it’s because she’s white, and really, how approppiate for Lannister privilege with showrunners wholly buying their outlook of the world

  17. JG says:

    It’s pretty obvious that Benioff and Weiss completely buy Team Lannister’s sociopathic political worldview. Keep these lowers far away from any show about the Confederates winning, please.

  18. Ioseff says:

    Casterly Rock is not on a Rock because no Rock has that great a plain, even Casterly Rock, though with abundant fertile land, it was steep as it is to be expected from a fucking damn rock, or did they think Casterly Rock was called so because of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?

    Daenerys demanding the oath of fealty and asking forgiveness for having broken the oath of protection. Will she prove herself as worthy of the family line descending oath of protection? NOPE, BEND THE KNEE, ShowStannis is possessing me.

    About the rape, yes, I was surprised… but at the same time, I remembered they left no doubts the first times of sexual intercourse with Drogo were no consent except for the threats of his brother, therefore no willing, no valid consent for someone with senses.

    And Daenerys should fucking go to North, let alone the Dragonglass (WHICH STANNIS MENTIONED IT WAS THERE) in order to prove herself worthy of the oath of protection, for as she said “in exchange for his life, and the lives of his northmen” that fucking means precisely that Aegon allows their lives AS FAR AS HE CAN, which means HE WILL PROTECT THEM AS FAR AS HE CAN.

    But the parade shows I am asking stupid people to have non-stupid storylines, non-stupid background, etc, only the drama can be well, and be glad for it.

    How happy I am of only seeing some scenes on youtube and not the whole episode 😉

    • JG says:

      I can buy Dany being stern with Jon there. Jon really doesn’t make an argument as to why the North should be independent and Dany is right to be suspicious of him. She is also dealing from a position of strength for most of the meeting. However, thr whole thing is undercut by her willingness to let the Iron Islands independent for some reason last season.

      • Ioseff says:

        Shall we speak of Tyrion saying “Almost” when indeed Tyrion was defeated, his only hope to delay them long enough which he did, and that he had wildfire which is the best next fire magic you got after dragons? So he had dragon-like power and yet Stannis won against him (not against Tywin though)

        Writer’s favoritism through and through.Oaths only matter to the overlord, not the subject, because absolute monarchy is feudal monarchy dudes! No wonder though, since homosexuality persecution was closer to the date of advent of absolute monarchy so I think the problem is they care nothing for history. I don’t know the timeline exactly, but I know that homosexuality persecution was actually a recent event of the last half millennium, I think.

  19. Ioseff says:

    Also, Tywin not repairing Casterly Rock until Tyrion was a brothel customer, so here we start with the Lannister timeline fucked up again. Joanna died when Cersei was four, but Tywin repairs Casterly Rock and rebuilds his army standing or gold cloaks or whatever when Tyrion already met Tysha, so Tytos survived until then, Tywin was not a whoremonger.

    And Highgarden… I guess a man up the walls is worth ten beneath it, since Tywin was so constant in those actions, so either Jaime commanded more than ten thousand men or Olenna had less than one thousand, that or as I said, stupid writing again.

    Liked the way Olenna revealed her murder, since it had to be addressed, and not that abrupt so, i’ll take it.

    • drstueynz says:

      They could have done treacherous Tarleys visit the Tyrells and then turn on them to open gates and let the Lannisters in.

    • Yeah, that was a weird bit of backstory.

      • Ioseff says:

        God (oh wait every faith is stupid, so i’ll say show-runners) forbid there is anything that makes Tyrion not look better than his father, show-runners oh please forbid anything that makes Tyrion inferior, oh show-runners, become the show-fuckers as long as Tyrion comes out on top of that top cliff-side no withstanding the logical rules of the creator of that universe…

        These fookin’ Lannisters… these fookinslayers Lannisters… subverting every rule whether it is stable succession rules, the logic history of ASOIAF in their unwavering golden version called GoT, or, if given time, even gravity! hell they are going to destroy a dragon for sure with a crossbow that seemed never to be constructed…

        Rhaenys, who’s Rhaenys? Arya, only show-fucker approved Stark, only liked Visenya, so fuck Rhaenys into non-existence, never mattering that she’s the female ancestress!

  20. Lucerys says:

    Pity. Cersei could have easily tried to sown enmity between Dany and Braavos using dragons which is certainly a subject which would worry the Braavosi as Valarian escapees rather than the slave trade nonsense.

    • artihcus022 says:

      Well TWOIAF shows that the Braavosi had good relations with the Targaryens, until say Daemon Rogue Prince. IIRC there were hints that they bankrolled Aegon I’s landing in Westeros, most likely because Aegon I went against Volantis, who the Braavosi hate.

  21. Ser Biffy Clegane says:

    I kind of liked Jaime outmaneuvering Tyrion. Cersei has Jaime and Randyll Tarly, both experienced battle commanders, but with Barristan and Jorah out of the picture, Dany has Tyrion, who is book smart with the advantages and limitations that brings, and then a bunch of Unsullied and Dothraki unit commanders. In hindsight, maybe she should have brought Dario after all.

    I also liked seeing some of the pieces come together. Bankrupting Casterly Rock (but not telling Tyrion) set up this move and Cersei’s troubles with the Iron Bank for show purposes, and making Ellaria a vengeance crazed fury set up Cersei’s revenge. It’s never going to be as good a story as the books, but I’m starting to buy that it’s a cohesive story.

  22. Mick says:

    Rationalization of the geography, timeline or fighting techniques on the show really is lost time in that it misses the point the show is trying to make. Within the first seasons, you had lots of stories set in different places that followed the simple cause-reaction formula. Now that these groups of characters interact heavily, the speed of the plot turns has accelerated greatly. It’s obvious we are near the end. The battles in between scenes have become set-ups and connecting tissue between the talks who often also center around these machinations. I fear the show has become too political in a way.

    So, don’t try to rationalize things that obviously can’t because they are set up to allow the plot to progress fast enough to finish next season. Like the vanishing of the religious movement in Kings Landing. Or how you can just leave whole castles empty (first Dragonstone, now Casterly Rock). Go with the flow, accept the jumps and focus on the new character interactions we hadn’t had yet. These are the interesting stuff. The rest will happen similarly or rather differently in the books later on.

    I wasn’t thrilled with how much winning they give Cersei as well. I mean, no viewer should still be on her side and Jaime seems strange as well as he is presented here. They even had to bring in Tycho Nestoris from Braavos so that Cersei has someone to talk to. It just feels a bit out of balance, with everything running smoothly for Team Lannister while Stark and Targaryen encounter one problem after another. But yeah, perhaps this season really needs to be binged rather than watched with one week long pauses.

  23. […] a least, they damn well should. As Steven Attewell pointed out over at his own entirely excellent site, the idea the crowds would cheer for Euron Greyjoy is […]

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