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Two Brothers, Both Alike in Dignity (or Lack Thereof)

Before Bronn was Jaime’s right-hand thug, he belonged to Tyrion. So who better to arrange a clandestine meeting between the two Lannister brothers, who were, once upon a time, the best of buddies? However, the days of these two getting along swimmingly are long gone. That’s what patricide and actively assisting a foreign invader in a war against your family’s military will do to a friendship. Still, Jaime is the more reasonable of the two Lannisters residing in King’s Landing and the only one who will let Tyrion speak before ordering him chopped in half. So while their conversation is civil, it’s, well, fraught.

Their meeting exists solely to set up a future plot line, one that should further entangle Game of Thrones‘ surviving characters and tie the few remaining plot threads together. Tyrion wants Jaime to know that the dead are coming and that Jon Snow intends to bring an intact specimen to King’s Landing to prove that there are bigger things afoot than the current war. It’s a lot to swallow (even Tyrion is skeptical), but it plants a few seeds. The rebuilding of the bond between two brothers torn apart. Cersei’s growing distrust of Bronn. The suggestion that the crown will soon have to start taking the stories of doom and gloom from the north a little more seriously. But above all, it’s just good to see Nikolaj-Coster Waldau and Peter Dinklage in the same room again. They’ve always had a fine chemistry and have always reminded us that the often monstrous Lannisters have souls. Tattered, filthy souls, but souls nonetheless.

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Arya v Littlefinger: Dawn of Skulking

What happens when a deadly assassin goes head-to-head in a game of scheming with the craftiest manipulator in all of Westeros? Unfortunately, the latter gets exactly what he wants.

Things could be going better at Winterfell. While Sansa is doing a fine job of keeping the Stark bannermen in line, they’re none-too-happy that their leader is still off at Dragonstone. It’s tense and frustrating and Arya demands to know why her older sister, the Lady of Winterfell, isn’t sticking up for their absent king. We know what Sansa knows: that she’s playing the long and careful game, easing herself through tumultuous situations rather than making mistakes she won’t live to regret. It’s a lesson she learned the hard way: from being around Cersei, from being present for her father’s death, and by trusting Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish a little too much.

But Arya, rightfully suspicious of just about anything and everything after her experiences in Westeros and Essos, starts playing detective. She notices Littlefinger having a series of meetings, exchanging little bags of gold for whispers. She notices him accept a message from Winterfell’s maester. So she does what any pint-sized rogue with an interest in protecting her family would do: she picks Littlefinger’s bedroom door lock, finds the message hidden away in his mattress, and finds what he’s been hiding.

Of course, Littlefigner watches all of this from the shadows, a smile on his face. He meant for her to discover what she’s discovered. He read the youngest Stark girl like a book, understood what she’s become, and let her play right into his hands. Arya may be a dagger, but Littlefinger is a whisper in the ear. He’s gravity. He’s a stiff breeze. He’s everything and anything that can affect the actual direction of a dagger. Even this late in the show, our leads have yet to understand the most important lesson of them all: Littlefinger is always three steps ahead of you. And he’s happy to burn everything to ground and start over if it means a victory. The only thing, the only person, that ever actually mattered to him had her throat cut at the Red Wedding. The rest is collateral damage. The rest can be written off.

But what does that note say? Internet sleuths have already figured it out, but fans with long memories may recall exactly what this is all about (and consider this a spoiler if you want the revelation to arrive as intended in a future episode). As you may recall, Sansa was forced to write a letter to Robb Stark many seasons ago, informing him of Eddard’s “betrayal” and telling him that he must come to King’s Landing to bend the knee. Written under duress, the letter speaks fondly of the Lannisters, refers to Ned’s traitorous ways, and is pretty much the kind of message a terrified young hostage would be forced to write by her captors. But Arya doesn’t know this. She’s been out in the wilderness, both literal and metaphorical, for years. Littlefinger knows that a divided House Stark is a House Stark he can control…and he may have just turned the two Stark girls against each other.

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