Eastwatch

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"Eastwatch"
Game of Thrones episode
Game-of-Thrones-S07-E05-Eastwatch.jpg
Jon Snow leads a raiding party north beyond the Wall
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 5
Directed byMatt Shakman
Written byDave Hill
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byRobert McLachlan
Editing byKatie Weiland
Original air dateAugust 13, 2017 (2017-08-13)
Running time59 minutes[1]
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Spoils of War"
Next →
"Beyond the Wall"
Game of Thrones (season 7)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"Eastwatch" is the fifth episode of the seventh season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 65th overall. The episode was written for television by Dave Hill, and directed by Matt Shakman.

Daenerys forces the surviving Lannister and Tarly soldiers to swear fealty to her, but Randyll and Dickon Tarly refuse, and are executed. Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister secretly meets with Jaime Lannister to request an audience with their sister Queen Cersei to present evidence of the army of the dead. Davos Seaworth retrieves Gendry, and he, along with Jon Snow and Jorah Mormont travel to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where they head beyond the Wall along with Tormund Giantsbane, Sandor Clegane and the Brotherhood Without Banners. At Winterfell, Arya Stark follows Petyr Baelish and discovers a letter that Sansa wrote to her family, at the coercion of Cersei, requesting their fealty to King Joffrey. Samwell Tarly learns of a warning from Bran Stark about the impending arrival of the army of the dead at the Wall, and decides to abandon his training at the Citadel and head north.

The title of the episode refers to the namesake place at which the final sequence takes place. "Eastwatch" received praise from critics, who listed Jon Snow's interaction with Drogon, Lena Headey's performance as Cersei Lannister, Gendry's return, and the tension between Arya and Littlefinger as highlights of the episode. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 10.72 million in its initial broadcast, the highest of any episode in the first seven seasons[2][3].

This episode marks the final appearance of Tom Hopper and James Faulkner.

Plot[edit]

On the Roseroad[edit]

Bronn pulls Jaime ashore, across the Blackwater Rush from the battle. They recognize that the Lannisters could never overcome Daenerys's three dragons in battle.

Daenerys gives the surviving Lannister and Tarly soldiers a choice between fealty to her, or death. Randyll Tarly resists; his son Dickon stands with him, even though Randyll wants him to save himself. Tyrion urges Daenerys to spare them and send them to the Wall, but the Tarlys refuse to go to the Wall. So, Daenerys keeps her word and puts them to death with Drogon's fire. The remaining prisoners bend the knee.

At Winterfell[edit]

Through ravens' eyes, Bran locates the Night King's army beyond the Wall. He requests that ravens be sent throughout the Seven Kingdoms to warn of the threat.

Arya witnesses Sansa diplomatically decline Lord Glover and Lord Royce's suggestion that Sansa should rule the North. Arya privately accuses Sansa of wanting to displace Jon. Littlefinger allows Arya to watch him hide the raven scroll Cersei forced Sansa to write after King Robert died, asking Robb to swear fealty to King Joffrey; Arya obtains and reads it.

In Oldtown[edit]

Archmaester Ebrose receives Bran's raven and discusses the message with other Archmaesters. Samwell, unaware of the recent deaths of his father and brother, interrupts to vouch for Bran, and asks the Archmaesters to use the Citadel's authority to prepare Westeros for war against the undead. Archmaester Ebrose decides the matter needs further study.

Sam transcribes a High Septon's minutiae-laden journal as Gilly reads from it. Sam rages that he is tired of reading about "better men's" achievements, so he steals documents from the library and leaves Oldtown with Gilly and Little Sam.

On Dragonstone[edit]

Daenerys returns and Drogon allows Jon to pet him. Jorah has returned and Daenerys welcomes him. Varys and Tyrion privately discuss the brutality of Daenerys's executions, and the morality of serving a ruler who puts others to death (as Varys did for the Mad King). Varys implores Tyrion to make Daenerys listen, in hopes his pragmatism will temper her growing ruthlessness.

Jon and Davos attend Daenerys's meeting with her advisors. Jon receives Bran's warning, and decides to head beyond the Wall to fight the dead. Daenerys notes how few fighters he has, and Jon again requests her help. She refuses, because leaving her war against Cersei would mean conceding the Iron Throne to her. Tyrion proposes capturing a wight north of the Wall and bringing it to King's Landing, to show Cersei the danger and gain her support. Jon and Jorah volunteer for the mission.

Tyrion and Davos return from King's Landing with Gendry. Davos advises him to conceal his identity and become a smith at Winterfell; Gendry instead introduces himself openly to Jon and joins his excursion.

In King's Landing[edit]

Jaime returns to Cersei and declares the war unwinnable for the Lannisters. He reveals that Olenna Tyrell poisoned Joffrey, exonerating Tyrion. Cersei regrets Olenna's painless death.

Tyrion and Davos sneak into King's Landing via a smugglers' cove. Bronn leads Jaime to Tyrion, who requests an audience with Cersei once Jon can prove that the army of the dead exists. Jaime conveys Tyrion's message; Cersei doubts Tyrion's warning, but believes she and Jaime will defeat any enemy. Cersei acknowledges that a temporary ceasefire could be a strategic necessity for her. She also tells Jaime that she is pregnant and will publicly acknowledge him as the father.

Davos locates Gendry, who eagerly leaves King's Landing with him. Two gold cloaks discover Davos's boat; he bribes them, but Tyrion returns and they recognize him, so Gendry kills them. The three depart.

At Eastwatch-by-the-Sea[edit]

Jon, Davos, Gendry and Jorah meet with Tormund at the Night Watch fortress Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where the Brotherhood Without Banners and the Hound are imprisoned. The disparate men discuss their enmities, but acknowledge that they are now fighting against a common enemy; Davos remains at Eastwatch and all the others head north.

Production[edit]

Writing[edit]

"Eastwatch" was written for television by Dave Hill, who has previously written two episodes for the series, "Sons of the Harpy" and "Home", in addition to serving as a writing assistant since the show's second season. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hill commented on the intentions of the character's decisions and the writing and storylines that were involved in penning the episode. In writing the opening sequence between Daenerys, and Randyll and Dickon Tarly, Hill noted the difference between Daenerys and other rulers, in that she offered the men a choice, saying, "These lords disobeyed her and disrespected her in rebellion against the rightful queen. Then she gives them a way out and they don't take it." He also spoke about the effect of being defeated by Daenerys on Jaime, noting "This was their first time facing [Daenerys] in the open field and they were so easily defeated and that's not something he's ever seen before. But as hard as it is to deal with [Daenerys] and her dragons, it's much harder to deal with Cersei."[4]

In regards to the departure of Jon Snow from Dragonstone, Hill also mentioned that Daenerys believes Jon to be honest, and that she "can't continue a war and still have Seven Kingdoms to rule after the war is done" as long as the White Walker threat remains. With Tyrion's secret meeting with Jaime, Hill's intention in writing the scene was to open the interaction with "total antagonism and hatred" and eventually change it to the two "being vaguely on the same side." He notes that although Jaime may not believe Tyrion, it was worth exploring a possibility of a truce.[4]

Hill stated that the writers were uncertain on when Gendry should be reintroduced to the story. He noted that the writers always intended to bring Gendry back, and that they had originally planned to bring him back in the previous season. They eventually settled on bringing him back in "Eastwatch" in order to place him into the storyline he referred to as "the big mission," with Jon Snow beyond the Wall. He continued by saying, "It made sense that Davos would want to save this boy who's like a surrogate son."[4]

Casting[edit]

Actor Joe Dempsie returned in the role as Gendry in "Eastwatch".

"Eastwatch" saw the re-introduction of Joe Dempsie as Gendry, a role which he portrayed in the first, second and third seasons. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dempsie spoke about re-joining the cast, by stating "In the intervening three years, I would always welcome the opportunity to come back to the show with open arms. I have so many friends on the show and have such a great time making it. I learn so much when I'm on that set." Dempsie also revealed that co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were unsure when he would be returning to the show, noting that he was told by them, "'Look, your character is going to disappear for a while. We don't want you to panic. We're not trying to sack you. We like your performance and your character, but we have plans for him further on down the line.'" Dempsie learned of his return to the show shortly before Christmas of 2015, during a meeting with his agent.[5]

Filming[edit]

"Eastwatch" was directed by Matt Shakman. This was Shakman's second episode as a director for Game of Thrones, the first being the previous episode, "The Spoils of War". Prior to joining the series, Shakman also served as a television director for several other series, including Fargo, The Good Wife, Mad Men and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, among others.[6] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter following the airing of "Eastwatch", Shakman spoke about the difference between shooting his two episodes for the season, saying "There isn't the same massive set piece, so it's really about establishing what's coming next for the season. It's a bit of a reset. There are some major character revelations and further development of relationships, especially the people who are reunited and are now seeing what's happening as they navigate their new relationships with the people they haven't seen in so long." At the beginning of the episode, Tyrion Lannister is shown walking through the aftermath of the "Loot Train Attack," which Shakman noted was intended to show Tyrion's internal conflict between serving Daenerys, and seeing his own family's dead soldiers. He also stated about the scene, "We created things for him to look at that were evoking Pompeii, the aftermath of the dragon fire and what it does to the humans all around him, as well as the destruction of the actual wagons. We walked Peter through that, and let him react to what he was seeing. The effect is pretty powerful."[7]

Kit Harington
Emilia Clarke
Director Matt Shakman stated that Kit Harington (left) and Emilia Clarke's (right) off-screen familiarity with each other lended itself to his directing for their interactions in "Eastwatch".

For Daenerys Targaryen's return to Dragonstone, and the interaction between Drogon and Jon Snow, Shakman spoke about the process that went into creating the scene, saying that half the time Kit Harington, who portrays Jon Snow, was acting with a partial dragon snout, and at other times nothing, or a tennis ball in order to establish a proper eye-line. A "pre-viz" was also created, in order for Harington to see a visualization of what the scene would look like after post-production was completed, and to understand the enormity of Drogon. He continued, "It's tremendous acting, to be able to invent your scene partner, and to be able to navigate a scene like that. Bravo to Kit Harington." Shakman also talked about directing Harington and Emilia Clarke, who portrays Daenerys, saying "Even though they haven't interacted much on the show at all, except for this season, [Harington and Clarke] know each other very well. So there's a familiarity there that helps them as actors. They both have great respect for each other and are both very talented, so the scenes are relatively easy to craft due to the familiarity between them that works."[7]

Shakman also spoke about the direction for the scene between Samwell Tarly and Gilly at the Citadel, noting that despite the importance of the information that Gilly was revealing regarding Rhaegar Targaryen, his intent was to focus primarily on John Bradley as Sam, saying "I knew the information was huge, and there's no need to underline it at all. I put all of that information off-camera and pushed in on John Bradley as he was dealing with the crisis of the moment, which was his frustration with the maesters and ultimately coming to the conclusion that he doesn't want to be a part of it anymore. The fact that it happens to be dropping a giant piece of information about Jon's lineage and his claim to the throne, I felt it was better to have that happen without any kind of underlining." He also disclosed that the effect of this reveal will be felt in future episodes as Daenerys and Jon's relationship changes.[7]

Additionally, Shakman revealed that the meeting of characters at the Eastwatch ice cells at the end of the episode was shot all in one day, and that he hoped to have had more time to shoot the scene. He complimented the actors for their performances, however, saying "there's just so much tension happening with everybody, and we're setting up this idea that this is a group of very unlikely comrades heading out to perform an impossible task. All of those actors are fantastic. Building the tension between each of them wasn't that difficult, given how smart they all are as performers." For the closing shot of the episode, Shakman attempted to pay homage to director Sam Peckinpah, specifically by referencing the 1969 film The Wild Bunch, which Peckinpah wrote the screenplay for and directed. He noted the scene was "meant to evoke that image of the Wild Bunch walking into town before the big shoot-'em-up begins."[7]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

"Eastwatch" was viewed by 10.72 million viewers on its initial viewing on HBO, which was significantly higher than the previous week's rating of 10.17 million viewers for the episode "The Spoils of War"[8][9] This set a ratings record for Game of Thrones to that point as the highest rated episode of the series to date, surpassing "The Spoils of War", which previously held the record. The episode also acquired a 5.0 rating in the 18–49 demographic, making it the highest rated show on cable television of the night.[8] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 3.42 million viewers on Sky Atlantic, making it the highest-rated broadcast that week on its channel. It also received 1.209 million timeshift viewers.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

"Eastwatch" received praise from critics, who listed Jon Snow's interaction with Drogon, Lena Headey's performance as Cersei Lannister, and Gendry's return as highlights of the episode.[11][12] It has received a 98% rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes from 44 reviews with an average score of 8 out of 10.[13] The site's consensus reads "'Eastwatch' traded the fiery spectacle of Thrones' previous episode for a slow-burn approach, but nonetheless delivered some spectacular revelations and reunions."

Matt Fowler of IGN wrote in his review of the episode, "'Eastwatch' may have represented a breather in the action, so to speak, but it sure didn't lag. It was a masterfully busy episode, with big moments coming at you in each and every scene. Everyone's past connection to one another is now getting brought up, noted, and utilized to further plot in a meaningful, natural way.‘"He continued by mentioning several of the reunions and call-backs that took place throughout the episode, saying "From Sam having met Bran back at the end of Season 3, to Gendry finally returning to the show and meeting up with both Ser Davos and Beric Dondarrion (in the same episode), to Jorah finding his way back to Daenerys, to Tyrion's tense-but-fruitful reunion with Jaime – 'Eastwatch' was chock-full of the past becoming present, and being used to inform the drastic, dramatic war machine." He gave the episode a 9.2 out of 10.[12] Myles McNutt of The A.V. Club similarly felt the episode lacked the action that the previous episode, "The Spoils of War", had, calling it a "piece-moving" episode, but noted "Whereas before you were seeing pieces moving into place to set up a set of four or five different climaxes to the season, here all of the moving pieces are taking place on the same continent, and with an impact on the same central story arc." He gave the episode a B+.[14] Erik Kain of Forbes wrote in his review that he felt "Eastwatch" was "the most important, revelatory and simply outstanding episode of the season so far",[15] but in another article was severely critical of several aspects of the Winterfell storyline in season seven, specifically this episode.[16] Kelly Lawler of USA Today expressed similar thoughts by stating it was the best episode of the season thus far, and noting, "The series has needed to reinvent itself after it brought so many major characters together and narrowed its focus."[17]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2018 Art Directors Guild Awards One-Hour Single Camera Period Or Fantasy Television Series Deborah Riley Won [18]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project Jonathan Symmonds, Thomas Kutschera, Philipp Winterstein, Andreas Krieg – "Drogon Meets Jon" Nominated [19]
Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial or Real-Time Project Patrice Poissant, Deak Ferrand, Dominic Daigle, Gabriel Morin Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode Thomas Montminy Brodeur, Xavier Fourmond, Reuben Barkataki, Sébastien Raets Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Game of Thrones 65". HBO. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "List of Game of Thrones episodes", Wikipedia, 2019-03-08, retrieved 2019-03-14
  3. ^ Porter, Rick (2017-08-15). "Sunday cable ratings: 'Game of Thrones' scores another series high". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  4. ^ a b c Hibberd, James (August 13, 2017). "Game of Thrones writer explains 5 big 'Eastwatch' moments". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  5. ^ Wigler, Josh (August 13, 2017). "'Game of Thrones' Star on What's Next After That Killer Return". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  6. ^ Robinson, Joanna (June 29, 2016). "The Best Director on Game of Thrones Won't Be Coming Back Next Year". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d Wigler, Josh (August 15, 2017). "How 'Game of Thrones' Walked the Line of War and Reveals in 'Eastwatch'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Porter, Rick (August 15, 2017). "Sunday cable ratings: 'Game of Thrones' scores another series high". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  9. ^ Porter, Rick (August 8, 2017). "Sunday cable ratings: 'Sharknado 5' lacks bite, 'Game of Thrones' hits total-viewer high". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  10. ^ "Top 10 Ratings (7 August - 13 August)". BARB. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  11. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (August 13, 2017). "Game of Thrones season 7, episode 5: 6 winners and 6 losers from "Eastwatch"". Vox. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Fowler, Matt (August 13, 2017). "Game of Thrones: "Eastwatch" Review". IGN. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  13. ^ "Eastwatch — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  14. ^ McNutt, Myles (August 13, 2017). "Game Of Thrones swiftly unites (some of) the living to fight the dead (experts)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Kain, Erik (August 13, 2017). "'Game Of Thrones' Season 7, Episode 5 Review: Eastwatch". Forbes. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Lawler, Kelly (August 13, 2017). "Recap: 'Game of Thrones' delivers best episode of Season 7 so far". USA Today. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  18. ^ McNary, Dave. "'Star Wars: The Last Jedi,' 'Dunkirk,' 'Lady Bird' Nab Art Directors Guild Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  19. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (February 13, 2018). "Visual Effects Society Awards: 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Wins Big". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 14, 2018.

External links[edit]