REVIEW: Game of Thrones 7.03 ‘The Queen’s Justice’ is the best episode of the season so far
Game of Thrones has been a mixed bag this season. Season 7 episode 1 ‘Dragonstone’ suffered from arduous pacing. Episode 2 ‘Stormborn’ almost suffered from the exact opposite problem, thundering ahead with plotlines without respect for their complexity. Thankfully, episode 3 ‘The Queen’s Justice’ finally hits the nail on the head – taking a step back to focus on the dialogue that once made Game of Thrones so great.
While ‘The Queen’s Justice’ did have a certain amount of well-executed action, such as the capture of Casterly Rock and the aftermath of a sack of Highgarden, this was not what it was about. Instead, the episode dwells on the culmination of several long-awaited stories.For example, the first meeting of Jon Snow and Daenerys.
The Jon and Daenerys meeting is an enormous moment for the series. It deserves justice – and it receives it. Most of ‘The Queen’s Justice’ is spent in Dragonstone, with the Queen of Dragons and the King of The North fighting a war of words over who ought to be kneeling or helping whom. Old history is discussed during these scenes, including that between Jon and Tyrion, Ned Stark and the Mad King, and the attempted assassination of Daenerys in season one. There’s plenty of clever hints to the connection between Jon and Daenerys from the off. Dany asks Jon not to judge her by the sins of her father, a direct parallel to the moment in ‘Dragonstone’ where Jon refused to punish the children of traitorous Northern Lords. In another speech, Daenerys claims she survived her past only because of her confidence in her identity. In contrast, Jon knows nothing of who he is. It’s still a shame that details that might have helped the believability of the scene have been neglected, such as the length of time it takes to make passage to Dragonstone and the fact that Varys apparently never told Daenerys about Ned Stark’s refusal to endorse her attempted assassination.
Elsewhere, Ellaria and Tyene are dealt with poetic justice. In superbly acted scenes, Cersei poisons Tyene in the same manner Ellaria murdered Myrcella – and forces Ellaria to watch her daughter die in agony, promising that she will remain imprisoned to watch Tyene’s corpse rot in their cell. It’s a savage move from Queen Cersei, and the anguish from Indira Varma is absolutely gut-wrenching. It’s a beautiful send off for two characters that have not typically received the best writing of the series.
Then there’s the Queen of Thorns, full of snappy cutdowns until her dying breath. It’s a horrible shame to see a legend such as Diana Rigg leave Game of Thrones, but she died as she lived – tearing down her enemies and keeping the last word. A scornful confession to Joffrey’s murder ends the episode on a high and understated point.
‘The Queen’s Justice’ is a brilliant episode. It’s one of the best since the show diverged from the books and sadly lost access to George R.R. Martin’s skilled wordplay. There are problems that look likely to haunt the rest of the series, such as the simplification of the plot, the disregard for geography and the effort of trying to resolve so many loose ends before the big finish. However, at the end of the day, it is mostly thoroughly entertaining television – and that’s what counts.