Game of Thrones season seven continues at a breakneck pace. Episode three, The Queen's Justice, was a barnburner from the first frame to the last. We finally get the long awaited meeting of Fire and Ice, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington). The Sand Snakes suffer a cruel fate from Cersei (Lena Headey), while Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) scores a huge military win. The Lannisters take Highgarden, but not before Lady Tyrell (Diana Rigg) gets in one last epic barb.

The Queen's Justice opens with Jon Snow and Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) arriving on the shores of Dragonstone. Their swords and boat are taken by the Dothraki. Jon and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) share a warm reunion. Jon remarks it may have been foolish to come. Tyrion agrees, reminding him that the Stark men do not do well in the South. Jon replies that he is not a Stark. Tyrion asks about Sansa (Sophie Turner). He tells Jon their marriage was a sham and never consummated. Jon and Ser Davos are stunned by the sight of the Dragons.

Melissandre (Carice Van Outen) watches from a cliff as Jon enters the castle. Varys (Conleth Hill) wonders why she is not there to greet him. Melissandre admits she left Jon on bad terms. She tells Varys she will leave to Valyria. He recommends that she never return to Westeros. She says it is her fate to die here...as he will. Varys is deeply troubled by her response. As he looks out unto the water, he sees a damaged Greyjoy ship returning.

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Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) introduces Daenerys as the northerners enter the throne room. Ser Davos is not as lucid in his introduction of Jon. Daenerys beckons Jon to bend the knee and swear loyalty. He refuses. He has no oath of fealty for her. She asks why he is there. Jon tells her about the white walkers and the Night King. He needs her help to fight them. The battle with Cersei means nothing if they are all dead. Daenerys tells him of her brutal struggle, the many obstacles she has overcome to return. She will sit on the Iron Throne. Anyone who claims to be King of the North is in open rebellion. Daenerys missive is cut short by Varys. He has urgent news. Daenerys beckons Jon to stay and rest. He asks if they are prisoners. Tyrion replies not yet.

On the narrow sea, Theon (Alfie Allen) is pulled from the water. His sister's men scorn him for leaving her in Euron's (Pilou Asbaek) clutches. At King's Landing, Euron marches victorious through the city. He has Yara (Gemma Whelan), Ellaria (Indira Varma), and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), in chains. He enters the Iron Throne room, then presents Ellaria and Tyene as gifts to Cersei. She commends him with a promotion to head of her navy. He wants marriage, but she will only consider it after the war has been won. Euron saddles up to Jaime with a smirk. He wants to know how to keep Cersei happy in the bedroom. Jaime reminds him that he will pay if he ever betrays them.

Cersei has Ellaria and Tyene gagged, and chained in the dungeon. She taunts Ellaria with the death of Oberon, but has a truly vicious punishment in store for the murderer of Myrcella. Cersei kisses Tyene on the lips. Qyburn (Anton Lesser) has duplicated the poison Ellaria used against Myrcella. Ellaria will watch as her daughter dies slowly, then the corpse rot away. Cersei has a vicious talent for revenge.

That night, Cersei makes love to a hesitant Jaime. The next morning a servant knocks on her door. Cersei opens it with Jaime in full view. She is done hiding their relationship. She has a visitor from the Iron Bank of Braavos. Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss) has come to collect the Lannister debt. He hints the bank might support Daenerys, but Cersei reminds him that bankers do poorly in revolutions. She promises that she will pay the Lannister debt within a fortnight.

Jon Snow is brooding on a cliff in Dragonstone. He was a fool to come. Tyrion tells him to not give up so easily. He believes Jon's story about the white walkers. Jon asks how can he convince others of the threat. Tyrion admits it's a tough sell, but that he may be able to find progress. In the war room, Tyrion advises Daenerys to let Jon mine the Dragonglass. He's unsure what it does to white walkers, but they make Jon an ally by giving up nothing. Outside on the castle steps, Jon approaches Daenerys. She will give him the Dragonglass and help to mine it. He asks her if she believes him. She doesn't respond, but says he has work to do.

At Winterfell, Sansa has taken charge. She wisely orders food rations kept at the castle for the upcoming winter. She also reminds the iron workers to put leather on the armor. Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) is impressed. He gives her a piece of advice. Play every scenario out in your head. This way you will be not surprised by anything. On cue, Sansa is delivered a huge surprise. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempsted Wright) has returned home. Sansa embraces her long lost brother. In the garden, he tells her that he has become the Three-Eyed Raven. She doesn't understand what that means. He eerily describes her wedding night in the garden to Ramsey. Sansa leaves him, utterly shaken by the reveal.

At the Citadel, Archmaester Ebrose(Jim Broadbent) gives Ser Jorah (Ian Glenn) a clean bill of health. The greyscale is gone. He is free to leave. Ser Jorah will return to Daenerys. He thanks Sam (John Bradley-West) for his assistance. Later in the Archmaester's study, Sam admits to performing the procedure. Ebrose is impressed with his skill, but punishes him for insubordination. Sam must copy dozens of old books and manuscripts. He was lucky to not be expelled.

At the Dragonstone war room, Daenerys reels from the loss of the Sand Snakes and Greyjoy fleet. She wants to find Euron with her dragons. Missandei and Tyrion say it is too dangerous. They will concentrate on Casterly Rock. Tyrion narrates the Unsullied attack on his childhood home. Instead of a frontal assault on an impenetrable wall, they will enter through a secret entrance in the sewers. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and his men take Casterly Rock with ease. He knows there should be a vastly bigger Lannister army. They are not at Casterly Rock. Euron's ships burn the Unsullied boats in the harbor.

In Highgarden, Lady Tyrell watches as the Lannister army and her former banner men attack. It is a quick battle. Jaime walks through the conquered castle to her room. Lady Tyrell knows this is the end. She is surprised they abandoned Casterly Rock. Jaime replies it meant nothing. Now the Unsullied are stuck there with no boats or supplies. They will have to abandon Casterly Rock and march across Westeros to reunite with Daenerys. Lady Tyrell congratulates him on actually winning a battle. Jaime gives her poison with wine. He swears it will be a painless ending. Lady Tyrell guzzles the poison, then admits she was responsible for killing Joffrey. Jaime walks away stunned. The Queen of Thorns gets the last word spectacularly.

Cersei is taking the game to the next level. She's wiped out the Tyrells, Sand Snakes, and Greyjoy threat. The Unsullied are isolated on a worthless Casterly Rock. The conquest of Highgarden repays the Iron Bank and gives her army provisions for the winter. Daenerys has not fared well so far in Westeros, but has allied herself with Jon Snow. By providing the Dragonglass, she has given him an incentive to help her against Cersei. Jon Snow is not much of a politician, but he's a helluva fighter. Sansa is proving to be a capable leader. The Bran reunion was creepy as hell. It sets the stage for Arya's return home, next week on Game of Thrones, premiering exclusively on HBO.

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Julian Roman at TVweb
Julian Roman