-- Things really started to heat up in this week's episode of "Game of Thrones."
After a number of military defeats, Daenerys considers employing the nuclear option, i.e., her fire-breathing dragons. Meanwhile, Winterfell sees another Stark reunion, and the Lannisters once again pay their debts.
We begin in Highgarden, where Jaime Lannister is enjoying a victory on the battlefield, albeit not for long.
Hey, Bronn's back! We caught a glimpse of Tyrion's former BFF during last week's episode, but this week we get a full helping of the sarcastic sellsword's famous sense of humor. After some verbal sparring, Jaime assures Bronn that he will be paid in full for his services, including whatever castle he wants, after the war.
Meanwhile, the Lannister army loads up all the gold taken after conquering House Tyrell to settle their loan from the Iron Bank. In King's Landing, where Cersei continues meeting with a representative from the Iron Bank. He's pleased that the Lannister debt will be paid back in full and offers her the bank's services again should she need them. Cersei wants a bigger army and a bigger fleet, all of which can be funded with help from the Iron Bank.
In Winterfell, Petyr Baelish continues his quest to take all the Stark children under his wing by trying to bond with the newly returned Bran. Petyr gives Bran a dagger, the same Valryian steel dagger that someone used to try to assassinate Bran in season 1.
Expressing sympathy for Bran and his travails, Petyr refers to "such chaos in the world." Bran interrupts, quoting Petyr's chilling summation of his worldview from season 3, "Chaos is a ladder." Bran, of course, wasn't in King's Landing to hear that at the time, and he doesn't explicitly say whether he knows Petyr started the chaos that has been engulfing Westeros.
Their conversation is interrupted when Bran's travel companion Meera enters to tell him that she will be leaving Winterfell and returning to her family. When Bran once again fails to show emotion and continues to talk like a first-semester philosophy major, Meera becomes upset and tells him that the real Brandon Stark died with her brother, Hodor and the direwolf Summer at the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven.
As in last week's episode, we get a Stark reunion this week. Arya finally arrives at the gates of Winterfell, but the guards, who believe Arya Stark is dead, don't welcome her with open arms. She persuades them to let her in, then gives them the slip. When the guards inform Sansa that someone claiming to be her sister showed up and then disappeared, she knows where to find her: in the family crypt, in front of their father's chamber. Sansa finds Arya, and the two embrace. They talk about how the statue of their father looks nothing like him, and Arya informs Sansa of her list of people she intends to kill.
Arya and Sansa then go to talk to Bran, who knows about Arya's list. Sansa asks who's on said list, and Arya tells her that most of them are dead. The Stark children wonder why Petyr gave Bran the dagger, which he turns over to Arya.
Never one to stay still for long, Arya asks Brienne to train with her. Petyr and Sansa watch as Arya outfights a surprised Brienne. "Who taught you how to do that?" Brienne asks. "No one," Arya replies.
Daenerys has yet to hear back regarding the battle at Casterly Rock. In the meantime, Jon Snow shows her a cave rich with the dragonglass he intends to mine in order to fight the White Walkers. The cave also contains a series of ancient paintings showing the Children of the Forest and the First Men fighting a common enemy: White Walkers. She says she'll fight with Jon and for the North — if he bends the knee. He tells her that the North won't accept another southern ruler after all the Lannister drama. Dany replies by pointing out that the survival of Jon's people should be more important than his pride.
As they leave the cave, they find Tyrion waiting outside to inform Dany that they've taken Casterly Rock but lost Highgarden. Frustrated and angry, Dany wants to fly her dragons to the Red Keep and burn it down, against Tyrion's counsel. She asks Jon for his advice, who tells her that if she uses the dragons to incinerate cities and their residents, she will be no different from any of Westeros' long line of tyrannical rulers.
Later, Davos asks Jon what he thinks of Daenerys. He says he thinks she has a good heart, and Davos says he's noticed Jon staring at her, um, heart. They then come across her adviser Missandei, who tells them that she and all the others from Essos serve Dany not because of her family name but because they've chosen her as their queen.
The survivors from Theon's and Yara's defeated fleet return to Dragonstone. Jon sees Theon for the first time since Theon turned on the Starks and seized and torched Winterfell to impress his father. Jon grabs Theon by the throat and says that his protection of Sansa is the only reason Jon will spare his life. Shaken and as cowardly as ever, Theon says he has returned to ask Dany to help him rescue Yara from their evil uncle Euron. Oh, yeah, it's about to go down.
Jaime, Bronn and the Lannister army are outside King's Landing and have just gotten Highgarden's gold inside the city gates when an army of Dothraki stampedes toward them. Jaime he says they can hold off the horde. That is, until they hear a terrifying roar. That's right, it's dragon time!
Daenerys flies in on Drogon, which torches the Lannister troops. They fire arrows at the dragon and inflict, of course, a total of zero damage. Bronn fights his way through the fiery battlefield to get to the giant anti-dragon crossbow shown earlier this season. Dany and Drogon dodge the first shot, but the second one hits the beast in a shoulder. The dragon is able to recover and incinerates the weapon, missing Bronn. Drogon lands at the edge of Blackwater Rush, and the Mother of Dragons dismounts to try to take the huge arrow out of her scaly child.
Seeing an opportunity, Jaime grabs a spear and gallops toward Dany. From a hill above the battlefield, Tyrion sees his brother and prays he will flee. Just as Jaime is about to reach Dany, Drogon turns its head and about to unleash fiery doom. But someone — Bronn? — charges in and knocks Jaime out of the way, and they plunge into the water. As both sink toward the bottom, the screen cuts to black.