When the summer heat cracks the 90s and the humidity wraps you up like a furry blanket of sweaty torment, is there anything more refreshing than cannonballing into the pool? Answer: no. Well, maybe sticking your face directly in front of the air conditioner and letting it turn your nose into an icicle. Point is, where there’s fire, you need some ice, and you can see where I am going with this. Poolside chillin’ is as iconic to summer as watching Game of Thrones has become, and the latest episode reminds us of why we all need the occasional dip to cool off.
Sometimes opening shots to episodes seem like afterthoughts. But this week, we open with a wave crashing on the shore. The water from the sea billowed and rolled its way to the sands of Dragonstone, bringing with it Jon Snow. He was there to meet Daenerys Stormborn, Rightful Heir to the… you know the rest. And if we didn’t get the picture at first, we had our trusty crazy lady Melisandre to spell it out for us – ice and fire have finally come together. When you combine ice and fire, you get water. Picture complete.
Water is weird, isn’t it? It cleanses yet it drowns. It carries us to new worlds but can rise up and destroy them. Good thing we’ve got centuries of art and literature to help explore this symbolism. In our story we can be sure that a joining of ice and fire will create something. Whether will cleanse or destroy remains to be seen. Westeros, as our own world, is calling out for a baptism. It longs for new life to spring up from the water. To be saved instead of drowned. Lately we have seem many characters making direct choices to either give life or take it away.
“(Daenerys) protects people from monsters, just as you do. It’s why she came here.” – Tyrion
Tyrion, who finally gets more of a chance to shine this season, shows us that both Jon and Daenerys continually make choices to give life. Protecting people from monsters is why they are where they are. Cersei on the other hand, well, if you didn’t already know, she gave you another example this week by cruelly dealing the kiss of death (literally) to Tyene right in front of her mother Ellaria. Cersei chooses revenge and death. The Queen’s justice, indeed. We see other examples like Sam, who chose to give life to Ser Jorah even at risk of his own. And in the most purely savage moment of the season so far, we finally learn that it was Lady Olenna Tyrell that poisoned Joffrey to death, as she drinks to her own. You go, Lady O!
These individual choices may make their own ripples in the sea, but in order for life to become a tidal wave it must be acted out in community. The best part about that final moment between Jon and Daenerys was that they held to their beliefs of how the seven kingdoms should be divided, yet still came to a communal decision. That’s what we are called to as people of God. 1 Corinthians 12 shows us that we are one body, many parts, baptized by one spirit to form one body whether slave or free, Jews or Gentiles. If we happened to also be fire or ice, that would definitely be included. Through acting alone, Daenerys would likely have to kill a lot of people to win the war. Working with Jon, they can bring about new life.
The game for the throne has one distinct characteristic – it divides. It can only ever turn the players against each other. As our characters begin to fight for something greater, leaving the game behind, this division must slowly disappear for it to last. Littlefinger’s speech to Sansa about fighting “all battles all the time” seems to be a pretty sound strategy in Westeros. But ultimately, if everyone is both your friend and your enemy, you will simply end up alone. As Cersei has marooned herself on Cersei Island, you see what she must do in order to maintain solitary power. The justice of that Queen is death. Perhaps, if ice and fire can remain together and build a strong community, Westeros can finally feel the rejuvenation of a dip in the water. And the justice of Queen Daenerys can finally bring the new life of spring… you know, if Bran the Three Eyed Raven doesn’t mess all of this up (again).