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Tell Cersei: Olenna Tyrell is one badass bitch

Illustration for article titled Tell Cersei: Olenna Tyrell is one badass bitch
Season SevenA guide to Game Of Thrones: season seven

Month of Thrones

We’re counting down to Game Of Thrones’ final season by distilling the fantasy epic to 30 essential moments. This is Month Of Thrones.


The moment

Lady Olenna reveals to Jaime (and Cersei) that she killed his punkass son

The episode

“The Queen’s Justice” (season seven, episode three)

For most of its runtime, “The Queen’s Justice” is basically “Cersei’s Revenge, Part the Nth.” Following the unfortunate “incident” at the Sept Of Baelor, the self-appointed ruler of Westeros looks well on her way to bringing the rest of the seven kingdoms to heel: in one fell swoop, she takes out what’s left of House Tyrell and renders Dorne a non-entity (to the delight of many who felt the series squandered a storyline once made promising by Pedro Pascal’s Oberyn Martell). Ever the multitasker, Cersei even manages to refill her coffers with Tyrell gold, which she plans to use to ensure the Lannisters continue to pay their debts. Her windfall also means she can hire The Golden Company, which is only the largest, most skilled group of sellswords in all the Free Cities. But as it turns out, she doesn’t need any additional mercenaries to deprive Daenerys of her newfound allies, the Tyrells and Sandsnakes; she just makes a pawn sacrifice out of Casterly Rock.

Cersei displays great cunning this episode, as she has for much of the series. She’s playing the game of thrones like she wrote the rules, neutralizing enemies when she’s not outright vanquishing them. But Cersei is as motivated by a hunger for power as she is something more personal: vengeance for her daughter Myrcella, who was poisoned by Ellaria Sand. As she delivers Cersei’s rumination on comeuppance, Lena Headey is a tower of righteous anger, her hushed tones striking great fear in Ellaria and Tyene. Cersei knows just how to wring the most pleasure from the moment for herself while inflicting the most pain—by the time she finally walks away from a devastated Ellaria and a doomed Tyene, the audience is as close to collapsing as the two Dornish women.

There’s no question that Cersei deals a great blow to her enemies in “The Queen’s Justice,” even as the title of queen could apply to multiple characters in the episode, including Daenerys, who plans to become Queen of the Andals but will take Queen of Meereen for now, and Sansa, who’s effectively Queen in the North while Jon goes digging for dragonglass. There’s also the Queen of Thorns herself, Olenna Tyrell. Even after Jaime Lannister gets his gold hand on her gold, Lady Olenna’s demeanor barely changes—she is imperious and withering until the very end.

Lady Olenna’s fate has already been sealed, and House Tyrell will probably never rise again. But the fan-favorite matriarch plays coy as Jaime enumerates the horrible ways Cersei wanted her punished. But Jaime, who’s proud of the lengths he’s gone to for love, is also a little put-off by Cersei’s viciousness; at the very least, he doesn’t see any need to flail the Queen of Thorns alive, so he gives her a fast-acting poison. Certain that she’ll be spared any pain, Lady Olenna knocks the poisoned wine back like she’s toasting to something, because she is—she knows she’s about to take some of the joy out of the Lannisters’ victory. After warning Jaime that Cersei is a “disease,” one that’s beyond his control or heeding his advice, Lady Olenna drops a bombshell: She wanted a more malleable mate for her granddaughter Margaery, so she had Joffrey murdered so Tommen could take the Iron Throne. Her last words are: “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”

Jaime says nothing because there’s nothing to say—Olenna’s done her damage and the damage has also been done to her. He can’t kill her again, but knowing that Lady Olenna is the one responsible for Joffrey’s death, which created a rift in his relationship with Cersei, is like losing his horrible son all over again. When he shares the revelation with Cersei later, she initially refuses to believe it, but like it or not, the Queen Of Thorns got in one last dig before meeting her end.


What we said then

From our experts review, an in memoriam: “Olenna Tyrell thrived on control. She was never the most powerful woman in Westeros, but she relied on being able to take actions that would stabilize her family. And she acknowledges as she faces her death that one of those decisions was to merge her family with the Lannisters, a decision that helped turn Cersei into the woman she has become. It’s a tremendous final scene for Diana Rigg, who from beginning to end has captured the truth of the Queen Of Thorns: she will take shit from no man, or woman. And so if you are going to expedite her exit from this story, it should be with a stirring self-reflexive monologue that turns into the ultimate power play, accepting her painless end while revealing to Jaime that she orchestrated his son’s torturous death, and wants Cersei to know she did.”


Elsewhere in the episode

Speaking of humbled, Daenerys wants Jon to take the knee upon meeting him, which he refuses to do. But she does decide to let him have all the obsidian he wants, because it’ll mean he’ll be too busy to bother her with stories of the Night King. Cersei accepts Euron’s second proposal and appoints him leader of the Crown’s navy. After being reunited, Bran says weird things to Sansa as she tries to prepare for the fast-approaching winter. Littlefinger is still doing his best to poison Sansa against everyone but him. Oh, and Theon is rescued, grudgingly, by his countrymen; Melisandre sails for Volantis; and Sam cures Jorah of his greyscale.