It's the moment fans have been waiting seven seasons for: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are finally about to come face-to-face… and if the recently released photos from Game Of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 are any indication, the initial meeting will be far from a smooth one. It's crazy to think that the two most important characters on a series haven't spent a single second on screen together in 62 episodes; but such is the sprawling nature of Thrones.
However, as the show nears its bittersweet ending, those disparate plot threads are starting to converge in both surprising and satisfying ways. And for fans who have long dreamed about Jon and Dany marrying and ruling Westeros together as the literal embodiment of ice and fire, well… their first encounter may contain quite a bit more friction than expected.
Remember that the Starks and the Targaryens have long been enemies; Jon's father helped overthrow Dany's father after Dany's father tortured and executed Jon's grandfather and uncle. And their missions could not be more different at the moment, either; while Jon is solely focused on the White Walkers, Dany probably won't appreciate being asked to abandon her lifelong quest for the Iron Throne at the precise moment she's finally begun her long-delayed invasion.
But what else can viewers expect from the July 30 episode, "The Queen's Justice"? Let's dissect the pictures for clues:
1. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Jon and his adviser Davos appear to have made good time on the journey from Winterfell to Dragonstone, in keeping with the show's increased willingness to elide what should be lengthy travels. Their approach to the island in a small rowboat echoes another character's departure from the same island in a similar rowboat four seasons ago. Where is that handsome bastard Gendry, anyway…?
2. Welcoming Party
Who better to greet the King in the North upon his arrival other than Dany's Hand of the Queen — especially considering the bonding time they had together way back in Season 1, when Tyrion traveled to the Wall with the Night's Watch for a chilly vacation? Notice the Dothraki standing behind him; with the Unsullied off to invade Casterly Rock and most of the Ironborn killed at sea by Euron, the horse lords are the only army Dany has left on Dragonstone.
This gorgeous shot features an unlikely pair: the imperious Red Priestess, Lady Melisandre, and the pragmatic magic-hater, Lord Varys. What in Westeros could they be talking about? Are they watching Jon Snow's arrival? Or is Melisandre wisely keeping a wide berth from his meeting with Dany, considering the fact that Jon brought along a man who swore to kill her if he ever saw her again?
4. Lord Of Whispers
It's great to see Varys living up to his title, literally whispering in his queen's ear. Is he relaying some information to the Mother of Dragons from his tête-à-tête with Melisandre? Is he advising her on how to handle Jon Snow? Given that Varys claims to serve "the realm," he should theoretically be on the side of helping Jon save the Seven Kingdoms from the White Walkers. But will he so easily believe Jon's stories about magical ice zombies without some sort of proof?
5. "Ice" To Meet You
Of course, HBO will keep viewers waiting to actually see Jon and Dany physically together until they watch the episode for themselves. But it's clear from the look on Jon's face here that he's finally face-to-face with the Breaker of Chains herself. Speaking of his face, have we ever seen Jon look so nervous before? Even when facing down the Night King, he had more of a look of grim determination. Something tells me Dany isn't exactly welcoming him with open arms.
6. You're Fired
Considering Dany threatened to burn one of her own loyal advisers alive just one episode ago, what will she do if Jon Snow refuses her command to "bend the knee"? Judging by her rather imperious look here, Jon has his work cut out for him when it comes to ingratiating himself with the Targaryen ruler.
7. Between A Rock And A Hard Place
In Episode 2, Grey Worm and the rest of the Unsullied were dispatched to take Casterly Rock, the ancestral seat of House Lannister. Here, we see the commander standing stoically inside a grey-stoned courtyard — not surrounded by enemies, not fighting for his life, just standing there looking badass with his three-headed dragon Targaryen insignia. I guess the siege was successful? Tyrion's knowledge of the castle's sewage system must have come in handy…
8. A House Divided
Dany's not the only woman whose ear is getting whispered into by a former member of the Small Council. While Varys is busy advising Dany, Littlefinger apparently continues his campaign to divide the Starks. Sansa seemed pretty over Baelish's bullsh*t in the Season 7 premiere — but who knows what effect Jon leaving her in charge of the North might have on the Lady of Winterfell. Might she be tempted to consolidate her own power while her bastard half-brother is absent?
It's clear that Jon's visit to Dany will have troublesome ramifications not just for himself, but for the kingdom he left behind. What will be waiting for him in the North when (if?) he returns to it? Will Dany heed Jon's call for aid? How will Davos react to learning that Melisandre is advising Dany? As enlightening as these pictures are, they only raise more questions. It's going to be a long wait until "The Queen's Justice" airs…