Varys lays schemes. Qyburn continues work.
EXT. DRAGONSTONE ISLAND - DAY
A wide shot establishes us at Dragonstone.
Int. Dragonstone - bronn's chamber - day
BRONN has been put up in a tower room. He stands at the window, overlooking the winding stone stair that climbs from Dragonstone's beaches up to the castle.
Bronn looks much better than the last time we saw him. He's healthy, dressed in clean clothes. His room is comfortably furnished, with a bed, a crackling fireplace, a washbasin, and a table with food and drink set out.
Someone knocks on his door, then enters without waiting for a response. It's VARYS. Bronn addresses him in a flat, unimpressed tone.
A cell. Really.
Varys casts his gaze all around the comfortable chamber.
Have you been uncomfortable here?
There's guards outside my door. That makes this a cell, no matter how you fancy it up.
It's good to see you've recovered to your usual spirits, friend.
I'm not your friend.
My dear ser, you wound me.
Varys takes a seat at the table and helps himself to refreshment.
I cannot say I feel contrite for confining you to this cell, as you call it. The last we'd heard, you were under the employ of Queen Cersei.
Oh, the last you'd heard? You sure about that?
Your troubles upon the Blackwater do suggest that you've displeased her in some fashion. A promising development, to be sure, but it does not make you trustworthy, I'm afraid.
Bronn does not deign to comment. He's never claimed to be trustworthy.
It does suggest that you are currently without contract, perhaps?
And you've come here to change that, I suppose?
Varys' expression indicates that he has. Bronn's expression indicates that he won't have an easy time of it. He shakes his head.
I'm done with this game. I've been promised and promised -- gold, lands, castles. I've served and served, and what do I have to show for it now?
You would prefer to languish in this cell?
I would prefer to languish across the Narrow Sea, to be honest.
You cannot run from what's coming, Bronn. No one can. If we fail, there will be no safe place left in this world. Sooner or later, the dead will come for you.
I think I'll stick with "later," if it's all the same to you.
Right, what is it that you fucking want from me?
The Great War has begun, and Cersei has broken faith with the living. A divided Westeros is vulnerable -- Cersei cannot be allowed to remain in power. For the sake of all who draw breath, she must be deposed.
I am not going back to King's Landing.
Cersei's days are numbered. Her own brother has turned his back on her cause. Once that becomes common knowledge, the lords of the Westerlands will be close behind. Her allies in the Reach are gone, the common people despise her, the Faith is working against her. It is only a matter of time before her final downfall.
Sounds like you don't need me, then.
Not to defeat Cersei.
In the end, Cersei will be left with nobody but her Queensguard... and the City Watch.
Bronn looks up at him. It sounds like Varys might finally be arriving at the point.
Two thousand gold cloaks, pledged directly to the Crown. Not enough to save her, to be sure. However, given that the real war is between the living and the dead, we would prefer to take the city without bloodshed, if we can.
Varys leans toward Bronn.
You are the former commander of the City Watch. For a short time, yes, but you did well during that time, and the men will remember you. I assure you, by the time your role is at hand, Cersei will already be defeated for all practical purposes. You will have ample gold for bribes, and a compelling case for defection. No man wants to die for a lost cause, fighting for a hated monarch. Bring the gold cloaks onto our side. You will be richly rewarded, and for very little risk.
Bronn makes no wisecracks this time. The silence hangs for a few beats as Bronn eyes Varys dispassionately.
You're a clever man, Varys.
Varys smiles, glad that he's winning Bronn over.
Very smart, very reasonable.
Trouble is, Cersei's not. And that's a problem for you. Smart, reasonable people will do what needs done to benefit themselves. Cersei will do things that don't benefit anyone. And that's where your clever plans go wrong.
Varys' smile fades. Bronn leans forward and fixes Varys with a serious look.
The last time Cersei was backed into a corner, she blew up the Great Sept. What do you imagine she might do this time?
Int. Qyburn's dungeons - day
It's pitch-black in here, solid darkness punctuated only by one man's frightened breathing.
Somewhere unseen, there's the indistinct sound of a heavy door opening, then closing, then footsteps walking along a stone corridor. And with it, the faint, indirect glow of an approaching torch.
Now we see that the prisoner is Dennis the woodcarver, father to Gerren the aspiring street artist. He blinks, adjusting his eyes to the dim flickering light. He looks around, taking in his surroundings.
This cell is less comfortable than Bronn's, that's for sure. It's a metal cage barely large enough to lie down in, with a bare metal pan floor and not even a pot to piss in. It rather resembles a human-sized version of the rat cage Qyburn used in 802, though of course Dennis wouldn't know that.
On three sides of the cage, stone walls press close just outside the bars. The fourth side looks perpendicularly across a plain stone passageway -- a few feet of stone-slab floor, then the far wall of the corridor, stone like everything else. To the right, the dim torchlight is growing brighter with the approaching footsteps.
Dennis moves up to the bars and peers out as QYBURN comes into frame, carrying the torch. He offers Dennis a kindly smile and sets the torch in a bracket on the wall. He finds a simple wooden stool and sits, facing his prisoner.
My son. M'lord, please, where is my son?
He has not come to any harm, I assure you.
A small relief, in a grim situation.
Might... might I see him, m'lord?
Qyburn regards him gravely.
Your son has committed treason, you understand. Slandering the queen in time of war, rousing traitors against her -- this is a grave crime. Your son awaits the queen's justice.
No. No, please, mercy m'lord, I beg you. He's only a boy, he doesn't understand what it is that he does, he doesn't understand.
Qyburn's forehead creases with sympathetic concern.
He's quite young, that's true.
He's a good lad, I swear it. Please, m'lord.
Sons learn from their fathers, do they not? How did he come to harbor such treacherous anger toward her grace?
Dennis hesitates, afraid, trying to find the right words to defend himself against the implied accusation. Then he realizes the opportunity, as indeed Qyburn had meant for him to.
Let me bear the queen's justice in his place, m'lord. I'll submit to anything, I swear it, just spare him, please.
Qyburn makes a show of weighing this idea.
Hmm. There is precedent for that. The queen is not without mercy. Are you quite certain of this? Would you swear me your absolute cooperation?
(trying to be brave)
Yes... yes, m'lord.
Qyburn regards him for a long time.
Very well. I shall record his transgressions under your name, and see to it that he is released unharmed.
Do you promise, m'lord?
Thank you, m'lord.
Qyburn nods. Dennis struggles to hang onto his composure.
Might I... might I see him for a moment, before...
So I can explain. And, and...
"And say goodbye." He cannot bring himself to say it.
I do not think that would be wise, my friend. Such a passionate boy, who can say what treasonous outbursts that might provoke in him. It would be a shame for him to incriminate himself again, after we've so carefully expunged his record.
Dennis stares at Qyburn. What little hope he'd had of seeing his son again, we watch that hope ending now on his face.
Tell him... tell him to stay alive.
I'll tell him.
Qyburn stands up and produces a flask from inside his robe. It's full of an evil-looking thick purplish liquid. He unstoppers it.
I shall require you to drink this, please.
Dennis stares at the flask. He had hoped for some time to come to grips with his doom -- a night, an hour even -- but no, apparently the time is now.
...what is it?
Qyburn just smiles enigmatically. Dennis sees that he will not have the privilege of an answer. He takes the flask with trembling hands.
He closes his eyes, murmurs some indistinct prayer, and takes a hesitant sip. He nearly gags on it -- whatever it is, the taste is clearly appalling. He breathes heavily for a few moments, working up his resolve, then tilts his head back and takes down the rest in one long tortured swallow. Qyburn watches serenely, and takes the flask back from him when he's finished, stowing it in his robes.
Dennis lowers himself to the floor of the cage, hugging his knees, trembling in fear, waiting for something unknown and terrible to happen to him.
Qyburn takes the torch from the wall, the better to see with. He peers at Dennis with intent curiosity. Dennis stares up at him.
Qyburn turns and pulls a lever that had been out of sight somewhere off to the side. There's a loud clanking of chains, and the cage begins slowly lowering down into a hidden pit in the stone floor, rattling and jolting as it goes. Dennis looks around, confused and terrified.
Dennis' POV: Qyburn's curious face rises higher as we sink lower, down into some dark stone pit. There's a soft wet splash, then suddenly a bright green liquid comes spilling into the pan floor as the cage sinks down into it.
Dennis scrambles up, the liquid sloshing at his ankles. He backs up against the bars, staring down at it. He looks up at Qyburn, still visible over the lip of the stone floor, which now comes up to Dennis' shoulder. Qyburn moves closer, with the torch.
M'lord, wait! Please, not like this. Not like this!
Qyburn drops the torch.
Bright green flame roars up, filling all our vision as Dennis screams.
PART 5 OF EPISODE 6 WILL ARRIVE SUNDAY, JANUARY 27 2019