The second episode of Game of Thrones’ 7th season ends in fire and blood.
I’ll be honest, there were moments I loved in ‘Stormborn’ and there were moments I could’ve cared less about. A mixed bag, you might say, with a few really cool, driving scenes mixed. We’ll Start with the bad first, then we’ll get to the good stuff.
Let’s get this out in the open real quick, I dislike Danaerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Stormborn and all those other titles. I think she has good in her, but she’s also arrogant, naive, and irritating.
Danaerys has returned to Dragonstone, her birthplace, where she sits, plots, and plans with her advisers and allies. So much of this storyline feels lazy and unnecessary.
Dany confronts Varys about his questionable loyalty to past rulers. Varys has a great answer; that his loyalty is to the common people, not to kings, whether mad or drunk. A great answer, but the scene itself felt forced. Dany’s had plenty of chances to interrogate Varys before, so why this exact moment? Why wait all this time, until they’ve actually reached Westeros and Varys has secured an allegiance with two great Houses?
After this Danaerys meets Melisandre, the Red Witch. She recites the prophecy of Azor Ahai, a prophecy that Melisandre has introduced both Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow to in the past.
The prophecy tells of the “prince” that will bring about the dawn, but we are quickly told by Missandei that the translation is incorrect and that “prince” in High Valyrian is non-gendered, so the quotation could refer to “prince or princess.” Really? You have to spell it out to us that Azor Ahai could be either a man or a woman? In the most awkward “girl power” moment possible?
Why not use one of the phrases used in the books instead? Like this one:
“When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.”
That’s non-gendered without you having to tell us that explicitly in a forced dialogue. It’s also more specific.
Finally, we have a scene of the gathered matriarchs of Westeros; Ellaria Sand, Olenna Tyrell, Yara Greyjoy, and Danaerys Targaryen. Game of Thrones has traded its lords for ladies, but not much else has changed. Everyone still wants blood and vengeance. Olenna tells Dany in no uncertain terms to ignore the advice of Tyrion Lannister. A “clever man” as Olenna puts it, while she weirdly and stupidly compares him to her bumbling son and husband. I love Olenna’s character, but this makes almost no sense and cheapens her character in an unsettling way.
Finally, Danaerys sends a raven to Winterfell to request Jon’s presence at Dragonstone to join forces and make him “bend the knee.”
And yet another reason I dislike Danaerys more and more each week. She’s hardly spent five minutes in Westeros her entire life, and she feels entitled to make Jon, King in the North, bend the knee and offer up fealty to her? It’s maddening. Arrogant, selfish, short-sighted and stupid. These are the qualities of the Mad King’s daughter. Even in her conversation with Varys, who tells her passionately of his loyalty to the people, her only response is “If you betray me I’ll burn you alive.”
How inspiring. Maybe Danaerys being a villain and tyrant (with a heart of gold) isn’t so far off base. She may be listening to Tyrion and she may not want to be “queen of the ashes” for now. But I wonder what the future holds.
Oh well. Let’s move on. Let’s find ourselves a nice, comfortable inn. And who do we see in the common room? Two old friends…
Here she meets up with Hot Pie again, happily working in the inn’s kitchens. Unchanged. Arya is much different. “What happened to you?” Hot Pie asks. Then he asks where she’s going and she tells him King’s Landing. But why, Hot Pie wants to know, when you could be going home?
And so Arya comes to learn that the Boltons are dead and Jon has been crowned King in the North, and sets off to be reunited with her family.
Later we come upon her in a snowswept forest. Her horse is skittish, nervous. And then the wolves come.
Nymeria is huge. Much larger than Ghost. We haven’t seen her since she was a pup, way back in Season 1. It’s been a while. Back then, Ned and his daughters headed south from Winterfell to King’s Landing with Robert.
Along the way, Joffrey was bitten by Nymeria, who was defending Arya from the spoiled prince. Cersei orders Lady to be killed in Nymeria’s place when Arya frees her own direwolf, and Ned carries out the execution. Now, seven seasons later, we see Nymeria again, but she doesn’t come with Arya. She returns to the woods with her pack.
It’s a big moment for the show, though I was hoping Arya would stick with the wolves. I doubt this is the end of it, and Nymeria probably returns again later this season.
I love Arya, and I want more of her story.
For now, we’ll head further north still, to the great, cold stone halls of Winterfell.
Here Jon Snow tells his assembled lords and ladies of two letter he’s received, via raven, one from the Citadel and one from Dragonstone.
The first, from Danaerys, was a request to come to Dragonstone to meet with the Queen and bend the knee, written from the Hand himself, Tyrion. He even sent it with a secret code: “All dwarves are bastards in their fathers’ eyes.” The very thing Tyrion told Jon Snow when they first met, also way back in Season 1.
The second letter was from Samwell Tarly, who discovered a mountain of dragonglass at Dragonstone.
Jon wants to go meet with Dany, but Sansa is against the idea. I’m not sure if Sansa keeps opposing Jon because Sansa has different ideas about how to govern and rule than he does, or because the writers are doing their best to keep the two at odds with one another. I do think Sansa’s caution is warranted, but there’s something sort of weird about these public disputes the two keep having.
The other lords and ladies are on Sansa’s side though, even the young firebrand, Lyanna Mormont. Send an emissary, Sansa pleads. But Jon Snow won’t be deterred. He’s going to do what he believes is right no matter what.
The irony, of course, is that Melisandre, the woman he banished, has orchestrated his summons.
Finally, we come to Jon and Littlefinger in the crypt beneath Winterfell. The only question I have is why Jon doesn’t just kill Littlefinger then and there. All of Littlefinger’s powers lie in his ability to convince people he has power. He has no loyal men, no friends, no deep bonds with powerful Houses. Why Jon tolerates his presence in Winterfell at all at this point is beyond me, though I suppose he figures any help against the Night King is better than no help.
I don’t think that’s true, however.
Let’s fly on, south and west and south a little more, to Old Town.
Sam has discovered a cure for Greyscale; and yes, it was an oddly quick discovery given how long it took individuals like Stannis, to find a cure. Setting that aside, the cure turns out to be rather gruesome. It consists of cutting the greyscale away from the flesh.
Sam continues to have the funniest and most disgusting scenes in Game of Thrones.
One way or another, it looks like Sam found the cure to Ser Jorah Mormont’s ailment. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Let’s head out to sea now, somewhere between Dragonstone and Sunspear.
Yara and Ellaria flirt while Theon sits and listens. Yara is taking Oberyn’s lover back to Dorne, where she’s become the ruler by killing Oberyn’s brother, Doran Martell.
They’re about to have a little fun when the ship shakes. It’s been hit by something. Yara runs above and discovers an ocean aflame. Men are running around shouting.
Euron has arrived with his magical fleet of 1000 ships that he built in like two months somehow, and Yara and Ellaria and Theon are in hot water. Literally.
Euron boards the ship and his men start killing everyone. Two of the Sand Snakes are killed by Euron himself. The third, along with Ellaria and Yara are taken captive. Theon jumps overboard and hides in the sea. Again, I don’t know how to feel about this. He’d proved his courage by helping Sansa escape, but here he loses his nerve once again. I guess we all get to keep hating Theon.
Overall, I didn’t like this episode as much as the first, though it still had many good moments. This felt even more like the show setting up the for the rest of Season 7 than the premiere. Something just didn’t quite click for me.
I’m curious to know if I’m alone in this or if others share these thoughts. Something felt off about this episode, what was it? Is Game of Thrones becoming too predictable at this point? Too unrealistic? What’s going on?