ROUND-UP: Game of Thrones – ‘Stormborn’ (Season 7, Episode 2)

This week’s Westerosi offering was a taut mix of political intrigue and unexpected brutality, so without further ado, let’s jump into it…

My Enemy’s Enemy is My Friend?

Marieke: That was one tense war room. The discussion between Daenerys and Varys about his loyalty was watched in fear by Tyrion, who was not allowed to intervene. Varys has always made clear his loyalties lie with the realm. He might seem disloyal when it comes to kings and queens, but it is the citizens he cares about. It is something that is hard to take for Dany, who particularly wonders why Varys ever stood by her brother Viserys. After all, he took a lot more after his father than Dany has seemed to so far. Varys manages to get out of this situation by explaining himself well. Dany tells him the various crises and situations in Meereen made her listen, and taught her not to act out of vengeance immediately. After all, traitor Jorah was at the same time the most loyal knight she has ever had. She will need Varys and his ‘little birds’ and so forgives him, but not without warning. Death by fire is always close with the Dragon Queen.

War room ep 1 got
Olenna (Diana Rigg), Varys (Conleth Hill), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Daenerys, (Emilia Clark), Yara (Gemma Whelan), Ellaria (Indira Varma) and Theon (Alfie Allen) discussing how best to beat the Lannisters.

Then there is the problem of uniting people who have also reason to hate each other. Ellaria and Tyrion for Oberyn and Myrcella, Olenna and Tyrion because of his mad sister’s murders, and in general being a Lannister complicates it all. Olenna also warns Dany not to trust men too much. She didn’t and she is still here, isn’t she? Her advice proves to be prophetic already in the episode itself. However, there is no denying Tyrion is smart and a good strategist. He knows his sister better than any of them, but that most likely will work both ways too, which is an obvious weakness. I never expected Melisandre to appear at Dragonstone, probably wanting to relive some shadow baby making memories, but also to tell Dany about Jon Snow. Maybe it is just me, but I get excited when characters who never met before have interactions with each other. We also learn that some words in Valryian are gender neutral, and that it does not need to be the Prince that was Promised, but it could equally be a Princess. As Dany herself noted, Melisandre was also in traitor waters, but with the Queen in a pardoning mood, the red priestess escapes unscathed. Either way, Tyrion trusts Jon Snow, so a letter has to be sent. More interactions please!!

On an entirely different note, there’s Grey Worm and Missandei. AWWW! He’s being vulnerable with her, by admitting how he feels and by letting her drop his trousers. I’m sure everyone wondered if we’d get a full frontal shot, but it would’ve taken away from a sweet scene. They have such a strong bond and they finally got what they deserved. Missandei did anyway! Sadly a scene like this foretells the worst will happen. Death will most likely tear this couple apart and since Grey Worm is heading to Casterly Rock, he might be the one not returning. Such sorrow. At least we do know Grey Worm can err… ‘speak’ more than one foreign tongue…

Danielle: I was rooting for Varys throughout that strained conversation with Dany. His goal has always been been to serve the people, rather than those who rule over them, and I can already sense that the Mother of Dragons is going to need reining in: power corrupts and all that. Still though, I can’t help but feel that her threatening to burn him if he betrays her was foreshadowing, rather than an idle threat. Daenerys may well be sailing close a little too close to the wind as far as trying not to emulate her mad father, and as much as I love Olenna, it doesn’t help that she seems to be egging her on by telling her to ‘be a dragon’. Sometimes old women don’t give the best advice. It also struck me how Dany made a point of mentioning that returning to Dragonstone didn’t feel like a homecoming to her, in spite of the fact she was born there. Having spent most of her life across the Narrow Sea, is Westeros ever going to feel like somewhere she could put down roots and rule over?

I do think Tyrion’s role might be just as problematic as Varys’ going forward. I’m glad he picked up Ellaria for killing Myrcella. She can bleat on about Oberyn needlessly dying for him all she wants, but it’s doubtful that her deceased partner would have sanctioned her killing a little girl, and then his older brother, Doran. In any case, a seed has been planted there that Tyrion still has some sympathy for the remaining Lannisters, Jaime at the very least. I am hyped about the Dwarf/Bastard reunion that Melisandre brought about as well.

Speaking of complicated situations, perhaps it’s just me, but Missandei and Grey Worm’s sex scene left me really cold. I don’t know if it’s because the whole thing went on too long, or if I’ve just never been too invested in the relationship, but it felt forced to me. It didn’t help that I was screaming at the screen for Missandei to close the door the entire time. Where the hell is Hodor when you need him?… Oh. 😦

Euron your own, Theon
Euron Obara got ep 2
Euron (Pilou Asbaek) brutally murdering Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes). 

Marieke: Well that came out of nowhere! Along with the tree mystery, Euron has found the best GPS system in all of Westeros, the GreyjoyPS. Yara can’t even get it on properly with Ellaria, because her fleet is under attack by her dear uncle. Numerous Jack Sparrow comparisons have been made already. Euron looks like a mad, deranged pirate in leather (his clothing differs a lot from the rest of Westeros), with crazy eyes, killing every traitor and Sand Snake in his way. Yara does her best, but she is no assassin, or great swordswoman. It doesn’t take Euron long to get his hands on her to keep her hostage, and then we see the return of someone we thought long gone: Reek. The violence, the cockless-teasing, but mostly the brutality of it all makes sure Theon’s other persona reappears strongly. Reek’s cowardice surfaces and all he can do is jump ship, and Yara sheds a tear. She could not save Theon once because he was Reek. Now he cannot save her because Reek still exists in some form. He possibly was given too much credit for rescuing Sansa and getting her to safety. Theon/Reek is definitely one of the more interesting characters, but where can his story go next? Will he seek another form of redemption? Can he save his sister or does he need to kneel before Jon? In a way, his story feels over after Sansa’s rescue and standing by his sister, but he is still floating around.

Euron is as mad as the Cheshire Cat on steroids with accompanying grin, seemingly becoming quite the pantomime villain. He will no doubt become a love him or hate him figure, and for now I am in the former camp seeing the actor enjoy his part so much. Euron is a little less serious, which makes for a nice departure against all the seriousness going on elsewhere right now. We will have to see what his legacy will be and if he can measure up to Joffrey and Ramsay. Arrrrr!

Danielle: I don’t think I can disagree more that his Theon’s story was over after he saved Sansa. Since the beginning, his arc has been about who his true family are, and what he’s prepared to do for them. I see Reek re-emerging on the back of Uncle Euron brutally kicking his niece and nephew’s asses as akin to him telling Ramsey that the old woman was helping Sansa out, but just as he came good by chucking Myranda over the railings and leaping off the castle ramparts with his adoptive sister, I expect him to do the same later in the season. The question is, who is he going to come good for, Yara, Jon or both of them. Him hopefully coming face to face with the King in the North is one of the confrontations I’m really looking forward to this season, and with Jon heading to Dragonstone, there’s every chance of it happening if he manages to swim to shore, or get plucked out of the water. Oh and it has to be said that Alfie Allen gave a masterclass in acting, as he relived what he went through with his now dead captor, as his comrades were tortured and killed around him.

Moving onto Euron, well, I have no idea how he figured out where the opposing Greyjoy ships were either, but I get the feeling we’re supposed to gloss over that. That was one hell of an entrance though, as he led his men from the front and absolutely crushed Dany’s allies. I think that’s where they’re trying to differentiate him from both Joffrey and Ramsey. Whilst both of them shared his penchant for torture and violence, it’s clear that he doesn’t share their cowardice, and that he’s far, far more insane and dangerous. That’s going to make him an altogether different foe to face. Props to him for offing two of the three Sand Snakes though. It became abundantly clear to me that they had to go when Obara and Nymeria began teasing Tyene over her constantly talking about her ‘Mama’, Ellaria. They just didn’t work as characters. Now it looks like the two remaining members of the Dornish contingent will be offered up to Cersei as the gift Euron promised. I don’t know who I’m rooting for in that scenario.

(Hot) Pie and (Wolf) Pack

Marieke: Oh that was unexpected! Hot Pie making his return! Or rather, Arya making her return to Hot Pie. Whilst I don’t want to order that hotpot (see Scaling Away), his bread still rocks. Hot Pie is happy to see Arry, but he also sees she has changed. As always, he has all the latest news and tells Arya something I thought she knew; Jon lives and is now King of the North. It is weird that I was surprised that Cersei knew about Tyrion, but why did I assume Arya knew about Jon? After all, ravens don’t tend fly to the common folk, as we know from the Lannister soldiers featured in ‘Dragonstone’. The Stark girl wants a home and needs one, it is not all about revenge for her. So after some food and much needed info from Hot Pie, the survivor (he is going be o the throne in the end, isn’t he), she finally decides to head North, and everyone with a Stark heart rejoices. But will she make it alive? Which (fr)enemies will she meet on the road? It’s not yet The Hound she meets, but a pack of direwolves. And their giant leader. Which turns out to be her own direwolf, Nymeria. There is recognition, but as much as Hot Pie saw change in Arya, Arya sees change in Nymeria. They are much alike now, but they cannot be together. I hope at some point Nymeria will come to the rescue, if only to see direwolves again. Burn those dollars on that wolf pack! Since Ghost has become invisible too.

Hot Pie got ep 2
Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) telling Arya that Jon is now the King in the North.

Danielle: So who else noticed how much like the The Hound Arya was in that scene with Hot Pie? I kept on expecting her to ask for chickens, but instead she was swapping tips with her old friend about making pies. Ones with vastly different fillings to the ones he makes for a living. I loved the reference to the ‘Big Lady Knight’ as well. Brienne was obviously out looking for the Stark girls back in Season 4, and after she checked in with Hot Pie, she most definitely found Arya travelling with the youngest Clegane brother, ultimately beating him to a pulp in one on one combat. This little reminder of that makes me wonder if there’s going to be some kind of confrontation between the two women, especially as Arya notably admitted having removed The Hound from her list to The Waif last season. At this point in time, neither of them know that Sandor is still alive either, so their could be fireworks with that particular reunion. I thought Hot Pie remarking on her being pretty was fairly interesting too. So much of her story so far has been about running away from the fact that she’s a highborn lady. Perhaps she’s going to have to face that now she’s heading home? How typical is it though that she’s only going to get there after Jon has already started making his way to Dragonstone?!

Circling back to Arya facing up to who she really is, her encountering Nymeria and her wolf pack was really poignant. Life has left its mark on both of them, and when her direwolf declines the invitation to go back to Winterfell by walking away because it’s not her any longer, it does beg the question, can her former owner really fit back into her old life in her old home after everything she’s been through? Both of them are highly skilled killers now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will see that wolf pack again, after all, Winter is a time for wolves.

Cersei Shoots her Bolt
Cersei Qyburn got ep 2
Qyburn (Anton Lesser) showing Qyburn (Lena Headey) the ballista he’s had built to combat Daenerys’ dragons.

Marieke: Cersei is panicking somewhat, but she won’t say it. She is gathering Lords who are loyal to House Tyrell to see if they want to kneel for the real Queen. Sam’s father and brother are there (hey look, a former Merlin knight is Sam’s brother!) to see if the Tarlys want to be loyal to the Lannisters. We will have to see if being Warden of the South will sway papa Tarly entirely. Cersei needs all the help she can get, although she is unaware someone will be really doing his best at the end of the episode.

In the meantime, Qyburn has been trying to get nominated for a Nobel War Prize. He invented a ballista to puncture dragons’ heads. Cersei tries it out on a skeletal dragon head her ex-husband saved from the days of Targaryen rule, and it appears to work. I hope dragon skin is much harder though. It would be lame if the dragons would die that easily. Also, I thought Qyburn was like a Frankenstein and potions master, so the ballista left me a bit underwhelmed at first. They are expecting a siege though and they won’t be unprepared.

Danielle: Cersei is in a bit of a pickle, isn’t she? It’s hardly surprising when she’s surrounded by enemies, and has Dany and her three dragons bearing down on her. Perhaps if she inspired loyalty rather than fear, she might be might be in a better position, but it was down to both Qyburn and Jaime to pick up the slack. I know the odds need to be evened out somewhat when Dany starts deploying her dragons against the current Queen, otherwise there’d be no contest, but that ballista did seem rather bulky to use effectively in battle when a flying reptile is about to cook you to death. Still, he’s trying his best. The same can also be said for Jaime, who acted as an effective diplomat for his sister when her words of warning about Daenerys fell on uncertain ears. Perhaps most interesting of all was the fact he acknowledged his sister’s flaws whilst getting Randyll Tarly on side, and expertly put forward the case that the Mother of Dragons was by far the more dangerous option. I can’t say I was entirely convinced by his argument, but the fact he’s far more capable of rallying people to the cause than his sister raises all sorts of questions about what his role might be should he ever a. break away from her, and b. become aware of the threat the White Walkers pose.

Treasure Island

Marieke: Jon gets Tyrion’s letter and Davos reads it. AWWW. He reads it! Because! Aww. Anyway, just as much as Tyrion trusts Jon, Jon trusts Tyrion too. They bonded over being bastards in their own rights, and that bond is for life. Also Sam has made the postal Ravens work overtime, so the request to come to Dragonstone (and kneel, but let’s skip that for now just like Tyrion did in his letter…) comes in quite handy, just like all that dragonglass! Of course Jon has to talk it over with the other houses. To my surprise, Lady Mormont did not put down Lord Glover, but urged Jon to stay. As did Sansa, who now basically has become Queen of the North because Jon has set his mind on going. Going South did not bode well for his ‘brother’, his ‘father’ or even his grandfather and his uncle, but he knows it has to be done. Dragonglass is needed, and even though Cersei is evil, there is a bigger threat coming. So he is saddling up with Davos to head to Dragonstone. Imagine if they run into Melisandre there… Of course, my Stark heart dies a little, because Arya will no doubt not see him, and there’s a creep eternally grateful for this chance. Yes, Littlefinger, preying on Sansa since forever, sees an opportunity. How do I know? That grin. And because he talked to Jon about loving her. Just as Ned did, Jon threatens him, which must be encouragement for Littlefinger, to be honest. Also he did save Jon with his army.. Ouch; a debt he would not wish to have were they living under normal circumstances! Only Sansa herself can stop him. Let’s hope she won’t do anything stupid. I hope she keeps her head straight, and takes some more lessons out Cersei’s ‘How to Scheme Your Way Out of Trouble’ book. Or maybe a little assassin sister will be of help here…

Jon Littlefinger got ep 2
Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) confronting Jon (Kit Harington) with his feelings for Sansa.

Danielle: It was a really nice little touch for Tyrion to include that line about dwarves being bastards in their father’s eyes, so Jon would understand that it’s actually him sending the raven requesting he come and treat with Dany, and not an impostor. I was incredibly surprised that Sansa seemed to bear her one-time husband no ill will. Granted, he treated her well when she was in the capital, but there seemed to be no love lost between the two of them after the Red Wedding. In light of what she went through with Ramsay, it’s probably not too surprising that she was at pains to mention him being ‘not like the other Lannisters’. (I wonder what Brienne would have to say to that with regards to Jaime. Sansa’s basically still alive because he sent her after her.) Still though, she’s not keen on Jon leaving his post as King in the North, even after it becomes clear that there’s a ton of dragonglass to be had on Dragonstone, nor are the rest of the Northern lords and ladies. It’s only when her ‘half brother’ hands the keys to the castle over to her that she supports his decision. Naturally, Littlefinger is smirking away to himself in his specially reserved corner of the Great Hall at the news. God, I loved it when Jon pushed him up against the wall in the Crypts and half choked him to death, mirroring that scene in Season 1 when Ned did much the same. Now that he’s made his intentions regarding Sansa clear, we’ll have to see how things play out without her older brother there, and when Arya and Bran return.

Scaling Away

Marieke: Sam continues to be the bravest and one true hero of Westeros. We learn that Archmaester Ebrose is writing a book of the wars after king Robert with the dullest title ever. Sam can do better, and he is just going to write everything about Jon and the Night King down with a lovely, more poetic and familiar title, isn’t he? And did you notice that Lannister book? All the information! Even though it might be just in honour of Jeor Mormont, or to prove to himself that he can be a Maester, Sam still wants cure Jorah of his greyscale. Armed with books, protective clothing and alcohol he chips away the skin disease whilst Jorah bites on a stick. Poor, poor Jorah! This also gives is one of the grossest screen transitions ever, from chipping away the greyscale to a nice hotpot of food… Enjoy your meal!

Jorah Sam got ep 2
Sam (John Bradley) treating Jorah (Iain Glen).

Danielle: I really, really love Sam’s arc so far this season. It only serves to show just how much he’s grown from that bumbling mess, who we first saw all those years ago, and who’d have dropped to his knees at the first sign of trouble. Now, not only is he critiquing archmaesters on what they choose to call their dry, historical tomes, but he’s also putting himself and his future ambitions in jeopardy by opting to go against Ebrose’s orders and treating Jorah’s greyscale. Even though his intentions are brave and compassionate, I can’t however rule out the possibility that he might be biting off more than he can chew here. What if the ‘operation’ seems to be successful, but Ser Friendzone is still contagious? Being a novice, Sam won’t fully be able to tell if what he’s done is effective, and I fear Jorah is going to head straight for Dany’s camp to tell his beloved Khaleesi that he’s cured. Let’s be on the lookout for who he touches in the coming weeks, shall we?

In terms of writing a book of his own, I think my Fezzy friend is exactly right, and Sam will almost certainly be the one to write about the wars to come. Wouldn’t ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ be a perfectly apt and poetic title for that? Speaking of books, I too was intrigued by that long, lingering shot of the book charting the History of House Lannister. Much time and effort has been dedicated to clarifying both Jon’s and Dany’s claims to the throne, but there’s an incredibly interesting point relating to the line of succession which is laid out here that offers up an intriguing alternative as the rightful ruler of Westeros.

Death(s) of the Week

Hoisted by their own petard (and their own weapons), Obara and Nymeria breathed their last at the hands of maniacal pirate, Euron. We’d love to say we’ll miss them, but…

MVP of the Week

Hot Pie! Like a wise, old sage, he’s led many to their rightful paths, and here he did it again with his old friend, Arry.

Quote of the Week

Varys: Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty. As long as I have my eyes, I’ll use them. 

The Verdict?

Marieke: An enjoyable episode, with some nice reunions and a gruesome one. The action packed ending came out of nowhere and Euron’s sudden appearance can be criticised, unless there will be an explanation in the future. I don’t mind it much, it looked spectacular and showed his very real the sting is in the tail. The Winterfell situation makes me fearful. I hope the dragons won’t encounter Cersei’s ballista, and Arya really is heading North,  but then again, Jon is heading South. Noooo! This show keeps playing with the heart and the mind!

Danielle: Admittedly much improved on a second viewing, ‘Stormborn’ still had pacing issues which overall made the episode rather clunky. Nevertheless, there was plenty to chew on as various reunions were set up for the coming weeks, and clever callbacks reminded us of the journey we’ve been on with this show and its characters, and how far we still have to go. I may have preferred the season opener, but this was a solid enough outing for the show, which was pulled from the depths of mediocrity by that bloody sea battle.

Our Fezzy Score: rsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_tiny_fez

So what did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments…

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