After last week’s epic premiere, this follow-up episode felt a little weak. With only five episodes left, a lot needs to happen in order for everyone to be in place for the final showdown with the White Walkers. Let’s get a move on, people!
And with that, let’s recap.
Feel The Bern
Game of Thrones isn’t exactly known for its subtlety, so “Stormborn” starts with a mega-storm pounding away at Dragonstone. (First question: how do dragons deal with rain?) Tyrion and Varys remind Daenerys that she was born during such a storm, hence the middle name: “Stormborn.”
Varys is basically the Bernie Sanders of Westeros. In the episode’s opening scene, in which Daenerys grills him about his loyalty to the Mad King, then Robert, and then her brother Viserys, the spymaster is quick to hammer home the idea that he isn’t just blindly loyal. He serves the people, not the 1%.
The fact that he currently believes in Daenerys and her ability to rule, is probably her best vote of confidence at this point. Since Dany loves to think she serves the people, she makes Varys promise to tell her point blank if he ever thinks she’s failing her subjects. But if he betrays him, she’ll burn him alive. Seems fair.
Apparently, though, High Valyrian is woke AF, and the noun in question has no gender. So, as Missandei points out, it could be “the prince or princess that was promised.” That means the title is still up for grabs. Tyrion speaks on behalf of Jon, because they once peed together off the Wall, so they’re bros, and Daenerys agress to summon him, “to bend the knee.”
I doubt Jon will see it that way.
Everything Is Illuminated
Back at Winterfell, the North is practicing archery and they suck. Jon has received Dany’s raven. Tyrion wrote an inside joke in the message so that Jon would remember his bro. Sansa is not convinced about this new potential queen — she’s having enough trouble curbing Jon’s despot tendencies as it is!
Davos though, is thinking all the thoughts, mainly obvious ones like the fact that dragon fire can kill wights.
Cersei has called her bannerman, including Sam’s dad, Lord Tarly, to King’s Landing to deal with the Daenerys situation. It’s interesting how suddenly everyone in Westeros knows what’s going on everywhere else. News used to travel much slower.
Another fascinating aspect of this scene is the language Cersei uses to describe the enemy. She talks of rape, of pillaging, of foreign invaders come to conquer the land. She is sowing fear of the unknown into patriotic hearts.
One little caveat though: Daenerys has dragons. How does Cersei propose to stop them? If we trust Qyburn, he’s working on it.
Later, Jaime asks Lord Tarly (and his son Dickon. Hi, Dickon.) to fight on their side. Tarly is reluctant, because he’s a bannerman of Lady Olenna, who is now pro-Targaryan. Jaime puts it in stark (ha!) terms, much like his sister: “Do you fight with us, or with foreign savages and eunuchs?”
I suggest a new house slogan. How about, “Make Westeros great again!”
50 Shades of Greyscale
Can I just say, Archmaester Ebrose is the best. Jim Broadbent should be in every vaguely fantastic project in which he gets to wear a fancy robe.
Ebrose and Sam are examining Jorah, who is now half covered in greyscale. Apparently he’s waited too long for a cure. He should have cut off his arm, Walking Dead- style.
“What, Like It’s Hard?”
Qyburn’s solution to the dragon problem turns out to be a giant weapon. Technology!
He brings Cersei down to the bowels of the Red Keep, where Robert had all the Targaryan dragon skulls moved when he took the throne. Our attention is turned to “Balerian the Dread,” the biggest of Aegon’s dragons, whose flames forged the Iron Throne and conquered Westeros. As the faint echoes of last season’s “Light of the Seven” play in the background (aka the soundtrack to Cersei’s big sept blow out moment), Cersei lets loose an arrow that shatters the dragon’s jawbone. Yup, that’s definitely one way to do it.
Do Knights Dream of Electric Sheep?
On Dragonstone, Daenerys is still debating whether or not to invade King’s Landing. Yara Greyjoy, Lady Olenna, and Ellaria Sand say yes. Seeing all these ladies making plans is exciting!
Then, Tyrion presents his plan: Yara and Ellaria will go back to Dorne and pick up their army. Then, they’ll head to King’s Landing where they’ll meet up with the Tyrells and lay siege. With Cersei spouting all this “scary foreigner” rhetoric, the army attacking the throne must be Westerosi.
Meanwhile, the Unsullied can go take Casterly Rock, thereby unseating the real royalty of Westeros. Sound good?
Amidst all this, Lady Olenna pulls Dany aside for some quick advice: “He’s a clever man, your hand. I’ve known a great deal of clever men. I’ve outlived them all. You want to know how? I ignored them.”
The gist? Men are sheep. But Dany is a dragon.
That basically sums up this scene, but if you’re looking for more detail, here goes. Basically Grey Worm and Missandei, who have been flirting for what seems like an eternity, finally get it on. Missandei confronts Grey Worm before he leaves for war, asking why he has not come to say goodbye. He replies that she is his weakness, which sounds like an insult but is actually a compliment. They finally kiss, and then we get the best sex scene in the whole history of Game of Thrones, the first one entirely devoted to a woman’s pleasure. It’s a shame it took a eunuch for this to happen, but I’ll take it!
Greyscale Is Gross, Part 2
Good news! Sam has found a potential cure for Jorah’s greyscale. Bad news! It’s incredibly dangerous and has been illegal for years. Archmaester Ebrose forbids him to even think about it, which of course means that Sam immediately heads to Jorah’s cell.
Speaking of Jorah, he’s spending his final hours writing a letter to his Khaleesi. GET A LIFE, JORAH.
Sam explains that he knew Jeor Mormont, and because he couldn’t save the Lord Commander, he will save his son. Sam is sweet like that. Although, I will say: I… would not trust Sam to cure my rare disease. Is it just me?
So, the cure is basically Sam flaying this poor man alive, a la Bolton. Sam, please tell me you’re wearing gloves. What is that ooze?!
I ask you: WHY IS SAM KING OF THE GROSS MONTAGE?????
The Truth Is In The Hot Pie
We reunite with Hot Pie, who earns the distinction of being the first man in Westeros to sexually objectify Arya. (“You’re pretty!”)
He is also useful because he tells his former friend that the Boltons are dead, and that Jon is back in charge of Winterfell. How much do we bet Arya gets there right after Jon has left for Dragonstone?
Creepy In The Crypt
Right before the big departure, though, we get the long-awaited scene between Jon and Littlefinger in the Winterfell crypt. Littlefinger doesn’t in fact tell Jon about his true parentage, as many theorized, but we get the next best thing: a declaration of love for Sansa. Jon, needless to say, does not take this news well, and threatens to kill Littlefinger if he touches his sister.
With that, Jon rides off, waving to Sansa, who already looks very regal.
Old Friends Are New Again
Much of the build-up to this week’s episode has been due to the mini-trailer which appeared to show Arya reuniting with Nymeria, her direwolf. You’ll recall that she sent Nymeria off in an attempt to save her from the Lannisters in season 1. Well, the anticipation was only semi-justified. Arya does meet a direwolf on her way north, and, thinking it’s Nymeria, calls out to it, inviting it to follow her. But instead of a heart-swelling hug, the wolf turns away, leaving Arya out in the cold. “That’s not you,” she whispers.
So, what’s the deal, here? Does that mean it wasn’t Nymeria at all? Is there another direwolf roaming the woods now that winter has come? Or, did her friend and pet realize that Arya is not who she used to be? (It’s worth noting that Hot Pie asks a similar question at the tavern, when he says: “What happened to you Arry?” It seems people are catching on to the fact that Arya is not a great human being at this point.)
Actually, according to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, this scene is all about Nymeria wanting to live her best life, and that just doesn’t include Arya anymore.
Curse Of The Black Pearl
Can we just address the kraken-sized elephant in the room: Why was there a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean spliced into my Game of Thrones episode?
It started off fine. We got to see some Yara/Ellaria action. I was here for that. And then, the Greyjoy ship was boarded by another Greyjoy ship, and all hell broke loose. Seriously, I know Euron’s new look is very Captain Jack Sparrow but this is taking it too far.
To be honest, I was bored by the entire last scene. Game of Thrones hasn’t spent enough time convincing me that I have to care about anyone from Dorne whose name isn’t Oberyn, and I’m lukewarm on the Greyjoys. Kill the Sand Snakes, don’t kill the Sand Snakes, it’s pretty much all the same to me.
The whole shebang ends with a stand-off between Euron, who’s holding Yara hostage and threatening her with a sword, and Theon, who’s still not over his Bolton PTSD. Theon jumps overboard, and Euron leaves with his priceless gift: Ellaria Sand, who killed Cersei’s daughter Myrcella. So, all in all, that was only kind of epically useless.
Here’s hoping we get the big Jon Snow/Daenerys meeting next week. Until then!
Correction: This article first stated that Yara was the priceless gift Euron meant to give Cersei. It’s actually Ellaria Sand.
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