Game of Thrones “Stormborn”

Game of Thrones S7E2 “Stormborn”

As I mentioned in my review of “Dragonstone”, the season premiere for season seven moved with a pace more in line with a full ten episode season than a shortened seven episode one. With seven episodes though, the pace has to kick into high gear at some point and “Stormborn” is the episode where we really get things rolling. While “Dragonstone” gave us the lay of the land as we move forward, the actual moving forward is now getting underway. In “Stormborn”, Tyrion game plans for Dany’s conquest of Westeros while Melisandre arrives and points Dany to a potential ally, Cersei plans the defense of Westeros, Jon makes an unpopular but correct decision, Arya has a change of heart, Sam breaks the rules again, and Euron demolishes Yara and her fleet. Let’s get this review underway.

We start “Stormborn” rather fittingly during a storm. On Dragonstone, Tyrion and Varys reminisce about the night Dany was born and how the weather right now looked pretty much the same as that fateful night. The conversation quickly turns into an interrogation of sorts that probably should have taken place a while ago. Dany questions Varys’ actions and if you recall, he took some actions for his own well-being that were very much not in Dany’s interests, including putting a hit on Dany way back in season one. While it’s far from an easy defense to make, Varys does so brilliantly and as well as possible. He even gets to set up his own terms, saying that he will not just blindly follow her and will gladly die if that’s what she wants from her followers. Varys is irreplaceable really so Dany pardons his past crimes and makes him swear to let her know if he thinks she’s doing something wrong rather than change allegiances to someone else. Varys best keep his word because breaking the swear will see him burned alive, and that’s something I’m sure no one wants to see.

Following that excellent exchange, Grey Worm informs Dany that she has a visitor waiting for her, a red priestess. We’re more than familiar with this priestess because Melisandre is the one who came to visit Dany. Melisandre introduces herself to Dany and informs her of the great war and long night that are to come, along with the prince who was promised coming to save the day. Dany asks if Mel if she believes that she is the prince and in a rare moment of skepticism, Mel says that prophecies aren’t always so black and white. While Mel doesn’t know if Dany is the prince who was promised, she does know that she has a role to play, as does Jon Snow. Mel tells Dany about the accomplishments of Jon, what he’s seen, and that he’s King in the North. Tyrion is shocked at the news that Ned Stark’s bastard rose so high as to be king but he does trust him as they were good friends back in season one when Tyrion traveled to the wall with him. That vouch is important because Mel asks Dany to summon Jon to Dragonstone and since Jon has the trust of her hand of the queen, Dany agrees to do so, on the condition that any alliance they come to starts with Jon bending the knee.

Plenty of screen time for Dany and her final scene of the episode is a war council and for the first time in the show’s run, a council is run by ladies instead of lords. Dany and Tyrion gather Yara, Ellaria, and Olena together to discuss their course of action. Yara and Ellaria are fully in favor of getting this conquest over with quickly by unleashing everything on Cersei and King’s Landing, including the dragons. Tyrion admits that they could very easily take the throne that way, but says that method is extremely violent and Dany doesn’t want to be queen of the ashes. With their intents stated, Tyrion goes ahead and announces how they will proceed. Tyrion assumes (correctly as we find out later) that Cersei is going to launch a xenophobic campaign against Dany, centered around the fact that Dany’s forces are made up of mindless Unsullied and the barbarian Dothraki. Tyrion doesn’t want to prove Cersei right so he instead says they will siege King’s Landing with the Tyrell and Martell forces. The Unsullied will be sent to Casterly Rock to take away the seat of House Lannister which is the true power in Westeros. Dany once again confirms that no attack will be made on King’s Landing and looks around the room, waiting for everyone to agree. After they all do so, Dany clears the room, save for Olena. Dany admits she knows Olena is really just here for revenge more than loyalty but she assures her that she will get the revenge she wants and an era of peace will be ushered in. Olena is skeptical of the second promise and offers some advice to Dany. Olena tells Dany that the lords of the realm are sheep and that she is a dragon and should act like one. The Queen of Thorns isn’t one to offer up bad advice so we’ll see if Dany takes that to heart.

Switching sides of the conflict, we turn our attention to Cersei in King’s Landing. With House Tyrell, the great lords of the Reach being in open rebellion against the throne, Cersei has summoned the other lords of the region to the capital to ask for their allegiance. Among these lords is worst father on the show candidate Randyll Tarly. Randyll reminds Cersei that Daenerys has three dragons and asks how she plans to defend against them while Qyburn insists that he’s “working on it”. After the meeting, Jaime goes over to Randyll to have a private word with him. He too tries to reaffirm Randyll’s loyalty to the crown and it’s a good thing that he did because Randyll doesn’t seem to be particularly keen on the idea. He tells Jaime that he’s reluctant to break his oath of fealty to House Tyrell and that his word still means something (throwing Jaime and House Lannister some serious shade in the process). Jaime seems to win him over by offering Randyll the position of lead general in the upcoming war and Warden of the South once the Tyrells are taken care of. Every man has a price it seems.

Moving on to Oldtown, we find Archmaester Ebrose and Samwell examining Jorah Mormont’s greyscale. Ebrose comes to the conclusion that the infection has spread far too much and that Jorah will die a slow death and lose his mind in the process. Given that he is a knight, Ebrose allows Jorah one more night in the citadel before shipping him to Old Valyria to wait out his death with the stone men. This isn’t something that Jorah seems fond of doing and the camera even indicates that he’s thinking of just killing himself right now instead of going to Valyria.

Later on, Ebrose has moved on and is gathering research for a text he’s writing but Sam hasn’t quite moved on yet. He’s done some reading and found out that there actually is a recorded procedure that’s cured greyscale, even in its advanced stages. Sam asks Ebrose if they can perform the procedure on Jorah but Ebrose scoffs at the idea, saying it’s far too dangerous and can’t be all that good anyway because the maester who invented the procedure ended up dying of greyscale (how ironic).

For the second straight episode, Sam ignores the archmaester’s orders and decides that he’s going to perform the surgery anyway. Sam sneaks into Jorah’s chambers and tells him of his great respect for his father, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, and how this family tie has convinced him to help him. Sam warns Jorah that the surgery will be extremely painful (all the more so considering Sam couldn’t secure milk of the poppy) but he can’t be heard yelling because Sam is very much breaking the rules in helping Jorah here. Sam gives Jorah a belt to bite down on and begins the painful process of removing the infected tissue. Jorah’s greyscale has spread pretty far throughout his body so if every single piece of corrupted tissue has to be removed, he’s going to be there a while. And we don’t even know what Sam has to do once he gets underneath it. As crappy as it sounds, Sam said it best when he tells Jorah that he’s his best shot. Tough it out Jorah, this isn’t going to be pretty.

The inn at the crossroads has got to be the most frequented inn in Westeros and we pay it another visit in this episode. Arya has stopped for some food and drink and runs into everyone’s favorite chef, Hot Pie. The two share some conversation and Hot Pie ends up asking Arya where she’s going. Arya tells her she’s going to King’s Landing and Hot Pie wonders why she isn’t going to Winterfell. Arya thinks that’s a dumb question because she still thinks the Boltons hold Winterfell. Hot Pie corrects and shocks her when he says that Jon Snow took an army to Winterfell, defeated Ramsay, and was proclaimed King in the North. Arya immediately has a change of heart and decides to head northward, to home.

Along the way, something in the woods is looking at Arya. Arya prepares to attack whatever is coming her way and that is when the threat is revealed to not really be a threat. Out comes her long lost direwolf Nymeria, along with her large pack of wolves. Arya can hardly believe her eyes when she sees Nymeria. Arya tells Nymeria that she’s going home and she asks her to come with her. Nymeria does seem to recognize that Arya was her owner but she rejects the offer and runs back into the wild with her pack as Arya says “it’s not you”. This initially drew confusion as to whether or not the wolf was Nymeria but you shouldn’t take that quote literally. “it’s not you” is a direct callback to season one when Ned told Arya that she’ll grow up and become a lady of some castle and Arya told her father that’s not her. Much like Arya rejected the life set out for her by Ned, Nymeria rejects being Arya’s pet. While Arya’s disappointed, she completely understands Nymeria’s choice because it really is the same choice that Arya has already made. I don’t think this will be the last time we see Nymeria though so keep your eyes open anytime Arya’s in trouble. This disappointing reunion might not be the last one between the two.

Up at Winterfell, Jon, Sansa, and Davos gather around to think about the letter they’ve just received. Tyrion has invited Jon to meet with Daenerys on Dragonstone and the group is unsure of what to make of it. Sansa admits that Tyrion was kind to her and unlike the other Lannisters, but concedes the risk of this being a trap as far too high. Jon doesn’t think it’s a trap as Tyrion ended the letter with a quote he told him way back when they first met, “all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes”. Nevertheless, Jon agrees with his sister and says it’s too dangerous to go. Davos chimes in, reminding Jon that the letter makes note of dragons. If wights can be easily killed with fire, wouldn’t you want someone with dragons as an ally? When doesn’t Davos have good advice?

Jon’s hand is forced when he receives a second letter, this time from Sam at the citadel. The letter informs Jon that Dragonstone has dragonglass in abundance and this drastically changes what Jon has to do here. Jon calls for a meeting with all the northern lords and explains the situation. Jon’s decision to go to Dragonstone is met with unanimous negative reception (even Lyanna Mormont) as Lannisters and Targaryens have been enemies of the North for decades, and the two people Jon will meet are from those two houses. For the hundredth time in his life, Jon has to tell people that if they’ve seen what he’s seen, they would know that he’s got no choice but to take this risk and meet with Daenerys. Jon leaves Sansa as Queen Regent in his absence and he and Davos immediately depart for Dragonstone.

With Sansa in charge, you just know Littlefinger is excited to get back into the swing of manipulation games. While I don’t know why he confessed his love of Sansa to Jon, it did provide him some motivation. After Jon nearly chokes Littlefinger to death, he tells Littlefinger that he’ll kill him if he catches him doing so much as even talking to Sansa. With Jon leaving immediately after this though, Littlefinger has been given a time limit and I’m sure he’s not going to waste any time. Sansa’s always wanted power and Jon’s temporarily given it to her. She’ll have truly completed her growth if she disposes of Littlefinger and not the other way around. I’m eager to see what she’s got and if the apprentice has overtaken the master.

On the Narrow Sea, Yara and her portion of the Iron Fleet are escorting Ellaria and the Sand Snakes back to Dorne so they can gather their army for the upcoming siege on King’s Landing. It’s a long way to Sunspear though so Yara and Ellaria decide to pass the time by flirting and feeling each other up. Before we can get a second intimate scene, things are unceremoniously interrupted by a loud thud that shakes their boat. Yara and Theon head out to see what’s happening while Ellaria stays back. On deck, the Greyjoy siblings are met with their worst nightmare. It’s their Uncle Euron, and he’s built himself a massive fleet and a massive ship for himself called Silence. Silence is the boat that barged into them and Euron is on his way, making quite possibly the most badass entry into a scene in the show’s run. Euron launches the boarding ramp onto Yara’s ship and he flies down with the ramp, not even waiting for the thing to land before he boards. Euron quickly gets to work, showing his fighting prowess by easily mowing down people like they’re nothing. It’s a frantic and chaotic fight so it’s hard to do it justice in words so I’ll just recap it. It’s a one sided massacre that sees Euron’s forces prevail. Euron personally kills two of the Sand Snakes in Nymeria and Obara, and he takes Tyene and Ellaria as prisoners. While the fighting was great, the stand out moment of the whole sequence was the very end. Euron has Yara and holds his ax to her throat. He calls Theon over and tries to bait him into saving his sister. Theon doesn’t even say a word but he doesn’t need to, because Alfie Allen’s facial acting is simply brilliant. You can easily tell this battle has triggered his PTSD and his facial twitches bring you right back to his Reek days. Reek rejected his sisters help one time and now Reek refuses to help her and instead jumps into the water. Euron maniacally laughs as he and his fleet sail back to King’s Landing, Theon watching it all unfold from the water. A lot of people thought that Cersei was going to get convincingly beat this season, but it’s Cersei who draws first blood. If this convinces Cersei to accept Euron’s marriage proposal, watch out. The two most vile people imaginable are about to team up.

Other Thoughts

I think we all owe Euron an apology. A lot of people commented that he didn’t seem to be anything that special but he’s really come on this season. Euron’s a crazy psychopath and I find myself hoping he’s got more screen time ahead of him. He’s proving to be just as fun to watch as all-time great bad guys like Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton.

I know we’re all blaming Theon for being a coward there but he really didn’t have a great choice. If he tried to save his sister, Euron would just slice her throat and probably kill Theon next. Say what you will, but both of them are still alive now. And the show has invested way too much time in Theon to not complete his redemption arc. Reek is tough to overcome and even when you do it for a long time, it can still come back to you at the worst moments as we saw in this episode. But I do hope he can save his sister. The show can’t end with Theon being more Reek than Theon.

Couldn’t really fit this in with the narrative flow of the review but good for Grey Worm, he finally gets it on with Missandei. Who said eunuchs can’t find love?

What do we think of Qyburn’s master plan for killing the dragons? Giant crossbows are cool, and that thing definitely left a dent in that dragon skull fossil, but they’re going to need killer aim to land a hit on one of Dany’s dragons.

I do like how the show didn’t just forget that Ellaria killed Myrcella. Tyrion is still very mad at Ellaria for killing his niece, as he should be. These things don’t just get swept under the rug because you’re on the same team.

Place your guesses for what Cersei is going to do with Ellaria and Tyene. The one thing we know is that it’s going to be torturous.

When Sam criticized Ebrose’s title for his book and said it should be more poetic, I was waiting for him to suggest “A Song of Ice and Fire” or “A Game of Thrones”. Sam does have a point though, “A Chronicle of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I” doesn’t really flow off the tongue.

I’m loving the editing this season. A couple of standouts are Jorah’s pus filled surgery turning into a food dish at the inn at the crossroads, and Grey Worm’s oral sex turning into Ebrose “fingering around” for the book on the shelf.

For all the grief Sam gets about being a coward, he’s been pretty brave lately. Stealing his father’s sword, sneaking into the restricted section of the library, performing illegal surgeries in secret, I’d say he’s no longer a coward.

Lots of season one references here. Plenty of mention of Robert Baratheon, Viserys Targaryen, and the return of Nymeria, who probably has the longest gap between appearances at sixty episodes. We may be wrapping things up, but we’ve come a long way and it’s always nice to be reminded that even things that happened so long ago end up tying in with the present.

We thinking Dany and Jon meet next episode? I sure hope so. This was probably the first episode where they each said each other’s name and it was pretty exciting. We’re definitely heading towards the end game now.

I loved the bit where Arya tells Hot Pie that she’s been making pies as well. If only Hot Pie knew the full truth of that.

I know Olena said it sarcastically, but wouldn’t you just love to see what would happen if Daenerys politely asked Cersei to give her the iron throne?

“Stormborn” sees Cersei draw first blood as Euron proves himself capable of being the villain of the season, and we draw ever so close to the long awaited meeting between Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. 

Grade A-

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