After the Game of Thrones amazing season opener, this episode, Stormborn, had its work cut out for it. Did it live up to the challenge? I was left a little underwhelmed, but there were certainly some really great moments.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
This episode opened with Dany holding court in her amazing map room at Dragonstone. She certainly is commanding the odd bunch. Tyrion, Varys, Greyworm and Missande are all there, as is Ellaria Sand, Yara Greyjoy, and Lady Olenna.
Before Dany addressed the company at large, she finally confronted Varys who had sent assassins to kill her he was serving King Robert. Despite Tyrion’s protests, Dany seems ready to throw Varys to her dragons. Luckily Varys convinces her that having an advisor who serves the people first is to her advantage. The next awkward argument that needed to be had before an alliance could be formed was between Ellaria and Tyrion. Remember, she killed his niece, and her lover died fighting for him. However, all these differences are put aside for the time being as they all agree that the important thing to focus on is helping Dany take the Iron Thrones. The plan is for the Westerosi army to attack Kings Landing while the Unsullied and Dothraki take Casterly Rock (the family home of the Lannisters). This plan is actually a pretty good one and it was really fun to watch the scene play out. It was also really cool to have four women lead the discussion, and it was even cooler that there was nothing said about it and it happened naturally. After the meeting ends, Dany has a moment alone with the Queen of Thornes who advises her to “be a dragon”.
I’m curious to see if, based on what happens later in the episode, Dany will head this advice.
Down in King’s Landing, Cersei is rallying the lords of the few kingdoms under her control to her cause. Her strategy is simple; paint Dany in the worst light possible. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have to try too hard because Dany has done some pretty terrible things. Cersei also plays into some Westerosi racism by pointing out that Dany has an army full of Dothraki and Unsullied. Afterward, Jamie tries to convince Sam’s dad, Lord Tarly, to be his right-hand man. House Tarly has always been loyal to House Tully, so Lord Tarly’s answer was left unclear.
Back at Winterfell, John has received a raven from Tyrion relaying Dany’s demand that Jon comes to Dragonstone to bend the knee. Before meeting with the Northern lords, Jon discussed it with his advisors and they all decided that it was too dangerous and he would not go. However, at the meeting, he changed his mind and surprised the entire room by declaring that he would go to Dragonstone and that Sansa would be in charge until he returned. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I was annoyed at Jon for his lack of communication. Again. Seriously, Jon and Sansa need to sort his whole “talking” thing out. However, I definitely think it was the right decision to go to Dragonstone. And while I’m happy that Sansa is in charge because I think she is the rightful ruler of Winterfell, I do worry that Littlefinger is going to influence her decision making again and I would really love to see Sansa succeed in her own right.
Also, speaking of Littlefinger, before Jon goes south he goes to the crypts to say goodbye to his departed family. While there, Little finger approaches him and then proceeds to be super duper creepy until Jon snaps. He chokes Littlefinger against a wall, threatens him, and warns him to stay away from Sansa. The scene played out very similar to a scene in season 1 where Ned also choked and threatened Littlefinger, which makes me very worried. Jon knows thanks to last episode’s conversation with Sansa that being too much like his father is a dangerous thing. Hopefully he will take that lesson with him south.
Back at the Citadel, Sam and a maester are visiting Sir Jorah to check on the progression of his illness. Unfortunately, it does not look good. Jorah is given one more day before he is to be shipped off to live out his days with the stone men. Later as he helps the maester in the library, Sam asks about a cure for greyscale that he found in a book. The maester says that the cure was deemed too risky and too dangerous, and in fact, the man who found the cure died from greyscale himself! (I’m assuming it was because he contacted it while curing someone, the sanitation protocols in Westeros are definitely lax). However, Sam, motivated I believe by his relationship with Jorah father (his previous Commander, and let’s not forget also the man to give Jon his current sword) returns to Jorah’s room in the middle of the night. The mysterious treatment is not incredibly complicated. All you have to do is cut off the infected tissue and apply an ointment, which thanks to some production still we know consists of tree sap, beeswax, and olive oil. Not exactly rocket science, although there is an ungodly amount of pus involved when the infection is as progressed as Jorah’s is. It certainly would make it hard not to get contaminated yourself. But, to be honest, for a disease that has been built up so much I really wanted the cure to be a little more complicated than “cut it off and rub some olive oil on it”.
Anyway, the editors are really having fun this season, because there is a fantastic cut from Jorah’s oozing skin to a man eating a meat pie and for a horrifying second it is not clear what exactly is being chowed down upon. Brilliant.
Arya has made her way south the Inn at the Crossroads, and is reunited with Hot Pie! Their conversation was bittersweet because Arya is so different than the girl (and boy) that Hot Pie once knew. It was a really nice trip down memory lane for the viewers though. The last that Hot Pie had heard of Arya, it was from Brienne of Tarth! Hot Pie shares the news that John Snow is in charge at Winterfell, and instead of continuing south, Arya turns north to return home.
Hot Pie was not the only reunion that Arya had this episode. Later while she is setting up camp, she is reunited with her direwolf Nymeria. I was so happy to see a Direwolf again! I know there are production reasons why the animals are appearing less frequently, but since it was so impressed in the beginning seasons of the show how important the animals were to the Stark children, I am disappointed that they appear to not mean anything anymore. We haven’t seen Snow in ages!! Anyway just like in the books Nymeris is now in charge of a massive wolf pack roaming through the Riverlands. Arya pleads with her to return with her to Winterfell, but Nymeria walks away. Arya accepts it though, after everything that both of them had been through, they could never return to the child and pet relationship that they once had.
The episode ends with a battle at sea. On their way to get the Tyrell army, Yara’s ships carrying her entire force and the Sand Snakes are attacked by Euron’s fleet. In a brutal battle, two of the sand snakes are killed and Ellaria and Tyene are taken captive. Theon, who had been recovering, is triggered by the horror around him and regresses once more into Reek. Instead of trying to save his sister, he jumps off the ship and swims away as Euron laughs maniacally and Yara looks on in despair.
As much as I did not like the show’s interpretation of the Sand Snakes, I was sad to see them go in this way. It made it seem like the show messed up the characters so badly they had no choice but to kill them. And for characters who are supposed to be great warriors, we never really got to see them win a fight. I did love what happened with Theon though. After spending so much time watching his torture, I’m glad that his horrific experience is not swept under the rug and that he hasn’t miraculously recovered. That’s not right, it would be impossible to bounce back so quickly from something like that. In earlier seasons I had complained that we were spending too much time focused on Theon. Now I’m suspecting he has a larger role to play than I had originally thought.
This also throws a huge wrench into Dany’s plans. I had expected that she would suffer some defeats, but this is a big one to suffer right out of the gate. I’m curious to see how she will react and if the rest of her plan will work out either.
As far a logistics go, this battle wasn’t unexpected. Kings Landing and Dragonstone are across a bay from each other. The two largest fleets in the world in the same bay? They were going to run into each other.