Game of Thrones treated us to a dark and stormy episode two, as our heroes face internal whirlwinds, uneasy allies succumb to a tempest of emotion, and the fog of war once again envelops Westeros. Lots to talk about this week after the break. Spoilers abound!
The Dragonstone Gang
Every now and then, the showrunners of Game of Thrones find a perfect name for an episode. “Stormborn” certainly fits the bill – literally AND metaphorically – as characters struggle with choices that range from bad to godawful. It’s fitting that we start off as a storm rages outside Dragonstone. The episode’s beginning was a perfect counterbalance towards last week’s inspiring close, instead of Dany triumphantly entering the abandoned Dragonstone and bringing light and hope, we see her and her team of rivals surrounded by profound darkness, the flickering light in the war room nearly overwhelmed by the surrounding storm.
The storm outside isn’t the only one. Even as Tyrion and Varys reminisce about the similar storm that raged during their Queen’s birth, a storm is brewing within Dany as she remembers that Varys had a history of betrayal. It was a surprising time for these doubts , but the scene was well handled, with Varys telling the Mother of Dragons that he’s here as the people’s champion, and each promising truth and honesty (and dragon firefor betrayal).
And who’d a thunk Melisandre would, in fact, make a beeline for the newly-landed queen (not me, that’s for sure). So much happened during that short little conversation… we found out “the Prince who was Promised” could, in fact, be a princess, and that Melisandre is still sold on Jon being The One. “I believe you have a role to play,” she tells the queen, not letting on that it might not be the role she had in mind. I’m not sure how Dany will react when she finds out Melisandre’s role in burning little princesses. Then again, she doesn’t seem to have much of a problem allowing princess-killing Ellaria into her ranks, so maybe she’s OK with it as long as it’s Baratheon or Lannister princesses being dispatched.
It looks like the fractious houses in Dragonstone and Winterfell will soon be connecting, and once again we suspect that making the right decision might still be wrong. Jon is right to travel south, right to turn rule over to Sansa, right to try to collect all the tools at his disposal to fight the only war that really matters, but you just know it’s going to go bad. Sansa is getting so much better at playing this game, but I don’t think she’s a match for Littlefinger, simply in terms of ruthlessness (if she was, she’d be best buds with Robin Arryn already and Littlefinger would have taken a long walk out a short Moon Door ). How long before he betrays the North? After Jon channeled big brothers everywhere and put the cryptic choke-hold on the slimemeister, I’m guessing it’s happening real soon.
No storms in Kings Landing, though, as it seems like Cersei and Jaime got their stuff together. I’m guessing writer Bryan Cogman and director Mark Mylod were inspired by current events as Cersei gives her best barbarians at the gate speech, complete with fake (or at least artfully spun) news about Dany’s actions in Essos. All she needs is a Twitter account and a bad spray tan and she can Make Westeros Great Again…
It was a real good episode for seeing how good the Lannisters are at this. Even Jaime, who seemed to know what buttons to press with the racist Randyll Tarly. Playing both the Dothraki card as well as the same “You can be Warden”‘ card his father used to swing Roose Bolton before the Red Wedding. I’m guessing Randyll has a little more honor than the House of the Flayed, but I’m pretty sure the moment Jon joins Dany, the idea of Wildlings ranging south will trigger the response Jaime is hoping for. And of course, Tyrion knows his sister will play upon the fears of the outsiders, and has a plan that is well thought out and makes perfect sense: Have Westerosi allies take Kings Landing while the barbarians take Casterly Rock. And of course, because it’s Tyrion’s plan, it doesn’t work (see Battle of Blackwater Bay and Masters of Slavers Bay), because Crazy Uncle Euron is either psychic, has his own Red Witch, or is the luckiest son of a bitch on the sea.
Yara and Theon
I don’t know what I feel about the sudden destruction of Yara’s fleet and the death of the Sand Snakes. Yes, from a story perspective it was needed, Dany can’t just walk into the throne, she must have some missteps. Cinematically, it was intense and stirring – again the use of light and shadow (and mist) making for compelling scene that kept you glued to the screen. Theon’s fall back into Reekness and his abandonment of Yara continued the storm theme as the tempest overwhelmed him… all great things. It just seemed beyond the bounds of credibility that Euron managed to be SO freaking successful. How did he know where Yara’s fleet would be? He made his promise BEFORE Dany’s people even made the decision to head to Dorne, and yet he managed to find them immediately? How was Yara’s fleet caught so completely by surprise? And I know, it’s silly to complain about realism in a world full of dragons and smoke-babies and Night Kings; and I know that Euron needs to be the next human big-bad to carry us into the Great War, it just seemed way to sudden for my tastes.
Not quite as sudden is Arya’s change of direction. I thought last week that this season’s biggest battle would be the one for Arya’s soul. Is she a heartless assassin, hell-bent on revenge? Or is she Arya Stark, daughter of Ned? Her initial dealing with Hot Pocket, cold and disinterested and focused on getting to Kings Landing to dispatch the queen, seemed to indicate the former; but one mention of her family, of the possibility of reunion, and we see some of that little girl remains. Her short reunion with Nymeria continues this point of truth, of the paths we need to take. “Come with me,” she begs her former pet, and when the dire wolf turns away, “No, that’s not you,” an echo from her statement back in season one, when she protested she’d never want a life of lords and ladies.
Sam the Maverick
I guess Samwell’s work researching how to kill White Walkers is done. Jon asked him for a mountain of Dragon Glass, and that’s what Sam provided, now onward to curing Jorah’s Greyscale. I hate to say it, but aside for Arch-Maester Slughorn’s depiction of every self-centered teacher who existed, I feel like the Citadel storyline is going a little off-course. Yes Jorah is a beloved character, yes Sam might feel an element of debt to the son of the long-passed Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but is risking expulsion (or infection) to help him really worth it? He pretty much admitted to the Arch-Maester that he’d read the forbidden books when he asked about the cure. I guess they need to ratchet up the tension, but with so much at stake it just seems like an unneeded diversion.
For the second straight week we get a transition from something gross to food. Episode one ruined Beef Stew for me, looks like they’ve targeted my love of Chicken Pot Pie with their fade from Jorah’s dripping pus to whatever that guy was eating in Hot Pie’s Inn.
Am I the only one who thought it was feasible that Nymeria was going to eat Arya? It wouldn’t be the first time Game of Thrones killed off a beloved character, and – while I think Arya’s internal battle could make for compelling story, it’s not something we really need. Bottom line is, anything is possible.
As much as I loved the Queen of Thorns two or three seasons ago, especially her interaction with her granddaughter, I don’t quite get her role now, nor her advice. “Ignore your Hand because he’s a man,” she urges Dany… “Be a Dragon.” What does that even mean? And why hadn’t she already aligned the Highgarden banner men against the Lannister queen?
It was great to see two of the “nicer” secondary characters, Missendei and Grey Worm, find some love and happiness in this dark and cold world, but I’m pretty sure it signals our second-favorite eunuch’s ultimate demise. If there’s one thing I’ve learned watching this show, happy = dead!
What was your favorite part of the episode? Will Theon re-redeem himself or is he lost? Will sparks fly when Jon meets Dany for the first time? How about what Davos finds Melisandre waiting in the halls of Dragonstone? And who will Arya find next on her magical reunion tour through Westeros. We’ll find out next week when we find out who meets “The Queen’s Justice.”