A lot of people thought the season premiere of Game of Thrones last week was a slow let-down. While I have my opinions on those people and their intellect, I’m sure this week’s episode satisfied them tenfold. “Stormborn” moved a lot of pieces into place and gave us a number of long awaited reunions that harken back to Season 1. Expect a lot of callbacks to Season 1 this year, since the theme of this season seems to be characters coming full circle with themselves and what’s around them.
Seeing Tyrion as a Hand again is a breath of fresh air. Peter Dinklage has been playing the dwarf for seven years, now, and whenever he is in a position to influence rulers and shape the realm, Dinklage owns every moment he’s given. While the first scene on Dragonstone shows Tyrion and Dany rallying the troops to siege King’s Landing, Dany has her heart set on determining who is most loyal to her cause – ie Varys. Varys then goes on to give not only a convincing monologue as to why he’s the man to trust; but to give one of the greatest monologues I have ever heard in my life: Varys has only been loyal to one faction his entire life and that is the people. He will side with whichever king/queen can give the people of Westeros the best hope at survival and that is why he is an asset to have on one’s council. It was a moving speech acted beautifully by Conleth Hill.
Next, we have a small council meeting with the who’s who of Dany’s armada. It comes off as fan fiction seeing Dany in the same room discussing battle plans with Tyrion, Varys, Olenna Tyrell, Yara Greyjoy, and Ellaria Sand; but the reason these people have ended up in the same room is because they have made all the of the right decisions or learned from their mistakes throughout this series – they belong here. It’s great to see so many conflicting personalities interact with each other and you forget that not everyone in the same room is going to be on the best terms for certain events in the past (Tyrion has every right not to trust Ellaria and the rest of Dorne after they poisoned his niece). Dany picks and chooses who to listen to and ends up siding with Tyrion (and Varys to an extent), explaining she does not want to attack King’s Landing because she does not want to be queen of the ashes. Enter Tyrion’s plan: Place King’s Landing under siege with the armies of Highgarden and Dorne while the Unsullied are on a different mission and hit the Lannisters where they truly hurt. Casterly Rock. The Lannisters have always been the true wealth of Westeros and it is because no one has hit them where their money comes from. Given this is where Tyrion grew up as a child, he knows the ins and outs of The Rock pretty well and my guess is he’ll use that to his advantage to infiltrate.
As the Unsullied gear up to head to Casterly Rock, Greyworm and Missandei give viewers one of the most beautiful and intimate scenes this series has ever provided. Thrones has never shied away from explicitness and they have had their fair share of shallow sex scenes. But Greyworm and Missandei finally admitting their love for each other raises the stakes and develops their characters further as they show each other that they can be afraid, but they can use that to push themselves forward.
Another familiar face makes her way to Dragonstone as well – Melisandre the red priestess. Melisandre was banished from Winterfell at the end of last season when Jon discovered she burned Stannis Baratheon’s daughter at the stake; but she still believes Jon has a part to play in the War to Come and Dany has a part to play as well. So, Tyrion sends a raven to Winterfell.
Thrones is certainly moving quicker than it ever has in the past since Jon got TWO ravens in one episode. The first being from Tyrion, who is inviting Jon to meet with Dany in Dragonstone to discuss an allegiance. The second being from Sam which he sent last episode to inform Jon of the dragon glass beneath Dragonstone. Jon plans to comply because they can mine the dragon glass for weapons and dragons can be pretty useful against White Walkers since they, you know, breathe fire. Of course, the remainder of Winterfell disagrees because a Targaryan cannot be trusted after Dany’s father, the Mad King. In a show where the pending threat is an enemy not seen for almost 10,000 years, The Mad King’s rule being two decades ago is not that long of time for people to just forget about him. Jon’s loyalties lie with the north, for certain, but being the front line of defense against the coming storm means they need allies. They don’t have the numbers and that’s a fact; but with three dragons and an allegiance to Dany, who is sitting on a mountain of dragon glass, could bode well for Jon and his intentions. Not to mention Jon and Dany are about to be face to face and that is more proof how quickly this season is moving. To ensure his loyalties will always remain in the North, Jon leaves Winterfell in Sansa’s rule – an empowering move that is not only well deserved but makes sense. Just like Jon, Sansa is someone not to be underestimated anymore.
Arya is making her way towards King’s Landing to kill Cersei when she comes across a familiar face in a tavern: Hot Pie! It’s been a while, but Hot Pie seems to be doing well for himself (I mean he IS still alive). It’s here that Arya learns Jon is King in the North and Winterfell is the Starks’ again. I’m not surprised at all this made Arya postpone her venture to King’s Landing. I do think Cersei will bite it by the end of this season, but not at Arya’s hand. In the cold woods, Arya is then greeted by another familiar face: Nymeria! Nymeria is another Season 1 reunion for Arya as she is reunited with her direwolf that she chased off to save her life after Sansa’s direwolf, Lady, had to be killed as a punishment for Nymeria attacking Joffrey. Nymeria and Arya have both grown up since their last encounter. When Nymeria chooses to not head to Winterfell with Arya, it makes sense. She is not the same direwolf she once was and Arya is not the same little girl she once was. “That’s not you,” Arya says to herself. Another callback to a conversation she had with her father, Ned, before he died and a testament that this isn’t the same world it used to be and we need to let go of the past in order to embrace what’s coming – such as a long awaited Stark reunion that Jon won’t be there for since he’s going to Dragonstone.
Sam is having quite the season so far. First he goes into the forbidden section of the Citadel’s library, now he’s performing top secret (and painful) procedures to cure Jorah of his Greyscale. Thrones was never a show to shy away from a gross scene. We’ve seen murder, torture, maiming, but never something as gross as Sam peeling off Jorah’s skin to cure his Greyscale. I don’t cringe a lot when I watch stuff, but this had my skin crawling the entire scene. It’s a great moment for Sam, too, who is only helping Jorah because he knew Jeor, Jorah’s father, during his time at The Wall.
Cersei rallies The Reach to convince them to swear loyalty to the crown and against “The Mad King’s daughter”. Cersei goes into detail explaining how she has crucified hundreds of noblemen and fed her enemies to her dragons. The thing is, this is 100% true. Dany did those things and it’s interesting to see how others view her decisions. Randyll Tarly offers his two cents to Jaime on why he won’t align himself with oath breakers and people who would slaughter house guests at their dinner table. It sucks to hear, Jaime, but it’s true. Jaime does eventually persuade Tarly and that frustrates me because I want to root for Jaime, but he’s giving me all the reasons not to. Randyll Tarly is a military asset anyone should want… But the guy is a jerk!
Cersei is then escorted down to the dungeons where her Hand, Qyburn (I hate this guy), shows her a cross bolt mechanism that could be an answer to Dany’s three dragons. It’s certainly dangerous and it shows that just because the odds are stacked against Cersei, does not mean she doesn’t have some semblance of a plan. In fact, after the climax of this episode, I’d say Cersei is in a better position than she started in last episode.
EN ROUTE TO SUNSPEAR
While Tryion and Dany gear up to lay siege to the capital and take Casterly Rock, Yara and Theon Greyjoy have been tasked with escorting Ellaria Sand and her daughters back to Sunspear (capital of Dorne). Their trip is cut short when Euron shows up with his own fleet of ships and this is when we’re treated to our first big set piece from Thrones this season: A PIRATE BATTLE! Maybe it’s because I love pirates so much, but this was one of the best action sequences Thrones has done. The scene is illuminated with raging fire and splashes of blood as Euron lays waste to two of Ellaria’s daughters and takes Ellaria, herself, and her last daughter hostage. Yara and Euron engage in a sword/axe fight, respectively, and when Yara has an axe at her throat, it’s Theon’s time to shine and save her… Right? It’s truly a shame what happened to Theon over the years he was with Ramsay and I was surprised that these repressed memories showed up now, at the worst time, but it make sense. Theon is broken, and there’s no going back from what he’s had to go through. I hate Theon but I feel bad for him too. I only hope he has a plan to get his sister out of this because right now, Cersei has the upper hand. But if what’s to come next week is any indication, this is still anybody’s game (pun completely intended).
Next week is shaping up to be an incredible hour of television. Tensions are high and everyone’s loyalty is being questioned. Be sure to come back for my recap of next week’s episode.
Now the Dot Dots!
Varys proved why he’s the Yin to Littlefinger’s Yang: Varys is for the people, Littlefinger is for the crown… “The kind [of servant] the Realm needs.” -Varys… The Prince who was Promised being gender-neutral is great but feels forced but I’ll bite… I love how we’ve followed Jon Snow for years to and from The Wall, to Hardhome, through his death and resurrection, and Dany and Varys are like, “Who tf is Jon Snow?”… “I am an excellent judge of character.” -Tyrion; He’s not wrong… It’s great to see life at Winterfell looking similar to the days of Season 1 when everyone was a child… Now new children are training with bows and arrows, I wonder if they’ll go through Hell and back as well… Sansa looks just like Cersei… Thrones loves recasting characters that were in one scene a previous season (in this case, Dickon Tarly)… Jaime recruiting Randyll Tarly is one of the smartest things he’s ever done, despite Tarly being a jerk… When Cersei walks towards Balerion the Dread’s skull and just keeps getting smaller and smaller was jaw dropping… That cross bolt is wild, but try hitting a moving object hundreds of yards away in the sky… Everyone has conflicting ideals and beef with each other, and everyone’s reasoning is justified… It’s great to see ambitious women like Yara and Ellaria engaging with more tactical minds like Olenna and Dany… Taking Casterly Rock is going to be amazing and it once again shows A. how fast this timeline is moving; and B. how Tyrion is right where he belongs as Hand… “Be a dragon,” is my new life mantra… After the Greyworm/Missandei scene, I’m glad I didn’t stay at my friend’s house and watch this episode with his dad… This scene was absolutely beautiful, though… I’m just looking for my weakness in life now… “We’re not poets, Tarly.” -Slughorn (I know his character has a different name, but he’s Slughorn)… I hope Sam does something rebellious every week but not nearly as gross as removing Jorah’s greyscale… That cut to the pie was brilliant… I still can’t get over how much of a little Ned Stark Arya is… She’s a 40-year-old in a 12-year-old’s body… “I’m a survivor.” -Hot Pie; I hope this is the last time we see Hot Pie, this would be a perfect send off for him and it would show that surviving this show is a possibility no matter the odds… Maybe Jon and Arya will run into each other while Jon’s en route to Dragonstone… Doubtful because why would this show give you something you want… The other lords of Winterfell (aside from Lyanna Mormont) irk me, how can they not see that Jon probably knows what he’s talking about… So was Littlefinger just hiding in the crypts waiting for Jon to show up? You think he was just brainstorming quips to say?… “The last best hope against the coming storm.” -Littlefinger; okay, that wasn’t clever. Just true… Littlefinger does have Jon in a vice, having saved him in the Battle of the Bastards. Jon needs the Vale, and that’s probably the only thing that stopped him from killing Littlefinger right there and then… So hopefully Jon returns to Winterfell and Bran will be waiting for him to touch base… Or is Bran just going to be in two episodes this whole season like he always is… Arya: “Nymeria, it’s me, Arya.” Nymeria: “New phone, who dis?”… This is probably the best acting Maisie Williams has done in this series… Euron’s ship, the Silence, is terrifying… This sequence is better than anything Pirates of the Caribbean ever even attempted… I feel like Euron got stabbed 12 times during this battle, how is he still standing… I’d care about the Sand Snakes dying more if they had been in more than 3 episodes of this series… Good thing I was completely wrong about who Euron’s present to Cersei is going to be. It’s not Tyrion, it’s Ellaria and Jaime’s going to go off on her because she poisoned Myrcella… THEON YOU MAKE IT SO HARD TO ROOT FOR YOU… At first I thought Theon had a plan but then I realized the man was tortured past the breaking point and you don’t just shake that off… Yara’s despair in her eyes was heartbreaking and Euron’s laugh was menacing…