GAME OF THRONES Review: “Stormborn”

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The second episode of ’ seventh season felt surreal. It doesn’t feel like the same show we’ve been watching for seven seasons now. Before, storylines were distinct and separate and you kind of knew that each of the stories would end distinctly and separately come the end of the season. Now it feels like every story is connected, all the characters are being thrown together, and all the plotlines are hurtling towards each other. This is truly the beginning of the end of Game of Thrones.

And the episode did not disappoint (other than some minor gripes, which I’ll speak of below). We touched upon many characters across Westeros and the episode ended with one of Game of Thrones’ signature huge battle sequences. We left off last week with Dany, Tyrion, and company finally reaching the Targaryen home of Dragonstone. We start the episode this week in the same place, but for some reason Dany is questions Varys’ allegiances. Yes, he’s betrayed king after king, and he was even the one who sent an assassin to kill her way back in Season One (on King Baratheon’s orders). So how can she trust him to be loyal to her? Varys explains that he’s come up from a lowly upbringing, and he’s only ever been loyal to the people, and he only ever wants a leader that is best for the people. It could be true, it could be more manipulation, but either way Dany threatens to burn him if he betrays her.

What follows is a veritable meeting of the minds. Dany, Tyrion, Varys, Ellaria Sand from Dorne, and Olena Tyrell all talk strategy. Dany does not want to attack King’s Landing directly in fear of killing innocent people and destroying the capital. Olena thinks this is foolish, and as she recently lost a lot of her family to Cersei’s wildfiring incident last season and she’s seeing red. Dany astutely points out that if she invades the capital city with foreign armies, she will be seen as a foreign dictator, not the rightful queen. They’ll surround the city instead with the Dornish army and the Tyrell army. Meanwhile, the Dothraki and Unsullied will attack the Lannister home of Casterly Rock. They leave immediately. But not before a long-awaited scene of Grey Worm and Missandei finally expressing their affection for one another (and even getting naked and consummating a relationship as best they can). Don’t get too happy, this probably means one of them is dying soon.

In Oldtown at the Citadel, Sam takes an interest in a certain patient who happens to have greyscale. Revealed last week, Jorah Mormont is on his quest to find the cure to greyscale and return to his Khaleesi. Good ol’ Sam is getting quite a bit of gruesome material this season as we saw him cleaning latrines last week and this week, well… Something even worse. He investigates into incidents of greyscale being, if not cured, stopped. As Jorah only has six months before the madness takes him, he has to act quickly. Finding out that he was related to Commander Mormont makes this task person for Sam. Following texts in an old book, Sam cuts the greyscale from Jorah’s skin in a grotesque and painful procedure. We have yet to see if it is a success.

In Winterfell, Jon receives the letter from Sam informing him of the Dragonglass stash beneath Dragonstone. He also happens to get a letter from Daenerys inviting him there. It seems risky, the daughter of the Mad King and a Lannister awaiting him, but he ultimately tells the people of the North that he will be going, and while he’s gone Sansa will be in charge. NOTE: Little Finger’s face when he hears this news, he can barely contain himself. Later, Jon threatens to kill him if he ever touches his sister. I’m willing to bet that just may happen.

Arya is traveling on her way to King’s Landing to kill Cersei, sans Ed Sheeran and stops to have a bite at her old friend Hot Pie’s joint. He remarks how much she’s changed, and how he can’t believe he thought she was a boy. He informs Arya that the Boltons have been defeated in Winterfell and Jon Snow rules there now as King In the North. Arya is pretty surprised to hear this and now has to make a decision: north or south? She decides to go back home for the first time since Season One. Camping out on the road there, she is surrounded by some wolves including one dire wolf: her own, Nymeria. Nymeria doesn’t recognize her, though, and decides not to come with her. Arya says it wasn’t her, but seems like she is in denial. I think perhaps because Arya had “become no one” that Nymeria no longer recognizes her. More likely it’s because having a huge dire wolf in every shot with Arya would break the show’s budget.

In King’s Landing, Cersei has called the houses still loyal to her to discuss the impending invasion of Daenerys Targaryen. Jaime takes a particular interest in House Tarly, who he knows is a key ally who may be considering other options. Tarly ends up seeming to agree to Jaime’s offer of Warden of the South if they shall win. But how can they win against three dragons? Well, Qyburn to the rescue again. In a somewhat anti-climactic turn, Qyburn’s brilliant dragon defense is just a really large crossbow. It doesn’t look practical at all. How is it aimed at a moving target? How many of them are there? How long does it take to load? All important questions Cersei doesn’t ask. Still, I have a feeling at least one of Dany’s dragons is going down.

Speaking of going down, on their way to return Ellaria Sand and her Sand Snakes to Dorne with the Iron Fleet, Euron Greyjoy attacks the ships of Yara and Theon (just as Ellaria and Yara were about to get it on). In a signature epic battle sequence, Game of Thrones once again makes me wonder aloud “How is THIS television?” With such cinematic quality and certainly a tall budget, it’s an impressive feat, and a fun sequence. We lose two of the Sand Snakes (we hardly knew ye) to their own weapons. Ellaria Sand is captured, and when Euron has an ax to Yara’s neck and calls for Theon to come save her, Theon jumps off the boat and saves his own skin. True Reek move. Will this guy ever get redemption?

It seems Euron has his gift for Cersei. But does this really give the Lannisters the upper hand they need? It doesn’t seem to me it does. We will surely see in the coming episodes.

TB-TV-Grade-A-Season 7, Episode 2 (S07E02)
Game of Thrones airs Sunday at 9PM on HBO

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Paul hopes you don’t get too attached to his reviews, or George R. R. Martin will surely kill him.
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