We’re now past the days when the wait for Season 7 was an excruciatingly long year that kept approaching slowly like the tides of the show’s Winter. The new episodes are now just a week apart, at least for the next month or so. And that’s a good thing; a reminder of the bright side as the show serves us some bittersweet moments in its second episode, along with some deaths.
By now you know the drill. If you’re reading a Game of Thrones episode review, you’re in for spoilers as its hard to talk about the goings on while staying tight-lipped about the goings on. So proceed further at your own risk and with the assumption that you’ve seen what Episode 2 Stormborn has in hold. Thou hast been warned.
The premiere gradually segued us into the world of George R. R. Martin’s Westeros / Essos, keeping the show’s best moments for the very last. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for an entire 50 minutes to see what Daenerys and Tyrion have in store as the episode opens right with a discussion of their plans to invade Kings Landing and the best approach to go about it. Yara, Ellaria and even Lady Olenna prefer the more aggressive route and suggest a brash invasion of Kings Landing straightaway with the Unsullied and Dothraki armies and the three dragons (who were absent this episode mostly to use the budget sparingly). Tyrion, ever the diplomat and planner that he is, suggests a more strategic and carefully planned invasion, suggesting that an outright assault may lay waste to not only Cersei and her men but also to the countless innocents caught in the dragon crossfires. And Daenerys would certainly not want to be a queen to the ashes of these dead men. It’s an interesting contrast to Cersei’s stark do-what-it-takes-to-win approach which had her blow up the Sept of Baelor with no regard as to innocent casualties.
This reluctance to kill though could also turn out to be the biggest weakness of the Mother of Dragons which is why Lady Ollena advises the Targeryn to be aggressive where the situation demands. Yet another instance where Dany goes too easy in the same scene is with Varys. Ever the spy, Varys has rather conveniently switched sides when he has found the rulers to be incompetent and inadequate, asserting that his true allegiances lie with the people and not with any King. Dany, instead of admonishing him, makes him swear that if she were ever to stray from her morals in ruling the Seven Kingdoms, he would bring this to her attention. Something tells me this is definitely not the last we’re seeing of this conversation and that this is something that we will certainly revisit in Season 8. Could Daenerys, the Mad King Aegon Targeryn’s daughter, actually follow in the footsteps of the Mad King and be consumed by the power herself?
The plan then is to use the Unsullied and Dothraki forces to invade the Lannister home of Casterly Rock and have the Westerosi soldiers and armies from Dorne, Ironborn and Highgarden march towards Kings Landing. Why so? Apparently there’s some sort of sweet justice in having the Westerosi soil being invaded by Westerosis themselves. If both these invasions take place this season itself, we’re in for quite a ride.
There’s also a small but interesting exchange between Melisandre and Daenerys who very cryptically tells the Queen that the Prince who was promised will have an important role to play in the upcoming war. While Missandei corrects Daenerys and tells her Prince in Valerian could mean a prince or princess as deemed fit, was The Red Priestess really referring to her or was she referring to some other Prince? Furthermore, the war she was referring to most likely seems to be the bigger war against the Wights; after all, what interest would the battle for the Iron Throne be to her?
The Prince (if he is) at Winterfell, Jon Snow has meanwhile finally received not one but two letters that will result in one of the show’s most awaited meets. One is from his longtime friend Samwell Tarly who, as we found out last episode, has discovered the mountain of Dragonglass present in Dragonstone. Jon, having been witness to the Walker army is easily convinced that this could be just what the North needs to fight off the walker threat. The second letter is from Dragonstone itself where, Tyrion Lannister has requested Jon’s presence at Dragonstone to ally with the queen. Jon, now aware of her dragons, feels he could convince her to join in the bigger battle and, after an argument with his watch, sets off for Dragonstone much against the wishes of his supporters.
Of those who oppose his decision to walk into a Targeryn trap were Sansa who only allows him to go once Jon declares he’s entrusting the responsibility of the North to Sansa until he returns. As Lord Baelish gives a tiny smirk, Sansa not only goes silent upon hearing this but shows no further objection to Jon departing. This could be one more hint of Sansa beginning to enjoy power and as immune as she may be to Littlefinger’s advances, he might successfully manage to convince her to consider the Iron Throne for themselves. Jon is certainly not going to be happy if that turns out to be the case.
Samwell on the other hand has been rather devotedly trying to find a cure for Jorah Mormont, ever since he discovered he is a Mormont. In fact, he has a potential cure but is forbidden to try it by The Archmaester who for now, seems to be limiting what Sam can do in The Citadel. In what could have earlier taken a few episodes, we later on see Sam quietly getting into Jorah’s room with some equipment and begin work on removing the greyscales from Jorah’s body. In yet one of the gruesome moments of the scene, we see a transition from this scene to a bloke eating his food in an inn.
The inn is where we see Arya meet another long lost cast member, Hot Pie. It is from him she learns that Sansa and Jon are alive and Winterfell has been reclaimed from the Boltons. In a dilemma now, she chooses family over revenge and sets off to the North to reunite with her Stark brethren, yet another reminder of the fact that while she may have become cold and stern by her experiences, she still has within her that little bit of longing for an emotional connection. Which is why it’s rather sad later on to see her surrounded by a wolf-pack led by none other than her own direwolf Nymeria who, after separated from Arya, has clearly moved on. Arya understands.
Speaking of the Mad King’s daughter, Cersei conveniently uses this phrase to get the Houses in Westeros to side by her. Lord Randyll Tarly, having sided with the Tyrell’s who Cersei blew up last season, rather reluctantly shows up at the Queen’s call. It’s only when Jaimie assures Randyll that he’ll be made Warden in the South that he agrees to pledge allegiance to the Lannisters. Clearly loyalty comes at a price, especially if it’s loyalty to Cersei.
Qyburn has also been making some headways with tackling the Dragon threat, as he shows to Cersei a crossbow capable of penetrating a Dragon’s bones. While its difficult to imagine that anything could possibly work against the Dragons (save for the Dragonbinder perhaps if we ever come to it), the writers have to do something to sort of even out the stakes. At this point though, even with just the three dragons by her side, the strength of Daenerys seems unmatched.
We finally come to the showpiece of the episode, a relatively smaller one in this case but no less impressive. On board their ships, we see some playful interplay between Yara and Ellaria and just as they share a kiss, all hell breaks loose. Not in an emotional sort of way. Euron somehow manages to catch up to them and stage an invasion, leading to the loss of Obara and Nymeria Sand. That’s two Nymerias we lost in a single episode under different circumstances. Yara and Ellaria are captured and, if the trailers and promotional stills serve us well, will be taken to Cersei as “her gift”.
In a poignantly dramatic moment, we see Theon struggle to take action against a savage Euron holding Yara with a huge knife to her throat. He sees images of slaughter all around and is reminded of a similar torture he went through for much of the show at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. Such are the horrors of what Ramsay did to him that he prefers jumping off into the seas instead of risking capture by Euron by attempting to save Yara.
Another possible explanation for Theon’s behavior could have to do with realizing he’s outnumbered and, choosing escape as a way to save himself so that he can at the very least, convey the information to Daenerys and decide upon the next course of action. Seeing as Theon emerged out of his cowardice to rescue Sansa from the clutches of his captor himself, this could also be a possibility although it would make the fear in Theon’s eyes a sort of trickery to keep the audience from guessing his real motives. Or perhaps it was a bit of both. Which explanation pans out, we’ll have to see.
It’s embarrassing really to keep referring to a Game of Thrones episode as another great one after what the show has given us. There’s a clear palpable sense of the end-game approaching and if what the show’s creators said is to hold, this is pretty much going to be the pace at which Game of Thrones moves going forward. We have a lot of ground to cover and not many episodes left before we depart this great series for good. For now, this was another exciting hour of television and we personally cannot wait to see how the next one unfolds, especially with the meetup between Daenerys and Jon being highly inevitable after the developments of Stormborn.
Episode Score: 9.0 / 10.0