Last week on Game of Thrones, we got a little taste of everyone’s storyline—except Melisandre, hmmm. This week, however, was all about strategy and strained family relations. And we picked up where we ended the season premiere: With Westeros’ newest resident and a fleet of her closest friends, er, subjects.
True to the episode’s name—”Stormborn”—we start on a dark and stormy night with Dany getting her ducks in a row. We’ve seen her make rash decisions in the past, but her little chat with Varys shows us how much she’s grown and learned over her time as a young queen. Now that she’s back in Westeros for the big event, she’s not taking any chances. She knows Varys works mainly for himself, so she’s taking his choice du jour with a grain of salt, but she’s got some fire-breathing backup to make sure he follows his word. I don’t recall any of the rulers Varys has previously served confront him the way Dany did, and it was refreshing. For now, the eunuch and his “little birds” are here for the Khaleesi.
Dragonstone was host to quite the who’s who of Westeros this week. We find out where Melisandre decided to go when she was kicked out of the north. It seems like she’s had some time to think on her journey south. Dany is happy to welcome her, it’s been a while since anyone has acted happy to see the Red Woman. It will be interesting to see what happens with this new partnership of sorts. As we know, both of these ladies have a thing for fire.
We also got to see all of Daenerys’s allies in one room, and that visual really illustrates how successful her seasons-long campaign has been to secure an army to take back the throne. There are reps from a few different Westerosi kingdoms in the room, all for a woman who hasn’t stepped on the continent since she was a baby. Pretty impressive. Especially when contrasted with Cersei’s attempt at rallying some troops, but more on that later. Also impressive, the silence in the room when Tyrion suggested part of the army take his family’s home of Casterly Rock. We don’t take that suggestion lightly, especially with Jon and Sansa’s conversation in our heads about the trustworthiness of the Lannisters. Even Tyrion.
Speaking of, up north, Jon and Sansa continue to disagree on a course of action. Jon has gotten Daenerys’s note to bend the knee (we’ll see how that goes…) and Sansa is wary as hell. We get indecision and an impasse the first time we visit Winterfell in this episode. However, once Jon gets Sam’s letter about the Dragonglass hiding under the castle at Dragonstone, he makes an executive decision to go, but not without Sansa disagreeing (anyone see a theme here?). Some of his men even take her side, but ultimately it’s too compelling and he decides to ride for the self proclaimed queen. Sansa seems hesitant, but in a heartwarming moment that gave major Coach Taylor vibes, he has full faith in her ability to act as HBIC of the north. The Cersei in Sansa seems too tempted to protest and she lets him go, her reservations showing in her face as he leaves on horseback. We’re all too familiar with what happened last time the family parted leaving Winterfell.
Down South, we see Cersei on the throne in her queenly military garb. Time out for a second to appreciate how Cersei’s wardrobe has shifted from colorful dresses with billowing sleeves and beautiful gold embroidery to the sleek, mostly black military feeling dresses with armor-style accessories. We enter on her trying to woo some bannermen, not unlike we saw Jon doing in the last episode, and it doesn’t seem like she’s got Westeros’s finest at her feet. Her dialogue feels not unlike our current politics, turning Westerosi against foreign “invaders” to win their loyalty. Even the men are skeptical. After all, the enemy has dragons. Well, she wouldn’t be Cersei if she didn’t have a plan. We get a peek at the plan, which is a little less…explosive than her last, and involves shooting heavy spears into old dragon skulls for practice. Ouch. We get some wise words from Qyburn when he’s talking about the dragons. “They’re powerful, but not invincible,” and, “If they can be wounded, they can be killed.” At least, we think he’s referring to the dragons here. Was that concern we detected on Cersei’s face?
Finally, we got our first battle scene of the season. It wasn’t going to be long, was it? This time, it was by sea. No matter whose side you’re on, that entrance by Euron’s men was pretty awesome. We also got our first bigger character deaths of the season. Seems like the sea is no place for the sand snakes. Things seemed cagey for Euron at times, but his insanity won out, thanks in part to a PTSD moment from Theon, who turns his back on his sister for the cold, cold ocean. That can’t be a great sign for Yara, but mostly when the episode ended on Theon in the water, I couldn’t get that Jack and Rose scene from Titanic out of my head. It’s winter, that water cannot be warm. Icebergs or not, is this how Theon meets his end?
That’s what’s going on with our big players, but that’s certainly not all that happened in the jam-packed hour. Some more important moments to note:
There were lots of wise words in this episode, and Lady Olenna’s stuck. “They won’t obey you unless they fear you.” Damn, girl. Also the fact that she’s outlived all the great men by not listening to them. Targaryen/Tyrell 2020!
Can we get an awwww for that scene between Missandei and Grey Worm? No love in Game of Thrones will ever be perfect, but we don’t get sweet moments like that very often. It was a nice light note in an episode heavy with war speak.
Sam wins the award for gore for the second week running. I’d rather watch the most gruesome deaths in Westeros history before watching him go Grey’s Anatomy on Jorah again. Yuck. It’s also very Grey’s Anatomy of him to ignore his superior and do a potentially dangerous, potentially ineffective procedure on his own. However, it was very heartwarming to see him so determined to help the son of a man he respected so much.
Arya’s going home! This was a great revelation and all thanks to a welcome return to our screen by Hot Pie. Will she meet Jon on the road? I was so sad to see Jon leave because they were the two Stark outcasts (remember when he gave her needle?!) and she’s just going to miss him. Theme of GoT, I guess. At least Sansa will be holding down the fort for her return. We hope. Also, Nymeria! Or maybe not. It was a great callback to Arya’s direwolf that was set free in season one, and I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see of it.
Arya’s “one or two” pies line deserves its own callout. Giiiiiirl.