Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 2 “Stormborn”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Dragonstone: A violent storm crashes over Dragonstone. Someone comments that it was in a storm such as this that Daenerys was born. Aha, that explains the “Daenerys Stormborn” title that people seem to use a lot. I always wondered about that, when her name is actually “Daenerys Targaryen”, why do people refer to her as “Stormborn”?

Anyway, Daenerys talks to Varys, questioning his loyalty, and why he served her father, then switched to supporting Robert Baratheon, and then the Lannisters, and now why should she trust him? He says that he serves the people of Westeros, always selecting the best course of action for them, and sometimes that involves shifting his support. However, he believes that Daenerys will treat the people with respect, having seen how she dealt with Slavers’ Bay, and so as long as Daenerys doesn’t change, he will serve her. Daenerys asks him to tell her if she ever fails to think of the people, and he agrees.

Melisandre arrives at Dragonstone. This is a bit of a surprise! I never would have picked this as a place she’d go. Although in hindsight this is where she began, advising Stannis, so at least she’s familiar with it. But I never would have thought she’d seek out Daenerys. But her she is, telling Daenerys that she thinks her and Jon Snow are the two big players in the current situation. Daenerys is surprised to see a red priestess on this side of the Narrow Sea – so I gather their cult/religion/whatever is much more prominent over on the Braavos/Pentos/Slavers’ Bay side. This is a detail I hadn’t picked up before. Anyway, Melisandre suggests that Daenerys seek an alliance with Jon Snow. Tyrion has met Jon (in the first few episodes of the series), and says he’s a good man, so Daenerys orders a message be sent to Winterfell to summon Jon, and ask him to bend the knee to her as Queen.

Daenerys assembles her council of war in the map room with the windows looking out on the raging storm. Present are her and her retinue, including Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei, then Yara and Theon Greyjoy, Olenna Tyrell, and the Evil Sister-in-Law from Dorne and her three daughters. I just realised that she was the wife/lover of Prince Oberyn – so that would mean that the three daughters are also his daughters (unless there’s some other father somewhere). She suggests a huge attack with everything they have on King’s Landing – she would, she’s really only in this for revenge against the Lannisters. Tyrion however says that the people of King’s Landing need to support the armies coming to liberate them from the Lannister yoke, and they will look on an army of Dothraki and Unsullied as foreign invaders, and be more likely to resist them. So the attack on King’s Landing must be made only with Westerosi forces: The army of Dorne and Yara’s fleet. He says the Dothraki and Unsullied should mount a second attack on the Lannister heartland: Casterly Rock. Daenerys agrees and orders it so.

Later, Missandei comes to Grey Worm’s room as he is preparing to depart and lead the Unsullied in their attack on Casterly Rock. They have a slightly awkward conversation, in which Grey Worm says that all the Unsullied he knows have some fear, of water, or of heights, or fire, or whatever, but he never feared anything, he was always brave. But now he knows fear – the fear that he will never see Missandei again. She reacts by unzipping one small zipper on her incredibly elaborate costume, which causes everything she’s wearing to fall to the floor. Now Grey Worm’s reaction will be interesting, because we know he’s a eunuch. Missandei proceeds to peel his clothes off and then the two of them jump into bed and it seems that Grey Worm is about to do the impossible… but then aha… He may be a eunuch, but he apparently knows how to pleasure a woman with his tongue.

Well, I dunno. Did we really need this scene between them to end that way? It coud have been just as touching, perhaps even more so, if they’d kept their clothes on, Missandei had left after wishing Grey Worm luck, and then a single tear rolled down his face. And Melisandre… what’s her game? Is this just a way to get back in Jon’s good books? By giving him a powerful ally? Tyrion’s war plan seems sensible. Maybe we’ll finally get to see Casterly Rock – I’m not sure if we’ve ever actually seen that location yet.

Winterfell: Jon gets Daenerys’s message, and also Sam’s message about there being a huge source of dragonglass on Dragonstone. Jon decides this coincidence is fate and gets ready to go to Dragonstone. Sansa and Davos reckon it’s a trap; Jon agrees it might be, but the stakes are too high and the prize too great to ignore. He says that while he’s away, Sansa will rule Winterfell, which she seems a bit surprised at. I’m not sure why – she’s clearly the next in line, and obviously the rightful Lady of Winterfell.

On the way out, Jon passes Petyr Baelish. He tells Petyr that if he touches his sister while he’s gone, he’ll come back and personally kill him. Good to see that Jon trusts Petyr as much as Sansa does. Jon’s trip will be interesting. I’m guessing he has the skills to negotiate successfully with Daenerys, but their priorities may be different. She doesn’t seem like one to worry about White Walkers while there are Lannisters in King’s Landing. I wonder if Jon will even mention the dragonglass, or perhaps cut a deal with Daenerys to get some. There could be friction between her demand that he swear loyalty, and his desire to stay independent. We shall see.

Old Town: Sam visits Jorah in his cell, and discovers who he is – the son of Commander Mormont of the Night’s Watch. Sam brings him to the Archmaester, in an effort to find a cure for the greyscale. The Archmaester (played by Jim Broadbent, by the way – Professor Slughorn, the Potions Master) says the disease is too far advanced to treat. I suppose he’s not as accomplished as Professor Slughorn, who’d no doubt have some suitable potion up his sleeve. Sam suggests a treatment from a book he found, but Archmaester Slughorn says that’s only good for early stages of the disease. He says to Jorah the best thing he could have done was to cut his arm off as soon as he got the infection. And now he only has about six months left before he loses his mind, and has to be exiled to the city where the Stone Men live (and who gave him the infection).

Sam, of course, isn’t put off by this, and goes to visit Jorah later, with a book, and a bunch of surgical tools. He gives Jorah a wineskin of rum and tells him to drink. All of it. And that this is going to hurt. And Sam takes a swig himself before handing it over – nice touch. After Jorah has downed the rum, Sam gives him a leather strap to bite on, and tells him not to scream, because then Maesters will investigate and find out what he’s doing. He gets a scalpel and starts peeling off layers of hardened skin from Jorah’s chest, which is clearly painful because Jorah struggles not to scream.

Ick. Let’s hope it works. Poor Jorah – this man has been through so much. And all for the love of a woman who exiled him and never wanted to see him again. If he has a story arc, it need to end with him cured and returning to sweep Daenerys off her feet somehow. Not sure if he’ll get that happy ending though.

In a forest: Arya stops at an inn on the way to King’s Landing. We don’t see any follow-up from her encounter with the Lannister soldiers last episode. So maybe she let them go peacefully, I guess. Anyway, she dines at this inn, and who serves her? Her old fat friend, whose name seems to be Hot Pie(!). We last saw him way back in season 4, when Brienne and Podrick happened to meet him at this same inn. Then he told them that he knew Arya, and she’d been taken to The Eyrie to be ransomed, which set Brienne on the route to finding her and Sansa.

And now he tells Arya the news that Winterfell has been retaken by Jon Snow, at which Arya is flabbergasted. It seems that Hot Pie’s role in this series is to deliver information to people passing through his inn that changes where they’re planning to travel. Because as Arya leaves the inn, she considers her choice of road: south to King’s Landing, or north to Winterfell. Is it more important to kill Cersei, or to go home and meet Jon? She turns from her previous path and begins heading north.

Later, she is camping in the snowy forest, when she hears noises in the dark around her. A pack of ferocious looking wolves surrounds her, and it looks like she might need to fight. Then a huge monstrous wolf appears and snarls at her, obviously the leader of this pack. But Arya recognises it! She calls the name of the wolf she’d previously owned. I’d forgotten what had happened to Arya’s wolf, but it turns out that way back in episode 2 of season 1, she had sent her wolf away after he attacked Joffrey, for fear that otherwise he’d be executed. (And that act saw Sansa’s wolf executed in his stead.) I said at the time that Arya’s wolf would probably return one day, and finally here he is! I suspect that this return is not just for this one scene, but that he’ll show up again soon. Because as this scene resolves, the wolf recognises Arya and stands his wolf pack down. Arya tries to get him to rejoin her, but the wolf runs away back into the forest taking his pack with him. This is too short a scene to be inserted here for no reason – it must be setting up her wolf to do more things in the future.

King’s Landing: Cersei calls a war council, telling her various lords that they need to prepare to fend off a foreign invasion from Daenerys and her Dothraki hordes. Jaime approaches one Randyll Tarly and says they’ll need his help. Jaime wants him to lead the armies in battle, and assuming they’re successful, Randyll will be rewarded by being made Lord of the South. The name Tarly rings a bell in my mind as I watch this, and then I suddenly realise that’s Sam’s last name. Is Randyll his father?? I can’t remember what his father looked like from the scene where Sam visited his home and his father disowned him, so I’m not sure if it’s his father or a more distant relative. Either way it’s an interesting link.

Cersei worries about Daenerys’s dragons and what can be done to stop them. Qyburn says he has something that may be of use. He takes her into the crypts, where lie the skeletons of some dragons. Cersei says she remembers when Robert Baratheon had the skeletons removed from the throne room, because he didn’t like them dominating it. I think it was some ancient king who had the dragons, not the more recent Mad King. Qyburn reveals a powerful ballista. He points it at the biggest skull, and then asks Cersei to pull a lever. She does so, and the bolt smashes through the bony eye socket of the dragon, emerging from the back of the skull. Cersei smiles a grimly satisfied smile.

The way Qyburn presents it, it looks like he’s showing off some newfangled weapon technology, but surely a ballista should be old hat to this sort of society? Or maybe he’s just showing Cersei, “Look, we already have weapons capable of killing a dragon.” The other thing is that this will only work if you can hit the dragon in the first place. Hitting a static skull is one thing, but hitting a dragon in flight, capable of dodging or buffeting a projectile out of the sky with its wings is a different matter entirely. Qyburn seems very sure of himself – which we all know is the sign of an inevitable downfall. No doubt the dragons will be harder to hit than he seems to think.

At sea: Yara is sailing her fleet, presumably towards the attack on King’s Landing. Evil Sister-in-Law is with her, and the two are discussing past campaigns in a cabin, in a scene reminiscent of Quint, Hooper, and Brody on board the Orca in Jaws. Until things turn a little more suggestive and Evil S-i-L asks about Yara having a man in every port, to which she replies “a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter.” This piques a raised eyebrow, and Evil S-i-L sidles closer, Yara goes in for the kiss… and suddenly the cabin wall is shattered by a flaming projectile!

They head up on deck to discover their fleet is being attacked. It’s Euron and his own Iron Fleet! Flames and glowing debris shatter the night air over the ocean as boarding ramps are deployed and people begin fighting on the ships. A couple of Evil S-i-L’s daughters are slaughtered in the fight, but Yara and S-i-L herself are captured. Yara appeals to Theon for help, but he is frozen in fear. Euron leers at him and his ugly face is enough to send Theon fleeing into the ocean for his life. I don’t blame him.

Well this is a big setback for Daenerys. I guess Euron will take Yara and Evil S-i-L as prisoners to Cersei. They’ll make fine gifts to back up his promise from last episode. But will he get all the way back to King’s Landing with them? I suppose news of this loss won’t reach Daenerys for a while, so there’s not much she can do about it right away. And what will Cersei’s reaction be? She’ll no doubt be pleased with the effect of Euron’s actions, but I can’t see her agreeing to his demands to become her equal. Maybe she can just kill him now that he’s done something useful.

And what of Theon? Adrift in the middle of the ocean is not exactly a recipe for survival, although presumably he’ll manage somehow. I can’t see him dying pitifully there for no reason. Seeing how he gets back to land, and where he ends up, will be interesting.

One Response to “Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 2 “Stormborn””

  1. Glen says:

    Great writeup

    “I gather their cult/religion/whatever is much more prominent over on the Braavos/Pentos/Slavers’ Bay side.” —
    The only priests/priestesses of the Lord of Light we’ve seen in Westeros are Thoros (“…of Myr”, which is in Essos – though he’s been in Westeros for decades) and Melisandre. Melisandre herself is from Asshai, very far to the east in Essos (way farther east even than Qarth). The religion is very much on the fringes in Westeros (it seems that aside from the Brotherhood without Banners they’re basically all in the Light of the Seven, except in the North where there’s a mix of “the old gods and the new”, the Seven being the “new”).

    “so that would mean that the three daughters are also his daughters” — all the Sand Snakes (including the three we have seen) are Oberyn’s daughters, but not all of his daughters are Ellaria’s. The one that is getting taunted when the others say “Mama, Mama!” is definitely Ellaria’s daughter.

    “just as touching, perhaps even more so, if they’d kept their clothes on” — I agree, it seemed both gratuitous and awkward.

    “If he has a story arc, it need to end with him cured and returning to sweep Daenerys off her feet somehow.” – I think his conversation with Daario on the way to “rescuing” her from the Dothraki indicates he understands that his love isn’t going to be reciprocated, at least not in the same way. We have seen that Danerys is fond of him though (that’s why he’s in the Citadel seeking a cure, after all – she wants him back with her).

    “Her old fat friend, whose name seems to be Hot Pie” … yes, that’s how he was introduced in Kings Landing in season 1 (when he and Lommhy tried to take Needle from Arya) and he only ever seems to be called that.

    “Is Randyll his father??” — indeed, yes. This was mentioned a couple of times before we met him in the flesh (as usual, mostly just in passing); e.g. one example is when Sam is helping Gilly choose a suitable name for her baby. Gilly wants to call him Mormont, so Sam discusses the function of surnames, with which Gilly is unfamiliar. Gilly understandably refuses to let him have the surname Craster. She asks about his father’s first name – which Sam says is Randyll, but he tries to convince her not to call the baby Randyll. She asks if we was cruel like Craster, and Sam says, with a slight quaver in his voice, “a different manner of cruel”.

    “I think it was some ancient king who had the dragons” — I’m sure the big skull is that of Balerion the Dread, one of the three dragons Aegon the Conqeror and his sisters used to conquer Westeros in the long past. Arya relates part of the story to Tywin at Harrenhal (she even saw the skull herself when she was in King’s Landing) and Shireen brings a book on it to Ser Davos to help teach him to read. There’s also a number of other conversations that refer to it, but as usual, it’s nearly always part of some other conversation (it’s one thing that’s really done rather well — that the history, geography and political situation is almost never a lump of exposition, but woven naturally into conversations — but it also makes it hard to tie it all together)

    “but surely a ballista should be old hat to this sort of society?” probably, but as you already suggest, an ordinary ballista won’t cut it — it will need a very good range to get the required height, and it needs some innovation to be able to hit a moving target (which there’d be no need to have on a siege weapon since castles are relatively sessile).

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