Warning, spoilers ahead.
In contrast to the first episode, the second instalment of season 7 began slowly, and built up to a dramatic climax. The episode ended with bloodshed and drama, but whilst some interactions may have seemed slightly bizarre or even pointless, they certainly set in motion important moments for later in the season.
The episode ‘Stormborn’ begins with a call back in Westerosi history, to a storm at Dragonstone reminiscent of Daenerys’ birth (hence one of her many titles: ‘Daenerys Stormborn’). Fans who are committed enough to know the trivia of Roberts rebellion (events which are discussed in the books, but not so much the tv show) may have slowly began to put together the pieces that whilst the storm of Daenery’s birth raged, the previous Targaryen fleet were destroyed at sea. A piece of spectacularly subtle foreshadowing for what is to come for Daenerys this episode. For me, a key part of this episode was to ensure viewers that Daenerys is not as powerful as she first appears. Yara initially reminds the audience of Daenerys’ colossal force, suggesting that they attack Kingslanding immediately as they have such a vast force (3 dragons, a navy and ginormous army). Despite this, to avoid maximum bloodshed Dany and Tyrion have devised a plan to divide the Targaryen forces and take the ‘true’ seat of power in Westeros, Casterly Rock. However, by the end of this episode, Daenerys has lost a vast number of her navy and it is revealed Cersei has a weapon powerful enough to kill her all important dragons.
Seeing the spread of Jorah’s greyscale is pretty heart breaking for fans of his character and it looks as though it is all over for him, with Jim Broadbent’s character nodding to his sword and allowing him to get his ‘affairs’ in place before he is to be shipped off to Valyria, basically suggesting that he should take his life the ‘honorable’ way. We are also informed that greyscale is actually curable, but that the practice is prohibited on the grounds that it is too dangerous. In a later scene, Sam enters just as Jorah is writing his final letter to his Khaleesi, and it is hard not to admire Sam’s bravery. Often, Sam’s scenes never particularly excite or interest me in the way that say Jon Snow’s storyline does, however this scene was remarkably sweet, in spite of the grisly business of peeling off the scaly skin which oozed puss. I did not comment on it last week, but this is now two horrendously gross scenes involving Sam without any particularly violent action, a close-up of Jorah’s pussing skin transitioning to a bowl of cheesy soup being particularly gag worth. It is safe to say season 7 has so far been one not to watch whilst you eat dinner.
The scene between Greyworm and Missandei received some heat, regarding the fact that Greyworm is a eunuch (he was castrated as part of his initiation to the unsullied) so their sex scene was slightly unusual. Whilst I thought it was a little dragged out, considering in the grand scheme of things they are considered more ‘minor’ characters, it was pleasant to have a loving and consensual sex scene. Game of Thrones doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of its treatment of female characters and sex scenes, with a fairly long list of rape or at best slightly twisted sexual encounters, so it was refreshing to see two characters embracing one another. However, I fear that this drawn out scene was created to pull at our heart strings in order to achieve a greater feel of devastation when one of these characters dies. This scene may well be the final time they see one another.
Regarding the scene between Arya and her direwolf Nymeria, this long awaited reunion was all too short for me. It was also a scene that left some people confused, as she says ‘that’s not you’ at the end of the scene. From my perspective, and after seeing the comparisons between this scene and an earlier scene from season 1, in which Arya says ‘that’s not me’ regarding a life of being a lady and dresses, I think it was Nymeria, but that she is now too wild to return to Winterfell. This has a lot of potential symbolism, as the Stark children are closely associated with their direwolves (in the books, all the Stark children are able have some kind of warging ability, even if they do not know it), so seeing Arya’s wolf, wild and unable to return to it’s former life could certainly represent Arya’s future. All of the Stark children have gone through terrible things, but Arya has always been wild, and in last weeks episode slaughtered an entire family. Perhaps, this season will demonstrate Arya’s own personal struggle between returning to her family (who isn’t desperately praying for a Stark reunion this season?) and being the wild assassin she has been training to be for so long now. Sansa’s words from the trailer for season 7 come to mind, ‘the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives’.
The battle was dark and confusing (and if you were illegally streaming online, probably hard to see what was going on at all), but this is exactly how it should have been. A masterful ambush on Euron’s part, yet if you look at a Game of Throne’s map, this whole battle may well have been a very happy (for Euron) accident, as sailing from Dragonstone to Dorne means sailing past Kingslanding, where Euron so happened to be. Either way, it was a captivating battle full of impressive weaponry and violence. Euron’s axe is certainly theatrical, looking almost comical in size, but very well suited for his character. Euron’s villainy is different to Joffrey’s spoiled sadism and Ramsay’s violent bloodlust, Euron loves to be bad for the sake of being bad, he finds humour in peoples fear and has an exceptionally macho attitude to violence. Game of Thrones directors have been keen to get rid of the Sandsnake storyline since it began, receiving some of the poorest ratings in their performance, so this attack was the perfect opportunity to get rid of Nymeria and Obara Sand. They were still slightly disappointing in that after all their hype, I would have liked to see them take out a few more of Euron’s men before being defeated, but being killed by their own weapons was a good choice by the director in my eyes. It looks as though my previous prediction of Ellaria being Euron’s gift was well placed, and I look forward to seeing how Cersei reacts to seeing Ellaria. I wouldn’t want to be her next week. I am also glad that Tyene was kept alive, and whilst she may not have much time left at the hands of Cersei, I do hope she gets to have a reunion with Bronn before she goes.
The scene in which Euron holds the captured Yara with his axe to her throat and taunts Theon is interesting. Some viewers have seen his reaction as a massive disappointment as he runs and leaps in to the water, unable to fight back, as it appeared that he was really on his way to improving. However, I think that his reaction is perfectly justifiable, and an important part of what makes Game of Thrones so exciting. Theon is a victim of some seriously twisted torture which lasted over many seasons, if he had the mental strength to pick up a sword in the midst of so much violence and rescue Yara, it would have been a miracle. G. R. R. Martin doesn’t do miracles, the characters on Game of Thrones for the most part are intensely real, all of them are flawed and are damaged from past experiences, something that I see as a major theme of this episode. Humans are unpredictable, and this unpredictability is marvellously captured in Game of Thrones, which is what makes it so exciting.