‘Game of Thrones’ szn 7, ep 2: Make Westeros Great Again

“Stormborn” opened with a literal storm and Dany discussing strategy with her newly assembled crew. GOT has made a continued effort to show us how different Cersei, Dany, and Jon are as rulers. Cersei has surrounded herself with yes men. Jon does what he believes is right regardless of what his advisors say. Dany is learning to heed advice, specifically Tyrion’s, perhaps to a fault. As Olenna reminds her, she’s a dragon. Tyrion is correct that a straight up dragon attack on King’s Landing would kill a bunch of innocents, but at some point Dany is going to have let the dragons loose and channel her inner Targaryen if she wants to take the Iron Throne. Her and Tyrion going to great expository lengths to justify this patience wasn’t just so the Tyrell’s, Greyjoy’s, and Sand’s would understand; but so the audience would as well. Dany and Tyrion spent a decent portion of this episode defending the fact that they’re still doing little more than talking about conquering Westeros. Ugh.

I was very frustrated with the Dany-Vays conversation. First off, why now? If she wanted to grill him on his loyalty and character, why not do it right when she met him like she did with Tyrion? Second, we’ve been watching the show for seven seasons, we know Varys’ story. We don’t need to hear Dany recount it. Then she does the same thing with Melisandre seconds later! These are cases where the writers don’t trust the audience to grasp the basic context of the conversations unless it’s explicitly stated. 

Cersei is attempting to rally support with fear tactic narratives about dangerous foreigners. It’s a desperation move as traditional support for the crown is waning. She’s burned a lot of bridges, blown up septs, etc. While she finally sits on the Iron Throne herself, the choices that brought her to this point have backfired. Known bigot and wildling hater Randall Tarly seems down for the cause, at least. And Cersei has Euron Greyjoy working for her.

Speaking of Euron, it appears as if his gift for Cersei is Ellaria Sand and/or Yara Greyjoy. Quite the romantic, that Euron. The episode concluded with a big action set piece of Euron attacking the fleet Dany sent to lay siege to King’s Landing. It was an impressively executed scene -anytime you’re doing something so big on water it presents a lot of filmmaking challenges- and Pilou Asbæk does a fine job playing the menacing and cocky Euron. This was the first time we got to see Euron in action, where we learned his boasts about being the best captain in the world weren’t just all talk. But the way the episode was structured, the scene was supposed to be a high stakes “oh shit” moment. Unfortunately, the showrunners miscalculated how much (or little) viewers care about the Sand Snakes. Their introduction was butchered and they’ve had no arc. Seeing two of them die did nothing for me. I never considered them important players in the larger story. I’m not alone. They’re amongst the most hated characters on the show. Season five is generally considered the weakest season and they’re a big part of the reason why.

Just when we thought Theon had conquered his demons in full, we’re shown the trauma he’s been through will always be a part of him. Despite saving Sansa and making a rousing speech championing Yara at the Kingsmoot, he couldn’t muster up courage amidst the sight of Euron’s men cutting out tongues. I’m sure the show will find a way to have him redeem himself again, but I don’t care at this point. The cyclical storytelling with him has grown old. 

My favorite character moment of the episode came when Grey Worm performed cunninglingus on everyone’s favorite cunning linguist. His speech about love allowing him to know what fear is for the first time in his life was poignant, and Missandei is a sensitive listener. This is the strongest romantic relationship on the show. The relationship brings out the best in both characters’ individual stories, rather than just functioning as a convenient plot device (cough cough Dario and Dany).

Line of the Week

“You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.” – Olenna

I’m confused as to what is happening with Arya. Last week, in the already infamous Ed Sheeran scene, Arya smiled and laughed for the first time in years. It was the first time we saw her genuinely happy, for even a brief moment, since season one. In this episode, she reunited with Hot Pie, but receives him relatively coldly. You’d expect some hugs and jokes and whatnot. But, nope. The scene’s atmosphere was very odd. Arya’s mind was elsewhere even before Hot Pie informed her that Jon is the King in the North. So what could’ve been a nice character moment existed solely to spark Arya’s decision to return home to Winterfell. At least her (and probably Bran as well) heading there should lead to a sweet Stark children reunion.

The highly anticipated “Jonerys” meeting is a foregone conclusion at this point. It’ll probably happen as soon as next episode considering how liberally GOT has handled travel time the last two seasons. There will be some tension. His primary reason for taking the meeting is getting Dragonglass and possibly Dany’s support in the Great War. She wants him to bend the proverbial or literal knee and help fight the Lannisters. Despite the fact that Dany-Jon are actually Aunt-Nephew, I sense that most fans are rooting for a romantic relationship to develop between the two. This is Westeros, after all. The social stigma of incest is little more than the occasional subtle asterisk on the line of succession. 

Littlefinger’s days seem numbered. He’s a man who trades in deception, plays sides against each other, etc. The problem is, he’s been exposed. Everyone, most importantly Sansa, has realized how he operates. With the Knights of the Vale now under Jon’s (and Sansa’s) control, he has zero leverage or real power. He’s Littlefinger, so he’ll conjure up some scheme. But he’ll probably get called out on it and end up with a dagger (or a “needle”?) through his heart. Arya is heading to Winterfell…

“Dragonstone” was an all-around frustrating episode. Individual scenes failed to land, and the hour as a whole was surprisingly stagnant considering the momentum from the premiere and fact that there are now just ELEVEN episodes left in the entire series. 

Five Random Thoughts:

  1. Next episode should be a doozy. Look out for the attack on Casterly Rock by the Unsullied, the Stark children reunion, and the Jonerys meeting.
  2. Jorah isn’t currently winning any ribbons for best beach bod.
  3. Where, exactly, is everyone’s favorite sellsword turned anointed knight?
  4. And, again, where is Gendry?
  5. HBOers, the fantastic Hacksaw Ridge became available to stream or watch On-Demand this weekend. Give it a look if you haven’t.

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