NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Game of Thrones” are present in this review
Game of Thrones certainly began its seventh season on a strong note last week, and fortunately, that strong note continued in Season Seven’s sophomore episode. “Stormborn” continued to benefit from the season’s tightened pacing, as the war for Westeros quickly started to escalate, culminating in an effectively shocking payoff that should see a major next step toward this show’s climax coming into focus by next week!
With Daenerys now stationed at Dragonstone, she begins her strategy to start taking over Westeros, which surprisingly includes not escalating the violence. Daenerys doesn’t even make use of her Unsullied and Dothraki forces in the surrounding of King’s Landing, in fact, on Tyrion’s advisement that a foreign army would merely prove Cersei right in her fearmongering attempts to rally the rest of the Seven Kingdoms in defense of the crown. Instead, the Unsullied and Dothraki are sent with Yara, Theon, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes to instead move toward Casterly Rock, which Tyrion also advises is the true source of the Lannisters’ power over Westeros.
So far, Daenerys’ movements in Westeros have mostly gone off without a hitch, but they’re bound to see some more serious resistance in next week’s episode, especially when Tyrion finally sets up the fateful meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow! This has long been anticipated, with many fans believing that Daenerys and Jon will unite to rule Westeros together after purging it out of White Walkers. Even then though, Olenna urges Daenerys to consider ignoring Tyrion more often, and be the dragon that she’s clearly meant to be. Will Daenerys truly start listening to Tyrion less though? It’s also worth noting that there were tons of callbacks to Daenerys’ late father, the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen in this episode as well, especially in begging the question of whether Daenerys could end up going down that same path in the future. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t too long ago for Westeros’ people that the Mad King sat on the Iron Throne, brutalizing the continent all the while.
If the end of the episode is any indication however, Daenerys may just have to consider Olenna’s words! Turns out, Euron was bang on the money in trying to anticipate Yara’s and Theon’s next move, and the climax of the episode offers a bloody, action-packed battle between Daenerys’ fleet and Euron’s fleet, complete with the Sand Snakes, Yara and Theon all joining in! This was a very exciting sequence, but it sadly doesn’t go too well for the ‘good’ Greyjoys, as two of the Sand Snakes are killed by Euron, with the remaining daughter and Ellaria taken hostage, alongside Yara, who is abandoned to her fate by Theon.
Theon jumping off the ship when Euron holds Yara at knifepoint initially looks to be an act of cowardice, but the episode ending with Theon treading water as he looks upon the corpses of two of the Sand Snakes, while watching Euron’s ship sail off, seems to suggest that Theon might be the best way to get word to Daenerys so that she can come up with a new plan. I’d like to think that Theon is thinking strategically, rather than out of self-preservation, especially since he knows that Yara can handle herself, but I suppose we’ll have to see. As a minor gripe though, I do have to ask, is Yara supposed to be the, “Gift” that Euron plans to present to Cersei? Maybe it’s Ellaria? I guess this makes sense, but I’m surprised that Euron’s gift didn’t prove to be more surprising than simply handing Cersei a few enemies. Couldn’t he have gone to most parts of Westeros to do that? Then again, I suppose it’s also true that he has his own score to settle, so maybe that’s why putting together his own fleet and hitting the water seemed more worth it than just grabbing any old treacherous noble on land.
Sam was also quite busy in this week’s episode, as we see him not only send word to Jon about Dragonstone, but also dive deep into research surrounding how to possibly save Jorah from his advanced Greyscale infection. The implied family history between Jorah and Sam is certainly interesting, and might also explain why Sam is so heavily motivated to save Jorah’s life, even when everyone else at The Citadel, most notably Archmaester Ebrose, thinks it’s a waste of time. Sam thinks he’s found a means to save Jorah, but it involves brutally slicing all of the infected tissue off, while forcing Jorah not to make noise! That’s just extremely uncomfortable for all involved! Mercifully, we didn’t see the entire affair, but just seeing Sam take off a small chunk of the Greyscale infection was stomach-turning enough, and did a perfectly fine job of demonstrating the kind of intense chore that these two are in for in their efforts to save Jorah’s life.
Finally, Arya also stole a good chunk of the episode, with some especially great callbacks to earlier in the series. The cute little reunion between Arya and Hot Pie was great fun amid an especially heavy, conspiracy-focused episode, especially when this serves as a means of Arya learning that House Bolton is no more, and Jon has taken back the North. Arya even seems to abandon her quest to kill Cersei in King’s Landing in order to reunite with her family, only to re-encounter her Direwolf, Nymeria, now fully grown and with her own wolf pack. Arya trying to petition Nymeria to join her, only to have Nymeria walk off with her pack, albeit also sparing Arya from becoming a meal, was one of the episode’s defining character moments as well, especially when Arya ends the scene by saying, “That’s not you.” This line was a really clever reference to Arya telling her father, “That’s not me” during this show’s very second episode, in response to Ned musing about Arya becoming the prim and proper wife of some nobleman in the future. After this encounter though, I wonder if Arya will change her mind again and head back to King’s Landing, as much as I would love to see another Stark find their way back home, personally.
In the world of Game of Thrones though, you don’t always get what you want, and that came into effective focus as characters were challenged in new and exciting ways throughout this episode. Currently, it looks like Cersei is in a much stronger position than her foes, seeing as Euron has captured Yara and the surviving Martell family members for her, plus it also appears that Cersei’s armory has invented a dragon-killing ballista to boot! Nonetheless, the big battle with Euron’s forces was an exciting way to end an episode that was otherwise mostly talking and plotting, even as we got some fantastic character moments for Arya and Sam most notably, while Jon and Daenerys finally find themselves on the verge of meeting. It seems like the show is spending most of this episode setting the stage for next week’s offering, but that didn’t hurt the episode much when the material proved to be so riveting and often unexpected. Even seven years in, no one does twists and turns like Game of Thrones, and that’s why even its slower episodes won’t fail to grab your attention!
- Jon resolving to meet Daenerys at last
- Sam defying his superiors to save Jorah
- Awesome battle with Euron's forces at the end
- If Euron's 'gift' to Cersei is just a few opposers, that's a bit lame