Sometimes it seems that it’s only called “Game of Thrones” since “Family Matters” was already taken. Family problems. We all got ‘em, they’re just a whole lot worse in Westeros. Marauding pirate uncles, undermining sisters, long-lost nephews—it’s all just a stew of madness and warring bloodlines. That’s never more evident than in Season 7, Episode 2, “Stormborn,” written by Bryan Cogman, directed by Mark Mylod.
Though Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has returned to her ancestral homeland, Dragonstone just doesn’t feel like home to her. It is a bit drafty, they haven’t warmed it up at all. Needs some rugs and draperies. She retreats to the comforts of her favorite hobby—threatening and demanding blind loyalty from her assistants. This time, she wants it from the slippery operator Varys (Conleth Hill), a newer addition to the team. Varys talks a good, populist game, claiming to serve the people, not leaders, and says what Dany wants to hear, though she does promise to barbecue his ass if ever betrays her.
They clear that up in time to receive a visitor, the Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice Van Houten), whose backside knows that war room strategy table intimately. After some pleasantries, she reminds them of the prophecy, “the prince who was promised will bring the dawn,” and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) helpfully tells her Queen D that the noun in high Valyrian doesn’t have a gender, so it could be “prince or princess,” which Dany appreciates. Just add Dawn-Bringer to her list of titles.
But maybe, just maybe it’s “prince AND princess?” Melisandre mentions the King of the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and asserts that he’s been doing good work with the Wildlings at the Wall and he hates the Lannisters even more than Daenerys, so he’s probably a good ally. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) perks up at the mention of his old pal, vouches for his character, and so Dany decides to send him a raven summoning him to bend the knee. So much summoning to bend the knee!
Dany assembles her dream team for a strategy sesh at Dragonstone: Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) representing Dorne, the siblings Greyjoy, Yara and Theon (Gemma Whelan and Alfie Allen) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). She and Tyrion inform the crew that they don’t intend to attack King’s Landing, but rather, starve out the army with the Dornish and Tyrell armies, while the Unsullied take Lannister capital Casterly Rock. Everyone seems cool with the plan except Miss Olenna. She and Dany have a one-on-one, where she informs the younger queen that she’s known a lot of clever men, and outlived them all, because she ignored them. “Are you a sheep or a dragon?,” she asks Daenerys. “Be a dragon.”
With all this talk of war, Missandei and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) decide to shoot their shot, and get it on in a curiously long and slow sex scene. It’s sweet, they’re cute, ‘GoT’ remains committed to their pro-stance on women’s oral pleasure, but this scene doesn’t move us forward in any way, just gets that nudity stamp on the opening TV rating scorecard.
Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) are doing their own politicking at home, trying to sway the Tyrell allies over to their side. We get to see Sam’s dad Randyll (James Faulkner) Tarly and his brother Dickon (Tom Hopper) again, as Jaime and Cersei do their best to rile up racist sentiment against Dany’s invading foreigner armies, the Dothraki and Unsullied. The Tarlies aren’t so easily swayed though, and Jaime even has to promise Randyll the title of Warden of the South, though it’s unclear if the loyal Tyrell bannerman will take the position.
Of course, Cersei’s been working on plans other than just alliances and allegiances though. If Dany’s Dragons are weapons of mass destruction, she’s going to work on her own missile program. Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser) makes it sound like the weapon they’re developing is super cool and mysterious and magical as he leads her through a crypt of dragon skulls, but it’s just a giant crossbow. Yes, it pierces a giant dragon skull, but it’s just a giant crossbow.
So apparently Archmaesters do everything in the Citadel—autopsies, physicals, write books about war—or at least that’s what it seems Archmaester Ebrose (Jim Broadbent) does. First, he’s giving ol’ Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) the once over, deeming the Greyscale too far gone. It’s off to the Stone Men, with you, Mormont. Sam (John Bradley), once he catches wind of Jorah’s last name, decides to cure him of his Greyscale, having seen little Shireen Baratheon survive with the disease. He’s also invested in Jorah’s life, having served in the Night’s Watch under his father, Jeor Mormont.
Though Ebrose warns Sam he might contract Greyscale, he still sneaks into Mormont’s cell with tweezers and magical Neosporin to scrape the pussy stuff off. It’s truly, truly gross, and Mylod grants us one of the worst transitions ever, with a dissolve to a tavern-goer piercing a charred pie crust.
Ol’ buddy Sam’s raven has arrived at Winterfell with news of the dragon glass at Dragonstone, as well as
Tyrion and Dany’s note summoning Jon to the island. At first he wavers on the summoning, but when Sam’s note arrives, there’s no stopping him—he’s gotta get that glass. Though his own sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) questions him, and every head of state in the north urges their king to, you know, stay North, Jon can’t resist the chance to #gettheglass, so he puts Sansa in charge. Queen of the North!
Though the sibs might be at odds at times, they’re still blood, so when Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) makes some icky overtures about Sansa to Jon, even throwing in some flattery to Jon and reminding him of his debt re: Knights of the Vale, bro doesn’t hesitate to choke out Littlefinger and swear to kill him if he talks to his sis. Next time, B, don’t say “I love Sansa, as I loved her mother.” Creep city.
The other Stark sister Arya (Maisie Williams), is still on her way to King’s Landing when she runs into old pal Hot Pie, who is still thriving and baking up a storm. He informs Arya that the Boltons are all dead and her brother is in charge of Winterfell again, and she makes haste back home as soon as possible.
She’s on the road when she’s suddenly surrounded by a pack of wolves—could it be… the reunion of Arya and Nymeria? Though we get our hopes up, the massive wolf doesn’t seem to recognize her, and Arya whispers “that’s not you.” Damn. We’re hoping for that reunion but it doesn’t seem to have come yet.
The Greyjoy siblings are making their way to Dorne from Dragonstone, and just when it seems like things might be getting kind of interesting between a drunken Yara, Ellaria and a reluctant Theon (Ellaria has a truly great line about a “foreign invasion underway”) Uncle Euron (Pilou Asbæk) shows up and ruins the fun with his giant ship prow claw clobberer.
It’s Greyjoy vs. Greyjoy as Euron’s army lays waste to Yara and Theon’s fleet, killing not one but TWO Sand Snakes (nooooo!), while taking Ellaria and the other Sand Snake captive (the “priceless gift” for Cersei no doubt). Just when Theon’s given the chance to save his sister and prove his bravery, he crumbles under pressure, enduring violent flashbacks to his own past, and ultimately chickening out and diving into the ocean.
So now things seem like a fair fight, with dragon-sized crossbows, no Greyjoy fleet and no Dornish army. Again, all of this tribal infighting seems like small potatoes compared to the frozen threat about to sweep South, so here’s hoping Jon lays his hands on that glass soon, and selfishly, we can’t wait for the Targaryen relatives to finally meet (and it looks like it’s finally going to happen next week).
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