This week on Game of Thrones: Theon needs a hug, Jon gets saucy with Littlefinger, Arya eats pie, naked butts remind us this is HBO.
SPOILERS through Game of Thrones 7×02: “Stormborn.”
Game of Thrones, historically, uses its first few episodes as building blocks for the later “Holy shit” episodes at the end of a season. “Stormborn” isn’t much of an exception beyond that rule outside of its final “Holy shit” ten minutes. With Euron’s savage attack on the other half of the Greyjoy fleet, it’s clear that the shortened season has forced Thrones to up the ante a whole lot sooner than usual.
Even though I’m a fan of immense detail and subtlety, I’m not complaining about the increase in pace. Thrones has hit a point where it needs to start wrapping up plot lines in a satisfying manner before the series ends. That being said, it doesn’t mean I want to see the villains succeed just for the sake of plot. Thrones should be better than that.
Girl Power in Dragonstone
I made the joke last week but it seems like in “Stormborn” Daenerys is a bit irritated that she didn’t get a grand homecoming upon her arrival to Dragonstone. Who could blame her? After basking in the glow in the slaves who idolized her for years, she’s grown accustomed to the adoration. Which is why having Tyrion as her Hand was the best move she’s ever made. Tyrion understands the need to be wanted, so I have no doubt he’s somewhere behind the scenes setting up a fabulous party full of douchey dudes to celebrate her every decision. She’ll hate it, outwardly, but then slyly whisper “thanks” to Tyrion.
Dany intimidates the hell out of Varys, but in the end, his pleas to protect the common people are enough to save his magical bald head. Varys, like Littlefinger, usually rides about 20 steps ahead of every other character. But, also like Littlefinger, he seems to have found a female ruler who instills both fear and respect. Of course, I highly doubt that Varys wants to have sex with Dany, so there’s that to set the two spymasters apart.
Around the “Stannis had sex here” table, Dany lays out her plans to Olenna and Ellaria. Everyone except Tyrion believes that Dany should go all scorched earth on King’s Landing and take the throne by force. I guess no one’s told her that most of the capital is already in ruins due to Cersei’s cleansing ritual, so no matter what, she’ll be ruling over ashes. Instead of attacking with one unified force, Dany pulls a Robb Stark and splits her singularly powerful force into to two, easier to kill off forces. One will take Casterly Rock and the other is set to siege King’s Landing to try to starve out the Lannisters. Unfortunately for the girl power group, they don’t know that Cersei only feeds on the hatred everyone throws at her. She won’t be starving for a long time.
Later, in Grey Worm’s room, he tells Missandei that he’ll be leaving with the forces to attack Casterly Rock. Is there a more successful way to get a girl to strip off her clothes than “I’m leaving for war tomorrow and I might die?” Because I can’t think of one other than “I ordered take out so you don’t have to wash the dishes.” And even then the latter is a gamble depending on if you two argued beforehand about where to get takeout. With Grey Worm’s bedroom door completely open, Missandei and Grey Worm both show off their beautiful butts and Grey Worm wastes no time in making Missandei and every female Thrones fan sigh with happiness.
Old Town Old Style
Astute viewers noticed last week that Ser Jorah, Dany’s creepy but oh-so-handsome
stalker suitor somehow made his way to the Citadel in record time. Maester Marwyn inspects Jorah’s wounds and tells him that nothing can be done to save his life. He’s evolving into a Geodude and without an Everstone, he’ll be forced to mindlessly fight battles in Old Valyria until he dies. Which makes me wonder: did no one do a proper intake for Jorah upon admittance into the Citadel’s stone leper colony? They just set him up in a room for weeks (months?) and then finally addressed their backlog of patients far too late? Talk about a shitty healthcare system.
Sam, however, is not content to let another devilishly handsome Mormont die on his watch so off he goes to find a cure in the restricted section. Honestly, I don’t know why we’re trying to cure the never-ending Stoneskin, especially since it would be OP as hell, but I guess Thrones has its own set of DnD rules I don’t know about.
Casting aside Slughorn’s orders to let Jorah die, Sam shows up to the old-ish bear’s chambers with a set of tools and some kind of ointment that I imagine smells like a mix of his soup poop shuffle from last week.
I’m not saying I’m not grateful for Sam’s work. If by some miracle Jorah lives, I will
definitely probably maybe stop making fun of him and his horrible situation at the Citadel. However, slicing off the disease and covering it in a paste does seem like an easy way out, no? I know the Maesters are a good ol’ boy’s club intent on always doing things the way they a;ways have done, but it seems ridiculous that no one–wait, no. I answered my own question with the “good ol’ boy’s club” comment.
Imagine Killing Dragons
Things aren’t looking so great for Cersei in King’s Landing. The Tyrells and Martells have cast aside a generational feud to ally against her, Jon has rallied the lords in the North, including the Vale, and Dany is at the back door with three hungry dragons. Anyone else would throw in the towel and call their rule a lost cause, but not Cersei. She’s too stubborn to admit defeat. Especially not to some Becky with prettier hair. Instead, she calls about twenty of her most apathetic lords to the throne room to give them a pep talk about supporting the crown’s rule.
After Cersei’s rousing speech, Jaime talks with Randyll Tarly, Sam’s loving papa, and tries to bring him to the dark side. For those who don’t know, Randyll Tarly is a brilliant military commander, likely one of the best in the realm. Because of his forces, the Tyrells helped defeat the Targaryens during Robert’s Rebellion and later, when the Tyrells joined forces with the Lannisters, his troops were responsible for much of the north’s major military losses. Jaime knows how important Tarly’s leadership is for their cause, which is why he tries so hard to win his favor. However, Tarly is a man bound by oaths and rules, not personal glory, so winning him over will take a huge misstep by the Tyrells. However, if the Lannisters manage to acquire Tarly and his support, that’s a huge win for the crown.
In the catacombs beneath the Red Keep, Qyburn shows Cersei a few his favorite things: small skulls, medium-sized skulls, and extra-large skulls. Cersei isn’t impressed by all the dead dragons and instead she focuses on the fact that Robert probably had affairs in front of the skulls and that makes them guilty by association. Instead of using his creepy magic and necromancy skills to grant King’s Landing its own undead flying beast, Qyburn flaunts his “plan” for defeating Dany’s three fully grown dragons.
No, but seriously, they don’t already have ballistae in Westeros?
Meeting Old Friends
Arya goes back to her Travel Channel hosting gig, reminding viewers how dark and boring the King’s Road is in Westeros. Fortunately for us, she reunites with the Pie That Was Promised, Hot Pie. He’s shocked that she hasn’t heard the latest gossip in the north and Arya was all, “The wi-fi is shit around here. I can’t even check Twitter updates.” Hot Pie informs Arya that Jon killed all the Boltons and is now King in the North and her reaction absolutely breaks my heart:
Hot Pie then refuses Arya’s coins and tells her she’s pretty. Hot Pie is proof that you can suffer through hell and still be a kind person. If anything bad happens to Hot Pie, we fucking riot.
Continuing her meandering through Westeros, Arya is set upon by a group of wolves that give zero fucks about her fire or swords. A direwolf appears as the pack’s leader and Arya is all:
I know that won’t be the last time that we see Nymeria. As one of two remaining direwolves, she has to play some role for the Starks in the future. Or maybe those little jerks don’t deserve awesome direwolves since Jon abandoned Ghost somewhere in the north, Arya sent Nymeria away, and Bran didn’t even mourn the death of sweet baby Summer.
Two Bastards Walk Into a Crypt
Thank goodness no ruler has ever had the thought to just kill off the entire raven population in Westeros. You’d think if Cersei really wanted to strangle the rest of the seven kingdoms, she’d have Qyburn find a way to make the birds extinct, but hey, big bows and arrows are good, too. Jon receives two ravens at Winterfell, one from Tyrion informing him of Dany’s arrival to Westeros and another from Sam, covered in some kind of gross pus detailing a cache of dragonglass underneath Dragonstone.
Jon is all, “Nothing bad ever happens when a Stark goes south of the Neck, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” Sansa rolls her eyes because he doesn’t listen to a word she says and Davos is just so tickled he read a raven all by his lonesome. But then he remembered Shireen and that stirred up the anger inside his onion-y bones. Jon doesn’t discuss his trip south with his council before he announces it to all of the northern lords and his inability to actually heed his council or at least discuss his plans with them is going to be his downfall. I’m not saying that going south isn’t the right call, and leaving Sansa in charge is the smartest option, but he consistently springs his decisions on his council without warning and at some point, some enterprising young lord is going to take note of Jon’s Lone Wolf politics and use that to his advantage.
Speaking of enterprising young lords with armies at their backs, Littlefinger follows Jon down to the crypts where they have a heart to heart discussion about their love of redheads.
Sansa says goodbye to Jon, yet another family member who has abandoned her alone with Littlefinger and his evil clutches. Littlefinger has made his intentions clear in regards to Sansa, on several occasions, and STILL everyone is all, “Yea, he’s creepy, but he probably won’t do anything awful.” And Sansa is all:
Same, girl. Same.
I Hate Uncle Euron
On the boat back to Dorne, Yara and Ellaria play a flirtatious game of cat and mouse that sets my heart on fire. These moments don’t stop Yara from sticking up for Theon, though, and I have to say that I’ve really grown to love how protective she is of her baby brother. Ellaria is ruthless with her “assault” on Yara and part of me is like, “Nooooo. I wanted to see Yara flirt with Dany!” But then I realized I’m mostly just:
I love when women unabashedly flirt with anyone they can. I’m a fan of the female sleazeball and I want Yara to continue being that kind of character.
Of course, before we even get any good lady kissing, Euron shows up like an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As exciting as this sequence was, it was tainted by an overarching feeling of improbability. Yara is one of the best sea commanders in Westeros. She commands a lot of respect from her sailors and when she left the Iron Islands with the best ships in the fleet, one would imagine she’d have competent sailors at each helm. With her sailing the entirety of that fleet down to Dorne, PAST King’s Landing, I find it hard to believe that not a single sailor was sitting in a crow’s nest, keeping a look out for any attacker. They know they are at war. They know that Euron will come after them. How in the world were they so surprised and then completely decimated?
Having villains succeed simply because the plot demands the good guys lose is poor storytelling. Thrones could have come up with any number of reasons for why Yara’s ship was attacked. Instead they went with, “Well, Euron and Cersei have to get a victory so let’s completely destroy Yara’s naval prowess for the sake of their plot.”
The one highlight from the sequence was Theon’s reaction to being confronted by Euron. Theon watched as their men were mutilated, losing ears, tongues, and all manner of limbs, and it reminded him of his time with Ramsay. Many will call Theon a coward for jumping ship, for abandoning the sister that has tried to protect him, to bring him back to his old self, but Theon will never be that self-assured, pompous young man again. After being tortured by Ramsay for years and years, it will be a long time before Theon can think of anything but survival. He’s had his moments of selflessness, like saving Sansa from Ramsay, but when faced with another cruel man like Euron, Theon’s first instinct is to run. And I don’t blame him.
Yara is disgusted and betrayed by Theon’s cowardice, but that act may also be the one that saves her life. If Theon had charged Euron, he would have lost the fight, Yara would have died in the process, and Theon would be another pet for a sadistic lord. By fleeing, Theon assures Yara’s safety for at least long enough for them to rally forces to save her. A man like Euron wants to see the hurt he causes and he definitely wants to see Theon’s face as he kills Yara. Is it the most heroic path for Theon to take? No. But not everyone is a hero. Not everyone can be Jon Snuh charging blindly into a losing battle. We all think that when presented with these tough decisions we’ll make the heroic call, but the reality is, at the end of the day, we’d probably all jump off that ship, too.
They mentioned it in the “Inside the Episode” feature at the end of “Stormborn,” but it bears repeating that Dany’s council is the thing of dreams. It’s a band of empowering women who don’t take no shit and dudes who, historically, are seen as weak and not traditional “men.” I love it.
Thrones needs to chill with the quick cuts from gross bodily functions to people eating food scenes. Two weeks in a row is more than enough. (I know I made it worse with my imagery, but Thrones made me do it.)
Please don’t kill Yara.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9pm EST.