Title: Game of Thrones: “Stormborn”
Air Date: July 23, 2017
Before we begin – Yes, there are Game of Thrones spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Check out our review of last week’s premiere here.
Quite a way to end an episode. Even without Ed Sheeran showing up, “Stormborn” felt like a kick below the belt in more ways than one. For those hoping for a happy ending, tonight’s Game of Thrones wanted to remind you that you aren’t dealing with a traditional story.
We started in Dragonstone, where Daenerys and her war council plotted about how best to attack Cersei. It needs to be mentioned that Dany’s council consists of four women, three men without their “equipment,” and a disfigured dwarf. Even if the showrunners were not trying to make a political statement, it seems like they are whether they want to or not. That’s partially what makes Dany’s disagreement with Varys seem so important – when was the last time we, as an audience, obviously saw Varys speak the truth? If you can name a time, you aren’t being honest with yourself. Varys is right up there with Littlefinger as “biggest liar in Westeros.” That’s why his conversation with Dany was so concerning.
I thought that he was invested in Daenerys’s reign until he told her that he was. The fact that it was followed by Melisandre was equally vexing because she has basically been wrong in every decision she has made thus far. The fact that Dany wants Jon to “bend the knee” is particularly unnerving; this does not seem like a plan the north will embrace.
Which takes us to Winterfell. We got even more tension between Jon and Sansa this week, and continued to raise a similar question: if Jon doesn’t want Sansa to disagree in front of the lords, why doesn’t he talk to her first? They could argue amongst themselves, Jon could overrule her, and she could just sit there during the public meeting and make eye contact with Littlefinger. Problem solved!
Instead, they argue, and everyone is against the plan to meet with Daenerys. The only two people who know Tyrion (Sansa and Jon, who also like him) are the people who matter, and yet everyone still thinks he is a monster and Dany will burn it all down. A little communication could go a long way in Westeros. And, speaking of communication, Littlefinger really played his hand this week, and I’m surprised that Jon didn’t choke him to death and leave him in the crypts of Winterfell. “Touch my sister and I’ll kill you myself,” he said, and I felt much better about one of my Game of Thrones deadpool picks for this season.
Even though Game of Thrones tried to give Arya some moments this week, I didn’t really buy in. The return of Hot Pie was… a thing. It seemed odd that she wouldn’t have heard about Jon retaking the North by now from pretty much anyone, as that’s how gossip works. Although I’m glad she’s headed that way. I’m sure it will work out for her, as things usually do for Starks. And the reunion with Nymeria seemed very much like fan service. Maybe there’s more coming, but Arya and her wolf mean practically nothing if you follow the arc of the show. Hopefully, this was a tying of a loose end and not an opening of a new plot development.
In a similar vein, Sam’s story did not quite deliver. It was good to see Jorah again, and to have Sam work to cure him, but… what? “Hey, I’m going to cut off all your bad skin,” seemed like a very bad plan in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it will all work out, and maybe there is more to Sam’s cure than was shown in this episode (ingesting obsidian?), but it seemed very superfluous.
However, never count Game of Thrones out. Daenerys, the Greyjoys, and Olenna Tyrell brought it all back. The council debate was phenomenal, as each pitched their version of the perfect strike. Dany, of course, weighed each plan accordingly and made her own modifications. Grey Worm and Missendei shared a fantastic sexy scene, with Grey Worm confessing his weakness, even though he’s been a eunuch for years. Yara and Ellaria Sand were about to make some sweet boat loving. But…
In typical Game of Thrones fashion, you just can’t have nice things.
The final ship battle was phenomenal. Euron showed he is truly a menacing force. The Sand Snakes – easily the biggest fumble the show has made – are toast. Yara and Theon also showed their battle prowess. The finest beat in the episode, however, was Theon diving into the water and Euron’s laugh afterward. Just a complete kick in the gut, as Theon seemed like he was on a classic sacrificial redemption arc, and Yara is anything but a damsel in distress. Instead, we now have a hostage Yara and a guilty-conscience Theon. What a perfect gift for Cersei.
Verdict: Another moving pieces episode, “Stormborn” did not quite have the momentum of the season premiere. The finale, involving Euron, Yara, Theon, and the Sand Snakes, was an impressive sea battle that increased the stakes of season seven. However, the show has not answered a lot of basic questions and tends to coast on good will, as opposed to great writing. That said, an hour of Game of Thrones is still superior to most hours of television.
- Unexpected powerplayers
- Euron Greyjoy's love of battle
- The final naval fight
- Arya's wolf seemed forced
- Jon and Sansa conflict seemed forced
- Sam's story seemed forced
- SEEMED FORCED