Episode 2: Stormborn
Director: Mark Mylod
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey
One of the biggest complaints with Game of Thrones over the course of six seasons was how each of those opened with an explosive episode, got mundane for the next seven and then turned awesome again with episodes 8, 9 and 10. With season 7, the makers may have cut down on the number of episodes but the density of great, high octane scenes has significantly increased.
Like Dragonstone, Stormborn was again a thrilling ride all through its 55-minute runtime. Start to finish, from Daenerys threatening Varys to Theon surrendering to cowardice, the episode had not a single dull moment.
Last week, the chessboard was set, this time the pawns are being moved. Some take steps in a direction they think will lead them to a home, to the throne, to a cure or to Dragonstone. While for the most part, the episode impresses upon the idea of an imminent victory for the good side, the end makes sure you don’t get too confident, too quickly. This confidence brought a fatal end to many a-Westerosi we loved and others should be wise enough to learn from their mistakes.
A series of fortunate events unfold in Dragonstone. Daenerys and Tyrion take the first steps in each other’s direction, Tyrion’s kindness to Jon and Sansa, years ago, reaps benefits, Daenerys has a fool-proof plan laid out to take over Westeros, Arya changes course to Winterfell where she would meet Sansa at last, Jorah finally found someone to help him with the Greyscale, everything sounds just perfect. Too perfect by Game of Thrones standards. Of course, it had to come crashing down.
The final scene, the battle between the Greyjoys, was shot and executed brilliantly enough to be one of the series’ famed eighth episodes. Until Yara saw the damage done to her fleet and Euron physically put an axe to her throat, the battle didn’t seem completely lost. A job the show does so well, so often. The destruction to her fleet makes things far more difficult for Dany but also makes the two sides equal. Olenna already told her to follow her heart and Dany’s heart was already telling her to bring out her dragons and end the war like her cruel brother would have. With her fleet burned to ashes, will she do the same to Westeros?
However, our sight should not be limited to the immediate future. What about when the war ends? What lies in store for the characters after all is well? Will things ever really be well?
In the first scene, Daenerys complains how she doesn’t feel at home even after landing at Dragonstone. The feeling that makes something feel like home is the fond memories of that place. Dany hasn’t known such a place. She was on the run from time she was a child and has always wanted to go home, never realising there is no home for her. Up in the North, Arya faces a similar dilemma when she meets Nymeria in the woods. Upon learning that Jon is the new King in the North, she decides to put the ‘Murder Cersei’ plan on hold and go home to her family. But meeting her direwolf in the cold, who fails to recognise her (or does but judges it best to turn away) must have made her realise she will never truly be home again. Will she continue still to Winterfell or turn back and give up on the idea of the family that she once had?
But we mustn’t forget the sweet moment of hopefulness, which was, very weirdly, a sex scene we have been very curious about since many seasons.
Missandei and Greyworm finally laid the speculation to rest on how they would, if they could, um… get their freak on? And the answer was delivered to us in one of the most heart-warmingly romantic moments of the show.
It may have been a peculiar place to start with a sex scene, but the show seems to be beginning to tie a few ends. Here’s hoping we find Gendry (or something more useful) in the next episode.