Warning: Spoilers ahead
Game of Thrones fails to disappoint, continuing the series with the second episode of its seventh season titled ‘Stormborn.’ What separates this episode with the premiere of the season is the noticeably hastened pace. Things have sped up quite a bit, and a massive battle occurs in the midst of this episode, but we’ll get to that soon.
‘Stormborn’ starts off with Daenerys questioning the loyalty of an ally: Lord Varys. He confirms her suspicions that he is the one who suggested she be sold off to the Dothraki in the first season and sent the assassins to kill her on King Robert’s orders. Varys explains that he did what he had to do to survive. Daenerys counters this by pointing out that every ruler Varys has ever served, he has betrayed.
Varys, however, is quick to state that his loyalty has never wavered, and he has always been a servant of the people, despite whichever monarch he served. He was once a poor street beggar, too. He further explains that he’ll follow the ruler who will give the people their best chance at survival and prosperity.
Daenerys must admire what he says, because to my surprise, he hasn’t banished or eaten by dragons yet. For his honesty, Daenerys makes a request that should she ever become a bad ruler, he wouldn’t conspire against her. She asks that he come directly to her with his concerns, to which he quickly agrees. She claims to not want to be Queen of the Ashes, but Queen of the People.
It’s interesting because although we’ve seen the common folk represented by certain groups in the past, Varys is the first high ranking character we’ve seen to speak as though he truly acts on the behalf of the commoners of Westeros. It’ll be interesting to see how far he’s willing to go to improve their situation in the future.
Then, a familiar face finds its way to Dragonstone after being banished from the North by acting ruler Jon Snow. The Red Priestess Melisandre appears before Daenerys, who is quick to state that the followers of the Lord of Light have aided in restoring peace in Mereen.
Melisandre isn’t there to talk about Mereen, or even herself. Though Jon Snow doesn’t know it, Melisandre is there on his behalf, and she requests for Daenerys to ally herself with the North. Daenerys’ advisors assure her it’s a good idea, as Jon Snow has just as much (if not more) reason to hate Cersei than she does.
The Mother of Dragons is happy to accept under one condition: Jon Snow travels to Dragonstone to ‘bend the knee’ and prove his allegiance to her.
Afterwards, Daenerys and her council argue about the best way to take the Iron Throne. Olenna and the ruler of Dorne want to take the battle immediately to King’s Landing, while Daenerys proposes taking a slower approach. Daenerys explains that she’ll take control of the surrounding lands and starve them out of power. She’ll take the Lannister stronghold at Casterly Rock too, and she sends Greyworm and the Unsullied army to do just this. After reassuring her allies she has everything under control, Daenerys opts to speak to Lady Olenna, who offers some wonderful advice.
According to Olenna, peace will never last. There will always be some war or some reason to fight. She warns Daenerys not to listen too much to Tyrion or any other ‘clever men’. She reminds Daenerys that she isn’t a sheep, but a dragon and to act like it.
In the North, Jon Snow receives a message via raven from Tyrion, Daenerys’ Hand. It makes her intentions clear. At the same time, he also receives word from Samwell in the Citadel, who makes Jon aware of the mass of dragonglass buried underneath Dragonstone — which just so happens to be where Daenerys wants him to go.
Jon Snow is met with fear and panic when declares he is going to accept the offer clear. The North remembers all, and they’re hesitant to trust a Targaryen or a Lannister for good reason.
Even Sansa argues with Jon (again) in front of his people against the idea. However, when he makes it clear that she would be in charge in his absence, she shuts up and goes along with the idea.
The Great Houses of the North are still against it, and they feel like Jon is abandoning them, which makes sense considering the last King in the North rode south and never returned, and the King in the North before that one did too. Jon assures them that he trusts Tyrion, and Sansa does too. They’re desperate, and if the White Walkers were to pass the wall now, The North would not stand a chance without allies and dragonglass.
It took time, but Jon eventually convinced them that this was what they needed to do. Just before Jon and Ser Davos ride out to the Targaryen stronghold, Peter Baelish makes his intentions with Sansa clear to Jon. Baelish is met with hostility as Jon raises him by his throat, making it clear that if Baelish ever touched Sansa, Jon would kill him himself. Jon and Ser Davos are last seen getting on their horses, presumably heading to meet with the Mother of Dragons.
And now for the bane of nearly every notable character’s existence, Cersei is manipulating others to join her war back at the Red Keep. Having Euron Greyjoy as an ally wasn’t enough, and her first appearance in this episode starts off with her silver tongue spreading lies of the brutalities Daenerys committed in Mereen.
She tells her noblemen that Daenerys crucified all the others in Mereen, hoping that would frighten them enough to believe the Mother of Dragons was just as fickle in her mental state as her father, the Mad King. Of course, Cersei fails to mention that Daenerys crucified slave owners for murdering their own slaves.
Some time after this, Cersei is brought down below the Red Keep where King Robert had moved all of the Dragon Skulls that once resided in the castle. Qyburn shows her a weapon that resembles a massive crossbow and demonstrates the power it possesses on the largest dragon skull in the cellar. He fires it, and the bolt shatters a large portion of the dragon’s skull. If he hopes to take out Daenerys’ dragons though, we’re going to assume they’re gonna need more of those. Still, it definitely seems possible that Cersei and her council have found a way to combat the dragons.
Back in the Citadel, Sam still hasn’t been caught stealing books from the restricted archive, and the stone-ridden hand that peaked it’s way out of the cell last week was revealed to belong to Ser Jorah Mormont, who came to the Citadel looking for a cure. Of course, the Archmaester says any treatment won’t work and that it’s forbidden. Samwell, however, is confident he can at least try, so in the meantime, Sam is working on curing Jorah’s affliction with notes he found in the archive. It’s unclear if it will work or not, so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.
Arya continues towards King’s Landing on her mission to kill the queen, but she stops in to see an old friend in the meantime. Hot Pie, last seen in previous seasons, seems to be doing well for himself. He’s working in a tavern selling his bread and serving guests. Arya treats herself to his bread and some grog, and though they talk for a short while, the reunion is broken when Hot Pie reveals to Arya that her bastard brother, Jon Snow, has reclaimed the North from the Boltons. Arya changes her mind on hunting the Queen by herself and immediately storms out of the tavern to head north.
When we next see Arya, she’s at a fire in the middle of a snow-covered forest. Her horse is spooked by the sounds of movement closing in on them. When Arya notices it, she turns to see several wolves approaching. But the biggest wolf of all is behind her, just inches from the back of her head. She fearfully turns to make eye contact with the creature but instead of running for dear life, she sees something familiar in the eyes of the massive direwolf before her.
Arya recognizes the alpha of the pack to be Nymeria, the direwolf pup her father spared and she raised. Arya has changed since their time together, and Nymeria barely recognizes her, either.
Arya pleads with Nymeria to stay with her and to return home, but Nymeria has changed, too. She is the leader of this pack of wolves, and despite her former master’s pleas, Nymeria calls off her pack and retreats back into the forest, leaving Arya alone and cold, and wishing things could have been different.
At the end of the episode, we see the first bits of true battle this season. It starts off slow, as Theon tries to ignore the attraction between Yara and the Ruler of Dorne. Just before they hook up though, a massive crash sends Yara out of her seat. When she goes to investigate, she realizes she’s been found. The remade Iron Fleet appears through the fog, hurling fireballs onto the ships. Yara is appalled when her uncle, King of the Iron Islands Euron Greyjoy, forcefully boards their ship.
At first it seemed even, and we even hoped it would go in Yara’s favor, however Euron quickly overwhelms their forces. Two of the Dornish girls are slain by Euron, while the last daughter and ruler of Dorne are captured by Euron’s men.
Meanwhile, Yara tries and fails to fight off her uncle. When Theon sees what’s happening, Yara is held with an axe to her throat by Euron, who teases him to come save her. Theon does what he does best and returns to his cowardly roots, diving off of the ship and leaving Yara at Euron’s mercy…Yeah, I know. I hate him too. Just when you think he can redeem himself, he shows us why he can never truly change.
Things definitely seem to be heating up this season, though. We can assume that the Dornish ruler and her daughter, along with Yara, are the gift that Euron is going to bring Cersei. Next week, we’ll see how the Unsullied do against the Lannister forces at Casterly Rock, and we’ll see how things go when Jon meets with the Mother of Dragons.
I know, I know. I can’t wait either. Tune in next week for a recap of the third episode of this season!