Now that’s what I’m talking about.
After a somewhat underwhelming season premiere, Stormborn is an impeccably constructed episode that brings together a multitude of storylines while injecting the narrative with just enough momentum to keep things gripping.
First off, how great is it to have so many characters surrounding Dany in Dragonstone? The roundtable scene in particular is a gem to behold with Yara, Ellaria, Olenna, Theon, Tyrion, Varys and Greyjoy all present as the Mother of Dragons reveals her grand scheme. We’ve been watching all of these characters off on their own the past six seasons, so it’s immensely satisfying to see them share the same room. Even more fascinating is that each of these fully-realized characters has their own set of motivations, and yet they are all united under Dany’s singular plot to overthrow Cersei. This is what the show has been building to from the start, and it’s so gratifying that we’re finally here.
It’s also worth noting that Dany shared scenes with two characters she’d never interacted with before. First is Melisandre who arrives at Dragonstone and urges Dany to summon Jon, and the second is Olenna who shares some ruthless advice with our Queen. I can’t wait to see Dany interact with both of these ladies a lot more in the future; there are so many complex layers to unfold in these brand new dynamics.
Speaking of characters coming together, it looks like we’re finally going to get that long-awaited meeting between Dany and Jon (also aunt and nephew). The mind boggles at the possibilities when these two meet up and take on Cersei together. Of course the frustrating aspect is that Arya is finally on her way to Winterfell and Jon’s not even there anymore. Nevertheless, we can look forward to her reunion with Sansa which is also a thrilling prospect in its own right. The Stark kids have been separated for far too long and I’m ready to shed some tears of joy.
Now can we please discuss the single most disgusting sequence I’ve ever watched in the history of television? I am of course referring to Sam trying to cure Jorah of his Greyscale by physically peeling off the scales in gruesome fashion. The yellow pus, the nasty skin – it’s all so painfully repulsive and traumatizing. Did the procedure even work? We’ll have to wait and see I guess (although Jorah does have around 10 good years left as the Maester notes).
Stormborn is also notable for reuniting Arya with her direwolf, Nymeria. We actually haven’t seen the creature since Arya set her free after the Joffrey debacle all the way back in season one. Nymeria now heads her own pack, and is uninterested in sticking by Arya’s side. The young Stark’s line (“That’s not you“) is a nod to a season one scene in which Arya’s father wanted her to be a lady and she replied that it’s not who she is. Talk about full circle!
Finally, there’s Euron’s surprise attack on Yara’s fleet. It’s a miracle really that I found myself so invested in the battle, but I was on the edge of my seat as Euron savagely slashed his way through Yara’s forces. I can’t say I was particularly heartbroken over Obara and Nymeria’s deaths, as the Sand Snakes never really worked as characters in the grand scheme of things. I’m more invested in Ellaria Tyene being taken captive, not to mention Theon jumping overboard like a coward without even trying to save his sister. The look of sadness and disappointment on Gemma Wheelan’s face as Yara’s brother scurried away was everything.
Bits & Beheadings
– Dany’s face-off with Varys is a rich little scene as she corners him regarding his loyalty and then finally accepts his guidance (but not without a threat or two).
– It’s interesting to see how Cersei twists the truth (Dany crucifying the slave masters for example) to fit her narrative of an evil Dragon Queen. Wow.
– It took me a moment to realize that Lord Tarly is Sam’s vindictive father. Interestingly, he’s quite loyal to Olenna although Jaime tries to convince him otherwise.
– Did anyone else get depressed at the thought of Pycelle supplying Cersei with that custom-made ballista that can take down Dany’s dragons? I really don’t want to see any of the dragons dying at any point.
– Dany’s plan is seriously brilliant: the Dornish and Tyrell army will surround King’s Landing, while the Unsullied will attack the Lannister home of Casterly Rock.
– Tidbits to note: Tyrion is mad at Ellaria for killing innocent Myrcella, and Olenna is of course still grieving over her granddaughter. Both of these plot points are obviously still very much in the picture.
– Grey Worm and Missandei’s relationship is definitely the most romantic thing this show’s done in a while. I loved how he finally opened up about being scared, the passionate lip-lock, and the ensuing strip/sex scene. Superb acting by both and stunning cinematography.
– So many amazing transitions this week. What we think is Missandei’s hand grabbing the bed is actually a hand grabbing a book. What we believe is Jorah’s greyscale is revealed to be a pie being devoured. Talk about glorious editing!
– Hot Pie is back! Loved Arya’s nod to making pies herself. #RipWalderFrey.
– Arya seriously doesn’t know about the Boltons being dead and Jon taking over? News sure travels slow in Westeros.
– Now that Jon has put Sansa in charge, I think it’s safe to say she’s going to be getting in touch with her inner Cersei.
– Notice the visual parallels of Jon choking Littlefinger with his father doing the same to that sleazeball back in season one.
– Isn’t Ellaria a fighter? She did kill Oberyn’s brother after all, so I expected her to put up more of a fight.
Kings & Quips
Tyrion: Lord Varys has proven himself to be a loyal servant.
Daenerys: Quite the opposite, if he dislikes one Monarch, he conspires to crown the next one. What kind of servant is that?
Daenerys: I swear this, if you ever betray me, I’ll burn you alive.
Varys: I would expect nothing less from the Mother of Dragons.
Davos: Sounds like a charmer. Of course the casual mention of a Dothraki horde, a legion of Unsullied, and three dragons… a bit less charming.
Daenerys: I realize you’re here out of hatred for Cersei and not love for me. But I swear to you she will pay for what she’s done and we will bring peace back to Westeros.
Olenna: Peace? Do you think that’s what we had under your father, or his father, or his? Peace never lasts my dear. Will you take a bit of advice from an old woman? He’s a clever man your Hand. I’ve known a great many clever men. I’ve outlived them all. Do you know why? I ignored them. The lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.
Stormborn is an exceptional hour that certainly makes up for the slow season premiere. Excellent!