Game of Thrones Recap, Season 7 Episode 2: Stormborn

Game of Thrones Recap, Season 7 Episode 2: Stormborn

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Dragonborn



Dragonstone

A storm rages outside the ancestral home of House Targaryen as Dany meets with her full set of advisors. She has concerns about Varys's loyalty given the ends the previous Kings of Westeros met; Varys, ever prepared, explains his loyalty to the realm and its people. Dany, he says, is the realm's best hope for peace and prosperity. She accepts his explanation and requests he raise any concerns to her face rather than plot behind her back.

Melisandre arrives shortly thereafter with a prophecy and an update on the state of the North. Tyrion vouches for Jon Snow's character and they send a raven summoning him to Dragonstone.

Lore: The Prince(ss) Who was Promised

Both Melisandre and Maester Aemon have cited this prophecy, and it seems connected to the Last Hero mythology mentioned in our Early History post. It typically includes a reference to the Prince (or Princess, as they explained in this episode) being "born amidst salt and smoke". Rhaegar Targaryen, his son Aegon, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen have all been associated with the prophecy, which suggests its embodiment will rise up to face a gathering darkness.

Dany and her war council assess their options, with Yara advocating an immediate attack on King's Landing. Heeding Tyrion's advice, Dany wants to avoid inflicting pain and suffering on the people of her prospective kingdom. Tyrion perfectly anticipates Cersei's plan to rally Westeros against foreign invaders, and Dany plans a three-part attack to neutralize those efforts; the Dornish and Tyrell armies will move up from the south, converging to lay siege to King's Landing, while the Unsullied will attack Casterly Rock.

With Grey Worm set to sail to the other side of the continent, Missandei pays him a visit. After a touching speech about fear, the clothes come off and they head to bed.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Stormborn Dany Dragonstone Melisandre

My take: Dany was right to have concerns about Varys, but I think their exchange ended exactly where it should. It would be foolish to expect absolute loyalty from someone so vocal about helping the realm rather than a specific ruler, and requesting his honest feedback should deter him from seeking out more extreme solutions. King Aerys II would never have asked for guidance, and Robert Baratheon was simply disinterested. If Dany remains open to advice and in her right mind, I'd expect Varys to work with her faithfully.

Melisandre's update on Jon Snow, King in the North, suggests the Targaryen forces haven't yet gathered much intelligence. I doubt Dany has much interest in accommodating a child of prophecy on her quest to rule Westeros, but maybe it will help if/when she learns they're related.

As for their plan of attack, Tyrion and Dany are right to avoid playing into Cersei's hands, even if Dany's motivations stem from a desire to avoid the sins of her father. Tyrion's suggestion to attack King's Landing with the Unsullied and Dothraki might seem cold-blooded to some, but it's important to remember he was never treated well, even in the city where he grew up. The people of Casterly Rock would almost certainly hand him directly to Queen Cersei given the chance.


Winterfell

Tyrion's message arrives, and Sansa tells Jon he isn't like the other Lannisters. Jon immediately recognizes the value of dragons in the upcoming fight against the undead.

Jon gathers the lords and ladies of the North to declare his intention to sail for Dragonstone and treat with Daenerys, hoping to secure the dragonglass they desperately need. His followers are dismayed, including Lyanna Mormont, who wisely states "we need the King in the North in the North." Set on his course, Jon leaves Winterfell in Sansa's hands, prompting a creepy grin from Littlefinger.

Jon gathers the lords and ladies of the North to declare his intention to sail for Dragonstone and treat with Daenerys, hoping to secure the dragonglass they desperately need. His followers are dismayed, including Lyanna Mormont, who wisely states "we need the King in the North in the North." Set on his course, Jon leaves Winterfell in Sansa's hands, prompting a creepy grin from Littlefinger.

As Jon visits Ned's tomb in the Crypt of Winterfell, Littlefinger approaches and expounds on his love for Catelyn, describing it as something he and Ned shared. Jon shoots some side-eye his way and begins to leave, but Littlefinger asks for a "thank you" for his part in the Battle of the Bastards and proclaims his love for Sansa. Jon grabs him by the throat and threatens to kill him should he ever lay a hand on Sansa. Shortly after, he sets off for White Harbor where he'll board a ship to Dragonstone.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Stormborn Jon Littlefinger Crypts

My take: Jon and Tyrion bonded when they traveled to the Wall together in Season 1, and they should be able to forge a mutually beneficial alliance between Dany and the North. Traveling south hasn't worked out well for the last few Starks in Winterfell who have attempted it, though; Torrhen Stark (the last King in the North before Robb) bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror, Ned's father Rickard was burned alive by the Mad King, Ned was beheaded in Season 1, and Robb died at the Red Wedding in Season 3. Let's hope things work out better for Jon, and that he brings Ghost along for the ride.

I thought Jon might ask Sansa to head to Dragonstone in his place, but it certainly wouldn't have been in character. The spread of news through the Seven Kingdoms seems unreliable, as many of the northerners seem skeptical of the existence of Dany's dragons. I'd expect reports from Essos to be pretty reliable after the burning of the slavers' fleet in Meereen, and the dragons aren't exactly hiding on their trip across the Narrow Sea.

It will be interesting to see what negotiating posture Jon assumes, if any, when he meets Dany for the first time. He needs the dragonglass below Dragonstone, and he never expected to rule anything in the first place. Will that make him more willing to bend the knee and forge an alliance quickly? Or will it be difficult for him to cede control so quickly after taking it from Ramsay Bolton? I think he'll lean towards the former with the White Walker threat looming.


King's Landing

Queen Cersei addresses a small group of lords still loyal to the Iron Throne, including Randyll Tarly of Horn Hill. Her pitch is simple: Daenerys Targaryen is a foreign conqueror with a foreign army and she's invading their homeland. After the lords are dismissed from the hall, Jaime tries to more firmly secure Lord Tarly's allegiance by offering him a generalship in the forming army. Lord Tarly isn't sure about breaking ranks with House Tyrell, but seems swayed by the xenophobic argument Jaime makes.

Qyburn leads Cersei through the Dragonpit to the skull of Balerion, Aegon the Conqueror's dragon. He segues into his plan to counter Dany's dragons with a ballista, which he has Cersei fire through Balerion's skull.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Stormborn King's Landing Ballista Cersei Qyburn

My take: We don't have to look far for real-life examples of xenophobic messaging triumphing against long odds, but the Lannisters are essentially asking everyone in Westeros to look past the detonation of the Sept of Baelor and its casualties, which included the reigning King and his Queen, the leader of the dominant religion, and a large number of commoners.

Jaime cites Lord Tarly's victory over Robert Baratheon in Robert's Rebellion in their private conversation, but I don't know how susceptible Randyll is to flattery. The prospect of running the south from the Tyrell seat at Highgarden, though, is much more persuasive. Jaime seems to be growing more adept by the day at the political machinations his dad and brother excelled in.

Qyburn isn't wrong about the relative "vulnerabilities" of dragons, but the reveal of a ballista was underwhelming. They'll probably need to invest some serious training to fire the new weapons accurately, and live dragons aren't easy to find for target practice. Furthermore, a dragon's bones are strong, but the scales pose a larger problem. Drogon isn't old enough to boast the sort of impenetrable outer layer Balerion had, but Qyburn only proved a large bolt could penetrate a dragon's skull. That test is about as significant as demonstrating a whip's efficacy against an unarmored enemy...


The Citadel

The archmaester and Sam visit Jorah to evaluate his greyscale; he estimates 10-20 years to live but only six months to maintain his sanity, gesturing suggestively at the sword in the corner of the room. Despite Sam's efforts, the archmaester insists there is nothing to be done.

As Jorah is writing what we assume is a suicide note to Dany, Sam sneaks in with a set of maester's tools and explains his relationship with Jorah's father, Jeor Mormont. He quickly begins attempting to treat Jorah's greyscale in a very gross and painful scene reminiscent of Theon's experience as Reek.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Stormborn The Citadel Jorah and Sam

My take: Jorah's in rough shape, and the maester's reluctance to attempt a possible cure isn't surprising. No one seems to know what exactly Maester Cressen did to cure Shireen, and as he later points out, attempting treatment is extremely risky. At the same time, he and Sam are already hanging out in Jorah's room; he isn't exactly quarantined. He could at least tell Jorah to give it a try himself.

Assuming Sam's treatment works (and I think it will), I'd expect a jailbreak in the near future. Jorah and Sam will likely head to Dragonstone to reunite with Daenerys and, depending on the timing, Jon.


The Riverlands

Arya visits a tavern and runs into Hot Pie, who gives her food and ale. She seems considerably more interested in the vittles than conversation. Hot Pie tells her about Jon's victory in the Battle of the Bastards, and Arya turns away from King's Landing in favor of Winterfell.

As Arya makes camp, her horse begins whinnying nervously. A pack of wolves emerges from the woods, and it looks bleak until an enormous direwolf steps forward. Arya recognizes Nymeria and attempts to make contact for the first time since she chased her away to save her from Cersei's wrath in Season 1, but Nymeria opts to stay with her new pack and recedes into the woods.

Episode 2 The Riverlands.PNG

My take: I love the prospect of a reunion between Jon and Arya, even if it has to wait until after Jon returns from Dragonstone. Arya's conversation with Hot Pie again makes me curious about the spread of news in Westeros. Somehow she's been riding through the Riverlands and no one has mentioned the Battle of the Bastards, the new King in the North, or the fact that the army of the Vale is in the North?

It was great to see another direwolf alive even if it was hard to watch Nymeria walk away without as much as a scratch on the chin. Something tells me we'll see her again, though, and that if Arya is in trouble, she'll have an extra bit of help.


Blackwater Bay

As the Sand Snakes and Greyjoys set sail, they're set upon by Euron and his fleet. The Sand Snakes make little impact before dying at Euron's hands, and before long Yara faces her uncle in single combat. Euron prevails and challenges Theon to step forward and fight for his sister. Seeing the carnage around him and flashing back to his experiences as Reek, Theon crumbles and jumps overboard.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 Stormborn Euron Blackwater Bay

My take: I think I voiced a concern this exact thing would happen in our preview podcast, and I'm not any happier now that it's come to bear. The Targaryen forces should have been capable of steamrolling the Lannisters upon arriving in Westeros, but in order to extend the standoff through Season 7, something or someone would have to intervene to even the odds. The problem I have is that Euron's victory only makes sense through a combination of gross incompetence and a woeful lack of participation. I mentioned last week that Dragonstone commands the entrance to Blackwater Bay, and therefore King's Landing. As Dany and her advisors have been planning their next moves, no one thought to do any sort of reconnaissance? A massive fleet of Greyjoy ships led by Euron (who Yara and Theon know is after them) sailed across the bay to the city they hope to take mere days ago. Somehow no one, including Varys, was aware of the second Greyjoy fleet sailing around the continent and dropping anchor next door. Did anyone consider asking Dany to do a flyby of King's Landing on the back of one of her dragons to assess the city's condition and defenses?

There's no easy excuse for Dany and her allies being oblivious to the massive fleet that recently arrived in broad daylight, and it would have been easy to set it on fire with three dragons at her disposal. We've already seen her do it once. All that aside, Euron somehow caught Dany's fleet by surprise and executed an attack full of pyrotechnics without drawing her attention. There are massive fireballs shooting through the night sky, and NO ONE in Dragonstone noticed them. The Lannisters might have a chance to win this war, after all...

Finally, the Sand Snakes were cemented as the greatest disappointment in Game of Thrones. Over the course of the show we've seen them lose a 3-on-2 battle against one-handed Jaime and Bronn, poison a young girl and kill a young boy in a 2-on-1 situation, take out the world's worst bodyguard and a crippled prince, and die fighting an armor-clad Euron with a whip.

Now that I'm done complaining, let's look forward. Dany is going to be more open to a destructive, open attack of King's Landing, but she's presumably lost a large number of her ships. Jon Snow is on his way down from Winterfell, but he's not arriving with an army, so it won't help her in the short-term. I actually think she's going to stay the course for now, for two reasons: 1) she's oddly reluctant to use her dragons for anything, and 2) a naval assault of King's Landing is now more difficult. Who's ready to settle in for a stand-off?!


Dragonflame Burn of the Week

 "I am called Melisandre."

"I am called Melisandre."

 "She once served another who wanted the Iron Throne. It didn't end well for Stannis Baratheon, did it?"

"She once served another who wanted the Iron Throne. It didn't end well for Stannis Baratheon, did it?"

 "No. It didn't."

"No. It didn't."

 "You chose an auspicious day to arrive at Dragonstone. We've just decided to pardon those who once served the wrong king."

"You chose an auspicious day to arrive at Dragonstone. We've just decided to pardon those who once served the wrong king."


Thanks for checking out our recap! If you need some more historical context for what you're seeing, you can check out our Game of Thrones Lore series, which details the history of Westeros and some of what we know of Essos. Check back for another recap next week, and until then, remember: "Everything before the word 'but' is horseshit."



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