After a relatively quiet opening last week, in ‘Stormborn’ we see our main players jump right back into action. The end is drawing near, and it is marked by the collision of several plotlines that are sure to have some hugely significant ramifications later on.
“Shall we begin?”
This is where we left off last week, and it is where we are jumping back on right now. Daenerys’ stay in Dragonstone is not anticipated to be for very long – she is keen to get down to business and prove to the rest of Westeros that she is a leader who has the forces to take down the Lannisters. Tensions rise as Daenerys questions Varys’ loyalty – not an unwise move, considering his past betrayals. Varys responds with careful articulation.
“You wish to know where my loyalties lie… With the people.”
He is not one to blindly follow any leader, because he realises how fickle and unpredictable they can be. But for once he does not try to hide the truth behind reassuring words. He is being completely honest – a rare occurrence for him.
Daenerys herself is showing signs of growing into a more down-to-earth, self-aware leader than she has been previously. She is listening to Tyrion, the voice of reason in her council, and he encourages her not to rush into King’s Landing with the intention to declare war outright. Instead, he suggests gaining the support of the Great Houses of Westeros with as little bloodshed as possible, then surrounding the capital until it collapses under its inability to sustain itself. Regardless of their protests, the Greyjoys and Sands are commanded to sail south to Dorne and take charge of the armies there.
Olenna Tyrell similarly has her doubts. She privately encourages Daenerys to trust her own judgement, attributing this quality to her long life and wise decision-making.
“Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”
In the midst of strategising, Melisandre pays a visit. Her prophecies have not been fully accurate before, but she believes that both Daenerys and Jon Snow may have important roles to play in the future showdown with the Lannisters and White Walkers. She recites the famous prophecy:
“Only the prince who was promised can bring the dawn.”
…which Missandei points out, in its original High Valyrian translation, could refer to either a male or female.
With the news of the prophecy, Tyrion sends a raven to Jon Snow inviting him to Dragonstone and swear fealty to Daenerys.
In other news, Grey Worm and Missandei have finally hooked up. It was only a matter of time, but Grey Worm is heading to war and this seems to be the trigger for their release. He expresses his love for her in the best way he knows how.
“You are my weakness.”
The scene lingers on the topic of his physical deformity for a while, and it is pretty uncomfortable. But once they move past this, their union is a true demonstration of their feelings for each other. Calling it now – they will be dead by the end of the season.
Jon and Sansa’s relationship is put under even more strain this week when Jon receives the invitation to Dragonstone. Sansa is suspicious. Jon is curious. Simply more fuel to further sibling disagreements.
Shout out to Davos for finally making a point of the fact that the dragons’ fire breath will be an effective weapon against the White Walkers – even if this is brushed over quickly and never mentioned again for the rest of the episode.
Another raven arrives, this time from Sam and with news of the Dragonglass mountain beneath Dragonstone. For Jon, this only solidifies his decision to meet with Daenerys. It naturally seems to hold all the solutions he needs right now.
He is met with little support from the Northerners. They expect the King of the North to defend them when they need him most. His mind is made up though – in his absence, Winterfell will be left to Sansa. Cue Littlefinger smirking in the corner.
In Jon and Petyr Baelish’s first private conversation it would appear that Jon came out the stronger man. However, Littlefinger is quietly sussing out Jon’s weaknesses; he now knows for sure that if he wants to bring down the King of the North, getting to him through Sansa is the way to do it.
The political climate in Kings Landing is pretty reflective of our own right now – the Lannisters are trying out scare tactics to get the Lords of the remaining fence-sitting Houses on their side.
“Mindless Unsullied soldiers who will destroy your castles and your holdfasts. Dothraki heathens who will burn your villages to the ground, rape and enslave your women, and butcher your children without a second thought.”
Lord Randyll Tarly is the real key player in demand right now. He is at a crossroads, and must make a decision on which ally to side with – House Tyrell, or the Crown? The Lannisters’ offer to make him Warden of the South is certainly tempting, yet his final decision is left a mystery for now.
Meanwhile, Maester Qyburn reveals his latest weapon prototype specifically designed to kill dragons. He is proving himself to be one of Cersei’s most important allies right now, and it wouldn’t be a large leap to guess that we may soon see one of Daenerys’ pets die at his hands.
I have no idea why I didn’t pick up on this last week, but Jorah Mormont has found himself in Oldtown while searching for a Greyscale cure. Sam has recognised that Jorah is the son of Jeor Mormont – the old Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who met an unfortunate fate back in season 3 – and is dedicated to helping him discover this cure. Archmaester Ebrose expresses his skepticism of Sam’s efforts, but this does nothing but drive Sam’s research into secrecy.
He experiments with a controversial cure that involves flaying Jorah’s infected skin and covering it in an ointment. I’m pretty confident that Sam will survive at least this season of the show, but getting this touchy with a Greyscale victim does make me worry for his safety.
The Inn at the Crossroads
Arya’s journey to Kings Landing takes a different turn altogether as she runs into Hot Pie – a friend from several seasons back. It is always a joy to see old characters return, even for cameos, and he is particularly useful here as he relays to her that the Starks have reclaimed Winterfell. Arya sets a new course to reunite with her family. It is just a little bittersweet that she is going to arrive there while Jon is absent.
A brief reunion with Nymeria, Arya’s direwolf who was released back in season 1, ends abruptly with the wild animal skulking back in the woodlands.
“That’s not you.”
Don’t be fooled by the strange wording – that was definitely Nymeria. But these words refer to the fact that it simply isn’t in Nymeria’s character to slot back into civilisation so easily, perhaps foreshadowing Arya’s own imminent return to Winterfell.
The Narrow Sea
If there were ever any doubts that Euron wouldn’t be a worthy adversary for Daenerys’ military forces, then they were quickly thrown out after the final scene of ‘Stormborn’. For the first major battle we’ve seen him involved in, it has become all too clear how dangerous he can be.
Ambushing Yara and Theon’s stolen ships on the way to Dorne, Euron charges in with the ferocity and relish of a true Greyjoy. He has come to claim the gift he owes Cersei – Ellaria Sand, the murderer of her daughter.
The Sand Snakes are skilled fighters, so anyone who can slaughter two of them with ease would certainly be a powerful ally to have. While he’s at it, Euron abducts the third Sand Snake and his niece, Yara.
Theon’s betrayal of Yara at this point has been the source of a lot of controversy. Choosing to jump ship rather than try to save his sister from Euron’s clutches was a decision significantly affected by his PTSD, but in all fairness it was also the most sensible option. Confronting Euron would have meant certain death, but it is unlikely that this line of reasoning will save him from the shame of choosing self-preservation over loyalty.
Despite having enemies all over the Seven Kingdoms, ‘Stormborn’ demonstrates that Cersei is anything but weak. We have seen the sheer power of Daenerys and her allies through seasons 1 to 6; it is easy to forget that Cersei is taking her time to even out the playing field before initiating any major attacks. Daenerys may have the numbers, but Cersei has some game-changing allies who could push the odds in either direction.
The long-anticipated meeting between Jon Snow and Daenerys next week will be a defining moment that will change everything from this point on. We can try to guess what these changes will be, but right now whatever conclusions we draw are likely to be way off.
What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below!