26th Jul2017

‘Game of Thrones 7×02: Stormborn’ Review

by Steven Riley

SPOILERS: This recap contains key plot points from episode two of season seven, Stormborn. If you haven’t yet seen the episode, watch it first. Then read this.

game-of-thrones-stormborn

Back at the beginning of season six, Euron Greyjoy proclaims to his brother, Balon Greyjoy that “I am the storm” before he throwing him to his death.

At the end of season seven’s second episode, the Crow’s Eye had well and truly backed those words up in an explosive final five minutes that saw a visceral battle on the stormy seas that will surely turn the tide in the war for the Seven Kingdoms.

Not only did he announce himself in battle with one of the best entrances in the series – crushing a helpless crew member with the bridge as he enters the ship – but he also masterfully struck a blow to Daenerys, the Dornish and his niece Yara in one fell swoop.

It knocked the pieces the Dragon Queen and Tyrion had so carefully placed in the opening scenes well off the board. Daenerys – clearly unimpressed by rainy Dragonstone and desperate to leave (the same as previous tenant Stannis Baratheon; poor Dragonstone). Discussing with Yara, Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell, Tyrion lays out a plan for the Dornish and Highgarden to lay siege to King’s Landing while the Unsullied and Dothraki aim to strike the Lannisters at their home in Casterly Rock – an abode Tyrion probably wouldn’t mind moving into himself. The Ironborn, meanwhile, will escort Ellaria and the Sand Snakes back home (more on that later).

Melisandre also returns to Dragonstone to greet its new inhabitants. The master Tinder catfish (we cannot un-see that season six opener) informs Daenerys of the Lord of Light’s prophecy and that she must meet Jon Snow, before listing off his list of achievements like someone reeling off a CV in a recruitment agency. It is agreed that Jon will be invited to Dragonstone; but he must bend the knee.

Jon receives this message and decides that, with the amount of Dragonstone underneath the Targaryen ancestral home as well as the support of a Dragon Queen, it would be a good idea to meet Daenerys and strike an alliance. Sansa argues (Jon really needs to start taking her to one side before these big pitches) along with the Northern Lords, but Jon sticks to his guns, leaving his sister in charge – a decision that she greets with conflicting emotions: pride that she will rule the North in Jon’s absence, but disappointment she won’t have any to disagree with.

Another of Jon’s allies in the Citadel, Samwell, takes a break from emptying bedpans and the like to see if there’s a way to treat the greyscale-ridden Jorah. Ser Friendzone is given the unfortunate news from Archmaester Ebrose that his head will turn to rock in six months. Against his boss’ wishes, Sam decides to treat Jorah in honour of his deceased father, Jeor Mormont of the Night’s Watch and begins chiselling away at the rocky plating as the Old Bear tries not to scream like I would if I stubbed a toe.

This transitions into the next season where someone is eating a pie in a tavern on the table next to Arya (whoever makes these transitions deserves a raise, although I can’t even look at a chicken pot pie for weeks). We can only assume Arya rocks up at this tavern to meet the ‘Master of Pies and Plot Exposition’ Hot Pie, who recounted the events the young Stark had missed while in Braavos and informs her Jon is back at Winterfell.

On the way, she meets another old friend in her direwolf, Nymeria. Arya asks the wolf to return North with her but Nymeria – now a fully-grown she-wolf with pack in tow – turns her back and essentially says she’s a ‘strong, independent direwolf who don’t need no Stark, saving HBO from a hefty CGI bill in the process.

It’s probably a good job they made some room in the budget, as the explosive finale was full of action. As the Ironborn are returning Ellaria and company back to Sunspear, we see Oberyn’s ex-Paramour and Yara getting hot and heavy with an awkward Theon feet away. Theon is spared the torment of watching his sister and the lady from Dorne flirt (not the worst torture he’s experienced to be fair) as his Uncle’s army rams the ship and boards.

In what seemed like another slow, plot-building episode, the change of pace is as surprising for us as it is for the helpless crew as Yara’s ship is bombarded with fire while the mad leader of the Iron Islands leads a slaughter with his kraken-engraved battle axe. Euron may have immediately become a fan favourite after dispatching two of the Sand Snakes with their own weapons, laughing manically the whole time. In the midst of all this, Ellaria and Tyene are captured – no doubt the gift for Cersei that Euron was referring to – as the army of the Silent overrun Yara and Theon’s brethren.

The show reaches it’s climax as Euron overpowers Yara and holds his weapon to her throat, leaving only Theon as the man who can save her. We’re all asking the same questions; will he seize his moment, like he did saving Bran in season one? Can he muster the courage to block out the triggers of his quality time with Ramsey? Is this Theon’s arc of redempt- oh, too late. He’s legged it.

The episode ends with Theon looking over the remains of the Iron fleet from the water and contemplating how badly things have gone wrong and without an obvious way forward. Maybe Gendry will row past, eh?

Whatever he does, Theon can’t afford to be all at sea for long; the storm is here.

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