Let’s be fair, Stormborn had to go down this way. The problem with Daenerys is that she threatened to be overpowered – rolling over Cersai and her army with no difficulty. With dragons, a fleet of ships and some of the shows most beloved characters at her side – the odds had to be shifted. So this week, Daenerys got her first taste of life in Westeros, suffering a number of interesting choices and setbacks. Did it make Stormborn a good episode of Game of Thrones? Let’s dive in and find out.
It’s quite fitting that Stormborn took place during a massive thunderstorm – something the episode kept helpfully pointing out. The opening scene between Danerys and Varys was really good. It’s easy to overlook scenes like this, but Varys proven himself to be one of the best players on Game of Thrones. I approve of the fact that Dany didn’t instantly bite at this offer – instead made him convince her. She noted the fact that he’s served many kings, ultimately betraying each one of them (a claim he’s boasted many times on the show). It shows Dany is somewhat wiser than the likes of Jon Snow, who seem totally comfortable jumping in bed with awkward bedfellows (See: Littlefinger later in this episode). Will she be able to balance his ego in the coming weeks? Who knows, but I certainly loved the line “If you ever betray me, I’ll burn you alive” comment.
Likewise Melisandra’s arrival also introduced Dany to Jon Snow – albeit through the myth of him. Several things became apparent from this whole scene;
- A. Dany is basically running a home for the rejected characters in Game of Thrones (First Tyrion, now Melisandra).
- B. It doesn’t take much to get an audience with the Dragon Queen, does it?
With an entire room of glowing references following suit, Dany quickly came to the conclusion that working with the King in the North might be a better option than fighting him. It sets up the pairs first meeting and also put in motion the idea that Jon Snow may end up having to bend the knee to Dany – a prospect I can’t imagine anyone will buy into up North. As it turned out later in the episode, pretty much everyone balked at the idea of working alongside Dany and her army of dragons. It’s good to see not everyone’s celebrating her arrival – it makes the upcoming meeting all the more interesting. The big question – will Danerys be willing to give Jon Snow a chance?
This all played into another tense meeting between Jon and his Northern crew, as they all fought over Jon’s role as King. Armed with the knowledge that Dragonstone was sitting on a mountain of Dragon Glass – Jon opted to leave his duties and hand the running of Winterfell to Sansa. I get the sense that there’s a lot of questions about Jon’s leadership floating in the air – something this series will need to address at some stage. Right now, the main focus is on Jon and Dany meeting – but he’ll have to return to Winterfell eventually.
The biggest victor from all this in-fighting was Littlefinger, who watched Jon and Sansa go at it with glee. His plan is coming together – and it makes total sense. What didn’t make sense though was his decision to tell Jon Snow that he fancied jumping on the Sansa express. I’m amazed Jon didn’t kill him then and there (awkwardly mirroring a mistake Ned made in Season 1).
I’m liking the way Jon isn’t being given an easy ride up in Winterfell, but the show has to be careful not to make him too oblivious. Sansa might not want to be Queen of the North – but Littlefinger’s movements could potentially push her there regardless. I sense this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Stark children bickering – and it’s pointing to Littlefinger or Jon not making it out of Season 7 alive.
Speaking of the Stark clan, Arya also finally learned about the Bolton’s being ejected from Winterfell from Hotpot (Yes, the show remembers him!). That was about as good as it got for her though, as she found herself getting rejected by Nymeria – her one time Dire Wolf. I loved the way the wolves just turned up like they were expecting a big feast – only to be presented with tiny Arya. It wouldn’t have been worth the effort to eat her really – so it’s no wonder they turned their backs on her. It also makes me wonder why Arya doesn’t go to kill Cersai anyway – given that she’s already half way there.
Cersai used this week as a chance to rally many Houses to her cause as possible. Appealing to the hearts and minds of the Westros’s lords, she didn’t seem to have answers to the major question of “How do we handle the dragons?”. Fair point I say, no one really wants to be turned into a human bonfire. As part of this episodes attempt to weaken Daenerys seemingly inevitable march to the throne, Cersai also got her equalizer in the fight against Dany’s dragons, an impressive looking crossbow. Not quite as impressive as dragons – but Is suspect they’ll be taking down at least one of Dany’s beasts this season. Props to Jaimie Lannister, who tried desperately to broker some kind of deal behind Cersai’s back – with limited success.
We also got to see Jorah and… it wasn’t pretty. His greyscale has all but consumed his physical body – leaving him in a horrible state. So horrible that the maester’s won’t even touch him – I wouldn’t either. When Sam went against his masters demands to let Jorah die, I wasn’t quite ready for that graphic removal of the infected tissue. I guess this means Sam will be ejected from the Order sooner or later for breaking the rules so many times. But where will this leave Jorah moving forward.
The final major thread of the Stormborn saw Euron get revenge on Theon for stealing his fleet of ships. The surprise attack effectively kills off Dany’s sea advantage – and leaves her a whole heap of allies down. To be fair, I doubt anyone will miss the Sand Snakes (They were written pretty horrifically) nor the Greyjoy fleet being sunk. It does make me wonder why they spent a good season building up their story – if the endgame was to destroy them in one sweep. Also Theon’s character got thrown into the sewer yet again, as he opted to let his sister get captured. We shouldn’t be surprised at this stage – his character’s become more of a caricature than anything else. But it would have been nice to see some kind of growth.
Overall, Stormborn was a strong episode of Game of Thrones. It was mostly here to balance the books and to give Cersai some kind of chance. The writers did this by removing a heap of Daenerys main advantages. The story’s they focused on were strong and had development, meaning there was very little filler between scene. The decision to cast off some of the smaller characters seems to be working wonders – as the bloated cast gets cut down to size.
Despite these positives, there is something to be said though about the way the writing seems to be spinning its wheels. Creating micr0-conflicts between characters where there really shouldn’t be any only makes audiences roll their eyes. The worst example this week came in the form of the Queen of Thorns – planting the seeds of doubt in Daenerys head over Tyrion. It’s laughable given how much he’s aided her since joining her team – but it seems we’re getting it no matter what. When Daenerys learns of
Overall though, a solid outing for the show – and an episode where the main players continued to move their pieces (and in Dany’s case, lose some all together). Stormborn is certainly worth a watch.