STORMBORN (GOT RECAP)
If there’s one thing that’s changed over the course of this show, it’s that ravens can apparently now travel at Google Fiber speed. I recall the earlier seasons, when characters spent several episodes traveling on the King’s Road from Point A to Point B and communication moved exactly as slowly as you’d think for a place where your only method of relaying a message was trusting that a dumb bird would fly to the right castle. However, now that we’re in the final two seasons of the show, we don’t have time to watch Varys cross the Narrow Sea not once, or twice, or thrice. We’re in high speed storytelling territory now, and we don’t have time to waste. This is why I am OK with spending the first scene at Dragonstone, where Daenerys learns that Jon Snow has been made King of the North and Tyrion advises her to make him an ally, to immediately cutting to Jon Snow and Sansa Stark receiving said raven in Winterfell and learning about the arrival of the Khaleesi and her dragons.
Down in King’s Landing, Cersei is rallying her dwindling supporters and asks them to support her in her fight against the “foreign invaders.” Cersei sounds about one step away from promising to build a big, beautiful Wall around the capital and making the Dothraki pay for it. The people of King’s Landing want to know how Cersei plans to handle three full-grown dragons, and it’s scenarios like this that make you want to have a twisted mf like Qyburn on your side. He takes Cersei into the the cellars beneath the Red Keep and demonstrates the high-powered crossbow he’s whipped up, which is strong enough to pierce a dragon’s skull. I have a LOT of question for Qyburn, such as how do you calculate the speed, velocity, and approach of a flying primeval creature that’s been extinct for generations in order to deliver a one-in-a-million kill shot on a fast-moving serpentine target, but Cersei seems pleased and it’s all about making the boss happy.
Meanwhile in Dragonstone, Daenerys, her advisors, and her new allies--Olenna Tyrell, Yara and Theon Greyjoy, and Ellaria Sand--converse over the table map, playing the biggest most high-stakes game of Risk in history. Her allies are fueled by a white-hot hatred of Cersei, and sensing the Queen’s weakened power, think that they should go balls to the wall on King’s Landing. Daenerys, however, doesn’t want to cause mass destruction to her future kingdom, saying “I am not here to be the Queen of Ashes.” Going off of Tyrion’s counsel, she shares a plan to surround King’s Landing and cut off food and supplies. And in order to show the people that the tides of Westeros are changing, she wants to use Dornish and Tyrell armies to do so. Meanwhile, Grey Worm would lead the Dothraki and Unsullied to launch a surprise attack on Casterly Rock, the ancestral home of the Lannisters. It’s sneaky and personally motivated and brilliant, and Olenna, Ellaria, and Yara can barely contain their glee over the thought of seizing Cersei’s family stronghold. After the meeting, Daenerys asks for a private word with Olenna, who makes her second-guess advice from men like Tyrion; after all, she’s known plenty of clever men “and I outlived them all.” Instead, she tells Daenerys to listen to her heart, a.k.a. “Be a dragon.”
Before Grey Worm departs with his army, Missandei appears in his bedchamber to say goodbye. These two have been crushing on each other for years now, and to show them finally end up in bed together may be equal parts a step towards wrapping up their storyline and an excuse to show two incredibly good-looking people naked. Either way, I have a feeling one or both of them won’t make it until the end of the season, as this is Game of Thrones so people are only allowed to be happy for like 3 hours, tops.
Over at the Citadel, Sam is determined to find a cure for Jorah Mormont’s greyscale after finding out that he’s the son of the former Commander of the Night’s Watch. After consulting several ancient medical manuals, the best idea he can come up with is “just scrape it off,” leading to a scene that made me want to avoid char-grilled foods for a while. In this week’s sick visual joke, a shot of pus oozing from Jorah’s flesh goes to a smash cut of a fork digging into a meat pie.
Between this and last week’s poop/soup montage, I’m convinced that this season’s editing team consists entirely of smart aleck junior high boys. But as for the pie, it was cooked by none other than returning fan favorite Hot Pie! (Just me? I love Hot Pie, as we share a passion for gluten, carbs, and animal-shaped pastries.) Hot Pie tells Arya that her Jon has been made King of the North. Arya scraps her plans to head to King’s Landing, now that she knows that her sister and half-brother are still alive and have seized back their family home. While she’s making camp alone in the woods, she hears someone (or something) dangerous approach. A pack of wolves suddenly surround her, and Arya’s trapped--until she recognizes their leader. It’s her beloved childhood pet direwolf, Nymeria(!!!!!), whom she set free back in season 1 so that Cersei wouldn’t kill her.
Arya is overcome with emotion upon recognizing her direwolf. I mean, I get it--just thinking about the end of Homeward Bound makes me ugly-cry. Arya asks Nymeria to go back home to Winterfell with her, but Nymeria remembers she’s a fucking wild animal with a bad-ass wolfpack and doesn’t need anymore human drama in her life and can’t even understand English, so she runs off into the forest. Arya whispers “It’s not you,” which is a reference to season 1 when she told her father Ned “it’s not me” when he told her she’d grow up to be a proper Lady in King’s Landing. I’m sensing a pattern here--whether you’re a wolf or a dragon, you do you boo.
In Winterfell, Jon also listens to his heart when he makes the executive decision to go to Dragonstone to meet Daenerys and get down to all this dragonglass business. The Northerners aren’t happy about him leaving the kingdom, but he hands the proverbial keys of the castle over to Sansa to run things while he’s away.
In the final sequence of the episode, we cut to the belly of a ship within the Iron Fleet. Yara and Ellaria make small talk while Theon fills their cups. Things quickly heat up between the sexually fluid Dornish bastard and the Viking queen who keeps a boy or girl in every port. Just as Yara and Ellaria are about to hook up/make Theon incredibly uncomfortable, the boat is rocked by a giant explosion. The Greyjoys rush to the deck to see that the ship attacking them shares the House Greyjoy banner. Euron Leto Greyjoy has come for them!
Flaming arrows and cannonballs pelt the ship, while a wild-eyed Euron hopped up on bloodlust watches and laughs, then rides down a ladder as it smashes onto the deck. The Sand Snakes (who all have character names but since the show has put such little effort into characterizing them that I can only tell them apart by their weapons of choice which are spear, whip, and boobs) arise from their hammocks and join into the fight, except for Boobs, who stays below deck to protect her mom Ellaria. Euron’s fleet pulverizes Yara’s ships. As soldiers slaughter each other with axes and spears, scalp the fallen, and cut out their tongues, Theon sees Euron take Yara captive with an axe to her neck.
His PTSD from his days as Reek flares into high gear, causing him to panic and jump over the side of the ship. Yara, Ellaria, and Boobs are taken hostage by Euron and his men, and the bodies of the slain Sand Snakes are draped across the prow of the ship. As the chaos of the battle dies down, Theon is left alone, floating amongst the wreckage. The first battle of Daenerys’s war doesn’t look so hot for the Mother of Dragons.