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“Stormborn” was a solid, if not great, Game of Thrones episode, that went a long way to speeding plots along while still taking some strange and seemingly gratuitous divergences.
The bulk of the episode was spent moving chess pieces around the board to force Jon and Dany to ally themselves together, which, with only five episodes left this season, is the most important thing for the show to do.
It was nice to spend a bit of time with Dany’s ragtag alliance before everything went to hell. Considering where the series started, seeing a group made up of eunuchs, a dwarf, and several women who took power over now dead men was a pretty powerful picture. However, as soon as Dany explained her brilliant tactical plan, it was painfully clear that Yara and Ellaria were never going to make it to Sunspear. And that isn’t a knock on Dany. On paper, that plan is a sound one. Having Westerosi forces blockading King’s Landing would prevent Cersei’s xenophobic rhetoric from catching on in the capital. So long as it worked, it would have been great. But, as is the case in several of the current story arcs, the audience now knows more than the characters do. We knew that Euron was out on the seas. We knew that he was looking for a gift for Cersei. And what better gift than the woman who killed her daughter (bonus for Euron in that he gets to keep his niece under his thumb)?
Now Dany is without her ships (and still has a horde of aquaphobic Dothraki she needs to move around, not to mention DRAGONSTONE IS AN ISLAND) and her alliance with Dorne is likely over. Oh, and this probably means Highgarden is now unguarded and ripe for the taking. So, the most important byproduct of the decimation of Dany’s Iron Born fleet is that Dany needs more troops. Good thing Jon Snow is on his way for a visit. And Jon needs her to need him. Because Jon coming to Dragonstone and begging aid for the White Walker battle won’t get him very far if Dany is flush with fighting power. This way, each has something the other needs and a true alliance can be formed. And Jon won’t necessarily need to bend the knee.
Let’s talk about Jon for a moment, though. Good god, is he a bad politician. Sure, he’s right. He needs to go to meet Dany in person to not offend her (and to put things in motion for the inevitable Jon-Dany hook-up we all know is coming, Fire and Ice and all of that). And we know that it Tyrion isn’t about to let Dany roast Jon alive. But couldn’t he tell his advisors what he planned to do BEFORE announcing it to the entire council of Northern Lords? Because I guarantee Sansa doesn’t challenge him in front of everyone if they’ve discussed everything beforehand. He absolutely needs to learn some diplomacy. He’s looking a hell of a lot like his dead Uncle Ned now, and we all know what happened when he went South to chat with a monarch.
It was nice to see him knock Littlefinger down a peg, although I suspect Petyr is about to make a major play for Sansa now that Jon is gone. If only there were another Stark, one with a penchant for killing those who hurt Starks, on her way to Winterfell… Arya may miss seeing her beloved brother, but she should arrive just in time to snuff out Littlefinger for good. Even if he doesn’t mess with Sansa, Arya is aware of the role Littlefinger played in Ned’s beheading. And that alone is reason enough for a girl to get rid of the smarmy bastard.
While there was a great deal of forward plot movement this week, there were still two sequences that seemed a bit unnecessary with such a limited amount of time remaining this season. First, I understand there is a faction of the Game of Thrones fanbase that has wanted to see Grey Worm and Missendei hook up, did we need to spend a precious five minutes on that at this juncture? Couldn’t we just take it as read that they had a thing for each other, and that they were each other’s weakness (as I’m sure that will come up somewhere down the line)? And, speaking of things we could have just taken as read, did we need the entire sequence of Sam removing a section of greyscale from Jorah? I didn’t need to see that.
“Stormborn” pushed the stories forward. Arya is on her way home. Dany is going to need more men, and Jon has exactly what she needs- for a price. Euron and Cersei’s alliance is about to be strengthened. Sam’s raven made it miraculously fast to Winterfell. And the White Walkers are still on their way.
— The highlight of the episode, for me, was the confrontation between Varys and Dany. It was a conversation she desperately needed to have, and she was completely in the right to question Varys loyalty. He’s a slippery man who sticks with whoever will keep him alive. The promise she extracted from him, however, reeks of foreshadowing. After all, if she’s begins slipping into madness, who’s to say that she’ll even recall the deal they made, or that she’ll be willing to listen to reason?
— Speaking of a mad queen, it certainly seems Cersei is heading that way, no? Her “Make Westeros Great Again” xenophobic speech wasn’t exactly rousing, but I suspect it had the intended effect. And, with Dany now in a tight spot, and The Reach presumably undefended, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of the Tarlys.
— God, Theon is an awful friend and brother. Yes, an argument can be made that him jumping into the sea means he is alive to potentially save Yara. But at this point, the only thing that character can do to become remotely redeemed is to sacrifice himself to save one of the show’s central characters.
— Euron may be a villain, but at least he got rid of two of the three remaining Sand Snakes. So, thanks for that.
— So proud of Arya for deciding to head home, even when Nymeria seemed to indicate she should keep running away from family. I do hold out hope that Nymeria will return at the right time to help Arya in the future.
— Lovely seeing Hot Pie again. I only hope he takes Arya’s advice and doesn’t die.
— So Melissandre is playing both Dany and Jon and hoping one of them ends up fulfilling the prophecy?