Game of Thrones: Stormborn

There are only seven episodes this season, so things are moving right along, believe me.

Now that she’s landed, Dany’s considering her options and next moves. You’d think this was a discussion she would have had on the way over, but apparently not. Maybe they were all seasick or something. Anyway, she realises that, with her massive army and her dragons and all, she could basically take the seven kingdoms handily, as long as she doesn’t mind being queen of a ruin. She does mind, so they’re going to try another tactic.

First, though, she wants to ensure Varys’s loyalty. She questions his tendency to switch sides at a moment’s notice, but Varys is Varys and has the right response. Basically, he tells her that his loyalty is not to any particular ruler, but to the people. So he’ll back whichever ruler seems like the best bet for the people at that time. Yeah, he turned against her father, because the man was a complete psycho, and under those circumstances, Robert seemed like a much better bet. And he was, but he wasn’t a particularly great king. When that became clear, Varys moved on. And so forth. But as long as Dany doesn’t seem inclined to follow in her father’s footsteps, he’s happy to throw his lot in with her. She makes him promise not to plot against her, if she does start to go to far, but to tell her, to her face, that she needs to back the hell up.

Just at that moment, Melisandre arrives. We get some discussion of the ‘prince who was promised’ prophecy, in which Missandei points out that the word ‘prince’ is a mis-translation. In its original language, the word ‘ruler’ essentially has no gender, so it could be ‘prince’ or ‘princess’. I’d like to point out that ‘prince’ has been used interchangeably by both men and women throughout history, so this is not exactly shocking. Anyway, Melisandre has a mission: she thinks Dany and Jon are destined to join forces and urges Dany to send for him and have a serious talk. Dany tells Tyrion to get on that.

Tyrion sends a raven north, and Jon discusses the matter with Sansa. She urges him not to go, but to send an emissary instead. She agrees that Tyrion is probably the most trustworthy of the Lannisters, but he’s a Lannister nonetheless. Jon seems content to stay put in Winterfell, but then he gets a raven from Sam telling him about the dragonglass at Dragonstone and decides he needs to go after all. The lords (including Lyanna) are NOT happy about that, but Jon’s determined. He leaves Sansa in charge (excellent choice!) and, as a parting shot, tells Littlefinger to stay the hell away from his sister and stop acting so damn creepy all the time.

Back in Dragonstone, Dany gathers her allies and Tyrion lays out the plan: Olenna and Ellaria’s armies will gather to attack King’s Landing, with an assist from Yara’s fleet, while the Dothraki and Unsullied sail to Casterley Rock and destroy the Lannister fleet. Everyone in the room gets a, ‘Damn, Tyrion, that’s hardcore, sending this army to destroy your home,’ look on their faces. They begrudgingly agree, but in private Olenna urges Dany not to listen to Tyrion and all the other men too much.

Once she gets wind of this, Missandei goes to Grey Worm’s rooms all, ‘WTF? You weren’t even going to say goodbye?’ He confesses that the big thing he had going for him as an Unsullied was that he was fearless, which made him strong, but now, well, he has a weakness, and it’s her. It’s actually much, much sweeter than it sounds here.

They then proceed to have some pretty hot goodbye sex, and for anyone thinking, ‘Wait, what? How?’ the Telegraph has you covered.

Word has reached Cersei of Dany’s arrival in Westros. Inevitable, I guess: you could hardly hide that fleet and three dragons and the giant army of Dothraki and Unsullied for so long. She’s gathered her allies (all 20 or so of them, by the look of it) to impress upon them the extreme danger that Dany and her hoard of barbarians poses to them. Sam’s dad, Lord Tarley, brings up the dragons and asks what Cersei’s planning to do to defeat them. Qyburn pipes up that they’re working on it.

Qyburn’s plan is to build some massive mechanised crossbows capable of sending an iron arrow through a dragon’s skull. It works against one of the skeletons in the crypt at King’s Landing, at least, which I suppose is as good a test as they’re ever going to get.

Jaime, meanwhile, tries buttering up Lord Tarley, who’s actually a bannerman to Olenna. Jaime asks him to commit himself to Cersei’s cause, offering to make him his right-hand man (sorry, Jaime). Tarley dithers a bit, because his name means loyalty to many, and that’s important to him.

In Oldtown, Tarley’s son is helping the maester treat Jorah, whose case of greyscale is quite advanced. Sam’s ears prick up when he hears that Jorah’s a Mormont, but the prognosis is not good. The maester declares this a hopeless case, tells Jorah he’s only got a few months before he loses his mind, and says he’s got a day before they take care of this situation.

Sam, driven by loyalty to his former Lord Commander, tries to persuade the maester to try a fairly experimental treatment. The treatment’s been declared too dangerous and is forbidden, but Sam has not only found his balls, he’s apparently collected a few extra pairs since last season. He’s DONE wasting time and sneaks into Jorah’s room in the middle of the night to try the treatment out himself. It, essentially, seems to require cutting off the infected skin and slathering on some kind of healing salve. And it’s horrifically painful, by the look of things. Not sure how he’s going to keep this hidden, since it’ll be pretty obvious what happened to anyone who goes to check on Jorah in the morning, but I guess Sam figures once it’s done there’s nothing anyone can do. Except kick him right out of the Citadel, presumably.

Arya’s on the move! She stops by the inn where her old friend, Hot Pie, works, and they briefly trade pie-baking tips (Ha, Arya!). In the course of their conversation, he mentions that Winterfell’s been retaken by Jon, and now it looks like Arya’s got a new destination.

She heads off into the woods with her horse, but while they’re making camp they’re surrounded by wolves. It looks pretty bad, but then a direwolf roughly the size of the horse shows up, and Arya recognises her as Nymeria, the wolf she was forced to run off waaaaay the heck back in season 1. I knew she’d be back eventually! Arya tells the wolf she’s going back north and asks Nymeria to accompany her. Although she seems to recognise her former mistress, Nymeria turns her down, wolf-style, by gathering her pack and disappearing back into the woods.

Yara and Theon are tasked with conducting Ellaria and the ever-annoying Sand Snakes back to Dorne. While at sea, however, they’re set upon by Euron, who has somehow, mysteriously managed to build himself a giant fleet in a fairly short period of time. Seriously, how did he do that? Aren’t the Iron Islands pretty short on materials? Isn’t that why they raid? Even if everyone who lived there had been put to work doing this, I find it hard to believe it would have been done this quickly.

Whatever, I quibble in the aftermath, but during the actual show I was all, ‘Yassss!’ because this was a pretty awesome battle to watch. Brutal, yes, but pretty cool, in the dark, with sparks flying, things on fire, all sorts of confusion, and Euron just going absolutely balls-out crazy all over the place. Two of the Sand Snakes are dispatched but Ellaria and her daughter are taken prisoner. Euron also gets his hands on Yara and urges Theon to come on and try to get her back. But Theon, poor guy, has had all his trauma brought back up by the chaos and horror of battle, so instead he just jumps over the side of the ship.

What shall become of Yara? Presumably she and Ellaria will be delivered unto Cersei. This probably takes Dorne out of the picture for the time being, and it’s doubtful Highgarden’s going to attack King’s Landing all on its own, which means Dany may have to delay her plans a bit. But Jon’s arrival in Dragonstone may drag her attention further north anyway. And perhaps the delay will mean Missandei and Grey Worm will get more time together. You have to look on the bright side, you know?

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