Monday, July 24, 2017

My Thoughts on GAME OF THRONES Season 7 Episode 2: "Stormborn"

Last night I watched "Stormborn," the second episode of the seventh season of HBO's fantasy series Game of Thrones. In this one, there's a lot going on, including Danaerys' invasion of the Seven Kingdoms running into a major snag.

The Good

*Sam's surgery on Ser Jorah to cure his greyscale was extremely painful to watch, which was kind of the point. And the way they cut from Sam's knife penetrating Jorah's damaged skin to Arya cutting into a pie was masterful--if gross--in the same way they cut from Sam emptying bedpans to Sam serving slops in the Citadel cafeteria.

*I was very glad to see Arya going home instead of continuing her likely suicidal attempt to take out Cersei. Seriously, the group I watch the show with was straight-up cheering when, upon learning her brother (well, cousin, but she doesn't know that) Jon was ruling the North, she turned around.

*Although Jon is going about it in a clumsy way (no thanks to Sansa), he shows he has the best interests of the North at heart. He really should send Ser Davos or even Sansa herself to Dragonstone to negotiate with Danaerys, at least at first. Hopefully Littlefinger won't take advantage of his absence to push Sansa into doing something stupid and dangerous--it would suck massively if Jon had to personally execute (as far as he knows) his own sister for treason Ned Stark style.

*There are lots of good speeches here--Varys stands up to Danaerys and talks about how he's loyal to the people who'll prosper with good leadership and suffer under bad, Cersei rallying Westerosi lords against Danaerys' army of violent foreigners, and Jaime's attempt to woo Randyll Tarly and overcome his oaths to House Tyrell.

*I liked the scene between Jon Snow and Littlefinger in the crypt, even though I vocally referred to Littlefinger as an "oily prick" while it was actually in progress. Littlefinger mixes lies with truths as usual--Jon does owe him a lot for saving his behind in the Battle of the Bastards, but he had a lot more than just "differences" with Ned Stark and it wasn't very smart of him to reveal that he loved Sansa just like he loved her mother. Seriously, he earned that Big Brother Beatdown there. And the sheer gall of him coming to "pay respects" to Ned Stark's grave when it was him who betrayed him to his death in the first place. DIE! DIE!

*And Euron Greyjoy proves he can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. He takes Yara's fleet (or at least the core of it) by surprise in a pyromaniac orgy of slaughter, he's the first man aboard Yara's flagship riding down a skull-headed gangplank cackling with glee, and by the end of it, he takes multiple stab wounds and multiple blows from a whip from the Sand Snakes, and he still triumphs. Hot damn. That battle sequence was excellent and Euron is my favorite bad guy now. Many of the Game of Thrones villains are just gross (Ramsay, Joffrey), but Euron is just crazy awesome.

The Bad

*No mask for Sam when he's doing a highly risky--to him-- operation on Ser Jorah? Given how he knows from the Archmaester that the man who cured two advanced cases of greyscale died of the disease himself, I'm surprised he didn't wear a mask, whatever equivalent to goggles exist, etc.

*I thought the scene with Grey Worm and Missendei went on for too long. Yes, it's good to know even someone as damaged as Grey Worm can still love (and we know from an earlier season that the Unsullied, despite their physical incapacity, still desire intimacy) and Grey Worm's speech was good, but it seemed like the show's typical gratuitousness. I would have preferred a shorter scene and more time devoted to the Ironborn-on-Ironborn slugfest.

*Sansa needs to stop publicly undermining Jon and arguing with all his decisions. One of my friends said she wanted to punch Sansa through the TV screen. Seriously, they just talked about this last week, and Sansa is a lot more mentally agile and better at playing the game than she was in the earlier seasons.

*When Ellaria and Yara are talking about what Yara would do as queen of the Iron Islands, what they hell does she mean that Theon would serve as her "protector"? As we see later in the episode, Theon isn't very good at "protecting" anybody right now, or at least not protecting people from those bigger and more aggressive than he is. Yara knows how broken Theon is from the failed attack on the Dreadfort. Of course, perhaps this was wishful thinking on her part.

*How did Euron take Yara's flagship by surprise? It's at the heart of a much larger fleet. If he were somehow able to sneak his own ships into the core of Yara's armada, smash up the flagship and its immediate bodyguard, and then flee, leaving most of Yara's fleet actually intact that'd be one thing. But if he attacked at the edges and pushed inward destroying everything in his path, Yara and friends would have a lot more warning rather than being taken by surprise.

*I would have prolonged Theon's agony before he flees. He's shown no problems killing lots of Euron's Ironborn earlier in the episode, which shows he's got a lot of his mojo back. Maybe he advances more boldly on Euron, but slowly breaks back down before Euron's taunting and seeing Euron's people killing everybody around him? Intercut it with some Ramsay flashbacks and it'd be much better.

*Danaerys' strategy to conquer Westeros without alienating the people and leadership by using foreigners to attack the capital and without gratuitously destroying King's Landing with her dragons leaves out just what she would use her dragons for. They're war-winners when used aggressively--see the Field of Fire, the Battle of the Last Storm, and the burning of Harrenhal from Aegon's conquest--and they would allow her coalition to win with far fewer losses.

More Thoughts

*I wonder if they're setting up Sam to get greyscale with the Archmaester's warning and his insufficient precautions.

*The last time we saw Littlefinger getting choked by a Stark it was Ned in King's Landing, and it didn't end well for Ned. And we see Littlefinger rubbing his neck and watching Sansa ominously after emerging from the crypts beneath Winterfell. Jon better watch his back, because the little man is going to try something evil no doubt.

*With the Targaryen-loyalist faction of the Ironborn gutted and the current Dornish leadership captive (and possibly much of the Dornish army destroyed in transports), Danaerys might definitely need to "be a dragon" now, and with Qyburn building a huge ballista (that, per the books, is capable of killing a dragon) and having most of Cersei's wildfire stash besides, that could end badly for her. Hopefully she'll unleash the dragons on Casterly Rock in the next episode, which, incidentally, would give Qyburn more time to build up the capital's anti-dragon defenses.

*Theon is explicitly still alive at the end of the episode, although the sharks will likely be attracted by all the dead and wounded in the water. Unless some remnant of the Targaryen Ironborn fleet is there to pick him up, he looks like he's in trouble. On the other hand, the fact he's explicitly left alive onscreen means that this isn't the last we've seen of him. Let's hope Euron went with a "sneak in, burn, and sneak out" strategy that left much of Yara's fleet intact, for his sake at least.

*Ellaria Sand and one of her daughters are now prisoners of Cersei Lannister, whose innocent daughter they'd treacherously murdered. I wouldn't expect them to live very long, although given how in the books Qyburn seems to enjoy experimenting on women, there might be something much worse for them in store than Cersei simply chopping off both their heads.

(Yara's in a tight spot too, but Euron might want to pimp her out to one of his political allies for Greyjoy dynastic reasons.)

As always, looking forward to next week.

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