Monday, July 24, 2017

She Stops Before Conquering

"Stormborn," the second episode of this season of Game Of Thrones, offers lots of fun as new combinations of people meet and make plans.

A lot of the best stuff is at Dragonstone, where the action starts. There's a big storm, just like the night Dany was born.  She's with her advisors and they talk about how Cersei isn't so popular.  But, as Dany and Tyrion understand, that's not enough.  And they don't want to win by using their dragons and turning Westeros into a slaughterhouse. (Not only is it bad for the people, but it would turn the public against her, and look how the Mad King did, even with dragons.)  Fans have been wondering why she doesn't just conquer immediately, and this is part of the explanation.

Which leads to a great confrontation with Varys, who served the Mad King but also Robert--and helped in the plan to assassinate Dany.  Varys faces her down, explaining he's always served the people, and will support her because she's the best chance they've got.  She makes him swear if he doesn't like what she's doing, tell it to her face--and if she discovers he's betrayed her, he'll be burnt to death. They can both live with that.

Meanwhile, the Red Woman has come to meet Dany. (I guess Melisandre gets the news fast, and gets around even faster.) She believes Dany is the one who will save them during the long winter.  Varys notes Mel recently followed a different king, but, as Dany notes, this is get-off-free-for-treason day.

Then Mel brings up Jon Snow--that name rings a bell for Tyrion. Mel says they should see him and hear his stories about what he's seen, so they send for him by raven. (Just wait till they find out Jon and Dany are related.)

Up at Winterfell, they get the message--join us to fight Cersei.  Snow believes she'd be a great ally with those fire-breathing dragons killing wights.  But Sansa and Davos understand you can't just be sending the King out on such a mission.

Back at King's Landing, Cersei speaks to the Lords of Westeros, playing to their prejudices--Dany has brought savages (Dothraki and Unsullied) whom they need to fight against.  Don't worry about your loyalty to the Tyrell's, protect the land.  Dany crucified noblemen--that could be you.  They (like fans of the show) want to know how they'll defeat the dragons (word sure gets around).  Qyburn comes out and says they're working on it.

Jaime chases down Lord Tarly--Samwell's nasty dad--and says if he fights for Cersei (though he's pledged to House Tyrell) he'll be put in charge of the South if they win.  Olenna is too angry to get the Dothraki (who we haven't seen much of, actually) need to be defeated.

Down at the Citadel, Samwell and Archmaester Ebrose look at the advanced greyscale of Ser Jorah.  Too late to do anything, and oh yeah, his mind will go in six months. Tarly saw Shireen get cured, but that means nothing to Ebrose. Sam finds out this is a Mormont--a name that means something to him as a member of the Night's Watch.

Down in one of the basements in King's Landing, where Robert kept the skulls of defeated dragons, we see the massive crossbow they've been working on.  Dragons can be wounded, and dragons can be defeated.

Back at Dragonstone, Dany meets witha couple of allies--Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell (and Yara Greyjoy is there, too--real female empowerment). They want to know why she doesn't just unleash the dragons and attack  Dany explains her reasons again, including not riling up the Lords of Westeros by fighting them with Essos "savages." She wants the Dornish and the Tyrells to lay siege to the King's Landing.  Meanwhile, the Unsullied will take Casterly Rock and the Lannisters will lose their base.  Sounds good?

Missandei and Grey Worm have a leavetaking scene.  I've never been much for their relationship, but just as I was waiting for it to end, Missandei stripped.  And then she had Grey Worm strip (though we don't get to see what he doesn't have). They make love as best they can.

Back at the Citadel Samwell tries to bring up curing greyscale, but once again, Ebrose will have none of it.  Luckily, Samwell doesn't give up easily, and tries an old (unproven) technique on Jorah.  It's painful--he's got to cut away the greyscale--but there's no choice (and no anesthesia).  This is not unlike what Qyburn did to Jaime, though we didn't see as much of that, and this is on a bigger scale, as it were. Jorah has trouble not screaming. I thought he might be made of sterner stuff, but then, I've never had greyscale. Anyway, good luck to Mormont.

Now Arya stops at an inn, and there's Hot Pie.  Who doesn't love Hot Pie?  He certainly has found his calling as a baker.  But Arya has become a remorseless killing machine, and isn't showing as much emotion as might be expected.  But Hot Pie does pass on some important info--the Boltons have been defeated and Jon Snow is ruling Winterfell.  I'm not sure how she hasn't heard this yet, but I suppose Arya has been laying low since she got to Westeros.

There's not much question she'll be going to Winterfell.  And that's where we go now.  Snow has got all the Lords in the room (and Sansa and Brienne and Littlefinger and Davos) and tells them about Samwell's message (about dragonglass at Dragonstone) and Tyrion's message.  He's decided to go to Dragonstone with Davos.  Everyone objects.  The King of the North can't abandon the North, and, as they say in Star Wars, it's a trap.

Snow, who's made a career out of trusting people (and it's only got him killed once), explains why it has to be done. He's seen the army of the dead, and knows he'll need a lot of help to wage the war.  He's going. Now that's something to look forward to. (And when will Bran get to Winterfell with his big news about Snow's parentage?  He's not in this episode.) When Sansa objects, Snow explains she'll be in charge, which shuts her up fast.

Down in the crypt, Snow looks at his (alleged) dad's bones.  Littlefinger comes down and talks about his relations with the Starks.  He certainly liked the women (and Catelyn didn't think much of Snow). Snow goes after him, almost choking him, saying stay away from my kid sister.

It's not clear why Littlefinger decided to say what he said here. He's usually more sly.  He's been mostly flatfooted this season. Is he just a fool in love?  Or is he playing a long game?  No one likes him, but his army did save Snow in the Battle of the Bastards, so they can't just kick him out.  Anyway, Snow and Davos leave for Dragonstone, so we'll see what happens with the people left behind.

Arya is camped out when suddenly she's surrounded by a wolf pack.  Will the magic she learns in Bravos help her here?  She can't put on a wolf mask, after all.  Turns out the pack leader--as many expected--is Nymeria, abandoned by Arya in Season 1.  She wants Nymie to return with her to Winterfell, but the wolf just walks away.  She says "that's not you." I guess she understands you can't abandon a direwolf for years and years and not expect it to change.

Finally, we're on a boat with the Sand Snakes, as well as Ellaria and Yara and Theon.  To no viewer's surprise, Euron attacks. The fight is at night, illuminated only by fire, so it's hard to make out what's happening, though some (all?) of the Sand Snakes are killed and Ellaria is captured (this is the prize for Cersei?).  The Sand Snakes died as they lived--pointlessly.

Then Yara and Euron fight.  So Euron really likes to fight women, I guess.  He's got Yara and it's time for her "protector" Theon to do something.  Theon, who I thought was past this, decides to jump in the water instead. (Note that Theon is the third eunuch to have a big scene this episode.  Wouldn't it be funny if he ended up on the Iron Throne?) You sort of knew she was gonna lose as soon as Euron got there--they're not going to build him up in episode one to kill him off in episode two.  (I thought she was killed, by the way, but perhaps she was just taken hostage--that's how confusing I found this sequence.)

And that's where we end.  A lot of fun, though I wasn't thrilled with the battle at the end. (On this show I tend to find the conversations more thrilling than the fighting.)  Dany has decided to move slowly and may pay for it.  Cersei's odds are looking better, having cut off the head of the Dornish.  But Dany still has the most power.

I'm looking forward to next week when, presumably, Snow and Dany meet.  With only seven episodes this season, they can't put that off too long.

Also lots more reunion to come.  Arya, Sansa and Bran (and Snow) should all get together, even though none of them are aware most of the others are alive.  Then there's the Hound and Arya.  And certainly, sooner or later, Tyrion have to face his siblings.  Also I expect Varys and Littlefinger will meet again, if they live long enough.  And perhaps Jorah will get another chance to fight for Dany.  Stay tuned for these and other exciting moments in your next installment of Game Of Thrones.


Blogger New England Guy said...

You knew when they had Missandei take off her clothes, we were going see some severed heads later on. Also, some writer really hated college as he gives Sam the second week in a row of grossness at the Citadel. Pairing the scene of peeling greyscale from Jorah's chest with a quick cut to meat pie being cut at Hot Pie's place was a particularly (un)nice touch.

The battle was far too confusing. I think Euron won and it was Yara's fleet that was in flames. I think two Sand Snakes are dead, and the other and Ellaria captured. Unclear to me who was hanging from the prow of the boat at the end while Theon did some not terribly convincing treading of water. Unclear to me what happened to Yara though it its not good I'm sure.

Much is being made of the feminist powwow at Dragonstone- Four women leaders, three eunuchs and a half-man. Though I think the message is that they are quite equal to GoT male rulers in their decision-making and prejudices. Fair enough.

Littlefinger has been too schemy earlier in the series to be this dumb now- he has a plan but what really was his plan when he gave Sansa to Ramsay?- maybe he is going daft or maybe he is just an opportunist waiting for the next opening.

I believe the mad King had no dragons (or if he did, they were dog-sized if I recall a Tywin comment from Season 2)

1:30 PM, July 24, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Is that severed heads reference to Grey Worm disrobing, or am I reading too much into what you wrote?

You're right about the Mad King. So can no one defeat dragons? How did those whose skulls we saw die--of old age?

2:41 PM, July 24, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I do not think they are indestructible but that Westeros was wholly unprepared when the first Targaryens showed up. Also I did read the History of Westeros companion book (kind of fun but dense) book a while back and many dragons killed each other in Targaryen civil wars over they years and somehow that degraded the line and they didn't breed so well.....

6:05 PM, July 24, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I was referring to the battle scenes at the end when heads went flying but I like your interpretation better- sometimes my subliminals surprise me

4:09 AM, July 25, 2017  

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