Hi everyone and welcome to the second of the weekly episode recaps I’m doing for the new season of my favourite television series, „Game of Thrones“. These recaps contain MASSIVE SPOILERS, so please proceed with caution: DO NOT READ if you haven’t seen the episode yet and intend to do so later.
- Episode 1, “Dragonstone”
- Episode 2, “Stormborn”
- Episode 3, “The Queen’s Justice”
- Episode 4: “The Spoils of War”
- Episode 5: “Eastwatch”
- Episode 6: „Beyond the Wall“
- Episode 7: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
Tyrion, who famously remained silent in last week’s episode, the first time to do so since he appeared on the show, has one of the first important lines, discouraging Daenerys from taking the direct approach: “Conquering Westeros would be easy for you, but you’re not here to be Queen of the Ashes.” Varys puts in a history lesson about her father and Robert Baratheon after Dany questions his loyalty: “There have been few rulers in history as cruel as the Mad King. Robert was neither mad nor cruel; he simply had no interest in being King.” He assures Daenerys that he will be the best advisor she can ever hope to have: “The one the Realm needs. Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty.” Melisandre arrives at Dragonstone, discussing the possibility that Dany might be “The Prince that was promised” from the prophecy (Missandei points out that the Valyrian word has no gender; it can easily mean both Prince or Princess). Both Melisandre and Tyrion advise the Queen to ally with Jon Snow. Dany agrees. “Send a raven north”, she says to Tyrion. “Tell Jon Snow that his Queen invites him to come to Dragonstone – and bend the knee.”
In a war council, Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand try to convince Daenerys to attack Kings Landing at once with their joint fleets and the dragons. Tyrion dislikes the proposal, claiming tens of thousands of innocents would die. When Ellaria counters that “it’s called war”, he reminds her how she poisoned his innocent niece Myrcella. “She was a Lannister. There are no innocent Lannisters”, she says to Tyrion, still grief-stricken about her lover Oberyn’s death as Tyrion’s champion in the trial by combat. Dany reminds her, however, that he’s also Hand of the Queen and has to be treated with respect. She will not attack Kings Landing because she’s “not here to be Queen of the Ashes.” Instead, she decided to follow Tyrion’s plan to lay siege to the capital – without Dothraki and Unsullied (because Cersei could use that to appeal on Westerosi patriotism), but with the combined Tyrell and Martell armies; the latter will be shipped to the capital by Yara’s fleet. Meanwhile, the Unsullied will conquer the Lannisters’ ancestral seat, Casterly Rock. All three Ladies – Yara Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell – eventually agree to the plan.
In a private conversation afterwards, Olenna tells her that she outlived many clever men by ignoring them. “The Lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No, you’re a Dragon. Be a Dragon.”
Missandei and Grey Worm say goodbye to each other because he will sail off to Casterly Rock the next day. He declares his love for her by saying that she is his weakness – unlike any other Unsullied (who are subjected to brutal “therapies” to either overcome their fears or die in the process) he never was afraid of anything until he met her. In the first intimate scene of the new season, they act upon their mutual love despite the fact that Grey Worm was castrated at a young age, like all Unsullied. But the very tasteful scene shows that true love knows more than one way.
When Yara’s fleet has sailed off, she can be seen drinking and then making out with Ellaria. They don’t get anywhere before their fleet is being attacked by Uncle Euron’s. The first real battle of the new season breaks loose, and for the first time, we’re getting a taste of the crazy pirate who was promised. He slaughters sailor after sailor while laughing happily, and also kills two of the three Sand Snakes. The third one and Ellaria are captured alive by his men. We also witness live how Euron cuts someone’s tongue out, something he has allegedly done to all of his crew (who never talk, in line with that claim). When he finally captures Yara herself and holds a knife to her throat, her brother Theon snaps back into Reek mode, with the fearful look upon his face. He cannot hope to help Yara, and so he jumps over board, followed by his uncle’s maniacal and very amused laughter. The episode ends with him in the water, looking at the burning remains of the sunken fleet and Euron sailing off.
Tyrion’s message arrives (and is nothing like the one Dany asked him to write). Jon, Sansa and Davos consider the options: should Jon go and meet the new Queen, or should they stay at Winterfell?
Then a raven arrives from the Citadel with a message by Samwell, telling Jon about the mountain of dragon glass under Dragonstone. This convinces him to go there for real with Davos, to mine the dragon glass and to ask Dany for assistance in the war against the White Walkers. For once, even Lady Lyanna Mormont agrees with the other Lords; they all think he shouldn’t go there because they think it’s a trap, “a Targaryen can’t be trusted”. Lyanna adds that they need the King in the North to stay in the actual North. Sansa, too, isn’t too fond of the idea, until Jon assures her that he’s going to leave Winterfell in good hands: hers. This earns another smirk from Littlefinger, who is subsequently down in the crypts with Jon. He tries to assure the King that he is not one of his “many enemies”. But when he says that he loves “Sansa as I loved her mother”, Jon confronts him, almost exactly mirroring Ned’s “You’re a funny man” moment from way back in the first season. “Touch my sister, and I’ll kill you myself”, he swears.
Queen Cersei tries to win over more allies, including sworn Tyrell Bannerman Randyll Tarly. He reminds her and all the summoned Lords that Dany has three dragons, “the same as Aegon when he conquered the Seven Kingdoms”. Qyburn assures him and everyone else that they’re working on a solution. Jaime pulls him aside and tries to convince him to be the principal General in the coming war. Randyll is very reluctant because his oath to House Tyrell means something to him as it always has for his family. Jaime tries to depict Daenerys’s army as “foreign savages” and finally appeals on Randyll’s ambition: “When the war is won, the Queen will need a new Warden of the South, and I can think of no better man than Randyll Tarly.” This will be interesting, given the fact that his Liege Lady agreed to helping the other side.
In the dungeons below the Red Keep, Qyburn and Cersei look at the dragon skulls and talk about how to defeat a dragon. Qyburn uncovers a device and asks Cersei to pull a lever. Surprisingly, the spear that is released with full force easily runs through the skull of Balerion the Dread, Aegon’s largest and most dangerous dragon.
The Archmaester is convinced that Jorah’s greyscale is far too progressed to be stopped – and indeed we can see that it now covers half his chest. “You should have cut off your arm before the infection spread”. The next day, he says, a ship will take Jorah to the ruins of Old Valyria to live out the rest of his life with the Stone Men. During the conversation, Sam learns that his last name is Mormont.
Later in the Library, Samwell tells the Archmaester that he may have found a way to cure Jorah in the works of Archmaester Pylos. His modern-day successor is aware of the procedure but also states that it has been forbidden since because it is too dangerous: Pylos himself died of greyscale.
At night, Jorah spends what he thinks of as his last night in civilisation to write a letter to Daenerys, when Sam comes into his room with a trolley full of medical supplies. He makes the knight drink a lot of rum because the procedure will be painful. It consists of removing all of the infected tissue and then applying some ointment. It is incredibly painful, but Jorah must not scream for fear of the forbidden treatment to be discovered. It also looks quite disgusting.
In a tavern, Arya meets her old friend Hot Pie who is treating her with a very tasty, well, hot pie. She compliments him because it’s much better than the ones she prepared recently (and she doesn’t go into details of their main ingredients). When she learns from him that the Boltons are dead, defeated by Jon who is now King in the North, she postpones her Queen-killing plans and decides to ride north instead. Hot Pie keeps calling her “Arry”, but also concludes: “I can’t believe I took you for a boy — you’re pretty.”
Resting in the woods and shivering by a small campfire, she notices that her horse is growing more and more restless. Soon, they are surrounded by a large pack of wolves. It looks somewhat menacing until the alpha arrives, a huge direwolf: Nymeria! They haven’t met since the season 1, when Arya had to chase her wolf off to avoid her being killed by Cersei (who then had Sansa’s direwolf Lady killed instead). When Nymeria refuses to come with her, Arya decides: “It’s not you.” She sounds somewhat sad when she says that.
- The meeting of Jon and his aunt Daenerys is now well under way, but Jon left Winterfell before Bran arrived there. This means he has no idea they’re related. How will it play out?
- The conflict of interest Randyll Tarly is heading into will be interesting: the Lannisters asked him to switch allegiance (or to support the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms) while his Liege Lady wants his armies to lay siege upon Kings Landing. He doesn’t know the latter yet, but a message will probably wait for him once he arrives back at Horn Hill. Also, in this episode we learned that there’s more to him than the racist asshole we met last season – he’s a loyal bannerman (“I’m a Tarly […] We are no plotters and schemers”) and a competent military leader, too.
- Randyll’s son Samwell has meanwhile proven beyond all doubt that he is one of the bravest people in Westeros: he knows full well that he could be killed by greyscale (“or worse, expelled”, my inner Hermione Granger whispers) if he applies Archmaester Pylos’s cure to Jorah, but he still goes along with it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he will be rewarded for his bravery and not attract the disease himself.
- Now that Jon has left Winterfell and Sansa is in charge, will Baelish plan his ultimate move on her, in terms of relationship and/or power? And if so, how will she respond? Is she finally fed up with him?
- What will happen if Bran arrives during Jon’s absence and tells Sansa about Jon’s true parentage. He is half a Targaryen, after all, and many Northern Lords believe that this family “cannot be trusted”.
- One of the greatest differences between books and show is finally confirmed: while all Stark children are wargs in the novels, only Bran seems to be one on the television series: Arya cannot really communicate with her former direwolf Nymeria. Or is her wolf simply as stubborn as she is and will make her own decisions?
- When Euron sails away, someone is pierced by a spike on the ship’s bow (Ellaria? The last of the Sand Snakes?) and someone else is hanging from it. I don’t know whether anyone has properly identified them, but it might be important.
- Has Theon switched back into Reek mode for good, or has he made the right decision, knowing that he couldn’t possibly help Yara aboard the ship? Could he plan to get help and be able to do it?
- Will Qyburn’s device shoot a living dragon from the sky? On the one hand, it is strong enough to pierce a dragon’s skull, but on the other hand, a flying dragon is incredibly fast. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this.
More and more wheels are being set in motion for the upcoming wars, and we were treated to the first battle, and it looked fantastic. We also got the first taste of Uncle Euron’s alleged brutality and madness. And finally, there were two very heartwarming but bittersweet reminiscences of season 1: Jon confronting Littlefinger Ned-style, and Arya meeting Nymeria again. This episode has once again earned four out of five seven-pointed stars: all in all it was great, but some parts feel a bit rushed while others take too much time. Extra kudos for the cut from the very graphic greyscale treatment to someone cutting a meat pie in the tavern.