The meeting we’ve all been waiting for may be on the way.
During a storm, Daenerys Stormborn births a new alliance. Not exactly a subtle reference but that’s Bryan Cogman’s writing style. The season is picking up steam as we get into gear for the major events long set in motion.
In Dragonstone, a storm rages as Daenerys meets with her council. The episode opens with Dany confronting Varys regarding his past betrayals. It’s an unexpectedly intense opening scene, though we get more out of Varys in this scene than we have in any single scene prior. He swears himself to Dany, calling her the right leader for the people. In a respectable move, Dany makes Varys swear his honesty as well, demanding he informs her when she is failing people. We’ve seen Dany flex these muscles before and this won’t be the last time for sure. This scene was about establishing her counsel, as Varys is the last remaining character by her side that has yet to be truly vetted. It’s also the first time we’ve seen Varys desperate and emotional. The earnestness of his cause is immediately apparent as he thinks he is faced with losing what he has strived to achieve.
In a later meeting, we see Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand preach aggressiveness. They attempt to convince Dany to march on King’s Landing immediately. Dany preaches caution after being advised by Tyrion and Varys. The plan is to sack Casterly Rock while laying siege to the Capital. This is very existing as Casterly Rock has been talked about for seven years and yet we have never seen the Lannister’s castle. This was mostly just plot here, Dany and Tyrion explaining the plan while Yara and Ellaria react with quips expected of their characters at this point. Things get interesting when Olena tells Dany to ignore Tyrion; a piece of advice that ultimately will be ignored by Dany.
Melisandre arrives to become the bridge between Jon and Dany. Her case carefully walks the line between truth and lie as she essentially manipulates Dany into an alliance with Jon. She states the prophecy regarding the prince that was promised in a way that implies she’s naming Dany, when really she doesn’t know simply isn’t revealing her hand. This is a weird kind of growth for her as she now doesn’t know what is true but is doing her best to cover all her bases. Whoever is the prince or princess that was promised, it may not bode well for the other, so the legend goes.
The Grey Worm and Missandei romance plot gets a surprisingly moving moment as the former prepares to go to Casterly Rock. There were some issues with direction teetering between lingering wide shots and distracting close-ups; the fire in the background between them was a little heavy handed. Aside from this though, the scene was intimate and actually a breath of fresh air for a subplot that seemed shoehorned in. We learn a lot about Grey Worm and how his bravery was what set him apart from the rest. In all the years we’ve followed this character, it wasn’t until this moment that we ever learned why he was chosen. In a confessional that’s as sad as it is touching, Grey Worm describes love in the only way he knows how, by relating it to fear.
We get another satisfying stop on the Arya Stark: 2017 Reunion Tour when she meets up with Hot Pie again, who informs her that Jon has taken the North. Being totally honest, and I know I’m not the only one, this was not clear. There was no mention that Arya was in the dark about that, so her decision to head south last episode was mistakenly criticized. On her way to Winterfell, she encounters Nymeria, last seen early in the first season. Nymeria is enormous and the leader of a pack of wolves. The connection between the Starks and their wolves is anything but subtle. Robb and his wolf were both trapped and slaughtered, Rickon and Shaggydog were both killed as puppets in a game. What does that mean for Bran, whose wolf died so that everyone else could live? Or Sansa’s, who had to be put down? Nymeria didn’t just pop up to see what’s up, she’ll be back, likely as a deus ex-wolf.
In Oldtown, Sam works on curing Jorah Mormont of his greyscale. Sam shows his usual compassion, citing Joer Mormont as his reason for helping Jorah. Jim Broadbent is just as good the second time around as the wise, though condescending, Archmaester. He plays the character with a certain aloof strength that makes his limited screen time a real treat. Aside from the gnarly surgical scene, a bit of physical comedy between Sam and Jorah, and a couple nice, tight shots, this was just a continuation of last week.
While sailing to Sunspear, the Greyjoy fleet is ambushed by Euron Greyjoy, who enters in hilarious fashion, both literally and figuratively speaking. In the ensuing battle, Obara and Nymeria are killed while Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene are taken captive. Meanwhile, Theon abandons ship after suffering a panic attack. These events are preceded by two separate conversations onboard the ship; one involving Tyene threatening Obara and Nym, while the other sees Ellaria laugh at the notion of Theon being Yara’s protector. We didn’t have to wait long to see the irony in the conversations.
In the North, Jon receives an invitation to meet with Dany. Sansa and his lords beg him to exercise caution, though in all honesty, the conflict feels a little bit forced. Maybe it’s just me but the response to “hey, the world is going to end but I know someone who can probably stop it,” shouldn’t be “no.” Jon and Davos head south, leaving Sansa in control the North. I expect this is the dynamic we will see for most of the season, as Jon will probably be very busy once arriving in Dragonstone. Though it should be mentioned that with all of the heavy-handedness of this episode, there was a scene in which Jon threatened Littlefinger with death should he touch Sansa. While I doubt it will be Jon who swings the sword, given Cogman’s writing style, it seems to me that we’ve been told how Littlefinger will meet his demise.