We open in Dragonstone with a number of important conversation on Team Dany. Daenerys confronts Varys with his acts of betrayal and asks why she should trust someone who changed his allegiance a number of times. Varys, in one of his best scenes in GoT history, explains his loyalty to the common people, as that’s where he comes from, and that his intention to serve the Realm is actually genuine. He offers her to kill him when she demands blind loyalty but she would miss out on his incredibly good counsel. Then it becomes obvious that this was more a test than anything else and Dany accepts Varys’s counsel and even pleads with him to not go behind her back when he feels she is disappointing the realm. However, if he were to betray Dany, she’d have to burn him alive, which Varys can live with after he had been genuinely scared briefly.
We then learn about Dany’s conquest plan. Instead of having her dragons wipe out Westeros and being Queen of the Ashes, Dany intends to besiege King’s Landing with the Dornish and Tyrell armies and starve them until they surrender. Meanwhile, the Unsullied will infiltrate Casterly Rock and hurt the Lannisters where it hurts them the most: their wealth. Guess who has already infiltrated a city: Right, Greyworm, through the sewers of Yunkai. Guess who once was responsible for overseeing the sewers of Casterly Rock: Right, Tyrion. I think the overall plan was pretty solid but we didn’t take Euron’s (surprisingly huge and devastating) fleet into account. But I’ll come to that later…
The next conversational partner is Lady Olenna and she is still majorly pissed about Cersei blowing up her perfect granddaughter. She urges Dany to act like her true self, a dragon. I wonder whether this is benevolent advice in hope of maximal pain for Cersei or if Olenna has ulterior motives.
Dany accepts her first guest at Dragonstone, Melisandre. As a red priestess, she is very welcome and tells Dany about Jon Snow (FI-NAL-LY!) (“There is another who is to play a role”). Melisandre clearly has suffered a lecture in humility and is more cautious about prophecies but mentions anyway that she believes Dany or Jon might be Azor Ahai (as we learn that the term for ‘prince to bring salvation’ is gender-neutral in High Valyrian). Dany likes the ring of that and also is quite interested in this Jon Snow and invites him to Dragonstone – in order to bend the knee.
What was already teased in last week’s episode already became true in this one: Jon will go to Dragonstone. Thanks to super-quick ravens (which improves the show’s pace enormously), Jon knows about the Dragonglass (thanks to Sam) and Daenerys and her dragons. He is adamant that they need allies and this opportunity is unique, whereas Sansa (and Lyanna Mormont, who is starting to get annoying) warns him about a potential trap, and she does so again in front of all his bannermen. I liked the touch that Tyrion, who obviously is a big fan of Jon Snow, convinced him of the sincerity of the offer. The question remains whether Jon will bend the knee or whether he seriously fucks up. Sansa remains at Winterfell and takes Jon’s place in his stead. Littlefinger is rubbing his fingers but I hope he won’t be able to turn Sansa to the dark side.
In the most controversial scene of the episode, we get serious death flags for Grey Worm. Missandei comes to his chamber to say farewell and express her hope that he will return unharmed. Grey Worm, in a very tender scene, confesses his love (“You’re my weakness”) and kisses Missandei. Until then, this was a beautiful, emotional scene, even if some people don’t want to waste screen time for this romance that wasn’t in the books, but the ensuing sex scene felt a bit off. Many people had their logistic doubts and I was very glad we didn’t get to see Grey Worm’s private area as I believe this would have been rather disturbing. Natalie Emanuel is astonishing to look at but still the scene probably didn’t need to be played out for that long.
We have a quick scene in the basement of King’s Landing, where we see Qyburn’s new invention: A giant ballista to kill dragons (which can be wounded). Attacking dynamic dragons with a giant version of a crossbow doesn’t sound like the best plan. Meanwhile, Cersei has rallied the support of the rest of her bannermen, which basically comprise of Randyll Tarly and his men. Unfortunately, even the ultra loyal Lord Tarly doesn’t seem overly convinced of Cersei’s cause, even after Cersei’s report of the savage invaders.
As we cut to Arya, we have a reunion with Hot Pie (who is a survivor :D), from whom she learns that Jon Snow is King in the North. When I realized that this indeed changes her plans, I genuinely cheered in anticipation of a Stark family reunion. Unfortunately, she’ll miss her favorite brother (actually, cousin) and I doubt she’ll stay in Winterfell for long. I don’t exactly know what the writers want to do with her but I like her current inner conflict (maybe Hound reunion at Eastwatch?).
As she heads out for Winterfell, she has a surprise encounter with a ginormous wolf pack, led by Nymeria, who clearly recognizes her and thus spares her life. Arya hopefully asks her to join her on her journey but Nymeria politely declines, leading Arya to the realization that her proposal would go directly against Nymeria’s nature. The whole dire wolf siutation makes me question if this stylistic device of mirroring the Stark children and their direwolves will resolve sensibly or if this will be a dead end.
To address the most disgusting moment in a long time, Sam attempts to treat Jorah’s greyscale by removing the infected tissue (with an ingenious cut at the end of the sequence) and applying some cream to it. I’m very interested in the direction this will go. It could be that the Arch Maester knew what Sam was about to do (as he didn’t act very subtly when inquiring about cures for greyscale) and let him do it because he believes in Sam. It could equally well be that Sam was infected during the operation, why else mention the author of the book? IF Sam indeed cured Jorah or at least contained it (as we’ve seen with Shireen), what will Jorah do? Will one day be enough to treat Jorah before he’s exiled to Valyria? This is definitely one of the more unpredictable story threads for me.
Then we get a big exciting finale (which other show has this huge a second episode?) revolving around Yara Greyjoy and the others. The Sand Snakes return to the screen and have an annoying dialogue about their revenge plans. Ellaria Sand heavily hits on Yara while teasing Theon. Just as they are about to get to know each other better, something hits the ship. Euron Greyjoy attacks the original Iron Fleet with his huge and powerful fleet, with his Silence at the very front. Whoever didn’t like his appearance at King’s Landing, his badass entrance on Yara’s ship should sway their opinion. The battle sequence in the dark was very gripping and intense, albeit sometimes a bit too chaotic and hard to make out who’s attacking whom (as it must have been for the characters). Euron’s ship has some crazy fire-shooting abilities, which might have a magical origin, as is often hinted at in the books. In Martin’s novels, Euron has sailed throughout the whole world and has gathered a number of supposedly powerful artefacts, which might come in handy fighting dragons. I like that we finally get the same sense of mystery and terrifying reputation regarding Euron as one has when reading the books, not least because we also wonder where Euron got that many ships in that time and how he knew where to attack Yara (making my rebuke of the criticism of the Abandoned-Dragonstone-Plot-Hole invalid). Also, the show got rid of two of the Sand Snakes and Euron captured two to bring to Cersei. I hope his gift is the destruction of the fleet and not bringing these two to Cersei even though Cersei might want revenge for Myrcella’s death and appreciate the gesture. Short note on Theon: I can’t fully join the chorus denouncing him for his cowardice because I believe it would have had no point to try to rescue Yara for Euron, that maniac, would have simply killed both of them. Depending on who finds him, he still might come in handy.
This leaves Dany basically devoid of a fleet and heavily impedes her plans of conquest. As we’ve seen in the trailers, the sack on Casterly Rock will still happen and some confrontation of the Dothraki and Westerosi soldiers on some open field. Will the North assist in transporting the army to Westeros in exchange for dragonglass? Will Dany’s fury impair her decision making or will she be able to avoid her genetic disposition and keep a cool head? How will she treat Jon after this decisive setback?
There are some other questions. How will Davos and Melisandre’s meeting again go? What plans does Melisandre have for the two Azor Ahai prospects? With Dany finally arrived in Westeros, 70 % of my interest revolves around her affairs.
all images (including title image): © by HBO, taken from IMDb