Warning: Spoilers ahead!
In ‘Stormborn’, things are heating up as the three sovereigns look to find a means of securing their places. Yet it all feels rather stagnant.
With thunder rolling and a raging sea, Dragonstone is damp, cold and dark. Daenerys sure thinks her ancestral home is a little disappointing, but Tyrion ain’t wasting no time on the decor, proposing they take the Seven Kingdoms without bloodshed; their allies in the South and the Tyrells will make it easy. Cersei simply doesn’t have the numbers or the support of the people.
But there’s an elephant in the room and that is Daenerys’ grievance with Varys. Where do his loyalties lie? With the people. And right now, he believes she is the best thing for them. Thing is, Daenerys has proven to be quite cold and ruthless in the past so his judgement may be impaired.
Their standoff is interrupted by the arrival of Melisandre, which was to be expected. The Red Priestess quotes: “Only the prince who was promised will bring the dawn.” However, Missandel reveals that in High Valyrian the noun ‘prince’ has no gender and therefore, Daenerys may be the one to bring light back into the world (I mean with three dragons, why not?). Melisande also suggests allying with Jon Snow, a man who has more than enough reason to take down Cersei. Smart move there, Mel. But Daenerys has a storm coming if she thinks Jon Snow will “bend the knee” for his ‘rightful’ queen – we’ll see how that goes.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is working to gain the support of the noblemen, calling Daenerys a tyrant as she lists all the horrific acts she has committed during her time in Meereen. It’s all rather lackluster and while Cersei has always been a gem at convincing people, not everyone is confident in her as dragons threaten to burn the Keep to the ground.
However, Qyburn, the rather experimental old man, seems to have found a solution. Down in the catacombs of the Red Keep, Cersei is led to the head of Balerion the Dread, the infamous dragon that bend the Seven Kingdoms to the knee. The scene is rather slow as Qyburn explains to Cersei that one of Daenerys’ dragons were injured in Meereen, meaning if they can be harmed, they can be killed. And enter stage centre, an enormous crossbow strong enough to pierce the giant skull of Balerion the Dread straight through the bone. The sound of cracking bone set into reality that while Cersei seems to be concocting methods of defeating her enemies, she’s got Qyburn looking for ways to take down a dragon. It’s starting to look a little worrisome for the scaled creatures.
Oleena Tyrell’s approval to siege both King’s Landing and Casterly Rock is a sound victory for the Hand. Daenerys’ other allies including Elia Martell and Yara Greyjoy are also in favour and everything seems to be coming together for the Dragon Queen; while her dragons are her artillery, it’s her advisers that will keep her head screwed on straight. In parting, Oleena offers a bit of advice: “Be a dragon.” This could simply be vengeance talking, but is being a dragon really going to win the people over?
One of the highlights of the episode was Grey Worm and Missandei’s farewell to each other. Yes, nudity is criticised in every single episode, but this moment felt right and they deserved some happiness. Granted, it was dragged on for a bit, but given the amount of screen time they received, it’s only a matter of time before something happens to one of them. Just saying.
Jorah Mormont is looking at a few months of sanity left. The archmaester refuses to operate a forbidden procedure on him, and basically implies Jorah should fall on his own sword before he loses it completely. But Sam ain’t having none of that – he’s all Jorah has left and with a little rum and screaming into a leather bit, he’s in for a long night as Sam commences the gruesome procedure with a rather nauseous cut scene.
Arya reunites with our old favourite, Hot Pie and after a rather long and awkward conversation, she learns the Boltons have fallen and Jon is currently King in the North. She’s invigorated with purpose. Her family is alive. This temporary diversion from her vengence leads us to one of the most tearful reunions: Arya and Nymeria. That giant puppy is alive! At least, we think it is Nymeria? If so, that has to be the saddest rejection ever.
Back in Winterfell, Jon receives the summons from Tyrion, which is rejected by Sansa on grounds that it could be a trap. It’s obvious Sansa is opposed to negotiations with the Dragon Queen, but Davos makes a clever point though: White Walkers can be killed by fire, and Daenerys has three dragons. You do the math.
After learning from Sam’s message that a mountain of dragonglass lies beneath Dragonstone, it only solidifies Jon’s plan to accept the invitation. Before the halls of Winterfell are filled with revolt because the King in the North needs to stay in the North, Jon passes leadership to Sansa in his absence, much to the approval of Baelish. It’s a wise decision for a Stark should always be in Winterfell, but it’s not hidden that Baelish sees this as an opportunity to create tension between himself and Jon, and warm up to Sansa. What a slippery fella. The whole scene felt a little ominous and yet the tension wasn’t enough to warrant any sort of real worry.
Just before the episode feels like a complete and utter drag, Euron makes a surprise visit onto Yara’s fleet. The man sure knows how to make an entrance and it suddenly becomes clear what he is after: Elia Martell, the very woman who killed Myrcella. What better gift is there than to deliver the murderer of one of Cersei’s childen?
It’s a hot mess of burning ships, blood and death. I was lowkey rooting for Euron; there is no sentiment towards the other characters aside from Theon, who has his “nope” moment that left a disappointing aftertaste. As Theon watches Euron sail away with his sister and his prize, what comes next?
‘Stormborn’ felt slow with only a few engaging moments, and its potential to be quite epic fell flat. However, there is still hope for the rest of the season.