Game of Thrones: Season 7, Episode 2 "Stormborn" Review
"You are a dragon. Be a dragon."
While last week’s season seven premiere may have been the slow-paced foundational episode we needed to ease back into the world of Game of Thrones, episode two, “Stormborn” was a much-wanted return to the hectic, violent fray. In an episode that brought us epic battles and the deaths of some major players, “Stormborn” shows us that there’s still a lot of killing to be had in the land of the living before the White Walkers to come knocking
“Stormborn” really honed the scale compared to that of the premiere, and it was for the better. Instead of showing us everyone for a small amount of time, the second episode of season seven focused on Jon Snow’s kingdom and Daenerys’ allies--some of whom don’t make it to the end credits.
This gave us an opportunity to see the intricacies of the coming war--specifically, how the Dragon Queen will attempt to bring down the Lannister empire by way of siege. Daenerys’ council is quite large now, a group that’s made up entirely of remnants. This isn’t a council of winners, but losers who aren’t giving up. Seeing them all together in Dragonstone is like seeing grizzled veterans coming together to brood. It’s only because Tyrion is laying out a plan for siege are we reminded this is actually the leaders of a significant fighting force.
Even though they're not the heavy hitters of Westeros, it's very cool to see who's rallied behind Daenerys and why. Each has their own reasons for siding with the foreign invader, and Olenna Tyrell is no exception. She's loyal to the Dragon Queen, but she's also filling the role of a mentor. In noting how many people behave like sheep, Olenna looks to Daenerys and says, "You're not a sheep--you're a dragon. Be a dragon." It's with this mindest I hope Daenerys pushes forward. She's not like anybody else, and she should have to act like it.
While the Targaryen war room is hodge-podge and fragmented, Jon Snow has become the great unifier in the North, and the impact he’s had on those around him is almost tangible. After years of infighting, the North is without bloodshed, if only for a few passing episodes. Together, the remaining houses have made a strong force in the North, but even that’s not enough to stop what’s coming from past the wall.
The Lannisters, while not completely vanished, took a backseat this episode, which was a great way to show that they’re amassing their numbers somewhere offscreen. Sure, we saw them tease a great ballista that can be used to bring down dragons, but more was said in their silence. Nobody needs to be shown that Cersei is preparing for war--we know she is.
Devoting a larger portion to the episode to only a few groups was perfect for helping us reinvest in these new alliances, and it also cleared some air time for the final sequence of the episode: the naval battle between the Greyjoys.
Oh man, what a battle it was. With Euron being the most recent addition to the major Westerosi players, he sure has come out the gate swinging. Euron arrived to the scene right as Ramsay Bolton was exiting, and he’s done a great job at making sure the sadistic void is still filled. As the ten minute seabound battle came to its end, we witnessed the death of two Sand Snakes, Obara and Nymeria. They fought valiantly to defend their mother and Yara’s fleet, Euron proved to be the better fighter.
With Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene captured, the only one who escaped the battle with their freedom (and life) is Theon. Though, for those of you familiar with his past...struggles, shall we say, you may not call it escaping. He let fright get the best of him as he dove into the ocean and away from his uncle, leaving his sister to be taken hostage, undoubtedly to become a token of trade for Cersei Lannister.
The Iron Fleet is the first loss in the Dragon Queen’s army, but we don’t know if it’s gone for good. Unfortunately, it looks like the Dornishmen have been removed completely from the coming war, as Ellaria, the killer of Cersei’s daughter won’t stand long in front of the new queen. Tyne, the last surviving Sand Snake? There’s no telling where she’s headed, but she can’t lead an army--that’s for sure.
“Stormborn” is a return to the quick-paced storytelling we Game of Thrones fans have become so used to--and maybe even spoiled by. As this story creeps ever closer to the end of its saga, we doubt we’ve seen the last death of a power player. In fact, the death of two Sand Snakes may mark the beginning of a death-filled season. With the Great War upon us, there’s not long to find out who comes out as a victor, only to come face-to-face with the undead army of White Walkers that’s creeping ever-closer.
Review by Henry Kulick