SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
Last week, the first episode of the season was such a relief for Game of Thrones fans that perhaps we were lulled into a false sense that it would be a season full of satisfaction. But by the end of the second episode, the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and “WTF” are back in full effect.
In the opening scene, Daenerys reminds Varys – and us – who she is and who she came from. For a moment, do we think she might actually set him ablaze? It’s an uncomfortable scene, but Varys’ steadfast honesty and Dany’s refusal to be complacent are both comforting in the end, as the Queen and her allies plot her route to the iron throne. The plan is to send the Dornish and Greyjoy forces against King’s Landing, while the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and the Queen take the Lannister home base of Casterly Rock. It seems like a brilliant strategy, until, of course, you remember what show you’re watching. Everything alludes to history repeating itself as the storm rages outside Dragonstone. Naturally, by the end of the episode, the Sand Snakes are toast, and so is Dany’s fleet. So much for that bright idea.
Just briefly, did anyone else absolutely swoon over the first half of the tender, albeit awkward scene of intimacy between Missandei and Greyworm? The scene was far longer and more gratuitous than necessary, but we were overdue for some nudity, so…
With the arrival of Melisandre, the red priestess, we barely bat an eyelash at the show confirming what fans who have done even the smallest amount of research have likely known for years: the prince who was promised could be the princess who was promised. Moreover, we’re finally presented with the very real possibility that Jon Snow and Daenerys could meet. Daenerys extends the invitation, like the dragon Olenna Tyrell has just reminded her to be: bend the knee or bust. Tyrion does his best to smooth things over in the message he sends to Jon Snow at Winterfell, but its reception is still chilly. Again, the series callbacks and the possibility of history repeating itself are heavy. No one is forgetting that the last time a Stark answered a Targaryen’s invitation south they boiled in their armor. Heading south in general hasn’t gone well for any Starks at this point. Still, as Ser Davos points out, they need those dragons, and the dragon glass. Despite everyone else’s objection, and the terrifying reminder that Littlefinger is still lurking and lusting, Jon plans to go, and leaves Winterfell in Sansa’s hands. Which leaves us to fret about whether or not she’s learned from Littlefinger, or if she remains vulnerable to his plots and schemes.
While Hot Pie seems just as we left him, to the point that he’s still telling the same story about his pies (butter is ALWAYS the answer), Arya is clearly very, very changed by all she’s done and been though. After learning that Jon is King of the North in Winterfell and swiftly changing course to head home, the reunion with Nymeria is bittersweet. Is this more foreshadowing? Maybe Arya is also too wild now, too changed. This could be an even ruder awakening given that she’ll arrive at Winterfell to find Sansa, not Jon, running the show, along with Brienne & Littlefinger. A girl may find she can’t go home again.
History repeats itself; we’ve got that beaten into our heads now, right? Euron shows himself to be the storm that smashes Dany’s fleet, just as her father’s was smashed, and we are reminded that Theon retains the subservient nature carved into (and out of) him by Ramsay Bolton. Theon’s moment of neutered cowardice is heartbreaking. He jumps overboard, leaving Euron set up to deliver Yara and Ellaria to Cersei so he can lock down that royal wedding. A satisfying and chaotic battle scene leaves us wondering what purpose Theon could still serve in this series, if he is so paralyzed by PTSD. In a show so unafraid to kill off its main characters, the gears are really turning to figure out why Theon Turncloak is still with us.
As for Samwell & Ser Jorah, we swear we finally learned our lesson, and will never, ever, be caught trying to eat during Game of Thrones again. We get it. Y’all are very clever with the jumpcuts, and this is why we don’t like creamy sauces. Anyway, fingers crossed that Jorah’s suffering through this awful process is worth it, and if the writers let Samwell die of greyscale instead, we quit everything.
You got that HBO? EVERYTHING.
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