Stormborn This Way

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7 Episode 2, “Stormborn”

Welcome to SEASON 7 of HBO’s prestige snuff series, GAME OF THRONES. This is a SPOILER-RICH scene-by-scene recap of episode two, “Stormborn.” If you’re looking for a spoiler-free recap, sit back and consider what the word “recap” means.

Killer Queen

There’s a storm raging on Dragonstone, just like the one that occurred on the island the night Dany was born, or on Twitter when HBO announced the premise of Benioff and Weiss’ new series Confederate.

We’re back in Daenerys’s war room atop Dragonstone, where she’s ready assault Westeros with the full force of her dragons, just like Aegon the Conquerer did three centuries ago. While everyone in the room likes the part of her plan that involves burning Cersei to a crisp, they’re less enthused about the other parts, which involve burning the rest of King’s Landing to a crisp. Tyrion Lannister warns Dany not to swoop in, or she’ll end up being “Queen of the Ashes.”

Varys concurs, and Dany puts him in the hot seat for serving Robert Baratheon — flossing just a bit of a paranoid, mad king vibe, tbh. To be fair, Varys turns coats more often than a laundromat carousel, so she has a point. But the Spider appeals to her humanity by ragging on the Westerosi 1%, saying he grew up with nothing and he’s always cared about “the people,” not the monarch. That’s the only thing that has ever caused his alliegences to change. She feels the bern and accepts his vow of loyalty, with the caveat that he’ll feel the burn the second he crosses her.

Lady in Red

Grey Worm informs Dany that “The Red Priestess from As’shai” has arrived, and Dany meets our old friend Melisandre below the war room, in the exposition room.

The Red Lady implores Dany to treat with the new King in the North, Jon Snow. Varys reminds Dany, and the audience, that Melisandre had a first-class ticket on the King Stannis Baratheon train until trouble in the North snuffed that Lord of Light out. Now she’s swapped Kings. Suspicious, no?

Melisandre gets out of it with basically a shrug. Prophecy is tough business, and it turns out the “prince who was promised” (or princess, Missandei points out) is either Dany or Jon Snow. Almost certainly Dany or Jon. And despite what happened to Stannis, she knows it’s definitely one of them. Yep. For sure.

Tyrion vouches for Jon, saying that he’s basically a good dude, and an alliance with the North would check off another point on the compass around King’s Landing.

Sure, Dany says, send a raven. She’ll gladly team up with the North’s most eligible bastard — as long as he’s willing to come to Dragonstone and bend the knee.

Starks, Raven, Mad

In Winterfell, all the men, women and children are learning to use bows and arrows. It’s kind of like summer camp, except instead of summer it’s winter, and instead of getting a badge you get to defend your land from the armies of the dead.

Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and Davos Seaworth discuss the raven that just arrived from Tyrion Lannister (news travels fast). Sansa and Jon both like Tyrion, but they worry Dany’s invitation to meet her and her fire-breathing dragons might be a trap. Davos points out that fire can melt white walkers as well as Starks, without being too much of a dick about it.

Watch the Iron Throne

Cersei holds a real picker-upper of a meeting, telling the lords of Westeros’ noble houses that they need to stand against Daenerys Targaryen. And her dragons. And her Dothraki. And her Unsullied. And the thousands of Westerosi in the North, the Reach and Dorne who now want to kill them.

Her reign is clearly off to a great start.

To paraphrase JFK, “We choose to fight the dragons! Not because it is easy, but because it is hard! And otherwise we all die!”

Jamie Lannister drafts Randyll Tarly to lead Cersei’s armies against the Tyrells in the west. Randyll is nonplussed, but Jamie riles him up by getting a little racist and talking about the Weapons of Mass Dothraki the Tyrells are planning to march across the Seven Kingdoms. Call it the Southern Westeros Strategy.

Jorah Mormont’s Really Bad Not Very Good Day

Samwell Tarly and the Archmaester sit in an exam room with Jorah “Charred Steak” Marmont and ask, “So, any recent changes to your health?”

It’s not a good prognosis for Jorah. His greyscale is hella advanced and he has months, maybe, before he becomes Stoneman Steve Austin.

The Archmaester says somebody with this level of greyscale would normally be shipped off to Valyria immediately, but since Jorah used to have a Ser in his name, he gets an extra day. Basically, “You’re incredibly dangerous, but I’m going to give you a chance to sneak away, or commit suicide. Because nobility. Don’t forget your giant-ass sword on the way out.”

Kingdom of the Crossbowed Skull

Maester, Hand of the Queen, Master of Whispers and all-around “friendly uncle” Qyburn leads Cersei on a romantic stroll through the dragon pits under King’s Landing. Torchlight dances off the skulls of long-dead dragons, which stare endlessly with unblinking eyes. Qyburn, you old smoothie.

Qyburn tells Cersei of his master plan to defeat Dany’s dragons: CROSSBOWS. But, you know, bigger.

Seriously. Bigger crossbows. Qyburn really burned the midnight wildfire coming up with that idea.

To prove his theory that a giant crossbow will work, he prompts Cersei to fire one into the skull of Balerion, Aegon the Conqueror’s dragon. The bolt works reasonably well against a dessicated skull that’s hundreds of years old, so sure, it will probably work against a living dragon, too.

Qyburn, you old smoothie.

The Casterley Rock Gambit

Back on Dragonstone, Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy have joined Dany’s war council. They argue that she should fly her dragons into King’s Landing like Slim Pickens in Doctor Strangelove, casualties be damned.

Olenna Tyrell is there too, and she also leans into the “break stuff first, pick up the pieces later” camp. Cersei made Olenna’s daughter Margery the hottest Queen in Westeros last season when she blew up the Sept of Baelor, and Olenna is in this mainly for the revenge.

And there’s Theon! Every time the camera changes angles this week we see someone new from a previous season.

Tyrion lays out his battle plan: the Dornish and Tyrells will take Yara’s Iron Fleetlet and lay siege to King’s Landing; meanwhile, the Unsullied and Dothraki will hit the Lannisters’ home turf at Casterley Rock.

Dany takes Olenna aside to make sure she’ll get with the program — that this is about more than revenge on Cersei, it’s about bringing peace to the realm. Olenna disagrees. Peace never lasts, so worry about ruling first. And don’t trust Tyrion.

You can see Dany turning it around in her head. “Queen of Ashes” is kind of a cool name, come to think of it. At least it’s not “Mad King.”

50 Shades of Grey Worm

Grey worm is alone in his room sharpening his knife, if you know what i mean. (I mean sharpening his knife. The Unsullied are all castrated.)

Missandei joins him, and they have a tearful goodbye. He tells her lovely tales of a carefree youth training with the Unsullied. How they slept with dogs, jumped off cliffs, let children drown. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting.

He admits that after all that he’s gone through, the only thing that really scares him is losing her.

They kiss. They disrobe. You see everything, because this is Game of Thrones. Grey Worm forgot to mention that, along with dogs and cliffs, the Unsullied also had Buns of Steel workout tapes. And then they make love.

How, you may be wondering, does a eunuch make love? I’ll put it delicately: let’s just say he puts the “ate” in “castrated former slave, raised in captivity to be the perfect fighting machine, going down on a woman.”

Samwell Tarly, M.D.

The Archmaester is giving Sam homework — books one through five of A Song of Ice and Fire, by the looks of it— but Sam has Jorah on his mind. He says he read about a maester who claimed to have found a procedure that can cure greyscale. The Archmaester tells him that that very maester eventually died of greyscale. There’s a lesson in there but it’s very subtle.

Jorah is in his cell, spending his last night in Westeros writing an out-of-focus letter to Dany. He’s rudely interrupted by Sam, who ruins his evening of moping to thoughtlessly perform the procedure he read about and possibly get rid of Jorah’s greyscale.

Stealing books, performing illegal procedures — Sam is basically the James Dean of the Citadel. He probably smokes in the boys room, too. He is in there all the time cleaning chamber pots.

The experimental cure for greyscale involves removing the greyscale with a knife — which they show in graphic close-up. If you’ve ever felt the satisfaction of picking off a scab, this is scene you’ve been waiting six years for.

Inch by inch, Sam painfully carves the stoneskin off of Jorah, as Jorah does his best Ash in Evil Dead impression. There are very few times you wish there was still a Bolton in Westeros, but this surgical flaying may be one of them.

(I wanted to call this section “Greyscale’s Anatomy,” but that was too close to “50 Shades of Grey Worm,” which is the section right above it. But this is farther down, so there.)

This is Why I’m Hot Pie

Arya stops at the Inn at the Crossroads to eat one of Hot Pie’s hot pies. That’s right, another camera cut, another character from earlier seasons, popping in for a quick hello.

Arry’s old pal seems to the single person in Westeros having great time with life, following his bliss in this difficult time for the continent. Here at the Inn he gets to refine his hot pie recipes, talk with old friends and spread gossip. His podcast, Hot Pie’s Hot Takes (and Hot Pies) With Hot Pie is screaming up the charts.

Arya has a thousand yard stare as she tucks into pies, right up until Hot Pie tells her that Jon Snow is King in the North.

Hot Pie spits his very best game at Arya, and she responds by heading North. Into the wilderness. In winter. Don’t take it too hard, Hot Pie.

Yas Queen in the North

In Winterfell, Jon is studying a map. More maps. Real map heavy season so far. He receives Sam’s raven from the previous episode (news travels… not so fast, I guess? slower ravens at the Citadel maybe?) and learns where he can get a great deal on dragonglass.

The northern lords gather, and Jon tells everyone that there’s dragonglass at Dragonstone, which happens to be where Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen are. With an army. And three dragons. It’s a lot to take in.

Jon wants ally with Dany. Sansa gives him a reality check: Targaryens and Lannisters can’t be trusted, and they have a history of summoning Starks and killing them, like giant bug zappers or Game of Thrones casting directors. She doesn’t want him to go. The lords don’t want him to go. Even Lyanna Mormont stands up to Jon, and you know it’s bad news when you’ve lost the Lady of Bear Island.

They didn’t make him King in the North only for him to be un-Kinged so quickly. But Jon doesn’t intend leave them without a ruler. He crowns Sansa Queen — the role she’s wanted since episode one.

Petyr Baelish, who came to the meeting extra-early so he could find the sconce that makes him look the creepiest and stand next to it, smiles.

Littlefinger Death Punch

Jon goes to the catacombs below Winterfell to say goodbye to his father’s bones, in case he never returns. Petyr decides this is a perfect time to creep up, uninvited, and bro his ear off.

Petyr tells Jon that he loved Catelyn, and that he loves Sansa. It’s kind of like he’s asking for asking for Jon’s blessing, to marry any or all the members of his family.

Before Petyrcan rattle off any more Starks he has the hots for, Jon grabs him by the throat, and threatens to kill him if he even touches Sansa.

Which is not going to bite him in the ass at all when he tries to come back from Dragonstone. Nope, not in Winterfell, which changes hands more than a coin in Fleabottom. No problem at all.

Nymerian Wood

Arya is making camp on her journey north. Her horse is antsy in the snow. All of a sudden it gets very, very cold… for some… reason…

Don’t worry, it’s not white walkers — it’s just a pack of CGI wolves. Hungry CGI wolves, thirsty for CGI blood.

They surround Arya, ready to pounce, and she comes face to face with the enormous direwolf leading the pack.

Nymeria?

They stare deep into each others’ eyes, and Arya asks the wolf that she raised from a pup to come with her, back to Winterfell.

More like “Nah-meria.” She GTFOs with her pack, leaving Arya in the cold.

“That’s not you,” says Arya, as the direwolf leaves. Which means either she and Nymeria had an intensely spiritual and deep wordless conversation, where they searched each others’ eyes, realized that they have both changed too much in just these few years — Nymeria becoming the leader of her own pack, while Arya essentially lost hers — and they can no longer fit into the same partnership, even though a grudging respect remains underneath, or that Arya can’t actually recognize every wolf in Westeros.

50 Ways to Leave Your Brother

Fun times on the boat to Dorne. The Sand Snakes are drinking and squabbling, talking about who they’re going to kill once they get to King’s Landing. Ellaria puts the moves on Yara in the least-subtle way possible. Heading into a siege to make way for a new queen, it’s like the world’s most high-stakes singles cruise.

Yara is about to show Ellaria everything a kraken can do that a viper can’t when their Iron Fleetlet is attacked by Euron. That’s right, Euron Greyjoy! Nobody counted on Euron sailing from the Iron Islands and betraying his family, literally the only two things Greyjoys are known for.

The Iron Fleet comes out of the fog, and the slaughter begins. Blood, guts, knives and ironborn go flying through the air. Even Theon gets his groove back, carving his way through the pirates raiding their ship.

There are too many, though. Two of the Sand Snakes attack Euron, and he kills them with their own weapons, but he doesn’t go for the hat trick; Ellaria and her surviving daughter get captured. If either of them make it out of this season alive, they are probably not going to be happy about their family members getting killed by Greyjoys on a mission for a Targaryen. This is why the Dornish spent the last 300 years in their ownlane.

Yara faces off with Euron and he manages to get her at swordpoint. Theon is her only chance to escape. But while the scores of pirates didn’t break him, seeing Yara helpless does. He leaps into the water in a perfect-ten cowardball, to live and fight another day.

Theon floats in the Narrow Sea, watching Yara’s little fleet burn and Euron’s Iron Fleet sail away. So much for Dany’s Navy. The Siege of Kings Landing is over before it even started.

Then the camera cuts to a different angle, and Gendry rows up to save him!

Just kidding.

NEXT WEEK: She’s As Cold As (The Queen’s Just)Ice


All images: HBO