Stormborn picks up from the near dialogless ending from Episode 1 where Daenerys, Tyrion and the others plot Daenerys’ conquest of Westeros. We have an exterior shot showing a tremendous rain storm where Tyrion and Varys reflect upon Daenerys’ birth. Daenerys lacks patience over her desire to march forth and take back her birthright, but she too reminisces of the past, particularly her brother Viserys who she admits was an idiot and was led to believe how Varys and his friend Illyraio Mopatis fed him false information to make a return.
Daenerys desires to attack King’s Landing but Tyrion argues that a direct assault would not gain the support of the other kingdoms but in fact have the opposite effect. That makes Daenerys stop and think about her actions. Eventually, Daenerys begins to hold a poignant conversation with Varys in questioning his loyalty. In the end, Varys reveals that his true alliance is with the people as he grew up from that side of the world. That seems to gain some respect from Daenerys towards the Spy Master. However, I’m certain that she still remains distant in her trust towards someone who had swung sides.
One thing I appreciate here is how Varys talks about his real loyalty and differentiates between blind loyalty and loyalty to a higher ideal. You can see that Daenerys respects his stance despite her distrusts as she wants Varys to directly tell her when her methods as a ruler go wrong. This demonstrates that she does not want to be a dictator and is willing to listen, which contrasts say Cersei or Joffrey.
Their conversation ends as Greyworm mentions that the Red Priestess Melisandre has appeared. She brings word of Jon Snow’s rise to King of the North, which gives Tyrion hope for an alliance. Melisandre discusses the prophecy over the Prince that was Promised. Daenerys fails to see herself in this position but Missandei corrects Daenerys’ translation of the word “prince” being gender neutral. At any rate, Melisandre obscurely mentions that Daenerys will have a role to play in the upcoming war and that she needs to meet with Jon Snow to hear his tale.
In the end, Daenerys is convinced to meet Jon Snow. But she wants Tyrion to write the letter and request that Jon Snow “bend the knee.”
We transition to the North where young children begin their training for the upcoming war while Sansa, Ser Davos and Jon receive Tyrion’s message. Sansa questions the legitimacy of the message. However, the last line of the letter ensures that Jon Snow can trust Tyrion with a quote who provided near the beginning of the series.
While Sansa realizes that Tyrion is the kindest of the Lannister, she still detects a trap in Jon Snow appearing at Dragonstone. Ser Davos glances over the letter (now being able to read) and realizes the importance of one word: Dragons. As Dragons breathe fire, that makes Daenerys’ forces uniquely potent against the army of the dead, which means that Jon needs to at least parlay with her.
Just as Jon Snow is preparing the North to do battle against the White Walkers, Cersei down South begins her preparation to reclaim the rest of the kingdom from those she perceives as traitors. She has summoned the remaining lords to her cause (including the Tarlys) and brings up the threat of Daenerys.
Thereafter, Jamie privately takes Randyll Tarly for a talk in an attempt to gain his service as his general. Randyll is known as a great tactician and helping the Lannisters win the war would give the Tarlys a great boon according to Jamie. However, it is interesting to note Randyll’s pride in discussing his sense of honor where he believes in his family’s name. Part of that is his sense of connection to the Tyrells.
From there, we travel to the Citadel where Samwell Tarly and the Archmeister review Ser Jorah Mormont’s rapidly deteriorating condition with Grayscale. The Archmeister’s prognosis gives the knight 10-20 years of life but his mind 6 months. Sam mentions that she encountered the Princess Shireen Baratheon at Castle Black and talks about how her family found a cure for her.
However, the Archmeister counters that Shireen’s disease was halted at an early age whereas Ser Jorah’s infliction has progressed throughout a good deal of his body. Worse yet Ser Jorah’s advanced age makes the cure less likely and even fatal.
Back in King’s Landing, Qyburn escorts Cersei through the lower keep where King Robert had deposited the skulls of the dragons. They show the order of them from smallest to the largest of Balerion the Dread.
Qyburn remarks how Daenerys’ dragon (namely Drogon) had been injured by a spear during the battle in Mereen. He deduces that if a dragon can be wounded, it can be killed and unveils a large crossbow. Cersei tests the crossbow against the skull, which penetrates cleanly.
In some ways, this scene is similar to Joffrey wielding his custom made crossbow. This time, this weapon is no small toy, but one capable of striking down Cersei’s flying foes.
Back in Dragonstone, Daenerys and her allies begin coming up with strategies for winning against Cersei. Immediately, Yara suggests striking out as they have the fleet, army and dragons. However, Tyrion does not desire bloodshed, which infuriates Ellaria Sand who regrets her paramour’s decision to fight on Tyrion’s behalf.
Daenerys breaks the argument up and sides with Tyrion’s advice. However, Ollena Tyrell advises Daenerys that she needs to rule by fear in order to gain the people’s obedience. It seems as though Daenerys may take the Queen of Thorns’ words to heart for a moment as the experienced woman’s age has lent her a great deal of wisdom when it comes to ruling.
However, the plan devised by Tyrion is to get the Dornish, Greyjoys and Tyrells to invade as a pact of Westeros forces while the Unsullied will sail against the Lannister’s true seat of power, Casterly Rock. The plan seems solid and garners respect by the other leaders of the houses.
Nonetheless, Daenerys wants a private talk with Queen Ollena. Ollena gives Daenerys advice about how she managed to survive by ignoring those around her. Even though she credits Tyrion for being sharp, he’s still not perfect and that ultimately Daenerys needs to assume her position as a dragon rather than being a sheep.
The talk is a good one as Daenerys up until this point never had any older female mentors. Ollena’s voice and wisdom provide a lot of credence, which Daenerys seems to respect.
After the talk, Greyworm and Missandei share an intimate moment. Greyworm admits his weakness being Missandei. In turn, they undress and Greyworm gives the translator cunnilingus as he lacks the pillar and stones. For some odd reason, we do not see what Greyworm lacks, which is disappointing in some way. It reminds me of Littlefinger pondering Varys’ “gash” between his legs, but I suppose spending more time contemplating such an issue is really not suitable.
We return to the Citadel library where Sam attempts to gain the Archmeister’s attention. He mentions how he does the research to find a cure for Ser Jorah’s grayscale but the Archmeister describes the procedure as being banned for the risk as well as causing the other person who performed the cure death by grayscale.
From there, we find Ser Jorah writing a letter at night to Daenerys, presumably describing how he failed to find a cure as well as potentially admitting to taking his life. However, he is interrupted by Sam who talks about how Ser Jorah’s father was his leader at the Wall. In turn, Sam brings implements to try and cure the knight but forces Ser Jorah to be quiet as he is forbidden from accessing him.
In a far lighter scene, we have yet another reunion. This time it’s between Hot Pie and Arya. She gets a nice pie and the two discuss why she returned. Arya reveals that she intends to hit King’s Landing for Cersei. But upon discovering that Winterfell is now back in the hands of the Starks with Jon Snow being crowned King of the North, Arya decides to change her course.
There’s some nice throwback moments that in some ways summarized the past few seasons with Arya’s life. She doesn’t talk about Bravos but does behave strikingly like the Hound in the way she eats. She even consumes ale, which seems to surprise the fat cook. In many ways, it shows how much she’s changed and grown since her days with Gendry, Hot Pie and Lommy.
We go back to Winterfell as Jon Snow studies a map. The Maester brings forth a message from Sam talking about his findings of Dragonglass at Dragonstone. That settles Jon’s decision to meet the Dragon Queen. However, the other Northern lords and ladies disapprove of his decision, considering the Targaryens untrustworthy (how ironic!) and that the move most likely would be a trap.
Nonetheless, Jon’s decision is final as he will take Ser Davos to travel out to Dragonstone. Sansa pleads for him to stay as he is needed to keep the peace and morale of the north. But he hands the leadership of the north to her, which seems to please her.
Later, Jon mourns his father in the crypts. That presents an opportunity for Littlefinger to speak privately with him. It’s the only time in the series that Littlefinger had the chance to directly talk with him. Littlefinger attempts to make Jon Snow an ally but it seems as though he knows the story behind Littlefinger’s betrayal of Ned Stark. Eventually, when Littlefinger admits his love for Sansa and Lady Catelyn, it becomes too much for Jon to control his anger and he threatens Baelish, certainly making an enemy of the former master of coin.
After strangling Littlefinger, Jon rides off to White Harbor with Ser Davos and a few Stark men. He waves his farewell to Sansa who seems to have garnered a little more respect for Jon after he gave the North to her. However, as Sansa stares at the departing King of the North, Littlefinger emerges from the crypts still feeling the effects of Jon’s grasp while examining at Sansa now alone up above.
Next, we have Arya in the frozen roads with a horse, presumably heading towards Winterfell. She spots her former Dire Wolf Nymeria whom she recognizes along with Nymeria’s pack. There’s a faint recognition between the two but her Dire Wolf bolts off as the two realize that the past is in the past and both have significantly changed.
Last, we get a great sea battle between the Greyjoy fleet and Euron’s fleet. The scene starts off with some intimacy between Yara and Ellaria Sand. However, an explosion from above causes the two Greyjoy children to investigate.
The battle turns for the worst for Daenerys’ fleet as Euron batters Yara’s troops and slays Nym and Obara while capturing Tyene and Ellaria. Also, Yara is captured by Euron while Theon is given a choice to save his sister. However, his spirit as Theon is still broken and he jumps overboard, leaving his sister to Euron. In the water, Theon watches in horror as Euron sails away with his new prizes.
This episode moved quite a bit faster than episode 1. However, a few key things happened with Ser Jorah getting a cure for his grayscale, Daenerys reaching out to Jon, Jon deciding to greet the Dragon Queen, Sansa taking control over Winterfell and the Sand Snakes meeting their demise along with the Greyjoy fleet in ruin. This puts a huge dent in Daenerys’ plans but she may find a boon by joining with Jon.