Thoughts on “Stormborn”

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Hey, guys!

I’ll try to make more sense this week.
To start with, I think you nailed it with the “lessons learned” theme. It’s spread throughout the episode in many scenes.

Starting with the Dany scenes, she first shows she learned something when she backchecks Varys. She’s absolutely right in not trusting him (lesson learned from the Jorah situation), and he sparrs with her reasoning perfectly. Conleth Hill does an amazing job of portraying a Varys who doesn’t show how much intimidated he actually feels. And we have another Mad Queen redflag with Dany threatening to burn people, again (it’s the biggest thing that the Mad King was famous for! Dany lose points from not learning a lesson from Ser Barristan). Melisandre’s arrival was at a good timing for her, but how the hell did she arrive in Dragonstone in the middle of a bloody storm? And I found it interesting that, when she’s speaking about Jon Snow and his role to play, she doesn’t mention that she brought him back from the dead, which would be a clear indication that he has a role to play! But it’s good to see Mel focusing on the war that matters once again, which makes her absence at the Painted Table scene quite logical (and also maybe she had too many memories from that table haha). And lesson learned about prophecies being misleading and tricky. You mentioned that Tyrion shows no regard for the Lannister name by invading his hometown, but if his plan succeeds (lesson learned from the Season 2 Episode 8 talk with Varys, where Tyrion says he was put in charge of the Casterly Rock sewers when he came of age), in a way it would make him the Lord of Casterly Rock! And that would be both a fulfillment and a good revenge on Tywin’s legacy based on “The family name is all that matters” (and hold this thought, we’ll return to it later). The fact that the plan was his (that’s made clear) takes a bit from the fact that there were four women discussing strategy, which was beautifully done, and something I didn’t notice on my first watch. That being said, the Queen of Thorns to Mother of Dragons talk was good, but not flawless. Olenna said she ignored the clever men, not distanced herself from them (so I agree she was talking more about Dany’s roots as a Targaryen instead of trying to keep her away from Tyrion), but she wasn’t around many clever men that we know; Mace was quite the opposite of clever, in fact; and she didn’t ignore Tywin, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to play the Game with him so well. And I hadn’t thought about the body shame aspect of the Grey Worm/Missandei scene; you bringing it up made the second watch more enjoyable.

In Winterfell we see kids trying to learn archery lessons, and I think Lyanna Mormont should totally go there and show them how it’s done. Jon shows he learned a lesson when he asks Sansa’s opinion in something she clearly has more knowledge about. Davos is the voice of reason once again, mentioning the obvious. But all these ravens being received raise the question: why the hell hasn’t Lord Commander Dolorous Edd sent a raven to Winterfell telling the Starks that Bran is alive? I know it jeopardizes Jon’s kingship, but a raven specifically to Jon wouldn’t hurt. Could it be that no one at Castle Black learned how to send a raven? Jon seems so mature now, even if a little too narrow sighted for a good reason. And we can learn a lot about how Westeros works from the constant reminders that families are so much bigger than persons. Daenerys is a Targaryen, so because of the Mad King (ok, and also some other crazy/cruel Targ kings) she OBVIUOSLY can’t be trusted. And oh the irony in the Lords there claiming Targaryens can’t be trusted when Jon Snow is an unbekwonst one. But this shows that the North learned its lesson when a southern king/queen summons their liege lord, I can’t blame them. Littlefinger going to the crypt to talk with Jon was an interesting take. I’m not sure what to make of it. Maybe he wanted to be put in a position of trust while Jon was away, to grasp more power; he even used the same line he used with Sansa, being the last best hope against the coming Storm…. or maybe he went to the crypt to tell Jon something about Lyanna? Did he just want to play Jon a little? I’m not sure, but it worked for him,as you said, with him learning how to get under Jon’s skin. I look forward to seeing Sansa in full command of the North now, specially because Arya is coming home (by the way, lesson learned by us viewers: the show loves to play with our feelings towards a Stark family reunion). Now things will get interesting, with more conflict between the Starks, and possibly Littlefinger’s death by Arya’s hands (and she’ll take that Catspaw valyrian dagger from him)!

Speaking of Arya, her disbelief when Hot Pit tells her about Jon being King in the North makes total sense. Nothing ever good happened to her family after they rode south, as far as she knows. But I’m glad to be wrong twice and see her riding North, finally! And the Nymeria scene was flawless. Of course I hoped they’d band together, but this makes more sense. They’re perfect mirrors of each other (Arya kept surrounding herself with killers too: the Hound, the faceless men). And, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now, her last line was a nice throwback to her answer to Ned in season 1, when he’s telling her she could be a great lady one day.

Before we leave the North, let’s go back to the ravens, and grab your tin foil hats: The way Jon knows for sure it’s Tyrion who wrote the letter is the “All dwarves are bastards in their fathers eyes”. This could very well be a hint to the theory that Tyrion is, in fact, a bastard, fathered by the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. In the books we know that Aerys took many liberties with his Hand’s wife, and that she was in King’s Landing by the time Tyrion was conceived. Tyrion’s described in the books as having “stubby legs, a jutting forehead, mismatched eyes of green and black, and a mixture of pale blond and black hair. The eyes (maybe the black eye is a deep purple in the right light?) and the pale blonde hair (almost white) hint he’s half Targaryen, after all, purple eyes and silver hair are known Targaryen traits. Tywin’s hatred for him makes much more sense, and also his denial to acknowledge him as his son and a true Lannister (Tywin denied him the heirdom of Casterly Rock, which couldn’t be Jamie’s because he was Kingsguard, and couldn’t be Cersei’s because she was married to the King. That’s why the taking of Casterly Rock by Tyrion is a fulfillment and a revenge on Tywin’s legacy). Also, the scene in Season 6 Episode 2 when Tyrion unchains the dragons make much more sense if he’s half Targaryen. If this is true, it would mean that Tyrion and Jamie killed each other’s fathers! You can find many more points to the theory on reddit etc, but this email is lengthy enough already.

The Lannisters being uncomfortable are always good to see. But they show they’ve learned lessons from Tywin, trying to be diplomatic. Qyburn shows he learned from history, and built the scorpion. I’m not sure how efficient this might be, actually. It’s one thing to shoot at an old dusty skull standing in a dungeon, another to aim at a moving full scaled adult dragon breathing fire your way. And we have another nod to the books with technology being used to destroy magic. Even if Qyburn “is not even a maester”, the maesters have a background of mistrusting and trying to end magic. Jamie teaches us a lesson about oaths once again, just like he did with Catelyn Stark in Season 2 (the “so many vows” line), in his talk with Randyll Tarly, who is very alike Tywin, putting the family name in a pedestal.

The cut from Jamie’s line about there not being a better men to protect the south than Randyll Tarly to Samwell’s face was brilliant. Apparently we have hints that Sam will pull a Bilbo Baggins and write the Song of Ice and Fire (way more poetic name) at the end of it all. And again in the episode we have a pseudo-maester doing what maesters are supposed to do, when he attempts to heal Jorah. By the way, the Mormont family is interestingly connected both to the Ice (when Jeor was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and seeing the white walkers) and to the Fire (Jorah seeing the return of dragons).

To wrap it up, the beautifully shot naval battle scene. Euron bringing the storm with Silence was amazing, so was his bloodlust. And I agree with you that they didn’t make Theon’s PTSD go away, it shows some consistency on part of the show with the character. Yara crying, I’m not sure. Yes, she has been shown to care a great deal for Theon, so the tears being for the fact that he “broke” again makes sense; if the argument is that shes’s crying because he didn’t go to her rescue, then it doesn’t make sense. The duel of the Sand Snakes against Euron makes sense. When they were fighting Jamie and Bronn, they were3 against 2, and Jaime was still learning how tofight with his remaining hand; at the ship, Euron has the upper hand, and is probably high on the Westerosi version of cocain (that look on his face, man). But we learned the lesson that yes, Euron is arrogant but backs it up, and what the gift is going to be: definitly Ellaria and Tyene. Cersei is going to kill Tyene in front of Ellaria, and then who knows what she’ll do to Ellaria. Good book nod to the Silence crew, both when the crewman doesn’t speak back to Ellaria when capturing her, and when they cut someone’s throat on the deck.

The episode was well shot, with nice cuts and transitions, and marvellous acting (Jacob Andersen/Grey Worm, Maisie Williams/Arya, Gemma Whelan/Yara and Alfie Allen/Then close ups come to mind easily). The score is magnificent as always, I love Ramin Djawadi’s music. And I’m looking forward to next episode, specially because I think Theon will arrive back in Dragonstone by the same time Jon is landing there. That reunion will be something.

I’m also looking forward to the Deep Dive. Keep rocking, guys!

Thiago Waldhelm

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