HOW YOU GONNA DO US LIKE THAT?
I know, I know... it’s Thrones, no one is safe, no character is sacred, valar morghulis, blahzy blahzy. But just when it seemed to be headed in the direction of an all-woman face-off courtesy of season opener “Dragonstone,” in comes “Stormborn” to put everything on tilt.
My main question here is, how did Euron Greyjoy even know that Yara and them would be on their way to Dorne to drop off Ellaria and shore up the troops to starve out King’s Landing? After the lengthy scene with Daenerys giving Varys the what-for about loyalty—including her upbraiding of his “little children,” who were responsible for the demise of plenty in King’s Landing last season—I’m of the mind that Varys is working as a double-agent, despite his spirited speech about his support for the populace. Either that, or Euron Greyjoy is indeed fucking with some ghost-ocean shit, as evidenced by how freakily stealth his fleet emerged from the fog. Whatever the reason, it was a total bloodbath.
I can’t say I’m not disappointed, either, maybe beyond the typical oh dang they just murked my favorite characters. Aside from RUDELY interrupting the passionate and long-awaited Ellaria/Yara hook-up promised in the trailers, the Sand Snakes have consistently been some of the most interesting and compelling characters on the show, particularly because Dorne rules are different from the rest of those in Westeros, and they do everything with a little bit more flash. Obviously, that flash can get them killed—never forget Oberyn’s majorette fighting style against The Mountain—but it’s also served as an excellent plot device, something alluded to in last night’s episode, when Tyrion rips Ellaria for murdering Myrcella.
But if Ellaria is indeed dead—and that certainly looked like her fully toasted on the bow of the ship—that bit of dialogue was far too pat, particularly too pat for Game of Thrones. But it also seems like, in the screenwriters’ rush to get to the end, some of the nuance is being lost. Say what you want about the quality of the books (I tried to read them, but absolutely could not), but George R.R. Martin is clearly a plotting genius, and the past two somewhat disappointing episodes have felt cribbed. It’s thrilling to know, for instance, that “Prince that was promised” could also mean “Princess,” but the expository way Missandei explained the translation to Daenerys was pulled straight from a freshman screenwriting class. Come on, dudes.
The best scene, though, was purely in the direction and acting—the way Theon, in his time of crisis, reverted fully to Reek mode, in a spot-on portrayal of post-traumatic stress disorder. Uncle Euron’s sword was at his sister’s throat—the sister whom, she bragged to Ellaria, he was tasked with protecting—and he couldn’t budge, paralyzed by the gruesome reminders of the way Ramsay Bolton had tortured him and killed his spirit. Alfie Allen did a fantastic job of conveying his terror—his eyes shifting, his posture sinking—and so when he chose to leap from the ship rather than die, it was a believable character choice (AND ALSO FUCKING HILARIOUS). Who the hell knows if Yara survived—she, and maybe Ellaria, both seem like pretty good trophies to bring back to Cersei to torture alive, or at least hobble Dany’s army and spirit—but partyboy Euron is out here storming the high seas in Rick Owens cause he about that fit and is trying to see about a queen.
Aside from Greyworm and Missandei FINALLY consummating their love—a sure sign that Greyworm is fucking toast this season—and Sansa taking over at Winterfell so Jon Snow can go meet Daenerys (finally) and hopefully FUQ, the other best aspect of this episode was Arya’s. It’s truly awesome to see how Maisie Williams has evolved as an actor over the years, and how she can temper Arya’s newfound savagery with flickers of vulnerability, one that shows while she’s now a killer there’s still a bit of that family-minded little girl in her. When Hot Pie tells her Jon is the King in the North, she practically melts with hope. When she reunites with Nymeria, her long-lost direwolf, we see the hope dissipate as Nymeria declines Arya’s offer to come home with her, preferring instead to run with her pack. (Surely, the pack will be back at some point during a battle.) I do believe that Arya’s going to make it to Winterfell, and look forward to when she and Sansa finally see each other again, if only just for the acting.
Littlefinger, more like little PUNK, amirite?
Boners: Presumably, none, although this episode did fans a great disservice by not letting us know if the Unsullied were full eunuchs or just had their balls chopped off. Sure, sure, they want us to assume that question was answered when Greyworm went down on Missandei, but IF YOU RECALL, Jon Snow went down on Ygritte before they humped and his boner seemed to be working just fine. I wonder what would happen if more women had the chance to direct this show? Only one—Michelle MacLaren—has, but she hasn’t been around since Season 4. No woman has been given a script byline since Season 3, after which Vanessa Taylor left to co-write Divergent. (She’s now working on, um, the live-action Aladdin.) GIVE US SOME UNSULLIED FRONTAL SHOTS, YA BISH!
Deaths: Theon’s dignity. A bunch of fucking Ironborn. Presumably, all of the Sandsnakes, maybe including Ellaria Sand. Also possibly: Yara Greyjoy.