So the name of the episode, “Stormborn”, makes the themes explicitly clear. It’s about birth and rebirth, starting over, and the changes made by the storm. It’s the “everything old is new again” approach, and the episode mentions historical parallels a lot. It also finally begins to tie old plotlines together again in mostly satisfying fashion.
Starting in the Riverlands with the simplest story and Arya, she has two reunions that connect her to her past. First is the delightful Hot Pie, who’s clearly the most innocent man left in Westeros after Hodor’s untimely passing. The scene is a bit off, but it works to show Arya slowly getting confused by her old feelings.
Her reminders of the Bolton deaths are a bit unusual; given how quickly news spreads, why doesn’t she know? Plot convenience of course, but at least it’s a meaningful choice. She makes a very unsubtle choice between North (family) and South (revenge). The world seems to be telling her it’s the right move when she has a reunion with an old friend from way back in season one — her direwolf Nymeria.
But she realizes that Nymeria isn’t the same — “it’s not you,” she says, a change, a rebirth, a new you. Whether or not Arya will become the “new you” is unclear, but despite a few logical confusions, these scenes worked pretty well.
This is less so at Oldtown, where Samwell Tarly connects with his own past: Jeor Mormont’s son, Jorah, and Sam’s desire not to let another Mormont die (or anyone for that matter, but the personal touch is important). The particulars of the procedure are unclear; it seems from the book that dragonglass will be used, but we haven’t seen that yet. It was a disgusting scene, but that’s not so bad in the scheme of things.
While the theme was relevant, it primarily served as a way to force Jon to go to and meet Daenerys anyway. Speaking of which, at Winterfell Jon continues to struggle after his own literal rebirth, trying to balance a hundred demands at once. His choice seems plot determined, as the logic is iffy. Nothing was particularly bad per se, but there were a lot of little annoyances, like how Jon spoke to Sansa about Tyrion’s letter and asked her advice about him, but then sprung the “now you’re the ruler” later.
The connective tissue goes back a long ways there too, with the reference to Jon and Tyrion’s bond in season one. I did appreciate that. Even if Littlefinger is eyerollingly obvious with everything he does.
Down at King’s Landing, we connect Sam to his angry father Randyll Tarly, a great general balancing loyalty against the “crown” (which was a coup by Cersei anyway) and his oath to his liege lords the Tyrells. Why does he respect her authority anyway? He’s a sexist bigot. At least Cersei’s xenophobic attacks against Dany and her Dothraki hordes was a good strategy.
Finally at Dragonstone, a real mixed bag. Although some of the conversations were interesting enough, many felt rushed. Tyrion is mad that Ellaria Sand killed his niece Myrcella. She’s mad that Oberyn died defending Tyrion. Two sentences later, and the conflict is over. I’m glad at least that this episode is remembering continuity, but why is this the first time this or Varys’ loyalties came up?
I suppose they must’ve been silent the entire boat ride over to Westeros.
The scene between Missandei and Grey Worm was sweet I suppose, adding much needed payoff to their very long courtship. A very explicit sex scene even by this show’s standards, but it felt natural. Contrasting that to the hammer over the head way Missandei corrected Dany’s Valyrian translation of the Prince Who Was Promised. We get it, Dany could be applicable to it too.
The specific tactics of Tyrion sending ships to Dorne seemed a good idea; the problem is that they apparently didn’t know or expect Euron’s fleet. For someone supposedly as talented as Yara Greyjoy, seems an oversight. That final battle was again a real mixed bag. It was shot quite well, and Euron’s frenetic crazyman energy was interesting, but he seemed invulnerable. I don’t’ care for that at all. He was stabbed in the groin! And didn’t even limp. Bad characterization.
Theon’s leap into the ocean actually made the most sense if you think about it; gives him a chance to try and rescue his sister later. He would certainly have died or been captured otherwise.
Overall, the episode was decent enough, but it did really feel like “okay, get ready for the real stuff next week gang!” I had hoped with the abbreviated season, we were past that. Here’s hoping things improve next week.
What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below!