***Spoiler Warning – This recap article has spoilers from the episode.***
If the Game of Thrones season seven premiere served mainly as a catalyst to set the tone for the season to come, episode two served the audience with a way to bounce off of the premiere and dive right into the story at hand. The episode begins on a stormy night, as Daenerys meets with her advisors at Dragonstone to discuss battle tactics. She laments that if Viserys had landed in Westeros with an army of Dothraki, an army of Unsullied, and three dragons, he would have already attacked King’s Landing by now. “You’re not here to be queen of the ashes,” Tyrion says, noting that she will be taking King’s Landing soon enough and reminding her of their allies to the south (the Tyrells and Dorne).
Dany notes that Varys is the one who secured these southern allies for her – though she questions his loyalty to her. After all, he served her father, then King Robert, and then supported Viserys’ claim to the throne, all before turning to her. Varys claims that he did what he needed to do in order to survive and that he is not truly a servant to any king or queen; rather, he is a servant to the people, who need someone looking out for them (this is a nice call back to episode 108 – “The Pointy End,” in which an imprisoned Ned Stark asks Varys who he really serves; Varys answers with, “The realm, my lord. Someone must.”). Varys swears to always be honest with Dany if she is failing her people, and Dany swears to burn Varys alive if he ever betrays her.
Suddenly, they are interrupted by Grey Worm; a Red Priestess has come to visit. It is none other than Melisandre, who introduces herself to Dany. She tells her of the prophecy stating that with the Long Night approaching, “the prince who was promised will bring the dawn.” Missandei notes that since the prophecy is in High Valyrian, the noun used for the word “prince” technically has no gender; in theory, it could also refer to a woman.
Dany inquires as to what her role is in this prophecy, and Melisandre notes that all she really knows is that both Dany and Jon Snow have a role to play. She speaks of Jon’s accomplishments that led to him becoming the King in the North and advises that Dany summon him to Dragonstone. Tyrion vouches for Jon, having liked and trusted him when they traveled to the Wall together back in season one. Dany agrees to have Tyrion send Jon a raven, inviting him to Dragonstone to “bend the knee.”
At Winterfell, Jon receives Tyrion’s letter and discusses its contents with Sansa and Davos. Sansa expresses concern; even though Tyrion always treated her well, she believes that the risk involved with traveling to Dragonstone is too great. However, Davos mentions that since Jon said that fire can kill wights, three dragons might have an advantage against the Night King’s army.
In King’s Landing, Cersei holds court, rallying her people to come together in the fight against Daenerys. When questioned about how they will defeat three dragons, Qyburn claims that they are currently working on a solution. Once the court is adjourned, Jaime approaches Randyll Tarly and proposes that he stand with the crown to help them defeat Dany’s army. He argues that even though the Tarlys are bannermen to the Tyrells, Randyll should fight for his country rather than alongside foreigners… and Jaime promises to make him Warden of the South if they succeed.
At the Citadel, Sam and the archmaester visit with Jorah, whose greyscale has severely spread. The archmaester notes that while the condition won’t kill him for years to come, it will likely consume his mind in six months or less. Sam mentions his meeting with Shireen, noting that she had been cured from greyscale as a baby; however, the archmaester claims that Jorah’s condition is far too advanced to be cured – and since Jorah is an anointed knight, he will allow him one more day before sending him off to live with the Stone Men. As the archmaester leaves, Sam asks Jorah if he should send a raven to his family; Jorah reveals his surname (Mormont) and states that he has been dead to his family for a long time.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei and Qyburn view the skulls of the Targaryen dragons beneath the Red Keep. The last – and largest – skull they come upon is that of Balerion the Black Dread, the dragon that Aegon the Conqueror rode to help him come to power as the first Targaryen king in Westeros. Qyburn notes that since Drogon was wounded by spears in Meereen, dragons cannot be invincible. He leads Cersei to a dragon-sized crossbow across the room and has her pull the lever. The arrow hits Balerion’s skull straight in the center, breaking the bone.
On Dragonstone, Daenerys holds court, where Yara, Ellaria, and Olenna all voice that they would like to attack King’s Landing immediately. However, Dany refuses, quoting Tyrion’s words from the beginning of the episode: “I am not here to be queen of the ashes.” From there, she and Tyrion reveal the plan that they have devised: they will set a siege to the capital using Westerosi armies, with Yara and Ellaria setting sail from Dragonstone to pick up the Dornish fleet and heading to meet the Tyrells in King’s Landing. Meanwhile, the Unsullied will have another task: they will take Casterly Rock, the seat of house Lannister. This plan is met with support from all parties; but after their meeting, Olenna sits back with Daenerys as the others leave the room. She offers Dany the advice to not listen to clever men (like Tyrion); after all, Dany is a dragon and should act as such.
That evening, Missandei visits Grey Worm in his quarters, upset because he has not come to say goodbye to her before leaving for Casterly Rock. Grey Worm states that it is difficult for him to say goodbye to her, since he was always the bravest in his training to become an Unsullied soldier; he was never truly afraid of anything until he met her. Missandei says that she is afraid too and, after a pause, the two kiss. Missandei undresses and begins to undress Grey Worm, who is reluctant; however, she states that she wants to see all of him, and he eventually agrees. After checking out the affected area, a slight smile reaches her face, and the two head to bed (though as we see them begin to engage in intercourse, there is still no complete confirmation as to exactly what – ahem – parts Grey Worm lost to make him a eunuch).
Back at the Citadel, the archmaester and Sam visit the library, where the archmaester is collecting books to help him in his research for the history of recent events that he is writing, tentatively called “A Chronicle of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I.” However, the title is long-winded, and Sam notes that he would call it something “more poetic.” Quickly changing the topic, Sam mentions that he believes that he has found a cure for Jorah in the writings of maester Pylos; however, the archmaester enforces that the procedure is forbidden because of its great dangers (after all, maester Pylos ended up dying from the disease…which doesn’t bode well for its success rate).
That evening, Jorah pens a letter to Dany and looks over at his sword, seemingly contemplating killing himself before the disease can spread any further. Suddenly, Sam enters the room with a cart of medical supplies, closing the door behind him. He reveals to Jorah that he is a brother of the Night’s Watch and that he was with Jorah’s father (Lord Commander Jeor Mormont) when he died north of the Wall. Sam then states that he will try the procedure to cure Jorah’s greyscale because no one else in the Citadel will; however, that will involve removing the entire upper layer of skin tissue.
As a result, Sam has Jorah drink some rum and gives him something to bite down on so no one will hear him scream. Jorah removes his shirt and sits down; gloved and careful, Sam begins to remove the first chunk of greyscale with a clamp and scalpel. Though Jorah writhes in pain (the audience follows suit) and pus oozes out of the area, Sam manages to get a rather large piece of skin off with much effort. He looks at Jorah, who nods…and Sam goes back to it.
Cut away to…a close up of a pie being eaten by a man in an inn, its insides looking much like the pus just coming out of Jorah’s infected skin (ick factor: 10/10)! At a table nearby, Arya listens to a conversation about Daenerys’ landing in Westeros – and what Cersei aims to do about it back in King’s Landing. Suddenly, someone calls to her – it is Hot Pie! He sits down with her, and the two catch up as she eats (and drinks) from the tray he was originally delivering to another table. He inquires as to whether or not Brienne ever found her, and Arya reluctantly confirms that she did (though she does not elaborate any further). Arya tells Hot Pie that she is heading for King’s Landing, and Hot Pie states that he’s surprised she isn’t going back to Winterfell; after all, Jon Snow defeated the Boltons and is now King in the North! This is the first Arya is hearing of this – however, though she is shocked, she chooses to head north for home as she leaves the inn.
Back at Winterfell, Jon receives Sam’s raven detailing the mountain of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone. As a result, he holds a meeting with the northern lords, discussing the two ravens he has received – the one from Sam, and the one from Tyrion. He reveals to the lords that he has decided to set out for Dragonstone with Davos in the morning; after all, they need both the dragonglass and allies if they are to defeat the Night King. However, feeling that this is a trap, Sansa protests, and the northern lords voice their agreement with her. Jon states that they cannot defeat the Night King’s army on their own and that only a king (Jon) can convince a queen (Daenerys) to fight by his side, so he must be the one to meet with Dany. And after all, the North will be left in good hands while Jon is away – he will be leaving Sansa in charge in his stead.
The next morning, Littlefinger approaches Jon, who is visiting his father’s grave in the crypts beneath Winterfell. Littlefinger claims that he is “sorry” that Ned died and that even though Catelyn disliked Jon, she had underestimated him; after all, Jon is now the King in the North. He further claims that he is not Jon’s enemy, stating that he loves Sansa as he had loved her mother. Jon rushes at Littlefinger and grabs him around the throat, his anger invoked. “Touch my sister, and I’ll kill you,” he says.
Soon after, Jon departs with Davos on horseback, waving at Sansa on the walkways above as he leaves. Littlefinger stares up at Sansa from the ground below (once again, ick factor: 10/10).
On the long road to Winterfell, Arya sits in front of a fire in the woods. There is a chill in the air; her horse grows nervous and restless, and the leaves rustle nearby. Suddenly, a pack of wolves surrounds them, led by a giant direwolf – it is none other than Nymeria, with whom Arya was forced to part early on in season one. Arya approaches Nymeria and tells her that she is finally heading home to Winterfell, asking the direwolf to come with her; however, Nymeria departs with her pack. “That’s not you,” Arya says, realizing that it is not in Nymeria’s nature to be domesticated.
At sea, Yara’s fleet heads for Dorne. Below deck, the Sand Snakes argue about which of them will kill whom once they arrive in King’s Landing. Meanwhile, in another room, Yara and Ellaria talk over ale, and sparks begin to fly between the two. Theon looks on at the scene and, as the two begin to kiss, he starts to head out of the room. Suddenly, the boat rocks hard; they are under attack! Yara and Theon rush to the deck and, seeing the kraken banners, realize that Euron and his fleet have come for them.
Swinging down from his ship’s staircase, Euron and his men invade Yara’s ship, beginning to attack and kill her men. Yara and Theon lead the fight back against Euron as Tyene heads below the deck to protect her mother against potential attackers.
As the carnage continues, Yara looks out at sea and observes her fleet on fire. Meanwhile, Obara and Nymeria team up in an attack on Euron; however, he gets the better of both of them, using their own weapons against each of them to kill them (Obara with her spear; Nymeria with her lasso). Below, Tyene fights hard against the men trying to attack Ellaria – but she is overtaken, and the two are taken into custody (could one of these women be the priceless “gift” that Euron promised to Cersei in the season premiere?).
Back on deck, Euron charges at Yara with his axe; she puts up a good fight with her sword, but it is Euron who ultimately gets the upper hand. He calls out to Theon, who turns from the fight to find that Euron is holding Yara with his axe to her throat. “I have her,” Euron taunts. “Come and get her.”
But Theon, whose PTSD from Ramsay’s abuse kicks in at the worst possible moment, panics; he drops his sword and runs, jumping from the ship into the water below as Euron laughs maniacally. Theon floats below, observing the wreckage.
Personally, I enjoyed this episode immensely. Compared to the season seven premiere, episode two was very fast-paced, even during its more subtle, character-driven moments. That pacing felt right to me, given the stage we have reached in the series; after all this time, Dany is in Westeros, Cersei is on the Iron Throne, and Jon Snow is King in the North, so it seems inevitable that things would escalate quickly.
Furthermore, I enjoyed the subtle clues throughout the episode that hinted at possible future plot points. One of these “clues” that immediately comes to mind is given in the scene where the archmaester’s mentions the history that he is writing to Sam. My friends/family and I have theorized for a while now that Sam may end up penning the events of the series; the fact that it is discussed in this episode suggests to me that Sam may end up taking the task over from the archmaester at some point, and the idea that Sam would like the title to be “more poetic” suggests to me that he will end up calling it either “A Game of Thrones” or “A Song of Ice and Fire.” It is subtleties like this that are a part of what makes Game of Thrones such an excellent series, and I am intrigued to see what else fans (myself included) will pick up on in the coming weeks.
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