Warning: This article contains spoilers for Game Of Thrones season seven, episode two.
‘I always thought this would be a homecoming. It doesn’t feel like home.’
Episode two of Game of Thrones season seven opens where the fantasy series ended last week, with Daenerys Targaryen at her first base in Westeros, the island of Dragonstone, and her advisors Tyrion and Varys by her side as the group reflect on taking the first step in their journey to reach the Iron Throne.
After the dust settles – and the excitement from Ed Sheeran’s questionable cameo in episode one has calmed down – Dany admits that it doesn’t feel as momentous to be there as perhap it should.
But there are more important matters on her agenda like drawing up battle plans to take back the Seven Kingdoms from the Lannisters. Working out the key players on her side, we’re reminded that Dany has made alliances with the Tyrells and Dornish and has the Dothraki and Unsullied armies to fight for her, but wise owl Tyrion tells her to tactically ease her way into the South and refrain from slaughtering civilians because ‘conquering Westeros would be easy but we’re not here to rule over ashes,’ and she agrees.
Now that the nasty business of arranging a war is out of the way, Dany delivers the first spine-tingling scene of the episode when she turns to Varys and sweetly praises him and his spy skills, lulling him into a false sense of security and then, brilliantly, snapping that he has betrayed each and every one of his masters.
At this point we’re pretty sure that Varys will be the first major head to roll this season, but he wiggles out of danger giving an impassioned speech, admitting that he will never blindly follow anyone and will use his eyes to protect the streets and its occupants against those in power who threaten peace for as long as he lives.
Thankfully, Dany recognises his loyalty to her people but commands him to tell her if he ever thinks that she is ‘failing the people,’ but promises she’ll ‘burn him alive’ if he ever betrays her.
‘I believe you have a role to play, as does another.’
We almost jump for joy when Red priestess from Asshai Melisandre breaks the awkwardness when she’s announced as Dany’s first visitor. Melisandre is obviously there to find a new master, but Varys reminds us where Stannis Baratheon ended up when the seductive priestress tried to help him out. Dany puts him back in his place saying it is a day for pardoning people. Though it is, in fact, the political cogs churning in her mind and she asks Melisandre if the Lord of Light is popular in Westeros.
Melisandre also brings news of Jon Snow and it dawns on us watching at home that this is the first time that Dany has ever heard of
him her ‘future husband’ (we hope) and, cue, more spine-tingling! Dany is clearly interested in what Jon could potentially offer.
Tyrion is surprisingly shocked at hearing his old friend’s name and immediately says ‘Jon Snow, Ned Stark’s bastard?’ and it feels alien, as we haven’t heard the King in the North referred to in that way for some time. But we digress.
Melisandre explains Jon’s worth, lists his triumphs, and urges Dany to invite him to Dragonstone, which Tyrion agrees is a good idea, informing his Queen that the Lannisters executed Jon’s father and killed his brother. She sends a raven to summon Jon but tells Tyrion that he will have to ‘bend the knee’. We look forward to seeing that…
Our hopes for a Dany and Jon union are high, but Sansa and reformed smuggler Davos in Winterfell advise him it is too dangerous to visit the young Queen of Dragons in Dragonstone and it could quite easily be a trap. Just as they throw that spanner in the works, Davos remembers that dragon’s fire will kill white walkers and Dany could be a valuable asset. Phew. But, the jury is still out.
Back in Westeros, Cersei is warning a room full of Lords that Dany is worse than her dad, King Aerys II Targaryen. She reels off the headlines which, to be fair, are pretty accurate; that Dany crucified noblemen in Meereen and Slavers Bay and sides with sex-crazed foreigners (Dothraki) and eunuchs (Unsullied).
The Lords are not convinced and in private, Jamie targets Randyll Tarly and throws him some common-sence diplomacy, promising to make him Warden in the South if the Tarlys switch their allegiance from House Tyrell to the Lannisters. He also admits that he doesn’t like his sister very much.
Seeing Samwell Tarly’s dad links us nicely to the Citadel where his master-in-training son is pleading with Ebrose to cure Jorah Mormont’s ever-encroaching grey scale, but the old man refuses saying it is too dangerous. Time is running out!
Meanwhile, in the halls below the Red Keep Qyburn and Cersei discuss how to kill Daenerys’ dragons. Qyburn shows her a giant crossbow capable of piercing a dragon’s hide and Cersei has a go at pulling the lever, and we’re convinced this levels out the playing field for their future battle.
Back on Dragonstone, Dany tells a round table of women – Ellaria Sand of Dorn, Olenna Tyrell and Yara Greyjoy – and Tyrion that if all goes to plan, they’ll starve Cersei’s armies inside Westeros and let the Dornish and Tyrell forces take control while the Unsullied and Dothraki take Casterly Rock.
Finally, Sam sneaks into Jorah’s cell and introduces himself properly, revealing he knew his father, the late Commander of the Night’s Watch Jeor Mormont.
Sam says he’ll try his best to cure the grey scale and in what is, undoubtedly, the most disturbing and satisfying scene of the series yet, he furiously skins Jorah as puss seeps in bubbles from his chest and the knight whimpers with the pain and his eyes bulge as he silences his screams.
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Elsewhere, Arya and Hot Pie are reunited. Yay! She’s sitting in his pub wolfing down his food as he tells her that Jon has retaken Winterfell from the Boltons. This throws her off her plan to kill Cersei and she makes haste for the North.
In the North, Jon is busy trying to win his Lords favour after he tells them he needs to head South to meet Dany in Dragonstone and they desperately need to mine dragonglass. Despite this Sansa, frustratingly, is firmly against it.
Lady Lyanna also doesn’t want him to go, saying ‘winter is here and we need you here.’ But Jon makes Sansa bend to his will by giving her a promotion while he’s gone, and we see Machiavellian Littlefinger’s ears prick up.
The devious Petyr Baelish tries to sweet talk Jon in the crypts beneath Winterfell, reveals his love for Jon’s stepmother and now his sister, and as we hoped he would, Jon swings around and pins Littlefinger to the wall by his neck, warning him he’ll finish him off if he touches his sister again.
‘I’m heading north girl, back to Winterfell, I’m finally heading home.’
Somewhere not far from Jon and Littlefinger, Arya is trying to keep warm by a fire in the woods after she enters cooler climes. Her horse becomes agitated and we see her take the hint, twirling her sword as she’s suddenly surrounded by a pack of hissing and spitting wolves.
The now-giant Nymeria enters, as teased in the episode’s trailer, and the direwolf recognises her and doesn’t attack, but slopes off, deciding not to follow the Stark, and Arya whispers after her ‘That’s not you’, referencing what she once said to her father Ned.
The last scene in the episode draws us back to the point of all this – war. Just as warrior women Lara and Ellaria get all touchy-feely with each other with their wines in hand, as Theon looks on embarrassed, Euron Greyjoy attacks their fleets.
A fierce battle ensues and Ellaria’s daughters Obara and Nymeria die violently, and Yara is captured by her blood thirsty uncle as her brother Theon quivers in fear and runs away.
Mesande and Grey Worm finally became intimate and see each other naked, and the scene was so intense that we collectively cheered.
The girl power theme is strong and Game Of Thrones continues to deliver badass women who are on an even playing field with its men.
We see the first violence on women in war in the series.
We suspect Dany will have to be nicer to Jon now, as she’ll need his forces after Yara and Ellaria were attacked.