Credit: Helen Sloan
ReviewsTelevision & Film

How to Outlive a Clever Man: A GAME OF THRONES Recap

Episode 62  “Stormborn”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Mark Mylod

Well, that was, uh, fast? As soon as it begun it was over, like a cheap date. This episode was intense; action packed, chock full of dialogue, returned characters, a full blown bloody brawl, and lots and lots of war strategy. Yet, the timeline went along quicker than any other Game of Thrones episode we have experienced. Getting a little antsy there, aren’t ya, Benioff and Weiss?

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) stands amongst her council, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Varys (Conleth Hill), and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), while a thunderstorm rages outside. Varys speaks about how he remembers her arriving in a storm like the one happening, and instead of feeling warm and fuzzy and at home, she pouts and turns on Varys. Isn’t it strange that up until this moment she had full faith in him, and he got her to where she is now, but all of a sudden she remembers how he has betrayed the last two Kings he served?

In an attempt to assuage her worries, he swears his loyalty to her and the people, promising that if she is failing the people, he will instead of plotting against her, counsel her. Just when this touching moment of honor is completed, another whose loyalty to her King was questionable appears. Melisandre (Carice van Houten). She urges that Daenerys call forth Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) to join her uprising. Inside we all jump up and down, thrilled that all we hoped for is finally falling into place, but one can’t help get a slight bitter after taste at how it took seven seasons for this to finally happen, and now it’s just so… casual. Maybe we expected more? Maybe we figured it would take a lot longer?

Doesn’t it just feel that everything is coming to a head all too quickly?

Credit: Helen Sloan

Far up north, Jon meets with Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Davos (Liam Cunningham). Turns out he has already received a raven from Tyrion, summoning him to Dragonstone to bend the knee. What a wanted man! Two Queens are calling forth the last standing King, hoping to lay claim to his loyalty. Sansa and Davos are leery of the reason behind it, but Davos does bring up the dragons, which just so happen to breathe fire, the very thing they need to defeat the White Walkers; how coincidental.

Meanwhile, Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) sits upon the Iron Throne spreading false news on the Dragon Queen and her hoard of Dothraki savages, inducing fear in her subjects as a call of action. Lord Tarly (James Faulkner) steps forward questioning her plans against the Dragons themselves; surprisingly she has no answer, but Maester Qyburn does. He does not give specific details, but the knowledge of his resurrection of the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) is known, so no one doubts his creative ability. After the Lords have been reassured of their Queen’s ability, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) confronts Lord Tarly and his son Dickon (Tom Hopper), and let’s admit we all enjoyed that little confusion on his name. Jaime attempts to further win over Lord Tarly’s loyalty with the promise of Commanding General, but Tarly remains steadfast in his loyalty to Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). Anyone else feel like there may have been a flame between those two?

At the Citadel, ArchMaester Ebrose (Jim Broadbent), and Sam Tarly (John Bradley) observe poor Jorah Mormonts (Iain Glen) Greyscale in the hopes to cure it, but alas, it is too advanced. Ebrose gives him a meager six months left before it takes over his mind. Sam refuses to give up, and in his promise to Jorah, he learns of who he is, and things start to fall in place. By Ebrose’s beckoning Sam is called away, before he can properly explain his connection to the Mormonts. Just as quickly as that scene started, it ends, and we are rushed back to the Red Keep, where Maester Qyburn reveals the plan he has been working on for the Dragons. Deep beneath the caste lie the old bones and skulls of the dragons King Robert (Mark Addy) had successfully slain in his battle for the Throne. Amongst them lies the skull of Elaryian the Dread, and what a fitting name it is, for this Dragon could easily chomp Drogon in half with one bite. How Robert managed to defeat such a formidable creature is daunting to say the least. Cersei appraises the massive skull, as Qyburn unveils what appears to be a giant cross bow, notched with an equally large spear. Cersei pulls the level, and with a crash it demolishes the dragons remains, piercing straight through like a hot knife through butter. A slight shiver of foreshadowing passes down our spines, and we send a little prayer, that none of Dani’s dragons face this same threat.

Credit: Helen Sloan

Back at Dragonstone, during much calmer weather, a not so calm debate ensues over how best to take King’s Landing. Yara (Gemma Whelan) insists on attacking while the time is good, Ellaria (Indira Varma) agrees, that turning it all to ashes is better now than strategizing and allowing Cersei to gain her forces. Olenna, our favorite old crotchety woman, speaks of her granddaughter Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and the love that the people had for her, but she became ashes because of it. Basically all the women are agreeing to a giant bonfire of King’s Landing, all except Dani. She allows Tyrion to take over and lay out the plan of attack and the why of it. They know Cersei’s main cause to rally is of Dani’s use of non-Westerosi, so they plan on using only Westerosi to take King’s Landing, but leaving the people unharmed and untouched. You see, as one by one, it all clicks in the leading ladies’ heads, and the satisfaction in their eyes, that they chose a very smart and cunning Queen to back. Olenna isn’t quite convinced and meets with Dani alone, urging her to take an old lady’s advice, to be a Dragon, and not let clever men speak for her.

That night Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) prepares to leave in the morning for Casterly Rock, when Missandei enters his room, questioning why he does not wish to say goodbye to her. The lighting is low, the setting intimate, and we all hold with bated breath as Grey Worm attempts to profess his love for her, by the fact that he has never known fear until he met her. He does not wish to say goodbye for he fears losing her. I’m pretty sure I heard a large ‘aaaaawww’ and sniffle when that was realized. Finally they kiss, and if that weren’t enough, Missandei disrobes and attempts to remove Grey Worm’s clothing. He stops her at his pants, and justifiably so; the poor man has nothing to offer her down there, but she insists, telling him that she wishes to see all of him. Hesitantly he agrees. Missandei takes one good look at him and leads him to bed. Uh, girl, what are you two going to do? You know he can’t get any pleasure that way, and asking to receive it seems a little selfish don’t you think? But hey, Grey Worm isn’t complaining, honestly he can’t really say much as his mouth is a little preoccupied with her dungeon.  

In the Citadel, Sam follows Ebrose about, as books are piled into his hands, and his stutters are ignored. As soon as the ArchMaester pauses for a breath Sam brings up his studies on Greyscale and that he found a possible solution. Ebrose shuts him down, telling him that only two cases of advanced Greyscale in adults had been cured, and the Maester who had performed the cure, died of the disease. So it’s safe to say that there really isn’t much of cure, just an idea of one, but at least that is something? It’s enough for Sam to not heed his Maester’s advice, and appears at night at Jorah’s cell. Sam explains to him, his connection to the Mormonts, and why he is so dedicated this cause.

After making sure Jorah had down a large skin of rum, we learn how this ferocious disease is treated, and it is disappointingly simple. Literally, a removal of all infected areas, and salve made from pine resin, green bark from elder twigs, white beeswax, and olive oil. Really? That’s it? A recipe for a nice candle is literally how you defeat this culturally feared disease? Come on! They can do better than that. This is a disease with the same fear appropriation as HIV, and yet the cure is something anyone would have thought to try first. Regardless of this now known cure, the scene itself makes up for the disappointment. Oozing pus, muffled screams, and pleading, apologetic eye locks. Poor Sam, it seems this season he gets all the gruesome, stomach clenching scenes.

Credit: Helen Sloan

Naturally you can’t transition from someone being skinned alive into any regular scene. No, we get the up close squelching shot that turns into Arya (Maisie Williams) digging into a pot pie. Delicious. Speaking of pot pie, guess who shows up out of the blue? Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey)! Turns out he has made himself into a real cook, and just so happens to recognize Arya, but she is certainly not the same little girl he had confused as a boy, as she digs with her hands into a crust, and chugs ale like a grown ass man. Hot Pie is smitten! Even compliments her, by telling her she is pretty. Aw shucks.

Once Arya has had her fill, she prepares to continue on her journey to King’s Landing when Hot Pie drops the news on her that Jon Snow has taken back Winterfell, and is now King of the North. Suddenly murdering Cersei doesn’t seem so important, and she hops on her horse turning toward Winterfell. YES! Finally the Starks seem to all be headed for one big sappy family reunion, but this wouldn’t be Game of Thrones if that really happened, now would it?

Credit: Helen Sloan

In Winterfell, somehow, Jon Snow finally receives the raven from Sam. I understand the Citadel is a bit farther from Winterfell, but how much farther than Dragonstone? With the quickened pace of a timeline we are suddenly thrown on, wouldn’t Jon have received Sam’s letter long before Dani’s? It all just seems off to me, but I digress. Jon informs his northern Lords of the content of the two letters and drops a bombshell on everyone before consulting with his sister/niece and Davos. He surprises everyone with his decision to travel to Dragonstone in the hopes of gaining Daenerys’ help against the White Walkers and leaving Sansa to rule in his place.

Do we want Jon to meet up with Dani? Of course we do, but not so quickly since Arya is headed that way now to finally see her brother. I suppose we shouldn’t get used to getting what we want after just one episode. Later on down in the crypt, Jon stoically stares at his father’s statue and is interrupted by the Littlefinger himself, Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen). Having already been shut down by Sansa, he turns to her brother in the hopes of gaining her hand, with his own failed attempt at a Maui ‘You’re Welcome’ for coming to your aid and making you King of the North. Jon takes none too kindly to this, and lets Petyr know by strangling him against the crypt wall. Sorry Charlie, looks like your dreams of wedding and bedding a Stark at its end.

Credit: Helen Sloan

Not too far from Winterfell, Arya makes camp in the middle of the snow covered woods. As she sits warming herself by the fire, a pack of wolves surround her and her horse. Thank God it’s not the White Walkers that I feared may have somehow breached the wall so quickly. Instead of dread for her fate, hope rises in our throats, mine specifically for the one reunion I have been longing for. Nymeria. A large female direwolf, clearly the alpha of the pack, snarls and snaps her jaws, but Arya does not run. She seems to recognize the wolf and lays down her sword, pleading for Nymeria to come with her to Winterfell. The wolf stares for a long while as we shout at the screen for Nymeria to join her. Instead, the wolves turn silently away, and it feels like the last farewell between the two. We can’t be sure that it was in fact Arya’s wolf, for she even states, “That’s not you.” So perhaps there is still hope?

After what seemed like an hour of planning and strategizing we reach the climax to the episode. The one thing Game of Thrones is so good at creating is battle scenes, and boy howdy does this episode give it. In the bay of Dragonstone, Yara and Ellaria’s fleet sits idly before they embark for King’s Landing. Yara and Ellaria pass back and forth pleasantries on their escapades, and Ellaria learns of Yara’s taste in sexual partners. She gets excited with this news, in every sense of the word, even going to far as to slide her hand down Yara’s thigh as she looks on at Theon, daring him to stop her, as Yara’s guardian. Theon retreats instead just as a large boom is heard. They all rush above deck to see Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) fleet make its doomed and unexpected appearance.

So this is the precious gift he wishes to give to Cersei, the absolute devastation of Daenerys’s fleet. And devastation he brings. A fiery and gruesome battle commences, leaving hundreds of thousands dead. Two of the three sand snakes are horrendously murdered by Euron himself, and while the remaining snake and her mother are carted off with Euron’s men, Yara ends up in her Uncle’s clutches, and Theon has the option to prove his bravery as her guardian. Instead of charging and most likely dying to save his sister, he drops his sword and jumps overboard. Once a coward always a coward.

Credit: Helen Sloan

This episode brought a lot of talk, and very little action on the plans made. It proved that if you have the means, then use it because in war, nothing is ever promised as planned. Dani should have heeded the word of the women to take action, but instead listened to a clever man, and kept her fire low, thus ending any upper hand she had. So what is to happen now? Daenerys still has her three dragons, and Jon Snow is on his way to ask for her help. Does she go for King’s Landing, or does she side with Jon and defeat the White Walkers first before attempting to capture the Throne? She has made it this far and waited this long in her conquest, perhaps she will wait a little longer to help end the impending Winter?


Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.

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