Monday, July 24, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x02 Recap: "Stormborn" (A Tale of Two Prophecies) [Contributor: Melanie]

Original Airdate: July 23, 2017

Despite the fact that there was a high body count this week, still no one from my dead pool managed to bite it. So the Sand Snakes have died in vain. But this episode dealt out the action promised in the last episode almost immediately. The compressed timeline of this season has forced events to take place faster than they normally would (there were a lot of ravens flying around to and fro). This also meant that Euron cashed in on his promise to Cersei literally an episode later.

But I’m not complaining. One of the more painful things about Game of Thrones in the past has been the way a plot point is set up in the first episode and you don’t see the fruition of it for another four weeks. We’re down three episodes this year. They did make up some of the time by having longer individual running times (the season finale is reported to be 81 minutes long). But you gotta move the plot along where you can. And this second episode set up a lot of things fans were waiting years for. Specifically, the meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow.


The episode begins with Daenerys holding a war council during a dark and violent storm outside — one that Tyrion reminds her she was born during. Varys reminisces about the severity of the storm and Dany questions his constantly changing loyalties: Aerys, Robert, her brother, and now her. She also points out that she knows he sent the assassin back when she was still married to Drogo. Varys says that he does not serve one person, but the people of the realm and whoever he thinks is their best hope at a peaceful life. Dany asks him that, should she ever prove not to be that ruler, that he tell her instead of going behind her back. He agrees and she caps it off with a warning that she would kill him if he betrayed her.

The meeting is interrupted by Melisandre arriving at Dragonstone. She tells Dany that she she figures in the prophecy of the Prince that was Promised (the word “prince” translates literally as a genderless ruler). She notes that Jon Snow also has a role in this war. Tyrion believes Jon Snow would be an excellent ally and convinces Dany to invite him to Dragonstone. She agrees, but says she expects him to bend the knee.

A few days later, they are back in the war council room, this time with Ellaria Sand, the Greyjoys, and Olenna Tyrell. Tyrion lays out their plan to siege King’s Landing and starve out the armies inside, which involves only using Westerosi troops (the Tyrells and the Dornish) as a way to ease the minds of those who might not take kindly to foreign invaders. The Unsullied and Dothraki will go to Casterly Rock, take the Lannister keep, and cut Cersei off from her own army. After the meeting, Olenna warns Dany to take Tyrion’s advice, but to not listen when she does not feel it suits her needs, telling her, “You’re not a sheep; you’re a dragon.”

That night, Missandei visits Greyworm before he leaves for Casterly Rock. He says he could not bring himself to say goodbye to her and that she is the first time in his life he has ever felt fear. He kisses Missandei and they finally consummate their growing feelings.


Cersei attempts to circumvent the Tyrell army aiding Dany by appealing to their bannermen. Randyll Tarly is unconvinced he should not uphold his oath to the Tyrells and join them in their cause for Daenerys. He always points out the odds of defeating three dragons — the same number Aegon had when he brought Westeros to heel — did not put Cersei’s odds in a good light. He, however, considers it after Jaime tells him they will make the Tarly’s Wardens of the South when the war is over.

Qyburn takes Cersei down to the crypts where the dragon skulls of Targaryens past are kept. He demonstrates a large crossbow he has invented on Balerion the Black Dread’s skull.


Arya is eating at an inn and reunites with her old friend Hot Pie, who once had been her travelling companion after they escaped Harrenhal but took a position as a baker in the inn. They catch up and Hot Pie informs her that Winterfell was retaken by her brother and that he’s now King in the North. Arya then decides to turn and head north, instead of down to King’s Landing.

On the road, she is surrounded by a pack of wolves lead by Nymeria, her direwolf that she set in the wild when she was just a puppy to protect her from the Lannisters. Nymeria seems to recognize Arya. But when she asks Nymeria to come with her back to Winterfell, the wolf turns away.


After learning that Jorah is Jeor Mormont’s son, Sam decides to dedicate himself to finding a way to heal his advanced Greyscale (which the archmaester said was only six months away from causing mental deterioration, and about 20 years away from killing him). Sam pulls out a forbidden book with a dangerous procedure once used to successfully treat the disease. Sam then sets to work at painfully removing the infected areas.


Jon, having received Sam’s note that Dragonstone sits on a vein of dragonglass as well as Tyrion’s letter inviting him to meet with Daenerys, decides to accept the offer. Sansa and many others in the room object, believing it to be a trap. They warn that Robb Stark once rode south and lost the North because of it. Jon says that fighting the White Walkers and protecting the North is more important than holding the kingdom. He leaves Sansa as steward while he is gone and warns Little Finger that he will kill him if he attempts anything.


Yara and Theon are sailing to Dorn with Ellaria to transport her troops back to Dragonstone. However, they are attacked by Euron Greyjoy who destroys their fleet, kills two of the Sand Snakes, and takes Yara hostage after Theon — beset with PTSD from his time with Ramsay — jumps ship rather than fight his uncle for her.


Mainly this week, I want to discuss the prophecy bit since that’s been a common theme throughout the books since A Clash of Kings and a big old can of message board fighting since 2011 when Dance came out. To make a very long story short: A prophecy exists telling of a messianic ruler, destined to fight the White Walkers. One version of the prophecy refers to this individual as the Prince that was Promised. This prophecy has been the subject of very viscous fan speculation for years as the book puts forward several people as possible candidates. The debates, unfortunately, get a little sexist as some fanboys from the 90s aren’t super on board with having a female savoir and went ham on the Jon Snow theory train — falling into the same trap Melisandre warns us about: prophecies can be tricky and dangerous.

The PTWP (the fan acronym) has a few qualifiers: The prince will be born from the line of King Aerys and Queen Rhaella, a “bleeding star” will herald the prince’s coming, and this person will be born “amidst salt and smoke.”

In the books, Maester Aemon, before he dies, believes this to be Daenerys. He notes the genderless word for ruler, the red comet (from season two) that appeared after Dany hatched her dragon eggs, and the fact that Dany was born on Dragonstone — a volcanic island (of salt and smoke). The prophecy ends by noting that that “his is the song of ice and fire.” It seemed like an open and shut case but Melisandre’s insistence in Stannis and her fanatical belief showed just why it’s so important to not conjecture the meaning of prophecies or put too much stock in them.

There is a second prophecy that most fans believe refers to the same person. This prophecy tells of a figure known as Azor Ahai. This figure is said to be the reincarnation of a hero, Azor Ahai, sent by R’holler (the Red God) to once again fight against the White Walkers and the “Great Other” (the Night’s King). This person will wield a sword called Lightbringer. This prophecy uses similar terminology to refer to the individual: a “red star bleeds” and Azor Ahai will be reborn “amidst salt and smoke” to “wake dragons from stone.” Again, it sounds pretty clear-cut. But this stuff is not always straightforward and Melisandre’s massive blunders trying to force Stannis as the hero ended very badly for a lot of people.

Many people believe that the prophecies refer to two different people, despite the birthsigns for both being almost exactly the same. The fact of the matter is, Dany and Jon are very, very similar individuals. Dany’s bleeding star is the red comet, which appeared in the night sky when she walked on Drogo’s funeral pyre (in the books she looks up to see it on the night of the funeral and believes it to be a “herald of her coming”). Jon’s bleeding star has a much more concrete possibility in the show than the one in the books (I’m not even going to go into the nonsense at the end of Dance). Ned brings the bloodied sword Dawn, a blade forged from a meteorite, into the room where Jon was born and the camera makes a point to show it. It’s a stretch, but it would seem to qualify as a bleeding star (and much better than the theories fans put out over the years about the events at the end of the fifth book). The salt and smoke for Dany is obvious, Jon’s is a little iffy but, again, this crap isn’t an exact science. Dany’s waking dragons from stone is, again, obvious. For Jon, it might be more metaphorical. But he is on his way to Dragonstone, a place of literal stone dragons (even if they’re fake). Both Jon and Dany are descended from the line of Aerys and Rhaella (Dany is their daughter and Jon, their grandson through his father Rhaegar Targaryen). And both have proved to be inspiring leaders for their respective peoples.

What I’m getting at here is that I believe they both are the individual referred to in the prophecy. If you want to get technical, Jon is more likely to be the “Azor Ahai,” the warrior, while Dany is likely the “Prince,” the messianic leader (especially since the show, as did the books, just made a big show of pointing out the genderless word for “prince” but left Azor Ahai to be a male-centric prophecy). These roles also jive with these two as individuals. Jon admitted this week he did not want to be king, and we know from experience he thrives as a commander in battle than as someone sitting on a throne. As a king, he’s making poor decisions in the eyes of his people; but as a commander in the battle against the White Walkers, he’s making strategic moves to buy his army resources and a chance.

On the flipside, while Dany is an excellent strategist, she’s not much of a warrior and prefers to let her dragons do the work for her. But she is a beloved ruler, a seasoned diplomat, and is the only person even drunken Tyrion ever believed in. Likewise Jorah notes that he believes she is proof that the gods “have a plan for this world.” It is likely her role is meant to be a leader of the people during the Long Night, while Jon is destined to lead the fight against these creatures.

It is, ultimately, a partnership, designed but whatever GoT forces that be to protect the people.


Post a Comment