Game of Thrones season 7, episode 2 recap and analysis: Stormborn

After last week's premiere of Game of Thrones season 7, audiences certainly came back hungry for more. The first episode of the season was a bit heavy on exposition, but it's clear now that it was merely setting up for an action-packed season. Who were the winners and who were the losers in this week's episode?

Before we dive in, though, you should know that everything after this paragraph holds tireless and unapologetic spoilers for last night's Game of Thrones episode, Stormborn. If you haven't watched it yet and you don't want the episode spoiled, do not read beyond this paragraph. No one will feel sorry for you if you complain about spoilers in the comments section.

Major plotlines

Remember last week when I said that we could expect this season to pick up the pace much faster than the seasons that came before it? We didn't just accelerate toward conflict in Stormborn; we found it. With season 7, episode 2 now in the books, we likely only have 11 episodes left until the end of the series, and in those 11 episodes, a lot needs to be figured out.

The episode begins in the keep of Dragonstone, with Daenerys, Tyrion, and Varys discussing their upcoming campaign against House Lannister for the Iron Throne of Westeros. Daenerys begins by pointing out that her brother, Viserys, would have already taken King's Landing if he would have made it to Westeros with three dragons in tow. Tyrion, however, warns that haste in trying to take King's Landing will leave nothing but ashes for Daenerys to rule over.

Daenerys agrees, then turning her attention to Varys and the fact that his loyalty to kings and their kingdoms seems to shift as frequently as the wind. In an excellent monologue, Varys finally tells us where his true allegiance lies: with "the people who suffer under despots and prosper under just rule." Daenerys is clearly moved by his speech, and with knowledge of her father's harsh rule seemingly at the forefront, tells Varys that if she is ever cruel to the people she governs, he is to tell her to her face instead of conspire behind her back.

It's at this moment that the trio is interrupted by a visitor to Dragonstone: Melisandre, the Red Woman. It's been a little while since we last heard from Melisandre, as Jon Snow banished her from the north last season after he learned of the crimes she committed while serving Stannis Baratheon. She looks no worse for that banishment standing in front of Daenerys, and indeed, she seems to be one of the few people in Westeros who's thinking clearly.

Melisandre warns Daenerys that the Long Night is coming. She thinks that Daenerys will have a role to play in defending Westeros from the White Walker invasion, along with Jon Snow. Tyrion is understandably surprised to learn that Jon has become the King in the North and vouches for his character when Melisandre urges Daenerys to send for him. Convinced that Jon Snow is someone she should meet, Daenerys tells Tyrion to send for him so that he can come to Dragonstone and "bend the knee."

Wasting little time moving the plot forward, the very next scene puts us in Winterfell with Jon, Sansa, and Davos. Jon has already received Tyrion's raven, and weighs the invitation to go meet Daenerys with Davos and Sansa. Sansa thinks that this could be a trap, and given how the Starks' numbers have dwindled since the beginning of the show, she's right to worry. Davos similarly thinks it's too risky for Jon himself to go, but also points out that Daenerys could be a helpful ally to have in the fight against the White Walkers. The North has too few people to fight should the White Walkers make it past the Wall, and aside from that, Daenerys's three fire-breathing dragons would be a massive help.

Jon thinks on whether or not he should answer Tyrion's call until a second raven arrives, this one from the Citadel. It's bearing the message Sam sent in the season premiere, which tells Jon of the massive supply of dragonglass sitting beneath Dragonstone. With an open invitation to visit the castle, Jon sees this as an opportunity to secure the dragonglass weapons his army needs to defeat the White Walkers.

Despite protest from the lords of the north – who trust neither a Targaryen nor a Lannister to be genuine in their requests – Jon announces that he will leave Winterfell and ride to Dragonstone with Davos at his side. When Sansa states her belief that Jon is abandoning his kingdom and his people, he announces to everyone that he's leaving her in charge while he's away. Winterfell, then, will still have a Stark sitting on the throne while Jon Snow makes this critical trip.

As Daenerys and her rather large group of allies wait for Jon Snow to arrive at Dragonstone, they go through their plan of attack. Tyrion walks everyone through the plan: the armies of Dorne and Highgarden will lay siege to King's Landing and attempt to starve out the royal army while Daenerys's Unsullied warriors will take Casterly Rock, the home of the Lannisters. This plan accomplishes two things: it allows Daenerys to take King's Landing without destroying it, and it keeps Daenerys's foreign armies out of sight of the minor lords Cersei will undoubtedly call to her side.

In King's Landing, Cersei is attempting to do just that. Despite the fact that they've pledged their allegiance to Highgarden, Cersei nevertheless summons the minor houses of the Reach to King's Landing so she can convince them to fight for her. Olenna Tyrell, she says, has now sided with the brutal Daenerys Targaryen, who will allow her foreign Dothraki hordes to burn their villages and enslave their women. When Lord Randall Tarly brings up the problem of Daenerys's three very real and very big dragons, Maester Qyburn simply tells him that they've been working on a solution.

That solution is certainly a worrying one if you're rooting for Daenerys: artillery. Qyburn and his men have developed massive crossbows that absolutely seem capable of shooting these dragons out of the sky. Daenerys may be the Queen of Dragons, but after seeing the weapons King's Landing has developed, those dragons may not be long for this world.

Daenerys gets the ball rolling on her plan by sending Yara and Theon's Iron Fleet to escort Ellaria Sand and her Sand Snakes back to Dorne in order to mobilize her army. What looks to be a peaceful trip is quickly interrupted by Euron Greyjoy and his fleet. In perhaps one of the best looking battle scenes of the entire series, Euron and his pirates kill two of the Sand Snakes and capture the third along with Ellaria.

Yara does battle with her uncle, ultimately losing the fight. When Euron, holding Yara with his axe blade to her neck, challenges Theon to come and get her, the scenes of gore and torture surrounding him make him revert to his frightened and meek alter-ego, Reek. Theon jumps overboard and watches as Euron's capital ship sails off into the night, with Yara, Ellaria, and Tyrene Sand as captives. I guess Euron wasn't kidding when he said he was going to bring Cersei a gift.

Minor plotlines

We saw far less of Arya this week than we did in the season premiere, but her scenes still moved her plot along effectively. Most importantly, she has a reunion with her pal Hot Pie in this episode, who was one of the children held captive at Harrenhal way back in season 2. Through Hot Pie, Arya discovers that Winterfell is no longer held by the Boltons, and that Jon Snow has been crowned King in the North. Almost immediately, Arya changes her plans – instead of traveling to King's Landing to assassinate Cersei, she'll instead go to Winterfell to be reunited with her brother.

As she travels north, she's surrounded by a pack of wolves. She comes face-to-face with the pack's leader, a massive direwolf that Arya immediately recognizes as Nymeria. We're going way back to the very beginning of the series for this reunion, as Nymeria was once bound to Arya before the two were separated in season 1, episode 2. Arya tries to persuade Nymeria to come with her to Winterfell, but Nymeria refuses, returning to the woods with her pack.

Last week I said that Samwell Tarly probably has the worst luck out of all of the people living in the dumpster fire of a country Westeros has become, but this week, that person is unquestionably Jorah Mormont. After a brief appearance in the premiere, we now see just how quickly Jorah's Greyscale has progressed. The disease has taken over nearly all of his torso, though for now, it hasn't yet progressed to his right arm or his head.

Ebrose, Archmaester of the Citadel, tells Jorah that his Greyscale is too far advanced to be treated now, and that Jorah should have cut off his arm the moment it was infected. Since Jorah is a knight, Archmaester Ebrose says that he'll allow him one more day at the Citadel before he sends him off to Old Valyria to live out his days in exile with the rest of the Stone Man. As Ebrose tells him this, Jorah eyes his sword, seemingly contemplating suicide.

Sam, ever the optimist, thinks that Jorah can still be saved. He later tells Ebrose that he's read of a treatment for advanced Greyscale and asks if the Archmaester will try it on Jorah. Ebrose maintains that Jorah's Greyscale is too far along to be treated at this point, leaving Sam to take matters into his own hands.

That night, Sam comes to Jorah's cell with a collection of herbs, salves, and medical equipment. Using only rum as an anesthetic, Sam begins operating on Jorah, peeling off the infected skin as Jorah writhes in pain. Though it seems that there may be hope for Jorah yet, the road to salvation is certainly an agonizing, bloody one.

Final thoughts, analysis, and predictions

Holy cow! A lot happened this week, and even though Daenerys seemed poised to take the seven kingdoms in the series premiere, this week she was knocked down a peg or two. Her fleet, which was offered to her by Yara and Theon from the Iron Islands, lies in ruin, and two crucial allies are now in the hands of the enemy.

Euron talked a big game last week, but in Stormborn, he showed us he can absolutely back that up. Euron definitely let his ruthless and sadistic side loose this week, and now he's sailing back to King's Landing with Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy as his captives. Knowing Cersei, the days of Ellaria and Yara are probably numbered, but she may actually put her bloodlust to the side and keep the two alive to use as bargaining chips in the upcoming conflict with Daenerys.

It seems like we're heading toward a scenario where Daenerys is forced to ally with the north if she wants to win against the Lannisters. Expect Daenerys to suffer a few more set backs in the coming episodes, as Cersei removes her allies from the equation one by one. Cersei may not have the military might she needs to beat Daenerys on the battlefield, but she's proven time and time again that her cunning can be more valuable than a battalion of soldiers.

If there's one thing this episode showed us, it's that Jon Snow might be most fit to sit atop the Iron Throne. We've known how cruel and vicious Cersei can be for seasons now, and in this episode, we saw Daenerys growing colder. Daenerys thinks that she can keep people in line by threatening to have her dragons burn traitors alive, with shades of her father, Aerys II beginning to show. Aerys was called The Mad King for a reason, and if he hadn't been so savage in his rule, there's a good chance none of this would be happening. Daenerys walks a fine line here, because the common people of Westeros certainly remember the rule of Aerys II and won't want to return to it anytime soon.

Jon Snow, on the other hand, is humble in his rule, stating outright that he didn't want the title of King in the North but accepted it anyway because the people wanted him on the throne at Winterfell. Jon Snow cares little for the political conflicts happening in Westeros at the moment, and is more concerned with protecting the entrie realm from the White Walker invasion. While Daenerys and Cersei are embroiled in a battle for the Iron Throne, Jon manages to rise above such a petty conflict and shows qualities of a true leader.

One important thing that may have been overlooked is the fact that Arya is no longer determined to assassinate Cersei. We probably all figured that Arya would make it back to Winterfell at some point, but her diversion into to the north allows the final piece of Cersei's prophecy to fall into place.

Remember, when Cersei was a child, a fortune teller by the name of Maggy gave prophecized important details about her life: she would marry the king, have three children of golden hair and golden shrouds, and she would eventually be killed by the valonqar. "Valonqar" is high Valyrian for "little brother," meaning that Tyrion will eventually kill Cersei. So far, much of that prophecy has come true – she married Robert Baratheon and all of three of her children are now dead. Until we've got additional evidence to believe otherwise, it certainly seems like Maggy was right on the money with her predictions.

Finally, I'd like to point out that it's fitting that Nymeria rejected Arya's pleas to return to Winterfell with her. Arya has never done what was expected of her, instead forging her own life. Nymeria is the same way – instead of being bound to a human like her brothers and sisters, Nymeria has started a new life for herself, and when she was called to do what was expected of her, she rejected those calls and continued on with her own path. Arya recognizes this and seems to be genuinely happy for her, but I'd wager that this isn't the last we'll hear from Nymeria.


Season 7 of Game of Thrones is shaping up to be another big one, with a major battle already happening in just the second episode of the season. Expect a lot more action as we progress through the rest of the season – the time for exposition has passed, and now it's time to decide not only who will sit on the Iron Throne, but whether or not Westeros will even survive the Long Night.

What did you think of Stormborn? Do you have any predictions of your own? Head down to comments sections and share your thoughts!