Reading HBO’s GOT S07E02: Stormborn
Game of Thrones’s S07E02 “Stormborn” is a Medieval Gory Bloodthirsty Misogynist Sensual Emotive Rollercoaster of the Poetic Westerosi Annals of the Second Coming of Azor Ahai. Spoilers ahead, duh!
Let alone the rest of the George R.R. Martin-smitten world, with more than 12 million viewers in the recorded HBO cable network alone in the US, Game of Thrones season 7 premiere has become (considerably) the biggest premiere release yet recorded “GOT premiere” in TV. If you want to see a “Retrospective analysis” of our writers on the premiere episode, you may head over here: https://www.laughalaughi.com/creativity/special-story/game-of-thrones-s07e01-dragonstone-scene-analysistheory-predictions/
TheJuly 23rd episode, “Stormborn” is no less a charmer. Some may have complained that the opening episode took time to build up, and everybody is pretty much hurrying (maybe because we only have seven odd episodes this run). Let us take a look at the couple of pointers to understand this “Reading” better.
First, let us not skip the glaring, screaming menace brewing along The Wall. The sea on the side of Eastwatch by the Sea is frozen. Do the White Walkers need to worry about employing any iota of diplomacy while crossing The Wall now? The crossing of the Walkers has just gotten easier, menacingly easier now that The Winter is Here.
Let us bring up a reference of The Maginot Line. France in the World War II spent eleven years and 450 million dollars fortifying 450 miles of countryside against the approaching German militarization. They built the 450 mile long wall to keep the Nazis out. But when the Nazis invaded on the May of 1940, they simply went around the wall. The White Walkers at issue might well be the Other Nazis, going around Bran the Builder’s Wall.
Secondly, the particular shot in which Cersei takes a walk around the drawing map of Westerosi land and stops at a specific location may pique our interest. She stands on what is called The Neck of Westeros while Jaimie stands on what is known as Fingers. If we are to believe the Prophecy (which Melisandre calls “a dangerous thing” in the second episode) Cersei may be strangled by the “Golden Fingers” of Jaimie, her brother (brother being Valyrian for “valonqar”).
The Kingslayer-turned-Queenslayer Jaimie Lanister: that would certainly become a glaring point where Benihoff and Weiss are again given an opportunity to experiment on human moral choice and changing human conditions (let us not forget this is our twenty first century fiction: there is no flat villain or benevolent saviour here). Everyone will be a result of the choices they make is all.
Now, Saikat Das and I want to dive right in the second episode: explaining, theorizing and reading the fissures of the narrative of “Stormborn”, her being no woman less than Danny Targaryen. This episode opens with a stormy night and with a conversation breaking the ice with Daenerys’s birth. Now, the last episode/the premiere was called “Dragonstone” where Daenerys Targaryen landed with her envoy towards the ending of the episode. The first episode ends and the second episode begins with featuring the same Daenerys.
“It is known” that Westeros could well be the cumulative geological formation of both Ireland and UK, and Dragonstone is shot on the windswept, picturesque Downhill Strand in County Derry in Ireland. Again the staircase to the Dragonstone Castle is the real-life, steep twisting staircase at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spain’s Basque Country. This real location in Spain may be a nod to the ethnicity and local identity of the Dragon Targaryens (and also the Unsullied with their Latin American accent).
All Hail Tyrion Dinklage!
Ice “Jon Snow” and Fire “Danny Targaryen” are soon going to meet, and Tyrion Lannister does what he was intended to. This season is going to see a lot of closures. Tyrion is the one who utters the most throbbing dialogue in the episode, “But you are not here to be the queen of the ashes.” He is good like a heartthrob in what he is doing and he has always been an impeccably able, resourceful being in position. He seeks to help a Targaryen acquire the Iron Throne with as much less bloodshed as possible. He is, once again, diplomatic panache reincarnated.
Tyrion wants the marginalized/otherized/foreign Unsullied forces to take over his now-dead father’s Casterly Rock. If, as he mentions, all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes, is what he still believes then Tyrion is out to metaphorically “rise against” his father’s prim nobility with the Unsullied, the despised and foreign force, just like he was looked down upon as an Other when his father was alive.
The radical-socialist in Tyrion Lannister is not taking down nobility with blue blood rather he wants the otherized forces to topple the noble seats in Westeros. The Breaker of Chains, Danny, is here after all.
Is Sam Tarly George R.R. Martin?
Second, Samwell Tarly is proving to be a rebellious scholar, and a very adept figure at that. He is breaking the traditional approaches and he will not stand by and see a Mormont die once again in front of him. Now he has prowess, the power of knowledge, which he lacked last time a Mormont died. He is still the one with unwavering principles, just like his father who will not march against Olenna Tyrell to satisfy the Lannisters at King’s Landing.
It looks like Dragonglass (that may very soon cure Jorah Mormont) is the next capital of warfare in Season VIII when we face the White Walkers’ approaching threat. Stormborn Targaryen is sitting on Dragonglass mine, and pretty soon The Bank of Bravos will be supporting her march towards King’s Landing. Without Casterly Rock and the gold of the Lannisters, how will Cersei pay for the warfare to come? The economy is bent on mining Dragonglass that can kill the Walkers (since Valyrian steel is yet not mined and acquired profusely).
We just saw, Sam Tarly is going to be the one who writes a “poetic” history of the Second Coming of Azor Ahai (Sandor Clegane/Danny/Jon Snow). If he is the narrator who sees the end of Season VIII then we may as well look upon him, Sam Tarly, as The Authorial Voice of George R.R. Martin who has entered his epic narrative through a backdoor as the narratorial POV (which happens a lot in our Eastern epics like The Mahabharata and The Ramayana).
Why did Lord Varys not know about Jon Snow and The Battle of the Bastards?
In a heated confrontation between Daenerys and Varys it comes out that Varys still speaks for the people, the unheard, in Westeros. He does not have his Little Birds anymore that is one yawning defect. If Varys is the spokesperson for the people in Westeros, he certainly needs his Little Birds. Without the Little Birds how can he question the decisions of the Imperial hegemony, even in Dragonstone?
What People is he standing for then? He does not hear from the People anymore. If he still had his liaison to the People, he would know well why is Melisandre there at Dragonstone. One may say that this HBO series will end with the establishment of democratic republic in Westeros with Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion heading the House of Commons.
“You are a dragon. Be a dragon.”
Olenna Tyrell’s counsel is not that sound in this respect. By ignoring the clever men who are Danny’s well-wishers, she may not get her father’s kingdom back. She is at Dragonstone because people have continuously aided her in her ups and downs. There are black sheep but that does not mean Tyrion and Varys may also be blackguards. Yes, it is female empowerment injected into the narrative. It is, like, Olenna Tyrell is counselling the queen-to be Elizabeth I. Danny has to choose her fate here, her decisions here.
If Game of Thrones is a triumph of the matriarch over malevolent misogynist patriarch raging across the contemporary world and the then-Westeros, one has to keep in mind that Cersei is a female warrior/monarch “who is in a way the reason of the then-king Tommen’s committing suicide”. Cersei’s is not matriarch, she is no mother in this season: she is a raging wave of revenge fire, warmongering and desperate to fight her Prophecy.
On the other hand, the Painted Table at Dragonstone was surrounded by female nobility. This Season has seen a rise in women empowerment from the opening season. The women used to be either whores or sheepish nobles. Now Olenna Tyrell, Lady Sansa, Lady Mormont, a reading Gilly, Dornish girls, Yara Greyjoy, Arya and Danny are making a long-awaited halo of Female Empowerment in the show.
Is Euron Greyjoy the next Ramsay Bolton?
At night Euron Greyjoy battered and rammed against Yara’s ship, wounding Yara, taking Ellaria Sand captive and malevolently killing the Dornish daughters in the course. He only took Yara and Ellaria Sand as his gifts to Cersei. It looks like the misogynist figures of Joffrey and Ramsey are back once again on the screen as none other than Euron Greyjoy.
He rammed against the ship of Yara like Georges Remi’s sinister pirate Red Rackham out sailing to collect gold. It is interesting that Euron attacked exactly when Yara and Ellaria Sand were about to get intimate. Lesbian intimacy is malevolently diminished by another misogynist only to fly banners of patriarchy. Every time HBO comes up with a passageway for female empowerment, there enters misogynist characters like Euron tying to bifurcate the bridge.
Manisfestly, Theon is rendered Reek once again at the sight of Euron. It appears that in front of malevolent warmongers and megalomaniacs he is rendered speechless/spineless, his repressed memory of Ramsay Bolton’s cruelty resurfaces from his subconscious. The showrunners did a commendable job in bringing the lining of trauma in Theon. Although, one needs to read between the shots here. If Theon did not escape from the burning Greyjoy ships there, how would he come back with Danny’s help to save Yara from the clutches of Cersei/Euron?
What do the White Walkers want?
One part of Tyrion’s warfare-plan has sunk under the sea. Now, who will come there with the Dornish army and lay siege to King’s Landing? This indicates the momentum of Cersei’s march in the narrative of the War for the Seven Kingdoms (now she has, say, Three). Is Cersei not going to make a pact with the Night King? She has her undead Messenger: The Mountain. Qyburn is also developing hardened crossbows to flank the fully grown dragons of the Targaryen Queen.
If the Night King (not to be confused with The Night’s King) thinks that the men on the south of the wall has violated some pact made a thousand years ago when the First Azor Ahai landed, he may be out looking to establish his dominion once again. Yes, he does not talk. But Bran has the alleged ability to communicate with him, we have seen this before. Of course, the Wall used to be a “territorial border” between the men and the living while Craster has indicated to a treaty between the Unborn Undead and the living that the Walkers thrive on human sacrifice. Maybe the south of the Wall stopped their shares of sacrifice. This myth of sacrificing a few lives for the sake of the good of the whole clan has come down to us from the days of King Kong. Let us not forget that Martin has described the Walkers as “Beautiful, inhuman, elegant, dangerous”: so, they do have some ounce of human attribute in them. Again, they do have a form of communication: “ice cracking language”, as told in the books.
Now, one has to remember, the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was once married to a White Walker and thereon rules for 13 years on the Wall. It was the time after the Battle for the Dawn. White Walkers are not mindless zombie foot soldiers. They are sentient, scheming and maybe not that villainous, only Machiavellian, in this Struggle for Survival. They manipulate ice. The Children of the Forest deal with magic; they do not bend ice. Maybe it will be revealed that Walkers had helped men in building the Wall. The Wall was not a means of protection rather only territorial border back then. The next season will show what they want, we suppose.
Let us conclude with a few special plot points from this episode worth mentioning. Firstly, we saw Nymeria turning her face and walk away from Arya. But if it comes to the second Battle for the Dawn, the non-humans: the dragons and Nymeria’s pack of wolves could also come in handly. It is a meaningful teaser from the showrunners. By the way, Jack Shepherd of the UK Independent writes,
[s]howrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explained how the phrase (“That’s not you” by Arya) was a call back to season one. One early episode sees Ned Stark tell his daughter that she will one day be a lady and get married, to which she replies: “No. That’s not me.” Benioff describes how Arya wants Nymeria “to come back home with her and be her loyal companion again. But Nymeria’s found her own life.
Secondly, Melisandre’s nuanced prophecy is correctly translated by Missandei, fluent in both the Common Tongue and High Valyrian. Missandei also makes herself pivotal in this episode by witnessing the genitals (allegedly castrated, balls and pillar) of Grey Worm.
The intimate scene in Dragonstone between Grey Worm and Missandei has to have depth in later episodes. We have to keep in mind that Theon is also a castrated man, like Varys and the Unsullied. If castrated men do occupy a pivotal portion of the march against Cersei, then in the democratic House of Commons the castrated men may stand as one of the representatives of the forcefully repressed mankind under the feudal system of imperial power.
Thirdly, Jon Snow digging his stranglehold in the neck of Littlefinger/Petyr Baelish is a reference to Ned Stark reacting with a short temper after he thinks Littlefinger brought him to a brothel after suggesting Catelyn might be in town.
This reminds us of the Season I Episode VI: “A Golden Crown”. At least at first we did not think Littlefinger really believes the Starks have “slow minds”, but then when we watch the throne room scene that follows, he’s treating Ned like he’s considerably slow. But then Jon Snow may not be “slow” and quick in “temper”. He is not a Stark. He is half-Targaryen. It only shows Jon is still the “real” Stark with principles, and he looks out for the Stark bloodline with all his heart.
Fourthly, Now that Jon Snow leaves for Dragonstone, the North will see a new female Warden, Lady Sansa. Sansa has gained in maturity with her forced marriage with the Bolton bastard but Arya Stark is also headed for Winterfell. While Jon is away the reunion between Arya and Sansa may lead to a much-awaited relationship dynamics. Leaving the North in the hands of Lady Sansa and her escort knight Brienne of Tarth may unveil another chapter. Lady Sansa can either prove to be a sheep led by Littlefinger or she could prove well in reigning her ancestral seat, Winterfell.
Finally, The Faith of the Seven has been the dominant religion of the Andals in Westeros. Melisandre’s Lord of the Light campaign is almost successful in the North as she has the Lord of Light successfully bring Jon back to life, performing a canonization-worthy miracle. After Meereen, she is at the threshold of Stormborn Daenerys’s Dragonstone. Here we see another new religion seeking imperial patronage. Cersei used The Faith of the Seven to her own gain before, and now we have to see how successful Melisandre’s campaign for The Lord of the Light proves to be in toppling the Lannister Siblings from the King’s Landing.