I have had a couple of days to marinate on episode two, and I have to say, now that the dust has settled in my mind, my verdict is that this episode sucked.
First of all, though it was pretty cool to see Dany’s war council made up mostly of women, it’s too bad a couple of them turned out to be utterly dispensable! More on that later. We do have a nice moment with Lady Olenna, who puts a little wedge in Dany’s trust in Tyrion. Diana Rigg is such a joy that I will take any minute with her I can get. That being said, these phony little conflicts are part of the growing problem with the writers’ trajectory since we went off the books.
Jamie and Cersei are at odds, Jon and Sansa are at odds, Dany and Tyrion are on their way to being at odds. This doesn’t make sense considering the history of these characters. They have every reason to trust each other ACTUALLY, and the people sowing the seeds of discontent (Euron, Littlefinger, and Lady Olenna, respectively) have done absolutely nothing to earn the trust of the people they are manipulating. Their ultimate aim is obvious, because they SAY IT! Like, out loud!
Dany has been slowly growing in confidence over the years, but exactly when did she lose her moral compass and start threatening to burn people alive? She offers entire nations of slaves the chance to freely choose to follow her, and then does an about face and threatens death to anyone who isn’t loyal? When did she turn into Donald Trump demanding unwavering loyalty all over the place? Varys gives a good and true speech about where a citizen’s loyalty should be (so apropos in the real world right now that it’s uncanny), but hasn’t Dany already learned that lesson?
The Red Woman and Missandei giving us some Lost in Translation nonsense about the Prince that was Promised maybe being a Princess…ohhhhhh......more phony conflict. It’s JON SNOW. The Red Woman knows it, you know it, I know it, everybody knows it. (Sh&*, now I sound like 45).
Ahem. FURTHERMORE, Tyrion’s plan to have the Dornish and Highgarden armies attack Kings Landing in lieu of Dany’s massive army makes exactly zero sense. Why, oh why, would the people of Kings Landing be more amenable to their forces? It’s still a hostile takeover, and it’s going to be war either way. The only thing that needs to be done is to remove the Lannister army, and we have already established that the Lannisters have no allies! Cersei is the one who used wildfire on her own people—why would they be loyal to her over Daenerys? No, the only reason they would send these other armies in is because the writers are STALLING AGAIN. It would be impossible for Cersei to win against the army that Dany has amassed.
Nevertheless, as Tyrion predicts, Cersei is indeed playing on the aristocracy’s xenophobia in order to get them to back her. Her speech to them is genius, actually, and it’s clear she did learn a lot from her father (and yes, we have more allusions to 45 here). She blows a ton of dog whistles with words like “savages” and she throws out some quality spin on Dany’s crucifying of noblemen in Meereen and Yunkai. Jamie’s argument to Randyll Tarly is still a weak one, but we have established Tarly’s hatred of wildlings, so his defection against Highgarden might be believed.
I felt a glimmer of excitement when I saw that Qyburn was cooking up a new Frankenstein-ish counter weapon to fight dragons. What could it be? An army of Mountain-like flying zombies? A torpedo that turns flames into ice? That actor sells the moment, as always—he manages to be gentle and soft-spoken and yet this eyes tell you a story of pure crazy. Sadly, no actor could convince me that what amounts to a large crossbow would actually a) have not already been invented a hundred years ago when Aegon first took over Westeros, and b) have any serious effect on dragons flying around breathing fire from the skies. What’s that you have, Qyburn? A big sling shot? What black magic is this! (Yawn).
Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Sansa INEXPLICABLY continues to question Jon in front of everyone. Jon had asked Sansa for her advice about Tyrion (finally!), but then he INEXPLICABLY goes against what he told her without warning! What is even happening? Take a sidebar next time, people!
I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy seeing Jon rough Littlefinger up a little bit—I am SO tired of watching him skulk around Winterfell, smirking at Sansa—but wasn’t that scene straight out of high school? Jon might as well have pushed Littlefinger up against some lockers with his backpack: “Don’t touch my sister, man!” Confusingly, after that warning, Jon ABANDONS Sansa at Winterfell WITH THE VERY SAME LITTLEFINGER.
Dude! WHY WOULD THE STARKS EVER SEPARATE AGAIN EVER?!
Sorry—I’ll take it easy on the caps lock.
Speaking of the Starks’ failed #squadgoals, Arya learns that Jon is at Winterfell and surprises us all by ditching her revenge efforts in order to join him there. Too bad Jon hasn’t learned his lesson about sticking with the pack, because he’s off to Dragonstone.
The writers knew we wanted to see Nymeria again, and they condescendingly placated us. I liked the callback to Arya’s “That’s not me” line to Ned in season one, but I continue to have an issue with how the dire wolves are treated on this show. Apparently the CGI costs a lot of money, but the wolves are spiritually important to the Starks, and they keep getting killed off or just disappearing. Speaking of, I know Ghost’s name is, well, GHOST, but where the hell is he?
I would discuss Samwell’s dermatology sesh with Jorah, but I just ate dinner and I cannot with all of that pus. It went on forever and the cruel, cruel cutaway to the bread bowl of cheesy soup or whatever it was made an already unbearable scene even worse. Between this and the poop-and-soup sequence last week, who knew the Citadel would be so revolting? Ok, it’s a little fun being grossed out. But seriously…why? And also….why?!
(I'm simultaneously embarrassed and proud of coming up with the phrase poop-and-soup.)
Lastly, we get our first battle of the season. It was hard to be entertained when the whole time I was sitting there thinking….how the HELL could this have happened? Is Euron psychic and does he commandeth the wind and fog? Like is this guy Storm from the X-Men or what?
He somehow put together a thousand ships in maybe a year (maybe!?) on an island with no trees. And most of their best crew peaced out by following Yara to Meereen. Who is even on all of these ships?? Ok, maybe we agreed to put aside that logical inconsistency last year. But now he shows up with a thousand ships with big ugly kraken banners and somehow finds the exact ship that Yara is on and overtakes them without anyone seeing them? What kind of devil ex machina is that?
Fortunately for us, the actors save the day again. Theon’s PTSD episode is brutally believable, and nothing will break your heart more than the look on Yara’s face when he fails her. Euron is appropriately unhinged. I was promised worse than Ramsey, however, and that check has yet to be cashed. That—unlike the rest of this blog—is not a complaint.
I do have one more bone to pick, though. So to speak.
There are hardly any people of color on this show, and it’s a damn crime that the only two we get are Grey Worm and Missandei, the two most vanilla characters this show has created. Find me one person who cares about this love story. Just one. I swear, they got naked just to keep us awake during that scene.
GoT: Grey Worm was going to leave without saying goodbye!
Me: [eyes drooping]
GoT: Because he cares about her too much to say goodbye!
Me: [starts snoring]
GoT: Ever wonder what a eunuch looks like naked?
Me: WOAH—I’m up! I’m awake! What? Where!
Here’s to still loving this show even when it disappoints. See you next week when some of the other Featurettes will join me for a recap of episode three.