Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fortunes Change Fast on “Game of Thrones”

I’ll be the first admit that I did not see the end of last week’s episode of Game of Thrones coming. Just when we thought the chessboard was set, it was blown to pieces in one epic battle. So where does this leave things on the show after “Stormborn”? *SPOILERS* clearly follow.

All was going great with Daenerys’ plan to defeat Cersei. Until it wasn’t. In one swift and unexpected move by Euron Greyjoy and his hastily built fleet of very impressive ships, half of Dany’s allies were captured or killed, and suddenly the game board looks a whole lot better for Team Cersei.

Who Survived the Attack?

The show left this question with a murky answer. In the final shot, we see a woman hanging from a bowsprit, who I assumed was Yara Greyjoy. After further review, I believe it is Nymeria Sand hanging from her own whip, because higher up on the sternpost is Obara Sand impaled on her own spear. Though it looks like Tyene Sand, the third Sand Snake, may have been captured.

We know Theon escaped, by making what looked like the coward’s choice and jumping overboard as opposed to trying to fight to save his sister. I suspect that’s because there’s a lot of Reek left in him, and when he saw Euron’s men mutilating Yara’s crew, he panicked. Though maybe it was the right move, honor be damned. There was no way Theon was going defeat Uncle Euron. In the real world, Theon probably would have drowned, but at the end of the episode we see him clinging to some wreckage. (I suppose he’ll paddle several miles to shore like Brody and Hooper did at the end of Jaws.) Theon has become like Game of Thrones’ version of Gollum. We haven’t seen the last of him yet.

We don’t know if Yara’s alive. While I no longer think that was her hanging from the bowsprit, one would think killing Yara would be high on Euron’s agenda. He doesn’t strike me as the merciful type, though I suspect we’ll learn her fate later this season.

The one person we know survives is Ellaria Sand. She even begged Euron’s men to kill her, but they refused. I’m convinced she’s the special gift Euron promised Cersei, and who better to offer her than the woman who killed Cersei’s daughter Myrcella? After episode one, I had speculated that gift may be Dragonbinder, the massive Valyrian horn Euron used to win the kingsmoot in A Feast For Crows, which can supposedly control dragons. But now I have serious doubts about that. The horn, like Lady Stoneheart, might only be a thing of the books, which makes we wonder how differently this all might play out if George R.R. Martin ever finishes his novels.

What Does This Mean for Daenerys?

Dany may be more screwed than she knows. My guess is that Yara’s fleet not only was going to take the Dornish to King’s Landing for Tyrion’s planned siege, but also ferry the Unsullied and Dothraki to Casterly Rock. If so, the end of Yara’s fleet leaves a lot of soldiers stuck on Dragonstone. And even if the Ironborn can build new fleets in a miraculously short time, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of trees on Dragonstone. Or Ironborn for that matter.

As for Dorne, who knows what role it will play now in the great game. The show has never explained who would rule Dorne in Ellaria’s absence. The entire royal family appears dead, and Arianne Martell, the daughter of Prince Doran who is a viewpoint character in the novels, has never appeared on the show. In the world of Game of Thrones, I don’t think she exists. So there’s clearly a power vacuum in Dorne, and it’s anyone’s guess who might fill it.

Which leaves the North as Dany’s best potential ally, and this certainly looks to be where the show is going. I don’t know how many ships Jon Snow has access to, so I can’t say how he’d help get Dany and her army off Dragonstone. But his army should be more than enough to replace the Dornish. The problem is he wants to fight the white walkers, not Cersei. I have no idea how Daenerys will react to Jon’s priorities, but finding out should be fun.

What Will Happen in The North?

When Jon left for Dragonstone over the objection of many a Northern lord, he put Sansa in charge. Sansa, I believe, will be a perfectly capable ruler, and maybe even a master of dealing with Lannister-like politics. The problem is that her first major crisis may be an attack on The Wall by the Night King and his army. If Jon has been ignoring the danger to the South, Sana’s the one ignoring the danger to the North. She also has no bloody clue how to defend The Wall or kill an army of undead wights, yet that is where I predict the show may be heading. Hopefully Lyanna Mormont can help her out. She may be small, but I doubt she’s afraid of white walkers!

These, however, are just my thoughts. Where do you think the show is heading after the surprise ending of “Stormborn”?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.


Bill said...

It certainly was a huge surprise, and losing her fleet and allies is a huge blow to Daenerys and her plans. I have a feeling the current writers said among themselves, "Martin always has unexpected people die in unexpected ways - we need to do that"

I'm have no idea how they're going. It does give us a powerful new villain in Euron.

Jason Cannava said...

Interesting episode indeed!

I think Yara was only traveling with a small part of her fleet to deliver the Dorne VIPs back to SunSpear. I was left with the impression that the Unsullied were on a different itinerary which would have been required a large fleet to transport.

Some more basic questions, if Dragonstone was located at the a narrow entrance to Blackwater Bay and this how Euron was able to find Yara's ships..Why was Dragonstone left empty after Stannis left? it would seem to be a pretty strategic asset for Cersei to hold. Why wasn't it part of Tyrion's (and Stannis before him) plan to blockade Blackwater Bay? Presumably Yara and Stannis had a fleet capable of doing that?

Going forward it will be interesting to see how Cersei will deal with Ellaria? Will she be strategic and hold her hostage to keep Dorne in check or will she go with her emotions and kill her?

It seems like Tyrene was kept alive for a purpose. Will she get her wish to confront the Mountain? Will she get an opportunity to save Ellaria and Yara?

When Jon visits Dragonstone and speaks with Varys and Tyrion, it seems like he will find out that it was Littlefinger who betrayed Ned Stark. What happens to Littlefinger's welcome in Winterfell at that point?

Joseph Finley said...

Bill and Jason, thanks for your comments.

Bill: I want to think that George R.R. Martin included this event in his outline to the show's writers. It seems fundamental to the plot, but only time will tell.

Jason: I hadn't thought about the possibility that some of Yara's fleet remained at Dragonstone. It looked like a lot of her ships were caught in the ambush, but I suppose that's a possibility. And if so, Dany is obviously less screwed, and Tyrion's plan still holds water.

About the best explanation for why Dragonstone was vacant is that whatever token force Stanis left there abandoned the place once they learned that he was dead and/or the Dany was sailing there with an army and three dragons. That seems plausible, but maybe the show should have offered an explanation. I don't know how wide the mouth of Blackwater Bay is, so don't know how effective a blockade would have beeen. But certainly, Tyrion should have considered it.

My bet is Cersei goes full emotion on Ellaria Sand. Cersei has always let emotions rule her decisions. And it won't be pretty.

Chance of Tyrene facing the Mountain? 20%? Odds of her surviving: 0. Chance of the Clegane Bowl happening (Hound vs. Mountain) before the show ends: 80%-90%? Even odds on who wins.

Last point: If Jon learns that Littlefinger betrayed Ned Stark, and Littlefinger is alive when Jon returns, I honestly don't know what Jon would do. Jon's so noble I could see him exiling Littlefinger or killing him. Don't think I can make that call. But if Sansa finds out, she probably will kill him. If Arya is there at the time of disclosure, Littlefinger and Walder Frey will have something in common . . .

Bill said...

Joe, good point about Martin giving the incident in an outline. Was Jon Snow the last notably unexpected death Martin wrote of? It's been long since I read the books. I wonder if he planned the resurrection or if the producers decided they needed his character.