Well this episode ended up surprising me more than the last. I wouldn’t have believed it, partly because of how thrilling last week’s opener was and also since the beginning of this episode was much more mellow.
Given that the first scene featured Varys- an always welcome- but more of a Machiavellian than a dramatic influence on the show- I did not think we would see fireworks. As enjoyable as it was to see them discussing their war council, I felt like this episode was going to set things up like a game of chess, and this hour would be devoted to getting everyone into position… how wrong I was.
There was some stellar character development before we got to any of the action though. I was especially delighted with Tyrion’s plan and coded message- it is *so long* since we’ve seen that brilliant brain work! That was more than welcome reminder of why he is one of my favourite characters!
Along with this, there were some lovely tender moments and some ughhh-what-are-you-doing-scenes (with Cersei- they’re always like that though). And in terms of Game of Thrones trademark gore, this episode starred some hardcore greyscale, and I have to say this was the grossest thing I have ever seen- on this or any show! I mean: ewwwww!!
The other notable moment, before we get to *that explosive conclusion*, was when Arya and Nymeria were reunited. Bittersweet and heartbreaking, it wasn’t the reunion we’d hoped for and raised so many questions for me. I know that the showrunners have talked about how it shows that Nymeria found her own life… but I wonder if it hints at a dark ending for the Stark assassin. For instance, I’ve always thought the execution of Sansa’s wolf is the symbolic moment when she becomes more Tully than Stark- so is this too symbolic of Arya’s estrangement from her wolf? Does it show that she will never be tamed? Does it suggest she will never make it home to her family?
And finally… THAT ENDING!! I wasn’t expecting that. Of course I should know by now it was never going to be straightforward, but I really didn’t think I would see a full scale battle in the second episode. Like the battles last year, it was beautifully shot. They only get more exquisite to look at: the ashes falling, the fire dancing, people dying everywhere… and yet it was oddly stunning to look at. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this grotesque spectacle (one of those moments that will sift the GOT fans from the Guardian writers- I saw yet another article complaining about the violence in this show and wondered why are they still watching it 7 years on?!? Anyway, I digress…). I can’t say I’m sorry to say goodbye to the sandsnakes- but what happened to Theon and Yana was *devastating*. I will say, this is the first time in a while that I’ve begun to wonder about what would/will happen in the book…. Only time will tell (or not). Either way, I can’t believe how much has already happened here- the showrunners are not letting us down this year. God only knows what will come next (okay, I have some inkling from the trailer and I might have screamed).
Anyhoo- hope my thoughts weren’t too all over the place this week- it was a very exciting episode and all my coherence went out the window after that final scene. Have you seen this yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!
And sincere apologies for this coming so late- the old Mad Hatter (my computer) is acting up (well, more than usual…)