Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2: Dragonglass, direwolves and hot pies

Adam Mathew 24 July 2017 NEWS

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A word of warning: This is our spoiler-filled recap and review of Episode 2, "Stormborn".

SPOILER WARNING: Seriously, this is your last chance to turn back.

Shall we get started? Yes. Yes we shall. Aside from some moody and inclement weather, this second episode of Season 7 plops us right where we left off: in the Dragonstone war room of Daenerys Targaryen. The young Queen has retaken the ancestral home of her house, but we must say that the map she's inherited is a massive step down compared to the one in the opening credits. That said, what it lacks in fancy-pants clockwork miniature castles, it more than makes up for in the allies seated around it.

Though Dany is quite the dragon wrangler, this is the first time we've watched her herd so many cats. A mutual hatred of Queen Cersei Lannister is a powerful reason for four houses to buddy up, however, this alliance is about as jagged as a pile of dragonglass, which, incidentally, is the precious commodity this faction is sitting on. Not that any lord or lady present here is even remotely aware of its ability to make the undead “proper dead”, or that there's a greater war to be fought with it.

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No, today's battle is between Tyrion and Ellaria Sand, a freshly-minted Dornish monarch who's none too pleased with the Lannister credentials of the Queen's Hand. This, of course, is a grudge that's reciprocated by The Imp, thanks to his niece receiving the kiss of death from Ellaria herself. Couple that potential flashpoint with the no-bull observations of the two lesser queens – one of pirates (Yara Greyjoy) and another of thorns (Olenna Tyrell) – and you have quite the minefield.

As if there wasn't enough tension around this table, Dany threatens to melt her changeable spymaster, Varys, and Dragonstone manages to become a bit more crowded when the exiled Red Priestess, Melisandre, drops by like some sort of Mormon pyromaniac. She's on quite the losing streak at the moment, ever since she misled Stannis Baratheon into filicide, a tactical whoopsie that earned him death and her banishment from Winterfell. Her awful CV is promptly mentioned to Daenerys, though the mysterious fanatic isn't there to put her own name forward. She's an advocate of Jon Snow, King in the North, and an eyewitness of the Night King's approaching army. Finally Dany is given a hint of her true enemy.

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One express post raven later and Jon is weighing up an invitation to Dragonstone. Tyrion has vouched for the White Wolf, though Jon's northern advisors protest against him trusting a Lannister who's representing the daughter of the Mad King (who had a fondness for well-done Starks). Jon appeases his retinue with some pragmatic facts. They don't have the numbers to fight off the impending horde of ice wights. They also need to start stripping Dragonstone of its resources with all the tenacity of a Minecraft kid about to run out of screen time. Most important of all, the Night King's wights are susceptible to fire, and that makes Dany's dragons the B-52 bombers of this world.

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Potential problem: the supposed invincibility of said dragons is discussed in a short scene between Cersei and her head of research and development, Qyburn (who I'm all but certain is a nod to James Bond's Q). He's been working on a pretty potent anti-dragon ballista. It'll be a king hit to anything that tries to land in King's Landing uninvited.

Meanwhile, back in Winterfell, a departing Jon announces that he will temporarily hand the reins to Sansa, a move that no doubt pleases her power-hungry hanger-on, Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. This unofficial leader of House Arryn is getting mighty bold, too. He decides to invite himself down into the sacred Winterfell crypts for a going away chat with Jon, where he points out that he's received no thanks for ensuring that Jon was the last bastard standing. Creepily, he then voices a love for Catelyn Stark and, now that she's been written out of the picture, an equal affection for her daughter. It doesn't go down well, folks. There's plenty of beef.

Speaking of, Hot Pie returns to the series with... well, hot pies. He has a chance encounter with Arya Stark as she's travelling south to King's Landing with regicide on her mind. (Unfortunately, there's no reveal as to whether she cut the throat of Ed Sheeran the Lannister, but we like to think that she did.) The delightful pastry chef notes how different the young assassin is after three or so seasons and then drops some goss that's hotter than his baked goods: Jon Snow, her beloved half-brother, is ruling in Winterfell. This prompts an atypical U-turn for the focused killer, a decision that delivers Arya a chance encounter with a direwolf.

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We're going to leave that thread hanging for you, much like the GoT writers left us twisting in the wind over the fate of Daenerys's navy. While en route to their first invasion, Ellaria Sand, her daughters and the Greyjoy siblings are ambushed by Cersei's lapdog, creepy uncle Euron Greyjoy. A gory, swashbuckling melee ensues that is both high-energy and incredibly well shot. The ruckus ends the lives of many a secondary character and culminates with the capture of Ellaria and Yara. Bodyguard of the Year, Theon, is given the chance to stand up to his uncle, but he doesn't feel like going overboard with the heroism today. Instead... he just goes overboard. Come on, Theon. Regrow a pair.

VERDICT

First blood has been spilled in the opening battle of (what could be) the final war of Westeros and I'm absolutely riveted. I can't wait to watch the meeting of the shows' three greatest hero characters (Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion). And the burning question remains unanswered: which character – if any – is the mysterious prophesied hero, Azor Ahai?

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