Explosions! Great groaning battle-ships! A lunatic in guy-liner! And that was just the closing five minutes. It’s been a cautious start to Game of Thrones season seven. But, following further, patience-testing re-arranging of the chess pieces, episode two went out in a literal blaze of glory.
Euron Greyjoy – Captain Jack Sparrow, if Johnny Depp was slim, Scandinavian and twice as over the top – was staging a smash and grab raid on close family/ sworn enemies Theon and Yara. Galleons piled into one another, Sand Snakes perished (was it wrong to cheer?), the thrill factor blew through the roof.
With the action came a devastating catharsis. Theon (Alfie Allen) regressed into former-person Reek and legged it overboard, leaving Yara and Ellaria to their unpleasant fate (presumably involving being presented to Cersei with big shiny bow on top). Our minds had been blown, emotions reduced to a smoking pyre.
Is Euron Game of Thrones’s silliest villain yet?
Joffrey was a loathsome wimp, Ramsay a psychopath with a bad haircut. But Euron is something far more familiar – a bonkers villain of the old school. There are no hidden depths to the new ruler of the Iron Islands, unless you count the layers of emo make-up he’s mysteriously acquired this season. He just wants to kill, maim and burn – if he can achieve all three at once, so much the merrier.
Yet, with his latest antics, he has more than earned his place in the show’s rogues’s gallery. Armed with a post-apocalyptic battering ram, he ransacked Theon and Yara’s fleet – as a bonus cutting down the (still annoying) Sand Snakes.
“Give your uncle a kiss,” Euron proceeded to leer at Yara as he charged into action – an aside sure to go down as one of the season’s outstanding one-liners. It was all too much for Theon, still clearly working through his time as Ramsay’s crippled man-servant. Over the side the Prince of the Pyke jumped – a leap with echoes of his vault over the Winterfell battlements with Sansa. That had been the moment Reek was reborn as Theon once again. But who was he now? Also – is Yara Euron’s prisoner or has he merely slit her throat?
All is far from sunny in Dragonstone.
Daenerys’s return to the family seat and place of her birth, was not quite the jubilee she had anticipated. In a draughty castle, she gravely surveyed a raging storm. Where were the approving crowds, the Targaryen loyalists ready to sweep her back to power?
That the Mother of Dragons (Emilia Clarke) was determined to bring the people onside rather than burn Westeros to the ground with her dragons was testament to her sense of right and wrong (a moral compass that hasn’t always pointed in the correct direction) But that isn’t to suggest she has gone soft and Varys (Conleth Hill), aka most Machiavellian soul in Westeros, bore the brunt of her suspicions. He was a Robert supporter who’d turned on the Baratheons – what was to stop him similarly deserting Daenerys in the event of a more desirable candidate present themselves?
“You wish to know where my loyalties lie…with the people,” said the former Master of Whisperers – who hadn’t sounded this single-minded since bunging Tyrion into that wine crate at the start of season five. This was enough to keep Daenerys onside – but was the show laying groundwork for violent disagreements to come?
After Ed Sheeran, it was time for a surprise cameo from the Lady in Red
Sensitive souls are still haunted by the ginger halfling’s shock appearance last week. Now came another divisive figure with a reputation for making children scream in terror. Exiled by Jon Snow, the Red Woman (Carice van Houten) had fetched up on Daenerys’s doorstep.
She was here at the behest of the Great God of Plot Devices. “I believe you have a role to play…as does the King in the North, Jon Snow,” said Melisandre, a spectacularly unsubtle hint that the Mother of Dragons and the lord of Winterfell might find common cause. “If he does rule the north, he’ll make an excellent ally,” chimed Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), with equal lack of artfulness. A Daenerys–Jon alliance has admittedly long been on the cards – but did Game of Thrones have to spell it out so clunkily? Let’s hope the series rediscovers its flair of understatement as the season continues.
Will Jon Snow bend the knee to the Mother of Dragons?
Daenerys is very much up for an alliance with Jon Snow – albeit on her terms. In Winterfell, Sansa – in her new position as Jon’s neurotic frenemy – warned of a possible Targaryen trap. An alternative perspective was offered by Ser Davos. Dragons breath fire – and fire destroys Walkers. The logic appealed to Snow – but is he risking all by agreeing to a face-to-face meeting with the Mother of Dragons?