After the excitement of the Season 7 Premiere comes the lull. This happens quite frequently in Game of Thrones. There are often episodes where the action stops and things become a bit ‘House of Cards’. Full of political dealings and discussions. But this is a series of reduced length so out of nowhere comes a blazing sea battle. Even in the penultimate Season the show still manages to surprise viewers with what it does best; a combination of politics, sex and violence.

Game of Thrones: Dragonstone – Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) and Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) (c) HBO

The majority of the episode sees our players discussing things. The action begins where we left last week. Emilia Clark oozes leadership as Daenerys, particularly in the opening scene where she dismantles Varys’ loyalties and motivation. Melisandre pops by, despite the storm outside, having been banished from the North at the end of Season 6. There is also an amusing language correction which somehow makes you distrust those who provide the subtitles. Another strong scene sees Daenerys and her council discuss her plan to take the Iron Throne. The strategy is logical but the mind of the viewer is merely looking forward to seeing it realised on screen.

A wise old Dame

In the meantime, it is a great joy to watch Dame Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell. Doctor Who fans will also remember her as Mrs Gillyflower in ‘The Crimson Horror’. The matriarch of the Tyrells is quickly becoming a role almost as memorable as Emma Peel in ‘The Avengers’. Viewers are also teased with the possibility of an alliance between Jon Snow and Daenerys. Both are popular characters. They rule with fairness and value their people. But this is Game of Thrones after all so this prospective alliance of two good ‘uns is bound to end in disaster. Let’s hope not anyway.

Game of Thrones: Stormborn – Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Archmaester Ebrose (Jim Broadbent) (c) HBO

Other plot threads are explored including the fate of Jorah Mormont. The knight turning Weeping Angel. Watching Samwell cut away pieces of stoney flesh is not for the squeamish. Viewers also see Arya change the direction of her journey on learning that the Stark banner flies again at Winterfell. It is certainly about time that Arya returned home. She is also reunited with Hot Pie, who has not been seen since Season 4, and her dire wolf Nymeria. There is also a deliberate nod back to a line of dialogue in Season 1 about self identity. Finally we are treated to a brutal and very unexpected battle to close out the episode.

Battle of the Iron Fleets

When Euron Greyjoy was introduced and promised Cersei a gift that would make her trust him I thought Tyrion’s head was his target. I was very wrong. Few probably expected a strong fight sequence after what had been a generally pedestrian episode up until that point. From the outset there are some brutal deaths and hard violence as you would expect from Game of Thrones. Almost as soon as it has begun, the battle is lost. Theon leaping off the ship just adds to the mountain of torturous things he has seen and had to endure. The final shot of Theon in the water as the camera pans out is stunning and will linger in the mind of the viewer for the next week.

What can possibly happen to Theon next? What of Yara and Ellaria? Does this jeopardise Daenerys’ goal of taking the Iron Throne? As good television drama should, ‘Stormborn’ makes you want to watch the next one right away. Unfortunately that is another seven days away.

The final battle of the Greyjoys in the Narrow Sea elevates what would in other Seasons be a simple episode of dialogue filled political maneuvering. This emphasizes that there is less time dedicated to the social niceties of conversation. Season 7 has a lot going on and it is no longer a game.

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