HBO has been running it’s mouth all week about how big its Game of Thrones season 7 premiere was. How big? Well, I’ll have to show you? *Unzips notes* 16.1 million viewers watched the premiere, night of, through live outlets and recorded options. They “smashed” records, and they’re not even the Incredible Hulk.
And not unsurprisingly, there’s also record-breaking piracy going along with that, including airings of the show in India, online, before the official Indian airtime. We, lucky us, get it first here in the U.S. And, in a surprising reversal of posturing from just several years past, HBO is promising to get tough on those illegally distributing their property. In 2014 HBO (and Time Warner) CEO Jeff Bewkes said, “If you go around the world, I think you’re right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.” He added that ultimately piracy of the program ultimately leads to more subscription to their service, and they know this because they’ve been dealing with the issue for 20 or 30 years. Apparently their ‘sub’ numbers are down, because even if they’re not actually pursuing legal actions, they’re threatening it. The old ‘sure, steal our shit it’ll just make us more money’ line isn’t holding water any more.
So, what about the re-cap Rick? I’m getting to it, my chums. What with HBO seeming to care about people seeing the show for free, even though it’s arguably more popular than it’s ever been and their numbers should be better than ever, they’re still winding the series down towards a now inevitable conclusion. In fact, we’ve got 11 episodes left. That’s right, treasure each and every one, and each and every minute. And with that perspective in mind, allow me to call this episode for what it was: horse shit.[Editor’s Note: This recap will obviously go into detail about last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, so there are going to be a ton of spoilers. Final warning! ~ Nick, copied and pasted by Rick]
There is a hell of a lot posturing going on right now, and I suppose that’s OK--it’s necessary to allow all the many, many plot lines to play out. And believe it or not, they’re inexorably condensing down towards some final (dramatic?) conclusions. Much of Stormborn deals with the amassing factions and their plans to deal with one another:
- We have Daenerys on Dragonstone with her sworn and would be allies: Tyrion Lannister, Greyworm for the Unsullied, Varys, Lady Olena (House Tyrell), Yara and Theon Greyjoy (the Ironborn), and Ellaria (Dorn).
- We have Cersei in King’s Landing with Jaime, Qyburn (former maester and now Hand of the Queen), The Mountain, and … well, mostly a bunch of nobody lords they’re pandering to, with one major exception.
- We have Jon Snow and Sansa Stark in the north, with their many northern lords, each other, Brienne, Sir Davos, and a potentially backstabbing Littlefinger.
Those are the three arenas remaining to us. It’s true, Arya’s still out there as a roving free-agent, as are the Hound, and Sam, and a few other loose storylines, but for the big intrigues, most of the plot lines have trickled down to these three factions warring against each other, or for the realm, in Jon’s case. Much of the episode deals with the leaders of these factions posturing to their would be supplicants to gain their loyalty, inspire them by fear into loyalty, or their various machinations in attempting to discern the best path forward.
If this is reading dryly and seems boring, it’s because it was, at times. Yes, the episode ends with a bang, thanks to the seven, but it was nearly too little too late and this one you could see coming. When one leader of the world’s finest fleet of ocean vessels tells Cersei he’s off to bring her presents and then you find a second fleet of ocean vessels sailing to Dorn with Yara and Ellaria about to fuck in front of Theon--this guy cannot catch a break can he? At least the last time this happened to him one of the girls wasn’t his sister and he still had a dick (if only momentarily)--you know shits about to go down, and down it does.
What really burned me though, rather than the political posturing, which had plenty of interesting tidbits which we’ll cover at the end, was the ridiculous Greyworm / Missandei sex scene. It’s nice that HBO decided to give Greyworm a chance with the ladies, you know, since he has no penis, but as I’ve pointed out, we have very few minutes remaining for plots to develop fully enough to conclude this tale, and I feel none of them warrant being spent of Missandei fulfilling the audience’s curiosity of ‘how will this work when he has no dick?’ Oh, it’s because he’s a master of going down on her! Of course. Well, I never would have guessed that. Good thing we just spent 10 minutes of the episode satiating curiosity. Not precious minutes. Not at all.
Now contrast that with the time spent on Arya’s reunion with Nimeria, her dire wolf, and we’ve got a serious problem. As I’m sure other readers of the books hoped, Nimeria was indeed with a wolf pack; maybe not a pack of hundreds, but a pack all the same. What was less fortunate was the she opts not to stage a Maury-worthy getting back together with Arya, and instead turns tail and runs. This scene was maybe two minutes. Priorities need to be shifted. Less unsullied eunuch sex and more killer wolf pack attacks and eats Cersei please.
- The producers are doing a great job of keeping Sam’s story light and adding some wonderful humor. Seeing him tell Ser Jorah to Please try not to scream while I cut off an entire layer of your skin was fairly amazing. As was the transition from cutting off infected, pus-oozing skin to a spoon gouging into a bowl of pot pie. Boy was I hungry right then!
- Sam is simultaneously attempting to save one of the Danny’s biggest champions by curing Jorah of greyscale and locating the source of a cache of weapons to fight the undead army. This dude is singlehandedly getting shit done while everyone else is just trying to bone. Did you catch the look between Qyburn and Balerion’s skull? I did. He’s totally going to bone those bones. He even penetrated it’s skull with a giant crossbow shaft. Metaphor, or promise? You tell me.
- Lady Olena seems to have been right in her advice to Danny: don’t take the advice of clever men: they know nothing, do what you do, girl! Be a dragon. Tyrion’s plans have very much already been dealt a major blow.
- Who’s going to fight the mountain now? It won’t be any of the sand snakes. Will the Hound fight his brother? It was his brother than gave him his scars and fear of fire, after all. Or will Arya ride in on Nimeria with a 1,000 strong wolf pack and eat that zombie fool?
- Speaking of zombies: is there any chance the Mountain is a sleeper agent for the Night King?
- Fantastic to see Cersei try to use fear of what Danny did to nobles in other lands as motivation for her nobles to follow her. There’s opportunity to read into the fear of foreigners plot as commentary on our current world too. I won’t do it. But you could!
- Also, equally wonderful to see Tyrion discuss what Cersei will do as if he saw her say it. he knows his siblings well. And equally wonderful to see him refer to THE LANNISTERS, not US/WE, or MY BANNISTERS / SIBLINGS.
- Will John regret heading south to meet Daenerys? We knew this was coming: someone south of the wall had to be convinced of the reality up there. You need a powerful instrument to get that done. Though, in the meantime, we see Jon Snow repeatedly looking just like Ned Stark and making very similar decisions, including possibly pissing off Littlefinger. Not sure that was the subtlest way to play that moment.
- One part of the episode I truly appreciated happened at its opening, when Danny decides after months at see with Varys that now it’s time to finally question him about his motives and loyalties. It’s fascinating stuff. This scene provides more insights into Varys’s motivations than we’ve received at any other point in the show, and to such an instrumental character, this is important. Until now, you’ve never really known if Varys’s claims about serving the realm were real or not: it seems that now we might be able to believe him.
- There are truly a lot of men running around without dicks in Westeros and the neighboring lands. For all South Park focused on the presence of dicks, perhaps they should have focused on the absence. Even poor Ser Jaime isn’t free from this plague. He’s a swordsman after all, and what better way to castrate a swordsman than by removing his sword hand. Qyburn could make a fortune learning to reattach dicks.