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Game of Thrones - S7, E2 - Risks Without Rewards
With Lindsey Wright on July 25, 2017

This is the second in a series of recaps of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. We assume you have seen the episodes if you are reading this. - editor

This week, Game of Thrones explored how trusting our instincts is almost always a risk. It does not always work out in our favor. It can hurt other people. But in the game of war, what else does one have, but instinct, to rely upon?

Daenerys, at her war council (consisting of Yara Greyjoy, Lady Olenna Tyrell, and Ellaria Sand), is having her instincts tested. It is clear that the others do not view her decisions to keep Varys or to forego the attack on King’s Landing in favor of Casterly Rock, as wise. Lady Olenna advises her, “You are the Mother of Dragons. Be a dragon.” Meaning, your compassion and wisdom may have gotten you this far, but it will not serve you here in Westeros. Here, we wage war. We burn and destroy, and if you want to be Queen here, you must follow suit.

But Dany insists that she has a better way. She trusts her gut and the council of her advisors to take a different approach. Eventually, the other women on the council submit to her plan, albeit with reservations about the company she keeps and their opinions. After all, Tyrion and Varys both have proven themselves to have very little loyalty when it counts. Why should Dany put all her faith in them now and ask them to do the same? It is a risk they all decide to take together, and one, we shall see, which does not go as they hope.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow has been summoned by Daenerys to come to Dragonstone and "bend the knee." Knowing that Dragonstone sits on a mine of dragon glass, the only weapon that will destroy the White Walkers, he feels that Dany (and her dragons) will be a valuable ally. However, those at Winterfell who have placed their trust in Jon find this journey to be too much of a risk. They don’t trust the dragon queen and the fact that Tyrion Lannister is her Hand. But Jon trusts his instincts, insists that Tyrion is a good man, and believes that Dany will welcome him. He leaves Sansa in charge, proving even further his deep trust of her capabilities. Even so, that is a risk for him, as Sansa often has very different ideas of what should be done. Things could be very different for Jon when he returns.

Arya has a change of plans as well. Instead of heading to King’s Landing, she comes across an old friend who tells her that Jon is King of the North now, and so she heads back home to Winterfell for the first time since she was displaced. Along the way, she meets another old friend – her direwolf, Nymeria. While they recognize each other, and Arya tries to convince Nymeria to head back to Winterfell with her, the wolf walks away. Arya realizes that she has gone her own way in the last several years; Winterfell (and Arya) are not her home anymore. Like her wolf, Arya, too, has become a bit wild, and she understands the wolf’s decision.

Finally, we meet back up with Yara and Ellaria, who are on their mission to Casterly Rock. Theon is with them as well when suddenly the ships are attacked by none other than their uncle Euron, the self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands. In one of the show’s most prolonged and gruesome battle scenes, Euron and his men slowly pick off the Sand Snakes and the other sailors until they’ve captured both Yara and Ellaria. Euron baits Theon with Yara, asking him to come fight him for her. Yara too, begs him with her eyes to stand up for her, to fight for her, as she has done for him. But for Theon, the scenes of battle around him and the instilled fear from his time as Reek overwhelm him. The risk of fully inhabiting the role of Theon Greyjoy is too much for him. Hee jumps overboard, while Euron laughs wildly.

The final scene is striking. Ellaria and her daughters are dead, as is almost everyone else that came with them. The fleet is completely in flames. Theon, floating in the water among the wrecks, looks around and sees what has been taken from him. He is alone, having abandoned the one person still willing to stand up for him. He has taken a great risk in following his instincts to flee, but is it a risk that will come back to haunt him? Will he be able to grow and take a different kind of risk, one of self-sacrifice instead of self-preservation? Only time will tell. 

Lindsey Wright lives in Los Angeles with her husband and cat. She never expected to have a cat, let alone love it, but sometimes life is surprising. With BA in vocal performance and a Masters in theology, Lindsey loves pondering the mysteries of life through literature, music, and food. A Midwest girl at heart, she believes that kindness, a warm meal, and a bit of snark can bring anybody back to life. You can find her on Instagram as @mrslindseywright.

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