Game of Thrones hits hard this week in “Stormborn” as major houses begin to band together and devious enemies already begin making their moves. Before we get into the episode itself, Josh and I open this week’s podcast discussing the controversy around Confederate, a new show recently announced by HBO from the creators of Game of Thrones. We briefly dive into the arguments against that show’s existence (1, 2) , largely predicated on the current political climate, and then touch briefly on the creators’ defense (3).
We also mention some of the class-based critiques (which we also mentioned last week) around Game of Thrones and its focus on aristocrats/nobility. We both allude to particularly egregious comments from some politicos asserting the merits of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) as a capitalist icon (4, 5). We then move in to “Stormborn” itself, with a focus on Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her still-evolving leadership qualities.
In an aside, I connect the character of Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) to Cyborg from DC comics. Many writers have argued that Cyborg’s character makes some questionable points about black masculinity (6, 7, 8). Others argue this logic is reductionist (9). I felt it might be interesting to bring that conversation into the Game of Thrones universe.
Josh and I also talk about the editing and cinematography of “Stormborn” with an emphasis on the wonderfully gross match cut from Jorah’s (Iain Glen) surgery to Arya (Maisie Williams) eating a pie. This segues into the observation that the big reveals in this episode, including the secret treatment for dragonscale and Cersei’s (Lena Headey) dragon-killing weapon, turn out to be disappointingly obvious answers to big questions. It’s unusual for this show to play its cards so quickly and for the revelations to be relatively lackluster.
This is made up for to some degree by the shocking final scenes of the episode. Action scenes, particularly at night, aren’t always Game of Thrones’ strong suit, but we agreed Euron’s ( Pilou Asbæk) attack was thoroughly engaging. This sequence took both Josh and me by surprise due to its technical quality and narrative impact.
And yes, I did capitulate on the featured photo for this episode.
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Be sure to leave a comment if you’ve got other thoughts on this episode, and tune in next week where we’ll explore what exactly “The Queen’s Justice” refers to.