Every battle has winners and losers. Every episode of Game of Thrones has moments that are wins and losses. Not objective wins and losses like “Stannis Baratheon vs. The Lannisters in the Battle of Blackwater Bay.” Rather, more subjective wins and losses that vary based on who we, the fans, like as characters and storylines.
Here are the wins and losses from Stormborn:
Warning: this article contains SPOILERS for the Game of Thrones Season 7 episode Stormborn.
Win: The Return of Hot Pie
The biggest threat to the last two seasons of Game of Thrones is simple: the showrunners go over-the-top with fan service. But this moment was not one of them. The return of this well-liked character was smartly placed. Anyone could’ve delivered a Westeros update to Arya… cough… Ed Shereen… cough. But this was fun and it made sense for Arya to actually trust news from Hot Pie that ultimately led her to the North to reunite with her family vs. South and continue crossing names off of her vengeance list.
Loss: The Return of Nymeria, Sort of
Many fans had emotional opinions on the return of Nymeria, one of the two remaining Stark direwolves. Arya and Nymeria were separated in Season 2, after the wolf bit Joffrey and was sentenced to death (Sansa’s pet, Lady, was killed in Nymeria’s place after she escaped). The reunion was a long-time coming, but this writer felt it was unnecessary to the development of the story. Every remaining minute of Game of Thrones is precious so at this point, I considered this scene wasted time.
Arya is already heading North (thanks, Hot Pie!), so this casual meet-up in the woods did nothing for me. The only possible save would be if the showrunners later introduce Arya warging (a skill her brother Bran has) and possessing Nymeria for attacks on Lannisters and White Walkers. That seems unlikely, though. The idea of Nymeria hunting with her pack in the Riverlands was enough for me.
Win: Adios, Sand Snakes
Of the many side characters in Game of Thrones, there are few more expendable — or interchangeable — than the Sand Snakes, in this writer’s opinion. While they are eight Snakes mentioned in the books, viewers have only seen three: Tyene, Obara and Nymeria. These over-the-top tough girls were never interesting and never actually tough, so it was quite the joy to see two of them meet their brutal end by the hands of the new Lord (King?) on the Iron Islands, Hot-Topic Euron Greyjoy (a major winner from this episode).
Tyene and her mother Ellaria are still alive, but that will probably change after Cersei gets through with them. Once Oberyn Martell died in one of the most shocking scenes in the first six seasons of the show, they should’ve just retired all of the remaining Dornish characters. Although someone had to kill Myrcella, I suppose.
Win: Sam Takes a Massive Pull of Rum Before Risky Surgery
I fully expected to have little interest in the “Samwell Tarly becomes a maester at the Citadel” plot line of Season 7. However, “Stormborn” changed that in a hurry. The writers have done a terrific job of slowly developing Sam from the bumbling loser, into someone willing to step up on occasion.
Seeing Sam defy the Archmaester to steal books was meh. Watching him cart in a bunch of surgical tools and cheekily take a huge pull of rum to calm his nerves before attempting a risky surgery to remove Greyscale from Ser Jorah Mormont was absolutely joyful. The surgery itself was enough to make skin crawl, too.
Loss: Theon Not Dying
The idea that Reek is still very much part of Theon Greyjoy is both a sad reality and the right path for this character. No one could go through that experience without it becoming a fabric of their remaining existence.
Had Theon shown signs of heroism amongst a flaming-boat battle on the sea, it would have been ridiculous. However, despite the believability of his cowardice (and quality acting), it was disappointing not to see him dispatched by one of the ironborn. Wouldn’t an ironborn from Pyke want to at least shoot an arrow at him?
His storyline died long before this episode’s scene where he disappoints his sister and delights his uncle. Fingers crossed that he floats in purgatory for perpetuity, finally ending his role in the saga.
Loss: Grey Worm and Missandei Finally Hook Up
Many fans probably enjoyed the climax (see what I did there?) to the pent up love brewing between Grey Worm and Missandei. However, their love scene was simply too long and falls heavily into the fan service category. Again, precious minutes here, people. If this was the classic, “build him up before taking him down” for Grey Worm, it was unnecessary. We all liked him already. The continuation of an unspoken love would have been even more powerful.
Loss: The Surgery-to-Soup Transition. Yuck
Uhhh. Just. No. It was too much. No soup for you.