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'Be a dragon'

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July 23, 2017 at 10:41 PM EDT

Game of Thrones delivered on its promised faster pace of season 7 with an episode so crammed with major events, reunions, a riveting battle, deaths, and twists that it almost played like a season finale — yet this is only episode 2! After last week’s foreboding and stately premiere, “Stormborn” floored the narrative pedal, with nearly every scene delivering some kind of major consequence for our characters, setting the stage for a cross-section of battles and major power-player meet-ups. We start with:

Dragonstone: It was, quite literally, a dark and stormy night. Daenerys unexpectedly grills Varys about his loyalty because, let’s face it, on paper, his resume admittedly doesn’t sound very reassuring. That he’s a far bigger fan of King Robert than he was of her father doesn’t help either. “Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty,” shoots back Varys, in what sounds like a rare bit of modern political commentary from GoT. “You wish to know where my true loyalties lie?” he continues. “The people.” Tough to argue with that, and Dany doesn’t — though also threatens to burn him alive if he ever betrays her.

Hey, speaking of burning people alive, here’s Melisandre! She was last seen banished by Jon Snow and told to head south for killing Shireen. She went south all right, straight back to her former home that she used to share with Stannis Baratheon. I wonder if she still has some clothes there she wants to pick up.

The Red Woman is brought before Dany. She fills her in on the prophecy of Azor Ahai — a messianic figure in her Lord of Light religion; lived thousands of years ago, forged a flaming sword which he used to defeat evil; he’s prophesied to be reborn as the Prince That Was Promised, etc. etc.

Or perhaps it’s Princess That Was Promised? Experienced translator Missandei corrects Melisandre’s prophecy description. 

Melisandre explains she thought Stannis was The One. Then she thought it might be Jon Snow. Now she’s not ruling out Dany either. For being some powerful Lord of Light sorcerer, Melisandre’s less confident in her Azor Ahai theory than most Game of Thrones fan blogs. Not to mention, Stannis would be so pissed if he died because of a grammar mistake.

Matchmaker Melisandre successfully gets Dany’s curiosity up about Jon Snow. Tyrion notes that he’s a decent man. She has Tyrion pen a letter to the King in the North requesting to see him and ordering him to “bend the knee” (and the Jon-Dany shippers lean forward). As much as I’d love to see Dany and Jon Snow meet, anything that Melisandre suggests based on prophecy I’m inherently wary about. 

RELATED: EW’s Game of Thrones Weekly podcast dissects ‘Stormborn’

Winterfell: But not as wary as Sansa! Jon gets Tyrion’s letter — yeah, just like that. I’m pretty sure Westeros is now using FedEx instead of birds. There’s a subset of fans who always pay very strict attention to how much time characters should realistically take to get from one place to another (they’re still annoyed about Varys getting from Dorne to Meereen so fast last year). But if you try to apply your own Waze travel time estimates to characters in Westeros you’re going to go nuts. It’s probably best to just roll with it and appreciate that we’re not seeing a lot of horse-riding and campfire scenes this season. 

Jon talks to Sansa about whether he should go and see her. Sansa says he shouldn’t do it, because Sansa is wrong about everything now (I kid — if we didn’t know Dany, we’d be rather wary about meeting her too; after all the fatal Stark blunders in recent years, “pulling a Stark” is probably Westeros slang for getting yourself stupid-killed). NEXT: Even Lyanna thinks Jon knows nothing 

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