Initial Reaction To Episode Two: The Naval Battle
Well holy shit, welcome back everyone! After some heavy-handed speeches from Danaerys and Varys, we finally got to see some real action in the new season. Episode two ended just minutes ago, so it’s too early to make a detailed analysis, but here are some early thoughts about different fighters and how they may rank at the end of the season.
Once YouTube footage becomes available, I’ll be able to take a closer look, refine my thoughts, and give y’all some detailed notes on this battle, but let’s take a quick look at the naval battle among the Greyjoys and the Sands.
Overall, I’m a bit disappointed with all of the major players — the individual duels played out more like pro wrestling than realistic swordfights. But that being said, there are some noteworthy moments, and this is our first glance at Euron as a major contender.
The reason I bring up professional wrestling is really the battle between Yara and Euron Greyjoy. At once point, Yara even simulated running back and forth for the ropes of a wrestling ring while Euron tried to land a blow with his axe. Each time she did that, I was disappointed that she didn’t make any sort of attack. All she had to do was lift her sword just a teensy bit and she could have run Euron through, or at least slashed at the gaps between his armor at his armpit or flank. But no, she was just kinda running around.
Overall, I want to know what the hell happened to Yara. I was impressed by her maneuverability against the unnamed Bolton soldiers and was very much looking forward to seeing her fight a more important character so I could rank her. But in tonight’s episode, she reminded me much more of a Clegane, screaming and throwing her sword around without any real technique or finesse. And because of that, she made Euron look worse, because he could get away with winning a battle by swinging his axe around at one, slow tempo again and again. Euron would have lost immediately against the Yara we saw fighting Ramsay.
But how was Euron? I expect that he’ll fit in somewhere around the lower third tier, based on my first reaction. He was willing to throw some punches against Nymeria and Obara Sand, which was pretty cool, but it still felt so choreographed and uniform. There were no changes of timing or anything beyond evenly-placed punches and grapples. But that being said, he did adapt to each of the Sands’ independent styles. For example, he wrestled his way out of Nymeria’s whip and grappled Obara’s spear, eventually taking control of and using each of the sisters’ weapons against themselves. But still, the Sands seemed too surprised when Euron grabbed their weapons away from them or threw a punch.
Yes, Euron is mighty and scary, but not so much so that Nymeria and Obara would forget how to fight at the first sign of a challenge. It was a major feat of adaptability and improvisational skill for Bronn to overpower the Sand Snakes, but they definitely didn’t bring their A game to this fight — they made it much easier for Euron.
I’m being a bit hard on everyone and that may change once I get a chance to rewatch the fight a couple of times, but my first impression was that this battle was choreographed just to show that Euron was indomitable. Realism was left at the door in order to demonstrate this, and it seemed more like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie where they need to come up with a new big, bad pirate villain every time they make a new film. Regardless, here’s hoping that Euron and Yara get to fight again and leave a better impression later in the season.