Halt! This here post is dark and full of spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones, “Stormborn.” If you haven’t watched it, turn away and head back to the Citadel to complete your homework.
Characters from all around the realms in Game of Thrones make progress with each passing episode. Sometimes they’re forced to choose from a host of poor decisions. Sometimes they’re pushed back. But sometimes, they emerge triumphant. Magic, animals, locations—they all have their wins, too. Our weekly Game of Thrones MVP pick is devoted to choosing the winner of the game in each episode.We kick off the series by very proudly naming the MVP of this week’s episode, “Stormborn,” as Samwell Tarly. He may be away from the brunt of the action in Westeros, but just because he’s at the Citadel in Oldtown performing glamorous tasks like cleaning bedpans and serving dinner doesn’t mean he’s not making a difference. In fact, he’s one of relatively few people in the Seven Kingdoms taking an active role and trying to address the big picture problems.
Here are five reasons why Sam’s heroism stood out in “Stormborn.”
Sam’s studious nature has paid off throughout Game of Thrones, and Ser Jorah Mormont was the most recent benefit of Sam’s knowledge. Sam must be reading goodness knows how many old, dusty books for both his studies and his search for information on dragonglass, but he’s absorbing all the text he’s reviewing like a sponge. Thankfully, he recalled a possible treatment for greyscale.
The Samwell Tarly of old wouldn’t have questioned orders. He would have bowed his head and done what he was told. But this Sam has killed a White Walker. He knows the danger coming towards the Wall and the lands it protects. He has no time to fuck around with old men with their heads up their asses. His new rebellious streak led him to ignoring direct orders to forget about experimental greyscale treatment and leave Jorah alone. I’m so proud of this kid.
The Maesters are the scholars of the Westeros, and while they have smarts, they’re remarkably obtuse. They are laser focused on their work and seem to have lost sight of the world outside. Rather than listen to Sam’s possible solution, the Maester more or less signed Jorah’s death sentence. He was giving Jorah a day before sending him to dwell with the Stone Men of Valyria for the rest of his life and suggested it might be a good use of Jorah’s remaining time to end it all. Yikes. Thank goodness Sam wasn’t as coldhearted.
Oh hai, self-confidence
“You are not dying today, Ser Jorah.”
When Sam rolled his cart into Jorah’s room, I couldn’t help but picture him as Luke Skywalker rushing in to bust Princess Leia out of her cell in the Death Star. Sam’s not exactly swaggering with confidence, but he’s come such a long way since we first encountered him. He was brave enough to defy his superiors’ orders again (he broke into the restricted section for information on dragonglass in the season seven premiere) and use the information he discovered… even though he wasn’t one hundred percent positive about how the procedure would turn out.
Sam still had some nerves, but that he was willing to attempt curing Jorah by taking a sharp tool to his skin without hemming and hawing? He earned my respect. We need much more of that attitude all around Westeros, please.
Armed with only words and some illustrations from an old book, Sam used the tools he’d gathered to get to work. He put himself at risk by interacting with Jorah in such an intimate, pus-filled way, but he didn’t hesitate.
Greyscale had covered most of Jorah’s upper torso, so removing the infected layer of tissue was a painstaking undertaking. The part of me that likes peeling off scabs was fascinated, but I don’t know if I’d have the fortitude to continue once the pus started oozing. Sam kept going though, undeterred and determined. I hope Jorah passed out and didn’t experience the entire process.
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Side note: how do you think the Maesters will react to Jorah’s exfoliating spa procedure? Will they scold Sam, or will they open their eyes and work to develop or improve the greyscale treatment? I’m expecting the former, but hoping for the latter.
Who would you name as the MVP of “Stormborn?” Sansa? Nymeria? Share your top pick in the comments.