The start of the long awaited season 7 of arguably HBO’s most popular show, Game of Thrones, started off with a bang that didn’t disappoint. Often the season premieres tend to move a bit slow, setting up the chessboard for the complex machinations and plots of the upcoming episodes. However, this season dived right into some anticipated action fans were definitely pleased to see.
BEWARE: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW—YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
We begin the episode at the Twins where we last saw Walder Frey. The scene’s opening felt a bit confusing only because we last remember the gory (but satisfying) scene of his death administered by Arya herself. However it turns out the Columbian neck-tie wasn’t enough for the young Stark. If anyone was wondering where Lady Stoneheart was in the plot, well I think we got our answer with Arya. Under the guise of Walder, she feigns a toast to the rest of the Freys who were technically the culprits behind her mother, brother and pregnant sister in law’s death even though Filch Walder gave the order.
We knew something was up when she begins to berate the Freys, something the cold-hearted Walder would never do on behalf of his enemies. More confirmation came seconds later when she/he didn’t take a sip of the wine. Cue the hacking wheezes and toppling of every member of the house once they throw that liquid courage back—seconds later errrybody’s dead and Arya confirms her identity by pulling off Walder Frey’s ugly mug with the most EPIC line the girl has EVER said:
“When people ask what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”
It was a moment worthy of Inigo Montoya and a long time coming for the Starks. The girl is my spirit animal.
A little further north, sibling tension as well as northern pride seems to be bubbling as Jon and Sansa rally the north in their plan to protect their region from the Long Night.
We saw the tension last season before they liberated their home from the Bolton’s, after-all it’s understandable considering Sansa idolized her mother who just so happened to abhor Jon, however they seemed to be able to put their differences aside for the sake of their people. Now that that time is over, we see their differences resurging as Sansa calls out Jon’s naivete and Jon points out Sansa’s cool and hardened demeanor as very reminiscent of Cersei (foreshadowing, anyone?)
Ultimately, the 10 year old heavyweight, Lyanna Mormont throws her support behind our newly crowned king and Jon’s wishes are honored. Sansa reluctantly bites her tongue but one can’t help but feel a bit worried as there’s still the issue of the machiavellian Little Finger and his presence in Winterfell.
He can’t be up to anything good. Has Sansa learned enough of the game to not allow herself to get influenced by him again? Only time will tell.
Speaking of the Starks, we see a pair of old faces show up at the Wall. Bran and Meera (thanks to Hodor’s sacrifice) make it Castle Black finally. Are we close to a full Stark reunion? Are the seven really that kind? There are new faces, including Jim Broadbent as the Archmaester Marwyn, who’s putting his apprentice Samwell Tarly to hard and not so glamorous work at the Citadel, and the welcome but heartbreaking return of Jorah (Iain Glen), though he’s apparently not yet found the cure for his nasty case of greyscale.
Down at Kings landing, savage Cersei herself wastes no time mourning the casualties of the city she just obliterated. Not even her son, Tommen who took a tumble out of his window when he saw his wife burned to a firey green crisp. “He betrayed me.” she declares to her lover/brother Jaime when he asks her to chill and think about what’s just happened. The only Lannister with redeeming qualities (besides Tyrion of course) attempts to spit some logic to the mad queen about how she’s not really Queen of the Seven Kingdoms; “three at best”, he tells her. He’s not wrong… but true to form, Cersei has something up her sleeve.
Enter Euron Greyjoy of the Iron Born. The salty ‘king’ makes a rather ostentatious entrance into Kings Landing with what are probably stolen ships. He proceeds to try to woo the queen with his lackluster flirtation skills, something Jaime clearly did not cosign. We know that Euron is still seething with hatred for his niece and his nephew, so any plan between him and a woman that has a tendency to go ham on her enemies probably won’t end well.
However one of the most intriguing moments came as The Hound (Rory McCann) stared into fire and witnessed some sinister things that indicated they will be fighting the Wights, and that Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) could very well be Azor Ahai (though my money’s on Jon). Beric is the one we’ve been underestimating the most and who’s been M.I.A for a minute so it will be interesting to see how things play out.
Finally, though the episode is called “Dragonstone” it takes us a while to witness Daenerys and company. When we finally do, she touches down on the beach of Blackwater Bay with her fleet and her babies dragons and one can almost feel through the television screen what a pivotal and important moment this is. The directing in this scene (courtesy of Jeremy Podeswa) was immaculate. The careful observation to detail as Dany touches the sand of the earth her family conquered hundreds of years ago signals how she’s finally reached her goal of crossing the narrow sea—taking her birthright back. Not only do we see the somber march up to the palace, the normally loquacious Tyrion is unusually silent. As Dany steps into the throne room of Dragonstone, Greyworm makes to walk with her as he’s always done but is held back by Missandei. Still wordless and without dialogue, it is easily understood that this moment was Dany’s and Dany’s alone. Flawless.
When she finally speaks, her only words to Tyrion looking over a map that oddly resembles something close to a chessboard (I see what you did there D&D) are: “Shall we begin?”
Yasss Queen. That’s all I have to say.
Ultimately, Dragonstone opened season seven well, and it was clear Game of Thrones has raised the stakes. With only 7 episodes this season, the storytelling has to be concise and in doing so the shocks come thick and fast (as we observed), making Game of Thrones’ drama factor at an all time high. We’ve lost a sense of the long and drawn out plots from previous seasons but it works to the show’s advantage now – it was imperative that the pace be sped up towards the end otherwise it would have felt irritatingly redundant. There was all the drama and intrigue needed to capture our attention and GoT served us well.
Be sure to check out a sneak peak of episode 2 below!