Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere, "Dragonstone," written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
In short: Arya doubles down on her Season 6 finale Walder Frey sneak attack. Jon Snow strengthens his allegiances in the North, but Sansa's not pleased about playing second fiddle to, as Littlefinger calls him, the bastard Stark. Cersei's working on her own potential alliance with the smug and brash Euron Greyjoy. Turns out Sam Tarly has a literal crap job at the Citadel. And Dany finally returns to the seat of House Targaryen. But does any of that matter when winter is here and the Night King's army, including walker giants, is on the march?!
Welcome back to the SYFY WIRE Game of Thrones recaps!
The extra three months of waiting for Games of Thrones to return made this premiere feel extra special, but regardless, it was an entertaining start to the penultimate season cycle of storytelling. Showrunners Benioff & Weiss pick up with what can be assumed is just a few weeks after the last finale, as evidenced by the distances made by both Euron Greyjoy's and Dany's armadas.
First off, much love for the ice-cold open of Arya going Faceless Man, taking Walder's mug to welcome the assembly of Freys who murdered the Starks and then poisoning every last cretin in the room. She spared the innocent women so they could share her ominous message, "Tell them winter came for House Frey." Her little smirk as she walked out past the carnage was a virtual mic drop.
Back at King's Landing, Cersei goes very Bond walking on a painted Westeros map contemplating her next moves with brother/lover Jamie. I mentioned during the season finale that with no children to tether her, the Kingslayer should be afraid. She asks him if he is, and he responds, "Should I be?" Guys, neither one of you answered the other. So let's just say there is an uneasy space between these two, even before Euron asks for her hand in marriage to stick it to their enemies.
Surprisingly, we got a lot of time with Sandor "The Hound" Clegane as he rides with Lord Beric Dondarrion and the Red Priest Thoros of Myr. They come upon the abandoned homestead that The Hound pillaged with Arya in tow, way back when, and it has a profound effect on the softer side of Sandor. Now, don't fear, the crusty Hound still lays out some fiery topknot (aka man-bun) zingers and drops pearls of wisdom like "There's no divine justice, you dumb c***," but he's also got some guilt for his previous actions. He buries the father and daughter who starved because of him, and even attempted a prayer over their graves. But even more surprising is that when Beric and Thoros both told him to look into the flames to get the answers about why the Lord of Light was serial-resurrecting Dondarrion, the Hound actually saw things. The non-believer was shaken seeing The Wall and the Night King's oncoming army. Actor Rory McCann is selling the hell out a potential redemptive arc for ol' Sandor.
Up North, Jon's first leadership decision is to spare the children of the turncoat Karstarks, much to Sansa's disapproval. She wants familial lands taken from any ingrates who aligned with Ramsey Bolton during his reign. They quarrel publicly on it, while little Lady Lyanna Mormont and others watch on, making Jon forcefully assert that no children will pay for the sins of their parents. He gets the surviving kids to take the knee to him, and the North, as they prepare for the upcoming war. It's an honorable ruling, but as Sansa knows, there's not much honor left in this world.
Another fine moment was Dany Targaryen finally landing back home to her long-abandoned family seat: Dragonstone. It's an emotional sequence to see awe on Tyrion, Greyworm, Missandei and the rest of her key inner circle's faces as they witness the Mother of Dragons return to her rightful place.
Nothing is as it seems in this world, so, of course, Sam's new life in the Citadel isn't as awesome as he hoped. He's basically cleaning bedpans and putting books away as the important dragon glass tomes mock him from behind a locked gate. That's all fine, but did we need the barf-montage of sewage, swill on rinse-repeat for that long? I think we were all the butt of an inside joke with that one.
And if that scene wasn't enough to remind you never to eat while watching the show, Jim Broadbent's introduction as Archmaester Marwyn during a graphic autopsy will do the trick. It was like that similar scene in Fletch, just 1000% more awful and less funny.
Ed Sheeran as a troubadour soldier? No, thanks. However, nice, non-rapey soldiers I will take every day.
Things to Ponder ...
Meera and Bran are finally at The Wall, so they're finally positioned inside Castle Black as the Night King's human armada kicks up ice clouds while marching to wipe out the puny humans. How happy must Meera be to not have to drag Bran around anymore in that sled? I want a future arm-wrestling scene between her and Gendry, the ever-rowing bastard Baratheon. It's even money on who breaks whose arm.
The Beric, Thoros, Sandor looking into the fire moment feels like we can pretty much guarantee a meeting of Jon Snow with this trio, and possibly a handing off of The Hound to the North as a new ally. Reunion with his former charge, Sansa? Lord Petyr Baelish could stand a HUGE ass-kicking/killing at the hands of The Hound. Hope it happens.
Cersei called the true Queen of Shade, Lady Olenna Tyrell, a c-bomb? Girl, that's going to come back and haunt you. Beware.
What Euron Greyjoy's gift to Cersei going to be? So many things would make her happy: Tyrion delivered on a pike? Dany and her dragons on a spit?
Jorah's in the Citadel! His greyscale is really bad! What does it mean? Could it be important for battling the Walkers? Who knows, but at least he's not dead!
So much to ponder! So let us know below what you thought of "Dragonstone"!