All the pieces have been set, and the final confrontations are impending. The opening of Game of Throne’s penultimate season brought with it a sense of foreboding, with the final big players in the game carefully considering their futures.
Our opening scene is hugely symbolic of not just Arya’s journey, but of all the Stark children’s development. They have matured in their own ways since Season 1, and they are now exactly where they need to be to face their destinies. Arya has destroyed every last member of the House of Frey, expertly disguising herself as Walder and sentencing each one of them to a slow, painful death by poison. She is vengeful and ruthless, rubbing salt into their wounds, taunting them of their failure to wipe out the Starks completely.
Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe.
The Freys have always been weak and cowardly, so naturally their total annihilation is only the beginning of Arya’s quest for revenge. Unfortunately for her the latter members of her kill list won’t be so easy to cross off, especially with people like Cersei and Melisandre still in play.
Bran’s single short scene also captures his growth in a very simple way, drawing some lovely parallels with Arya’s own journey. He is calm, resolved in manner, and understands his responsibility as the Three Eyed Raven. He gains passage across the border by demonstrating some of his rad new psychic abilities, proving his capability to the ordinary folk whom he will inevitably help save.
Meanwhile, the White Walker invasion is nearing… with a freshly rotted giant wight in tow. My first thought was that this is Wun Wun, but the reality of this is a little unclear seeing as he died in Winterfell, and it is likely his remains were burnt. Either way, this is a good reminder that the White Walkers are pretty damn terrifying.
Jon and Sansa are having family issues back at home, disagreeing over basic ethical questions of leadership. Clashing with Jon’s leadership style, Sansa wants to see justice served to the families of traitors. It is pretty clear that her time playing politics in King’s Landing is rearing its lion-like head. Jon’s more merciful approach rubs her the wrong way, foreshadowing the probable alliance growing between her and Littlefinger.
During her time living as a Lannister hostage, Sansa played the role of the doormat when absolutely necessary; however, she also spent this time observing their movements and vulnerabilities. She is in a unique advantageous position, as she is able to understand them like no one else. Her decisiveness and newfound confidence even has a little bit of Cersei in it – something that may either work in the Starks’ favour, or be their downfall. Most importantly, Sansa has learnt from the mistakes of her deceased family members.
You have to be smarter than father. You have to be smarter than Robb.
This new Sansa is closed-off and suspicious, and this may be exactly what saves her from suffering the same fate as them in the end.
Liked a cornered animal, Cersei is feeling vulnerable and exposed. She is also at her most dangerous.
Illustrated through a beautiful mural of Westeros painted on the courtyard ground, Cersei is surrounded by enemies from every direction and is lashing out in any way she can. Poor Jaime is terrified. Cersei’s children were all that kept her human. Now with them gone, she is a reckless and destructive force.
Grasping at straws, Cersei invites House Greyjoy to King’s Landing to form a possible alliance. With a shady reputation, a demand to marry her, and a snarky attitude to the whole affair, Euron Greyjoy’s offer of the Iron Fleet is not quite enough to win Cersei over.
But he isn’t giving up yet – he will be back with a gift of some sort. If Euron gets his way and joins the Greyjoys with House Lannister, then we will have yet another powerful army to worry about later on.
On the Road
Determined to be part of the fight against the White Walkers, the Brotherhood Without Banners and the newly recruited Sandor Clegane are heading north towards the Wall. Encountering an abandoned house where a father and daughter have chosen suicide over starvation, the men take refuge for the night.
Here’s where it gets interesting: these two nameless corpses are the very same people who the Hound beat up and stole silver from back in Season 4. As he buries their bodies he pays respects to them, clearly remorseful for the person he used to be and adding brilliantly to his own redemption arc.
Not only is he learning empathy, but also through a life-changing epiphany he is starting to realise that there might be a greater purpose for him. By the power of the Lord of the Light, he sees a vision…
Ice, a wall of ice. The Wall… It’s where the Wall meets the sea. There’s a castle there. There’s a mountain, looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them.
This will be an interesting development for a character who is so jaded by life and stuck in his ways. Having something to fight for and believe in is looking to be a fascinating turning point for the Hound.
Sam’s expectations of life training to be a Maester are from its reality. Tormented by manual labour (never was his strong suit) and the nauseating odour of faeces, he just wants to get to the good stuff in the restricted section of the library. The key to defeating the White Walkers may lie in these shelves, but everyone’s constant doubt of their existence is anything but helpful to him.
And whaddaya know – after stealing a book from the restriction section, Sam learns that there is an entire mountain of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone. Now if only there was someone there with access to all of that White Walker-killing glass…
Oh, hi Daenerys. We were wondering when you were going to turn up – it’s just a surprise that it was over 50 minutes into the episode. The Targaryens are back in Dragonstone, and several minutes of intense silence as Daenerys walks through the empty halls of her childhood home lets the reality sink in that her story is starting to come full circle.
“Shall we begin?” Yes, Daenerys. We most certainly can.
For our first episode back, we got a lot of necessary setup. It is travelling a snail’s pace for now, but there is also so much to be excited about – the Stark reunion, Daenerys’ return home, Cersei’s lashing out at enemies, etc. We can expect many more battles and beloved character deaths, but at the same time we are so unsure of what is to come. For a show as unpredictable as Game of Thrones, the future is equal parts thrilling and daunting.
Tell us what you thought of the Season 7 premiere in the comments below!