The wait is finally over. Winter has finally come! Complete with an HBO countdown clock, Game of Thrones returned to the premiere pay channel Sunday night, and when last we left off, Daenerys was on her way to Westeros and had teamed up with the Greyjoy siblings, the Tyrells, and the Sands to take the fight to Cersei and claim the throne.
Cersei had not only defeated the High Sparrow, but after unleashing Wildfire like the Mad King did before her, she now has assumed the throne (thanks to her son’s suicide), and her brother-lover Jaime doesn’t look too happy about it.
Arya started to enact her vengeance and killed Walder Frey after serving him his own sons as part of a meat pie! Sam has made it to the Citadel to learn from the Maesters on how to stop the White Walkers. Jon Snow has been crowned King of the North by the Northern families, oh yeah, and he’s also Lyanna Stark’s bastard child, not Ned’s, which means Jon’s really a Targaryen! With so many running stories, Season 7 promises to be exciting!
Even before the opening credits, things heat up really quickly. The episode opens in what looks like a flashback. Walder Frey is having yet another celebratory dinner with his family. As he is offering a toast, you realize pretty quickly that things aren’t what they appear to be. As “Walder” starts recounting their murder of the Starks at the Red Wedding, you realize that “Walder” sounds bitter about it. Then members of the Frey family start choking and then vomiting up their own blood. Turns out, it was no Walder, but Arya after she takes off her mask, and she has single handily taken out an entire family. One of Walder’s servants is spared by Arya and she reminds her that “the North remembers.” Yeah, Arya is a badass.
Meanwhile, Cersei is now in complete supervillain mode. Having bested all her enemies at King’s Landing last season, she is now Queen and ready to dispatch her will on all who still oppose her. Her brother Jaime is starting to see the change in her, and by his mention of their son, and her dismissal of it, shows just how far down the rabbit hole for power she truly has gone.
When we first met Jaime seven season ago, he was the cocky person we were certainly waiting for Ned Stark to shove a sword through, and his sister was Robert Baratheon’s poor wife. How the tables have turned. She is now the evil supervillain, and we are all hoping that he’ll enact the prophecy and put her down before she does something that not even the Mad King thought to do, and she’s already halfway there. As they discuss their enemies, Jaime lays it out plain and simple. They don’t have any allies. They have enemies from all corners of Westeros gunning for them, and no friends. That’s when Cersei reveals that a new friend has arrived, Euron Greyjoy.
While we really haven’t seen much from him except a few episodes last season, Euron’s arrival to King’s Landing shows that he’s going to be a thorn in everyone’s side. He obviously wants the Iron Throne, and proposes an alliance with Cersei through marriage. It’s quite clear he’s not fond of Jaime, and he throws the ultimate shade towards him when addressing the queen, from Jaime not having two hands to suggesting that she tries killing her brother (as he has). But Euron needs to prove his worth. After all, he’s from the Iron Islands, and he’s willing to betray people at the drop of a hat. He promises her that he will return with a gift to prove his loyalty.
In the North, Jon is now dealing with the realities of being a ruler. He was once the bastard who could not even go inside the house during Stark family dinners, but now he’s not only being the Lord of Winterfell, and the King of the North. During a meeting of the Northern families, they are talking about what to do about the families that sided with Ramsey before the Battle of the Bastards. Because Jon knows that the army of the dead will be coming now that winter is finally here, he decides that all past transgressions are forgiven. Most people are on board with the idea, except Sansa.
Sansa openly defies and challenges him during the council meeting, as she thinks that the families of those who side with Ramsey should not retain their lands as they committed treason. It’s clear that even though the two are siblings, Sansa has learned how to be ruthless and pragmatic from her time with Cersei and Little Finger. Is Sansa going to become a bad guy, or is Jon too green for this line of work? She reminds him that he is very much like her father Ned and her brother Robb, and look how that worked out for the two of them. Jon dispatches the Wildlings to the Wall to become the new Night’s Watch, and also advises that men, women, and children shall be armed to fight the army of the dead, something that pleases Lady Mormont.
Speaking of north of the Wall, we see the White Walkers are making their trek south. We see the Night’s King and his lieutenants, but he also has a horde of the dead with him, and that includes giants as well. Bran, as he sees everything with his Three-Eyed-Raven powers, has made it to the wall where Dolorous meets up with him. Bran recognizes him and tells him that he knows he was at Hard Home, which surely freaked him out. He tells him who he is and is allowed to pass through the gate. Now, remember, the Night’s King touched him? With Bran entering the gate, might this negate the magic that keeps the dead out as the two are now connected?
At the Citadel, poor Sam has a completely awful job. We are treated to a montage of his picking and cleaning up bedpans for sick maesters, and then using those same bedpans to serve people soup. It’s surprising that not everyone there is deathly sick. All he wants to do is go to the secret room that archmaesters have access to so that he can try and learn something about stopping the White Walkers. He finally lucks out and steals a key and then “borrows” a few books. Sam, in full book-learning mode, learns about a large cache of dragon glass (the only thing that can kill White Walkers) and where it is: Dragonstone castle. He gets word to Jon about the location, but not before he runs into Jorah, who thanks to his grayscale is being kept in a cell.
The Hound has been travelling with the Brotherhood without Banners as they are treking through the snow. They need a place to camp out for the night and find an old house. fans from a few season ago know that this is the house that he robbed from when he had Arya as his prisoner. Turns out, the family he deemed as weak, were weak.
As The Hound comes across their bodies, it’s clear that the father killed his daughter and them himself. This is one of the first times that the Hound actually sees what his action brought forward. A remorseful Hound, later on, buries the bodies and even offers a pray that he cannot remember. Because he is with a group of people in service to the Lord of Light, and he’s deathly afraid of fire, they ask him to stare into a fire and tell them what he sees. Not only does this allow the Hound to face his fears, but he actually sees a vision of the army of the dead and where they are going.
Arya comes across a few Lannister soldiers, who are actually decent people. They didn’t attack her or try and rape her like other terrible soldiers have done to people walking on the road in the woods. Hey, they even have Ed Sheeran with them (in one of Game of Thrones’ strangest and blatant cameos). When asked what she’s doing, she tells them the truth that she’s going to kill the queen, which they laugh off. If they only knew.
At Dragonstone, Danny arrives at her family’s historical castle. It has since been run by Stannis, but he’s dead (though we have not yet seen a body), and no one’s there. The Mother of Dragons arrives at her ancestral homeland and after taking what seems like the longest house tour, arrives at the war room that Stannis used. The only line she utters that episode is “Shall we begin?” And now she’s ready to conquer Westeros!