Shall we begin?
The long-awaited seventh season of Game of Thrones is finally here! Hopefully, you’re caught up by now, because I am super excited to dive into this new episode with y’all.
The episode kicks off with a cold open, in which we see Walder Frey toasting his House with a glass of Arbor Gold. We immediately know something’s up since we saw Arya slit his throat at the end of the last season. Sure enough, after kicking back their glasses of wine, the entire room full of Freys begins coughing up blood and slumping to the floor. Walder peels off his face to reveal he’s really Old Man Weathersby, the guy who runs the haunted amusement park!! JK, it’s Arya Stark. She turns over her shoulder to leave a message with Walder’s wife: “Tell them winter came for House Frey.” Arya has mastered the art of wiping out an entire generation of Freys AND delivering a killer tag line.
After the opening credits roll, the show takes us up north and knocks out a few quick updates: the White Walkers, led by the Night King, are marching towards the Wall, and they have giants now. Welp! Bran Stark and Meera Reed make it to the Wall, where Dolorous Edd lets them safely inside. And in Winterfell, Jon Snow is rallying his troops, preparing them for the biggest war they’ve ever seen. Jon and Sansa disagree on how to handle the surviving family members of the Houses who betrayed them during the Battle of the Bastards. She also warns him that they shouldn’t write off the threat of Queen Cersei, but Jon is focused on the White Walkers. Sansa’s had a front seat view of the extent of Cersei’s shady ambitions, and thinks Jon is making a grave mistake in the footsteps of Ned and Robb Stark. “I learned a great deal from her,” Sansa says of Cersei, including some sweet hairstyles.
If the hairdo connection was too subtle, the show further ratchets up the comparison by cutting directly to The Queen of the Andals herself, rocking a black leather dress. Jaime is concerned that his sister hasn’t appeared to mourn the death of King Tommen, oh and there’s the whole blowing up of the Grand Sept at the end of season 6 with a ton of wildfire (the exact thing that Jaime had killed King Aerys for plotting to do). Between that and the giant map Cersei is using to plot out how to kill every single one of their enemies in the North, South, East, and West, Jaime has a lot to be concerned about.
In addition, he’s got competition for Cersei’s affections when Euron Greyjoy shows up in King’s Landing, asking for the Queen’s hand in marriage. Since last season, Euron has gotten a shorter haircut, black leather pants, and a distressed jacket; he now has the douchey swagger and fashion sense of 30 Seconds to Mars era-Jared Leto. He stands in front of the court and tells Cersei with a wink “Here I am with a thousand ships and two good hands,” (oh snap) which riles up Jaime. Cersei turns him down promptly, but Euron is unfazed and promises to return with a gift that will change her mind. What do you get the Queen who has everything? My guess is that Euron thinks a dragon would go great with Cersei’s outfit.
Over at the Citadel, we catch up with Sam in a montage of daily drudgery--put away books, dump out poopy bedpans, serve up watery soup that looks the opposite of appetizing after that series of bedpans, gag a little bit, repeat. After breaking into the restricted part of the library and swiping a book, he finds a key piece of information: Dragonstone, Daenerys Targaryen’s ancestral home, is built upon a mountain of dragonglass, one of the only materials in Westeros that can kill a White Walker. Sam sends this news to Jon via raven, then returns to work collecting used dishes from the Citadel’s quarantined patients. Here, he runs into our old friend, Captain Friendzone a.k.a Jorah Mormont, whose greyscale has gotten progressively worse. Mormont begs for news of Daenerys’s return, but Sam is unable to help him.
The episode shifts back to Arya Stark on her journey towards King’s Landing. On the road, she hears the dulcet tones of a young Lannister soldier singing a song called “Hands of Gold,” but he’s better known for his hits “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud.” As with anytime I encounter stunt casting that takes me out of a scene and/or Ed Sheeran, I audibly groaned. But I read that the show creators cast Sheeran as a surprise for Maisie Williams because she has a crush on him, so I grudgingly admit that that’s kind of sweet. I also hope that my boss takes note of this and I expect to see Michael Fassbender waiting in my office posed provocatively next to the printer any day now.
Elsewhere in the Westeros countryside, the Hound is trudging along with the Brotherhood Without Banners when they happen upon an abandoned cottage. The Hound recognizes it as the house where he robbed a farmer and his young daughter of their life savings. Life has a way of bringing you back to the scene of your crimes, which is why I try to avoid going anywhere near a Claire’s Boutique or a Cheesecake Factory bathroom. Inside the house, the Hound starts questioning Beric, asking him why he’s so special that the Lord of Light keeps resurrecting him. Beric pretty much replies with an emoji shrug, so Thoros asks Clegane to look into the fire. Clegane stares into the flames and sees a vision of the Night King leading his army of White Walkers and Wights past the Wall, and the mood in the farmhouse grows somber. In the middle of the night, Clegane goes outside to bury the bodies of the farmer and his daughter. “They deserved better,” he says gruffly. It’s striking to see one of the show’s most unsentimental characters embark on an emotional journey, but staring into a magical vision of an icy apocalypse can really change a man.
In the final scene of the premiere, Daenerys’s ships reach Dragonstone. She is home. She is also wearing a black leather dress/pants combo, proving once and for all that black leather is totally hot this winter. She walks onto dry land, then reaches down to touch the sand while her confidantes watch, standing back to give her space. Inside the castle, she surveys the room but, unlike Cersei, doesn’t go to immediately sit on the throne. Instead, she walks over and looks at the map of Westeros carved into a stone table, running her fingers over the carved stone chess pieces sitting ready to plot out an attack. She looks at Tyrion and breaks the silence: “Shall we begin?” Yaaaaas Queen.
One hour into season 7, I am elated to be back in Westeros. The premiere started strong and violent with the House Frey stop on Arya’s revenge tour, and ended with an emotion-packed, reverently staged homecoming for Daenerys at Dragonstone. In between, there were some slow but necessary detours into heavy exposition and 100% too much Ed Sheeran. With only 7 episodes this season, I’m looking forward to a date with my couch every Sunday night and I invite all you Heauxs out there to join me (but not in a sleazy, Euron Greyjoy way).