Tell Them Winter Came for House Frey.
It’s. Finally. Here. While the entry back into Westeros is bittersweet given that this is the second to last of two shortened seasons, in the end it really does feel good to be home.
And a welcoming of epic proportions do we get with a strange cold open of Game of Thrones Season 7, in the form of “Dragonstone.” Walter Frey is talking to his family in preparation for the coming Winter. At first one must believe that this is taking place in the past, given that the patriarch had been relieved of his throat by Arya Stark in the season before. However, as things play out we realize that this is very much the present as Frey pulls off his face to reveal everyone’s favorite little assassin: Arya Stark. She has now singlehandedly eliminated the Frey line, at least the ones of import, and is apparently taking this train of vengeance south.
Unfortunately, while the rest of the season premier is okay, none of it compares to this opener for the remainder of our time with the show.
The White Walkers Are Coming
We are afforded a courtesy shot of white walkers and their ice zombies, along with the one thing we all should have been afraid of from the beginning: giant white walkers. I’ve had this idea since Hardhome that this could be a thing, and I’m not sure if I’m elated or terrified that these are something we’re going to have to contend with now.
This is also where we get our one and only shot of Bran Stark for this episode. Apparently his Three Eyed Raven connection is about as reliable as my Comcast connection. Nevertheless, he makes it to Castle Black in time for us to get our first view of Winterfell for the season.
Getting to see Lady Moremont is always a treat, I feel, and she did not disappoint at all in this episode when she proved that even as an eleven year old girl, she’s more man than most, even in the North. However, Jon Snow hasn’t quite figured out his loyalty thing yet when it comes to allies and traitors. Thankfully Sansa’s found a voice after literal seasons of abuse and has no trouble arguing against the one person that would never lay a hand on her.
In all seriousness, it’s nice to finally see Sansa having found her grounding. The poor girl has been through enough, and for what it’s worth Jon Snow in no small part owes his victory over Ramsey to her. Whether Jon has made the right decision in terms of allowing the remaining Umbers and Karstarks to keep their homes remains unseen.
Does Jon make the right decision? He’s no doubt learned from his half brother/cousin Robb, or has he? Sansa seems to think otherwise, but betrayal of the Karstarks was what lost Robb his army and ultimately the Starks the North. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes of this, though previews of episode two already show things getting crazy.
Meanwhile, Cersei is beginning to sound like the Mad King and she’s not been on the throne more than a few days. Granted, she’s buried all of her children at this point and has no allies to speak of except a brother who’s rightly questioning her every move. After a very odd and low payoff interaction with Euron Greyjoy claiming that he’ll bring “a gift” to Cersei to earn her heart and trust, audiences are left wondering just exactly what that might be. One might hope it’s the literal definition of the word “traitor,” as she seems confused about its application.
The audience then gets a glimpse of Sam Tarley ,of whom I for one have cared little about ever since he left Castle Black. I’ve continued to not care as he delves through a combination of the Hogwarts and the Kamar-Taj’s libraries and discovers a great secret: that cleaning fecal matter is far from ideal, especially when forced to eat and serve food of a similar texture. I half expected this to turn into a “Need to Get Away?” commercial while simultaneously wondering how often Sam washes his hands in a day.
In Which A Lot Of People Probably Made Poor Choices
As we establish a future attempted rape of Sansa with Lord Baelish (come on HBO, can we not?) we come to find Arya is heading south to kill the queen (I had forgotten about her list, so I guess this is the last entry?). I personally had kind of hoped she was going to travel North, but in all honestly she probably believes her family is dead. So, Arya reveals her plans to head south and kill the queen to a kindly group of soldiers (alongside Ed Sheeran) who either haven’t been in Westeros long enough to learn how things go, or she’s just walked into a trap.
Next we’re catching up with Clegane and the Knights Who Say Ni Without Banners. Turns out that family back in season four did starve to death, just like Clegane said they would after he…stole their money and left them to starve to death.
With all the sadness Clegane can muster, he then turns to ask Dondarrion just why The Lord of Light keeps bringing him back when he’s a garbage human being. Dondarrion admits he has no idea, only that he’s alive for some purpose. More than likely it will be to die saving someone more important than anyone currently on screen, including Priest Man-bun who demands Clegane to look into the fire. Turns out the dead are coming, marching through a mountain pass near Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Apparently both Clegane and Bran Stark tuned into the same Twitch stream.
Back at the Citadel where no one cares, Sam has now realized that there’s dragonglass at Dragon Stone (can’t say that’s much of a surprise), and we run into Jorah Moremont who is apparently jerk, entirely okay with infecting other people with dragon scale as he asks everyone if Danaerys has written him back yet returned to Westeros.
Hear Me Roar
And with that we meet up with the Dragon Queen herself, finally touching down on Dragonstone just as her forefathers once had a millennium ago. We also revisit set pieces we haven’t seen in seasons, so it’s really a return home for everyone, right? The episode closes with Dany at the head of a war table, looking out in to the open with the question “Shall we begin?”
And the question on everyone’s minds is: Indeed, shall we?
This episode, like every episode before it, is setting up a lot. With most of the plot of the current books out of the way, though, what happens next is going to be anyone’s best guess. Will the final three contenders for the Iron Throne make it to the end of the season? Will a fourth contender make his way to the stage before long? Will that contender be Lord Baelish? Will anyone be surprised if it is?
Right now, fans have a lot of questions and not many answers. Although, to be fair, Game of Thrones fans really ought to be familiar with that feeling by now. That being said, with only six episodes already left in the season, there’s not a lot of room for filler here, so every episode needs to count. “Dragonstone” opened strong, but petered out rather quickly.
How satisfied were you with the season seven premier? Do you think they had strong set ups?
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Game of Thrones can be viewed on HBO on Sundays at 9 p.m. E.T. and can be viewed directly after live air on HBO Go.