WINTER IS HERE
It's been a long wait, made even longer by the fact that there won't be as many episodes this season and so the premiere date was pushed back, but we finally made it. Game of Thrones Season 7 picked up right where we left everything last year and set the stage for a strong conflict filled season. This episode seemed to be largely exposition, which caught me by surprise as the production team had been promising a very action packed season with all of the shows budget poured into every episode, which is why they cut so many. However looking at the episode and story archs as a whole, I uphold that this type of beginning was necessary. Get the prices set, talk out the new knowledge and make clear where the players need to go, then execute. As always these reviews will be filled will all kinds of spoilers as we look at what happened, where we think it's going to go, and what kind of expectations to have so please! If you have not watched this episode yet I highly recommend you use one of many options provided to you by HBO because this show, I promise you, is something you don't want to miss out on.
This seasons opening scene is, in my very biased opinion, the strongest opening sequence this show has delivered so far. At first I thought "whhhaaaattt flashback?" but then as the wine went around I slowly began to smile as I saw the big picture. When Frey stopped the young wife from drinking I was sold.
Arya Stark is a badass. There's really no more to it. She had her Rocky training montage last season and is now ready to go the distance and kill everyone on her list as well as any close friends, personal acquaintances and other known associates who had a hand in killing her family. And that's just fine. About time someone in Westeros buckled down and said "if you want some revenge killing then you gotta do it yourself " and went out and got shit done. No politics, to hell with consequences of the world, just go out and do some good ol' fashioned murder. And to be honest, it made the scene with the Lannisters (with a most egregious Ed Sheeran cameo [yes, really, I'm not a fan]) all the more sobering in reminding the viewer that not everyone is bad. Some people are just soldiers, or workers, or what have you just trying to make sense of this world and coin for their family. Going from the girl that murdered an entire house to a girl laughing and sharing some wine with the boys of her enemies was a clever move on the writers part, and I felt it also tied in well with Jon not wanting to condemn the children for the sins of their fathers.
The final thought with Arya's part in this is that its an interesting choice that they had her go after Cersei next. As many may be aware, especially our book readers, Tyrion is pretty much spelled out to be the one to kill Cersei in that prophecy she received from the witch as a girl (though personally I'm rooting for it to be Jamie in the old brother-prophecy-switcharoo). So to have Arya head to Kings Landing so abruptly, and not meet up with Jon or Sansa, should be pretty interesting to watch. Personally, I bet - ooh am I brave enough to make a prediction already!? - I bet that Arya goes for Cersei but plays a key role in killing the unkillable man: The Mountain.
Speaking of Cersei she's up to being completely crazy as usual, and took it a step further than normal by inviting Euron Greyjoy and his 1000 ships over for an alliance. Greyjoy sees it as a chance for the Iron Throne but everyone including the viewer doubts that's going to happen. Super low blow to Jamie about having two hands though, that was as cold as the Night King. There's really not too much I have to say about all this except that I can't wait to see every person in that courtroom scene die a horrible death, barring Jamie, so time will tell how this terrible plan plays out. I will say this though, Euron is no joke and the Greyjoys are kings of ocean battles. I wonder how well all that wood holds up to dragon fire though?
Further north Sandor Clegane has been going around with Dondarrion for a good while now, and recently came back to that house he and Arya stayed at with the farmer and the girl. Things did not go well for the farmer and the girl. The Brotherhood without Banners elects to stay the night in the now vacant house and Sandor stares into the fire for what I believe is the first time in his life since his brother gave him his scar. He sees Eastwatch by the Sea, a tower of the Night's Watch being invaded by White Walkers. The fire pops as he is describing the scene and Beric points out that he may not know why the Lord of Light brings him back but he's got a pretty good guess what kind of things the Fire God wouldn't like. Sandor buries the farmer and the girl in what is a great homage to the Gravedigger theory in the books, and it looks like as is the case with the books as well, the Hound persona is officially dead as Sandor has now faced the fire.
The one true king in the north who's name is Stark is doing awesome and nothing wrong. Jon does have a lot on his plate right now though and Sansa isnt making it much easier. To be fair, they're both not working together very well, something that is a huge problem and goes back to their incompatibilities and children. This is a most opportune time for Littlefinger who would love nothing more than to manipulate Sansa into a position that threatens her brothers rule and ultimately plays out well for his status, however I'm happy to report Sansa doesn't seem to be a fool anymore and is shutting him down left and right. Brienne and Podrick are both present as well, and things in the North are pretty much exactly how we left them. The only real development was that the Umber and the Karstarks will continue to be banner man and defend the north regardless of their fathers decisions to fight for Ramsay. I actually say good call Jon, even though I could see Sansas point, but in the end the White Walkers won't give a rats ass who's helped who in the past.
Speaking of knowing about the oncoming threat of the Whitewalkers I'm going to need Bran and Meera to get it in gear and start doing some three eyed recon for Jon at Winterfell. No one, literally no one, has time for them to be pissing around at the soon to be war zone Wall.
Sam had an interesting scene, very well shot and pretty much expected lifestyle of training to be a maester. He ended up having to steal some keys and break into the restricted section of the library to figure out a way to fight the White Walkers. I found the scene with the archmaester really clever, as the archmaester pointed out how maesters are supposed to doubt everything and look at problems logically and this puts them so far above the unlearned population however he didn't even see the hypocrisy at assuming the Wall would defend the north on the grounds that it always has. This actually infuriated me a little, that he thinks the Wall never had any help ever and somehow won every battle it's seen and refused to help it on that assumption, but if a scene makes me that mad I have to say it was pretty darn good, and it really helped the audience see Sam's motivations for risking his time at the Citadel over the books. The two big revelations in this scene: Dragonstone is actually one gigantic mine for Dragonglass, something more valuable than gold when it comes to defeating the White Walker invasion, and Jorah Mormont is in the Citadel with Sam assumingly there for a cure.
On that note we get a look at what everyone has been waiting for, and Danearys Targaryean has finally arrived with her army, her fleet, and her Dragons on Dragonstone. Not a whole lot of screen time but a very powerful scene none the less, and it left me on a high note for expectations this season. The only real thought I had on this scene besides how beautifully it was shot is that I love how Jon has a legitimate reason for visiting Danearys now and I'm a little worried at Jamie's military prowess for just knowing where she was going to be. Hopefully the conflicts to come end well for all the good guys. That's how this show works right?
So we come to the close of the premiere and excitedly look forward to another season of Game of Thrones! I'm holding out on most my biggest predictions for a couple more episodes to see how things play out, but this opener still left us with a lot to speculate at. Hopefully the action start to really pick up to justify cutting so many episodes this season, I really hope we don't get too much exposition and instead get a lot more doing. This episode is on the whole a strong one and I feel the best thing about it was because it finally cut the politics and started telling it like it is in the world of Westeros. We had some phenomenal one liners from nearly every main character that really just told it like things were. We know what to expect, the characters know what it is now, and we've finally come far enough for them to stop swallowing everyone's bs and just straight up lay down the truth. That's one thing I really appriciated this episode; many of the characters seemed done playing games and just bluntly stated what was happening. Jamie shutting down Cersei telling her she's the Queen of three kingdoms at best, Sansa shutting down Littlefinger and telling Brienne that she is aware of him trying to manipulate her, Sandor cursing at being with fire-worshipers, even Arya's bluntness at her plans to kill Cersei, I think the show is finally going in the direction fans want and putting the cards on the table to watch the game play out. Be sure to lookout for all of the reviews we'll be putting out this season as we see who edges ever closer to winning the Iron Throne!