If you do not want to know what happens in the first episode yet, then do not read on.
Game Of Thrones’ much-awaited seventh season begins with not so much of a bang as a slow burn. We know the bang is coming but the first episode, Dragonstone, is all about setting the scene for what comes later — as well as squeezing in what looks like quite a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vital clues about where the last couple of seasons are going.
There’s going to be plenty of spoilers coming … as well as some (sort of) educated guesses about where the show is going.
The last words go to Daenerys Targaryen: “Shall we begin?” she asks Tyrion, Varys, Missandei and Grey worm.
“That would be nice!” you’ll find yourself yelling back at the screen.
Because Dragonstone is basically all about catching up with what everyone has been doing since season six. And I do mean pretty much everyone.
We start with Arya, who’s wearing Walder Frey’s face and wiping out that treacherous family with a smile and a poisoned toast. She gets some lovely lines but also proves once and for all that she’s not Lady Stoneheart by sparing Frey’s wife and the serving girls. In the books, Lady Stoneheart is the revived corpse of Catelyn Stark who spends her time killing any Frey she can find, even women and children.
With that awesome scene done, we head north, to find Edd letting Bran Stark and Meera through the gate in the wall. It’s nicely done and sets up a partial Stark reunion but, really, how dumb are these guys? Jon Snow said they needed to fill that gate tunnel with ice back in season four, before the Wildlings attacked in Watchers On The Wall. Don’t you think they should have done that now, given there’s an unstoppable army of undead approaching?
Anyway, we head a little south, to where Jon is organising the defence of the north and already fighting with Sansa over whether to punish those who fought with Ramsay or try to unite the north. Only time will tell which one of them is right but from the looks Littlefinger was giving Sansa, Lord Baelish is enjoying sowing discord between the two.
We also learn where the first battle with the Night King will be, that Tormund and the Wildlings are now effectively the Night’s Watch and that Lyanna Mormont is brilliant.
She backs Jon’s plan to arm and train girls to fight and makes us love her even more. She’s so brave and honourable and good. So let’s face it, she’s got about as much chance of getting to the end of the show alive as a fluffy baby seal at the Annual Spiked Club Sellers Convention.
We do also see that Sansa is highly suspicious of Littlefinger and that Tormund has the hots for Brienne. That’s not going to end well, as she still holds a torch for Jaime Lannister.
Talking of Jaime, he and Cersei are trying to decide which of their enemies they should attack first. The relationship between the two looks to be fraying (or should that be Freying) and she’s ready to show that blowing up the Sept with Wildfire is the least she will do to rule. She now thinks Tommen betrayed her by killing himself and that the Lannisters can rule for a 1000 years. It now seems that reality and Cersei are old friends — they only meet now and again — but that doesn’t make her less dangerous.
Especially with a looming alliance with Euron Greyjoy. He arrives offering much, although Jaime obviously hates him.
But what is going on with the Ironborn ships? I know the designers like to give everything a funky look but Euron’s flagship had so much superstructure and sails that it would surely topple over the moment it hit a storm.
Anyway, he’s off to try and collect “a gift” for Cersei to prove he’s a worthy ally. Will that be Yara or Theon’s head? Or Tyrion’s? Or is he going to get her a dragon, with his horn Dragonbinder?
The next sequence you don’t want to watch while eating dinner. It shows Sam having a crappy time of it in the Citadel, emptying chamber pots. When he starts dry-retching over them … well, it’s enough to turn your stomach. Which is pretty apt as it’s followed by a scene where he turns over a dead Maester’s stomach during an autopsy.
Anyway, in between making us want to hurl, he steals books from the restricted section of the library (a scene seemingly so close to Harry Potter that I expected him to have a red-headed offsider keeping watch. But Ed Sheeran didn’t guest star until later in the episode).
So Sam finds out that Dragonstone has a secret stash of dragon glass, the one thing that kills White Walkers. Plus he also shows us a picture of a Catspaw dagger, the same one that Arya was photographed wearing in a promo shoot for the show. So that has to be significant. And we also find that Sam’s other duty is feeding people all infected with Greyscale, including Ser Jorah. He’s still obsessed with Dany and no closer to being cured. But there’s a theory that Walkers can’t kill people with Greyscale. Will Sam lead an army of them to Jon’s rescue?
We check in with Arya, who meets up with Ed Sheeran, who’s singing for a bunch of other Lannister soldiers. I wanted her to kill Sheeran so bad but instead we were tormented with them telling her they were just normal folks and not baddies after all. Yawn. But we did learn she’s not off to Winterfell but to King’s Landing to kill Cersei. So no full Stark Reunion at Winterfell this season, it seems. Boo. She’d have better slaughtered Ed Sheeran by the next time we see her.
Then it’s over to The Hound and the rest of the Brotherhood Without Banners, on their way to help Jon. The Hound returns to the house of a man he robbed when with Arya. The guy and his daughter are dead, so Clegane is tortured by those memories. But he also reveals some interesting stuff. First, he saw a “mountain” in the flames. The Mountain, perhaps? His brother? Clegane Bowl? We can but hope.
We also learn they will travel to help Tormund in the first battle with the Night King and that Beric is questioning the point of being brought back so many times. It’s setting up that he will have a very important role in this season. In the books, he gives up his (returned) life force to restore Catelyn Stark and create Lady Stoneheart. Could he maybe bring back Jon from the dead again? Or The Hound? The show would be poorer without his one-liners, for sure.
Finally we hit Dragonstone and Dany arriving home. Although what the heck are they doing letting her go first without even a guard? One Lannister archer would have finished her off. Anyway, she’s all set up at Dragonstone and the scene is set for things to really start moving in episode 2.