GAME OF THRONES!
If you know me, Thrones has been the only thing that’s mattered to me the past three months. It’s surprising to me that I enjoyed new releases like Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) as much as I did because I felt like nothing would quench my thirst for entertainment until last night. While the premiere was certainly more of a check-in with the main narratives than any real development there is still plenty to sink one’s teeth into: Winter is certainly here, Jon Snow needs the North more united than divided, Cersei Lannister unsurprisingly has backed herself into a corner, The Hound is once again the best character ever, and there are now three dragons flying over Westeros.
[SPOILERS FROM LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE AND REFERENCES TO PAST SEASONS TO FOLLOW, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED]
Bran Stark is back and Dolores Edd looks great in Jon’s Lord Commander cloak. Edd took the baton from Jon when he (Jon) left The Wall to take back Winterfell, and now he’s greeting Bran and Meera Reed (great last name) as they finally make their way south after literally half the series wandering beyond The Wall. Bran is now the Three Eyed Raven, and I have a feeling this season is going to be a lot of him telling people, “I can’t tell you anything but I know what’s going to happen.” Bran is always one of, if not the, most important storylines of Thrones; but his story is also the most vague and stress-inducing when Bran does stupid crap like the entire last ten minutes of S06E05, “The Door”. Bran is now south of The Wall, en route to Winterfell to tell Jon about his true lineage, and let him know everything he learned from the Three Eyed Raven for the coming storm.
“THE KING IN THE NORTH!” Jon – a bastard – is still running the show in Winterfell. I’m still not entirely sure if Sansa is his hand, or if it’s Davos Seaworth, but it sounds like Sansa right now. Sansa is trying to help Jon lead with a heart, rather than a brain, and neither of them are wrong. Jon needs all of the help he can get when the White Walkers hit Westeros, so he’s not too concerned with who’s betrayed House Stark or not in the past – he needs the numbers and that’s a fact. Sansa wants to only reward those loyal to her house, and I actually admire how much Sansa absorbed from her time with Cersei in King’s Landing. As Sansa points out, she watched her father and brother make stupid decisions, and despite her love and longing for them, they lost their heads for good reason (maybe not Ned, but you know what happens when you play the game of thrones). Of course, Littlefinger is still crawling around the walls of Winterfell and trying to manipulate everything in his favor with a few whispers and attempted one-liners. He’s certainly going to give every effort he has to get in Sansa’s head and turn her against her half-brother, and I only hope that Sansa’s gone through enough of this hell not to fall for his tricks anymore.
Thrones opened it’s penultimate season with a cold open of Walder Frey seemingly poisoning his sons; but it was actually Arya Stark the whole time (*GASP*). She doesn’t poison any of Frey’s daughters and after she reveals herself, she tells them to tell others that the North remembers and Winter came for House Frey. Awesome line to lead into the opening credits, and incredibly casual how Arya wiped out an entire family’s lineage… However I feel like this could have been a scene in last season. Later in the episode, we get another Arya scene when she comes across a group of Lannister soldiers. Ed Sheeran makes as gratuitous a cameo as one can make, and it threw me completely out of the scene. Having said that, it was a great scene to show Arya that all soldiers are indeed human, and not everyone she meets deserves to die. Arya makes a joke that she is headed to King’s Landing to kill the queen and she and the soldiers have a laugh – while I’m not sure if Arya will really make it all the way down there and cross Cersei off her list, it was a great display of dramatic irony.
Cersei Lannister sits on the Iron Throne, and yet she has backed herself into a corner. All of her enemies perished in the bombing of the Sept in last season’s finale (leading to her youngest son King Tommen Baratheon’s suicide); and it has proven to be a short term solution as she points out on her new floor map: Dany is coming from the East with Tyrion as her hand; Jon rules the North and won’t even give her the time of day; Dorne is plotting in the South; and the Tyrells are plotting their revenge against the Lannisters from the West in Highgarden. Cersei and twin brother Jaime (Jaime being my favorite character since maybe S01E05) are still not on the best terms since Jaime’s return from taking back Riverrun. I mean I’d be pretty suspect of my sister, too, if I came home and found out my last living son killed himself because of my sister’s actions. This is going to be a very conflicting season for Jaime, and I’m not entirely confident he’ll make it out of this season alive – I just hope he takes Cersei with him. For the time being, Cersei needs as many allies as she can get her hands on, so Jaime will certainly stick around for a little bit to counsel her, and Cersei is simply being Cersei thinking she has everything figured out – the thing is I don’t doubt her. Enter: Euron Greyjoy. Euron is the deranged uncle of Theon and Yara. You’ll remember last season, Euron threw Theon/Yara’s father (his brother) over a ledge to claim the Iron Islands for himself. Euron has built a thousand ships and offers them as well as his hand in marriage to Cersei. The plan: Cersei and Euron’s alliance will crush Dany and her fleet when they arrive in Westeros. Cersei can put an end to Dany/Tyrion, and Euron can put an end to his niece and nephew who formed an alliance with Dany as well. Cersei rejects Euron’s offer, and I think it’s a negotiation tactic. Euron said it himself, she needs him and his fleet if she hopes to keep a crown on her head. Euron pulls his best Marlon Brando and tells Cersei he will bring her an offer she cannot refuse. I can’t think of a single thing she might want more than the Iron Throne… Except maybe her dwarf brother Tyrion’s head on a pike.
SOMEWHERE NORTH IN THE RIVERLANDS
I was surprised the Brotherhood without Banners got as much screen time as they did in this premiere – and then I remembered literally half of the show’s cast was killed off last season so it actually does make sense that they’re getting more love. Beric Dondarrion (the guy with the eye patch) and Thoros of Myr (the guy who always looks at fire) recruited a reluctant Sandor Clegane (THE MOTHER *BLEEP*IN’ HOUND) to their brotherhood at the end of last season. Given the amount of snow and death in their path, it’s clear they are headed North – in all likelihood to Jon in Winterfell. They stop at a small home where a man and his daughter have frozen to death in their bed. The Hound immediately recognizes the home and realizes he had stolen from the man and his daughter before leaving them to die… three seasons ago. The Hound is one of the most interesting characters on Thrones right now because he has changed a great deal since his first encounter with the Brotherhood in Season 3 when he saw Beric come back from death. The Hound was also saved from death and he’s still very confused how this Lord of Light the Brotherhood follows operates. Why save Beric and not a farmer and his daughter? It shows a great side of humanity to The Hound, someone who used to claim that killing things pleased him. However it’s when Thoros asks him to look into the flames in a fireplace and explain what he sees that changes his perspective in an instant: The Army of the Dead. The Hound isn’t a religious man at all, but he cannot deny what he has seen while hanging with the Brotherhood. The Hound’s development over the course of the series has been admirable as he decides to start helping more than killing. He even gives the farmer and his daughter a proper burial – something a Season 2 Hound would never even give the time of day to consider.
Samwell Tarly the pledge! Sam has been at the Citadel training to become a Maester so he can read as much of the great library as he can to try and find a way to defeat White Walkers when they breach Westeros. The only thing he (and we) really know is they can be destroyed with dragon glass AKA Obsidian and Valyrian steel. Not everyone in the Realm has Valyrian steel swords (Top of my head, the only ones who have Valyrian swords are Jon, Sam, Jaime, and Brienne), so finding as much dragon glass will have to make do for the time being. The only way Sam will become a Maester and have access to this information is by paying his dues and emptying bedpans and re-shelving books. He begs a maester – played by Jim Broadbent (THAT’S how you make a cameo, Ed Sheeran), to hear him out about the impending war with the White Walkers, and Broadbent actually gave an answer both surprising and enlightening: The Wall has stood through it all. And every winter that ever came has ended. He’s not entirely wrong and I’m very curious now how Thrones will handle its resolution in its final season. After pulling some classic Harry Potter trickery (ironic given Broadbent’s time in HP as Professor Slughorn) and sneaking into the restricted section of the library, he finds that Dragonstone, a castle in Westeros, is sitting on a mountain of dragon glass. He immediately writes a letter to let Jon know, but what he does not know is Dragonstone was the Base of Operations for Stannis Baratheon. Since Stannis is dead, the castle is pretty vacant, and who do you think is about to post up and make Dragonstone their new Base of Operations?
Daenerys Targaryen was born in Dragonstone and almost immediately exiled during Robert’s Rebellion so she could keep her head on her neck and the Targaryen dynasty would not be completely eradicated. Now, after six seasons and a ton of planning, army forming, and patience, Dany has made it back to Westeros and back to her birthplace. With absolutely no dialogue, Dany arrives on the shores of Dragonstone and takes it all in. She doesn’t need to role around on the beach a la Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). She simply looks in awe and continues up the winding steps and into the throne room. She takes a moment to stare at her new seat, and then bee lines to the war room because she doesn’t care about this throne in Dragonstone – she only cares about one throne. Dany and now Hand of the Queen Tyrion Lannister approach the table/war board/map of Westeros that Dany’s ancestors built hundreds of years before. They take one look at each other and Dany breaks the silence, “Shall we begin?”
Boom. Cut to black. Roll credits. Reed goes nuts.
As far as premieres go, this was solid ground work. I’m more than willing to invest in the long game with Thrones, and characters are certainly coming together and being put into place for what is to come. With only seven episodes this season, expect things to ramp up quicker rather than later… or expect things to go at a slow crawl until the last three episodes when things really pop off, I don’t know. Regardless, Thrones is back, and Winter is certainly here.
I’ll end with a few what I like to call Dot Dots. Dot Dots were used in my summer camp yearbooks to sort of recap events with little tidbits, quotes, and side notes, separated by dots (…) like so:
The recap before the episode started covered literally 2/3 of the series… Arya and the whole mask thing is very Mission: Impossible and I hope they don’t overdo that… “Tell them Winter came for House Frey.” -Arya; CHILLS! (Pun intended)… Confused why the Baratheon Logo is still over King’s Landing in the opening credits… Me the first shot after the opening credits, “We’re already doing this shit?”… Beautiful establishing shot, of the army of the dead… THEY HAVE GIANTS TOO?!… Lyanna Mormont is still badass, nothing surprising there… “Yesterday’s wars don’t matter anymore.” -Jon; That line literally sobered me up… Davos, utterly speechless this episode, which only means he’s gearing up for another amazing monologue… Is Jaime calling the Iron Born ‘bitter and angry people’ casual Westerosi racism?… Jaime’s reaction shot when Euron says Cersei should try killing her brother sometime was perfect editing… Cersei’s Queensguard looks TERRIFYING… I love how The Mountain’s presence is felt in every shot of Cersei… I love the Brienne/Tormund romance, but they don’t need to shove it down our throats… “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.” -Sansa; amazing… Still think Ed Sheeran’s cameo was way too extra… Arya literally looks like a little Ned Stark, it’s awesome… So is Sam going to be the key to uniting Jon and Dany by curing Jorah of Greyscale?… Tyrion is in Westeros for the first time in three years… Dany is in Westeros for the first time all series… There are now three dragons in Westeros, and it’s only a matter of time before they make their presence known.