Series seven of Game of Thrones premiered last night on Sky Atlantic. In the first of the seven episodes this series, the premiere mostly served to check in with the major characters and map out what’s coming ahead this season, from new alliances in the South to the undead coming from the North.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch or if you want to rehash last night’s episode, we’ve got you covered on some of the finer details you may have missed.
Warning: Spoilers are coming. Don’t read on if you don’t want to know anything about last night’s episode.
The new series starts with a cold open of Walder Frey celebrating with his entire family and giving a toast to their accomplishment of slaughtering the Starks in the Red Wedding. You can immediately tell something’s not right, especially if you remember that Arya killed Walder last series — and this turns out to be another one of her tricks.
It isn’t Walder Frey toasting his family: It’s Arya Stark in disguise poisoning the entire Frey house. To be fair, she does leave one lone survivor to pass on the message that “Winter came for House Frey.”
While this scene is exciting for Stark fans, it’s less shocking than Arya’s later scene where she stumbles upon a group of strange soldiers — whose members include Ed Sheeran in his much-hyped cameo — and, in a truly surprising twist for Game of Thrones, nothing bad happens. The soldiers share their food and drink with Arya, Ed Sheeran sings a song, and they all laugh together when Arya ‘jokes’ about heading to King’s Landing to kill the Queen.
Cersei and Jaime Lannister
Speaking of the Queen, Cersei’s in short supply of allies at the moment, having killed off a significant amount of the major players in King’s Landing last series and losing other allies in the North thanks to Arya and the other Starks.
She’s well aware that there are threats coming from the North (the Starks), East (Daenerys Targaryen, aided by Cersei’s other brother Tyrion), South (Dorne) and West (Olenna Tyrell, who’s now allied with Dany after Cersei killed the other Tyrells). Jaime reminds her that she’s in need of some new alliances — but Cersei’s already well aware of this and has a card up her sleeve.
While two members of House Greyjoy have allied with Daenerys, the current ruler of the Iron Islands is their uncle Euron Greyjoy, and he’s decided to throw his hat in with Cersei. Cersei wants his armada, and Euron wants to marry Cersei so he can rule as the King of Westeros.
Although Cersei needs his fleet of ships, she declines his proposal — for now. Euron needs to prove himself first, and he promises to give her “a priceless gift”, presumably Tyrion.
Jon and Sansa Stark
Up in the North, Jon and Sansa are working to reunite the families and rebuild their army. The Battle of the Bastards has ended, but Jon’s all too aware of the army coming for them from the North, and Sansa has her eye to the South. She’s finally getting to put all of her knowledge of Westerosi political intrigue to good use.
Jon stations the wildlings along the Wall and encourages the women in the North to fight as well, but he’s much less enthused when his younger sister Sansa speaks up against him. Two of the Northern houses — the Karstarks and the Umbers — sided with the Boltons last series, and Sansa thinks that the two families should lose their ancestral homes and have new, loyal families moved there instead.
Her suggestion is well received by the other Northern houses, but Jon favours a different kind of loyalty and allows the younger generation of Karstarks and Umbers to re-pledge to House Stark instead so they can stay in their homes.
There’s definitely tension growing between Jon and Sansa since they both have their eyes on different threats. Jon’s so focused on the army of the undead in the North (which now includes undead giants, as we learn from one of Bran’s visions) that he’s entirely forgotten about the battle to the South against Cersei.
Sansa reminds him that Cersei has a good track record of taking down her enemies, and Jon thinks she admires Cersei too much. Both Stark siblings make good points, but the two are ultimately at odds, and with Littlefinger as a constant presence in Winterfell, we can only expect this tension to build.
Back in series five, Jon sent Sam down to Old Town to become the new Maester of the Night’s Watch and to learn how to defeat the White Walkers and wights. It took him an entire series, but Sam’s finally in Old Town — but training to become a Maester is less glamourous than you would expect.
Instead of reading and studying books in a quiet library, Sam is tasked with stocking shelves, cooking, feeding prisoners (including Jorah Mormont, asking about his beloved Khaleesi) and, er, cleaning, to put it delicately.
The other Maesters do believe him that the White Walkers are approaching, but they seem unconcerned with this threat. They know about all the other dangers Westeros has successfully faced and don’t see why this one is any different.
Sam takes matters into his own hands and speeds up the process by stealing the keys to break into the restricted section and take a book about the White Walkers. While reading with Gilly and Little Sam, he stumbles upon a very important find: Dragonstone has a massive supply of Dragonglass, which is one of the few ways White Walkers can be killed.
Should be easy to get to Dragonstone and get some of its Dragonglass reserves since it’s currently unoccupied, right?
It only took her six series — 60 episodes of television spanning over 60 hours — but Dany has finally, finally come to Westeros and landed on Dragonstone, her family’s ancestral home.
No matter how invested you are in Game of Thrones or how frustrating you may or may not have found Dany’s adventures in Essos across the series, you can’t deny the impact of this largely wordless scene. Watching Daenerys take her first step on Westerosi soil — with Tyrion, Missandei, Varys and Greyworm at her side — and tear down the Baratheon banners while her dragons soar above the castle is a thrilling moment.
“Shall we begin?” is the only phrase spoken during the entire last scene. It is a new beginning for Daenerys, but for Game of Thrones, it’s the beginning of the end: We’ve only got another six episodes this year and 12 episodes left in total.