I have been meaning to write a post about the first episode of Season 7, and so here it is, along with some other bits of new information from the trailer shown at ComicCon in San Diego.
So… the long awaited premier of Season Seven has arrived, and with it our little get-together to watch it. Unfortunately there are a number of our friends that have not yet caught up with the first six seasons and so are still binge-watching the show at a furious pace, trying to catch up. Hopefully we will have the chance for another viewing party or two this season, once more of our friends have caught up in their viewing.
The opening scene at the Twins was just so satisfying after everything that the Freys have done – betraying both their liege lords (the Tullys) as well as their king – Robb Stark, the King in the North. I was glad to see Arya kill Walder Frey, and there had been rumors that Arya would pose as Walder Frey this season, and so she did. And her plan was just brilliant in its simplicity: summoning all the Freys to a feast, and then having them all drink poisoned wine in a toast, while leaving all of the women and the servants unharmed. “Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe”. Indeed, and then Arya tells the stunned widow of Walder Frey “tell them winter came for House Frey”.
After the credits we see somewhere in the North, where a dark cloud is spreading over the landscape, with fleeting images of a dark figure on horseback. It is soon revealed to be the Night King and the White Walkers, followed by the Army of the Dead, which is now revealed to include a number of giant wights. Oh, boy. I wonder what other undead things are in that army. In the book there are undead creatures like bears, so I wonder if we will see that, or maybe mammoths or other profoundly worrying creatures like the fables ice spiders or even ice dragons.
Then we see that the vision was Bran’s as Meera and Bran approach the big gate in the wall. The gate opens and they are greeted by Dolourous Edd and several other men of the Night’s Watch. They tell them who they are, and then Edd asks how they can prove it. Bran tells Edd he knows that he was at the Fist of the First Men and at Hardhome, and that he (Edd) has seen the Army of the Dead and the Night King. They bring them inside. No notice yet of what may happen to the wall.
We then see King Jon Snow trying to organize the people in the North, and speaking about training every man, woman and child to fight, as well as trying to find dragonglass. They also try to get the Wildlings to man castles on the wall, like Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the closest castle to Hardhome, and Tormund agrees to do it. Then he clashes with his sister Sansa, who thinks that Jon should strip the Karhold from the Karstarks and Last Hearth from the Umbers. Jon disagrees, but asks for renewed oaths of loyalty from the heirs to both castles, now a teenage girl (Alys Karstark) and a boy (Ned Umber). The crowd in the Great Hall cheers at that. Jon and Sansa continue to talk after they leave the Great Hall, and Sansa tells Jon he needs to be smarter than their father or their brother Robb. Then a raven arrives from King’s Landing, announcing the new ruler, Queen Cersei, and demanding fealty. Jon still fears the Night King more than Cersei, and thinks that the Lannisters would never try to march this far north in Winter. Hmmm. Maybe they wouldn’t, but I can think of one professional soldier in the South who might…
Lord Randyll Tarly.
We’ll see if he remains loyal to the Tyrells or if he chooses to side with Cersei.
Anyway, then we see a large map being painted on the floor of a courtyard somewhere in King’s Landing. Cersei and Jaime discuss the same thing that Jon said – can’t bring an army north in winter. Again, we’ll see. But she also refuses to talk about what happened to Tommen, even though Jaime wants to. And Jaime is concerned about what allies they have left. Cersei hints that she has something up her sleeve. Then we see the Greyjoy sigil on a LOT of sails, and the Lannisters continue their talk as the Iron Fleet sails into view. Jaime is cynical about the Iron Fleet and possible Ironborn allies and has a classic line about the Ironborn being small, angry people who only know how to steal what they can’t make or grow. Heh, heh, heh. Anyway, then we see Euron Greyjoy talking with Cersei and Jaime. He is dressed like he is about to open for Coldplay and he manages to clearly demonstrate in just a few minutes how he is both arrogant and crazy. Cersei shoots him down, and then he says he will prove his loyalty with a gift. I suspect that this will be the magical dragon horn we read about in the books, a horn that can supposedly make dragons obey its owner.
Then we are whisked to the Citadel, where we see a wonderful montage of Sam shelving books, emptying chamberpots, and feeding soup to maesters. This accelerates until we can’t tell the difference between the soup and the poop. Pretty sure that’s intentional. Then we see Sam trying to figure out how to get into the restricted part of the library. Holy crap, Sam is suddenly at Hogwarts. Maybe he will become a wizard after all. Then he helps out an archmaster with an autopsy of a dead maester and realizes that the only way he, Sam, could get in the restricted area is to sneak in there, so he does – by “borrowing” some keys and then grabbing a couple of books on the sly.
While Arya may be a bit of a sociopath now, but she still has some lines she is unwilling to cross. She demonstrates this further when she meets a seemingly friendly group of Lannister soldiers somewhere in the Riverlands not long after the Freys are wiped out. One of these men is played by singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who also debuts the song from the books that was written about Tyrion and Shae – “hands of gold are always cold, but a woman’s hands are warm”. This little group offers Arya food and a place by their fire, and they talk about how much they miss home, as Arya sizes them up and checks out the location of their weapons. The true test comes when Arya tells them straight out that she intends to go to King’s Landing to kill the queen. They laugh, apparently thinking she is kidding, and she laughs right along with them. And that is the last we see of her in this episode. We see in some of the previews that she encounters a wolf in the near future, which we can only guess is her reuniting with her direwolf Nymeria, who we have not seen since Season One when she was still a pup.
Next we see another group of men in the Riverlands, the Brotherhood Without Banners, now accompanied by Sandor Clegane, the Hound. They spend the night at the house that belonged to the family that Clegane robbed a few seasons ago, and apparently the family died, as the Hound had predicted, since their mummified corpses are propped up in a corner.
Interestingly, at one point the Hound talks about how he doesn’t see Beric Dondarrion as being anyone particularly special, and so he doesn’t understand why Beric kept being brought back from the dead. He mentions “better men”, and implies that he means Ned Stark and the septon played by Ian McShane. Then Thoros of Myr calls him over to the fire, and suddenly the Hound sees visions in the flames. He describes Eastwatch by the Sea, and a mountain shaped like an arrowhead, and the Army of the Dead marching by and numbering in the thousands.
Later that night, the Hound buries the bodies of the man and his daughter, and Thoros comes outside and helps him. It is a remarkable change for the Hound, who started the series off rather cynical and brutal and yet seems to be developing more of a conscience as time passes.
Then we see Sam again, in a small place in Oldtown that he is sharing with Gilly and baby Sam. He is trying to read the books that he took from the library – one seems to talk a lot about dragonglass (note the illustration of the famous “catspaw” dagger) and the other seems to be stories about the Long Night. Sam discovers that what Stannis told him is true – there is a large supply of dragonglass there at Dragonstone. So he sends a raven to Jon (or at least that is implied). We also see Sam taking empty bowls away from what appear to be some sort of cells or quarantined rooms. And one of these cells suddenly sprouts an arm, attached to none other than Jorah Mormont, who seems to be trying to get cured of his greyscale. He asks Sam if the dragon queen has arrived yet.
Speaking of Daenarys, then we see her arriving at Dragonstone with all of her advisers. The castle has been abandoned by Stannis, so aside from the stray burning heart banner, there is nothing there. But she finds the map room, where Stannis spent so much of his time, and finally speaks:
“Shall we begin?”
Thus endeth the episode.
Tonight, I imagine we shall see some continuation of some of these themes, but what significance they will reach I don’t know, aside from a possible reunion of Starks and/or Stark direwolves.
A lot of people have been freaking out about a possible Ice Dragon, but I have not seen whatever evidence is supposedly pointing to that. But we do know that Melisandre will be meeting up with Daenarys at some point.