We finally return to Westeros in the first episode of Game of Thrones series 7, and wow – what an opening! In the style of the ‘Red Wedding’, Arya poses as Walder Frey and massacres the house that betrayed and brutally murdered her family – and I couldn’t help but cheer! When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them Winter came for them – finally!
Tension is brewing in the North between Jon and Sansa when it comes to matters of council in Winterfell. Jon’s main concern is with the incoming threat of the white walkers, while Sansa worries more about the ravens message from Kings Landing. The current sharing of power looks uncertain to last, especially with a certain Littlefinger whispering in Sansa’s ear. Someone should give Lady Mormont a seat at the table!
Back in Kings Landing, the Lannisters have their own problems to worry about. With no allies to back them, they’re surrounded by enemies from all sides, until Cersei introduces the latest piece on her chess board; Euron Greyjoy, with the greatest fleet in Westeros. In a deliciously funny scene, Euron proposes to the Queen while insulting Jamie and promises to bring her a gift to win her favour. Will the Dragonbinder finally make an appearance in the show?
The Hound continues on his journey to redemption with Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr and the rest of the Brotherhood without Banners as they travel North. The Hound’s transformation is one of the most genuine we’ve seen so far in the show, as he buries the farmer and his daughter who he stole from back in series four in an act of guilt and remorse. His heartfelt but short eulogy was one of the most moving moments so far for me. But the Hound wouldn’t be the Hound without a hilarious insult, and this time it’s Thoro’s hairstyle that’s the victim, “You think you’re fooling anyone with that topknot?” Yes that’s right, the man bun has made it into Game of Thrones!
Over in the Citadel, we have Samwell on bedpan duties with a hilarious and brilliantly edited sequence highlighting his daily routine. We’re also introduced to Jim Broadbent’s new character Archmaester Marwyn, who tells Samwell to be patient in his quest. But in a very Harry Potter-esque scene, Samwell defies the Archmaester and steals the keys to the restricted section of the library and in turn learns a vital piece of information; beneath Dragonstone is a mountain of dragonglass. There’s also a brief shot of a page in the book that seems to imply that dragonglass may be the cure for something, greyscale perhaps? With a quick glimpse of Ser Jorah’s infected arm, I think that information is going to come in very handy…
But the closing shot of Daenerys’ long awaited return to Westeros has to be one of the most anticipated and exciting of the episode. Seeing the dragons flying over the castle and Dany walking towards the throne of her birthplace was so powerful. Tyrion and co. assemble around the battle map Stannis once stood at, while Danny utters “Shall we begin?” Hell yes.
A strong start to the penultimate series, the opening slides a lot of pieces into place in preparation for the battles to come. However with so many pieces on the board to move, there’s a lot more exposition than there is action, especially with only seven episodes in total this series. That said, it’s so exciting to see the dragons in Westeros and also the army of the white walkers marching towards the wall. I can’t wait for the rest of the series to unfold to see the resulting war!