The final scene in the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones was not only the last one, but also the best one. Daenerys Targaryen arrives back at Dragonstone, her ancestral home, and walks around in an outfit that was giving Joan Crawford shoulder pads and Sean Connery’s voice in Dragonheart all at the same time. She touches the sand, she ruins a perfectly good pair of boots by wearing them on the beach, and she resists the temptation to sit down on a throne that looks like the bathroom at one of L.A.’s more hippie inspired crystal stores. She runs her hand along the giant map where Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre copulated to make the smoke queef that killed Renley Baratheon back in season two and, instead of asking for some Purell, she asks Tyrion Lannister, “Shall we begin?”
Yes, this whole episode was pretty much setting us up for all the wars to come for this penultimate season of the show and the trip to Dragonstone, which gave the episode its name, was the most important part of that. The castle was given to Stannis by his brother Robert Baratheon after their rebellion destroyed nearly all of the Targaryens except Dany and her brother, who were secreted across the narrow sea to safety. After he went North he left the house unguarded so Dany, her fleet, and her army didn’t even have to fight anyone for their foothold in Westeros.
We also learned some important facts about it from Samwell Tarley, who is at the Citadel learning how to be a maester. Apparently his training consists of collecting bedpans, serving food, putting books away, trying not to barf, and then collecting more bedpans and serving food that looks exactly like what will later be deposited in those bedpans.
Anyway, after being denied access to the restricted part of the library, Sam busts in and finds out that Dragonstone was built on a huge mountain of dragonglass, the only substance known to kill the White Walkers. Oh, we also learned that Jorah Mormont is living in the grayscale ward of the Citadel and is wondering if Dany has made her way to Westeros yet.
In the North
Jon Snow has a desperate need for dragonglass himself, because he knows its destructive properties, but he certainly doesn’t have the wealth of it that Dany is sitting on almost literally. He tells his assembled bannermen that they need to start training to fight the war with the dead. Thanks to Lyanna Mormont, the youngest badass in the Seven Kingdoms who refuses to knit by the fire when there is a war going on, they’re actually going to train all citizens, men, women, and children of both genders.
Both Jon and Dany are presenting a new world order, one where either gender is capable and all men are created equal. He’s even willing to forgive the families that abandoned him and give them back their castles, especially since those are the first castles that are going to be attacked by the Night King. His dedication to equality does not seem to extend to his sister Sansa, who has a sudden penchant for dressing like a Hot Topic sales clerk and backtalk. When Jon tells her to stop undermining him, she says he needs to be smarter than Ned and Robb Stark, both of whom made stupid mistakes and were killed for it. He asks if that entails listening to her. “Would that be so bad?” she asks, maybe a little too softly. It seems like Littlefinger is ready to exploit her dissatisfaction for whatever it is he wants. Sansa thinks it's her hand in marriage, but it’s probably oh so much more.
Jon dispenses his troops and the Wildlings to man all the castles along the wall, especially East Watch by the Sea, the station closest to Hardhome, the port where Jon had his epic battle with the Night King two seasons ago. Tormund—you know, that dude with the huge red beard and a yearning to be roughed up by Brienne of Tarth—is going to lead the forces there.
Even farther to the north, Brandon Stark and Meera Reed reach the wall and the Night’s Watch take them in. Brandon will have plenty of info for Jon Snow once he knows his half brother is alive and Bran has seen the troops of the dead advancing in a great gray cloud across the tundras of the north. They even have the reanimated corpse of one of our old buddies the giants on their side.
In King’s Landing
Jon Snow got a raven from the new queen Cersei Lannister telling him to come to King’s Landing and pledge his allegiance to her or he will be declared an enemy. Sansa warns him not to make an enemy of her and he doesn’t listen because Jon Snow knows nothing and this will decidedly be one of the biggest mistakes he makes. He decides the threat to the north is worse because, well, he knows nothing, but Sansa warns him that Cersei will murder him.
Cersei, meanwhile, is getting her HGTV on and redoing the Red Keep to suit her, which mostly consists of a giant map of her seven kingdoms on the ground. Her brother/lover Jaime warns her, however, that she probably only controls about three of those kingdoms. They both know that they are surrounded by their enemies, Dany to the East, the Tyrells to the West, the Dornish to the South, and Jon and Sansa to the North. It seems like their first direction to strike in will be the west, so that they can get the Tyrell’s grain and livestock to feed their troops. This is a smart move and Jaime is a master tactician.
The gambit to enlist the help of Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet seems a little bit more foolhardy. (It’s interesting that in King’s Landing we have a queen who is too stupid to listen to her wiser brother and in the north we have a king who is too stupid to listen to his wiser sister.) Euron proposes to Cersei to solidify their arrangement to destroy Dany and Tyrion. She shoots him down in the most shocking Rose Ceremony yet. Instead of crying in the limo home, Euron says he will show up with a priceless gift for her to prove he is a-courting her. I bet that it’s the head of Tyrion or something of the sort. Jaime already surmised that Dany would be headed to Dragonstone, it wouldn’t be shocking if Euron were headed in the same direction.
Across the Kingdom
Arya Stark was surely the MVP of the whole episode, mostly for not punching Ed Sheeran in his smug little face as he played an unnamed Lannister soldier leading a tune as his squad cooked up a rabbit. Also note the lyrics to the song: “The hands of gold are always cold, but a woman’s hands are warm.” Hmm. What incestuous brother/sister duo that these guys work for might that be about. This is the meanest song about a boss since “9 to 5.”
Better yet, we got to watch her wear the face of Walder Frey and execute his entire clan with some poisoned wine. A girl may no longer have a name, but she sure picked up some amazing skills while studying in Bravos. “When people ask you what happened here tell them the north remembers,” she told the only surviving Frey family members. “Tell them the winter came for House Frey.” Three snaps up in a circle formation.
However, Arya’s speech also said that if you don’t kill all of the wolves, then the sheep are never safe. Do you think those Frey girls have it in them to come after Arya? Probably not. Regardless we learned from her little visit with the Lannisters that she’s now on her way south to kill Cersei and complete her kill list. She’s not messing around with The Hound and the Brotherhood Without Banners, who consist of the other names on her list.
The Hound seems to be headed north (or at least somewhere snowy) with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr—you know, the dude with one eye who comes back from the dead and his bald friend with the top knot. They happen upon a farm that he visited with Arya seasons ago where he killed the man who lived there and his daughter and stole their silver and ale. Now that the Hound has found God (or seven of them) he buries them and says his own made up prayer over their bodies.
But it was a different vision from the Lord of Light that we should really be paying attention to. When Thoros insists Gregor look into the fire, he sees a vision of The Wall. “Where The Wall meets the sea. There’s a castle there. There’s a mountain. It looks like an arrow head. The dead are marching past. There are thousands of them.” It seems like that’s where they’re going to be heading to meet up with Jon Snow’s friends to fight the dead. That’s why the Lord of Light needs them after all. And, in the words of the Mother of Dragons, “Shall we begin?”
And a few stray thoughts ...
Power Move of the Week
Goes to Cersei Lannister is once again using her bed to consolidate power, and turning down the man who is going to help her win the war is what made her famous. There's nothing like turning a guy down to keep him interested.
Foolhardy Move of the Week
Pretty sure that Jon Snow giving the castles back to the Umbers and the Karstarks is one of those things that will turn around and bite him in the ass like an unfed Direwolf, especially since he ignored Sanaa's council. This smacks of Robb ignoring Catelyn, which lead to both their dooms.
Fashion Moment of the Week
The throne room at Dragonstone is crying out for a spread in Architectural Digest.
Next week on Thrones...
Looks like Arya and her direwolf Nymeria will finally be reunited. At least one dog is still alive!
Kit Harington auditioned for Game of Thrones with a black eye: