HBO(LOS ANGELES) — (SPOILERS AHEAD) At long last, winter has arrived. The seventh season premiere of Game of Thronesfinds Jon Snow and the North planning their next move, Cersei forming new alliances and Daenerys finally arriving at her ancestral homeland. But first, we start with Arya, whose rampage of revenge is just getting started.
The episode opens with Walder Frey giving a congratulatory speech to his family, which is confusing, since Arya assassinated the old man in last season’s finale. But as he continues to talk, it’s clear that this is not the Walder Frey we know and despise. He raises a toast to the killing of the Starks at the Red Wedding, but the wine is poisoned, and everyone in the hall dies after drinking one sip. Frey then removes his face to reveal Arya’s, who has once again used her powers as a faceless assassin to enact revenge on those who killed her family. She tells the terrified and bewildered servant to tell people that “the North remembers” and that “winter came for House Frey.”
Arya’s journey continues on horseback as she rides south towards King’s Landing. She comes across a singing group of soldiers, one of whom is none other than Ed Sheeran. The group proves to be friendly, offering Arya food and drink. They ask her why she’s going to King’s Landing, and she says she’s going to “kill the Queen.” After a long pause, everyone laughs, and even Arya cracks a smile.
In the North
The terrifying Night King leads his army of White Walkers, which now even includes giants. The scene is another one of Bran’s visions. After a long and tragic journey — RIP Hodor — Bran and his companion Meera finally arrive at The Wall, and they’re allowed in.
After successfully freeing Winterfell from the merciless hands of Ramsay Bolton, Jon Snow moves on to the next pressing topic: the White Walkers. He announces that the priority of every man, woman and child will be to find dragonglass, the only known substance that can kill White Walkers. He also forgives House Umber and House Karstark, who had betrayed the Starks and supported the Boltons. This doesn’t sit well with Sansa, who openly defies him, and she and Jon continue to argue in private. Jon then receives a raven from Cersei, who requests that he travel to King’s Landing to swear loyalty to her. Sansa, having seen Cersei’s handiwork up close, warns Jon not to forget the threat to the South along with the threat to the North.
Later, Petyr Baelish approaches Sansa, and asks her if she’s happy. He leaves when Brienne approaches, and she asks what Littlefinger wanted. Sansa doesn’t say, but she knows it’s her hand in marriage.
In King’s Landing, Cersei and Jaime realize they’re the only Lannisters left — rather, the only Lannisters left that “count.” Their brother Tyrion is off counseling Daenerys Targaryen as her Hand of the Queen. Realizing that they don’t have as many allies as they once did, Cersei reveals that she’s recruited Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet. When Euron arrives, he offers the Iron Fleet to Cersei, in exchange for getting to marry her, the “most beautiful woman in the world.” Cersei initially declines this offer, deeming Euron untrustworthy. Undeterred, Euron sets out to find Cersei a “gift” to prove his loyalty.
As Sam begins his training to become a maester, he finds that the Citadel isn’t the paradise of learning it original appeared to be. Instead, Sam spends most of his time sorting books and cleaning the bed pans of the older maesters. Frustrated, he steals the keys to the library’s restricted area in an effort to learn more about White Walkers and how to defeat them. He finds a map of Dragonstone, the ancestral homeland of the Targaryens, which reveals a whole mountain of dragonglass buried beneath the stronghold.
Later, Sam encounters a very sick Jorah Mormont, who inquires if Daenerys has arrived in Westeros yet. Last season, Daenerys had sent Jorah to find the cure for greyscale, a deadly disease from which he suffers.
In the Woods
The Hound is traveling with the Brotherhood Without Banners, who, like the Red Priestess Melisandre, worship the Lord of Light. They arrive at a tavern, the same tavern where the Hound had left a farmer and his daughter to freeze and starve after robbing them. The Hound expresses his skepticism about the Lord of Light, but when he looks into the fireplace in the tavern, he’s able to see The Wall and the approaching army of White Walkers in the flames. With a newfound faith, the Hound buries the dead farmer and daughter.
Finally, Daenerys, Tyrion and Varys, along with her three dragons and her loyal servants, arrive in Dragonstone. She silently wanders through the fortress, taking it all in. She comes across the battle plans of Stannis Baratheon, who had been using Dragonstone as his own stronghold. Finally, while looking at a painted wooden “war table” of the Seven Kingdoms, commissioned by her grandfather, Aegon Targaryen, Daenerys breaks her silence, saying to Tyrion, “Shall we begin?”
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