Previously on Game of Thrones, “The Winds of Winter”
House Frey Go Away
In 61 episodes we’ve only gotten three cold opens; the third being the way we usher in season 7. At first, you’re wondering if it’s a flashback. Perhaps the night Walder Frey gathered his family and plotted The Red Wedding. Nope. It’s present day and Walder Frey is alive and well, his neck very much intact. It’s been two weeks since they feasted to celebrate Jamie Lannister retaking Riverrun, and now Walder wants to thank his family for being their own special brand of ain’t shit. They toast with the finest Arbor wine as Walder reminds them that they made one mistake: they didn’t kill all of the Starks. The Freys begin to choke and die one-by-one.
Walder removes his face to reveal Arya Stark, who instructs Walder’s surviving young wife to tell anyone who asks that the North remembers and winter came for House Frey.
Arya just wiped out an entire bloodline and it was amazing.
I wonder if she let uncle Edmure out of the dungeon.
Winter is Coming
Bran flexes his three-eyed raven muscles and watches as the Night King’s army of the dead continue their march south. They got ice giants, y’all. Ice.Fucking.Giants. My certainty that we’ll see ice spiders just went up 15%. *pours one out for Old Nan*
New Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Dolorous Edd, allows Bran and Meera entry after they confirm what Edd already knew: shit’s about to get real.
The magic in the wall keeps out the White Walkers, but the Night King branded Bran last season, which allowed him entry into the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave. Did Bran just Stark it up again without even trying?
King in the Norf Jon Snow tells his northmen they’ll need to work overtime to find dragonglass, and this includes having young boys and girls mining and preparing to fight. He assigns Tormund Giantsbane and his wildlings to man Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the first stronghold the Night King is most likely to encounter when he reaches the wall.
When Jon proposes that the living heads of houses Karstark and Umber re-pledge their loyalty to him, Sansa openly disagrees and suggests that their houses be given to Northern families who remained loyal during Ramsay’s reign. Jon refuses to punish the children for the sins of their fathers, and Alys Karstark and Ned Umber pledge their loyalty to House Stark once more. Sansa seethes; Littlefinger watches.
Not many are here for more Stark infighting so close to the end of the series, but Sansa and Jon’s open and frank conversation after their public disagreement gives me hope that any future turmoil won’t lead to their ruin like it did for Catelyn and Robb. Sansa knows Jon has the trust of the Northmen and that he’s a great military mind, and Jon seems to understand that listening to Sansa every now and again might not be a bad thing. His reservation, though, is warranted because Sansa (by her own admission) has learned a lot from her time in Kings Landing and from Cersei. In her defense, she has also suffered personally at the hands of Cersei, Joffrey, and Ramsay; it makes sense that she’s in a kill first and ask questions never kind of mood.
Cersei’s royal command that Jon and Sansa appear before her and bend the knee is a reminder that they should also focus on threats from the south and not just the Night King from beyond the wall. Where they should apply their forces and attention promises to be yet another area of contention between the two.
And Littlefinger is still slinking around Winterfell, whispering in Sansa’s ear and claiming to want nothing but her happiness. Thankfully, for now, Sansa is curving him. Hard.
“No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.”
Queen Cersei does everything extra so a simple war room won’t do. She’s having a map of the entire realm painted on the floor of one of the royal courtyards, and literally steps on the regions in open rebellion as she and Jaime consider their options… which are few. They know Tyrion is Daenerys’ Hand and that their fleet of Greyjoys, Unsullied, and Dothraki are most likely headed for Dragonstone, Daenerys’ ancestral home. Cersei does not rule seven kingdoms, but three at best. They need allies, Jaime warns, but Cersei has already invited a possible ally: Euron Greyjoy.
Euron pleads his case (ships in exchange for Cersei’s hand in marriage) and throws shade to Jaime when he questions Euron’s usefulness and ability to be loyal. Euron takes his leave and promises to return with a gift for Cersei that will prove his worth.
This “gift” is cause for concern if you’re not #TeamCersei.
Sam learns this Maester-in-Training life is not all it’s cracked up to be. He spend his days tending to the sick, which includes collecting, dumping, and cleaning bedpans. He has no access to the restricted area of the library that holds the information he came to learn.
Though he’s warned them of the Night King, none of the Maesters believe Sam except one: Archmaester Ebrose (Jim Broadbent). The problem is that he also believes the world has kept spinning despite “end of days” fears before, most notably Robert’s Rebellion, The Long Night, and when the Targaryens conquered the Seven Kingdoms centuries ago. His basic attitude is “this too shall pass.” Thanks for nothing, Ebrose. Luckily, Sam doesn’t follow rules and sneaks the books he needs anyway, and learns there’s a mine of dragonglass below Dragonstone. He rushes to send word to Jon.
Later, while serving the quarantined sick, Sam encounters a man with an arm covered in greyscale. He asks Sam if the Dragon Queen has arrived yet. Ser Jorah still outchea living his worst life.
A Boy Band of Lannisters
On her way south, Arya encounters a camp of Lannister soldiers on their way to the Twins to keep the Queen’s peace. She breaks bread with them and listens as they lament the conditions in the capital and missing their families at home. When they ask her plans in Kings Landing she replies, “I’m going to kill the queen.” Everyone laughs because they don’t know Arya like we know Arya.
These men are sworn to the family that started all of the trouble that befell the Starks, but they’re just soldiers doing as they’re told. Arya probably killed them anyway. *Kanye shrug*
Finally, a Gravedigger
Sandor Clegane may have never had much use for religion, but damn if it doesn’t seem as if religion wants him. Last season, Septon Ian McShane tried to tell him it was never too late to do the right thing, to be a better man and Beric Dondarrion tried to convince him the Lord of Light has a purpose for him. Still traveling with the Brotherhood Without Banners, The Hound has not yet accepted this.
When they come upon the farm of the man and his daughter who The Hound robbed in season four, he learns his prediction that they’d be dead before winter was true. Starving to death, the father killed his daughter and then himself. Kinda hard to convince a man there’s divine purpose when a young girl was starving to death, but Beric Dondarrion has cheated death numerous times.
The Hound finally looks into the fire at Thoros of Myr’s request and sees the Night King attacking Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. He is now a believer and we are going to be granted with scenes between The Hound and Tormund Giantsbane. What a time to be alive.
At the end of last season, some people actually thought Daenerys’ fleet wasn’t leaving Meereen in the final shot but actually arriving in Westeros. Ridiculous. There’s no way we’d be denied Daenerys’ arrival in full, especially since we’ve been waiting for this for seven seasons.
Her homecoming did not disappoint. This episode had some of the best cinematography of the series, and it’s in large part to these scenes of Daenerys seeing the place where she was born for the first time; Daenerys touching the sand; and her long walk through the gates and up the side of Dragonstone. The halls and throne room are adorned with large carvings of dragons, and the dragons have come home as well.
Daenerys wastes no time in getting down to business once she enters the war room.
“Shall we begin?” she asks Tyrion.
I just hope she sanitizes that table because that’s where Stannis and Melisandre conceived their murderous shadow baby.
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