WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
“Game of Thrones” returned to the small screen last night in familiar fashion: with all the characters we adore and all the drama we’ve been awaiting.
While nothing too outlandish or jaw-dropping transpires in the premiere, the story has been coalescing around two very crucial subplots: the Night King’s approach and the Lannisters’ precarious leadership position (one is largely overshadowed by the other, though).
The first episode of the seventh season, then, was a perfect staging ground for the next six chapters.
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Arya Stark serves up the Freys’ last feast, while Daenerys lands at her family seat at Dragonstone. Also, Sansa speaks out against Jon Snow’s clemency orders — while he shuffles his men, including Tormund Giantsbane and the wildlings, to cover ground along The Wall.
Elsewhere, Cersei falsely talks up her hold of the Iron Throne while Jaime Lannister cuts her back down to size. The new (mad?) queen then takes a visitor: Euron Greyjoy, the new king of the Iron Islands. Euron, appearing particularly villainous this year (with the show’s loss of Ramsay Bolton, perhaps), asks for Cersei’s hand in marriage, with his 1,000-ship fleet as a show of good faith. Cersei rejects him, but the man sets out to return with a prized gift.
Two of the more interesting parts of the premiere come alongside Sandor (The Hound) Clegane and his new band of buddies, the Brotherhood Without Banners, and at the Citadel in Oldtown, with Jorah Mormont making a shadowy cameo.
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Moving through drifting snows, The Hound and his new compatriots (Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr) have a comical back and forth — with The Hound telling Thoros that his conspicuous “top knot” (aka man bun) was “not fooling anyone.”
Still, there’s much to glean from this storyline. Taking refuge in an abandoned hut — which The Hound once passed through — Thoros asks The Hound to gaze into the fire, something he’s never been too fond of.
A non-believer or at least doubter of the Lord of Light until this point, The Hound is quickly transfixed by the flames — receiving a vision about where the men must ride next, likely Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
While The Hound describes this Night’s Watch castle, he also mentions a mountain that looks like an arrowhead, with an army of the dead marching past.
As far as the mountain goes (he doesn’t quite like that word, either), it’s possibly one linked to a range beyond the Wall. But the premonition foreshadows the dead passing through, which could be an ominous sign for the magical Wall — the one Benjen Stark has been stuck behind as a half-wight.
Based on promotional footage teased by HBO before the season began, it appears The Hound, Beric and Thoros will rendezvous, perhaps with Tormund, at Eastwatch. There, will they make a final stand against the dead?
The popular social media photo of Beric Dondarrion igniting his much-beloved flaming sword gives fans hope, but just how desperate is their fight? And what does that mean for The Hound, who has been a fairly substantial character from the show’s outset?
The other notable, but perhaps overlooked, part of the premiere is Jorah’s brief return. It’s weaved into Samwell Tarly’s larger narrative on becoming a maester at the Citadel, to learn how to defeat the White Walkers for King in the North Jon Snow.
It was a sloppy start for Sam. He was stuck with slop and janitorial duty through most of his screen time. But he does come across an interesting tidbit: there is a mountain of dragon glass to be mined on Dragonstone.
He sends a letter to Jon, likely via raven, about the news. Perhaps this links up the show’s two most prominent characters — Dany and Jon — at Dragonstone, and soon.
As Sam continues his chores through the halls of the Citadel’s infirmary in Oldtown, he is nearly grabbed by someone with greyscale — who subsequently asked if the Dragon Queen has arrived.
That unmistakable, raspy voice is that of Jorah Mormont, the greyscale-afflicted former adviser to Dany.
Fans last saw him leaving Dany’s side after an attempted rescue of the Queen of Meereen at Vaes Dothrak. The Targaryen queen ordered that he seek medical attention for his disease.
It seems he wound up at the Citadel — where he is, at the very least, being cared for (in quarantine).
It’s unclear what, if any, role Jorah will play in the narrative moving forward, but it’s tough to see a likable and early character succumb to such darkness.
Perhaps he will still be able to help Dany’s cause. Put a sword in the hand of a Stone Man and maybe he cuts down some White Walkers.
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