All of the chess pieces have been laid out for us in the slow burning, opening episode of the season. Every wheel has been set in motion as each character either featured on-screen, or was mentioned by the other players in the game (mostly Cersei of course. All those enemies!!!). So what has everyone been up to?
In Vino, Revenge
Marieke: Hey wait, is that..? Isn’t he..? Wait. Face swap. FACE SWAP! Arya realises more than anyone what is necessary to have revenge eventually: living family members. She decides to kill all the Freys, apart from the women, with a little poisoned Arbor Red. You might wonder if the Frey women aren’t going to have their revenge as Arya did, but since they are abuse victims, she most likely saved them from more Frey horror.
When we see Arya in the forest, we find out she is heading to King’s Landing to fulfil her list and a collective sigh went through the fandom because she should go North, for us! We need a reunion! Anyway, she meets up with some Lannister soldiers, where we find Ed Sheeran singing out his cameo. Pretty sure a lot of people hoped Ed would meet Needle, but Arya seems to have a code when it comes to killing. There was a lot of emphasis on the ‘normality’ of the soldiers’ lives off duty and that they are just men serving. They really underestimated Arya though, because Cersei is on her list and there is no doubt that if she gets the chance, she will take it. Anyone know if Ed has another shorter lived cameo next week, though…?
Danielle: Oh I did love Arya getting her ultimate revenge on the Freys, and in a way it had to be her who offed the lot of them. She was the one who was smack bang in the middle of the betrayal as her Mother, brother and sister were brutally massacred at the Red Wedding, only narrowly escaping with her own life thanks to The Hound. The fact that she didn’t stoop to Walder’s level by allowing the Frey women to escape is evidence that she hasn’t quite lost her humanity yet, as was her sitting down to eat with the Lannister soldiers to share their rabbit with them. That was a slight worry after Frey Pie last year. Instead we got the opportunity for her to see that even men on opposing forces have wives and children, and are only carrying out the orders of their superiors. It feels like a lesson that everybody needs to learn going forward.
All of this said, if the Night King ever does make it past The Wall (let’s face it, he’s gonna), I can’t help but feel that leaving a pile of bodies at The Twins might end up being a huge mistake.
A Dynasty of Two
Marieke: Cersei is having her floor repainted with with what she regards as her realm now, whilst brother/lover Jaime tries to shake some sense into her. Olenna has the resources, the Sand Snakes have the weapons, and a Dragon Queen is winging her way to Westeros. News has travelled fast, because she now knows her little brother is at the head of the Armada. Cersei does not like that Tyrion had squad goals, and what a squad that is. I wonder if she will ever learn that it was Olenna and Littlefinger who were responsible for Joffrey’s death. Tyrion did still kill Tywin, but I doubt power hungry Cersei sleeps any less over that. It is obvious that a conflict will arise between the incestuous duo. I have a hunch that Cersei will eventually favour power over brotherly love. And how much affection does Jaime still have for Tyrion? Maybe he remembers that dashing lady in armour he once shared a bath with… (although she should just be with Tormund, FYI). Cersei has also learned about Sansa and the new king of the North and declared them war (Jon will never kneel) in winter. While sometimes she can scheme like the biggest schemer in Westeros, she also has her not so clever moments when blinded by hatred. That Night King will be such a surprise, won’t he?
Danielle: Oh Gods! Cersei is such a moron, isn’t she? Not only does she seem oblivious to the fact that a dynasty involving two people isn’t actually a dynasty, but she’s labouring under the misapprehension that she’s Queen of all Seven Kingdoms, and that beating her enemies will be a walk in the park. Far more interesting here was Jaime, who not only recognises the gravity of the situation he and his sister are in, but also seems to be floundering as he looks for answers about Tommen’s death, and none are forthcoming. Him comparing his sister to Catelyn Stark and lauding them both as fantastic mothers to Edmure at Riverrun seems like a LONG time ago now. Cracks are definitely starting to appear between them, particularly as it’s obvious that Cersei still hasn’t forgiven him for freeing Tyrion, who now happens to be their greatest threat’s Hand. It’s also apparent that Jaime isn’t going to give up trying to ascertain why their ‘baby boy’ committed suicide. Seen as it was made clear here that he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Westeros, instantly and accurately identifying where Daenerys and her armada would land, Cersei should think twice before she sidelines him.
Two Good Hands, One Massive C*ck!
Marieke: Cersei realises she needs allies, and there are so many to choose from! Euron Greyjoy and his ships (where did he find all that wood and how fast did he have those ships built???) come to the rescue! In a new, swaggy leather outfit he tries to charm the Queen, who is not having much of it. Jaime also does not like him, even though Euron compliments him by remembering how much he enjoyed watching him cut down so many Iron Islanders. Maybe recommending to the Queen that killing a brother is a good idea was a little too much. Or was it the wonderful two hands comment? Even so, Euron is up for marriage and will get Cersei a gift she truly will love. So that will be Tyrion(‘s head), yes? Euron could well become a great bad guy with swagger, let’s see what he will be capable of. This scene was already golden.
Danielle: I hate myself for it, but I found myself appreciating Captain Euron Sparrow’s new look. It certainly seems to have done wonders for his (over)confidence as well, as he strode into the throne room and tried to work his magic on his potential bride, Cersei. Initially she didn’t seem to interested in his flattery, but then he started to recount how much he loved watching Jaime kill his relatives during the last Greyjoy rebellion and how ‘wonderful’ it was to kill his own brother, and that’s when her interest was piqued, much to her twin’s horror. Those two have Murder!gasm written all over them. With the chasm between Cersei and Jaime seemingly opening up, perhaps the current occupant of the Iron Throne has finally found her true soulmate? We’ll have to see how convincing that gift is first.
Trouble Up North?
Marieke: Oh Sansa! You shouldn’t have discussed Jon’s decision in public. Littlefinger enjoyed it lots though. Jon not wanting to punish sons and daughters for the sins of their father is typically him. As a bastard, he must be more sensitive to parental issues. However Sansa, having gone through the awful ordeal of forced marriage and (sexual) abuse, feels entire houses should be punished. In that respect she is more in line with her little sister. You have to kill them all, or revenge will still be a possibility. It was probably no coincidence that Alys Karstark resembled Sansa a lot, but she he gave her the same treatment as she herself has received though. Sansa is showing that in her young life the time without her mother gave her a new role model. Although Cersei cannot exactly be called that, she knows what it is like to grow up in a patriarchal society. She always longed for Tywin’s approval and Sansa also wants to be seen by her brother. She rightly so stresses the difference of their upbringing, and that Jon should not make the same mistakes Ned and Robb made. Realising no one can protect her after being handed over to Joffrey and most of all Ramsay, Sansa is completely taking care of herself. She puts down Littlefinger and her personal bodyguard also keeps an eye on her when the creep is swarming around her all the time. Jon sees the bigger picture after having fought the Night King, but Sansa is still dealing more with the situation on a personal level. Just as in King’s Landing, there is a set up for a break up between brother and sister (although the Lannisters do each other and Jon and Sansa are actually cousins…), but it is a third direct party having a hand in this. Sansa puts up with him because of his army, but what will happen if Littlefinger will have enough of his imagined friend zone? But obviously Lady Mormont was the show stealer again. She just owns House Glover every single time, doesn’t she.
Further to the North, we see Meera and Bran reaching The Wall and Edd (okay so he did appear again…) takes them in. That vision of Bran, with all the White Walkers, wights and giants predicts the worst though. They can track him and can they pass through The Wall just like they did when the magic was broken and Hodor sacrificed himself? Also, was that one giant Wun Wun? Do we get zombie WUN WUN? Well they are fuuuu then….
Danielle: I think we’re in agreement that Sansa should have kept her concerns regarding bringing the Umbers and the Karstarks back into the fold for a more appropriate moment, but nevertheless they were valid points. I’m glad that she complimented Jon on his ‘King in da Norf’ skills though, and that she doesn’t seem to want to entertain Littlefinger’s advances right now, in spite of being both aware of exactly what it is he wants *shudders*, and how important his forces from The Vale are right now in terms of defending Winterfell. It concerns me that she sees Cersei as some sort of mentor, however. That way madness literally lies. Still though, I suspect she had a point when she tried to make Jon realise that the new Southern Queen is more of a threat than he thinks. Before starting this new season, I waded through an extensive re-watch of the show, and only last season Cersei instructed Qyburn to have his ‘little birds’ dispatched to where all of their enemies are, including to the North. Now I’m starting to wonder if there really is deliberate point to having Alys Karstark look like Sansa as well…
Ok, so I had to get this off my chest regarding Tormund and Brienne. Admittedly, I thought the on-going sight gag between the two of them last season was really funny, but them continuing it really isn’t sitting well with me, nor is the fan reaction to it, and I say this in the full knowledge that my Fezzy friend and I are miles apart on it. If Brienne had started to warm to his advances, then I’d be all over it like a rash because I love both characters, but she hasn’t. More than that, we got a glimpse of her shaking her head, walking away from him, and then pointedly picking up Oathkeeper here in the same way she grabbed the sword’s hilt when she saw him leering at her when she first arrived at Castle Black. To me, that indicates she feels the need to protect herself when he’s around. If Tormund had started coming on too strongly to someone ostensibly pretty like Sansa, then I suspect most people would have been up in arms. Instead, because Brienne is played as manly and ugly, the inference is that she should be grateful for any attention at all. I’m sorry, but I can’t stand the double standard. Jaime might well be a human dumpster fire at times, but like any woman, Brienne should get to decide a. who she has feelings for, and b. whose advances she’s going to accept should the opportunity arise.
Meanwhile, up at Castle Black, an understandably muted Bran and Meera were eventually welcomed in by Edd and some of the remaining members of the Night’s Watch. Worringly, he’s just had that vision of all of the Army of the Dead marching southwards, now complete with wight giants. We know giants were capable of lifting the gates at The Wall before, and it’s unclear if that mark on Bran’s arm is going to undo the magic in the superstructure so that Westeros’ zombie contingent is able to pass through it. Dangerous times ahead!
Entry Level Job, 5 Years Experience Please
Marieke: Sam is the millennial of Westeros. He was going to train to be a Maester! All those books! So now he is obviously serving food, putting away unimportant books and cleaning bedpans. Clean, sweep, read, repeat. Where food and bedpans start to look suspiciously the same. I only recognised Jim Broadbent after one minute and his role seems lovely. Although it would be best if he actually learned from history as well, not just knowing it. Luckily Sam steals keys to get some proper books and finds out that there is dragonglass on Dragonstone. What are the odds!!! Little Sam seems to have grown a lot, and I wonder what the time frame is between Seasons 6 and 7. Sam also featured in the jump scare of the week, as we see Jorah Mormont’s arm grabbing him to ask if his Khaleesi has arrived yet. He went to find a cure and got quarantined. Poor bloke. I hope Sam will help him. His arm looked rather nasty…
Danielle: Poor Sam! If it’s not Alliser Thorne bossing him around, it’s his horrible father, Randyll. Now he’s serving slop to the maesters at The Citadel, and clearing up the aftermath. That whole montage made me baulk along with him. At least someone appears to be taking him semi-seriously regarding the White Walker threat. Jim Broadbent is a great addition to the cast, and his back and forth as Marwyn with John Bradley was fun to watch, even if it was over a highly graphic autopsy. I knew Sam wouldn’t be able to stay away from the more interesting books, although why he needed a dusty tome to tell him that there was dragonglass at Dragonstone when Stannis informed him of that fact ages ago is beyond me. Far more tantalising was that glimpse of ‘Cat’s Paw’ as he flicked through the pages, the Valyrian steel dagger that was nearly used to kill Bran and which Littlefinger currently has in his possession. Hmmm. I wonder what’s going on there.
It almost seems like a foregone conclusion that Sam is going to try to heal Jorah. He’s been set up as a bit of a rebel already, and seen as Ser Friendzone has apparently been left to turn to stone in a cell, it looks like the maesters have no intention of healing him themselves. Will he be successful though?
Visions, Top Knots and Delicious Irony
Marieke: The Hound is travelling North with the Brotherhood, and is understandably not keen to stay at a house he robbed when travelling with Arya. He sees the direct result of his actions, as the farmer killed his daughter and himself to save them from death by starvation. In the middle of the night he buries them and tries to say a prayer for them, but he cannot remember the prayer, instead opting to express some regret. The Hound is clearly following the path of redemption here, so it can be seen as Westerosi karma that he is involved with fire lovers. Thoros forcing him to look into the fire showed them the true danger coming to Westeros. Clegane sees the Walkers break through the castle we know will be guarded by the free folk. The Brotherhood and their penchant for fire will be a great help, and they are the second group knowing what really is going on. Although I don’t think Sansa will be too happy to see him… Either way, this was a nice scene with some proper Clegane snark.
Danielle: I think everything related to The Hound might have been my favourite part of the episode. He’s done terrible things in his life, but he had a truly horrific upbringing alongside his brutal bully of a brother, Gregor, who caused his disfigurement. Now, after a near death experience where he was saved by Lovejoy (apologies), he’s ready to atone for his sins, but first he has to face them. I loved his discussion with Beric where he tried to ascertain why better men than him hadn’t been brought back from the dead like he had, and his old foe turned ‘friend’ couldn’t answer the question. He’s just as clueless about his numerous returns from the dead as Sandor is. There has to be a larger purpose for him, but what? It’s interesting that the Lord of Light apparently wanted The Hound to see the Night King’s army, as well as that pointed mountain. Is it a reference to the dragonglass again, or something less obvious in relation to his brother? I also was oddly moved when he buried the man and his daughter, although I can’t help but feel he made the same unwitting mistake as Arya by not burning those bodies.
Dany’s New/Old Crib
Marieke:……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Shall we begin? (AKA what a lovely scene of Dany returning home, her crew giving her the respect she needs and the emphasis was added by the silence. I do hope Dany brought some hand sanitiser, because girl, Stannis and Melisandre made a shadowbaby on that board of Westeros. Ew.)
Danielle: Did anybody else find Dany’s arrival at Dragonstone a little, well, ominous? Almost like she wants this all too much? I did chuckle to myself when they were rowing in as well though. For a split second it seemed like they were rocking up in a bathtub together, but that might just be down to my overactive imagination. Props to them for making a sequence with next to no dialogue so tension-filled though.
Death(s) of the Week
Ed Sh… no wait, the Freys, of course
MVP of the Week
LADY ‘Little Badass’ MORMONT.
Quote of the Week
The Hound: It’s my fucking luck I end up with a band of fire worshippers.
Marieke: This was an enjoyable opener, and a good set up for the rest of the season. It was nice to see everybody again, although I am somewhat confused about how much time has passed. Because there are so few episodes left, I expect the show to pick up the pace next week. For now I am glad we are back in Westeros. Bigger, bolder and more beautiful than ever, but also very cold. Winter is here, and it is truly something to fear!
Danielle: All of those plates have certainly been set to spin, haven’t they? Over the next six weeks, we’re going to see which ones keep spinning and which ones crash to the ground. With those extra budgetary dollars plain to see on-screen, and the twisted political intrigue alongside the more supernatural elements already jostling with one another to create the narrative tautness we’ve become so accustomed to with Thrones, it’s definitely not going to be a chore to see how all of these plotlines shake out.
Our Fezzy Score:
So what did you think of the Season 7 opener? Let us know in the comments…