We open season 7 at the Twins, where Walder Frey (wink wink) has gathered every Frey worth mentioning for a family feast. Yes, they’re all wearing their hideous hats.
After toasting his family with a fine Arbor Gold sporting subtle notes of impending death, Walder gradually reveals himself to be Arya Stark, our favourite vengeful wolf. And in less than two minutes into the season, she’s wiped House Frey off the board. The best line of the episode hits early: When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.
Blood! Violence! Revenge! Goosebumps! All before the opening credits! NEVER LEAVE ME AGAIN, SHOW.
Beyond the Wall, the White Walkers and their immense army of the dead – including giants – are on the move. Cut to Bran and Meera trying to get past the Night’s Watch bouncers; Lord Commander Edd (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, huh?) lets them through. The Wall doesn’t crumble when Bran passes beneath it, so I can only assume he’ll screw this up later.
To Winterfell, where the new King and the Lords and Ladies of the North are talking dragonglass, equal-opportunity training regimes, and the spoils of war. Sansa wants the castles of the traitorous Karstarks and Umbers to be given to the loyalists. Jon doesn’t want to write off thousands of years’ worth of fighting side beside just because one generation turned out to be dicks. Littlefinger slurps up all the tension from the sideline.
Walking Winterfell’s battlements, Jon and Sansa hash it out. I get Jon’s pissed that Sansa undermined him in front of everyone, but he’s still arrogantly assuming she has nothing to contribute. Sansa tells him he needs to be smarter than Ned and Robb. Jon mocks her: ‘How? By listening to you?’ Not such a bad idea, Jon, given that time you didn’t listen to her and just about got your arse handed to you by Ramsay Bolton. Remember that? No? Oh, okay.
The Maester brings a raven; Cersei wants Jon to come to King’s Landing and bend the knee. Jon and Sansa argue over this too. Sansa admits she learnt a lot from Cersei, which gives all the Sansa/Jon shippers renewed hope.
Speaking of the Mad Queen, she’s commissioned a painting. Jaime shows up and she asks if he’s frightened of her. Who isn’t? Cue one of their Bold-and-the-Beautiful-style conversations about family and the Lannister legacy. When shit gets too emotional, Cersei changes the subject to strategy. Jaime insists they’ll need allies in order to have a chance against their many enemies. Cersei: ‘Here’s one I prepared earlier!’
The Iron Fleet arrives, and Euron Greyjoy appears before the Queen to insult Jaime and propose marriage. Pilou Asbæk’s clearly relishing this role and has sharp comic timing, but he’s not filling the Ramsay/Joffrey villain vacuum just yet. Probably because the most violent thing he’s done so far is throw Balon Greyjoy off a bridge, which was more a mild relief than anything else. But also, book-version of Euron is super-menacing from the get-go – whereas show-Euron’s swagger and constant one-liners make him feel as threatening as a Hello Fresh doorknocker. Plus he’s Ewan McGregor’s doppelganger, so all I see when I look at him is Obi Wan Kenobi in leather.
Anyhow, he promises to prove himself worthy of Cersei by bringing her a special ‘gift’. A tip for you, Euron: she likes wine, decapitated heads, and incest. The Tinder profile of nightmares.
To Oldtown, and the only succinct description I have for this Sam sequence is ‘fecal montage’. I have two questions though: a) We know the Red Keep and Casterly Rock have fairly sophisticated internal plumbing, including the privy that Tywin Lannister died upon. So how is it that the Maesters – supposedly the most intelligent people in the Realm – are still relying on chamber pots? And b) why do said chamber pots look like hipster tapas dishes?
The Oldtown stuff took a while to play out, so here are the main points: 1. Jorah Mormont’s at the Citadel receiving treatment for his Greyscale, and 2. Sam steals forbidden texts, Hogwarts-style. They remind him of that time Stannis TOLD HIM OUTRIGHT that Dragonstone has a shit-ton of dragon glass, and he forgot to tell Jon about it. Oops.
In Winterfell’s yard, Brienne’s training/beating Pod, who manages to get a lick in when she’s momentarily distracted by a leering Tormund. Sansa’s watching from the battlements above when Littlefinger slithers over, pretending to care about her happiness. Sansa’s not buying it, and delivers an epic smackdown, complete with the second best line of the episode: No need to seize the last word Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.
I feel strange. It’s as if…as if Sansa’s becoming…awesome? How is this possible??
Back to the Riverlands, where Arya stops off to eat rabbit with Ed Sheeran. This is the weirdest scene of the whole episode, and not just because Ed Sheeran’s presence creates an enormous crack in the fourth wall. Logically I know this scene is about Arya’s inner conflict when confronted with enemies showing human qualities, but I spent most it preoccupied with Ed Sheeran’s fucking hair. Dude, your voice is incredible – but the way your textured mop clings to your forehead like some sort of spider constructed from pubic hair creeps me out. And while the Lannister soldiers were lovely (i.e. they didn’t torture anyone with a rat and a bucket), I couldn’t reconcile these clean, amiable-backpacker types with the vicious thugs that ruled in seasons past (Harrenhal, anyone?).
I’m whining, aren’t I? Sorry. Let’s move on.
To the Hound, travelling with Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr and their merry band of thieves-turned-crusaders.
Stuff the Hound hates: man buns (understandable), unnecessary weather commentary, blind faith in religion, and confronting the guilt from past sins. Oh, and fire – which makes it especially ironic when the Red God sends him a fire-vision of the White Walkers at Eastwatch by the Sea. I’m not sure if this religious experience is what drives him to bury the bodies of the man and daughter he met back in season 4, but it does show the Hound is slowly getting back in touch with his humanity.
Dragonstone, where Daenerys Targaryen finally sets foot in the Seven Kingdoms and beholds her ancestral home. It’s momentous and poignant, and might I say Dragonstone is far more impressive now than it was during the Stannis days. In fact the whole sequence could be an ad for Tourism Westeros. Dragonstone: Come for the tits, stay for the dragons.
Inside the castle Dany and Tyrion find the strategy room and map-table carved by Aegon the Conqueror. They take a look around before Dany turns to Tyrion: Shall we begin? YES. Start by getting the cleaners in; the layers of dust covering that table are making me extremely agitated.
Next week: NYMERIA! And war and stuff, but mostly NYMERIA!!!