In the ‘Game of Thrones’ recap for the season 7 debut, Daenerys arrives at home, Cersei finds a new ally, Jon prepares his defense and The Hound faces the flames…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s been more than a year since ‘Game of Thrones’ appeared on television but the long wait — like the promise that winter would finally arrive — came to an end on Sunday as the first of seven episodes during season 7 debuted on HBO.
Last season set the stage for the final two wars to come — the battle for the Iron Throne that we have to believe will be waged between Queen Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen as well as the war to the north where the Night King mounts his army of the dead to invade the world of the living.
The debut episode set up numerous storylines that will likely unfold this season as Jon warns the houses who support him that the real threat lies beyond the Wall in the form of the White Walkers and an army that multiplies with every soul that’s sacrificed.
In King’s Landing, Cersei reigns as queen but her rule may be rather short lived if she can’t find some sort of ally to support her claim to the Iron Throne and considering all of the people she’s pissed off over the past six seasons it’s understandable why volunteers are in short supply.
At the Citadel, Samwell’s training to become a maester isn’t exactly going as he expected, especially considering the looming threat that he knows is about attack Westeros.
At Dragonstone, a queen arrives as Daenerys steps on her home soil for the first time since she was a baby and she’s now preparing to launch the largest offensive that’s ever been witnessed and she wants to take back the Iron Throne in her family’s name.
And finally there’s Arya Stark, still exacting vengeance on the people who decorated her kill list all those years ago after her father was beheaded in King’s Landing. With the skills of a master assassin, Arya is taking out her enemies one by one and it seems rather foolish if you’re betting against her in this ongoing war.
With that said, let’s recap the ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 debut episode titled ‘Dragonstone’…
The Lone Wolf
At the end of last season on ‘Game of Thrones’, Arya Stark exited her training at the House of Black and White where she was attempting to become a Faceless Man and instead decided to use that preparation to exact revenge on all of her enemies.
The first name on the list was Walder Frey, who was responsible for slaughtering her mother and her brother at the Red Wedding. Arya killed both of his eldest sons and then slit his throat while reminding him that he made a mistake by not ridding the world of all the Stark children.
At the start of the episode, Walder Frey is back — or better yet Arya is masquerading as him while waring his face — as she’s gathered up all the rest of the Frey clans for a feast. She begins thanking them for fulfilling their dutiful promises by eliminating the Starks at the Red Wedding but her speech spins into something quite interesting while everybody from House Frey gobbles down the wine she provided for them at the feast.
“Brave men, all of you. Butchered a woman pregnant with her baby. Cut the throat of a mother of five. Slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home. But, you didn’t slaughter one of the Starks. That was your mistake. You should have ripped them all out root and stem. Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe.”
~ Arya Stark
One by one, the Freys start bleeding from their mouths and then falling over dead thanks to the poisonous wine they’ve just imbibed. Arya watches with a sort of glee on her face as they all drop over in a heap before she issues a final word to one of the women left untouched while the Frey men all died.
“When people ask you what happened here tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”
~ Arya Stark
Over the course of just a few days — all by herself mind you — Arya Stark has completely wiped House Frey out of existence.
In the aftermath of her Frey slaughter, Arya leaves to travel to her next destination but it turns out she’s not returning home to Winterfell where her brother and sister are the reigning family again. Instead, Arya is going south towards King’s Landing because that’s where Cersei Lannister lives and she’s one of the only names remaining on the list.
During her travels south, Arya runs into a small band of Lannister soldiers — including one being played by singer Ed Sheeran — and she joins them for some rabbit by the fire. It appears at first that this is just an invitation for Arya to kill all of them, she quickly learns that not all Lannister soldiers are vile and evil men like her old pal Polliver, who was under the command of “The Mountain” Gregor Clegane.
As the group eats together, they ask Arya what she plans to do in King’s Landing and she says without blinking that she’s going to kill the queen. A moment later the tension breaks with everyone laughing and while Arya may be smiling, she’s not telling a joke.
One side note — the song the Lannister guards are singing is actually one from the books. It’s written by a man named Symon Silver Tongue, who Tyrion has killed after he pens another tune that he plans to sing to Cersei about her brother’s affair with a whore named Shae. Symon’s blackmail attempt backfires and Tyrion has him killed by Bronn. Later after Tyrion escapes King’s Landing following the murder of his father Tywin, he sings the song while on a ship crossing the Narrow Sea.
The North Remembers
At Winterfell, Jon is doing his best to reunite all the families that were splintered during the horrible reign of the Boltons while trying to mount some sort of defense to stop the oncoming war from beyond the Wall when the Night King finally decides to attack.
Jon declares that all able bodied people in the North — men and women — will be trained to fight. Of course, Robert Glover doesn’t like the idea of woman joining the war, but he’s quickly slapped down by Lady Lyanna Mormont, who reminds him that she won’t be told how she should or shouldn’t defend the North.
Jon may be King in the North but he’s not the lord over the free folk so he can’t command them to do anything. Instead, Jon asks his friend Tormund Giantsbane to take his free folk north to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea — the castle on the Wall that’s closest to the seaport where they faced the Night King at Hardhome.
Finally, Jon has to address the houses that stood against him during the Battle of the Bastards — most notably House Karstark and House Umber.
Lord Yohn Royce, who represents the Vale, believes the families should be disbanded and their castles destroyed. Sansa has a more reasonable approach to keep the castles but hand them over to new families who will be loyal to the Starks.
Jon disagrees with both of them and ultimately issues a ruling to welcome both families back to the North so long as their last remaining members — led by Alice Karstark, who is a teenager, and Ned Umber, who is perhaps 10 years old — agreed to pledge their loyalty to House Stark from now until forever. Both bend the knee and agree and it appears Jon gains favor with the other houses for showing mercy rather than mercilessness as was commonplace under the rule of Ramsay Bolton.
Outside, Jon argues with Sansa, who was constantly battling against his decisions during the meeting. Jon sounds hesitant to accept Sansa’s counsel but it’s important to remember that without her tactical move to call on Lord Baelish to bring the Knights of the Vale into the Battle of the Bastards, her brother would have been defeated. Now weeks later, Jon is still butting heads with his sister, who tries to remind him not to make the same mistakes as their father and their brother.
Sansa: “You have to be smarter than father. You have to be smarter than Robb. I loved them, I miss them but they made stupid mistakes and they both lost their heads for it.”
Jon: “And how should I be smarter? By listening to you?”
Sansa: “Would that be so terrible?”
Jon and Sansa also receive a raven from King’s Landing with a command from Queen Cersei to bend the knee and pledge loyalty or risk another war with the crown. Of course, Jon is more concerned about the war to the north but Sansa reminds him that there is still a giant Wall standing in the way of the White Walkers but Cersei has a strange way of always making her enemies dead. Sansa learned a lot while she was living under Cersei’s house and that’s why she’s trying to convince Jon that he’s got problems on all sides, not just the army of the dead coming from beyond the Wall.
Finally as Jon leaves, Sansa is joined by “Littlefinger”, who continues to harp in her ear about wanting her to be safe and happy. Sansa is safe — she’s surrounded by friends, family and has Brienne to protect her from harm but she fails to mention happy. That’s what Baelish wants to give her but she rebuffs his advances. Sansa knows exactly what Baelish wants and while part of that might be to get her into his bed, she knows his end game is always about the Iron Throne.
The Army of the Dead
After months spent beyond the Wall, Meera Reed and Bran Stark have finally returned. Upon reaching the outer gate connected to Castle Black, they are greeted by Dolorous Edd and the members of the Night’s Watch. He’s skeptical as to their identities until Bran, who has been seeing visions of the Night King and the army of the dead for weeks now, tells him about the fight at Hardhome and how he saw the power of the White Walkers for himself.
“You’ve seen the Night King. He’s coming for us. For all of us.”
~ Bran Stark
Edd lets them pass through the gate as Bran’s visions are getting even stronger.
He not only sees the Night King but an army bigger than anything anyone has ever seen complete with White Walkers, wights and even giants who now march for the dead.
Meanwhile, Sandor Clegane and the Brotherhood without Banners are traveling north to join the upcoming war against the army of the dead. Along the way, they stop for shelter but “The Hound” is haunted by the vision of this house.
Several seasons ago when “The Hound’ and Arya Stark were traveling together while he attempted to trade her for a reward, they came across a man and his daughter living in a cottage on the hill side. The man offered them stew and shelter and even tried to hire “The Hound” as a farm hand and protector for his home. Instead of accepting, Clegane stole the silver they had hidden away and left them for dead, knowing that the oncoming winter would claim them anyways.
When the group enters the house, Clegane sees his worst nightmare come true as the father and daughter are dead — and it appears he killed his own child after food supplies became so sparse that he likely felt taking her life was more merciful than allowing her to starve to death. Clegane is clearly haunted by his past decisions, especially considering how he was able to find at least some small bit of faith while working with the people who helped to save his life after he was left for dead following a fight with Brienne.
Clegane is still ultimately a cynic and he wonders why such a less than extraordinary twat like Beric Dondarrion has been chosen by the Lord of Light to return from the dead over and over again. Despite his miraculous resurrection, Beric has no answers to give him but his faithful priest Thoros of Myr offers him a clue by asking him to stare into the flames of the fire he just built.
The Brotherhood without Banners worships the Lord of Light and by staring into the flames, Thoros promises that even “The Hound” will find reason to believe. A second after staring into the flickering flames, Clegane’s eyes go wide as he witnesses something inside the fire.
“Ice. A wall of ice. The Wall. It’s where the Wall meets the sea. There’s a castle there. There’s a mountain, it looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them.”
~ Sandor Clegane
This might be an ominous warning for our friend Tormund Giantsbane because it seems “The Hound” is describing Eastwatch-by-the-sea where Jon just sent him to defend ahead of the army of the dead. It appears his instincts were correct and that’s where the Night King will attempt to cross over the Wall — or perhaps go through it.
Finally, Clegane goes outside to bury the father and the daughter as one last sign of repentance. Thoros joins him as they pile the dirt on the grave. It seems that Clegane for all his doubts and skepticism, he’s finally found something to believe in again.
A Watery Grave
In King’s Landing, Cersei is surveying a giant map she’s had painted in the courtyard outside the Red Keep where she’s greeted by her brother/lover Jamie.
While Jamie wants to discuss Tommen’s death — a subject they haven’t broached since he returned — Cersie is not concerned about such things. She lashes out about Tommen’s betrayal by abandoning them and now they are the only ones left to defend the Lannister name.
Cersei’s bigger problems right now come from the enemies surrounding her on all sides. To the North she’s got Jon Snow, who has been declared the new king and clearly has no plans on pledging his allegiance to the house who had his father beheaded. To the south there’s Ellaria Sand and her Sand Snakes, who personally had their daughter Myrcella murdered. To the west there’s the last remaining Tyrells, who obviously have nothing but contempt for them thanks to nearly wiping out their entire bloodline then the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed. And finally to the east is Daenerys Targaryen, who is now being advised by her Hand of the Queen, Tyrion Lannister.
Jamie notes that these are all serious problems and it’s far too large an issue to face alone. He even mentions that another of their supporters, House Frey, have been eliminated by a mysterious enemy (noting they didn’t get the message yet that Arya left for them).
Cersei agrees while reminding her brother that she didn’t sit by their father’s side for the past 30 years without learning something about how to rule.
Enter Euron Greyjoy — the new lord of the Iron Islands with a fleet of a thousand ships ready to pledge himself to Cersei while they fight against a common enemy. He wants to slay his niece and nephew, who turned against him after he was awarded the Salt Throne. Cersei wants to destroy Daenerys Targaryen, who is by far the biggest threat to her reign and it just so happens she’s teamed up with Yara and Theon Greyjoy.
Jamie is skeptical of Euron’s offer much less his ability to truly deliver on a promise. After all, Euron helped lead the Greyjoy uprising against Robert Baratheon more than a decade ago and his family was crushed before he was sent into exile.
Still, Euron hopes to help and in return he only wants one thing — Cersei — and he’s not afraid to take a dig at her golden handed brother Jamie either.
“Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to grow up and marry the most beautiful woman in the world. So here I am with a thousand ships and two good hands.”
~ Euron Greyjoy
Cersei declines his proposal because he can’t be trusted, but Euron promises to deliver on his pledge by bringing her something she wants more than anything else in this world. Euron is clearly going to war for Cersei but it’s tough to imagine anything she would want more than her brother Tyrion being handed back over to face justice for the crimes he committed. Perhaps Euron is headed for Dragonstone?
The Great War is Coming
At the Citadel, Samwell Tarly’s training to become the new maester for the Night’s Watch currently consists of emptying bed pans and cleaning food trays for the people living there who are unable to care for themselves. Samwell desperately wants someone to believe his warning that the Night King is mounting an army of the dead to conquer Westeros, but none of the maesters truly believe him. In fact, most of the maesters don’t even believe that the Long Night — the last war with the White Walkers thousands of years ago — actually happened.
Still, Samwell confides in the archmaester that this threat is very real and his learned teacher agrees, but still warns him that it’s going to take more than the truth to convince the others that something wicket this way comes.
Finally, Sam decides to take matters into his own hands by breaking into the restricted reading room where he retrieves several books that tell about the Long Night and how the army of the dead were defeated back then. In reading those books, Sam discovers that there is a mountain of dragon glass — the very weapon that will kill the White Walkers — is hidden beneath Dragonstone, the ancestral home of the Targaryens.
Sam sends a raven off to Jon Snow to tell him this news in hopes that he’ll be able to harness the weapons in his upcoming war against the dead.
While the revelation is worthwhile news, Sam still has to continue his rounds through the sick ward when he encounters a patient inflicted with advancing Greyscale. The infected arm belongs to Jorah Mormont, who sought out the maesters at the Citadel to attempt to find him a cure just as Daenerys had instructed.
It’s clear, however, that Jorah hasn’t been cured and his sickness has only advanced since h he left his queen’s side.
“Has she come yet? The dragon queen. Daenerys Stormborn?”
~ Jorah Mormont
Samwell has to tell him she has not arrived and Jorah’s stone like arm retreats back into the cell where he will continue to rot away until the Greyscale completely takes him over.
The Queen’s Castle
Finally, Daenerys Targaryen has arrived at home as she reclaims Dragonstone — her family’s ancestral seat that was most recently ruled by Stannis Baratheon — and this will serve as the base of operations as she plans her attack on Cersei.
Daenerys walks through the gates, into the castle and witnesses the throne room where countless Targaryen kings and queens lived and died. She tears down the last shreds of Stannis’ tattered banners that were left behind after he was destroyed by Ramsay Bolton before being killed by Brienne of Tarth.
Daenerys then makes her way into the war room where she finds the table carved into the map of Westeros. The table was carved centuries ago by Aegon Targaryen after he conquered Westeros and that’s where it’s stood ever since. Stannis used it to plot his attacks on King’s Landing as well as the war to the North.
Now it belongs to Daenerys and her armies and with three simple words she begins to plot her attack on Cersei Lannister.
“Shall we begin?”
~ Daenerys Targaryen
The Dragon Queen has arrived and she’s ready to crush anyone standing between her and the Iron Throne.
‘Game of Thrones’ returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO. Take a look at the preview below: