Game of Thrones “Dragonstone” Season 7 Premiere Review

We’ve heard about it for a long time now and even though we knew it, and anticipated it, seeing the snow fall in Westeros still feels a little surreal. So what do the winds of winter mean for Westeros? Is it an ending? Is it a beginning? Or is it complete and utter Armageddon for all the living? If Archmaester Ebrose is to be believed it’s no big thing.

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The long wait gave us a lull after the storm of last season, and I think we’re going to need it because everyone in Westeros is gearing up for the battle to end all battles. Some will be fought on the battlefield while some will be fought in the dining hall. Just ask Arya. Her latest mission? Impersonate Walder Frey and throw a lavish dinner party for all the important Freys. Then murder them with poisoned wine. That’s another few names Arya can check off her list. She’s becoming quite the mass murderer. She’s so good at being No One it’s downright terrifying.

At first I found it odd to see Walder Frey alive and kicking. But as he regaled his dinner guests with their betrayals, crimes and violations, this seeming Lazarus act became clear with deadly intent. Arya killed them all. Quite simply it was awesome. It’s about time House Stark wrecks some face.

“Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe. Tell them the North remembers. Winter came for House Frey.” Those are the chilling words spoken by Arya Stark after she wreaked her vengeance on the murderers of her family. And she’s not done yet. She’s off to kill Cersei next. Now that’s how you start the season Game of Thrones style.

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Yet even though the intro to season 7 was killer, and it was a good, solid episode, I have to admit this first episode was a slow burn. The cameo appearance made by Ed Sheeran was cool, but this season opener felt like a leisure walk in the Godswood compared to last season’s finale. A slow and steady start is a Game of Thrones trademark. Historically it’s a TV show that eases us into the season with the first episode, letting us catch our breath and reset our bearings. The objective of this first episode had a two pronged purpose. One was to give us a merciful respite before the war, which will wring us out emotionally, mark my words. The second was to set up the pieces on the chess board and demonstrate for us the state of affairs in Westeros while drawing clear lines between adversaries.

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If we’re #TeamJonSnow we have the Dead to the North of us, psychopath Cersei to the south of us, and Sansa chafing at not being taken seriously. Did she not show us anything by saving the day with her machinations? The sweet little girl is a fierce woman now who will never be a victim again. Jon would be wise to listen to her, who cares if she sounds like she admires Cersei? More than any other character on the show she has intimate knowledge of all the Stark enemies. And even if she was once a silly little girl she isn’t anymore. She’s learned from the best of the worst of them. And Sansa’s right. Everyone who’s ever crossed Cersei, Cersei has found a way to murder.

A letter from Cersei demanding that they bend the knee is bad news. Jon Snow and Sansa Stark need to band together now more than ever and not let sibling rivalry or anything else get in the way.

We all know Jon Snow’s skill as a warrior, but what about as a tactician? Will he suffer the same fate as Ned and Robb? He will if he keeps letting his damn honor get in the way. Forgiving people and letting the families of traitors renew fealty to House Stark could get him a knife in the ribs again. Melisandre isn’t there to resurrect him this time. It’s all well and good to know about dragonglass, but no amount of dragonglass will keep him safe if he’s betrayed from within.

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And will someone please keep an eye on Petyr Baelish? Having Petyr Baelish hovering near the inner circle and shamelessly pursuing Sansa puts me on edge. Littlefinger already did in one Stark. Getting rid of someone he sees as an obstacle to his endgame will be less than nothing to him should push come to shove. All I can say is, be careful Sansa! You’re playing with fire.

And speaking of fire, isn’t it ironic that the Hound is hanging out with a bunch of fire worshippers? And he’s also seeing things in the fire. Does this bode well or ill for Sandor Clegane? What’s his purpose in the larger scheme of things? Who knows, but he’s revealing that his near death experience has changed him. I nearly fell off my chair when he started praying, but maybe there’s hope for him yet. Maybe people can change.

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In Cersei’s case I think she’s changed for the worse. With all her children dead there is nothing holding her back now from becoming an OP monster. Not even Jaime. I think it’s funny how she’s playing hard to get. I don’t think she’ll marry Euron. Why give up her power? But maybe she’ll change her mind if Euron Greyjoy brings her this amazing gift he’s promising. I wonder what it will be?

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It’s so funny hearing Cersei talk about trust and wearing the crown. Oh, how the shamed have risen. How fitting to see her standing on a map of Westeros like a giant standing on the throat of the conquered. If there is one thing Cersei gets it’s the game of thrones, and she plays to win. News of Tyrion’s fealty to Daenerys has reached Cersei and if she didn’t have it in for Tyrion before, she will now. Cersei and Jaime are planning and plotting and counting their enemies one by one, so you know there will be blood. Arya isn’t the only one with a list. I pity the fools who underestimate Cersei. She’s got a will of iron. And she has no one holding her back.

I’m a little scared Jaime may have his Kingslayer skills called upon before all this is over since it seems that he and Cersei don’t quite see eye to eye. At least they disagree in private, not like Sansa and Jon.

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It was hilarious as usual to see that Tormund still carries a torch for his lady love, Brienne. I wonder, will she ever get over Renly and Jaime and give Tormund a chance? I ship it. It was a relief to see that Lyanna Mormont is as feisty and loyal as per usual, and to see Bran and Meera safe at the Wall. And what about Sam’s version of Groundhog Day? Poor Sam. The road to knowledge is filled with the gross and disgusting. I hope all his night time reading of books from the Restricted Area will pay off.

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And Daenerys better get started. If she planned to surprise everyone with her landing at Dragonstone, well, the dragon’s out of the bag! Everyone knows she’s here. Well almost everyone. Was that Ser Jorah who’s hand we saw coming out of that cell? Sure sounded like it. And he’s riddled with greyscale! Gosh, does it ever suck to be him. Maybe it’s karma for being a slave trader once upon a time. Or maybe it’s a cruel trick of the gods, punishing him for daring to love a magical Dragon Queen. I wonder what his fate will be.

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There was a feeling of inevitability pervasive throughout the entire episode, a sense that things are finally coming full circle. Daenerys’ arrival at Dragonstone had the ‘stink of destiny’ about it. It was definitely a milestone moment when she kneels and touches the sand of the beach of her homeland — a place she’s longed for all her life but never seen — while her dragons fly above her.

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She’s been waiting her whole life for this moment. Seems like we have too, hey? Imagine entering your ancestral home for the first time after everything you’ve been through. Did you see her rip down the Baratheon sigil? Must have been satisfying. Can you see the long dead Targaryens and their dragons? It must feel overwhelming. It must feel fulfilling. It must feel like destiny. And I’m sure for Daenerys it does. As she walks through the empty rooms can she feel the presence of her family there? And even if she can, she has no time to reminisce. She has a kingdom to conquer. Look out Cersei. Daenerys is coming for you.

Check out this preview for next week’s episode of Game of Thrones “Stormborn”. Watch it Sunday, July 23rd on HBO.