Game of Thrones is back on our screens after a long wait, and we’ve got just 7 episodes in this penultimate season. The season kicks off with Dragonstone, an episode named after the traditional Targaryen ancestral home. Spoilers Ahead.
The episode opens in the Riverlands where Arya Stark is disguised as Walder Frey, and is holding a feast for all of the important Frey family members. Here she gets revenge for the Red Wedding by poisoning them. Later on she encounters some of the Lannister men who have been sent to The Twins following the Frey’s murder. They offer her hospitality and talk about their desire to be at home with their families. When they ask Arya why she’s travelling to King’s Landing she announces that she intends to kill the Queen, something that they take as a joke.
Meanwhile The Brotherhood Without Banners are travelling north towards the Wall with The Hound. They arrive at a house where The Hound had stayed with Arya before killing the owners. Here The Hound and Beric Dondarrion discuss why it is that Dondarrion keeps getting brought back whilst better men remain dead. Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr encourage the Hound to look into the flames, where he sees the army of the dead marching at the Wall. Thoros awakes to find the Hound burying the previous occupants. After telling Thoros he didn’t really know them he delivers a typically Hound style burial speech.
North of the Wall the White Walkers and their armies are on the move, including several resurrected giants alongside them. Slightly ahead Bran and Meera finally reach the Wall, where they are greeted by the new Lord Commander, Dolorous Edd.
At Winterfell Jon is holding a meeting of the Northern Lords. He lays out several plans for the North going forward to help counteract the White Walkers. His first plan is to hoard obsidian, then he wants to train every able body to fight, and finally he wants to use the Free Folk to man the castle on the wall. The tension between Sansa and Jon is starting to grow already. Sansa shows that she has a much better understanding of both how the game is played and Cersei, whilst Jon is upset that she questioned him. They receive a raven from Cersei asking Jon to bend the knee.
As the training begins, where Brienne shows Pod a thing or two about fighting, Littlefinger tries once again win Sansa over to his side by telling her all he cares about is that she is safe and happy. Whilst she seems to waver a little when pushed as to whether she’s happy, she sends him off with a withering put down. Sansa does tell Brienne that they need the Knights of the Vale.
Cersei and Jaime meet to discuss what their next move is, and noting how THEIR enemies surround them. Daenerys and Tyrion in the East, Jon in the North, Ellaria Sand in the South, and Olenna Tyrell in the West. Jaime insists that they need allies, but Cersei has already laid plans for that, as Euron Greyjoy arrives. Cersei knows that Euron is there for a queen, something that visibly upsets Jaime, but manages to play Euron off well. After Jaime and Euron trade barbs, particularly surrounding the Greyjoy rebellion, Cersei rejects his proposal. Euron tells her that he will return when he’s brought her a “priceless gift”, although the exact nature of that isn’t yet revealed.
At the Citadel Sam is mainly running unpleasant or dull errands for the Maesters; stacking books, serving dinner, and cleaning chamber pots. He longs for access to the books in the restricted section, but despite the Grandmaester believing that Sam has seen the White Walkers he is denied it. Stealing a key from a Maester whilst they sleep Sam manages to find key information in one of the restricted books, a map of Dragonstone that includes a mountain of obsidian hidden away. Later on Sam meets Jorah who is being held with the Sick because of his greyscale. Jorah wants to know whether Daenerys has arrived yet but Sam says he hasn’t heard.
Daenerys finally finds her way across the narrow sea with her supporters and arrives at Dragonstone. As they explore and discover the war room Daenerys ends the episode asking “shall we begin?”
Even as an opening episode there wasn’t much to get you off you’re feet. There were some great moments, Sansa’s confrontations with Jon and Littlefinger really stood out, and continue to prove that Sophie Turner has become one of the best actors on the show. Arya’s two scenes were excellent and finally made her story interesting for the first time since she left Westeros. Cersei’s alliance with Euron illustrates just how well she plays the game as she has managed to secure his help without actually needing to marry him yet. One would imagine that his ‘priceless gift’ would be the removal of at least one of their enemies. Euron and Jamie’s back and forth in this scene is the prime example of the show’s humour at its best, but there is looking like less and less humour as we come to the business end of the series. Sam’s discovery of the mountain of obsidian at Dragonstone and raven to Jon is clearly what is going to push Jon’s meeting with Daenerys. I’m not sure how much they are going to be able to do with his storyline at the Citadel, but then that’s probably why they’ve thrown Ser Jorah in as well. I do wish there had been some big moment in the episode to have everyone talking, but there just wasn’t that moment for me. I guess they were hoping that Arya killing the Frey’s would do it, but I nearly forgot about that by the time I’d finished the episode and saw it coming nearly immediately. It’s not a bad episode, and early season Game Of Thrones is never the most action packed, but I do wish there had been something a little more exciting especially as the season is only 7 episodes.