Hype reached peak levels over the early summer as people awaited the return of HBO’s game-changing series Game of Thrones. That hype included people who have set up death pools, March Madness style, to see who would live or die come season seven (as the show is famous for killing it’s characters more often than Sony screws up a Marvel related franchise). With death in mind, the episode started with a character who died at the end of season 6, Walder Frey, thanks to the knife of Arya Stark.
The episode opened with what seemed to be a flashback, showing Frey at a feast thrown for his extended family. It’s strange to see Frey back after he obviously died at the end of season 6, but it’s even stranger to see him at a party, as he’s infamous for his role in the Red Wedding and thus isn’t known as the partying type. It was his role in that which ended up sealing his fate at the hand of Arya Stark who essentially sought out to avenge the death of her kin. This scene ends up showing Stark as Frey massacring the entire Frey family, who all end up dead on the floor. Turns out, it wasn’t a flashback, after all! During her toast Stark ends up coining yet another amazing GoT phrase saying: “Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are not safe” (she’s referencing the massacre of the Starks at the Red Wedding while also essentially implying that Frey left a Stark alive in her) so with that in mind she wiped out “every Frey who means a damn thing”. That scene set the tone of the episode which was about family and the coming of winter. Frey announces that Winter came for the Freys, which is a nod to the most famous line in show history from Season 1 and the looming threat of the White Walkers.
Speaking of winter, the show moved over to Winterfell and it’s Great Hall where Stark’s family/siblings debate whether or not the Umber and Karstak families/clans should keep their castles, after their respective leaders/patriarchs actions in the Battle fo the Bastards. Sansa, not unlike her father believes that while loyalty deserves rewarding, treason deserves punishment. Jon interjects that he has always followed his “fathers” other lesson, that the person who passes the sentence should also be the person who acts out that sentence, or rather that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. So, he refuses to punish someone’s son for what their father did. This, of course, is hinting towards Jon’s true lineage, a major plot point for the upcoming season and another reference to family.
The word Patriarch here clearly has a different meaning than it does in 2017, where it’s used as a way to frame the feminist view that women are second class citizens. So, while the definition is different it’s sort of ironic how much that plays into the reality of what’s going on in Winterfell and beyond. After their meeting, Jon and Sansa debate the threat coming from the South and Cersei. Cersei’s biggest beef, of course, is that the men of her family never listened to her (probably while man-spreading all over the place, #Patriarchy!) which is brilliantly juxtaposed against the fact that Jon is learning to listen and respect Sansa. On top of that, Jon had recently announced that the North will train men AND women to fight in the Great War, showing this by having the Karstak and Umber clans swear allegiance by picking a small boy and young woman out of their respective clans (to swear that allegiance). While it may seem like a total politically correct maneuver, it’s really just a way of showing that Jon understands the threat coming from the White Walkers and essentially that every man, woman, and child are going to need to fight if they have any chance of defeating them.
Back to the theme of family, the show touches on the fact that family ties (and the loyalty and animosities that come with it) need to be shed in order to move forward. Sometimes those loyalties extend to the teachings from one’s father and in this episode, Sansa touches on that by telling Jon that while she misses Ned and Robb, Jon needs to be smarter than them both. With that in mind, outside of adding women to the fight, Jon needs to find more Dragonglass as well. But all of that gets interrupted when a Raven from King’s Landing arrives. It’s from Cersei herself who wants Jon to travel there and kneel before her, saying that if he doesn’t then he’ll end up feeling her wrath. Jon notices that Sansa’s reaction wasn’t exactly her yuck face, and says “You almost sound as though you admire her”, to which Sansa replies that she essentially learned a ton from Cersei which sounds a lot like she at least respects her. Either way, keep that in mind as it could lead to something later in the season (#Speculation).
Over at King’s Landing itself, Cersei is shown in the map room where she is openly wondering if Jaime is afraid of her. “Should I be?” he asks, to which Cersei replies… “Yes”. Ooooh, spooky! After some small talk about, you know, someone’s death (in this case it was Tommen’s leap out of the window) she ends up talking about the need for more allies so she can build a dynasty. Man, the politics on this show make House of Cards look like Full House and the fact that it’s so enthralling just goes to show what a great world the writers of the show and George RR Martin have created. With building alliances in mind the first order of business is a visit from Euron Greyjoy (Captain of the Silence and leader of the Iron Fleet), whose ship filled with tongueless mutes. This both awesome and just part of his reach (considering he styles himself as the “King of the Isles and the North” and the fact that he has the Iron Fleet). The main crux of the meeting, outside of the talk of some revenge (against his niece and nephew for stealing his ship(s)) is that Euron wants Cersei’s hand in marriage in exchange for the commitment of his Iron Fleet to her potential Dynasty. Cersei no deals the proposal as she doesn’t trust Euron (how could you not trust a guy who makes his workers cut out their own tongues?), so Euron responds that he will return with a “precious gift” that’ll prove his trustworthiness. Ten bucks says it’s a bunch of tongues.
Over at House Clegane; Beric, Thoro, and The Hound are caught in a snowstorm and attempt to take shelter in an old, abandoned house. The Hound hesitates, however, as the house belongs to the father that he beat and left for dead after stealing the remaining food from him and his daughter (after they were kind enough to feed him). Their skeletons are inside the house and it looked like the father killed the daughter then himself in order to avoid starving to death thanks to The Hound. The men end up making a fire and Beric tells the Hound to look into the fire to see what he sees and The Hound end’s up seeing an army of the dead marching next to a castle wall, which is near an ocean. After that, the Hound spends the night digging graves for the father and daughter that he essentially killed.
Finally, the show focuses on Sam who was over at The Citadel. They showed a super gross montage involving gruel, vomiting and feces, which was a classic GoT moment if there’s ever been one. He sees a book that’s locked away that he wants to read but is told by the Archmaester that he cannot read that book until he reaches “Ma(e)ster” status. This is the same Archmaester who is one of the only people that believes Sam’s claims about The White Walkers. While he does agree that they exist, he doesn’t see them as much of a threat because “every winter that has ever came has ended.” Because of that, Sam steals the Archmaester’s keys and unlocks the book(s) he was looking for. What does he find from the book? Huge Spoiler Alert (in an article that is essentially one giant Spoiler…) the Dragonstone is built atop a gigantic amount of… You guessed it… Dragonglass! That means that Jon Snow and company will essentially have to overtake the traditional seat of the Targaryens to get access to what they need to defeat the White Walkers (also it explains the name of the episode).
Beyond that, the episode wraps up by showing that Ser Jorah is at the Citadel as well with his army which is Greyscaled to the teeth. Jorah asks Sam whether or not the Dragon Queen has arrived yet. Finally, the show ends by showing Khaleesi and her troops landing at Dragonstone, where she ends up in the map room with Tyrion. She asks him “Shall we begin?” and the episode ends. Dun Dun Dun!
What did you think of the season opener? What do you think it means for the rest of the season? Let us know and stay tuned each week for a recap of each episode of Season Seven of Game of Thrones!