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Review: Game of Thrones – Season 7, Episode 1 – SPOILERS

by on July 17, 2017
 

Winter has come.

For six straight seasons, we’ve heard the words, winter is coming. Even Sean Bean’s (SPOILER) decapitated Eddard “Ned” Stark told us viewers that winter was coming in the first episode that aired way back in 2011. But just as everything comes to a head, the arguments, the battles, and the war that will be waged over King’s Landing, winter will be upon the folks of Westeros. The “Long Night,” the Night King and his fleet of White Walkers are slowly making their way south, to go beyond the wall and into the land of men. Only a few men have confronted the white walkers and lived long enough to tell their tale, that the myths are true. The gist of this season? Bad things are about to happen. Very, bad, things.

SPOILERS BEGIN

Season seven opens with what first appears to be a flashback, with the head of house Frey, Walder Frey, speaking to room of family members and allies. But anyone who watched last season knows, Frey is dead. Arya Stark, sliced his larynx like she was a master playing a violin. Arya, who had trained with the Jaqen, the man of many faces, at the House of Black and White, had disguised herself, with the help of her master’s teachings, as Walder. “Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are not safe.” Arya says as Frey. The men in the room looked puzzled, unsure of what their house leader was referring too. Unbeknownst to the men in the room, Arya, had poisoned all of their wine, which was being served by the young women Frey had kept in his keep. All the while, Arya as Frey, spoke about the red wedding (the event that saw the slaughter of her brother, his wife and her unborn child and of course, her mother, Lady Stark) and as she pointed out how they murdered their guests, the men in the room began to die, one by one, until they were all dead. The only survivors that remained, were the young handmaidens, one of whom Arya stopped from drinking the poisoned wine. She spared her life, perhaps because she knew she was innocent or because she needed her to deliver a message for when others came to question the events that had just transpired. Arya told the girl, to tell those who come, “The North remembers.” Which may be homage to Caitlyn Stark, aka Lady Stark aka Lady Stoneheart. For those of you who haven’t read the books, the Stark’s mother was resurrected and became a sort of zombie with revenge. She basically went on a killing spree, murdering anyone who wronged the Starks. Lady Stoneheart, as her name suggests, was cold and vengeful, but more importantly, she never spoke. To quote the books, “She don’t speak. You bloody bastards cut her throat too deep for that. But she remembers. So, is Arya’s line, “the north remembers,” a way to incorporate part of Lady Stoneheart, since the character won’t be making an appearance in show? Either way, Arya stole the show, as she walked out of the room, in true badass fashion, with the handmaidens all standing around shocked and the floor, littered with bodies.

Next up, a scene that is just becoming tiresome at this point. We see Cersai Lannister and Jaime, her brother lover, talking about their plot to keep King’s Landing and maintain their grip as rulers of the Seven Kingdoms, but Jaime interjects, “Three, we have three on our side.” With the Frey’s now killed, Cersai, the new Queen of the Seven Kingdom, (who casually appointed herself Queen, after her son Tommen, the King, jumped out of a window due to the sadness of losing his queen and wife, Margaery), is losing support from the Kingdom’s she rules. The scene clearly shows that Cersai is losing it. For so long, her whole plan was to put her children in a position of power and carry on the Lannister name. First, with her eldest son, Joffrey, who became King after his (not real) father King Robert Baratheon died, due to a hunting accident while drunk. But Joffrey was an epic dick and people everywhere wanted to kill him. So when he did die, at the hands of Olenna Tyrell, grandmother to Margaery (side note: Cersai still believes that it was her dwarf brother Tyrion, who killed her son), Cersai’s second son Tommen ascended to the throne. All the while, her daughter Myrcella, was gifted to the King of Dorn, to marry his son and unite the houses. Tommen too, picked a wife, Margaery from house Tyrell, who would have provided support to the Lannisters in the way of goods and food. But Margaery was killed in an explosion, which Tommen saw, thus causing him to commit suicide. As for Mycella, when her father, Jaime, when to rescue her and bring her back, she was poisoned by a farewell kiss from the Sand Vipers’ Ellaria Sand, which killed her on the voyage home. Ellaria did this because it was Cersai and the Lannisters that killed her lover, Oberyn. Needless to say, Cersai, after losing her three children, has sort of become unhinged. She no longer has her reason for doing what she intended. She now is acting out of desperation, she’s clinging on to power for the sake of power. While I guess this is important in the long run, it was just boring to see these two characters talk about the same stuff as the last several seasons. Her death can’t come soon enough.

This next bit is a rush, as it was boring to watch. But Samwell, the fat friend of Jon Snow from the Night’s Watch is still down in the Citadel with all the Maesters, learning to be one of them. He’s obsessed with learning how to stop the White Walkers, yet, he’s no closer to learning how to stop them since last season. We are forced to watch a montage of him cleaning stone bed pans full of crap. I mean that literally. We witness them cut together scene after scene, basically to nail the point home, that poor Sam has been doing this all day, every day and he’s tired of it. He confronts a Maester about the White Walkers, while the man performs an autopsy and the man says he believes Sam, however, he doesn’t believe the world is in grave danger. He tells Sam, people believed, that when Robert Baratheon killed the Mad King, there’d be no way for people to continue, that everything would fall apart, he then listed several other examples of moments when people believed the world was coming to an end. But his point was, no matter how grave the danger and the threat, man survived, they are still there. No matter how long winter would be, it would always end. Sam, being Sam, decided he still needed to do his job and get a method to kill the white walkers back to Winterfell and Jon Snow. So, and let the Harry Potter similarities begin, he steals the keys to the “restricted” area of the library… however, he didn’t use an invisibility cloak and Hermione didn’t tell him where to look. This next bit was just lazy writing, seriously. Sam doesn’t even look around the restricted area, he simply opens the gate with the keys, closes the gate behind him and turns to the right and starts pulling random books off the shelf and shoving them in his bag. That’s it, that’s all the searching he does and wouldn’t you know it, he finds the answer in one of those books. Right!?! Anyway, apparently near DragonStone castle (which I’ll get to in a bit) there’s an entire underground mountain of Dragonglass. Why is DragonGlass important, because it can kill a white walker, not just put them down or hurt them, but kill them permanently. But it’s also rare. So if Jon Snow can get his hands on some, let alone an entire underground mountain full of it, he and his army will have a better shot at ending the threat of the White Walkers.

The Hound is back in a scene that tries to humanize the man that has been a prick and a murderer most of his life. While traveling with the brotherhood without banners, in a vicious snow storm, they come across a house with no livestock and no smoke coming from the chimney. The brothers believe this is a fine place to spend the night, while the Hound oddly disagrees. It’s not until they enter that we understand the Hound’s trepidation. This house belonged to the man and the young girl that he looted and left for dead while traveling with Arya Stark a season or so ago. Inside the house, we see the remains of a father and daughter, cuddled up together in the corner of the house, on a bed, with a bloody night at their feet. As one of the brothers says, “They were starving, with no money and no food, the father probably took the daughter’s life so his little girl didn’t have to suffer and then offed himself.” This hit the Hound in a way we haven’t seen before, he’s having real feelings of guilt, knowing that he took their money and possibly caused these people to die. While in the house, the Hound asked Anguy, “What makes you so damn special?” Referring to why the Lord of Light has allowed him to come back to life on more than one occasion. Anguy tells the hound, “I ask myself that every hour of every day, but I has no idea.” It’s then that Thoros, another brother, calls the Hound to the fire and tells him to look upon it and tell him what he sees. The Hound replied, fire. Thoros tells him to look again, to look deeper. The Hound stares for a bit, then replies “Ice, a wall of Ice.” It’s clear that the he is describing Castle Black and the Wall, with the impending arrival of the White Walkers. This, without stating it, makes the Hound a believer. Later, after all the men go to sleep, the Hound is outside, but is found by Thoros, digging a grave for the father and daughter. Thoros says, “You knew these people.” To which the Hound replied, “not really.” Thoros, picks up a shovel and helps him bury the bodies. A guilt-ridden Hound tries to say a pray, but simply says, you deserve better than this and walks off. I’m not entirely sure where the writing team is trying to take the Hound with this story of redemption. While he’s an imposing character, we thought he was going to die after he got his ass handed to him from Brienne, and then Arya left him to die, wounded and alone. He could have stayed that way and I don’t think the story would have suffered an ounce. So whatever they have planned for him, better payoff.

Earlier in the show we did see Jon Snow, talking to the men of Winterfell and the houses of the North. It was non-eventful, unless you count Sansa not feeling respected when Jon disregards her suggestions for the houses that belonged to traitors who fought against House Stark, as noteworthy TV. Jon replied, “I won’t punish the sons for the sins of their fathers. I won’t take away houses that have been with families for centuries…” or something like that. Jon confronts Sansa afterwards, saying you can’t do that infront of the other houses, that he is King of Winterfell now and she needs to respect that. While Sansa says Jon is a great leader and he was born for this, you can clearly tell, she wants and deserves more, especially since it was she, who saved his ass at the Battle of the Bastards. It was Sansa who convinced the Army of the Veil to come and fight, thus saving Jon and Winterfell from Ramsey Snow.

Finally, the last like three minutes or so of the show are exactly what you’d expect, the arrival of Daenerys Targaryen (aka Khaleesi or Daenerys Stormborn), the best damn character in the show, aside from Tyrion Lannister, to the shores of Westeros. We see Dany arrive at the shores of DragonStone (I said I’d mention this again), the former keep of Stannis Baratheon, brother of Robert. She arrives in a small boat, having gotten off one of her larger crafts. Though I’d like to point out, last season, the show and season ended with Dany and her fleet, which had so many ships, the ocean might as well have been blacked out. Yet, when she arrives, other than her boat and her small dingy, we don’t see any boats and if we do (perhaps I missed them), there are nowhere NEAR as many as she had when she was sailing over. Regardless, this whole scene was too short. She simply arrives, walks on the sands of the beach, reaching down to touch it,  a moment, we fans have been waiting to see since season one. Daenerys has finally arrived in Westeros. After a minute, she stands and with her two guards, Missandre, Tyrion, Varys and Grey Worm, and begins to walk the steps up the Castle. All the while, her three dragons circle the sky around DragonStone. When she gets inside, her team stands back, allowing her space. She stares at the throne, but walks past it, into the planning area where Stannis and Davos were planning their attack on King’s Landing. She looks at the table, a map of Westeros and says to Tyrion, without looking at him, “Well, let’s get started.” 

Boom, fade to black.

Certainly some goosebump moments, but the entire hour was leading to that last moment and I can’t help be feel it didn’t pay off. Cool, yes, but awesome, not really. It didn’t have the effect that other ending scenes had, like watching smoke clear and seeing Dany seated, covered in soot from a massive fire and holding three baby dragons. When you wait an hour to see the payoff from last year and the scene is 3 mins or less and has no big “OH DAMN” moment, it feels lackluster.

So, a few last minute things. First, DragonStone. You can clearly see where the show is going and how things will align. Sam will get the message to Jon Snow, that he needs Dragonglass to kill the white walkers and a whole crap ton sits under DragonStone. This will force Jon Snow to venture south to meet with Dany and thus we’ll finally get the meeting, we all want. SPOILER: For those who don’t know, Jon Snow is really the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King and Brother to Daenarys. He is NOT the child of Ned Stark and some mistress. He is the nephew, despite his age, of Daenarys. So this meeting will be interesting to say the least. While the writers did show us the arrival of Bran to Castle Black (albeit very briefly), we’ll have to wait to see how he tells someone of Jon’s true parentage, since he is the only one who knows and how and when, Dany and Jon will find out.

Lastly, one little teaser, before we saw the arrival of Dany to Westeros, we saw the arm of Jorah Mormont, the man that was suppose to betray her in season one, but fell in love and became her loyal guard. Though he was banished for his lies, she took him back only for him to have caught greyscale, from Stone Men on his way back to her. While trying to redeem himself and get close to her, the greyscale began to slowly crept its way up his arm. Eventually she took him back and wanted him to come with her as she sailed to Westeros. He said he couldn’t, not in his condition, then she demanded that he find a cure and return to her. In present day, back at the Citadel, Sam was going down a long hallway filled with what looked like prison doors, collecting food bowls. It was when he reached the final door and picked up the bowl, that Jorah’s arm, fully covered in grey scale, came jutting out of the opening. He grabbed Sam’s clothing and said, “Has the queen arrived yet?” Sam, not knowing what he’s talking about just shakes his head. Jorah, let’s him and and retracts his arm. I guess we’re left to assume that Jorah went there for help or that he was captured and is imprisoned, because of his condition. So either the Maesters are going to attempt to heal him or Sam is going to be forced to help free him. We shall see.

Overall, there was a lot of exposition and foreshadowing for future episodes. The opening scene was great, probably the best part and sadly, overshadowed Dany’s arrival at the end, as the cooler segment. Bran’s arrival at Castle Black, again, was short and abrupt and didn’t really deliver any strong message. Sam’s discovery of the Dragonglass is great for Jon and for those who will fight the White Walkers and surely sets up the meeting between Jon and Dany. But the way he found it, was really weak. It would have been cooler if we had scene a figure of a hooded Maester pull that book half way out and then leave, while Sam was watching. Sort of leading him to the book, but the way it was done, was just plain lazy.

Cersai and Jaime’s mess is getting irritating at this point and bores me. She can die any minute and I wouldn’t care, but I know the payoff will be bigger when the battle for King’s Landing takes place. I just hope we aren’t screw over with a crappy death. For a starter show, it was far slower and packing fewer surprises than I expected. For me, not the best opening, especially when I consider that there are only 6 more episodes this season, they need to get things going faster, so hopefully better episodes are on the way, with less filler.

SCORE: 7/10