Winter is finally here?
Season 7 of Game of Thrones has finally arrived for viewers around the world, and winter has come along with it, or so everyone says. The penultimate season, has taken a slightly different approach with shooting. With only seven episodes instead of ten, the episodes are longer and higher in budget. However, the first episode did not reflect very much of this. With the delayed release, anticipation grew among fans. The debut episode spent a majority of its hour reintroducing the characters, their motivations and their place in Westeros.
There will be full spoilers ahead for this episode’s review.
To introduce the world back to the Game of Thrones, Lord Walder Frey (David Bradley), Lord of the Riverlands, appears to be brandishing a banquet for his men. He quickly reminds us of the atrocities of the red wedding. The feast quickly turns into a bloodbath, when Lord Walder Frey announces to his men that they should have killed every single Stark. Little do they know, that Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has multiple faces, and when she killed Lord Frey last season, she stole his face and went for blood. She poisons the wine inside the room, and as the men die, she reveals her face to few women whom she spared. In a cold and collected fashion, she utters the words “the north remembers”, as she walks away smiling upon the dead bodies around her. If a character hasn’t died (yet), they probably transformed for the better, but nobody like Arya. The introduction scene was a fantastic reminder of how much Arya has faced in survival, and she isn’t surviving anymore, she is out for blood.
Not many young teens can say they have killed, and is on a quest for killing, even in Westeros. There might be no greater foe for the next person on her list, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). As she goes along her way through The Riverlands, she meets a group of peace keepers. One particular peace keeper is singing a delicate tune, and as Arya approaches the men, the soul with the voice of an angel is no other than heart throb Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran is now official in the Game of Thrones lore. A scene that could easily take you right out of the show. Although the episode was rather quiet in terms of action, the dialogue was straight to the point and a great way to settle back into the world. This scene gave a little relief to the different on-goings with each of the major factions.
Also in The Riverlands and also on Arya’s list is The Hound (Rory McCane) and his merry men, aka The Brotherhood. The Hound’s encounter with Arya, who thinks she left him for dead, and Septon Ray had also changed him into a man with more integrity and personal values. As he spends time with the light followers, he is slowly becoming a part of the group. Through a harsh snowy climate, the men find an abandoned cottage with a family of skeletons. This was in fact the cottage The Hound and Arya visited and cruelly told the father and daughter that they wouldn’t survive in these harsh times. Inside the cottage, The Hound looks into a pit of fire, and for the first time sees what The Brotherhood sees. He sees an impending doom that The Brotherhood will soon confront, a wall of ice next to the sea, and an army of dead marching. Showing more than understanding, he also shows remorse. Under his cold figure and relentless insults, he takes it upon himself to bury the bodies, showing more character and empathy than anything we have seen in previous seasons.
North of the Wall
After the long awaited Game of Thrones opening sequence, a scene that truly represents that winter is here. Through a dark, mysterious fog, the Night King slowly approaches. And behind him, a collection of dead men, women, and giants. Although an eerie scene, and murmurs of ‘winter is here’ from people every now and then, this was the only true representation of the beckoning winter. It is more than apparent that winter is here, but in this rather quiet episode, winter was more like a small ant hill of snow when one wishes to go skiing on slopes.
After becoming the three eyed Raven, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) finally found their way to The Wall. There is still great mystery to his story arc, and little of Bran has been seen until last season. He might very well be the answer into defeating the army of the dead, but only time will tell how his role plays into the larger picture.
There is no other character greater to reintroduce the north and Winterfell than the King of the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harington). In a open meeting, Jon and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) get into a heated debate, fleshing out the differences between their character transformations and their leaderships. Jon Snow had to learn a lot from experience, whilst Sansa Stark studied from great characters like Cersei and Lord Baelish (Aiden Gillen). Jon Snow quickly exercises his right as the King, and chooses to spare factions, caring more about bringing people together and respect, instead of Sansa’s cold stance to punish anybody who had betrayed the Starks. Afterwards, Sansa quickly acknowledges Jon’s leadership, and the respect his men give him. However, it is not long until Winterfell receives a cease and desist letter from King’s Landing, ordering the North to bend a knee.
Cersei’s introduction scene opens up with a brightly coloured map of Westeros, and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) confronting Cersei about her lack of action. Above the massive map of the Game of Thrones world, stand two figures who seem to be larger than life, whilst claim to be ‘the last Lannisters’ left. They have no children, no family, not much of an army, but within the grand world, they still stand beside each other. In spite of everything they have lost, Cersei does have a card up her sleeve, uniting the Greyjoys and Lannisters.
Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), the self appointed king of the Iron Islands, brings his grand armada of ships and a proposal to Cersei. Standing in front of Cersei, who sits proudly upon the Iron Throne, Euron wants to marry Cersei, and collectively kill his nephews and Daenerys along the way. With a relentless figure, demonic eyes and an unpredictable dialogue, the introduction of Euron stole the episode. Pilou represented a very chaotic man with no empathy of anybody, a man where family means nothing to him, and all could be seen just within his eyes. Cersei declines Euron’s proposal, with an answer that Euron is too untrustworthy. Which Euron replies to bringing Cersei a priceless gift that will be worthy of her trust, where he storms off through the grandiose palace. A new villain to definitely look out for, and will be a worthy opponent to anyone who confronts him.
Someone with a clear vision into tackling the Whitewalkers is Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West). Sam bravely made his way all the way to The Citadel, or the Hightower, a grand library of information where the Maesters reside. Worse than his role at The Wall, Sam is forced to pick up physical and mental shit. However, his training has paid off, as Sam is clearly brave enough without any hesitation to work in the shadows, to reach for a book in a restricted area. And in his studies, he finds the answer, a map of Dragonstone, and a mountain of Dragonglass. And in The Citadel, appears fan favourite Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), and an arm of deadly greyscale. Unknowing to who each other are, Jorah asks Sam if her one true love Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has arrived yet.
It turns out, Daenerys has arrived, back at home, Dragonstone. After gaining a collection of loyal men and women, an army and fleet of ships, she returns to her childhood castle. A magnificent scene with breathtaking scenery, and almost no dialogue. Even beside Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), no witty remarks were heard. A great representation of the monumental land, the sharp ragged rocks, the marvelous monolithic dragon structures, and a throne embedded from the natural world, no words were necessary to relay the emotion of Daenerys and reaching Westeros, in her rightful land. As the episode ends, through the crescendo of the Game of Thrones score, Daenerys looks upon the war strategy board as she excitedly speaks the words “shall we begin?” And that is exactly what is to be expected for the next six episodes of Game of Thrones Season 7.