TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Episode 1: ‘Dragonstone’


 

*WARNING!!!  SPOILERS BELOW!!!!*

 

 

Synopsis:  Jon Snow consolidates his power in the North but experiences tension with Sansa.  Bran and Meera finally arrive at the Wall.  Sam continues his maester apprenticeship in the Citadel while looking for clues on how to fight the White Walkers.  Arya settles a debt and sets out on a new quest.  Cersei schemes to obtain new allies.  The Hound has a religious experience  Dany lands at Dragonstone.

Review:  Well after arguably the best season to date in season six,  Game of Thrones fans were forced to endure an extended wait (or should I say Watch?) before the penultimate season.  And despite this season and next being truncated, I couldn’t be happier to be back in Westeros.

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have gone on record stating these last two seasons will be much faster paced.  Logical of course considering the endgame is nigh.  But man they were not kidding.  In a cold open that felt more like a closing scene for a season finale, we see Arya masquerading as Walder Frey, poison everyone in the Frey line.  Her chilling line, “Tell them the North remembers.  Tell them Winter came for House Frey” I think sets the tone for how this season is going to be–intense.  The only other scene with Arya however was a throwaway nothing burger scene where she sat with some “nice” Lannisters.  Oh and Ed Sheeran was there.  However, Arya’s arc has really progressed in the last two years.  In some ways she’s become just as cold-blooded as the Hound was.

Speaking of Arya’s old travel companion, the Hound continues to travel with the Brothers Without Banners.  When the group stops at the cottage where the Hound stole from a father and daughter and left them to die, the group finds the combo dead by suicide.  You could see the guilt in Sandor Clegane’s eyes and the fact that he buried the two and tried to say a prayer was touching.  If you would have told me three seasons ago I’d feel sympathy for the Hound I would have said you were nuts.  But that’s what this show does.  It will be interesting to see how the prophecy the Hound saw in the flames will play out.  The Walkers are coming south–and they have giants.

Much farther south of the Wall, we get a look at what Sam’s been up to in Oldtown, namely emptying chamber pots and stacking books.  In a scene that went on way too long, you really got the sense of how much drudgery Sam goes through.  Thankfully, Sam has Archmaester Marwyn (Jim Broadbent) on his side.  However, even though he believes Sam about the White Walkers he doesn’t seem to think it will mean the world is going to end.  I’ll admit that it was slightly convenient that Sam found a map of Dragonstone that showed where a cache of dragonglass was.  However, it was a surprise to find Jorah Mormont in the Citadel still suffering from the effects of the Greyscale.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

To the East in King’s Landing, Cersei continues to rule as the first Queen of Westeros.  You get the sense in her conversations with Jamie that whatever tether of goodness kept her from going over the deep end died with her children.  She calls them ash and tells Jamie that the dynasty is for them alone now.  Cersei is not only ruthless now she’s callous.  It’s clear she will stop at nothing to maintain power and crush her enemies.  Her actions have always been cold and calculating before.  What will they be now that she has no restraints?  The glances Jamie gave her…it’s like he was looking at a stranger.  Cersei doesn’t seem opposed to forming alliances wherever she can, enlisting the help of Euron Greyjoy to set out and attack Dany’s fleet.  I wonder what “prize” he will bring back for Cersei.  Either way, there’s no way Cersei lets him marry her.  Not happening.

One of Cersei’s new enemies has become Jon Snow, the newly crowned King in the North.  His focus remains solely on the Night King and the White Walkers.  His command to begin training every boy and girl from 10 to 60 to fight is a stroke of genius.  It doesn’t hurt that he has Lyanna Mormont to back his play.  I’m convinced she’s really a forty-year old woman trapped in a ten-year old’s body.  I also think Snow’s decision to not give the Umber and Karstark houses away to new Lords a smart play.  Jon needs all the help he can get.

That was quite the tense moment to see Sansa contradict him in front of his subjects.  The followup conversation demonstrates how the showrunners are setting up a power play between the two for the coming season.  Yet Sansa does comment on how Jon seems a natural leader.  Let’s just hope he listens to her advice about Cersei.  Much like Arya’s evolution, Sansa has come far as a character.  She no longer suffers others’ bullshit like Lord Baelish.  That line where she says something to the effect of, “I’m sure that sentence you were about to finish was witty,” was spot on.  Has Baelish become marginalized?  We’ll see.

It feels appropriate that we conclude the season premiere at the location the episode was titled.  This was a damn near perfect sequence.  Rather than hurt the moment with needless exposition, the entire sequence is in total silence except for one final closing line.  This is something we’ve been building up to for six seasons-Dany finally landing in Westeros.  The dramatic and emotional moment cannot be overstated.

“Dragonstone” made for a solid if not overwhelming season premiere.  There’s a lot of setup here.  However,  I feel like this is just the first bite of the appetizer and we haven’t even gotten to the main course yet.

Now, shall we begin?

 

Season 7 Episode 1 “Dragonstone” rates:  8/10 Severed Ned Heads

*Note!!!  Due to vacation my review of episode 2″Stormborn” will not be until next Thursday.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

You can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1

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