Well, friends, it came and went — everyone’s favorite holiday: the “Game of Thrones” season premiere.
We open on Walder Frey (or is it?) at the head of his banquet hall, toasting his men for a job well done at the Red Wedding. As he begins to name the brutal acts his kin committed, it soon becomes clear that this leering, boastful man is not Frey at all. While his kin begin to choke and fall, one by one, Frey reaches up and pulls off his face to reveal he’s not Frey, but Arya Stark using her new assassin skills to avenge her family. Arya moves on from her conquest, encounters a group of soldiers (including Ed Sheeran, for whatever reason) and sits down for a chat and a bit of rabbit. About 50 Frey men down, Cersei to go.
Jon, the new King in the North, and Sansa, the spectacularly upstaged Lady of Winterfell, are holding council in front of their newly united allies. Jon gets right to all this the-White-Walkers-are-coming business, informing his fellow Northerners that their focus from now on should be mining enough dragonglass to take on the Night King and his army of the living dead (which we saw in earlier scenes includes several reanimated giants — not good). As Jon addresses the assembled houses (and establishes gender equality!!!), Sansa tries to spark a sibling rivalry. She suggests that Jon reassign the castles of the Umbers and the Karstarks as punishment for aligning with the villainous Boltons. Jon ultimately decides not to punish the Umber and Karstark houses, now headed by children. Later, Jon and Sansa walk through Winterfell, trading barbs and advice. Sansa advises Jon not to forget their enemies to the south, namely Queen Cersei Lannister, and notes, “I learned a great deal from her.”
Speaking of Cersei, she’s over in King's Landing and apparently now a great patron of the arts as well as the self-appointed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. We find her surveying a massive floor mural of Westeros that she commissioned, ostensibly so she can dramatically walk from one kingdom to another and disparage their rulers. Jaime walks in and warns his sister that her grand ambition to create a dynasty might be a little difficult seeing as they have few remaining family members and no strong allies. She guides her little brother to a castle balcony and gestures out over the water, where no less than 1,000 Greyjoy ships have appeared on the horizon. In the throne room, Euron Greyjoy, who we last saw besting Yara Greyjoy during the kingsmoot, is trying to woo Cersei with a marriage proposal and the latest look from Tom Ford’s everyday wear collection. She’s not impressed by his simpering charm or his smudgy eyeliner, and he promises to return with a gift worthy of reconsideration.
In Oldtown, at the Citadel, poor, poor Sam has been relegated to chamber pot cleaner, which we learn with a truly revolting supercut. Sam swipes an old maester’s key to the restricted section of the Citadel library and a la Harry Potter, stays up all night learning what he can to help fight the Night King. He learns Dragonstone, the ancestral home of the Targaryens that until very recently had been Stannis Baratheon’s stronghold, is home to a massive underground dragonglass deposit. He writes of the helpful tidbit in a message to Jon.
If Jon and his Northmen want to mine that cache, they’ll probably have to do some dealing with the Dragon Queen herself. Daenerys, her advisers, her fleet and, oh yeah, her dragons have finally made it to Westeros. She and her company ascend the castle at Dragonstone (also called Dragonstone), where she tears down a Baratheon banner, symbolizing her triumphant return to her ancestral home and birthplace. She and Tyrion reach the Chamber of the Painted Table and gaze down at the carved table-map created by her ancestors years prior.
“Shall we begin?” she asks, commencing her plans to conquer the seven kingdoms and ending the first episode.
What else is there? The Brotherhood Without Banners seems to be slowly winning over The Hound, the incredible Lyanna Mormont is still showing up Northern lords decades her senior and her estranged cousin Jorah Mormont’s grayscale has gotten severely worse, though we see only his arm protruding though a Citadel cell and he does still seem able to form cogent sentences.
“Has she come yet? The dragon queen, Daenerys Stormborn?” Jorah asks Sam as he makes his rounds.
That she has, Jorah, that she has.