The season seven premiere of Game of Thrones set a lot of groundwork for the year to come. It briefed us on the Wall and Bran’s crossing at Castle Black. Updated us on Jaime and Cersei and their sticky situation in King’s Landing. We saw Euron, dressed to the nines to impress the Queen. Sansa and Jon quarreling at Winterfell over how to handle the houses who backed Ramsay. And then there was Arya, who took out a room full of Freys. And let’s not forget about the Hound, who is riding with the Brotherhood without Banners. Oh, and the army of the undead marching mysteriously to some unknown location at some unknown timeframe.
But this episode was all about Dany, who I am crowning the winner of the week.
Winner of the Week: Daenerys Targaryen
Finally, after 61 long, grueling episodes for her, the wait is over. She is home. When we first saw her, she was little more than a slave being sold to Khal Drogo in an attempt for her brother, Viserys, to gain an army as he planned to rule the seven kingdoms of Westeros. Now, Dany has an army. Ships, upon ships, upon ships. And even the wise counseling of Tyrion. All the pieces are right there in front of her.
It was a moving sequence watching Dany take the shores of Westeros for the first time since she can remember. Touching the wet sand. Walking the beaches and up the stairs where she eventually made it to the castle of Dragonstone. The episode ends with Tyrion and Daenerys walking through the map room and she saying, “shall we begin?” *mic drop*
Loser of the Week: House Frey
“When people ask what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey,” Arya says to whomever Walder Frey was calling his wife at the moment. It was a stirring opening to the season for sure, as it saw Arya eliminate what appeared to be the remaining members of House Frey. You really can’t lose more than that.
Biggest Takeaway: The divide between Jon and Sansa (and Arya)
Last season, Sansa did not tell Jon about Lord Baelish’s army and it almost, and should have, cost Jon his life. And in season seven, we see more indications of a lack of trust between the two. And more than simply a lack of trust, we see a difference in ideologies between Jon and Sansa. The squabble occurs due to Jon’s reluctance to punish the young members of houses that fought for the Bolton’s. Sansa wants to see those castles given to those who fought for the Starks, not the Bolton’s. Whereas Jon saw no need to punish the young for the mistakes of their elders. The past is the past. Both are right in their own ways, but both have been shaped by their own unique past events.
This difference can even be drawn to Arya, who eliminates an entire house because of the actions of a select few. Were all those men in that room guilty of that crime? Or were they guilty of simply being Freys? And does being a Frey merit that sort of outcome? What Game of Thrones has shown us over the years is that actions have consequences. In that opening scene, Arya was ruthless to an extent that is almost uncomfortable if you think about it for what it was. And we even had Sansa claiming she learned a lot from Cersei, who has shown an unending amount of ruthlessness that will only get worse. These actions have consequences and Arya and Sansa may reap what they sow.
But of course Jon would differ from Arya and Sansa. He has been at the Wall with his mind stuck only on defeating the Night King. So much of the dirty nature of Westeros is lost on him. But his sisters have had to survive and they are showing a lack of mercy that could be troublesome in the future. It will be interesting how their relationship plays out the rest of the show.
Underrated Moment: Arya and the Lannister Soldiers
This scene caused a lot of ire on the internet with people complaining about Ed Sheeran’s presence on the show being a distraction. I even saw an article that called this scene “pointless,” “annoying,” and “infuriating.” I am here to tell you otherwise. In an episode that saw an array of important events take place, it was nice to sit down and enjoy some rabbit and blackberry wine. But what this scene also did was humanize the enemy, for both the viewers and Arya. Oftentimes when this show has people sitting around a campfire minding their own business, those people usually die. Heck, Arya has even been guilty of this herself when she essentially ambushed some dudes after the Red Wedding.
So I was on guard for anything. Arya even walks up and scopes the area, noticing their swords are not on them. However, as the scene plays out, you realize these are just some boys and young men who want an adventure and instead found boredom and yearn to return home to King’s Landing. These are not bad people. Not in the slightest. You can even say they are nice people, as one says to Arya, “My mother always told me to be kind to strangers and strangers’ll be kind to you.” In great war stories, it is important sometimes to understand that simply because you are fighting someone does not necessarily mean that they are a bad person. However, Arya, like Cersei, is hellbent on revenge and killing her enemies by any means necessary. She is blinded by that rage. But maybe, by not killing these people, there is still hope for Arya to keep her humanity.