The most highly-anticipated season premiere in television history began with a tomboyish teen committing mass murder, followed that up with some Ed Sheeran product placement, and concluded by fulfilling a plotline first teased seven years ago. In short, Game of Thrones is back!
“Dragonstone” wasn’t a sexy episode (though Tormund would disagree), but just like Janitor Sam cleaning all those the maesterly chamber pots, our season premiere did the dirty work of making sure everything runs smoothly in the future. We checked in on many of the season’s upcoming characters and learned of their varied plans. Arya is headed to King’s Landing to kill Cersei. Cersei and Jaime are surrounded by enemies except for Euron Greyjoy, who has two good hands. Bran and Meera have made it back to the Wall. Jon and Sansa participated in a long-overdue sibling fight. Littlefinger is currently Googling where the burn unit closest to Winterfell is located. Jorah checked into the realm’s premier inpatient program. The Hound hates man buns. And Daenerys played in the sand IN WESTEROS!
Clearly, there are a lot of moving pieces, but it’s only a matter of time before these scattered groups come together. I hear Dragonstone is nice this time of year…
Riser of the Week: Arya Stark
When “Dragonstone” opened with a shot of Walder Frey, my initial reaction was huh, this is a weird flashback to begin with. Approximately five seconds later, that turned into holy shit, the Freys are about to get Rains of Castamered. By the end of the cold open, cheers were yelped, goosebumps were had, and confusion as to how good things were still happening in Game of Thrones was felt.
But Arya’s status as this week’s riser isn’t solely for her Freyvenge (copyright pending) – it’s for the discretion she showed when she found herself amidst a group of honest and friendly Lannister soldiers. It would have been easy for her to kill these unsuspecting men, and judging from her darting eyes, that’s what she initially intended to do. But she chose not to. And that’s important because, for now, Arya still has her humanity.
Honorable Mention: Sam, for doing Harry Potter proud and sneaking into the restricted section of the library. He didn’t even need an invisibility cloak.
Faller of the Week: Littlefinger
This is not the Littlefinger I fell in love with. What happened to the man who killed a king “just ‘cause?” The man who was always three steps ahead of everyone else? I don’t recognize this man – he’s all smirk and no bite. He’s wrapped around Sansa’s finger, and she knows it. If he continues to stick around Winterfell and attempt to divide the Starks, I fear Littlefinger’s days are numbered. #notmylittlefinger
Honorable Mention: Melisandre, for clearly not knowing how to properly interpret the flames. The goddamn Hound figured that out in less than a minute.
Backstory of the Week: The Gravedigger
Due to the overwhelming density of George R.R. Martin’s books, it’s impossible to adapt the source material verbatim. This has been a difficult pill to swallow for some book loyalists, as there are dozens of smaller theories hidden in the pages that will never get to see the light of day in the show. Storylines are condensed, tertiary characters are combined, and some plotlines are altogether abandoned.
One of these storylines is that of The Gravedigger. In the books, when Brienne and Pod are still meandering around the Riverlands looking for Sansa, they come upon a septon and his followers. One of these followers is a hulking man simply called the Gravedigger. In a widely accepted theory, fans have been assuming that the Gravedigger is the Hound. Now, in the show, we obviously find out that the Hound is still alive in a different manor (RIP Ian McShane), and it looked like we’d never see the Gravedigger, but in a fun nod to the books, the Hound turned into the Gravedigger last night. Now, if only he’d go and fight the Mountain.
Object of Power: Sam’s Forbidden Books
I think Sam is officially a klepto. First, he steals Heartsbane, the Valyrian steel sword of House Tarly, and now he’s sneaking forbidden books out of the Citadel’s library. You bad, Sam Tarly. You bad.
It doesn’t take long for Sam to happen upon a map of Dragonstone that points to an underground cave filled with dragonglass. Sam immediately sends word to Jon Snow, meaning that Jon will likely take a trip to see for himself. I wonder who Jon might meet while there…
- Anyone recognize the dagger in the photo above? Hint: Catlyn Stark certainly would.
- It’s fun watching Jon, who was mentored by Jeor Mormont and Ned Stark, square off against Sansa, who’s a product of Cersei, Littlefinger, and Ramsay Bolton. Their differences were on full display when determining how to handle the Umbers and the Karstarks. Both sides had merit to their arguments, but when Ned Umber and Alys Karstark stepped forward and we realized how young they were – and how little they were responsible for their fathers' actions – it was a relief to know that Jon’s decision was the winning one.
- Even still, I can’t blame Sansa for her worldview after everything that happened to her.
- Man, I really had higher expectations for Jaime. I had hoped that after learning how Cersei murdered everyone in the sept (including their uncle Kevan), he’d wise up and distance himself from her. But here he is at her side. To him, Cersei was right, they’re the only Lannisters that matter.
- I saw a lot of people on Twitter complaining about Ed Sheeran’s cameo and how it ruined the show’s realism. I guess I just find it weird that in a show that’s featured dragons, shadow monsters, ice zombies, and giants, it was a pop singer that ruined it for you.
- People were also complaining that it was a wasted scene, but I think it was actually quite important. It showed us that the Lannister army is spent and tired, and they might not all react quite so positively when Cersei demands they march and fight again.
- Really, Euron, that’s the outfit you go with to meet the Queen? You looked like a discount Jack Sparrow.
- Meera is one of my low-key favorite characters. She just hauled a paralyzed growth spurt all the way to the Wall. I really hope we don’t lose her once Bran is back with his family.
- So let me get this straight: The Night King was able to penetrate Bloodraven’s fortress because his mark was on Bran. And now, Bran is walking south of the Wall, another edifice protected by magic designed to keep the Night King away. I don’t like the sound of that…
- There were rumors aplenty, but Gendry-Watch 2017 continues on.
Joe Brosnan works in marketing at St. Martin's Press and manages Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebrosnan_.
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