All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As you can tell, I’ve failed at keeping this episode/season specific. Onwards!
Blah, blah, blah Season 7 is rushed and all of Arya/Sansa stuff and it’s so fan servicey- we’ve all said it, we’ve all talked about it, let’s get to the good stuff.
First off, I have to admit that Season 7 kicks every other season’s ass when it comes to costuming. This is when they get ultra-budgets and spare absolutely no expense. And wow- the value of the fabrics and the fittings- it’s just so much sleeker. There’s a real weight to the clothing, rather some wispy material.
Come on, who else didn’t think early 2000s fashion- more specifically, a halter top from those days- when seeing Dany’s wedding dress and her riding clothes in Season 1?
And that score. Even though we don’t get full versions of the Rains of Castamere here in all its glory, we get the fullest version of Dany’s theme- which I hate to admit, but it’s really badass once the full orchestra and choir kicks in, especially in this episode. The addition of the percussion doesn’t hurt either. And Stannis’/Melisandre’s theme- I am A-OK with saying goodbye to that one.
Before we start off, I’d like to thank the showrunners for acknowledging that the Battle of the Bastards didn’t actually do anything for Jon’s/the North’s storyline and they could have swapped it with literally anything as long as Jon got supported by the Northmen at the end, aka it could have been better. It was a whole bunch of nothing (and greatness).
We start the episode with a cold opening, which only happens when important shit is about to go down. It’s at the Twins, as Walder Frey surveys his feasting family in a bit of dramatic irony. We definitely saw him die at the end of Season 6, but David Bradley is having a great time and therefore I am having a great time. He starts the feast with a toast to his family (which he doesn’t drink) and praising them for killing off the Starks and their supporting houses- including stabbing a pregnant woman, a respected mother, and people who were technically their guests. But… they forgot one Stark, Frey claims, as his family starts to choke and gasp around him- it’s not Walder Frey. It’s Arya wearing his face. She tells Lady Frey that the North remembers and that Winter came for House Frey- ok this is basically how Season 6 should have ended for Roose Bolton, but it’s also a damn cool opening as Arya nearly skips out of the room and kicks off her season kill count to at least 25.
In the opening credits, we return to Dragonstone and still don’t get to see it pop out in all of its glory. The Twins are also there for a split second and Old Town is there too. The episode (and what feels like was supposed to be the cold open) begins North of the Wall, where a giant cloud overtakes the land- and the return of the White Walker theme creeps back into the show. A White Walker on a horse makes his way through the storm and behind him, there are more White Walkers, as well as foot soldiers and wights and… a fucking giant. The White Walkers have at least three giants.
Bran opens his eyes- Meera has gotten them to the Wall, where they are greeted by Doloures Edd and Bran proves he’s Bran by being a creep and implying that he’s seen Edd everywhere. “No, don’t let him through the Wall! Since the Night King touched him and he got into the tree, that means that he can follow Bran everywhere and negate any protective magic,” cried nearly everyone who has read the books, as the showrunners lock themselves in a room to chug Red Bull and try to figure out how to get everyone into one place by the end of the season.
At Winterfell, Jon begins to arm up his Northmen, ordering them to order their maesters to sour their records for mentions of dragonglass and White Walkers. He’s set on training everyone- men, women, boys, and girls- on how to fight and Lyanna Mormont is like, fuck yes. Tormund volunteers to go to Eastwatch with some of the Freefolk and gleefully calls himself the Night’s Watch as the other Northerners look on dejectedly.
Jon notes that the next means of defense after Eastwatch are Karhold and the Last Hearth, which respectively belong to House Karstark and House Umber. Sansa urges him to give the castles and titles to new families- basically a promotion to their supporters and Jon refuses to hold a whole house responsible for a few men’s bad decisions. I get it, she’s still angry about what she was put through as well as the brutal death of Rickon, but based on past examples, I gotta side with Jon on this one. It’s smart of him and I don’t think Sansa quite understands that if everyone followed this rule, they’d be out of the game due to Robb’s poor choice to marry Talisa. It’s also quite Ramsay-like to punish entire families- remember Lord Cerwyn? She openly challenges Jon in front of his men, some of them side with her, and Littlefinger is quite pleased with himself- Sansa is showing herself to be another option as a capable leader. Still, Jon refuses, citing Ned’s “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword”- and that he doesn’t want to kill any more men, nor risk evoking even more dissent and give other families cause to band up against him.
Later, Jon chastises Sansa for not supporting him, not trusting him, and opposing him as if he was someone who was power hungry. Sansa takes a step back to remember that they’re family and tells Jon that he has the respect of the people, but still presses him to ask for her opinion once in a while- and to trust it. Jon is interrupted by a message from King’s Landing- Cersei has sent for his surrender. Jon accuses Sansa of admiring Cersei and why shouldn’t she? She’s ambitious, she knows how to work a room, and she’s gotten pretty much all she’s wanted. The difference is that Sansa doesn’t want power for power’s sake- she wants it for her family and for her people.
In King’s Landing, Cersei stands over her freshly painted floor, just over the are of Westeros known as the Neck and Jaime enters on the area known as the Fingers. OoooooOooOoH, theories that Jaime is the Valonquar just got +50 xp! She’s been informed that Dany has chosen Tyrion as her hand and predicts they’ll come from the east, resulting in the Lannisters surrounded by enemies, including the Tyrells, “Dorne,” and the North. Jaime urges her that they need to preserve resources since Winter has arrived and on top of that, there’s no way they can fight off all of those people if they were to team up. Cersei is intent on preserving the Lannister dynasty and Jaime asks for which children, begging her to talk about Tommen. She refuses, citing that Tommen betrayed her, and that since they are the last Lannisters, they need to work on preserving the name. Jaime slightly changes his mind but still pushes the idea that they need allies before they can go to war.
Cersei already has plans though- and Euron Greyjoy rows up to shore. Jaime already hates him. He hates all the ironborn because they “do not sow,” meaning they don’t actually do the work to get the end result. They simply steal things that they can’t make or do themselves. Accurate. Jaime is even more put off by the fact that Euron is there for a queen since Dany was wooed by his niece.
By the way, Euron is wearing a blazer of sorts and it looks like he walked off the set of that Robin Hood movie. Meaning, it’s bad and it doesn’t work. What happened to his pirate cloak!? Come on! Euron is a lot of talk, but the Lannisters don’t buy a cent of it, as Jaime recalls he had led Balon’s Rebellion and got squashed. Cersei declines his proposal that comes with the finest armada on the fourteen seas, and Euron promises her a gift to show that he’s trustworthy.
At Old Town, we get Sam’s equivalent of Groundhog Day, as his days have resorted to stacking serving, and scooping- poop! This could almost have been “Trashing the Camp” with the way it’s cut and all the sounds. While he’s doing this, he’s eying the Restricted Section of the library, but he’s forgotten his invisibility cloak so he asks Archmaester Slughorn for access, speaking openly of the White Walkers. It’s not that Slughorn doesn’t trust him, he’s just read a lot about how life goes on even though the end seems nigh- pretty much, shit doesn’t stop spinning because the character you liked the most doesn’t make it; get over it.
But Sam can’t and ends up stealing the keys to the Restricted Section only to take a few books at ransom. Attaboy.
Up at Winterfell, Brienne continues Pod’s training as Tormund looks on lustily. He says Pod is a lucky man for bagging Brienne and the idea of Brienne and Pod as a couple immediately sends me into a fit of giggles. Littlefinger remarks that she’s a skilled fighter and Sansa’s not having it. He insists he’s looking out for her best interests, but Sansa shoos him away, refusing to let him get a glimpse of her thoughts. Sansa admits to Brienne that she needs the Knights of the Vale.
Down south somewhere in the Riverlands, Arya overhears some Lannisters soldiers aka Ed Sheeran singing a tune about Tyrion’s reign as hand of the King- the “hands of gold” lyrics are an obvious reference to his position and the gold points to the Lannister money. The song itself mock his relationship with Shae and how he was basically consumed and manipulated by her. They offer her a seat and some food and Arya doesn’t trust them and possibly even considers killing all of them before realizing that they’re actually not bad people. She’s almost pushed over the edge when she hears one of the soldiers remark that he hopes his newborn is a girl since daughters take care of their old fathers but keeps it together long enough to joke that she’s trying to kill the queen. It’s the best joke they’ve heard in years!
Somewhere more north, the Brotherhood without Banners rides through the snow as Thoros and the Hound flirt and roll up on a cabin that seems deserted. The Hound tries to press on but Beric elects to stop for the rest of the night. He knows an awful lot about the cabin, namely that there’s no ale left behind or money- it’s the same cabin he robbed when he was riding around with Arya. He and Beric find the farmer and his daughter, now skeletons, and Beric predicts that they were starving and the father killed his daughter out of mercy before killing himself.
The Hound asks Beric the question we’ve all been wanting to know- what’s so special about him that he’s been brought back? Beric’s not sure- he’s probably meant for some higher purpose that he doesn’t question. Thoros asks him to look into the flames- and the Hound describes Eastwatch, the castle where the Wall meets the sea. He describes a mountain and the army of the dead and Beric looks mildly interested- this may or may not be the reason Beric and the Hound are still kicking around- they’re meant to help in the war to come.
Unable to sleep, the Hound buries the farmer and his daughter, who may or may not have been able to survive a little bit longer had he not stolen their silver but also because he just feels bad for them. This is also a reference to the books, where the Hound is not confirmed to be alive and he never fought Brienne in the first place (that would be the men helping out his brother the Mountain)- though she is the character that notices an extremely tall man on the Quiet Isle, which is kind of like a monastery for lack of a better term. It’s theorized this is the Hound and it better damn be true.
Anyway, we’re back at the Citadel where… Gilyl and Baby Sam are in his chambers even though women aren’t allowed at the Citadel and I don’t think Maesters are allowed to have families and do all that normal stuff. Sam’s discovered that the Targaryens had so much dragonglass that they used to decorate their weapons with it, then finds a map of Dragonstone which conveniently has a dragonglass mine, and sends a raven off to Jon.
In Sam’s day to day, he’s in the quarantined section of the Citadel, where the extreme patients are and a grey-scaled covered hand shoots out asking if Dany has returned to Westeros yet. It’s. Fucking. Jorah.
And speaking of which, Dany finally pulls up to the shores of Dragonstone, which we finally get to see from afar and in a wide shot, as dragons soar above. This is a really cool scene and y’all know how much I dislike this character. There’s a lovely mix of pride and apprehension on Dany’s face. Her council gives her some space as she finally connects with her birthplace, makes her way up its long staircase, and enters the throne room.
She wanders around to find the table the Stannis used to pore over (and conceived his smoke baby on), turns to Tyrion and asks him if he’s ready to begin. After seasons and seasons of waiting for her to get to Westeros, this moment was a long time coming and for the most part, it does not disappoint- mostly due to the triumphant score. When this version is on, I’m almost Team Dany.
Up next, we have 7.2 Stormborn!