Game of Thrones: Shall We Begin? (SEASON PREMIERE RECAP)
It may be 85 degrees and balmy where you live, but over in Westeros, Winter has returned with a vengeance…
That’s right, folks. Game of Thrones is back for its penultimate shortened season. And if this premiere is any indication, these seven hours are going to be pretty darn jam packed. In its just-under-an-hour run-time, “Dragonstone” killed a whole bunch of people (though no one we really cared about, so it’s cool), visited with virtually every single one of its main characters, and featured way more poop than you ever want to see on your favorite HBO drama. Heck, they even managed to throw in a completely random (kind of weird) impromptu Ed Sheeran concert?
Obviously, we’ve got quite a bit of ground to cover here. So, without further adieu, in the fitting final words of Dany Targaryen, from the end of this episode, “Shall we begin?”
Walder Frey Fake?
We begin the episode with a character, who, I think it’s safe to say, most of us never thought we’d see again. If you recall, the last time we hung out with Walder Frey, he… umm… kind of lost his head.
But hey, this is Game of Thrones. People come back from the dead as zombies and Jon Snow all the time right? So, why not this old dude, who nobody likes or cares about very much?
Anyway, “Walder Frey” has decided to throw another party for his house mates, even though he just threw one last season. Why, you ask? Because he’s just a wild and crazy fun-loving guy, that’s why!
It’s important to note that something about Walder Frey seems… a little off. For one thing, he’s smiling. I don’t recall ever seeing this character smile. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure he had any teeth. (You know, because he’s old and stuff.)
Also, Walder Frey has decided to make a BIG SPEECH. He’s thanking all his men for being loyal to him. He’s serving them wine. (But his girls don’t get wine, because eww girls.) He’s congratulating them on the great job they did murdering all the Starks at the Red Wedding… wait, what?
This is the point in the episode where Walder Frey rips off his Scooby Doo mask, and reveals himself to be… you guessed it, Arya Stark. In one fell swoop, she’s just murdered the entire Frey clan with a vat of poisoned wine (except for the girls because yay girls). It’s all part of her extended reign of vengeance against ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO EVER DID CRAPPY THINGS TO THE STARKS, which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone else on the show.
Arya tells a female Frey survivor to tell all who ask her what happened at this “party” that, “The North Remembers,” before walking out of the castle all cool and slo-mo, like a character out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.
It was a fun scene that left me with just one question. When did Arya, who is probably one of the least verbal Starks save for Rickon (RIP Rickon) become such a great actress and eloquent speaker? Did they offer oratory lessons at the Burgerless White Castle where she hung out last season?
Then again, Arya did spend two episodes with an acting troupe, which by Westeros standards is the equivalent of a degree from Julliard.
Et tu Wun-Wun?
Meera and Bran have finally arrived at the Wall, and manage to gain admittance from Jon Snow’s pals there. But first Bran has to wake up from his nap.
This time, Bran dreams of the White Walkers and their massive army of zombies slowly (but not too slowly, because we don’t have many episodes left, remember?) advancing toward the North. Among this army of zombies is none other than Jon’s loyal giant dearly departed pal, Wun-Wun. It’s a small scene that managed to be both very sad, and very scary at the same time.
In the words of that guy from Jaws, it looks like the White Walkers are going to need a bigger boat… which leads me to another question: Do White Walkers even know how to sail?
Sisters, Doing it For Themselves… Brothers, Not Too Thrilled About It.
Speaking of the North, Jon Snow, as their newly crowned King, is rallying the troops to mine dragon glass, and use it to make weapons to defeat the White Walkers. He wants everyone, ages 10 to 60 to be part of this effort… including the women. That’s right, boys and girls, Jon Snow is a FEMINIST ICON! We all knew he couldn’t have that great head of hair for no reason!
Some of the men in the crowd balk at this idea. But Lyanna Mormont, that fan favorite and Tiny Juggernaut of Awesomeness, quickly puts all those dumb boys in their place.
And because she’s probably not going to make it to the Iron Throne, I’m just going to come right out and say it: Lyanna Mormont for President in 2020! Who’s with me?
Speaking of strong women, Sansa is clearly no longer afraid to voice her opinion in a crowd of men. When Jon posits returning the Umber and Carstark castles to their surviving family members, even though the two families recently deserted the North, in favor of fighting for the Boltons during the Battle of the Bastards last season, Sansa aggressively dismisses the idea. She argues that those homes should be diverted to families who were loyal to the North instead. Jon quickly shuts Sansa down his relative’s more draconian ruling tactics, by publicly gaining the fealty of the youngest surviving Umber and Carstark, respectively.
Later Sansa praises Jon’s ability to inspire his men, but cautions him on not being dumb/too trusting like the rest of his family, thereby winding up dead like Ned and Rob. Jon, in turn, not so casually accuses Sansa of being just a wee bit like Cersei, in her new take-no-prisoners attitude.
Off stage left, Littlefinger is just eating up all this seeming discord between the two Starks, laughing maniacally, as he twirls his mustache with his left hand, while mutilating an adorable puppy with his right.
Because Every Queen Needs a Sassy Gay Best Friend…
Speaking of Cersei, she’s made a giant chalk map of Westeros on the ground of her castle, so that her and Jamie can play a live action game of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? whenever their hearts desire. Pretty neat, right?
Jamie, to his credit, seems just a wee bit frightened of his sister/lover after the whole “blow up the church and all its inhabitants/force your own kid to kill himself” thing. He warns Cersei that if she wants to win the Game of Thrones she needs to make some friends, who she won’t ultimately end up murdering, and stat.
Enter Gay Best Friend, Euron Greyjoy! He’s the perfect supporting cast member to any Leading Rom Com Queen. So much sass! So many quippy one-liners! So much shade and so many burns thrown in “straight man” Jamie’s general direction.
This would be the perfect character to provide Cersei with meaningful counsel on (1) how to ditch the recent castoff wardrobe from Hot Topic she’s taken to wearing, since her sole remaining child’s demise, and (2) use contouring makeup to accentuate her cheekbones, thereby maximizing the benefits of her new short haircut!
Unfortunately, when Euron asks Cersei to marry him, she says no. But Euron will not be deterred! He’ll be back… with gifts! And everyone knows GBF’s give the best gifts EVER!
Samwell Tarley Knows Some Shit… Literally
I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles this entire hiatus, just wondering how Sam is doing with his… books. Right?
Well, I’ll spare you the suspense, anyway. We reunite with Sam at the Hogwarts School for Old and Ugly Wizards to find him shoveling lots of poo. Like seriously, there was an actual five-minute long poo scene in this episode. It was as close as Game of Thrones has ever come to a musical montage, but with gagging and poo splashing sounds in the place of actual music. (The Poo Emoji from The Emoji Movie would just eat this shit up, I’m sure! Everyone else, not so much…)
Apparently, when Sam isn’t cleaning bed pans for the elderly, he spends his time staring longingly at a locked cabinet of SECRET BOOKS, and digging into the Spaghetti and Meatballs-esque looking entrails of some dead lady for “science.”
While continuing to make me wish I didn’t just happen to have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight, Sam chats up a Maester about the White Walkers and how they will most inevitably bring about the apocalypse, yadda yadda yadda. To which the Maester responds that, even when it seems like all hope is lost, the world keeps on turning, and, of course, a franchise as successful as Game of Thrones must have some sort of sequel. I mean, no one is just going to throw all that financial away!
So apocalypse probably averted, I guess, maybe?
Oh, and I almost forgot, someone unseen off screen asks Sam about Dany Targaryen’s whereabouts. Then the camera pans toward the heretofore unseen gentleman and this happens…
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s Jorah Mormont. And either his grayscale has gotten way worse, or he should seriously consider switching to a better brand of moisturizer.
In Which Both Sansa and Brienne Swipe Left…
I mention this seemingly throwaway scene where (1) Tormund shamelessly hits on Brienne while she’s trying to train Pod to battle White Walkers, and (2) Sansa saltily spurns Littlefingers increasingly insistent entreaties to the dark side, only as an excuse to show you these great memes (thank you, the Nerdist) I stumbled upon, likening Tormund’s and Brienne’s not-so-romance (at least, not yet!) to some of greatest cinematic duos of all time…
Speaking of a throwaway scene…
It’s Time for a Completely Random Ed Sheeran Interlude…
For reasons I can’t even begin to explain, Arya stumbles upon Ed Sheeran (no, I’m not kidding), while he’s giving an impromptu concert in a forest. Ed offers Arya some wine and a dead animal to eat, and asks her what she’s up to later this evening. (Because Ed Sheeran has always had some serious game with the ladies, naturally.)
“I’m going to kill the queen,” Arya replies honestly.
Everyone laughs. End of scene. I still can’t figure out whether this was actually part of the show, or something that came to me in a fever dream about Game of Thrones.
In Which Hound Temporarily Takes Over Bran’s Job For Reasons…
While chilling with the Brotherhood Without Banners, Hound stumbles upon a cabin where some people he met back when he and Arya were “pals” are now dead. This gives Hound a surprising case of the sads, so he respectfully buries them. Then, he looks into a fire, and for some reason, sees the same vision of the White Walkers that Bran saw earlier in the episode.
I don’t know about you, but it just kind of looked like Fire to me. Then again, I never could manage to see the pictures in those Magic Eye drawings…
Dragonstone: It’s Like King’s Landing, Only Dragonier…
The episode ends with Dany finally reaching her homeland of Dragonstone. The décor there seems a bit Fortress of Solitude Meets Ikea. It even comes equipped with its very own uncomfortable chair, not unlike the Iron Throne! (Because, apparently, everyone in Westeros absolutely abhors seat cushions!) In fact, the only relatively comfortable looking seat on this entire show was Tywin’s toilet bowl, and we all know how that turned out for him…
Also in Dragonstone, a miniaturized version of that Where in the World is Carmen San Diego map Cersei has in her house. But this one comes with Monopoly pieces, so it’s way more convenient, albeit less aerobic. Dany looks at Tyrion pointedly, and they decide to begin a game… the Game of Thrones, of course!
Until next time…