Iron v. Dragon: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1: Dragonstone (HBO)

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1: "Dragonstone" (HBO)

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Well, here we are, another season (or half-season) of HBO”s Game of Thrones has started and this week’s episode was mostly about the build-up of sides in what appears to be a forthcoming epic battle between the Iron Throne and what I will assume is the (oddly less impressive) Dragon Throne (Dragonstone was the traditional home of the Targaryens way back in the day).

To recap from the end of Season 6, Team Iron Throne has (because Cersei) lost some of their most important traditional allies while team Dragon has gained the help of Dorne, many followers of Theon and Yara Greyjoy, and the Tyrell’s (perhaps the most significant because they have traditionally supplied food to King’s Landing).

So what happened in the Season 7 Premiere? 

Mostly this episode was concerned with drawing up battle lines and checking maps. I won't talk about it much, but Daenerys arrival at Dragonstone was pretty epic.

Remember, if you haven't watched Season 7 Episode 1 of Game of Thrones *Spoiler Alert*

RIP House Frey (or Good Riddance?)

A few months ago, I had a discussion on Twitter about what the most powerful houses were. We both agreed that crazy as it might sound, House Frey was pretty powerful.

Why?

First, it has an incredibly strategic location which has proved impossible to successfully breach.

Second, Walder Frey made it his personal mission to create so many Frey’s that it would be nearly impossible to eradicate his lineage from power.

Well, Arya just wiped all of that out in about a week.

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At the end of Season 6, Arya assassinated Walder Frey. Somehow, since that event, Arya was able to use her House of Black and White Magic to carry off impersonating Walder long enough to assemble all of the remaining living Frey’s, initiate a toast, and kill them all by inducing them to drink poisoned wine.

Don’t suppose I could get an apprenticeship at the House of Black and White still?

Quick aside, with all the talk of the Lord of Light, The Many-Faced God seems to have some pretty powerful JuJu. Think about it, Arya is at least a foot shorter than Walder and she had to carry off being Walder with people who knew him long enough to round up every living Frey.

And, in a short period of time, Arya just managed to eradicate a family that people have hated (and wanted to get rid of) for a very long time in Westeros.

There is also some nice irony in the Frey’s all dying at a dinner.

Just saying, it might be worth investing in the stock of a God that claims to be an amalgamation of the other God’s combined.

This total destruction of House Frey, as Jamie later mentions, is a HUGE blow to the fortunes of House Lannister because the Twins (where House Frey was strategically located) is one of the main strategic gateways to the North.

So what is Arya off to do now? Well, as she tells Ed Sheeran and a bunch of other soldiers around a campfire, she is “going to kill the Queen.”

They all laugh.

Okay, so Arya is still officially on her revenge tour (don’t get yourself put on Arya’s list).

I have a strange feeling Sansa and Arya will end up entangled at the end of this (much like they were at the beginning).

House Stark (Stark-Garyen?) Divided

Okay, here is where I will make one of my craziest predictions. I am predicting that Sansa (and Littlefinger and the Vail) will end up aligned with Cersei while The North will align with Daenerys.

Sansa is frustrated when Jon Snow extends the leases of the Karstark and Umbers despite their parent's treasonous defections to House Bolton. For some reason, she calls him out and disagrees with him in front of all of his new bannermen making it functionally impossible for him to stand down without looking weak.

Seriously, could he have responded any differently right after being crowned ‘King of the North’ other than doubling down on his first edict?

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Later Sansa says that she learned a lot from Cersei and apparently one of the things that she learned was how to do things in the least strategic way possible (Cersei is nothing if not the Master of clumsy strategic implementation).

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Sansa is wrong, oddly enough Jon arguably does retain way too much Need for playing the “Great Game” which is doubly ironic since he is the only person called Stark who actually has zero genetic Ned Stark in him (he has Lyanna Stark genetically but no Ned).

Anyway, Jon sets the entire North and the Wildlings to repopulating and defending the entire wall, training all men and women of fighting age (after Lyanna Mormont shames the bannermen for refusing to let women fight), and to collecting and mining as much dragonglass as possible.

Guess where the vast majority of dragonglass in Westeros is located?

Yup, Dragonstone.

Later, in a private discussion after receiving a raven suggesting Jon declare fealty to Cersei Sansa suggests that Jon should go to King’s Landing because Cersei has found a way to murder everyone who she feels has ever crossed her (yes, this is the same conversation where Sansa suggests that the problem isn’t that Jon Snow is too much like Joffrey but that he is too little like Joffrey).

Sansa sure isn’t wrong, this will be a war to the death for Cersei and her enemies.

So, I suspect Jon will form a strategic alliance with Team Targaryen in order to get access to Dragonglass while I suspect Sansa will go her own way, ultimately aligning with Cersei.

House Greyjoy Meet House Lannister

Before I get to the Euron Greyjoy stuff, one important note.

Literally two seconds after Sansa says that Cersei always murders everyone who she feels has betrayed her, Cersei is calling out Jamie for letting Tyrion, who is now working with the enemy, escape.

Things are not looking good long-term for Jaime Lannister.

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Cersei goes out of her way to emphasize that family no longer unites them the way it used to (the children they shared are all dead and she doesn’t trust his judgment after the Tyrion debacle).

Cersei is pretty much down to one thing she still cares about. Cersei.

She also might marry Euron, or at least act like it is possible in order to foment an alliance with the Kraken (who now has 1000 ships).

Three things about the 1000 ships:

  1. I still think this is one of the most absurd parts of the current, post-George RR Martin plotline. If you go back and watch the episode where Theon and Yara take off with most of Euron’s ships, he tells about 20 people to go build ships. Either not many people come to coronations in Kraken land or GOT was skimping on the cast.

  2. How in the hell did they make that many ships so quickly? It hasn’t been that long (I don’t think) since Theon and Yara took off.

  3. WTF? The Iron Islands were based on Vikings. They had longships they used to make coastal raids, not use European style battleships. Not only did they construct 1000 ships, but these are ships that look like they might be ready for broadsides and cannons? Again, how exactly is this possible? Yes, it looks great in CGI rendering, but come on guys?

Anyway, Euron comes to visit the Lannisters and has a few choice snarky comments:

First, he says:

“I have 1000 ships and two good hands”

Which was Brutal because it called out both his prowess and Jamie’s unsuitability to be her consort (he was implying both that he knew about Cersei/Jaime and also that he was a better man than Jamie).

And then, when Cersei accuses him of murdering his own brother (Theon’s Dad) Euron says:

“You should try it sometime”

They call this “Foreshadowing” and it was laid on pretty heavy here twice in less than five minutes of screen time.

So, let's just go ahead and suggest again that Jaime better either get lost or find some new allies on the double quick.

Okay, so Euron wants to marry Cersei and Cersei says no.

Euron says she will change her mind after he brings her a present, and then he leaves to go get this present.

This gift is most likely the Dragon Horn.

If you remember from the books, Euron had this when he showed up at the Kingsmoot and it is what turned the tide against Theon and Yara. It allows its owner to control dragons (which would be a pretty huge surprise and blow to Daenerys in battle).

On the show, Euron has never suggested that he has the Dragon Horn, so he might be taking off on an adventure to go find it or go get it (maybe he has it with him now but has not revealed it to anyone yet).

Brotherhood Without Banners

Okay, we get it, The Hound has become kind of a "softy."

The Brotherhood Without Banners show up at the house of the people Sandor robbed (with Arya) and shockingly they are now both dead.

Sandor feels responsible for leaving them to die, so he ends up burying them and praying over them.

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This ain’t your Season 1-2-3-4 Hound.

There is a funny moment when Sandor realizes that he has become attached to a group of fire-worshippers (He hates fire).

Anyway, not only is he hanging out with fire-worshippers, he sees a vision in the fire or the White Walkers massing for an attack at one of the castles along The Wall.

This probably explains why several of the trailers showed the Brotherhood visiting the North.

Let’s assume the Brotherhood Without Banners is heading for the Wall.

House Froggy and Three Eyed Stark

Not much to report here except that Meera Reed and Bran Stark have arrived at the wall.

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They inform the brothers of the Night Watch who they are and what they have seen.

The Night Watch doesn’t have much to say, but they invite them in.

Super Sam “The Book Borrowing” Man + His Greyscale Band

Sam has not been treated very well by the Citadel (It is certainly possible that this would be the normal treatment of a new initiate).

He seems relegated to cleaning bedpans, reshelving books, and putting up with abuse.

Eventually, he does have a nice conversation with the Archmaester who believes 100% that Sam saw White Walkers but just doesn’t care (Jim Broadbent makes for a cool Archmaester, I hope we see more of him). Anyway, the Archmaester believes that the Wall has stood against all previous White Walker attacks and that history will protect them (inertia is a powerful motivator?).

Sam wants access to the ‘restricted books’ and the Archmaester says no, so Sam starts ‘borrowing” them after appropriating the key to the restricted area from a sleeping Maester.

Very quickly he finds out that dragonglass is amassed at Dragonstone and that he better tell Jon immediately (see above). Some people have done some detective work through screen capture and it appears there is also a reference to dragonglass being able to arrest diseases when ground up.

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Which brings us to the reappearance of the right arm of Ser Jorah Mormont which tries to grab Sam through the bars of a cell as Sam is picking up food plates. So, Ser Jorah (aka Ser Friend Zone) is now at the Citadel trying to find a cure for his greyscale disease.

Going to go out on a limb and suggest Sam will put 2 + 2 together and come up with grinding up some dragonglass to arrest Jorah’s greyscale (remember Stannis’ daughter’s greyscale was arrested and she lived on - drumroll please - Dragonstone).

So, get ready for the return of Jorah (and maybe for the adventures of Sam and Jorah?).

Pretty good start, Cersei still seems pretty drastically outnumbered (even if she ends up with the Dragon Horn).

Let me know what your predictions for Episode 2 and for the rest of Season 7 are!