“Shall we begin?” Game of Thrones Premiere Recap

The new season of TV’s biggest show kicks off with mass murder, sibling rivalries, and a long-awaited homecoming

By AT&T Digital Media Productions editorial team 

For Game of Thrones fans, the opening string ostinato of Ramin Djawadi’s iconic theme elicits a Pavlovian response. We’ve been waiting over a year for those notes!

But now that winter is finally here, it’s only appropriate to have a cold open. The show has only used it once before, to avoid spoiling the return of Sandor Clegane (more on him later). In the Season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone,” another familiar face is back: everyone’s favorite lecherous old man, Walder Frey.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t he—? Didn’t Arya—? The last we saw Lord Walder, he was washing down some Frey pie...with his own blood. Yet here he stands in front of his many, many, many sons, raising a toast to the Red Wedding. But mid-speech, celebration turns to condemnation, as a realization dawns on Freys and fans alike: something's about to go down. With the poisoned men of House Frey literally collapsing into extinction, Arya pulls off Walder’s face in the most badass Scooby-Doo reveal ever. Valar morghulis, indeed.

For long-suffering Stark loyalists, avenging the Red Wedding is a cathartic triumph; at the season premiere event in Los Angeles, the audience erupted into raucous applause. But while the slaughter was fairly bloodless, is Arya getting a little too good at this emotionally detached murder thing? When she later encounters a band of surprisingly friendly Lannister soldiers, there’s a palpable anxiety as she flashes the hilt of Needle. Ed Sheeran and crew seem like genuinely nice guys, and we know what happens on this show to people we like.

Speaking of dead people, the Night King and company are on the move, their ranks growing larger every day. Seriously, they have giants now. Bran and Meera arrive at the Wall, greeted by new Lord Commander Dolorous Edd. These are some of the few people alive who have seen the Night King’s army, and they’ll have a lot to talk about this season.


The Brotherhood Without Banners is preparing to face the army of the dead as well. During their journey north, they stop at the cottage where Arya and the Hound stayed in Season 4 to find its inhabitants dead. Once a cold-blooded killer, Sandor Clegane has become much more contemplative about the nature of life and death in recent years. Why, he wonders, should he or Beric Dondarrion live while the farmer and his daughter freeze and starve? Thoros of Myr can’t provide any answers, but does show the Hound a vision of the Night King’s army in his fires.

At Winterfell, Jon and Sansa have gathered the Northern lords to discuss the White Walker threat, and how to deal with the Karstarks and Umbers, who defected to Ramsay Bolton. Sansa suggests that they pay for their treachery with their lands, but much to her chagrin, Jon refuses to punish the Karstark and Umber children for their fathers’ sins. Sansa wants Jon to be a wiser ruler than their father Ned and brother Robb, and offers a suggestion emblematic of her newfound confidence: that Jon listen to her for once. There’s an uneasy balance of power in Winterfell, and the ever-scheming Littlefinger is all too eager to see the Stark drama unfold.

[photo from HBO.com]

King’s Landing has its own set of squabbling siblings. Jaime Lannister is still grappling with the aftermath of his sister Cersei’s stunning coup, which has left their house with fewer enemies—and far fewer friends. Then there’s the issue of their son Tommen’s suicide, which has left Jaime and Cersei as the last Lannisters alive. (Well, except for their younger brother Tyrion, who’s on his way to Westeros at the head of Daenerys Targaryen’s armada.) As vengeful and murderous as Cersei’s become, when she condemns her youngest boy as a traitor, even Jaime can’t hide his distaste. Like many guys, he just doesn’t know how to let go of his first girlfriend. C’mon, Jaime. There are plenty of fish in the Narrow Sea. Since you fancy blondes, surely you’d be much happier and more well-adjusted with, say, a lovely warrior maiden from Tarth?

Cersei, for her part, remains confident in her tenuous grasp on the Seven Kingdoms. “Three kingdoms at best,” Jaime admonishes. “We need allies.”

Well, Kingslayer, you’re in luck. At Cersei’s behest, Blackwater Bay is filling up with the black sails of Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet. With a new look this season—think Jack Sparrow as a member of My Chemical Romance—Euron swaggers into King’s Landing in search of a queen. Euron’s smirking, slouchy nonchalance belies his power as the head of a fearsome navy. He’s poised to become a very interesting character this season.

[photo from HBO.com]

Jaime greets the Ironborn with deserved suspicion. After all, as he’s quick to remind Euron, Jaime helped crush the last Greyjoy rebellion, cutting down Euron’s kin and sending him into exile. Jaime’s skepticism turns to outright jealousy when Euron proposes marriage to Cersei in exchange for the Iron Fleet. Hey, Euron, didn’t you promise your heart, among other things, to Daenerys last season? Well, at least you’ve found someone who shares your two biggest passions: dead relatives and black leather.

At the Citadel, Samwell Tarly is immersing himself in his studies, which for now include shelving books, emptying bedpans, rinsing and repeating. Hardly the exciting training montage he was probably hoping for, though it does provide a rare bit of extended levity. He also has a brief encounter with the scaly arm of Jorah Mormont, who has turned up in Oldtown seeking a cure for his greyscale.

[photo from HBO.com]

Sam is eager to gain access to the Citadel library’s restricted area, which he hopes contains information on the White Walkers. Having already stolen his father’s Valyrian steel sword, swiping a set of keys proves to be no big deal, and soon he has his very own vintage copy of Legends of the Long Night. Sam confirms what Stannis Baratheon once told him: the former Targaryen stronghold of Dragonstone is full of obsidian, or dragonglass, which Sam used to kill a Walker back in Season 3. Sam immediately sends a raven to Jon with his discovery. Looks like the King in the North is headed south.

[photo from HBO.com]

Well, that’s convenient. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen seem destined to collide, and guess who just landed on Dragonstone? The Mother of Dragons has returned to her birthplace, ancestral home of House Targaryen, which she hasn’t seen since being whisked off to Essos as a newborn. It’s a homecoming Thrones fans have been waiting for since the pilot. When would Dany finally stop messing around halfway across the world and come rain fire and blood on Westeros? There are no words to describe the significance of this moment, so screenwriters David Benioff and D.B. Weiss didn’t write any. Not even Tyrion gets a line! The panoramic views of the Targaryen stronghold, the lingering glances at its draconian stonework, that gloriously mod throne room—they all give the scene an air of inevitability. Daenerys didn’t have to seize Dragonstone the way she did Astapor, Yunkai, or Meereen. She belongs here. Now, Khaleesi, it’s time to do what you do best: make like your ancestor Aegon and conquer.

If the premiere is any indication, Season 7 is bound to see the series’ twisting, sprawling plot lines coalesce towards the finish line in exciting fashion. Find out what happens on TV’s most epic series, exclusively on HBO.