Arya Stark – That’s a pretty song. I have never heard it before.
Ed Sheeran – It’s a new one…from my latest album Divide, out on Apple Music now!
The first episode of the seventh season of popular fantasy drama, Game of Thrones was released yesterday and after six seasons of murdering, pillaging and looting, you’d think that you’ve seen it all. Heck, I thought I had seen it all but clearly, the show has a lot more surprises, both good and bad, in stock for us, and having watched the first episode, here’s what I think of it.
The very first scene of the episode had me scratching my head as it opened with Lord Walder Frey addressing a gathering comprising of his relatives and soldiers, which is fine, but didn’t Arya Stark kill him in the finale of season 6? Well, as the scene proceeded, Lord Walder offered his brethren wine and said that he was ‘’proud’’ of his men for helping him slaughter the Starks at the Red wedding. He also called his men ‘’brave’’ for butchering a pregnant woman and cutting the throat of a mother of five. Now, the Freys have never been polite or respectful but something about the way Walder Frey addressed his bannermen didn’t sit right with me. The camera then shifted towards the addressees, who were slowly starting to figure out that the wine they drank was perhaps not as fine as Walder claimed it to be.
Turns out, it was Arya Stark, with her weird magical mask who was addressing the crowd from the get-go and after all the soldiers present in the dorm had choked to death, she reveals herself to Walder’s wife and says – ‘’When people ask you what happened here, tell them that the north remembers; tell them that winter came for House Frey,” and I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t get goosebumps.
And I feel that Arya’s opening scene set the tone for the first episode, and presumably, the entire season. It’s no secret that women in the Game of Thrones saga have been abused and taken for granted but it finally seems like the sun has set and the women of Westeros have finally taken their rightful positions of power.
After Arya’s badass moment with the Frey’s, the scene shifts to yet another Stark. But before that, we get a glimpse of the Night King’s army of White Walkers and walking among the undead were three zombie giants! Whether they are the same giants which helped Jon defend the Wall or win him the Battle of Bastards is yet to be seen. Coming back to the Stark in question, Bran has finally reached the wall and is greeted by men of the night’s watch but you’ll have to wait a bit for a Stark family reunion seeing how Jon and Sansa left Castle Black for Winterfell last season.
Having recaptured their ancestral home, Jon and Sansa are having a meeting with their Northern allies wherein the King of the North a.k.a Jon Snow raises two important issues, the first being the involvement of women in wars. Jon claims that he’ll require every abled soul if he is to win the war to come. When one Northerner protests, Lyanna Mormont, the 10-year old in command of Bear island shoots back and says that she doesn’t need his permission to defend the North, which goes on to show that the women of the fan-fiction saga were the true showstoppers of the season’s premiere.
Despite empowering women to fight beside the men in the war, Jon gets in a disagreement with his half-sister Sansa who feels that he should hand over the castles of Umbers and Karstarks to families who stayed loyal to the Starks. For those who don’t remember, both the houses were loyal to Starks for centuries but betrayed when Robb was the King of the North, and sided with the Freys and Boltons. Jon, on the other hand, feels that the sins of a father shouldn’t weigh down on their sons and daughters and decides against taking away their ancestral homes.
I felt like this was a pivotal moment in the episode as it showed us the first signs of trouble brewing between the siblings. While Sansa shouldn’t undermine Jon in front of others, she still deserves a say in the war’s proceedings especially when you consider the fact that she saved Jon from in the Battle of the Bastards. Personally, I agree with both Jon and Sansa. While only loyal bloodlines should be allowed to reign supreme in the North, the actions of one person shouldn’t speak for the entire house either.
There’s a lot of commotion south of the wall too and after blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor, Cersie has become the self-proclaimed queen of the Iron Throne. The queen of Andals can be seen redecorating a floor by having her empire painted on it when she gets in a heated discussion with her brother and lover, Jamie Lannister. Despite all her children being dead, Cersie is void of emotions and even says that their son Tommen betrayed her just like Tyrion did. Needless to say, Jaime is at a loss for words but tries to reason with his sister and tells Cersie that she is not the true queen of the seven kingdoms (three at best). He then points out that they are surrounded by enemies and traitors and that they don’t have any allies to overturn the war in their favour. But you’d be mistaken if you think that the ruthless queen doesn’t have a few aces up her sleeve. Enter, Euron Greyjoy, who made a debut on the show last season to take control of the Iron islands. The infamous pirate threw Balon Greyjoy off a bridge and tried to murder Yara and Theon, who managed to flee with an armada of ships and joined forces with Team Targaryen.
As the old saying goes – the enemy of my enemy is my friend but a common foe isn’t the only reason why Euron wants to join forces with Cersie. Turns out, the pirate is looking for a Queen but since Cersie (and Jamie) don’t trust Euron, she refuses his proposal. Euron says that he is willing to prove his worth and that the next time he returns to the King’s Landing, he’ll have a ‘’priceless gift’’ for Cersie. Any guesses as to what it might be? At first, I thought the gift would be Tyrion or Ellaria but some other fan-made theories suggest that he might give Cersie a Dragonbinder- a horn which can be used to control the dragons. If it indeed is the latter, then it could drastically change the outcome of the war. Moreover, seeing how it would be gut-wrenching for the fans to see Dany’s dragons respond to Cersie’s commands, it sits well with the theme of the show of torturing/killing characters adored by fans.
Let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? Yes, the ‘’shape of you wala singer’’ does have a tiny cameo in the first episode where he plays a soldier in the Lannister army. Arya Stark crosses paths with Ed Sheeran and reveals that she plans on killing the queen, to which he and his fellow soldiers have a good laugh. Story-wise, this scene is inessential and besides singing a melody, the singer doesn’t do anything else.
While women of Westeros are rising up in the ranks, Samwell Tarly seems to have taken a wrong turn in his career and his internship at the Citadel is arguably the grossest thing I’ve witnessed so far in the series. However, between cleaning port-a-potty's and tending to the library, Sam finds something which will be crucial for Jon’s victory against the Walking dead – the location of dragon glass, a material which can be used to slay a White Walker. As to where it is, well, it’s on a mountain in Dragonstone, the home to Daenerys Targaryen.
Towards the end of the episode, we get our first glimpse at Dany and her loyalists, who have crossed the Narrow Sea and are setting foot on Dragonstone. The Mother of Dragons strolls her way to a room where Stannis and Melisandre once stood, runs her hand through a map of Westeros and asks – “Shall we begin?”
There’s a shift of power and change in gender roles in the Westeros and the season’s premiere has brought up a lot of questions. Will Dany and Jon Snow meet before the Season’s finale? What is Cersie’s battle plan? Will the Stark family finally see a reunion this season?
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for ever since the inception of the show and now that it’s here, I couldn’t be more excited.