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TV Review: Game Of Thrones 7.1 “Dragonstone”
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Game Of Thrones Season 7 Cersei Lannister

Game of Thrones
Episode 7.1 “Dragonstone”
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Starring Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen
HBO
Air date: July 16, 2017

WARNING: Spoilers for HBO’s Game Of Thrones….

After waiting an excruciatingly long 13 months of waiting for the premiere of Season 7 of Game Of Thrones. And while it feel weird that “Winter Is Here” in mid-July, I think we can all agree that we’ll take it!!!

So, do you all remember what happened during Season 6? I’m guessing, YES! Because what an amazing season it was (check out the rundown of the Season 6 finale). Not only was it the season that saw the resurrection of Jon Snow, but also the reveal of the bastard’s heritage — he is, in fact, as suspected, the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Yes, he’s a Stark-Targaryen, not the bastard son of the noble Ned Stark. There was also the reuniting of Jon Snow and Sansa Stark, which led to the satisfying Battle Of The Bastards, where Ramsay Bolton finally got what was coming to him. Season 6 also ended with the death of Cersei Lannister’s third and last child, the boy king Tommen, who killed himself after watching his wife and other subjects die in an explosion in the city. Oh, and it was Cersei who caused the explosion! While Cersei takes the crown, Daenerys Targaryen, the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, allied with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Theon and Yara Greyjoy, the Tyrells, the Martells, and of course, her three huge dragons, and more, finally sets sail to Westeros to claim the Iron Throne.

Episode 7.1 “Dragonstone” has a pre-credits cold open that comes across as a flashback, but it’s not. Lord Walder Frey holding the second feast within a fortnight to celebrate his family’s victory. But we know there’s no way that’s Walder, who was killed by Arya Stark at the end of Season 6 in retaliation for her family’s slaughter there at the Red Wedding. “Frey” invites all the men, who helped him defeat his enemies, to drink some wine as he runs down the events of the Red Wedding, but making sure the young girl next to him does not imbibe. We then see the men throwing up blood and falling down dead, as “Frey” says their big mistake was NOT killing ALL of the Starks: “Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe.” When the men are all dead, we see it’s Arya Stark, who then tells the girl she spared that Winter has come for House Frey and that “The North Remembers.”

Next we see a chilling scene: The wind howls in the freezing cold as an army of White Walkers, led by the Night King, marches, and we see that it now includes the Giants!

Nearby, Bran and Meera finally reach The Wall, where the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Eddison Tollet aka Dolorous Edd, lets them in after Bran proves that he’s Brandon Stark and there’s a lot he knows.

At Winterfell, the new lord of the manor Jon Stark addresses his people. They must prepare to fight the White Walkers, which means finding more dragonglass, as well as preparing all children of a certain age regardless of gender need to be prepared and ready to help. This brings some resistance, but young Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island, stands up to say she will be fighting along with her people. Of course, as usual, the young actress steals the scene. Jon also plans to send Tormund and the Wildlings to defend the Wall, which is crazy out-of-the-box thinking for this world, but believe it or not, they’re all allies now, so this is a great idea. Jon also has to decide what to do with the Umbers and Karstarks, who betrayed the Starks to side with the Boltons. Sansa insists that Jon strip the traitors of their lands and grant it instead to those families who were loyal to the Starks. (You can’t really blame her, considering what Ramsay Bolton did to her and her family.) But Jon does not want to punish these families, who were longtime loyal bannermen, because of the actions of a few, especially since those few died on the battlefield. Sansa continues to undermine Jon in front of their people, though not in a mean way — she just wants him to take her advice. (We see here too that Lord Baelish is watching, and will likely throw this in her face to try to get her to turn against Jon eventually.) But Jon says his word is final. He then calls up the Umber and Karstark heirs, who we see are very young, to swear their allegiance to the Starks, and they wholeheartedly do.

Afterwards, Jon and Sansa talk alone about what went down. He wants to protect her, but he doesn’t want her to undermine him in front of their people, especially since he is now the King in the North, but she feels like he should take her counsel. She does feel like he is really good at rule, and that their people respect him. He mentions some things their father Ned taught him, things he didn’t say to his girls. Then they receive a raven from Kings Landing — it’s from the new Queen, Cersei Lannister, who wants the Starks to come to her and swear fealty or suffer the consequences. Jon feels like she’s not an imminent threat because she’s a thousand miles away, while the White Walkers right to the North are the real enemy right now. But Sansa, who spent a lot of time with Cersei, thinks the new Queen is more dangerous than he realizes — she won’t stop until all of her enemies are dead. “You almost seem like you admire her,” Jon says, to which Sansa replies, “I learned a great deal from her.” This likely means she learned that you have to destroy your enemies, which is something that people like her father Ned and brother Robb didn’t always do, and she even mentions how Jon has to do better than them (meaning, be more ruthless).

And what’s happening now with Cersei now that she’s queen and all of her children are dead? She’s at the Red Keep having a map of Westeros painted on the floor so she can walk all over her enemies. This is when Jaime comes to her. He says he’s not angry with her. “Are you afraid of me?,” she asks her brother/lover, who responds, “Should I be?” I think so!!! Cersei then throws it into his face that he let their little brother Tyrion free, and then he went off to align himself with Daenerys Targaryen, who is now leading an armada to take over Westeros. They have enemies all around them, and Jaime wonders what they are fighting for now that all of their children are dead. Cersei says they are fighting for themselves now. When he mentions their son Tommen, Cersei says he betrayed her. For a mother who used to live for her children and her love for them was her only redeeming quality, we see now that really it was always all about her. “We’re the ones who count,” she tells Jaime. But they have no allies anymore, Jaime says. But Cersei has a plan.

Next, we see ships arriving at Kings Landing with Cersei’s new allies. It’s Euron Greyjoy, who recently usurped the throne of the Iron Islands. Jaime is not too thrilled at his arrival, especially since Euron throws a lot of digs at Jaime and is there to wed Cersei. Euron wants to form an alliance with Cersei against their mutual enemies, and is using his legendary Iron Fleet as leverage. But she refuses his proposal because he’s not trustworthy. So he says he will leave and won’t return until he has a “gift” for her of something that she really wants. I’m guessing she plans to use Euron, then throw him away, not only because she already has a boyfriend (her brother Jaime!), but because no asshole dude is going to swagger his way into her castle and hit on her like she’s some common whore and live to tell about it. The Mountain is also there when all this happens, and he isn’t too thrilled with Euron’s bullshit either. This is the first time we’re seeing The Mountain since he was about to tangle with the “Shame” septa.

In Old Town, Samwell Tarly works at the Citadel doing every menial task possible: Shelving the library books, serving meals, and cleaning chamberpots, and to drive the point home, we see him doing these tasks repeatedly day after day. This kind of comedic timing is not something you see on Game of Thrones, but it totally works for this sequence. What Sam really wants is access to the library’s restricted section, so he can learn hopefully how to defeat the White Walkers. But that section is only for Maesters, and he is not one yet. After a while, he goes to see the Archmaester to once again ask for permission to the section, but is shut down. While Sam feels that his mission is urgent, the Archmaester says that there have been other dire times in history, and yet the people survive because the Wall held. Permission denied. But that doesn’t stop Sam, who steals a key to the section and takes some books from it.

Back at Winterfell, Brienne of Tarth is in the yard continuing her training of the squire Podrick Payne, who she eventually knocks down. “You’re a lucky man,” says the Wildling Tormund, who is infatuated with Brienne. Above, Sansa and Lord Baelish watch the events, as Baelish asks Sansa why isn’t she happy — there it is, he’s trying to drive that wedge between her and Jon. But she’s no falling for his line of BS anymore, and pretty much dismisses him when Brienne comes to see her. “No need to seize the last word,” she tells her, “I’ll assume it was something clever.” HA HA HA!!! When Brienne wonders why Baelish is even still at Winterfell, Sansa confesses that they still need his men of the Vale to help with their war. Brienne thinks Baelish wants something, and Sansa says she knows what it is.

Back to Arya, who’s riding through the woods on horseback when she comes upon a few Lannister soldiers, including one Ed Sheeran, who’s serving as bard for this group. They invite her to rest and eat with them. They’ve been sent out to keep the peace after what happened to the Freys. You can see that these are kindly young men, and they might be the ones in danger from Arya. As she hears them talk about missing their parents and wives, you can see Arya realizing that these are innocent people. When they ask her why she’s going to Kings Landing, she replies, “To kill the Queen.” Thinking she’s joking, they all laugh out loud, and she joins in. So, instead of returning to her home of Winterfell, Arya is continuing her revenge tour, where she plans to wipe out the very people who started it all – the Lannisters.

Then it’s on to Arya’s old travel companion, The Hound, who’s now traveling with the Brotherhood Without Banners, headed by the Red Priest Thoros of Myr and Lord Beric Dondarrion, the latter of whom has been brought back from the dead many times by the Lord Of Light. They come upon a farmhouse — the Hound recognizes it as the one where the farmer and his young daughter took him and Arya in, and he stole from them. Inside the father and daughter are long dead, likely of starvation or suicide to avoid it. In this sequence, we get some classic Hound banter, as he mocks Thoros’ top knot, calling him a “bald cunt.” The Hound asks Beric why the Lord of Light keeps bringing him back, especially since there’s so many other people more worthy. But Beric doesn’t know why or what the Lord’s purpose is for him. Thoros tells the Hound to come look into the fire for some answers. In Hound fashion, he responds, “It’s my fucking luck I end up with a band of fire worshippers.” (We know the Hound fears fire because of what his older brother did to him to harm and scare him with it.) But he does move in closes and in the fire he sees where the Wall meets the sea, there’s a castle and a mountain, and that thousands of the dead are marching past. Beric then asks the Hound if he now believes that they have a purpose.

Later that night, Thoros finds the Hound outside burying the skeletons of the father and daughter, and assumes this means the Hound knew these people. “Not really,” the Hound responds. Thoros then joins in to help, and the Hound says something over the graves, though he can’t remember the proper words. “I’m sorry you’re dead,” he says, “You deserve better, both of you.”

While back at home with Gilly and little Sam, Sam pours over the books and finds that Dragonstone, the ancestral home of the Targaryens, actually sits upon a mountain of dragonglass! He has to let Jon Snow know this right away.

When Sam returns to the Citadel to his menial chores, he goes to retrieve a bowl from one of the cells there. As he does, an arm diseased with greyscale reaches from the cell door food slot to grab at him. It’s Jorah Mormount!!! He asks if Daenerys has arrived in Westeros, but Sam hasn’t heard anything about that. Now, I’m not sure why he’s in a cell; for instance, is this jail? Or is this more like a place for him to spend his final days before dying of Greyscale? And if Greyscale is so contagious that you can get just from a touch, then WHY do they put these people in cells that have a slot big enough for them to reach their arm out to grab you? Especially since the disease eventually affects the mind and leads to attacks like this. Hmm…. ?

But we know Daenerys is on her way to Westeros! And as Jaime Lannister predicted, she’s coming to her family ancestral home, Dragonstone, recently held by Stannis Baratheon. Dany and her armada on arrive on its shores, and the Mother Of Dragons kneels down to touch the ground for the first time. Her and her entourage then make their way through the gates, and passed the stone dragon heads into the castle, and into the throne room. Behind it, they reach the war room, which has the intricately carved map table where Stannis had relations with the red priestess Melisandre (a union that resulted in the shadow baby that killed Stannis’s brother Renly). Dany runs her hand down the length of the table, looking over her “kingdom” much like Cersei, only these are her people, not her enemies. Then she turns to her trusted advisors. “Shall we begin?” she asks, ending the Season 7 premiere!

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  • Hugomarink

    That’s more of a recap than a review. What’d you think of the episode?

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