It feels so good to have an old friend back in town. After the amazing end to season six we fans had to endure an extra few months of impatient waiting for the season seven premiere. The pace is picking up and the pieces are shifting into place. With that said, Keith and I are back with our episodic email exchange.
If you missed it, be sure to catch Matt’s top moments from this week’s episode, and keep an eye out for our GoT podcast each week.
KEITH: Well, my friend, that certainly was a premiere. It has been a long, long time since we’ve had new Thrones and this felt like the ideal way to both get us reacquainted with the characters and start shuffling the game pieces around so that they’re in-place for their roles in the wars to come.
Perhaps the most striking moments of the episode came in the cold open with Arya tying up loose ends at the Twins and Daenerys finally coming home in the episode’s closing minutes. Both sequences carried a lot of weight, but in different ways. Arya’s scene was a lot of fun to watch, but because we’d already seen Walder Frey’s death, it was all but assured that his appearance was going to lead to his face being pulled away to reveal the Stark girl. However, even though what was going to happen was pretty apparent, her claims that the North remembers and that Winter came for house Frey were pretty badass.
Dany’s scenes, on the other hand, were incredible due to complete lack of dialogue. I’m not sure if I can remember a time—except for when he first sees Drogon—that Tyrion has ever shut up. I think the simple fact that he knew how important this moment was and decided to let Dany take it in on her own made for something pretty special.
But how are you feeling about the premiere? Season six was pretty stellar from start to finish, so did this live up to your expectations?
NICK: The premiere did exactly what it needed to do. Even before the cold opening, the “previously on Game of Thrones” catch-up was edited in such a great way, specifically tying Cat’s death with Walder’s in such a vivid quick-cut (sorry). Arya’s cold opening and subsequent Kool-Aid peer pressure was a quick and easy way for a terrible house with terrible people to be dispensed with. It’s been proven that the Frey’s aren’t exactly competent in the battle field, and that they won’t think twice about inviting you in for a beer and a meal only to stab you in the back (or front). Good night, House Frey.
The trailers and the pick-up-the-pace timeline confirmed that Dany would reach her ancestral land of Dragonstone, and the sheer awe expressed among her and her landing party was amazing. You mention Tyrion’s silence and that alone measured the weight of the situation. This is her family’s place. She has spent her entire life never knowing a true home, and to see her three winged children circling around the castle had to provide her with an intense feeling of relief. Though her goals are higher as she pursues the Iron Throne, there’s nothing like coming home.
While both of these scenes were excellent and bookended a solid start, my favorite scene was with The Hound and the Brotherhood. With blankets of white covering the once green land, I didn’t recognize the farm home and was unsure why he was so hesitant to enter as the snow piled up around him. It wasn’t until the camera panned to two skeletal bodies huddling in a corner did the memory of the farmer and his daughter from season four come into mind. “They’ll both be dead come winter. Dead men don’t need silver” he told Arya as he left a beaten up—and now poor—farmer behind. The Hound may be one of the most fascinating arcs in a show loaded with changing stories. First he was Joffrey’s dog and did as he was told. Then he bailed during the Battle of the Blackwater. Then he played tough guy guidance counselor to Arya. Then Brother Ray gave him some things to think about, and now he’s part of the Brotherhood without Banners and seeing fiery visions. One of the first things we learn about Sandor Clegane in season one is how his brother fried his face. Now, after years of avoiding the flame, he’s beginning to accept the fact that maybe Beric and Thoros are on to something, and that his one-time weakness could become a powerful weapon. Seeing him go from beating and robbing another man for a pouch of silver to then digging a grave for the corpses in the middle of the night shows just how far he’s come along. He’s always had a conscious, he’s just no longer ignoring it.
What are your thoughts on The Hound and the Brotherhood? Also, as a musician, what’s your take on Ed Sheeran’s cameo? It’s not the first time an artist appeared on the show (Of Monsters and Men last season, Mastadon the season before that), but it was the first blatantly obvious nod to a modern day musician.
KEITH: The Hound’s sequence is simply the best part of the premiere. As much as I was buoyed by Arya’s bloody vengeance and awed by Dany’s return home, Sandor’s portion of the episode felt, perhaps, the most emotionally honest. You traced his arc to perfection, and that arc is what has made him one of the most interesting characters in Game of Thrones. I also love how the house was referenced in the (perfectly edited) “previously…” catch-up. It’s the little touches like that that remind us of just how vivid and alive and well-crafted the world of Westeros really is. It’s good to see this previously one-note character built into one of genuine depth.
Also, The Hound’s comment about Dondarion being the blandest, least interesting person he knows is hilarious and super on-point. What in the heck does the Lord of Light want from this guy? Literally the only things he’s got going for him are a sweet eye patch and that fiery sword.
So after all this I suppose the question is where is the Brotherhood going? The Hound’s vision seemed to point toward Eastwatch by the Sea, which we know is where the Night King and army of the dead are headed. I feel like the Brotherhood is going to link up with Tormund and act as a sort of guerrilla ranging force. I can’t see them truly banding together with Jon and the rest of the North, but they would be wonderful as a small group working to combat the Night King on their own.
That said, I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on how the dynamic between the Seven (three?) Kingdoms shakes out now that Cersei is the queen and is surrounded by enemies. I loved the scene with Euron Greyjoy and his jockeying for position with Jamie, but Jon made a good point—there’s 1,000 miles between those two primary players. There’s also the little matter of a newly landed Targaryen army. How do we see this playing out?
Finally, I didn’t really care too much about the Ed Sheeran scene. I don’t really dig the dude’s music, but it’s not like having a soldier singing a song is entirely out of character for the show—there have been all sorts of songs being sung throughout the previous seasons. I also like the fact that this was apparently done as a bit of a favor to Maisie Williams because she’s a huge fan of his. Getting to act alongside one of your favorite musicians has to be a pleasure. I’d have killed for the opportunity to have some screen time with Brent Hinds in “Hardhome.”
NICK: Euron now looks like every folk artist when they make the switch from acoustic to electric guitar. He previously wore modest sea-faring clothes, but after becoming king and gaining mainstream status his all black outfit with a touch of fashion flare almost makes him feel like a different person. But then he opens his mouth and all of that goes away. After Yara and Theon steal his best ships and head to Mereen, Euron acquiesces to his inability to lure Dany so he heads to King’s Landing to flirt with the queen. Cersei isn’t impressed, so he promises to bring her a present. What present could it be? Will he try to kidnap Tyrion? Maybe, but I think this gift is a thing, not a person. Until his return to Pyke last season, Euron was–as Theon put it–gallivanting around the world, and it’s likely that he came into possession of something that could play an important role in the coming battle(s). Most likely it’s Dragonbinder, a great horn that makes an appearance in the books. During the kingsmoot that named Euron the new king, one of his men blew the horn before keeling over with blisters on his lips and blood seeping through his chest. After a coroner’s examination, they found his lungs were charred black. It’s like an anti-cigarette commercial gone bad.
Anyway, Dragonbinder does as its name suggests (it allows the user of the horn to control the dragon), but it is unclear as to who can use it without losing their life. Based on its Valyrian history and it’s heatwave abilities, my pick is a Targaryan.
As much as Cersei wants and needs Euron’s quickly massive fleet, she knows he can’t be trusted. She also knows she doesn’t have many options. As you alluded to, the Lannisters have enemies in all directions with little support. Sure, Jon’s a little preoccupied with the potential of human extinction in the North, but Dany’s in Dragonstone which is roughly a two day rowboat ride to King’s Landing as per Davos. To the south are the Sand Snakes, and to the west is the Queen of Thorns. Remember how many Tyrells died when Cersei blew up the sept like a decrepit Las Vegas Casino? It isn’t looking good for the Lannister dynasty which has dwindled to the incest twins.
I know Dany has brought her army across the Narrow Sea and probably wants to call upon those in Westeros that will support her claim (as she has mentioned frequently in the past), but part of me thinks that she should launch an attack on King’s Landing PDQ. The support for House Lannister and the Queen is at an all-time low, and really her biggest ally is Euron and his easily flammable wooden ships. This seems all too easy, so something will probably happen that requires Dany to sit in her war room with her trusted advisors and hash it out while Cersei tries to gain more supporters.
I can’t believe we haven’t mentioned it already, but how about Sam’s Citadel training montage? Those bedpans and food bowls are way too similar.
KEITH: The montage with Sam was brilliant. Even more brilliant was the modest nod to Harry Pottery. Even more brilliant was the jump scare of Jorah with his increasingly grayscaled arm. I can’t help but think that Sam’s going to be getting himself into some really deep stuff when it’s eventually discovered that he’s sneaking into the restricted section (perhaps he’ll find out a little bit about Horcruxes). I also dug the really quick allusion to the Lord Baelish’s dagger. We haven’t seen that bad boy since season one, but it should absolutely be making an appearance this season. Didn’t it show up in Arya’s possession during a promo shoot of some sort?
I think what fascinates me the most about the Tyrell situation is the fact that we know Olenna is working with the Targaryens and the Martells. She also has lost her entire family, so she’s likely looking to take down the Lannisters in the most spectacular and all-encompassing way that she can. I would say something like “Hell hath no fury like the Queen of Thorns,” but I think the way her family died would prove that statement wrong.
I’m on board with your speculation about Euron’s gift, although I do maybe think that he’s talking about a person. I think it’s almost too obvious that his plan might have been to somehow get Tyrion, but I saw some online speculation earlier today about how he might somehow be bringing Gendry back. I have no idea how that angle would work out but it’s something that I could see happening. It’s not like Martin/Weiss/Benioff to leave threads hanging like that.
NICK: Ah yes, Gendry. Now that Jon’s lineage has been sorted out, do viewers have a deeper wormhole to dive into than the “Where is Gendry” debate? The last known bastard son of the belated King Robert Baratheon is out there somewhere, presumably hiding in King’s Landing if he followed Davos’s instructions. If this is in fact Euron’s gift to Cersei, I’d love to know how a man of the sea found a blacksmith apprentice. As much as I want to see Gendry back, I don’t know how well this theory holds water. Would his plan be to kill Gendry in front of Cersei as a token of allegiance? If word gets out to the general public that Robert’s bastard son is alive and well, then his stake for the throne is better than Cersei’s. At this point I just don’t buy that he’s the gift, but after having spent six seasons in Martin’s world nothing is out of the question.
I’ll admit, the Jorah scene made me jump. It bums me out seeing him further progress in his greyscale disease, though at least he’s not a full-on stone monster just yet. Do they take him out to run tests for a cure? Do they just leave him in his cell until he dies and then run a post-mortem? With all the time spent with Jorah, we’ve got to believe he still has a purpose that centers around Dany. I get the feeling Sam and Jorah are going to have some future conversations and that Jorah makes a last stand in Dany’s defense.
Sam the Slayer has become Sam the Rule Breaker. He’s barely been at the Citadel and he’s already swiping keys to get into the restricted area, but he knows how important the potential information is and it’s already starting to pay off. As you mentioned, we see the dagger that nearly took Bran’s life that sent Catelyn Stark out on her journey of justice. With Gilly’s help, Sam finds a literal mountain of Dragonglass that can be mined for weapons against the Night King and his army. Dragonglass that’s located in…Dragonstone.
Speaking of the Night King, how chilling was that post-title scene? And how close are we to another Stark family reunion now that Bran and Meera are with the Night’s Watch?
KEITH:That was an excellent little scene. Just enough of a reminder of what, exactly, is coming for the world of men. Also, how about those undead giants? As if they weren’t scary enough.
I suppose I can get on board with your idea that Gendry isn’t going to be Euron’s gift. It absolutely does seem more farfetched than other theories, but you’re right—if we’re not going to theorize about his whereabouts, what are we going to theorize about? At this point things seem to be getting cleaned up rather than complicated, so I have a feeling like we’re going to see fewer and fewer points of speculation as we move toward the series’ conclusion.
What are you looking forward to in the next episode?
NICK: While the next episode’s title — “Stormborn” — suggests a Dany-centric episode, the trailer includes an array of Westerosi characters. That being said, I’m mostly looking forward to the hinted reunion of Nymeria and Arya. I know there’s powerful pieces making militaristic decisions that could change the course of history, but I’m all about direwolf involvement in this show.
What about you? What’s at the front of your mind for episode two?
KEITH: I have a dire (hehe) need for some additional Arya, and I think a reunion with Nymeria is just the thing to scratch that itch. After two mostly stagnant seasons for her, it’s great to see her on the move again. I think I’m most looking forward to seeing how things play out now that Dany is situated back in Westeros, though. It’s been six years coming, and I have no doubts that things will play out in the epic fashion that we’ve been waiting for.
You can watch the trailer for episode two below, and check back next week for more GoT coverage.
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