Game of Thrones returned for its 7th season this week with a better than expected showing. After the messes the previous few seasons made, I thought this episode was great at properly reintroducing the characters of the show and additionally progress the plot. That’s why this season’s premier is to me far superior to Season 6’s, every scene was largely interesting, with a notable closing exception, whereas last season episode 1 was so forgettable and was just a recap of where everyone had been the previous season. This review will cover all the aspects of the episode that were worth discussing!
The Cold opener of the episode depicted Arya Stark murdering every Fray that has any power, and even though this was a ‘badass moment’, it was incredibly dumb and that’s not what this should be about. This plan was so impractical and takes so many leaps of faith that this scene detracts from the episode. But this theme of implausibility has been a recurring aspect of the last few seasons and it’s something that we will probably be forced to accept. How were they able to get every Fray in one place? There must be at least some conflict within the family, especially because of how big the Fray family is. Does Arya just walk out the front door? The Twins is massive, I doubt none of the guards would realise everyone at the feast was dead and chase her at least. Plus, she announces to all the girls in the room who she is so there should be a rumour in Westeros that a female Stark sympathiser murdered all the Fray’s however none of these questions were answer and a massive plot whole lurked over the entire episode right at the beginning.
All the scenes set in The North were clear highlights in this episode. These scenes included great acting, clad story elements and progression as well as clear moral and ethical dilemmas for the audience to wrestle with. The aspects of underlying complications between Sansa and Jon were handled better than your average TV Show. In a lesser TV show this entire plotline would revolve around Sansa being manipulated like a dumbass by Little Figure because it’s the simplest way to create tension in this plotline. So, it was refreshing that the show addressed all these issues in the first episode. I also thought this was the best acting performance Sophie Turner has done as Sansa. She and Kit Harington have seemingly created quite a bit of chemistry on scene and they successfully carried the scenes they were in. Another aspect that was handled well was the way they handled Jon’s announcement about women and girls being forced to join the standing army against the White Walkers. This could have been overly preachy and ultra-feminist or SJW (which isn’t inherently a terrible thing) but it was uniquely handled. This was displayed especially with Lord Glover, who called have easily been written as an awful misogynist caricature who would never train a woman who is inherently of lower class than him, but was instead portrayed as a man worried about the well-being of his granddaughter. I have some questions resulting questions because of this revelation, will Sansa and Lady Mormont also be trained? If Lady Mormont is trained then when Arya inevitably shows up in Winterfell they will have an interaction or fight. If this prediction is somehow true I could also see in the next episode Sansa commenting that Lady Mormont reminds her of Arya. (subtle foreshadowing)
The Cersei and Jamie relationship in the show, is one of the series weakest aspect. Despite displaying her brutal ways multiple times Jamie doesn’t attempt to stop her or separate himself from her as he has in the books. There entire relationship seems to repeat and repeat and repeat. Therefore, in the show you really can’t argue that Jamie is a morally sound individual, unlike in the book were he clearly acts independently and by his own accord. Euron and Cersei were obviously going to become aligned, otherwise Dany would stand undoubtedly victorious. But to achieve this alignment Euron has promised a ‘gift’ for Cersei. There are two unlikely but fun options I initially thought of as possibilities for this ‘gift,’ but then I realised what it was most likely going to be. One of the fun options I thought of was Gendry, back in Season 5 when a gift was promised everyone theorised that it could have possibly been Gendry, but that really wouldn’t make any sense. The other fun and unlikely option I thought of was a Dragon Horn, like Euron claims to have in the books. But the probable possibility is that Euron is going to capture the Sand Snakes and offer them to Cersei as the murderers of her daughter. They haven’t entirely ruined Euron’s character yet and I like the actor, so I’ll remain optimistic about this plotline moving forward this Season.
The Sam plotline was decent in this episode, but the montage was incredibly disgusting but necessary. It shows the grind and that Sam truly must work from the bottom to end up as a Maester. However, this must stop here, next episode I don’t want any sort of montage with Sam repeating the same activities over and over because I’ll start getting flashbacks to the plotline from Season 5 with Arya. The revelation about Dragon Strone shouldn’t have been a revelation and shows the lack of consistency and the poor writing the show has adapted over the previous few seasons. The Jorah aspect of this plotline was very predictable but it has potential. These two are the side-kicks of both our predominant main characters so cooperation between these two could lead to cooperation between the main duo of main characters.
The interesting and worth-while scene with Arya was defiantly the scene with the Lannister soldiers at the campfire. Firstly, the cameo from Ed Sheeran caught me off guard event though I had heard somewhere that he was making a cameo this season, and what can I say he’s good at singing. That’s all he really did and it was fine he really didn’t add or subtract from the episode. But this group of Lannister soldiers came across as the most likeable characters in the show and I love the tension that was created through this scene. They perfectly manipulated the audience’s expectations, everyone thought initially that someone was going to attack someone in this scene especially because of the way the guy with the black hair was looking at Arya. But eventually they gained the trust if the audience and Arya and it was overall a great piece of writing and made Arya more grounded whereas the first scene helped her alienate from the audience. The scene ended with some dramatically ironic comedy and was the first time I think we have heard Maisie William’s laugh as Arya and her laugh really doesn’t fit the character.
Rory McCann, in my opinion, has officially joined Charles Dance and Dianna Rigg in the upper-echelon of actor that have appeared in Game of Thrones. Everything these three actors touch turn to gold and that’s why there three characters are my three favourites. The Hound and Thoros’ back and forth dialogue is the type of writing and acting that we have been missing in the previous two seasons. Not only was the dialogue superb in this scene but The Hound’s character had further development. Revisiting the small cottage, he previously visited with Arya, back in season 2, was a neat little call-back and displayed the effect the events in season 6 had on his character. There has also a clever little nod to book readers as he dug graves. The most monumental element in this scene was when The Hound saw visions in the flame, but even more interesting than that the audience didn’t see anything. I hope the Lord of Light is explained in the time we have left and we don’t have to wait until the books are realised for a cogent explanation because I seriously doubt that Gods exist in this world.
The final scene in this episode was Dany landing on Dragon Stone and her first steps onto Westeros land. Then she makes her way up to the throne on Dragon Stone in a laughably terrible scene were everyone awkwardly walks up thousands on steps in silence. Why? For dramatic effect, instead of grounded storytelling like the show was built on we had a melodramatic scene that tried to hard. This was easily my least favourite scene in the episode and was even more infuriating than the opening scene with Arya. I really dislike the Dany character. She is incredibly boring and the show runner have missed the boat completely on her character. She is supposed to be a walking, talking contradiction of herself and the show has made no effort to point this out. She is portrayed as another one-note boring protagonist just like Jon Snow. Nothing of substance happened in this episode they just landed in a completely useless location.
Ultimately, Episode 1 of Season 7 of Game of Thrones gets a 6. The episode showed hopes of returning to the quality of the first three seasons in this episode with the scenes with The Hound and in The North, but then fell back into the same traps as the previous two seasons with terrible scene including both the opening and concluding scenes.