Game Of Thrones Season 7 Premiere Recap: "Shall We Begin?"

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Welcome back! It's been over a year since we've had any new Game of Thrones episodes and the wait is finally over!
If you remember, we ended last season with Daenerys sailing towards Westeros aboard Greyjoy ships, with her dragons looming overheard. Cersei went zero-dark-thirty on the Sept of Baelor, blowing up the High Sparrow, Margaery Tyrell, and most of the Faith Militant in the process. This move also cost her her last remaining child, Tommen, who jumped out the window to his death. Now, she's sitting on the Iron Throne and her future reign forecasts as violent, at best — even brother/lover Jaime doesn't look to happy about it. Arya is on her way home from Braavos, halting for a pit stop to feed Walder Frey his sons baked into a pie. Bran, the new Three-Eyed Raven, basically confirmed the R+L = J theory. And after taking Winterfell back from the Boltons, Jon and Sansa are all sunshine and rainbows, which won't last because this is Game of Thrones. Oh, and winter came, meaning the inevitable white walkers invasion is now imminent. Everybody caught up? Now, onwards!
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Hello Darkness, My Old Frey
Walder Frey...is still here? The old man has assembled all the Freys in Westeros to make a grand announcement. He proposes a toast, and I sense another Red Wedding. GOODBYE FREYS!
Of course, this isn't Walder Frey — it's Arya, wearing Walder's face. We know this because Walder Frey would never serve good wine at a party. He would also not spare the girl standing next to him. Arya/Walder reminds all the Freys of that little time they killed a pregnant woman and a mother of five. But they didn't kill all the Starks. Big mistake — huge: "Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe." With that, the mask comes off, and Arya is revealed.
"When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers," she tells the girl she spared, who will surely have nightmares forever. "Tell them winter came for House Frey."
Seven hells, what a fucking intro.
Third Eye Blind
Hello Night King! I see you've brought a massive army. And a giant. Is that Wun Wun, by any chance?
Actually, this is all taking place in Bran's vision. I can't believe Meera dragged him all the way to the Wall. The gate opens, revealing the Night's Watch, who want to know if they are wildlings.
Bran pulls a Third Eye Raven, and scares everyone straight with news of the white walkers' progress. They let them in.
Sibling Rivalry
Back at Winterfell, tensions are high between Sansa and Jon.
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Jon, king of the woke baes, wants boys AND girls to help defend the North. Lyanna Mormont shuts down the gasps around the room with a well-placed fire quote: "I don't plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me." YASSS LYANNA.
But who will man the castles of the Umbers and Karstarks? They fought for Ramsay Bolton, so Sansa wants to punish them by giving their homes to loyal families. Jon says no. Littlefinger smirks — this is all part of his plan. He sows discord wherever he goes.
Later, Jon warns Sansa not to undermine him in public by questioning his authority. She compares him to Joffrey, which is basically calling him the devil.
"You have to be smarter than father," she says. "You need to be smarter than Robb."
"And how shall I be smarter? By listening to you?" Ouch, Jon.
This lovely conversation is cut short by a raven from Cersei summoning Jon to King's Landing. Sansa warns him to pay heed. "Everyone who's ever crossed her she's found a way to murder."
Jon points out (rather resentfully) that it sounds like she admires the queen. "I learned a great deal from her," Sansa says. Can we have a split kingdom ruled by Cersei in the South and Sansa in the North? Just a thought.
Make The Lannisters Great Again
Cersei is walking on Westeros. Literally. She has a humungous map under her feet.
Cersei knows that Tyrion is Daenerys' hand, and blames Jaime for his betrayal. "Enemies to the East, enemies to the South, enemies to the West, enemies to the North," Cersei hums, the same refrain we heard in the trailer for this season. "Enemies everywhere, we're surrounded by traitors."
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Jaime is confused about her plan of action — the Lannisters are literally fighting everyone alone. They need allies.
I love the new dynamic between these two, especially when Jaime brings up Tommen. "Our baby boy killed himself," he says. But Cersei, who once devoted herself entirely to her children's well-being, now wants to put them behind her. They are dead. She is alive.
Don't worry Jaime, Cersei has a plan. Euron Greyjoy, the Trump to Cersei's Putin, has arrived, and he looks GOOD — kind of a cross between Joshua Jackson and Captain Jack Sparrow.
Unsurprisingly, this diplomatic mission turns into a pissing contest between Jaime and Euron. As King of The Iron Islands, he will offer Cersei the Iron Fleet, in exchange for her hand in marriage. (That dig about "1000 ships and two good hands" did not go unnoticed. All hail Euron, King of the Shade!) Cersei declines — she doesn't want to marry someone who killed his own brother. His answer is the equivalent of Chekhov's gun: "You should try it, it feels wonderful." No way that doesn't go off somewhere in the season, although whether he means Tyrion or Jaime is anyone's guess at this point.
But Euron is patient, and promises to return with "a priceless gift." I get the feeling it's not a diamond ring.
Hogwarts, Revisited
Guys, the Citadel sucks. Talk about a rude awakening. Emptying bed pans and serving soup is not what Sam came here for. This is truly the most disgusting montage this show has ever served. Please make it stop.
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As any Harry Potter fan knows, Sam just needs to sneak into the Restricted Section for answers. I mean, Professor Slughorn traveled all the way from Hogwarts to basically tell him that. (Hi, Jim Broadbent!) Actually, the Archmaester believes Sam and his tale of white walkers. But just as climate change deniers claim that this crisis is no bigger than ones that came before, so too does he believe the Wall will stand tall through this particular winter. And like them, he is most definitely wrong.
Ed Sheeran, Of House Lannister
Well, we finally got to see Ed Sheeran. And it was...unimpressive. Apparently, he's a Lannister?!
His band of merry soldiers invite Arya, who is on her way to King's Landing (to "kill the queen") to sit and shoot the breeze with them. I have many questions about this exchange:
1) Is there a drinking age in Westeros? Why one earth would he ask Arya if she's old enough to drink. This is the Middle Ages. Children drink beer. Chill, Ed.
2) Arya's going to kill these nice young men, right?
Home Is Where The Heart Is
The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr need to get their own sitcom spinoff immediately. The whole thing can just be them cracking wise on the road to nowhere. Someone make that happen for me, k thx bye.
By the looks of the snow, they've reached the North. As the "previously on Game of Thrones" at the beginning of the episode so helpfully reminded us, the Hound has seen that house before. He and Arya stopped there, and he stole the family's silver, condemning them to death by starvation.
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The three huddle inside for a cozy sleepover, but instead of trading daydreams about Leonardo DiCaprio (my sleepovers were in their prime circa The Beach, don't @ me), the Hound questions Beric about his immortality. Why does the Lord of Light keep bringing him back? Beric has no idea, but Thoros makes the Hound look into the fire for answers.
The Hound reluctantly does so, because remember, fire is the reason his face looks like it does. Eventually, the truth is revealed to him. He sees ice. "It's where the Wall meets the sea," he says. "There's a castle there. There's a mountain, looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them." I was 100% certain that scene was going to end with Beric pushing the Hound into the fire. Six seasons of Game of Thrones does that to you.
This somewhat useless scene actually ends with the Hound burying the family he killed, and Thoros helping him. See — sitcom gold.
Heart Of (Dragon)Glass
Of course Sam would find information crucial to the survival of mankind by just casually flipping through a book. Turns out, Dragonstone is actually built on a mountain of dragonglass! Who could ever have guessed? (This revelation pretty much guarantees the Jon Snow/Daenerys meetup we've been dreaming about. Bring it on!)
Later, Sam is innocently walking down a hallway when an arm grabs him. WTF is Jorah doing at the Citadel?
Home Sweet Home
This entire scene is iconic. Only three words are spoken, and they are glorious.
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Daenerys is still making the same face she was in the finale —  only now she's on a boat heading for Dragonstone, rather than a ship bound for Westeros. The dragons are home!
Our Khaleesi steps down onto the sand of her homeland for the first time, and grabs a handful. (Where are my tissues?!) Her party makes its way up the narrow winding stairs to the front of a very imposing structure — now that is a front entrance. Welcome to your castle, Khaleesi; mind the stone dragon heads.
Still silent, Daenerys pulls down Stannis' banner bearing a stag in the center of a fiery heart — you'll recall, he used to live here. And then, the words: "Shall we begin."
I have never been more ready for anything in my life.
Miscellaneous Thoughts:
1) "You think you're fooling anyone with that topknot?" is now my answer to every hipster man I encounter.
2) Little Sam is so big! How much time has passed since the end of season 6?
3) Poor Jorah.
Correction: This post originally stated the Hound murdered the peasant family for bread. He still killed them, but in a much more indirect way.
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