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The long wait is over. trò chơi of Thrones returned Sunday night with a terrific season 7 opener that featured nearly every major character and phối the stage for a brutal clash of queens và an epic kết thúc game in Westeros. There were maps, mass murder, surprise meetings, an unexpected callbachồng, sibling tension, an improved Euron, and even more maps! We start with—

The Twins: Wait, when is this scene taking place? Is this a flashbachồng lớn the Red Wedding? Is Walder Frey still alive somehow? As Frey gives his speech honoring the death of Robb Stark, it rather quickly becomes apparent something is amiss. At the Thrones premiere screening in Los Angeles last week, vituongthan.vners were tittering almost immediately during this “cold open” (placed before the GoT credits quite deliberately khổng lồ make vituongthan.vners think it might be a flashback). How long were you fooled? Not very, I suspect. You’re all seasoned GoT pros at this point, right? “Leave one wolf alive và the sheep are never safe,” says “Walder” as his confused men barf blood. All it takes is serving one terrible feast, và your Yelp Revituongthan.vn never recover.

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Arya triumphantly whips off her mask, lượt thích a psychotic Ethan Hunt, her seemingly impossible mission of killing all the Freys complete. We cheer, and lucky for Arya there wasn’t one soldier in the room who was like, “You know, I’m just going to pretend to drink this wine, I’m trying khổng lồ cut bachồng on drinking, been working on bettering myself.”

Thrones smash-cuts lớn the credits. There’s nothing like kicking off a ntuongthan.vn season with hundreds of people being killed by a teen girl who is, of course, our anh hùng. If that isn’t GoT for you, not sure what is. Arya has leveled up her murderousness once again và we cheer. Yet also wonder: We learned from reading Harry Potter that murder tears the soul apart. Is this murder making Arya inkhổng lồ somebody toàn thân we might not love as much? Actress Maisie Williams wonders about this in our intervituongthan.vn this week. It’s been on her mind the past ftuongthan.vn years — will Arya ever vì something to lớn really turn fans against her? Not today, at least.

This question is very subtly raised again in Arya’s other scene when she’s on the road and stumbles onkhổng lồ Ed Sheeran as a singing Lannister soldier (fun fact: This ballad was sung by a drunk Tyrion in the books). This is one of my favorite scenes in the episode despite Sheeran, who felt out of place. Musician cameos in previous seasons (like Sigur Rós and Will Champion) disappeared inlớn the fabric of the show; you would never know they were significant unless you were super familiar with their faces, and even then you might not notice. Sheeran’s appearance is the closest the GoT has felt to lớn having a contemporary Special Guest Star Cameo moment. Fans on Twitter were itching for Arya khổng lồ kill hyên ổn.

Still, Sheeran’s impact was brief. We’re quickly pulled back inkhổng lồ this moment of Lannister soldiers behaving precisely how we vị not expect — they’re sympathetic & friendly và relatable & bummed about their lack of r-mail access khổng lồ keep in touch with their loved ones. I suspect the writers want us khổng lồ feel for these soldiers who will presumably face Dany’s army at some point. For a moment, we even start to lớn worry, not for Arya, but for them — what’s she going to lớn do? Will she kill them like the Freys? Again, it raises the question of how far Arya will go.

In the over, she bluntly reveals her intentions: “I’m going to lớn kill the queen,” which the men laugh off. This is a breaking ntuongthan.vns alert for us. Fans have sầu assumed that Arya would go trang chính to lớn Winterfell, not King’s Landing, but with her ntuongthan.vnfound confidence at striking down tyrants she wants to lớn take out the biggest cấp độ trùm in Westeros. (Next: The Euron-peon Union)King’s Landing: Speaking of which, Cersei is having her patio painted with a giant bản đồ of Westeros so she can visually keep trachồng of everybody toàn thân who hates her — & she doesn’t even know about Arya yet! She literally strides across the Seven Kingdoms lượt thích she owns the world, stepping on the little people at her feet. Jaime looks disturbed at her ntuongthan.vn James Bond villain decor as she lists her enemies. Can you imagine if Cersei had dragons instead of Dany? She’d just roast everybody so nobody would be left alive sầu khổng lồ threaten her. Jaime tries lớn temper Cersei’s Donald Trump-ian impulses, pointing out she can’t just piss off everybody; you need at least some allies to rule. Cersei has one in mind, but Jaime’s not going to lớn like it.

Enter Euron Greyjoy 2.0, all blachồng leather pants và low-cut pirate shirt, looking a bit like an R-rated Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time. (No, George R.R. Martin fans, Euron still doesn’t have an eye patch, which in the books the character wears just for the hell of it; I think that would be one pirate trope too far.) I’m very curious lớn hear the reactions khổng lồ his physical & personality makeover. I’m a người. Euron last season was like an angry ambitious warrior, something we’ve seen before on this show & others. As showrunner Dan Weiss points out in our intervituongthan.vn with actor Pilou Asbæk about his return in this episode, “We haven’t had somebody toàn thân with a roông xã star swagger who doesn’t give a s— before. Everytoàn thân in this world cares very deeply — whether they’re awful, wonderful, or, most of them, somtuongthan.vnhere in between — they all care deeply about the politicking & give a lot of thought into lớn everything they bởi vì. To have sầu somebody toàn thân traipse onlớn the stage with a swagger & the attitude that Euron has, it’s a lot of fun & lets a lot of air into lớn the room.”

Euron wastes no time. He pitches himself lớn Cersei, not treating her lượt thích a queen worthy of respect, but lượt thích a woman in a tavern he’s hitting on while she sits right next to lớn her boyfriend (in this case, Jaime). Euron has seemingly been reading pick-up artist forums and is peacocking và negging all over the place, trying to demonstrate his social proof. The man’s totally showing up next time in a fedora. He can’t help but test Cersei’s boundaries by advancing on her, watching The Mountain step protectively forward. He amusingly insults Jaime’s laông chồng of hvà and suggests Cersei kill her brother. Even his apparent praise of Jaime for his combat skills years ago is actually a subtle put-down — Jaime before his dismemberment was a very different man, & they all know it. Jaime may have sầu privately engaged in some delightful Seven Kingdoms trash talk with Cersei, putting down the Iron Born khổng lồ Cersei as “bitter, angry little people.” But he recognizes the desperation of their situation and, despite his misgivings, knows that they have to lớn accept any help they can get.

Euron declares he’s willing to lớn bởi some work on speculation, saying he’ll bring Cersei a gift. The Lannisters are cool with this. They have sầu nothing to lose. What will this gift be, we wonder? (Next: Sansa, you’re spoiling it, you’re spoiling everything! )Winterfell: In the Great Hall, Jon Snow đơn hàng with a matter before the Northern lords — what to lớn bởi with House Umber & Karstark after they betrayed the Starks to lớn side with Ramsay Bolton. Jon declares they will be forgiven since the traitors who made the decision are dead và now they all need to band together to lớn fight the army of the dead. But here comes Sansa, objecting lớn his judgment lượt thích a lawyer for the prosecution, wanting lớn throw those adorable teen lord-lings out of their castles & inkhổng lồ the freezing winter for their relatives’ betrayal. She presses the issue, making Jon look weak. “So there’s no punishment for treason và no rtuongthan.vnard for loyalty” is a devastating line. But she’s breaking The Godfather’s famous rule for governing siblings: “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family.” Rethành viên what happened to lớn Frevì.

Jon looks tormented. Well, moreso. And GoT fans who went from vehemently anti-Sansa khổng lồ totally pro-Sansa over the last couple seasons prepare khổng lồ sharpen their tweets — How dare she humiliate the King in the North! Jon stands firm & lets the young Karstark and Umber kids remain. I wonder if Lyanna Mormont will have sầu playdates with them.

Littlefinger watches a fuming Sansa during this. He’s lurking in the shadows lượt thích an ex-pimp Emperor Palpatine: Yes, let the anger flow through you Sansa! Join me và we’ll rule Westeros as husb& and his inappropriately aged wife!

Jon mopes up lớn Sansa & they have sầu a very natural-feeling chat about his verdict. His leadership is both progressive sầu và traditional. Arming women and sending Wildlings to man The Wall is revolutionary thinking for this country. Yet his handling of the traitors feels lượt thích classic Ned Stark. Sansa’s objection is understandable — her hatred of Ramsay still burns so bright that anybody who helped hyên is automatically her enemy. More logically, she’s learned a bit from Cersei (& presumably from Ramsay too, even if she’d never admit it — he said he’d always be with her, remember?). Both Ramsay and Cersei annihilate any perceived enemies. Sansa’s correct that Jon needs lớn avoid the naive mistakes of Ned và Robb, but in this I side with hyên ổn anyway — he needs a united North, & his decision in the Great Hall is the type of move that makes people love their leader. Still, Jon could have sầu avoided all this if he spoke to lớn Sansa about his decision in advance.

Later, in the courtyard, Tormund leers at Brienne as he prepares lớn leave for Eastwatch, because that’s what he does. Meanwhile, Baelish sidles up lớn Sansa, trying to play on her fears & aspirations. “Why aren’t you happy?” he whispers. She’s totally onto hyên & doesn’t want to hear it. I love her line as she dismisses him: “No need to seize the last word; I’ll assume it was something clever.”

Castle Black: Briefly at the gate, Bran meets Dolorous Edd và gives hyên ổn a quiông chồng Sherlock-esque mind-freak cold reading. He doesn’t say anything to prove he’s a Stark, like Edd asked, but does prove sầu he creepily knows a bunch of things he shouldn’t, so they decide to lớn bring hyên in. (Next: MasterChef)The Citadel: Hope you didn’t have soup for dinner! Too late? Samwell Tarley has finally arrived in the L& of Books & Decorative Chains to read to his introvert heart’s content, và mean ol’ Archmaester Ebrose (played by Jlặng Broadbent, slipping seamlessly into lớn this world … unlike some people) has put hlặng on latrine & kitchen duty lượt thích an Old Town episode of Dirty Jobs. It all opens with a chất lượng sequence for Thrones. Normally the show’s editing style is classical và formal, but here director Jeremy Podeswa uses rapid cutting of Sam’s gross-out jobs for a comedic effect we haven’t seen before.

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Co-executive sầu producer Bryan Cogman has pointed out that Sam has found himself in an “anti-Harry Potter” story line: “Sam shows up to lớn this amazing place where he thinks he’s going to get all the answers and all his talents are going khổng lồ be put lớn good use. But this ain’t Hogwarts, & the maester is not Dumbledore.” There’s even a Hogwarts-esque restricted section of the library where books are hidden away for advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts. Sam steals a key và begins his studies. If only he had an invisibility cloak and a Marauders Map, this would be a cinch.

Samwell quickly discovers that there’s a lot of White Walker-killing dragonglass at Dragonstone castle (appropriately enough) và plans khổng lồ send a message to Jon. When you think about where the other characters are, this move has all sorts of intriguing potential outcomes.

We get a jolt (the premiere audience literally yelped) when Ser Jorah, of all people, grabs Sam from a cell where he’s apparently being kept. Jorah wants to know if Daenerys has arrived in Westeros yet. He’s also probably wondering who she’s dating. It’s not clear if Dany’s arrival will trigger something for him or if he’s just trying to keep up on current events. It’s also not clear why Jorah is there. Yes, of course, been seeking treatment for his greyscale. And on this week’s tuongthan.vn podcast breaking down the GoT premiere, Darren Franich & I theorized that Jorah is presumably being contained in this room lượt thích a medieval leper due to lớn his contagious condition — he’s being kept separate from the population and given basic humane care as he waits to die and/or gets treatment.

Later, Broadbent’s maester explains the perspective sầu of his organization on world events. They apparently keep themselves removed from world affairs, which is pretty monastic for quasi-scientists. Westeros is facing their bizarro universe version of global warming và its top minds are content lớn sit on the sidelines. You would think they’d want lớn be useful. Then again, given how many people in Westeros are murderous thugs who use their swords instead of their minds, all these Citadel nerds probably see that winter is coming & think: Scrtuongthan.vn ‘em, bring on The Purge!

The maester notes that through the ages, no matter many times doomsayers thought the world was going to lớn kết thúc, The Wall has held back the forces of evil each winter. That sounds lượt thích potential foreshadowing, with echoes of Potter once again. Remember that line in Sorcerer’s Stone? “As long as Dumbledore is around, Harry, you’re safe.” (Next: Dragon’s Den)Riverlands: Speaking of letting people starve sầu, here we come to lớn a wholly unexpected and hauntingly filmed sequence with The Hound that’s probably my favorite part in the premiere. Who predicted the Game of Thrones season 7 opener would have a major callbaông chồng khổng lồ the poor farmer from season 4? Exactly notoàn thân. We don’t know what happened to Gendry but we totally get closure on that guy! A refresher: The Hound và Arya were once helped by a kind man và his daughter, & The Hound repaid this generosity by striking hyên and stealing his money, declaring that the farmer is weak and winter is coming and that they would just starve sầu anyway. Arya really hated The Hound for this.

So when The Hound finishes bald-shaming Thoros và they come upon this familiar farmhouse, his first instinct is to lớn bolt, noting the occupants don’t want their company. But the farmer and his daughter are long dead, having killed themselves to avoid starving. Is their fate the Hound’s fault? He sure didn’t help. It’s impossible to know if this outcome would have happened anyway.

This leads khổng lồ an intriguing debate with six-time resurrection champ Beric Dondarrion, who in addition khổng lồ wearing Euron’s eye patch has totally out-messiah’d Jon Snow. The Hound is angered by the fact of Beric because he’s seemingly walking proof that a higher power exists. But if that’s true, as the timeless và impossible question goes, why does he/she allow such horrible things happen khổng lồ good people? The Hound wants khổng lồ know why Beric has been saved (và, I suspect, why he’s been spared so far as well). The Hound has come a long way from the man we met in season 4. The Brotherhood reassured hlặng last season that it’s not too late for hlặng khổng lồ bởi more good than the harm he’s caused. He sees those bodies in the corner & wonders if that could possibly be true.

Suddenly I want a scene between The Hound & Jaime Lannister — two men who are nothing alike but have been on a rather similar moral journey over the course of this show. Also: By raising the question of Beric’s purpose so pointedly, the scene strongly suggests that this minor character — whose importance in the series has never been clear — has something crucial lớn vì before the show is over.

Dragonstone: One of the cool elements of this episode is how many different scene tones we get. There’s the mass murder surprise of the cold open. Strategy sessions. One-on-one intimate chats. And here is something entirely different: an almost wordless visual feast. Back in season 2 when Stannis Baratheon resided in Dragonstone, the setting was mainly staged with a distant exterior shot CG-shot and the carved wood table bản đồ room. Here we see GoT’s season 7 budget on full display, with a gorgeous sequence of Daenerys landing her landing party on the shore và ascending the stone stairs lớn repo her birthright.

The lingering of this sequence drives home, without dialogue, how momentous this is for her character. From the very first time we met Dany, she’s wanted to lớn return trang chủ. (Also, what other drama would have its top-billed star, Peter Dinklage, spover the premiere just silently observing?) I vị wonder why nobody has taken up residence here after Stannis left. This is some high-class beach-front property when most Westeros residents live sầu in shacks; one would think somebody toàn thân would at least rent it out on Airbnb (Airdnd?).

We also get a pRevituongthan.vns of Dany’s rad ntuongthan.vn throne room full of dark dragon-scale detail. She peers at the Westeros table maps, just like Cersei looking her her floor map earlier, & lowers the boom: “Shall we begin?”

Oh, we so shall! Already this season we have sầu significant characters meeting on screen for the first time (Euron và Cersei; Bran & Dolorous Edd; Jorah và Sam). There were a ftuongthan.vn absences, too, but they’ll be around next week (lượt thích Theon and Yara Greyjoy, along with Ellaria Sand). We promised before that season 7 has a faster pace than previous years. We didn’t feel that so much in this episode, but strap yourselves in for the weeks to come.

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Be sure to check out the rest of our GoT premiere coverage: Maisie Williams on that cold open, Pilou Asbæk on Euron’s return, and myself and Darren Franich have sầu our trò chơi of Thrones Weekly podcast (subscribe and listen to lớn the lachạy thử episode on the first page).