If anything, “Game of Thrones” is known for tedious hours of scene-setting followed by a spattering of action. That’s changed with each seasons as budgets grew larger and the cast was thinned of characters, making plot development easier.
Even so, the first episode of Season 7 was all about atmospherics and scene setting as armies gather and fates are sealed.
At this point, avid fans of the show can tolerate a little of that. But who isn’t craving action?
From a production standpoint, the most deft move was probably the show’s cold open, which cleared up a lot of plot points. It also suggested Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) will be a wildcard angel of death.
She’s exacted revenge on the Freys right off the bat by posing as the dead Walder Frey (David Bradley), luring his army to a feast and poisoning them all.
In another scene, she’s spotted riding alone through a forbidding forest. When asked where she is heading by some brigands, she calmly replies, “I’m going to kill the queen.”
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is like a cornered lioness. She finally has the ultimate power, but to what end? All her children are dead.
Even brother and incestuous lover Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) thinks she’s gone insane. Meanwhile, sibling Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is allied with bitter foe Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
He’s serving as her hand, which is no small thing. You may recall, Tyrion was the chief strategist and real hero in the defense of Kings Landing during the Battle of Blackwater Bay in Season 2.
There’s no love lost between Cersei and Tyrion, but Jamie is another matter. He’s always had a special affinity with his brother, and it remains to be seen how this dynamic will be played out in Season 7. Jamie will have to choose between his brother and sister.
Meanwhile, Daenerys has finally landed on her home soil after her long sojourn overseas. The episode plays it for all its worth. The touching moment is an apt metaphor for the calm before the storm.
In the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) have their own problems, not the least of which is sibling rivalry.
Jon has been proclaimed King of the North. But Sansa, as a true-born Stark, is more deserving of the title. But the times being what they are, a bastard son seems to be preferable. Still they must cooperate if they are to survive.
Both are attempting to govern based on their own experience. Sansa, from her terrible time in Kings Landing, thinks the focus needs to be on Cersei. But Jon is more worried about what’s coming from the North–the White Walkers.
Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), Jon Snow’s closest friend and former steward to Maester Aemon, is worth a mention here thanks to a little plot foreshadowing. He’s discovered a mountain of dragon glass under Dragonstone and vows to get word to Jon.
He knows from experience that dragon glass is the only thing that can kill a White Walker. In fact, he may be the only person in all of Westeros who has taken out a White Walker with it.
So he’ll definitely be playing a pivotal role this season.
But we digress. It remains to be seen whether Jon and Sansa can work together to defeat their enemies, even if they’re coming from different directions.
Season 7 will not only be a game of thrones, but also a game of alliances. Already we see Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) putting his fleet of ships at Cersei’s disposal.
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