Game of Thrones recap: season seven, episode one Dragonstone

Among the one-liners, the spooky moments and the Ed Sheeran cameo, an exposition-heavy opener perfectly set up questions for this season to answer

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Game of Thrones airs on HBO in the US on Sunday night and on Foxtel in Australia on Monday. Do not read unless you have watched season seven, episode one, which airs in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Monday at 9pm, and is repeated in Australia on Showcase on Monday at 7.30pm AEST.

When I was Lord Commander of the Nights Watch I executed men who betrayed me. But I will not punish men for their fathers sins and I will not take a familys home from them.

Hello and welcome back everyone. How you felt about tonights opening episode, which was largely concerned with power and how to wield it, will probably depend on your tolerance for large chunks of exposition. Overall, I was OK with the odd clunky scene: at this stage in the game, there are a lot of pieces to manoeuvre into place and, by episodes end, things were nicely set up for the season.

In Winterfell, Jon and Sansa clashed over their very different notions of how to deal with the former treachery of the Karstarks and Umbers. Jons case that you do not punish the sons and daughters for the sins of the father was the more obviously relatable, and he was right too that the North needs to stand firm together in the face of a far greater enemy than the Lannisters. Yet Sansa, schooled by a harsher teacher, also had a point, difficult though it perhaps is to acknowledge: if you do not cut the root out then the branch will again flourish and what happens when the buds of that branch arrive, as Arya Stark did with the Freys, to choke your life away?

Kit Harington as Jon Snow. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO

Its worth noting, however, that Cersei hasnt quite managed to put the lessons she so assiduously taught Sansa into practice. Yes, shes wiped out most of the Tyrells but Olenna, the most dangerous, is still standing. In the south the Sand Snakes lurk, no doubt practising their sub-Lorca incantations, while Sansa and Jon are building an army in the North, and Dany and co have landed on Dragonstone. Has Cersei won the battle but not the war? Or will a potential alliance with the distinctly untrustworthy Euron be enough to save the day?

As for Dany, who has so far governed with a mixture of Jons compassion and Cerseis ruthlessness a third way, if you will (sorry) she landed on Dragonstone for an emotional homecoming, having also taken the time to kit out her invading army in some rather swish new clothes. Anyone whos anyone in Westeros is wearing black this season.

Do you believe me now Clegane? Do you believe that were here for a reason?

For all the power of its more epic moments, Game of Thrones is generally at its best when it takes time with its characters, allowing us to see them in new ways. Thus the evenings best scene came between three of the characters we know least: Sandor Clegane, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, as they sat in the ruined house of the now dead farmer who the Hound and Arya encountered back in season four.

Switching between dark humour Its just my fucking luck I end up with a bunch of fire worshippers and touching moments (Sandors decision to bury the man and his daughter), the scene also gave us some interesting new information: Sandor, the man scarred by and terrified of fire, can read the patterns in it.

The moment when he described the Night Kings army marching north was a genuinely spooky one, and Rory McCann sold it well. Heres hoping he and the Brotherhood without Banners meet up with Jon in the North soon.

In the Citadel we live different lives for different reasons. We are this lifes memory.

If Sandor was busy discovering that sometimes the most unlikely things turn out to be true, poor Sam was undergoing one of those my dream job v the reality moments. Oh Sam, I understand: there you were dreaming of waltzing into the Citadel like a conquering hero, gaining access to all the books you might need, and instead you find yourself working in a particularly unpleasant care home with the odd autopsy thrown in. Weve all been there.

After spending far too long shifting shit and stew in some terrible movie Im tempted to call Bedpans and Soup-sick, Sam finally cracked and stole the keys to the forbidden library. To which I say, hurrah its all very well to have Jim Broadbents Archmaester correctly stressing the importance of history, learning and memory, but what good is remembering the past if you dont use it to avert danger in the future?

Additional notes

Anyone whos anyone in Westeros is wearing black this season: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys and Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm. Photograph: HBO

Violence count

Ben Crompton as Dolorous Edd in Game of Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO

A surprisingly unbloody start to the season saw only one real act of violence (two if you count Briennes knocking of Pod into the snow). That said it was a particularly good one, as Arya donned Walder Freys face to ensure that every single member of the Frey family was wiped out root and branch. I somehow think that she and Sansa might have rather a lot of common ground, when (if) they finally reunite.

Random Brit of the week

Sorry Ed Sheeran, but this can only go to the wonderful Jim Broadbent who turned up to dispense wisdom to Sam before frustratingly refusing to accept that The Wall could actually fall.

So what did you think? Will Jon and Sansa manage to compromise? Can Cersei possibly stay on the Iron Throne? And have you ever had a job as bad as Sams? As ever, all speculation and no spoilers are welcome below …

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