Welcome back to Westeros, my friends. Please keep your hands (flesh and solid gold) inside the car at all times.
That’s right, we’re recapping another season of Game of Thrones just as the series barrels toward its conclusion. This sort of penultimate mini-season already has pushed so many disparate characters closer than they’ve ever been before, and we can expect much more folding together storylines as we go.
Something less certain is if Game of Thrones will embrace more LGBTQ characters the way LGBTQ fans have embraced the show. After the deaths of Loras, Oberyn and Renly Baratheon, there are fewer and fewer queer characters occupying Westeros (though we’ve still got Yara and Ellaria). There’s still time for more to be discovered, but for now we have to settle for little more than fan theories and shipping on tumblr.
For now, let’s let out one good YAAASSS, KWEEN for the G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Westeros) that are taking the Seven Kingdoms by storm, and dive into the premiere with our recap.
Meanwhile, at Winterfell …
Jon is preparing the houses of the North for the upcoming war with the Night’s King. He’s got a two-pronged approach: First, he’s got to grab up all the dragonglass he can find. Second, he needs everyone — men, women, children — to prepare to fight this fight.
There are some objections to young girls being asked to fight a frozen zombie army, but, nevertheless, everyone’s favorite character, Lyanna Mormont, persisted. “I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me,” she snaps back. And that’s when I decide I’m voting The Rock/Lyanna Mormont 2020. She is the best.
Then there’s the matter of the Karstarks and the Umbers, two houses that chose to fight alongside the Boltons. Sansa wants to cast them out into the freezing winter for what they’ve done. However, Jon sees things a little differently. The people that made those decisions are all dead, and they need all the help they can get. Even though Sansa tries to put him on blast in front of everyone, Jon pulls rank and puts his foot down. Karstarks, Umbers, shantay you both stay.
Outside the hall, Jon is like, NOT COOL, SANSA. She tells him he’s a good ruler, but she worries his mercy and kindness are the kind of weaknesses that lost Ned and Robb Stark their heads. He needs to be more prudent.
While their chatting, a raven arrives from King’s Landing. It’s Cersei laying down the law. She wants them to know, she’s the queen and they need to come down to King’s Landing and kneel before her or she’s going to kill them so bad. It’s basically the Westeros equivalent of cyberbullying. Jon doesn’t want to be bothered with this distraction considering the pending battle with the aforementioned frozen zombies, but Sansa warns him not to underestimate the Queen.
“You almost sound as though you admire her,” Jon says before essentially turning toward the camera and winking.
After he walks away, Littlefinger slithers over. He’s trying to nurse a wedge between Jon and Sansa, and he’s doing it so he can get to Sansa himself. The problem is this isn’t the naive Sansa he first smuggled out of King’s Landing. She cuts him down with a read that even Lady Olenna would call savage: “No need to seize the last word. I’ll assume it was something clever.” Ooh, gurl.
Meanwhile, at the Wall …
Breaking Warg News Tonight: Bran has a vision of the Night’s King, and, not only are his forces huge and terrifying, but he’s got giant white walkers as well.
Dolorous Edd isn’t convinced Bran is really a Stark when he arrives, but Bran’s odd knowledge of events (thanks to all that white-eyed vision having) convinces Edd to let him in anyway.
Meanwhile, at the Citadel …
Sam Tarley is having basically the worst winter internship. He’s just like scrubbing chamber pots, shoveling slop, stacking books. It’s like, is he even getting college credit for this?
Of course, in the library, there’s a special area under lock and key with knowledge that is too powerful for just anybody. Let me stop you right there, because I’ve seen this movie before. Literally. Like in Harry Potter or in Doctor Strange, I could go on. It’s Chekhov’s dangerous knowledge gun, and, duh, it’s gonna get fired at some point.
While assisting the archmaester with an autopsy, Sam is like pretty please can I read the forbidden books? And the archmaester, predictably, is like you aren’t ready for that jelly. However, the archmaester does concede that he believe Sam about the white walkers. He just doesn’t care about them. It’s the archmaester’s belief that winter will come, it always comes, and then it will pass and the world will move on. No big deal. Sorry about your friends!
This, of course, is not the answer Sam was hoping for. He steals a key, steals some books and, whaddya know, one of these books tells him there’s a bunch of dragon glass in Dragonstone. What an expected place to find that in! He’s got to get this news to Jon Snow, because no one in Westeros seems to grasp context clues.
As Sam doled out the daily meals to the sick, a Greyscale-covered arm reaches out to grab him. It’s Jorah! And he wants to know if “she’s” arrived yet. Gurl, get you a Google Alert. Sam’s busy.
Meanwhile, in the Twins …
Hey, hey it’s Walder Frey, throwing one of his famous parties. You know, the late Walder Frey. The dead one. The one we saw Arya serve a steaming slice of son pie before slitting his throat last season.
I know what you’re thinking! “But Walder Frey is dead!” I know, it’s weird! Is this a flashback? Walder begins one of his famous toasts, encouraging all his men to drink up, which they do. Then he launches into a weird diatribe about inviting the Starks into his home and killing them. Once she nails the great line “leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe,” the men start coughing up blood from the poisoned wine. Walder rips off his face, and it’s Arya. She tells a girl she spared to remind anyone whom asks, “The North remembers.” Get it, gurl!
Arya’s work there is done, so she snags a horse and hoofs it toward King’s Landing, but first she stumbles upon a few of the Lannister army and … and … wait, is that Ed Sheeran. Oh god, this really isn’t a gay show at all anymore is it? Ed Sheeran is here. Buh.
He sings a little ditty, because acting clearly isn’t his strong suit. When the military men see Arya, they invite her over to join them. They offer her rabbit and blackberry wine, and they ask what a girl like her is doing in a forest like this. She tells them she’s on her way to murder the queen, and they all laugh. Oh how they laugh! They seem like a nice enough bunch, and they spent most of the scene sort of humanizing these soldiers caught up in other people’s wars. Still, I do hope we get to see Arya eventually stick Needle through Sheeran’s smug little face.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Riverlands …
Hard to lock down a solid location for the Hound, Beric, Thoros and the other Brotherhood Without Banners, but let’s just say they’re somewhere in the Riverlands. I don’t know. Wherever they are, winter is arriving, because it’s cold and snowy.
They come across a cottage, but the Hound doesn’t seem super jazzed to visit. Thanks to a very pointed reminder in the Previously On montage preceding tonight’s episode, you may recall how back when the Hound and Arya were palling around for a bit they came across this cottage and the sweet father-daughter pair living there. The Hound, still at his peak cantankerous, roughed up the dad, stole some stuff and coldly explained to Arya that they were going to die eventually anyway. Turns out, he was right! Because the corpse of father and daughter are all curled up in the corner beside the knife the dad used to kill them both instead of starving. Yeesh, dark stuff.
The men make a fire, the Hounds makes some comments about Thoros looking like a lost member of Arcade Fire (or something to that effect) and Beric shares the existential crisis he’s been having about being resurrected over and over for a purpose he doesn’t understand. This is the worst sleepaway camp ever. After what I assume was a rousing game of Light As a Feather Stiff As A Board, Thoros implores the Hound to look into the flames and tell him what he sees. At first he’s like “um, I don’t know, logs? embers? smoke? a prescient vision about white walkers and a dragon queen?” Wait, say what? The Lord of Light may have more planned for the Hound, it seems.
Later that night, a spiritually stirred Hound heads out into the snow to give the father and daughter a proper burial.
Meanwhile, at King’s Landing …
Cersei’s first order of business assuming the Iron Throne is to go all Joanna Gaines on the castle. She’s tossing up shiplap and edison bulbs and giant painted floor maps everywhere.
Jaime joins her in the map room as Cersei literally walks through all the kingdoms that she plans to personally victimize. First off, the
sexually-active band geeks enemies to the south, in Dorne. Then, girls that eat their feelings enemies to the West, the Tyrells. Then, the girls who don’t eat anything enemies to the North at Winterfell. Finally, there’s the cool Asians enemies to the East, where she assumes Daenerys and her fleet will land.
Jaime, whose golden hand still gives me all kinds of ideas to search on XTube, floats the idea ever so lightly that maybe it would be in Cersei’s best interest not to make everyone around them an enemy so they could like trade and not always be at war, etc. and so on. They need allies. She’s got a plan for that.
Enter, Euron Greyjoy, of the sexy pirate Greyjoys. He’s got something of a makeover since we last saw, now apparently sharing a stylist with Dave Navarro. Still, he’s got a tight haircut and a hot pornstache, frankly, he could shiver my timbers any time. He’s there to offer Cersei a deal: He’ll give her the aid of all the Greyjoy ships if she’ll help him kill Yara and Theon and also marry him.
Jaime, instead of doing the smart thing, which is invite Euron into a sexy throuple with he and Cersei, shares some skepticism about this arrangement, given how the Greyjoys turn on their allies whenever it suits them. Euron has some real nice zingers for Jaime, my favorite being directed at Cersei, basically asking her who’s got 1,000 ships, two working hands and speaks nominal French? This moi. Take that, Kingslayer.
She rejects his proposal (without even sampling the goods first, come on), but he promises to return with a gift to win her over. My money’s on him going after Tyrion, but I guess we’ll see.
Meanwhile, at Dragonstone …
And speaking of Tyrion, it looks as if he, Varys, Daenerys and the gang have all been standing on the bow of a ship since we last left them, staring off into the horizon. But hark! In the distance! It’s Dragonstone! They’ve arrived.
They make their way to land, and, all snark aside, it’s truly moving to see Daenerys reach down and sink her hands into the sand of the home she’s been struggling to return to for so long. They walk up to the gates which open to reveal … many more steps until they reach the castle. At this point, symbolism be damned, I’d be yelling I AM A QUEEN, SOMEONE CARRY ME. But, sure, whatever, they all march triumphantly up to the castle and when they get there no one is winded somehow. Y’all must do some real high-intensity interval training down in Meereen.
Inside, we glimpse a throne that rivals Cersei’s. Daenerys walks purposefully around, tearing down tattered Baratheon banners left behind when Stannis was AirBNBing the place. She makes her way to a room with a large board representing the Seven Kingdoms and little chess pieces scattered about. (Diehards know it as the Painted Table.) She turns to her team and asks “Shall we begin?” and I want nothing more than to hear DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat” start playing over the credits. It doesn’t, but wouldn’t that have been great?
That’s where we leave off this week. It wasn’t the most thrilling episode of GoT, but their season premieres rarely are. A lot of pieces are moving into place, which is good, because we’re dealing with an abbreviated season as it is.
Let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments below. And, just for funsies, share your most baseless wild theory about where this is all going. I’ll go first: I think Cersei will die this season only to be resurrected by the Night’s King to serve as the Night’s Queen in icy zombie form for the final battle. Literally no evidence of this happening, I just think it would be cool?