If you weren't in front of your TV last night at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, I'm not quite sure what you are doing with your life. Game Of Thrones made its long-awaited return last night, premiering episode one of season seven, "Dragonstone."
The episode opened with Arya Stark continuing to strengthen her bid as the most badass character on the show. After slaying Walder Frey, keeping true to the promises of her hit list, she used her Faceless Man tactics to poison the rest of the men in Frey's army.
This was a statement of revenge for the Red Wedding and a sign that Arya Stark means business. Leaving the women unarmed, Arya Stark says to Walder Frey's youngest wife, "Tell them [the crown] the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey."
After the opening titles, we see Bran awakening from a vision. He sees the Night King and the rest of the White Walker army walking through a terrifying blizzard, signaling the impending war that is fast approaching.
In Winterfell, Jon declares that men and women between the ages of 10-60 will begin training for the Winter War. He explains that searching for Dragonglass is necessary to kill the Night Walkers. He assigns The Wildlings control of The Wall. Jon and Sansa disagree over a newfound alliance in the North, and this could spell trouble later in the season.
With Jon and Sansa feuding and Littlefinger slithering his way into Sansa's ear every second he gets, The North leadership could easily be dismantled.
In King's Landing, Cersei is still the biggest bitch of all time. She plots military strategy and fantasizes over the idea of conquering all of the Seven Kingdoms. We can see Jaime conflicted over a future decision that probably requires him to either choose his allegiance to his sister or to his brother Tyrion, who is ready for big things with Daenerys.
Arriving at King's Landing, Euron Greyjoy flirts with Cersei and mocks Jaime during a meeting at the throne. Greyjoy tries and fails to persuade the two to join in an alliance. He promises to return with a "precious gift" to swear loyalty.
A large portion of the episode was dedicated to re-introducing Sam's new life in the Citadel. His gross duties and training hasn't been what he had expected.
He reads and stacks books, cares for the old Maesters, cleans shit, delivers food, repeat. Sam sneaks into a restricted section of the library and learns that Dragonstone is home to a mountain of dragonglass. He pens Jon Snow to inform him of this knowledge.
In The Riverlands, we see The Hound steal the episode. To find shelter for the night, The Hound bunkers down on a familiar farm that we saw in season four with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Inside the cottage, we see the skeletons of the farmer and daughter that the Hound robbed during their encounter.
Overcome with guilt, we examine a slight change in the Hound's ruthless persona. His character development has been one of the best in the show, I believe.
Dondarrion and Thoros show the Hound the power of the Light. They force him to look into the fire, and he is surprisingly threatened when he sees the Great Wall crumbling over the inevitable war with the White Walkers. Not only do we see the Hound experience guilt, but we see fear in the same scene. Chilling.
After slaughtering the Frey men, Arya rides South and shares food and drink with some Lannister men. These Lannister men are kind and generous, and the one with a good voice reveals a random cameo by Ed Sheeran. The scene is brilliant and ironic in so many ways.
These Lannister Men are welcoming, not evil and bloodthirsty like Joffrey and Cersei. The men ask Arya what the purpose of her travels are, and she replies, "I'm going to kill the queen." Ed Sheeran, Arya and the other Lannister men laugh at the statement that is truly more a promise than a "joke."
The episode concludes with an amazingly dramatic homecoming. The khaleesi finally arrives at Dragonstone. Her castle is magnificent, and the scene needed just three words to get the message across. As she walks on the shore and up the steps of her new home, we are left feeling thrilled and a tad bit anxious, reminded of the power that Daenerys Targaryen now has.
As she observes the stone map of Westeros, the khaleesi ponders her plan to take over. As the rest of her retinue enter the room, she turns to Tyrion and says, "Shall we begin?"
Episode two airs next Sunday, July 23rd on HBO.