Game of Thrones “Dragonstone” recap: Shall we begin?

GoT61The three words lent to making the headline of this post come by way of Daenerys, as she ceases the last word of Game of Thrones‘ Season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone.” It’s the Dragon Queen’s only line in the episode (a record low for any in which she appears, possibly?), an hour on brand with typically-subdued GOT season openers. Remember, Jon Snow didn’t come back to life until the very end of the second episode last season; so, “Dragonstone” doesn’t open with Daenerys fully engaged in an attack on King’s Landing — part of the Great War that’s this season’s anticipatory equivalent to finding out Jon’s fate a year ago — but it sees her boat ashore in Westeros by the end credits.

The kings and queens all have out their calculators for this one and are measuring the weight of the world post-“Winds of Winter.”

In King’s Landing, Cersei has commissioned for a vast world map to be painted on the pavement inside the Red Keep where she’ll think up her battle plans. Brother Jaime paints a very different picture, for our reference, of the axis and allies of Westeros after Cersei blew up half her city, murdering several key characters including the King, and took her place on the Iron Throne in the Season 6 finale.

He imagines a significantly weakened House Lannister.

One ally, the Boltons, largely slaughtered by in-fighting, were ultimately wiped out on the battlefield by two of the few remaining Starks, Sansa and Jon (note the order of those names), to retake the North.

The Freys are extinguished by another Stark survivor in the cold opening of this episode. Arya, wearing the face of Walder Frey who she murdered in “Winds of Winter,” has invited the rest of the Frey family back inside for a feast, the same day her timeline left off at the end of Season 6. She serves them poisoned wine, while bragging that their biggest mistake after the Red Wedding was to not seek out all remaining Starks for slaughter. One returned and got her revenge. And Arya seems keen on crossing names off of her list quickly, since the next time we see her in the episode she says she’s on her way to King’s Landing, instead of, say, Winterfell for a family reunion.

That makes two Lannister-leaning houses erased, the relationship between the Lannister and Tyrell families burned — meaning no help is coming from Highgarden — and Cersei and Jaime the last living lions. (Tyrion’s emancipated.)

Even Jaime seems set off by Cersei’s actions. Yet, emotionless as ever, Cersei plans to parlay with Euron Greyjoy, who has called an audible knowing full well his niece and nephew fled the Iron Islands to join Dany’s team. Such an alliance between Cersei and Euron makes the imminent clash between Dany (and her Greyjoy allies) all the more explosive.

Euron, frequently thought to be a wild card player for Season 7, has his marriage proposal turned down by Cersei. He leaves, only to return he says with something that will certainly earn him her trust. This leads us to wonder, what (who?) is it?

In the north, the splinter expected between Sansa and Jon is getting deeper, as they bicker about decision-making in every scene in which they appear together. We’re first brought back to Winterfell with Jon calling on all men, women and children to take up arms for a reconnaissance mission to look for and dig up as much dragon glass as possible. He’s committing all of his time to the war with the White Walkers. Sansa thinks he’s being too short-sighted and implores him to think south, as well.

With Dany landing in Westeros, much of the anticipation and curiosity for this new season has revolved around what new alliances will be made. And for the first time, a connection is traced between Jon and a large cache of dragon glass buried at Dragonstone, the place Dany was born and where she has decided to settle for the time being in Westeros.

It’s a stockpile she likely has no idea exists but one Sam Tarly reads about in a book at the Citadel, a place and a job far less glamorous than he imagined but one we spend a significant amount of time at this episode nonetheless. He’s there to learn how to combat White Walkers, and the time devoted to his story line suggests he may become an important storytelling device for us to brush up on our White Walker history this season, but he’s being diverted — and kept out of the restricted section of the library — by cleaning up people’s shit and weighing their inner arteries for record.

The information he gathers is from a stolen book and as he begins to write Jon, I’m still bothered by all he seemingly doesn’t know about all that’s happened since he left Castle Black and how or if it matters to his story.

Jon has died, come back to life, replaced himself as Lord Commander and retaken Winterfell with his long-lost sister Sansa, and the Dragon Queen has, in fact, come.

There’s no shortage of symbolism attached to Dany’s return to Dragonstone. We’re caught up in a 10-minute tracking sequence at the end of the episode, as her boat hits land and she walks into and through a deserted castle, through the throne room and into the room with the stone table where Stannis spent bunches of time drawing up battle plans. It’s incredible how vast and beautiful the castle looks as Dany makes her way through it, compared to all the time Stannis occupied it in practical darkness.

The calming sequence, which includes a moment in the throne room when Missandei holds Grey Worm back from approaching Dany as to let the queen experience each section of this walk on her own, ends with Dany at the head of the stone table.

“Shall we begin,” she asks, her closest advisers standing around the room — a significant quotation before the credits roll, suggesting in a larger context at the end of a calculative season premiere that action will move much more swiftly this season than in past.

Stray movement

. . . . Jorah Mormont has gone to the Citadel in search of a cure for greyscale and appears to be losing that battle from his enclosure. He frightens Sam, who’s there to tend to the sick people of this particular wing, by reaching his arm out after him and asks if “she” (Dany) has come yet.

. . . . The Hound in fact joined the Brotherhood Without Banners, which returns for shelter overnight to the home where he and Arya stayed a night before he murdered their hosts the next morning. There, he sees the light in the flames — White Walkers breaching the Wall.

. . . . Bran and Meera arrive at Castle Black.

. . . . Arya finds Ed Sheeran singing and camping with a group of soldiers somewhere along the road in the Riverlands.

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