Game of Thrones s7 ep 1

*SPOILERS*

“Shall we begin?”

Since we only have thirteen episodes of Game of Thrones left, it’s tempting to complain that much of this first one seems, at first blush at least, a little self-indulgent. Arya (who has somehow managed to make bloody, brutal revenge a little dull, she’s done it so often) obliterating the repugnant House Frey with such ease; Ed Sheeran popping in with a bland new ditty (Galwesteros Girl?); the Hound’s somewhat unpredictable conscience making one of its sporadic visits – come on guys, I thought. Move it along! You don’t think the Night King’s hanging around knocking out ballads or apologising to skeletons, do you?

But, thinking out loud (sorry), it turns out these moments are as important in their own way as any battle. Ok, the Ed Sheeran cameo is jarring because, like him or not, he’s there because he’s an international pop star not because he has anything to contribute to the story, but so soon after her mass Freyicide, his band of Westerosi buddies are essential to reminding increasingly amoral killing machine Arya (and the rest of us, hardened by years of this show’s ruthlessness) that there is still humanity and life and decency out there and, even in the Seven Kingdoms, people don’t always have to be enemies or victims; sometimes they can just be people too.

The Hound’s lesson is along similar lines. Faced with the all-too-vivid consequences of past misdeeds, he offers up an atonement of sorts, albeit too little too late for the unfortunate skeletons, and a reminder to the audience that Arya for her part has humanised him too. Which is just as well, since if there’s to be a Cleganebowl, we need to be able to root for one of them, eh?

Sam’s endless pee, poop and soup montage, however, may be a step too far for me; did finding the Dragonglass book or what became Jorah Mormont really require so many “comedy” bedpan shots? Still, these are minor quibbles over what is, on the whole, a cleverly-structured, gorgeously-shot, calmly measured but hugely significant start to the season as, while Arya, the Hound and Sam all learn lessons which might help their chosen sides and everyone else plans for War in earnest, the show demonstrates that it has learned a lot of lessons of its own.

In what’s left of Kings Landing, Cersei plots and flirts with the charmless Euron Greyjoy that they might “as rightful monarchs, murder (Team Dany) together.” Jaime’s disgust and incredulity are magnificent, the one thing he and Euron having in common being their (delightfully meta) contempt for the Iron born. After years of Theon and the Greyjoys getting on the audience’s nerves, it may be fan service for Jaime to acknowledge that they’re “angry, bitter” people “not good at anything” but it made me smile. (And simultaneously wonder if, with Daenerys and Tyrion’s help, they might prove him, and the rest of us, wrong.)

At Winterfell, meanwhile, Jon – still a Snow for now, but given Bran’s arrival at the Wall to creep Edd the eff out, possibly not for much longer – lays out his plans for the defence of the North, and never mind Sansa and Jon, Lyanna Mormont is the true queen as far as I’m concerned. I’ve written a lot about Game of Thrones’ terrible attitude to women over the years, but Lyanna – and Sansa, Brienne and Davos’s smiles as they watch her – is a reminder that a lesson’s been learned there too. As last season suggested, the show seems to have grown out of its casual misogyny; sisters, be they Northern, Southern or Dragonborn, are now most definitely doing it for themselves.

Although that’s not entirely without its challenges, at least as far as the Starks are concerned. Sansa and Jon arguing in front of the Northern lords isn’t a good look for anyone (except Petyr Baelish, for whom it’s tremendous) but their scene afterwards is quite sweet and even a little comforting for those of who are worried Lady Stark might mean the King in the North any harm. And for those of us worried about the influence of others who do, Sansa’s dismissal of the slimy, malevolent Littlefinger afterwards is a joy: “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.” HEE.

With the few remaining Great Houses manoeuvring into position then, Daenerys’ arrival at the eerily silent, beautiful Dragonstone to resurrect House Targaryen is a terrific, apt way to finish up. I’ve no love for Miss Born to Rule, but her return home has been a long time coming, and its quiet power ends a great episode on a momentous, majestic note. Brilliant.

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9 thoughts on “Game of Thrones s7 ep 1

  1. Traxy July 19, 2017 / 12:37 am

    Jaime Lannister. He’s gone from being a sister-shagging dick to … well, okay, still a sister-shagger, but one who has turned out to be rather sympathetic. Aww his pained look when the Greyjoy proposed to marry Cersei! Bless him.

    The Sheeran cameo would have been better if they hadn’t tried to really hammer in the fact that it was A Celebrity Guest Doing a Cameo and have the camera linger on his face for too long.

    Arya and the poison spree, though? Yaaaas!

    • CJ Cregg July 19, 2017 / 10:20 pm

      I love Jaime. Which is not something I thought I’d say when we first met him throwing a kid out of a window 😨 You’re right, Traxy – he’s very, very different from how he started out. It can’t end well for him, though, can it? His kids are all dead, his brother murdered his dad, and his twin/lover’s a power-crazed lunatic who he knows is going to destroy them both and very possibly half the population in the process but he still loves her. #Awkward

      Agreed on poor Ed Sheeran too. They should have done the same sort of thing as they did with other muso cameos (Sigur Ros, the dude from Coldplay etc) by just having him play in the background at a banquet or even just a quick pan past as he was sitting there with the soldiers would have been fine. But to give him dialogue and focus on him and make that meta joke about Arya not having heard his “new” song – cringe. Totally the director/writer’s fault, though, not Ed’s, so I feel sorry for him – he must be getting a lot of stick.

      Am I the only person who likes Sansa better than Arya?

      • e July 19, 2017 / 11:32 pm

        I like Sansa better too. Possibly because you make her sound more interesting in the recaps. Certainly she’s had more dramatic focus rather than being wondergirl assassin, and survived ?Ramsay? or whatever his name is and came out strong and politically astute. Now, Never A Bad Hair Day Boy needs to talk to her *first* before making Important Announcements in Public.

        By the way, are any of the dire puppies still alive? I’m pretty sure Sansa’s was killed because something Arya did, but I only read recaps.

        • CJ Cregg July 19, 2017 / 11:43 pm

          Ramsay, yup. That’s exactly how I feel about Sansa – she has endured horrors, survived and grown exponentially into a much more compelling and complex character. Whereas at this point, Arya has become the Terminator with less personality….

          HEE at Never a Bad Hair Day Boy 😆

          On the furry friends front, Jon’s wolf (ironically named Ghost) is definitely alive. Arya’s might be, but we haven’t seen it in years so we don’t know. Sansa’s and the two belonging to her brothers are all dead, though. The Seven Kingdoms is not a kind place for pets 😕

      • Traxy July 22, 2017 / 10:16 pm

        I think Sansa has grown a lot. She used to be this kind of silly princess whose biggest interest was getting married to a prince and not have a personality of her own. Then life has happened to her in a big way and she’s had to become someone in her own right. Now, she has a personality and isn’t just a pretty face, and is more interesting to watch. But then I was never the kind of girl who took an interest in fashion and makeup and “girly things”, so Sansa didn’t appeal for that reason either, whereas Arya has always been more interesting because she wasn’t defined by wanting to marry a handsome prince, but by having a personality. Admittedly, now she’s going more into being all about the stabby-stabby and is therefore starting to become LESS interesting. Funny that.

        I think Jaime is going to end up having to put Cersei down, the way he did the Mad King. I feel sorry for the guy, really!

        • CJ Cregg July 23, 2017 / 11:42 pm

          Yes I think Jaime will end up killing Cersei too, Traxy, and become Queenslayer as well as Kingslayer. Although I have a horrible feeling he will kill himself immediately afterwards. Intellectually he knows Cersei must be stopped, but I can’t see him forgiving himself for killing her. He still loves her too much. I feel sorry for him too 🙁

  2. Tim July 21, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Jaime is in many ways the most misunderstood man in Westeros. Okay, there’s the incest. And the pushing Bran from the tower. But other than those *minor* things he’s often tried to be honourable and do the right thing. He was the only Lannister to show any compassion to Tyrion. He became known as the ‘Kingslayer’ through trying to do the right thing. He came back to save Brienne from becoming Bear Elevenses (and not the marmalade sandwich kind). Ultimately, will he do the right thing and abandon Cersei for the right (not to mention the winning) side?

    Like you, CJ, I’ve grown to love Jaime. (Not like *that*.) He may just turn out to be the Queenmaker as well as the Kingslayer.

    Otherwise, though, I enjoyed this gentle, meandering shuffling of the deck, despite his Gingerness’s slightly jarring appearance. Maybe it’s because we’ve had to wait so long for season 7, but I’m happy to devour these quiet moments before the inevitable blood-letting commences.

    • CJ Cregg July 23, 2017 / 11:44 pm

      Don’t worry Tim, I love Jaime like *that* enough for both of us 😉

      • e July 25, 2017 / 11:46 pm

        Ever since “New Amsterdam”. Give the man a big hand!

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