Game of Thrones's seventh season premiered last night with sweet new maps and two queens and a king vying for the Iron Throne of Westeros.
This episode checked in on every important character to the Game of Thrones cause, including warg Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), the charming Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) and everyone's favorite ruler of Bear Island, Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey).
While Bran was returning to the south side of The Wall with Meera and Euron was proposing a marriage/alliance with Cersei (he has "a thousand ships and two good hands") Lyanna was schooling her chauvinistic bannerman.
"I don't plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me," she said. "And I don't need your permission to defend the North."
Lyanna Mormont for president.
Seven seasons in, HBO's epic fantasy series based on George R. R. Martin's novels has come full circle. After filling its seasons with billowing storylines and hundreds of characters (and deaths) the series is back to focusing on a core group of characters who will decide the future of the Seven Kingdoms.
Here are five essential things we learned during "Dragonstone."
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Arya Stark remembers
The last person fans wanted to see in the season premiere of the penultimate season was Walder Frey, the sleazy, sadistic head of House Frey who orchestrated the Red Wedding. But his bragging to the members of his house doesn't last long. He summoned all of House Frey for a feast of poison. As they choke and keel over, he peels off his face revealing he's really Arya Stark (Maisie Williams).
The only person Arya let live was a young girl next to her -- Walder's ninth wife, Kitty Frey. She may not have been able to drink wine with her husband, but Arya instills her with a very important message:
"When people ask you what happened here, tell them winter came for House Frey."
Cameo alert: Ed Sheeran made his long-awaited Game of Thrones debut with a song. Arya comes upon him and his character's group of soldiers while they are drinking and singing. It was really weird and I hope it doesn't happen again.
Jon wants peace, Sansa wants revenge
Now the King in the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) has a duty to protect his people from what he sees as the most immediate threat -- the Night King and the White Walkers. He's seen them, he's fought them and knows they're a real problem for the whole continuation of mankind thing. But Sansa (Sophie Turner), finally grown out of her stubborn innocence and naivety, only wants revenge.
I don't blame her. Petyr Baelish a.k.a. Littlefinger basically pimped her out to the most sadistic person in all of Westeros. She also feels contempt for the Northern houses who turned their backs on the Starks. She wants those who betrayed her and her house punished. It's a cold logic she learned from Cersei (Lena Headey) during her time in King's Landing, she tells Jon.
"It almost sounds as if you admire her," Jon said.
"I learned a great deal from her," Sansa said.
There is DRAGONglass on DRAGONstone
The one place is Westeros where there is a literal mountain of dragonglass is on Dragonstone? Who knew!
Sam Tarley discovers this juicy bit of information by channeling his inner Hermione Granger and exploring the Citadel-equivalent of the restricted section of the library. Speaking of Sam's schooling to become a maester -- it stinks, literally. Game of Thrones treated fans to a vile montage of Sam serving slop, cleaning up sludge and emptying the toilets full of slop poop. I'm glad I wasn't eating.
Cameo alert: We see Jorah Mormont when Sam is cleaning up the sick ward. Well, we see Jorah's rotting arm shoot out from the door. I guess he didn't end up finding that cure for greyscale.
Cersei is too far gone to grieve
As the newly-minted Queen of Westeros, Cersei commissions a giant map of her realm while continuing to don military chic gowns. She may not look like a queen in the traditional sense, but she's definitely proven she is not one to take any slight lying down. Last season was rough for Cersei -- she lost her last child, King Tommen. But in the end she obliterated every last enemy she could fit into the Sept of Baelor.
She has the throne, now she just has to keep it in her family.
What family? Her brother/lover Jaime Lannister (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) asks. Their incestuous children are dead, their father is dead and their brother pledged his loyalty to the Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen. The Lannisters have enemies in every direction and Cersei is too broken to to realize that every person who's been on her side is gone. Except Jaime.
Daenerys gets new digs
The premiere's opening scene may have been cold and thrilling, but its closing scene was stunning and soothing.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the last heir to House Targaryen (as far as she knows), finally comes homes to Westeros. The scenes of her seeing Dragonstone's shoreline (her family's ancestral home), reaching down to touch the sand she's spent years fighting to get to and walking into her family's throne room was chilling.
The Dragon Queen's entire story arc has been about her fighting to get home to reclaim what is rightfully hers -- the Iron Throne. She's spent most of her life trying to prove she's a worthy Queen. Now that she has a substantial army, a crew of close advisors (including the smartest man in Westeros, Tyrion Lannister) and three monstrous dragons, she only has one thing to say:
"Shall we begin?"
Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.