My Thoughts on "Game of Thrones" S7 Episode 1: "Dragonstone"
Just got back from watching the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 7, "Dragonstone." Here are some thoughts. Beware, here there be lots of spoilers...
This episode was really funny, both things that are obviously intended to be comic and things that really aren't. For example, the scene at the beginning where Arya Stark disguises herself as Walder Frey and poisons all of the male Freys (or at least the ones involved in the Red Wedding) was funny to me. It's not because watching people getting poisoned is innately funny, but because it's so masterfully done (including how Arya-as-Walder avoids drinking the poisoned wine and keeps "his"wife from doing so) and because Arya-as-Walder's speech is so cutting.
In terms of things that actually are supposed to be funny, Euron Greyjoy rocked the house this episode. I particularly liked his comment on how he's got "one thousand ships and two good hands," which is obviously a jab at Jaime Lannister. I also liked how Jaime reacted to it, as well as his less-than-flattering assessment of the Ironborn in general.
In case you're wondering what's going on, Euron arrives at King's Landing with the Iron Fleet to offer himself as a husband to Cersei Lannister, who has at this point usurped the Iron Throne but in the process has made a lot of enemies. Cersei displays what could be common sense in rejecting Euron (a known backstabber), at least until he can prove himself. But that could also be unnecessary arrogance, since the Iron Throne is in such a perilous state that something as drastic as a royal marriage might be necessary to get the Ironborn back on board. One wonders if there are any suitable women to push Jaime on? Oleanna Tyrell is too old and based on the events of the last season, any member of the Sand Snake junta in Dorne is out of the question.
And of course we see Tormund Giantsbane lusting after Brienne of Tarth again. That's pretty funny, especially his comments to Podrick Payne.
Moving on from the comedy, a lot of really important stuff story-wise happens in this episode. At long last, Danaerys returns to Westeros, taking control of Stannis's former stronghold of Dragonstone and dramatically touching the ground of her long-lost homeland. The "next week on Game of Thrones" preview shows all of Danaerys' allies gathering around Aegon's table and Yara Greyjoy offering to attack King's Landing right away, so that plot looks to be moving at a rapid clip.
I did like seeing some of the drama between Jon and Sansa. Sansa has clearly learned how to play the game and be ruthless as needed from Cersei and Littlefinger. She points out that Ned and Robb made some bad decisions and paid for it with their lives. However, publicly arguing with her brother is not the way to get what she wants. As Jon points out to him, that undermines his authority as King in the North, and he can't have that. And Littlefinger is clearly trying to manipulate Sansa into doing something.
(With Bran back in the game, we have a possible succession issue in Winterfell--Jon is a blooded warrior but he's a bastard, Sansa is the oldest remaining true-born child but she's a girl, and Bran is the oldest remaining true-born son but he's disabled. Depending on whether the break in his spine is he might not be able to father children, and he certainly can't lead men in battle.)
It was also interesting to see the Lannister soldiers who are friendly to Arya, one of whom was singer Ed Sheeran. I honestly thought they had bad intentions at first, with the way they were trying to offer her food and wine, but it seems they were honestly trying to be friendly. Maybe all the previous criticism about the violence toward women on the show has been taken to heart? Or perhaps the producers were making the point, like the books do, that when the nobles play their games of thrones, it's the commoners who suffer. None of those men seem like bad guys at all, but if Cersei and Jon go to war, Arya's people will kill them or they'll kill Arya's people. All very sad.
Although the episode was overall pretty good, I didn't like what I called the "extended poo montage," much to my friends' amusement. They could have made the point that Sam's life as a Citadel novice sucks in half the time, freeing up a few minutes to elaborate on some of the other subplots.
Also, what about Edmure Tully? Is Arya aware he's a captive in the Twins? It could be that she is and desire for revenge has consumed her to the point she doesn't care about her uncle. With most if not all of the male Freys dead, that might leave Edmure in an unexpectedly strong position to reacquire the Riverlands, assuming they don't just forget about him in the dungeon.
Still, definitely looking forward to next week.