RECAP: Game of Thrones s7 ep1 - Dragonstone
COULD this be the year the beleaguered Starks are finally back on top?
It certainly seems that way in today's season seven premiere of Game of Thrones, titled Dragonstone.
The episode opened with Walder Frey toasting his family and their victory over the Starks but as he recounted the murders at the red wedding it quickly becomes apparent something isn't right.
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As the Frey men begin chocking from their poisoned win, assassin Arya Stark reveals herself after killing Walder himself at the end of last season.
Meanwhile at Winterfell, Jon and Sansa disagree over how the Starks should deal with the northern families who supported the Boltons.
Littlefinger is lingering in the shadows, but it appears a more mature Sansa is well aware of his machinations. Knowing Brienne of Tarth has your back must help too.
Thanks to Meera, Bran Stark finally makes it safely to the gates at The Wall. There the new Three-Eyed Raven is met by members of the Knight's Watch, who ask him to prove his identity. With his new powers this is, of course, not difficult.
With enemies all around her, Cersei weighs up an alliance with Euron Greyjoy - who promises to win her trust by bringing her a "priceless gift".
At the Citadel, Samwell Tarly makes an important discovery that may help in the coming war against the Night King and sends word to Jon.
The still prickly Sandor Clegane, who is begrudgingly turning into a good guy, has a vision of the white walker army.
Singer Ed Sheeran also made his much-publicised cameo as a foot soldier Arya meets in the woods on her way south on her mission to kill Cersei.
But today's episode finished in the place it is named after, Dragonstone. Daenerys finally makes landfall at her ancestral home and silently takes in her surroundings before asking her hand Tyrion "shall we begin?" in the war room.
Here are the key scenes from today's season 7 premiere:
Why, hello Mr Frey.
The opening scene of the long-awaited season starts with the image of a man we've hated for about four full seasons.
Walder Frey, for those who might have forgotten, was the old fossil responsible for the slaughter of much of the Stark family at the infamous Red Wedding.
The old weasel became the most intensely disliked man in the show through that single act, and we've waited years to see him get his comeuppance.
But, hang on, didn't we watch Arya gut him at the end of the last year?
The youngest Stark is at her delightful best.
She'd been away for years learning dark arts from the Faceless Men, and we've seen her evolve into a tiny, cerebral, killing machine.
If you enjoyed her revenge on Mr Frey, the opening scene - which takes place before the familiar title sequence - will leave you giddy.
"Tell them the North remembers," she says. "Tell them Winter came for House Frey."
If that doesn't get you excited for the new season you are probably a White Walker.
"I learned a great deal from her…"
Cersei Lannister's rise to power has been one to behold over the course of the series.
She pulled the trigger on one of the season six's most shocking moments when the Great Sept of Baelor - and quite a lot of people - were incinerated with wildfire.
Sansa Stark told Jon Snow she learned a lot from Cersei, as she argued Jon take heed of the request to go to King's Landing and bend the knee (or suffer the consequences, of course).
Her win-at-all-cost mentality is one that led her to the Iron Throne, but it has caused concern for Jamie Lannister.
Jamie argued the Lannisters were running out of allies (in the process revealing they know of the Freys' murder but not who did it), though Cersei appeared to be one step ahead.
The man known as the Kingslayer was less than thrilled to learn Euron Greyjoy was seemingly Cersei's solution to their problem.
Cersei avoided an alliance with Greyjoy for now, but Euron has promised to prove his worth. Where that takes him, and whether or not it solves the Lannisters' problems, will unfold in weeks to come.
The Hound and Beric Dondarrion
Sandor Clegane's evolution has continued to be one of the most interesting character arcs in the series.
He started as the unlikable muscle, brother of Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane (who doubles as an enemy), and his presence became one of the most dynamic parts of the show courtesy of his "buddy-cop" adventures with Arya Stark.
He has now fallen in with Beric Dondarrion, the Lord of Blackhaven and leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners. While he doesn't particularly like Dondarrion, it is through his stay with them that we lean more of why the Lord of Light resurrects Dondarrion.
Asked to peer into a fire, Clegane sees - and seemingly better understands - why Dondarrion is alive, and the group's purpose.
"Where the wall meets the sea, there's a castle there…" Clegane says.
"There's a mountain like an arrowhead, the dead are marching past. Thousands of them."
We can only assume that is linked to the scene revealed earlier in the episode, as thousands of White Walkers and resurrected wildlings (including several giants) marched through a blizzard.
The undead army are heading south, to what we could safely assume is a great battle at The Wall.
An all-time great montage
Samwell Tarly does not look to be enjoying his time at the Citadel, but he has provided us with one of the great montages of the series.
He went with the promise of acquiring the knowledge to become a master, but, as we creatively learn, it's been quite an unpleasant experience to date.
The lovable, portly friend of Jon Snow takes matters into his own hands. He steals a key, lets himself into a restricted area and begins reading the books.
While that pay-off is yet to come, his final interaction could very well mean the return of the Jorah Mormont.
Jorah has spent much of the past few seasons with Daenerys, but contracted greyscale during an endeavour with Tyrion Lannister.
He left Daenerys and her forces, pledging to find a cure - which could explain his presence at the Citadel.
Today's episode will be replayed at 8.30pm tonight on Showcase. Season 7 of Game of Thrones continues next Monday, July 24 at 11am.