FINALLY, GAME OF THRONES HAS RETURNED! Do you hear that? It’s the sound of a million screens blasting the opening credits to the most epic fantasy series of our time. And I’m here to recap everything that went down in the most recent episode, “Dragonstone,” in which Arya massacres an entire house, Jon and Sansa lightly spar, and Daenerys returns to her ancestral home. I’ll try not to seize the last word - just assume it would’ve been something clever.
1. A Moveable Face
The episode opens on Walder Frey throwing a feast for his
hard working loser family. He wants to congratulate them on recapturing Riverrun, which they’d acquired in the aftermath of the Red Wedding. But he’s dead!, I scream at the television. What is this, some sort of cruel alternate reality? No no, it’s just the first day of the rest of Arya Stark’s life as an angel of revenge. She’s gone from crossing two people off her kill list (Meryn Trant and Walder) to murdering about a hundred Freys - and she did it by simply wearing Walder’s face and doing a spot-on impression of his brand of casual cruelty. After all the Frey men succumb to their poisoned wine, Arya tells Walder’s widow to tell everyone that Winter came for House Frey. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS IT’S HAPPENING!
2. Bran’s Coming Home
Good news, bad news. The good news is that Bran (and Meera) have successfully made it back from Beyond the Wall, and Edd Tollett (Jon Snow’s friend and the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch) welcomes them through with little hesitation. The bad news is that they’re being followed by a hundred zillion frozen zombies, who now have slain giants as part of their horde. My eternal question: if the undead army doesn’t need to sleep or rest, they’re theoretically marching all the time. Why aren’t they pressed up against the Wall yet? Maybe strategy compels the Night King to avoid the Wall’s magical defenses…but what strategy is he pursuing?
3. Lyanna Mormont Is Everyone And Everything
Despite last season’s rumblings of a power struggle between Jon Snow and Sansa Lannister-Bolton-Stark, Jon is the reigning King in the North. He has to deal with the treasonous houses Karstark and Umber, who fought to keep the Boltons in Winterfell, so Sansa urges him to straight up snatch their homes out of their hands and give them to someone else. (She later explains that although she loved their father Ned and brother Robb, they weren’t smart enough to survive.) Instead of listening to a girl, which would be “terrible,” Jon decides to name the young Karstark/Umber heirs as heads of their houses. Throw Lyanna Mormont in the mix and we’ve got ourselves The North Junior High!
Before Jon and Sansa can get into it any further, a raven arrives demanding Jon bend the knee for Cersei of House Lannister, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. Oy, that whole thing. Sansa would like him to focus on Cersei’s approaching army, but Jon can’t shake the icy memory of the Night King. Looks like she’ll need to keep Littlefinger around to help her protect Winterfell from her would-be monster-in-law.
4. Tormund + Brienne = True Love 4Ever
5. Cersei’s Glorious Floor Map & Somewhat Less Glorious New Boyfriend
Cersei and Jaime are reunited after his trip to Riverrun (hi Brienne, bye Brienne), and it is immediately clear that Cersei has no real plan for keeping the Lannister dynasty going if she can ever even truly establish it. Her children are dead, she has no legal husband to father more children, and she can’t necessarily have children anymore anyways. But she’s still interested in letting Euron Greyjoy court her, if only to gain his fleet. Jaime has nothing but disdainful side-eye about it:
Knowing that Cersei finds him gross, Euron offers to bring back a gift for her. This offer comes hot on the heels of his confession that it felt really good to kill his brother. Uh oh, Cersei has a brother she’d like to kill. Euron, you better not be up to what I think you’re up to…
6. Give Sam a Break
At this point in the episode, we veer from the most powerful person in Westeros to the least powerful person of all time anywhere: Samwell Tarly, the book slave. He’s new to the Citadel, so he’s assigned all the crappy tasks, which very much include actual crap. We see a montage of all the sights and sounds of his disgusting chores, and it comes out sounding kind of like that Kit Kat commercial. Gag, book, slop, scrub. Luckily, Jim Broadbent (most likely Archmaester Marwyn) likes the cut of his gib, and he believes that Sam has seen White Walkers and is genuinely nervous about them. He uses an unspoken Harry Potter wink to nudge Sam into the Restricted Section of the library, where a map of Dragonstone shows a quarry full of dragonglass.This information would come in very handy for fighting White Walkers and their army of wights.
7. Sandor Clegane Sees Flames Again…Only It’s Not As Painful This Time
Thanks to some time spent with Al Swearengen and his ragtag gang of missionaries last season, Sandor Clegane has realized that he can still change his ways and become a good person. He’s currently traveling with the Brotherhood Without Banners, and although he (temporarily) killed Beric Dondarrion, they’ve welcomed him with open arms. Thoros of Myr has a hunch that Sandy can see visions in the flames of the Lord of Light, and he’s not wrong. He sees the White Walkers’ army approaching a castle by the sea. Maybe there’s a future for Sandy with the Red God after all.
8. Daenerys Is BACK, BABY!!!!!
After being sold into marriage to a Dothraki khal, birthing three dragons, getting lost in a hall of weird visions, conquering three slave-holding cities, freeing said slaves from their masters, rejoining the Dothraki, re-freeing said slaves, and jumping on a fleet of runaway Greyjoy ships, Daenerys is finally back in Westeros. She touches the sand on the beach, which she hasn’t touched since beginning her exile as a royal baby. It’s a powerful moment.
Dany neither hurries nor wastes time in becoming reacquainted with her rightful stronghold. She takes down Stannis’s banner and gazes at the throne for a moment before deciding to focus her energies on something more important: her battle plan for reconquering Westeros. It’s going down for REAL.
Honorary Mention for One Extremely Non-Satisfying Moment:
On next week’s Game of Thrones: will Jon come down to Dragonstone to fetch raw material for the war to come? Will he meet a certain aunt while he’s there? Will Cersei let Euron give her a smooch? And WHAT is UP with Tormund and Brienne?!?!?! We’ll figure it all out together. Shall we begin?