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Game of Thrones

Season 7 Episode 1

HBO

“Dragonstone”

In the premiere episode of the seventh season of the monster HBO hit, there is a huge emphasis on the women of Game of Thrones. You have women solidifying their power, flexing the resolve that power gives them, using the powers earned through toil and trial, dreaming of power waiting to be seized and lamenting the lack of power one deserves.

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I’m not going to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t watched, but there was a lot to unpack in this first episode. The episode starts with Walder Frey throwing a celebration feast for his entire family. Now if you remember what happens to Walder at the tail end of season 6, you realize how strange it is for him to be throwing a party. As he talks to his family and watches them partake of the expensive wine he has provided, he talks of the past, specifically the Red Wedding. The culmination of this celebration does not end well for the Freys and reintroduces the audience to Arya Stark.

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I enjoyed the first scene of this episode. Even before the opening credits, Arya is making her presence felt in Westeros as she makes her way to King’s Landing. As she comes across a group of soldiers who welcome her into their camp for food, you almost feel afraid for the soldiers because Arya has become so removed from the girl that she once was in previous seasons. She has a dark purpose and it doesn’t look like she’s going to let anyone stand in her way.

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At Winterfell John Snow is calling on his bannermen to begin preparing for war with the Night King and his forces, who are on the march South. As he tries to rally the men around him, it is Lynanna Mormont, the Lady of Bear Island, who is able to back up John and get the men on his side for the plans he has in motion.

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Tension arises when Sansa Stark decides to weigh in on her thoughts, specifically about the dispensation of the lands and castles of those who betrayed the Starks and sided with Ramsay Bolton. This tension leads to the first dissention in the ranks, something that Littlefinger is prepared to seize on. It’s up to Sansa to remind John Snow that even though the White Walkers are on the march, they still face the threat of Cersei Lannister. Sansa’s ability to both praise and admonish John adds an interesting dynamic to their relationship and plants the seeds for more conflict to come.

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Cersei, for her part, is well aware of the situation that she finds herself in. Even with Jaime wanting her to talk about everything that they’ve lost, the Queen finds herself concentrating more on maintaining her power and the enemies that she is surrounded by. The tension between the twins continues to grow after last season as Jaime is conflicted between the woman that he loves and who she has become with the death of her children. Her maneuvering finds her calling on allies that Jaime knows cannot be trusted and who’s motives are even less trustworthy.

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The only male on the episode who’s story seemed to progress is Samwell. His time at the Citadel is not what he expected in a montage that has effectively put me off soup for a while. The saving grace of the time spent in the Citadel is the return of another longtime character and Sam’s discovery of a secret that could defeat the White Walkers. Not to be outdone, it was nice to see that even at his lowest and feeling utterly defeated, Gilly steps up to sit with him so that he isn’t alone.

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The episode concludes with the return of Dany to the shores of Westeros. She, Tyrion, Varys, Greyworm and Missandei make their way through the gates of the Targaryan ancestral home of Dragonstone and each of them has a moment where they are wondering how Dany is feeling, but they allow her to move about the keep alone until she finally turns to Tyrion and speaks.

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As premiere episodes go, this one was more subtle than many of the others. It was primarily there to recap viewers on the state of the world and the players in it. Arya’s moments in the episode stood out as well as the Hound’s moment of regret. It will be interesting to see what happens when the two of them reunite. The tensions arising between Jaime and Cersei and John and Sansa could be where the bulk of the drama comes from this season and I hope it doesn’t overshadow the rest of the characters. Still, this was a good episode to start with, but the series has a long journey ahead of it and not many episodes left.

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