Game of Thrones S7 E1 Recap: Coming Home

(Photo Courtesy of Macall B. Polay/HBO)

Three “television enthusiasts,” the dynamic brother-sister duo of Marci and Rusty Buehler and Zac Hirschbeck, watch Game of Thrones each Sunday night and exchange their thoughts on the show’s happenings.

Rusty: Brrrr, it’s chilly! Winter is here, y’allllllllll! I welcomed the cold front in July on Sunday night, as Games of Thrones premiered and managed to reintroduce us to most of our old friends, and set the board for the final episodes of the series. There is a LOT of ground to cover!

I’d like to start out this recap in reverse. After nearly an hour of expository conversations, Game of Thrones FINALLY checked in on Dany, whose fleet landed on the shores of Dragonstone. I’m not sure if the market is on a downswing, but why the heck was this gorgeous castle left uninhabited for so long? The final moments of the night turned into a fairly engaging episode of House Hunters. I was waiting for the innocuous female narrator to pop in: “Dany Targaryen is a 26-year-old Unburnt Queen of the Andals, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, and works from home. She is looking to plant some roots close to downtown King’s Landing. Dragonstone may have the space for her three dragons, but it’s a fairly long two-week commute to the kingdom she is looking to rule.” The tension built as Dany’s entourage followed her through the castle, waiting to see if she would pick this one over the other two options (‘fixer-upper in Meereen’ and ‘move-in ready Vale townhouse’). Even though Dragonstone didn’t have the granite counter tops Dany was looking for, she ended up going with her ancestral home, ending the episode with a curt “…..shall we begin?” What a way to punctuate the season premiere!

Dany ended the episode in what was presumably the castle’s ‘war room’, which every castle in Westeros seems to have. I’d love to be in the ‘large table with a map of Westeros containing chess-like pieces of the family Houses’ industry. Seems to be a fairly lucrative artisanal market. Never to be outdone, Cersei’s opening scene has her supervising a whole courtyard being painted with a Westerosi map, as she furtively concludes that King’s Landing is surrounded by enemies. Jamie offers up some wise advice to buddy up with someone (anyone!). As the Internet predicted, Euron Greyjoy paid a visit to the Iron Throne. However, I don’t think the Internet successfully predicted that Euron would show up looking FRESH TO DEATH. Where did he buy all of these new threads? He is serving a high Dornish fashion look, dressing to impress, and hoping to trap Cersei into a marriage. Cersei didn’t take the bait, but Euron promises to return with a gift that she won’t be able to refuse.

This leads me to my biggest question of last night… what is the gift going to be?? I think this will lead us to an eventual OMG moment of the season. Will Euron successfully capture Tyrion, bringing a swift end to one of the show’s most beloved characters? Will the gift come in the form of a dead dragon or two? Or, will it just be a gift subscription to Hotpie Box, where delicious pies are sent to your home twice a month? What do you all think?

While I appreciated the zippy pace of the premiere, I was disappointed by the show’s yadda yadda-ing of Cersei and Jamie’s grief over their children. It took me by surprise that Cersei’s defense mechanism over Tommen’s death was simply “he betrayed me. We are the only Lannisters that matter.” It seemed like an overly simple way to justify moving onward with the show, and was a short cut through what could have been some meaty scenes for Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

There are so many other things to talk about this episode, but I want to throw it over to Marci and Zac. What did you dig the most about Sunday’s episode?

Marci: Wow, what a great start to the season! As far Euron’s gift to Cersei, it would be quite sad if it turned out to be Tyrion, although with the way the Game of Thrones is played, it is quite possible. I feel like it would be pretty tough for him to kill a dragon, or really take anything from Team Dany as long as the dragons are defending them, though. I wonder if his gift will be recruiting more houses to join their side of things, increasing their army and chances of winning the war? It will be interesting to see what the newly minted fashionista Euron comes up with – since he is such a style icon now, maybe he’ll just offer her ownership of a few H&M franchises?

Rusty, since you aptly recapped the backend scene of last night’s affair, I will go ahead and speak to the cold open – an amazingly acted scene in which “Walder Frey” led a celebration of important members of House Frey, praising them for their continued success and celebrating their big betrayal of the Starks at the Red Wedding. As he spoke, it became quite clear that we weren’t watching the deceased Walder Frey in a flashback, but rather Arya wearing his face, and it was quite satisfying to see all the Freys keel over and Arya rip off the mask and declare “Tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.” BOOOOOOOOO YAAAAAAAAAA OMG OMG OMG we aren’t even to the credits yet and this show gave us such an amazingly satisfying scene!

In the little behind the scenes feature after the episode, the show’s creators mentioned that they weren’t even going to have a cold open, but as this scene was shot and edited, it became clear that it was so effecting and the acting so great that they would move it up to be the cold open before the opening credits. Boy oh boy what a great idea and we were immediately off to the races.

We check in on Jon & Sansa at Winterfell, where Jon decides to ignore Sansa’s opinions and keep former traitorous families the Umbers and Karstarks in their ancestral homes instead of gifting the homes to families who stood by Jon & Sansa at the Battle of the Bastards. It seems like the relationship between Sansa & Jon will be further tested this season, because even as she attests to his leadership, she worries that he may be a bit too trusting and naïve in a way that may end up being his demise. I hope he begins to take Sansa’s advice a little more, as I’m not sure he will be able to rise from the dead a second time.

I also want to give a shout out to my fave little Lady Mormont, who speaks up during the Winterfell meeting to proclaim her plans to train everyone for battle, including women and girls. SHE A BADASS, Y’ALL! I’m so glad to see she’s still got her feistiness about her.

But honestly, with everything that happened in last night’s episode, there were two big surprises for me:

  • The sheer amount of SHIT Samwell has to clean up at that dang library. I’m a bit confused as to who all the people are at the library who are seemingly just really sick and shitting up a storm? Are they former Maesters who are now sick and dying and get cared for at the library? WHY SO MUCH SHIT?
  • The second big surprise for me was seeing ED SHEERAN’s mug sitting around the campfire singing with the soldiers that Arya stumbled upon. Seriously?! Ed Sheeran?! Why!! Keep the dude on carpool karaoke where he belongs.

And that’s not even all! GoT has a way of throwing SO MUCH into every episode, both satisfying the audience, and leaving us wanting more. Zac, what did you think of the premiere? Were you happy to see your boy Bran again!? And what about Jorah’s arm making an appearance? What do you think will come of that?

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(Photo Courtesy of HBO/Vulture)

Zac: Marci, I loved the premiere. While I don’t think I ever questioned my affection for Game of Thrones, that opening scene quickly reminded me just how much I look forward to Sunday nights. Honestly, I had assumed that Arya was finished with Walder Frey after brutally murdering the crusty patriarch shortly after feeding his kin to him via a human pie. However, it was indeed satisfying to see Arya finish her tour de destruction of those who authorized the Red Wedding. Also, I’m amazed by her handiwork in removing Walder’s ugly mug to use as her own. If I remember correctly, the initial introduction of the “Faceless Men” saw Jaqen H’ghar simply shape-shift his way into a different face. However, there’s clearly a whole different level of drama associated with Arya peeling off her disguise and dropping verbal bombs on the horrified Freydies (Frey Ladies) still in attendance. I also enjoyed her brief encounter with Ed Sheeran and Co. Ultimately, I’m very happy that Arya is clearly on a more interesting path after largely being in storyline purgatory for a few seasons. Do you both think that she’ll prove successful in killing Cersei? And far more importantly, will Ed Sheeran’s appearance open the door for more random celebrity cameos in Westeros? Keeping the Brits in mind, I’d love to see Adele pop up sometime before the end of Season 8…

As far as the other more prominent happenings in the premiere, I did enjoy Euron’s reintroduction (new garbs and all). Rusty, you hinted at it already, but I believe that Euron will kill one of the dragons as his “gift” to Cersei. I’m not sure how he’ll do it, but I don’t think there’s a better way to villainize him (especially considering we’re all largely indifferent to his presence thus far) than by having him take down one of the beloved creatures. I’m already choking back tears just thinking about it. Ultimately, I believe his “gift” and his alliance with the Lannisters will prove meaningless in the long-run. The Lannisters are going down, and there’s a good chance that their demise will be a product of self-destruction. One of the more popular theories I’ve seen lately has Jaime pegged to kill his sister, and last night’s interaction between the two certainly seemed to hint at that possibility. In the North, Jon and Sansa’s interactions were certainly interesting. I’d like to empathize with both of their viewpoints. Jon is attempting to unify a group of people that will soon be tasked with fighting a frozen zombie army, and Sansa is thinking politically after watching most of her loved ones suffer and perish due to mistakes that, while moral and honorable, were naïve. I really hope the two half-siblings can get their shit together in the coming weeks.

Two other quick moments that I found to be interesting were the returns of The Hound and Jorah. The Hound has slowly transformed from one of the most despicable and unlikable characters on the show, to one of the more likable characters that you can’t help but root for. I thoroughly enjoyed his sassy jab at Thoros of Myr’s ridiculous hair, and his middle-of-the-night burial of the deceased father and daughter was certainly humanizing. I still think we’re in for more humanizing (and likely heroic) acts from Sandor Clegane in the weeks to come, and I still think we’re likely to see a Clegane v. Clegane (Ser Robert Strong) matchup either this season or next. I sincerely hope that The Hound finishes the job that Prince Oberyn (R.I.P.) so nearly finished a couple seasons ago. As far as Jorah, it’s unsurprising to see that he has yet to find a cure for his debilitating disease. I firmly believe that Jorah will heroically give his life to help Daenerys at some point, and it’s simply a matter of when and where that will occur.

Is there anything else that stood out for you guys this week? Perhaps the budding romance between Brienne and Tormund?

And what do you hope to see next week or in the weeks to come?

I’m personally hoping that we see Jon’s parentage finally revealed (C’MON BRAN!!!), and, based on the previews for next week, I can’t wait for Arya to find her long-lost direwolf (NYMERIA!!!)…

Rusty: Zac, I agree that it’s nice to see Arya out of plot purgatory. Geographically, would it be possible for her to run into the Hound again? Arya mentioned to the soldiers that she was on her way to King’s Landing to kill Cersei, but where would that place her in relation to the Frey’s castle? Pretty close, no? Sorry I’m ‘thinking out loud’ too much about it, and not focusing more on ‘the shape of’ Ed Sheeran’s cameo. I thought the cameo was FINE, but he is easily the most recognizable act Game of Thrones has had on the show.

Anyhow, I had a couple more standout thoughts about the premiere. While Sam’s hands are pretty full with all of the bedpans he’s emptying at the Citadel, he did find time to learn that tons of dragonglass can be found over at… Dragonstone. I mean, that’s kind of an obvious thing, but I guess useful to figure that out through an ancient text at the library. That’s like Googling where they make tequila, and finding out that it’s made in…. Tequila, Mexico. Good on Sam for sending that intel over to Jon Snow via raven – does that mean he’ll be running into Dany by episode 4, or episode 5? Again, timing and pace this season is going to be bananas!

Another big question I have is where and when Melisandre is going to pop up. I think Jon banished her after he found out that she had a hand in killing Shireen, so I guess she could be anywhere now. Maybe she’ll play a hand in Euron’s ‘gift’ he’s cooking up to bring back to Cersei. Maybe she’ll use a love potion on Brienne at Tormund’s request, WHO KNOWS??

I’m not optimistic about Brienne and Tormund’s relationship, as it sounds like Tormund is traveling back to the scene of the crime at Hardhome, to gather potential intel on the Night’s King. Did I interpret that scene correctly? Because if so, Tormund is toast. There’s no way any one of our main characters who have to (or volunteer) to go North of the wall are going to come back alive. T-O-A-S-T! Cold ass, frozen toast.

And what of Littlefinger? How long is he going to wait in the wings for Sansa, until he gets bored and jumps ship (along with his army from the Vale)?

So many questions! I’ll leave it to the two of you to take us home with your takes.

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(Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO)

Marci: I had the same thought about Tormund! When they said he was going to the northern-most castle to scope out the White Walkers, I was already mourning his big ole red beard. I know we joke about this often, but I do get the feeling that it’s going to be a complete bloodbath before this show is finally over, and I won’t be surprised if little more than a handful (if that) of even our main characters make it out alive.

And speaking of Wildings, I’m surprised that neither of you brought up the ACTUAL most important cameo of the night – WUN WUN THE WHITE WALKER (or WW the WW as they call him for short) (or W4 for even shorter). That was him, correct? When they showed the terrifying White Walker army strutting towards the Wall? I was sad to see him in such a state, and couldn’t help thinking – GIANT White Walkers? Dayum, everyone else is really f’ed.

The theory that Jamie will kill Cersei is a good one, and judging by their newly strained relationship, seems like it could very well be on point. One of the cool things about this show is seeing how characters change – how sometimes those we think are good turn on us, but also as we are seeing with both Jamie and The Hound, how terrible characters can somehow start to gain redemption from the audience. It’s funny to think that if either Jamie or The Hound met their untimely deaths in the coming episodes, I would be pretty sad…especially if Arya doesn’t link up with the Hound first! COME ON, GOT! Just give me this one little thing, please!

I get the feeling that Littlefinger will go to strange lengths for Sansa, mainly because of his crazy love for her mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sticks around, despite her pretty much utter dismissal of anything he has to say.

I’m curious to see what happens with Bran at the Wall, and also once again impressed with the fact that Meera was able to keep them both alive and drag Bran’s ass all over the cold landscape until they finally made it to the wall. Meera, MVP for that.

Mostly I’m just glad we are finally back with my favorite show, and that Sunday nights will once again reign supreme! Totally looking forward to basking in the glory that is GoT. Zac, take us home with any last thoughts on this week’s episode?

Zac: Moving forward, I’m going to leave the summarization and discussion of Sam’s contributions to you both. I can’t say I’ve ever been particularly interested in him since his introduction to the show (the closest I’ve been is when he killed that White Walker), and I’m not very invested in him, Gilly, or Little Sam. Perhaps that’ll change in the weeks to come, especially if they continue to use Sam as a gateway to Westeros history and folklore, but I’d prefer the writers commit time to other characters and storylines.

Marci! I completely forgot about frozen Wun Wun. While I can’t say I was as emotionally distraught as when (nearly) all of the direwolves died, nor will I be as sad when one of the dragons perishes this season, but it was definitely a bummer to see the lovable giant in his current state. If we ever see a White Walker version of one of the direwolves or dragons, I may not emotionally recover…

However, while potential sadness and the death of beloved characters will forever be looming, I’m very happy to have Game of Thrones back in my life.

I’ll leave you both with my favorite gif of the premiere…

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(Courtesy of HBO/Giphy)

BRORMUND FOREVER.

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