Game of Thrones has returned and it started the season off with a bang, and then slowly works its way through the various storylines to set up the new season.

GAME OF THRONES RECAP

In the cold open of the show, we are taken to the stronghold of Walder Frey, who was seen at the end of the last season holding a feast for the extended family of all the Freys. Something about his mannerisms and speech seems off, but the family doesn’t seem to mind when he brings out the best flagon of wine he has. They all drink heartily as Walder makes a speech about how proud he is of everyone there, and how they were all invited because they are the most important Freys to him. Then he eerily congratulates them on how they killed the Starks at the Red Wedding. But, he tells them, you forgot one. “Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe,” he says, as the men vomit blood and fall to their deaths. Arya whips off her Walder Frey mask at the front, and says to the woman next to her: “When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”

Triumphantly, we are taken to the addicting opening credits that I’m sure most people sang along to after that adrenaline pumping opening scene. We cut to Winterfell, where Jon Snow was recently cheered as King in the North. He sits at the head table next to his sister (and rightful heir) Sansa Stark. The siblings bicker in front of the other loyal northerners over whether or not to seize castles of those who betrayed them in the Battle of the Bastards. But what Jon says goes, and he decides not to punish sons for the acts of their fathers, and so the Umbers and Karstarks will be allowed to keep and live in their castles, which lie just south of the Wall. Jon later tells Sansa she can’t be undermining his authority, when she subtly reminds him that her time in King’s Landing has taught her what it takes to keep a crown. Jon sort of laughs and asks if he should just listen to what she has to say all the time, whereby Sansa replies, “would that be so bad?”

Speaking of King’s Landing, newly Queen Cersei and brother Jamie Lannister are experiencing a bit of trouble in paradise, after all three of their children have died. “We haven’t talked about Tommen,” Jamie reminds her, but the Queen doesn’t have time to dwell on the dead. SHe is busy making moves on her giant map, working out the war to come. She also refuses to accept her brother/lover’s point that most people are now against the Lannisters, but Cersei determined they will win. So she calls on Euron Greyjoy, if only for the massive Ironborn armada he brings with him. When he arrives, however, he seems more interested in marrying Cersei than fighting for her. He offers his ships in exchange for her hand, but Cersei, rightfully so, doesn’t trust Greyjoy’s motives. He says he’ll bring her a priceless gift, and leaves, promising not to return until he has it.

We also get some time to catch up with Samwell Tarly, who is essentially an intern at the Citadel, taking care of the maesters (which mainly means cleaning up their excrement from their bed pans and then serving them suspiciously brown soup in very similar bowls. Meanwhile, he runs into Jorrah Mormont, recognizable only by his gray scaly skin, who asks if the Mother of Dragons has appeared yet. Sam replies that she has not to his knowledge. Sick and tired of not learning, Sam sneaks into the restricted section (very Hermione of him) and learns that dragon glass exists in mountains at the old Targaryan stronghold called Dragonstone. He immediately sends a raven to Jon, both knowing that dragon glass is a way to kill White Walkers.

Meanwhile, Bran and Meera make their way to Castle Black, where they are welcomed by Jon Snow’s brothers in black. They are skeptical at first, but Bran proves his mental prowess by giving Dolorous Edd a cold reading of his life. While the move doesn’t prove he’s a Stark, Edd is convinced enough and lets the pair in.

Out in the Riverlands, the Hound is with his new gang of fire god worshippers, which he muses is just his luck. They come upon a house with the skeletons of a father and daughter. It is clear that they were starving so the father, in an act of mercy, ended both of their lives. Flashback to a previous season, the Hound stole from this man to get food for himself and Arya, and coldly said that winter was coming, and they would die anyway. Now, a changed man, the Hound is upset by the sight. In the night, he steals away and buries them to make amends. Beric Dondarrion, who keeps being saved for some unknown reason by the Lord of Fire, convinces the Hound that they are being called on for something. The Hound is disbelieving, until he looks into the fire and sees the Wall and knows something must be done.

The episode ends at the titular place, Dragonstone. Daenerys, with Tyrion Lannister, Varys Grey Worm, and Missandei, returns to her childhood home, where she was taken from in the very first episode of the series. She returns a queen, with her dragons, on the Greyjoys ships. There is no dialogue in the scene, as the group walks from their ships over the threshold and into the throne room. “Shall we begin?” she asks her team as she moves the war pieces on the huge map in the back, paralleling the same moves Cersei was doing back in King’s Landing to prepare for battle. And the episode ends.

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