Week by Week TV: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1
Game of Thrones might be the television event of the year. Defined as the Lord of the Rings for adults, it is based on the series of books A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R.R. Martin and first aired in 2011. Set in the fictional lands of Westeros and Essos, it tells the story of how powerful families and individuals destroy each others to sit on the Iron Throne and rule The Seven Kingdoms. A fascinating mixture of death, heroes and sneaky political power plays, all spiced up by the fantasy medieval setting, Game of Thrones has managed to surprise us all season by season.
The rest of this review will contain spoilers, especially from Season 6 and this new episode.
After the grand finale of Season 6, now over a year ago, our waiting is finally over. The pieces in this deadly game can be counted on one hand, the rhythm is quicker than previous seasons and the general feeling is that Cersei setting half of the city on fire to finally sit on the Iron Throne was just the beginning of breath-taking turning points. The main thing that you sense in this first episode is that the majority of the characters who, during the series, have been threatened, bullied and abused the most (even Cersei has had her moments of desperation and difficulty), not only are still alive but are rising faster than ever. Tyrion, Varys, and Jon Snow, men that have been subjected to derision and condemnation for their physical, social and ideological differences, are rising. Arya, Cersei, Sansa, Lady Mormont, Brienne, Daenerys – all of them have been singled out for their gender, their choices and for being in the wrong families. Now, all are gaining momentum.
Cersei Lannister, finally triumphant as the Queen of the seven kingdom, is organising her next move. Mean, ruthless and blunt, Cersei is ready to leave behind the deaths that she has caused, including her son Tommen, former King of the Seven Kingdom, who committed suicide in the last episode of Season 6. To defend her throne, she considers reaching out to Euron Greyjoy, the uncle of Theon and Yara. In the meantime, Daenerys and her entourage arrive at Dragonstone (old residence of the Targaryens and seen in previous seasons as Stannis’ residence) to settle their army and plan their next move.
After being declared King of the North by the reunited surviving noble families, Jon Snow shows what kind of King he is trying to be: stubborn and righteous as his father Ned Stark, relying on gaining respect and trust through justice and sensitive behaviour. Clearly he has spent long in The Night’s Watch as everyone but him have understood that the game of thrones is nothing about honesty and good behaviour and all about selfishness, ruthlessness and Machiavellian strategies. This seems to be clearer to Sansa; after seven seasons of violence and abuse, she finally takes something resembling a lead by showing she’s ready to turn herself into a true Westeros queen. In a speech between siblings, she suggests to an excessively proud Jon how to deal with enemies and friends, expressing something that looks like admiration while discussing Cersei’s determination. Although her personality is still in progress, she might have more in store for us. She made a perfect pair with Lady Mormont, one of the most recent entries into the cast but which has already conquered us all with her strong will and audacity. Special mention to one of the sassiest moments of all time when she silenced another Lord during the summit by shouting that she doesn’t need the permission of anyone to fight for the North, which was one of the first memes to appear on the social media after this episode.
Arya keeps making us fall in love with her personal revenge journey; after killing the entire House of Walder Frey, she is on her way to King’s Landing when she bumps into a group of soldiers from the royal army (which includes none less then Ed Sheeran). As it looks quite random, his cameo in the show has not received a warm welcome; it must be said though, that it was almost the only twist of the episode. Not only was those watching surprised, but for better or worse it has increasing the show’s publicity. Bran and Meera have finally reached the wall after successfully escaping an army of White Walkers. Personally, I always found Bran’s storyline quite flat, even though he is a crucial character. Indeed, in the last season he became a more dynamic character, and we hope to see more Hodor-type turning points that will keep us engaged.
Finally, it is Samwell who delivers the most relevant piece of information by discovering that Valyrian steel, which can wound the White Walkers, can be found in huge quantities under Dragonstone, while he unconsciously met Jorah Mormont, ravaged by illness in the Citadel.
Now, what we should expect? Half of the fun of Game of Thrones are the social media predictions. The players in this game are increasingly less but the throne on which to sit is still one; who is going to be the first to go? Who will be on the Iron Throne at the end of this season?
Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 airs on Sky Atlantic every Monday at 2am and 9pm in the UK. Image source: IMDb.com