For an episode that had a premiere date delayed by three months, and shortened seasons indicated a truncated storyline as Game of Thrones heads towards its final conclusion, the season seven premiere, “Dragonstone,” was largely setup for what’s to come. That said, here are the six standout quotes from last Sunday’s installment too keep in mind for next week’s episode.
“Tell them winter came for House Frey.” – Arya Stark
The cold open for the season seven premiere saw Walder Frey presiding over a feast for the noblemen of his House, boasting at his own generosity for providing two meals within the same fortnight. Knowing Frey was killed at the hand of Arya Stark at the end of last season, it seemed like this could’ve been a well-placed flashback. But as Frey continued to elaborate to his men, providing increasingly gruesome details of the events of the Red Wedding, and pouring fine wine for his guests, it became increasingly clear that Arya was putting her training at The House of Black and White to use, donning Frey’s face to make short work of the rest of House Frey.
Sparing the servants, and Frey’s wife, from a similar fate, once Arya reveals herself, she makes it clear to the widowed Lady Frey that she’s had her revenge, and fully intends to continue through her kill list until it’s complete. And the new queen, Cersei Lannister, is the next name up.
With Jon Snow victorious in the Battle of the Bastards, and now the Lord of Winterfell, he’s understandably focused on rallying all the northern houses to ready for the battle against the Night King and his army of the dead (which we learn now includes at least a few giants). Amidst his preparation, he gets a raven from King’s Landing, commanding him to come and bend the knee before Cersei Lannister, who usurped the Iron Throne after destroying the Sept of Baelor, killing dozens of tertiary characters and consolidating her power.
Sansa, who’s seen her father and brother die over their rose-colored idealism, is already leery of Jon’s willingness to forgive some of the northern houses over their betrayal during the Bolton’s brief reign over Winterfell. She reminds him that he shouldn’t be looking through blinders to what’s happening north of The Wall, and that Cersei still poses a very real threat. Whether or not Jon heeds her advice remains to be seen.
As his sister paces around a floor-sized map of the seven kingdoms, Jamie takes a sobering stock of who, exactly, will be left on the side of the Iron Throne. Cersei’s plan, it’s soon revealed, lies with Euron Greyjoy, himself a recent usurper of power, murdering his brother Aeron for control of the Iron Islands. As he descends onto King’s Landing with a massive fleet, he offers his hand in marriage, which Cersei quickly rescinds.
Not to be so easily dismissed, a cocksure Euron promises a gift to Cersei to win her over. What, exactly he intends to deliver is still up for debate, but whatever it is sure to have a dramatic impact on his tentative alliance with House Lannister.
While Samwell Tarly goes about his… less than pleasant duties as a maester-in-training at Oldtown, and someone who has seen first-hand the army of the dead way back in season two, is eager to get into the restricted section of the Citadel for clues as to how to best defeat the looming threat. Archmeister Marwyn, however, is less inclined to listen to his pleas, who mostly shrugs off the army of the dead, and the newly-arrived winter, simply stating that the people of Westeros have a tendency to be reactionary when it comes to such matters.
Granted, it doesn’t stop Sam from snatching a set of keys, grabbing a few volumes and learning that there’s a stash of dragonglass underneath the castle at Dragonstone. Learning this, he fires off a letter to Jon telling him of his findings. Assuming the news reaches him, it will bring him further into the fold of the show’s larger narrative, as both Daenerys Targaryan and her Hand, Tryion Lannister, have set up camp there.
One of Game of Thrones’ most compelling character arcs has been that of Sandor Clegane, better known as The Hound. As a man who started as a begrudgingly loyal member of the King’s Guard under Robert Baratheon, and later an equally begrudging caretaker to Arya Stark, Sandor now finds himself in the company of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
As they make camp in a now-abandoned farmhouse, much to Sandor’s protest, it’s revealed to be the same one visited by him and Arya back in season four, when they were offered hospitality by a man and his daughter, only to have Sandor rob them upon leaving, telling Arya that “dead men don’t need silver.”
Seeing the bodies of these two, who took their own lives to avoid suffering over starvation, we see Sandor express tinge of regrets, so much so that he even buries their bodies and delivers a eulogy. But the telling moment was when Thoros of Myr tells Sandor to look into the flames, where he sees “A wall of ice. The Wall. It’s where the Wall meets the sea. There’s a castle there. There’s a mountain. Looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past. Thousands of them.”
While Sandor has famously revealed to have little affection for anyone, or any superstition, his revelation in the fire may prove to be a revelation of sorts, which could prove him to be a major factor in the coming war with the dead.
When we last saw Daenerys, sailing with a fleet of her own troops and those of Iron Islands fugitive Yara Greyjoy, the widespread assumption was she was destined for King’s Landing to begin the battle to reclaim the Iron Throne. It turns out, she was headed to her family’s old home of Dragonstone. It was an emotional, near-silent moment, with Daenerys’ feet coming aground onto the seven kingdoms for the first time in the show’s run. As she makes her way through the castle’s long, winding pathways, tearing down a Baratheon banner on her way to the throne room, she stops at the castle’s war room, last occupied by King Robert’s brother, Stannis Baratheon.
With Tyrion, Greyworm, Missandei surrounding her, she looks down at the dusty map of Westeros with nothing but conquering on her mind, finally putting one of the show’s long-brewing conflicts in motion.