The Flat Circle will post a weekly series following each episode during Season Seven of Game of Thrones. This post contains spoilers from “Dragonstone.”
Game of Thrones returned on Sunday night after a yearlong hiatus. Show creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff did not waste time in providing the initial thrills of the new season by adding several satisfying moments that made “Dragonstone” the best first episode of any Game of Thrones season since the debut episode, “Winter Is Coming.”
The typical formula of Game of Thrones has been to develop long stories and let the biggest events occur during the final two episodes. “Dragonstone” indicated that this structure may no long be in play. The season debut touched on a number of different storylines and provided some early excitement.
The episode began with its second-ever cold open. One of the concluding moments of Season Six was Arya Stark’s assassination of Walder Frey. Season Seven began with Faceless Woman Arya appearing as Walder Frey. Stark poisons Frey’s men and continues to realize the satisfaction she can gain through revenge. After three seasons, the North remembered and Arya was able to strike another name from her list of enemies.
“Dragonstone” also featured Game of Throne’s biggest cameo yet: musician Ed Sheeran. The pop star appeared with a group of Lannister soldiers as they sat around a camp fire. His brief scene provided a light moment that humanized the Lannister men and allowed Arya to serve notice of her next mission: to kill Cersei Lannister. Sheeran may not have displayed the abilities of a hardened dramatic actor, but the cameo was not prolonged and ultimately allowed Arya to serve notice of an exciting plot of Season Seven.
The title of the episode alluded to two important stories that intersected at the same place: the abandoned island fortress of Dragonstone. Daenerys Targaryen and her fleet arrived at the island on their way to King’s Land. Sam Tarly also realized that the island is a vital place to obtain the dragonglass needed to fight the Wights. Other key moments of “Dragonstone” included the Hound’s journey with the Brotherhood Without Banners and the revelation that Jorah Mormont is in Old Town as he tries to find a cure for his grayscale.
The star of the episode was clearly Arya. Not only did she wipe out the Fray clan that had killed her mother and brother, but she also boldly announced her intention to murder Cersei Lannister, and shared the screen with one of Britain’s most famous musicians.
The first episode of Season Seven was a success. “Dragonstone” did not immerse itself into one story, but introduced multiple plots into the season and provided some thrills. It presented several important characters with their challenges ahead in a fluid manner that has not always been an attribute of Game of Thrones. What will make this season entertaining is watching each character scheme to overcome their respective obstacles. Following six seasons of waiting, this episode verifies that Winter and Daenerys’ big push for control of Westeros are both finally here.