The first episode “Dragonstone” of the new season of “Game of Thrones” picks up from where the final episode of the sixth season left off; hinting strongly that skirmishes and hostilities are looming large on the horizon – an imminent reality waiting to happen.
The season kicks off with what would, at first, appear as a flash back. Walder Frey (David Bradley) is seen rewarding his men with a feast in recognition of their exemplary work in the mass murder at the Red Wedding of season three. However, it soon becomes apparent that this is no flashback, but a carnage of the assembled Freys, instead, who are seen choking to death on wine, laced with poison.
One striking observation viewers are likely to make is that the action, largely, centers on the characters we have been with from the very outset including Cersei and Jaime Lannister; Arya and Bran Stark; Jon Snow; Targaryen and Tyrion; Sansa, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion, and the Hound who is now riding with the indestructible Beric Dondarrion and Thoros.
Also, this time around, the theater of action is much smaller, as is evident from the maps, with most of the noteworthy characters back in Westeros which is under the token rule of a woman who is well aware that claiming the Iron Throne is far easier than holding on to it.
Although the visual effects are pretty good there are no elaborate battle scenes and no extravagant sets that the audiences had become accustomed to in previous seasons. It actually lays the ground for a grand climax with rival camps and their forces preparing to engage in the impending battle and fight it out for the Iron Throne.
The primary take away from “Dragonstone” is that two of the most powerful queens in the saga are busy, either side of Blackwater Bay, making battle plans to win the Iron Throne.
Walking over a freshly painted map of the realm, which she plans to keep within the family forever, Cersei tells Jaime, “It’s ours now, we just have to take it.”
“We can’t win this war alone,” he replies.
Which brings us to Euron Greyjoy, who arrives with his new fleet on Sunday, looking to form an alliance by way of marriage; “Here I am with a thousand ships and two good hands,” he announces.
On being rejected on his offer by Cersei, Euron promises to bring back a “priceless gift” to King’s Landing or else he would not return at all.
What the gift is going to be is anybody’s guess – it could be anything from Tyrion to a dragon – or something that gives power over dragons
Meanwhile, up north tension is brewing between siblings, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his half- sister Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), who are now ruling Winterfell following the liberation of their family home from Ramsay Bolton. While Jon is comfortable in his new role as King he is having a hard time adjusting to Sansa as his right hand. The power-sharing between the siblings appears doomed as Machiavellian Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) continues to manipulate Sansa against Jon.
An episode titled “Dragonstone” would not have made sense without Daenerys Targaryen appearing in the episode, and she eventually does. She has crossed the Narrow Sea and arrived at the ancestral House Targaryen with her three dragons, a fleet boasting thousands of ships, and her royal entourage. Also in tow is a strangely quiet Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).