by Emily Reuben
Warning: This review contains spoilers for the episode and past seasons of Game of Thrones.
Finally, after a seemingly endless winter, summer has come, and with it, Season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones returns to the small-screen.
The episode, fittingly titled “Dragonstone”, begins with a cold-open picking up after the end of season 6. Arya Stark is seen making great strides in her murderous pursuits. While a truly fun, engaging scene to begin the season with, the question of the extent of Arya’s abilities comes into question. In all honesty, this war should be finished now if Arya has the ability to impersonate anyone, sneak into their homes, and subsequently kill them. Hopefully Arya’s abilities won’t cause her character to be an overpowered, uninteresting character in the world of Westeros.
The majority of this episode is spent getting characters where they need to be for the entirety of the season: Bran and Meera reach the The Wall; Euron Greyjoy has arrived to meet Cersei at King’s Landing; and Daenerys and her followers have finally reached Dragonstone. The chess pieces have been set, and the game is ready to begin.
Outside of these major set-ups, Sam Tarly is now an apprentice of the Citadel, seeking knowledge to become a maester and knowledge that will help defeat the White Walkers. Sadly, poor Sam is stuck doing trivial, disgusting tasks like emptying chamber pots and serving unidentifiable meals. A gross but well-done sequence demonstrates the boring, repetitive nature of Sam’s work and his desire to do meaningful work. After being denied entrance to a secret section in the Citadel’s library (Harry Potter anyone?), Sam takes it upon himself to sneak in and find the knowledge he needs. This sets the stage for another plot point: Dragonstone harbors a vast amount of dragonglass, a material that can be used to destroy White Walkers. Sam sends this knowledge to Jon Snow, alluding to a future excursion to Dragonstone.
Speaking of Jon Snow, there seems to be some rising tension between Snow and his half-sister, Sansa. Having been voted the new “King of the North”, Jon is now experiencing the woes of leadership, namely the backlash to his tough decision making. Sansa seems noticeably displeased with her lack of power, outwardly criticizing Snow in front of his followers. This is an interesting development, as Sansa’s displeasure alludes to a much deeper altercation in the future between her and Snow. More interesting, Sansa now seems completely disillusioned with Peter Baelish and outwardly rejects his advances for conversation. Sansa appears to be breaking away from her role as a puppet, which is more than welcome.
A scene that seemed incredibly odd when considering the world in which Game of Thrones takes place is Jon’s proposition to include women in battle. While it is believable that Jon as a character may come to this decision, the overwhelming positive feedback is what seems misplaced. Of course, when this idea is first proposed there is some backlash, but this is set aside rather easily. While gender equality in an overwhelmingly sexist world is nice to see, that very sexism is what makes the decision so unbelievable. Those who have lived inside The Wall’s protection are generally used to strict gender roles, and breaking these gender roles has been shown as extremely hard to manage (Ex. Arya not being allowed to swordfight initially and Breanne being ridiculed as a “beast of a woman”). While Jon has the power to make this decision final, that doesn’t mean everyone has to accept it outwardly. Seeing more of the female characters fighting to prove themselves is far more believable than a brief speech given by a child swaying the minds of men who typically relish tradition and male honor. Overall, this seemed more like HBO trying to score brownie points for being accepting rather than a natural progression of events within the series.
“Dragonstone” is simply setting the stage for bigger and better episodes in the future. While having less of a focus on some of the less important cast (Clegane) would have been appreciated, most of the screen-time was well spent. Other than some forced dialogues, not much is offensive about the episode; it can only get better from here on out.
All images from Giant Bomb
Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1: "Dragonstone"
While there are definitely instances of pandering to be found, “Dragonstone” is a great episode to kick off the new season and establishes what almost every major character plans to do. Some of the cinematography is interesting to watch, making the episode stand out from some of the more dully shot entries of the past season.