GoT is back, everyone! Let’s celebrate with a banquet, presided over by Walder Frey.
Hold up, I can hear you saying. Isn’t he dead? Is this a flashback? Ahh, but remember how he was killed by someone who takes face-off to very literal extremes? Yes, it turns out it is not old Walder but Arya posing as him.
The Frey men, all assembled in the great hall, are none the wiser. They just want a good party, and they’re only too happy to dip right into that wine that starts flowing. AryAlter proposes a toast as they drink, calling them brave men for butchering women and guests in their home, but pointing out that they made a mistake by not killing all the Starks. ‘While one wolf remains, the sheep will never be safe,’ she intones, as the men start vomiting blood and dropping like flies. Walder’s young wife, who AryAlter had stopped from drinking the poisoned wine, looks on in horror. AryAlter removes the Walder face and tells the girl to tell anyone who asks that Winter came to the Freys. I feel I should point out that, by leaving this girl alive, Arya’s going against her very own advice, but she looks so badass just striding out of there I’m going to let it slide.
Arya hits the road, headed for King’s Landing, because girl’s got a list to go through, you know? Along the way she meets up with some Lannister soldiers and finds out that not everyone fighting for the other side is a bad person. Look at these guys! They sing songs! They share their meat and wine with her! They talk about their families back home! They count Ed Sheeran amongst their number! Arya looks slightly conflicted. When they ask what she’s on her way to King’s Landing to do, she flat-out tells them she’s planning to kill the queen. There’s a long beat, and then they all start laughing, because that’s crazy, right?
In King’s Landing, Cersei’s having some redecorating done. A map of the seven kingdoms is being painted on the floor of one of the courtyards. Jaime swings by and tries to talk to her about all their dead kids, but Cersei’s nigh unreachable at this point. He warns her that they’re in a very precarious position, because they basically have no allies, now the Freys are dead, and with Highgarden most definitely against them, they’ll have no access to provisions for troops or livestock. But Cersei has a plan.
She’s summoned Euron Greyjoy to King’s Landing, along with the fleet he’s somehow managed to rebuild since Yara and Theon stole his last season. Euron’s a cocky creature and offers up himself (with two good hands, he snarks, to Jaime’s annoyance) and his fleet in return for Cersei. She turns him down, pointing out that he’s betrayed allies in the past. He shrugs, says he didn’t expect it to be that easy, and promises to return with a very shiny present for her which he’s sure will change her mind.
Up north, Jon is prepping everyone for what he rightly expects will be an epic throwdown against the Night King’s army (which now has ZOMBIE GIANTS, people!). Tormund prepares to take his men to the castle closest to Hardhome. Does this guy have a death wish? I mean, damn, that’s pretty crazy brave. The next strongholds to that one belong to the Karstarks and the Umbers, which is problematic because they both threw their weight behind House Bolton when Roose and Ramsay came steaming in. The heads of both households are dead now, leaving behind a young Umber boy and a teenage Karstark girl.
Sansa immediately insists Jon take away the castles and award them to men who were loyal to him. Jon, however, refuses to disinherit kids who did no wrong themselves, so he calls both the children forward (and they both look TERRIFIED, for good reason–this is not a friendly crowd for them) and asks if they’ll be loyal. They, naturally, promise.
Jon’s also ordering that everyone–that means girls and women as well as men and boys–receive thorough weapons training. Progress! The men grumble, but Lyanna, of course, just shuts them all the hell right down. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: can she take over the seven kingdoms when all this is done?
After the meeting, Jon and Sansa mildly argue about her publicly opposing him. She tells him that her father and brother were both good men who made stupid mistakes, and Jon needs to be careful. Also, he needs to remember they have enemies to the south as well as to the north. She does reassure him that he’s good at this whole ruling thing. And later, she makes it clear to Littlefinger that she’s NOT interested in his opinion just now, thank you very much.
Even further north, Bran and Meera have finally arrived at Castle Black. Edd and some of the men come out to greet them and find out what they’re about. When they hear who the are, and Bran says he knows Edd was at Hardhome and there’s some crazy bad shit about to rain down on them all, everybody’s allowed inside.
The Hound! I nearly forgot. He’s roaming about with the Brotherhood without Banners, and wouldn’t you know it? They stumble upon the very farm the Hound and Arya visited waaaay back in season 3. Back then, despite being treated well by the poor farmer who lived in the place with his daughter, the Hound stole from them and left them for dead. Guess how they wound up?
Yeah, there are two dessicated corpses on the bed inside the cottage, and from the looks of things, they were starving and the father put his daughter and then himself out of their misery. The Hound seems to feel kind of awful about this, and even goes out in the middle of the night to dig a grave in the frozen ground and bury the pair.
Before that, though, the Hound wonders why the heck Beric, who doesn’t seem all that special to him, keeps getting to come back from the dead. Thoros then urges the Hound to stare into the fire and relate what he sees. He reports seeing an army of the dead surrounding a castle by the sea. I hear this is the same castle Tormund is on his way to. Nooooo!
Let’s swing over to the Citadel, where Sam’s serving perhaps the most disgusting internship in history. He’s doling out slops, cleaning out bedpans, and basically trying not to vomit every five seconds. All in the name of getting into the Restricted Section, because apparently the Citadel is Hogwarts (I mean, hey, they have a Hogwarts professor working there, so…) His requests to get into said section fall on mostly deaf ears. Only on Maester (hi, Jim Broadbent!) believes that Sam really did see white walkers, and he’s bizarrely unconcerned about this coming disaster, because mankind has survived disasters before. That…seems like really poor logic. I mean, yeah, mankind has continued to exist in the past, but there’s no guarantee that will happen this time. And if it does, shouldn’t you still want to save as many people as possible?
Sam takes things into his own hands, steals some keys, and gets the books he needs. In one of them, he discovers there’s a massive store of dragonglass underneath Dragonstone, the ancestral home of House Targaryen.
Guess who else is at the Citadel? Jorah! He’s in an isolation unit because that dragonscale is definitely not healing, but when Sam comes by with breakfast, he asks him if the Dragon Queen has landed yet. Sam has no idea what he’s talking about and stammers that she hasn’t.
Oh, but she has. Dany, her loyal followers, and her army land at Dragonstone and make their way into the neglected castle. After poking around for a bit, she stands over the giant table map of the seven kingdoms and prepares to get to work.
Guys: this is gonna be goooooood.