Game of Thrones recap: season 7, episode 1 - Dragonstone

Watchers of the realm, rejoice! The off-season has been dark and full of terrors (and a bit longer than usual), but our long wait is finally at an end. The seventh season of Game of Thrones premiered on HBO on Sunday (July 16), and we're here to give you a rundown of everything that happened in the episode.

At the end of season 6, Cersei (Lena Headey) pulled off a major coup when she managed to kill nearly all of her major enemies in King's Landing by blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor. It was a pyrrhic victory however, as her son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) then decided to show us all why it's really called "King's Landing." Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) returned to the city just in time to watch a grim Cersei crowned Queen.

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) held a meeting of the northern Lords, where Jon was hailed as King in the North. We also got to see the truth of his parentage via flashback. Arya (Maisie Williams) returned to Westeros and paid a visit to the now extremely-late Lord Walder Frey (David Bradley). Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) received an assist from Benjen and are nearing the Wall.

Finally, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her fleet of allies have set sail from Meereen, along with ships from the Dornish, remaining Tyrells, and Theon and Yara Greyjoy's fleet. Now, let's get to the action from tonight!

Warning: This article contains spoilers for season 7, episode 1 of Game of Thrones. Continue to read beyond this point at your own risk!

At the Twins

We get a very rare cold open, one which shows "Walder Frey" sitting at a banquet with all of his extended family. During a speech, he signals for more wine, "the finest Arbor Gold," to all those assembled. He calls for a toast, and everyone but he and his young wife take a deep swig. As they continue to drink, he talks about the Starks. "But you didn't slaughter all the Starks," he says. "That was your mistake. Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe."

At this, the Freys collapse, coughing up blood. When they are all dead, Walder removes his face, revealing Arya beneath. She turns to Frey's shocked wife and tells her, "When people ask you what happened here today, tell them that the North remembers. Tell them, Winter came for House Frey."

At the Wall

The Night King's army traverses a cold landscape, with a dark cloud of mist heralding their advance. There are thousands of wights, and more than a few giants following. Bran wakes from his vision, and we see that he is at the Wall as the gate opens. Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) believes Bran and Meera are who they claim to be and allows them inside.

At Winterfell

Jon holds court and orders the Maesters to look into their records for any mention of Dragonglass. He also outlines a training program that will include teaching the women and girls how to fight. Lord Glover (Tim McInnerny) objects at first, but Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) shuts him down in quick fashion. "I don't plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me," she says. "I don't need your permission to defend the North."  

Jon admits that he isn't King of the Wildlings, but he asks Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) to take his men North to defend the Wall, and Tormund agrees. When talk turns to the castles of the Karstarks and the Umbers (who betrayed Jon for Ramsay) Sansa and Jon argue about who should hold those castles now. Jon finally makes a decision, one that Sansa is not happy with. They later reconcile when Jon receives a raven from Cersei: "Come to King's Landing and bend the knee, or suffer the fate of all traitors."

At King's Landing

Cersei and Jaime meet in a courtyard where a worker is painting a gigantic map of Westeros on the floor. Jaime doesn't sugar-coat their situation to Cersei. "Right now, we look like the losing side," he says. "I'm the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms," Cersei objects. "Three," he corrects her. Talk soon turns to Tommen and Cersei clams up, much to Jaime's consternation.

Cut to a huge Greyjoy fleet, one led by the monstrous "Silence" of Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk). Cersei receives Euron from the Iron Throne, and Euron suggests an alliance to take out Daenerys' army. "Murdering them would make me feel a lot better," he says of his niece and nephew. "And since it appears all our treasonous family members are fighting for the same side, I thought we rightful monarchs could murder them together."

Jaime points out that Euron was the one who started the last Greyjoy rebellion by burning the Lannister fleet. Euron proposes (literally) to Cersei, offering her the Iron Fleet in exchange for her hand in marriage. She turns him down. Euron promises to return to King's Landing with a gift to prove his worth.

At Oldtown

Sam (John Bradley-West) is hard at work, and we get an amazing (and disgusting) montage of his daily routine. He keeps eyeing a locked restricted section in the library and works with the Archmaester (Jim Broadbent) performing an autopsy. Sam asks for access to the restricted section, and while an Archmaester eventually admits that he believes Sam's tales of White Walkers, he doesn't give him permission. Sam later swipes a key and steals several books.

At Winterfell

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod (Daniel Portman) train in the courtyard and it's not going well for Pod. Tormund strolls up, wearing a very suggestive look on his face. Brienne is not pleased.

Watching from above are Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) and Sansa. Littlefinger begins to try to pry into Sansa's affairs, but she shuts him down. "He wants something," Brienne warns Sansa. "I know exactly what he wants," Sansa replies.

In the Riverlands

Arya rides through the frosty woods and comes across a camp of singing Lannister soldiers. One is singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran in a cameo. The soldiers seem kind, and offer Arya to share their fire and rabbit. She's hesitant, but agrees. Arya seems genuinely surprised at the fact she likes these men. She tells them she is heading south to King's Landing. They're in the Riverlands keeping the peace after the "trouble" at the Twins. When they ask what her business is in King's Landing, she says, "I'm going to kill the Queen." There's silence for a moment, and then they all bust out laughing.

Also in the Riverlands

A cold snow is blowing over the convoy of the Brotherhood Without Banners. The Hound (Rory McCann) trades insults with Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye). The group approaches an abandoned farmstead, but Sandor does not like the look of the place. When they enter, they find the skeletons of a father holding his little girl, in what would appear to have been a mercy killing and suicide. Clegane met this family before. After the father offered him shelter in exchange for work on the farm, Clegane overpowered him and stole his money.

Later, Clegane asks why the Lord of Light keeps bringing Beric (Richard Dormer) back. Thoros convinces Sandor to look into the flames. Clegane sees a vision in the flames of the Wall where it meets the sea. "There's a castle there," he says. Clegane also sees a mountain, an arrowhead, and the dead marching past. "Thousands of them."  

Clegane buries the bodies in the middle of the night. "I'm sorry you're dead," he says. "You deserved better. Both of you."

At Oldtown

Back in Oldtown, Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) are reading the stolen books and Sam discovers a map of Dragonstone. He finds a marked a location of where the Targaryens found Dragonglass on the island and quickly pens a letter to Jon.

Later, while collecting the food bowls of those who are quarantined at the Citadel, an arm reaches through the door's hole and grabs Sam. The arm is attached to none other than Jorah (Iain Glen), and he asks if the Dragon Queen has made it to Westeros. "I haven't heard anything," a terrified Sam replies, before hastily shutting the door.

At Dragonstone

We get our first glimpse of Daenerys as her fleet approaches her ancestral home of Dragonstone. During this sequence, nobody speaks at all. She makes her way to shore and kneels on the beach, the enormity of the moment hitting her. She and her retinue climb to the gates of the hold, which has been left abandoned by Stannis.

Inside the throne room, Daenerys pulls down one of his banners before approaching the throne. Instead of sitting down, she goes to a side chamber, the one with the great table carved like Westeros. Tyrion follows her, and it's here that she speaks for the first and only time in the episode. "Shall we begin?" Cut to black, roll credits.

Final thoughts

This was a great way to start the season. Nothing really earth-shattering happened—except that Frey scene. Wow!  Some major pieces moved into place for what should be increasing action in the upcoming episodes.

It looks like Jon will need to take Sam's advice and head to Dragonstone for his Dragonglass, and we bet this won't be the last time that Sam and Jorah speak, either.

Notably absent from the episode: Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Theon (Alfie Allen). It was disappointing that Arya didn't go save her Uncle Edmure while she was at the Twins, but hopefully his wife Roslin Frey set him free after everyone else was killed.

See you next week!