After a three-month wait from the usual April premiere, Game of Thrones Season 7 is upon us. Winter has come for the penultimate season and over the course of thirteen episodes including Season 8, the showrunners are slowly setting up the pieces for the endgame.
We may not have Bran Stark’s prophetic powers as a greenseer, but there may be several hints at what the future holds for the Seven Kingdoms in the season’s opening episode, "Dragonstone."
Shall we begin?
(SPOILER WARNING for those who have yet to watch Episode 1.)
Episode one opens after the assassination of Lord Walder Frey in the last season. Arya Stark assumes his identity and takes a page from the wedding of Joffrey Baratheon by surreptitiously serving poisoned wine to Frey’s sons in the same dining hall where the grisly Red Wedding took place. She tells one witness to the massacre to deliver the message that the north remembers. Arya’s kill list is long and this includes several people such as the sadistic Kingsguard Meryn Trant who killed her mentor Syrio Forel, Ilyn Payne who executed Ned Stark, Gregor Clegane who killed people at Harrenhal, and, of course, Cersei Lannister. With her new skill as stealthy assassin, she may succeed in killing some of them once she sets foot on King’s Landing.
The Night King
After an encounter with Bran which resulted in Hodor’s noble self-sacrifice, the Night King and his wight army marches on, possibly still in pursuit. Before the White Walkers appeared, however, we see a billowing frost cloud which could be a sign they are the source of the freezing blight. This hints at the endless winter that may befall on the entire Westeros should they succeed. They are a formidable force, even adding undead giants to their increasing numbers. There seems to be a connection between Bran and the Night King after events of "The Door" episode in Season 6. Bran seems to be permanently on the Night King’s radar and another clash might be inevitable.
Jon Snow and Sansa Stark
At a meeting between the houses loyal to the Starks, Sansa openly expresses her disagreement with Jon Snow’s decision to let the houses who joined forces with the Boltons keep their castles. Sansa warns Jon that he may end up dead (again) like Rob and Ned if he doesn’t play smart. Jon wants to focus on the threat of the White Walkers while forgetting another threat which Sansa says he should never ignore: Cersei Lannister. The rift between Sansa and Jon may widen and present a problem for the Starks who need to be united against all threats.
Life in the Citadel in Oldtown is even harsher than the one experienced by Sam Tarly in Castle Black as a brother of the Night’s Watch. After days filled with cleaning soiled chamber pots and other menial tasks, he is able to access a tome that shows a map of Dragonstone, a Targaryen castle previously held by Stannis Baratheon. Underneath the castle is a natural deposit of dragonglass, the substance for defeating White Walkers. He sends a raven to inform Jon Snow of this discovery. This little bit of information may hint that Jon needs to work with the new owner of Dragonstone. Since Sam has access to other books in the library, it’s possible he may stumble upon other discoveries that may determine who is the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
Standing in the middle of a floor-sized map of Westeros, Cersei Lannister plots her next move. His brother-lover Jaime gives her a reality check by talking about dwindling resources and more enemies than allies. Dornish forces led by Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes are hell-bent on destroying the Lannisters. House Tyrell under Lady Oleanna have allied with Ellaria to destroy their mutual enemy. The Greyjoy faction led by Yara and Theon have sworn a hundred ships to the cause of Daenerys. Between fighting these forces, the Lannisters might be spreading themselves too thin once the Northerners start heading for King’s Landing. Assuming her stash of wildfire is not yet depleted, Cersei may also need to deal with the White Walker army if they breach the Wall.
Euron Greyjoy, however, promised to dispose of at least one of her enemies (Tyrion?), after his swipe at killing a brother.
Sandor Clegane’s vision in the fire, where he saw a wall of ice near the sea could possibly refer to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, distant outpost located farther along the Wall. In The Hound’s vision, it is under attack by White Walkers. This could point to another major battle in a future episode similar to the invasion of Hardhome. His reference to a mountain, on the other hand, could be an allusion to his brother, Gregor Clegane, also known as The Mountain. There might be an inevitable clash between the The Hound and his resurrected brother.
The symbolism of Dany reclaiming Dragonstone, the traditional Targaryen stronghold, is obvious. Historically, it was once the seat of the most powerful house in Westeros which dominated the Seven Kingdoms using dragon power. With her three fully-grown dragons, she will do her best to become a Targaryen ruler from the days of old. With a mountain of dragonglass beneath her castle and dragon fire at her disposal, she may also be the only one who can stop the onslaught of the White Walkers. She may also use her stockpile of dragonglass as a bargaining tool for gaining more allies to join in her claim to the Iron Throne and overthrow Cersei.