The start of a new Game of Thrones season is both an exciting and confusing time. On the one hand, it’s great to have this show back in our lives but on the other, season premieres tend to introduce more questions than they answer. Such is the case with the Season 7 opener, “Dragonstone,” which sets up a number of different conflicts for the season ahead. Here are my 10 most burning questions going into next week’s episode, “Stormborn.”
10. Will Arya Finish Her List?
After poisoning every last Frey at the Twins in the opening of “Dragonstone,” Arya sets off on the road and encounters a group of Lannister soldiers. Rather than kill them outright, Arya sits down and chats it up with her new pals and tells them that she’s headed to King’s Landing to kill the queen. As longtime Game of Thrones fans know, Cersei Lannister is at the top of Arya’s infamous kill list … but she’s not the only name left to cross out. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the remaining names on Arya’s list are: The Mountain, Melissandre, The Hound, Ilyn Payne, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr. Arya’s return to King’s Landing would also put her in close proximity to The Mountain and Ilyn Payne, so is it possible that she’ll make attempts on both of their lives before moving onto the queen?
The Mountain is half-dead at this point as it is but he’s still terrifyingly powerful and would be a tough opponent for anyone to take down. Still, it would be poetic if the person who takes The Mountain down isn’t another burly soldier, but rather a young female assassin with a small pointy sword. That being said, with Arya about to be reunited with her long-lost direwolf Nymeria, perhaps Arya won’t end up in King’s Landing at all and instead turn her attention north to Winterfell and finally reuniting with the remaining members of her family.
9. Who/What Will Euron Bring Cersei?
If there’s anything resembling a cliffhanger in the premiere, it’s arguably Euron Greyjoy’s promise to return to Cersei bearing a “great gift” … and I don’t think he’s talking about jewelry. Euron obviously has a specific someone (or something) in mind, but who/what might it be? Tyrion is arguably the most likely candidate, as nothing would bring Cersei more happiness than to see her treasonous brother brought before her in chains, but there are no shortage of people or creatures whose capture would make Cersei’s day. Euron could be after Ellaria Sand, one of Dany’s dragons, or even Daenerys herself. Whatever the case, I’m not dreading the upcoming naval battle between Euron and Dany’s fleets, as it seems pretty clear that Euron is going to make at least one of the “good guy’s” life a living hell.
8. What’s Going On in Dorne?
As mentioned in my episode recap, Dorne was the one major storyline omitted from the season premiere. Cersei makes reference to the southern kingdom’s newly-formed alliance with Highgarden, but we don’t actually see Lady Olenna Tyrell or the Sand Snakes on-screen. I think there are a few good reasons for this. By now, I’m sure the Game of Thrones writing team is well aware of how much disdain fans have for everything having to do with Dorne over the past couple of seasons, so they probably figured it was best not to bring an already busy season premiere to a grinding halt with a return to the south.
However, going a step further, I highly doubt that we’ll see Dorne again for awhile, if ever, as there simply isn’t anything going on there right now. The preview for next week’s episode, “Stormborn,” shows Ellaria Sand in Dragonstone, so it’s safe to assume that any important character who was still in Dorne at the end of last season has moved further north so that they can actually have a meaningful impact on the story. If this is indeed the case, I can’t say I’m going to miss Dorne and its momentum-draining narrative direction. Good riddance!
7. How Long Will Jaime Stand by Cersei?
The battle lines for the next war for the Iron Throne are essentially drawn at this point, but allegiances will still be tested and no one’s allegiance seems to be more in question right now than Jaime Lannister’s. Though Jaime remains at his sister’s side for now, all signs are pointing to an increasing crisis of conscience for the Kingslayer. That look of concern on Jaime’s face during Cersei’s crowning ceremony at the end of last season has started to be vocalized, as Jaime pushes back on nearly every one of his sister’s decisions in this episode. He seems positively dismayed by Cersei’s lack of emotion over the deaths of all three of their children, makes a point to reiterate how screwed the Lannister army is against the rest of the seven kingdoms, and is outright hostile to Cersei’s new ally, Euron Greyjoy (not to mention that Cersei again brings up the fact that Jaime helped Tyrion escape).
All signs seem to be pointing toward a falling out between the last remaining Lannisters but who will strike first? Will it be Jaime tearfully plunging a knife into his sister’s back, or might Cersei heed Euron’s advice and stab her sibling before he has a chance to betray her? Whatever the case, I don’t see the love Jaime and Cersei have for one another being enough to hold them together through the upcoming war.
6. What’s Littlefinger’s Game?
Seriously though, what the heck is Lord Baelish up to these days? It’s pretty obvious that he’s still lusting after Sansa — something that Sansa is keenly aware of at this point — and that he’s trying to sow the seeds of distrust between her and Jon Snow, but what is his next move going to be? Coming to Sansa and Jon’s aid during the Battle of the Bastards means that both characters are in Littlefinger’s debt and Jon can’t afford to lose the support of the Knights of the Vale at this point, so he probably wants to stay on civil terms. However, there is no way Littlefinger is content with his present situation, especially with Sansa no longer giving him the time of day, so what, if anything, is he going to do about it?
Honestly, if it were up to me, I would kill off Littlefinger sooner rather than later as he hasn’t been an interesting schemer for multiple seasons at this point, so much so that I don’t even really care all that much about what his latest scheme might be. He’s served his purpose at this point and since I don’t see any chance of him realizing his dream of sitting on the Iron Throne, it’s time we bid adieu to Lord Baelish unless he’s going to do something significant very soon.
5. CleganeBowl is that ever going to happen?
It’s becoming increasingly less likely with each passing episode that we’ll ever see Sandor “The Hound” Clegane duke it out with his brother Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in a battle to the death fans have dubbed #CleganeBowl. The Hound is currently headed north alongside the Brotherhood Without Banners and the Mountain is still employed as Cersei’s undead personal bodyguard in King’s Landing. Still, as unlikely as the CleganeBowl is looking at this point, we can’t rule it out completely.
It’s a stretch, but some fans have pointed out that the Hound’s reference to seeing a “mountain shaped like an arrowhead” in the flames could be a reference to his brother, signalling that the two are still destined to meet one final time. At this point, I only really want CleganeBowl to occur if it feels like a natural progression of the narrative and not manufactured in order to satisfy a longtime fan theory. There are 12 episodes of Game of Thrones left to make this happen, so let’s see if it does!
4. Why IS Beric Donadarrion still alive?
One of my favorite exchanges in the premiere is the conversation between Beric Dondarrion and Sandor Clegane, in which the latter asks the Brotherhood Without Banners leader why he thinks the Lord of Light has allowed him to come back from the dead so many times. As the Hound points out, Beric is not an especially noteworthy man and has no discernible qualities that would make him so favored with the Lord of Light, so why does he keep coming back. Beric, for his part, seems to feel the same way and is wracked with questions of his ultimate purpose, which begs the question: why IS he still alive?
Jon Snow’s resurrection made sense because he’s not only an valuable leader to those around him, but his Stark and Targaryen blood signifies him as a figure of great importance. Beric, on the other hand, is the one-eyed leader of a band of ne’er-do-wells; not a “great man” by any means. I love the fact that the show is directly commentating on this question by having the Hound interrogate Beric on the matter and I’m fascinated to see whether Beric does something of great significance in the episodes to come or simply dies an unremarkable death, thus making Game of Thrones mythology even more confusing than it already is.
3. How Did Jorah End up in Oldtown?
One of the biggest surprises of “Dragonstone” is the revelation that Jorah Mormont now resides in the Citadel and judging by the look of his arm, his battle with greyscale is not going well. It was only a matter of time before we saw the old bear’s grizzled face (or arm, anyway) again after Daenerys sent him away last season in search of a cure for his disease and when you think about it, he’s probably in the best possible location. If anyone knows how to treat greyscale, it’s going to be the maesters of Oldtown but if they know how to treat Jorah, it sure doesn’t look like they’ve done a very good job yet.
What’s interesting about Jorah’s reveal is that it’s unclear whether he’s being held as a prisoner or if his cell is meant to be a quarantine of sorts. My guess is the latter and it’s safe to say that Sam is going to have more interactions with Jorah in the weeks to come and will likely learn a lot from the sickly knight about Daenerys and, most importantly, her dragons.
2. Are Jon And Sansa Headed For a Falling Out?
Cersei and Jaime aren’t the only squabbling siblings in Westeros, as newly-declared King in the North Jon Snow is finding it tough to get things done with his
sister cousin Sansa by his side. Specifically, Jon is unhappy with Sansa for undermining him in front of all his bannermen (and women), as he’s worried it will make him appear weak. What follows is a pretty fascinating exchange that touches on the pair’s differing philosophies on ruling: Jon still wants to adhere to the honorable example set by Ned and Robb, while Sansa believes there is some value to be found in the Cersei Lannister “eliminate anyone who crosses you” school of leadership.
It’s clear that the two will need to sort out their differences and work together as a team if the North is to survive, but will that actually happen? Sophie Turner has said previously that Sansa will be “unlikable” this season, while Kit Harington has teased that things go beyond a mere sibling squabble, but how bad will things get between them?
1. Will Ed Sheeran’s Character Meet a Grisly End?
I included this question mostly just to bring up how distracting pop musician Ed Sheeran’s cameo was in “Dragonstone” but also because I’m curious whether or not he’ll show up in next week’s episode. I half-expected Arya to slaughter singing Ed and his whole band of Lannister soldiers, so I was a bit surprised to see him survive to the end of the episode. That being said, next week’s episode could begin with the whole camp being set upon by Nymeria and her pack of savage wolves, which would naturally lead to Ed Sheeran’s throat being ripped out. If I were a world famous musician who got the opportunity to guest star on a show known for its graphic violence, I would absolutely demand that my character be killed off in gory fashion; I just hope Ed thinks along the same lines.