From a bloody feast to Daenerys finally returning home, “Dragonstone,” Game of Thrones’ seventh season premiere, more than lives up to its status as the opening episode in what will be the epic fantasy series’ final act. Like past premieres, “Dragonstone” is primarily concerned with setup work for the rest of the season and as such, there are very few action-heavy moments outside of the incredibly bloody scene that opens the episode. If this was a normal season of Game of Thrones, I think it would be easy to criticize “Dragonstone” for its overall lack of forward momentum but since there are only seven episodes in total this year, we won’t have to wait long for things to really get moving. So what’s new and exciting in the mad, violent world of Westeros? Let’s check in on the major events that happened this week.
Arya Wipes a Family Off the Map
When Game of Thrones does a cold open, you know you’re in for something special. Case in point: the jaw-dropping scene that opens “Dragonstone,” which features Walder Frey hosting an impromptu feast with his family at the Twins. Of course, this isn’t really Lord Frey and even though this quickly becomes apparent, the scene waits just long enough to show Arya taking off Walder’s facing to let the carnage she has wrought really sink in. This ends up being such a great send-off for actor David Bradley, that I wasn’t even really too concerned with the question of how Arya could possibly imitate his voice so perfectly (either wearing someone’s face gives you their voice or Arya is really good at impersonations). While this scene does feel a bit too neat and tidy for Game of Thrones — Arya eliminates not only an entire family but a whole storyline in one fell swoop — it’s such a well-executed moment of catharsis that I really can’t find much fault with it.HBO