Game of Thrones – “Shall We Begin”

The culturally dominant phenomenon that has brought a whole new audience to the fantasy genre by implementing human drama, social and political commentary, Game of Thrones is finally coming to an end before the final book is even released. This may be for the best, as rather important chunks of the books have been skipped over or shoehorned in last minute (cough~Euron Greyjoy) and so we may end up with two rather different finales; George R.R. Martin has said that he’s used the television series to toy with new ideas, and what a way to add one final upset.

Loose ends are coming together. We ended the last series with all the major players stepping onto the board, as though every moment before it were only backstory, and every moment of this new season’s premier lists the first moves. Also the wardrobe has gone a shade or three darker than it was before. Here is the Game in action, a Spoiler Warning is in full effect.

The Wolf and Hound

Vengeance for the Red Wedding, at long last. Arya dons the face of Walder Frey and wipes out his entire bloodline in a single brutal strike, leaving enough of the women alive to spread the word, “Winter has come for House Frey”, every shred of the boisterous and youthful girl stick fighting with tavern boys, given in to the cold blooded killer. But she may not be completely lost, she has a moment with a small brigade of Lannister troops (starring Ed Sheeran) who sit and share food and drink with her, and tell her tales of home. I am so curious to see how that plays out but I suspect it’ll be blood.

And on the subject of humanity not entirely lost, Clegaine is brought back to a turning point for both himself and Arya, the farmhouse where they abandoned a father and daughter to starve to death after showing them hospitality. Travelling the road with the Brotherhood Without Banners, he undergoes a change that began with Arya leaving him for dead, overcoming his fears of fire as he shares the visions of the Lord of Light, and buries his victims with his past. It’s a rather transparent metaphor, but it’s a change that’s likely to make him powerful.

A True King of the North

I find it rather entertaining that Jon Snow has united and galvanised the north unlike any of his legitimate brothers who left their folk divided and at the mercy of traitors. It lends greater credence to the theory that he’s actually a Targaryen, although I think it has more to do with the backing of Lyanna Mormont who remains as terrifying as ever. He has turned his people to the efforts of a new war, one for survival rather than revenge or any claim to a throne, and only Sansa is warning him about the threat approaching from the south.

Brother and Sister

There’s been one question being thrown around since Jamie walked in to the throne room in time to see his sister accepting the crown. Which one of them will kill the other? Well after their conversation with Euron Greyjoy that question has gotten even bigger and louder:

“You murdered your own brother”
“You should try it, feels wonderful.”

But I sincerely don’t think he’s talking about Cersei killing Jamie. He’s left King’s Landing with the greatest armada in Westeros in pursuit of a gift to bring the queen a gift in the hopes of wedding her, something priceless. I anticipate he’ll be back with Tyrion and a big knife, gift wrapped.

Ice and Fire

The defacto first scene – after opening credits – is a simple flyby of the army of the dead arriving in a bank of fog that seems to walk with them. It lasts only a few seconds but serves multiple functions: The first and most obvious, a casual reminder that not even giants are immune to the power of the Night King and his White Walkers; it lends a face to the fact that winter has indeed come, the frozen corpses shambling in darkness and dragging the cold behind them; and finally to frame the narrative, Ice at the beginning…

Fire at the end. The fleet of the Dragon Queen lands at Dragonstone, and silently, solemnly, the last Targaryen reclaims her home. Her children are now the size of her ships, and make the enormous keep look like a toy. Only three words, “Shall we begin” as she stands over the carved map table of the war room that we saw Stannis Baratheon talk over as he led an army that looked to devastate Westeros, only to collapse at every turn.

It’s important to remember that Daenerys is barely aware of the frozen army descending from the north, despite the fact that she is best equipped to handle them, sitting on a trio of dragons and a mountain of dragonglass. Tyrion and Varys might have to temper her conquest until she’s dealt with the more substantial problem.

Ok, I’m done wittering, please commence wild conjectures and theory sharing. I will be talking about this for weeks and I look forward to sharing this with you lovely people to the bitter end.