‘The Northerners will never forget.” This was Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage) greatest fear after the Red Wedding.
And Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) never forgot. Every battle she has fought since then has built up the defining opening scene of season seven of the Emmy award-winning fantasy drama, Game of Thrones.
By impersonating Walder Frey, who she took out in the finale of last season, she watched with smug satisfaction as remaining lords of House Frey succumbed to the poison they unwittingly drank.
It was both unsettling and exciting to watch Arya exact her revenge in such a poetically-fashioned scene. A victim of circumstance, fans have watched Arya’s innocence stripped by so much brutality and challenges – let’s not forget her temporarily going blind.
But her feisty streak never abandoned her, even in the face of utter despair. When you really get down to the psychology of it all, she just wants her family reunited.
Maybe she has a secret yearning to recreate those happier times before battle lines were drawn and betrayal was an interchangeable currency!
Talking about family, Sansa and Jon clash over how he makes decisions. Sansa, toughened after being used as a ping-pong pawn in this fight for the iron throne, isn’t averse to fighting dirty. However, Jon remains guided by his moral compass. In standing up to his sibling, he also cemented his clout as a fitting King of the North.
However, I don’t think that is the last we’ll hear of these two disagreeing. Or of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) shamelessly attempting to get into Sansa’s pants under the guise of offering her counsel.
Meanwhile, Cersei flexes her might in this war. As always, Jaime, who has returned to King’s Landing, is willing to do her bidding as everyone prepares for the battle ahead.
The writers have been very clever in how they explore the different story arcs, with the first episode ending with Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) return to Dragonstone, which was once occupied by Stannis, with her dragons in tow. And, with much irony, having a Lannister (Tyrion) by her side as she prepares to go to war.
Game of Thrones ticks every box. The cinematography in recreating this mythological era of kings, queens and dragons is on point.
And the use of the dark hues continues to lend a menacing ambience to the storytelling.
Ed Sheeran. Picture: Supplied
The costumes and the makeup is praiseworthy, especially when it comes to Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane. His look, with the patchy hair and scar on the right side of his face, remains faultless.
Although the writers depend heavily on the principal cast to ensure the upsets flow as freely as the bloodshed, they have introduced a few new faces to deposit mayhem to the unfolding anarchy.
The inclusion of Ed Sheeran, kitted out in a soldier’s uniform, didn’t hurt the episode either, especially with them playing to his strength as a singer. Admittedly, he did look awkward in the scenes where he wasn’t doing anything – even though he tried really hard to mask it with a pensive look, as he stared into the fire.
Let’s not forget about the other looming threat posed by the White Walkers.
Hats off to the director for his dexterity in juggling so many story arcs and doing justice to each one of them.
He effortlessly manoeuvres his way through different scenes and settings, ensuring the viewer doesn’t dare stray from the screen – even for just a second.
* Game of Thrones 7 airs on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) at 9.30pm.