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TV Review: Game of Thrones (Season 7, Episode 1)

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One-liners, powerful women and... Ed Sheeran. Game of Thrones is back.

With Daenerys finally on her way to the mainland, this season is sure to be a big one. Not only is the basis of a Great War between the living being established, but Winter is here and the dead are on the way too.

Arya, using Walder Frey’s face - whom she had killed last season - gets the honour of opening the season, bringing some much-needed revenge to the Freys for killing her family in the infamous Red Wedding back in season three. Better late than never!

Meanwhile, Cersei, “Queen of the seven kingdoms” (“three at best”, says Jaime), is surrounded by enemies and desperate for allies. Despite her unsavoury situation, her elegance is undeniable. Love her or hate her, she looks like she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, and Lena Heady plays her perfectly. Now that she’s not impeded by any pesky kings, she can finally be the ruler she always wanted to be. Too bad there’s a much cooler queen heading her way, and an army of White Walkers threatening to destroy them all.

Sam is not having the best time either, as we see from a symphony of horrible chores he has to endure over in the Citadel. When the scene changes to a locked door in the library accompanied by mysterious music, it’s predictable that he will end up stealing a key to access the books to get some information on the White Walkers. 

Speaking of White Walkers, Bran has finally reached the Wall, after his seemingly never-ending journey. We can only hope that it won’t be another two seasons before he reunites with Sansa and Jon Snow, which is bound to be an emotional scene. Jon and Sansa are still in Winterfell, preoccupied with the monsters behind the wall. To Jon, Cersei is barely a blip on his radar. 

Now we have to address the elephant in the room, in the form of the most unsubtle cameo ever. Apparently, the writers of the show wanted Ed Sheeran to appear to surprise Maisie Williams (Arya), who is a big fan of the singer. It’s not the first musical cameo of the show; members of Coldplay and Snow Patrol have turned up before, but they were virtually unnoticeable and had no lines. When we meet Ed Sheeran’s character he is, quite literally, singing around a campfire.

Seeing a pop culture icon in the Game of Thrones universe could not be more out of place and is hard to take seriously. It is a pointless scene, consisting of Arya eating some rabbit with a few soldiers she has come across on her way to King’s Landing, and discussing things we couldn’t care less about. If they insist on bringing in celebrities for cameos, they need to stick to the non-speaking kind.

Arya’s former pal, the Hound, is still with the Brotherhood of Banners, who worship the Lord of Light. As Clegane points out in one of many great one-liners, it’s ironic that he ends up with people obsessed with fire.

It appears they must be important though, since the Lord of Light keeps bringing Beric back from the dead, and shows visions in the fire. What role they will play in the Great War is still unknown. 

To finish, Daenerys reaches her birthplace: Dragonstone. After symbolically pulling down the Baratheon sigil, she admires the place where her ancestors used to rule. 

This is accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack, consisting of a different take of the opening tune. This then becomes a powerful silence in the last few moments, allowing us to fully appreciate how far Dany has come.

With Tyrion as her advisor, Yara’s fleet at the ready, and three dragons, things seem to be going well for her - which, in Game of Thrones, probably means something terrible is about to happen.

Overall, episode one brought a strong introduction to the characters we have been missing for a year, with each scene bringing important information and beautiful cinematography (except for that one bizarre scene with a certain British singer). Even with everything going on, connections are beginning to form and things are getting more serious.

No matter whose side you’re on, it is sure to be a compelling season. 

Game of Thrones airs every Monday at 9pm on Sky Atlantic.  

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