[Caution! Spoilers ahead]

Winter is finally here! With Season 6’s finale episode ‘The Winds of Winter’ airing on the 26th of June 2016, it has been all too long since viewers have gotten their latest Game of Thrones fix, and this much anticipated episode did not disappoint. Whilst many of the opening episodes of a new season are generally considered slow moving, this episode started off at a fast pace, and while it faltered towards the end, overall it was an excellent introduction to Game of Throne’s seventh season.

The opening scene was utterly fantastic and a great premise to what Season 7 has to offer. It immediately captivates viewers as to whether or not they are watching a flashback (as Season 4 opened with Cersei’s flashback of her prophecy by Maggy the Frog), but as the scene progresses it becomes clear what is really going on. Season 7 kicks in almost immediately after Season 6 so fantastically ended, and is not afraid to wipe out an entire family in one vengeful swoop.

Arya seems set on a ruthless trail for revenge, emphasised further by perhaps the most surprising revelation of the episode, that Arya is headed for Kingslanding rather than Winterfell, likely in pursuit of Cersei over reuniting with her family. This is a rather worrying reveal for big fans of her character, suggesting that she has become more intent on revenge and blood thirst than loyalty to her house, even if said revenge is in their name. However, I am hoping that the stories she hears from around that slightly bizarre campfire may make her wish for her family over murder. Speaking of the said scene, musician Ed Sheeran’s cameo was by far the most prominent appearance by a celebrity so far. Whilst many are fairly subtle, with the said celebrity either immediately dying or having little or no lines, anyone aware of the anticipated appearance immediately picks up on the fact that Ed Sheeran is singing before you even see his face, as Arya enters the scene. For me personally, I found it a little distracting that he had such a prominent presence in the scene and potentially a further presence in another episode, simply because he is so recognisable.

Euron’s scene with Cersei was still a little lackluster in comparison to his ruthless book self, yet the scene remained exciting as we are left to wonder what the gift Euron hopes to bring to Cersei will be. My main guesses would be either Tyrion or Ellaria Sand, seeing as they would be some of the only characters I can think of as being worthy enough to warrant a marriage between the two (and what a frightening power couple they would make). After examining the trailers and next weeks episode my bet is Ellaria, who seems to be out at sea with the Greyjoy’s rather than Tyrion, who is currently rather secure at Dragonstone with Daenerys for the time being. I also found Euron’s costume a slightly odd choice in comparison to the magnificent armour and costumes surrounding him in the scene (Cersei’s new queens guard are looking truly badass). Of course, the Greyjoy family are known not to care for fancy embroidery or elaborate costuming, but Euron seemed slightly out of place and rather modern looking, more like a H&M reject than a fantasy medieval character.

Euron promises Cersei a ‘gift’

The scenes involving Cersei were fantastic, Lena Headey is a truly exceptional actress who never disappoints, and you can see that Cersei is clearly isolating herself and becoming more and more delusional and aggressive. It is clear that the directors are hinting that Season 7 may mark the final straw in Jamie and Cersei’s relationship, as Cersei completely dismisses the death of their last child, declaring it a betrayal, soon begins embarking on suitors to secure her position on the throne. Whilst she obviously does need allies, her treatment of Jamie just emphasises her delusion. Jamie is a seasoned battle commander and her most useful (and pretty much only) companion, if she continues to take him for granted it may well be Cersei’s last season on the show.

Daenerys’ scene is immensely satisfying for fans, especially those dedicated book readers who have remained loyal since the first book in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, which came out in 1996. This was thrilling for  some early readers, who have been waiting for Dany to return to Westeros for over 20 years. However most of the scene was straight from the trailer, with nothing particular major happening other than Daenerys returning to her birthplace. However, this scene works primarily to set up the scene for the next episode, with her new throne and map table mirroring Cersei’s floor map, the episode ends with anticipation for the rest of the season, the pieces are placed and the board is ready for the beginning of the end of Game of Thrones as she asks, ‘Shall we begin?’.