After the Long Night of the between-season hiatus, new episodes of Game of Thrones are finally here: The seventh and penultimate season begins Sunday, July 16.
The season will be just seven episodes instead of the typical ten. But if clues from the descriptions of the first three episodes are any indication, it will be more action-packed than ever. The second episode alone suggests two major battles on land and sea.
When Season 6 ended, Jon Snow and Sansa reclaimed Winterfell from the Boltons and the Northern Houses hailed Jon as the new King in the North. But there might be trouble in paradise going into Season 7 because during this otherwise moving moment, Sansa exchanged an ambiguous glance with the perpetually shady Littlefinger.
For his part, Bran Stark used his greensight powers to peek into the past and learn that Jon Snow’s real parents are Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Going into Season 7, questions remain about how Jon will learn this information, who else knows it besides Bran, and whether Jon is Rhaegar’s bastard or legitimate son and heir.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Cersei channeled her inner Mad Queen and shockingly blew up the Great Sept of Baelor, killing the High Sparrow and every Tyrell except Olenna.
After Tommen killed himself in response, Cersei took the Iron Throne for herself. Jaime did not exactly react with joy — so their dynamic will see a new tension in Season 7.
Also causing unrest in House Lannister? The fact that Tyrion is sailing to Westeros as the Hand of Cersei’s rival queen, Daenerys Targaryen. The end of Season 6 saw Dany ally with Theon and Yara Greyjoy — who were on the run from their vicious uncle Euron.
Season 7 will see her land at Stannis Baratheon’s old base Dragonstone, which is also an ancient Targaryen stronghold.
After two seasons of assassin school in Braavos, Arya Stark finally returned to Westeros and killed Walder Frey as revenge for the Red Wedding. Meanwhile, her friend Gendry who has been missing since he took a rowing trip in Season 3 continued to be missing. Maybe Season 7, Gendry.
And as far as minor characters, Jon Snow banished Melisandre to punish her for killing Shireen Baratheon. Sandor Clegane triumphantly returned and joined forces with the Brotherhood Without Banners — which includes the Red Priest Thoros of Myr and the eye-patch wearing, frequently resurrected Beric Dondarrion. Both men haven’t appeared since Season 3, but the Season 7 trailer shows them teaming up with Jon in the North.
But let’s face it, what we all really want to know is what Tyrion’s face will look like when he learns that Cersei is Queen.
At long last, we’ll find out.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres July 16 on HBO at 9PM ET.
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