Game of Thrones picks up directly where it ended last season. Dragonstone comes out firing with another epic coup de grace. Walder Frey (David Bradley) has gathered all of the Freys for a banquet. He cheers them for killing the Starks in cold blood, but admonishes them for unwisely not killing them all. "A wolf left standing is a threat to all of the sheep," he cackles. The Freys begin to vomit, convulse, and drop dead to the ground. The women are stupefied as Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) pulls her mask away, "Winter has come for the Freys" and that "the North remembers".
After the opening credits, there is a dream sequence of the dead being lead by the Night King. The giant, Wun Wun, is now a white walker. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) comes out of the trance. He and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) have made it to the Wall. Edd (Ben Crompton) opens the gate. He at first is skeptical of the pair, but the Three-Eyed Raven tells him of his past fighting the white walkers. Bran says the Night King is coming to kill them all. Edd lets them in with grave countenance.
At Winterfell, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is still at council with the Lords of the North. He tells them they must find Dragonglass. It kills the white walkers and is now "more valuable than gold". The Wildlings will go to the abandoned castles on the wall. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) declares they are the new Night Watch. Jon also decrees that everyone over ten years old will start training how to fight. When Lord Glover (Tim McInnerny) scoffs at his granddaughter with a spear, Lady Mormont (Bella Ramsey) shuts him down. Everyone will learn how to fight.
Jon surprises the lords by allowing the Umbers and Karstarks to retain their castles. Sansa (Sophie Turner) openly challenges this ruling. She says loyal men deserve the castles. Jon rebukes her. He tells everyone he has executed traitors before, but will not destroy a family because of a few. He calls the young Karstark and Umber to the table. They swear their allegiance. The room claps approvingly at this decision.
Outside the hall, Sansa and Jon continue to argue. He's upset because she challenged him so openly. She warns he cannot be naive like their father and Robb. They were both killed because they made honorable decisions. A maester then delivers a raven from Kings Landing. Cersei (Lena Headey) beckons Jon to kneel before her or be branded a traitor. Sansa says they cannot ignore her. She's killed everyone she considers a threat. Jon says the Lannister army is a thousand miles away. Winter is here. The Night King is their most pressing threat.
At Kings Landing, Cersei and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) look at a map of Westeros. He wants to talk about Tommen's death. She says there's no reason. They are the last Lannisters left. Surrounded by enemies, she wants to know his plan for their survival. He says that Daenerys will undoubtedly land at Dragonstone. It's where she was born and has a deep water port for her ships. He also says that they need to find new allies. Cersei has taken care of that.
Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) and his Iron Borne fleet enter Kings Landing. He's come looking for a wife. Cersei sits atop the Iron Throne listening to Euron's proposal. Her hand in marriage for his loyalty and support. She says he's lied before. How can they trust him now? Euron praises Jaime for killing enough Greyjoys to advance his cause. He promises to return to Cersei with a treasure that will prove his proposal.
At the Citadel library, Sam (John Bradley) is put through his paces. A long montage of him filing books, cleaning chamber pots, and feeding the elderly follows. It's truly disgusting work. In the library, he sees the restricted books behind a locked gate. An older maester unlocks the door and goes in the study. The next day, Sam is assisting Archmaester Marwyn (Jim Broadbent) with an autopsy. He asks again if he can enter the restricted area. Sam reminds him that he is there to learn about the white walkers. Marwyn surprises Sam by saying he believes his story, but he doesn't believe the white walkers are that dire a threat. The Wall has protected them all for thousands of years. That night, Sam steals the keys of the old maester. He breaks into the restricted area and takes a few books.
Back at Winterfell, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is training Podrick (Daniel Portman). She's distracted by the lusty Tormund. Podrick lands a blow, but soon pays a price. Sansa watches from above as Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) tries to cajole her. She ignores his talk. Brienne approaches them and Littlefinger slithers away. Brienne asks Sansa what he wants. Why is he still there? They still need the Knights of the Vale. Sansa replies coolly that she knows exactly what he wants from her.
Arya is on horseback riding through the woods. She comes upon some Lannister men roasting rabbits. They offer her some of their food. She's surprised by their friendly and calm manners. They ask her why she is heading to Kings Landing. She replies that she's going to kill the queen. They pause for a second before erupting in laughter.
Further north, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann) is still traveling with the Brotherhood without Banners. They come upon a deserted house. It is the same farm where he had stolen money from the farmer and his daughter. They find their bodies together on the bed. The Hound is overcome with guilt. He asks Beric (Richard Dormer) why the Lord of Light keeps bringing him back to life. Beric does not know, but believes it is divinity that brought the Hound to them. The Hound is told to look into the fire. He sees the army of the white walkers approaching the southernmost castle of the Wall. That night, he goes out into the snow and buries the bodies.
Sam is at home with Gilly (Hannah Murray). She begs him to stop studying the books. He swears he must find something to help Jon. Gilly opens a book about Dragonstone. They learn that the castle sits atop a mountain of Dragonglass. Sam writes Jon with their discovery. He returns to work the next day. He's feeding a group of men locked away. One of them opens his portal with scaly hands. "Has she arrived", he whispers to Sam. It is the voice of Ser Jorah (Iain Glen).
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) looks at Dragonstone longingly as the armada comes to shore. She walks ahead, past a gate of dragons, up steep stairs to the throne room. The Unsullied open the throne room. She glides past the throne, into the chamber with Stanis's battle map of Westeros. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) arrives at her side. She looks at the map and asks, "Where do we begin?"
The game is certainly afoot this season on HBO. Dragonstone jumps headfirst into a plethora of plot updates. Jon is the King of the North, but Sansa is not holding back. I view their bickering as a good thing. She's not going to allow Jon to behave foolishly, and she seems to have Littlefinger on a tight leash. Cersei joining forces with Euron is a smart move. The Lannisters need the Iron Borne fighters. Daenerys is back at the castle of her birth, which just happens to sit on the Dragon Glass mother lode. Arya, Sam, The Hound, and Ser Jorah remain on the outskirts, but are key players. Game of Thrones did not hold back in this thrilling premiere.