After over a year of waiting, winter has finally arrived this summer with the icy, fiery new episode of Game of Thrones Season 7. After the viciously satisfying opening sequence, the episode favored exposition over action, laying groundwork for the events to come. While there may not have been any ultra-shocking deaths or major battle scenes, there were plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle Easter Eggs and interesting references to be found, even without access to the restricted section of the library...
Shall we begin?
Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 already and want to avoid spoilers, you have already come way too far. Turn around now before it's too late, and come back when you're ready for winter.
10. 'Hands Of Gold'
You’d have to be blinder than Aemon Targaryen to miss Ed Sheeran’s cameo in this episode, but while it might have felt too obvious to be believable, the song Sheeran and his companions were singing is actually a George R.R. Martin original from the books:
He rode through the streets of the city,
Down from his hill on high,
O’er the wynds and the steps and the cobbles,
He rode to a woman’s sigh.
For she was his secret treasure,
She was his shame and his bliss.
And a chain and a keep are nothing,
Compared to a woman's kiss
For hands of gold are always cold,
But a woman’s hands are warm
In Book 3: A Storm of Swords, Symon Silver Tongue writes the song to blackmail Tyrion after finding out about his affair with Shae. The show even referenced the lyrics when Tyrion murders Shae, strangling her with a golden chain. But now, the phrase “Hands of Gold” is even more applicable to golden-handed Jaime and his barely secret affair with his “shame and his bliss,” Cersei.
9. The Cure For Greyscale
The Catspaw dagger isn’t the only interesting thing to be found in Sam’s restricted book. As he leafs through the pages, he also passes over a few paragraphs on the cure for greyscale. Apparently, ingesting a bit of dragonglass has the potential to halt the sickness and cure a patient who is strong enough to withstand the side effects. Will Sam be the one to cure Jorah?
8. Wun Wun The Wight: What Can't The Night King Reanimate?
Thanks to Bran and his handy visions, we get to spy on the Night King and his ever-growing army of the dead. While most of the visions we've seen so far have taken place in the past, we know that Bran can see the future, as he saw a flicker of Cersei's wildfire mayhem before it actually transpired. In this latest vision, when the camera reveals those three zombie giants marching behind the Night King, the one front and center has only one eye; you'll remember that Ramsay Bolton shot Wun Wun through the eye at Winterfell, killing him on the spot at the end of the Battle of the Bastards. If Bran's vision is indeed of the future and not the past, then it looks like the Night King has made it as far South as Winterfell, reanimating deads as he goes. Wun Wun's pierced eye has been regenerated with a wicked blue wight one. Still not convinced it's the same guy? Well according to IMDb, it's the same exact actor: Ian Whyte.
This is a massive revelation for the future of the war between the Others and the humans. Firstly, it shows that the army of the dead will definitely find their way South of the Wall (and soon!). Secondly, it shows that any dead people or creatures are eligible for reanimation, not just those that have been killed by White Walker magic. Finally, seeing the giants kissed by ice makes you wonder what other sort of mythical creatures the Night King might be able to bring over to the Dark Side... dare we even suggest it — dragons?
7. Ashes To Ashes
While a Stark reunion is almost certain to unfold this season, getting all the Lannister siblings back together again without bloodshed is about as likely as Ned Stark sewing his own head back on. Back in Season 2, when Cersei captured and abused Ros — mistakenly believing her to be Shae — Tyrion promised his sister:
"I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth and you will know the debt is paid."
Finally, after the death of all three of her children, Cersei tells Jaime:
"I loved them, I did. But they're ashes now and we're still flesh and blood."
Tyrion might not have caused Cersei's anguish himself, but one way or another, the debt is paid.
6. A Changing Of The Guard's Wardrobe
After Cersei's killer wardrobe update in the Season 6 finale, it was only right that her pet Mountain got one, too. The former Kingsguard has now become the Queensguard, and with a new name comes a new look. Here we see the Mountain modeling the latest Southern armor for winter: The glittery gold of summer has been swapped for a deep, dark, ominous shade of black, and the tunic sticking out beneath his plate is made of the same leather eyelet as his fair queen's new favorite gowns. The Mountain is still wearing his signature three-ridged helmet, but now the metal covers far less of his face, as if to say, "Just try and stab me, I triple-dog-dare you." The crest on the front is perhaps the most fascinating. After being brought back to life by Qyburn, the Mountain/Ser Strong never wore the crest of House Clegane, or House Strong, or even the Kingsguard, opting for a simple design with a sword instead, symbolizing his status as a human weapon. Now, the crest on the front of his breast plate is nearly identical to Cersei's crown, signifying his exclusive loyalty to his queen.
5. Harry Potter Easter Egg
If Sam's poop soup montage is any indication, studying at the Citadel is hardly as much fun as going to Hogwarts. But with a former Harry Potter actor in the role of the archmaester, the opportunity for hiding a Harry Potter Easter Egg was too good for Benioff and Weiss to pass up. Both Sam and Tom Riddle (a.k.a. young Voldemort) want to access the restricted section in the library at the Citadel/Hogwarts, and who do they go to for permission? The archmaester/Professor Slughorn, both played by Jim Broadbent.
4. The Wall Has Stood Through It All... So Far
When people make sweeping generalizations in Westeros, it's a pretty safe bet that the opposite is going to turn out to be true. The archmaester was so convinced that nothing could possibly be bad enough to bring down the Wall, it seems like some serious foreshadowing for its imminent demise. Plus, he's not entirely correct. He tells Sam:
"The wall has stood through it all, and every winter that ever came has ended."
He includes the Long Night in this, when in fact, the Wall was built after the Long Night ended. The last time the White Walkers came South, the Wall had to be built to keep them out. If they want to come South again, the Wall is going to be the first thing to go.
3. The Gravedigger
Book readers will recognize the familiar image of Sandor Clegane from this episode: the gravedigger. While the Hound returned to the show alive and well back in Season 6, book readers are still not completely positive of his fate. One of the popular theories, however, is that he is in fact alive, paying penance for his crimes by digging graves as a novice at the monastery on the Quiet Isle.
2. A Familiar Dagger
Back in May, the fan forums were buzzing with talk of Arya carrying a very familiar Valyrian steel dagger in a set of promo pics. The dagger looked exactly like the Catspaw Dagger, the one belonging to Littlefinger, which was used in the assassination attempt on young Bran. Last we saw the dagger it was in the possession of Littlefinger, but if the promo photos are to believed, it will be making its way to a girl very shortly. As a Valyrian steel dagger, there was a good chance it would play a role in slicing up White Walkers, but now that Sam has flipped past it in a book at the Citadel, it seems a certainty.
1. Both The Iron Throne And The Stone Throne Could Contain White Walker-Killing Material
It's a theory we've heard before, most famously from actor Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) back in December 2016. He predicted that ultimately, there would never be a winner in the great game, since everyone would need to dismantle the Iron Throne to use the Valyrian steel swords it's made of to fight against the White Walkers (However, it's not a guarantee that there really is any Valyrian steel within the Iron Throne at all). Now, Samwell Tarly has rediscovered and very clearly reminded us all that Dragonstone happens to sit on a massive deposit of dragonglass, the other material that can be used to kill Others. While Sam told Gilly that the dragonglass was under the mountain, the look of the Stone Throne itself seems to indicate that it, too, might be made of the same precious material, more valuable now than gold. It would create a tidy metaphor if both thrones had to be torn apart in order to serve a greater purpose in the end.
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the promo for next week's episode of Game of Thrones, "Stormborn."
What other Easter Eggs and references did you notice in the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere? Tell us in the comments below!