War, sex, drag­ons re­turn with Thrones’ 7th sea­son

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - MICHAEL STOREY The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email: mstorey@arkansason­line.com

Our long, long wait is over, Game of Thrones fans. Win­ter is fi­nally here.

One of the best dra­mas on tele­vi­sion re­turns at 8 p.m. to­day on HBO with the first of the seven episodes of a short­ened penul­ti­mate Sea­son 7. The sea­son’s fi­nal episode airs Aug. 27.

Six episodes will wrap up the se­ries in late 2018 or early 2019. Some, maybe all, of them will be ex­tended length. Ex­pect in­creased pro­duc­tion values and larger set pieces as the se­ries goes out in a blaze of glory.

It has been al­most a year since we last saw our heroes in the episode “The Winds of Win­ter” (one of the se­ries’ best) and be­cause the ac­tion should be com­ing quickly, it would be pru­dent to re­mind our­selves of where we stand.

Here’s a brief syn­op­sis from around the map.

■ King’s Land­ing: It seems like for­ever since a naked Cer­sei Lan­nis­ter (Lena Headey) had her hair chopped off and was pa­raded through town in a walk of shame (Sea­son 5, Episode 10). She has been busy plot­ting her re­venge ever since. Boy, does she get it.

Cer­sei blows up the Great Sept with all her en­e­mies in­side, in­clud­ing the High Spar­row ( Jonathan Pryce) and Queen Mar­gaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). Mar­gaery’s death pushes Cer­sei’s love­struck son, King Tom­men Baratheon ( Dean- Charles Chap­man), over the edge. Quite lit­er­ally.

Upon Tom­men’s sui­cide, Cer­sei claims the Iron Throne of the Seven King­doms for her­self. Her twin brother and fa­ther of her chil­dren, Jaime Lan­nis­ter (Niko­laj Coster-Wal­dau), ar­rives just in time to wit­ness Cer­sei be­ing crowned.

■ The Twins: At the cas­tle of House Frey, Arya Stark (Maisie Wil­liams) crosses off three more names on her hit list when she uses her Face­less Man mojo to dis­guise her­self to as­sas­si­nate evil Walder Frey ( David Bradley), pre­sumed mas­ter­mind of the mas­sacre of the Red Wed­ding, and his sons, Black Walder and Lothar ( Tim Plester, Daniel Tuite).

■ Be­yond the Wa l l : Bran Stark ( Isaac Hemp­stead-Wright) uses his psy­chic time-trav­el­ing “green­sight” to learn that Jon Snow is not the bas­tard son of Bran’s fa­ther, Ned Stark, but rather the son of Ned’s younger sis­ter, Lady Lyanna Stark, and Rhae­gar Tar­garyen, the older brother to Vis­erys and Daen­erys Tar­garyen.

That means Jon is Bran’s cousin and Daen­erys’ nephew. ■ Win­ter­fell: Jon (Kit Har­ing­ton) is pro­claimed King in the North. He then ban­ishes the red priest­ess Melisan­dre (Carice van Houten) for sac­ri­fic­ing so many in­no­cents.

Jon meets with Sansa Stark (So­phie Turner) to de­cide who’ll lead the re­cently united forces of the North against the White Walk­ers. As Jon says: “The true en­emy won’t wait out the storm. He brings the storm.”

Mean­while, the wily and du­plic­i­tous Pe­tyr “Lit­tlefin­ger” Bael­ish (Ai­dan Gillen) cor­ners Sansa and con­fesses his ul­ti­mate goal is the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side. Sansa re­buffs him, much to the de­light of view­ers ev­ery­where. ■ Old­town: Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Gilly (Han­nah Mur­ray) ar­rive at Old­town just as thou­sands of white ravens are re­leased to pro­claim the ar­rival of win­ter. ■ Es­sos: Daen­erys (Emilia Clarke) be­gins cross­ing the Nar­row Sea to Wes­teros to claim her destiny. With her is Tyrion Lan­nis­ter (Peter Din­klage), the re­cently ap­pointed Hand of the Queen. They are trav­el­ing with a mas­sive ar­mada con­sist­ing of her en­tire army and al­lies.

Also along for the ad­ven­ture are Daen­erys’ three ter­ri­fy­ing, fire-breath­ing drag­ons, Vis­e­rion, Rhae­gal and the one she rides, Dro­gon. Dro­gon is now the size of a 747 with a flame 30 feet in di­am­e­ter.

SEA­SON 7

What can we ex­pect this sea­son? We’re in un­charted ter­ri­tory. The story line has long since out­paced the orig­i­nal ma­te­rial found in Ge­orge R.R. Martin’s nov­els in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Per­haps the most an­tic­i­pated event will be the long- awaited meet­ing between Jon (“ice”) and Daen­erys (“fire”). There also will be an epic bat­tle between the Lan­nis­ter forces and Daen­erys’ horde.

We can ex­pect the Night King and his White Walk­ers to breach the wall with their zom­bie army and de­scend upon Wes­teros. It should also be quite a mo­ment when Jon dis­cov­ers his true parent­age.

An­other Hall­mark mo­ment will be when sis­ters Sansa and Arya are re­united. Boy, do they have tales to tell each other.

And there should be some se­ri­ous drama between Jaime and Cer­sei. She’s quite mad now. All their chil­dren (Jof­frey, Myr­cella and Tom­men) are dead and her en­e­mies are clos­ing in.

Fi­nally, there may be the long-an­tic­i­pated show­down between The Hound and the Moun­tain. That would be San­dor Cle­gane (6-foot6-inch Scot­tish ac­tor Rory McCann) and his re­an­i­mated older brother, Ser Gre­gor Cle­gane (6-foot-9-inch Ice­lander Haf­bor Julius Bjorns­son). We can only hope.

Game of Thrones.

Daen­erys Storm­born (Emilia Clarke) of the House Tar­garyen, First of Her Name, the Un­burnt, Queen of the An­dals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Drag­ons, lands on a beach in Dragon­stone to be­gin her quest for the Iron Throne in Sea­son 7 of

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