Shall we begin?
Look out. SPOILERS AHEAD: Gods and the Starks. Foreshadowing deaths. And an incomplete three-headed prophecy.
GOT is proceeding with the narrative that is no longer covered by the novels already published. The producers have also announced shorter seasons, fewer episodes. And these all mean one thing: Every episode, every scene matters in the great story arc. Gone are the seasons wherein we had to invest in one character and find them useless later on. From here on, everything counts.
There was nothing mind-blowing from the scenes in the first episode; GOT rarely does that with its pilots. But what the episode does – consistent with the other pilots of every season – is to give us the mood and points that merit extra attention throughout the season.
THE GODS ARE PLACING THEIR BETS
GRRM has been vocal about the war of the gods in the ASOIAF story. And we picked that up last season (see here). This episode, the bets of the gods are more prominent than ever:
 The Lord of Light
By now if you’re not convinced that Jon Snow was brought back by the Lord of Light, you’d have to answer to 10,000-year old Melisandre. And if by now you don’t believe that Daenerys is also sent by the Lord of Light, you have to answer to the red priestesses in all the eastern cities of Westeros, and you know, her three dragons. So far, everything has worked out well for these two: Jon is king-ing in the North, and Daenerys is home.
And this is precisely why I cannot let go of the THREE-HEADED DRAGON THEORY, from the novels:
Rhaegar Targaryen believed there was a connection between him and Azor Ahai. He had a back-up: if the prince that was promised was not him, it would have to be his three children – two children from the Martel queen (who all died during Robert’s rebellion), and the third, his bastard from Lyanna Stark (R+L=J). That was the premise of the three heads of the dragon. That, like Aegon the conqueror and his sisters/queens, Targaryens win their wars in three’s.
The war that the Targaryens face now is not the pettiness of Westerosi politics – an insight so clear with Jon. Winter has come. And the red star of Sir Arthur Dayne’s sword Dawn at Jon’s birth bed, and the red star of the dragons’ birth with Dany, would all point to the significance of the dragons in the war against the Night King.
(Sam discovering that there’s an entire mountain of dragonglass at Dragonstone is a good touch for the episode.)
So, who are the three Targaryens of this war? Dany and Jon are confirmed. Who is the other one? I still cannot, and will not, let this go. And for the love of all the gods, I wish, I hope, I believe, with most fans, that it still is Tyrion. (“You are not my son,” said Tywin.)
Who else moves according to the will of the Lord of Light? The Brotherhood Without Banners, with its newest member, the Hound. It’s almost “divine justice”, as Beric Dondarrion said, that the details of the attack of the Night King at the Wall would be revealed by the Lord to the Hound, who is terrified by fire.
This is the Lord of Light making his grand moves in the game. Winning moves. But I think still incomplete.
 The Children and the Old Gods
For all intents and purposes, the Children of the Forest as we know them are gone with the Raven and Hodor. The bets of all the old gods are now with Bran, our friendly neighborhood warg returning from beyond the wall.
Bran’s visions are vicious. Not just because there are giants in the Night King’s army, but because the vision makes true that “they bring winter”. The winter army was walking on green fields suggesting that they have crossed the wall. Bran’s visions are both explanatory and prophetic, as we have seen from last season’s wildfire surprise c/o Cersei. The Night King WILL cross the Wall. (And the Hound explains where and how, through his vision by the fire.)
There is an entire literature of fan theories about how Bran will be useful to war against winter. My favorite however, is that he’ll time-travel to influence (if not to be, himself) all the Brans of the Stark history, including Brandon the Builder who built the wall.
But we’ll talk about this another time. What is important to note here for now is, the Children are in the game through Bran.
 The only god, to whom we say, “Not today”
Arya’s vengeance is made possible by the many-faced god, the only god, as far as mortality is concerned. In the game of the gods, the many-faced god sends Arya to do its bidding. And although Arya made the Frey-kill look astonishing, I have not figured out how the many-faced god figures in the winter to come.
Except, of course, if they all will die. In which case, the many-faced god wins the game.
WOW! So the gods are placing their bets on the Stark children!
Well, ALL BUT ONE.
And this is why I still think that Sansa will do something incredibly stupid and treasonous, as hinted on by her manner of engaging Jon, and her refusal to dispose of Littlefinger just yet. In a blog entry from last season, I thought of Sansa being the version of Nissa Nissa – Azor Ahai’s wife whom he had to kill to create his sword, Lightbringer. And with Jon continuously saying that the punishment for treason is death, I think we’re getting somewhere here.
OTHER INTERESTING DETAILS:
[a] Some foreshadowing on Tormund:
When Hound says, the Night King will enter where the Wall meets the sea, he’s referring to the Eastwatch by the Sea, to where Tormund will go following the meeting at the North. *tears*
I am not comfortable about having Tormund face the Night King… not without a significant return of infatuation from Brienne. Because Tormund and Brienne bring so much love on-screen. Come on! “You’re a lucky guy”, he says to Podrick. That look of love. haha
[b] The significance of the divisive appearance of Ed Sheeran:
My Twitter EXPLODED when Ed Sheeran appeared as the singing Lannister soldier. I get the point that his appearance suddenly broke everyone’s suspension of disbelief, and that is hilarious. But as we said earlier, every detail matters in every episode from here on, and Ed Sheeran being placed in this scene, singing this song, is a big shout-out that something here is important.
Ed Sheeran sang the song of Symon Silver Tongue which was meant to blackmail Tyrion about his whore lover, in A Storm of Swords:
[From ASOIAF wiki] When Tyrion and Symon meet at a wine sink, arranged by Bronn, Symon tries to blackmail Tyrion: If Tyrion will not find a way to let him participate in the tournament of singers that will be held at the wedding feast, Symon will inform Cersei and Tywin Lannister about Shae. He even has made a song about it:
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…
We are way away from the Tyrion-Shae narrative, so it is incredibly interesting why this song would be included in this episode, at this time. But since it’s being sung at the Lannister’s camp, and it’s originally about a Lannister, we can guess at this point that this is still about the Lions.
Hands of gold = Jaime? She was his secret treasure; she was his shame and his bliss?
I think we’re all coming back to the valonqar prophesy about Cersei. Little brother will kill her eventually. Well, hopefully.
P.S. I won’t even dignify Euron Greyjoy’s contribution in the plotline except for him being a scheme of Cersei. But if Euron’s proposal/marriage to Cersei makes Jaime cut his last ties with her, by all means go ahead.
So here we are. If we survived the months of waiting for the season to arrive, we can survive another week to wait for the next episode.
And while we are made to quiver at the promise of the Night King arriving, I will find some solace in this thought (LOL):
Until next week. #WinterIsHere