Times Digital Download: Game of Thrones “Winter is here”
July 16, 2017 | 7:03 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
Happy days are here again as Game of Thrones returns.

Well, not if you’re living in Oman, but that sentence by Sansa Stark is soon to be just as iconic as her very honourable father, Eddard. It’s been a good year (or more, though it feels like a lot longer) since Game of Thrones saw Daenerys Targaryen allied with Ellaria Sand of Dorne and Lady Olenna Tyrell of Highgarden, in the wake of Cersei Lannister’s – long may she reign – barbaric and senseless firebombing of the Sept of Baelor, eliminating nearly all of her immediate and extended family in one fell swoop.

Emphasis on senseless here, because despite all of the topsy-turvy mayhem and bloodlust that characterises George RR Martin’s epic show, if there’s one thing that is a constant in Thrones, even if it wasn’t so evidently obvious at first, is that what goes around comes around.

Don’t believe me? Look at the state Westeros is in right now. Walder Frey and Roose Bolton gleefully slaughtered Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn and most of his army at the Red Wedding. Both of them have now met the same fate: Walder was slashed across the throat by Arya Stark, Roose was stabbed in the chest by his son Ramsay, with both of their deaths mirroring the manner in which they slew the (erstwhile) King in the North and his mum.

In keeping with this tone, Stannis brutally executed his brother and anyone else who decided to stand in his way, and met a rather ignominious death at the hands of Brienne of Tarth, Ramsey himself died at the hands of his hounds, the tools of his sadistic pleasure, and Theon Greyjoy, er, well, the less said about him the better.

Oh, and there’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The Starks are back in control of Winterfell, Jon Snow is now King in the North, Bran Stark – spoiler alert – seems to be on his way back to his ancestral home with Meera Reed in tow, and Sansa and Arya are set for a long-awaited reunion. Happy days are here again.

Or not.

The powder keg that is the bitter battle for Westeros has already gone off, with the arrival of Danaerys’ invasion armada (and her three dragons) set to add some more very combustible fuel to the fire raging across the Seven Kingdoms. On paper, as it would seem, she would by far have the strongest forces at her disposal, with the elite Unsullied forces, her Dothraki hordes, the Greyjoy fleet, her combined Martell-Tyrell forces, and her three sons – Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal – putting her head and shoulders above anyone else.

It would seem logical, therefore, that she would ally with the Starks. Their families began this war, and only they can end it. Jon will have with him the Stark forces, the Knights of the Vale from the Eyrie, home to House Arryn, the Wildlings, and now that Walder Frey has been slain, the Riverlands will also declare for the North, even if their lord Edmure Tully is under the control of Jaime Lannister.

It’s some pretty heady stuff, no?

Jaime is the character whose development will intrigue many this season. His redemption is one that has endeared the Kingslayer in the eyes of many, even as they’ve developed a white-hot loathing for his sister, Cersei. But even this is only a small sliver of what’s happening across Westeros. North of The Wall, the White Walkers are stirring again, amassing a huge army of undead with which to take the south. While their intentions are seldom known, this much is certain: They will leave nothing but death and destruction in their wake.

As Game of Thrones has highlighted time and time again, the best laid plans often go awry, and if previous episodes are anything to go by, there is sure to be plenty of double-crossing in Season 7 as well.

How well, for example, will Danaerys warm to the Sand Snakes? Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria committed regicide when they killed Prince Doran Martell and his son Trystane in cold blood, and she will not want to work with someone she cannot trust.

“We need to trust each other” is indeed what Jon told Sansa, but would the trueborn daughter of Eddard Stark be content to watch from the sidelines as her illegitimate brother rules what should rightly be hers? Petyr Baelish, of course, knows she’s unhappy to be overlooked for advice just because she’s a girl, and is constantly picking at this scab.

Baelish wants to sit atop the Iron Throne himself, and with Robin Arryn already under his control, he’s working his mind games on Sansa as well, in an attempt to wield true power from behind the scenes.

To him, Jon Snow is not an honourable man, but more of an inconvenience. One who will only become a more legitimate threat when he finds out his true parentage: Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark – Eddard’s sister – and Targaryen, and is therefore the true heir to the Iron Throne, leaving Sansa free to inherit Winterfell.

Bran and Meera’s dad – Lord Howland Reed – are the only ones who know this, but even the best kept secrets don’t stay hidden for long in the Lands of Ice and Fire, and we can’t wait to see how David Benioff and Daniel Weiss’ latest installment of this overwhelmingly popular saga unfolds.

The Great War is here. And not a moment too soon.

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The Short and Skinny

Name: Game of Thrones

Genre: Medieval Fantasy

Produced By: David Benioff and Daniel Weiss

Produced For: HBO

Based on the Books by: George RR Martin

What’s it about: In the Lands of Ice and Fire, summers last for years and winters decades. As the longest winter ever seen stretches its icy fingers across the land, will the Lords of Westeros put aside their differences to battle a much more sinister threat?

Where to watch: HBO, HBO Go, Star World, OSN

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Diana Rigg, Indira Verma, Jessica Henwick, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rosabelle Laurenti-Sellers, Rory McCann, Hathor Julius Bjornsson, Peter Dinklage, Aiden Gillen, Conleth Hill, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Iain Glenn, Liam Cunningham, Alfie Allen, Gemma Whelan, Bella Ramsey, John Bradley

IMDB Rating: 9.5/10

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