- This article is about the episode. For other uses, see: Dragonstone (disambiguation)
"Dragonstone" is the first episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. It is the sixty-first episode of the series overall. It premiered on July 16, 2017. It was written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
In the Riverlands
At the Twins, Walder Frey presides over the second feast that he has organized in a fortnight. Lord Frey has summoned every Frey who took part in the Red Wedding under the pretext of revealing his plans. Walder orders the servants to serve them wine from the Arbor but harshly tells his latest wife Kitty Frey that he is not wasting any wine on "a damn woman". Walder thanks his family for helping him to slaughter the Starks and backhandedly compliments his brood for the violent deaths of King Robb Stark, his wife Talisa Stark, their unborn child, and Lady Catelyn Stark, much to the nervous laughter of his family.
However, when the Freys begin to choke from poisoned wine, Walder chides them for not killing all the Starks. Walder remarks, "Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe," as his family members die around him. "Walder" then reveals himself as a disguised Arya Stark, who has exacted vengeance on those who arranged the massacre of her mother and brother at the Red Wedding. Arya spares Walder's wife and the servants. She tells them, "The North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey."
Later, Arya, having acquired a horse, is riding south when she stumbles upon a group of Lannister soldiers who have been sent to the Twins to keep law and order. The soldiers are singing "Hands of Gold" and offer to share rabbit meat for dinner. When the soldiers ask why she is riding south, Arya tells them that she is traveling to King's Landing. Arya learns from the soldiers that the Great Sept of Baelor and its surroundings have been destroyed and that the Red Keep has been essentially sealed. The young soldiers insist that she join them around the campfire to eat and rest. When she asks about their adventures, the soldiers admit that they are homesick and once they left home they wished to return to their families. The young soldier offers her blackberry wine while his brother in arms asks why she is traveling south. Arya tells them that she is going to kill the Queen. Thinking that she is joking, they all burst out laughing. Arya smiles and laughs with them.
Elsewhere, Sandor Clegane is riding north with the Brotherhood Without Banners, through thick snow. They decide to take shelter for the night at an abandoned home but Sandor, recognizing the house, declares it unsafe. Beric Dondarrion dismisses Sandor's unease and orders that they set up camp for the night. The men enter the house where they discover the corpses of the farmer and his daughter Sally, whom he and Arya Stark had encountered two years prior following the Red Wedding. It appears that the father killed his daughter and himself so that they would not starve to death.
Sandor recalls seeing Beric at the tournament at King's Landing, and wonders aloud why Beric keeps getting resurrected, as there's nothing special about him. Beric confides that he does not know what R'hllor, the Lord of Light, is telling him. Sandor remarks that he does not believe in divine justice, citing the fate of the farmer and his daughter. Despite Sandor's fear of flames, Thoros tells him to look into the fire. He tells him that only the fire can show him what the Lord of Light wants him to see. At first, Sandor can only see burning logs, but then, to his own shock, he sees a Wall of Ice. He also sees a castle where the Wall meets the sea, a mountain that looks like an arrowhead, and thousands of the dead marching past. Beric asks Sandor if he now believes that they are here for a reason.
Later, Thoros finds Sandor burying the dead farmer and his daughter Sally in the snow. Thoros deduces that Sandor knew the dead, but Sandor admits that he doesn't. The two of them bury the bodies together, and Sandor attempts to deliver an epitaph to the Seven, but can't remember the rest of the verse. Instead, he simply tells the dead that they deserve better.
At Winterfell, the King in the North Jon Snow organizes the defense of the North against the Night King and his army of the dead. He asks that all maesters start searching for dragonglass, stressing it is now more valuable than gold due to its effectiveness against the White Walkers. Jon also requests that Tormund and his people man Eastwatch-by-the-Sea as Tormund and the other wildlings were present at Hardhome and have seen the Night King and Tormund agrees to defend this castle. Jon orders for all able-bodied men and boys aged 10 to 60 in his kingdom to be trained in combat in order to defend against the encroaching threat of the White Walkers. Because having only half of the population in the North fighting the White Walkers is not enough, he also orders that every woman and girl should also be trained and equipped as well. When Robett Glover balks at the idea of arming his young granddaughter, Lady Lyanna Mormont remarks that she certainly will not remain idle and volunteers to help, giving her assurance that every girl on Bear Island will be trained alongside the boys. The words of the young lady once more remind the older lords of their place and they agree.
The next order of business is the possibility of the Walkers getting past the wall; if they do, Jon notes that the first obstacles they encounter will be the castles of Last Hearth and Karhold, the seats belonging to the two Northern houses that fought alongside the Boltons. Lord Yohn Royce opines that the castles should be demolished for their lords' treachery, but Sansa Stark interjects that Last Hearth and Karhold committed no crimes and urges her half-brother to instead strip the Umbers and Karstarks of their castles as punishment for turning against the Starks. However, Jon advocates forgiveness and insists that children will not be punished for the crimes of their fathers. Despite Sansa's continued insistence, Jon insists his decision is final and she reluctantly obliges. Jon then summons Ned Umber and Alys Karstark - both of whom are children who obviously played no part in their father's betrayal and are clearly terrified of what will happen to them. He asks them to reaffirm their loyalty to House Stark. They oblige and kneel before King Jon. Jon says that the mistakes of the past don't matter anymore. Petyr Baelish watches the proceedings with a smile.
In private, Jon chides Sansa for questioning his decision-making in front of the other lords and ladies. He tells Sansa that while she is his sister and she can question his decisions, doing so when he is publicly addressing the Northern lords and ladies undermines his position with them. When Sansa responds that the late Joffrey Baratheon did not tolerate dissent, Jon reassures her that he is not Joffrey. Sansa tells Jon that she knows he is nothing like Joffrey and assures Jon that he is good at leadership, but she wants him to be wiser than their late father and brother. She confides that their father sought to protect her from the harshness of reality, including swearing. Maester Wolkan then delivers a message from the newly-crowned Queen Cersei Lannister; though she is apparently not opposed to House Stark reclaiming the North from House Bolton, she demands that they submit to her authority. While Jon is preoccupied with preparing to fight the Night King, Sansa warns him not to underestimate Cersei.
Later, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne spar with swords. Podrick is struggling and Tormund tells him that he has long to go. Petyr and Sansa are watching Brienne and Podrick sparring. Sansa dismisses Petyr's attempts to get under her skin by stating that she is safe at Winterfell and has Brienne as her sworn shield. She retorts that she only wants peace and quiet when he prods her that she looks unhappy. Brienne, having seen what is going on with Sansa and Petyr, moves over to intervene, and Baelish scurries off. When Brienne asks why Petyr is still at Winterfell, Sansa replies that the Knights of the Vale helped to turn the tide of the Battle of the Bastards. However, Sansa is confident that she knows what Petyr wants.
At the Wall
Beyond the Wall, a column of White Walkers riding undead horses leads a horde of wights through a snowstorm. Their numbers include at least three undead Giants. Meanwhile, Bran Stark and Meera Reed reach the gate beneath Castle Black. They are greeted by the Acting Lord Commander Eddison Tollett and several armed Black Brothers. Edd asks if they are Wildlings, but Meera introduces herself and Bran. When Edd asks them to verify their identities, Bran responds by "recognizing" Edd from the conflicts at the Fist of the First Men and Hardhome, observing that he has seen the army of the dead. Edd decides to bring the two of them inside, glancing nervously at the increasingly hostile lands beyond the Wall.
In King's Landing
At King's Landing, Queen Cersei shows Jaime Lannister a giant map of Westeros she is having painted on a floor. Jaime has not spoken since his return due to his anger with Cersei over the death of their youngest son, the late King Tommen Baratheon. Cersei tells Jaime that their estranged brother Tyrion Lannister has returned with Queen Daenerys Targaryen at the head of an armada. Jaime thinks that Daenerys will land her forces at the fortress of Dragonstone: the Targaryen princess is likely to be drawn to her birthplace, the castle is unoccupied since Stannis Baratheon abandoned it for his doomed campaign in the north, and more importantly, the deep water around the island will allow her fleet to make anchor. Cersei notes that they have enemies in the south, west, and north: Dorne, the Tyrells and the Starks, respectively.
While Cersei has dreams of ushering in a long dynasty, Jaime tells Cersei that they are losing the war, and with all their children dead, not to mention the deaths of Kevan and Lancel in the Great Sept explosion, there is no Lannister line to inherit the Iron Throne. When Jaime asks Cersei about Tommen, she responds angrily that he betrayed them. Cersei adds that they are the only living Lannisters who count. Jaime tells her that they need allies and reports that House Frey has been exterminated. Cersei angrily reminds him that she has been listening to their father's counsel for the past forty years and has learned some things.
A large Ironborn fleet bearing the sigil of House Greyjoy sails into King's Landing. Cersei tells Jaime that she is planning to forge an alliance with Euron Greyjoy. Jaime criticizes her decision and points out that the Greyjoys are oath breakers and "bitter killers." In the throne room, Queen Cersei and Jaime host Euron. Seeking revenge against Yara and Theon Greyjoy for running away with part of the fleet, Euron proposes that they join forces to murder their enemies, including Tyrion.
When Jaime questions Euron's legitimacy and trustworthiness, Euron talks about the Greyjoy Rebellion and praises Jaime's swordsmanship, while subtly inferring to Cersei Jaime's loss of a hand makes him inadequate for the wars ahead. Euron adds that he went into exile because of the Greyjoy Rebellion and has returned a feared and experienced pirate captain, and boasts that the Iron Fleet is the greatest fleet that Westeros has ever seen and a military asset that would let the Lannisters reclaim control of the seas. Euron proposes to marry Cersei to seal a marriage pact. Cersei declines due to Euron's history of oath-breaking and his role in murdering his brother Balon Greyjoy. Neither fazed or disappointed, Euron promises that when he returns to King's Landing, he will deliver his "finest gift" to Cersei.
At the Citadel in Oldtown, Samwell Tarly is assigned menial work. His duties include serving the maesters' meals, emptying their chamber pots, and shelving books. While browsing through the library, he stares at a book behind a locked grate in the restricted section. Later, Samwell helps Archmaester Ebrose to dissect a corpse. Samwell asks the Archmaester if he has read his proposition. In light of what he has seen in the North, Samwell asks for permission to read the restricted section. When Samwell says that he has truly seen the army of the dead, the Archmaester responds that Maesters are naturally critical.
Still, he accepts Samwell's claim because the stories about the Long Night are corroborated in a number of sources. The Archmaester reminds him that Maesters are guardians of knowledge and history. Still, the Archmaester believes that the Wall will not fall because it has stood for millennia. He tells Sam to finish his job. Later that night, Samwell steals a Master's key and enters the forbidden section.
While Samwell studies, Gilly entertains her young son Sam, who is now a toddler. Gilly asks him about the book he is studying, which is about the Long Night. Samwell mentions that Stannis Baratheon told him that dragonglass could be found on Dragonstone. To his surprise, the book reveals that Stannis was understating the situation: there is a veritable mountain of obsidian just outside the castle. Sam excitedly prepares a letter to Jon Snow relating the discovery.
The next day, while gathering empty bowls from the cells of the Citadel sanitarium, Samwell is confronted by a shadowy figure whose arm is almost completely covered in greyscale. The figure asks if the Dragon Queen has arrived yet. Samwell sputters that he does not know, and the figure withdraws his arm.
Meanwhile, Queen Daenerys Targaryen along with her closest advisers – Tyrion Lannister, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm – land at Dragonstone island, as all three of her dragons circle overhead. After landing, Daenerys kneels on the ground and touches Westerosi land for the first time since her birth. She and her entourage then climb the steps to Dragonstone castle. Accompanied by Grey Worm and other Unsullied guards, they silently enter the unguarded main gates and deserted courtyard. When they enter the castle itself, Daenerys briefly studies the fiery stag on one of Stannis's banners; after a moment, she rips it down with a firm tug. Daenerys enters the empty throne room and gazes upon the throne of the Targaryens, hewn from volcanic rock. When Grey Worm moves to stand beside her, Missandei holds him back, waiting for their queen. After a moment, Daenerys strides right past the throne and enters the Chamber of the Painted Table. Surveying the discarded markers from Stannis's last use of the Table, Daenerys turns to Tyrion and remarks "Shall we begin?"
- Main article: Dragonstone (episode)/Appearances
- Harald Karstark (confirmed fate)
- Knight of House Frey
- Stevron Frey
- Ryger Rivers
- Farmer (confirmed fate)
- Sally (confirmed fate)
- Many unnamed Frey men
- 18 of 23 starring cast members appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), and Joe Dempsie (Gendry) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- This episode marks the 50th appearances of Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.
- Boian Anev, Ferenc Berecz, Richard Bradshaw, Nick Chopping, Christopher Cox, Matt Crook, Jason Curle, Levan Doran, Bradley Farmer, Vladimír Furdík, David Grant, Lawrence Hansen, Richard Hansen, Bobby Holland Hanton, Paul Howell, Radoslav Ignatov, Rowley Irlam, Erol Ismail, Leigh Maddern, Jonny McBride, Leona McCarron, Kim McGarrity, Camilla Naprous, David Newton, Ian Pead, Andy Pilgrim, Andrej Riabokon, Florian Robin, Fabio Santos, Paul Shapcott, Mark Slaughter, James Stewart, Jonny Stockwell, Ryan Stuart, Dougie Wighton, Annabel Elizabeth Wood, Leo Woodruff and Rob Hayns were stunt performers in this episode.
- Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran's guest role was announced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss during the GoT panel at South by Southwest Festival on March 12, 2017, after years of trying to get the musician on the show as a surprise for Maisie Williams, who is a fan of his music.
- The soundtrack playing over the credits is a rendition of Daenerys's theme. On the official soundtrack release it is titled "Shall We Begin?"
- As of the end of Season 6, all plotlines have surpassed the current novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, though the TV series has also drastically changed several of them. Season 6 surpassed the novels on some plotlines when it began, such as Jon Snow's, but others were holdovers from prior books (the Ironborn and Riverrun subplots). Whatever the case, from this point onwards, no one can know with certainty if any characters will survive from one episode to the next.
- The title sequence is notably different now that no storylines take place outside of Westeros. The production team explained that there are actually formal rules for it, the first of which is that they are required to show four locations: King's Landing, Winterfell, the Wall, and "wherever Daenerys is" at the moment. Daenerys's travels far to the east explicitly helped show just how vast their fictional world is, i.e. the Dothraki or Slaver's Bay, that it's bigger than just the continent of Westeros. The Season 7 title just focuses on Westeros itself. Another rule was that they physically only have so much time for the camera to move around, so they can only show a limited number of locations in each (never more than six so far). Moreover, they only make specific title animations for locations which they know will be recurring, to justify the time and expense in creating it (they never made an animation for Volantis or Runestone). Now that Oldtown is a major recurring location for Samwell's storyline, they introduced a new title animation for it starting in this episode.
- The new Costumes of many characters in Season 7 have shifted to darker colors. The reason behind this is simple: the costuming department felt that because "winter" has officially descended across Westeros, characters should now be wearing dark colors i.e. the time for wearing brighter colors would have been Renly's camp in Season 2 when they were "the knights of summer".
- Most remaining storylines reappear in this episode. As the showrunners have noted, so many characters are meeting each other again - after scattering in intervening seasons - that they don't need to compete for as much time or take an episode off, i.e. Tyrion is with Daenerys now. Dorne and Olenna Tyrell do not appear but are mentioned. Yara and Theon, despite being part of Daenerys's faction now, also do not appear, but are mentioned. The Daenerys storyline actually only briefly appears at the end of the episode with hardly any dialogue, as a lead-in to when it will be given focus in the next episode.
- Despite Season 7 shifting to a summer premiere, instead of a spring premiere as in past seasons, it still achieved record high viewership numbers: 16.1 million people, in the first full day after it premiered. According to Nielsen figures, about 10.1 million people watched it live on the HBO TV channel, while the rest watched it over streaming services or on DVR. This surpasses the previous series-high record set by the Season 6 finale, which was watched by 8.89 million people on HBO's TV channel. The Game of Thrones TV series already surpassed the viewership highs of prior HBO series True Blood and The Sopranos to become the most-watched HBO series of all time back in Season 4. According to internet reports, the episode was also illegally downloaded via torrent over 90 million times in the first three days since it premiered (possibly a much higher number).
- This episode's premiere also broke site visit record numbers for Game of Thrones Wiki, with 4.2 million. The last time a premiere broke even 1 million was the Season 5 premiere (1.1 million) - the Season 6 premiere was somewhat lower at 0.713 million (perhaps due to various controversial or negatively received parts of Season 5, or even some reviews that announced they would stop watching the show if Jon Snow stayed dead). This episode's 4.2 million record also makes it the third-highest Game of Thrones Wiki traffic of all time, surpassed only by Season 6's "The Door" (the episode that Hodor died) which was the first to reach 4.8 million site hits, and of course the Season 6 finale "The Winds of Winter", which jumped to 9.1 million site hits (possibly due to the reveal of Jon Snow's real parentage).
In the Riverlands
- According to Dan Weiss in the Inside the Episode video for this episode, Arya's massacre of House Frey was not originally going to be the cold open scene for this episode and Season 7. As Weiss said, they were so impressed with actor David Bradley's performance that they reshuffled the scene out of its original order to go first (i.e. Bradley gives little affectations to his performance to hint that he's really Arya pretending to be Walder). The ripple effect from reshuffling the scene may have affected others (see notes on "Oldtown" below).
- Writer Bryan Cogman confirmed in a subsequent interview that the slow panning shot of the army of the dead that starts Bran Stark's scene was going to be the original cold open. Cogman also felt that it was a good idea to start with the Frey massacre because it served to bookend the subplots from Season 6 and wrap them up, transitioning into the new storylines in Season 7 (after the Frey and Bolton storylines finished).
- The expensive fine wine that Walder/Arya serves to the assembled Freys is stated to be Arbor gold, in dialogue. In the books, Arbor gold is broadly held to be the finest wine in all of Westeros, with a very sweet flavor. It is produced on the Arbor, the large off-shore island/region ruled by House Redwyne (Olenna Tyrell's family). Characters have actually mentioned fine "Arbor wine" since Season 1, but this episode is the first time that its full formal name has been used. Given its quality, it is a very expensive wine, normally only drunk by kings and great lords (Cersei starts drinking it heavily in later books). Smallfolk rarely even see it. Indeed, it is joked that a commoner would sell his infant firstborn son for a cask of fine Arbor gold.
- "Walder" also remarks that it isn't that awful "Dornish" wine. Dornish Red is the other very expensive and high-quality fine wine in Westeros, produced in Dorne, flavored with spices and with a very sour taste. It is somewhat exotic and foreign to people in the rest of Westeros, but many great lords have developed a taste for it as fancy import (characters like Renly Baratheon have mentioned enjoying a fine Dornish wine since Season 1). Conversely, Oberyn Martell remarked in Season 4 that he brought his own fine Dornish wine with him from home because he can't stand the stuff they serve at the royal court (i.e. he thinks Arbor Gold is too sweet and bland). There's some debate in-universe about which is the best wine, but largely it comes down to personal taste: those who prefer a sweet white wine prefer Arbor Gold, while those who want an exotic spicy and sour red wine prefer Dornish Red.
- This isn't the first time that actor Tim McInnerny (Lord Robett Glover) has appeared in a TV episode in which an entire noble court full of people was killed with poisoned wine - albeit this time not in the same storyline his character is in. A similar scenario occurred in the final episode of The Black Adder, in which McInnerny's character, Lord Percy Percy, supplied poisoned wine to the six assassins of the Black Seal and killed them all (one of them portrayed by Patrick Malahide), but accidentally poisoned the entire vat that led to the death of Blackadder, his family and the entire royal court; Percy and Baldrick were the only survivors, bursting into the court only seconds after the poisoning and shouting to everyone not to drink the wine.
- In the Season 6 finale, the official Lannister house words were spoken aloud for the first time: "Hear Me Roar!", to which the Freys responded with a toast of "We Stand Together!" - the motto of House Frey actually hasn't appeared in the current novels, and this is apparently the first time that any house motto was revealed in the TV series before the books. It wasn't directly confirmed that this is the Frey motto, though this episode reinforces it when the Freys toast again - though this time they just say "Stand Together!", leaving it a bit unclear.
- Given that Arya Stark's storyline has surpassed the novels it is unknown if she will kill off most of House Frey in this fashion. There are several dozen major Frey characters and the TV show understandably condensed them into a few composite characters. It is hinted that the Brotherhood Without Banners is actually planning an attack on some of the Freys, and Arya may or may not aid them in the future.
- There was some concern from reports on this episode that Arya killed all the male Freys, even the innocent ones and children. The actual episode dialogue, however, does not strictly state this: Arya (as Walder) explicitly says that she invited all of the important Freys who matter to Walder ("Every Frey that means a damn") - i.e. if there are younger Frey sons that had nothing to do with the Red Wedding she didn't invite them. On top of this, the TV show never established that there were "good" younger Frey sons, i.e. in the books, Olyvar Frey loyally served Robb Stark as his squire - so loyally that the lead Freys didn't trust him and sent him away from the Twins (alongside his brother Perwyn and nephew Alesander, for the same reason) before the Red Wedding. Given that the TV show didn't introduce them, it didn't have to expend time explaining how Arya spared the innocent ones.
- It isn't overtly stated how Arya found out which Freys were directly involved in the Red Wedding, and which ones were not involved and innocent. She does say the previous feast when she killed Walder was a fortnight ago, and she was disguised as a servant girl at the Twins for an unspecified amount of time before that: presumably she just asked around and investigated with the other castle servants for a while to figure out which Freys she should kill.
- If Arya was going to kill every male relative of House Frey, she'd have even killed her infant first cousin, son of her uncle Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey - and thus make herself a kinslayer.
- It is unclear who the new head of House Frey is at this point, if any. There are still female Freys and rule would pass to them if there are no male heirs (though it is implied Arya didn't kill them all down to the last baby son). The Freys are a very large family and the books strongly imply that after old Lord Walder dies, the various internal factions of the family's different branches (by Walder's different wives) are going to turn on each other in a fratricidal bloodbath. This involved over a dozen Frey characters, which the TV show has understandably not introduced.
- The question arises about Edmure Tully's fate. In the Season 6 finale, Lord Walder said he was a prisoner in the Twins' own dungeon, but Arya made no attempt to free him. It's possible that the dungeon was too well guarded. Another possibility is that, in the novels, the Freys later send Edmure away to Casterly Rock for long-term imprisonment, so he might just no longer be at the Twins - i.e. when Jaime himself left along with his Lannister army, they might have just taken Edmure with them.
- Kitty Frey, Lord Walder's new wife, returns again in this episode. She has no book counterpart, because in the novels Catelyn Stark slit the throat of one of Walder's grandsons; the TV version condensed this so that Catelyn killed his current and eighth wife, Joyeuse Frey.
- As noted in the King's Landing storyline, the Lannisters are running low on soldiers, after losing so many due to attrition in Joffrey's wars. The Lannister soldiers that Arya encounters seem to be green conscripts who just left home, are worried about their families, and aren't wary of strangers. A hint at how the Lannisters are scrapping the bottom of the barrel for manpower.
- When Arya meets the friendly Lannister conscripts, her dialogue can't express it aloud, but it appears that she was assessing whether she should kill them or not - but then stopped because they act amiably, offering to share their meal with her. The camera pans around from her POV to note that they left all their swords piled up out of reach - indicating that she realizes she could probably kill most of them with Needle before they can defend themselves. In her overt dialogue, she repeatedly tries to decline their offer to share their meal, because she contemplates killing them, and once she accepts their invitation - she will be forbidden of harming them due to the guest right (which she respects, in contrast to the Freys). After they repeatedly show her hospitality, hand her a cooked rabbit and outright call her their "guest", however, she visibly relents, realizing she cannot kill friendly people who never did her (or her family, as far as she knows) any ill, just because they serve the Lannisters.
- Popular contemporary musician Ed Sheeran cameos in this episode as the Lannister soldier singing a song around their campfire. Fantasy fans will remember him for singing the end credits song for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. 
- Showrunner David Benioff explained that they gave Sheeran the cameo because Arya actress Maisie Williams is a big fan of his, and they'd actually been trying to give him a cameo for several years now (it wasn't just a snap decision this year). Benioff said, "We knew that Maisie was a big fan of Ed Sheeran and for years we've been trying to get him on the show so we can surprise Maisie. This year we finally did it."
- Sheeran's presence brings up a production issue: most actors aren't also trained musicians and singers, so the TV show has actually cut out several major songs that appear in the novels. For example, the wildlings have an important song in the books called The Last of the Giants, which sums up a lot of their mental state about how their world is ending. The TV production team originally intended to have Ygritte sing it at some point, but actress Rose Leslie was so terrified of singing on-camera that she politely refused. Similarly, in Season 2, Sophie Turner said that what she was most afraid of filming that year wasn't any of Joffrey's torments, battles, or the riot scene, but the brief moment when she had to sing a hymn (Gentle Mother, Font of Mercy), because she isn't a professional singer. A few actors on the show were also professional singers, specifically Jerome Flynn (Bronn) and Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon), so at various points the TV show had them perform songs that other characters do in the novels. Given how reluctant actors with no singing experience are to sing on-camera, in several respects the only guaranteed way to incorporate these book-songs into the TV show is to have professional singers make cameo appearances to sing them. Indeed, in similar fashion, in Season 2, the lead Bolton soldier singing The Bear and the Maiden Fair was a cameo by professional musician Gary Lightbody.
- Ed Sheeran deleted his Twitter account a day after this episode aired, as he was being harassed by viewers who felt it was a needless celebrity cameo. Many professional reviews argued against this, citing that it was only a minor cameo, and a cameo by a professional musician was a way to get much-missed songs from the books into the TV show - moreover, many admonished that irate fans should take up such criticisms with the showrunners and director if they disagreed with it, not by launching personal attacks against a musician who happily responded to a request for a cameo by the producers.
- The song that Ed Sheeran's character sings is from the books: Hands of Gold. A minstrel called Symon Silvertongue came up with it to mockingly hint that he knew Tyrion Lannister was continuing his affair with the whore Shae even though his father told him to break it off - brazenly trying to blackmail him. Tyrion offered Symon a large sum of money to keep his mouth shut, but Symon got greedy and tried to get more and more; finally, Tyrion lost his patience and ordered Bronn to kill Symon. Bronn disposed of the corpse by selling it to a pot-shop that makes bowls of brown out of "all kinds of meat". The song has added irony, as ultimately, Tyrion murdered Shae by strangling her to death with his chain of office as Hand of the King - a necklace made of stylized interlocking gold hands.
- The Lannister conscripts Arya encounters mention wanting to see King's Landing, but now Cersei's guards aren't letting anyone within one mile of the Red Keep, the Great Sept of Baelor was blown up, and the Dragonpit is a ruin. This marks the first mention of the Dragonpit in a live-action episode (the Histories & Lore featurettes have mentioned it in prior seasons), suggesting that it will be a major location later this season. King's Landing was built around three large hills, and these three structures were built at the top of each. The Dragonpit is at the top of Rhaenys's Hill, above Flea Bottom. It has actually been in ruins for around 170 years, since it collapsed in riots during the Dance of the Dragons.
- One of the Lannister soldiers says that King's Landing at this point is filled with people who would kill you to sell your hide for just two Coppers. Copper Pennies are the lowest denomination of the Gold Dragon currency used in Westeros, and a good-sized loaf of bread is worth around three Coppers.
- Beric Dondarrion mentions that he first met Sandor Clegane at "that Tournament" - actually, this was the Tourney of the Hand which was held during Season 1. The parts of the tournament seen on-screen were condensed due to time and budget limitations: Sandor was present but wasn't shown participating (though he did fight off his brother Gregor to defend Loras Tyrell). In the books, Beric and Thoros participated in the tournament as well - as did many of the other knights that Eddard Stark sent out to find Gregor Clegane. They formed the original core of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Beric appeared in the TV show but not at the tournament, simply played by a stand-in when Ned sent him to the Riverlands. In the book version of the tourney, Sandor actually beat Jaime Lannister. Sandor apparently encountered Beric and Thoros off-screen in the TV version.
- Sandor and Arya encountered Sally and her father on their farm back in Season 4 episode 3 "Breaker of Chains". They gave Sandor and Arya food and shelter, but Sandor broke Guest right by then beating up and robbing the man of his remaining silver. At the time, he rationalized that so many bandits were roaming the countryside from the war that there was no way they'd survive until winter anyway, but it would help Sandor and Arya flee the area. Of course, that does not justify or excuses Sandor's cruel deed: just because it seems someone has low chances of survival - it does not give anyone the right to harm him.
- When Thoros suggests the abandoned farm might have some ale that was hidden away, Sandor despondently says that it does not, without checking - a call-back that he already knows, because back in "Breaker of Chains", he asked Sally's father if he had any ale and he said he didn't.
- Sandor's final appearance in the episode digging graves for Sally and her father is apparently a reference to his appearance as a gravedigger in the books, under different circumstances: Brienne of Tarth didn't fight Sandor in the books (they never encounter), instead he was left mortally injured after fighting Polliver and the Tickler, after which Arya left him for dead. Some time later in the fourth novel, however, Brienne and Podrick came across a monastery where refugees from the war were seeking shelter, and saw a very large and hooded man with a limp digging graves for the fallen. Their interaction with the Elder Brother heavily implied that the gravedigger was in fact Sandor: the Elder Brother said that he found him near death and nursed him, but it was too late, and the Hound died in his arms. It is unclear whether Sandor actually died, or perhaps the Elder Brother was speaking metaphorically - that Sandor's violent past died, and he found peace at the monastery.
- Sandor and Arya encountered Sally and her father's farm not long after they started heading south from the Twins after the Red Wedding - now, Sandor and the Brotherhood arrive there while heading north. Meanwhile, Arya just left the Twins and is heading south again. It is possible that they might cross paths soon. Back in "Breaker of Chains", around the same time Sandor first encountered this farm, he remarked to Arya that they were near Fairmarket, which is on the Blue Fork of the Trident.
- It is unclear why it is snowing more heavily in Sandor's scenes south of the Twins, but not particularly hard in Arya's scenes slightly farther north at the Twins (one could argue that the Twins are closer to the swamps of the Neck, so there may be some regional lake effect retaining heat - either that or Sandor's scenes aren't chronologically in sync with Arya's).
- It seems strange that the Hound can see visions in flames, though he is not a Red Priest, not even a worshiper of R'hllor. In the books, Melisandre tells Davos that everyone can see visions in flames ("any cat may stare into a fire and see red mice at play"), but the interpretation is a totally different manner. Even she incorrectly interpreted a vision at least once (a vision of a girl she thought to be Arya, but turned to be Alys Karstark).
- The arrowhead-shaped mountain, which the Hound sees in his vision, is the one from Bran's vision about the creation of the first White Walker ("The Door"), though the climate is different in either of the visions.
- Episode writer Bryan Cogman gave an interview after "Stormborn" premiered in which he explained Sansa Stark's council. He disagrees with the notion that Sansa can be described as attempting to "undermine" Jon in any way and makes the case that both Sansa and Jon have valid points. See Cogman's quote on this issue in the notes section for the next episode, "Stormborn".
- Both Jon Snow and Sansa Stark have equally valid points about how to deal with the families of defeated enemies: whether to show mercy, as the remaining members of the Umbers and Karstark families are innocent of their relatives' crimes - or to take the family's lands from these remaining family members as punishment to prevent future disloyalty. Both have points about loyalty and punishment with pros and cons for each argument. Similarly, Arya Stark didn't wipe out all of House Frey and she spared the wives and children as innocents. At the same time, as with Jon's decision, this decision comes with pros and cons: mercy may earn favour with the remaining family members or risk the opportunity that they may seek vengeance later on. This is a major moral question treated in the books and very much left an open question - related to the core questions of the series about the nature of "power" and "loyalty". As in the real-life Wars of the Roses in medieval England which inspired the novels, there are examples of both families offered mercy who became loyal supporters, and families offered mercy who responded with betrayal to get revenge. Sansa isn't acting on blind vengeance, but directly points out that their father Ned Stark and their brother Robb Stark both tried to be honorable instead of pragmatic, and it got them killed.
- Specifically, Ned Stark offered Cersei mercy by warning her to flee Westeros with her children before he told Robert about her incest, but Cersei and Joffrey responded to his mercy by betraying him to his death. Conversely, Joffrey's decision to not show Ned mercy but kill him was also a mistake, because it irrevocably turned the entire North against him in open revolt, forcing the Lannisters to divide their forces on to fronts when they needed to focus on fighting the Baratheons to the south, and it nearly cost them the throne.
- In the novels, Tywin Lannister himself - an expert politician - held the belief that a ruler should extend mercy to those who surrender, even though he believes in ruthlessly crushing open enemies (i.e. by co-planning the Red Wedding, an utterly dishonorable violation of Guest right). After the Red Wedding, most of the Riverlords (who weren't at the massacre) beg to surrender now that the war is clearly lost: Joffrey foolishly wants to massacre them all, but Tywin waves him aside by saying, "When your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet." This is entirely for the pragmatic purpose that if you massacre anyone who tries to surrender to you, before long, no one will try to surrender to you again, but all of your enemies will fight to the death.
- Ramsay Bolton runs into a similar problem in the North: he flays alive so many enemies who surrender to him in good faith that there reaches a point when no one will ever surrender to him again, and Stark loyalists would rather fight to the death, making his position more tenuous.
- Similarly, Robb executed Rickard Karstark for dishonorably murdering two unarmed boy prisoners, even though this was politically disastrous because it cost him the Karstark army. The TV show removed some of the criticisms characters make about Robb in later books, that he was a great military leader but made a lot of bad political choices that got him and all of his men killed. Nor does the episode present this as Sansa harshly criticizing Ned and Robb out of disloyalty - the dialogue she is given stresses that she loved them but they made mistakes that got them killed. These criticisms of Ned and Robb are things that have been fueling debates among the book fandom for nearly twenty years, and are not an invention of the TV series to somehow make Sansa seem disloyal to their memory.
- This episode confirms that Harald Karstark died during the Battle of the Bastards. This wasn't depicted on-screen and his fate was left ambiguous until now.
- Alys Karstark first appears in this episode: she has a much bigger role in the novels but it was heavily condensed for the TV series. In the books, she is the center of a subplot involving House Karstark, which chronologically happened during Stannis Baratheon's campaign in the North. Alys is by right the new heir to House Karstark, but her father's uncle Arnolf Karstark wants to usurp her position, so he sides with the Lannisters and Boltons. Arnolf joins Stannis's march, but intends to betray him mid-battle, and to force Alys to marry his own son to claim rule through her. Alys learns of their treacherous plans, however, and flees to the Wall to seek the aid of Jon Snow. Jon immediately sends Tycho Nestoris to warn Stannis of the traitor in his host (which he does in time), and arranges for Alys to voluntarily marry Sigorn son of Styr, the new Magnar of the Thenns, so she can't be forced to marry Arnolf's son, also giving Alys the opportunity to challenge Arnolf's claim as she will have her new husband's army behind her.
- In the books, due to the Karstarks being younger cousins of the main Stark line, Alys actually closely resembles Arya. Alys first meets Jon and Robb at Winterfell when they were children. She is said to have a long face and dark hair like Arya. The TV version of the character does portray her with the same long face, but with auburn hair, somewhat like Sansa (even though Sansa's auburn hair is explicitly from her mother Catelyn Tully, and isn't a Stark feature). Thus TV-Alys's physical appearance is a mix of features from both Arya and Sansa, perhaps to greater stress that they are relatives when she shared a scene with Sansa in this episode.
- In the novels, Alys is the daughter of Lord Rickard Karstark, but the HBO Season 7 Viewer's Guide confirms that in the TV continuity she is the daughter of Harald Karstark - who was himself a condensation character. In the books, Rickard has three sons and daughter Alys: sons Torrhen and Eddard Karstark are killed during the war, while Harrion is taken prisoner. The TV version apparently wanted to avoid having another character named "Eddard", so instead Harrion was mentioned as dying during Season 3 (and Torrhen died on-screen in Season 2). The third Karstark brother wasn't named until Season 6, when "Harald Karstark" appeared. In the books, Harrion is still a Lannister prisoner and it is uncertain if he is alive. Robb believed that Harrion would turn against him due to his father's death, but it is Rickard's greedy uncle Arnolf wants to usurp control by marrying off Alys to his own son. The TV version basically condensed Harrion and Arnolf into one character, "Harald" - Harrion being the third son, and Arnolf the one willing to betray the Starks to fight for the Boltons (and on top of this Harrion traded names with his brother Eddard). Thus while Alys is Harrion/Harald's sister in the books, she is his daughter in the TV series.
- In the books, Alys Karstark is upset that Jon's half-brother Robb Stark executed her father Rickard and still doesn't think it was the right decision, asking Jon if there is a blood feud between them. Jon assures her that there is no feud between them, as he is sworn to the Watch now and explains that a man must put past allegiances aside when he takes the black. Alys explains that she is seeking Jon's protection as he is a son of Ned Stark and begs him, in his father's name, to help her. Jon shelters Alys and assists her as much as he can. It is yet to be seen whether TV-Alys will continue resenting the Starks for her father's death or will make peace with them.
- Alys Karstark is only the third female head of a major vassal House to have any speaking lines in the TV series. There were many more female heads of major Houses in the novels, but most were cut out - and some were even gender-swapped into male characters, who nonetheless do have on-screen speaking roles (i.e. Lord Cerwyn, who had scenes with Lyanna Mormont in he Season 6 finale, was actually a woman in the books). As of this episode, Lyanna Mormont is the only recurring female head of a major noble House with speaking lines. The first to appear was Lady Anya Waynwood in Season 4, but she was only in one episode. The promo video for the next episode after this shows Alys at Winterfell council scenes again, making her only the second recurring female head of a major House with speaking lines. This is for the major vassal Houses, not the Great Houses, in which (due to plot mechanics) Daenerys Targaryen is the only woman who inherited her claim to rule by hereditary right. Lysa Arryn ruled as a regent for her son, as did Cersei for Joffrey and Tommen, and later Ellaria Sand seized power in a coup (which didn't happen in the books) as did Cersei when she directly seized the Iron Throne. While Westeros does have a system of inheritance based on male-preference primogeniture (except in Dorne), it is still not uncommon for women to inherit power (sometimes there are just no sons, or they die). Each of the Seven Kingdoms has at least one female ruler in it in the books at this time. See "Differences between books and TV series/Status of women".
- Due to Lyanna Mormont and Alys Karstark both being at the Winterfell council here (though not exchanging dialogue), this episode marks the first time that any scene in the TV series has had two female heads of major houses in a scene at the same time. Specifically, women who formally inherited rule in their own right.
- Yara Greyjoy did have a scene with Daenerys in the Season 6 finale, though this is a bit of a grey area as she's the leader of her faction of the ironborn, has currently fled her home territory, and the ironborn actually practice Kingsmoot elections instead of direct inheritance.
- This episode also introduces the new head of House Umber, "Ned Umber". His HBO Viewer's Guide entry states that he is Smalljon Umber's son and that he is currently ten years old. No character exists by this name in the novels - though "Eddard/Ned" is a common name in the North, in part because many Northern Houses named their children after the Starks out of respect - indeed, the third son of Rickard Stark in the novels was named "Eddard Karstark", not "Harald Karstark" as in the TV show. This isn't a very drastic invention because the Umber family tree actually hasn't been fully set out in the novels: it is vaguely mentioned that Greatjon Umber has multiple sons and multiple daughters, but their names haven't been given except for Smalljon, who is plausibly old enough to have children of his own, it just hasn't been mentioned. The subplots involving Greatjon's uncles Mors and Hother were not introduced in the TV series. Thus there were several unnamed Umbers in the books barely mentioned in passing.
- "Ned Umber" is one of the few characters in the TV series who shares a name with another character. When Martin wrote the A Song of Ice and Fire novels he wanted to write without restrictions such as a rule for TV writing about not re-using first names, but he felt this was unrealistic in a setting like Westeros which spans an entire continent. The TV adaptation, with some validity, argued that this worked in Martin's books but would be too confusing in a TV series again, so it avoided re-using names whenever possible. One of the more prominent examples is that "Robert Arryn" was renamed to "Robin Arryn", even though in the books he's directly named after King Robert Baratheon (though in both versions most people just call him by his nickname "Sweetrobin"). Last season, Lyanna Mormont was one of the first characters to actually break this restriction, given that it is somewhat of a plot point that she is named after Ned's sister Lyanna Stark out of respect. Given that "Ned Umber" is an invented or composite character not from the books, the TV writers didn't have to use the name "Ned" again - it seems they very deliberately broke their own restriction for a second time, to emphasize that the Umbers are still northerners and over a broad historical scale were more often than not loyal followers of Ned and House Stark.
- The introduction of Alys Karstark and Ned Umber, along with seeing Lyanna Mormont in the same scene (along with Ned's children Jon and Sansa), visually raises a point that it more fully explained in the novels: the North has taken such heavy losses in the War of the Five Kings by now (particularly the Red Wedding and the betrayals of the Boltons) that multiple Houses are led by younger sons and brothers, and even daughters. Jon's insistence that they need to train everyone from 10 to 60 who can hold a sword, male or female, also touches on this point: the North is running low on adult men of fighting age. The books go into more detail that the new armies scraped up to resist the rule of the Boltons are mostly old men and green boys.
- Lord Robett Glover says he isn't sure if he wants his granddaughter being trained to fight: last season he mentioned having children. Robett Glover actually does have children in the books but they are small children themselves, not old enough to produce grandchildren for him.
- It isn't said when Jon intends to do with House Bolton's ancestral castle, the Dreadfort, or the considerably sized lands in the North that the Boltons directly ruled over. He doesn't award them to the wildlings. Instead, Jon asks Tormund and his people to man one of the Wall's remaining castles, to which Tormund agrees (these remaining wildlings are supplemented with lands in the Gift to the south, as he explained in Season 5). In the books, Jon started re-garrisoning abandoned castles on the Wall with both wildlings and Night's Watchmen when he was still Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, before the mutiny against him.
- Lord Glover reacts with visible disgust when Tormund jokes about the irony that for centuries the Night's Watch kept the wildlings from passing through the Wall, but now the wildlings will basically be the Night's Watch guarding the Wall. The Northerners had been fighting the wildlings for generations so there is still some uneasiness around them. In the fifth book, Bowen Marsh and other members of the Watch disapprove of the idea, and not just by facial expressions: Marsh tells Jon bluntly it is "nothing less than treason".
- The specific details of how the Vale forces are interacting with the North now haven't been specifically addressed: apparently, the Vale joined Jon's new Kingdom of the North, but without the next book in the series yet this is difficult to clarify.
- Jon Snow tells Tormund to personally go to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the easternmost castle on the Wall where it reaches the ocean, because the army of the dead last gathered at Hardhome (also on the east coast), and Eastwatch is the closest castle to Hardhome by an overland route. In Sandor Clegane's storyline, he also has a vision of Eastwatch while staring into the flames, saying he sees the eastern end of the Wall at the sea. Eastwatch-by-the-Sea has actually been mentioned since Season 1, and about half a dozen times in various episodes across the past six seasons. As it is at the end of the Wall, it is the main port for the Night's Watch - the actual ships are mostly unmanned and tied up by this generation, but it has a harbor that visiting ships can land at. At the beginning of Season 2, for example, Tyrion took great joy in exiling Janos Slynt to the Wall, and announcing that he was sending Slynt there directly on a ship headed for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea (in "The Night Lands"). The western end of the Wall doesn't end at the ocean, it ends in a massive gorge in the mountains, making it much more difficult for any force north of the Wall to try to get around. If the White Walkers aren't going to try to pass over or through the Wall, but somehow go around it, Eastwatch is their clear option.
- Jon's statement in dialogue that Eastwatch-by-the-Sea is the closest castle to Hardhome in the east brings up a major plot hole which occurred in Season 5: after the Massacre at Hardhome, Jon and the surviving wildlings fled Hardhome by ship in episode 5.8. When next seen in episode 5.9 "The Dance of Dragons", their ships had disappeared without explanation, and they directly approached the gates of Castle Black - which is in the exact middle of the continent. If they left by ship, they would have just sailed back to the southern side of the Wall at Eastwatch (which is where Jon's fleet left from in the first place). If for some unexplained reason they had to abandon their fleet and land on the east coast (from storms, etc.), Jon and the wildlings would still walk back to the Wall on the shortest overland route - which is to Eastwatch, not Castle Black farther west. The simple answer appears to be that the TV writers forgot to account for this when they invented the entire battle sequence of Jon going to Hardhome - the mission to Hardhome happens off-screen in the books and doesn't involve Jon Snow. Most of the wildlings didn't retreat to Hardhome in the books; they stayed in the forest near Castle Black, until Jon negotiated with them and they came through the gate. On top of this the writers apparently wanted to retain a dramatic moment of Alliser Thorne hesitating to open the gates to Jon and the wildlings at Castle Black - which is what would have happened if Jon's story hadn't been changed so that he sailed to Hardhome. This episode just openly admits that there was no reason for Jon and the wildlings to return to Castle Black on foot: even if they lost their ships somehow, it states now that the closest castle to Hardhome is Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
- Jon remarks to Sansa that their father Ned said everything someone prefaces a statement with before saying the word "but" is horseshit. This is a call-back to Season 1's "Lord Snow", when Ned's brother Benjen Stark said the same thing to Tyrion Lannister (that Ned said nothing before the word "but" really matters).
- Jon also directly recounts his father's rules on the responsibilities of ruling that he and Robb lived by: "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword".
- In the Inside the Episode video, Benioff clarifies that Jon isn't exactly wrong for being more concerned about the Night King than Cersei to the south, acknowledging Jon is correct that even when the Lannisters were at full strength it would have been difficult for them to send a full sized army into the North itself (which no one has done, throughout history) - and Benioff also acknowledges that even if the Lannisters once had the strength to send armies to invade the North, they certainly don't anymore. Geography is on the Stark's side, as no large army has ever managed to force overland passage past the swamps of the Neck or Moat Cailin while it was fully manned. At the same time, Benioff also says that Sansa is correct to worry that just because Cersei can't send an army doesn't mean she still won't try something to harm the Starks. Sansa knows Cersei, knows that she really is petty and crazy enough to strike out at people she feels have slighted her even when it would harm her long term position (i.e. sending assassins, harming the Starks' allies elsewhere, something). Case in point, even Olenna Tyrell was stunned when Cersei engineered the arrest of Margaery in Season 5, catching her totally by surprise - because it made no sense: Cersei needed the Tyrells for their soldiers, food supplies, and money for the debt crisis, but Cersei nonetheless shortsightedly lashed out at them.
- Maester Wolkan is now serving the Starks, despite being the maester for Winterfell under the Boltons (apparently replacing Maester Luwin, who died at the end of Season 2). Maesters swear vows of political neutrality and serve whoever the current ruler of the castle they're stationed at is, even if it changes hands in war. On top of this, Wolkan was visibly terrified of Ramsay, so there is no reason that he wouldn't faithfully serve the Starks as well, or that Jon would see a need to punish him (Jon is well aware that maesters are politically neutral and Wolkan had no choice). Back in Season 2, for example, Maester Luwin continued to serve under Theon after he captured the castle from the Starks.
- The letter that Jon and Sansa receive from Cersei essentially proves Roose Bolton's constant warnings to Ramsay that the Lannisters, following Tywin's death, would most probably not provide them with any help in the case of a Northern uprising in retaliation for their role in the Red Wedding. Instead of sending a Lannister army to retake the North from the Starks and install one of their own loyal Houses, Cersei appears content to allow House Stark to serve as the Wardens of the North once again as long as Jon bends the knee.
- As pointed out by Michele Clapton, Sansa Stark's new costume has semi-circular embroidery on the chest to evoke fish-scales, for her mother Catelyn of House Tully. Tully costumes, as seen with Brynden and her uncle Edmure, feature armor with a more prominent fish-scale design motif.
- Brienne of Tarth's storyline is drastically diverging from the novels by this point. In the novel series, after Brienne left King's Landing (corresponding to the start of Season 4), she continued to travel around the Riverlands on foot with Podrick Payne searching fruitlessly for Sansa and Arya, far away from their actual locations, without encountering either of them, and without getting involved in the siege of Riverrun either. Her storyline ended on a cliffhanger confrontation with the Brotherhood Without Banners which also involved Jaime Lannister at the end of the fifth novel. Anything Brienne does beyond this point is apparently an invention of the TV series.
- Brienne traveling to Winterfell and the Wall in Seasons 5 and 6, and meeting Sansa, was purely an invention of the TV series. Then in the second half of Season 6, the TV series brought back Jaime's subplot at the Second Siege of Riverrun (which takes place throughout the second half of the fourth novel - the TV series instead invented the subplot of sending him to Dorne, while in the novels that mission was given to Ser Balon Swann). Brienne then encountered Jaime at Riverrun - while this did not happen as such in the novels they did meet again in the Riverlands under different circumstances. Brienne returning to Winterfell once again afterwards may not happen in the unreleased novels.
- Given that Brienne never went to the Wall in the novels, Tormund being attracted to her in Season 6 was an invention of the TV series. It does somewhat match the point that the wildlings actually respect Warrior women (who they call spearwives) - in contrast with how Brienne is seen as a target of mockery in the courts of southern Westeros.
- Surprisingly given how prominently it appeared, director Daniel Sackheim said in an interview with TV Guide that he thought the amorous looks Tormund was giving Brienne in Season 6 were so subtle he feared fans didn't notice: "I wasn't even sure that when I delivered the episode it was really clear. It was like a fun little bit, but I wasn't sure it was really clear that he had these amorous feelings for Brienne. I'm always amazed what fans pick up." The first time that Tormund gives an impressed look at Brienne when they were in the mess hall at Castle Black was just a brief note in that script, but the production team liked it so much they invented more scenes of it.
- Brienne and Lord Yohn Royce from the Vale both appear at the council scene in Winterfell, though Brienne doesn't say anything during it. Back in Season 2, Brienne actually killed Lord Yohn's son, Robar Royce, one of the other members of Renly Baratheon's Kingsguard along with her. When the magical Shadow creature killed Renly, the other two guards burst into the tent and blamed Catelyn Stark, so Brienne killed them to defend her. This is switched around from the books, in which Loras Tyrell killed the two Kingsguard who were standing outside Renly's tent - and in a red rage, bereaved that they had failed to defend their king (and the love of his life). Afterwards, however, guilt over killing both of them weighed heavily upon Loras (one of the reasons that, in the books, he joined Joffrey's Kingsguard, in part to absolve himself in his own mind). The TV episode didn't actually identify Robar by name, however, and it is unclear if - in the confusion surrounding Renly's death - Lord Yohn is supposed to know that Brienne killed one of his sons (or if that was explicitly supposed to be his son, or if the writers lost track of this).
At the Wall
- The opening shot of the White Walkers and their undead horde reveals for the first time that they can resurrect Giants as undead wights as well. This was strongly implied but not yet confirmed in the current books, which do show that the White Walkers can resurrect seemingly any once-living creature into a wight: at the Battle of the Fist of the First Men (off-screen in the TV series), the Night's Watch was attacked by a huge wight-snow bear. Both the books and TV show, however, have shown the White Walkers resurrecting non-humans, in the form of their undead wight-horses.
- Neil Fingleton is credited as playing one of the giants seen in the army of the dead: the stuntman, the tallest man in Britain standing at 7 feet and 7 inches, actually died of a heart attack in February 2017 (related to his size). Apparently, he finished his footage before production ended, around the same time.
- A few initial recaps were confused if the main wight-giant that the shot of the army of the dead focuses on is supposed to be Wun Wun, who died at Winterfell last season because he only has one eye - and that somehow this is a flash-forward to after the White Walkers get south of the Wall. This assuredly can't be true for two reasons: first, the undead giant is missing his left eye when Wun Wun was shot in his right eye; second, Jon Snow and his followers have learned from the wildlings to consistently burn all of their dead, in case the White Walkers ever try to resurrect them (as seen after the Battle of Castle Black) - so Jon would presumably have burned Wun Wun's corpse. Apart from the missing eye (which actually doesn't match up), part of the confusion may simply be from the fact that multiple giants are played by the same stunt-man, Ian Whyte.
- The status of what's left of the Night's Watch wasn't made entirely clear on-screen when they last appeared in mid-Season 6 but was explained in several online posts. In their last appearance, Eddison Tollett was said to be the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, to his own surprise, as there hadn't been an election. Online posts explained that one of Jon's last acts before he quit was to simply name Edd as the new Acting Lord Commander, assuming he would be confirmed in that role by a subsequent formal election at some point.
- Jon asks Tormund if he and his people will man Eastwatch-by-the-Sea for him and Tormund agrees. In the fifth book, Jon has willing wildlings help man the Wall alongside the Night's Watchmen (see below).
- Of the companions that Bran Stark left Winterfell with at the end of Season 2, and picked up in Season 3, only Bran and Meera Reed are still alive. He left Winterfell with Osha, Hodor, Rickon Stark, and their two direwolves - in the books, he left with Meera and Jojen Reed as well, but the TV show pushed back their introduction to the start of Season 3, immediately after Bran and Rickon fled Winterfell, due to time constraints. Some of these characters may survive in the book version - though the showrunners have confirmed that Hodor will die in broadly similar fashion in the books, and Jojen has had visions that he will die on his quest to bring Bran to the Three-Eyed Raven.
- Bran's return to the North raises issues of the rightful heir to the North, which will eventually be dealt with in "The Queen's Justice". He also knows the truth of Jon's parentage, which he will not discuss with anyone until "The Dragon and the Wolf".
- There has been some fan speculation that the sword Meera Reed brought back from the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven is actually Dark Sister, the Valyrian steel sword that once belonged to Visenya Targaryen and remained the secondary family sword of House Targaryen. The novels all but state that the Three-Eyed Raven was originally Bloodraven, a bastard son of House Targaryen and a major character in the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequels who later became Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but disappeared beyond the Wall decades ago. He wielded the sword Dark Sister but it was lost ever since. Neither Meera nor any of Bran's other companions brought a sword with them beyond the Wall - Meera just started using it in the cave against wights without explanation, the tacit assumption being that the Children just scavenged it from somewhere. She never used the sword against a White Walker so if it was, in fact, a Valyrian steel sword, its true nature hasn't been revealed. There is as of yet no confirmation of this, given that the pommel design doesn't match a specific description (it doesn't overtly have a Targaryen sigil on it).
In King's Landing
- The letter that Cersei sent to Winterfell (as the episode transitions to the King's Landing subplot) once again brings up the repeatedly inconsistent use in the TV series of the title "King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men". Since the first episode of Season 1, the TV version shortened it to just "Andals and the First Men", excluding the Rhoynar, who are ancestors of the Dornishmen. At the time, they thought the TV series would never be able to go to Dorne, or at least, wouldn't mention them in Season 1. Apparently, at some point, the decision was made to drop "off the Rhoynar" as too much exposition, even though Season 1 didn't overtly explain who the "Andals" and "First Men" were in dialogue (ancestors of the Lannisters and Starks, etc.). When Dornish characters like Oberyn Martell started appearing in Season 4, the TV show could have either kept using the truncated version that excludes "of the Rhoynar", or officially retconned the title and shifted to consistently using the full version with all three names, including "of the Rhoynar". Instead, since Season 4, the TV series has flip-flopped between the two versions with no attempt at internal consistency. HBO production staff are ignoring e-mails from Game of Thrones Wiki staff attempting to pin this down to one version or the other. Considering that this is the official title of the monarch who sits on the Iron Throne that all the major factions are fighting over, it is fairly important.
- The letter that Cersei sent to Winterfell also referred to her by the title "Protector of the Seven Kingdoms" - which appears to be a mashup of the formal titles "Lord of the Seven Kingdoms" and "Protector of the Realm" - the latter of which is the official commander of the realm's military forces. The current monarch is usually Protector of the Realm ex officio but at times a monarch has delegated the title to someone else (i.e. due to old age or if they weren't of a particularly martial bent). Cersei doesn't even have a small council anymore, just her advisor Qyburn whom she made her new Hand of the King.
- The showrunners keep stressing in the behind-the-scenes videos and interviews that "Cersei's one redeeming quality" is that she loves her children, and with the last of them now dead, she's free to be a monster. In the books, it's actually a major point that Cersei does not really "love" her children. She only "loves" them as extensions of herself, out of narcissism. She dotes on Joffrey even though he's a violently unstable psychopath, enabling his dangerous sadism because she is delusionally infatuated with her mental image of him as a brave and wise young king when in reality, he is none of those things. Meanwhile, she didn't really "love" Myrcella and Tommen, though she thought she did: she largely ignored them to focus on Joffrey, playing favorites with her children much as Tywin did with his, ignoring her and Tyrion for Jaime. She even threatens Tommen with violence at several points (or rather, threatening to torment his whipping boy) because she wishes he was more like Joffrey, (what she perceived to be) strong willed and decisive. Cersei's claim to the title of Protector is also hypocritical, considering she has proved many times to care nothing about the realm beyond herself; indeed, the wildfire detonation she arranged destroyed a good quarter of the city as well as the Great Sept itself.
- The showrunners actually overtly stated in interviews from earlier seasons that they changed from writing the "ice queen" Cersei of the novels, to someone who actually shows love for her children, because they were impressed that actress Lena Headey can emote a very convincing motherly performance. They felt this made the character more nuanced, and "reconceived the role to make it worthy of the actor's talents" (see notes on the "Cersei Lannister" article). Now that TV-Cersei's children are all dead, they can no longer show off Headey's motherly performance: thus if it seems jarring that the motherly Cersei from late Season 6 who actually seemed to care about Tommen is suddenly much more tyrannical and flippant about her children (even blaming Tommen for her own failures) this is essentially a sudden shift closer to how book-Cersei actually behaves, most of the time throughout the novel series.
- Cersei starts drinking wine again in the middle of the scene. In the books, Cersei starts drinking heavily due to stress from the war, even more so after Joffrey and Tywin die in rapid succession. Her judgment was poor to begin with, but by the fourth novel, she is drunkenly stumbling from one folly to the next. Jaime is disgusted by Cersei's alcoholism (in fact, he is annoyed by everything Cersei does, ever since he returned to King's Landing), and finds it ironic she adopted one of Robert's habits that she loathed so much about him. The TV series can't show this as well without Cersei's POV narration, but has had characters pointing out since Season 4 that she is starting to drink more, and by Season 5 she is drinking wine in many of her scenes.
- When Cersei insults her various enemies as she goes around her map, she hypocritically berates them for various things she herself can be accused of: she insults bastards like Ellaria Sand and Jon Snow despite the fact that all three of Cersei's children were secretly bastards; she accuses Sansa of being a "murdering whore" (as she still thinks Sansa actively helped kill Joffrey), even though Cersei has herself had people killed including her own husband, King Robert, and had sex outside of marriage with both Jaime and her cousin Lancel; and she berates Olenna Tyrell as an old woman and a traitor, even though the concern has been raised that Cersei herself is nearly too old to have children, and Olenna didn't "betray" Cersei by abandoning her - Cersei killed Olenna's son and grandchildren first, as a naked power grab. This is fairly in keeping with the books, in which Cersei delusionally blames everyone but herself - and in chapters told from her own POV narration (not easily translatable on-screen), it is confirmed that she honestly believes her accusations. At out point she has an outburst at the small council after Joffrey dies, berating Sansa for "betraying" her after she welcomed her into her home and family (actually, executed her father and kept her prisoner), leaving her cronies on the small council stunned (even Pycelle).
- Jaime Lannister correctly assesses that Daenerys Targaryen would probably begin her invasion by capturing Dragonstone island, citing that it has deep water ports for her fleet, and the personal/symbolic importance that she was born there. In the novels, Dragonstone actually is one of the main anchorages for the Royal Fleet, to defend the approaches through Blackwater Bay to King's Landing itself. It is unknown where Daenerys will begin her invasion in the next novels - certainly she wouldn't land her main invasion force on Dragonstone, as it is an off-shore island, but apparently she is using it as her main base after crossing the Narrow Sea. It is probable that if the Tyrells and Martells ally with her, she would land somewhere in southern Westeros, quite probably Dorne. On the other hand, the books do mention that Dorne infamously doesn't have many good deep water ports - which actually would make Dragonstone a more attractive landing option.
- When Cersei insists that she is ruler of the Seven Kingdoms now, Jaime retorts, "Three kingdoms, at best!" Their area of control has shrunk back to what it was when the war broke out - but with considerably fewer soldiers, food supplies, or money reserves. They only seem to control their home territory in the Westerlands, most of the Crownlands around King's Landing, and nominally the Riverlands between them (though really the Riverlands have been laid waste and their "control" doesn't extent beyond where their armies can march). They might also nominally control the Stormlands for the moment, whose lords bent the knee after their armies were destroyed at the Battle of the Blackwater. Hence Jaime's qualifier that they only control three kingdoms "at best". Tyrion made a similar quip in the novels when the war broke out, when it was said that Joffrey was now king of the "Seven Kingdoms", and he retorted "maybe one or two" of them.
- When Jaime points out that no one will switch to their side if it looks like they're going to lose, Cersei mindlessly retorts "I am Queen of the Seven Kingdoms!" as if this is reason enough for major lords to follow her. It's unclear if this was intentional, but it may be a callback to the Season 3 finale, when Joffrey insisted yet again, "I am the king!" and Tywin retorted "Any man who must say 'I am the king!' is no true king". A few lines later Cersei insists, "You think I spent 40 years with father and learned nothing?" - even though she just demonstrated that she didn't listen enough.
- Cersei's line about that if they win the war they could launch a dynasty that will last "a thousand years" is a call-back to when Tywin said that to Jaime in his first scene back in Season 1's "You Win or You Die".
- Jaime of course points out how delusional this is: Cersei herself just admitted that they're facing enemies on four fronts, are bereft of their former allies, and he tries to reason with her that they can't even feed their remaining soldiers and horses now that's winter here given that the Tyrells control all the remaining surplus crops and livestock. Actually, the Reach is one of two breadbasket regions in Westeros: the other is the Riverlands, but that whole area was reduced to a burned-out wasteland by the war. The books spend more time having characters emphasize the folly of the Stark-Lannister war ravaging one of the main food-exporting regions, even as autumn had already set in and they needed to be stockpiling food for winter.
- Cersei insists that she and Jaime (and Tyrion) are the "last Lannisters", but then adds the qualifier "the last ones who count". The Lannisters are a large and wealthy family so there are numerous minor cadet branches mentioned in the novels, from Tywin and Kevan's younger siblings (cut from the show) and cousins (i.e. Stafford Lannister and his children). The TV show hasn't introduced them all specifically but has made mention that there are other minor Lannister cousins - such as in Season 4, when Jaime pleaded with Tywin that if Tyrion was executed, Casterly Rock would end up being inherited by a minor cousin he's never even heard of.
- Jaime has started to carry the Valyrian steel sword Widow's Wail, recognizable from its distinctive decorated hilt. It is one of the two regular-sized swords that Tywin had forged from Ned Stark's larger ancestral sword Ice, the other being Oathkeeper (which Jaime gave to Brienne). Joffrey named it "Widow's Wail" when he was given it as a wedding gift, but died later that day. Martin has been asked what happened to the sword in the current novels, and said that Tommen inherited it along with the throne, but because he's under-aged he doesn't carry it. With Tommen dead now in the TV show, apparently Jaime just started carrying it himself.
- A considerable amount of the dialogue with Euron Greyjoy recounts the Greyjoy Rebellion, which occurred nine years before the beginning of the TV series (roughly 15 years before Season 7):
- Jaime recounts that the opening attack of the rebellion was the Raid on Lannisport, when Euron himself led the ironborn to burn the Lannister fleet at anchor, giving them free run of the western coasts for a time; in the books it was Victarion Greyjoy who led the attack. Tyrion Lannister actually first mentioned this event way back in Season 1 episode 4 "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" when he encountered Theon Greyjoy at Winterfell: he recalled seeing the Lannister fleet burning, and remarked "I believe your uncles were responsible". That episode avoided specifically mentioning Euron by name, probably due to uncertainty of whether the TV series would ever be able to include Euron or the full ironborn subplot. Still, it was the first early mention of Euron's actions - they attempted to foreshadow him to some extent, prior to his on-screen debut in Season 6.
- Jaime asks Euron "Weren't you the one who started that rebellion by sailing to Casterly Rock and burning the Lannister fleet?". According to the books (and also according to Tyrion's aforementioned comment about the rebellion), the raid took place in Lannisport, where the Lannister fleet should have logically been, since it was a surprise attack.
- The opening attack on the Lannister fleet in the rebellion was actually Euron's plan, not his brother Balon's, even though Balon had declared himself king. The tradition-bound and stubborn Balon, who didn't have much of a sense of strategy - as seen when his entire plan for the War of the Five Kings was to betray both the Starks and the Lannisters then wait for events to sort themselves out. Unlike Balon, Euron is quite cunning, and in many ways he is the real reason that the Greyjoy Rebellion initially succeeded.
- Jaime and Euron recount that Jaime was present during the Greyjoy Rebellion, fighting his way through the breach in the walls - referring to the final Siege of Pyke, when Jaime in his prime (still with his sword-hand) was one of the most skilled swordsmen alive. This event was also referred to previously in the TV series, in the same episode, "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things", when Jaime recalled the fighting at Pyke with Jory Cassel.
- In the books, however, it actually hasn't been mentioned if Jaime (or Jory) was at the Siege of Pyke. King Robert himself was there, though, and it would be odd if his own Kingsguard were not there with him. No mention has been made of any particularly remarkable performance by Jaime - though in general, all agree that before Jaime lost his right hand he was one of the best living swordsmen in Westeros.
- The books only vaguely mention that lesser Greyjoy kinsmen died during the fall of Pyke. Theon's older brother Maron Greyjoy died in the battle but it is stated that he died when the castle tower he was in was collapsed by siege engines.
- In the books, Euron's exile from the Iron Islands had nothing to do with the unsuccessful rebellion. He was exiled some years later, as a punishment for seducing (perhaps raping) the wife of his brother Victarion, who was cut from the TV show. Victarion killed his wife (and Euron's unborn child) and would have killed Euron too, but Balon forbade him due to the taboo of kinslaying. Instead, the TV version condensed this to have him now explain now that he simply went into exile because the Greyjoy Rebellion was crushed (which would mean that in Season 6, he hadn't been back to the Iron Islands for around 14 years).
- The actors who play Jaime Lannister and Euron Greyjoy - who share a scene for the first time in this episode - are actually both Danish, but only Nikolaj Coster-Waldau tries to hide his accent when speaking English, while Pilou Asbæk does not. This isn't an "Iron Islands accent" because Balon and Yara speak with basically the same accent as the Lannisters (due to being the same Andal/First Men mix as the rest of southern Westeros). It does, however, actually make in-universe sense that Euron has an odd, foreign-sounding accent: it's stated that he has been away from Westeros (for 14 years) sailing in exotic foreign waters like the Jade Sea, and presumably he was speaking in different foreign languages for so long that Euron, the character, picked up a bit of an accent.
- Euron says that when he went into exile he became the terror of the world's oceans, the most feared pirate captain "in the Fourteen Seas". This isn't a term from any of the currently published novels and seems to be an invention of the TV series, reflecting the real-life term "Seven Seas". There are actually only five major seas or oceans in the known world: the Narrow Sea east of Westeros, the Sunset Sea west of it, the Summer Sea south of both Westeros and Essos, the Jade Sea east of the Summer Sea, and the Shivering Sea north of Essos. On the other hand, the real life term "Seven Seas" is just an idiom used by several different societies from the Romans to China to refer to "all" the oceans (seven is a prime number). Different cultures would count different local seas or even bays to make "seven" - i.e. in Medieval Europe at various times the Black Sea, Adriatic Sea, Black Sea, and even the landlocked Caspian Sea were included in the count, but at other times the Atlantic Ocean as a whole was counted as one. The term was never really literal. In this context, for example, TV-Euron might be counting the "Sea of Dorne" and "Sea of Myrth", even though they're bays of the Narrow Sea. Alternatively, it's possible that like "Seven Seas", "Fourteen Seas" is just an idiom, and doesn't even need to refer to fourteen specific bodies of water. The TV writers may have just included it as a vague idiom but changed it from "Seven Seas" because that's an idiom from real life, not Westeros.
- Euron's personal flagship debuts on-screen in this episode: Silence. It is so-named because he personally ripped out the tongues of every crew member. When Balon accusingly brought this up to Euron during their confrontation at the beginning of Season 6, Euron glibly acknowledged he did it because "I needed silence".
- In Season 6 episode "The Door", Euron ordered his followers to build one thousand ships; in this episode he states "So here I am, with a thousand ships". Even if it is an exaggeration, and the actual number of ships Euron has is only half that number, it still seems unlikely.
- Multiple professional reviews criticized that Euron somehow built an entirely new fleet from scratch after Yara left, and on top of that the Iron Islands don't have any major forests to build with (though they could import wood from elsewhere); even under the most optimal conditions - that Euron had enough construction materials and skilled workers and shipyards, and there would be no interference - it would take years, maybe decades, to build so many ships.
- Actually, the TV series never claimed that Euron built an entire new fleet - it consistently had characters say that Yara stole their best ships, from their national "Iron Fleet", but not all of the more numerous ships from every individual Houses's home fleets. Apparently Euron just commanded his followers to build new ships to supplement for the loss of the 100 or so that Yara took; he could also purchase or hire ships at the Free Cities, using the treasures he plundered over the years - which is definitely simpler than acquiring construction materials and transporting them to the Iron Islands.
- Case in point, Euron's flagship Silence seen in this episode was not built in reaction to Yara leaving with the Iron Fleet - he was captain of it for years.
- Euron speaks of his own fleet as the "Iron Fleet", but that Yara and Theon took his "best ships". The "Iron Fleet" is the "national fleet" of sorts of the Iron Islands, with their best crews and ships, sworn directly to their ruler, but each noble House of the isles has their own local fleets. Yara and Theon actually took "the" Iron Fleet to Meereen (much as their uncle Victarion did in the books, who was cut from the show, but did not steal the fleet - Euron ordered him to do so). The discrepancy simply seems to be that both Euron and Yara consider their own fleets to be the real "Iron Fleet" at this point - comparable to how both Joffrey and Stannis referred to their fleets as the "Royal Fleet" at the Battle of the Blackwater.
- Similarly, as seen in the books, when Victarion took the core "Iron Fleet" to journey to Meereen, Euron was still left with a very large naval force composed of ships from each ironborn House, with which he launched new attacks against the Reach.
- Euron brags that the Iron fleet is "the greatest armada Westeros has ever seen". In the books, the Iron fleet is indeed one of three most powerful fleets of Westeros (the other two are the Royal fleet and the Redwyne Fleet), but not the largest; the Redwyne fleet, which consists of 1,200 ships, is the greatest. The entire ironborn naval forces, including the Iron fleet, are not even half that number. In the show, however, it is not mentioned how big the Redwyne fleet is, thus it is possible that Euron's bragging is true. It's also possible he means "greatest" not in the sense of numbers but most skilled - the ironborn live almost their entire lives at sea, and unlike the other fleets, are unafraid to sail in a straight line across the open ocean for surprise attacks (other fleets hug the coasts, making their movements more predictable).
- Jaime's comment that the ironborn, like the Freys, "broke their promises and murdered their former friends as soon as it suited them" is incorrect: the ironborn have not formed any alliance during the war of Five Kings with the Starks, or with anyone else. Robb offered to make a pact with Balon, but the latter refused. The ironborn indeed performed atrocities in the North, but never pretended to be friends of its people (except Theon, before he changed his mind), which really isn't comparable to what the Freys did. If anything, the ironborn betrayed the Lannisters more than the Starks, because they were nominally sworn to the Iron Throne when they declared their independence; Robb considered it a personal betrayal by Theon, and that Balon was betraying a natural ally in principle, but not in a legal sense. Something similar happened at the end of the first Greyjoy Rebellion: when brought before King Robert Baratheon, Balon defiantly defended himself by pointing out that no Greyjoy had ever sworn an oath to a Baratheon king, but to the old Targaryen kings that Robert had overthrown, so he could not correctly call him an oathbreaker. At this Robert laughed and agreed, but insisted that Balon formally swear an oath to him that instant, and in return let him continue to rule the Iron Islands under him (someone had to keep the ironborn in line). Thus, if anything, the Lannisters themselves at this point are bigger "oath-breakers" than the Greyjoys themselves were during the War of the Five Kings.
- Cersei tells Euron "You're not trustworthy. You've broken promises to allies before and murdered them at the nearest opportunity. You murdered your own brother". Euron is indeed untrustworthy and has killed his brother, but there is no mentioning, in the books or the show, that he has ever betrayed any allies (it would fit his highly immoral personality, though).
- Euron is dismissive of the ironborn when he talks to Cersei and Jaime, even though he was praising them at the Kingsmoot last season. This actually isn't a contradiction, as the same basic point happened in the books as well: Euron would praise his ironborn followers to their faces, while in private remarking that he considers them all a bunch of stupid, short-sighted fools, easily swayed by his manipulations, and he's really just using them for his own purposes. Balon fought for the glory of the Iron Islands, Euron really just cares about himself. In some ways this is similar to how Cersei isn't really fighting for "House Lannister" or "the Westerlands", but her own power.
- Cersei's Kingsguard (called a "Queensguard" for a female monarch, now) have had their custom armor completely redesigned, matching Cersei's costume redesign to be mostly black with silver metal pieces.
- The brief scene when Cersei and Jaime are on the outer walls of King's Landing, watching Euron's ships sail into the bay, appear to have been filmed on the real-life medieval walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was the major filming location for King's Landing in earlier seasons (starting in Season 2), but eventually filming there was scaled back and many exterior scenes shifted to filming in Spain. Production did not, however, abandon filming at Dubrovnik entirely, filming a few brief scenes there such as this one.
- Euron's personal heraldry debuts in this episode: the normal gold Greyjoy kraken, but with a third red eye inscribed on the head. This is simplified from his personal sigil in the books, in which it doesn't include the kraken, but is an all-seeing eye surmounted by a crown held aloft by two crows. Euron wears an eyepatch in the books, though it is unclear what it hides, leading to his nickname "Euron Crow's Eye". His eyepatch was dropped from the TV series so his personal sigil had to be adapted to reflect that, though it retains the ominous eye image.
- Also in terms of heraldry, House Baratheon of King's Landing died with Tommen, so King's Landing is no longer decorated with its heraldry, of a black Baratheon stag and a gold Lannister lion, combatant. In the books this was Joffrey's personal sigil, which came to be used for his whole faction after King Robert died. With Tommen dead and Cersei simply seizing the throne openly, with no claim based on other families like the Baratheons, she abandoned this heraldry and is now just using the standard Lannister heraldry on banners throughout the city, a gold lion on crimson red. The throne room has also been redecorated so that the ironwork design above the throne has a Lannister lion replace the seven-pointed star symbol.
- Interestingly, in the opening sequence, the Baratheon sigil is still featured in King's Landing, even though House Baratheon is legally extinct with the death of Tommen and (even if the Baratheons got revived somehow, i.e. Gendry), House Lannister now controls the throne now - within the show, Cersei isn't even bothering to use Baratheon heraldry anymore. This is contrasted with Winterfell, which had the Stark sigil restored following the Battle of the Bastards. However, this could simply be a production error.
- The giant floor map of Westeros that Cersei and Jaime examine contains individual artwork for all the regional capitals, and many but not all of the main castles (see sub-page on "Appearances" for this episode). Cersei's giant floor map of Westeros also contains several errors - though these might plausibly be explained by the fact that it is still slightly unfinished:
- "Rook's Rest" is misspelled "Rook's Nest" (with a capital "N" - as if someone mistook the lowercase "r" on a map for a lowercase "n").
- In the Vale of Arryn, "Dyre Den" is misspelled as "Dire Den" - apparently the production artist didn't realize that George R.R. Martin frequently uses the letter "y" instead of "i" to make things sound more fanciful, i.e. "Alys" instead of "Alice".
- Gulltown is entirely absent from the map - it should be south of Runestone. There are five full "cities" in Westeros, in decreasing order of size: King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown on the coast of the Vale of Arryn, and White Harbor on the coast of the North. Gulltown is one of the five cities in Westeros, but it has been the least mentioned in the TV series (though it is has appeared on prior maps and in the Histories & Lore featurettes).
- There are seven major Iron Islands, but the map doesn't depict Orkmont or Old Wyk (though it's on the left side of the map, which is noticeably less finished than the rest at this point).
- Scenes of Samwell Tarly pushing the trolley along the corridor of cells in the Citadel echo similar scenes from the documentary film "Into Great Silence" (2005) (original title: "Die große Stille"). This documentary is '...an examination of life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France...'.
- The montage of Samwell Tarly doing drudgery work for the maesters at the Citadel, emptying chamber pots, pouring soup, stacking books, lasts a full 90 seconds. According to actor John Bradley (Samwell), it took 50 to 60 hours to film (including camera setup time), across about five days of the filming schedule. He said the point of the scene was a contrast to how hopeful and happy Sam was to arrive at the great Citadel library in the Season 6 finale - now showing how disillusioned he is, at an entry level position literally cleaning up shit, and not making any progress in his research about the White Walkers. Bradley-West said that he filmed the montage scene instead of going to the 2016 Emmy Awards: given that it was a straightforward scene involving no dialogue or other actors, they felt it was something that could be filmed on its own without supervision by most of the rest of the writing and production staff - i.e. it didn't actually take up writing or acting time that could have been spent on something else. The prop chamber pot contents in real life were made from "soaking wet fruitcake". The initial rough-cut edit of all the montage footage was seven to eight minutes of raw footage (the rest of the 50-60 hours involves setup time).
- It is possible that the montage of Samwell emptying chamber pots was originally meant to be comic relief for the very dark Sandor scenes, in which he is digging a grave for the decayed skeleton of a little girl who died because he robbed her. The showrunners actually confirmed that scenes were reshuffled within the episode at the last minute: they were so impressed with David Bradley's performance as Arya-pretending-to-be-Walder that they moved it to be the new cold open. In the final version, Samwell's Oldtown scenes are split into two major blocks - the comic scene earlier, but the second immediately after Sandor's gravedigging scene. It is possible that as originally envisioned, all of Samwell's scenes were going to be in one long block at the end.
- Regarding the iron chains attached to books on the Citadel library's shelves, medieval historians have pointed out that libraries in the real Middle Ages did not actually function like this. A book was an incredibly expensive and labor-intensive item to make, with a full-length tome being worth an entire farm or more. Thus the entire point of having chains attached to them that they were not meant to be taken out of the library, but for example at a nearby table in reach of the chain. The books could be removed from the chain (for repairs, official delivery to another monastery, etc.) but only with great difficulty: every book on the entire chain would have to be removed. The fact that Samwell is shown easily shelving or removing books from the library's stacks defeats the entire point of having chains attached to the books in the first place.
- The appearance of Gilly's son Sam raises the issue of the TV-series internal Timeline once again. Time proceeds more slowly in the TV show, and he's just a baby at the end of the current novels, but starting last season the TV show tacitly acknowledges this is impossible by starting to cast toddlers to play him. It largely avoids the issue here, but given that he is this large and trying to talk at this point, there's no realistic way he's younger than around three years old. He was born during Season 3, and prior seasons did broadly follow a pattern of one TV season equaling one year of story time. Not every storyline was in sync with each other, and some seasons were a little short (Season 4) while others a little longer (Season 5), but broadly, characters state in Season 6 that "years" plural have passed since the Red Wedding in Season 6 (at least two, more likely three). Generally the approximate pattern holds on a season level - or at least has so far. There's no guaranteed plan of this, and for all we know, all of the events of the unpublished seventh novel might only span a single month's worth of internal story time. Thus, while one TV season has equaled one year in the past, there is no guarantee that the final Seasons 7 and 8 will fit the same pattern (i.e. perhaps the showrunners consider them combined as one really long "season" split into two halves, etc.)
- Last season left some question of how Samwell could keep Gilly with him at the Citadel even though women aren't allowed to be maesters, and they take vows of celibacy so they wouldn't have accommodations for families. The answer as revealed in this episode is simple: he isn't a sworn maester yet, he goes to work at their university-like building complex during the day, but at night stays with her in an "off-campus apartment" of sorts in the main city.
- Gilly can now read fairly well, albeit a little slowly as she only recently learned how. Shireen Baratheon started teaching her how to read (along with Samwell) while they were at Castle Black in Season 5.
- There is no "Maester Weyland" in the books, the man that Samwell is helping perform an autopsy on, who died from alcoholism complications.
- Archmaester Ebrose is in fact a character from the novels: each archmaester is the foremost expert in a given field of knowledge, like a university faculty, and Ebrose is indeed the archmaester of medicine and healing - thus it makes sense that he is introduced performing a medical autopsy. His willingness to believe Samwell's stories about the White Walkers, due to weight of evidence, gives his TV version some shades of Archmaester Marwyn - a separate character from the books, considered an oddball by the rest of the Citadel because his field of focus is the "higher mysteries" (Magic).
- The scene between Archmaester Ebrose and Samwell raises a point about medical knowledge in Westeros: the novels apparently indicate that they actually don't have a stigma against performing autopsies on human corpses to further medical and scientific knowledge. The real-life history of human dissection has gone through cycles in many cultures in which human autopsies were forbidden, such as medieval Christianity and Islam, and before that, the Greco-Romans. Famously, late third century Greek physician Galen had to dissect macaque apes due to prohibitions at the time on performing autopsies on human cadavers (leading to several misunderstandings). In contrast, when Pycelle complains in the books that Qyburn's presence on the small council is abhorrent, he states that the order of maesters has long opened up the bodies of dead men to try to learn the secrets of life - but Qyburn dissected living men, in agony, to try to learn the secrets of death and necromancy. Thus it seems that they have no prohibitions against autopsies. George R.R. Martin has stated that medical knowledge in Westeros is explicitly better than it was during the real Middle Ages - because he didn't want to have a setting in which characters regularly die from bacterial infections before they're fifty years old, etc. The lack of prohibitions on autopsies may have been a factor in this, or at least, is a way to demonstrate that they have more extensive medical knowledge than the real Middle Ages.
- When Ebrose asks Samwell to weigh one of the organs from the corpse, he responds that it weighs "147" - without stating any context for what units they're using. We actually don't know much about the units of measurement used in Westeros. Martin never uses modern metric measurements, to reflect their medieval society, in which measurement systems grew haphazardly out of local custom. They use yards, feet, and miles, not metric meters and kilometers. Other systems haven't been encountered as often: they assuredly don't use kilograms to measure weight. The novels have mentioned the "stone" weight unit, but one stone equals about 14 pounds, so there's no way the "147" organ weight refers to those. In Season 4's "First of His Name", Cersei listed off "pounds, tons, and ounces" but this might have just been the TV writers making an educated guess at what sounds like plausible pre-modern units of measurement they might use.
- Screencaptures of the books that Sam and Gilly are reading make note that the High Valyrian term for Dragonglass (obsidian) is "zīrtys perzys" - and notes that this literally translates as "frozen fire". This translation is mentioned in the novels, but Martin didn't come up with a High Valyrian word corresponding to it. Linguist David J. Peterson actually came up with the term as early as May 2014.
- When Samwell is looking at the open book with the right-hand page showing a map of Dragonstone island, the left hand page opposite it seems to state that the cure for Greyscale is actually to ingest Dragonglass ground up into a fine powder - though the maester who wrote the book scoffs that it would actually work.
- Within the books Sam is researching for information on how to kill White Walkers is a sketch of Littlefinger's Valyrian steel dagger from Season 1, which was carried by the catspaw assassin, and later was used by Littlefinger to falsely frame Tyrion. It isn't unusual that there would be an individual sketch of this dagger: since the Doom of Valyria four centuries ago, no new Valyrian steel weapons were made, and in the entire continent of Westeros there are only a little over two hundred surviving blades - mostly swords, but also a few axes and daggers. There are so few that isn't implausible that over the centuries some maesters made a codex with sketches of each individual surviving weapon.
- Promo images have indicated that the Valyrian steel dagger will actually reappear later this season. It seems that the writers wanted to use this scene to refresh viewers' memories of it: in a post-episode interview with Huffington Post, John Bradley West said: "When we were shooting that scene, I was literally told 'make sure that you linger on this page.' They were shooting over my shoulder and said make sure to linger on it. Make sure we get a good shot of this page before you turn the page over."
- Another book Sam reads has legible text referring to Lomas Longstrider and his famous book, Wonders Made by Man. Loosely comparable to Marco Polo, Lomas was a man from Westeros who traveled all over the world, even to Yi Ti and back (their China analogue).
- The visible text of the book Gilly is reading, Legends of the Long Night, is actually a full block-text quote from The World of Ice & Fire chapter on the Long Night.
- The day the episode aired, the official Making Game of Thrones HBO blog posted an update pointing out that an earlier exchange between Samwell and Jon Snow was meant to foreshadow his scene now reading about dragonglass on Dragonstone. In Season 5's "The Dance of Dragons", right before Sam left the Wall, he and Jon discussed the massacre at Hardhome, and how Jon had to leave behind most of the dragonglass weapons they had there (which Sam originally found at the Fist of the First Men. Jon laments that it doesn't really matter, because even if they still had all of them, the White Walkers' armies is so big it won't make a difference, "not unless we have a mountain of it". As the blog post points out, Samwell's line in this episode that Dragonstone is built atop "dragonglass, a mountain of it" mirrors his earlier exchange with Jon.
- Sam recalls that Stannis told him there was dragonglass on Dragonstone, back in Season 5's "Kill the Boy", but that he didn't think it was important at the time. Apparently the difference being presented is that Samwell thought Stannis just meant dragonglass could be found on Dragonstone - not that it literally has an entire mountain made of dragonglass, possibly the largest deposit of dragonglass in the entire world (after the Fourteen Fires around Valyria exploded). The book page that Sam is reading specifies that this was actually one of the major reasons the Valyrians founded a trading outpost on Dragonstone in the first place - its volcano, and the (now-destroyed) Fourteen Fires were their main sources of dragonglass.
- In the parallel book chapter, both Stannis and Sam consider that information as highly important, and Stannis sends orders to the castellan of Dragonstone to mine the material. Jon is not present at their conversation both in the show and the book, but it seems doubtful that Sam wouldn't have told him such important detail.
- Additionally, Davos was present on Dragonstone with Stannis and would surely know about the dragonglass deposits on the island, so Sam's message to Jon may actually be for naught, assuming Davos tells Jon about Dragonstone or has told him already off-screen. It remains to be seen how Jon will learn about the dragonglass supply.
- It is unclear exactly what important information Samwell will find in the Citadel in the books, but even in the book version he already knows that Dragonstone has a large supply of dragonglass before he leaves the Wall...so it doesn't appear that the information in this episode is meant to be the culmination to his entire voyage to Oldtown - apparently it's just further exposition to remind the audience going in to Season 7 (before this becomes a major plot point in Jon Snow's negotiations with Daenerys).
- Samwell says he's sending a letter "to Jon", but in such a vague context it is unclear if he found out everything that happened to Jon after he left the Wall - i.e. if he thinks he's still Lord Commander or if he heard vague reports that Jon left somehow and became the new King in the North. Either way, the message will still get to someone who needs to see it, as Edd would be reading any of the Lord Commander's correspondence.
- "Dragonstone" is the name of both the large island and the eponymous castle which is its ruling seat.
- Dragonstone is the ancestral homeland of House Targaryen, settled centuries ago as the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold. Due to its isolation, when the Doom of Valyria destroyed their vast empire in a single day, the Targaryens survived on Dragonstone with the world's only remaining dragons. One of the reasons they settled the isle is because it has an active volcano, a preferred nesting ground of dragons.
- Dragonstone is one of the strongest fortresses in all of Westeros, because it was built by the ancient Valyrians themselves using advanced construction techniques which were lost after their empire collapsed. The Valyrians were fond of building vast mega-structures by having dragons literally melt down stone with their flames, then teasing out the black liquid stone into various fantastic shapes. The island is also decorated with numerous dragon-themed statues and gargoyles. Its architectural designs seem very strange and foreign to people from mainland Westeros.
- The Targaryens spent a hundred years after the Doom building up their strength, then invaded Westeros in the Targaryen Conquest. Afterward, Dragonstone remained their private domain and final redoubt. Traditionally, the heir to the Iron Throne would rule the island directly as "Prince of Dragonstone" (comparable to how the real-life heir to the British monarchy is known as the "Prince of Wales").
- During their exile, Daenerys was the nominal heir of her brother Viserys Targaryen - who made the empty claim to be "King Viserys the Third" in exile. Thus, Daenerys nominally held the title "Princess of Dragonstone". Given that Viserys dies by the sixth episode of Season 1 "A Golden Crown", this comes up more frequently in the first novel, i.e. when Illyrio Mopatis introduces Daenerys to Drogo for the first time, in the book version he lists off her formal title as "Princess of Dragonstone", but this was omitted from the TV version. The title was entirely academic of course, given that they were living in exile and upon Viserys's death, she inherited his full title as the Targaryen claimant to the throne itself.
- Daenerys Targaryen was actually born on Dragonstone, at the end of Robert's Rebellion. Right before the rebel army sacked King's Landing her father the Mad King sent his pregnant wife away to safety on Dragonstone, where she died in childbirth. Her brother Viserys fled with her into exile in the Free Cities a few weeks later, so she has no memory of it, but technically it is still her true home. Daenerys has spent her life living on the sufferance of others or as a foreign invader in Slaver's Bay, but on Viserys's death, Dragonstone became hers by right.
- Of course, much like the Iron Throne, given that Jon Snow is actually the secret son of her eldest brother, Rhaegar, Jon might have more claim to it than her, but even then, Daenerys is his closest Targaryen relative, so Dragonstone would still be hers as next in line to the throne.
- Earlier episodes kept this point that Daenerys was technically born in Westeros, on Dragonstone. In Season 2, when the Spice King in Qarth directly asks her if she's ever even set foot in Westeros, she responds that she fled when she was just a baby. In Season 6, Tyrion also remarks to Jorah that Daenerys has never spent "one day of her adult life" in Westeros.
- Because Dragonstone is a volcanic island (surrounded by the salty sea), and Daenerys was born there, she matches the prophecies about Azor Ahai and The Prince That Was Promised being "born amidst salt and smoke". Melisandre thought that Stannis fit this as ruler of Dragonstone, although he was born at Storm's End, interpreting it as a figurative "rebirth" when he claimed his position as the Lord's Chosen. Maester Aemon also explains in the novels that in the original High Valyrian the prophecy was made in, "Prince" is actually a gender-neutral term, like "ruler", so the female Daenerys still fits it.
- Daenerys also matches other aspects of the prophecies, that the Prince would "wake dragons from stone" - she hatched dragon eggs, which seem petrified as stone.
- Dragonstone was Stannis's base of operations seen in Seasons 2 through 4, but several major locations on it weren't actually shown on screen at the time, probably due to budget constraints. Most interior scenes focused on the war planning room around the Painted Table - a large table painted as a large map of Westeros which Aegon I Targaryen himself used when he was planning his conquest of Westeros. Exterior shots focused on a generic beach with a large dragon statue in the background as a digital insert. Season 7 depicts all of Dragonstone's exteriors, and several new major internal locations, including a fully realized throne room, hewn from the volcanic rock. Stannis sat on this throne in several scenes from the books that were shifted to the council room. Historically, many prior Targaryens from Aegon I to Rhaenyra sat on the throne of Dragonstone.
- Dragonstone was a major location in the Dance of the Dragons, the great Targaryen civil war fought 170 years ago. It was the initial headquarters of Rhaenyra Targaryen and her faction, while her half-brother Aegon II held King's Landing itself. Several prequel projects to follow the main series are being discussed, and it is possible that these Dragonstone sets were introduced with an eye towards being re-used for a prequel series.
- Starting in Season 7, the interiors and carved gates were built on sound stages, but other exterior shots are Filming locations in Spain. The place where Daenerys lands on the coast is Zumaia Beach. After ascending a vertical set of stairs up the cliff, the much lower and longer set of stairs from the gates to the castle is actually an entirely real location at San Juan in Spain. The map room was also slightly expanded in Season 7 (so more camera could fit around it to film the larger number of major characters in it). As for the stratified rock formation design with the volcanic island's carved chambers, designed by Deborah Riley, director Jeremy Podeswa said: "It's a very new look for the show, I think. It has a fascist architecture feel to it, in a way, but it also integrates elements of the actual location in terms of the striated rocks you see on the beach, which is married into the interiors in a beautiful way."
- As when Stannis held it, Dragonstone isn't worth much in and of itself to Daenerys, as a comparatively small island - but it has an excellent strategic location controlling the mouth of Blackwater Bay, and thus threatening all sea travel going to or from King's Landing. Additionally, of course, it is a strong symbolic move for Daenerys to go from being a foreign exile to directing her invasion of Westeros from the ancestral seat of the Targaryens themselves.
- The entire sequence of Daenerys and her followers arriving at Dragonstone has no dialogue in it, with Daenerys delivering a single line ("Shall we begin?") at the very end. In the Inside the Episode video, Dan Weiss calls attention to this, saying that they felt it was such a powerful moment after following Daenerys trying to get to Westeros for the past six years that dialogue would only have gotten in the way of Emilia Clarke's performance: "A bunch of dialogue was completely unnecessary for the weight of that moment." Thus they reconceived the sequence to make it worthy of her non-verbal acting talents, without dialogue.
- The new costume style that Daenerys shifts to starting in this episode is actually not entirely new to the series - she has switched to the "old Targaryen style" that her brother Viserys was seen wearing back in Season 1 (as sort of a sign that she has embraced her inner Targaryen nature as a conqueror). Costume designer Michele Clapton explained at the time that because Viserys was older than Daenerys when the Targaryens were deposed (he was a child), he still remembers what the fashions at the old Targaryen royal court looked like and dresses in them - thus even though his one costume didn't appear very often, it was meant to be a window into what the old Targaryen style looked like: asymmetric cut, peaked shoulder cuffs that are separate from the undercoat, long form-fitting sleeves, and a high collar. Finally, of course, she has also dramatically shifted from her prior blue or white color palettes to finally dressing in Targaryen red and black, the colors of their heraldry. For more information, see "Costumes/King's Landing - Under the Targaryens".
- Season 7 trailers have revealed other variations on this new style Daenerys is going to wear, including a short red cape asymmetrically pinned to one shoulder - like the one Viserys was seen wearing at her wedding to Drogo in the first episode. Just as Viserys only included the decorative cape on formal occasions, Daenerys may only wear it for more formal occasions as well (she doesn't wear it in this episode, while she's traveling).
- Viserys had very prominent embellishments on his tunic, chief among which was a very large Targaryen sigil that covered his chest. Clapton said she intentionally put this in to make him seem like a pretentious fool: advertising to the world, "I'm a Targaryen!", as if proclaiming that alone will make him a king. Daenerys, however, isn't a self-important buffoon, so her costume decorations - while still in the same general style - are more subtle, working in smaller dragon details and motifs (which, unlike with Viserys, the camera can only pick up in close-up shots).
- Daenerys does retain one of her trademark fashion choices from Essos, however: she still wears riding breeches under her dress. Clapton said this was one of the few constants in all of Daenerys's costume changes - the idea being that she has been dodging assassins her whole life (sent by King Robert or others) or simply wandering around with her brother like a beggar, to the point that she has an ingrained psychological need to be ready to flee any place at a moment's notice (by quickly getting on a horse and riding away).
The Abandonment of Dragonstone
- Main article: Abandonment of Dragonstone
- This episode implies that Dragonstone has been abandoned since Stannis Baratheon left with his army for the Wall, at the end of Season 4, and states definitively that it was abandoned before Stannis' death. This is a drastic condensation by the TV writers that doesn't really make sense: it means that for the past three to two years of story time, the Lannisters simply didn't bother to re-occupy an empty castle, one of the strongest in Westeros, which directly controls sea access to their capital city. There is zero precedent in the entire history of Westeros in which one side in a war didn't try to re-occupy a castle that the opposing side abandoned, much less a strategically important one.
- In the books, Stannis took most of his army by ship to the Wall for the Battle of Castle Black, but he left a small skeleton force garrison behind in Dragonstone (and also in Storm's End) - because Stannis hopes to eventually retake all of the Seven Kingdoms, and it wouldn't make sense to voluntarily abandon the defense of one of the strongest castles in Westeros. Dragonstone was constructed with lost Valyrian architectural techniques and is defensively quite formidable, so even a token defensive force can hold it against large armies.
- Given how strong the fortress is even this small garrison was enough to deter a direct attack by the Lannisters: as a result much of the remaining Lannister/Tyrell fleet, under the command of Lord Paxter Redwyne, was pinned down encircling and besieging Dragonstone, trying to wait them out through starvation over time; the siege might have lasted at least six months, but it was safer option than an open assault, and there was no reason to take the castle quickly. This prevented the Tyrells from dealing with Euron Greyjoy's military campaign against the Reach. Loras and Margaery urged Cersei to send the Redwyne fleet back to the Reach, but she (secretly gloating over the Tyrells' distress) refused, claiming that Dragonstone was more important than the Shield Islands. Loras Tyrell came with the idea to force a quick end to the siege by storming the castle, stating that he could conquer the castle within two weeks; Cersei agreed in hopes he would die in the fighting. Loras takes the castle, but with heavy and unnecessary losses due to his rash nature; after fighting through many defenders despite taking numerous wounds, he was doused with boiling oil and left severely burnt, barely clinging to life. Cersei then told Margaery about Loras's injury, pretending to be sympathetic, but Margaery saw through her pretense. That put a strain on the Lannister-Tyrell alliance, though it is currently still intact. The TV series omitted all of this and just had Loras burn to death in the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor (in the books there is some slim chance he might, in fact, survive). Although it is not mentioned explicitly, as of the latest novel A Dance with Dragons, Dragonstone has been presumably garrisoned by Lannister troops after the siege.
- An argument could be made that Stannis recalled his few remaining troops to aid in his Northern Campaign once inclement weather and the departure of many of his sellsword soldiers, though this would only justify the abandonment of the castle and not the inaction of the Lannisters for two years, particularly under the leadership of Kevan Lannister.
- Even assuming that Stannis wanted to take every last available soldier he had with him to the Wall, no explanation is given for why the Lannisters wouldn't simply retake the abandoned castle. Even within the episode, Jaime himself observes that Stannis abandoned the castle, the Lannisters are aware of this, it is relatively nearby, and he says that it's the most likely target for Daenerys Targaryen's initial landing...yet he doesn't make any attempt to suggest that they should rush even a small force of Lannister soldiers to the castle so they can defend it against her attack. Even if they hope to defeat Daenerys, they would eventually have to retake Dragonstone castle, losing thousands of men in the process, when they could have just sent a hundred or so guards there ahead of time. Nor does Jaime's dialogue give any explanation as to why the Lannisters didn't re-occupy the empty castle in all the time since Stannis left.
- Euron Greyjoy's fleet had to directly pass abandoned Dragonstone, both coming and going to King's Landing. This is also quite obvious given that Jaime is standing on a large map at the time, visibly showing that any ship approaching King's Landing has to pass Dragonstone. Yet the TV show presents that Euron wouldn't think to capture the island, perhaps as a gift for Cersei.
- Even if the storylines are out of sync, and Daenerys lands on Dragonstone before Euron arrives...then Daenerys's fleets would be based at Dragonstone, and attempt to stop Euron's fleet from reaching King's Landing. As presented by the episode, Daenerys simply hadn't reached Dragonstone yet, and Euron ignored capturing one of the strongest castles in Westeros even though it was empty.
- Ultimately, when the TV writers cut out Loras's assault they didn't come up with another way to wrap up the dangling storyline of what happened to Dragonstone - not even simple dialogue describing off-screen events, for example a report that the Lannisters had captured it but then Daenerys's fleet quickly seized it.
Sandor Clegane: "It's my fucking luck I wind up with a band of fire worshipers."
Cersei Lannister: "Daenerys Targaryen has chosen Tyrion to be her Hand. Right now, they're sailing across the Narrow Sea, hoping to take back her father's throne. Our little brother...the one you love so much. The one you set free. The one who murdered our father, and our firstborn son. Now, he stands beside our enemies and gives them counsel. He's out there, somewhere, at the head of an armada. Where will they land?"
Jaime Lannister: "Dragonstone. They have deep water ports for their ships. Stannis left the castle unoccupied and that's where she was born.
Cersei: Enemies to the east. Enemies to the south, Ellaria Sand and her brood of bitches. Enemies to the west, Olenna, the old cunt, another traitor. Enemies to the North. Ned Stark's bastard has been named King in the North, and that murdering whore Sansa stands beside him. Enemies everywhere. We're surrounded by traitors. You're in command of the Lannister army. Now how do we proceed?"
Jaime: "Winter is here. We can't win a war if we can't feed our men and our horses. The Tyrells have the grain, the Tyrells have the livestock."
Cersei: "Will the Tyrell bannermen stand alongside a Dothraki horde, and Unsullied slave soldiers?"
Jaime: "If they think Daenerys will win. No one wants to fight on the losing side. Right now, we look like the losing side."
Cersei Lannister: "I'm Queen of the Seven Kingdoms."
Jaime: "Three kingdoms, at best! I'm not sure you understand how much danger we're in."
Cersei: "I understand we're in a war for survival. I understand, whoever loses dies. I understand that whoever wins could launch a dynasty that could last a thousand years."
Jaime: "A dynasty for whom?! Our children are dead. We're the last of us."
Cersei: "A dynasty for us then."
Cersei: "Should we spend all our days mourning the dead? Mother, father, and all our children? I loved them, I did. But they’re ashes now, and we’re still flesh and blood. We’re the last Lannisters, the last ones who count.”
Jaime: "I know the ironborn. They're bitter, angry, little people. All they know how to do is steal things they can't build or grow themselves."
Archmaester Ebrose: "We are the world's memory...without us men would be little better than dogs, don't remember any meal but the last, can't see forward to any but the next."
Sansa Stark: "No need to seize the last word Lord Baelish, I will assume it was something clever.”
Daenerys Targaryen: "Shall we begin?"
In the books
[This section will be updated with comparisons when the sixth novel is released.]
- The episode contains influences from the following chapter of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 78, Sam V: A king gives orders to mine dragonglass, for making weapons against the White Walkers.
- The episode contains influences from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Prologue: The novice Pate goes through drudgery work at the Citadel, and recounts some experiences with Archmaester Ebrose.
- Chapter 5, Samwell I: Sam reads old records about dragonglass.
- Chapter 17, Cersei IV: Cersei considers forming an alliance with the ironborn, in view of the shortage of naval forces. She names a roguish captain sexually attracted to her as the head of the royal navy.
- Chapter 18, The Iron Captain: Euron boasts that he destroyed the Lannister fleet during Greyjoy's Rebellion.
- Chapter 45, Samwell V: Sam arrives at the Citadel and begins work as a novice. He speaks with an archmaester about the army of the dead.
- The episode contains influences from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 7, Jon II: Sam reads old records about dragonglass.
- Chapter 17, Jon IV: Someone suggests destroying the Last Hearth as a punishment. Jon disagrees.
- Chapter 35, Jon VII: Jon intends to garrison the abandoned castles on the Wall with Free Folk.
- Chapter 44, Jon IX: Jon meets Alys Karstark and they discuss possible scenarios regarding the inheritance of Karhold. Jon decides to support her side and assures that he holds no grudge against her over the misdeeds of her father.
- Chapter 53, Jon XI: Jon intends to garrison more of the abandoned castles on the Wall with Free Folk warriors. He plans to have Tormund garrison one of these castles. Some people express their disapproval of the idea.
- Epilogue: A Lannister discusses their situation in face of the impending Targaryen invasion.
- The episode may contain influences from the following fan predictions and theories regarding The Winds of Winter:
- "Red Wedding 2.0": House Frey will suffer a massacre during a celebration, in revenge for the Red Wedding.
- Dragonstone (Game of Thrones episode) on Wikipedia
- Dragonstone on IMDb
- Dragonstone (TV) on A Wiki of Ice and Fire