Winter has arrived in mid-July, which in Game of Thrones-speak means that the HBO show was back on the air Sunday night—and per the Los Angeles Times, the premiere of the seventh season "belonged to [the] women." Those women being Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen, all of whom seem "ready to do whatever it takes to gain the power, justice, or vengeance they seek" for being wronged or abused, in what the Times calls the show's "accidental feminism." Some more speculation and analysis online, complete with a courtesy SPOILER ALERT:
- The New York Times offers a concise overview of the "Dragonstone" episode, including some valuable lessons learned. Foremost among those: "If you have designs on a dynasty, the first thing you have to do is get yourself a sweet map."
- Billboard serves up what it thinks were the "eight best moments." The show's cold open in House Frey is up there.
- In a woodlands scene with Arya Stark, a melodious voice rings through the forest—and it belonged to Ed Sheeran, whose cameo sent the internet into overdrive. The critics weren't exactly blown away, however, with the Guardian calling it "a dud" that shows GoT's "fondness for insipid musicians." The Independent, meanwhile, deems it a "painfully unsubtle" appearance. Co-showrunner David Benioff explains why Sheeran was tapped.
- Adding a bit of surprising levity to the premiere, per Mashable: Euron Greyjoy, who helped contribute to "more laugh-out-loud moments than the show has had in years." His big scene involved trying to woo Cersei Lannister—and "throwing epic shade at Jaime."
- Greyjoy didn't claim all of the laughter: The "flirtation" between Brienne of Tarth and Tormund Giantsbane enjoyed a few new moments in the spotlight, with Insider noting fans are pulling for these two non-lovebirds to pull it together and get together.
- The Independent points out a juicy Easter egg embedded just for Harry Potter fans in the scene with Samwell Tarly and Archmaester Ebrose, played by Jim Broadbent.
- What "was no match for the White Walkers" in the premiere: HBO's website and HBO Now, which, per the Hollywood Reporter, experienced technical difficulties during the first half of the show.
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