Five highlights from the 'Game of Thrones' premiere
There were no large-scale battles and no major character deaths, but HBO's "Game of Thrones" wasted no time in delivering jaw-dropping moments in Sunday's season premiere, entitled "Winterfell."
And they have no time to waste -- the most popular television show in the realm has just five episodes left.
1. Cersei's offer.
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, pays in advance for what she wants, whether it's with her body or the Tyrells' money. Before finally giving the brash Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) the alone time he demands ("I wanted those elephants," Cersei bemoans), she sends Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser) with a pile of gold for Sir Bronn of the Blackwater (Jerome Flynn). In exchange, she wants the former sellsword to kill both of her brothers -- with the crossbow Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) used to kill their father, Tywin (Charles Dance), in Season 4.
That was the first moment Sunday that prompted the shouting of profanities. (By me, I mean.)
Bronn has been ally to both Tyrion and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in seasons past; we'll see if those bonds are more important than riches.
2. Sansa's strength.
When last we saw Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), she was thanking Lord Baelish (Aiden Gillen) for his many lessons. Now it appears she has remembered the lessons she learned from Cersei so many seasons ago. She echoes the Queen of the Realm's icy disposition in her first encounter with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), asking how Winterfell is supposed to feed thousands of foreign soldiers and two dragons amid the Great War.
When she reunites with one-time husband Tyrion, now Daenerys' closest adviser, she cracks a joke about the Season 4 poisoning of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and questions Tyrion's intelligence.
Her harshest words are reserved for Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who risks losing the sympathies of his Northern bannermen after bending the knee to the Dragon Queen.
Let there be no doubt that Sansa is playing the game. Hopefully she gets to confront Cersei before all is said and done.
3. Arya's double reunion.
She hasn't seen The Hound (Rory McCann) or Gendry (Joe Dempsie) in years, but Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) encounters both of them in the same scene in the premiere. The Hound already knows not to cross her, given their past and his conversation with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) in the Season 7 finale, and instead pays her the highest compliment he knows: He calls her a "cold little (expletive)."
Unfazed, Arya turns her attention to Gendry, tasking him with making a Dragonglass weapon before ... flirting with him! Yes, Arya has grown up, and Gendry has noticed. Arya deserves a little happiness, doesn't she?
4. Sam told him already!
Did anyone expect Jon to learn his true heritage in the season premiere? Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) spills the beans in the crypts beneath Winterfell, with a statue of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) looming in the background: Jon is Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen and true heir to the Iron Throne. After taking offense at Sam's suggestion that Ned lied to him while raising him as his bastard son, Jon realizes that, if it's coming from Sam, it must be true. Will Jon act upon this information? Will he abandon his love for Daenerys? Will she respect his royal lineage? Will he keep it secret? And if he does, will Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) blurt it out anyway?
5. "The things I do for love ..."
Speaking of Bran, the episode closes with him staring down an unexpected newcomer to Winterfell: Jaime Lannister, the man who pushed the Stark boy out a window, crippling him, at the conclusion of the show's very first episode. The show cuts to black, and now we must wait until next Sunday.
• Follow Widescreen columnist Sean Stangland on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.