After years of billowing story and cast, it was striking to note how the action hinged mostly on people we have been with from the beginning: Cersei and Jaime Lannister; Jon Snow; Sansa, Arya and Bran Stark; Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion. Even the Hound — now riding with the unkillable Beric Dondarrion and Thoros, the Myrish red priest with Brooklyn bartender styling — has been around, off and on, since the pilot.
The world of the show is smaller, too, as suggested by those maps. Pretty much everyone of note is back in Westeros, a land at least nominally ruled by a woman who has been around King’s Landing long enough to know that claiming the Iron Throne and keeping it are two very different things.
“It’s ours now, we just have to take it,” Cersei told Jaime, walking over a freshly painted survey of the empire she plans to keep in the family for a millennium.
What family? Jaime wondered. All our children are dead. And with enemies in every direction, how are we going to stay on top without any allies to help us? “We can’t win this war alone,” he said.
Cue the pirate king. Euron Greyjoy arrived last season aiming to kill his relatives and take control of the Iron Islands. He was largely successful, tossing Balon off a bridge and being named ruler, but Yara and Theon took off with the boats and pledged them to Team Targaryen. Give me some ships and I will give you the world, Euron told his minions then.
We saw the result on Sunday, as Euron arrived with his new fleet and plans for an alliance via a marriage proposal. “Here I am with a thousand ships and two good hands,” he said, clearly annoying Jaime, but even he would have to admit it’s a pretty funny line. (Pilou Asbaek struck an agreeable note of malevolent arrogance — his Euron could be a fun villain.)