Welcome to the “Experts” reviews of Game of Thrones here at The A.V. Club, which are written from the perspective of someone who has read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Originally, these reviews were a necessity, creating a space where those who had read the books could freely discuss upcoming story developments from the books, but we are duly aware that this is no longer necessary (what with the show passing the books). However, the separate reviews—you can read Brandon Nowalk’s “Newbies” reviews here—remain as a space to foreground the different critical perspectives of “readers” and “non-readers” while simultaneously providing spaces for conversation where one can connect with viewers with similar relationships to the source material.
As with last season, we are making these posts available early to allow discussion as soon as the episode is over—the full review will be posted as soon as possible. In the interim, you can check out the rest of The A.V. Club’s Game Of Thrones coverage here.
“Dragonstone” begins with unfinished business.
Although Arya Stark utilized her training with the Faceless Men in order to murder Walder Frey at the end of last season, he was not the only member of his family who helped orchestrate the Red Wedding. And so in the cold open she poses as the man she killed to orchestrate a larger retribution, punishing the entire Frey family for violating guest right in the murder of Catelyn, Robb, Talisa, and their unborn child. With one celebratory toast of poisoned wine, Arya erases the Freys from the map, and places them into the dustbin of history.
But that dustbin had become awfully full at the end of last season. While the show has shown a consistent willingness to kill characters, the end of last season went a step further and wiped entire storylines off the map. In one moment, the High Sparrow and the Faith are creating chaos for Cersei and Queen Margaery…