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‘Game of Thrones’: Everything you need to know about Dragonstone

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO Image Image Acquired via HBO PR

‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 premiere episode is titled “Dragonstone” and we have everything you need to know about what that means.

Game of Thrones has been as guarded with its season 7 secrets as ever. And I’m sure you were hoping that I had some little unknown bone to throw as we’re only one sleep away from the premiere. But I don’t. In fact HBO refused to send out screeners to critics this year so we’re all coming at this season from the same place…sort of. In any case in  the interest of being straightforward, and on the off chance that you found yourself here because you were hoping I had some spoilers on the first episode of the season, I don’t.

I mean I would happily speculate that the episode is clearly indicating that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has finally reached Westeros. The trailers showed her sitting on a new throne. And that throne is in Dragonstone. Though that’s the first – I believe – we’ve ever seen of that room  this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Dragonstone. In fact, the very first time we saw it was at the beginning of season two when Melisandre (Carice van Houten) burned up replicas of the Faith of the Seven, in the name of the Lord of Light.

This was the last place we saw Gendry (Joe Dempsie). And the last time we saw Dragonstone was when Stannis (Stephen Dilane) went to help Castle Black to assist the Night’s Watch in defeating the army of Free Folk. Then Stannis did a very very bad thing and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) got justice for Renly by killing him, which left a vacancy. And you might be wondering, what is Dany even doing there? She wants the Iron Throne, right? Well yeah, (though if she deserves it an entirely different issue and one we’ll probably be debating even after the show ends) she is mobilized to take what is hers with fire and blood. But she didn’t choose Dragonstone arbitrarily because of it’s name, it’s home.

Or at least it was home to her family before she and her brother were smuggled away for their own safety after Robert’s Rebellion. And it’s fitting that she would find herself there at the start of season seven because season six was heavily focused on that theme of going home.

In Game of Thrones’  final few episodes last season we saw a lot of character begin to return home. Arya (Maisie Williams) says as much when she leaves the House of Black and White, Jon (Kit Harington) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) return to Winterfell, and our last shot in the season six finale is of Dany heading across the Narrow Sea to Westeros.

So it’s no surprise (especially given the way the show chooses to toy with time) that Dany would finally reach her destination. I know that bringing up the books is a passé at this point but GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series does provide a ton of context for Dragonstone. I mean obviously things are a bit different. If I remember correctly in the books Cersei’s plan to take back the castle – which Stannis left poorly guarded – is successful but at great cost. Ser Loras (Finn Jones) is fatally injured and the last we hear about him near death. The whole point was to hurt Stannis’ cause. None of which is remotely significant to the show anymore but Dragonstone is a direct threat to King’s Landing because – as some might recall – the castle is on an island of the same name in Blackwater Bay.

It is the ancestral seat of House Targaryen and it’s full of Valyrian – a scarce resource that we know is capable of killing the larger threat to the Seven Kingdoms – the White Walkers. Dany’s mother died there giving birth to her.

Stannis came to reside there mostly as punishment. After Robert won the Throne he sent his brother to finish off what was left of the royal family but by the time he got there Viserys and Dany were already on their way to the Free Cities. In anger Robert gave the Baratheon’s own stronghold – Storm’s End – to Renly. And tasked Stannis with staying at Dragonstone and keeping an eye on the Targaryen loyalists there. The castle itself is considered one of the strongest castles in the Seven Kingdoms. Frankly, up until recently it is most memorable for that great map that Stannis spent a lot time planning over.

What’s considerably more interesting is Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) place in all of this. Not specifically his role as Dany’s Hand but more in a narrative context. This is the castle that Stannis retreated to after Tyrion’s plan destroyed most of the Baratheon fleet in the Battle of the Blackwater. A battle that used wildfire and contributed to the stores Cersei was able to hoard for last season’s explosive finale. There’s something very full circle happening here and it will be exciting to see where it all leads.

In the novels Dany has a very faint recollection of this place and I’m sure we’ll see some of that as she steps foot in Westeros for the first time. With so much potential focus on the Targaryens (yes Jon too!) in the premiere, what’s exceptionally curious is why episode two references the first of Dany’s many names, “Stormborn”?

Season 7 of Game of Thrones premieres Sunday July 16 at 9/8c on HBO. Be sure to tune in!

Don’t let the conversation stop here! What are you hoping to see in the premiere? Head down to the comments and share with us! And be sure to check out all the great GoT content we’ll be rolling out weekly!