Beyond The Wall

The 'Game of Thrones' Premiere's Fire Vision Teases Season 7's Bloody Ending

game of thrones season 7 premiere fire vision hound
HBO
This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1, "Dragonstone" and all previous seasons.

"What do you see?"

It's been over a year since viewers entered the grisly fray (not to be confused with the grisly Walder Frey) of Game of Thrones, and most of us watching the Season 7 premiere had the above question on our minds the whole time, like we were witnessing a vision from R'hllor, the Lord of Light. We found Jon Snow, Daenerys, Cersei, Arya, and the rest of the gang where we left them -- on the edge of certain doom. Winter is here, the Night's King and his army of White Walker undead are marching towards The Wall, and at least one character has witnessed that's about to erupt in Westeros.

Between the major reintroductions and chessboard-setting in the slow-but-steady premiere, "Dragonstone," creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss gave us an amazing sequence with fan favorite The Hound. Now riding alongside Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood without Banners after stray soldiers murdered his hippie commune back in Season 6, Sandor Clegane is a skeptic with muscle, willing to help where help is needed, perhaps reformed from his true brutish ways, but willing to raise an eyebrow when it comes to mysticism and godly favors. The Hound still can't shake that the Lord of Light has chosen Beric, of all men on the planet, to rise again and again and again from the dead (remember, he killed the Brotherhood without Banners member back in Season 3, only to watch his fellow fire devotees revive him with a defibrillating jolt from beyond the mortal plane). Beric doesn't know either -- but insists Sandor, a big scaredy cat when it comes to fire, try gazing into the flames himself for answers.

white walker giant game of thrones season 7 premiere
HBO

"What do you see?"

He sees nothing, at least for a second. Then it comes. A vision. An essential vision. "A wall of ice," he says, the reflections in his flickering eyes our only glimpse into R'hllor's tease. "The Wall." Oh, we're familiar! "Where the wall meets the sea." Go on... "There's a castle there. There's a mountain. An arrowhead. They're marching past. Thousands of them."

Now that sounds like a trouble.

For all the politicking from the last six seasons of Thrones, "Dragonstone" is the first episode that plainly states the show's end game. Forget the wages of war against man and man -- that's a game for shortsighted, power-hungry dynasty-chasers like Cersei. This war, The Big One, is with the White Walkers, and Sandor is the first person to witness just how bad it's going to be for people. Because The Wall isn't going to stop The Night's King this time. As Sandor details, the leader of the undead is marching towards Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, a fortress positioned along The Wall and the Bay of Seals. But didn't the Walkers stop short of entering the water and attacking Jon Snow during the Battle of Hardhome? Apparently they're not as hydrophobic as we thought.

Does the Lord of Light show Sandor these visions to aid their quest or spell an inevitable armageddon for all of mankind? What does he really see? The secrets may lie in Beric's position in this mess.

"Poor Beric Dondarrion, who was set up as the foreshadowing of all this," author George R.R. Martin told Time in a lengthy and revealing Season 7 interview. "Every time he’s a little less Beric. His memories are fading, he’s got all these scars, he’s becoming more and more physically hideous, because he’s not a living human being anymore. His heart isn’t beating, his blood isn’t flowing in his veins, he’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of by ice, now we’re getting back to the whole fire and ice thing.

Martin positions Beric, more man than we'd ever consider The Night King, to be the fiery inverse of your average White Walker (which explains his abilities to conjure a fire sword, as seen in the trailers for Season 7). Perhaps Sandor, embracing the fire half of this dual god, is the only force that can wallop the White Walkers in hand to hand combat? Not only will the Brotherhood without Banners travel to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea to face their fate, they'll now do so in the context of a religious war, where the forces summoned by light and dark, fire and ice, square off. Melisandre's quote from Season 4 only makes the god's involvement in the showdown all the more ominous: "There's only one hell," she tells Shireen Baratheon, not yet burnt at the stake in honor of this Lord. "The one we live in now."

tormund game of thrones season 7 premiere
HBO

"What do you see?"

I see a team-up from two of the bigger badasses in the Game of Thrones universe happening at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. It's hard to hear through actor Kit Harington's brogue, and in the wake of Lyanna Mormont's hammer dropping, but during the meeting of the factions of the North, Jon Snow orders the Wildlings to resume their positions close to The Wall to fend off the early waves of White Walkers. "The last time we saw The Night King is at Hardhome," Jon recounts. "The closest castle to hardhome is Eastwatch-By-the-Sea." Tormund is happy to oblige. Then Jon launches into a plan for what happens after the Walkers breach The Wall. He's not taking chances.

Will this confrontation go down before the end of the season or is it the kick-off to the final episodes of Season 8. Only the Lord of Light knows for sure, but it's happening, and you'll have to pray extra hard to your deities to ensure everyone you love makes home with their head intact.

"What do you see?"

I see the kind of sword-clanging, ice-blasting, fire-sploding war sequence that could rival the Battle of the Bastards.

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Matt Patches is the Executive Entertainment Editor of Thrillist. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, and Vulture. Find him on Twitter @misterpatches.