If you were wondering whether Game of Thrones was going to wait until after the theme song played to get things going, it didn’t.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season.]
The cold open is an extension of the season six finale, which saw Arya kill Walder Frey in cold blood. Continuing that scene, we see Walder Frey dining with his most trusted men — the same army he used to kill Catelyn Stark and Robb Stark during the infamous Red Wedding scene.
Frey encourages his men to drink, talking about that fateful night, but halfway through his speech, his men begin to sputter, clutching their throats attempting to breathe. It’s at this moment that Arya reveals herself, removing the Walder Frey mask she was wearing. In one of the coldest, and perhaps one of Arya’s best scenes, she declares, “Winter has come for the house of Frey.”
Although this is easily the most memorable cold open in Game of Thrones’ history, it isn’t the first. The show’s pilot episode, which aired on April 17, 2011, also included a cold open that introduced the White Walkers just north of the Wall. There have been a few other occurrences over the past few seasons, but Arya’s certainly feels the most memorable.
This also sets the tone for Game of Thrones’ seventh season. On Twitter, people were quick to point out that the scene in question felt like it should have played at the end of the episode because of how intense and shocking it was. Instead, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff decided to lead with it. That says more about the season than anything else we’ve seen so far. Buckle in, kids. It’s going to get wild.
We know that Arya is slowly making her way back to Winterfell. Hopefully after her recent murderous spree, she’ll be able to get a good dinner back home in the company of her older brother and sister, Sansa Stark.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.