The Game Of Thrones Season 6 finale, "The Winds Of Winter," did an excellent job of clearing the board of all extraneous chess pieces before the show enters its endgame with its final 13 episodes. Now, the first official Game Of Thrones Season 7 photos from HBO are here — and they're glorious, giving us a look at the last players standing in the battle for the Iron Throne… and for the fate of all of Westeros.
With significant supporting characters like King Tommen, Margaery Tyrell, and the High Sparrow dispatched to that great grass sea in the sky, Game Of Thrones is feeling more streamlined than ever as it heads into its penultimate batch of episodes. That feeling of consolidation is on display in these first photos, which focus on each of the major contenders for the throne — as well as a few supportive sidekicks and behind-the-scenes schemers.
While fans wait for a promo that contains some actual footage from the upcoming episodes, this is our first real look at Season 7 and what it entails. So far, it seems like it includes a lot of staring imperiously at someone standing just to the right of the camera, as well as a lot of luxurious furs — a sensible wardrobe choice for the impending winter season.
Let's see how our favorite GoT characters are looking as they head into Season 7.
1. Daenerys Targaryen
Here we see the Mother Of Dragons in the same unfamiliar throne room where she was glimpsed in the recent "Sit Down" promo. Popular theory maintains that this is Dragonstone, the island off the coast of King's Landing where Dany will set up shop for her impending invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
2. Cersei & Jaime Lannister
The last time we saw Jaime, he looked a bit troubled while watching his sister-lover claim their dead son's throne during the Season 6 finale. But it seems like he's gotten over whatever bad feelings he had and has decided to stand by Queen Cersei's side — perhaps as her Hand of the King?
3. Jon Snow
Our noble hero is looking fairly dour here — but that's pretty much par for the course when it comes to the long-suffering Jon Snow. What's interesting is that he appears to be in the crypts of Winterfell. Could he have finally learned the truth about his parentage and gone down to pay his respects to his aunt… I mean, mother… Lyanna Stark?
4. Sansa Stark & Petyr Baelish
The eldest Stark sister is looking pretty regal here, you've got to admit. I sort of hate that Littlefinger is in her presence and not groveling at her feet for forgiveness after selling her to Ramsay Bolton for his own political gain; but at least she doesn't look too happy about him being there, either.
5. Tyrion Lannister
Hmm. Our favorite Hand of the Queen doesn't look very triumphant here, does he? Is that the facial expression of someone who has just successfully invaded a continent? Methinks #TeamKhaleesi is going to hit some snags on their way to the Iron Throne…
It's been a long time since we've seen master manipulators Varys and Littlefinger go toe-to-toe. With the Spider on his way back to Westeros, could we please get a reunion between these two hilariously unscrupulous social climbers? If only so the eunuch can gloat about how much better he's fared since the last time they saw each other.
7. Arya Stark
It's hard to see much around Arya in this photo, but the lighting certainly seems very Walder-Frey-great-hall-grunge. Surely she wouldn't be sticking around the twins after assassinating the man behind the Red Wedding? Can we please get Arya moving toward Winterfell a little faster?
8. Davos Seaworth
Ah, my dear old Onion Knight. After years of humiliating defeats while serving under stuffy Lord Stannis, Davos finally got to taste sweet, sweet victory alongside his new leader, Jon Snow, during the Battle of Winterfell. But will Davos' luck hold? Or will he revert back to his status as Westeros' favorite punching bag?
9. Samwell Tarly & Gilly
Meanwhile, in Oldtown… Sam is obviously much more suited to The Citadel's library than he ever was to life at Castle Black. I'm loving the domestic bliss on display as Gilly practices her newfound reading skills while Sam does a bit of light research that will undoubtedly turn the tide of the war agains the White Walkers and save all of Westeros.
10. Bran Stark & Meera Reed
Bran's merry little band has dwindled a bit, hasn't it? With Jojen, Summer, and Hodor (*sniff*) all fallen in service to the crippled-but-prescient Stark, it falls on Meera to haul him across the wintry wasteland. Will she make it all the way to the Wall so Bran can deliver Jon the news of his parentage? What other horrors might be lurking on the way?
11. Sandor Clegane
Last we saw Sandor, he's fallen in with the Brotherhood Without Banners, who declared their intention to head north and fight the White Walkers. Apparently they made good on that promise, given the falling snow and the grumpy look on the Hound's face. (He looks about as thrilled as I do every time it snows and I think wistfully of the bygone summer months.)
12. Brienne Of Tarth & Tormund Giantsbane
What was that noise? I think it was the sound of millions of shippers' hearts fluttering with glee. Westeros' unlikeliest coupling seems to be going strong in Season 7; that's certainly the dirtiest look I've seen on HBO in a while, and that's saying something.
She can translate a dozen different languages and rock a fashion-forward leather outfit with confidence. Is there anything Missandei can't do? (Although now that her queen is in a continent where everyone speaks the same language, I'm curious to see what the interpreter will do with her life.)
14. Lyanna Mormont
Lyanna Mormont may be Westeros' littlest lady… but she's also its fiercest, capable of reading the riot act to a roomful of men old enough to be her father (or grandfather, for that matter). I can't wait to see what sassy bon mots come tumbling out of the pint-sized noblewoman this year.
15. Her Royal Entourage
Can you say #squadgoals? Everything about this fivesome is on point, from their meticulously planned matching wardrobes to their stoic posture and their identical facial expressions. "We will conquer Westeros with the power of our smolder."
Game Of Thrones Season 7 premieres on Sunday, July 16 — so start your Seasons 1-6 rewatch stat!