Valar morghulis. All men must die, and Game Of Thrones cold-opens season seven with Arya ticking up her kill count by several dozen. As her bloodlust grows, her old buddy The Hound’s heart seems to soften. Here’s your guide to the recently deceased.
Who died? What looks to be more or less all of Walder Frey’s adult male descendants, a motley bunch of cap-wearing dudes who helped their father plan the Red Wedding, where Catelyn, Robb, and Robb’s wife, Talisa, pregnant with their child, were all murdered.
How did they die? Arya Stark, wearing Walder Frey’s face, poisoned their wine. In a nice touch, the wine was served to the men by downtrodden-looking women, who have never fared well in House Frey. In another nice touch, they were murdered in the same dining hall where Arya’s family was murdered.
How shocking was it? That Arya would go one step further and murder all the Frey men, essentially crumbling the House? Not very shocking, though the sheer number of people she killed was high. Still, she showed some mercy—it’s not like she killed all of Walder’s daughters, and there must be plenty of Walder grandchildren running around who were also spared.
How awesome was it? Very. Especially Arya-as-Walder watching all the men sputtering blood and dropping to the ground, telling them, “Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe.”
How much do we care? It’s nice the people even tangentially responsible for the Red Wedding got their just deserts. And it shows how seriously Arya takes her revenge.
What does it mean for the show? The Freys were a Lannister ally in The Riverlands and played a role in taking over House Tully. With all these men dead, their hold over Riverrun will likely weaken to nothing, and the Lannisters will have to take a more active role in securing the Riverlands. On the other hand, maybe the vacuum it opens will be filled by the women of House Frey, or some surprising new development will fill the void.
Who died? A farmer and his daughter.
How did they die? Back in season four, when Arya and The Hound were on their road-trip adventure, they stopped by a peaceful little farm run by a man and his daughter, who fed them and offered The Hound silver for staying on and working the farm. Rather than live the quiet life, The Hound took all the silver, leaving the farmer destitute. At some point after that, the two were starving, and, Beric Dondarrion surmises, the father killed his daughter and himself to speed on the inevitable.
How shocking was it? More sad than shocking, as we see The Hound show remorse for his past deeds.
How awesome was it? Sometimes Game Of Thrones serves up death to show what the machinations of our characters in their game of thrones does to the average Westerosi. This was one of those cases, and not the awesome, Freys-getting-what-they-deserve kind of death like we saw earlier in the episode.
How much do we care? Not at all.
What does it mean for the show? The Hound’s becoming a big ol’ softy, and his character growth is becoming the mushy heart of the show.