After what felt like eons of waiting, Game Of Thrones is back with a bang. The opening episode might not have been the battle-torn spectacle some might have expected, but it balanced some necessary exposition with some seriously fan-baiting moments with the chess-piece setting for an excellent launch point for the season.
New alliances were made, new revelations made and old faces welcomed back for a living recap that allowed the show-makers to set up a lot of action for the coming episodes. There might not have been any clashes of swords or blasts of fire, but every moment in this shortened season now feels extra loaded with ramifications, thanks to the trimmed format necessarily trimming out all possible flab. And that means there's a lot of weight to evaluate whenever something happens.
Even the slightest flashes of scenes point to something grander and everything will come to mean something else before the Great Game is up, with ominous possibilities for fan favourite characters, fresh friction between old allies and world-changing revelations coming in fast succession.
And of course The Hound would end up being the episode's MVP... Why would you even doubt that?
So what did the opening episode of the new season mean for where we go next?