By David Z. Morris
July 8, 2017

The seventh season of HBO’s smash series Game of Thrones arrives Sunday, July 16th. In the run up to its debut, HBO has released titles and cryptic descriptions for the first three episodes of the season.

The series’ seventh season is the first not directly based on an existing novel from series creator George R.R. Martin.

Here are the details, according to our friends at Entertainment Weekly:

Episode 61: “Dragonstone” (July 16)
Jon (Kit Harington) organizes the defense of the North. Cersei (Lena Headey) tries to even the odds. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) comes home.
Writers: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Director: Jeremy Podeswa

Episode 62: “Stormborn” (July 23)
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) receives an unexpected visitor. Jon (Kit Harington) faces a revolt. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) plans the conquest of Westeros.
Writer: Bryan Cogman
Director: Mark Mylod

Episode 63: “The Queen’s Justice” (July 30)
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) holds court. Cersei (Lena Headey) returns a gift. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) learns from his mistakes.
Writers: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Director: Mark Mylod

The episode summaries are terse, but they do offer some narrative clues. Dragonstone, a castle formerly held by the doomed Stannis Baratheon, is an ancient Targaryen base, so it’s likely the “home” that Daenerys Targaryen is returning to in the season’s first episode—and her starting point for retaking the Iron Throne of Westeros.

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The second episode also seems to put Daenerys front and center, while returning Jon Snow to the picture. Jon has dealt with plenty of revolts (including a Night’s Watch uprising that killed him for a short while), but he’s now the King in the North, so the stakes are higher. He, the Lannisters, and Daenerys are also seemingly headed for a three-way showdown.

The third episode’s synopsis seems to offer least of all in terms of substance, though the title is a play on the title of an executioner. Cersei managed to get herself a crown at the end of season six, so that could mean either her or, less likely, Daenerys putting someone to the sword.

Game of Thrones is HBO’s biggest-ever franchise; it reaches audiences in 170 countries and averaged an estimated 25 million viewers across various platforms last season. (And that’s not counting the viewers who pirated the series in record numbers.) EW reported in March that the series has a production budget of about $10 million per episode; it’s clear that HBO is willing to bet big on Thrones.

So the network has made big moves to capitalize on fervent fan interest. In 2015, HBO introduced its standalone, no-cable-subscription-necessary streaming service HBO Now just one week before the debut of season five of the series. With similar timing, the company announced this week that HBO shows would be available as a $14.99 add-on service through Hulu—a move that will likely lead Game of Thrones to break even more viewership records.


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