Game of Thrones season 7 premiere: What Sansa learned from Cersei

Finally, the eldest Stark daughter embraces her cunning side

Sansa and LIttlefinger
(Image credit: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO)

Last night's exceptional premiere for Game of Thrones' seventh season answered many of the outstanding questions left from last season. We learned a lot about Jaime's feelings toward Cersei, the role religion is likely to play going forward, how much logistics, like debt and grain, matter, and how Cersei's troops feel about her — and King's Landing.

Most importantly, though, the premiere clarified a great deal about the female Starks — both of whom suffered from some unfortunate writing last season. (More on that here.) It's invaluable to finally get a concrete sense of a) how proficient Arya is at using faces and b) what she's like when she faces technical enemies (like those soldiers) who aren't on her "list." I could have easily believed she was only with the Faceless Men to pilfer their techniques if it hadn't been for that scene where she drunk the water — which only people who believe they're no one should be able to survive. She did survive, so … does that mean she fooled Jaqen's lie detector? Or that she did believe at one point and no longer does? I don't know and at this point I don't care, but it does matter that we know what ethical system she's working under now. Her scene hanging out with Lannister-loyal troops was sweet (Ed Sheeran's cameo notwithstanding). More importantly, it was clarifying: Arya may have killed every last Frey horribly — including, one presumes, some innocent ones — but she's not yet willing to slaughter soldiers whose crime is having a bad boss.

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Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.