SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details about the new episode of "Game of Thrones."
The Dragon Queen had only one line in Sunday's long-awaited season premiere of HBO's "Game of Thrones," but it was a doozy.
"Shall we begin?" said actress Emilia Clarke, as Peter Dinklage's Tyrion stood completely muted by her side.
I'm guessing casual "GOT" followers were screaming the same words throughout the hour-plus episode. After an action-packed sixth season and only a dozen episodes leading up to the finale, many were probably hoping for more fireworks than The Hound staring into crackling flames.
That anticipation was fed in the opening moments when Arya staged a Red Wedding of her own, wiping out a roomful of rivals with the aid of some poisoned wine and a mask borrowed from allies at "Mission: Impossible" (by sheer coincidence, that spy show's master of disguise, Martin Landau, passed away Saturday night).
But other than that cold-hearted opening, there were few jaw droppers -- unless you count a cameo from pop star Ed Sheeran. There was that marriage proposal from Euron to Queen Cersei, but we won't really know if love will bloom until the rascal gets down to some serious wooing -- or returns with somebody's head.
The lack of surprises was actually no surprise at all. Despite its epic scale, "GOT" has never been afraid to play "small ball," devoting entire episodes to setting up plot and revealing tiny, but telling character traits. It follows in the tradition of "The Sopranos" and "Mad Men," run by storytellers who are always looking at the big picture rather than just trying to stir up internet buzz the following morning.
Since it's been more than a year since we last left the Seven Kingdoms, there was good reason to "set the table" -- and showrunners D.B.Weiss and David Benioff wisely decided that an extended version of "previously on" reel alone wouldn't do the trick.
That may have been frustrating for those tuning in for saber thrusting rather than saber rattling. But for those who truly appreciate "GOT"'s place on the TV landscape, the opener more than met expectations.
Winter may have come to House Frey, but for the rest of us, it's still in the forecast. Should be a brilliant storm.