[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones ahead.]
The first official images from the next episode of Game of Thrones, titled 'Eastwatch', have arrived. In the fourth episode of its abbreviated seventh season, 'The Spoils of War', Game of Thrones hit the seasonal halfway point with one of its most exciting, eventful episodes: Daenerys Targaryean and her dragon, Drogon, spit fire at the Lannisters’ army, sending Jaime Lannister into the water in his armor. Before that, the Lannisters collected their gold from the Reach and delivered it to King’s Landing, Dany and Jon Snow visited a cave together, and Arya Stark reunited with her sister, Sansa, at Winterfell - where their brother Bran had even more cryptic things to say.
The events of 'The Spoils of War' set up key developments to come in the final three episodes of Game of Thrones' penultimate season. We’re probably going to get some type of confrontation between the forces of the North and the White Walkers, along with resolution about whether or not Jon Snow will bend the knee to Daenerys - and at long last, the pair might even discover that they're actually long-lost relatives. Of course, we might even get some type of battle in which Daenerys’ forces attempt to capture King’s Landing and the Iron Throne itself.
HBO has now released a series of photos from the fifth episode of Game of Thrones season 7, 'Eastwatch'. One of the photos features Daenerys Targaryean and Jon Snow together, indicating that the Mother of Dragons has returned to Dragonstone following last episode’s dragon battle.
Another features Jon Snow walking by himself on what looks like Dragonstone - showing once again that for at least part of the episode, Jon has not yet begun to travel North.
Another of the photos features Daenerys and Tyrion Lannister together, along with some Dothraki, on what appears to be Dragonstone too.
Tyrion is also shown among ruins, meaning that perhaps part of the episode will follow the aftermath of last week’s battle near King’s Landing.
Lord Varys is pictured seated at the Dragonstone table that features a map of Westeros, indicating that the Targaryean forces will once again be strategizing about how and where to carry out their next invasion.
The strategizing continues, as Tyrion and Lord Varys confer in Daenerys’ temporary throne room.
We also see Cersei Lannister on her bed, in the Red Keep. Not in the picture is her usual partner, Jaime Lannister, indicating that he has not returned from the previous week’s battle.
And finally, we see Samwell Tarly and his partner, Gilly, studying books at Oldtown.
Missing from the released photos is any reference at all to the episode’s title, 'Eastwatch'. That likely refers to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the Easternmost castle on the Wall, which both previous episodes and preview reels have indicated will be the site of the next battle between the forces of the North and the White Walkers. We also know that Tormund Giantsbane was sent to lead an army to that castle, back in the first episode of the season.
Can Game of Thrones, in this short season, keep the momentum going following last week’s famously exciting episode? We’ll find out Sunday night.
Game of Thrones continues with 'Eastwatch' on Sunday, August 13th.