If you haven’t seen the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones yet, leave now or forever be spoiled!
In the opening sequence of “Dragonstone,” Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) proved herself to be the biggest badass in all the land. (And let’s not forget to throw out props to actor David Bradley for playing Arya Stark playing Walder Frey.) In one fell swoop, Ayra enacted her vengeance on the Frey clan for their betrayal at the Red Wedding. Every male Frey of any importance now lies dead in the hall of the Twins. After slaking her thirst for her enemies’ blood, Arya mounts up and is currently headed towards King’s Landing in hopes of killing Queen Cersei.
But if George R.R. Martin has taught us anything, it’s that politics doesn’t stop just because you cut off the head. Pull down one petty lord and another will sidle in to take his place. Only, in this case, the petty lord that will replace Lord Walder Frey is on Arya Stark’s side: her uncle Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies). Even if Arya didn’t free her uncle from the Frey dungeons, one of those grateful women she spared will surely remember the Stark has family rotting in their hold and free him, lest the North return to “Remember” some more.
What does this turn of events mean? Edmure Tully is the last living Tully heir. Catelyn and Lysa are long dead, and the Blackfish died during the siege of Rivverrun last season (off-camera too, which is bad form HBO!). Before Edmure sacrificed his lands for his life and the life of his family, he had an exposition-heavy conversation with Jaime Lannister. During this talk, we learn that Edmure Tully managed to impregnate his wife Roslin Frey during their bedding ceremony, before he was tossed in prison. In the interim, Roslin has given birth to a male heir, cementing Edmure’s importance in the Frey hierarchy. Edmure Tully already held all of the Riverlands as the Lord. With the culling of the Frey men and Edmure married to one of Walder Frey’s daughters and the father of one (or perhaps only) living male Frey, Edmure only has to grasp the power being handed to him by his niece — a task that should be easy enough once he emerges from the dungeons of The Twins. With the Freys decimated and unable to stop his ascension and the armies of the Riverlands at his command, Edmure Tully will become the de factor Lord of The Twins.
This is crucial as — if you’ll recall — Robb Stark had to make an alliance with the Freys in order to cross The Twins. The castle sits on one of the only major artery between The North and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. This is still the case. If Cersei Lannister wants to take her armies North, she’ll need to pass through The Twins, though it’s unlikely to happen now that her fair-weather friend and his kin are little more than meat for carrion birds and wolves. In essence, Arya Stark just gave a boon to her sister Sansa and her cousin Jon in the North; they can now focus on the real enemy, instead of the starving lion nipping at their heels.
Incidentally, if Edmure Tully takes on the duties of House Frey as their new lord, the Vale is now extremely vulnerable. Littlefinger took the armies of the Vale into the North to help Sansa fight the Boltons, leaving the entire eastern seaboard lightly guarded. Should Littlefinger be removed from the game, the people of the Vale would most likely pledge their allegiance to Sansa Stark, niece of Lysa Arryn, the late Lady of the Vale. Should that come to pass, the Starks and their bannerman will control the North, the Riverlands, and the Vale, making them a formidable opponent to even Danerys Targaryen.