“I’m sorry you’re dead. You deserve better. Both of you.” – The Hound

In Westeros, it’s easy to question whether being alive is better than being dead. Winter has finally come. There are armies on all sides. The White Walkers are still moving, and still growing. The plotters and schemers who remain don’t even seem to like each other. It’s not about dying for those you love. It’s about not dying. Maybe the Hound was wrong. Maybe it is better to be dead. That might turn out to be the winning side anyway. And for those who are alive, there’s not a lot of room left for living.

That’s because there’s nothing enjoyable about living in Westeros anymore. The life everyone was fighting for no longer exists. There are no jokes about Podrick’s “sword.” There’s no wine-drinking, no merriment . There’s not even anyone being clever – Tyrion, notably, says nothing during his appearance, and Littlefinger gets cut off before he can muster up something witty.  The closest thing to “life” in the Season Seven premiere of “Game of Thrones” was Ed Sheeran and his merry bunch singing songs in the forest. (Side note: What? Why? And who asked for this? Other than Ed Sheeran?) “Dragonstone” was dark, and heavy, and to get the point across, even featured poor Sam scooping endless piles of shit (and pretty similar-looking food) in the hopes of maybe getting to go behind a door one day.

That doesn’t mean the characters don’t see a purpose for themselves. Everyone thinks they’re the star of the show. Everyone thinks they’re going to end up on top, and they have the plots and plans and schemes to prove it. Cersei wants to start up a two-person dynasty. Arya wants revenge. Daenerys wants to take what she believes is rightfully hers. Sansa wants to keep the Stark name alive. Jon wants to keep the Westerosi race alive.

But what “life” are they really fighting for? What’s the point of all this? Everyone wants to kill, and everyone wants to win, but they’re not fighting to live. They’re fighting to survive. And death is inevitable.

Maybe the importance of the scene with the Hound was that he was reminded that there was once life in Westeros. Maybe the cold-blooded Grinch saw his heart grow a few sizes this day. He may hate religion, but he’s seen Eye Patch Guy rise from the dead. Maybe he can’t shake the feeling that something much more powerful is in control, that there’s somehow a point to all of this suffering. Maybe seeing the poor farmer and his child gave him an idea of what he should really be fighting for – a world where a father comes home from a hard day’s work and feeds his family. A world where people can laugh, and love, and live. Maybe there is life to fight for in Westeros, even if it’s hard to see now.  And maybe that’s the problem, that the only thing representing “life” in Westeros is a pair of corpses, with a knife at their feet.

Winter is definitely here.