The Game of Thrones premiere opened with a sucker punch of a cold open. David Bradley, who plays Walder Frey, throwing yet another feast for his bannermen and relations.
This "Red Wedding Part 2" took fans by surprise, with some assuming it to be a flashback. (Not a far fetched assumption, Game of Thrones' last cold open in a season premiere was a flashback to Cersei's childhood.)
But it turns out, having that be the cold open was actually a decision the directors made late in production. Originally Arya's scene came after the credits rolled.
Instead, the original cold open was the scene we saw right after the credits rolled: the Night King leading his army slowly along to find a weak point in the Wall.
So, why did they switch? Weiss says it was due to David Bradley's performance. As he puts it "Seeing the subtle moves he put into it to not be Walder Frey, to start as Walder Frey but then become Arya Stark... that made us realize this was the best way to start off the episode and the season."
It was also a rousing "Rah!" moment as well. With HBO running the Season 6 finale just before the Season 7 premiere, which is an episode where a lot of people also die in the opening scene, the contrast of someone killing a lot of people who we cheer for, instead of someone we hate, was a rare "cheerful" moment on the show.
As for what the open would have been? Spoilers suggest Arya was switched with the Night King.
Game of Thrones has only had five cold opens in their history, four of which came during season premieres. But it's the first one I'd like to direct everyone's attention to, the very first cold open in the pilot episode "Winter Is Coming."
Perhaps having Season 7 open much the way Season 1 did all those years ago would have been a nice callback. But I don't think any fans were disappointed to see Arya walking out of The Twins triumphant instead.