It’s the first episode of the season, so they’re setting the table for the rest of it, as things diverge from the books, and the focus changes from single character point of view to the screen.
We begin and end, though, with swords.
Tywin Lannister has the great Stark sword Ice, which had been passed from Ned to Robb and then taken when Robb was killed. If there was any doubt that the Lannisters were behind the Red Wedding, those are gone. Not that there were.
It’s made of Valyrian steel, and that’s not made any more. Tywin finds smiths who can handle it and has it reforged into two smaller swords.
In Tywin’s mind, the Starks are finished. All but one are dead or missing and presumed dead, and that one is married to his son. Winterfell itself is burned and conquered. So, destroy the great sword that symbolized their honor by breaking it in two.
He gives one sword to Jaime, but Jaime is maimed now, his right hand gone. He’s trained to use his left hand, and can learn to fight with this heavier blade, but right now, he can’t. Which Tywin knows.
Tywin’s own House is also broken, though. Casterly Rock stands, but it’s empty. His grandson is on the throne, and could not be more Lannister, but his name is Baratheon. And is the product of incest and adultery. He’s also a psychopath and will be a dangerous man one day.
Jaime, as Kingsguard, is sworn to never marry and has renounced his position as heir. Tywin doesn’t care, but Jaime does.
That leaves Tywin with one heir of his name, and he despises Tyrion, even though Tyrion is brilliant and actually cares about how things are run. He won’t accept the Imp getting Casterly Rock. Plus, Tyrion won’t rape his child bride, so no babies there.
So, in fact, House Lannister is in as much danger of extinction as House Stark. And is as diminished as Ice.
But only one Stark child is dead. Two are in hiding, one of whom was crippled by Jaime, and one is riding in plain sight with the Hound. Arya can’t pretend to be a boy anymore. She’s got the figure of a woman, if not the height. But she’s not weak.
Once upon a time, Arya’s beloved bastard brother gave her a size appropriate sword she named Needle. And it was taken from her by a man named Pulliver who works for the Lannisters.
She found him and took the opportunity to get it back, killing him coldly and cruelly, with no sign of hesitation or compunction. And happily rides off on her new white pony.
The episode begins with the great Stark sword, taken by betrayal by the Lannisters, reforged into two lesser ones. It ends with a Stark regaining her sword from that same Great House.
The Starks are not dead. They are armed. And Arya cares only for revenge.