( CNN) The following contains spoilers about the seventh-season premiere of “Game of Thrones.”

With 13 episodes remaining to wrap up the series spread over two seasons, there’s not much time to garbage. Although the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s story has never precisely dawdled, there was a bracing aspect to Sunday’s episode that every scene conspicuously advanced the larger narrative — or, in the case of Arya Stark( Maisie Williams) exacting vengeance for the Red Wedding, fabulously paid off something that had come before.

At the forefront of it all is Jon Snow( Kit Harington ), rallying the forces of the North in anticipation of battle against an existential threat from White Walkers and the Army of the Dead. Elsewhere, Queen Cersei( Lena Headey) is still fighting the last war, looking for ways to consolidate power as she sees potential foes on all sides.