The nicest things that happened to Jon, Dany, and Arya on this week's 'Game of Thrones.'

Welcome to "A Song of Nice and Fire," Upworthy's weekly "Game of Thrones" recap series. When we decided to recap of the most brutal show on TV, we realized that brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, so we tasked writer Eric March with hunting for the good, kind, wholesome GoT moments like a needle in a haystack. Here's what he found.

I see you giving me that side-eye, The Hound. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.


OK. Let's do this.

Frankly, I don't blame you for being skeptical. I was, too, when I first sat down to write about all the nice things that happened in the Season 7 premiere of "Game of Thrones." Everything about it seemed impossible (other than coming up with a snazzy, punny series title).

Trying to find lovingkindness in a show known for epic backstabbing, front-stabbing, and all-sides-stabbing is like trying to find new-wave music on "Empire," conservative opinions on "The Daily Show," or whatever doesn't happen on "Suits" on "Suits" (I don't watch "Suits").

Niceness just doesn't seem to exist in Westeros. And where and when it does, it's really not the point.

But I'm going to make a good-faith attempt. And miraculously, there was plenty of charity and goodwill to come by in last night's "Dragonstone."

Indeed, the seventh season premiere of "Game of Thrones" was practically overflowing with decency, tenderness, and respect.

You just have to squint at it the right way.

Perhaps after a glass of Arbor red or two.

The parade of benevolence began right away in the cold open, where Arya Stark, disguised as the (actually now) late Walder Frey, serves the entire Frey family a lovely meal. How nice! Sure, the meal was actually vengeance for the deaths of Arya's mother and brother who were murdered by Frey at the infamous Red Wedding, and yes, the Freys' murdered relatives were (per last season's finale) most likely the primary protein on offer, and, OK, yeah, the wine was definitely poison, but a house's gotta eat, and what is she, stone-hearted? Some sort of Stonehearted Lady? C'mon.

She threw them a dinner party. That's nice!

You're welcome. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Later, Arya does guest-star Ed Sheeran (Ed Sheeran) and the Assorted Lannister Soldiers a solid by not slitting their throats (at least not before the camera cuts away — a man cannot simply assume) after they offer her a bite of rabbit as well as several humanizing character anecdotes.

Not bad for some improvised mercy from the world's tiniest assassin!

Down at King's Landing, Jaime respectfully gives the equilibrium-challenged Euron Greyjoy props for burning the Lannister ships during one war or another, while helping plan a marriage of convenience for Cersei.

When it's going great. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Following some perfunctory bad-guy-on-bad-guy sizing-up, Greyjoy leaves, promising to return with a gift for Cersei that he hopes will persuade her to marry him. It's a little less genuinely nice and a little more Nice Guy (TM), because she did say no (a tactic? Possibly), but still. Crossing my fingers for an Edible Arrangement.

Up north, Jon takes pity on the funny-looking children of the less-than-perfectly-loyal Harald Karstark and Smalljon Umber by not taking their castles away and giving them to random other people, much to Sansa's chagrin and Littlefinger's ever-squirrely "I told you so."

Jon then pulls his sister aside for a post-meeting debrief and actually appears to listen to her, which is far more considerate than Ned or Robb Stark were to any female human before they were de-headed. And hey, Jon is also persuaded to throw out thousands of years of male-dominated military tradition to conscript women into his ragtag zombie-fighting army! Whether it's out of desperation or the memory of being on the business end of Ygritte's bow and arrow is debatable, but Lyanna Mormont is into it, so I'm calling it a nice win for Westerosi gender parity (yasss kween #feminism #ladycasualties).

Perhaps the only nice thing about the montage of Sam's drudgery in Oldtown is that it doesn't go on forever, even if it does feel that way.

No, thanks to whatever sound designer brought that visceral grossness to life. (Seriously.) (SERIOUSLY.) (OK, but actually respect and good work.)

Yeah, me too, Sam. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Yet in between cleaning bedpans and dishing out curiously similar-in-appearance soup, Sam does manage to figure out where all the dragonglass in Westeros is (shockingly, the one place on the continent with "dragon" in the name) and courteously send Jon a letter about it.

Also that one archmaester believes Sam about the White Walkers! That's nice of him, and really nice for Sam, even if the archmaester won't do anything about it. "The Wall has stood through it all, and every winter that ever came has ended," he reassures Sam. And if "Game of Thrones" has taught me anything in six seasons, he's definitely right, nothing bad will happen, the Wall will definitely continue to stand, and all will be well.

Elsewhere, holed up in a foreboding-looking abandoned inn with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, The Hound does kindness about as well as The Hound can do and holds a funeral for the previous tenants of the place — an unfortunately dead and be-skeletoned father and daughter.

Sure, the fact that he stole their silver way back in Season 4 is why the pair starved to death in the first place, but this is "Game of Thrones," not "This Is Us," and feeling really really bad after half-knowingly condemning someone to a slow, painful death earns you a solid 4/5 on the Westerosi "Man's Humanity to Fellow Man" Scale.

Even though The Hound couldn't remember the proper burial rites, the fact that he buried them at all wasn't just a nice thing to do, but a nice bit of continued character growth for a man once defined solely by his size, distinctive scars, and curious aptitude for piercing body parts with sharp metal objects.

Good gazing, everyone. Let's take 10. Photo by Macall B. Polay/HBO.

In the final minutes of the episode, Daenerys and Tyrion finally arrive at the ancient Targaryen fortress on Dragonstone (finally!) to catch up on six years of silent walking, gazing, choral "oohs," and purposeful sand-feeling. Their scenes were so brief and largely visual that there's not much to say here. I guess it was nice of the Unsullied to hold open a series of large doors for Daenerys as she strode majestically up the mountain toward her destiny? That was cool of them.

Whoo, we made it! That's it for week one. See you next week, when hopefully Jaime gives Cersei a puppy, Jon and Sansa watch old home movies together, and the Wall definitely doesn't come down. That's ridiculous.

Random Acts of Niceness:

  • It's nice to see that Cersei, Dany, and Sansa's clothes have gotten a lot more practical now that their plots don't revolve around looking cute for some dude.
  • Hey, Arya left those serving girls alive thanks to some clutch ironic performative sexism! Score one for innocent bystanders.
  • Good on probably-Jorah's arm for not giving Sam grayscale! (I think.)
  • Oh yeah, Bran! Meera apparently dragged him about 150 miles through the freezing tundra while he presumably pontificated wizardly about the Long Night the whole damn way. That is A+ forbearance.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Officer Stagg meeting Sherry Smith on WISH-TV.

Indianapolis Police Officer Jeff Stagg selflessly maintained the roadside memorial of Shelby Smith, who had been killed by a drunk driver. He picked up trash and placed little plastic flowers, figurines and rocks around it to keep it presentable. Though Shelby died nearly 22 years ago, Officer Stagg didn't want her to be forgotten. And now, his act of kindness won't be forgotten either.

Passerby Kaleb Hall (@kalebhall00 on TikTok) noticed the officer cleaning up the site and asked him what he was doing here. Kaleb had already thought the behavior a little uncharacteristic, "a cop cleaning up trash in the hood," so he went over to inquire.

After explaining that Shelby's memorial was in his patrol area and that he guessed her family had moved away, Officer Stagg told Kaleb, "no one's keeping it up anymore, so I just wanna make sure it stays kept up."

Stagg had noticed the memorial had become surrounded by overgrown grass, weeds and trash. After driving past it every day, Officer Stagg thought enough was enough.


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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."