Winter is here: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premiere recap
"Game of Thrones" season eight episode one returned with a bang this past Sunday night, reuniting characters and revealing who has the right to the Iron throne.Image By: Image courtesy of HBO
We’ve waited since August 2017 for the premiere of the eighth and final season of HBO’s groundbreaking fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” to return, and after Sunday night, the wait finally ended.
In what can be best described as a terrific build-up for the rest of the season, this premiere was satisfying in several ways. Mirroring the first season in which Bran Stark climbs throughout the architecture of Winterfell, a young Northern boy in Wintertown watches as Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen) and Daenerys Targaryen lead the army of Unsullied and Dothraki soldiers to Winterfell. Standing on the sidelines, we see a happy Arya Stark watch her brother (cousin) walk in along with her old friend Gendry, while also being shocked to see Sandor Clegane (The Hound) arrive on horseback after leaving him to die at the end of season four.
After Bran warns everyone about how the Night King has burnt a section of the Wall down and has reached the North, the battle planning immediately starts. Unpleased that Jon bent the knee to Daenerys and gave up his title as King in the North, Sansa and Daenerys instantly have tension. The Northern lords and knights aren’t thrilled that a foreigner has come to their lands, yet Tyrion and Jon try to explain to their critics the need for Daenerys and her two massive armies.
Jon and Bran had a sweet reunion, yet the reunion that followed between Jon and Arya was far more heartwarming. It was refreshing to see Arya have a big smile on her face and look like a kid again instead of the merciless vigilante she’s become.
Sansa had a shining moment when she questioned her former husband Tyrion about trusting Cersei in bringing the Lannister army north. We see Sansa has become not only very practical in questioning how the tens of thousands of soldiers will be fed, but how to not trust anyone, especially enemies. The innocent, naïve girl who dreamed of being a princess is now a brilliant leader who appears to be smarter than Tyrion. That said, Sansa needs to trust Daenerys and have faith in Jon’s leadership, or else it’ll literally lead to everyone's death.
Some other notable reunions at Winterfell include Arya and Gendry, who after escaping King’s Landing and surviving Harrenhal in season two have been reunited after parting ways back in season three. We even get a potential foreshadow that the two will be romantic with each other.
Additionally, we get to see Arya and the Hound come face to face after their last bitter encounter, a relationship that is promised to continue after their shared history together. It’ll be wonderful to see Arya and the Hound together again, trading blows at each other and increasing their kill counts, yet finding common ground and empathizing with each other.
Despite such dire times, we get to see Jon and Daenerys embrace their love for each other and have a romantic moment as they go on a date of sorts. What else would the couple do besides ride their dragons of course? In what was a predictable moment, Jon finally rides Rhaegal as Daenerys rides Drogon, and the two soar over the breathtaking northern scenery. It was nice to see the couple have a romantic and sensual moment, made better of course by Drogon staring down Jon as he made out with the dragon’s mother.
Samwell Tarly briefly reunited with Jorah Mormont and met Daenerys. The two men last saw each other in the citadel of Oldtown where Samwell cured Jorah of his Grayscale. Daenerys admitted to executing Samwell’s father, Randyll, and brother, Dickon Tarly, causing Samwell to be surprisingly emotional. Sam then goes to see his best friend Jon, yet isn’t in a state of euphoria despite seeing his best friend for the first time since the end of season five. Rather, Sam admits that Jon isn’t in fact Jon Snow, but Aegon Targaryen, the Sixth of His Name.
It was perfect for Sam to be the one to tell Jon about his true identity and not Bran, for the emotion was rich in Sam as he confessed such a huge secret to his friend. Aware of Bran’s Three-Eyed-Raven powers that can see the past and occasionally the future, and Sam reading the notes from the High Septon who legitimized Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark’s marriage, Jon couldn't deny what he was hearing.
This obviously drastically changes Jon’s world. Not only is he now aware of being the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, but he is in a sexual relationship with his aunt. The man he respected as his father lied to him the entire time to keep him safe, and he was raised and treated as a bastardly outcast despite being the most important man in the Seven Kingdoms.
At King’s Landing, we see Cersei finally give in to Euron Greyjoy and ended up in bed with the ruthless pirate after he brought her the Golden Company army of 20,000. Euron also had a moment with his niece Yara, whom he kidnapped, allowing us to see her for the first time since the first half of season season.
In a rather surprising turn of events, Theon and his crew of Ironborn easily killed the men aboard Euron’s ship and rescue Yara. Yara allowed Theon to head north to fight for the Starks against the Army of the Dead like he wanted, while Yara plans on returning home to Pyke in the Iron Islands to create a safe haven for their allies at Winterfell once the battle against the Dead at Winterfell is over.
Qyburn visits Bronn and offers him a reward from Cersei if he kills Jaimie for heading north, an unusual tactic considering Cersei could have easily killed Jaimie but refused to when he abandoned her at the end of the previous episode.
Escaping from the destruction of the Wall, Tormund and Beric Dondarrion visited a decimated Last Hearth, the northern castle home to House Umber. They came across Lord Commander Eddison Tollett and the remaining members of the Night’s Watch and an undead Ned Umber, who Beric killed with his flaming sword. The group will make it to Winterfell to fight the dead in the next episode.
Lastly, in a pitch-perfect sequence, we see Jaime Lannister arrive at Winterfell, only to make eye contact with Bran sitting in his wheelchair. After the very first episode in which Jaime pushed Bran out of the tower when he accidentally witnessed him having sex with Cersei, we finally see the two characters meet again. Ironically, Jaimie is now disgusted with Cersei for her dishonesty and selfishness and wants to protect Bran and his family, a major shift from when the two characters interacted initially.
With only five episodes left, the premiere to season eight was a refreshing return to the world of Westeros and a great way to reintroduce us to all of our heroes and villains. As the Night King heads further south, it’ll be mind-blowing to see his army fight the remaining characters and their massive army at Winterfell.
It’s effective for the audience not to see the Army of the Dead yet, for this builds up more tension and will give more shocking satisfaction when we do see the zombified army soon. Hopefully, everyone can set aside their politics and history next week and unite together to fight the Dead once and for all before dealing with Cersei and Euron down in King’s Landing.
Dominic LeRose is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter