Game Of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1 – Winterfell- review

Finally, the two year Game of Thrones drought is over. Yesterday’s debute of the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones premiered and while I don’t usually post about big shows like this, I thought I might take a stab at it.

So was the wait worth it?

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

Game of Thrones

The Return to Winterfell

As the title of the episode mentions the home base for the Starks, the probably reason the episode is call Winterfell is because almost the entire episode takes place in Winterfell and The Red Keep with a couple of smaller moments out of the way.

With the end of the last season and – SPOILER- the fall of The Wall and the march of the Night King, you’d think that the season might also start off with a BANG!

But it doesn’t. Like much of the show, this episode is slow and methodical.

We actually start with the return of John Snow (who left a king but returns as a…lord? Hand? Lover? Of the Queen) to Winterfell and the introduction of Daenerys to Winterfell and the rest of the Starks. The meeting is filled with tension because of reasons, mostly Sansa and her promotion to the head of Winterfel.

This scene is a interesting call back to the first season when The King came to Winterfell. While not a shot for shot call back, there are still elements that remain the same like the Starks waiting in line, Aria off watching with joy (this time at the dragons and the not the royalty marching in). It was really well done.

The Matchups

Having characters put back together have seasons apart really made the episode feel more than just setting the scene. There were many reunions and most of them felt earned and entertaining.

A Girl with a Name

Aria had a couple of great moments with Gendry and John that show just how much she has changed. Last time she had seen John, he had gifted her needle and appeared to be the only sibling that actually knew Aria for who she was. It’s ironic that he doesn’t really know what she’s capable off right now, but I’m looking forward to how he takes it.

I’ve had to use it once or twice.

Aria in response to if she’s used Needle.

Her meeting with Gendry was also very interesting. There was a sense of flirtation there, but the age difference gives me the creeps. I’m intrigued in how this relationship will play out, but I’m more interested in the weapon that Aria has asked the blacksmith to make her.

Also of note was the meeting between Aria and The Hound. There’s no love lost here, but it seems that The Hound has gained some respect for the assassin.

The Queen of Winterfell

Having rewatched seasons 1 and 2 lately, it was nice to be reminded of how well Tyrian treated Sansa during her stay with the Lannisters.

The two do share a moment in this episode for the first time since season 3 and like the others, it brings the feels. Sansa lands the punch though with saying…

I used to think you were the smartest man I ever knew.

Sansa Stark

It shows how much has really changed between them. Tyrian was at the height (no pun intended) of his power. The later seasons have taken away much of Tyrian’s fire. He has failed and failed hard. He hasn’t been able to truly sway anyone for a long time. So the comments probably brought with it a special sting.

It also shows how wise and independent -if not jaded- Sansa has become. It will be interesting to see how her role shapes up as we finish this story.

No Spoilers

Bran had one of my favorite moments when he is “waiting on a friend.” The episodes closes with Jaime Lannister riding into Winterfell unnoticed by anyone it seems. While he has come with good intention (warning them that his sister isn’t sending help) he is still a man that most likely wouldn’t be desired in the area.

To see that Bran had been waiting on Jaime to show up definitely highlighted the drama that is to come on the next episode. The last time these two were together, Jaime tossed Bran out of a window. Then he hired someone to kill him. I’m not sure that I’m going to get too worked up over the reunion since Bran doesn’t seem to have emotions anymore, I’m still interested in what’s to come.

I’m also interested to see how Dany is going to react to having the Kingslayer with them now. The bad blood between them could provide some great tension.

How to Train Your Dragon

While the relationship between Dany and John grows, the writers need to find ways to push the relationship. This time they chose to use the pair riding dragons.

While I do think this is an important scene, the execution was something that looked terrible.

It’s important to note that not only is John the second person to actually ride a dragon in the series, he also rode the dragon named for his father. They are really showing the connection that John has to his past that he doesn’t know that he has (until later).

These scene needed to happen, and I think it holds grave importance to the characters but it just felt cheesy and forced. The dragons look so good normally but when they have a rider on them, something seems to change. It didn’t look pleasing to me. While watching the scene, I definitely cringed.

It felt even worse as John started to kiss his Aunt.

The feelings between them are still in a state of lust and growing. Despite everything that they’ve seen and done, and will need to do soon, they still are falling into each other.

If you throw out the Aunt thing, will this couple last? They are like… Fire and Ice – we will see this very much when Samwell and John have their talk in the tomb. While they have both been cheered for by the fan base, ultimately only one of them will likely make it to the end alive. The audience will have to pick a side as well.

That’s what this scene is leading us to.

Bending the Knee

The most important scene of the entire episode occurs in the tombs. John has gone to see his “father’s” grave. Sam and Bran have decided that now is the time to tell John of his true heritage.

It is after their little romp to the hunting grounds that John finds out that he is not a bastard, but the true heir to the throne. In typical John fashion though, he puts off the claim to power. Just like the character we’ve grown to love since the beginning.

By doing this, it makes the audience like him even more. He’s a powerful man that doesn’t want power. Those types of people are few and far between.

Then they go a step further by having Sam tell John about how Dany killed Sam’s family. Digging that dagger in even further. Finally, Sam poses John with a question:

You’ve bent the knee to save your people, would she do the same?

Samwell Tarly

The writers are starting to draw the line here for the audience. We probably are not going to be able to get a happy ending for all of our favorite characters.

Wrap up

All-in, this episode wasn’t action packed, but the pawns on the board are being moved as always. We had some great reunions and the thoughts put in our heads for later.

It looks like the action will ramp up even more next episode, and I’m ready for it.

How’d you feel about the episode? Let me know in the comments.

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