After what feels like an eternity, Game of Thrones is back for its eighth and final season. The wait has been painful, with the show taking an extended break between this season and the last in order to make the final six-episode something worth remembering. After all the hype, theories and waiting, how did “Winterfell” fare?
If we’re being frank, it felt a bit too calm and subdued considering everything that’s happening. The Night King has breached the Wall and is marching South towards Winterfell, as illustrated by the new opening credit sequence which focuses solely on Winterfell, King’s Landing and their respective interiors. Instead of keeping the narrative fixed solely on the bigger picture however, the plot focused a lot on internal politics, relationships and even some downtime.
The politics came courtesy of the Northerners being angry at Jon for relinquishing his crown for a foreign leader they didn’t elect. Jon argued that an army and allies outweigh anything else but it feels like Jon versus the world here, despite his warnings and preparations. Now is not the time to be worried about who is bending the knee to whom. Likewise, Daenerys seems to dislike or distrust anyone who doesn’t like her, even subtly threatening Sansa in front of Jon. I’m not sure if she was teasing, but it didn’t come across as such. Is she on track to become a Mad ruler like her father was? The downtime came when Jon and Dany had time to ride the dragons through the valley. While visually stunning, it did feel tacked on and unimportant to the plot, almost as if the show had some extra budget at the end of production and spent it on an easy dragon scene.
But there were plenty of good things to see too. The reunions were fun to see, especially the one between Jon and Arya, who is no longer the innocent little girl he remembers. The most powerful scene though came when Sam learned Daenerys cooked her brother and father alive, causing a trust issue between him and his new queen. This gives him the ammunition and justification to tell Jon his true name and lineage (finally!) which goes about as well as you’d think, with Jon denying it and not seeming too jazzed at the idea while instead worrying about Daenerys’ claim to the throne. Sam reminds Jon that he’s given up his crown before and with Dany cooking her enemies with dragon fire, would she do the same? Food for thought for both Jon and the audience.
Elsewhere, Cersei is still planning and scheming in the South. When she hears that the Army of the Dead has broken through the Wall, her immediate reaction is that she’s pleased with this news, as her enemies will soon begin tearing each other apart, including her “treasonous” brothers Jamie and Tyrion, who are now both at Winterfell by episode’s end. Tyrion has been publically declaring that the Lannister forces are heading north to reinforce their armies and he’ll be in for a nasty surprise when Jamie breaks the truth that no help is actually coming. Cersei welcomes the Golden Company to King’s Landing, reinforcing the keep with 20, 000 mercenaries-but no elephants much to her disappointment. Further upsetting her is her need to bed Euron Greyjoy, another weak and clingy man that she must rely on as an ally, one of her only allies left at this point and not one she’s too happy about having but she sees him as a necessary evil. While her plot point is not needed right now, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes once things get bloody.
Yarra Greyjoy was rescued almost as quick as she was taken hostage, making me wonder why they even bothered in the first place. Theon is now off to Winterfell to join in the battle, which will come soon. I have to wonder why this season is six episodes with so many plot points left hanging. I know some of the episodes are longer this season, episodes three through six are just shy of an hour of a half. But with the first episode being very padded with filler, unneeded drama and quick resolutions, I have to admit to being a bit worried for the final five episodes. But hopefully, the stage is now set and the show and kick into high gear.
The episode ends with a shocking turn involving the Night King leaving a message on a wall made of body parts and a corpse. It was pretty chilling, almost horror movie stuff in fact. So the King does mean business and many are wondering what the symbol left on the wall means and why the Night King is so desperate to go South. It was a tense and shocking ending and hopefully, the second episode can carry the threat of the Night King forward and make that the priority as opposed to who is sitting on the Iron Throne afterwards. While the episode was certainly good, it did not live up to the expectations that came with waiting over 500 days for the show to return for its epic conclusion.
What did you think of the premiere of season 8? Did it live up to your expectations or was it a bit anti-climatic? Let us know what you think in the comments below and be sure to check out our thoughts on Star Wars Episode IX and why Rian Johnson is actually a trooper.