The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is finally here, with only 6 episodes before the story ends forever.
And not a great deal happens in this episode, though it does set up the conflict about to ensue between the living and the dead, and reintroduces the characters to one another.
Daenerys rides into Winterfell as though she owns the place, which, in her mind, she most certainly does. The Northerners, however, are deeply suspicious of anyone even remotely foreign; at least the White Walkers are local. And in typical Northern fashion, the Lords are deeply insulted that Jon discarded his “King in the North” title the moment he met a pretty Targaryen girl.
And they have a point – the Northerners have been repressed by the South for as long as they can remember, the slightest glimmer of hope appears and is instantly snuffed out by a blonde bearing dragons. Once the war against the undead is over, there’s going to another move toward independence, and Daenerys only likes knees that bend.
The Stark reunion is heartwarming, for a second, before Jon realizes that Bran got really weird and Arya warns him to remember his family loyalties, lest his name appear on her kill list. Well, she didn’t actually say that, but I wouldn’t put it past her.
Tyrion and Sansa, who I suppose are still husband and wife, enjoy a brief exchange in which Sansa predicts Cersei’s inevitable betrayal – it’s strange that she’s the only one who knows what’s bound to happen. Tyrion seems to have forgotten how treacherous his family really is, or perhaps he’s practicing the power of positive thinking.
Meanwhile, in the South, Cersei counts her soldiers and sizes up her new allies Harry Strickland and Euron Greyjoy. Euron, who seems to believe he’s Jack Sparrow, has the audacity to demand sex with Cersei in exchange for his ragtag army of rapist pirates. Bizarrely, Cersei agrees, seemingly out of desperation, which isn’t a very Cersei thing to do.
I was expecting Euron to spend the evening with the Mountain, shrieking in agony, rather than exchanging bodily fluids with the queen, but I suppose Cersei has her reasons. At least she’s having sex outside the family now, surely a step in the right direction. And her pregnancy, or lack thereof, is still a mystery – she’s still drinking wine, though Cersei doesn’t exactly seem like the type to take precautions.
In preparation for the upcoming battle, Daenerys wastes little time in demanding that Jon “ride her dragon”, if you know what I mean. The moment seems scripted for the fans, Daenerys practically turning to the camera and winking. But the real implication of the scene seems to be that the dragons aren’t going to survive if they stay in the North; perhaps fire and ice aren’t compatible after all?
Arya has another reunion, with her old frenemy the Hound, who acknowledges that she left him for dead with a certain admiration, while Gendry confirms his suspicions that Arya was indeed a rich girl cosplaying as a low-born. Most of the exchanges between characters with such rich histories have felt very sparse this episode – surely these people have more to say to each other?
Though, I suppose they’re on the eve of battle. Still, some solid conversation, some humanity is needed, and we receive it from Sam, the most human of all these battle-hardened soldiers and sociopaths.
Sam apologizes to Daenerys for stealing some books, while Daenerys apologizes for burning his family alive, though “apology” might be overselling it – it’s more of a statement of fact. Urged by Bran, whose task is to keep the plot moving, Sam goes to inform Jon of his secret heritage, and the scene between the two is genuinely heartwarming; the two characters seem the closest out of all the allies in Winterfell. Jon finds it difficult to evade Sam’s concerns, a seed of doubt planted in his mind.
I think it’s pretty obvious that Jon wouldn’t have torched those two men, being a great deal more merciful than Daenerys, though he’s not exactly got a great track record when it comes to leadership, having been stabbed to death once.
But when Jon finally learns the truth behind his mother, and more importantly, his father, there’s a lot to process; Ned Stark is not his dad, he’s not a bastard, he’s the true heir to the Iron Throne, and … he’s been having sex with his aunt. Though, at this point in the show, we’re all alarmingly desensitized to incest; Jon and Daenerys make a cute couple, after all.
Once the introductions are established, we get our first glimpse of the horrors that await, as Tormund and his team stumble upon an art piece composed by the Night King, an undead boy pinned to a wall, surrounded by severed limbs, arranged in a pattern. It’s the sort of thing that a serial killer from a cliche-ridden detective drama does, and a nice throwback to the very first episode of the series.
Sansa, always the sensible one, might be worried about feeding this gargantuan army, but I think by the time the White Walkers are done with them, there’ll be plenty of food to spare.
Finally, Jaime Lannister returns to Winterfell, and comes face-to-face with Bran, who knew he was coming and waited in that spot just so he could welcome him with a dirty look, which is an admirably petty thing to do. Not only does Bran remember being shoved out of a window – he now knows every terrible deed that Jaime has ever done. And all the good stuff too, I suppose.
Judging from the fact that Bran is essentially the plot-pusher, he’s surely got a task in mind for Jaime; or perhaps he’s merely going to inform him of his Cersei’s upcoming betrayal.
- It must be tough being Lord Varys; normal conversation is unable to be had with the Man With No Balls, his lack of reproductive organs mentioned at every single opportunity. Tyrion is slowly becoming the old drunk at the bar who repeats the same joke every night, perhaps the inevitable outcome of all that wine.
- Jon Snow “died” in the Stark crypt; Sam couldn’t have picked a better location to inform him of his noble heritage. Though, I hope Jon doesn’t formally change his name to Aegon – it’s far too grand for such a stubbornly humble man.
- Bronn isn’t going to kill Tyrion – I refuse to believe it. Though, you have to admire Cersei’s Lannister-level of pettiness, seeking to kill her brothers with the same crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin.
- I don’t think Cersei is pregnant – she seems to only exist to wreak revenge nowadays, which I suppose is as good a reason to live as any. I’m surprised she hasn’t reanimated Lady Olenna’s corpse, just so she can murder her again for poisoning Joffrey.
- Jaime isn’t blonde anymore, at all – it seems the more good-hearted the man grows, the darker his hair becomes, as though he is transitioning from Lannister to Stark.