After more than a year of waiting, the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones has come, and it brought winter along with it. Just as the trailers and promotional material has promised, the season kicked off with hype as hot as the Philippine weather—and that’s saying something!
The title of the season opener is “Winterfell,” as most of the events in the episode happen in the Starks’ ancestral home. MBLife has got you covered with an episode summary and breakdown below (spoilers ahead, you have been warned!). Read on but beware, the night is dark and full of terrors.
Right off the bat, the show started with a brand new intro. Instead of a bright, summer-laden journey around Westeros, the map was covered in snow and darkness, making its way from the ruins of Eastwatch down to Winterfell and King’s Landing (where the Lannister lion stands behind the Iron Throne). With no time to waste, the Targaryen army has finally arrived in Winterfell, the Northerners given a fright as the two remaining dragons flew above.
Upon a cold introduction of Daenerys to Sansa and the rest of Winterfell, Bran drops the news that the Wall has fallen and the dead are making their way south. Tension only rises some more when young Lyanna Mormont questions Jon’s bending to Daenerys, and Sansa even doubts Tyrion’s trust in his sister that she will send her armies to assist them.
Arya, who was hidden in the Northern crowd while watching Daenerys’ army enter, finally reunites with Jon under the Winterfell weirwood tree and reminds him that family will always be important. Later on she reunites with Sandor Clegane, who doesn’t seem mad that he left her dead, but rather proud that her cold attitude has kept her alive this long. In the forge, Gendry is busy leading the smiths in making dragonglass-imbued weapons, but spares a moment to reconnect with Arya who asks him a special request.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Qyburn has told Cersei the news that the dead have broken the Wall, just as Euron Greyjoy ferries back the Golden Company to the capital led by captain Harry Strickland. Yara is still being kept alive by Euron, merely for taunting – and for someone to chat with. He again asks Cersei for payment, and is finally granted his wish to sleep with the Queen. While all that was happening, Qyburn approaches Bronn and gives him a crossbow with orders from Cersei to kill Tyrion and Jaime.
As the capital sleeps, Theon is successful in rescuing Yara from captivity, but tells her he will fight in Winterfell; Yara understands, and she continues on to the unguarded Iron Islands. At the Last Hearth, Edd finds Beric and Tormund still alive – but that’s not the only thing they’ve found, the Night King has left a wight Ned Umber – a Stark bannerman – warning them of the war to come; Beric sets the wight on fire, which appears to be attached another strange White Walker symbol.
Jorah introduces Daenerys to Sam Tarly, the man who saved him from greyscale when no one would. Though Sam is honored, he is shocked by the news that Daenerys had his father and brother killed. In the biggest moment of the episode, Jon Snow finally rides a dragon. These events prompts Sam to ultimately tell Jon the truth of his heritage, that he is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and therefore heir to the Iron Throne. Jon is reluctant, but Sam posits to him that he stepped down as King in the North for Daenerys, and asked if she would mirror the action. The episode ends with Jaime arriving in Winterfell, and his eyes meet with Bran.
We’ll give you a few minutes to process what just happened in that epic opener… okay now that you’ve had time to breathe. Let’s break down everything that went on “Winterfell.”
The episode was full of reunions, particularly for Jon and Arya. The two were the closest among the Starks even before the series began, but upon knowing that he swore fealty to Daenerys, will there be uneasiness now between the two? We already know Jon and Sansa still don’t see eye-to-eye about the Dragon Queen having barely won Winterfell back, Sansa is even questioning Jon if he did it out of love rather than for the North.
The whole reason why Cersei wanted the Golden Company was because they were rumored to have war elephants; but apparently it’s hard to transport them on ships, so she’s stuck with 20,000 men and 2,000 horses (“I wanted those elephants,” still says Cersei after sharing the bed with Euron, who is as giddy as a child). At least, Yara can now try to win back the Iron Islands, and understands the Theon still has something to fight for in the North.
Bronn, on the other hand, is in a difficult situation, and not just because his fun time in the brothel was halted. It seems apt that Cersei would want her traitor brothers to die via crossbow as it was Joffrey’s prized weapon that Tyrion used to kill their father Tywin. But wait we’re missing something, didn’t Cersei say she was pregnant with Jaime’s child? Does that mean she was lying again? It’s most likely since Jaime was all she had and needed him to stay, and because the witch’s prophecy said she would only have three children (poor luck Euron).
Jon’s dragon-riding was easily the most visually appealing scene of “Winterfell,” as if we were actually watching Hiccup and Toothless (fun fact: Kit Harington is actually in HTTYD!). But it meant so much more! Daenerys named two of her dragons after her brothers – Viserion for Viserys (who are both dead), and Rhaegal for Rhaegar aka Jon’s real father. A lot of theories have speculated that Jon would be Rhaegal’s rider and it seems to head in that direction.
Jon and Daenerys making out once again this time at the sight of a cave evokes memories of Jon’s first sexual encounter with Ygritte, who also promised they could stay forever. And to think that a few hours after that, Jon would find out Daenerys is actually his aunt – ew! Also worthy of note was Drogon watching the two intently; Drogon was named after Daenerys’ first husband, the Dothraki horselord Khal Drogo. Is it possible that his spirit lives inside Drogon? Good luck Jon if it’s true.
We didn’t think that Sam would take his father and brother’s death that way, but it only showed how far Daenerys would go for those who would not side with her. So instead of coping with the news, Sam had to drop the facts on Jon that he is “Aegon Targaryen, sixth of his name, protector of the realm. All of it.” NOW Jon has to wonder if love was really the reason he knelt for Daenerys, and how will she react when she learns she’s only second in line – and yeah, she’s been banging her nephew, the true heir.
At this point we all know that Tormund is basically the safest character in Game of Thrones. He’s climbed the Wall many times, fought the White Walkers twice, and had sex with a bear (still up for debate). But the symbol that the Night King left is one that we have seen many times in past seasons. We still don’t know what it means, but we will eventually find out soon. Also Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven so he probably knew Jaime was coming, but that doesn’t mean Game of Thrones won’t leave us a good cliffhanger.
Like always, the premiere was a real treat, but it left us with as much questions as there were reunions (admittedly Sansa telling off her former husband Tyrion was so amusing). With only five episodes left, and two until the so-called Battle of Winterfell, we can only wonder what next week will hold for all the characters. So far the Umbers were the only ones added to the series death count, will the next one be a major character? Why can’t next week come sooner? We can’t wait, we’re still shaking from the chills of winter.
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