The wall has been knocked down, the army of the dead is marching south with bad intentions, and those living have plenty to sort out before the Night King and his White Walkers decide their fate. With Arya Stark looking on to a procession leading Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen riding in side by side, we’re off.
Welcome back Game of Thrones, we missed you oh so dearly. It’s been twenty excruciating months of waiting for last night’s premiere since season 7 concluded. The first episode of the final season, “Winterfell,” didn’t disappoint.
The long layoff meant that plenty of refreshment was called for. With multiple bases to cover in different locations all over Westeros, it didn’t feel like the writers were force-feeding us at all. It was a perfect set-up episode that laid the groundwork for the great war to come. Here are the biggest takeaways from the highly anticipated opener:
Dany Gets the Cold Shoulder in Her New Chilly Locale
Ser Davos Seaworth, one of the wisest and most tried and tested characters in Thrones, laid out the Mother of Dragons’ biggest obstacle toward winning over those in Winterfell. “The Northmen are loyal to Jon Snow, not to her. They don’t know her,” said Ser Davos. “I’ve been up here for a while, and I’m telling you, they’re stubborn as goats.”
From up top with Sansa Stark, the Lady of Winterfell who is in fact stubborn as ever, down the line to the rest of the Northerners, Daenerys has a tough time earning trust. Despite her overwhelming power, her pledge of allegiance to Jon Snow, and her bringing the unsullied plus two fully grown, beastly dragons to assist in the great war, outsiders just don’t get warm welcomes.
Dany is as tough and solid as Valyrian steel itself. This is an issue that she’s dealt with before, as she’s worked to befriend foreigners time and again in previous seasons.
But this challenge has an extra twist now that Samwell Tarly has informed Jon Snow he is not a bastard, and that he’s actually the heir to the iron throne as Aegon Targaryen. How will their partnership be altered once the he tells her they’re family?
The news of Aegon Targaryen will also have a heavy impact on Arya, who just had her highly anticipated reunion with Jon for the first time since the very first season. We’re talking in the days where Robert Baratheon and Joffrey “Baratheon” Lannister ruled. How time has changed.
It’s fair to assume Arya will find this news out soon. Her brother, Bran, constantly staring through people’s souls in the most awkwardly chilling way, has already been informed. It’s only a matter of time before all the beans are spilled to the Stark girls.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Evil Queen Cersei Plots
New season, same old peachy Cersei Lannister! The current ruler of Westeros seems to be the only one not all that concerned with the massive army of dead soldiers approaching. Her return to Thrones starts with her being informed the White Walkers have destroyed the wall, and her response is a simple “good” with the trademark smirk on her face.
Cersei has bigger fish to fry. More specifically, seeking out a fatal vengeance for both of her brothers who have betrayed her. She calls upon a fan favorite of the show, Ser Bronn of Blackwater to murder Tyrion and Jaime Lannister.
Ser Bronn is given the crossbow that Tyrion used to kill his father, Tywin, back in season four, to do the job. Bronn’s ambitions have been clear throughout. He’s climbed up the ranks from mercenary, to commander of the City Watch, to knight, and eventually second-in-command of the Lannister army.
He’s a true upset story. He wants that story to end with a grand castle and a fine lady by his side for himself. He’s alluded to it several times in the show, and it seems he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that glory. However, he happens to have great relationships and memories with both Tyrion and Jaime. Bronn is at a crossroads with the crossbow in hand. Which Lannister side will he ultimately choose this season?
The Night King’s Disturbing Message & Jumpscare Horror
The Night King and his army were not on screen during last night’s episode, but their presence was felt nonetheless. One of the final scenes shows Thormund, Beric, and the rest of the Eastwatch that survived the collapse of the wall via Viserion’s ice-fiery blaze.
Thormund and company are met by Dolorous Edd and the rest of the Night’s Watch in an abandoned castle that the Night King made a quick pit stop at before marching on. Inside the castle they found the dead Umber boy pinned to the wall with limbs placed in a swirly pattern around him.
The dead boy steals the scene and makes our heart skip as he lets out an awful screech with his eyes open, now living amongst the dead. Beric responds to the jolting screams by burning him with a flaming sword.
The limbs surrounding the Umber boy are shaped like the Targaryen symbol. With fire from Beric’s sword and blood from the boy, it represents House Targaryen fully. The Night King is making no secret about who his greatest target is.
Bran Awaits the Arrival of a Very Special Visitor
Lastly, per usual the show ended with a bang. The episode was filled with sweet, feel good reunions. To end, we have the flip side of that. Jaime arrives in Winterfell, only to immediately lay eyes on the boy who he pushed out the window after he saw him do something little Bran had no business seeing.
Bran can now reveal to everyone in Winterfell that Jaime tried to kill him and has had sex with Cersei consistently. Oh and he’s the three eyed raven who can see things in other locations as they’re happening, so he’s pretty untouchable as it is. Almost as untouchable as the one who leads the White Walkers, hmmm.
This could effectively lead to the end of Jaime Lannister as we know him, it’ll be intriguing to see how he reacts to Bran’s presence.
Next up, the Battle of Winterfell. The dead and living collide in the greatest war to come. It’s more must see TV ahead on HBO next Sunday.