It’s time to recap Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1, “Winterfell.” Can I say that I haven’t been this excited about a TV event since Negan bashed in some skulls?
Let’s break it down by character. Spoilers ahead!
The opening sequence was poetic. Clearly a call-back to the first ever episode of our beloved show, we see a young boy scrambling through the crowd to get a view of the approaching army. Just like Arya in the first episode as King Baratheon came to Winterfell.
I enjoyed seeing Arya’s face run through the gamut of emotions as she saw Jon, Gendry, and the Hound pass by her. She seemed eager to make eye contact with Jon, but he stayed focused straight ahead. Eyes on the prize.
And then, of course, the dragons. Arya was obviously fascinated and excited by them.
Later, Arya runs into the Hound. “You’re a cold little bitch aren’t you? Guess that’s why you’re still alive,” he tells her. Some think he is still on her list, but I think their relationship has come to mutual respect.
Then she meets up with Gendry. Sparks fly. If these two don’t at least lock lips this season, I’m gonna be really disappointed.
They flirt and she shows him a drawing of a weapon she wants him to make for her. I thought it looked a bit like Darth Maul’s light saber – maybe something with dragonstone on both ends?
Arya’s reunion with Jon was just a little bit odd. “You used to be taller,” she teases him – a nice reference to how much she has grown (in many ways). And perhaps a subtle nod to the fact that she sees him as more of an equal now?
Then they compare swords. He asks her if she’s ever used Needle and she stoicly replies, “Once or twice.” (Fingers crossed behind her back.)
I get the whole reasoning behind comparing weapons, but I felt like that dialog was a little unrealistic. They’d have a lot more to say to one another. They embrace and she reminds him not to forget what side he’s on – the side of family.
Sansa clearly throws shade at Daenerys several times in this episode, but stands by Jon and tells her “Winterfell is yours, Your Grace.”
In private, she tells Jon she is not happy with the situation. I’m seriously scared of Sansa. Let’s not forget all the time she’s spent with Cersei and Littlefinger. I think she’s cold and calculating and I don’t underestimate her (as Tyrion mentions!).
Sansa and Tyrion discuss the last time they saw one another at the “miserable affair” that was Joffrey’s wedding. “It had its moments,” Sansa says wryly.
Sansa also tells Tyrion straight up that he’s a fool to believe in Cersei: “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.”
Ouch. Is Tyrion off his game, or does he have a plan? I hope he plays an integral part of the story moving forward, because right now it feels like he’s been bumped down to a C-level character.
Jon & Daenerys
These two lovebirds come into town with their huge army and expect everyone to praise them as saviors. But the North is not having it. They don’t trust Dany and they make it clear to Jon that HE is the one they made King.
Jon implores them to listen to reason. YOU WILL ALL DIE WITHOUT THE DRAGONS.
Speaking of dragons, this is the one part of the episode I wasn’t thrilled with.
Yes, it was a bit playful. And it was fun to see Jon ride Rhaegal in that very Harry Potter-esque sequence. But the whole scene felt a little out of place to me. It was too long and it seems they had WAY more important things to do than run off and play kissy-face.
And is no one wondering WHY Jon can ride this dragon? I thought only Targaryans could ride dragons?
Which brings us to…
Sam gets to the business of telling Jon about his true parents. I’m so happy this was taken care of right away – I hate it when characters know things and you’re just like TELL HIM ALREADY!
Some people thought Jon’s reaction wasn’t shocked enough. I thought it was just right. He was shocked, angry, and challenged Sam about Ned lying to him his whole life. Sam quickly points out that Jon would be dead had Ned not protected him.
I’ve got my predictions about Jon’s reaction at the end of this post!
Also note that several times in this episode we see doubt cast on Daenerys’s suitability as Queen. I think this is the first time the viewer has been led to doubt Dany.
- She expects everyone to blindly follow her in the North and has a smug look on her face when they all fear her dragons.
- We’re reminded how she impulsively killed Randall Tarly and his son, and we see the emotional consequence.
- Sam plants the seed: Jon gave up his crown for his people, would Dany do the same? I’m guessing no.
Cersei Lannister & Euron Greyjoy
Euron arrives back in King’s Landing with the Golden Company, led by Harry Strickland. (Seriously? The most non-GOT name ever. Might as well call him Bob of House Smith.)
She balks at Euron for suggesting he be rewarded with a booty call. She delivers the kick-ass line, “You want a whore, buy her. You want a Queen, earn her!” But after just a moment of persuasion, she lets Euron into her bed. Okaaaay.
Last season, I thought Cersei was lying about being pregnant. And now we see her drinking wine. Euron makes a comment about putting a prince in her belly and Cersei’s face is… I’m not sure. Sad? Scheming? A bit of both? Maybe she wasn’t pregnant, but hopes to get knocked up by Euron so she can pretend the baby is whoever’s she needs it to be to serve her purposes?
Honestly, I’m sick of her games and not even interested in her story line any more.
At the very end of the episode, Jaime rides into Winterfell, takes off his helmet, and sees…
Bran has been “waiting for an old friend” for quite awhile. Oh snap.
Other Memorable Moments in “Winterfell”
- Jon reuniting with Bran, who acts as weird as ever. And Sansa just has that look on her face like, “Yeah, Bran’s a freak now. Just you wait.”
- Dany wants to reward Sam for saving Jorah from the greyscale. Then realizes who he is and has to tell him her dragons burnt his Dad and brother. Awkward.
- Cersei being really disappointed that the Golden Company couldn’t bring their elephants. Bummer.
- Qyburn gives Bronn Joffrey’s crossbow and tells him Cersei has a wagonful of gold outside as advance payment for killing Jaime and Tyrion (should they survive the Night King). Stone cold bitch.
- Theon rescues Yara, then decides to go to Winterfell to fight. I cheered!
- Poor little Lord Umber. The Army of the Dead made it’s way to Last Hearth before he could get his people out. I guess they needed some faster wagons.
- Best quotes, tweets and memes from this episode.
Overall, this first episode was everything I wanted it to be. It moved fast with satisfying reunions, almost everyone was seen (Brienne?), and Jon found out the big news about his parentage.
Predictions for Episode 2
I think Jon will keep his new identity to himself for now. We know that he doesn’t really want to be a king, he just wants to protect his people. He’s not out for the power grab.
But I wonder if Sam will open his mouth and “accidentally” spread the word around? We know the North is not thrilled with Dany being in charge…
I think Sam will tell Sansa. That will set up a major rift between Sansa and Dany, which is where the show seems to be leading us. And Sansa might do something cray-cray!
I also think Bran’s reaction to Jaime might surprise us. We expect him to be angry or vengeful, but he is the Three-Eyed Raven now and he simply doesn’t react in a “human” way anymore. I predict that Bran may actually be thankful to Jaime because in a way, his fall from the tower led him on his quest for the raven. Bran knows that everything happens for a reason.
We know the Night King is close, so I expect to see the Battle of Winterfell in episode 3. We might even get a confrontation at the end of episode 2.