Game of Thrones S8 E1 – Winterfell review

With six episodes this season there’s no time to waste on setting things up or delaying significant plot developments. It’s seemed like a year since Game of Thrones has aired a new episode… but after this very eventful season premiere episode, Winterfell, all is forgiven.

Apparently GOT producers spent all that time since Season 7 working on a more elaborate opening sequence. It’s impressive, almost as impressive as watching the Unsullied and Daenerys’ army arrive at Winterfell.

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Jon rides side by side with the Breaker of Chains and doesn’t notice Arya. She’s hardly the girl he left behind when he went to The Wall. While he made good on his promise to deliver an army — and even a pair of dragons — not everyone is thrilled Jon bent the knee and punted his king of the north crown. Despite all her various advisors, Daenerys still isn’t great at reading the room and smugly throws her dragons around like ‘I’m your Quenna Tha North Now Suckas!’

Naturally, this rubs Sansa the wrong way. She’s had her fill of obnoxious rulers for two lifetimes. Bran could care less about this posturing and pleasantries, The Night King has a dragon and The Wall is broken fools, get your houses together.

Little Lord Umber asks for help with supplies to get his house fully fortified at Winterfell. He’s a cute kid and I’m looking forward to following his exploits this season as he leads his house to glory…

Jon isn’t getting much love from his former loyal followers. OK sure they can be in their feelings for a second, but it’s like they’re not hearing him mention there’s a zombie army coming their way.

Fortunately, Tyrion is able to ease the tension by saying the Lannister army that darn near wiped out the North is coming. Where is Davos when you need him?

Jon and Arya have a nice, heartfelt reunion. Surprisingly, when Jon suggests Sansa disliking Danerys could be a problem, Arya has her back.

A lot of this episode was about reunions. Arya threatened The Hound again and had her old pal Gendry whip up a new weapon for her. In GOT that typically means somebody’s getting killed soon. Sure, a few random goons got killed, but no one important. Maybe this is a kinder, gentler GOT?

My favorite was Sansa and Tyrion reconnecting since their last encounter at Joffrey’s wedding. Sansa had a great line saying it had its moments. Yes, indeed.

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Sansa asks the question someone should have asked Tyrion a long time ago — why would he believe Cersei? Exactly Sansa, exactly.

Cersei is admiring her navy and could care less about The Wall’s status. Euron has become singleminded and wants to channel The Hulk with Cersei. Although Danerys roasted her army, Cersei has new troops to command with Captain Strickland and the Golden Company army.

Euron has predictably grown tired of waiting on Cersei’s promise and wants to collect. Cersei proves she’s lost none of her gut punch verbal strikes tells Euron ‘if you want a whore buy her. If you want a queen earn her.’

It’s crazy how quotable a character Cersei is considering she’s one of the show’s biggest villains. After thinking it over for a second, Cersei decides she needs to work out some frustrations on Euron. He’s happy to oblige and is now focused on getting her pregnant. Just don’t drink the wine, Euron.

Bronn has no problem paying for a good time and is in the midst of getting his foursome on when Qyburn interrupts with a new task. Cersei wants Bronn to kill Jaime and Tyrion. Yikes. Gotta figure Bronn takes the gold and runs, right? He wouldn’t go after his two favorite Lannisters, would he?

game of thrones winterfell review - cersei

Euron apparently released his brains along with his potential princes as Theon is able to sneak onto his ships and release Yara. She thanks him with a headbutt. Understandable. While he’s down to support her as his queen, she knows he wants to make good to the other family he disappointed and allows him to go to Winterfell.

Like I said, Davos can read a room and understands how to make everyone happy. He proposes a proposal and it’s not like it would be terribly hard to sell the idea to Jon and Daenerys. Especially after their little ride on the dragons. It’s fascinating how intrigued they are with each other knowing this will not end well at all.

Sansa doesn’t need to dance around the situation and asks Jon if he the knee to save the North or because he loves Daenerys. Fair question, I’ll allow it.

Jorah and Daenerys chat with Sam and after learning he’s from House Tarly, she tells him exactly what she did to his father and brother. On one hand, you’ve gotta admire Daenerys for not being the typical secretive leader. On the other, that might have been her most arrogant and needlessly cruel show of power. Sam maintains his composure, but when Bran suggests now is the time to talk to Jon, he doesn’t seem as reluctant as before.

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Again, this shortened season definitely helps with pacing. This secret isn’t dragged out until the second to last episode. We get it right away now. Sam tells Jon he’s the rightful heir to the throne. “Daenerys shouldn’t be our queen. You gave up the crown to save our people. Would she do the same?”

I loved this conversation on so many levels, but I really appreciated how Sam wouldn’t let Jon start trashing Ned or really badmouthing Daenerys. He just used basic logic, which has always worked well for Sam in reaching Jon.

This could have been the end of the episode, but we need to get a few more pivotal scenes first. Tormund, Beric and Eddison survived The Wall’s collapse. They stumble upon the dismembered body of Little Lord Umber. Hmmn. It’s a message from The Night King who clearly does not believe in using ravens.

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Back at Winterfell, the sole representative of the Lannister army arrives incognito. Jaime finally made it and sees in the distance his handiwork up close with the wheelchair bound Bran looking back at him. Bran is beyond petty rivalries now so he clearly sees Jaime as a pivotal player in the war to come. But how and what is a mystery for another episode.

Winterfell was a strong kickoff to GOT’s final season. After such an extended delay, it required some refreshing of all the players’ agendas while reinforcing the main threats yet to come.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Photo Credit: HBO

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