TV reviews

Game of Thrones 8×01 – ‘Winterfell’ – Review

The much-anticipated return of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones has finally arrived with ‘Winterfell’. Its opening scene cleverly mirrors the original first episode, where Robert Baratheon arrives in Winterfell to charge Ned Stark with being the hand of the king, and a young Bran climbing high to see; this time we see a small boy doing the same thing with the arrival of Jon and Daenerys.

The intro sequence has been beefed up and retooled, and now viewers are taken all through Winterfell and down into the great hall and the crypt. The new view of The Wall, complete with a dragon-melted hole in it, reminds the audience of the breakdown of the last episode of season seven, by the newly converted, zombified dragon, and a few new places as well that will be picked apart to try and understand what’s to come.

The episode mostly appears to be a giant set up for the battle to be fought, and a few reunions that viewers have been anticipating for quite some time. Jon Snow returns home to Winterfell with his newly acquired queen/girlfriend, complete with dragons and armies. And while Arya was excited to see her half-brother, Sansa – who now has become the queen of zingers – was less than pleased that he had brought with him so many mouths to feed. She quips with him, “Did you bend the knee to save the north or because you love her?”. Sansa also sees her once husband Tyrion and chastises him too with trusting Cersei and the promise of her army to assist with the coming war, “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.”

For those viewers shipping Arya and Gendry, their reunion was a meet cute if ever. He awkwardly tells her she looks better, and she tells him he looks good. They share their little joke of him calling her a Lady and her pouting she is not. And then a request of him to make her some sort of a dragonglass weapon. It looks to be a spear of some sort with a removable tip. Without scale of how big it really is going to be will determine its use, it could be small like a dagger or large enough to toss at a dragon if necessary.

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Bran is his usual wet blanket, interrupting Jon’s return with the news that the wall has been breached and that the Night King now has a dragon on his side. He later talks with Sam and tasks him to relate the news of his lineage to Jon Snow. Honestly Sam telling Jon the truth was not the earth-shattering moment one would expect, mostly due to Sam’s quivering lip stealing the scene at finding out his brother and father are now ashes thanks to Dani and her dragon. However, Jon seemed unphased and made no indications that he would be challenging Ms. Targaryen’s claim to the iron throne. Well, not yet anyway.

Arya and Jon’s reunion was sweet and wonderful and everything that was expected. They show off their swords to each other with him reprimanding her for not being around more to help him to corral Sansa, like she was off at summer camp or something and not off learning to steal faces of the dead and become a skilled assassin!

Cersei was busy this episode finally giving Euron Greyjoy what he wanted – a spot in her bed. She also met the captain of her freshly bought army, Harry Strickland, much to her dismay without any elephants. But most importantly she had her hand, Qyburn, task Bronn with murdering both her brothers with the same crossbow that killed her father. Leading to the question, – How far will Bronn have to go to get his castle?

Theon still continues on his arc of redemption, taking his sister, Yara, back from her capture from her uncle. He then admits wanting to fight along his adopted family, the Starks at Winterfell. Yara appears to release him without malice so one would expect him to finally make his way back to his boyhood home soon.

The highlight of the whole episode though is Jon Snow on a dragon. One-part Harry Potter on a flying broom and one-part Aladdin on a magic carpet, he and Dani fly to a frozen waterfall where she teases just hiding in a cave (much like Ygritte did in their cave of lovemaking) for a thousand years. They know that is not their fate and they know they must return to battle, but they still share a passionate kiss at the beautiful scene with her dragon staring at Jon Snow VERY hard for smooching his mother.

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Tormund and his crew survive the wall falling only to happen upon a most gruesome scene of the last child Umber strung up surrounded by body parts shaped like a bloody shrimp cocktail, which when set ablaze faintly resembles the sigil of the Targaryens. Whatever he is attempting to communicate, he is not messing around.

Whatever direction this season takes in, whoever ends up on the iron throne or even if the iron throne survives, it is obvious the show plans to give its viewers every delicious moment they have been waiting seven seasons for. And with the episode ending with Bran Stark and Jamie Lannister coming eye to eye for the first time since he chucked the boy out the window for peeping on him, rendering him lame but with his third raven eye, viewers will be turning in again in droves next week for more tales from Westeros.

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