This Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 review post has spoilers for Season 8 Episode 1. Only read on if you are OK with being spoiled.
When Season 7 ended, we were left with Ice Viserion destroying the Wall and the Night King and a huge army pouring south of the Wall, ready to destroy everything in its path. Then the opening credits for Season 8 — which are brand new — carried on the story. We could see the hole in the Wall during the new credits and the ice as it traveled south, moving toward lands that we have been following closely for seven seasons so far.
I’m still distraught and heartbroken over Viserion’s demise, so I’m not emotionally ready to see his dead ice-awakened corpse used for the army of ice death again, but here we are. Thankfully, we didn’t have to see Viserion tonight, even though his absence was strongly felt.
From the get-go, the episode started strong. Even the ‘previously on’ video was epic, promising great things to come.
And then the episode started with an epic new intro, showing the hole in the Wall and the ice spreading south. The King’s Landing section of the intro was amazing too, and then we revisited the crypts of Winterfell. This was a great beginning.
The episode began at Winter Town with a child running through a crowd. We see Daenerys’ Unsullied army arriving at Winterfell. It was so epic, I got chills watching that scene. And the moment with Dany and Jon riding side by side with their army – perfection.
And the moment when Arya saw the Hound was great, but quickly surpassed when she saw Gendry. :)
But all of this was overshadowed by the dragons’ arrival at Winterfell. WOW. (Check out my 2016 story about the crypts of Winterfell. There are some pretty sweet theories, including the myth of a hidden dragon there.)
Jon immediately noticed something was wrong with Bran when he finally saw him for the first time. Sansa and Dany’s meeting gave me chills as Sansa immediately told Dany that Winterfell was hers. But that “subservience” would not last long.
Bran hinted at his power when he revealed to Dany that he knew one of her dragons was now under the Night King’s control. Bran didn’t hold back tonight.
The episode later continued with a look at Little Ned Umber, as Ned asked for more horses and wagons. A quick recap: Ned pledged fealty to House Stark in Season 7, after his father betrayed the Starks and Jon Snow. Ned’s father fought with Ramsay against Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards. Now his house is back in a place of honor.
Lyanna Mormont, true to form, called Jon Snow out for bending the knee to Dany. Jon handled her questions with diplomacy and tact. “I had a choice. Keep my crown or protect the North. I chose the North.”
The grumblings from his people were not unexpected, and Tyrion stood up for him. “Thanks to his courage we have brought with us the greatest army the world has ever seen.”
Of course, when Tyrion said the Lannister army was riding north to help, everyone was really upset. And who can blame them?
Sansa understandably wants to know how they’ll feed everyone. The exchange between Sansa and Dany is pure perfection. What do dragons eat, she wants to know. “Anything they want,” Dany says with that look… Nice.
It looks like Winterfell also has a lot of dragonglass on hand. That will come in handy. It’s the attention to detail like this that really elevates the episode.
And that’s when Sansa and Tyrion meet. Oh, they’re still married, aren’t they?! They talk about Joffrey’s miserable wedding, and Sansa says, “It had its moments.” Tyrion says the perfect line: “Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.” Tyrion tells her he believes Cersei can be trusted, but Sansa doesn’t buy it. “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.” Good assessment Sansa.
Meanwhile, Bran is staring at them all creepy like.
Next we see Jon at the Weirwood tree. We haven’t been here in a while. Finally we get the reunion with Arya that we’ve been waiting on. They love each other so much. :) They compare swords: Needle and Longclaw made of Valerian steel. Arya tells Jon that Sansa is the smartest person she’s ever met. “I’m defending our family,” she says. “So is she.”
Their hug brought tears to my eyes.
But now the atmosphere changes and we’re at King’s Landing with Qyburn and Cersei. Qyburn announces that the dead broke through the Wall and Cersei is glad because she’s twisted. And now the Golden Company arrives. (One of my friends thinks Cersei wants to be the Night King’s Queen, which is one theory I’ve never heard yet. But it kind of makes sense.)
Euron and Yara have a scene together because the rule is that either Yara or Theon pretty much always have to be tormented by someone.
So far, this episode has been stunning and beautiful. The acting is on point. The reunions are heartfelt, but we can’t forget the dread that hangs over everything like a heavy cloud.
Strickland, captain of the Golden Company, finally greets Cersei. After he leaves, Euron tries to make a move on her, but that’s not going to work. (Sadly, it later does work. Oh well.) Everyone always underestimates Cersei. “You want a queen, earn her,” she tells Euron. They have a strange chemistry that is conflicting to me.
By the way, Cersei on the throne with Qyburn on one side and the Mountain on the other is epic. She is a force to be reckoned with.
Now we’re back to Bronn, still at King’s Landing. Qyburn pays him a visit. Cersei wants to pay Bronn to murder her brothers if they survive the war with the Night King, using the same weapon Tyrion used to kill Tywinn. (Bronn better pretend to accept, but refuse to kill them later, is all I have to say.)
Yara’s late-night rescue scene was perfect, as Theon repaid Yara for how she had rescued him. She has to get in a good head butt to make up for letting her be captured, which reflects their sibling relationship perfectly. It’s good to see Theon being confident again, while also having total loyalty to his sister
The Onion Knight’s scene with Tyrion and Varys was full of nostalgia. But to be honest, things are going too well right now. Something is going to go wrong.
Jon and Dany’s scenes together are beautiful. They have a great camaraderie already as they prepare for battle.
Dany’s two dragons are beautiful. And the scene where Jon Snow learned to ride a dragon (Rhaegal) was amazing. He can ride a dragon because he’s part Targaryen, most likely. The oddest part is how unsurprised Dany is about this. I loved how they filmed that scene, with Jon gaining confidence through the ride.
The scene where he and Dany later kissed was beautiful. I believe that scene was filmed in Iceland, which accounts for the stunning background. The moment with Drogon was a much-needed bit of comic relief and I’m glad for it.
Next, Arya has a special request for Gendry – she wants a special weapon all for herself. Clever girl. (By the way, Gendry’s “my lady” comment reminded me of Princess Bride.)
Next, Sansa argues with Jon about giving up his crown, but in my opinion, she is being very shortsighted. At least she seems to come around thanks to Jon explaining strategy and why they need thousands to fight a crazy army of undead.
I also loved the meeting between Sam and Dany. I forgot that she would be grateful to him for healing Jorah of greyscale. (Last season that healing was far too easy, and I’m still annoyed by that part.) But I also had forgotten that Sam didn’t know what happened to his dad or brother yet. :( “Your brother stood with your father,” she told him, knowing far too well herself what it’s like to have family die from making unwise decisions. She has sympathy for Sam’s pain, which is absolutely heartbreaking. But Sam’s not going down the route of forgiveness here, despite knowing how difficult his dad could be to reason with.
Annnnd Bran is creeping on Sam again. He’s going to make Sam tell Jon about his lineage because “I’m not his brother.” Bran conveniently shirks a difficult conversation and puts the responsibility on Sam.
Deep in the crypts of Winterfell, Sam and Jon meet up. Sam has a heavy job to do, thanks to Bran. Sam tells Jon about how Dany executed his father and brother. “We need to end this war,” Jon says, adding that he has executed people who disobeyed him too. And that’s when Sam lets him know that Jon could be king of the Seven Kingdoms. “Your mother was Lyanna Stark and your father, your real father, was Rhaegar Targaryen,” Sam tells him. “You are … true heir to the Iron Throne.”
Telling him this in the crypts of Winterfell is perfect.
“You’re the true king,” Sam says. Jon has never wanted to be king. This is too much. Sam wants to know if she’d give up her crown to save her people. I personally can’t see Jon trying to claim the Throne after bowing to Dany, no matter what she would do if the situation was reversed. Bran is speaking out of grief and shock. He’s not speaking strategically.
Annnnd Beric and Tormund are back. They survived the destruction of the Wall by Viserion and the Night King’s army. They encounter the Night’s Watch for a much-needed brief comedic moment. Beric has his flaming sword (which never gets old.) But that’s when we see a kid-turned-wight pinned to the wall with the White Walker symbol surrounding him. The scene where the wight child screamed while on fire was seriously one of the creepiest scenes ever.
Jamie arrives at Winterfell, and Bran is waiting on him. Oh that’s epic.
AND the show is over.
It was brilliant, even if it was a bit too short for the final season. But overall, I loved it.