Game of Thrones (Season 8), Episode 1: 'Winterfell' Review

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Game of Thrones (Season 8), Episode 1: 'Winterfell' Review, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen

The long wait is finally over. The eight season of Game of Thrones premiered some time back. But before I make any revelations I must flash the mandatory SPOILER ALERT!

Remembering my post from a couple of years ago, I had described Season 7 Episode 7 'The Dragon and the Wolf’ as one of the weakest of all Game of Thrones finales. And before the season 8 premiere 'Winterfell' I revisited 'The Dragon and the Wolf' to see how well it would connect with 'Winterfell'. And I am now convinced that I was right about it being one of the weakest season finales. But having now watched 'Winterfell' I feel that the two episodes work really well together. Had they been one mega episode instead of two I believe together they would have packed a much stronger punch than as two episodes separated by two long years. But the good thing is that it doesn't really feel as if two years have passed. Things pick up from exactly where they were left. Season 8 opens up with Dany and Jon marching into Winterfell as Sansa and Arya wait in anticipation. The scene forms an interesting parallel with the very first episode of season 1 when King Robert and Queen Cersei had marched into Winterfell. It had changed everything for the Starks. And all these years later this time it's another Queen that rides into the heart of the North. It's a deja vu of sorts for Arya who is no longer the little girl she once was. No one can push her aside so easily now. As for Sansa she is bemused to see two full grown dragons flying past the castle. As Dany marches on she notices a lack of warmth for her. Yes, it's cold in Winterfell but there is also another kind of coldness in the hearts of Northerners for foreigners as she would soon learn. 

As Sansa welcomes back Jon she doesn't show the same kind of warmth towards Dany. Of course, she hasn't got a clue about how Dany risked her beloved dragons for Jon. The Stark bannermen too aren't particularly happy to see the King in the North relinquish his crown to a foreigner. Meanwhile Tyrion Lannister tries to explain the Lords of North how Jon risked his life and has managed to assemble the greatest army the world has ever seen, reminding that Cersei's army will soon be joining them at Winterfell. Sansa reminds them about the short food supplies and expresses her concerns about feeding the army of the Unsullied, Dothraki, and two full-grown dragons. Sansa asks quizzically, "What do dragons eat, anyway?" Dany retorts, "Whatever they want". 

Next Tyrion visits Sansa. Remember this is the first time they are meeting since Sansa fled King's Landing after Joffrey's horrifying death. Of course, at the time Tyrion was married to Sansa. Tyrion being Tyrion, he says while addressing Sansa, "Lady of Winterfell has a nice ring to it." "So does Hand of the Queen... depending on the Queen, I suppose," Sansa retorts. Clearly there is a greater tension between Tyrion and Sansa because now the former is the Hand of Daenerys Targaryen. Also Sansa tells Tyrion that she is disappointed to see Tyrion being fooled by Cersei. She also mockingly tells him, "I used to think you were the cleverest man alive." It is here that Tyrion finally starts suspecting that Cersei has indeed taken him for a ride. Right after Sansa leaves the scene Tyrion and Bran, who is now the Three-Eyed Raven, make an eye contact. And, I forgot to tell you that Bran and Jon have already met and embraced each other. Bran also reminds Dany and others in Winterfell that the Night King has also broken through the Wall and has managed to revive Dany's slain dragon. Jon and Arya also meet after years. Of course, there has always been great adoration between them and so when they embrace each other it really makes for a special moment. 

Game of Thrones (Season 8), Cersei and Euron Greyjoy
Arya unites with Jon
In King's Landing, Qyburn informs Cersei that the dead have broken through the Wall but with Euron Greygoy and Gold Company's fleet at her disposal. But Cersei is a wee bit disappointed to learn that Euron couldn't get her any elephants. Cersei also learns that she cannot keep delaying Euron's sexual advances and so she finally gives in. Later on, Cersei tells Euron, "You might be the most arrogant man I have ever met." She adds in a whispering tone, "I like that". Also in between Cersei sends Qyburn to Bronn. Cersei basically wants Bronn to kill both her brothers with a crossbow (yes, it's the same one) in case they survive the Army of the Dead and in return she offers him all the riches that were once promised to him. While Bronn accepts the offer but it will be really interesting to see how this one plays out, especially given the relation Bronn shares with Jamie and Tyrion.

In one of the most exciting scenes of Game of Thrones so far Dany asks Jon to fly on Rhaegal. Jon is of course petrified but Dany doesn't leave him with any other option. So Dany flies on Drogon alongside him and after some efforts Jon is able to gain some control on the beast. Jon takes Dany to the place where he hunted, Only it is much colder now that the Winter has come. Dany reminds Jon about his duty to keep his Queen warm in such atrociously cold weather, especially given she is from the South and isn't used to such cold. So they fall in each other's arms as the dragons look on. It appears that Jon having successfully ridden the dragon has now win all her trust and see now sees him as her truly worthy lover. But it may all soon change once she learns about Jon's true ancestry. 

Game of Thrones (Season 8), Cersei and Euron Greyjoy
Tyrion pays Sansa a visit
Another interesting thing that I must mention here is the witty conversations that take between Varys, Onion Knight, and Tyrion Lannister. I can't wait to have more of it. Since this episode is all about people meeting one another after a long passage of separation, I must mention about the interesting meetings between the Hound and Arya as well as Cerdic and Arya. When the Hound reminds Arya that she left him to die, she tells him, "First I robbed you." The Hound being the Hound, he tells her, "You are a cold little b***h, aren't you?" He adds before leaving the scene, "Guess that's why you are still alive." Seeing him make an axe with a blade made up of the Dragon Glass for The Hound, Arya too makes a special request to Cedric for a weapon of her choice. Let's wait and watch how Arya wields that weapon once she has it. Also, Theon Greyjoy succeeds in releasing in freeing Yara who allows him to head towards the North and fight with the Starks.

Next Dany visits Sam along with Ser Jorah to thank him for curing her faithful servant. During their conversation Sam learns that Dany has already executed his father and brother. It's only now that Dany comes to know that he too is a Tarly. It is a devastating scene to say the last. We all know that Sam didn't like his father much but on learning that the Dragon Queen has also executed his brother he begins to shiver in disbelief. Unable to control his pain he leaves the scene. As he steps out he encounters Bran who reminds him to inform Jon about his true ancestry. Sam gathers himself and goes to meet Jon. He tells him how Dany cruelly executed his father and brother. Jon is shocked to learn that but he tries to defend Dany. Sam reminds him that Jon would have shown mercy had he been in Dany's place. Sam finally makes the big revelation. He announces," You are Aegon Targaryen, true heir to the Iron Throne". Jon is unable to believe that Ned Stark, the most honorable man he ever knew, lied to him all his life. Sam then tells him that it was out of the promise he made to his sister Lyanna and that Robert would have got him killed had Ned not kept it a secret. 

Game of Thrones (Season 8), Cersei and Euron Greyjoy
Cersei and Euron Greyjoy
Meanwhile, the Night King sends a souvenir to the living and it's discovered by Tormund and Beric who are still pretty much alive. But what's the souvenir? It's something that I won't reveal. All I can tell you is that the very scene is as Carpenter-esque as any scene can get. You will have to watch it with your own eyes to truly get a hang of it. The episode ends with Jamie walking into King Landing. He is all alone and the moments he steps down his horse his eyes fall on Bran and as the camera pulls in on Bran we are reminded of that dreaded moment when he had pushed Bran out of the tower window, an incident that permanently crippled the youngest Stark son. With Jamie finally coming to Winterfell after all these years perhaps a lot many scores will be settled now. Bran, of course, is no longer Bran in essence and so more than him the Kingslayer needs to worry about the wrath of others. Let's not forget that it was Jamie who had killed the Mad King following which House Targaryen got nearly wiped out. Jamie of course is not afraid of death otherwise he wouldn't have come to fight the Army of the Dead all alone. But before he can finally redeem himself I think he will have to deal with a few angry individuals. We will find out all that and more in the second episode of the eight and final season of Game of Thrones.

If you are in India you can watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones on Hotstar.

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