GOT S8 EP1 – Winterfell Review

Winter has FINALLY come to Westeros as the long awaited final season of Game Of Thrones hits our television screens.

From the opening titles we are treated with a brand new revamped title sequence with all new 3D models and a complete array of visual treats. For the first time in GOT history the titles take us not only to all the places within the world but within the very structures and halls themselves. I suspect this is to ensure we are completely accustomed to the orientation of the world for the war to come.

The episode begins as the Unsullied army march into Winterfell accompanied by their Queen Daenerys, Jon Snow (aka Aegon Targaryen but more on that shortly) along with all the many familiar faces. Arya watches from the crowd not willing to have a reunion with Jon straight away. She manages to get a glimpse of the very much alive Sandor “The Hound” Clegane as he rides in also with the army.

The episode is full of reunions. Tyrion sees Sansa for the first time since the purple wedding and Tyrion makes the observation of how cunning Sansa has become for avoiding certain death this whole time. Sansa voices her concerns about trusting Cersei warning Tyrion that he is a fool to trust her.

Judging from this episode I’m starting to suspect that Cersei isn’t actually pregnant?

Arya and Jon finally reunite as well in a touching moment beneath the Weirwood tree.

Arya and Sandor share a fantastic scene where little is said but enough subtext is created to satisfy.  Arya also sees Gendry with perhaps a little flirting going on? hmm could this be another two characters that end up together.

Meanwhile in Kings Landing Cersei and Euron consummate their political allegiance whilst Yara is a bound prisoner on one of Euron’s ships. This joining of Cersei and Euron shows that Cersei has finally let her feelings for Jamie go after he betrayed her, in the final episode of last season, to join the North in the fight against the undead.

In a more underwhelming moment for the episode. Theon manages to save Yara with little to no resistance apart from a sibling head butt. For a moment that was built up so greatly in Season 7 this seems very quickly resolved but I suppose this is simply helping the pieces get into place as the series bulldozers ahead.

We also get a scene of Qyburn offering Bronn a huge bounty if he kills Jamie and Tyrion for Cersei. Judging from Bronn’s history as a mercenary this potentially could go either way but I suspect he will be the warning that Jamie will need to finally turn against his sister.

Back in Winterfell Tyrion, Varys and Davos discuss the benefits of having a marriage between Jon Snow and Daenerys just before the two go on a “Magic Dragon Ride!”  Jon even declares that it has “ruined horses for me”. The two then share a moment near a snowy waterfall.

Sansa also voices her mistrust of Daenerys to Jon and this may be the first seeds of doubt in Jon’s mind towards the Dragon Queen.

Daenerys meets the man who saved, her third wheel Jorah Mormont, and has a touching scene with Samwell where she really bonds with him by telling him how she killed his brother and father……not the best bonding tactic. This leads Samwell to leave feeling overwhelmed with grief where he meets Bran who informs him that “it is time” to finally tell Jon the truth about his real parentage.

Samwell stumbles into the crypt to reveal the truth to Jon, not before informing Jon that Daenerys burned his father and brother alive. Samwell informs Jon that he is the true heir to the throne, Aegon Targaryen and not Ned Stark’s bastard.

Jon still isn’t keen on being the King but Samwell notes that he should be King because he is willing to do anything for his people. He asks Jon if he believes that Daenerys would be willing to give it up everything for her people to which Jon doesn’t respond.

This scene manages to show the tension that still could erupt between the two heirs to the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile at Last Hearth we find Tormund and Beric going through the rumble left by the Night King and the army of the dead and they run into, what one can assume is the remaining Night’s Watch.  A startled Eddison, thinking Tormunds a White, calls out “Stay back his got blue eyes” and Tormund quips “I’ve always had blue eyes!”

It is quite enjoyable to see Tormund back as the character is a favourite of mine. The group discover that the Night King has left some “body art” on the wall as a warning and they realise that they are between the Army of the Dead and Winterfell. Using the Night’s Watch horses they hope to make it to Winterfell before the Night King.

Back at Winterfell we see a hooded rider arrive. As he turns we get the first glimpse of Jamie, for the season, who turns to see Bran staring back at him. This reunion is the first time the two have seen each other since Jamie pushed Bran out the window in season 1 causing him to become a paraplegic. This a reunion perhaps many of us had not thought was coming but a welcomed development non the less.

There isn’t much action in this opening episode but the character moments more than make up for the lack in that department.

Overall this episode was a great starting point and with so many moving pieces it manages to excel in the small amounts of time we get with each character. Knowing that there is only 5 weeks to go makes the cliffhangers all the more exciting as we get ever closer to the end of one of the best tv shows of all time.

4.5 out of 5 Birds from me – Jason

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