Game of Thrones is Back: Season 8, Episode 1 “Winterfell” Reaction

I usually stick to politics and only politics on this site, but I couldn’t resist writing about Game of Thrones. I just enjoy the show too much. If you don’t care about the show then you can ignore this post because it has nothing to do with politics at all, but I’ll probably be doing a write-up like this after every episode of season eight over the next five weeks.

  • When Bran cuts the Sansa-Dany introduction short by informing everyone that the Night King revived Viserion and burned down the Wall, I was a bit surprised there wasn’t more of a reaction from the other characters, namely Dany. Although I guess they all already knew the Night King could revive dead creatures and turn them into his undead slaves; they probably assumed the worst after Viserion went down.
  • Jon riding the dragon: we all expected this to happen, but probably not in the very first episode. They foreshadowed it when Drogon allowed Jon to pet him in the last season, and on top of that, Dany’s other living dragon is named Rhaegal after Jon’s father Rhaegar Targaryen. This scene fully confirmed Jon has Targaryen blood and, more importantly, that he will be riding Rhaegal in battle at some point in the next several episodes. The dragons have to be the key to defeating the Night King, and both of the living dragons have to be involved in that. The question now is whether Rhaegal becomes “Jon’s dragon” or whether it’s still Dany’s dragon and Jon can ride it with her permission.
  • Whether you thought the Dragon Date scene was corny or not, it was still important. (Personally, I’m a sucker for corny stuff like that. I wish Hollywood was less self-conscious about corniness.) Dany had to know there was something special about Jon when her dragon allowed Jon to ride him. If you recall back in season two when Dany pretended to trade her baby dragons for the army of Unsullied, when she gave the dragon to the bald Valyrian dude, the dragon would not obey him at all and wanted nothing to do with him. That scene made it clear that the dragons were bound to Daenerys and Daenerys alone as she was the only Targaryen alive. But when her dragon Rhaegal accepted Jon as essentially its master, it should have been an obvious tell to her that Jon also had the blood of the dragon. Evidently she did not put two and two together.
  • The Sansa-Dany Hot Girl Drama: I hope this doesn’t get too drawn out. It’s pointless. There’s really no reason for it given the circumstances. The army of the dead is coming and the two hot girls have beef. It can’t last long. On the other hand, it would have been pretty lame if Dany and Sansa immediately became BFFs: “OMG, girl, I am like literally obsessed with your hair. It’s so perfect.”
  • Euron arrives at King’s Landing with the Golden Company: I have to admit that I really don’t care all that much about Euron and Cersei. Yes, Euron is helping Cersei assemble an army and Cersei finally gives it up to Euron after like two seasons of him begging her to let him hit it, but whatever. Their situation feels like an afterthought given the massive battle looming in the North. And it just feels like a given that when the Good Guys defeat the Night King, they will go down to King’s Landing and depose Cersei. I mean, there’s no way Cersei wins, right? And there’s no way she doesn’t eventually grow tired of Euron and kill him off after he is no longer useful to her, right? Cersei and Euron just feel like dead men walking.
  • Theon-Yara: Theon rescues Yara from Euron’s captivity, and they escape together. Yara plans to go back to the Iron Islands, while Theon makes it clear that he wants to go to Winterfell to help fight in the Great Battle To Come. This storyline is actually shaping up to be important because it seems like the main characters will have to retreat to the Iron Islands after probably being routed by the Night King either next episode or in episode three. They’ve mentioned several times before in the show that white walkers can’t swim, so the Iron Islands should prove essential to giving the main characters a safe haven, at least until the Night King flies his undead dragon over the water–or freezes it with his Powers of Winter.
  • Jon’s true identity: the fact that Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen VI, rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms, threatens to tear everything apart. Dany has lived her whole life believing she is destined to be the queen, and that she’s the last Targaryen, but in truth Jon is the rightful king and also can ride dragons. Once Jon’s true identity becomes widely known it could cause a rift among the Good Guys, where the Starks obviously will support Jon in the event that Dany does not willingly step aside and recognize his claim to the throne.
  • How will Dany react? How will they break the news to her. We all believe that Dany will be pregnant with Jon’s child, and I think this will be revealed before Jon can tell Dany who he really is, which will further complicate things.
  • Holy shit, that undead Umber kid nailed to the wall was terrifying. That scene got me. The screams are still haunting me.
  • At the outset of the episode I figured the last scene would be Jamie arriving in Winterfell, but I was surprised to see Bran sitting there waiting for him the second he arrived. The look on Jamie’s face said it all: “holy fuck it’s that kid I pushed out the window way back in episode one.” We were never really told whether or not Jamie knew Bran was still be alive the whole time because nobody else in the show knew either, but now Jamie knows. I don’t think Bran will be too pissed at Jamie given that without being pushed out the window Bran would have never become the Three-Eyed Raven, and also I’m sure Bran has watched Jamie’s life unfold over the past several years and knows Jamie is a changed man. Still, it will make for an awkward and tense face-to-face between the two characters. I’m not sure whether Bran will tell his family that it was Jamie who pushed him, but either way, the Starks will not trust Jamie when he shows up in their hall, so early on, Jamie will have to prove he is a. a changed man, and b. valuable to the cause. Obviously Jamie will inform them that Cersei has betrayed them and will not be sending her army to fight alongside them, which will add to the main characters’ growing list of problems.
  • On top of all this, the episode two sneak preview also makes it clear that Dany has major beef with Jamie given that Jamie was the one who killed Dany’s father, the Mad King, all those years ago.
  • Bronn: As he’s about to have a foursome with some choice King’s Landing whores, he gets blueballed by Qyburn, who informs him that Queen Cersei has a big bag of gold for him if he hunts down and kills her brothers Jamie and Tyrion. This is a big deal because while Bronn has had extended alliances with both Jamie and Tyrion, he’s also obsessed with gold and getting his own castle. I would venture to say that although Bronn always made it clear to Tyrion and Jamie that he was just in it for the money, he does ultimately consider them his friends as well, not just rich people who pay him to kill for them. Will Bronn be able to complete Cersei’s task? It would suck to see him become a bad guy because he’s such a great character, and obviously the good guys could use his talents in the Battle To End All Battles.
  • Arya-The Hound reunion: The first thing the Hound says to Arya is “you left me to die,” which is technically true. But the Hound also left out the part that he begged Arya to kill him and put him out of his misery when he thought he was going to die. Arya did not, which resulted in his life eventually being saved. This reunion was a little too brief given how much time the two characters spent together in the series, and how much of an impact they’ve had on each other. Arya would not be the cold killing machine with a penchant for surviving without the Hound, who assumed sort of a twisted father role for her after Ned was killed. Personally, Arya and the Hound’s relationship was one of my favorite on the whole show, and I wish they would have made this scene a little longer and more meaningful, but apparently they are not going to make their relationship a focal part of the last season, which is kind of regrettable. I’m still holding out hope they have a major scene fighting side by side before it’s all over.
  • Arya-Gendry reunion: Of course they’re setting this up to be a romance, and that’s a good thing. Back in season one, King Robert Baratheon wanted to marry his “son” Joffrey to Ned Stark’s daughter Sansa to join their houses, but it never worked out (to say the least). Arya and Gendry will eventually be the joining of Houses Stark and Baratheon. Whether or not Gendry is a legitimate Baratheon or not doesn’t matter. I know there’s theories out there that Gendry is the legitimate son of Cersei and Robert given that at one point in season one Cersei mentions to Catelyn Stark that she lost a son way back when, and many believe the child didn’t die but was instead abandoned by Cersei given that she resented Robert and only wanted to have kids by Jamie. Whether or not this is true is, I think, irrelevant, because assuming Gendry survives everything, he’ll be legitimized by either Jon or Dany, who will be king/queen of the Seven Kingdoms, in an effort to revive House Baratheon in the wake of the great battle. We have seen this happen before in the show, when Roose Bolton legitimized Ramsay.
  • Sam’s family: We knew Sam would eventually learn that Dany killed his father and brother, the only question was how he’d take it. He didn’t seem too broken up about his father’s death, remarking, in a bit of dark humor, that at least he’d be able to go back home now that his brother was in charge. But Sam was visibly distraught over the news that Dany had his brother killed alongside his father. This means Sam can never fully embrace or trust Dany, which is a problem given that he’s Jon’s best friend. What will be the implications of Sam’s newfound grudge against Dany? Is there anything Dany can do to earn his forgiveness? I’m not so sure. I think the upshot here is that Sam will be pushing for Jon to upstage Dany, and potentially means Sam will try to undermine Dany and turn the Starks against her. Sam could end up taking a forgive-but-never-forget approach to Dany, but he also could decide he’s fully against Dany. The thing is, Jon didn’t seem to really care when Sam told him that Dany had killed his brother and father. Jon essentially dismissed it as the ugly reality of war, and that it was nothing personal. We’ll have to wait and see how significant this rift between Sam and Dany ends up becoming, but I think if Bran can forgive Jamie, then Sam should be able to forgive Dany.
  • Tyrion: I almost forgot to mention him until I went back and rewatched the episode. He kicked the episode off with a few dick jokes at Varys’ expense, and he had his little speech in the hall of Winterfell where he mistakenly said the Lannister Army was riding up to Winterfell to help, but other than that he wasn’t really all that important, which is sad. The showrunners have kind of marginalized Tyrion’s character over the past season and it sucks because for the first five seasons, Tyrion was the best character on the show. I really have no idea what their plan for him is at this point: he can’t play a major role in defeating the Night King, and he can’t play a major role in defeating Cersei. I really don’t know what purpose he serves anymore and it sucks. However, I’m sure George R. R. Martin has a significantly better plan in the books (namely that Tyrion will turn out to be a Targaryen) and will not marginalize him in the final two.
  • Could Tyrion and Sansa wind up together? It’s tough to see Sansa falling for Tyrion, but it could happen. Tyrion will have to get married to someone in order to further the Lannister line, and since he and Sansa have history together, it’s plausible that they’d end up together again, this time willingly instead of forced by Tywin.
  • Plus, Sansa’s character has changed so much over the course of the show. At first she was the bratty girly girl who wanted to grow up to be a pampered queen after marrying a handsome Prince Charming. Marrying the dwarf Tyrion–the polar opposite of a Prince Charming–would be symbolic of her dramatic change as a character.

I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

Future predictions:

  • Somehow, Bran will warg into one of the dragons. The thing is, if Dany is riding Drogon, Jon is riding Rhaegal and the Night King is riding the undead Viserion, then how and why will Bran have to warg into a dragon? I don’t think it’s possible for Bran to warg into the undead dragon, so that means it will have to be one of the “living” two. I think Dany will be knocked off Drogon at some point in the major battle with the Night King, and possibly killed in the process. Drogon will be distraught at the death of his “mother,” but the Good Guys will need Drogon in the fight, so Bran will have to take control of him.
  • I think Brienne will kill Jamie towards the end. Jamie will redeem himself over the next few episodes, but towards the end, when the Good Guys are going to depose Cersei, I predict that Jamie will not be able to bring himself to kill Cersei, and he will have to take her side. This will result in a fight between Brienne and Jamie, and Brienne will have to kill Jamie.
  • The army of the dead will consist of some characters that have died in earlier seasons. I think Hodor will be part of the army of the dead, as he died far beyond the wall.
  • Cleganebowl is obviously happening at some point this season, and in order to defeat his undead brother, the Hound will have to overcome his fear of fire.

I’ll have more predictions as the show unfolds but those are my main ones.

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