A heartwarming episode that focused on reuniting long-separated characters and setting the scene for what's to come. Exciting.
I'm sporting a sword replica on my belt. Sitting by my side is a whole group of people variously dressed as each of the characters of the show. A Jon Snow, a Shae, an Arya, a Yara. A Melisandre. The atmosphere is ripe with anticipation.
Written by Dave Hill and directed by David Nutter, the eight season's first episode is arguably one of the most awaited season premieres in recent memory. The great Wall has fallen, and the supernatural armies of the frozen wastes of the north are marching upon the Seven Kingdoms, while the contestants for the Iron Throne are still all too busy fighting among themselves to pay any real attention. And the Night King is bent on destroying Westeros as we know it.
As the intro begins, we can see the world shrouded in darkness and the Wall destroyed. New places, new animations, and then the Iron Throne appears ominously in front. The title reads "Game of Thrones". We're ready.
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This episode was all about reunions. Jon and his sisters. Sam and Jon. Theon and Yara. And it was about setting the stage for what's to come.
As the Unsullied march through to Winterfell, both the characters and the audience watch in awe as Daenerys and Jon appear on screen. It's reunion time. Arya, Bran, and Sansa see their brother for the first time in years, and a horde of unlikely heroes band together as allies.
A tense meeting ensues, and now we can see all the past expectations and resentments unravel--and some new ones building up. It looks as if Sansa isn't too keen on the Mother of Dragons, exchanging rather mean stares and even a sense of hostility. But everyone is aware of what's at stake. The threat in the North is greater than petty brawls. For now, at least. This is Game of Thrones, after all—it's all about those petty brawls.
Probably one of the most heartwarming moments in the entire episode was Jon and Arya's reunion. They both love each other dearly, and this is one meeting everyone was looking forward to. It didn't disappoint. Their relationship is among the most authentic of all, and their smiles and warmth was really nice to see. A moment of relief in an otherwise tense atmosphere.
We also got to see a captured Yara, struggling in the traitorous hands of his uncle, who maintains an uneasy alliance with Cersei that has been elevated to more… intimate levels. Speaking of Cersei, you can see she's up to something—as always. When informed that the White Walkers were truly coming and had already broken through the wall, she simply smiled and said "good." I can't wait to see what she has in store.
In one swift move and surprisingly smooth rescue, Theon Greyjoy, aka "Reek," manages to free his sister and sail away before anyone of import even notices them. Well done, Theon! You finally get one right.
The episode's first half ends with a truly magical moment, as Jon and Daenerys share a memorable occasion. Daenerys gets Jon to ride one of her dragons, and the two fly away to the foot of a waterfall, when they finally kiss. The dragons seem a bit jealous about it, though. Cute.
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But Jon and Daenerys' "partnership" is about to go through its biggest challenge yet. After she revealed to Sam that she had Sam's father and brother executed, he ran in tears to Jon. And Sam finally told him the truth. He's Aegon Targaryen, the true heir to the Iron Throne.
The episode ended shortly after, but not before we got to see a disturbing message from the Night King in the form of severed limbs—found by the Brotherhood (Beric Dondarrion), wildlings (Tormund Giantsbane), and members of the Night's Watch (led by Eddison Tollett), who soon run south towards Winterfell to warn the rest of just how close Winter truly is.
The final scene showed Jaime arriving in Winterfell, coming face to face with Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven, for the first time since the former pushed the latter of a tower, leaving him paralyzed. As I said: this episode was all about reunions.
What comes next?
It's all up in the air right now, but here's a small official preview of this season's second episode, coming next week. We can't wait!
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