Game Of Thrones Season Premiere Recap: Family Reunion


The trò chơi of Thrones Season 8 premiere echoed the series' beginning as beloved faces met in all the old familiar places.

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Not having too much to bởi vì tonight, Daenerys very much is the conqueror who is surveying her new assets. It is fair to even ponder whether she is unconsciously disappointed that she’s taken the North without uttering “dracarys,” or that she is finally in a land where she isn’t greeted as a liberator or “Mhysa.” She is here to fight the Dead, but there is a clear tension between herself và the Northerners that is echoed when she remarks to Jon that her dragons do not lượt thích his kingdom.

One of the dragons’ brothers died in these lands, & she has already heard the child has been grotesquely resuscitated as a demon-beast for the Dead, and there apparently isn’t much food for a dragon around the snowy plains of Winterfell either. There is meaning in that, for while Tyrion calls Daenerys’ dragons “fully grown,” the truth is dragons continue khổng lồ grow until the day they die—provided they eat và fly well. There does not appear khổng lồ be enough space for Dany’s children, & thereby the crux of her power, among these icy Northerners.

Mayhaps that is why Dany invites Jon khổng lồ fly away with her on Rhageal. If so, it could have been better articulated, because the monumental moment that all viewers have anticipated—Jon Snow becoming the first & only man Dany considers worthy khổng lồ be a true Bloodrider—plays false. Narratively rushed with the frivolity of a thắm thiết comedy date night sequence, Dany rather nonchalantly allows Jon Snow to lớn ride a baby in an sự kiện that should be profound, yet is oddly silly. The implications of Jon being a long rider are far greater than even Daenerys realizes as this former King in the North is a true Targaryen and the son of Rhaegal’s namesake. He may use this long for more than just the coming storm of the Night King. Hence the sequence playing surprisingly flat as Dany & Jon breakaway for a little canoodling while the “children” disapprovingly stare on. It’s one of several wild tonal swings slightly undermining tonight.


The others come at King’s Landing where important information is conveyed when we learn that Euron has successfully ferried the Golden Company to lớn King’s Landing. It remains lớn be seen if Cersei’s new army will actually head North with the intent of appearing after the fighting is done, and slaughtering whoever’s left, or if they will merely provide a new defense for the đô thị after Drogon roasted most of the Lannister forces last season. Either way, these scenes are nothing except mostly an excuse lớn offer a showcase for the ever graceful malevolence of Queen Cersei.

Able to convey more wickedness with the slight shift of position in her smirk than a thousand blockbuster movie villain monologues, Lena Headey’s performance of Cersei remains a tremendous asset in subtlety for the series. Unfortunately, she’s left merely to lớn play off of Euron Greyjoy, who seems increasingly like a character who accidentally got lost while headed for the sets of Starz’s defunct Spartacus series. All bellicose one-liners và double entendres, Euron is an R-rated cartoon who awkwardly seems lớn be trying to lớn fill the hole left by first Joffrey & then Ramsay as the character audiences are meant to hate. If he’s hateable, it’s for the wrong reasons.

At least his buffoonish strutting gives us some needed insights into Cersei Lannister’s current mindset. For starters, it’s obvious she still savors an arrogant man, and Euron has that in spades, more so than post-season 4 Jaime’s newfound nobility. Also, unlike the Cersei of the novels, Headey’s Mad Queen has seemingly remained relatively faithful lớn her twin—or at least as faithful as practicalities allow. Yet tonight she takes Euron into her bed, much lượt thích Robert was wont to vì with the many mistresses Cersei deemed his “whores.”

It would seem she really is severing all ties with the rest of her family, & Tyrion is not the only Lannister brother she wishes Bronn lớn murder with a new bow. For while Bronn is relegated khổng lồ some season 1 levels of gratuitous sexposition, the subtext is all about Cersei’s state of mind. I predict that Bronn will not even come close to using the same crossbow Tyrion held khổng lồ slaughter Tywin unless it appears like Cersei has the upper-hand (which would be very bad news for Daenerys’ dragons), but Cersei has placed Jaime in the same boat as Tyrion. She views him as equally culpable for their father’s death as the brother who pulled the trigger, và it would appear she is not thinking about the future of her house since the idea of Euron impregnating her with a prince catches her fleeting curiosity.

With a glass of wine in hand, likely the same type vintage she refused in the presence of Tyrion during the season 7 finale, it increasingly appears dubious that Cersei is actually pregnant. If she is, Euron certainly did not notice, & if she isn’t, it would seem her sudden teetotaling posture was a ruse not just khổng lồ keep Jaime in her bed, but also Tyrion’s guard down. Which raises the question of what else did Tyrion và Cersei discuss when the camera cut away from him falling into her trap?

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But lest this reviews appear lớn be nothing but a slew of critiques (or nitpicks if you prefer), everything that occurred at Winterfell was, again, narrative & cathartic gold of greater worth than Casterly Rock. Clearly intended lớn be the hour of reunions, the first episode of season 8 had many familiar faces và scene-partners facing off once more. A special highlight was Sansa Stark bumping into her first husband. Despite sitting before the same royal hearth in Winterfell’s Great Hall, the two do not truly chia sẻ the screen until Tyrion approaches the Lady of Winterfell khổng lồ congratulate her on the loftiness of her title.

She returns the favor to lớn the Hand of the Queen. What’s intriguing about these two is that when we last saw them, she was as much a student of Tyrion’s sharp-tongued cunning as she was his hostaged child bride. Now an adult, it is Sansa who enjoys the sharp words. When Tyrion recalls Joffrey’s wedding as a “miserable affair,” Sansa dryly muses, “It had its moments.” One wonders if Tyrion really is so getting on in years that he could not properly appreciate such a jape. Then again, he’s in awe of the young woman who he notices is thriving after many, in fact all except for himself, wrote her off as a flighty fool in King’s Landing. Those doubters are all dead this cold morning, except for Cersei—a queen Tyrion has invited lớn Winterfell. He genuinely should be in awe of Sansa though, as she’s the first to lớn anticipate the fact that the Lannisters are not coming (at least as friends). She calls herself a slow learner, but she did learn, and lượt thích Littlefinger warned, “Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind.”

But if Tyrion’s trip down memory lane with Sansa is understated, that is nothing compared to lớn how the Hound receives Arya. Standing by Gendry, he seems to lớn be the first khổng lồ recognize the child who left him lớn die on the side of a hill. His gruff attempt khổng lồ feign indifference betrays how hurt he still is by Arya’s abandonment. It also allows Gendry a chance for a genuine meet-cute with the Baratheon bastard she knew in a different life. As the warmest và genuinely most wholesome moment of the night, it is Gendry instead of Jon who brings out some of Arya’s youthful girlish charm when he begins referring khổng lồ her as “milady” & deadpans that she’s like every other rich girl. The smile Maisie Williams intones is infectious. Clearly meant to lớn launch a thousand memes, the moment suggests that more than the Dragon and the Wolf, Robert’s dream of uniting the Wolf & the Stag is the most tangible “endgame” shipper’s delight on the horizon.

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This seems all the truer after the most important reunions turned out khổng lồ involve the burden of knowledge carried by one Samwell Tarly. The first begins amusingly enough with Daenerys Targaryen coming lớn thank Sam for saving Jorah Mormont’s life. Ser Jorah, with few lines, looks lượt thích the mèo who swallowed the cream just khổng lồ be pleasantly back in the friend zone, albeit now with a lifetime’s highest seat of honor. Sam, ever the nerd, even uses this golden opportunity not to lớn ask for a pardon from the Night’s Watch though, but a pardon for stealing a handful of books from the Citadel. Things, sadly, then take a sudden sharp turn when Daenerys realizes that Samwell Tarly is the son of Randyll Tarly & brother to Dickon Tarly, two men she sentenced khổng lồ death.

Not enough credit is given to lớn John Bradley. Often relegated lớn the comic relief, Bradley & Sam remain a lighthouse-sized beacon of optimism in this dreary world. Its importance is evident from the way in which we witness it evaporate in a long close-up as he attempts (and fails) khổng lồ swallow his tears, his rage, and his confusion at the revelation that the happy young woman in front of him basically murdered his family. He might’ve hated his father, but lớn learn the old man was consumed in dragonfire after surrendering to the rồng Queen is no endearment. Suddenly, Dany’s show of strength in season 7 looks to be a major weakness and fallibility in season 8. George R.R. Martin would be proud.

This contrast is underscored when Bran forces Sam to lớn only then reveal their findings khổng lồ Jon Snow: You are Aegon Targaryen, the Sixth of Your Name. So it is that, perhaps to all’s surprise considering they were only separated for a season, Sam và Jon tóm tắt the most heartfelt embrace. At that moment, Jon is trying lớn keep his head entirely in the trò chơi about the trắng Walkers. They are the existential threat of nature that is coming as sure as a hurricane. Và yet, if the world does not end, there will still be troubles in it, & in classic Game of Thrones fashion, it is not in the forms we expect or want.

As Sam utters repeatedly, Jon Snow is the one true King of the Seven Kingdoms. If Daenerys’ claim on the Iron Throne is legitimate, then Jon’s is even more so. That this is unveiled in the crypts of Winterfell is a visual stroke if brilliance. As Jon grapples with the childhood-shattering truth that Ned Stark lied to lớn him, it is in the shadow of his actual mother’s grave. For all these years, the mother he yearned khổng lồ know about rested beneath his feet, and he had laid his eye’s on her stony countenance (or at least its approximation) more than a thousand times. It will likely be mở cửa to debate which is the bigger sense of horror: learning that your father lied to lớn you about your parentage or khổng lồ know that you’re destined to lớn be drawn into another line of political machinations for control of an accursed land?

Never has a man looked more sorrowful to lớn hear he’s the chosen one than Jon bloody Snow. It was likely as much a relief as an act of love when he surrendered his crown lớn Daenerys; he never wanted to be Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, nor did he want lớn be King in the North. Now he has leadership thrust on him again, và by a dear friend who is only too eager to lớn push it. Surely Jon Snow wouldn’t have roasted his father alive! Surely Jon Snow will mix things right when he takes his place as the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms! The likelihood of Sam keeping this secret is next to lớn none after learning his family is ash. As Sam notes, Jon gave up his crown for the safety of his people, but would Dany?

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I suspect we all know the answer to that given the Khaleesi’s savior complex & outspoken sense of manifest destiny. However, just as crucial as Sam’s question is one posed rather open-endedly by Sansa earlier in the premiere: Did you bend the knee to lớn save the North or because you love her? Arya called her sister the smartest person she knows, & she just might be since she vocalizes what actually happened. After Dany saw the threat of the white Walkers, and after they slayed sweet, poor Viserion, she was all-in on defeating the True Enemy before worrying about Cersei Lannister. Jon gave away a kingdom he didn’t need khổng lồ out of love.

Now that love is going khổng lồ face its greatest challenge with the knowledge that Daenerys is his aunt, và he is a trueborn Targaryen. She is also an aunt whose sense of entitlement is turning to iron against Jon’s sister-cousin, Sansa. Sansa has shown Dany every courtesy, not more or less, but it’s proven khổng lồ be little enough to lớn a queen used khổng lồ being adored. The North will be loathed lớn hear the truth of Jon’s parentage. When that gets out, and if she makes moves against the Lady of Winterfell, the number of bannermen abandoning Winterfell before the Dead’s arrival (or after it) might only grow when it’s discovered a Targaryen gave away the North’s autonomy to a close relative.

These are the conflicts that truly phối the mind afire, even when juxtaposed by the sight of an actual Wight-child burning bright on Last Hearth’s wall. It is also the center of season 8’s most fascinating intrigues within Winterfell’s snow-topped walls.

As a premiere, these events allowed Game of Thrones’ season 8 opener khổng lồ mimic all the previous seven: a lot of exposition và catching up with beloved characters. But for the first time since season 1, they’re catching up with each other in the old familiar places. That sense of pervasive nostalgia is intoxicating và as wistful as a wintry breeze. When we’re with the Starks—any of them, including Jon Snow who will always remain Ned’s son—it is irresistible & even poignant. Yet there were moments tonight where we left the Starks or their home, be it by sea or dragon’s air, & when that happened, the narrative contours of a George R.R. Martin-less plotting felt strained, or even ridiculous if Euron was involved.

As a whole it was a satisfying season premiere, but not quite the blockbuster that a final season promises. An excellent episode of television, season 8 still started with something missing, & I don’t mean just the spectacle. There is of course plenty of room for the rest of the series to reveal its true royal divinity, but hopefully that will be soon considering there are a meager five episodes of Game of Thrones left. Ever. Luckily, the promise of a heart-to-heart between Jaime Lannister and Bran Stark is as riveting as any ice zombie. Seriously, that brief tease of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s face is one for the meme-ing ages.

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David Crow is the Film Section Editor at Den of Geek. He’s also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. Read more of his work here. You can follow him on Twitter

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