With the final season of the universally-loved Game of Thrones having kicked off on Sunday night to a record-breaking 18 million viewers on HBO alone, The Indiependent will be reviewing the episodes week by week, as we get closer to finding out who will grace the Iron Throne.
The first episode of the last ever season of Game of Thrones was simply titled “Winterfell” – a deliberately vague title reflecting how, well, not much happens. The episode was mainly expository, focusing more on reunions and recapping information and being very light on action.
The last time Game of Thrones was on our screens, Jon and Daenerys had fallen in love not realising that they are related, the Night King had reanimated Viserion and broken through the wall at Eastwatch, and Jaime had abandoned Cersei in Kings Landing to fend for her (pregnant) self. Fast forward to Sunday night’s opening episode, and Jon has returned to Winterfell with Daenerys, who has brought her dragons and unsullied and Dothraki armies with her, raising more than a few eyebrows. The setting is frosty and bleak, as are the looks Sansa keeps shooting at Daenerys. They quite clearly hate eachother, which doesn’t bode well for their new alliance. There are plenty of sweet moments, though: Theon (with his curls a-fluttering) rescuing Yara, a big smooch between Jon and Daenerys while her dragons watch like unimpressed voyeurs, Jon reuniting with Arya. The reunions were great and all, but I was feeling a bit stressed when Jon and Arya were babbling on about their swords when the BLOODY ARMY OF THE DEAD ARE CURRENTLY ON THEIR WAY TO END THE WORLD. Where is the panic, people?
Although the action was light, there were definitely a fair few oh-my-god moments: Jaime locking eyes with Bran (sorry, I mean the three-eyed-raven, as he can’t help reminding everyone) for the first time since he pushed him out of a window in season one; Bran informing everyone that the Night King has turned Viserion into an undead dragon and broken through the wall at Eastwatch; Sam finding out that Daenerys burnt his father and brother alive; Jon finding out, but seeming to refuse to believe, who his true parents are. To be honest, if you had just found out you were shagging your aunt, you’d be a bit shell-shocked – though it’s hard to tell his reaction when Jon Snow is doing his One Expression™.
We didn’t catch a glimpse of the army of the dead, but their presence was still felt. 10-year-old Ned Umber was found nailed to a wall, with limbs arranged in a terrifying spiral shape; the rest of house Umber are nowhere to be seem, presumably killed and then reanimated into wights by the army of the dead. The spiral, though, is perhaps a symbol or sigil for the army of the dead, and harks back to the symbols Jon shows Daenerys in the dragonstone caves in season seven, as well as season one’s very first episode when the night’s watch find murdered wildlings arranged in a particular pattern, and season three, where dead members of the night’s watch are arranged in a spiral at the Fist of the First Men. This recurring shape is no coincidence, and seems to be signalling something to come.
The episode was also definitely setting the scene for a romance between Arya and Gendry; she asks him to make her a weapon, but can’t help flirt with him in the process. She already has her sword Needle and a Valyrian steel dagger, so what could this new mystery weapon be for? Also, where was my queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Brienne of Tarth?
This is Game of Thrones, though, so it wasn’t all bleak, and included a couple of testicle-related jokes. It’s also quite hilarious how everyone is treating Bran like that weird eccentric cousin that you sort of have to be around whilst exchanging worried looks with the rest of your family. Euron, AKA Baddie of the Sea, manages to thrust his way across the throne room and, in his words, “fucks the Queen” – who then proceeds to drink wine despite her pregnancy. Although it seems quite un-Cersei-like to do this, maybe she is trying set Euron up as the father of her baby, for a reason that is yet unclear.
With the writers having used episode one to lay everything out for viewers, we can expect the next five to really start livening up – this is probably the last time we’ll be able to relax.
Words by Steph Green