**Warning! This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones, so if you have not seen it yet, read on with caution. Or better yet; go away and come back when you are better prepared 🙂 **
Finally, the wait is over! If you are anything like me, this year has been one long countdown to the final! season of, arguably, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Yet as my excitement for the last instalment builds, I also become more and more nervous about what the future holds. Will there be a satisfying ending or will it go the way of Lost? Thankfully, the first episode did a good job of easing my worries.
In typical first episode fashion, it’s predominant purpose was to provide a bit of a recap and set up the season ahead. While this sound simple and straightforward in principle; in true Game of Thrones fashion this episode still gave us a lot to think about. Here’s my thoughts on the episode, Winterfell, warning this is a long one.
Reminder: Spoilers ahead, read on with caution. You have been warned.
The Title Sequence
Not only has winter come to Westeros but also the opening credits, as the iconic title sequence has had a bit of an overhaul. As the main bulk of the story now only takes place in a couple of locations; predominantly Winterfell and Kings Landing, the need for the expansive map has gone and there is now a much more intimate feel to the sequence.
Rather than the original depictions of Westeros’ history, the central astrolabe now depicts key scenes of the events of the series; the destruction of the wall, the Red Wedding and the birth of the dragons.
However, the most interesting aspect of the new sequence is the representation of the progress of the Night King. Its going to be interesting and somewhat heart-breaking to see his progression down to, what I expect will be either, Kings Landing or the Iron Islands.
Throwback to Season 1
The episode was bookended with throwbacks to the very first episode, right down to the music choice.
First off, we see a little boy pushing through a crowd before climbing up to a vantage point in order to get a glimpse of the approaching Queen and her army, as Arya did for the arrival of King Robert. As Lady of Winterfell, Sansa echoes her father’s words “Winterfell is yours, Your Grace”, although admittedly with a bit more underlying hostility. Although given what happened to her family the last time royalty came to Winterfell, can you really blame her.
The end of the episode sees the arrival of Bran’s “old friend”, who turns out to be, none other than, Jaime Lannister. Bran is as unemotional as ever but the look on Jaime’s face as he locks eyes with Bran is priceless. Although, given the last time they saw each other, Jaime pushed Bran out of a window, nearly killing him, you can understand Jaime’s wariness.
Speaking of reunions, Bran and Jaime’s meeting was not the only one of the episode, in fact Winterfell is chock-full of them. For the first time since the first episode we have all the living Starks back in Winterfell, and they are joined by some old friends (?) that have been made along the way.
Jon & Bran – There have been some near misses throughout the series but officially, Jon and Bran were last seen together when Jon was about to leave for the Night’s Watch and Bran was recovering from that fateful push. Whilst Jon was thrilled to see his younger brother alive and well, Bran was a little more reserved, although it is difficult to say whether that is because Bran now has a permanent resting bitch-face or if it’s because he knows of Jon’s true heritage or some other reason that we are not aware of yet..
Jon & Sam – Compared to the other’s, Sam and Jon’s separation was short-lived but there reunion is important as Jon finally learns his true heritage, Aegon Targaryen rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms. It’ll be interesting to see how this will affect his relationship with Daenerys, if he tells her that is.
Sansa & Tyrion – As fraught as their relationship initially was, there seemed to be the development of some mutual respect and I genuinely believe that, given more time, they could’ve had a good marriage. Instead their reunion highlights a shift in the dynamic between the two, with Sansa coming out on top.
Theon & Yara – Theon redeemed himself by saving Yara from Euron but the most important element of this reunion is the potential for the future. Yara is going to reclaim the Iron Islands, and she makes the rather astute observation that they may be the only place in the Seven Kingdoms that the army of the dead can’t reach. We also learn that Theon will be heading north to Winterfell, but I think this will ultimately lead to his death. I predict that, in a interesting twist of fate, Theon will die protecting Bran.
Arya & Jon / Gendry / The Hound – It is a testament to the journey that Arya has been on, in that she has three reunions this episode. Firstly, we are reminded of the special relationship that she has with Jon Snow. He was the only one who didn’t expect her to be a lady and she was the one who truly looked at him as a brother. I loved their little sword swap too.
Considering he was on her kill list and she left him for dead, the reunion between Arya and the Hound was always going to be a little tense, but I’ll admit I thought that there would have been a little bit more warmth. Underneath the terse exchange, you can see that the Hound respects the fact that she is still alive. Arya, on the other hand, still looks like she wants to slice his throat.
The meeting between her and Gendry was all business, but with a sprinkling of flirtation. I have always thought that her and Gendry will end up together, so the little flirtations always make me smile.
Speaking of Gendry and Arya’s little business meeting, what is that the design for, and what purpose will it have in the episodes to come?
Sansa Vs Daenerys
First we had the Hound and the Mountain, then we had Margery and Cersei and now we have another fraught relationship; Sansa and Daenerys, whose instant dislike is definitely mutual. Sansa seems to have really developed an ability to read and understand people, and she has proven time and time again that Jon should heed her council more. But what gives me cause for concern is Daenerys’ not so veiled threat to Sansa, which Jon doesn’t even seem to acknowledge, as such is his infatuation with Dany.
The Night King’s Threat
The massacre at Last Hearth is pretty interesting for a number of reasons. First, what is the meaning of the symbol that he very creatively made out of severed arms? This is not the first time we have seen it, but it is the first time I have noticed it’s similarity to the sigil of House Targaryen.
Second, how was the Night King aware that the young boy was the Lord of House Umber? How does he have knowledge of both the leaders and the sigils of the houses? Does it have something to do with when he touched Bran’s arm? Is there now a shared knowledge? So, many questions.
Lastly, as much as I would’ve enjoyed rather seen Lord Glover pinned to a wall, this was a great opportunity to establish that Tormund, Ed and the others are alive and heading down to Winterfell. Look out Brienne, Tormund’s on his way!
So there you have it, my many thoughts from episode one. Seen it? Let me know what you thought.
Also, if you like predictions and fan theories, check out this post from fellow blogger, Cover and Character.