Recap of Thrones, S08 E01: ‘Winterfell’

Well after 594 Westeros-free days, Game of Thrones finally returns with a Season 8 premiere filled with reunions, revelations, and quite a bit of resentment. Could the showrunners recapture the magic of the previous seven seasons? Could they successfully pull us back into the story after leaving us cold and dark for almost two years?  Can I shake off 20 months worth of rust and do this recap thing again?  Find out after the break… (Spoiler Alert!)

The opening credits:

You can’t take anything for granted with this damn show, so don’t believe for a minute that the new opening doesn’t mean anything. The breach in the wall wasn’t just a reminder of what happened back in season 7, it was also a telegraph of things to come, as the flipping panels following the army of the dead moved right onto Last Hearth, home of the Umbers, and the first of the great houses to fall to the Night King.  It’s no small thing that the camera continued next to Winterfell, and if the coming attractions are any indication, King Frozone might be paying a visit as early as next week.

nightking
And he’s in a mood to redecorate

There were other subtleties in those opening credits that I’m sure I’ll be agonizing over and looking for hidden clues. The scenes in the rings of the astrolabe were notably short of living Starks, instead depicting a lot of dragons and some lions. The closest we had to dire wolves was the wolf-headed dead-man hanging from his neck, pierced by arrows, and a heroic figure holding a man’s head while a lion eats a fish (symbol of House Tully). This very much evoked Rob Stark’s execution in the Red Wedding and the siege of Riverrun. Are these just scenes depicting the past? Or do they indicate ill-tidings for our favorite pack, perhaps because of Jon’s ‘betrayal’ by bending the knee to the Dragon Queen?

Astrolabe Starks
nah….nothing to worry about here

And what to make of the additional detail, as we enter Winterfell and the Red Keep in the opening model? Is this symbolic that we’re going to get into the inner workings of these houses? Does the appearance of the scorpion pointed at the skull of a dragon (not to mean Bronn’s later boast about actually injuring a dragon) mean Dany is about to lose more children? No clue, but I have a feeling we’ll find out soon!

The North

Well, Jon’s back in Winterfell, and he brought friends, but very few people are happy about it. I loved the homage to the series’ first episode, as the young boy ran through the crowd gawking as the army came in. At first, I thought it was Rickon, being depicted via Bran-o-vision in flashback. But as soon as we see Arya, and she gave that knowing smile, perhaps thinking of when she was small and innocent and ran a similar route at a king’s entrance, you realized this was present day.

The focus on Arya during this entrance was perfect, and watching the conflicting emotions on her face as spied her brother…er…cousin – joy and fear and concern – pretty much echoed what every Northerner must have felt. It’s interesting, as she also watched The Hound and Gendry’s approach, how many key players she was involved with during her incredible arc from innocent to assassin, and what a key part she’ll play in the end game (at least I hope; I confess I fear for the deadly little moppet).

AryaS8E1
Though, she ain’t scared

The whole story in the North raised more questions then it answered, and seemed to spin too many plot lines to resolve in six episodes. What is the Night King’s infatuation with spirals, and who didn’t know that poor little Lord Umber was going to be turned into wall art by episode’s end? How are we going to handle Sansa’s (and really the entire North’s) reluctance to embrace her new queen, and said queen’s inability to understand that reluctance? What it could mean for the rest of the North weighs heavily (though I guess 100,000 dead men showing up outside their door might help mend that fence). Jon took the news that he was a Targaeryan (and the rightful king) about as well as could be expected, but do you think his aunt will? Or maybe the fact the dragons recognize him as one of their own will help ease that burden. And of course, the introduction of the Kingslayer into the mix brings in a whole other bunch of potential heartache, though I admit the revolving door of who killed whose fathers is getting a little tiresome.

JonDany
Just get married already, and you both can be king!

Kings Landing

With everything happening up North, it’s hard to forget there’s a whole other storyline happening at the capital. Cersei has her army, a taste for vengeance against Jaime, an army of 20,000, but no elephants. And with no one around to fight, not sure there are enough Bronn scenes to keep things interesting. I personally have no desire to watch Euron compare dick sizes with Cersei’s previous lovers for seven episodes. Even getting Yara back for an episode seemed hardly worth it, with a rescue scene that seemed way too easy, and probably only occurred so we could get Theon up north where he belongs.

jon and theon
Where he can finally admit to his long-time, boyhood crush…

 

Other Stuff

Kinda wondering if we got no elephants because we ran out of CGI budget, but I’d take that scene of the dragons flying over the canyons over a bunch of boring old pachyderms any day.

Last season’s timeline issues continued a bit, mostly around Cersei and the arrival of the Golden Company.  It should have taken months for Euron to fetch the Golden Company and Jaime to complete the journey up north. That little bun in the oven should be showing by now, but here she is, not only bumping uglies with the ugly pirate, but considering naming him her incest baby’s daddy. I know I should just make like Elsa and let it go, but man, it’s bugging me.

CerseiandEuron
What’s worse for the baby, alcohol or sleeping with syphilitic pirates?

The downward spiral of two of the most interesting characters of the early seasons, Tyrion and Varys, continues. Really, they seem to have no other task but to bicker like an old married couple, feel conflicted, and look dour. I’m certain at least one of them is going to die real soon (Varys), as much as I want to see Tyrion get his vineyard, it might be time for him to go as well.

You think having sex is difficult when there’s a dog or a cat in the room? How would you like to try with a pair of 60-foot dragons smiling down at you? If those big boys want a baby brother, they need to learn some boundaries.

Dragonlunch
Just the breath alone would knock out the mood!

So, here we are. One episode down, five more to go of the greatest show on earth. As usual, it left us with more questions than answers.  Can’t wait to see how they answer them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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