Welcome back, my friends.
The day has finally come. After two long years, we’ve made it to the final season of Game of Thrones. Who’s ready for six straight weeks of anxiety and general despair, followed by a life-long hole in your heart where this show used to belong? Just me? Cool, cool.
There will be a lot of emotional introspection as this final season plays out, but I’d like to start by saying it’s been both an honor and a privilege to spend the last four years watching and recapping this show alongside you all, butchering the names of the characters and pushing my pro-Daario Naharis agenda alike. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and for only mildly berating me for not having read the books. It’s much appreciated.
Before diving in, I’d like to make one thing very clear from the onset here: in this house, we love and respect Sansa Stark. Any other opinion will not be tolerated. Thank you for your time and patience, can’t wait to see you in the comment section.
Our episode opens in Winterfell, on a young child who, for the shortest of seconds, I thought was Rickon. My heart nearly stopped, and we’re not even into the important stuff yet. Could you imagine wasting resurrection on such a useless character?
But no, the small child is a nameless citizen of the North, who has gathered, like the rest of Winterfell, to watch the arrival of Jon and Dany, looking like the most regal incestuous couple to roll in since season one, episode one, with the arrival of the Lannisters. You thought this would start slow? Fools.
The Hound and Gendry are in tow, and literally all of them ride by Arya without noticing her. Seems rude, but sure. Our two favorite queens, Tyrion and Varys, are sharing a carriage into Winterfell, like the incredibly high maintenance icons they are. The Unsullied follow, led by Greyworm and Missandei, who are just one of the four couples that I am hopelessly devoted to this season. I’m sure they’ll all make it through and live happily ever after and I won’t cry once. Let me have this.
All the Northerners in the crowd look skeptical to say the least because, as Jon reminds Dany, they aren’t big fans of outsiders. But that vague skepticism turns to outright fear once the dragons roll in, dramatic as ever.
Jon is way too excited to see Brann, not yet knowing that the kid who used to be his little brother now only speaks in riddles and has some truly tragic information to share with him in the near future. Dany comes in hot with the compliments for Sansa, which I would think are genuine if I was a naïve idiot who’d never been to high school.
Dany and Sansa: *attempting vague pleasantries despite openly disliking each othe*
Brann: WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SH*T
Brann informs everyone that the Night King has Viserion, he’s a full on wight-dragon, the wall has fallen, and that the army of dead are marching south literally as they speak. I get the urgency but, like, could the kid attempt social etiquette for ONE second.
There’s an immediate gathering of the Lords and Ladies of the North to establish a game plan, and we get about six seconds of cute from the mini Lord Umber before Lady Mormont starts calling Jon on his sh*t. Honestly, just throw her in the ring with the Night King and save everyone some trouble.
Lady Mormont: You left Winterfell a King and came back a…
Jon: …a man in love? With an army behind him?
Lady: a BITCH.
Jon, never one to pass up an opportunity for a Friday Night Lights-inspired speech, lets everyone know that he may have surrendered his crown, but he only did it protect the North. In doing so, he got them an army, two dragons, and a hot girlfriend/aunt for himself. What’s a guy to do?
Tyrion jumps in to defend him, which may have worked until he mentioned that the Lannister army was en route. While almost no one in the Seven Kingdoms are fans of the Lannisters, the North are especially not so. It makes sense, given literally everything that’s happened since the last time the Lannisters rode into Winterfell.
Tyrion and Sansa’s reunion after the mildly successful town hall isn’t as uncomfortable as it could be, all things considered. They touch on their last encounter at Joffrey’s wedding, and the almost unbelievable fact that both of them are still alive.
Tyrion: Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.
Me, crying on my couch:
Tyrion, against all odds, truly still believes Cersei and the Lannister army is coming to their aid, and Sansa is like “… are you for real? You? The smart one?”
Jon and Arya have a much kinder reunion at the Weirwood, which ranks in one of the most touching moments of the entire episode. In fact, the whole episode was fairly heartwarming, which leads me to believe that we’re all about to get absolutely wrecked next week.
Arya: How do you survive a knife through the heart?
Jon: I didn’t.
Arya: That’s that sh*t I do like
Jon asking Arya if she’s ever used Needle is kind of similar to the time my Dad asked me during college if I’d ever tried alcohol. There was some bad lying followed by a blanket understanding that we were all going to blindly accept the lie because it’s just better that way.
What none of us, including Jon, were prepared for was Arya standing by Sansa. My girls, finally coming together. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Jon: Sansa hates my girlfriend and thinks she’s smarter than everyone
Me and Arya, in unison: SHE IS.
Arya reminds Jon that Sansa is merely defending the Starks, or what’s left of them. It’s clear from this interaction, and many that follow, that while the Starks trust Jon, they’re not psyched about this newfound Queen. Surviving the White Walkers isn’t as exciting a prospect if it’s just going to be followed by another war for the Iron Throne.
Back in King’s Landing, we see Qyburn and Cersei, who are watching the approaching fleet from the Golden Company, led by the Dark Pacey Witter.
Qyburn: Hey, so, uh, the army of the dead have broken through the Wall.
Euron still has Yara prisoner aboard his ship, who he appears not only be beating but also using as a therapist. Men are really out here demanding emotional support no matter the circumstance aren’t they?
Euron: Yeah I’m gonna f*ck, Cersei.
Wow, I nearly forgot about the gratuitous sex scenes in this show until I had to watch Bronn have a disappointing threesome with three prostitutes who are clearly just trying to get in some good gossip. They’re interrupted by Qyburn, who’s come on Cersei’s behalf with a mission for Bronn: kill Jaime and Tyrion, with a crossbow no less, assuming they manage to survive the zombie war. It’s “poetic justice.”
Cersei commits her greatest crime since blowing up the sept by having the audacity to utter the phrase “You want a whore? Buy one. You want a queen? Earn her.” If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of thousands of white girls sprinting to their nearest tattoo parlor as we speak. Then she goes on to have sex with Euron, because if you’re going to f*ck up, you might as well go all in.
I constantly vacillate between despising this guy and being almost shocked into respecting him. He’s out here, carrying some chaotic Jack Sparrow of Westeros energy, asking a woman who’s been known to murder men on a whim if he’s better at sex than her twin brother. I won’t be sad when he dies, but I will enjoy watching him interact with people up until that point.
Cersei: You’re arrogant, insolent, you look like a dirty pirate….and I’m into it.
Euron: Nice let’s have a kid.
In a twist that none of us were dumb enough to actually believe would happen, Theon successfully, and discreetly, rescues Yara from Euron’s ship. She thanks him the only way this family knows how: by punching him in the face. Yara plans to re-take the Iron Islands, giving Dany somewhere to retreat to if they can’t hold the North. I have a feeling the first spot that she’s offering up is her bed, but I digress. However, she lets Theon return to Winterfell, knowing that he wants to fight alongside the Starks.
Back in Winterfell, Davos, Varys and Tyrion have a small pow wow to discuss the very real issue of the Northerners loyalty. Davos brings up, yet again, the fact that the North won’t trust Dany…unless she were to be married to Jon. Get you a friend like Davos–brings you back from the dead and secures you a hot and powerful dragon wife. Wingman of the century.
Meanwhile, Dany and Jon are discussing the loyalty of one Northerner in particular: Sansa.
Dany: Sansa hates me.
Jon: Okay, yeah, but she hated me for a while, too.
Dany: …no, you were supposed to say that she doesn’t hate me.
God forbid Sansa be wary of strange blond queen riding into her home, pretending to be her friend, and then taking advantage of her family. Not like that’s ever happened before or anything.
Dany lets Jon know that, much like every mean girl on every season of The Bachelor, she is not here to make friends. There’s a slight allusion to the fact that if Sansa can’t learn to respect her, something may have to happen, but they’re interrupted by the Dothraki before that horrible train of conversation can continue. Turns out the dragons hate the cold and are barely eating in protest. If only we all reacted to cold weather in the same way.
Watching Jon and Daenerys flirt while he learns how to ride a dragon is truly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. This is the only rom com I’ve ever needed. I can’t believe I’m twenty-seven years old and openly rooting for incest. What a time to be alive.
They arrive at a desolate waterfall, and proceed to make out as if the world isn’t ending in a week. Ah, young, familial love. The dragons are not as into this PDA as I am, reacting in a similar way as my coworkers did last Friday when we tried explaining the dynamics of this relationship to them.
My boss: So…they’re related. And you’re…into that.
Me: Yes but they’re in LOVE.
Arya, The Hound, and Gendry all reunite in the forges below Winterfell, where Gendry is busy making dragonglass weapons for an entire army.
The Hound: You left me for dead
Arya: And I also robbed you.
The Hound, visibly trying not to cry: That’s my girl.
After some flirting that melts both mine and Arya’s cold, dead hearts, she asks Gendry to make her a special weapon out of dragonglass. Winterfell is currently the set of a romance novel and I am LIVING for it.
Gendry, with literal hearts in his eyes: I always knew you were just a rich girl.
Arya: You don’t know any other rich girls.
Jon returns from his date only for Sansa to tell him that the Glovers have abandoned them, opting to stay in their castle and take on a zombie army alone rather than fight beside a Targaryen. An overreaction? Sure, but you have to respect their flair for the dramatic.
Lord Glover’s note doesn’t necessarily say that it’s because of the presence of Daenerys, but it doesn’t have to. Jon and Sansa finally have it out, her being upset that Jon relinquished his crown and Jon making the argument he’s been make for upwards of five years now: that none of this matters because literal zombies are coming.
Jon: Do you have any faith in me at all?
Sansa: …you know I do.
Jon: That was a lengthy pause but I’ll take it.
Jorah brings Daenerys down to the library to make his move introduce her to Sam, the man who saved him from grayscale. He’s also the man who knows she’s currently having sex with her nephew, but that’s a conversation for another time, I’m sure.
Dany wants to give Sam something for his service, and he asks for a pardon for stealing from both the Citadel and his father. This brings them to the awkward moment when Dany has to tell Sam that she roasted his father for refusing to bend the knee.
Sam: I’m a Tarly.
This is probably the first time that Dany has ever been confronted with the results of her…less than diplomatic methods. Sure, burning people alive who don’t agree with you seems like a good move in the moment. But having to tell their sons later, the ones who are actively fighting for you? Less awe-inspiring.
Sam, true to his brand, starts blubbering in front of Dany once he finds out that his brother was also part of the Tarly barbecue. He escapes outside only to find Brann, possible the least comforting person in the entire world.
Sam: Whatcha doing out here buddy?
Brann: Waiting for an old friend.
Sam: But…you don’t have any friends.
Brann decides that this is the moment that Sam must tell Jon about his true lineage. The guy just got some mildly traumatic news, but sure, why not go ruin his best friend’s life real quick. He finds Jon in the crypts below Winterfell, and honestly seeing Sam is the happiest Jon has ever looked. Even when he was banging his aunt. He truly loves him.
Sam goes with the tried and true method of bad news, immediately followed by even more bad news. He starts with the fact that Dany executed his father and brother and then railroads directly into “oh, by the way, you’re the King of the Seven Kingdoms.” He breaks down R+L=J in a matter of ten seconds, which seems kind of messed up considering it took all of us two years to come to terms with that news.
Jon: But my honorable father, Ned Stark, does not lie.
Sam: Jesus Christ, not this again.
Further North, Tormund, Beric, Edd, and what’s left of the Night’s watch find each other in the desolate and empty halls of the Umbers’ castle. It’s been ransacked by the Night King and his army, who left little Lord Umber staked to a wall as a message. Has the Night Kind developed a flair for the dramatic since last season? I don’t remember him leaving cryptic and ominous messages before, but adopting a dragon changes a zombie I guess.
The episode closes with a momentous arrival at Winterfell: our boy Jaime Lannister. I REPEAT. JAIME LANNISTER HAS ARRIVED AT WINTERFELL. Last time he was there he pushed a child out a window, so here’s hoping he follows it up with something even better.
I was hoping he’d immediately fall into the arms of Brienne, bringing all of my favorite couples into one very cold castle, but his welcome is, uh, far less romantic. Jaime hops off his horse and immediately comes face to face with Brann, who is in the same exact spot he’s been since Sam left. Turns out he was was waiting for an old friend.
Brann: *KILL BILL SIRENS*
Season one, episode one ended with this blonde asshole throwing this sweet child out a window, and here we are, seven seasons later, ending season eight, episode one with the two of them coming face to face for the first time since. Who would have thought we’d all be on Jaime’s side after all this time? In these moments I am reminded that beyond the gore and glory and generally terrible events that take place, this show can be poetic.
To Brann’s credit, he treats the guy who crippled him and effectively started his entire journey to becoming the Three Eyed Raven the way he treated his beloved siblings and every single other person he’s come into contact with this episode: with a weird vacant stare.
And that’s it, folks. Week one, complete. Our main characters are basically all together, our zombie army is uncomfortably close, and Cersei is thousands of miles away, continuing her lifelong trend of having sex with people she shouldn’t be having sex with.
What will next week bring? Despair, most likely. Can’t wait. See you all then.
Images: HBO; Giphy (4); Tumblr (2)