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)
Tonight’s Game of Thrones made me listen to the sound of a horse dying after having its leg sliced off on a burning battlefield and for that, if nothing else, I will never forgive them. The episode opens on the Lannister army in the Reach, marching home from Highgarden with hella money taken to pay back the Iron Bank. Cersei didn’t even need the two weeks she asked for because, you know, the whole Lannisters and their debts thing. It’s season seven. We don’t need to say it. Jaime is clearly upset. Getting your shit rocked one last time by the saltiest woman in Westeros will do that to you. Knowing that he has to tell Cersei that Olenna did in fact get the ultimate last word probably isn’t helping.
Bronn: Did the Queen of Thorns give you one last prick in the balls before saying goodbye?
Jaime: Uh yeah you could say that. *imagines his son dying by poison at her hands*
Bronn wants a castle. Instead, Jaime sends him with the Tarlys (aka Sam’s mean dad) to steal the harvest of local farmers to feed their armies. Not quite the same thing.
The episode will also end in the Reach and it will be FAR more interesting, believe you me.
Baelish is attempting some bonding with Bran in his ongoing attempt to be a weird stepdad/husband hybrid to the children of his unrequited love. Honestly, let’s see this man attempt to win over Arya. Petyr gives him the dagger that was used in the attempt on his life back in season one, the very event that started the War of Five Kings and got everyone into this mess.
Baelish: This dagger made you what you are today.
Bran: Okay well first of all, fuck this dagger.
Petyr very much knows that Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven, or at the very least that he’s seen some shit. You can tell he’s already trying to figure out how to get his proximity to the Jaden Smith of Westeros to work in his advantage, but is interrupted by Meera. Remember her? It’s cool, Bran doesn’t either.
She’s come to tell him that she’s finally going home, and if she was hoping for any sort of emotional response to that news she is sorely out of luck.
Meera: Well you don’t need me anymore…so I guess I’ll go home.
Bran: You’re right, I don’t.
Meera: Okay no, that’s not how that conversation was supposed to go.
Meera reminds Bran of the long list of people who have died for him to become the Three-Eyed Raven, and with one of his now trademarked cryptic messages about existence.
Bran: I remember what it was like to be Brandon Stark, but I’m not him anymore.
Three-Eyed Raven? More like the Three-Eyed Fuckboy. Bran was one second away from telling Meera their relationship “wasn’t that serious” and they’d never agreed to be exclusive. You can give a man all-knowing powers and he’d still have no clue how to talk to women. SMDH…
More importantly, ARYA IS BACK.
She initially gets turned away from the gates of Winterfell by some idiot guards, who are no match for her in either intellect or fighting. They lose sight of her and immediately run to Sansa, who knows exactly where her sister would go: the crypts. No one in this family is known for their levity.
On a scale of Stark Reunions, this ranks above Bran but still so far below Jon. Would it kill these people to express emotion? It’s like watching myself reunite relatives I can’t stand at Thanksgiving.
Arya: Do I have to call you Lady Stark?
Sansa: Damn fucking straight.
Their conversation is shy and stilted, almost like they haven’t seen each other in seven years or something. Both are mere shadows of the girls they were when they were separated, hardened by time and suffering. This first interaction seems more like a time to size each other up rather than catch up on lost time.
Instead of bothering with small talk about their tortured existences, Arya gets right to the point: She’s a serial killer with a list of victims.
Sansa: What list?
Arya: I have a list of people I plan to kill.
Sansa: Okay honestly I know we’ve all been through some shit but can anyone just be like “Wow Sansa nice to see you.”
Pleasantries aside, Sansa lets Arya know that she’s not the only missing Stark to roll into Winterfell recently. They both head out to the Weirwood to find Bran, who musters up a semblance of a hug for this long-lost sister at least. Hey dude, last time I checked your arms still worked fine. *cough* fuckboy *cough*
Bran knows that Arya was about to head to King’s Landing to kill Cersei, at which point Sansa appears to finally come around to this list. Then he shows them both the dagger that Littlefinger gave him and hands it off to Arya. Sansa is immediately suspicious of anything that was gifted by Baelish, because she knows it comes with about 1,000 strings tied to it.
Brienne seeing the remaining Stark babies back together:
Baelish seeing the remaining Stark babies back together:
Brienne quickly recovers from her brief moment of sentimentality to embarrass Podrick in some training drills. Arya waltzes in and gives us all a brief, shimmering hope for a buddy cop spin-off starring her and Brienne when she asks for some personal training lessons. Sansa and Baelish watch from above, and it’s clear that Sansa is a little jealous that she has to share her bodyguard with another Stark girl.
The fight scene that follows is impressive, but what’s really notable is Littlefinger’s lingering glances on someone who isn’t Sansa. Either he’s impressed by Arya or sees another opportunity to manipulate the situation in his favor, but she’s having none of his knowing glances.
So, just to recap:
Jon: I rose from the dead!
Bran: I am an all-seeing bird person!
Arya: I’m a faceless child sword prodigy.
Sansa: I’m like, meaner now?
Back on the set of everyone’s new favorite romantic comedy, Missandei is talking to Daenerys about her concern for Greyworm.
Dany: Wait, what did I miss.
Missandei: OH GIRL.
Jon interrupts, completely oblivious to girl talk, to show Daenerys their progress. Let’s just say, Sam really came through on this one. There is a fucking mountain of Dragonglass below Dragonstone.
Jon: There’s something else I wanna show you, your grace.
Me: THIS DICK
While not his dick, what Jon has to show Dany is still pretty impressive. Below Dragonstone, along with all the Dragonglass, are a bunch of carvings left behind by the Children of the Forest.
The carvings show that the Children and the First Men fought together against their common enemy, the White Walkers, much like Dany and Jon need to do. Let me just say that the cave drawings of the White Walkers are highly detailed for some hieroglyphics. It got the Night King’s cheekbones looking like they just sat through a Kim K makeup session.
Dany: I will fight for you. Will fight for the North.
Dany: When you bend the knee.
Jon: NOT DOPE.
Man, you could cut the sexual tension in this scene with a goddamn knife. Discussing allegiance by firelight? This is basically a first date by Westeros standards. Too bad Dany is probably Jon’s aunt. Though, considering we’ve all been trained to root for a twin-on-twin couple for seven seasons, I doubt the aunt/nephew thing will stop anyone.
Outside the cave, Tyrion and Varys are waiting with news to significantly dampen the mood. Davos and Jon being there while Daenerys found out that Tyrion’s strategy had lost her the last of her allies was like when your mom made you stand by while she wrecked one of your siblings, just so you knew that you could very well be next.
Daenerys: Maybe you’re not trying to defeat your family after all.
Tyrion: I came out to have a good time and destroy my sister and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now.
In a move that is only cementing their love in my mind, Dany turns to Jon for advice. She wants to fly her dragons directly to the Red Keep and burn shit down, but he tells her that doing so would make her just like every other shitty ruler that Westeros had ever had. Her victory depends on her making new, impossible things happen, not returning to the ways of her father and Cersei.
Later Davos tries to get into some good old boy talk with Jon about Daenerys, obviously forgetting that the King in the North is too busy constantly brooding and talking about the White Walkers for silly things like romance.
Davos: What do you think of her?
Jon: Idk she has a good heart, I guess.
Davos: Underneath some good boobs AYOOOOOOO.
They run into Missandei, who has some questions about Jon’s name. Apparently she comes from a place where bastards aren’t an issue because no one gets married. What a dream. When asked why she serves Dany, Missandei comes through like a true best friend should. She tells them both that Daenerys is their queen not because her blood, but because they chose her to be.
Missandei: She is our queen and we love her.
Davos: Listen up lady, no one loves anything as much as I love this angel haired grouch standing right here.
In that moment, their last remaining ally arrives on the shore: Theon and the men who saved him. You want to talk awkward reunions?
Theon: Hey buddy…didn’t realize you were here….
Theon is spared only because of his part in saving Sansa from the Boltons. He’s come back to Dragonstone to ask Dany to help him save Yara. Unfortunately, she is otherwise engaged in the most insane battle scene we’ve seen in a long-ass time.
Meanwhile, Back At The Reach
Okay so before we even get into the sheer dopeness of The Battle at the Reach, can we talk about how the show just introduced some hot-ass man named Dickon and then tried to distract us from the fact that there was a hot-ass man named Dickon by staging a battle? Jokes on them, though, because i would never forget a jaw this square. Never.
Okay, but back to the battle…
The Battle at the Reach is the reason we watch this show. It was beautifully shot and horrifying to watch and had viewers around the world weeping over the fate of a bunch of horses who honestly did not sign up for this bullshit. They don’t understand politics?? Can we just let them be??
This is the face of a man who knows he fucked up and the face of a man who knows he’s not getting a castle:
The Dothraki ride into battle the way my friends roll in the last bar of the night: Screaming and ready for fucking blood. It doesn’t matter how long Jaime’s armies have trained in combat, they don’t fucking compare to these wild creatures who came in screaming and standing on the backs of horses while they shot arrows into the faces of their enemies.
Dany: *finally rides a dragon into battle on Westeros soil *
It was wild. Words can’t describe. Can’t wait to get fired for rewatching this at work every day this week.
While the Dothraki were busy decimating Jaime’s forces, Dany was riding around on the back of Drogon and setting fire to all the wheat that had been collected to feed the Lannister army. You know what’s rough to watch? Men being turned to ash. Both Jaime on the field and Tyrion on the sidelines are visibly shaken. For men who usually sit in safety while other die for their cause, this was a firsthand look at what their war actually means.
Jaime: WE CAN HOLD THEM
What really made this scene intense was the fact that there are fan favorites on both sides, very close to death. Jaime may be a flawed guy with questionable loyalties, but he’s got a good heart. Bronn is one of the few sources of comic relief left in this show. Dany is riding around, armor free, wildly unaware that there is a weapon on the ground that could actually take her and Drogon down. Tyrion is in the vicinity of fighting which always just makes me nervous. I don’t want any of these people to die but, realistically, some of them are. Probably most, if not all of them. I hate this show.
One single Dothraki goes after Bronn like it’s his fucking job, and his efforts are rewarded by taking a dragon-sized crossbow to the chest. Qyburn’s secret weapon made its way to the battlefield, and when Bronn managed to get one shot off into Drogon I screamed as if my own mother had been stabbed.
Slowed but not stopped, Daenerys circled back around to light the weapon on fire before landing and attempting to pull a 12-foot javelin out of her baby’s neck. Tyrion and Jaime see her at the same time, and the former sits in near silent horror as he watches his brother race full steam ahead at his queen.
Tyrion: You fucking idiot.
Jaime: Hold my beer.
Drogon sees Jaime and stops being injured long enough to shoot an entire stream of fire at him. He is thrown from his horse at the last minute by someone who might have been Bronn, and both go flying into a lake. This seems like a good thing until you remember that the guy is wearing what’s gotta be 20 pounds of metal armor. The screen fades to black as he sinks and the credits roll in silence except for the sound of every person in the country hyperventilating at the same time.
Is Jaime likely alive? Yes. Will that stop me from having stress dreams about this moment until we have 100% proof that he survived? Absolutely not. There are only three episodes of torture left, which means we’re all going to be living with raging adrenaline highs for the next three weeks. Stock up on inhalers, friends, the finale is coming.