It’s exactly been 20 months since a new episode of Game of Thrones graced our screens. And the moment it premiered, we were all treated with unexpected reactions, questions answered, and soaring dragons.
Following the season 7 finale “The Dragon and The Wolf,” Game of Thrones Season 8 premiered with “Winterfell” that instantly transported us back to where it all started. And as we are all accustomed to having GoT produce a rather steady plot build-up especially for its first episode, this season took a different direction.
This episode already hit the accelerator button and delivered major plot developments. But even if that was the case and the runtime was only under an hour, it still captured the epic scope we all wanted. It also gave us the chills and left us dumbfounded—which, admit it, we all missed. So now, we take a deeper look and dissect some of this episode’s major highlights.
(The following text contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1, titled, “Winterfell.”)
The Pack Reunites
The great thing about Game of Thrones’ season 8 is that it is able to impeccably execute a circular narrative. Season 8’s first episode rhymed with the pilot episode. Cue a young boy running through a crowd and an entourage entering Winterfell. But more than this, the narrative also showed how far the characters have gone while keeping their heritage intact. (And in reality, many of the cast were literally kids back then such as Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead Wright).
So as the Starks are finally reunited in Winterfell (which is long overdue, honestly speaking), we witness the bittersweet reunion of Jon Snow with Bran and Arya Stark. The moment Jon arrived along with the huge entourage, he is welcomed back by Sansa and Bran. And if you’ll look at it closely, Jon greets his brother in the same way he bid farewell to him back in season 1 episode 2. How? With a sweet kiss on the forehead (accompanied by rather a dry humor).
Next is Arya and Jon’s reunion—which was by far the best. As the two reconnect at the Godswood of Winterfell, Jon saw that Arya still has the sword named Needle, which he gave her before he left to join the Night’s Watch. Later on, it was revealed to him that she was already able to use it twice (killing people), which is not an image Jon is accustomed to. Although this may, time is ever-changing and given that it’s been so long that the two separated, it’s actually a worthy moment for a hardened Arya to somewhat release her suppressed emotions.
Keep The Crown or Protect The North
The previous’ finale already confirmed the theory that Jon is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. This means that he is actually the true heir of the Iron Throne, not Daenerys Targaryen. However, as we were all pleased that the theory was right, we were shocked to see Jon’s reaction when Samwell Tarly broke the news. Because for Jon Snow, it seemed like R+L is equal to treason.
Ever the knight in shining armor, we all know that he never wanted to lead. Amongst all of the characters, he may be the one who has the littlest interest in ruling the Seven Kingdoms. And this episode showed us that once more. When Sansa accused Jon that bending the knee to Daenerys was a wrong choice, he reasoned that getting allies and having the dragons are the only thing that can make them stand a chance. Echoing what Jon said in front of the Northern banners, “it’s either I keep the crown or protect the North. I chose to protect the North.”
Although this may, upon looking at it closely, Jon Snow, being the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, can actually keep the crown whilst protecting the North. Since he has the blood of a Targaryen, he can still lead the charge. In fact, we already witnessed him riding and soaring the skies on a dragon. One big thing that could possibly hinder him is the Unsullied and Dothraki’s loyalty to the queen.
In this light, perhaps Tyrion, Varys, and Davos’s proposal is the best possible solution to this dilemma. Come to think of it, a wedding is the best course of action when it comes to forging a long-lasting alliance. And this isn’t far fetched, as we all witnessed that Daenerys and Jon got frisky in the frozen north.
Now, all things considered, the first episode remarkably served as a reunion. Not only by reuniting the heroes that may have seemed to be defeated at the start of the game that’s now rising up in arms, but also reuniting its avid viewers and fans with the feeling that the show never failed to make us feel.