This recap contains spoilers and reactions to the Game of Thrones episode “Winterfell,” Season Eight, Episode One .
Game of Thrones wasted no time in bringing characters together during the premiere of its eighth and final season. Episode One, “Winterfell,” featured the most significant interactions of all surviving characters since the first season. Watching these reunions (both expected and unexpected) fostered the most enjoyable Game of Thrones episode since the sixth season.
Season Seven concluded with Jamie Lannister riding to Winterfell, Cersei Lannister’s false promise to fight against the Army of the Dead, and the collapse of The Wall. For the first time since the show began, the primary characters and their armies headed towards Winterfell to end the story at the place where it all began.
The new Game of Thrones credits revealed just how much this season will be different. The frozen tiles and interior graphics of Winterfell and King’s Landing gave a sense that a show defined by wandering will finally be limited to two main locations.
The credits were not the only notable and exciting change to Season Eight. Ramin Djawadi’s music looped back to scores that were last used in the pilot episode. The music first played as Bran climbed to sneak a peak at Robert Baratheon’s entourage. In this episode, the homage replaced Bran with a peasant boy watching the Unsullied and Dothraki march into Winterfell. A lot has changed since that first episode, but the lingering tensions from the last seven seasons have not waned.
Game of Thrones Character Reunions
This was evident as Game of Thrones characters gradually reunited. Individual conversations brought to light just how much has changed in Westeros. Some of the reactions were heartwarming. Arya and Jon admiring each other’s swords and the Hound and Arya exchanging barbs was fun to watch as the stern characters shared rare light moments.
An unexpected thrill came towards the end as Jamie Lannister and Bran Stark glanced at each other. It was their first meeting since the Kingslayer shoved Bran from a Winterfell Tower in the pilot and kickstarted the war. Jamie, a humbled character who has evolved since he uttered his famous “things I do for love” line, is finally about to be confronted for his misdeeds. Even with the reuniting characters and the approaching Army of the Dead, his forthcoming trial poses for an incredible venting of Stark wrath. Not only will that be dangerous for Jamie, but it will also put Tyrion in a tough place.
A dramatic moment between Jon and Samwell Tarly featured two important developments. The primary conversation revealing that Jon Snow is a Targaryean and the true king of Westeros brought expected resistance from the former bastard.
It was more telling that Samwell did not take the death of his father and brother in stride. Despite the fact that there was little love lost between Samwell and his family, it is obvious that he was bothered enough by Daenerys’ decisions that it could pose as a development later in the season. Given Sansa’s resistance, the Northern welcoming committee for Daenerys is now colder than expected.
Bronn’s New Task
It is no secret that Bronn will do anything for money. His loyalty is only to his latest benefactor. It is a trait that has allowed him to rise from a skilled sellsword to nobleman. Cersei entrusting him to execute Tyrion and Jamie Lannister is a tough pill to swallow. The ethical conundrum of killing men who he has befriended is one of the biggest wildcards of Season Eight. However that story concludes, it will define a character who has become a beloved fan favorite since he first fought on Tyrion’s behalf near the Moon Door.
The Meaning Of The Night King’s Spiral
One fiery highlight of the episode came from the Night King’s spiral. The undead limbs surrounding the murdered Lord Umber was creepy enough until a pair of blue eyes opened and it was apparent that an ice zombie lurked in the castle’s great hall.
As cool as the spiral is, it was not until after the episode that I began asking questions about the meaning of the spiral to the Night King and Game of Thrones. Thanks to Twitter, shots of previous spirals made me aware that the show has a new mystery.
The reasons for the spiral add sudden layers to a threat that previously lacked depth. It now adds a shroud of mystery, fan theories, and reactions that will be fun to read. Since the mystery of Jon Snow’s father is finally out in the open, it adds another enticing watercooler debate. The spiral’s resemblance to the Targaryean sigil is my current favorite theory, although at this point the new debate trumps any other potential drama of the season. Because it is new and unexpected, the meaning of the spiral in “Winterfell” is the development that I am most looking forward to finding the answer to.