All aboard the Hype Train! Check out our 5 biggest takeaways from the Season 8 premiere, Winterfell!
Our MVP of the Episode: Samwell Tarly
Sam had back-to-back scenes of heavy lifting. First, he gets back pats from Dany as Jorah Mormont’s savior, but then she breaks the news that she executed his father and brother. (Jorah, did you… did you not tell her that Sam’s last name was Tarly?) Then, Bran tasks Sam with tell Jon about his real parents and ever the most honorable and trusted friend, Sam tells Jon about Jon’s real relationship to Dany.
Bigger than this is throughout the entire episode, everyone from Lyanna Mormont to Sansa is posing perfectly valid questions to Jon about Dany’s style of leadership and whether their alliance is the right thing- would she bend the knee to you? Is this because you think it’s what’s right or because you love her? It’s not until Sam poses these questions that Jon takes a step back to reevaluate everything between him and the Dragon Queen.
Sansa > Daenerys
Let’s get this out of the way- this is the North that we should have always have had throughout the series. This Norrth is wary of outsiders, sticks to their guns, and wants their own liberation. They are staunch Stark supporters, immediately distrustful of the Southern army passing through, and they don’t immediately bow down to the side they think is going to win. Fuck the North who signed over to Ramsay. Nope.
Anyway, the loyal North is fully represented in Sansa, who has become a trusted and well-respected leader in her kingdom in very confident in her responsibilities and delegating. She asks all the right questions, including what Jon’s intentions are with Dany, gives him great insight into how the North behaved while he was gone, and at least tries to get on the same page as Dany.
Meanwhile, Dany is still set on getting her way, charges into the North, smirks as her dragons terrorize people who already don’t trust her from overhead, and outright threatens to put their winter storage in jeopardy. Not the wisest move for someone aiming for a long term reign, and definitely not for a Targaryen, whose family has a long history of feuding with the Starks. Oh, not to mention, you know, her father burning Ned’s father Rickard, along with heir to the North Brandon, and supposedly her brother kidnapping Lyanna… it’s… totally fine Dany. Don’t act like you have to make up for any of that. Keep doing what you’re doing. She’s still acting like a little bratty conqueror. So much for trying new tactics and trying to unite people and work with them. I want to see her get really jealous of Sansa’s ability to rule confidently and democratically without any backlash from her people and acknowledge that Sansa is a better ruler. #TeamSansa!
Arya’s many different reunions
The most fan-servicey moments of the show came and went quickly, all in the form of reunions with Arya- she talks to Jon for the first time since the very first episode of the show, sees Gendry who she waved goodbye to in Season 3, and the Hound she left behind at the end of Seaosn 4. It’s dialogue that not only brought up memories of past (and better written) seasons, but also brought out those characters most loveable traits. Milady! Cold little bitch! The Hound is so paternal. Bless him.
Cersei is in pain
At the end of Season 7, Jaime leaves Cersei and in this season premiere, she willingly sleeps with Euron Greyjoy. It’s not because she likes him (I think it’s clear that she finds him absolutely repulsive), but because Cersei is on a very dangerous downward spiral. She doesn’t have anyone she is emotionally connected to, all of her children are dead, her lover has left, and she doesn’t quite know who she is or what the Lannister name stands for anymore. My theory for this is that she’s trying to at least declare a father for her supposed child and Euron makes sense in some ways. Ok. Done with Euron.
Game of Thrones has become Avatar
While Bran has warned us they don’t have enough time to bicker about who’s ruling what, he never said anything about a dragon ride! Dany takes Jon out to for a dragon ride reminiscent of Jake Sully’s animal bonding moments in Avatar and the wooing horse race from Tombstone. And the dragon riding scene was so terrible, that it might as well have been written by James Cameron. Even though it’s all supposed to be one strong hint about Jon’s Targaryen blood (only Targaryens have ridden dragons solo, or so we can assume), it serves as nothing more than a romantic getaway to make out a little and for Dany to drop a line that is extremely similar to Ygritte’s in Season 3:
Ygritte: I never want to leave this cave, Jon Snow. Not ever.
Dany: We could stay a thousand years. No one would find us.
This would be cute if you didn’t spend the entire series trying to shaft other people out of power, Dany. What are you going to do after uprooting their way of life and then leaving? Ever think about that?
Yeah, this scene reminded me of Ygritte. Those wounds are still fresh. I wish Jon’s face hadn’t been a gigantic smile, but rather, a fading one as he remembered what happened to the last woman who said she wanted to run away with him. A little bit of foreshadowing about how they’ll be driven to opposite sides and forced to fight each other? Probably. Probably should have shown that!
Episode’s Least Valuable Player: Yara Greyjoy
It hurts me to write this, but they’ve really ruined Yara. She’s saved by Theon, who has a pretty good arc going for him as he turns around to head “home,” but Yara’s just like, I’m retreating even though I serve Daenerys because… I followed her command, we lost one battle, and now I don’t serve… her… anymore. Huh.
It’s against exactly the code we know Yara for- her being good at her word and servicing what’s right even if it’s against what the iron born are traditionally known for. I’m excited to see what this brings for Theon and how this might evoke more memories of Ned, but Yara… man, you could have done so much more.