This article contains spoilers for Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones...duh!
Did anyone else spontaneously climax when the opening credits started on the final season premiere of Game of Thrones, or was that just me? The final season is here, and in just six weeks we’ll know who who wins and who dies — as Cersei said eight seasons ago, those are the only outcomes when you play the game of thrones.
With only six episodes remaining, you may have thought that Thrones would waste no time getting to the action, but Sunday’s season premiere was mostly about setting up the season through some awkward reunions between characters who haven’t seen each other in ages — in some cases since the show’s very first episode. While of course we all want to get to the dragons, don’t forget that so much of what makes this show compelling is the relationships between these characters; on that front “Winterfell” did not disappoint.
We open — after a revamped intro, hello Iron Throne! — with Daenerys leading her army to Winterfell, and Jon Snow in tow. Westeros’ new incestuous It couple ride past northerners who are not feeling very welcoming until Dany’s remaining dragons (RIP Viserion) fly overhead. From the crowd, Arya spots the brother she hasn’t seen since they parted ways in season one but he fully ices her — rude.
Back at Winterfell, Jon and Bran have a touching reunion I honestly could care less about — Bran is a human plot device and I have no emotional investment in him — and Sansa welcomes her brother and his Targaryen baddie. They meet with House Stark’s bannermen (and women), who are not happy that the man they named King in the North has bent the knee to the queen. Sansa, ever practical, wonders how they’re supposed to feed the massive army and three dragons, and what do dragons even eat? “Whatever they want,” Daenerys answers. Nice.
Tyrion and Sansa’s reunion may not have been the most awkward or anticipated of the night, but it was one of the most satisfying. Tyrion acknowledges that many people underestimated the Lady of Winterfell, who was in many ways still a child when she was posted up in Kings Landing, and “most of them are dead now.” Tea. Sansa asks her ex-husband (weird) if he really thinks Cersei is sending an army to help them fight off the undead horde approaching from the newly-breached Wall. He insists his sister will help now that she’s pregnant and has something to fight for. “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive,” she responds, a detestating burn.
Finally we get to what is likely the reunion fans were most excited about, Jon and Arya, who haven’t seen each other since they both left Winterfell eight seasons ago. It’s a quiet but emotional scene, and not without tension. Jon is upset that Sansa is being shady towards his new boo, but Arya reminds him that their pack needs to stick together, and admits she’s used Needle, the sword he gifted her, “once or twice.”
Meanwhile in King’s Lansing, Cersei remains that bitch, gloating over the fall of the Wall and fuming over Euron Greyjoy’s inability to procure elephants for her army. But she’s not mad enough not to have sex with him when he pushes, and who can blame her? Euron could get these cookies. It’s clear that Cersei is prepared to let her enemies die and rule over whoever’s left — although that doesn’t include her brothers, who she bribes Bronn to kill with the very crossbow Tyrion used to murder their father. Family, amirite?
On a boat nearby, the Greyjoys have their own reunion when Theon rescues his sister before heading up north to fight for the family he betrayed. That’s nice and all, but I’m not committing to his storyline until he shows hole.
Back at Winterfell, Arya reacquaints herself with Gendry and the Hound as John takes off for a dragon joyride with Daenerys —- don’t they have more important stuff they could be doing? The couple find a scenic waterfall and decide to bone in front of it while Drogon watches like a perv (relatable).
Once they’re back home, Dany finds Samwell — who has just promised Bran he’ll tell Jon about his true parentage — and thanks him for saving Ser Jorah...and then telling him she murderer his father and brother. Oops! Samwell finds Jon in the Stark tombs and spills the tea eight seasons in the making: Jon Snow is Aegon Targaryen, son of Lyanna and Rharger and thus a king with a stronger claim to the throne than Daenerys, who is his aunt... who he’s been fucking. Game of Thrones: A Song of Dragons and Incest.
Off in a castle somewhere I can’t be bothered to search the name of, Tormund and some Night’s Watch brothers find a prepubescent Stark bannerman attached to a wall with a sword, an undead message from the Night King. She’s coming! And Jamie Lannister arrives at Winterfell the only to be greeted by none other than Bran Stark, the boy he pushed out a window at the end of the show’s very first episode, setting this entire mess in motion. Talk about awkward. Honey, this is the beginning of the end.
One episode down, five to go.