Winter is here and secrets are out on Game of Thrones! Here’s our recap of the season eight premiere, “Winterfell”!
“Winterfell” kicks off the final season of Game of Thrones with several key reunions we’ve been waiting for and drops the big reveal from the start. The premiere opens with new opening credits, symbolizing the new history being written as our story comes to a close this season.
In the one spire, you can see a depiction of the Red Wedding and on another what looks a dragon burning the caravan in “Spoils of War”. The credits also seemingly follow the Night King’s march south from the Wall through Last Hearth and into Winterfell. King’s Landing is also shown in a shiny new pop-up.
For the last seven seasons, history has been written in Westeros, and we’re seeing it depicted on screen. This leaves me very optimistic about Sam’s future beyond season eight. Someone has to tell the story, and why not the (soon-to-be) Maester who has been there for it all?
“Winterfell” takes place in four locations, but the two main ones are Winterfell and King’s Landing. There are small stops with the Greyjoys and at Last Hearth, as well.
Let’s go opposite of the credits and start in King’s Landing and work our way north, shall we?
The only Lannister in King’s Landing is Queen Cersei, first of her name, lover of wildfire, and in seriously deep shit.
When Qyburn tells her that the dead have broken through the wall, she says, “Good.” She watches as Euron returns with the Golden Company, led by Harry Strickland, then greets them in the throne room.
It turns out they couldn’t bring the elephants on the land sea voyage, and Cersei is pressed about this. Why? I’m not sure. Were these special elephants? Did they fly? Breathe fire? If they did none of those things, they didn’t stand a chance against dragons.
Cersei is grasping at straws, and it shows when she tries to turn down Euron’s advances.
“As a true friend and an honored guest, I was hoping we could talk in private.”
“After the war. That was our agreement.”
“Wars sometimes last years.”
“You want a whore, buy one. You want a queen earn her.”
“How? I’ve given her justice, an army and the Iron Fleet, yet she gives me no sign of affection. My heart is nearly broken.”
“You’re insolent. I’ve executed men for less.”
“They were lesser men.”
Then she lets him in her room and they have sex! What is this woman thinking?
Honestly, I believe that Cersei is scared. Jamie’s gone, and I don’t believe she’s pregnant any longer. When Euron tells her that he’s going to put a “prince in her belly” before he leaves, she tears up before drinking her wine.
Last season, she wouldn’t touch wine, and that’s how Tyrion knew she was expecting. Did she lose the baby, and is hoping that Euron will actually get her pregnant? I know Cersei doesn’t like Euron. She tolerates him, and it may excite her that he talks back to her. This is the woman who blew up the Sept of Baelor. She doesn’t cower, but in that moment when Euron leaves her room, I feel like she knows her options are limited.
While Euron is entertaining Cersei, Theon and the men from the Iron Islands attack the ship holding Yara. Theon manages to get her out of her ropes, and when she’s free, she headbutts him, then helps him up.
They get away from King’s Landing, and the plan is to return to the Iron Islands since Euron can’t defend them with this ships and men in King’s Landing, but Theon mentions Daenery’s going north.
“We can take our home back.”
“Daenerys went north.”
“Daenerys will need somewhere to retreat if they can’t hold the North. Somewhere the dead can’t go.”
“You’re my queen. I go where you command.”
“You want to go to Winterfell. To fight for the Starks. Go.”
Theon has made amends with his sister, and now he goes to make amends in the north. I have a feeling that Theon Greyjoy won’t be returning from this trip, and it would complete his redemption arc.
Also in King’s Landing, Bronn is having a little fun time with three ladies, when Qyburn again pops up with some news. It seems that Cersei has a job for Bronn to do that no other soldier can…
He hands Bronn the crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin Lannister, and says:
“Our queen’s brothers are unlikely to survive their Northern adventures, but in the event that they do, she has a keen sense of poetic justice.”
“That fucking family.”
“When the Citadel expelled me, I thought I would die poor and alone, but in exchange for my service, Queen Cersei made me her Hand. What would she do for the man who rids her of her treasonous brothers?”
Y’ALL. Cersei did tell Jaime to never betray her again, but this it TOO MUCH. Bronn will never turn his back on Jaime and Tyrion. I don’t care how much gold he’s getting.
Situations are falling apart in the south, so let’s move north.
The parallels between the first episode of the series “Winter is Coming” and “Winterfell” are strong. The episode actually opens with a young boy trying to get a good view of the army marching toward Winterfell, and Queen Daenerys. In his journey for a better view, he passes by Arya Stark, who watches her brother ride in beside the Queen. In the pilot episode, it was young Arya trying to see the Baratheons arrive.
During the marching of Daenery’s army, we see the people who live outside Winterfell watching them doubtfully. Jon tells Dany that he warned her they wouldn’t be accepting, and when the dragons fly over, scaring the townspeople, she smiles.
I’m telling you, this woman needs to learn she has to earn respect. She’s not going to gain it by stomping in and acting like she a savior. The North is proud, and they don’t want to give up their freedom to a Queen they don’t even know.
When they arrive inside the gates of Winterfell, the first reunion happens between Jon and Bran. We’re sort of use to Bran’s “three-eyed raven-ness” now, but Jon is most definitely not. When he says that Bran is a man now, he replies with “Almost.”
Next Jon hugs Sansa, and then he introduces her to Daenerys. This reception is frosty af, especially considering Daenerys tries to flatter her with a comment on her looks. The same thing Cersei did when they first met at Winterfell.
“Thank you for inviting us into your home, Lady Stark. The North is as beautiful as your brother claimed, as are you.”
“Winterfell is yours, Your Grace.”
Bran quickly speaks up and tells everyone there’s no time for this nonsense. The Night King has one of Daenery’s dragons, and they’ve broken through the wall. This leads to a talk with all the lords and ladies in the north.
First up, Lord Ned Umber, who pledged his loyalty to Jon in S7, is back. He’s still a boy and asks for more horses and wagons for his people. Sansa tells him that they’ll send as many as they can spare and he needs to go home to Last Hearth and bring his people to Winterfell.
Then my favorite, Lady Lyanna Mormont, stands up and gives Jon a dressing down.
“Your Grace? But you’re not. Are you? You left Winterfell a king and came back a I’m not sure what you are now. A lord? Nothing at all?”
“It’s not important.”
“Not important? We named you King in the North.”
“You did, my lady. It was the honor of my life. I’ll always be grateful for your faith, but when I left Winterfell, I told you we need allies or we will die. I have brought those allies home to fight alongside us. I had a choice, keep my crown or protect the North. I chose the North.”
I mean, it’s noble of Jon, but being honorable usually gets Stark men killed, sooooo…
Then Tyrion tells everyone that they have Jon to thank for having the greatest army to every live on their side, and two dragons. He tops it off, by saying that Queen Cersei is sending Lannister troops north to fight with them. At all this, Sansa has finally had enough.
“May I ask, how are we meant to feed the greatest army the world has ever seen? While I ensured our stores would last through winter, I didn’t account for Dothraki, Unsullied and two full-grown dragons. What do dragons eat, anyway?”
“Whatever they want.”
I don’t know what Daenery’s has been drinking, but we don’t talk to Sansa Stark in thinly veiled threats.
In a masterful move, Game of Thrones has kept all of the characters we like a part from each other this whole time, and now that they’re together, we seeing who our favorites truly are. I (Katie) am not having any of Daenerys’ attitude and “bend the knee” bullshit in regard to Sansa. I’ll be honestly, I didn’t expect to feel this way so strongly either.
After this confrontation, we get a brief reunion between Tyrion and Sansa. She apologizes for leaving Joffrey’s wedding so suddenly, and she makes a joke about his wedding.
“It had its moments.”
Sansa made a joke about Joffrey’s death, and I cackled.
She goes on to tell Tyrion that she can’t believe that he trusted Cersei when she said she’d send soldiers.
“Cersei told you her army was coming north to fight for you?”
“And you believed her?”
“She has something to live for now. I believe she wants to survive.”
“I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.”
Yeaahhhh, I don’t understand why everyone is taking people at their words now. The whole point of this show has been never trust anyone, and at least Sansa and Arya are still holding true to that. We see this in the next reunion between Jon and Arya.
“Where were you before? I could’ve used your help with Sansa.”
“She doesn’t like your queen, does she?”
“Sansa thinks she’s smarter than everyone.”
“She’s the smartest person I’ve ever met.”
“Now you’re defending her? You?”
“I’m defending our family. So is she.”
“Yeah. I’m her family too.”
“Don’t forget that.”
I’m so happy that they’re together again. This is the one I’ve been waiting for since Arya turned around in S7 to go to Winterfell instead of King’s Landing. I keep wondering about the “Don’t forget that.” line, though.
We didn’t get to see Bran talk to them about Littlefinger last season to keep the surprise, but has Bran told Arya and Sansa something about Jon? Will he choose Daenerys over them?
Later, Jon and Sansa meet again, and she tells him that Lord Glover will not be returning with soldiers. She tells him that the lords of the north pledge their allegiance to him not Daenarys. Jon tells Sansa that he believes she’ll be a good queen, and Sansa asks:
“Did you bend the knee to save the North or because you love her?”
Jon doesn’t answer.
During all this, Arya manages to reunite with two old friends. Gendry and the Hound. I’m convinced that this is as close as the Hound will ever get to to telling Arya he’s proud of her.
“I heard you were here. You left me to die.”
“First I robbed you.”
“You’re a cold little bitch, aren’t you? Guess that’s why you’re still alive.”
Then she gets to talk to Gendry, and I’ve been shipping this for so long. I know they met when she was younger, but I knew that one day, this would happen, and the flirting is precious!
Arya wants Gendry to craft her a special weapon from dragon glass. He asks her why she needs it, and it appears to be a spear. She wants to know if he can make it or not. When he points out her Valyrian steel sword, I melted into a puddle at the exchange.
“I always knew you were just another rich girl.”
“You don’t know any other rich girls.”
“Winterfell” gets very gloomy from here.
Daenerys goes to visit Samwell and thank him for saving Jorah. She finds out quickly that he’s a Tarly and has to tell him that both his father and brother are dead. This devastates Sam. He even cries for his father, who treated him like crap. We do get to see Daenerys come face-to-face with her own impulsiveness. Tyrion warned her about killing Dickon Tarly, but she didn’t listen.
After Sam runs from the room, he spots Bran across the courtyard.
“What are you doing out here?”
“Waiting, for an old friend. It’s time to tell Jon the truth.”
“No, no. You’re his brother. Shouldn’t you tell him?”
“I’m not his brother. He trusts you more than anyone. Now’s the time.”
WHOA LAWD. The following scene has Sam in the crypts with Jon. They reunite, and Sam asks if Jon knew about Daenerys executing his father and brother. Jon believes that in war these things happen, but Sam doesn’t believe that. Then he barrels into what he came here for and drops a bombshell on Jon.
The truth of his parentage.
“You’ve also spared men. Thousands of wildlings when they refused to kneel.”
“I wasn’t a king.”
“But you were. You’ve always been.”
“I gave up my crown, Sam. I bent the knee. I’m not King in the North anymore.”
“I’m not talking about the King in the North. I’m talking about the King of the bloody Seven Kingdoms. Bran and I worked it out. I had a High Septon’s diary. Bran had whatever Bran has.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your mother was Lyanna Stark, and your father your real father was Rhaegar Targaryen. You’ve never been a bastard. You’re Aegon Targaryen, true heir to the Iron Throne.”
Jon tries to deflect by saying that his father, Ned Stark, was the most honorable man he ever knew, and that he couldn’t possibly have lied to him his whole life. Sam reminds him that Robert would have murdered him had he known, and Ned did it to keep his promise to Lyanna: keep her son safe.
“You’re the true king. Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name, Protector of the Realm, all of it.”
“Daenerys is our queen.”
“She shouldn’t be.”
“It’s the truth. You gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Womp there it is! Daenerys would never give up her crown the way Jon did. Also, he’s been getting with his aunt, and I think that might also have Jon a little off his game now.
Tormund, Beric, Edd, and others from the Night’s Watch and Free Folk explore the Umber castle, but they find no one alive. The Night King and his army have already been through, and he’s left a lovely surprise.
Little Lord Umber who was sent to retrieve his people has been staked into the wall with body parts all around him in a circular pattern. He comes alive again as Tormund stands with his back to him. Beric is there with his flaming sword and stabs him. As the fire spreads around, the imagine looks strangely like the Targaryen sigil.
The group decides is they ride the horses double, they may make it back to Winterfell before the Night King arrives.
Back at Winterfell, they’re bringing in the villagers to prepare for winter and war, and a cloaked man makes his way inside. Bran sits in wait as Jaime Lannister takes off his hood and looks around. His eyes go wide and he stands in shock as he sees the little boy he pushed from the window all those years ago.
P.S. I aspire to Bran Stark’s level of petty. Staying out all night, in the same spot, just to be the first person to lock eyes on Jaime Lannister to show him there’s no sneaking around Winterfell this time.
Two other very important things happen in this episode that need to be called out separately.
First, Jon rides Rhaegal while Daenerys rides Drogon. This is huge because only Targaryen’s are supposed to be dragon riders. It also begs the question why Dany doesn’t see this connection sooner?
Secondly, while Davos, Tyrion, and Varys are together, they discuss making a marriage alliance between Jon and Daenerys. Saying that the Seven Kingdoms have never been ruled by two good people before.
This may very quickly fall apart now that Jon realizes Daenerys is actually his aunt. It may also be doubly over because Daenerys isn’t going to be happy that someone else in line for the Iron Throne ahead of her.
What did you think of “Winterfell”? How are you feeling about Daenerys in the north and Cersei being alone in King’s Landing?
Let us know!
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9/8c.