“Winterfell” returned us to where it all began, speeding through character reunions and setting the stage for the long-awaited cold season.
This Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 recap for the episode titled “Winterfell” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on last season by clicking these words.
It might be right in the middle of spring here in the UK, but there’s only one season anyone cares about right now: The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, and with it winter, which after almost a decade of waiting has finally arrived in Westeros. And where is a more fitting place to begin the end that where it all began in the first place? As the premiere episode opens, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arrive with their armies in Winterfell.
All the old faces are there. Sansa (Sophie Turner), hilariously described as “smart” at one point, is directing her red-headed fury at Jon for relinquishing his kingship, and at Dany for being a smoking-hot dragon-riding seductress who inevitably doesn’t have the North’s best interests in mind. Arya (Maisie Williams) is lurking, as ever. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is doing that thing where he creepily sits around and makes ominous prognostications. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) are worried that they’re too old for the young and beautiful magazine-cover king and queen, or perhaps that the king and queen are too young for the ancient conflict that awaits them.
It’s a lot. Winterfell scarcely has room for all these characters, and hardly any time at all for their reunions, some of which are long-awaited. Jon and Bran and Arya; Arya and the Hound (Rory McCann) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie); Dany and Jorah (Iain Glen); Jon and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). That having been said, Sam was actually given a fair amount to do. The first thing was to tearfully react to the news that Dany had his father and brother executed for refusing to bend the knee. The second was letting Jon know up-front about his true parentage. “That’s treason,” Jon whispered in horror. I think the word he was looking for was “incest”, but whatever.
I’d have liked a lot of this to have been spread out more evenly across a few episodes so that each moment had time to breathe, but it’s the final season, so what can you do? But perhaps Jon and Dany’s dragon-chaperoned date to a chilly winter waterfall could have been trimmed a bit so that we had a better sense of what was going on elsewhere. For instance, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) rescued his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan) while their deeply unpleasant uncle Euron (Pilou Asbæk) was busy bedding Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), and then it was decided Yara would take back the Iron Islands to give Dany somewhere to retreat to and Theon would go and fight for the Starks in, like, one really brief scene.
There’s just, and I believe this is a technical term, no time for pissing about this season. The Night King (Vladimir ‘Furdo’ Furdik) has melted the Wall and is marching south with his undead army and his new pet dragon; unless everybody can learn to love the queen in the north — or accept the idea of Jon as the rightful ruler of all the Seven Kingdoms — then the much-anticipated winter season is going to be briefer and colder than anyone imagined. All that can be said for certain right now is that it’s here. Dress appropriately.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.