Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 Recap: Winterfell

Hi everybody! How’ve you all been? Feels like it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Probably because it has–nearly two years! I had time to buy a house, move to a new town, and create a whole other human being. And now, here we are in the very last season of GoT. I’ll admit, though the show definitely has its flaws, I’ll be really sad to see it go.

Now, apparently the episodes are going to be supersized, but this one was normal length, thank God. I quake at the thought of having to recap 90-minute episodes. This episode was also something of a slow burner. Not a whole lot happened, which is fine. This was a ‘catch up with everyone,’ where we were reminded of where many of the chesspieces were on the board and what the stakes are. Little blood was shed, but again, I’m ok with that. I needed to catch up a little.

So, we’ve got some new credits! Well, kind of. The old credits have been changed somewhat. Winterfell now looks a lot more wintry, and we get to dive into some of the location interiors (the throne room in King’s Landing, the crypt at Winterfell). And I believe all the families’ swords are featured, not just Ned Stark’s. We’re only concerning ourselves with Winterfell and KL this episode, so I don’t know how the other locations have changed in the intro, but I’m looking forward to seeing them now.

Let’s start in King’s Landing. Cersei is apparently all in on total destruction, basically welcoming the news that the Night King and his undead army have breached the Wall. She also tasks Bronn with assassinating her brothers and, for some reason, decides to start sleeping with Euron Greyjoy.

Euron acts predictably gross about the whole thing. About everything, really. I doubt he’ll last long, especially once Theon sets Yara free and they set sail with, presumably, a fair bit of the Iron Fleet.

Yara decides to head to the Iron Islands, which will be undefended with the fleet gone. She’ll secure them, and offer Dany a place to retreat, if she needs to. A place which, conveniently, the wight army can’t get to (they hate water, remember). Solid plan, Yara. Theon says he’ll go with her, if she wants him to, but she realises he really wants to go back to Winterfell and fight alongside the Starks. She sends him, with her blessing. Aww.

Jon arrives in Winterfell for a veritable reunions extravaganza

Up in Winterfell, Jon and Dany arrive with the dragons and the massive army for a veritable reunions extravaganza. Jon and his Stark sibcouslings! Arya and the Hound (chilly)! Arya and Gendry (cutely friendly)! Sansa and Tyrion (slightly awkward)! Jon and Sam (bromantically adorable)!

The northerners are not happy with this influx of new faces, even if it means they might not all get slaughtered or turned into zombies. Lyanna Mormont, of course, wastes not time in calling Jon out for accepting the King of the North title and then immediately going and bending the knee to some blonde chick.

Jon explains that alliances are necessary to avoid destruction, and Tyrion backs him up. But it seems they’ll have an uphill battle here, not least with Sansa, who is very unimpressed with Dany. I love how Sansa’s whole attitude now is ‘I have no time for anyone’s shit.’ I also love how her and Lyanna’s massive fur capes kind of mimic the broad-shouldered business powerwomen silhouette of the ’80s. These are women you do not mess with. They will metaphorically squeeze your balls until you give them everything they wanted, plus some diamonds and a Mercedes, just ‘cuz. There’s a lot of awesomeness here.

These are women you do not mess with. They will metaphorically squeeze your balls until you give them everything they wanted, plus some diamonds and a Mercedes, just ‘cuz.

And practicality too, because Sansa knows her business. She points out that they simply don’t have the provisions to feed thousands of extra people plus two dragons. ‘What do dragons even eat?’ she wonders, a little snarkily.

‘Whatever they want,’ Dany shrugs. Because she, too, is a ball-buster. She and Sansa exchange a look that is so fabulous I want it as a permanent gif on my desktop.

Feeding the dragons might not be such a big deal, since apparently they’re off their food. Dany’s worried, and tells Jon the dragons don’t like the north. Well, tough, dragons. Nobody likes to be cold. At least you can create your own source of heat. She and Jon take a joyride on the two remaining dragons and get a little alone time near a lovely waterfall.

Back at Winterfell, the various advisers are discussing next moves, and a possible marriage between Dany and Jon, to cement the alliance. Gendry is getting to work on the dragonglass weapons (plus a mystery weapon for Arya), and Bran, who is apparently now a completely emotionless automaton, is telling Sam it’s time to break the news to Jon of his true parentage.

Poor Jon’s a bit stressed and doesn’t quite know what to do. His Stark family has changed so much he can hardly get his head around it. When he tries to throw some shade on Sansa, Arya, of all people, shuts him down hard, driving home just how much the relationship between all these people has changed since those sweet, innocent days of season 1. The northerners are all mad at him for bending the knee, and now he knows that the Night King has Dany’s other dragon. It’s all a lot to deal with.

You know who else gets a lot to deal with all at once? Sam. Pretty much within the first few minutes of meeting Dany, he learns that his father was made the main course in her dragon barbeque. Sam’s like, ‘Oh, wow, that sucks. I mean, he was a dick, but he was my dad, so that’s pretty sad for me. But, uh, well, at least I’ll be more welcome at home, now my brother’ll be in charge, right? That’s something! Silver linings!’

Dany: ‘Yeah, I killed your brother too. Sorry-not-sorry.’

K, so, Sam heads down to the crypt, where he finds Jon and they have their cute reunion. And then Sam drops the bombshell about Jon’s parentage (and I have to wonder: is bigamy ok in the Seven Kingdoms? Because wasn’t Jon’s father already married, which would have made his marriage to Lyanna Stark unlawful and Jon illegitimate after all? Was there an annulment that we never heard about?)

While Jon’s processing that, Sam’s like, ‘So, can you explain to me why we should be falling in line with this woman? Is it just because she has dragons? Because, honestly, the way she uses them makes her seem like kind of a tyrannical psycho.’

Jon trots out his whole thing about alliances, but Sam has a point. Once this war is won and Dany has her throne, what’s to keep her from ruling just as horribly as her Targaryen forbearers?

Meanwhile, to the far north, it looks like the army of the undead has paid the Umber estate, Last Hearth, a visit. Tormund is sent up there and finds the young lord (who’s, like, ten years old, if that) speared to a wall, surrounded by a very artistically horrifying swirl of hacked-off limbs. The kid’s been wight-ed and starts screaming, so Tormund and the others he’s with have no choice but to set the body on fire. It keeps screaming and screaming, horribly.

This is going to get so much worse before it gets better.



One thought on “Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 Recap: Winterfell

  1. Yay! I was hoping you’d recap this season. It should be interesting. I’m honestly just ready to see how it’s going to end because I’ve given up hope that the books will get done anytime soon.

    Re: Rhaegar and Lyanna, I think the last season’s finale established that he did annul his marriage with Elia of Dorne and then married Lyanna. It was in that Sam voiceover at the end, and also Gilly found something to that extent in one of the books. So that’s why Jon is the legitimate heir.

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