Winter is Here: Game of Thrones final season, episode one recap and thoughts

Illustration by Jake Barnard

Illustration by Jake Barnard

Warning: spoilers ahead

Episode 1: Winterfell

After two agonizingly long years, Game of Thrones is back for its final season. After having spent nearly a decade with these characters, many fans are sad to say goodbye—but we still have five episodes to go after last night’s season premiere.

I’m a relatively new fan myself—I spent the last month catching up and watching all seven previous seasons, giving me the advantage of clearly remembering all of the action leading up to this season, and all of the foreshadowing involved, like in season one, when Bran’s new role as the creepy silent watcher of Winterfell was foreshadowed by the appearance of a three-eyed raven in a dream.

I got my laptop up and ready with a borrowed HBO Now account almost 30 minutes before the premiere, just in case the servers lagged for those who logged on late. I was ready right at 8:00 p.m. when the episode was released to all of us fans, waiting with hungry eyes just like Ramsay Bolton’s starving dogs in season six.

The episode was mainly used to begin building up the season and tie up loose ends with character arcs, bringing everyone together to begin a new arc involving nearly all of the remaining characters—so there’s not a whole lot to discuss just yet. The episode was a little lacking for action, save for the exciting (albeit a little cheesy) dragon riding scene and the Umber-boy-turned-White-Walker.

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So let’s start out with some popular theories as to what might happen in the season, ranked least to most believable:

  • Bran is the Night King. The theory emerged after the infamous scene where Bran warged into Hodor, thus leaving his past-self unable to speak properly. The theory states that Bran may have gone back in time in order to try and stop the army of the dead before it even happened and warged into the body of the man who became the Night King, but ultimately became trapped inside his body. This theory is wild enough to be believable, but there are some huge holes: how would Bran be able to be in both  bodies at the same time, and why would he be leading the army of the dead? These lead me to believe that this theory won’t be coming true.

  • The dead will win. Another popular theory is that no one will survive the Great War, and the dead will triumph over the living. I actually have a ten dollar bet going that this one won’t happen, so it better not. I know the writers of the show don’t care about us at all and want to watch the world burn, but George R.R. Martin has described the ending as being “bittersweet” multiple times, leading me to believe that at least some of the characters may be alive at the end, and may even get a relatively happy ending, or as happy as anyone can get in Westeros.

  • Daenerys will die. This theory suggests that the visions that Dany had in the House of the Undying back in season two were prophetic in nature, and foreshadowed her death. This isn’t entirely unbelievable—we know the writers have a huge thing for foreshadowing, and also killing off our favorite characters.

  • Jaime will kill Cersei. I will honestly be surprised if this one doesn’t happen. It was prophesied that Cersei’s younger brother, or “valonqar,” would bring about her demise. Originally believed to be referencing Tyrion, it is now believed that the prophecy was referring to Jaime, who was born directly after Cersei. This theory didn’t seem as plausible until Jaime up and left King’s Landing, opting to fight for the living instead of indulging Cersei’s fantasies of commanding everything in Westeros.

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Next up, I’d like to give you my opinion on the remaining villains of the series.

First we have the Night King (obviously). This guy has been around since the beginning, and he’s really grinding my gears at this point. Literally what does he want? He seems to be pretty at home in the cold, so why not just stay up north? Also, is he the reason Winter is coming so fast? Like is he controlling the weather? I genuinely want to know about that, it seems to connect pretty well. But for real, sure he’s an effective villain because he plays into the story nicely and is just pure evil, but a great villain needs a motive, which brings me to Cersei.

Cersei is the most effective villain in the show at this point because we actually know what she wants. All Cersei wants is to rule the Seven Kingdoms with no opposition, and do everything her way, and we know that she’s willing to make huge sacrifices in order to get what she wants. She blew up the Sept, killing everyone inside, let the love of her life (her brother, gross) go north to fight in the Great War and then decided she wanted him dead and offered to pay his friend to do the deed, and hooked up with Euron Greyjoy (can we say nasty) in order to potentially be able to say her unborn child is his and legitimize its future birthright.

Now for Euron, who is potentially my least favorite character in the entire show—not because he’s the most vile, but because his character sucks. You heard me, HBO—Euron sucks. Here’s my unpopular opinion—he’s not an effective villain and his arc seemed forced from the beginning. He entered into the show too late to legitimize his storyline, and everything involving him seemed like filler material, right up until he and Cersei got it on and she seemed to begin some plot involving him and her newborn child. I mean for GoT’s sake, he could even bring her the damn elephants.

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Now, this commentary wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share my thoughts on who might get together throughout the season.

Jon and Daenerys seems pretty obvious, but after Jon found out the truth about his birth, I have a feeling he might not want to continue things with his aunt. I don’t know if Dany would have a problem with it, seeing as it’s a Targaryen “thing” to inbreed in order to keep the bloodline clean. Come to think of it, it would ensure that the next Targaryen baby would be a “True Dragon” so I guess we’ll see about this one.

The first episode gave us a multitude of long awaited reunions, and there was one we didn’t realize we needed. Arya and Gendry. The flirting between these two was heavy-handed, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of it as the season progresses.

If Missandei and Grey Worm don’t get a happy ending I will protest outside of HBO headquarters. That’s all I have to say about that one.

The best thing to come out of the whole Castle Black debacle of the last couple seasons is the comedic relief provided by Tormund’s obsession with Brienne of Tarth. I can’t wait for that reunion, because we’ll most likely be blessed with more disgusted side eyes from Brienne and suggestive eyebrows from Tormund. I can’t help but think that if these two make it through the Great War alive, they might end up together.

Check back again next week for another commentary following episode two.

VoicesClare Cade