Warning: This recap contains nothing but spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. If you are reading this before seeing the episode “Winterfell”, you are doing it wrong.
Season 8, Episode 1: Winterfell
After the “previously on” segment, we see the first title animation sequence of season 8. In past seasons, the title sequence gave hints at where the episode’s story would take place. As the GoT world has shrunk to mostly “The North” and “Not the North”, the animation gets more detailed than any we’ve seen. We start at the breached wall at Eastwatch and follow a trail of tiles flipping from snow to ice, which encircles the Umber stronghold of Last Hearth. Leaving the ice behind, we find Winterfell, but instead of the usual flyover, we dive into its great hall and crypt. A trip through clockwork King’s Landing similarly snakes through the city and keep, passing a giant ballista and dragon face, and ending on the Iron Throne.This will definitely be worth paying attention in the coming weeks to see the ice tiles move south.
The episode starts as a boy runs past Arya to get a good view of Dany’s troops as they arrive at Winterfell, in a callback to Arya watching Robert’s arrival in Season 1. The gathered smallfolk don’t seem too enthusiastic about the Queen, and they flinch as the dragons fly overhead. Jon doesn’t notice Arya in the crowd as he rides by her.
In the courtyard, Jon embraces Bran whom he hasn’t seen since the second episode of the series. Although he and Sansa are happy to see each other, she is less thrilled to meet her brother/cousin’s girlfriend/aunt. Bran interrupts the tense pleasantries with the news that the wall is down and everyone is fucked.
In the great hall, Sansa dispatches Ned Umber to Last Hearth to bring his people back to Winterfell. Lady Mormont takes Jon to task for abandoning his title as King in the North. Jon and Tyrion tell the assembled nobles that bending the knee to Daenerys was the only way to save the North (and probably Westeros). The news that the Lannisters will be joining them does not go over well. Good news, though, that ain’t ever happening.
Sansa and ex-husband Tyrion have a chat about how far they’ve come since Joffrey’s wedding. He tried to sell her on Cersei’s desire to help and she mocks him for falling for it.
Arya sneaks up on Jon for a happy reunion in the Godswood. They admire each others swords and Arya reminds Jon that Sansa is just protecting the Stark Family.
At King’s Landing, Cersei is pleased with the news that the dead have breached the wall. Euron Greyjoy and his fleet return with the mercenary Golden Company, sans elephants. Yara is still alive, tied up in the captain’s cabin. All that seawater has made Euron thirsty AF, and he announces his plans to bed the queen. Which he quickly does.
Lest we think that Game of Thrones has forgotten its roots, we see Bronn with three prostitutes interrupted mid-exposition by Qyburn, who gives him a fuckton of gold and Tywin’s crossbow to go murder Tyrion and Jamie. Yeah, his only friends. What are you gonna do?
While Euron tries to get Cercei to review his performance, Theon and Yara’s crew board the Silence and rescue Yara. Yara gives Theon permission to go fight with the Starks.
In Winterfell, Davos, Varys, and Tyrion plan to unite the Seven Kingdoms by marrying Jon to Dany. The couple in question go check on the dragons who haven’t been eating well. He climbs onto Rhaegal and goes for a spin, before landing and making out with his aunt again. If there isn’t a dozen videos posted of Jon and Dany’s dragon ride cut to Aladdin’s A Whole New World by tomorrow, the internet can go fuck itself.
Gendry is making dragonglass arrowheads when the Hound shows up for a custom dragonglass battleaxe. He tries to mock Gendry and is shut down by Arya, then fucks off. Gendry straight up icky flirts with Arya, who gives him a crude sketch of some sort of dragonglass spear.
Sansa tells Jon that House Glover has decided to sit this war out. She blames him for abandoning his crown and he asks for her to trust his judgement.
Dany tells Sam she had his family executed and he takes it as well as can be expected. As he goes for some air, Bran tells him it’s time to give Jon his DNA results. Sam finds him in the family crypt and explains that he is actually Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name, Aunt-Nailer, and heir to the Iron Throne.
Tormund and Berric explore the ruins of Last Hearth, meet Lord Commander Dolorous Edd Tollett. They find little Lord Umber nailed up in the center of a severed limb mandela. He awakens as a wight and is burned by Berric’s flaming sword.
Finally, one last reunion. As the no-longer-blonde Jaime Lannister arrives in Winterfell, he locks eye with Bran, who he crippled 67 episodes ago. I’m guessing that will have to be addressed, as well as the whole “Kingslayer” thing.
Holy crap, people! We are hard-steaming into another siege of Winterfell, with the armies of the dead a quick Uber ride away. If the living hold the line at Winterfell, The Great War might be resolved sooner than we expected, leaving time for a protracted last war for the Iron Throne.
What did you think? Did you want Jorah and Lyanna Mormont to have a scene, like I did? Are you concerned that rifts will make the whole thing fall apart and let the Night King roll all the way to King’s Landing? Which dragon will get shot there by Chekhov’s ballista? Who’s going to publicly call out Jon on the aunt thing? Smart money is Lady Mormont.