Monday, April 15, 2019

Game of Thrones - S08E01 Recap and Review

The wait is finally over and Game of Thrones is back on the air after a 20-month wait!

SPOILERS follow.

First, a recap:
Season 7 ended with a one-sided truce between team 'Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Tyrion' and Queen Cersei Lannister in the fight against White Walkers. After the negotiations, Daenerys and Jon Snow consummated their relationship (aunt and nephew) and set off to Winterfell where Sansa, Arya, and the rest of Stark banner-men were waiting for them begrudgingly. Perhaps more enthusiastically, Samwell Tarly and Bran Stark were there too and planning on informing Jon Snow of his true lineage. Sam had discovered in the Citadel records that Lyanna Stark was legally married to Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and Bran had time-travelled to the moment of Lyanna giving birth where she asked Ned to protect her son, Aegon Targaryen VI, no matter what. Sam and Bran pieced together their information and deduced that Jon Snow was the true heir to the kingdom of Westeros... Last but not least, we also know that the Night King has broken the wall with the help of his ice dragon and is getting ever closer to Winterfell...

Okay, now off to the new season:
We witness the arrival of Daenerys and Jon Snow, along with Dothraki and the Unsullied, and two fully grown dragons to Winterfell. Many shots in this episode mirror the very first episode of Game of Thrones (S01E01), as the showrunners describe below, we see a royal army, reunion of old friends, excitement of young children, and uneasy alliances.

One of the things that this show does so magnificently is making the audience care about the characters (a perfect example of a post that I had written earlier). Of course, through prolonged exposure and experiencing thick and thin with these characters, some of them may feel like family. The embrace between Jon Snow and Bran, and his reunion with Arya later, made me feel I was seeing my own relatives! Jon's (or Prince Aegon the sixth) dragon ride date with (his aunt) Daenerys was very sweet and touching as well (no pun intended)! The fact that Jon was riding the dragon named after his father (Rhaegal after Rhaegar) as well as Drogon (named after Khal Drogo) flaring his nostrils at Jon were nice touches! In Jon's defence though, he didn't know of his blood relationship with Daenerys at that point. He later meets up with Samwell Tarley in the Winterfell crypts, where Sam tells Jon that he is the true king of Westeros. Jon's first reaction is worrying about how Daeneyrs may perceive this new information as treason...

Farther north, we see Beric Dondarrion and Tormund Giantsbane running into one another at an  abandoned Night's Watch castles where they discover the body of Ned Umber spiked to the wall - courtesy of the Night King. They set the undead boy on fire and save him from the misery of becoming a White Walker.

The last thing we see in the north is Jamie Lannister's arrival. Bran Stark (the three-eyed raven, who lost the use of his legs after Jamie pushed him down the tower in the very first episode) had been waiting to welcome his "old friend" near the gate. Jamie's first reaction was a mix of shock, remorse, and fear. I can't wait to see them interact next week.

The show took a detour to King's Landing to catch up with Queen Cersei. She now has the Golden Army (without elephants though, damnit!) and Euron Greyjoy's ships. Euron demands to cash in on the favours that he has done for the Queen so far, and Cersei obliges reluctantly. While Euron was paying a visit to the Queen, Theon Greyjoy frees her sister, Yara, and they set sail to Iron Islands. Theon, however, wants to go to Winterfell and perhaps pay off the remainder of his debt to Starks and fully redeem himself.

That was it for this week... What a fantastic comeback! I had goosebumps for most of the 54-minute runtime of this episode. I know it's gonna get better from now on, with grander fights and more horrific deaths, but still, this was a 10/10 for me!

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