‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premiere recap: GOT enters the homestretch

Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO

Brandon Shillingford, Contributing Writer

This article is dark and full of spoilers.

Well, that was definitely a season premiere.

The first episode of a new season is often used to catch up new and returning viewers on what they’ve missed since the previous finale. Because of that, season premieres tend to be mostly exposition and a lot of dialogue.

And while there was a ton of that, we actually got quite a bit of action in this episode. There were some big reveals, long overdue reunions and a bit of dragon riding.

I’ll recap this episode by region to try to condense it all. So before I get into the thick of it, this is a final spoiler warning.

King’s Landing

Well, Euron Greyjoy finally got his queen … sort of.

After begging Cersei Lannister to sleep with him for what seems like years, she finally gave in and let him into her bedchamber. It was really awkward and weird, to be honest. When Lannister told him he was the “most confident man she had ever met,” I couldn’t really tell if she was playing with him or being serious … please, let it be the latter.

But while Euron Greyjoy was with his new queen, Theon Greyjoy — not Reek — made his triumphant return and rescued his sister Yara Greyjoy from the Iron Fleet. Our boy is back.

But just as Theon Greyjoy is getting this really great and well written redemption arc, you can’t help but get the feeling he’s on the chopping block. The conversation he had with Yara Greyjoy before he seemingly left for Winterfell felt like a goodbye. And as a proud Theon Greyjoy stan, I am not for it.

We also got the return of Bronn and his obligatory sex scenes in this episode. Qyburn came to Bronn’s new place and offered him an assumedly ridiculous amount of gold, as well as a huge golden crossbow with an embroidered lion. Subtle.

All Bronn must do for these gifts is kill the queen’s brothers and his friends, Jaime and Tyrion Lannister, if they can somehow survive the White Walker attack.

Not much happened in King’s Landing this episode, which is understandable because there are very few interesting characters left in the city. Even Cersei Lannister was relegated to the scheming and conniving queen in this episode, a stereotype I was really hoping the show would avoid so late in the series.

Winterfell

The dragon and the wolf have touched down in Winterfell. And wow, it was a lot to digest.

At the very beginning of the episode, we got what is likely the most anticipated meeting between two characters so far, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen.

Sansa Stark and Targaryen finally came face to face for the first time. And to say they’re at odds would be the understatement of the century. Glances that could cut through steel and biting quips at the high table set the stage for what could be one of the most interesting character dynamics the show has ever had.

They’ll without a doubt grow to tolerate each other by the end, but for now, the back and forths are insanely entertaining.

Snow also met a few loved ones from his past. After getting to see Arya Stark for the first time since the first season, the two met and lovingly embraced by the weirwood tree in the Winterfell gardens. What began as a tender and sweet encounter turned a bit sour when Snow questioned Sansa Stark’s mettle as a leader.

Snow and Targaryen also grew a bit closer after the two rode dragons through the snowy landscapes of The North.

Toward the end of the episode came the conversation we’ve been dreading for almost two years. Snow and Sam Tarly finally reunited in the Winterfell crypts. After talking about the murder of Tarly’s father and brother at the hands of Targaryen, Tarly dropped a bomb on Snow big enough to decimate Meeren. Snow now knows his true parentage via info-dump.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it would happen this soon. And for better or worse, this signals to me that the show’s creators, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, aren’t in the mood to linger around. They want to push this thing across the finish line as fast as possible.

While this will get us to the fun stuff sooner, I can’t help but feel as if we’re missing out on what could have been a lot of really valuable character beats and moments. With everything that happened in this premiere— and believe me, I didn’t touch on everything — all the content could have been stretched across two more episodes.

And while I appreciate the attempt to avoid stuffing these last few episodes with filler, I do really hope we get the opportunity to slow down a bit and get one last chance to spend time with these characters we’ve grown to know and love.

Rating: 3.5/5

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