Be sure to read my reviews of all 67 episodes here.
Almost two years later, and the hype is deafening. But let’s be honest, this is a severely underwhelming season premiere.
I’m trying to give Game of Thrones the benefit of the doubt. With so many loose ends and so much action to get to, there’s some logic in crafting a more subdued season premiere that rearranges the chess pieces instead of going all out. But did it have to be so uneventful?
First off, it’s extremely hard to get invested in Daenerys and Jon as a couple. The show never put in the work to build a believable love story between the two (she is his aunt after all), and all the attempts at manufacturing sexual tension just fall flat. Jon riding Rheagal (which coincidentally is his father’s name) should have been an epic and goosebump-inducing sequence, not an excuse for the duo to make googly eyes at each other. It’s cringeworthy to watch, and it feels like it came out of a completely different show. Even the show’s attempt at comedy with the dragons watching Jon as he kisses their queen comes off as painfully ridiculous.
I also have an issue with Sansa being so wary of Jon and Dany. I get that it’s an easy source of conflict, but with only five episodes left and the Night King ready to slaughter everyone, it’s the kind of contrived drama that just distracts from the more exciting stuff. Infinitely more intriguing is Jon finally discovering his true lineage as the true heir to the Iron Throne. Sadly, this plot point is only revealed because Sam wants to cause some damage (after discovering Dany barbecued his father and brother). At least they didn’t drag out the secret until the finale.
Thankfully the premiere doesn’t falter when it comes to Arya. Whether she’s reconnecting with The Hound after leaving him for dead, or flirting with Gendry, everything with regards to her character just works. Watching her finally reunite with Jon (she last saw him in the second episode of season one – let that sink in) is an extremely heartwarming moment, and both Maisie Williams and Kit Harrington sell the hell out of it.
Finally, Tormund and company find young Ned Umber nailed to a spiral of limbs. If that pattern is familiar to you it’s the same one we saw at the end of the pilot, in season three when Jon comes across mutilated horses, in season five when Dany was surrounded by Dothraki, in season six with stones surrounding the tree (where the Children of the Forest created the Night King), and in season seven in the Dragonstone caves. I really hope the show doesn’t pull a Lost because I seriously need answers to this long-standing mystery.
Bits & Beheadings
- New opening credits! If you want to know more about why the show created a new title sequence, read this amazing interview.
- The music playing during Dany’s arrival in Winterfell is the same score that played when Robert Baratheon arrived in the pilot.
- Another callback to the pilot: the little boy climbing to get a view of the arrival, much like Arya once did.
- Missandei and Greyworm don’t get any dialogue this week but they do get stared at by Northerners on their way in and it’s as awkward as you can imagine.
- Look at proud mama Dany as her dragons fly overhead during her entrance. Also, Arya watching on in awe as the creatures hover over Winterfell is everything.
- Jon seeing Bran again didn’t really move me in any way. Maybe it’s because Bran is basically a drone now?
- It was way too brief but admittedly gut-wrenching to see Dany’s face when she’s told that one of her dragons is now part of the army of the dead.
- Another reunion: Sansa and Tyrion who haven’t seen each other since Joffrey’s death. Does anybody else feel like Tyrion isn’t as integral to the show as he used to be?
- In this episode alone, Sansa tells Tyrion she used to think he was the “cleverest” man of all, and Arya tells Jon that Sansa is the “smartest” person she’s ever met. I hate to break it to you all but none of you are all that smart.
- I don’t know if it’s because I watched it on a really big screen but the CGI during the dragon ride was really distracting and dare I say it, cheap. Thrones is supposed to look better every season, so I’m going to assume the producers are just saving their budget for the upcoming war.
- I’m gonna need some Brienne screen-time asap.
- Does anybody here actually believe Bronn will take up Qyburn on his offer and assassinate Jaime or Tyrion? Loved Joffrey’s bow as “poetic justice” though (for those of you who forgot, Tyrion used the same weapon to kill Tywin).
- Someone buy poor Cersei an elephant please.
- Kind of heartbreaking: the fact that Cersei agreed to sleep with sleazy Euron because she has no allies left. Or maybe she did so to pass off Jaime’s child as his?
- Theon saves Yara and is off to help the Starks while she goes back to the Iron Islands in case Dany ever needs an escape from the dead. I’m guessing this is foreshadowing for the finale.
- Alright place your bets: what weapon did Arya ask Gendry to make her?
- Laugh out loud-moment: Tormund saying he’s always had blue eyes after being called a White Walker.
- The episode’s cliffhanger is not too suspenseful, but there’s a real full-circle feeling with Jaime coming face to face with Bran (who has been waiting for him all episode long). The last time these two saw each other was when Jaime pushed the young Stark off the ledge at the end of the pilot. Wow.
Kings & Quips
Tyrion: You should consider yourself lucky. At least your balls won’t freeze off.
Varys: You take great offense at dwarf jokes, but love telling eunuch jokes. Why is that?
Tyrion: Because I have balls, and you don’t.
Sansa: May I ask, how are we meant to feed the greatest army the world has ever seen? While I ensured our stores would last through winter, I didn’t account for Dothraki, Unsullied and two full-grown dragons. What do dragons eat, anyway?
Daenerys: Whatever they want.
Cersei: Twenty-thousand men, is it?
Euron: Yes, Your Grace. A few died in transit. They cheated at dice. Or maybe I cheated. Someone cheated.
Cersei: (to Euron) You want a whore, buy one. You want a queen earn her.
Whore: You ever get lonely, I am partial to older gentlemen.
Qyburn: (after she leaves) Poor girl. The pox will take her within the year.
Tyrion: Our queen respects the wisdom of age.
Varys: Of course she does. Respect is how the young keep us at a distance, so we don’t remind them of an unpleasant truth.
Tyrion: What is that?
Varys: Nothing lasts.
Jon: I don’t know how to ride a dragon.
Daenerys: Nobody does. Until they ride a dragon.
Jon: What do I hold onto?
Daenerys: Whatever you can.
Jon: (to Daenerys) You’ve completely ruined horses for me.
The Hound: You left me to die.
Arya: First I robbed you.
The Hound: You’re a cold little bitch, aren’t you? Guess that’s why you’re still alive.
A disappointing and not-so-explosive return. It’s certainly watchable, but Game of Thrones can do better.