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Winterfell, Reunions & An Absence of White Walkers — A Review of “Game of Thrones” Season 8 Episode 1

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011) Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)

We’re back for the final season of Game of Thrones. It is always nice to be greeted by the GOT theme tune, and even better, we now have a new introduction sequence, that features new locations and a now broken wall. Fellow GOT fans, it has been a long journey and we are finally at the point of having our many questions answered, including fan theories and gaps within interviews. For example, why did the script result into Emilia Clarke (interviewed by Stephen Colbert) spending two days of alone to process it all, and Gwendoline Christie (interviewed by Extra TV) crying for two hours?

  • Why have some of the actors cried after reading the scripts?
  • What is going to happen?
  • Who will win the game of thrones?
  • Will the White Walkers win or be defeated?
  • Is Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) the Night king?
  • Is Samwell the storyteller?
  • Did Arya bleed out in Bravos, and is one of the faceless men pretending to be her?
  • Is Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) actually dead?
  • Is Gendry going to be the one to forge Valyrian steel (he is, after all, seen forging Dragonglass in this episode)?
  • Is the destiny of the Direwolves representative of the Starks’ fate?
  • Who is Arya running from in the Season 8 trailer?
  • Is the prophecy true that one of Cersei’s younger brothers (Tyrion, or even Jaime) will kill her?

Hopefully, within time, all will be answered, we do after all have episode 3-6 being an hour and twenty minutes each, so we have plenty of hours to be filled in!

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke. “Season 8 HBO GIF by Game of Thrones”. 5th March 2019. Giphy.

Despite the many questions, a lot wasn’t answered in the first episode, and I wasn’t too impressed considering it is Game of Thrones and the premiere of the final season. I would, however, say that this episode, is something I like to call a ‘necessary episode’. Meaning that despite the lack of action, it had necessary scenes in which characters discussed important issues. For example, why Jon Snow is no longer King of the North, and who is going to feed all the people and the dragons — despite it seemingly having a lack of importance, this may have a huge effect on their battle and survival with the White Walkers. Moreover, this episode was also necessary for making sense of the leading events of the prior episode (season 7 finale) and served in helping viewers remember what had previously happened. Within this episode, we saw many characters reunite with each other including Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann); Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie); Samwell (John Bradley) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington); and Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). It was almost comforting to see these characters all reunite and team up together. Even better, we saw many characters meet each other, including Daenerys and Sansa. One big surprise for us all was the last scene in which Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) arriving in Winterfell… But why? Will he betray Cersei (Lena Headey) as the theories suggest? One of the eeriest things about this episode is where are the White Walkers? They left the gruesome remains of young Lord Umber (Harry Grasby) in a terrifyingly gruesome manner, and yet considering they are a huge army, they are nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, why is everyone in Winterfell? Surely the north is the worst place to be, with the White Walkers nearby. Yes, they are planning to fight the White Walkers, but shouldn’t they make the White Walkers work, which would give them some time to prepare thoroughly, and find the food they’re lacking as Sansa points out? Moreover, within this episode, we see Theon (Alfie Allen) finally break away from his cowardly manner and save his sister, alongside one of the major plots — Sam announcing to Jon who he really is: the true heir to the Iron Throne.

On to the music. As per usual, Ramin Dajwadi did a great job with the score, his composition does always add to the uniqueness of the show. Despite this, I felt that there was an absence of music within this episode. For example, though it occurred in certain important and necessary scenes, there was plenty of room in which music could have been added in order to add to the effect of the scene in order to make it more attention-grabbing. Without music, I found particular scenes to be a bit boring, thus making the show hard to focus on when the characters were discussing the business of the battle. An example of Dajwadi ‘s composition working effectively with an episode lies in the previous episode titled “The Rains of Castemere“. The music is effectively used to heighten the intensity, drama and action of the episode, including the battle plans. The music is consistent, and yet not overused adding to making this episode stand out as one of the most significant and highest rating episodes. As a result, I feel that the music could be played around with more in order to make it attention-grabbing for the viewers, and avoid awkward silences.

This episode was directed by the two time Emmy winning David Nutter, who again provided a successful episode. Moreover, it is interesting to point out that this is the first time a season premiere was not written by writers David Benioff and D.B Weiss. Instead, the episode was written by Dave Hill who has been the series story editor and only contributed to episode writing since season 5. Ongoing, as always, I am impressed with the visual aspects of this show, there was a variation of camera shots (from long shots to follow shots to close-ups), that added to the creativity of the episode. Moreover, the animation, particularly the dragons always succeed in wowing myself and the audience through the fine details that go in making them seem as realistic as possible.

Overall, the first episode has so far reached an IMDb rating of 9.1/10. Honestly, it was a good episode but it definitely didn’t balance with the hype it received prior to being released or the fact that it was a season premiere. Additionally, it is possible that the creators have purposely decreased the rate of action, in order to make upcoming surprises more effective. From the episode 2 preview, it is clear that we can expect a lot more action next week. For example, now that Jaime is back, we can expect some drama between himself and Daenerys (he is, after all, the Kingslayer — the king being her father). Moreover, Arya’s mention of the many faces brings us back to the fan theory mentioned at the start of this review, which suggests that Arya could be dead and that one of the faceless men are pretending to be her.  Lastly, in this episode we see Dany entering Sansa’s home, as a queen (that Snow has bent the knee for). In their meeting, there is a clear sense of tension between the two due to the matter of power, especially when in Winterfell. Therefore, could this preview be suggesting that both manage to put behind or resolve this tension for the greater good?

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones. “Season 8 HBO GIF by Game of Thrones”. 5th March 2019. Giphy

The next episode airs at HBO (US) on April 21st at 9 pm EST, and on April 22nd on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV (UK) at 2 am BST.

Featured Image Via IMDb

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