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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premiere proves an intriguing start to the final season

Reactions and impressions from the final season premiere **SPOILERS AHEAD**

Photo+courtesy+HBO.
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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premiere proves an intriguing start to the final season

Photo courtesy HBO.

Photo courtesy HBO.

Photo courtesy HBO.

Photo courtesy HBO.

Angela Karas

The Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere has officially aired, and it has given viewers much to consider. I admittedly found the premiere a little anticlimactic, but I suppose that is to be expected when you are forced to wait nearly two years for a new episode from one of your favorite shows. However, the episode effectively paved the way for the heightened stakes of the remaining five episodes, setting an intriguing tone. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the premiere, including the new opening credits sequence, a breakdown of pivotal plot moments and honorable mentions:

 

New opening credits
Starting from the beginning of the episode, Season 8 features a significantly altered opening credits sequence. The Wall takes center stage this season, and Winterfell maintains an icy blue tint replacing the stucco detail from previous seasons. The opening credits also feature a significantly darker sky, revealing a much more nefarious and daunting aspect than in previous seasons. It seems as though the stakes are higher than ever now.

 

Pivotal plot moments:

Jon and Daenerys Enter Winterfell Together
The first scenes feature an Umber boy climbing a tree to get a better vantage point as Daenerys and Jon enter Winterfell side-by-side on horses. This echoes the Season 1 premiere, paralleling Bran’s proclivity for climbing in a scene somewhat reminiscent of the Lannister’s arrival at Winterfell. This scene introduces a pivotal theme that emerges in the episode: the North does not bear the same allegiance to Daenerys as they do to Jon Snow, who they named King in the North.

An Emerging Rivalry Develops Between Sansa and Daenerys
At best, Sansa seems wary of Daenerys’s intent, and Daenerys expresses to Jon that, as their queen, Sansa must respect her even if Sansa does not like her. I find this tension between Sansa and Daenerys somewhat problematic. It would appear this season is attempting to reduce Daenerys to a two-dimensional character, when in reality, she has demonstrated intriguing nuances throughout the show’s previous seven seasons.

Season 8 does not do her character justice, as she is depicted as a disliked, power-hungry foreigner in Winterfell (the number of times she references her title as queen is a tad nauseating). Granted, Daenerys queenly aspirations have been an essential component to her character throughout the show, though this season seems to overtly antagonize her in order to provoke a potential House Stark v. Daenerys plotline. However, political implications aside, I will concede that the scene in which Sansa asks in a somewhat petulant tone “What do dragons eat, anyway?” and Daenerys responds with an equally snide “Whatever they want,” the emerging rivalry seemed to have quite a bit of entertainment value.

Jon Discovers His Targaryen Lineage
Samwell Tarly informs Jon that he is not a bastard after all, but rather the child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and thus heir to the Iron Throne. Samwell then asks of Jon: “You gave your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?” Implicitly, Jon, Sam and viewers alike know this answer is no. It seemed to me that Jon has not quite processed the full implications of his true lineage, so it will be interesting to see him fully internalize the implications of his status, and how he will then act in accordance.

The Umber Boy Jump Scare
Another central moment in the premiere is the actual jump scare of the Umber boy coming back to life after he has been killed as a message from the Night King. The scene was harrowing when the Umber boy was simply dead, but when he came back to life screeching violently, I actually jumped and screamed. I would consider it the most harrowing scene in the premiere, and serves to remind viewers that even despite the anti-Targaryen sentiment gaining traction in Winterfell, the war with the Night King remains the central conflict. Also relevant is the fact that the boy’s remains are arranged in such a manner that they bear striking resemblance to the Targaryen house sigil, further casting Daenerys in a rather negative light.

Bran Stark and Jamie Lannister Come Face-to-Face
The episode concludes with Jamie Lannister arriving in Winterfell and immediately locking eyes with Bran, paralleling the final scene of the series premiere, in which Jamie pushes Bran out of the window. This scene also reveals that Jamie is the “old friend” Bran has been waiting for by the gates of Winterfell throughout the episode.

 

Honorable mentions:

Jon and Arya’s Reunion
The reunion between Jon and Arya was perhaps the purest event of the episode, especially when Jon discovers Arya still has Needle.

Sansa and Tyrion’s Reunion
The meeting between Sansa and Tyrion for the first time since Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell also stood out as a particularly notable scene. The exchange aptly demonstrates the extent to which Sansa has come into her own in the events following Joffrey’s (extremely satisfying) death.

Theon Rescues Yara
Theon’s rescue of Yara and implication of his plans to return to Winterfell signify that perhaps the show is attempting to gain some sort of full-circle closure before the battle with Night King ensues.

Jon Rides a Dragon
Jon’s first experience riding a dragon was also an interesting moment, if not slightly dragged out in terms of scene length.

Cersei Really Wanted Those Elephants
Cersei’s apparently immense disappointment at the lack of elephants brought by the Golden Company stood out as a maybe not-so-intentional comedic relief. When Cersei says “I wanted those elephants” in perhaps the most mournful voice of which her character is capable, it came across oddly comedic and is actually probably one of my favorite moments of the premiere.

 

Holistically, the premiere has successfully set the tone for the final season and, while perhaps this specific premiere does not stand out in the canon of Game of Thrones episodes, it nonetheless shows us that Season 8 will deliver much of the excitement and drama we have come to expect from the series.

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