If you have not watched the episode yet, I would stop reading if I were you. This is really a piece meant to read after you’ve watched “Winterfell”. It is full of spoilers, so be warned. Now with that out of the way, I am beyond excited for this season to be here. But first, maybe I should give you a little backstory on my life with Game of Thrones over the past 598 days.
I didn’t watch season seven when it aired. My best friend passed away 34 minutes prior to 9pm EST on July 16, 2017. As a result, I understandably did not watch that first episode. The following week, I was just trying to stay in a condition that resembled not crying, so I didn’t watch. And each week after that I didn’t watch. It snowballed and before I knew it, the season was over.
I managed to stay spoiler free even though I heard snippets of overarching plots for ten months! Then I decided I needed to watch season seven before I went to Con of Thrones. As a result, this past year of waiting for the new season has not been as hard for me as I know it has for other fans. My two year wait was unplanned and paid no attention to and therefore I didn’t feel it.
As I sat down last Sunday, with my glass of wine, and the bottle there for refills, lights off, blanket on, the other cats gathering around me, I couldn’t help but be a little sad and a whole lot of excitement: Season 8 was finally here. And I enjoyed every minute of the episode, though admittedly more than others. Keep reading to get a glimpse as to what is which.
Akash Singh did a fantastic recap of the first episode so check it out. This is not a recap, although you will be able to follow the episode along with my notes, and what follows is more reactions to and thoughts on the episode. Let me know what you think, enjoy! – Olivia
Hints and Clues in the New Introduction
We knew Game of Thrones‘ final season would be full of changes – and season 8 starts with a brand new opening title sequence! We start North of the Wall in the opening credits and move our way south, unlike the credits of seasons one through seven. White tiles flip over and become an icy blue wave as we move, indicating the White Walkers moving south. We also see Last Hearth and the tiles flip over around it – I am only catching this now on my rewatch but it should have been a warning for us that sending young Lord Umber back home for his people was a bad idea. Then we move on to Winterfell.
This is where the credits really start to differ from other seasons, in more than just looks. Instead of traveling outside and around the buildings and seeing them build up, we move through the gates as they are built and then move inside Winterfell, into the great hall. I’ll discuss this more when I get to my “Sansa, Lady of Winterfell, Queen in the North, and Protector of the Living” piece, however, I think it is very important that we are seeing time inside. It likely means that politics – in less of when-you-play-the-game-of-thrones way – will be just as important as the places this season – and it also likely foreshadows Sansa’s importance. We also see the inside of the crypts. Fans of the books and the show know that important things happen down there. King Robert asks Ned to be hand of the King, Sansa and Arya reunite, et cetera. Spoiler: Like with Last Hearth, we should be unsurprised that Jon Snow learns that he is really Aegon Targaryen VI, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, down in the crypts.
I find it interesting that when we jump down to King’s Landing, we go through the gates and see the expanse of the city before we go into the Red Keep and the Throne room. Nothing major happens in Westeros’ capital in this first episode but I suspect that the city’s population becomes important at some point: a fighting force for either the dead or the living? It is mentioned multiple times this episode that there are more than a million people living in the capital. When you combine the two, this is potentially a big “hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge”. I have not come to a conclusion yet as to what it means that we see the dungeon/deep, dark parts of the Red Keep where the dragon skulls are kept before we get to the Throne Room. I mean, we even see a dragon skull. It means something! Aaaaand… That’s it! That’s all we see in the new intro. Three locations (well four if you count passing through the wall where the Viseryon blew it to pieces), two dungeons/crypts, and two places of policy and kingdom decision-making.