After almost two years in the dark, fans of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones will finally get their burning questions answered.
**WARNING: SPOILERS FOR SEASON 8 EPISODE 1 AHEAD**
At the Belfast premiere on Friday, the voice of Sansa Stark introduced the first episode of the final season: “Welcome to the beginning of the end”. And that’s exactly what it feels like.
The creators of the Emmy award-winning show gave fans a season premiere packed with one-liners, reunions and big plot moments.
Season seven revealed the truth about Jon Snow’s Targaryen lineage and the final season begins with he and Daenerys Targaryen riding side-by-side into Winterfell.
Sansa Stark doesn’t warm to her new queen – and neither does the feisty Lyanna Mormont, who reminds Jon Snow that the houses in the North chose him as their king.
The episode is filled with a number of moments which may spark trouble ahead for the relationship between Jon and Daenerys. Sam Tarly learns how she executed his father and brother after they refused to bend the knee and reveals this to Jon, just before dropping the bombshell about who he really is – Aegon Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Daenerys has always seen herself as the deserved ruler of the seven kingdoms so her reaction will be a defining moment in the fate of Westeros.
Game of Thrones is not renowned for its comedy but in between the serious exchanges there were a number of laugh-out-loud moments. This is perhaps a tactic by directors to soften the horror of the inevitable violence and deaths that will follow in the remaining episodes.
David Nutter, who directed ‘The Rains of Castamere’ episode, was recently asked if there was a scene as shocking as the infamous Red Wedding in store in the final season. “The short answer is ‘yes’,” he said.
There wasn’t much blood shed in this opener as it was an episode heavily focused on reunions. Sansa and Tyrion Lannister, whose fateful marriage in season three was not to be, meet for the first time since Tyrion was wrongly accused of murdering his nephew Joffrey.
And while many of the reconciliations were heartwarming (Arya and Jon; Arya and Robert Baratheon’s bastard son Gendry; and Theon Greyjoy rescuing his sister Yara), the most intriguing reunion came right at the very end.
Jaime Lannister, who fled Kings Landing after learning his sister Cersei had no intention of fulfilling the temporary truce by helping the other houses fight the White Walkers, rides into Winterfell under hooded cloak.
As he dismounts his horse, his facial expression soon turns to one of shock as he sees Bran Stark – the boy he tried to kill in season one after he witnessed Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous relationship in action – staring right at him.
Jaime Lannister’s character is one which evolved a lot throughout the previous seven seasons. He has gone from a would-be murderer of a young boy to one of the show’s most redeeming characters, so this ending teed up episode two nicely.
And while we didn’t see anything of the Night King, we know that the dead are heading straight for Winterfell.
We waited so long for winter to come, and now that it’s here, it’s a very bittersweet feeling.
Game of Thrones season 8 episode 1 will air again on Sky Atlantic on Monday night at 9pm.
- Read more: ‘I had to lobby for a Belfast premiere’ – how the Game of Thrones cast fell in love with Northern Ireland
- Read more: Kit Harington’s buttocks are fake and 19 other Game of Thrones facts you never knew
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