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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Game of Thrones 8x01: Winterfell



Opening Credits Map

Last Hearth -> Winterfell -> King's Landing

Winterfell
Daenerys had once says that she wants to break the wheel. If that’s the case the she’ll have to break Game of Thrones because this show is coming full circle!

We start at Winterfell and in a call back to the first episode we see a young kid rushing through the crowd to find a place to climb up and get a good view of an army marching in. Of course, the young kid isn’t Arya this time, instead it’s Lord Umber...maybe? Or just some random kid. I’m ageist and think all kids look the same.

Anyway, obviously, this isn’t King Baratheon’s army either. It’s Daenerys’s. She has Jon Snow by her side and a couple of dragons. Which I think will do more to scare the people of the North rather than get them to trust her.

Jon Snow greets Bran but Bran’s Bran. Daenerys greets Sansa but Sansa is unimpressed. Bran interrupts everyone to tell them that the White Walkers are coming with a dragon. What a buzzkill, But that’s Bran and that’s how Bran Brans.

Everyone has convened at the great hall. Lord Umber is to go to Last Hearth and bring his people to Winterfell. Meanwhile, everyone else is pissing and moaning about Jon Snow bending a knee to Daenerys when they think he should be king. Jon Snow tells everyone to screw off because now’s not the time to worry about who’s ruler of what. Now’s the time for everyone to come together and fight White Walkers. He’s not wrong.

Tyrion tries to smooth things over by talking about how strong Daenerys’s army is and then brings up that the Lannister army will be arriving soon too. Yeah, that’ll calm the crowd. Sansa brings up the question of how to feed everyone and wants to know what dragons even eat. Daenerys says they eat anything they want. Yup, that’s going to endear yourself to Sansa and the Northerners.

Later Tyrion decides to talk with Sansa reminding us all that they were married once. Ahhh...the good old days. Sansa informs Tyrion that the Lannister army will most likely not be coming and he’s an idiot for thinking they will. She’s not wrong.

Jon Snow goes to the creepy Winterfell tree and Arya sneaks up on him. They share a heartfelt embrace. I think this is the first time they’ve seen each other since the second episode of the series. Jon Snow is all, "Sansa...kind of a bitch, right?" And Arya is all, "You know nothing, Jon Snow!" All the living Stark kids have grown and changed except Jon Snow, really, and he's a bit slow to figure this out.

Davos, Tyrion, and Varys talk about how the Northerners are still distrustful of Daenerys. Tyrion wants to know what can be done to change that. Davos suggests the have a fun, incestuous wedding! To be fair, they don’t know it’s incestuous...yet.

I don’t know how Daenerys and Jon Snow feel about marrying each other but the consummation part wouldn’t be a problem. After Daenerys is done bitching about Sansa she is informed her dragons aren’t eating. She checks on them and determines they’re not fond of the cold. I can relate!

Daenerys encourage Jon Snow to hop on one of the dragons. He does so, clumsily, and they both fly off together to a remote location where they can knock boots. The only eyes on them are the dragons’ but neither that nor the cold deters Jon Snow and Daenerys from making the beast with two backs.

Reunions for Arya galore! Gendry is now in charge of the forge at Winterfell. He’s giving the Hound a weapon when Arya shows up. Arya still knows how to hold a grudge. The Hound doesn’t seem to like Arya either but respects her for still being alive. Arya is much more pleasant to Gendry and then asks him to make her a weapon whose design I couldn’t quite decipher.

After getting his rocks off, Jon Snow meets with Sansa where he learns Lord Glover is not coming to Winterfell with his army because he’s pissed at Jon Snow for bending the knee. Sansa and Jon Snow fight about it and, again, Jon Snow has to say that kings, queens, royal lineage doesn’t mean anything right now. They need armies and dragons to fight the White Walkers.

Daenerys and Jorah greet Samwell. Daenerys thanks him for saving Jorah from greyscale. In return, Sam wouldn’t mind a pardon for stealing his dad’s sword. Daenerys asks who his dad is and he tells her it’s Randyll Tarly. Daenerys is like, "Yeah....about that..." and Sam is stunned at the news of his father’s death. Although, at least his brother would be willing to let him come back home and Daenerys is all, "Yeah...about your brother..." and now Samwell is really overwhelmed with grief. I mean, they were dicks but I get him being sad.

Sam runs out to get some air but sees Bran. Bran isn’t the first person I’d talk to if I’m grieving. Empathy doesn’t seem to be Bran’s strong suit. Anyway, Sam is the first person to notice that Bran is just always in the same spot out in Winterfell’s courtyard. Sam asks Bran what he’s doing. Bran simply says he’s waiting for an old friend. Ominous.

Bran then tells Sam to tell Jon the truth about his parents. Sam thinks Bran should do it but Bran’s Bran and we know Bran’s not going to do it. Bran tells Sam that Jon trusts him the most so instead of, you know, coping with the loss of his father and brother, Sam instead goes to talk with Jon Snow about Jon Snow stuff.

Sam finds Jon Snow in the tomb of the kings or wherever. First, Sam talks about his father and brother being offed by Daenerys’s dragons. Jon Snow isn’t sure how to react. Then Sam tells Jon Snow about his royal lineage and, again, Jon Snow isn’t sure what to make of it. But I am. Make nothing of it, Jon Snow! He’s spent the entire episode talking about how now’s not the time to worry about rulers and royal lineage and that still holds true! I would have been much happier if Jon Snow, stunned as he might be about knowing the truth, saying that it doesn’t really matter right now.

The next day, in the courtyard, Jaime (looking approximately 100 years older) shows up. He looks around and sees Bran, in the wheelchair Jaime put him in, staring straight at him. He then proceeds to shit a brick.

Last Hearth
So, there’s a few people walking in the dark. I recognized one of the people as Tormund but, honestly, this scene was so dim that I could barely tell what was going on. Eventually somebody lights a torch and I find out it’s Tormund and Beric who run into Dolorous. They’re all on edge because Last Hearth has been sacked by White Walkers. That’s when they come across Lord Umber...or...Lord Umber’s remains.

The poor child is pinned to the wall with body parts around him making a design. It’s not the same design that we see in the first scene of the first episode of the series but we don’t see a lot of White Walker body part art so I’m going to say it’s a call back. Then we get a jump scare when White Walker Lord Umber starts screaming and flailing about. So, of course, he gets set ablaze.

King's Landing
Qyburn informs Cersei that the Wall has fallen. Cersei is pleased by this news. I’m not sure it’s worth getting too deep into it here but I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about how the White Walkers are metaphor for climate change. Heck, it's something I’ve thought about before. However, Cersei’s joy at the White Walkers success is where the metaphor breaks down a little. But I think that’s because the White Walker metaphor is more broad and can fit many things.

Qyburn also meets with Bronn who is, of course, having a foursome. This being a callback to...half the episodes in Game of Thrones? Anyway, Qyburn orders Bronn to go kill Tyrion and Jaime should they survive the White Walkers. To do this Bronn is presented with a crossbow. I thought at first it was the crossbow used killed Tywin but I think it’s actually Joffrey’s. That’d make more sense. Either way, it’s a callback!

The Iron Fleet is hanging out near King’s Landing and Euron gives us some exposition via bragging to the captured Yara. Basically, he wants to marry Cersei and be king but if things go south he’ll high tail it out of there but at least he got to get down with a Queen. I would call out Euron for overestimating Cersei's willingness to indulge him but, well, we'll see soon enough.

In the next scene Euron meets with Cersei and brings the Golden Company army with him. Cersei is excited for some elephants! But alas, the Golden Company says elephants aren’t in the show’s budget...er...they’re too big to make a journey by boat. Cersei is very disappointed.

After that’s over Euron expects to get a little somethin’-somethin’ from Cersei but she rebukes him. He then grossly flirts with her talking about how much of a man he is and it works! Before we know it Cersei's on top of him like he was related to her. Afterwards Euron asks about how he compares to previous lovers and it eventually annoys Cersei, though, she only has herself to blame. It’s not like Euron hides his grossness.

As Euron leaves he mentions wanting to impregnate Cersei. Cersei makes a face that I don’t know the meaning. Is she making a face because she’s already pregnant or because she’s sad she's not or did she have miscarriage? Or maybe she’s just sad she’s going miss out on seeing on the new Dumbo movie.

Meanwhile, back at the Iron Fleet, Theon shows up and frees Yara. That...kind of came out of nowhere. Yara, Theon, and their people start sailing for the Iron Isles...in case the people at Winterfell need a place to run away to. (Sure Yara...that's the reason...whatever gets you to sleep at night.)

Theon has misgivings about this. So Yara gives him permission to sail to Winterfell and help out. I mean, that's great and all, Theon, but I'm not sure one more person in Daenerys's giant army is really going to turn the tide. But you do you.

Other Thoughts
I'm not sure I'm a fan of doing the big "countdown to the season premiere" clock at the beginning. I just have a thing against acting so...self important.

Interesting opening map. We go a lot more in depth into Winterfell and King's Landing. I assume the reason for the change is there aren't enough locations anymore for the opening theme.

This makes me think this season will pretty much just be Winterfell and King's Landing. I guess that's that's another way we're coming full circle. We started the series focused on the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens and, despite how sprawling (geographically and character-wise) this narrative has been we're ending it focused on the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens. This might be a larger topic later but as subversive as this story seemed to be at the beginning it's really setting up for a standard ending.

I used to love the banter between Tyrion and Varys. But the barbs traded on this episode were weak. Varys simply wants to know why Tyrion is a bully and Tyrion's response is to just bully him more? It wasn't even clever or funny. If I want to give the writers credit I'd say this is showing that Sansa is right about Tyrion not being as smart as originally thought. If I don't want to get the writers credit I'd say maybe it's just the writers who are no longer clever.

Is Sansa the smartest person in Westeros? She certainly didn't start that way but that might be the case now. But if penises were brains it'd be Podrick, amiright???

Is this the last we'll see of Yara?

What if Jon Snow lost his grip while riding the dragon and plummeted to his death? Now THAT'S subversive!

I'm trying to remember why Arya hates the Hound. Was it just because he killed Sansa's direwolf? (Remember direwolves?) I mean, I'm sure he's not exactly pleasant to travel with, either.

Sam seemed surprised that Daenerys didn't tell Jon Snow about frying Sam's father and brother. But, like, was she supposed to run down a list of people she killed and ask Jon Snow if he knows anybody that would be saddened by their passing?

I hope everything is going alright in Essos.

So who is the old friend Bran is waiting for? I doubt it's Sam or Jon Snow or Jaime. Bran is insistent he's no longer Bran so I doubt it'd be an old friend of Bran's. I guess I have to assume it's the Night King, right? Or the return of Hodor!

Tyrion: The last time we spoke was at Joffrey's wedding. Miserable affair.
Sansa: It had its moments.

Jon Snow: How did you sneak up on me?
Arya: How did you survive with a knife through your heart?
Jon Snow: I didn't.

Eddison: Stay back! He's got blue eyes!
Tormund: I've always had blue eyes!

Season 8 Totals
Boob Count: 6
Full Frontal Count: 0
Butt Count: 3
Coitus Count: 1
Main Character Death Count: 0 (Lord Umber doesn't count.)

13 comments:


  1. // The only eyes on them are the dragons’ //

    And Bran’s.

    // Jon Snow tells everyone to screw off because now’s not the time to worry about who’s ruler of what. … Sansa and Jon Snow fight about it and, again, Jon Snow has to say that kings, queens, royal lineage doesn’t mean anything right now. //

    That’s all true but I think the pertinent wrinkle (even though it hasn’t been, to my recollection, articulated this way by anyone on the show) is that Jon Snow was basically elected “King in the North” — albeit by acclimation of lords and ladies of various houses, meaning the representation is still not particularly democratic. So when he bent the knee to Daenerys, besides her Targaryen baggage specifically and being an outsider to their patch of Westeros in general, he rolled back their fledgling consensus meritocracy. Here they were raising him up as an inspirational figure with the necessary practical experience to lead this charge against the threat from beyond the Wall, not unlike how the Free Folk did, as much despite his bastard lineage as his (supposed) heritage as a Stark in all but name, and it’s like George Washington said “My first act as your President shall be to surrender our Government to the Crown of Great Britain; whom you may remember as the Oppressor from whom we have so newly won our Independence; for its Armies are manifold, the Undead march toward us, and, not for nothing, its Queen really stirs my loins.”

    // That’s when they come across Lord Umber //

    I did not realize that kid was the kid who’d been dispatched to Last Hearth (nor that this scene was taking place there, honestly) until I read a recap.

    // why Arya hates the Hound //

    Maybe it’s because he tattled to Cersei that Sansa had begun her womanly bleeding and could thus be married off, although I don't remember the reason for sure either.

    // the old friend Bran is waiting for //

    Night King is what came to mind for me.

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    1. The Hound killed Arya's friend, the butcher-boy, in the first season.

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    2. @Blam: it’s like George Washington said “My first act as your President shall be to surrender our Government to the Crown of Great Britain; whom you may remember as the Oppressor from whom we have so newly won our Independence; for its Armies are manifold, the Undead march toward us, and, not for nothing, its Queen really stirs my loins.”

      Well, now I just want to read this alternate history of America. And good point overall on the relative democratic process that anointed Jon. Amidst all the teeth-gnashing over his abdication of the crown, I hadn't really considered that.

      @Unknown: yeah, his name was Micah, if I recall. That's ultimately what landed him on her list (though certainly traveling with him probably had its drawbacks as well).

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    3. @Unknown: Oh, yes, the things I forget that happened in Season 1.

      @Blam: You have a point with the idea of Jon Snow being pseudo-elected and then giving up his authority to a monarch. But I guess there was a second part to my point that I never stated. Which was, the North needed all the help they could get and Daenerys required Jon Snow to "bend a knee" to her in return for her help. So he did bend a knee. But after the White Walkers are dealt with he\the North could just say "Just kidding! You're not our queen! We're free now." Although, the fact that he obviously has a thing for her doesn't help much. And I guess it wouldn't be the most honorable course of action...

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    4. @Teebore: // Well, now I just want to read this alternate history of America. //

      I adhere to the Borgesian view that making reference to a non-existent work can be more worthwhile than actually creating the whole thing, so job done.

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  2. Replies
    1. That was my read on that as well.

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    2. I'm not buying that. That's almost too clever\familiar for Bran to say. As I said before, Bran doesn't consider himself Bran anymore. Why would he call Jaime an old friend?

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    3. The most recent episode has put this debate to rest, but I figured I'd still respond.

      Both Austin & Qbert are correct that Bran is referencing Jaime. The latter is responsible for triggering the former's journey into becoming the Three Eyed Raven via his pushing him out of that window. And its yet another of the many deliberate callbacks to S1E1.

      Plus, Bran would know Jaime is coming as he (Bran) is fully the 3ER now: Bran can 'see' (almost?) anyone in Westeros.

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  3. Appreciate it's a set up episode, but man, the scripting is weak (similar problem to last season). I also picked up on the witless 'insults' traded between Tyrion and Varys. I think it's as the writers no longer have the books to directly quote from, which had the most memorable phrases.

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    1. Yes! They started off with Tyrion making a joke at Varys' expense. Then Varys, in a moment of seriousness, simply questions why Tyrion keeps teasing him even though there are things Tyrion's sensitive about himself. They could've gone a lot of different ways with that conversation. Tyrion could talk about his true opinions Varys, have introspection, talk about the nature of the cycle of abuse. Instead, Tyrion just bullies Varys some more in an extremely blunt and unclever way that makes him a little more unlikeable. How disappointing!

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  4. Or just some random kid. I’m ageist and think all kids look the same.

    It was just some random kid, you ageist monster!

    Yup, that’s going to endear yourself to Sansa and the Northerners.

    As much as I appreciated the whole question of how they're going to feed everyone, because I had a similar question as well (also, who did Dany hire to tailor all the winter uniforms for the Unsullied and Dothraki and that sleek little fur coat she's rocking?), and as much as Dany's joking retort was A. exactly the kind of humor I appreciate and B. not all that good at smoothing over things, as you pointed out, I'm mildly irritated that the joke ended the discussion. Like, how *are* they going to feed everyone? Points for raising the question, but points taken away for not answering it.

    (I suppose the answer is "we only need to feed all these people til the Army of the Dead arrive; after that, assuming we win, the number of mouths to feed will be significantly diminished).

    I think this is the first time they’ve seen each other since the second episode of the series.

    It is!

    All the living Stark kids have grown and changed except Jon Snow, really, and he's a bit slow to figure this out.

    Honestly, he should just be called "Jon Slow".

    I mean, they were dicks but I get him being sad.

    Yeah, I thought John Bradley, the actor playing Sam, depicted this all really well. Like, he's sad on principal about his dad, and then really sad about his brother, and one or the other he could probably handle, but dealing with both at once is just too much. Great stuff.

    It’s not the same design that we see in the first scene of the first episode of the series but we don’t see a lot of White Walker body part art so I’m going to say it’s a call back.

    It is, however, a direct callback to the way the horse parts were laid out by the White Walkers at the Fist of the First Men in S3, as well as the way the flowers were laid out around the Weirwood Tree in Bran's vision of the Children of the Forest creating the first White Walker/the Night King.

    I thought at first it was the crossbow used killed Tywin but I think it’s actually Joffrey’s. That’d make more sense.

    It's actually both; Tyrion killed Tywin with the crossbow Tywin gave to Joffrey, which Joffrey used to kill Ros. As Bronn said, "that fuckin' family".

    I assume the reason for the change is there aren't enough locations anymore for the opening theme.

    That's what I've heard, combined with a desire on the part of the people who create the credits to update them (apparently, they wanted to do it every season/all the time, but the budget was rarely there for it).

    Is this the last we'll see of Yara?

    I suspect so, sadly. There's some possibility that, in the wake of the Battle of the Winterfell, some survivors do indeed go to the Iron Islands as a fallback position, in which case we'd see her again, but I suspect, given the limited amount of time, anyone left standing is going to converge on King's Landing.

    What if Jon Snow lost his grip while riding the dragon and plummeted to his death? Now THAT'S subversive!

    I'd kinda love that just for the sheer WTFness of it.

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    1. I'm trying to remember if I knew the crossbow that killed Tywin was Joffrey's. My thought was that Tyrion was trying to escape King's Landing so why didn't he keep the crossbow with him in case he ran into any more trouble?

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