Add another Game of Thrones recap article to your reading queue, creativity is overrated anyway. No lists, winners and losers, or Iron Throne power rankings, this is just going to be a rambling of my initial thoughts on Season 8 Episode One. As an aside, I did my best to not read or listen to much else before writing this, so hopefully there is something original in here.
The thing I loved the most is that after two seasons of meaningless human interactions and killings, Arya is finally back to being the person that everybody fell in love with from the start. What made Arya so lovable, and ultimately Ned Stark’s daughter, was her compassion for the commoner who couldn’t help improve her standing in life. She saw people like Hot Pie and the butcher’s boy as real people, as opposed to pawns. It was refreshing that in a story that serves as a metaphor for a game, somebody circumvented the “objective” and created real relationships. We rooted for her when her initial kill-list had pure motivations and intentions, which were driven by revenge and love for her family. Somewhere along the way between Braavos, the faces, and Walder Frey, she turned from somebody that represented a bright spot in a dark world into a ruthless killer. The things that made her human faded away, and she was no different from an Unsullied, White Walker, or any other killing machine. It made sense to think that she was gone, that we would go the rest of the way without a smile (even her interactions with Sansa in season 7 were extremely bland and robotic). But if this episode showed anything it is that she is back. I can’t decide what I like more, her standing up to Jon on Sansa’s behalf, showing an understanding and maturity that we hadn’t seen before, or the idea of her as the only “rich girl” in Gendry’s life, with a Stark-Baratheon relationship somewhere down the line. Let’s just say both, because the show is better when we have a Stark that we can really root for.
Now on to what I think is the biggest question mark from the episode. What future knowledge led Bran to determine that Jon must know his heritage at this very moment. Because on the surface it seems like a terrible time to distract Jon with that bombshell and potentially drive a wedge between him and Daenerys. I have a couple of thoughts on this, which are all almost undoubtedly going to be wrong.
- Does he know that Jon is going to die in the Great War, and is doing him a solid by revealing the truth about his parents… for Jon’s sake?
- Will knowing his heritage lift Jon to some next level in his leadership/ fighting abilities or define a greater purpose in his approach to face the white walkers? (I’d be pumped if I had Targaryen and Stark blood)
- Will this information drive a wedge between Jon and Daenerys if she cannot accept that he is the rightful heir to the throne? After all, we do not know Bran’s motivations. Or maybe finding out they are related will ruin their romantic relationship in order to focus on the White Walkers?
Whatever the reason the consequences of telling Jon are almost surely going to be seen next episode, and become a plot driver for the rest of the season.
I think I might be the only one on this hill, but I love Euron Greyjoy and wish he was a part of the story the whole way. His presence would be way more meaningful if we had some background, and time to form an opinion of him as a character. Right now people just see him as a bad dude that is going to die any episode now. A backstory into his adventures and what gave him such irrational confidence, sign me up for a spin-off series. Also, how can Cersei follow-up the “You want a whore buy her, you want a queen earn her” line, and give into Euron two minutes later. She is the girl at the bar that won’t look at you, but if a Vodka Cranberry shows up right in front of her then you’re making out. I expected better Cersei.
Between Tiger winning the masters, UVA basketball, and now Theon… we need a little break from redemption stories. Theon had his redemption the day he saved Sansa from Ramsay, and it should have stopped there. It is going to be very unsatisfying if the Iron Islands are the thing that saves humanity from the White Walkers.
The ending-scene where Jaime gets off of his horse and immediately makes eye-contact with Bran was chilling. I almost expected them to flash back to Bran falling off of the castle. As somebody who loves interactions of characters we have to come known, but that don’t necessarily interact with one another consistently, this potential upcoming conversation is very compelling to me. Well unless Bran finds a way to ruin it and make it awkward… which he probably will.
Finally, I have to do a little defending of the show against the people who wanted all action and huge battle scenes from every episode this season. I know its trendy to say its too slow, but the thing that makes Thrones different is the characters. Watching them grow, form new relationships, seeing the uniqueness in all of them, and watching them wrestle good versus evil is what gives the show legs.The thing that made the battle of the bastards so good was our vision into how bad of a human being Ramsay truly was. And on the flip side how honorable Jon is. Highlighting the relationships that drive the story into these upcoming battles is necessary to truly appreciate the action. While the episode was a little slow at times, and the dragon-date was all time lame, it is laying some crucial groundwork for the battles to come. On to next week!