‘GoT’: Happy reunions mark beginning of the end
Yes, it was shorter than expected, and some anticipated events happened quicker than imagined.
But the first episode of “Game of Thrones’” final season, “Winterfell,” has enough bittersweet reunions and interactions among characters forced apart by circumstance or machination.
It’s elating to finally see Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) reunite with sister Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) many years after the death of their father, Ned (Sean Bean). The diminutive assassin also gets to meet her erstwhile mentor, The Hound (Rory McCann), whom she left for dead a few seasons ago.
Just as meaningful is her heartfelt reunion with her long-lost blacksmith friend Gendry (Joe Dempsie), who might actually become a love interest, now that they’re older—if they survive the remaining five episodes, that is.
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) moves her military forces to Jon’s home in Winterfell, run in his absence by his sister Sansa (Sophie Turner), who barely hides her disappointment that he has bended his knee to the Targaryen queen.
Daenerys has a momentous meeting of her own with Sam (John Bradley), who cured her trusted adviser, Jorah (Iain Glen), of the greyscale disease.
The queen hopes to reward Sam, but learns his family name during the conversation. Imagine Sam’s surprise after her hesitant revelation that she executed his father and brother when they refused to recognize her authority!
But Sam manages to “get back” at her when he separately confronts Jon with the truth: that he is the rightful king, after all, implying that his lover—Daenerys—is his aunt.
In another part of Westeros, the treacherous queen, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), rewards her seafaring warlord ally Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) with sex, after he acquires thousands of Golden Company mercenaries.
In a relatively uneventful rescue mission, Euron’s captive niece Yara (Gemma Whelan) is quickly freed by her misfit brother, Theon (Alfie Allen).
And perhaps the most awkward meeting in this episode is between mystic seer Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and the man who crippled him in Season 1, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Jaime guiltily recognizes the teenage boy, but the moment frustratingly ends in a cliffhanger.
After skipping a year, the show is back for the last time, its world shrinking with parallel arcs finally being woven together. It’s a relatively short episode, surprisingly, in a season touted to have super-sized ones.
There’s impending danger, as the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) and his wight army are close to starting a new bloodbath. In the meantime, there are ominous buildup scenes. The often-grim Daenerys, for instance, is unusually happy, managing to smile and laugh, while sharing for the first time the gift of dragon flight with her oft-clueless beau.
Enjoy the silence, but don’t get used to it. This is “Game of Thrones,” after all, typically building up its underdogs in majestic fashion, just as easily as it ruins them.
No one is ever truly safe from death or betrayal, and a major culling is poised to cut down beloved and loathed characters in its last few episodes.
Whoever wins the Iron Throne, it’s going to be a devastating month and a half, of that we can be certain.
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