Game of Thrones review: “Winterfell” has many long-awaited moments in store for fans


The final season of Game of Thrones is here, and “Winterfell” is full of character reunions and exciting moments that fans have been waiting for since day one.

The final season of Game of Thrones premiered last night, and fans were in for some emotional moments between characters—moments many of us have been eagerly anticipating since the very first season. While the first episode of season 8, “Winterfell,” mostly just sets things up for the remainder of the series, it certainly had its high moments.

To start with, Daenerys and Jon finally arrive at Winterfell. The coming of Daenerys and her army draws an obvious parallel to Robert Baratheon’s arrival at Winterfell seven seasons ago. The show goes to great lengths to emphasize the similarities and differences between the two visits, bringing the series full circle during its last season.

As most fans expected, the Northerners weren’t all that thrilled to welcome Daenerys to their home—and they were even less enthusiastic to discover that Jon bent the knee to the Targaryen queen while he was away. “Winterfell” does a solid job of building the tension between the two sides, and it draws a clear line between Sansa and Daenerys (though hopefully one of them will be willing to step over it and meet the other halfway).

(L to R) Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Of course, Jon’s arrival at Winterfell also meant that fans got to witness many long-awaited reunions between some the show’s most beloved characters. As always, the Stark siblings stole the show. Jon’s reunion with Bran even evoked the tiniest amount of emotion from the Three Eyed Raven himself, and Jon and Arya’s scene together was everything fans could have asked for.

Beyond the Stark siblings, there were a few less comfortable reunions between characters. Tyrion meets Sansa once more, and she proves herself more clever than him for a change. Arya isn’t incredibly pleased to see the Hound still walking and talking, but her warm reunion with Gendy makes up for the iciness between her and the Hound. And one can’t forget about the awkward meeting between Jaime and Bran at the end of the episode, even if fans don’t know why Bran is waiting for the older Lannister brother just yet.

(L to R) Joe Dempsie as Gendry and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Sam’s reunion with Jon is also a big moment, as he finally breaks the news of Jon’s parentage to him—something fans have been waiting for Jon to discover since it was revealed at the end of the sixth season. Naturally, Jon didn’t take the knowledge that he’s the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms all that well. We can only hope the idea grows on him eventually.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow – Photo: Courtesy of HBO

And speaking of Jon being a Targaryen, “Winterfell” also provided fans with another scene they’ve been awaiting for quite some time. Jon finally rides Rhaegal during the season premiere, and it’s a pretty comical affair—with Jon proving himself far more fearful of riding a dragon than Daenerys ever was. Of course, it’s also far less likely that Daenerys’ dragons would decide to eat her

Kristofer Hivju as Tormund – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

But while “Winterfell” contained plenty of happy and satisfying moments for Game of Thrones fans, the episode didn’t let us completely forget about the threat heading toward Westeros. At the end, “Winterfell” takes us North, to where Tormund, Beric, and Ed have just watched the Wall crumple. They find a disturbing message from the Night King in the form of a young child who’s been killed. The boy is plastered to a wall with an odd pattern of limbs surrounding him—another callback to the series’ pilot episode.

While it’s still unclear whether there’s more meaning to this pattern than first meets the eye, one thing is certain: The Night King is on the march, and he’ll be arriving in the North far sooner than the Starks or Daenerys could have imagined.

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Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. 

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