Game of Thrones season 8 premiere: The meaning behind “Winterfell”


Game of Thrones has been keeping season 8’s episode titles super secret – so what can they tell us about what to expect? Let’s look at “Winterfell.”

Pretty much everything about Game of Thrones season 8 has been kept on lockdown, as HBO has feared the release of spoilers, leaks and any other information that might mar or reveal the story of these final six episodes. Even the titles of said installments have been kept ridiculously quiet, becoming public knowledge only as they go live.

Is this all kind of overkill? Maybe. It certainly feels that way when you consider that the first episode of season 8 is simply titled “Winterfell.” I mean…okay. Perhaps later installments are going to come complete with titles that are more like “Daenerys betrays Jon and kills him tonight” and therefore validate the choice for such total blackout promotional tactics. But for the premiere…would it have really hurt us to have known in advance?

Not really. Of course, the premiere is titled “Winterfell.” The Stark keep in the North is not just the location of the bulk of the action of this episode, it’s likely to be the setting for much of the story this season.

We already know that much of season 8 will center around the battle against the Night King and his White Walkers. And though we can guess that, at some point, that focus will shift back to Cersei and the trouble she’s busy raising in the south, that probably can’t happen just yet. (Whether that means the Walkers make it past Dany’s army or not.) Therefore, like it or not, Winterfell and the North are the center of a lot of the goings-on in season 8, at least in these initial installments.

It’s where everyone’s trying to go, and it serves as the mixing bowl for all these characters we’ve been following on separate journeys for years. And, let’s be real, the story of Game of Thrones started at Winterfell. It’s only fitting that it should – at least in some capacity – come to an end there, too.

Plus, so much of the premiere features callbacks to the very beginning of the series – including the line-up of Starks as Robert Baratheon arrives – that it’s easy to see everything, including the episode’s name, as a reminder that Game of Thrones has come full circle in many ways.

“Winterfell” features the arrival of multiple big players in the story, as Jon returns home with Daenerys, her dragons and her army of Unsullied and Dothraki. Tyrion’s part of her procession, as is Gendry, Missandei and Grey Worm. Plus a few other folks show up over the course of the episode, including Jaime Lannister and several of the Northern Lords who have sworn their banners to the Stark clan.

There are also reunions galore, as Jon sees his younger sister (Arya) and brother (Bran) for the first time since Season 1. Arya also reconnects with both Gendry and the Hound, and Sansa talks to Tyrion for the first time since Joffrey’s death during the Purple Wedding.

But Winterfell, mostly, stands as both a location and a key symbol, both of the power of the North, and of those standing against the threat of the dead approaching from beyond the Wall. “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell,” or so the old saying goes, and it looks as though in season 8 they may actually show us why that’s the case.

Related Story. Game of Thrones review: ‘Winterfell’ has many long-awaited moments in store for fans. light

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

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