What does it take to keep together a family, whether inherited or chosen, when a bunch of motherfuckers—dead, alive—want to eradicate you via sword and ice magic? The answer, according to the wonderfully loving family program Game of Thrones, is unity and helping one another.
This was the message of the Season 7 finale, after Jon Snow and his road cru risked their lives to bring back a stupid wight to try and convince their enemies to band together with them to save the living, and when Sansa and Arya Stark outwitted the conniving snake Littlefinger to form an even stronger bond and protect their blood and house, via throat-slit. “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives,” Arya told Sansa, quoting their dead pops. This wonderful aphorism set the tone for “Winterfell,” the Season 8 premiere, a Scooby Doo-level buddy comedy that got the whole gang back together and depicted a preponderance of fun hijinks, including everyone looking freaked out by Bran, which I don’t understand because he just acts like any number of skaters and burn-outs I used to smoke weed with in high school. The cheeriness of this episode, though, was presumably to let us have one last hurrah before everybody starts dying from stab wounds, ice death, unforeseen poison shit or, in the case of me, death by cheesiness BECAUSE OF FIVE-MINUTE-LONG DRAGON-RIDING SCENES STRAIGHT OUT OF A 1980s DISNEY FILM? WHAT IN GOD’S NAME WAS UP WITH THAT SHIT? The only thing it was missing was Jon Snow pumping his fist in the air and screaming “YEAH! YEAH!!!” like Bastion riding Falkor in Neverending Story. Please spare us this cornball stuff and get to the epic killing and winning, please and thank you!
My three big questions going into this season, and after having spent another jillion hours of my life rewatching the series again in anticipation of it, were these: Are Tormund and Beric dead from wight-dragon destroying the wall? And if so, how will Tormund and Brienne have big beautiful babies? Thirdly, when will Jon ever figure out his true parentage and name, Aegon Targeryen, which is more regal but not as snappy as Jon Snow, which is also better for rhyming when someone inevitably writes a song about him on a lute? Fortunately, this episode answered two of those questions (Brienne is still MIA). The latter was clearly the most important in setting the stage for Daenerys possibly developing into a shady b/manifesting some of the traits of the Mad King, when she inevitably starts beefing with everyone who does not trust her!
But yeah, I mean, she torched Samwell Tarly’s evil dad and Disney-prince-lookin’-ass bro without compunction, which Tyrion already thought was a bad idea, but I’m kinda pissed now, too. How you gonna make Samwell cry like that after he cured Ser Jorah of greyscale and got him back to his rosy, zaddy self? Obviously, Sam is not a petty man, but he’s a fair one, so obviously when he rushes down to the Stark crypt to deliver the bad news that Jon’s real name is unfortunately pronounced Egg-On, he has to contextualize it with the fact that Egg-On’s new girlfriend had her son burn his family to a crisp. (Look, single motherhood is not a game!)
Because Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne because of wack outdated views about bloodlines and being a man, the stage is now set for Daenerys going ballistic, or at least having a rousing test of character once she realizes: A) She has a valid rival with a claim to the throne, and B) she’s totally been fucking her nephew. My main question here, now that Tyrion and the other Olds are plotting their marriage to avoid strife in the north, is whether anyone will give a shit if they actually do get married, considering aunt-nephew is not quite as close in bloodline to sister-brother, and also who cares about anything but survival when an army of zombies and some ice motherfuckers are coming for your necks. Either way, Sansa, who seems to wake up every morning and beat her face to perfection despite living in feudal dreariness, totally calls Jon out on being dickmatized by Daenerys, and overall just does not trust the whole situation. Not that I’m loving the concept of women in-fighting, but as Arya put it, “Sansa’s the smartest person I ever met,” and she may be onto something. She already called out Tyrion for believing that Cersei would send troops to the north—truly some embarrassing shit we all saw coming—and figured out that Littlefinger was trying to play her, so if I were a betting woman, my shit would entirely be on her table. (Number? Horse? I don’t know, I’m not a betting woman.)
Cersei got her military nonetheless, though she embodied some TRUE trust-fund socialite shit when she complained about not having the elephants. A good spinoff, aside from a Gendry blacksmithing/Magic Mike crossover, would be the Real Housewives of King’s Landing, only instead of booze it’s just loads of killing. The Golden Company, her paid mercenary army, is led by an annoying new character whose name is NOT “Varonis Whitemon” as my mans suggested, but “Captain Strickland,” the name of a guy who is definitely going to fuck you over at some point when he realizes you cannot afford his services. But Cersei can’t see past her own greed, so she enlists hornee hypebeast Euron to bone her (leaving way for Theon to free Yara and steal his ship) and enlists Bronn, a man wearing some very fly leather leggings, to crossbow her brothers if they survive the Great War. I do not believe that he has it in him to kill either of his pals Jaime or Tyrion, but I do believe the task is somehow a death sentence for him, just because of the way this shit always pans out.
Finally, at the end of this parade of endless one-liners and scene-setting, we get the goods: The survivors from the Wall, including Tormund (yay!) and Beric, hit up Eastwatch and find nothing but blood in the snow and a nine-year-old Lord Umber stapled to a wall with chopped-up legs in the shape of the Night King’s symbol (old sigil?), which is deeply deranged and so awesome! The Night King is both smarter and more of a sickening psychopath than we thought—this is on some Ramsay Bolton levels of sick shit—and having a child wight-out was a nice, also sick touch.
Deaths: Me, inside, during that fucking dragon-flying scene, b! Tiny Lord Umber, but also, what is dead may never die. Definitely Jaime Lannister, after weed Bran tells his family that dude is back in Winterfell. Definitely Bronn, because nothing is more of a death sentence than Cersei tasking you with some shit involving her perceived betrayal.
Boners: Gendry for Arya, and vice versa. Me for Gendry whenever he does blacksmithing. Bronn in the brothel, sort of, but they would not shut up about dragons. Horny hypebeast Euron finally got to smash, but Cersei might have been using him so she can tell everyone that her baby is his now that she hates Jaime. Also, she has been sex-starved and Euron is “the most arrogant man she’s ever met,” which I guess is hot if you are ruthless, maniacal, and power-crazed. OR IF YOU HAVE LOW SELF-ESTEEM. THINK ABOUT IT.