Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 Review

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After more than a year off, the Westerosi drama series returned this past Sunday night.

This is it.

This is the endgame I want to see.

I’ve been waiting since the A Storm of Swords’ publication to see how this story ends.

I’ve made peace with the fact that the books series will never be completed.

So.

Here it is.

I can’t wait.

The theme starts.

The camera pans over the map.

Game of Thrones is back.

The episode finishes…

Credits roll…

Huh…

Well…

Ummmm.

I thought it was just okay.

Yep, just okay.

The quick version is that that it was mostly set up, which I get. They’re coming off a year hiatus and they had to remind everyone what’s happening, and where the story is currently at.

Still, kinda boring.

Like six episodes man, let’s pick up the pace.

Spoilers for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones…

First the Good Stuff

Jon and Arya’s reunion. It’s great seeing all these people who thought their family members were all dead see each other again. Though I really wanted Arya’s answer to, “Where have you been?” to be, “I’ve been out cutting people’s faces off and wearing them.”

Arya’s reunion with Gendry.

Arya’s reunion with the Hound.

Basically any seen with Arya.

Jon’s reunion with Bran, and Bran’s deadpan response.

Davos and Tyrion scheming behind their respective liege lords’ backs.

The ending with Edd and the Night’s Watch meeting up with Tormund and Beric, though it was so dark I could hardly tell what was happening.

Beric Dondarrion lighting the kid wight on fire with his flaming sword. Flaming swords are always awesome. There should be more flaming swords.

Bran just waiting for Jaime to arrive. I guess technically he should thank Jaime for pushing him out of the window.

Sam finally telling Jon that he is the true king. It’s the reveal everyone has been waiting for.

The Bad

First bad thing is anything with Euron Greyjoy. Everything about his storyline’s characters are dumb. The Ironborn take up way more time that they need to. No more Ironborn. Cersei loves killing people. Why couldn’t she just do away with him, and make his second in command go get the Golden Company.

The How to Train Your Dragon scene was kind of lame. At this point, we’ve seen the dragons before. And this was a huge missed opportunity. No one, other than Daenerys, has been able to ride a dragon. The ability should be intimately connected with Targaryen blood, that way when Jon can mount a dragon it should be a sign of his birth, and lend more credibility than his best friend and his brother just saying so.

Squabbling, squabbling, squabbling. Everyone is worried about titles, and kings, and lords, when there is an army of zombies on the way.

Which brings up couple more points. One is, how dumb it was for Jon to give up the King in the North title? He should know it was one of the only things holding the North together, and we see the discord and abandonment as soon as he’s not king. Lord Glover refuses to answer when the banners are called.

Jon knows the North. He knows they respect strong leaders, and those that don’t shirk responsibility. It’s why Ned was so beloved. It’s also why Robb had to remain king, even when it would have been easier to kneel to Stannis or Renly to gain their favor. His men would never respect them if he backed down after being crowned.

Torrhen Stark, the man who submitted to the first King Aegon, is still called the King Who Knelt. The North is a tough war-like culture. Robb made many mistakes, but he died a king. How can the northmen respect Jon when, in their eyes, the first thing he does is give up the crown when it gets tough?

They sent Jon as a king to treat with Daenerys as an equal. His people have already shown that they will fight a losing battle for him, when they fought with him against Ramsay.

Also, he wants them to kneel to the daughter of the Mad King. The North started the last rebellion because the Mad King roasted Lord Stark and his son, and forced Ned and Robert to take the crown.

I think it would have just added to his legend if Daenerys heard about Jon Snow, the slain commander of the Night’s Watch, returned from the dead to win the Battle of the Bastards, and now leading the last alliance of the living against the armies of the dead. Now, I agree that Jon is nominally doing the right thing, but theory is not always practice.

Which also brings up another point, in this episode Sam wants Jon to be king because Daenerys killed his father and brother when they were prisoners. And while it wasn’t the greatest look in the world, and brought back some Mad King vibes (if you remember Tyrion’s face during the incident he was thinking the same thing). Sam’s contention is that Jon would be a better ruler, as he was willing to give up the crown and do what’s best for his people.

There’s some truth to that. Jon is mostly thrust into leadership situations and tries to do the best, and mostly gets in trouble because he cares too much. He’s killed for letting the Wildlings through instead of leaving them to die.

Daenerys wants to rule mostly because its her birthright. Her family ruled the Seven Kingdoms before, and now she wants them back.

However, I’m really not sure it’s been demonstrated that Jon is that competent a ruler in the show. In the books, he has a much better case. As Commander of The Night’s Watch, he shows lots of forward thinking. He deftly shows Stannis how to get the Mountain Clan’s help. He smartly takes hostages from the Wildlings to keep them behaved, as well as taking jewels and goods from them and using it help secure a loan from the Iron Bank which would feed that Night’s Watch through winter. He also looks into building green houses, like the ones at Winterfell.

Show Jon doesn’t do any of this and mostly lucks into things, and overall seems kinda dumb. He gets killed for much dumber reasons. He really never does anything. He essentially loses the Battle of the Bastards and is saved by the Vale’s army. He keeps the fact that he’s been dead a secret instead of telling EVERYONE. It’d be a heck of a recruiting tool. He goes on that dumb mission North of The Wall, which looks like he was tricked into doing by the Night King.

He wastes time trying to treat with Cersei, who is basically the reason his whole family is dead. The North cannot be invaded from the south. Just leave a token force at Moat Cailin and focus on THE ARMY OF DEAD PEOPLE. Or, march south defeat Cersei, and seal off the Neck and make another wall. Basically, anything is better.

So, no matter who rules, I think the competence level is low. I believe the most seasoned commander left is Tyrion, and last season was spent making him look incompetent.

If it was me I’d just peace out to the Reach and hangout in Highgarden, or take off to Essos, Daenerys basically owns a huge chunk of it. Although last season they showed the wights walking under water, so I guess that wouldn’t keep you safe.

It looks like next week the action picks up.

Random Thoughts

Ghost Watch: zero appearances this episode. I hope we see him at least once this season.

How long before Sansa proposes Arya kills Daenerys and wears her face?

I have no idea why, but the actor that plays Gendry looks thirty years older than in season two.

Boy, Jon sure like waterfalls. Guy has one move.

I don’t know if it’s dawned on them that they were tricked into bringing the dragons across The Wall. The Night King has had this huge army this whole time. Didn’t they wonder why he hadn’t crossed The Wall ’til now?

I don’t think it’s going to go well when Daenerys finds out Jon is really king. Plus what are they going to do? She’s the one with the dragons.

I like how the Night King is marching to end the world, but still has time for arts and crafts with the dead Umber kid.

Usually, I don’t like book deviations, though they do work sometimes (see all Tywin and Arya scenes), but I’m kind of glad they kept Beric instead Lady Stoneheart. Dude’s got an eyepatch and a flaming sword.

I like that Arya and Sansa both realize that Jon giving up his crown was super dumb.

You’d think Bran would have told them The Wall had fallen a little sooner.

Jeez, Daenerys could have let Sam down a little easier. It also had a Real Housewives vibe when she told him, he gets mad, and then runs and tells a huge secret to Jon.

Whoever carved the Ned statue was a lot better than whoever did the Lyanna in the first season.

This show does the Northmen wrong. The North is supposed to be different than The South, and willing to work together and above petty infighting. Every time you turn around the Glovers are running off scared. Jon should have showed up on a dragon and forced him to heed the call. Also, this is Ned’s legacy. When Tywin died, everything fell apart because he ruled through fear. When Ned died, the North was willing to fight for his children because everyone loved Ned. They should be rallying around Sansa, and Arya, Jon, and Br…well maybe not Bran he’s doesn’t have the best people skills.

Originally published at geeks.media.

Written by

Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories.

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