Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode One, Winterfell Review: The End Begins.

4 stars
After a long wait, the final season of Game of Thrones has finally begun with its premiere episode, “Winterfell.”
Anticipation has been building for months now to see how what is arguably one of the greatest TV series of all time will conclude, and the first episode of this conclusion does not disappoint.
If there is any single word to sum up this episode then it would be reunions, because there is a bulk load of them.
Jon and Arya, Jon and Sam, Tyrion and Sansa, Arya and the Hound, Arya and Gendry, Jamie and Bran, the list goes on.
As a result, “Winterfell” is a set-up episode to the coming battle with the Night King and his undead army, and we will probably have to wait another episode to get that battle.
Still, what we get in this episode is nothing short of great and really shows how fantastic Game of Thrones is with character drama.
All of the reunions and meetings that happen in this episode are well done, with many of them being reminiscent of the very first episode of the series.
I found the best of all the reunions to be the one between Sam and Jon, where both Kit Harrington and John Bradley gave magnificent performances.
Bradley is touchingly sympathetic as Sam in the scene where he learns his father and brother were murdered by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), which leads him to tell Jon his true parentage.
Jon takes it as well as can, learning that not only had his father lied to him his entire life and that he is the true heir to the Iron Throne but also that he slept with his aunt.
Kit Harrington sells the conflict, anger and sadness Jon is feeling in this scene brilliantly.

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The scene between Jon and Sam is the best of “Winterfell,” with both Harrington and Bradley giving great performances.

Unfortunately, this scene and others in “Winterfell” seem to be highly hinting at Jon and Dany being at odds later.
This is nowhere more apparent than when Sam asks Jon, “you gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Only time will tell if Jon and Dany will stay united in the same cause, but I sense a tragedy coming, what with the Night King approaching and Cersi (Lena Headey) scheming.
Speaking of her, Cersi’s scenes in this episode continue to show how conniving she is, with her having Euron (Pilou Asbaek) fetch the Golden Company to deal with Jon and Dany’s army after they are finished fighting the dead.
In a small twist she even has sex with Euron to ensure his loyalty, and even goes as far to send Bronn (Jerome Flynn) to murder Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau).
However, this last act does seem to go a bit against her character.
While her wanting Tyrion dead is nothing new, the idea that she would want to kill Jamie just feels weird to me because, although they are on opposite sides now, I never got the sense she wanted him dead before.

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Cersei is unlikable as ever in the season premiere, even if her wanting Jamie dead does not make sense.

Sadly, this is not the only flaw I had with the episode because Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to rescue Yara (Gemma Whelan) from Euron’s clutches.
This scene felt a little rushed and odd, given that Theon somehow knew where Yara was, and it felt like Theon’s mission of the final season was going to be to rescue her, but now that is done.
Other than this though, “Winterfell” is still a great episode that also delivers on a few tense scenes to remind the audience of what is at stake.
After escaping from the Wall, Tormund (Krisofer Hivu) and Beric (Richard Dormer) run into Edd (Ben Crompton) and, after a pretty good comedic moment between them, find the horrifying scene of a young lord brutally murdered by the Night King and placed up in a display as a warning.
The night is certainly coming to Game of Thrones.

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The scene where Tormund, Beric and Edd discover the killed boy, who comes back as a Wight and attacks them, reminds the viewer of the horror that is to come.

The episode ends with Jamie arriving at Winterfell and seeing Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), in what will probably be the most awkward reunion of the final season.
In all seriousness though, I doubt Bran hates Jamie now because he is the Three Eyed Raven and seems more emotionless.
In the trailer for next episode we see Jamie being put on trial, in a sense, but I believe Brienne will speak up for him by maybe convincing him to tell the truth about why he killed the Mad King.
Although, we did not actually see Brienne this episode from what I can recall so we will have to wait and see.
Either way, “Winterfell” was a great way to kick off the season and sets up a lot of the relationships and conflicts that will be sure to come to a head in the great war with the Night King in the next few episodes.