Every Important Detail You Might Have Missed In The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Premiere
The gang is all back, and it's TENSE!
More than 30 million people globally tuned in to watch the beginning of the end: the first episode of the Game Of Thrones final season. With so much anticipation packed into 54 minutes, it’s easy to miss stuff. But never fear… we got you.
It’s considered to be the last show we’ll all watch together as a race, before the age of on-demand and streaming officially takes over.
And given the sheer number of questions we had as audience members heading into the final season, Game Of Thrones did a pretty succinct job of answering many of them rapidly in episode one.
With more clues about what’s to come with repeat viewings, here’s everything you might have missed as HBO’s sword and sorcery epic returned.
Dollar, Dollar Bills, Yo
We’ve been hearing over and over again about how much the final season of Game Of Thrones cost, with HBO spending reportedly more than $90M on the entirety of season eight.
That’s not including the marketing spend, which we know from the global press tour to Centennial Park’s Grave Of Thrones is significant. The trailers looked expensive, of course, but many of them have been thematic fake outs, like the Crypts Of Winterfell trailer.
That specific example featured three of the biggest star(k)s, but nothing from the upcoming show: it was designed to build buzz and anticipation, without revealing any spoilers.
With six episodes this season and the later half each running movie-length in duration, the expectation is plenty of the budget would need to be saved for that.
And yet, from the opening five minutes it’s clear the showrunners are not fucking around.
Between the aerial shot of Winterfell to the sheer number of top tier stars that appear in those opening frames, you could have played Drake’s ‘All Me’ over the action and it would have been appropriate (“Got everything, I got everything, I cannot complain, I cannot I don’t even know how much I really made, I forgot, it’s a lot”).
From the dollars required for Crowd Duplication as Daenerys Targaryen’s armies of Unsullied, Dothraki, you name it, stretched onwards over the snow-capped landscape of the North, to the CGI expended on having the remaining fire dragons sweeping through the air … money was spent.
That’s before we even dive into the logistics of so bloody many Game Of Thrones stars crammed into that opening sequence.
Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke are both No.1 on the call sheet and there they were as Jon and Dany, riding down to old town road, if you will.
Then there’s the next tier of Maisie Williams (Arya), Sophie Turner (Sansa) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) all getting moments, whether it was something as small as a smirk from Arya at their growing legion or something as verbally loaded as the barbs exchanged between Tyrion and Varys.
Tyrion: “You should consider yourself lucky … at least your balls won’t freeze off.”
Varys: “You take great offense at dwarf jokes but love telling eunuch jokes, why is that?”
Tyrion: “Because I have balls. And you don’t.”
That’s before we even get into all the beloved minor characters we glimpsed and were teased with the promise of more: Gendry, The Hound, Brienne, Grey Worm, Missandei, Davos — it goes on.
As far as opening minutes go, the showrunners were not wasting time. It was a clear, albeit not concise way to say: ‘we know exactly what you’re here for and we’re going to give it to you’.
Bran Is Back On His Bullshit
Maintaining his title of Westeros’ Weirdest Guy, Bran spent the duration of the episode staring intently from under a fringe and ruining everyone’s vibe.
When the surviving Starks finally get a moment of reunion after SEVEN BLOODY SEASONS OF EXXXTREME MURDER it’s — of course– Bran, who needs to interject deadpan with:
“We don’t have time for this”.
Cool cool cool, chill chill chill, you’re just meeting your potential new Queen Of Dragons-in-law Bran, but okay.
He follows that up with: “The Night King has your dragon, he’s one of them now. The wall has fallen. The dead march South.” He remains a terrible hang imho.
Which is more boring pic.twitter.com/pZvjBl3ixJ
— Jackson Safon (@JacksonSafon) April 15, 2019
This moment of Bran back on his bullshit is matched only by him lurking in the courtyard for “an old friend” (it’s Jamie Lannister lolololol) when Samwell Tarly bursts outside, upset upon learning that his family are dead.
It’s at this point, in between tears and lip wobbles, that Bran is like ‘hey man, now is the time to tell your BFF that he’s fucking his aunt but I can’t do it, you have to do it, anyway — peace!’.
The only thing worse is that the episode ends on a close up of Bran’s stupid face, which is something no one wants, frankly.
When you run into the person you just honked at in the parking garage elevator. pic.twitter.com/XfxsYMOPcs
— Jason Gallagher (@jga41agher) April 15, 2019
“Many Underestimated You. Most Of Them Are Dead Now.”
We haven’t seen Tyrion and Sansa together since back in season four.
“The last time we spoke was at Joffrey’s wedding,” he notes as they converse at Winterfell. “Miserable affair.”
With a shared smirk, Sansa replies: “It had its moments”. Yah, we know what they were *cue gif*.
Episode one was all about long-awaited reunions worthy of a Vitamin C ballad: there was Jon and everyone, Arya and Gendry (hello sexual tension), Theon and Yara, Euron and Cersei, Arya and The Hound, Bronn and tits, and right up there was Tyrion and Sansa.
The anticipation comes largely from the fact they’re highly intelligent characters who have been on huge, sweeping arcs and were constantly underestimated by their enemies. Him, because he’s a “dwarf”, and her, because she’s a young, delicate woman.
As Tyrion points out: “Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.”
Sophie Turner’s barely street-legal bone structure does a lot of the work this episode, as she stares pointedly this way, stares pointedly that way, delivers a verbal barb, then stares off in the distance as she struts away.
But it’s Sansa’s head-to-head with dudes she was once impressed with and now underwhelmed by that remains *chef’s kiss*.
JON RODE A DRAGON
After determining that he had the hip dexterity for such a task *wink*, Daenerys pushes Jon to ride his very own Nimbus 2000.
The possibility of Jon Snow riding a dragon is something fans have been hanging out for and this was complete and utter fan service. Which is fine, because it was awesome and super cute to see Jon doing something that made him uncomfortable.
It has been several seasons since we last saw the boyish bastard struggling to find his own.
“What if he doesn’t want me to?” Jon asks, clearly nervous as he approaches the dragon. Meanwhile, Dany remains a complete savage by replying — straight-faced — “Then I’ve enjoyed your company, Jon Snow.”
Cue another significant chunk of the budget as Jon and Dany go for an aerial joyride, giving us what will no doubt be one of the few moments of levity this season.
There’s a frame where Dany casts Jon a look, as if she’s almost surprised that he’s as good at this as he is … is that because he’s a Targaryen? And can the dragons tell this, which is why they’re not going all Reign Of Fire on his ass?
Regardless, the future looks icy for everyone, so taking a few minutes to provide the audience with some comedy and spectacle is a considered move.
Dany Vs Sansa
Will this be like the faux female tension they built up between Ayra and Sansa in season seven, only for the two sisters to work together in the end and murk Littlefinger?
All signs point to yes, because although Sansa has proven herself to be a skilled schemer by this point, she hasn’t come up against someone like Dany before: a woman who is both bark and bite.
Anyway, not that it’s without reason, but the immediate dislike and tension between two strong female characters is a boring trope and here’s hoping it runs out of gas quickly in the season as Dany and Sansa have to face, I dunno, bigger issues.
In summary, Sansa is pissed that after getting to rule the North Jon became Dany’s bitch: “Did you bend the knee to save the North or because you love her?”
Honestly, like it matters because everyone’s just out here fighting not to become an ice cube but go off. Dany thinks she’s pretty, Sansa things Dany is “much prettier” — we get it, you’re both pretty and fierce, fast forward — then Dany leaves a lingering threat in her conversation with Jon when she brings up the fact that Sansa hasn’t warmed to her.
“I’m her Queen, if she can’t respect me … “ The implication is clear. When Sansa makes a somewhat scoffing comment “What do dragons eat, anyway?”, the lethality in Dany’s eyes is evident when she responds: “Whatever they want.”
dany gives MEAN Politician Face pic.twitter.com/3R5JT1hU6R
— Alison Herman (@aherman2006) April 15, 2019
Sam Tarly Crying Is The Worst Thing Ever
Honestly, who wouldn’t rather watch a thousand armies burn than sweet Sam Tarly’s lips tremble for a solid ten seconds as he learns that first his father — then his brother — were executed by Daenerys?
Okay sure, they were both dicks. But anything that makes Our Precious Boy Sam upset is deeply upsetting to everyone involved. Whoever decided to hold the camera on that shot as he emotionally breaks down is a freakin’ sadist.
Sam: It’s been in House Tarly for generations
— Hmu accepting gf applications (@NckSvg) April 15, 2019
Cersei and Wine: A Love Story
Continuing to suffer in that shitty wig, we got glimpses of Cersei doing stuff in King’s Landing … drinking wine, scheming, more wine, pity fucking Euron Greyjoy, wine again, asking about elephants, dessert wine.
There’s not a whole not to know here except that Lena Headey did what she does best — pout with malice — while Cersei continued to make moves that serve her and only her.
We did get a nice moment from Qyburn though, which is a sentence no one should have to write.
After one of several sex workers previously shagging Bronn tells him she’s “quite partial to older men”, he blandly notes: “Poor girl, the pox will take her within the year.”
It’s confirmed: Qybrun rivals Bran for worst hang in Westeros.
Game of Thrones Spoiler:
Cersei hearts elephants.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 15, 2019
Cersei reaction to no elephants is exactly how I am when Postmates forgets the extra spicy salsa.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 15, 2019
MVP OF THE NORTH
LADY LYANNA MORMONT WAS PRESENT! OUR SALTY 13-YEAR OLD QUEEN! SHE SCOWLED IN ONE SCENE! SHE DRAGGED JON TO HELL WITH A MONOLOGUE IN ANOTHER! SHE REMAINS UNDISPUTED AS THE! ABSOLUTE! BEST!
— Kimberly Saltz (@kimberly_saltz) April 15, 2019
Dragons Get Horny Too
In beastology facts we probably didn’t need to know, dragons are perverts who like to watch.
This becomes exceedingly clear when after their dragon riding, Jon and Dany consider another type of riding in front of an icy waterfall.
“It’s cold up here for a Southern girl,” Jon tells her, before Dany purrs in response: “So keep her warm.”
As they begin to make out and Jon does that other thing with his tongue, there’s a cut to the dragons for some reason and THEY SEEM DEEPLY INTO IT.
Like, they even move closer as Dany tells Jon not to be afraid … that her dragons are voyeurs? Do they have dragon boners? And for some reason, it cuts back to the dragons again and now we know something we can never unknow: dragons get horny too.
Theon Did Some Stuff, Blah Blah Blippity Blah
Theon Greyjoy’s redemption arc was rushed through in episode one, so now it’s time for him to die a noble death.
I mean, that’s the whole point of him this season — right? Long story short, he came to rescue Yara from Euron as promised, with an axe swing here and an arrow flung there.
They bounce across the Seven Seas, his sister saying that she’s gonna prep the Iron Islands in case the North needed somewhere to fall back to where “the dead can’t follow”.
Theon’s like ‘yeah nah m8’ and decides he’s going to Winterfell to die fight alongside his other family, the Starks, in what is a nice throwback to Jon’s speech from season seven where he tells him: “You don’t have to choose. You’re a Greyjoy and you’re a Stark.”.
“What is dead may never die,” Yara says to Theon knowingly, cos she’s not an idiot and even she can recognise foreshadowing in a story when she sees it.
“What is dead may never die,” he agrees, before they embrace and she adds: “But kill the bastards anyway.
“You’re a cold little bitch, aren’t you? Guess that’s why you’re still alive.”
A lot of episode one consisted of characters telling other characters various reasons as to why they had survived this long.
But The Hound and Arya’s reunion was the best one because the sand in his hourglass is running out and he doesn’t even know it. Arya has killed, will kill, is a killer: yet from her interactions with Jon at the bleeding eye tree to this one with The Hound, it’s clear she’s downplaying it.
She’s using her youth and gender to let the men around her underestimate her, especially The Hound … because that motherfucker is on her list and she’s determined to cross him out.
Arya with the biggest flex of 2019 “you don’t know any other rich girls” 😂 #GameofThrones
— T-Pain (@TPAIN) April 15, 2019
Exactly how? Well, time will tell. But at the conclusion of the scene and once we get through some solid flirting between Arya and Gendry (OMFG ARE THEY GONNA BANG?!?), we see her request a specialised weapon based on a very specific design.
Arya has shit to do and by ‘do’ we mean murder.
The Real Aegon Targaryen Stands Up
Dany and Jon’s love affair is doomed, we know this.
It has to be due to the whole being related to each other thing. We see it in the small wedges the external world start to force into the couple’s internal one: comments from Sansa, comments from Lyanna, and then the final blow from Sam when he discloses to Jon who he truly is.
“You’ve never been a bastard, you’re Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne … You’re the true king, Aegon Targaryen, sixth of his name, protector of the realm, all of it.”
So Jon now knows that he was fucking his auntie and that his auntie was fucking him.
He also now knows that his claim to the Iron Throne is stronger than Dany’s, yet as we’ve seen through many an inferno she does relinquish power easily. She does not give it up, but will she to the man (relative) that she loves?
“You gave up your crown to save your people, would she do the same?” Sam wonders. Questions to be answered throughout the season, clearly, but Game Of Thrones foreshadows this shit well.
— Binge Mode (@binge_mode) April 15, 2019
“Respect is how the young keep us at a distance, so we don’t remind them of an unpleasant truth,” Varys says, as he, Tyrion and Davos look down on Dany and Jon from a rooftop and discuss a potential marriage between the pair at Winterfell.
“What’s that?” Tyrion responds. Varys’ answer is our biggest clue: “Nothing lasts.”
Vagina To Peen Count
Much has been said about Game Of Thrones’ inequality when it comes to the ratio of female-to-male nudity — FREE THE PENIS! As it stands, our vagina count is at three thanks to a scene where three sex workers sit on Bronn’s *ahem* Iron Throne.
The peen count remains at zero … so far.
The White Walkers Love A Feature Wall
They’re big on interior design, those ice zombies.
Mad for it, in fact. In a scene that gives us the funniest moment of the episode — “Stay back, he’s got blue eyes!” “I’ve always had blue eyes!” — it also serves as a reminder that the White Walkers are the ever-present threat, even if we didn’t physically see them in episode one.
In what is a blatant throwback to the very first opening shot of the very first opening episode in season one, our heroes come across human body parts assembled on a wall in a pattern that has been repeated throughout the duration of the show and sparked endless internet theories.
As the undead kid at the centre of it springs to life behind Tormund and we all collectively scream ‘DON’T YOU DARE KILL HIM!’ before the ice zombie bebe is dispatched by Eyepatch McGee aka Beric Dondarrion, the stakes are clearly established heading into episode two.
“His army’s between us and Winterfell, we’re on foot … If the horses last, we just have to hope we get there before the Night King.” In summary, make it to Winterfell before the army of White Walkers. Or bust.
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Maria Lewis is a journalist, screenwriter and author of The Witch Who Courted Death, It Came From The Deep and the Who’s Afraid? novel series, available worldwide.