Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 1: Winterfell

April 16, 2019


Ohhhhh my goodness, guys, I’m so happy to be back typing about my favorite monochrome murdershow. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was incredibly angry about Season 7, and that’s because it was yesterday; I have been angry about Season 7 every day since it aired. But now we have a whole new season for me to emote over, and I know you were all waiting for my hot takes, so here I go again on my own.

If you are new to this blog: my previous spoiler policy is not super useful, as it related to the books and we are well past them, but obvious spoilers for the episode I’m reviewing. I also used to breakdown my review by the geographical location of the characters, but that looks like it is gonna be a tough thing to do with nearly everybody in one in a maximum of two spots, so I am going to break this episode down by scenes/relationships. I also swear a lot but, like, the show is the most adult thing ever.

And as a gentle beginning immersion into my feelings: I quite liked this episode. It was a methodical, detailed set piece for the dangerous free kick that is episode 2 and the rest of the season. That metaphor made no sense but I am very excited for the women’s World Cup so my brain is Thrones and soccer right now. If the rest of the season looks like this plus a lot of sobbing, I’ll be very pleased.

Additionally, I’ll be using at least one screengrab from every Chrys Reviews post, because they are perfect, and so that link goes to her Patreon. I’m a supporter and if you have some extra dollars please give them to her, she’s great.


This scene was your first sip of black dark roast coffee in the morning. It’s gonna hurt a little and then it’s gonna be a nice little jolt of energy that you’re hoping you can maintain. I liked it very much a lot thank you. Sansa’s initial look to Tyrion carried a nice mix of “I don’t hate you but if you test me I will launch you off this deck; Petyr Baelish tried to be shady to me here too; this is my Deck of Sacrifices for Sketchy Dudes Who Don’t Respect Me” and I am very here for it. Tyrion had a reasonable amount of respect for Sansa all the way back in season 2, and on her list of people she hates, he’s probably pretty far down at this point. They aren’t friends, but they aren’t enemies, quite. I can’t get a read on whether Tyrion’s being Hand of the Queen could make her more accepting or less accepting of Dany (I’m leaning more, but I don’t have a great reason why, just a feeling), but I am weirdly excited to see how these two people handle the coming mess. Neither are warriors, both are pretty damaged, they both want to be right, and neither of them want to die via White Walker, so they will be a fascinating set of parallel train tracks for this season.

Plus if Sansa is gonna read people for filth about trusting Cersei and drop jokes like “it had its moments” about Joffrey’s wedding, I will attempt to bottle her attitude as a bath bomb and use it and sell it.

“Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.” MOOD

Sansa/Jon and The Problem

Yes my tall beautiful faerie goddess tell your doofus big brother that he’s thinking with his dick because he super is. Again, really liked this scene. She was supportive of him and his decisions in public, in the throne room, but she is very gonna check in with her pocket-sized smouldercousin if she thinks he’s being the lovesick idiot he can frequently be. And, to be fair, they are both kinda right! Sansa is right, Daenerys is a stranger in the North, and Jon left Winterfell a king and came back… well, not a king, and with a scary lady who makes jokes about her firedinos eating your children. Jon should be a little wary of her motives and how this will end. And Jon is also right: they need her firedinos, they need her Dothraki army, they need her Unsullied, they need to not die before they can govern.

And we saw this argument come to a weird head in the throne room, too, when Lyanna Mormont goes all “you bent the what to the who now” and the room gets angry and I was low-key waiting for some Umber lord to yell “YOU COASTAL ELITES” from the back of the room. They don’t like change. They don’t like Targaryens (okay this one is fair). They extra don’t like dragons. And they are all looking at Dany as another Aerys Targaryen II in waiting if Aerys II had dragons. They are scared, and I don’t totally blame them. And then Sansa (bless u to the stars this fandom doesn’t deserve you) clears her throat and is like


Jon, shyly: to always check with you first before I invite them


Jon, even more quietly: check with you

Chrys Reviews, bless u

She’s right! “How will we feed everyone” is a vital logistics problem, especially since everywhere on the continent that can actually grow stuff kinda good is in Lannister hands. And for Dany to reply with “whatever they want” to “what do dragons eat” is 1. *groan* such a bad line and 2. NOT A WORKABLE SOLUTION, HONEY.

Dany: there ain’t no budget when I’m on the set

Sansa: thank u, next

This could be great, guys. I’m not shooting this potential rivalry out of the sky immediately. It could be a nuanced, layered, serious look at what ruling during war looks like during ruling during peace. My friend Baird described it as a “conquest v. ruling plotline” and if they do it right, that would be so boss.

However, this is a show that wasted Sansa and Arya in a falsified cat and mouse game for a third of Season 7 for no good goddamn reason so unlike Brendon Urie I do not gotta have high high hopes for a living and I will leave my hopes in the Winterfell crypts until further notice.

Arya/every one of her emotions as a person

That intro tho, of people walking in and Arya just being like “I’m not dying but this is in fact my life flashing before my eyes, so, uh”

In fairness I also got pretty dang excited watching A Girl Has Seen Some Shit be smiley over Jon and Gendry and even Sandor.

Her moment with Sandor was honestly perfect??? I know it felt a little fan-service-y but I think Sandor has grudging respect for anyone who is alive at any time (Sandor hates himself only marginally less than he hates everyone else and that keeps him alive) so being like “hi tiny nightmare I lived bitch” and then moving right along is absolutely in-character for him.

And Gendry calling Arya “milady,” oh my heart, oh every single chamber of my heart and several additional organs, I am fandom garbage and I wish to be fed this chicken McNugget dialogue for eternity. Yes, it’s a stretch that Gendry matters to this plot, or that he was brought back from Olympic rowing at all, but now that he’s here: yep, this works. Make him make these weapons. Make him make Arya a very specific weapon to hurt stuff with. Let him keep calling her “milady” and let her reply “you don’t know any other rich girls” and LET THEM KISS, PLEASE, I LOVE THIS STUPID SHIP AND I WANT TO BE HURT BY IT PLEASE, PLEASE. I went looking for fanfiction of them on Monday. Please give me this.

And Arya and Jon? I’m not crying, you’re crying, you’re all crying, stick ’em with the pointy end right in the first season feelings. This was good. The fact that they put them in front of the tree is good. The discussion over Needle is good.

I’m genuinely curious about how people saw this scene: I saw two people who have killed so many times knowing that this is also true of the person they are talking to. Jon knows Arya used Needle a lot. Arya knows Jon used his “fancy” Valyrian steel sword a lot. They are both holding off on saying this, because when they parted, they were both children, who wanted to do heroic things, and they’ve had to watch themselves become executioners and they’ve liked it to varying degrees. Talking about it will be uncomfortable, and they don’t have time or energy for a recap. But hey this is how I saw the scene, and Twitter seemed to think both of them were very much like “I have only murdered AT MOST two people” but lemme know where you stand.

And maybe I’m wrong, and I read way too far into this dialogue, but this relationship, y’all. And hearing Arya call Sansa “the smartest person I’ve ever met” is phenomenal and my drug of choice. Good. Good job everyone. I’m bringing cookies tomorrow and you can all have five if you want.


First of two parts for this episode because I am extra as hell on this topic

If someone knows this answer can you tell me? Did the show ever explicitly say that Targs are the only ones who can ride dragons? I have this idea in my head that it did but I don’t know when I learned it so it might have been in the books? Or is it not a thing for these characters? Basically, should everyone be losing their shit over Jon riding Rhaegal because it implies something about his heritage, or nah? I should know the answer to this, and I don’t, and I’m ashamed.

This scene was dumb and bad, I’m sorry. Andrew asked “what are they even doing here” and because I am a brat I replied with “blowing through their CGI budget.” I was hoping they’d get back to Winterfell and we’d finally see Ghost (remember Jon the animal that you’ve spent years bonding with) and he’d walk up to Jon and smell dragon on him and then like pee on his boots. Or he just falls off the dragon. But in this fuckin’ show Benjen Stark would catch him or some shit ANYWAY

For me, one of the worst Danys is “Dany being smug about her dragons.” Sassing Jon like it’s not totally reasonable for him to be like “how tf do I ride your firedino” is just lazy writing masquerading as Strong Female Character and I’m not here for it. For further reference please see Season 4 and “but my dragons made no such promises, and you threatened their mother.” *sighs enormously* okay, you know what, motherfucker, if you are the government and you are making a deal with some people they can reasonably assume that your scary Charizards are state actors and are bound by this deal as well. You suck at diplomacy and Sansa will 100% kill one of your Pokemon of Death to feed the North.

Also WHERE IS GHOST. WHERE. IS. GHOST. We can have a minutes-long dragon flyover that looks like a combination of Harry riding Buckbeak in Prisoner of Azkaban plus that thing they do with the planes before NASCAR races but we can’t put ten dollars of CGI into our only remaining housebroken direwolf?


What did this casting listing even look like? “hey yo ladiez can you come be naked for like 8 seconds because we wanna do a quick throwback to when the show was criticized for putting sex scenes and nudity in the background of stuff for no reason”

“super vintage”

“no of course you won’t get names are you kidding”

“also we will imply one of you has syphilis”

Minor good thing: Qyburn giving Bronn this weapon and this assignment. He’ll do it, he wants his castle, he is hired edged muscle and this is what he does, and regardless of whether Qyburn is lying, Bronn wants a castle real bad and there is a non-zero chance he’d succeed at this mission.

Major bad thing: there are only six episodes of this season, there are now five episodes left of the entire show, and if we spend an additional nanosecond on the state of Bronn’s penis I will riot


Can we get her some elephants, please? There’s no Hannibal, there’s no Alps, where are the elephants, she just wants some elephants. No, I don’t know why I liked this plot point so much either. Also heyyyy Harry Strickland, you’re looking very generic and strong. Cersei you should marry him he is blond and doesn’t smell like mildew and clove cigarettes and small dick energy

on that note


Good, we did this rescue fast, we do not have to drag it out, I liked it, Yara def would hit Theon, yes good. Yara noting that the Iron Islands are an escape is spot-on (and in this world there’s apparently a ton of trees to cut down yes I’m still bitter about that no I will not drop this grudge what is dead may never die) and Theon calling her his queen was a little misty-eyed moment for me. And of course Theon wants to go fight at Winterfell. My guy is absolutely gonna die, he’s gonna die trying to protect the remaining Starks, it is gonna hurt because I have hella complicated feelings about his character. I don’t know this for a fact, no, but this is my honest guess, and I think I’m right.

and to prove that I am right, please enjoy several Chrys Reviews caps that I saw after I wrote this

Remember how I said I actually quite liked this episode? There was, *ahem* a notable exception

Euron. Euron happened. Euron dressing like the pickup artist Mystery was strapped to the hull of a ship for a year while it sailed through the Sea of Misogyny and Please Die. Euron wearing what I can only describe as a duster made out of a fishing net that absolutely smells like the contents of a swim-up bar after three days of spring break drink specials when he goes to see the queen he wants to bang. Euron being so terrible at keeping a captive that rescuing Yara isn’t even a story arc, it’s resolved already. (which, good, but also he sucks at everything.) Sex with Euron Greyjoy: when you want the sensation of getting fucked by a flounder that left a clump of steel wool in its kitchen sink drain for six months and then glued it to its face.

I don’t know if Cersei and Euron together is supposed to be some kind of weird thing with her pregnancy and having a supposed non-brother father for her kid, but I really have no idea what the point is. We are already done with one episode of the six remaining episodes of the whole damn show, and I swear to R’hllor if we spend another microsecond on Euron fucking Greyjoy and his barnacle dick I will kill everyone involved and then myself. Get him off my screen.

People I gotta see more next ep

Brienne. And Podrick. And Jaime, who I was glad to see at Winterfell already (it’s okay, they are hopefully giving these characters space, but they had better.) Gilly (she should be in the dang show.) Missandei. Grey Worm.

Brienne, again. Ugh, this show is going to hurt me.

Tormund and the Brotherhood and the Night’s Watch

I appreciate the follow-up on these guys, I like how they handled it, and “I’ve always had blue eyes” is a gem of a line, well done. Also I got to see Dolorous Edd which is a delight and boy howdy I’d like to see him live through this show just to score one for us depressed people.

However, if we could never, ever, ever forever have another scene like the Glover boy nailed to the wall and then WAKING UP SCREAMING AS A WIGHT both I and my delicate heart rate would appreciate it. A million props to the show for doing this scene, as it was genuinely the scariest thing I’ve seen on the whole dang series, but also never do it again thank you I need some tea and a soft large blanket.

Does it sound like I’m leaving something major out from this episode? Best for last, y’all

Samwell Tarly

This is the official start of John Bradley’s Emmy campaign right here. I’ve been an enormous fan of him as a person starting a bunch of years back when I started listening to the cast being interviewed, because he is a generous, hilarious delight who is so thrilled to be playing Sam and to be a part of this cast and this show and he has explained plot points to so many interviewers and talked about Kit’s bachelor party going go-karting and how he was terrible at it and I just *makes fist* like him so flippin’ much. He’s gonna be at Con of Thrones this year and I have found myself Google Maps-ing the drive to Nashville several times this week already.

And that is just him being John Bradley; I think he’s done amazing acting work with this character and it’s never been more clear than in this episode. He’s been very good at the role since day 1, and has had several exceptional moments (“open the fucking gate” at Castle Black; his time at Horn Hill) but this was just exquisitely heartbreaking.

I’m glad they wrapped this up early and didn’t drag it out, and I’m glad they addressed the fact that Dany is not evil, but she is not all good, either. (as a sidenote, did Jorah the Fedora have laryngitis that day or something he literally said nothing despite staring at the dude who saved his life idk idk) I wish the show let Dany do more work in that gray area, since many fans (and the writers, tbh) seem content to just be like YEAH BADASS DRAGON LADY or UNREDEEMABLE WAR CRIMINAL and I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. John even gave an interview where he offered up what he thought Sam’s emotions were during this scene, but did not say they were his, and I like that – this show is all gray areas EXCEPT FOR SAMWELL HIMSELF just kidding even him.

This was just perfect: perfectly acted, perfectly in character, and I am so pleased that they gave him the minutes and emotion to do it. Yes, Randyll Tarly sent his son to take the black under a threat of death; he was horrific to Sam and that was almost certainly never going to change. But Sam is acutely aware (and Bradley has confirmed that these were the direction notes he was given right before shooting) that it can never get better now; he can never fix it. And to try to put that positive spin on it by saying he’ll be allowed home, now, only to find out his brother is also dead? It’s not a Samwell thing to rejoice in someone’s death, even someone who threatened to kill him, and he is so relentlessly optimistic that I think he genuinely hoped that his family might be different someday. And how he just replies with “thank you for telling me”? It’s so deeply Sam: he does not make any sort of emotional fuss, ever, and he’s also almost too good at letting things go. He has things that need to get done, and he knows that mourning the family he wished he had is going to have to happen on his own time. He’ll be angry with and wary of Dany, but he trusts Jon, he knows the Night King is coming, and he can help. He’s so, so wrecked by this, and it wrecked me to watch him cry over a man who never saw his worth.


And while it is definitely a cop-out for Bran to be like “you are more his bestie you tell Jon” to Sam, I’m glad they continued this plot thread the way they did. I wish they were able to CORRECTLY LIGHT THE CRYPT FOR ONCE IN THIS GOSHDARN SHOW but whatever. And this show is infamous for having characters who respond with war and other violence when their family is harmed – not Samwell Tarly. Samwell Tarly hears Dany say that she roasted his family while they were prisoners and thanks her for telling him. Sam has to go do stuff. Sam left the Citadel because he had information that Jon needed to know. In the actual conversation, Sam would and does lead with the fact that Jon is legitimate, not that he’s in love with his aunt. And hearing Sam tell Jon that Ned Stark still did right by him was a nice little ending gut-punch: he’s right, Ned kept Jon safe the best way he knew how, and he cared for him, and Sam just found out about the death of his own father, a man who chained him to a wall for three days. Ned messed up, but Randyll Tarly was a nightmare to his son, and Sam just has to sit there and tell Jon that 1. his dad isn’t his dad 2. he’s the king, technically 3. his girlfriend burned his best friend’s family to death 4. his girlfriend is his aunt. We don’t deserve Sam.

Ya girl is biased to the stars but ya girl also hopes you agree with her.

Ya girl’s gonna end on a high note, especially in that the character might actually be high


If this thing he’s doing with just like sitting in his chair and staring at people is gonna continue I’m gonna be laughing way more than I thought I’d be laughing during this season. Bran Muffin out here like Adobe Reader got an update that accidentally deleted his emotions. Every shot of him just sitting there like a weirdo was a riot, but my personal favorite was Jon coming up and saying he’d become a man.

Jon: look at you, you’ve grown into a man

Bran: almost

Jon: … I do not have the time or emotional bandwidth to deal with you right now

ANYWAY friends as I said I very enjoyed this episode. People are going to die soon, so I’m trying to gear up for that, but I know I’m gonna get hurt real bad. We are off to a quality start, and I hope you’ll stick with me for the last ride into the sunset.

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