TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode One – “Winterfell”

“I Warned You, Northerners Don’t Much Trust Outsiders…”

Here we are at last. With the gap between Season Seven of Game of Thrones and the hotly anticipated concluding chapter seeming as elongated and extended as the Brexit negotiations, a joke I will continue to utilise without shame for the foreseeable future, HBO’s flagship fantasy drama finally returns this week as we start our descent into the beginning of the end. Eight years in the making, George R. R. Martin’s iconic and culturally majestic written word may have slightly changed during its’ transition from the page to the small screen as we hit the final season, but with anticipation verging on the edge of volcanic heading in, one of the more interesting aspects is how on earth a show with so many dedicated followers can possibly satisfy every single viewer before dropping the curtain down on what has been a contemporary social phenomenon. Opening with the straightforwardly named, “Winterfell”, Season Eight might only have six episodes to get the job done but it’s fair to say that it’s beginning hour will undoubtedly be the most low-key and reflective, a dramatic kickstarter which spends the majority of its’ runtime in the heart of the North as we are treated to character reunions, ominous foreboding and narrative reveals, and whilst many would have expected fireworks from the get-go, the decision to play the action cool for the time being results in a particularly excellent and emotional season opener which simply flies by.

Beginning with absolutely no sign of any series recap whatsoever, Game of Thrones is the type of show which expects its’ audience to know every single minute detail heading in, even after an extensive two year gap, but with slight changes to the opening titles including the infamous sight of the now defunct and very destroyed Northern wall, “Winterfell” begins in very icy conditions indeed, with the titular stronghold welcoming the return of Jon Snow, Queen Daenerys and of course, two humongous fire-breathing dragons. Whilst Jon and the majority of the audience understands the importance of such alliances heading into the inevitable battle against the Night King and the army of the dead, Thrones still finds time to imbed political and personal tensions within the narrative, with Sansa’s slightly immature behaviour towards the golden-haired Queen particularly jarring, and whilst the show would seem slightly lost without such stakes, it’s fair to say that Sansa’s concerns about supplies did seem a tad minute in comparison to you know, a zombified dragon and it’s seemingly invincible leader. With a slightly cheesy, Aladdin inspired dragon ride, Cersei still finding the time to guzzle down wine even when we are meant to believe she’s somehow pregnant, and a whole catalogue of camera pans when particular characters finally reunite after time apart, Game of Thrones returns with an opening hour which is indeed low on action, but when the dialogue is this rich, the effects this good and with only five episodes left to go, Season Eight reminds us that HBO’s leading ticket seller remains the best thing on television. By quite a far margin.

Overall Episode Score: 8/10

Posted on 15/04/2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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