The premeire was peppered with surprising humor and fulfilling reunions as all the main characters reunite in the Northern city of Winterfell – joining forces to combat the Night King and his Army of the Dead that threaten the very existence of the seven kingdoms.
The episode begins with Jon Snow and Daenerys Stormborn entering Winterfell escorted by the Unsullied, and Khaleesi immediately feels the disapproval of the Northerners and Jon’s sister Sansa. The tense moment is broken up by Daenerys’ two remaining dragons flying over the city – as its residents look on in awe.
Jon finally reunites with the remaining siblings that he grew up with – Arya and Bran – who he long thought to be dead. His rejoining with Arya is a particularly heartwarming moment, as the two were particularly close in their younger years. We see a rare moment of vulnerability from Arya as she’s nearly brought to tears as the two embrace – and she shows him that she still has the sword he gave her many seasons ago, Needle. Unbeknowst to Jon, she’s used it throughout her life to deliver an untimely fate to many who crossed her.
We then see Sir Bronn of the Blackwater for the first time – as Cersei’s hand approaches him while in his favorite place, the brothel, and tells him that Cersei wants him to kill her brothers Jaime and Tyrion should they survive their trip in the North.
The show then pivots to the only violent scene of the first episode – as Theon Greyjoy rescues his sister Yara from where she’s being held captive by their uncle Euron. He triumphantly slashes the other Iron-born guarding her, and unties her. She responds by headbutting him to the ground – likely payback for jumping ship, literally, when she was first taken captive. In typical “Game of Thrones” fashion, the two quickly makeup and Yara tells Theon to go to Winterfell to fight for the Starks – the family who truly raised him.
Things really begin to pick up after that, as we see Jon and Daenerys together once again. Jon is able to ride her dragon, Drogon, which reinvigorates what we learned last season – that Jon is actually a Targaryan. The two ride dragons together to an icy waterfall and share a passionate kiss.
In an emotional scene that follows, Daenerys meets Sam Tarly for the first time, to thank him for healing her faithful mentor Jorah Marmot, who was infected with greyscale. Darnerys then comes to the realization that Sam is the son of Randyll Tarly and brother of Dickon, who Daenerys controversially killed for refusing to bend the knee last season.
Sam is heartbroken and finds Jon – and tells him the secret the “Game of Thrones” fan base have been keeping. Jon is actually the son of Raegar Targaryan and Lyanna Stark – making him Daenerys’ nephew, and the true heir to the Iron Throne.
Jon attempts to defend Daenerys’ honor and say that it would be treason for him to take it from her.
“It’s the truth,” Sam argues.
Regardless of who takes the Iron Throne, the true enemy is still the Night King, who destroyed The Wall at the end of the previous season. We’re delighted to find that a number of core characters have survived the attack, including the Wildling Tormund. They discover a shocking message from the Night King – a boy nailed to the wall surrounded by severed limbs. He then awakens – screeching – and the men are forced to set him on fire.
The episode concludes with a reunion that fans have been waiting for since season one. Earlier on, Bran sits in his wheelchair outside in the cold, and tells Sam that he’s waiting on an old friend.
As you may remember, Bran is handicapped because in the first-ever episode of “Game of Thrones,” he climbs to the top of a tower and witnesses Cersei and her twin brother Jaime having sex. Jaime then pushes him from the tower, crippling him and setting him on the bizarre course of his supernatural character’s development.
We finish the episode by seeing Jaime riding into Winterfell and being greeted by none other than Bran – the first time the two have seen each other since.