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Game of Thrones 8×01 Winterfell season premiere recap

The quiet before the storm.

Game of Thrones - 8x01
Credit: HBO

So the wait is finally over and the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones has begun. Oh and what a beginning it was, easily the best season premiere that laid solid foundations for the rest of the season. It began with an epic upgrade to the opening credits showing the now punctured Wall, ice spreading south across the map and even a detour through the Crypts of Winterfell.

With little information to go on about the season 8 premiere, my preview was mostly speculation but after seeing the episode it seems most of my predictions were true.

If you haven’t seen the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere yet and don’t like to read spoilers then please stop reading now. If you are up-to-date and want to relive the action then keep on reading.

Jon and Daenerys arrive at Winterfell

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

The season opened up in Winterfell, with a young boy running through the crowds and snow. He was excited for the arrival of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) with their armies. It brought back memories from the season 1 premiere when Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Arya (Maisie Williams) watched King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) arrive at Winterfell. Arya spotted the boy and smiled.

Dany and Jon rode in on horseback but Arya was left a little disappointed when Jon didn’t spot her in the crowds. She also spotted the Hound (Rory McCann) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) but they didn’t see her either. As the new arrivals streamed into Winterfell, Dany’s two remaining dragons – Drogon and Rhaegal – soared above. The crowds looked up in fear, Arya beamed at seeing the dragons and even Sansa (Sophie Turner) looked up in wonder.

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

Jon commented to Dany that he’d warned her that “Northerners don’t trust outsiders”. Riding further behind them was Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). In a carriage was also Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill).

Arriving in the courtyard, Jon immediately spotted creepy Bran and gave him a hug. He commented “You’re a man now”, but Bran replied “Almost”. Jon looked confused. Next he embraced Sansa and asked where Arya was, to which she replied that she was “Lurking somewhere”.

Dany and Sansa meet and it’s frosty

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

With Jorah (Iain Glen) by her side, Dany thanked Sansa for inviting them into her home. She also commented that the North was as beautiful as Jon claimed and that Sansa was too. Sansa, trying to be nice, replied that Winterfell is yours, your grace. Maybe it’s just me but it seems Sansa isn’t keen on the Mother of Dragons?

There isn’t much time!

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

Completely spoiling everyone’s mood, Bran piped up that there wasn’t enough time for this. He said that the Night King had Viserion, the Wall had fallen and the dead were now marching south. Eek!

The Northerners aren’t keen on the queen

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

In the Great Hall, Sansa explained that she had called on all banners to retreat to Winterfell. Young Lord Umber wasn’t sure who was in charge so addressed his Lady, Lord and Queen. He appealed for extra wagons to get his people safely to Winterfell and Sansa agreed.

The ever brilliant and brutal Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) kicked off at Jon. She was disappointed at him throwing away his King of the North title and bent the knee to Dany. Jon said they needed allies or they would all die. He felt he had a choice of keeping his crown or protecting the North. He chose the North.

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

Tyrion decided to try and help things and said that anyone who survived would have Jon to thank. They had assembled the greatest the army world has ever seen including two dragons. He also said that Cersei (Lena Headey) was sending the Lannister army too but that didn’t go down that well. He finished that they needed to fight together or die.

Sansa had concerns with how they would feed everyone. In particular she questioned what dragons ate and Dany replied “Whatever they want.” Poor Jon what has he done.

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

Outside, Gendry got busy unloading the carts of Dragonglass that they’d brought along to make weapons. Tyrion had a brief chat with his former wife Sansa. They hadn’t seen each other since the Purple Wedding when Joffrey was poisoned and Sansa fled. She told Tyrion that she used to think he was the cleverest man alive and had serious reservations that Cersei would actually send an army.

A Stark reunion

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

Jon took a timeout at a weirwood tree and was snuck upon by Arya. Finally the two reunited after so long. The pair shared a long embrace and Jon wondered how Arya had managed to sneak up on him. Despite his questions there wasn’t time for Arya to go through the horrendous time they had spent apart.

Jon noticed she still had Needle and asked if she’d ever used it. “One or twice”, Arya replied. He then decided to show off Longclaw. Arya commented that it was Valyrian steel and Jon asked if she was jealous. Arya said it was too heavy for her to wield. They spoke of Sansa and Jon said she didn’t like Dany. He was surprised at Arya defending her sister but she said she was defending her family and said Jon shouldn’t forget that.

Terrible news

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

Meanwhile, at the Red Keep in King’s Landing. Qyburn (Anton Lesser) had some “terrible news” for Cersei. He explained that the Army of the Dead had broken through the Wall and were now heading south. This appeared to be music to Cersei’s ears as she replied “Good”. Looking out to sea, she could see the Iron Fleet returning with the Golden Company mercenaries.

Aboard one of the ships, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) taunted his prisoner Yara (Gemma Whelan). She asked why he didn’t kill her and he said they were family, plus the last Greyjoy’s with balls, taking a dig at Theon (Alfie Allen). Anyway, he said if he killed her he’d have no one to talk to. She said he’d picked the losing side but he said if that was the case he’d take the Iron Fleet elsewhere. First though he wanted to sleep with the queen.

Where are the elephants?

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Credit: HBO

At an audience with Cersei, Euron and Harry Strickland (Marc Rissmann) told her they had brought 20,000 men and 2,000 horses. Cersei wasn’t happy to hear that they didn’t bring their elephants. Strickland said they looked forward to fighting for her while the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) looked on ominously.

She told Euron he was a true friend and honored guest. Hoping to get into her bed, Euron asked if they could maybe talk in private. Cersei promised they could after the war and said if he wanted a whore he could buy one. Euron asked how he could earn the queen as he had given her justice, an army, the iron fleet but was getting no affection in return. Cersei wasn’t impressed by his arrogance and said she’d executed men for less but he said they were lesser men than he.

Euron gets his queen

Game of Thrones - s8

Credit: HBO

As Cersei began to leave, she paused, realising she probably should keep Euron on side. He went with her and got his wish. Afterwards he was keen to find out how he compared to the fat king and the kingslayer. She said he enjoyed risking his neck and he replied that life was boring. He promised to put a prince in her belly. After he left she looked upset as she drank wine. Is she still pregnant, has she lost her brother’s baby or was there never one to begin with?

Bronn gets a mission

Elsewhere, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) was enjoying himself at a brothel with three girls. He impressed them with his tale of shooting a dragon during the loot train attack. His fun was interrupted by Qyburn who had a mission for Bronn from Cersei. He gave him Joffrey’s crossbow, the one Tyrion had used to kill Tywin (Charles Dance). Cersei wanted him to use it to kill Tyrion and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

Theon rescues Yara

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

While Euron was sleeping with the queen, Theon led a brutal assault to rescue Yara. They made it seem easy and she was soon free. His reward was a swift headbutt but she helped him back up. She pointed out that Euron couldn’t defend the Iron Islands while busy fighting for Cersei. She said they should take them back as Dany might need somewhere to retreat. Yara realised that Theon wanted to go to Winterfell and said he should go if he wanted to.

Game of Thrones - s8

Credit: HBO

Back at Winterfell more wagons streamed in as the Karstarks arrived. Varys, Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Tyrion had a chat. They realised the Northmen were loyal to Jon, not Dany and she would need to earn their loyalty. Davos proposed a proposal for Jon and Dany to marry if they survived the Night King. Ever the optimist, Varys pointed out that “Nothing lasts”.

Dany had a chat with Jon and made sure he knew that Sansa didn’t like her. Jon said it was just because she didn’t know her. Dany pointed out that she was her queen.

A romantic dragon ride

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

The pair went to check on the dragons which were rather hungry due to scarce food. Dany said they didn’t like the North. Dany climbed aboard Drogon and suggested Jon take Rhaegal for a spin. He said he didn’t know how to ride a dragon and worried what if Rhaegal didn’t want him to. Dany joked if that was the case then she had enjoyed his company. When Jon asked what hold on to she said whatever you can.

Watch the Game of Thrones season 8 trailer below:

The dragons took flight while Jon clung on for dear life. The buzzed Winterfell and everyone looked up again in fear and awe. After a quick tour of the local area, the dragons landed near a cave and waterfall. Jon said Dany had completely ruined horses for him. The pair flirted and then kissed as the dragons watched. Jon felt a little uneasy as Drogon stared into his eyes. Was Drogon being protective of Dany or can he sense who Jon really is?

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

Arya checks in with Gendry and the Hound

Back at Winterfell, Gendry got busy turning the Dragonglass into weapons with his blacksmithing skills. He made a lovely big Dragonglass axe for the Hound. Arya popped in to see Gendry and faced the Hound. He complained that Arya had left him to die and she pointed out she also robbed him. He said she was probably still alive because she was a cold little bitch.

After the Hound left, Gendry said Arya looked good and she returned the compliment. She showed him her Valyrian steel dagger and gave him a design for what looked like a Dragonglass spear. The pair appeared flirtatious.

Game of Thrones - 8x01

Credit: HBO

Sansa makes her feelings known

Sansa spoke to Jon and was still upset about Dany arriving. She received a message from House Glover wishing them good fortune but refusing to come and help. Sansa wasn’t happy that Jon had rescinded his title and abandoned his crown. He said titles didn’t matter, he’d returned with two armies and that they didn’t stand a chance without Dany. He asked if she had any faith in him and she said she had. He said Dany would be a good queen but Sansa wondered if he had bent the knee to save the North or because he was in love with Dany.

An awkward meeting

Game of Thrones - S8

Credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

Dany went with Jorah to see Sam (John Bradley-West) to thank him for saving him from greyscale. She offered him a future reward and Sam mentioned being pardoned for stealing some books and a sword from the Citadel. Realising he was from House Tarly, Dany explained that Sam’s father and brother had refused to bend the knee. For their refusal she had them executed. This was news to Sam and left him in tears but he thanked her for telling him.

Jon finally learns the truth

Game of Thrones - s8

Credit: HBO

Sam spoke to Bran who said it was now time for Sam to tell Jon the truth about his parents. Sam tracked him down to the crypts where he was stood at Ned Stark’s statue. The pair haven’t been together since Sam went with his family to the Citadel. The pair embraced and Jon asked what Sam was doing in Winterfell. Sam asked if Jon knew that Dany had executed his father and brother and Jon apologised. Sam said that Jon had pardoned people but Jon pointed out that Dany was a queen.

Jon said they needed to end the war and Sam blurted out that Jon was the “King of the bloody Seven Kingdoms”. He explained that he and Bran had worked out the truth about his parents. His mother was Lyanna Stark, his father wasn’t Ned but Rhaegar Targaryen. Jon was really Aegon Targaryen, the true heir to the Iron Throne.

Jon said Ned was the most honorable man he knew, how could he have lied to him? Sam explained that Ned had promised Lyanna to keep him safe.

Jon said it would be treason to take the crown from Dany. Sam said that Jon had given up his crown to save his people. Would Dany not be prepared to do the same?

The Night King leaves a gruesome message

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Credit: HBO

Meanwhile, at Last Hearth, south of Castle Black, Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) along with other survivors explored the castle. In a funny scene, Edd panicked when he saw Tormund had blue eyes. Beric lit up his sword and they could see that some kind of massacre had taken place, a bit like the scene in the season 1 premiere.

They entered a room and found the young Lord Umber pinned to the wall. He appeared to be dead and was surrounded by severed limbs in a creepy spiral. Suddenly he screamed as a reanimated wight and Beric set him on fire with his flaming sword.

Bran and the Kingslayer

Game of Thrones - s8

Credit: HBO

At the end of the episode, a hooded figure rode into Winterfell. It wasn’t immediately obvious who it was but when he dismounted and removed his hood it was Jaime Lannister. He looked across the courtyard and saw Bran sat there staring at him. They last saw each other at the end of the season 1 premiere when Bran caught Jaime sleeping with his sister Cersei. Jaime was the one who pushed Bran out of the tower window, leaving him paralysed. Awkward much?

Episode 2

Can’t wait for the next episode? Watch the trailer and read our preview for Game of Thrones 8×02.

Let us know what you thought of the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere via our Twitter and Facebook pages. Remember to give us a Follow or a Like while you’re there!

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 will air on the 22nd April at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. Need to recap on the story so far? All episodes of Game of Thrones from series 1-7 are now available to watch on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

Don’t have a Sky TV subscription? No problem! Sign up for a NOW TV Entertainment Pass free trial.

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