This image released by HBO shows a scene from “Game of Thrones.” The final season premieres on Sunday. (HBO via AP)
The final season of “Game of Thrones” has arrived, and it was everything fans could have hoped for and more.
[Spoiler Alert: The remainder of this article will discuss Season 8, Episode 1 of “Game of Thrones”]
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.
Tyrion Lannister reunites with his ex-wife Sansa, and the two have a conversation that is charming as it is intense. The last time they saw eachother was at King Geoffrey’s wedding, when he was poisoned and killed. Sansa fled and Tyrion was jailed and nearly killed by Cersei, who believed she was responsible for her son’s gruesome death.
Cersei makes her first appearance in the show soon after – as she’s confronted with Euron Greyjoy, who was the only member of the main families to pledge his honor to her. His intention is made immediately clear – he wants to be with Cersei, and isn’t shy about it. His arrogance pays off, and the two end up in bed together. Euron asks Cersei how his performance stacks up to her brother – something she bristles at but ultimately respects his brazenness. He tells Cersei he’s going to “give her a prince” – without knowing that she’s already pregnant with her brother Jaime’s child.
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.
A trailer for the next episode reveals an impending attack from the White Walkers – so stay tuned for another recap with Fox News next week.
On Game of Thrones, humanity has plot armor.
There’s no way humans should win this battle. Jon Snow et al. face impossible odds, and yet … HBO The Best College Gymnast in America Is Also the Most Hated What Happened to Winter on Game of Thrones? Even Instant Replay Couldn’t Ruin the Most Exciting Soccer Match of the Year The Stormy Story of…
I can’t tell you how Game of Thrones ends, but I’m pretty sure I can tell you how it doesn’t. From the beginning, the series has depicted a world in which attempting to appeal to others’ sense of a higher purpose is the quickest way to get yourself killed. (Just ask Ned Stark’s severed head.) Viewers have known from the beginning that humanity is facing an existential threat from the army of undead known as the White Walkers, but the show’s characters have discovered the looming crisis only gradually, and they’ve been slow to reckon with the little they do know. Now, with the Night King’s masses marching south from the sundered Wall, there’s no doubt that the threat is real. And yet, with only five episodes of Game of Thrones remaining, the human race is resolutely failing to rise to the occasion. Jon Snow’s attempt to form an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen has created dissension instead of unity, with some northern houses deserting the cause and others, like poor little Lord Umber’s, left unprepared and undersupplied. Despite having pledged her troops, Cersei is merely lying in wait, hoping that the rival armies weaken each other enough for her to conquer whatever remains.
There is only one plausible conclusion to this saga, and it’s that humanity does not survive. Westeros’ various factions either never get it together at all, or they realize, too late, that even the divisions between them that have lasted for centuries pale next to the gulf between the living and the dead. In the first season, Cersei explained the struggle for power to Ned Stark—who, at that point, still had his head—as one in which “you win or you die,” and the years that followed have uncovered little evidence of a third option. No one’s negotiating peace with the Night King.
The facts on the ground in Westeros are different than those in our world, but human nature is constant across universes, and what we’ve seen of Game of Thrones’ take on it is unsparingly pessimistic—and entirely warranted. The series’ utility as an allegory of climate change can be overplayed, but to the extent that it reflects our ability to band together in the face of looming catastrophe, it’s all too accurate. Last year, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that irreversible changes could set in as early as 2030 and that preventing them would require a massive and unprecedented transformation of the global economy. Faced with a clear deadline and overwhelming scientific consensus, we’ve done … “nothing” seems not too strong a word. There’s nothing remotely approaching the kind of unshakable public resolve that would move politicians and industry to prompt, decisive action. Some of us are pretty upset about the whole thing, but others are either too flush with fossil-fuel cash or too busy drinking from Liberal Tears mugs to admit the problem exists. (As I am currently writing about a popular television program rather than chaining myself to the doors of the Environmental Protection Agency, on a global level I’m not accomplishing much more.)
What little we know about Game of Thrones’ final season suggests the series will at least flirt with the possibility of mass extinction. The episode-length Battle of Winterfell will likely fall in the season’s third episode, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who’s directed the series’ previous blowouts. (Given that the troops are already assembled, it seems unlikely the show would wait until the fifth episode, also directed by Sapochnik, to play that card.) That means the human armies will make a do-or-die stand at Winterfell, and unless the series plans to spend three full episodes on the comparatively unimportant question of who ascends to the Iron Throne after the Night King’s defeat, my guess is that humanity will lose that battle. And since every human killed is not just a loss for one side but an undead addition to the other, that ought to be the ballgame. As a viewer, I’m rooting for Jon Snow and co. But if I were an Essos gambler laying a bet, I know whom I’d put my money on.
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There’s just one problem. The show that became famous for its willingness to kill off seemingly essential figures has grown less and less likely to do so. Even before Jon Snow came back from the dead, viewers had begun to develop a sense of which characters were essential to the series’ endgame, and thus impossible to kill off. You didn’t need Ramsay Bolton or even Littlefinger to tie up the story’s loose ends, but it’s impossible to imagine Dany or Jon getting axed for shock value. There was no chance the High Sparrow would dethrone Cersei for good or that Arya would fail the Faceless Men’s tests. The show’s core characters had acquired what fans call “plot armor,” which meant that any time the odds seemed truly hopeless, when they were backed against a wall and there seemed to be no way out, we knew the question wasn’t if they’d escape but only how.
Now that the series is almost over, individual characters are finally losing their invulnerability. (For all we know, any of those essential figures could buy it in Episode 2.) But there’s still one suit of plot armor left, and it’s the biggest and clankiest of all. I don’t know which humans will survive till the end of Game of Thrones, but I feel certain humanity will—that the series will end in a Westeros in which the Night King has at least been beaten back, if not wholly defeated. The logical endgame to the precepts Game of Thrones has espoused is the Night King grinning on the Iron Throne, surrounded by his army of the dead, but HBO hasn’t invested close to a billion dollars to tell a story whose moral is that humanity is screwed. Victory will come at a cost, but that cost will be paid; life, of one sort or another, will go on. There are, unfortunately, no such guarantees in our world. We might lose our battle, and there will be no one left to appreciate the plot twist.
Watch Game of Thrones on Sunday nights. Then listen to recaps with June Thomas, Sam Adams, Dan Kois, and other Slatesters every Monday.
‘Star Wars’ actor Mark Hamill says Luke Skywalker
Mark Hamill, known for his role as the iconic “Star Wars” character Luke Skywalker, revealed this week that the Jedi Master didn’t die a virgin—at least according to his own imagination.The 67-year-old actor was responding to a question asked on Twitter a day after the Star Wars Celebration fan experience wrapped up in Chicago, telling fans…
“Make up your own backstory,” Hamill wrote. “It’s undetermined, but in the one I made for him myself, the answer is: no.”
Hamill’s answer led fans of the space opera to sound off, many of them mentioning Mara Jade, a character from the Legends series in the Expanded Universe (EU) of “Star Wars” media, such as books and video games. In these stories, Jade and Skywalker are eventually married and have a son, Ben Skywalker.
However, the EU was deemed non-canon, or no longer part of the official story, when The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012. In other words, Luke was single again.
But many of the “Star Wars” fans seemed to take Hamill’s advice, leaving it up to their imaginations.
Jordyn Woods Says She’ll ‘Always’ Love Kylie Jenner
Jordyn Woods I’ll ‘Always’ Have Love for Kylie 4/19/2019 12:50 AM PDT EXCLUSIVE Jordyn Woods is hesitant to come right out and say it, but the message is very clear … she’s still got love for Kylie Jenner. Jordyn and her mom, Elizabeth, were at LAX Thursday when we asked Jordyn if the support she’s received…
I’ll ‘Always’ Have Love for Kylie
4/19/2019 12:50 AM PDT
Jordyn and her mom, Elizabeth, were at LAX Thursday when we asked Jordyn if the support she’s received from Jada Pinkett Smith and family helped her through her ordeal with the Kardashian-Jenner fam … she tells us it’s bigger than that. Much bigger.
It gets real interesting, though, when our guy asks if she hopes to rekindle her friendship with Kylie — she gives a rather broad answer … before Mom comes to the rescue.
Check it out for yourself … Jordyn eventually says she’ll “always” love her former BFF, but it takes some coaxing. Her mother’s much more direct.