Reviewed: Game of Thrones


Hadley Kauvar ’19

The final season of HBO’s flagship series, Game of Thrones, is finally underway after a year and a half of anticipation. The season promises dragons, massive battles, the usual amount  of incest and something that fans of the book series won’t get for a long time, an ending. Warning: spoilers ahead.

“Winterfell,” the premiere episode, is very much a setup episode, although a fairly successful one. It begins with a new and improved title sequence, likely a result of the fact that there are so few important locations left in the show. The episode is filled with joyous reunions for characters who haven’t seen each other in multiple seasons. However, there is a sense of frustration and urgency that I, as a viewer, felt throughout the episode. There are only six total episodes, and still much to be resolved. The limited amount of time left is manifest in the dialogue, particularly when Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) announces  to all the important characters who are exchanging pleasantries “we don’t have time for this.” Bran appears to be serving as the on screen showrunner, telling the characters to get a move on and tell people about important plot points. The dialogue ended up being so predictable, that my eldest brother (who has maybe one creative bone in his body) was able to guess three separate lines, verbatim.

The episode was filled with callbacks and references to the very first episode of Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming.” In that episode, the retinue of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) arrives at the castle of Winterfell. In this episode, the army of Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arrives, along with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and a whole slew of other characters. Everything, from the music, to the way it’s shot is nearly identical to the first episode. It’s one of the better things about this episode, the nostalgia it brings for how the show began over eight years ago.

This episode had to be a setup episode. The callbacks and easter eggs to the very first episode made me sentimental, and the last scenes terrified me.

The second episode of the season, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” was also a setup episode. I knew this going in and felt dread, given that this season has a long way to go (plotwise) before it can end, and there are only four episodes left. However, I was surprised by how good this episode actually ended up,. Instead of rushing the plot and forcing exposition like the premiere did, this episode took things slowly, showing the preparations for the great battle that will take place next episode.

As the episode winds down, Tyrion requests a song. He looks to each person, getting a negative response before Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) begins singing “Jenny’s Song,” a song from the books noted to be a sad one. His singing is intercut with a montage of some of the other characters preparing for the battle in the morning. It is a perfectly executed moment filled with poignancy and meaning.

This episode was a return-to-form for Game of Thrones. The showrunners explained in the post-episode featurette that they thought it would reveal a lot about each character if they showed how they would spend their final night on Earth. Whether it was sitting alone in quiet contemplation or spending the night with others, drinking and telling jokes, the episode was a proper send off before the impending battle.