“Game of Thrones,” long known for taking its viewers by surprise, returned for its final season premiere on Sunday night with a shocking twist.
Concise News understands that The final season of the television series began with an episode that does much of the table setting to which fans have become accustomed.
“Game of Thrones,” more than most shows, tends to dole out its big moments deeper into its annual run.
Hitting the accelerator and delivering major plot developments, hurriedly, in its home stretch. His horrified and stunned reaction is a moment of authenticity in an episode where everyone treats murder cavalierly, and in some cases, as if it were a punchline.
The scenes in which Samwell Tarly first learns of his father and brother’s death at Daenerys’s hands and, then, confronts Jon Snow with the fact of his true identity are nicely done. They are well-acted (particularly by John Bradley, who acted as Samwell, delivered an increasingly fine performance over the course of the series).
They certainly portend change ahead, as Jon, no matter his loyalty to Daenerys, cannot erase from his mind the fact that both of his birthright to rule and of his blood relation to the woman he loves. And, on a show that had historically worked differently, they might seem a bit rushed but necessary to deploy information.
Also, politics is at the forefront, and it all boils down to how the northerners are rightfully upset that their elected leader Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has thrown his people’s fealty to a scary, peroxide blonde stranger.
Sure, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has two armies and two dragons to swell their ranks, but she is also descended from a crazy king, who doesn’t understand Westerosi ways, and has even set those who refuse to accept her as queen on fire.
The biggest strength of “Game of Thrones” has always been that the world George R.R. Martin created isn’t safe. Heroes die. There are real stakes. Although viewers had little reason to love Sam’s family, it is his reaction to their loss that is creating the stakes.
Daenerys’ power-mad decision may have cowed others on the battlefield to bend the knee, but it has cemented her reputation as a crazed despot for Sam.
He is the ear of Jon Snow, whose leadership the Northerners crave and whose birthright happens to supersede Dany’s claim for the Iron Throne. Let the incestuous lovers stew on that tangle. While that is perhaps the most important takeaway from the premiere, the episode has several enjoyable moments to recommend it.
Hearing Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) speaks her piece about Jon’s disappointing job performance, seeing Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) bantering after so many seasons apart, soaking in the stunning Northern landscape as Jon Snow takes his thrilling first (and probably not last!) dragon ride, and cheering for Theon (Alfie Allen) when he finally owns up to his responsibility to his sister and his adoptive Stark family.
However, the best moment wouldn’t exactly be called “enjoyable.” In fact, it is downright gruesome, but that is exactly what viewers have signed up for.
When the very much alive Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion (Kristofer Hivju, Richard Dormer) encounter their old pal Edd (Ben Crompton), they begin to discuss the Night King and the dire state the world is in.
And then they are interrupted by a bloodcurdling, eldritch scream from the corpse of the young Lord Umber (Harry Grasby) on the wall surrounded by disembodied arms. However, White Walkers have breached The Wall, and yet, everyone is speaking to each other civilly.
The episode might be full of laughter and warm reunions, but the atrocity and eerie undead fate is what all of these characters are facing.
It is a good reminder of what is at stake, and frankly, the episode could have used more of these weighty moments and heightened tension.
Under moments of great duress and danger, people’s basest natures come out. How did any of these reunions not end in shouting or a dagger being brandished? How has no strategy been broached at all except for calling people back to the stronghold of Winterfell? Why aren’t Arya and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) sparring and teaching Lady Mormont to do the same? Why didn’t Jon and Dany make their dragon joyride a reconnaissance trip?
“Game of Thrones,” though, had been in its early seasons a show with an elegant ability to, brick by brick, construct stories methodically. The suspense of waiting for moments of chaos, when they inevitably broke out, was part of the joy of the movie.
Now, perhaps, the conflagration is here as the Dead march south, there is not a moment of respite, so maybe the jarring suddenness of moments towards the end of the season premiere, the inability to let story points breathe or land on their own, makes sense.
This is not to say that the sweeter and lighter moments are unwelcome. But they should also exist alongside the dangerous moments. Way back in Season 1, the series premiere is peradventure the happiest where the Starks have ever been. They were all alive and even adopted adorable direwolves.
And yet that episode also included at least three deaths and Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) getting shoved out of a window. That is the light and dark balance of “Game of Thrones” that viewers crave and demand.
This season of “Game of Thrones,” in its first hour, is capitalizing on amply, even disillusioned fans’ excitement at the prospect of the show clicking into its endgame. If you have been watching this show since 2011, you have a crystalline sense of the ways it is changed; you have also devoted so much time and thought to it that basically any aspect of the endgame will be graded on a bit of a curve by dint of it happening at all.
As a viewer who has not always thought the Jon and Daenerys seduction tracked in every particular, I still felt a thrill as the pair rode horses side-by-side in the grand episode-opening procession of what seemed to be hundreds of soldiers, or on their dragon ride. Both sequences existed in part to make the case for the show’s unique ability to make grand visual statements; they achieved that goal.
Both also help make the case for the relationship currently at the center of the show’s action better than dialogue could. Jon and Daenerys, both, seem (and are) born to power. Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke, cast when they were neophytes, have both grown into talented screen performers over the “ Game of Thrones” decade, and their progression rhymes with their characters’ learning how to bear themselves with grace and élan.
The one-hour episode was surprisingly lighthearted, and full of witty moments, which will no doubt anger the more bloodthirsty fans who want sword-fighting and dragon-fire.
Considering how the most recent season ended with everyone on the move, it makes sense that this episode, written by Dave Hill and directed by David Nutter takes time to once again set up the chessboard.