Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1: Review, Symbolism and Explanations


The premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones is more like a big and awkward reunion of families. As Jon and Daenerys make their way into Winterfell with a huge army of Unsullied, Dothraki and two full-grown dragons in tow, one is reminded of season 1 episode 1, basically, the GOT pilot episode. It is a full déjà vu, as we see Arya Stark giving way to a young kid to watch the procession arrive, just like she was given way to watch the procession of Robert Baratheon arrive from King’s landing in the very first episode of this saga.

There is also a reference to Bran Stark climbing the tower in the very first episode of GOT to get a look at Robert Baratheon’s army approaching Winterfell. Here the same kid who ran past Arya, climbs a tree to get a better look at the approaching army. So as we can see, this episode is a lot about symbolism and as we delve deeper the theory of symbolism will come into play. So, bear with me and if you still haven’t watched the first episode of season 8 then please refrain from reading further – major SPOILERS ahead!

The welcome for Daenerys in the north can be described as very cold all puns aside. Sansa is not impressed by her brother’s choice in allies and most of the northern banners do not like it that they have to partner with a Targaryen, who they once fought against. There is another reference to season 1 episode 1 where in their first interaction Daenerys compliments Sansa on her beauty, reminding us of the time when Cersei did the same to a young Sansa.

As we move on, Jon points out that he bent the knee and gave up his crown to protect the north from the Night King and Tyrion supports his explanation by saying that those who fought against each other have to band together or die. This is after Bran has told everyone that the Night King marches south after toppling the ‘wall’ with the help of his ice dragon Viserion. Everyone is uneasy about the alliances, specifically the part where Tyrion says that Cersei has promised the army from Kings Landing to support this cause.

Tyrion is chastised by Sansa where she tells him sarcastically that she thought that he was the ‘smartest man in Westeros’ but indirectly she is telling him that he is a fool to believe in Cersei’s promises. On the other side Cersei after deciding to send the Lannister army north is already building another army of her own with the help of Euron Greyjoy, who ships in the Golden Company – a group of elite warriors. So Cersei’s plans of fighting the survivors of the Night King vs the North is still in play.

Another important thing to note is that Maester Qyburn comes with an offer from Cersei to Bronn. He makes promises of untold riches, maybe even a castle for Bronn and in return he must kill Tyrion. Qyburn hands Bronn the catapult contraption that shoots an arrow at close range. The same weapon that was used by Tyrion to kill Tywin, clearly all is not forgiven in the Lannister family. But, Bronn is sceptical of Cersei’s promises as he was cheated out of his promised gifts before by Jamie as well.

This first episode is a bit slow and bit light in terms of what is happening because, the major action will come in the coming weeks. Dany takes Jon on a joyride on her dragons, where she is amused by Jon’s scepticism at climbing onto Rhaegal. But Rhaegal accepts him and they both go flying around valleys and cliffs to a hidden waterfall setting. While Jon and Dany shares a personal moment, Jon glances at Drogon and Rhaegal and both of them seem to be scrutinising him for some reason. This again is a clue to the fact that Jon is actually a Targaryen.

Later in the episode is the first meeting between Samwell Tarly and Daenerys, where Daenerys thanks Sam for saving Jorah. But, it is also revealed that she executed Sam’s father and brother for not bending the knee. Sam takes the news strongly and with a little wetness in his eyes but then excuses himself and goes looking for Jon in the crypt. Here he explains Jon’s lineage to him and reveals that he is actually Aegon Targaryen the 6th and not Ned Stark’s bastard. All this in the presence of Ned Stark’s statue, which again is a symbolism of the first season where Ned had promised to reveal everything to Jon about his parentage the next time they met. The real meeting did not happen but this is highly symbolic.

Also Bran is seen seated on his wheel chair in the courtyard where he exclaims that he is waiting for an old friend. The arrival of Jamie Lannister to Winterfell and both Bran and Jamie looking at each other gives indication to who Bran was actually waiting for. This is again a reference to first season where Jamie had pushed Bran off the tower.

The meeting between Arya and Gendry is sweet and flirty in an innocent way. Gendry is now running the forge at Winterfell because he is a master smith as well. He is making dragon glass weapons which can be used against the White Walker army. Arya gives him a blueprint and a request for a specific weapon. The blueprint looks like a projectile weapon with an arrow or spearhead like entity. Now the question is whether Arya plans to use this against the Night King’s army or is this a projectile dragon glass weapon that can bring down an undead dragon like Viserion? That remains to be seen.

On the other hand Tormund, Beric and Edd from the Nightswatch has survived and are racing against time to get back to Winterfell before the Night King and his army. Enroute they go to castle Umber, where they find the entire castle empty and in the hall they see an ominous sign on the wall made of chopped of limbs with young Ned Umber hang up in between the sign.

Ned Umber’s eyes turn blue and before he can attack Tormund, Beric sets him on fire lighting up the entire sign. That sign is a symbol which the Night King and the white walkers have left at several places before. A spiral sigil that can mean several things – to know more about this theory look out for our next piece on the Night King theory.

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