Finally! After more than a year and half since the season seven finale, Game of Thrones is back for its final batch of explosive episodes.
With queer characters like Renly Baratheon, Ser Loras and Oberyn Martell (and even icons like Lady Olenna and Margaery Tyrell) long gone, the show’s queer relevance has disappointingly dipped just as its cultural relevance is hitting a fever pitch. A case can definitely be made that rebelling against societal expectations, defying gender norms and navigating relationships with family (by birth, adoption or choice) could be all be considered inherently queer themes, but, in the end, there are eyeballs from all across the Kinsey Scale still glued to Game of Thrones.
All that said, Winter is here, and we’re going to finish out the series we started recapping back in season five.
And what a start we had! The season eight finale packed so much into its super-sized runtime, there was hardly any time to digest all the reads, reunions and reveals. Let’s jet-set across Westeros and catch up.
Meanwhile, In Winterfell …
Everyone loves a parade, though the throngs of Dothraki and Unsullied marching through Winterfell isn’t receiving the warmest welcome. (And let’s be honest, if this was really a Daenerys Army Pride parade, there’d be at least one float sponsored by the Iron Bank.)
Folks are a bit skeptical of the Targaryen queen, despite their loyalty to Jon Snow and the Starks. Arya and Bran watch the procession, including a fun little shade session between Tyrion and Varys that felt like the Westerosi equivalent of Untucked.
Then, we get reunions aplenty. Jon sees Bran for the first time since leaving for the Night’s Watch. “You’re a man!” Jon exclaims seeing his little bro. “Almost …” Bran eerily replies. That’s so Raven!
Sansa catches up with her ex(still?)- husband Tyrion, whom she last saw at Joffrey’s wedding. “It had its moments,” Sansa says of the event, no doubt reliving Joffrey’s gruesome demise. Sansa, growing more shrewd by the day, essentially tells Tyrion he’s a big dumb dummy for thinking Cersei is going to send any army up to help them.
Arya sees The Hound, still alive, which must’ve been a surprise to her. She sees Gendry, now a sexy Sean Cody-type, which also must’ve been a surprise to her. She sees Jon, which is overall just sweet. Her and her step-brother/cousin talk about swords, but she’s got a shocking lack of follow-up questions about the whole coming back from the dead thing, and he really doesn’t dig too deep into whom exactly she may have used Needle on. There’ll be time for that after they defeat the Night King, I guess. (No, there won’t. Let’s be real, Jon and Arya are not very high on my list of characters most likely to survive.)
Varys, Tyrion and Ser Davos kiki about how totes adorbs Jon and Dany look. Maybe they should get married! Aw!
There is definitely some romance blooming. Dany invites Jon to hop aboard her big, hot dragon, which is not a euphemism, for a little flight around the North. Rhaegal — so named for Jon’s actual birth father — doesn’t eat Jon, which is a good sign. After a romantic flight, they touchdown beside a wintery waterfall and do a little smooching.
It’s all very tender and loving until you remember he’s her nephew. Yikes. These are not our Westerosi Ross and Rachel. They’re Rachel and Ross’ son, Ben! Even Drogon is looking on like “Ew, mom, gross!”
For now, Jon has a pretty full plate of things to worry about. His bannermen (and bannerwomen … bannerpersons?) are uneasy about trusting a Targaryen. They want to know why he would relinquish the crown they gave him. Plus, how are they supposed to feed an entire army of Unsullied and Dothraki. Those guys can EAT. Jon assures them he did what he had to do to keep everyone alive, and all this nonsense about thrones and crowns and titles is just details, details until they defeat the Night King.
Dany and Jorah go to thank Sam for all his awesome work curing Jorah of Greyscale. Sam is happy to help, but while he has the queen’s ear, perhaps this is a good time to ask for a pardon for overdue library fees on a few books he borrowed from the Citadel and also for stealing a Valyrian steel sword from his dad, Lord Tarly.
Tarly? Was that Tarly, you said? Dany is taken aback. See, Sam, funny story, ran into your dad with the Loot Train and, wouldn’t you know, he just would not bend the knee. So, and this is a funny story, really, Dany just had no other choice than to have her dragon burn him alive. Lol!
Now, Sam had a complicated with his dad anyway. Plus, he’s still got that (hot) brother Dickon!
Ooh … about that. Yikes. He also wouldn’t bend the knee, and, this is awkward, he got burned up too!
Elsewhere, Arya pays a visit to Gendry, the Tony Stark of Westeros, to ask him to craft her a weapon. What is it? What’s it for? Who knows!
Sam finds Jon Snow just chillin’ in the tombs. Maybe eager to spoil Dany’s good time, Sam spills the beans to Jon about his true parentage. He is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. That makes him legit half-Stark, half-Targaryen, and, since Lyanna and Rhaegar were married in secret, he has more of a claim to the throne than Daenerys.
This complicates things, obviously. First, he’s been making sexytimes with his aunt, which is a no-no. (It’s less of a no-no in Westeros, but still.) Sam posits to Jon that he was willing to forgo his claim to the crown to save everyone. Would Dany do the same? Jon obviously values justice, but is Dany in it for power? Revenge?
While everyone else is preparing for war or having sweet reunions, Bran has been sitting outside like a total creep, telling folks he was waiting for an old friend. Turns out, the friend he’s been waiting for was none other than Jaime Lannister.
Meanwhile, In King’s Landing …
Euron, the sexy pirate uncle of Yara and Theon, has brought Sexy Pete Holmes from the Golden Company mercenary army to Cersei. She’s a bit disappointed with the lack of elephants, but not enough to deny Euron’s request for a little thank you sex.
Things are getting horny all over King’s Landing. While Cersei is making sexytimes with Euron, Bronn is trying to get it on with a few of Westeros’ finest whores. In sidles Qyburn (someone needs to put a bell on him or something). He tells Bronn that Cersei wants him to murder Jaime and Tyrion using the crossbow Tyrion killed Tywin with. Poetic!
Also, while Euron was busy sailing his schooner into Cersei’s Rebecca, Theon sneaks aboard one of his ships, kills the men (including It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Rob McElhenney and Silicon Valley‘s Martin Starr) and springs his sister Yara free. They take a few ships back to the Iron Islands, which Yara reminds us will be a great place to retreat from Wights if things don’t go great up North. I’M SURE THAT WON’T BE IMPORTANT LATER.
It’s obvious Theon wants to fight alongside Jon and the Starks, and Yara gives him her blessing to do so.
Meanwhile, in the Last Hearth …
In one of the Northern lands, our friends Tormund, Dolorous Edd, Beric Dondarrion and a few other survivors from the fallen Wall have made their way to a seemingly abandoned camp. The Night King has beat them there, and he left them a little present: a turned little boy is staked to the wall surrounded by mangled body parts. His artPOP could mean anything!
But in this case the message is clear: He’s gonna kill everybody.
What did you think of the premiere? Leave your wildest theories in the comments?