Our first episode of this final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones begins with the circus coming to town. The town being Winterfell, and the circus consisting of the largest living army ever assembled. Highlights of the parade include Jon & Dany side by side, the Hound all on his lonesome, Gendry with a dopey look on his face, Tyrion & Varys exchanging barbs, and Grey & Missandei having the wary pleasure of being the first people of color to set foot this far north. And of course Dany’s remaining dragons upstaging everyone.
Jon’s arrival is a happy one, with hugs and hellos and some courtly graces, until Bran breaks the spell with news of Eastwatch’s fall and the Night King’s new pet. Then it’s time for an emergency all-staff meeting, joy of joys. Things are all business until Lyanna Mormont does her usual thing with the ugly truth, this time aimed at Jon and his unseemly bending of the knee to Dany. Jon defends his actions truthfully, Tyrion sticks his oar in, and Sansa and Dany trade some heavy side-eye.
Afterwards, in the first of our truly awkward reunions, Sansa and Tyrion have the talk. Honestly, I’d forgotten these two were married. Anyway, Sansa wins this one hands down.
Less awkward is Arya and Jon’s meetup at the weirwood tree, which is very sweet considering the amount of blood those swords have spilled. Arya goes easy on him, and takes a roundabout route to telling Jon she doesn’t trust Dany either.
Meanwhile back in King’s Landing, Cersei is having herself a good hard smirk as the Iron Fleet arrives with her sellsword army. Also having a wonderful smirk is Euron, although I suspect that’s just his resting facial expression. Yara isn’t doing any smirking, but at least we know she’s still breathing.
And hey, we get smirk versus smirk in the throne room, as Cersei and Euron face off. Euron wins this one in the end, against rather long odds.
First gratuitous nudity! And Bronn! And Qyburn, unfortunately for everyone. And crossbows are a symbol of cowardice and betrayal, in case you missed that up to now.
Yes, Euron has fucked the queen. It must have been fun, if she’s still stuck on those elephants. I’m with her, of course. What’s a circus without elephants? Luckily neither of them want to stick around and cuddle.
Back on Euron’s flagship, it’s longbows and axes and Theon to the rescue. Yara’s not a big hugger, but a head butt can say so much. Once she’s had a bath it’s time to make plans, and apparently she and Theon aren’t going to be in this together. It’s a short rest of the series, and I fear this will be the last we see of our Yara.
Up at Winterfell, more banners are arriving, and there’s more talk of Dany’s current unpopularity. Davos and Varys think a wedding will help things. Dany may have some thoughts, but she’s more worried about her giant beasties not eating.
And in a welcome respite from interpersonal awkwardness, we get to see Jon put his Targaryen ancestry to use on dragonback. It’s some nice CGI and it settles at least one fan theory.
Back to awkward reunions with an Arya twofer: Gendry and the Hound. We establish there are no hard feelings with the Hound (you saw that little smile). And we establish that Gendry is a dork and that Arya doesn’t much mind that.
Jon has got to be sick of giving his stump speech about the endless army of the dead making previous issues moot. This time he’s reviewing it for Sansa, who blames his knee-bending for the recalcitrance of the Stark bannermen. We never get to hear Jon’s answer to her last question, and I don’t think it was rhetorical.
Sam and Jorah’s reunion isn’t awkward until Dany comes clean about incinerating Sam’s dad and brother. Considering his dad gave him the choice of taking the black or having an unfortunate accident, Sam takes the news hard, although perhaps he had better feelings about his brother.
Fresh from that bit of news, Sam gets spooky-ordered by Bran to drop the big news on Jon. It goes about as well as you’d expect, even without anyone saying out loud that he’s in love with his aunt.
Meanwhile, further north at what turns out to be Castle Umber, we get a nearly very awkward reunion with Dolorous Edd, Beric Dondarrion, and Tormund Giantsbane, the latter two of whom should be under a thousand tons of ice and rubble at Eastwatch but who’s counting. The Night King has been busy indeed, including some extensively gruesome interpretive arts & crafts.
Last awkward reunion of the ep? Bran and his old friend Jaime. It all takes place in a glance, but I suspect we are going to get a lot more out of this. Have fun in Winterfell, Kingslayer.