Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 “Winterfell” Written Recap Round-Up

Euron Greyjoy Winterfell episode

Hello and welcome to all new Watchers on the Wall, and, hey, what’s happening, it’s been a while, to all old Watchers on the Wall (The Night’s Watch takes anyone of any age). “What kind of title is this?,” you ask, “Why isn’t there a review in here?” Well, as you might have realized by now…Game of Thrones is pretttttty prettttttty popular, and there are already a fair amount of reviews on the Internet. So vast is the Internet, that we decided it would behoove us to gather all these reviews in one place.

Every Monday night (or Tuesday morning, as the case may be) I’ll be deconstructing the multitude of reviews out there, boiling them down to one short summary sentence that will perfectly encapsulate what the original author was saying, no questions asked…kidding. What I will do is attempt to summarize the original review as best I can, and if my tease whets your appetite for their style of review, you are encouraged to head over to their site and let them know…after of course letting us know your thoughts in the comments below. All squared? Jolly good, let’s dive in.

Here at Watchers on the Wall, we encourage you to ‘Always Support the Bottom.’ This naturally extends to your support of our editor-in-chief Sue the Fury, and her ‘Sullied recap‘ of the episode, in which her background knowledge of the books informs her perspective on the episode. Once you’ve done that, you would do well to support our peerless Oz of Thrones‘sUnsullied recap,’ in which his fearless determination to avoid reading the books has outlasted all others, continuing on for 8 full seasons. After this, you can check out what these Internet critics thought of ‘Winterfell‘:

Akhil Arora, Gadgets 360 – In which he feels the episode was engineered to the moment of Jon’s Aegon reveal.

Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone – In which he does a deep dive into Arya and the Hound’s brief but satisfying reunion.

Alex McLevy, The A.V. Club – In which he thinks that the dragon ride lacked a cathartic thrill to the sequence.

Akash Singh, That Shelf – In which he (of Watchers on the Wall fame) has never felt more seen on Game of Thrones than when northerners see people of color for the first time.

Ciara Wardlow, Film School Rejects – In which she visits the best moments from the season 8 premiere.

Daniel D’Addario, Variety – In which he believes that as the biggest show in the world, Game of Thrones has an obligation to its fans that it didn’t in its first few seasons.

Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter – In which he identifies why he thinks certain people will inevitably love the episode, and others will inevitably hate it.

Dave Gonzales, Thrillist – In which he acknowledges that the way to win an assassin’s heart is level up her dagger to be fatal to White Walkers.

David Malitz, The Washington Post – In which he questions whether we need an answer as to why Jon bent the knee.

David Rosenblatt, Squinty Overanalyzes Things – In which David – Hey wait, that’s me! I wrote this review. You should go check my blog!

Drew Goins, The Washington Post (filling in for Alyssa Rosenberg) – In which he makes good use of the phrase “preternatural calm.”

Hillary Kelly, Vulture – In which she calls out three overarching problems with the episode.

James Brinsford, Mirror – In which he dabbles into the awkwardness of the many reunions.

James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly – In which he gives props to director David Nutter for not being too flashy, while still allowing it to be epic in its own way.

Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds – In which, despite his redemptive arc, she will never forgive Theon for murdering two boys.

Jeremy Egner, New York Times – In which he compares the royalty and melodrama to Downton Abbey.

Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair – In which she questions the nature of Cersei’s morality.

Josh Wigler, Hollywood Reporter – In which he recaps from a mostly objective standpoint, neglecting to delve into the subjective.

Katie Byrne, Digital Spy – In which she has never watched a single episode prior to this, and attempts to sort out what’s happening.

Judy Berman, TIME – In which she believes that Game of Thrones has kicked its 8th season off by amplifying some of its past seasons’ worst mistakes.

Julia Alexander, The Verge – In which she finds the premiere a little lackluster in regards to violent devastation.

Kathryn VanArendonk, Vulture – In which she thinks the season 8 premiere is the best premiere since season 1 because of the way it combines necessary plot milestones with sequences of straightforward indulgence.

Kelly Lawler, USA Today – In which she says the episode concluded with a pitch-perfect callback to the series premiere.

Kim Renfro – Business Insider – In which she goes into detail on details you caught and details you missed.

Laura Hudson, WIRED– In which she says that the episode brings Game of Thrones full circle.

Laura Stone, Hey Don’t Judge Me – In which she loves how Tyrion genuinely respects Sansa.

Lauren Sarner, New York Post – In which she deduces how the story may be setting up Arya to kill the Night King.

Mark Perigard, Boston Herald – In which he feels everyone had a pithy one-liner or three.

Michael Hogan, Vanity Fair – In which Daenerys didn’t get the memo not to wear white after Labor Day in the North.

Michael Rogeau, Gamespot – In which he feels that due to the slow roll out of the books, characters have become barely recognizable from the original text on the page.

Melanie McFarland, Salon – In which she waxes poetic about Maisie Williams’ quietly powerful performances over the years, but Sophie Turner‘s refined serenity feels welcomingly new.

Mike Bloom, Parade – In which he dubs Dany and Jon this season’s ‘it couple.’

Myles McNutt, The AV Club – In which he thinks that Arya’s reunions work as much on the audience as they do on Arya.

Neela Debnath, Express – In which she believes there was good pacing to the story.

Rob Bricken, io9 – In which he thinks the workman-like mentality felt the show was trying to get all its scenes done and out of the way as quickly as possible.

Ron Hogan, Den of Geek –In which he feels that writer Dave Hill‘s script wan’t too schmaltzy or forced, and made Jon and Arya’s reunion feel sweet and natural.

Sarah Hughes, The Guardian – In which she believes that Bronn’s sexposition scenes felt so much like the first season that it must have been yet another homage.

Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone – In which he thinks that the Drogon stare-down is familiar to anyone who’s tried doing the naughty under the watchful eye of a cat.

Soumya Srivastava, Hindustan Times – In which she finds it a jerky beginning with hopefully smooth sailing from here on out.

Tim Surette, TV Guide – In which he just loves it when the show kills kids.

Todd VanDerWerff, Vox – In which he looks at the seven winners and eight losers of the episode.

Tori Preston, Pajiba – In which she claims that Jaime simply seeing Bran sitting there was the sickest burn of all.

Verne Gay, Newsday – In which he fashions the episode more of a fan-pleaser than a crowd-pleaser.

Thanks for joining this week. Whose reviews did you love/hate, with all due respect of course, and as always?

34 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. mau,

      Just like every other episode.

      I remember when these recaps featured a quarter of the reviews we see now. Thanks for the summaries. I don’t think I’ve read full reviews these last 3 or 4 seasons, but I do check the summaries.

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    2. A lot of these reviews contradict themselves. Like the Time’s one. Somehow it’s both too slow and too fast at the same time.

      The Time’s review in particular is dumb as shit.

      “or extended expositional passages devoted to relaying one small piece of information (how much time did it take for us to find out that Theon was going to Winterfell instead of the Iron Islands?),”

      Extended expositional passage?? It’s literally a 1 minute scene, genius. And you complain we get too little time with the characters, but then bash this scene for taking too long explaining a characters motivation!

      In general the discourse about the pacing and how much time is spent on every scene is totally idiotic now. That Rob Bricken I09 review he’s practically got the bloody stopwatch out to check how much time each scene gets, how the Jon revelation scene compares to the Bronn scene (yes I realise I’m guilty of this too). It’s just so stupid. If people applied the same standards to the earlier seasons it would never have gotten good reviews.

      There are massively important scenes in the first season of the show that are like 1 or 2 minutes long. Now people demand that Jon’s parentage be revealed in a 10 minute long scene, explaining everything, nevermind that it’s been sussed out for seasons now

        Quote  Reply

    3. Another problem: there is no longer the pretense of good faith anymore in how most people. People have their narrative about the problems with the show (it’s rushed, they aren’t taking their time, they’ve abandoned characterization), and half the reviews now are an exercise in confirmation bias. They’re actively searching for problems. Nevermind that if anything by Thrones standards this was a leisurely episode.

      For some there’s no patience, no suggestion that perhaps certain things will be elaborated on later or given greater depth. Each episode has failed before it aired.

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    4. Lauren Sarner, New York Post – In which she deduces how the story may be setting up Arya to kill the Night King.

      That’s been a prediction/hope/baseless wish of mine for awhile now. If it comes to pass in some form or fashion, I’ll be a very happy Dolorous Methuselah. If she does it by somehow wearing the face of a Walker or a Wight to get close to him, I’m gonna have to start playing the lottery.

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    5. Tyrion Pimpslap:
      mau,

      Just like every other episode.

      I remember when these recaps featured a quarter of the reviews we see now. Thanks for the summaries. I don’t think I’ve read full reviews these last 3 or 4 seasons, but I do check the summaries.

      Lol Mau summarized them himself!

        Quote  Reply

    6. If you ever feel useless and unimportant, remember that somewhere there’s a person who wrote an article for digitalspy.com with a review of the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere while never having seen a single previous episode, and feel better about yourself.

        Quote  Reply

    7. Really good episode. I hope they build on it. Can’t wait to see how the Aegon bombshell effects the story and relationships of the main characters. I look forward to Varys’ reaction quite a bit.

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    8. Thank you, David, for collating all these reviews/recaps with links. I’ll read/watch them over the coming days before S8E2.

      It’s nice to know the MSM is almost as obsessed with GoT final season as I am.

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    9. Tyrion Pimpslap,

      Why Varys’s reaction?

      I’m not really questioning you, I’m questioning Varys. Or mostly the showrunners.

      The show changed his probable raison d’etre and made him a straight-forward Dany = Targaryen supporter.

      Conleth Hill is great as Varys, but I feel he’s a bit underutilised. Being the butt of Tyrion’s lame cock jokes for several seasons does get a bit tedious and tired.

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    10. Agreed that there are so many reviews nowadays, but the show is such a behemoth no one is going to miss out on those clicks. As it is the final season, I’ve pretty much decided to just go completely all out and read as many reviews as possible as it is the final season. I’m going to work my way through most of these this week, and see who I like the look of in addition to my current favourites.

      One reviewer I’ve always been a big fan of is Sarah Hughes of The Guardian. I think she writes really well about the episodes, and gives some intelligent thoughts. I hope she is able to finish the series, because she is brilliant. She is also doing weekly recaps of the superb Line of Duty at the moment which are just as good.

        Quote  Reply

    11. talvikorppi,

      He’s the Spider. The Master Of Whisperers. He’s famed for having spys all over the world. In the show, he’s been all about the Targaryen restoration. The qualities of the ruler he has described as his preference arguably fit Jon better than Dany. And yet he had zero inkling of Jon’s true identity. I think his reaction would be very interesting. Would he be a skeptic, or would he try to piece together whatever info he had that he may have overlooked? Hopefully we find out.

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    12. Tyrion Pimpslap,

      Once Varys sees a fleet of red priestesses/priests flocking to Westeros with Melisandre in support of Dany I think he’ll start seriously questioning his allegiance to Dany.

      I think that’ll be his impetus for betraying Dany…if indeed he does betray her at all.

        Quote  Reply

    13. my problem with the episode, and maybe they will address it in Episode 2, is that neither Jon nor Dany seems to demonstrate a sense of urgency. We see Sansa being busy. Gendry is busy. There’s tons of activity going on around them, but Jon and Dany seem to simply wander around the grounds of Winterfell, go dragon riding, etc, and not once has Dany said to Sansa, or the assembled Lords: ” I’m not here as a conqueror. I’ve come to help you. Please tell me what we can do.” I haven’t observed the Dothraki or the Unsullied doing much. Standing shoulder to shoulder helping prepare for their enemy would help dispel a lot of the hostility, suspicion and fear the North is going through right now. All Dany ever talks about is getting respect or bending the knee, and she seems too imperious. The weeping young woman who sat at Jon Snow’s bedside hoping to deserve the support of the North has vanished. I want her to come back. For instance I want her to go to Samwell, and tell him how profoundly sorry she is that it happened. She needs to show her humanity. I like Dany. I don’t say this because I’m taking sides or anything. I just see it as a flaw in the way they’re developing her character arc. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything.

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    14. Roz’s Ghost: For instance I want her to go to Samwell, and tell him how profoundly sorry she is that it happened. She needs to show her humanity.

      This just doesn’t make sense though. As far as she’s concerned she did the right thing. She gave them the choice to die. It would be totally out of character

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    15. costello,

      Well, IMO I think what would make sense about it is that she shows some humanity. She expresses her regret, that she took no pleasure in killing any of those men. There is nothing wrong with telling Sam she is deeply sorry for the pain this caused him. This is a moment when war becomes a very personal act.

      I never joined the chorus of those who thought Dany was wrong, or she was impulsive, unstable, too emotional, etc.etc. I felt she did what she had to do. She was in a battle with the Lannister forces. Tarley was defiant towards her. He was insulting. He did not accept defeat, and even as a commander he had demonstrated he had no care for his soldiers.

      Tyrion pointed out that he transferred his loyalties easily. He’d been pledged to the Tyrells for decades beyond counting and suddenly he was a Lannister ally against his them. Randyll Tarley was not an honorable man.

      Even his son admitted the pain and difficulty he had fighting against men he knew and had trained with. All I’m saying is I wish Dany had shown some similar regret for having to go down that road.

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    16. Roz’s Ghost,

      None of it makes any sense. When Jon bent the knee he did so voluntarily. Dany was ready to help by then without him swearing fealty to her. Now its she made me do it. It just sucks.

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    17. Roz’s Ghost,

      I understand that they could have shown more activity from the royal leaders but I think it is implied throughout the episode as you see Gendy being busy creating Dragonglass weapons, the armies preparing defensive structures around WF and the general hustle within the courtyard. All those are preparations which likely have been ordered by Jon/Dany. Maybe they could have shown briefly a tactical table showing their armies arrangement or so, but again, I think it is implied.

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    18. Undead Elephant:
      Just realised that Nikolaj got paid million of dollars for that one expression change.

      And with a few seconds, NCW joined John Bradley as having the best performances of the night.

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    19. In Episode 1 IJon Snow got the revelation that he is the true king of the Seven kingdoms, but he didn’t like that it seems like.

      Meantime Danaerys is very sure of her will to be the queen. And she is strong, fierce and sometimes tearing and dreadful as in the case of Sam´s father and brother, who refused to swear their trust to her, even though she gave them the choice. The kings and queens of GOT are watching their power with a tradition of killing so I guess thats the way it goes?
      A lot of us are still routing for Danaerys to be the queen! She is kind of an underdog, who still believed in herself through her hardship and thats admirable. As a fan I made a tribute son to Danaerys 🙂 A hero song here with lyrics and a collage of scenes from Danaerys. Its not monetized so no ADS! Listen and tell me what you think! Do you think Danaerys should be the true ruler of the seven kingdoms/queendoms? 🙂

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    20. If Arya kills the Night King it better be damn good. I cringe at the idea of it being purely fan service. I keep picturing the cheesy Lord of the Rings scene at the battle for Minas Tirith where Eowyn tells the wraith shes no man then finishes him off.

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    21. talvikorppi:
      Thank you, David, for collating all these reviews/recaps with links. I’ll read/watch them over the coming days before S8E2.

      It’s nice to know the MSM is almost as obsessed with GoT final season as I am.

      Second this. It is nice to have the descriptions to help narrow down which I’m interested in reading first, some are just so tantalizing 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    22. Ser Brocolli McBrocolliface:
      If Arya kills the Night King it better be damn good. I cringe at the idea of it being purely fan service. I keep picturing the cheesy Lord of the Rings scene at the battle for Minas Tirith where Eowyn tells the wraith shes no man then finishes him off.

      well, IF she does – I’m assuming it is because it was also part of GRRM original plan for all the main characters… IF so I guess she has gone on this warrior training since season 1 for a reason other than just her list… if all the remaining POV characters are there for a reason greater than themselves, so is Arya and Bran gave her the dagger for a reason, i assume… again IF so, I doubt they will go cheesy with it – it will be dangerous and harrowing, no one liners – might even lead to her death as well.

      I say ‘IF’ because I’m not really behind this theory, but I do acknowledge the possibility.

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    23. “Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds – In which, despite his redemptive arc, she will never forgive Theon for murdering two boys.”

      Me neither.

        Quote  Reply

    24. viki: Second this. It is nice to have the descriptions to help narrow down which I’m interested in reading first, some are just so tantalizing 🙂

      Thank you! Just a head’s up, that I try to space out as much commentary on different parts of the episode as I can. So, even if a reviewer had a particularly funny or good take on the magic dragon carpet ride, I still couldn’t quote that part for each person, as my summaries would become stale. So, I tried to capture at least one quote that hits on each major scene (or even minor scene.)

      Thanks for enjoying – any favourites?

        Quote  Reply

    25. Northstar:
      “Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds – In which, despite his redemptive arc, she will never forgive Theon for murdering two boys.”

      Me neither.

      Petra will have your tongue for that.

        Quote  Reply

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