The Writing on the Wall: The Callbacks of “Winterfell”

Bronn Crosbow 801 Season 8 Winterfell

The final season premiere of Game of Thrones (excuse me while I reach for my Costco-sized box of tissues) came with great expectation and went. It was just shy of an hour, bursting with moments of hilarity, discomfort, and a moment or two of questionable dialogue. It was gorgeous and cinematic, as we have come to expect from the HBO juggernaut. Ramin Djawadi continues to be the proverbial handsome God of Music.

The sharpest note of “Winterfell,” however, was not a singular scene but rather how deeply the writing harkened back to the pilot episode of the show: “Winter is Coming.” The echoes were present from the opening scene to the closing shot. Some of the callbacks were more subtle than others, but in the context of this being the beginning of the end, it largely worked. The key was for the show to toe the line of tapping into to our deep sense of nostalgia but in away that feels like the story is moving forward, that things have changed, maybe irrevocably.

The opening scene harkens back to Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) climbing stones and trees to catch a better glimpse of the arriving Baratheon royal family. Here it is an unknown boy doing the same to catch a glimpse of the arriving Targaryen army. Arya (Maisie Williams) is once again initially missing from the welcoming party, rushing to observe her memories from the past in the flesh and seeing the dragons with an eye of wonder. Fittingly, it is Sansa (Sophie Turner) who formally welcomes the new arriving party, a key reversal from a pilot where she wanted nothing more than to be as far away from the North as humanly possible.

Jon Snow Daenerys Targaryen Season 8 801 Winterfell

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) remarks to Sansa about the beauty that she holds, a remark a younger Sansa took with great pride from Cersei (Lena Headey) but now looks upon with a sharp disinterest. Sansa understandably worries about the grain and supplies rations now that there is an army of Unsullied, Dothraki, and two fully grown dragons. It’s a valid concern echoed by Catelyn’s (Michelle Fairley) pilot concerns about the amount of alcohol alone Robert (Mark Addy) was going to consume.

In the macabre, destroyed halls of Last Hearth, Lord Ned Umber (Harry Grasby) unfortunately continues to remind us why it is a bad idea to name a child “Ned.” The limb, um, artistry, around his displayed body is reminiscent of the design the White Walkers left in their wake at the beginning of the series. When he awakes, his eyes pop and I was instantly reminded of the young girl in the pilot, whose piercing blue eyes instantly told the audience that there was something terrible amiss.

Lord Umber burning Winterfell episode

Arya and Jon’s (Kit Harington) reunion held a significant amount of pathos. Arya and Jon spent little screen time together, but their importance on one another’s character development was immense. When she presents Needle to Jon, it mirrors the heartbreaking scene in season one where Jon gave her that very sword, a sign that he believed in the path she was choosing for herself. The additional pathos in this nostalgic comeback comes from Jon not realizing yet how much Arya has changed since the last time they had seen one another. It mirrors additionally how Jon has yet to fully realize how much Sansa has changed and how much more capable she has become.

Bronn (Jerome Flynn) echoes Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) brothel dalliances in a callback that was maybe gratuitous but ends on a note of poignant tragedy. In the latter’s case, he was interrupted by his brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and in this case, it is arguably the less pleasant company of Qyburn (Anton Lesser). Qyburn’s arrival signals further memories from “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (Episode 3.02) and “The Children” (Episode 410). The most infamous crossbow in Game of Thrones history, it was a tool of manipulation by Margaery (Natalie Dormer) against Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and it was used by Tyrion to discover that Tywin (Charles Dance) did not in fact shit gold.

The writers making that particular crossbow a potential weapon by which Bronn is going to kill Tyrion and or Jaime is more than just “a keen sense of poetic justice.” It’s a beautiful layering that exemplifies the types of callbacks and nostalgia that lift a story instead of just giving it a cheap emotional punch. Tyrion was often used to psychological abuse by his family, often finding some reprieve only in Jaime’s presence. Bronn arguably became his truest friend, the one with whom he was able to forge a deep friendship in spite of their numerous difference. For that friendship, never absent their respective realities, to be attacked by the same crossbow Tyrion used to put an end to his abusive father is heartbreakingly poignant.

75 responses

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    1. I’d love to see Podrick come through for Tyrion again and kill or incapacitate Bronn, if Bronn tries to kill Tyrion. I don’t think Podrick likes Bronn very much.

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    2. Totally off topic, but will you guys be publishing a schedule for the season as you’ve done in the past ? Like what sorts of posts and discussions we can expect for every day of the week ?

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    3. Things I liked:
      The scene at the Umber castle (my favorite part of the episode)

      Qyburn’s “The pox will take her within the year” line

      Jaime seeing Bran at the end of the episode

      Sam telling Jon about his parentage

      Didn’t like:

      Yara’s rescue. That happened so fast it almost made me think that D&D originally had a different ending in mind, but changed it at the last second or something. Perhaps they made season 7 the way they did with the thought in mind that Theon’s remaining arc would end with a showdown between himself and Euron trying to save Yara in the last season, but decided to change it for season 8 to have Theon go back to Winterfell and end his arc there.

      Not enough time for certain scenes to breathe. For example, when Dany finds out that Viserion was razed by the NK. That scene should’ve had a ton of emotional weight to it, but it amounted to nothing. No real reactions from anyone.

      Same thing when Jon hears that the Wall fell. It’s something that he’s been spending 7 plus seasons trying to stop and risked his life many times for, but he just had this “huh, that’s interesting” look on his face for a second when he heard the news and then moved on to something else. This should be a much bigger deal than what I saw conveyed on screen.

      Not sure how I feel:

      The reunions were….ok. Didn’t think they were bad, but there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about either. It kind of just was what it was.

      The dragon ride. It was kinda cheesy, but not that bad. It had to happen sooner or later. Though, I thought some of the dialog when they landed was forced. The “stay for 1,000 years” line was interesting, like they were trying to echo the Ygritte and Jon cave scene, but it didn’t really work for me. That line could be an interesting foreshadow for the end of the show though.

      Euron. I can’t decide if he’s really corny or not. I go back and forth on this one a lot.

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    4. About the diagram that Arya gave Gendry which had the word “dragonglass” on it, when did Arya have time to learn to read and write?

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    5. Catspaw Assassin:
      About the diagram that Arya gave Gendry which had the word “dragonglass” on it, when did Arya have time to learn to read and write?

      She could definitely already read – see her scenes with Tywin and him specifically saying “My cupbearer can read better than you” to the guy who sent a scroll to a Stark-supporting family. I would assume she learned to write as well, in her studies at Winterfell.

      About the ep, I did thoroughly enjoy it as a return ep and a tablesetting ep. But Dave Hill just isn’t a great writer. His words are so obvious that you can guess what comes next. See specifically: Have you ever used it? Once or twice and What do I hold on to? Whatever you can. The writing was so pedestrian in parts that I could say the next line before the actor did. Also, I believe some of the better lines were actually written by D&D. The inside the ep has Weiss saying that “the part they were most excited to write was the reunion between The Hound and Arya.”

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    6. I don’t think there is any way Bronn kills Tyrion or Jamie with the crossbow. Bronn has already indicated he wants to be on the winning side – the one with the dragons. Now he’s headed North with a wagon of gold and Tyrion’s promise to double it. It does concern me about Ser Jorah’s potentially foreshadowing comment in the last season 7 episode where he warns Dany that any hero with a crossbow could kill her on the way to Winterfell. Isn’t it also ironic that Bronn has already used a crossbow to wound Drogon? Just like Jamie having to prove himself worthy in episode 2, Bronn will have some explaining to do if he wants to join team Dany and Jon.

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    7. Catspaw Assassin:
      About the diagram that Arya gave Gendry which had the word “dragonglass” on it, when did Arya have time to learn to read and write?

      Umm, is that a serious question? She wasn’t a baby when the series starts, for starters. She’s older than Bran, so do you think he can’t read and write either? We saw scenes of his ‘classes’ with Maester Luwin so it should be assumed all of the Starks were taught. Ned wanted his children learned. Beyond that, while the show didn’t depict it, while she’s at the HoBaW in the books she learns A LOT as well, including multiple languages.

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    8. Laura: She could definitely already read – see her scenes with Tywin and him specifically saying “My cupbearer can read better than you” to the guy who sent a scroll to a Stark-supporting family. I would assume she learned to write as well, in her studies at Winterfell.

      Definitely one of my all-time favorite scenes! 😉

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    9. Yara’s rescue – a bit rushed, but remember Euron cut out the tongues of the crew on his ship, so no warning cries of alarm, plus I doubt Euron would post a big security force right in the harbor at King’s Landing. Probably just me, but Cersei seemed to appreciate the good looks of the leader of the Golden Company, and Euron noticed that.

      I do think that Tyrion was starting to fall for Sansa, right after they got married. Maybe still carrying a torch.

      Give John Bradley an Emmy RIGHT NOW. Such restraint.

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    10. Michelle,

      I think Podrick is going to show he is quire good with a sword when the time comes. He has been training with Brien after all, and i think it would be great if he bested Bronn with a “dirty trick” and Bron acknowledges him before he dies. Tyrion makes a comment about he would have paid him more.

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    11. Mr Derp,

      Fully agree on every point!
      Dialogs were kinda, well… forced at least. Although I liked the episode, and had in mind that it’s going to be more of an introductory episode, most of it didn’t feel natural.
      The thing I really hate, and it started since season 7, is the montage. I prefered when characters had their full time of episode in one or two scenes. In this episode we had Jon here, Jon there, Jon on the ride, Jon in the crypts. It’s really too dynamic for me.

      And I love the music, it was great, but a little bit too much. I think a little bit more subtle episode would do better. But still, it was fun to watch 🙂

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    12. Besides Margery stroking it and Tyrion borrowing it, that crossbow was also used by Joffrey to torture and kill Rose. How can you all forget poor Queen-of-exposition Rose? The crossbow has as much of a through-line as Arya’s dagger (with the end uses of both yet to be revealed…)

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    13. Mr Derp:
      Things I liked:
      The scene at the Umber castle (my favorite part of the episode)

      Qyburn’s “The pox will take her within the year” line

      Jaime seeing Bran at the end of the episode

      Sam telling Jon about his parentage

      Didn’t like:

      Yara’s rescue.That happened so fast it almost made me think that D&D originally had a different ending in mind, but changed it at the last second or something.Perhaps they made season 7 the way they did with the thought in mind that Theon’s remaining arc would end with a showdown between himself and Euron trying to save Yara in the last season, but decided to change it for season 8 to have Theon go back to Winterfell and end his arc there.

      Not enough time for certain scenes to breathe.For example, when Dany finds out that Viserion was razed by the NK.That scene should’ve had a ton of emotional weight to it, but it amounted to nothing.No real reactions from anyone.

      Same thing when Jon hears that the Wall fell.It’s something that he’s been spending 7 plus seasons trying to stop and risked his life many times for, but he just had this “huh, that’s interesting” look on his face for a second when he heard the news and then moved on to something else.This should be a much bigger deal than what I saw conveyed on screen.

      Not sure how I feel:

      The reunions were….ok.Didn’t think they were bad, but there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about either.It kind of just was what it was.

      The dragon ride.It was kinda cheesy, but not that bad.It had to happen sooner or later.Though, I thought some of the dialog when they landed was forced.The “stay for 1,000 years” line was interesting, like they were trying to echo the Ygritte and Jon cave scene, but it didn’t really work for me.That line could be an interesting foreshadow for the end of the show though.

      Euron.I can’t decide if he’s really corny or not.I go back and forth on this one a lot.

      Completely agree. You nailed it.

      The fact that there was basically zero reaction to what should have been two extremely shocking and terrifying pieces of news (the Wall and Viserion) is my biggest gripe honestly.

      It’s really, really weird that no one seemed to really give a shit. They should have shown much more panic, horror, and fear in everyone’s behavior. Especially realizing that now they’ll have to face a fucking dragon, and Dany realizing that she’ll have to fight one of her children.

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    14. Tom Houk,

      I kind of love your theory on Bronn killing Dany with a crossbow, but if he wants to be on the winning side, I don’t see it happening…

      But stranger things have happened! I wouldn’t put it past our boys

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    15. Adam: Dialogs were kinda, well… forced at least. Although I liked the episode, and had in mind that it’s going to be more of an introductory episode, most of it didn’t feel natural.

      Totally agree with this, and it’s honestly one of the biggest problems of the show’s recent seasons. Weak dialogue, and forced/unnatural behavior from characters. Things don’t feel as organic or real as they did in the beginning.

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    16. Mr Derp,

      Couldn’t agree more with just about everything you said. I was so pumped for Jon and Arya’s reuniting, so yet I was so underwhelmed by it. Can’t believe I waited two years for that! And Dany’s reaction about Viserion being turned, I needed more from that as well.

      Your whole post was spot on.

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    17. Mr Derp:
      Things I liked:
      The scene at the Umber castle (my favorite part of the episode)

      Qyburn’s “The pox will take her within the year” line

      Jaime seeing Bran at the end of the episode

      Sam telling Jon about his parentage

      Didn’t like:

      Yara’s rescue.That happened so fast it almost made me think that D&D originally had a different ending in mind, but changed it at the last second or something.Perhaps they made season 7 the way they did with the thought in mind that Theon’s remaining arc would end with a showdown between himself and Euron trying to save Yara in the last season, but decided to change it for season 8 to have Theon go back to Winterfell and end his arc there.

      Not enough time for certain scenes to breathe.For example, when Dany finds out that Viserion was razed by the NK.That scene should’ve had a ton of emotional weight to it, but it amounted to nothing.No real reactions from anyone.

      Same thing when Jon hears that the Wall fell.It’s something that he’s been spending 7 plus seasons trying to stop and risked his life many times for, but he just had this “huh, that’s interesting” look on his face for a second when he heard the news and then moved on to something else.This should be a much bigger deal than what I saw conveyed on screen.

      Not sure how I feel:

      The reunions were….ok.Didn’t think they were bad, but there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about either.It kind of just was what it was.

      The dragon ride.It was kinda cheesy, but not that bad.It had to happen sooner or later.Though, I thought some of the dialog when they landed was forced.The “stay for 1,000 years” line was interesting, like they were trying to echo the Ygritte and Jon cave scene, but it didn’t really work for me.That line could be an interesting foreshadow for the end of the show though.

      Euron.I can’t decide if he’s really corny or not.I go back and forth on this one a lot.

      Pretty much this. I thought Dany barely reacting to Viserion being raised was the most bizarre part of the premeire and the Theon rescue mission was wonky. The song used for Aegon flying Rhaegal left a lot to be desired as well. My favorite scene was Jaime/Bran and I also enjoyed Arya/Aegon and Arya/Gendry. Would have liked to see the NK/AotD attacking Last Hearth, but I get why they went with the horror aspect of having them find Ned and the symbol. I’m certain now that we will not see the AotD until 803. Also disappointed that the elephants didn’t make it in and Ghost wasn’t there to greet Aegon 🤦‍♂️

      Overall though I enjoyed it and it’s just great to have GoT back!

      Edit: Harry Strickland’s debut was a dud and nothing about the KL arc excites me. I’m almost certain Bronn will not kill Jaime or Tyrion.

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    18. djs111: Probably just me, but Cersei seemed to appreciate the good looks of the leader of the Golden Company, and Euron noticed that.

      I noticed that too. I also thought, “gee, he looks a lot like a younger Jaime…just her type.”

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    19. I didn’t mind the Theon/Yara rescue mission. Yes, they could have shown us how they snuck onto a ship in the middle of a thousand other ships (or how they knew which one to raid). But in all honesty, I didn’t really care. Euron was too busy getting it on with Queen Cercei and had grown cockier (if that’s possible), and that was enough explanation to me.

      All we needed to know at this point was that Theon was growing some cajones back, that Yara had forgiven him (after a nice hearty headbutt), and that Theon had her blessing to go help his other family. It was also nice to know that Team Winterfell would have a place to retreat if they lost the first battle (which I’m guessing they do).

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    20. Also needed much more from Aegon after flying a dragon for the first time AND being the first non Targaryen that they know of (they didn’t know at the time that he is obviously) to fly one other then a measly “You’ve spoiled horses for me.” That’s it? 🤦‍♂️

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    21. Ah, I knew there was a crossbow scene I was forgetting! I blame finals exams stress for not writing about Ros’s sad demise (I will likely get to it in a future “Writing on the Wall.”)

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    22. ThisGirlHasNoName,

      I think the rushed pacing there was also a callback to when Yara tries to save Theon in season 4. That was also really rushed. And also had an axe buried in someone’s skull.

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    23. Catspaw Assassin:
      About the diagram that Arya gave Gendry which had the word “dragonglass” on it, when did Arya have time to learn to read and write?

      When she was reading and stealing Tywin’s battle plans at Harrenhal, and locating books from stacks just by the titles on their binders when even Tywin’s generals couldn’t read that well.
      And as she semi-lied to Tywin, her father was a well-read stone mason.

      A Girl has many gifts.

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    24. Somebody mentioned Ros upthread. Coincidentally I attended a French conversation group this afternoon. We were a smaller number than usual and (apart from the awful fire in Notre Dame in Paris) we were discussing books. Now bearing in mind I have known this lady off and on for about 7 years, I learned today that another member of the group had read the ASOIAF books (well she gave up part way through ADWD because she felt the book had become bloated). One of the other ladies had asked if the books were any good and this lady said yes they were, just that she grew weary of ADWD. She said she only watched one episode of the TV show and she thought it was like ’60s porn and gave up – I was trying to think why she might have thought that and then wondered if it was to do with the Tyrion (and Ros) brothel scene. Of course actors of the presence of Charles Dance hadn’t appeared in the dramatization at that stage. I sometimes wonder if I would have been less forgiving of the changes made in adaptation in GoT if I had read the books before watching the show. I did think there were some rexy-sexy bits in the books also though.

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    25. Nick20: Completely agree. You nailed it.

      The fact that there was basically zero reaction to what should have been two extremely shocking and terrifying pieces of news (the Wall and Viserion) is my biggest gripe honestly.

      It’s really, really weird that no one seemed to really give a shit. They should have shown much more panic, horror, and fear in everyone’s behavior. Especially realizing that now they’ll have to face a fucking dragon, and Dany realizing that she’ll have to fight one of her children.

      I get it, there wasn’t as much emotion by either Dany or Jon about the wall/viserion that one would expect but what would’ve worked there?

      Dany hears the news, sits down and asks for a paper bag to breathe in? Perhaps Jon should’ve screamed out WTF whilst throwing his hands in the air?

      All jokes aside, Dany had a horrific look on her face for about 1.5 seconds but I just assumed we’d see more from her when she physically sees IceAir V flying about trying to kill her.

      In a perfect world the first 2 episodes would be about 10 mins longer to give us more space and time with our favorite characters but like I tell my 2 kids, you get what you get, don’t throw a fit. Unless you’re Brienne who had as many words of dialogue in ep 1 that I did. She should throw a fit.

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    26. Laura,

      I’m afraid I reluctantly have to agree with you about the predictability of the dialogue. (Isn’t D. Hill a junior varsity scribe?)

      About Arya-Hound: To me, their encounter didn’t quite jibe with Arya’s admissions to Jaqen 2.0 and the Waif in S5 and S6 about her conflicted feelings about Sandor: she really didn’t hate him, didn’t want him to suffer, and didn’t want him to die.

      Nevertheless, we now have a proper name for Arya’s VS dagger. (“Catspaw Dagger” sounded silly.)

      Henceforth, I shall refer to that Valyrian Steel weapon as…

      “Cold Little Bitch”

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    27. Thank you Akash for the post! I immediately felt the S1E1 call backs when they overlapped Robert’s procession music with the Unsullied score – so fantastic!
      I also like how you touched on the Jon-Arya reunion scene. It seemed like he was trying to act as if they were co-conspirators, an “us against the world” vibe, not realising that their worlds have changed and they are both different people. I think all the Starks will have to find their bearings around each other and understand the people they are now instead of who they were.

      As for Bronn, I’m not completely sure he’d kill Jaime and/or Tyrion unless the price was absolutely right. He’s a bit of a wild card for me in that situation. Either way I’ve been ready for Bronn to die since like Season 2. Not to say I hate the character – he’s thoroughly entertaining, I just haven’t been too invested in him.

      Laura,

      “About the ep, I did thoroughly enjoy it as a return ep and a tablesetting ep. But Dave Hill just isn’t a great writer. His words are so obvious that you can guess what comes next.”

      Completely agree with you there! I said the same thing in the previous Night’s Cast Ep 19 post. I’ve actually consistently felt underwhelmed with the episodes Hill has written. Not that I did not like them completely, they just were not my favourite. Which is so interesting because he has read the books and he writes the Histories and Lore videos for the special features which are great, but unfortunately, his show writing has been underwhelming.

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    28. Mr Derp,

      I’m with you on ALL of this. When I made a couple of these points on other threads, though, a number of people jumped all over my shit (I wasn’t giving Jon and Dany a break for being romantic, I just want all action all the time, etc.).

      Um, NO.

      If I found out tomorrow that one of my children had been turned into a zombie warrior, a romantic horseback ride on the beach with my husband wouldn’t be the first thing on my mind. Also, I’d be upset. And it would show.

      /end rant

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    29. Interesting image at 34:51 during dragon riding. Aerial view of Winterfell. Can see lots the tents outside, I guess that’s the Unsullied? Not clear where the Dothraki are camped*.
      Sansa complaining about logistics. In the books GRRM always has supply trains (well even camp followers, like 100,000!) I guess it’s boring in visual narrative to cover that?

      *Tho were do all those fleeing refugees abide?

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    30. Ten Bears: About Arya-Hound: To me, their encounter didn’t quite jibe with Arya’s admissions to Jaqen 2.0 and the Waif in S5 and S6 about her conflicted feelings about Sandor: she really didn’t hate him, didn’t want him to suffer, and didn’t want him to die.

      Yeah, don’t even get me going on that.

      A Girl seems to have regressed to her S3 self, which renders her Braavos arc pointless. Still holding on to rage, and if she’s such a fucking expert in the game of faces, why can’t she see he actually cares about her?

      Yeah, I’m pissed. They’d better fix that shit before one of them dies.

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    31. Reading all the rants and all the grips everybody had with the episode, I feel glad I was actually able to love this episode all way through… not that I would expect any less of my personal GoT enjoyment in first place.

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    32. I am still in shock from the mere fact I watched a new Game of Thrones Episode. It felt like forever, but nonetheless this episode delivered. No matter what I watch this season I will be a true fan of the art. I am glad I rewatched the entire series, but most importantly season 1. The show has come full circle and I can’t help but be excited and sad at the same time. Each reunion was spot on from the rewatch, I thought it was important prior to the episode to see where these characters left off with each other. I thought each reunion delivered from the last time these characters interacted with each other. Jon and Arya was the reunion I felt was the most real life spot on but all the reunions if you go back and look at their last encounters seemed genuine. Having pretty much all the main characters in the same place this episode provided everything that was needed. I can’t wait to see the next 5 episodes and will undoubtedly be devastated to see this show end. I love this series and everything involved with it!!!!

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    33. Wolfish,

      I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach to the Arya/Hound reunion, because there has to be more to come. Weiss did say that this was one of the things they were most looking forward to, and if that’s so, it’s not going to simply amount to 3 lines spoken between them.

      I felt it was a bit too brief as well, but I certainly was not expecting a happy, mushy kind of reunion between them. I think Arya does know that he cares about her, and she knows she cares about him, but they didn’t exactly part on the best of terms. Initially, I think it makes sense that they both have their guard up.

      If I’m wrong, well.. then I’ll majorly bummed out as well, but I’m hopeful that they will have more scenes together where they will eventually let their guards down and won’t be so cold towards one another.

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    34. Jack Bauer 24,

      It’s almost like they don’t know this rule about Targs being the only ones to ride dragons. If Dany knew this then she should have had a reaction. So maybe it’s not a thing after all. Or it’s one little detail her brother forgot to mention which seems unlikely seeing he went on and on about dragons to Dany. Btw the Night King is riding a dragon…

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    35. KellieisComing:
      Jack Bauer 24,

      It’s almost like they don’t know this rule about Targs being the only ones to ride dragons. If Dany knew this then she should have had a reaction. So maybe it’s not a thing after all. Or it’s one little detail her brother forgot to mention which seems unlikely seeing he went on and on about dragons to Dany.Btw the Night King is riding a dragon…

      Well an undead dragon that was raised, so I think the normal rules don’t apply to the NK. Dany didn’t seem to care too much about that revelation either.

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    36. I loved the callbacks, and there were so many. Sure they had the pinned dead child near the end instead of at the beginning-but 3 men of the NW and another message from the Night King was a pretty intense parallel.

      King Jon in the crypts with his best friend Sam talking about Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen-same people Robert and Ned were discussing.
      (and we can’t forget “I have a son, you have a daughter, we’ll join our houses” HELLO Gendry and Arya)

      Varys, Tyrion and Davos instead of Illyrio and Viserys were discussing an alliance through marriage for Dany.

      Some closure from first episode happened here too.
      Jon was planning to go to the Wall and now he hears it’s fallen. That first episode was also the one where Tyrion called him the bastard and said “Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.”
      Dany gets her dragon eggs, the first one she touches is the green one (Rhaegal), which is the one Jon rides.
      And of course, Jaime sees the results of his actions with Bran.

      I’ve maybe watched this series one too many times lol

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    37. Jack Bauer 24: Well an undead dragon that was raised, so I think the normal rules don’t apply to the NK. Dany didn’t seem to care too much about that revelation either.

      She doesn’t care because she thinks the dragons accept him because she’s there with them. Big surprise she’ll get when she sees him riding Drogon.

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    38. Aegon Snow: She doesn’t care because she thinks the dragons accept him because she’s there with them. Big surprise she’ll get when she sees him riding Drogon.

      I was referring to her minimal reaction to NK raising Viserion. NK isn’t going to get Drogon too.

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    39. RG,

      Another callback was when Jon asked Sansa where Arya was. In the very first episode, Catelyn also asked Sansa where Arya was.

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    40. ThisGirlHasNoName:
      I didn’t mind the Theon/Yara rescue mission. Yes, they could have shown us how they snuck onto a ship in the middle of a thousand other ships (or how they knew which one to raid). But in all honesty, I didn’t really care. Euron was too busy getting it on with Queen Cercei and had grown cockier (if that’s possible), and that was enough explanation to me.

      They knew which one to raid because Silence is a much different looking ship than the others. Larger, with the side sails, and the enormous ram out in front. How they actually managed to infiltrate the fleet could have been an interesting story, though. I’m imagining some really small canoe or something with no lights, sneaking through all the other ships surrounding Silence. It would have been nerve-wracking to watch and could have made for good television, but it’s so tangential to everything else going on that I don’t think anyone would really have cared to see all that, no matter how interesting it could have been. The world is about to end and almost every character is at Winterfell now, but you’re going to show me the minutiae of Theon’s rescue plan? That one is kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Rush it and it’s rushed, but don’t rush it and we spend too much time on stuff that doesn’t really matter when there’s almost no time left.

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    41. Akash of the Andals:
      Ah, I knew there was a crossbow scene I was forgetting! I blame finals exams stress for not writing about Ros’s sad demise (I will likely get to it in a future “Writing on the Wall.”)

      I actually think it’s the same crossbow he had all the way midway through season two, that he first uses to threaten Sansa when she’s stripped and beaten by Ser Meryn because Robb and the northern army had just defeated Stafford Lannister with a surprise attack in the middle of the night (with Lancel claiming they turned into wolves and ate the dead), and then he uses again to threaten Ros while making her beat the other whore with his scepter when Tyrion sends them to him as a late nameday gift.

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    42. I loved Maisie and Kit’s performance in the Jon-Arya reunion. It bothered me that there was barely any mention of each other through the seasons. I wondered, would casual viewers even know how special that relationship was? But they sold it so well! I felt like Maisie in particular really looked back to pull out glimpses of the girl she was, with more pure unguarded joy and love…perfectly “aged up”.
      Obviously it was staged as a callback with that jump into his arms, but the expressions and details nailed it. Like looking at a treasured family photo that hit me right in the feels.

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    43. Another callback I haven’t seen mentioned yet, apologies if someone beat me to it in the comments:

      “Leave him be.” – Arya saving Gendry from the Hound’s bullying.

      It’s the same line the Hound used when he defended Loras Tyrell from Gregor Clegane at the Hand’s Tourney in King’s Landing.

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    44. Is it a mistake for Yara to think that Pyke is inaccessible to the NK and army because of crossing water?? They didn’t have any trouble getting Viserion out of the water by diving in.

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    45. Mr Derp,

      Nick20,

      Jack Bauer 24,

      Wolfish,

      You all put into words my thoughts about the episode.

      The lack of reaction to the Wall falling, Viserion being turned and Jon being able to ride a dragon was very strange.

      Then there were so many short scenes that you couldn’t get invested in any of them.

      The writing left much wanting.

      I liked the moment with Theon and Yara when she gets that Theon wants to go to Winterfell. He came to save her because he is her brother, a Greyjoy, but now he leaves to fight in Winterfell because he is also a Stark. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

      The way Jon’s parentage reveal happened was odd. Bran as the Three Eyed Raven is supposed to be focused on fighting the AotD. He said there was no time for anything else. Jon has already ridden a dragon, so the benefits that would come from the reveal in that regard have already happened. But then Bran uses grief stricken Sam to reveal the truth to Jon in a way that is hostile to Daenerys and can drive a wedge between the two of them when the AotD is on their doorstep. Why Bran would insist that it is the right time for all this is beyond me.

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    46. Agree with so many comments here. 🙂

      Arya and Sandor will be ok. He had that barely-there smirk for a moment. 😏

      Honestly, I always think of the funniest things – namely if I was Jon, I’d fall off Rhaegal at 1000ft and The End. But then I also would have gotten hit by about 13 arrows in BotB. Or stubbed my toe in Season 1, gotten tetanus, and died.

      Really like the opening credits where they go under King’s Landing through to the hall with the dragon skulls, with the view over Qyburn’s mechanical crossbow thingy directed at the skull. Hmm.

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    47. Milutin:
      Pigeon,

      Thank you for the laugh!

      Random thoughts over how absurd life really is often get to me. 🤪 Like in movies where the hero is right in the front line, but never gets killed. Or how no one gets a cold. Mind you, I’m also the person who wonders how they figured out that a recipe needs 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, or how vinegar became a thing. 😁

      Also, as a kid it drove me crazy knowing that the Earth was floating about in space, because dangit doesn’t there have to be a ‘ground’ somewhere?!?!

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    48. Weirded thing: On the eve of the Great War, Jon and Dany are joyriding? Are they even taking this war seriously? So out of character for both. It almost seems like strangers to the characters and their journeys are penning this stuff.

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    49. SaveTheWolves:
      Is it a mistake for Yara to think that Pyke is inaccessible to the NK and army because of crossing water?? They didn’t have any trouble getting Viserion out of the water by diving in.

      The NK could just fly there and burn it down like he did to the Wall.

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    50. No one will believe that Jon Snow is a son of Rhaegal and Lyanna. Why should they? The only living man that could proove was never part of the show and the house hasn’t been mentioned to be part of the north army. Maybe we see a surprise with Howland Reed popping up and telling, yes, Jon is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegal or Meera telling, her father told her. btw, I do not remember to have seen Meera in S801.

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    51. Seems my edit did not work, here again:
      Benjen: “One way or another, [The Night King] will find his way to the world of men.
      “And when he does, you will be there waiting for him. And you will be ready.”
      Seems like Bran is waiting for the NK, not for Jaime.

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    52. Frank,

      I agree. Bran is no longer Bran. He’s made it very clear he has no concern with his past human self; including his run in with Jamie. He is waiting for something/one far greater.

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    53. Nick20: Completely agree. You nailed it.

      The fact that there was basically zero reaction to what should have been two extremely shocking and terrifying pieces of news (the Wall and Viserion) is my biggest gripe honestly.

      It’s really, really weird that no one seemed to really give a shit. They should have shown much more panic, horror, and fear in everyone’s behavior. Especially realizing that now they’ll have to face a fucking dragon, and Dany realizing that she’ll have to fight one of her children.

      Their non-reaction even made it look like they already knew about it (e.g. someone told them on their way to Winterfell). A wasted opportunity to bring some real drama into this episode.

      Also: A scene explaining to John how weird Bran is now would have been helpful.

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    54. Frank:
      No one will believe that Jon Snow is a son of Rhaegal and Lyanna. Why should they? The only living man that could proove was never part of the show and the house hasn’t been mentioned to be part of the north army. Maybe we see a surprise with Howland Reed popping up and telling, yes, Jon is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegal or Meera telling, her father told her. btw, I do not remember to have seen Meera in S801.

      Bran will tell them. if they do not believe his words, he will tell them some secrets from their own lives no one could know. this should help them believe his words.

      i don’t remember right now if Sam borrowed the Maester’s diary from the Citadel in which it was noted that Lyanna and Rhaegar have officially been married. if he did, it could be helpful too.

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    55. i’m glad i’m not one of those crazy europeans who watched the premiere in real time, at 3:00 am at night. i’m also glad i didn’t feel any hurry at all to watch it. i would have been a bit disappointed. just a bit.

      by many aspects others have mentioned (wight dragon? wall down? oops, now let’s have another meeting of proud stubborn mules and listen to their thoughts about titles…).

      two things that worried me even more: how could Theon find the Iron Fleet at KL when he has been witness to Euron’s fake announcement to retreat to the Iron Islands? since then, he didn’t get other information, so how on earth?
      and: “Ser Bronn of the fucking Blackwater, stop banging immediately! it’s urgent, there’s no time! you need to do something after the war that has not yet begun! oh, and: pox!” THAT was a real shithole in writing.

      else, i still enjoyed the ep very much. looking forward to ep 2, hoping they finally keep themselves from drumming the score into pieces. cause eighth hell and more, does this piss me off 😉

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    56. death by chickenfire: i don’t remember right now if Sam borrowed the Maester’s diary from the Citadel in which it was noted that Lyanna and Rhaegar have officially been married. if he did, it could be helpful too.

      Oh, shit. I just realized something!!! Sam was in the process of asking Daenerys for clemency (not the word he used, but that’s the gist of it) for taking some books from the Citadel—so in a way, he would have been asking for her forgiveness for the Jon reveal before it even happened. And then came “I executed your father,” and that moment went right out the window.

      Yet another problem with not giving scenes “time to breathe,” as someone else recently noted. I’m pretty observant, but I’d totally missed that. Thanks for the catch!

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    57. Wolfish: Oh, shit. I just realized something!!! Sam was in the process of asking Daenerys for clemency (not the word he used, but that’s the gist of it) for taking some books from the Citadel—so in a way, he would have been asking for her forgiveness for the Jon reveal before it even happened. And then came “I executed your father,” and that moment went right out the window.

      Yet another problem with not giving scenes “time to breathe,” as someone else recently noted. I’m pretty observant, but I’d totally missed that. Thanks for the catch!

      re-oh shit! you remind me of something i didn’t have on the screen at all. of Sam already knowing about the aunt/nephew relationship of these two when talking with Danaerys – while he does not yet know they are in love…

      i hope lots of scenes from this ep get their time to fully work next ep, when the writers somehow have to manage Jamie surviving his arrival in a place full of people he wanted to murder. be it for love or because it’s what you do when you’re at war… i could imagine his trial (or whatever that in the preview is) being a kickstarter for some more dialogue that brings some of the scene sketches from ep 1 to being pictures.

      “yes, your grace, i killed your mad daddy. but two persons in this place have a reason to hate me more than you. i shoved a boy out of a window for the lesser motive of getting rid of a witness, and i talked the former allies of your family into switching sides – wich didn’t turn out well for them.”

      sth like this…

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    58. I enjoyed both the quality of the analysis and the quality of the writing in this piece! I caught some of those callbacks, but had completely forgotten about others.

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    59. Raenarys:
      Tom Houk,

      I kind of love your theory on Bronn killing Dany with a crossbow, but if he wants to be on the winning side, I don’t see it happening…

      But stranger things have happened! I wouldn’t put it past our boys

      At this point I really cannot see Bronn being the one to take out Dany. I’d imagine Jon would be the overwhelming favourite followed by Arya/Nights King/Sam I don’t see anyone else especially given they are following GRRMs ending and she is one of the biggest characters in the story.

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    60. Ten Bears,

      Wolfish,

      Two things. 1) Arya and Sandor reunion. First watch I was disappointed too. When I re-watched, it was like time had stopped and resumed. Their lines and timing were almost exactly what they would have been if they were still whinging at each other on their epic odyssey. “You;re a Stone-cold little bitch” “You’re the worst shit in Westeros.” “You left me for dead.” “But I robbed you first.” She would have jingled a money bag if she had one. And his sly smile… Gods be good, D&D had better team those two up again for a further adventure. It was even better than her flirtation with Abs-man. 2) Lady Crane was right about Arya’s expressive face. In that lovely callback to watching Robert’s retinue arrive, Maisie went through such a series of facial reactions…I was stunned. But her child-like grimace from disappointment that JOn didn’t spot her and jump from his horse was wonderful. And that trailer scene of her delight in finally seeing DRAGONS!!!!

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    61. Queen of Nothing:
      Pigeon,

      Dammit Pigeon, how DID vinegar become a thing? And the measurements? I am always wondering about these things. Sheesh!

      I know, I can make anything complicated enough if I think about it long enough.

      A few thousand years ago:
      “Hey guys…..dare ya to eat whatever comes outta that chicken’s butt.”

        Quote  Reply

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