The first episode of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones acts as a setup for the future episodes. It is low on action, but is still a very entertaining episode because of the reunions. Harkening back to the very first episode of the show, where all the major characters were in Winterfell before dispersing, this show brings most of the characters to Winterfell.
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen arrive in the Northern castle with the Dothraki, the Unsullied and the dragons – Drogon and Rhaegal. The Northerners do not trust Daenerys and her people. Neither does Sansa, but she plays along and says exactly what her father Ned Stark had told King Robert Baratheon when he had come to Winterfell: “Your Grace, Winterfell is yours.”
In the Great Hall, all the lords and ladies from different houses and regions of Westeros discuss the threat of the Night King. Lyanna Mormont, the fierce little lady of Bear Island, is courageous enough to question Jon’s act of relinquishing the crown of King in the North.
Tyrion Lannister tries to intervene on Daenerys Targaryen ‘s behalf, but he utters something about Lannister army coming up North, and chaos ensues.
Daenerys complains her dragons are not eating much. She takes Jon to the two beasts, who are amid a pile of bones — what’s left of their victims. As Dany mounts Drogon, she urges Jon to ride on Rhaegal, which he does. They land before a waterfall, and Jon tells her she has ruined horses for him forever.
Tyrion meets Sansa Stark, who is still his wife by law. He tells her the last time they met, it was at Joffrey’s wedding, “a miserable affair.” Sansa smiles, “It had its moments.”
In the King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister gets the Golden Company, an elite private army that operates in Westeros and is available for hire to anyone with enough gold. She is miffed that the elephants did not come. Euron Greyjoy just wants to have sex with her, and she finally obliges.
Maester Qyburn assigns Bronn his next task. He is to kill both Tyrion and Jaime. The two “treasonous brothers” as the Maester puts it. Qyburn gives Bronn a crossbow. He remarks that Cersei is a fan of poetic justice (Tyrion had killed Tywin by impaling him with crossbow bolts).
Back at Winterfell, Arya and the Hound reunite. The latter complains that Arya left him to die, and she counters him by saying she robbed him first. Arya also meets her old friend Gendry, who still teases her by calling her Lady Stark.
Samwell Tarly, ever the nerd, is going through a few scrolls when he gets interrupted by Daenerys Targaryen and Jorah Mormont. Daenerys pays her gratitude for curing Jorah of greyscale, a disease which was considered incurable. When Dany learns of Sam’s last name (Tarly), she tells him his father and brothers were executed by her for not bending the knee. Sam breaks down.
The alarm bells are ringing. The show is likely paving the way for Daenerys to be the Mad Queen, destined to be just like her father who liked burning innocent people for sport. Jon may have accepted her as his queen, but it would take a lot for the other Northeners to accept that.
Jon and Arya reunite. Arya shows him Needle, the sword Jon had got forged for her when they were leaving Winterfell back in the first season. Jon shows her Longclaw, the Valyrian steel sword given to him by Jeor Mormont.
Theon Greyjoy frees her sister Yara Greyjoy and she forgives him for his earlier cowardice. Theon leaves for Winterfell and Yara sails for Iron Islands.
Beric Dondarrion, Tormund Giantsbane and other surviving brothers of the Night’s Watch are at Last Hearth. They meet Dolorous Edd and others and spot Ned Umber nailed to a wall by the Night King. The child rises as a wight and Dondarrion stabs him with his flaming sword.
After talking with Bran, Sam tells Jon of his true parentage and practically urges him to be the king since he is the true heir to the Iron Throne and does not execute people who do not kneel before him like Daenerys does.
Jaime Lannister arrives at Winterfell. He had left Cersei in disgust when he realised she was looking to betray Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. He spots Bran Stark, who is staring at him from afar, sitting on his chair. These two have some talking to do.