The first episode of Game of Thrones in any season is the one with the least amount of action. And by action, we mean bloodshed and dirty politics. Staying true to that tradition, Winterfell begins with a slow start, as if to get fans acclimated to the current political situation in Westeros – a good choice, I must say, since a year’s gap is a long one, and it takes time to unfog memories. The episode is aptly titled, since most of the stuff happens at the Starks’ residence – something that was predicted.
A major chunk of the episode was spent on reuniting family members. We all know that Jon Snow had left Winterfell in search of dragonglass and now that he’s found it, he’s returned. Of course, it is not all fun and games at Jon’s homecoming. The Northmen are a people who are simply too stubborn to ditch traditions, and the presence of a Southerner is not a welcome sight. As the introductions ended, the usually scared and widely manipulated Sansa Stark takes your attention.
There’s a battle about to happen, and the showrunners made it certain that Sansa is no longer a pushover. The camerawork and subtle dialogues make no attempt to hide that Sansa and Dany detest each other. Sansa is actually in her teens, and the fact that she’s running logistics, commanding her bannermen, and counter questioning Jon, proved that her character has matured beyond her years.
The episode also brushes up on the relationship between Sansa and her sister Arya. The pair initially never saw eye to eye, but now, Arya’s got her elder sister’s back. Her travels and trysts with the House of Black and White made her more hardened than ever. When she meets Jon, they compare their swords like any brash men would do. Full points to friendship. But when it came to comparing body counts, Arya severely downplayed her numbers. That girl is definitely going places, mark my words!
As far as characters go, Bran Stark, for some reason was the most left out of the lot. He did get screen time but spent most of it looking zoned out, until Samwell Tarly ran into him. Thanks to the episode name, and the amount of time that was spent at Winterfell, it becomes clear that major events are likely to happen at the Starks’ residence.
While episode one took its time to build up, it made sure that it was not without some big moments. The debate over whether or not Jon Snow rides a dragon was put to rest when Daenerys coerced him into riding Rhaegal. Honestly, I expected some level of bonding between the beast and Jon. Maybe at least touch its snout. But there’s none of that. Jon simply jumped on Rhaegal and enjoyed a flight through the snowy mountains.
Meanwhile, Daenerys has likely earned a lot of enemies. The show reveals in more ways than one that the new queen has pissed off some people. Samwell is one of them, sadly. Her banter with Sansa was far from friendly, and she expects the Lady of Winterfell to respect her. From the look of things, Dany’s indiscriminate killing of whoever opposed her could come back to haunt her. With that, the showrunners have made a juicy setup for the next episode, as we wonder who else is willing to leave her side. Daenerys also has this smug expression on her face, as if the world owes her something – makes you want to butcher those dragons of hers. I’m afraid she might turn out to be another Cersei Lannister.
The big revelation of Jon’s heritage got a lot of build up but lacked the punch. Sam simply blurted it out as Jon looked in disbelief. It looked a lot like Jon is worried about losing Dany as his lover than discovering that he’s been sleeping with his aunt. Jon now has a task at hand. Grasp his new identity, make sure to hold the peace in his family, rally up his disgruntled bannermen, and tell his girlfriend that she’s his aunt!
On the other side of the continent, we have Cersei. We all know how she is. But now we know that her intentions to betray Dany and Jon are solid. She’s got the Golden Company at her disposal, and she’s happy that the Wall has been breached. Plus, she’s bedding Euron Greyjoy – enough to prove that she’s twisted beyond reform. And for those of you who care, she’s got a thing for arrogant men and finds Euron to be a better lover than her bro, Jamie.
Finally, it is not GoT without a few plots, and episode one doesn’t disappoint. Bronn is tasked with killing Jamie and Tyrion, though it is not clear if he’s accepted the offer. Bronn and Tyrion go back, but the former is a mercenary, so who knows what he’ll do. Lord Varys, Ser Davos and Tyrion meet in secret. Unlike the last two, Vary believes that the pair of Jon and Daenerys won’t last. Given that Jon has discovered he’s been snogging his aunt, will he continue to do so? He’s half Stark-half Targaryen, so is there’s a fifty percent chance that he may continue with his relationship? Why was Bran so quiet for the most part of the 55 minutes? Was he just waiting for Jamie to arrive at Winterfell? Does Sansa manage to convince everyone that Cersei means to attack Winterfell? Does she get along with Dany? Such big questions! Talk about signing off with a cliffhanger!
Winterfell raises many questions, but it also provides closure to a lot of burning thoughts. This episode is probably the last one that ends with a tease. With five more episodes to go, there’s probably going to be a lot more focus on the war against the White Walkers and possibly, Cersei’s army. The siege of Winterfell looms large, and episode one was just the warm-up.