Reunions – some heartwarming and others awkward – were the dominating theme of the otherwise languid episode that was the first instalment of Game of Thrones season 8. While it was an expected and necessary ploy by the show’s makers to bring everybody to the centre of the action, Winterfell, some of these reunions also helped move the plot.
Here are the highlights:
Jon Snow and Arya Stark
Remember all those times we wished Jon and Arya would get to see each other again?
Well, it finally happened. This is the reunion fans were most impatient for, ever since the duo parted ways in season 1. Given the anticipation surrounding it, the makers drew it out, instead of jumping right into it.
As Jon Snow and Daenerys Taegaryen make their way towards Winterfell, Arya Stark takes a peek at them. There is a look of excitement and in Arya’s eyes as she sees her favourite ‘sibling’ but she holds back from calling him out. She is also missing when Sansa receives them at Winterfell – Sansa puts it perfectly when she says Arya is “lurking” somewhere.
Instead she sneaks up on him later when he is by the weirwood tree behind the Winterfell castle, one of Ned Stark’s favourite spots in the whole castle and one that obviously had special meaning for the family.
Is Arya wary of Jon Snow for bringing Daenerys, like rest of the northerners? Jon is visibly thrilled to see his little sister – while Arya reminds not to forget that he is ‘family’ and needs to consider their interests, like Sansa. They share a nostalgic moment over the blades they carry – Arya’s ‘Needle’ was gifted to her by Jon all that time ago in season 1, while Jon has managed to acquire a fine Valyrian steel blade in Longclaw.
The scene was both heartwarming and tense, a perfect reminder that in the world of Game of Thrones, even the most touching of reunions isn’t simple.
Sansa and Tyrion
Truth be told - Sanska Stark and Tyrion Lannister’s reunion is unexpectedly smooth. There is a strange sense of understanding between them. Tyrion casually reminds her how she had made his life difficult by suddenly running away, right after Joffrey's wedding (and murder) – while Sansa notes he’s done well for himself by Daenerys’ Hand.
They have one thing in common apart from their short-lived marriage: they are both survivors, and there’s happily no bad blood between them. Sansa demonstrates her hard-won strength and poise in this interaction, and in fact walks out looking stronger and smarter than Tyrion!
If you love the show for its use of witty banter while also making a serious point – this scene could be the highlight.
Arya, The Hound and Gendry
Given how they had parted their ways in season 4 episode 10, Arya and The Hound pick up their equation right from where they had left each other, a mutually respectful antipathy, peppered with Sandor’s characteristic vulgarity.
The latter reminds her how she had left him to die, one of the most intriguing moments of the entire series (for the catharsis it allows Arya) – while Arya reminds him that she had robbed him first. This short but nostalgic scene between the two gave much-needed closure for fans of the buddy-comedy-esque jaunt taken by the two across Westeros.
And did we just see Arya flirting with Gendry?
When Gendry takes a dig at Arya for being a ‘Lady’ of Winterfell, fans can’t help but chuckle at the irony – given the fact that he is Robert Baratheon’s bastard himself. Not to mention the ‘My lady’ the call back from season 3. This definitely was some indulgent fan service (not that we’re complaining).
Jon Snow & Samwell Tarly
This is perhaps the most important of the reunions - not just because it made a major revelation, but also because Sam’s questions to Jon Snow struck what could be the principal conflict of the finale: a possible Daenerys vs Jon endgame.
A distraught and mourning Sam seeks out Jon at the Crypt. He is distraught after learning from Daenerys that she burned his father and brother alive. But he is also a man with a mission: to finally reveal Jon’s true lineage to him. Fans of the show who have been tirelessly writing R+L= J, can give it a rest now. It’s finally canon (which it technically was from the end of last season) and Jon finally knows something.
Compared to the amount of discussion on the topic on Internet, Jon’s handling of this news appeared to be rather tame. With all the build up that the show-maker’s had created in the last season – the reveal was a bit anticlimactic given how matter-of-factly the scene played out. Of course, some fans would would argue that is exactly how you’d expect Jon Snow to react.
Theon Greyjoy and Yara Greyjoy
Theon Greyjoy was subjected to a lifetime of hate by fans when he abandoned his sister to save his life last season when Euron ambushed them at sea. This season we start with him making amends, and saving Yara quite effortlessly from the deck of Euron’s own ship, docked at the shores of King’s Landing. If you thought this earned him a warm hug from his sister, you haven’t been following this show well.
Yara Greyjoy knocks him out (fair enough) before giving him a hand. They part ways when Yara, on her way to the Iron Islands, allows Theon to join the Starks in their impending battle against the White Walkers.
Jaime Lannister and Bran Stark
This one was the mother of all awkward meetings.
ICYMI, Jamie throwing little Bran off the Winterfell tower, making him a cripple, was what had sparked this entire series.
How would the two interact? What would they even talk about? What would the three-eyed-raven have to say to Jaime? Fans are left with these burning questions as the credits roll, since all we got to see was Bran’s wonderfully creepy stare at Jaime, which should be enough to haunt the Kingslayer for quite a while (for all his repentance) and inspire hundreds of memes.
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