Previously, on recapping Game of Thrones… Wow, it’s been almost two years. How’s everyone been? Me, I’m more or less the same, only I have a bit of a mustache going at the moment. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, also, Jon Snow was revealed to be a Targaryen, only he doesn’t know that yet, so he inadvertently had sex with his aunt, Daenerys. Heh, Jon thought she was just a strong, powerful, beautiful woman who intimidated and challenged him in ways he enjoyed. Nope! Sorry. Aunt. Also, the Night King has an ice dragon and blew a big hole in The Wall. Seems like that’s going to be a thing. This week, on Sansa Snark…
Season 8, Episode 1: Winterfell
Bold move, naming the episode after the location where we spend the most time. Actually, it’s more of a book move, where chapters are titled after whose perspective the narration is from. All of which is to say: UNORIGINAL AND SAD!
But anyway, this episode is very much concerned with reunions, and how time can create an unbridgeable gap between people. After all they’ve been through while apart, the Stark kids can no longer relate to each other. Sansa has been failed or betrayed by everyone who once protected her. Arya became a killer hardened by the cold indifference of the world. Jon both fought, and came back from, the dead. Bran gained literally all the knowledge, can no longer hold a normal conversation, and apparently enjoys sitting outside in the snow, staring, thinking about things. (The state of affairs? What’s for dinner? Murder?) These are all VERY specific experiences that not many people — let alone your siblings who have endured their own sets of traumatic events — can relate to.
Even in the relatively short time Jon and Sansa have been apart since Jon’s travels south, a greater wedge has grown. Where Sansa was already annoyed at Jon swooping in and being given “King in the North” plaudits, she becomes pretty pissed that he immediately turned around, threw everything away, and pledged loyalty to Dany. Did he really bend the knee to save the North or did he do it because he’s in love with Dany? Jon tries to brush Sansa off by saying that titles don’t matter anymore, those are meaningless words when humanity is at stake. Sansa is not having any of it.
When all the Northerners (justifiably) freak the hell out at dragons flying overhead, Sansa pretty much no-sells the event, probably thinking, “great, now I gotta deal with this too!?” Because it’s not just dragons coming into the Great Insular North, it’s two full standing armies of the Dothraki and the Unsullied. While everyone is living fantasies of all of humanity uniting against the dead, Sansa is out here with very real-world concerns like: “HOW THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO FEED EVERYONE. Oh, dragons eat whatever they want, very cute. GIVE ME SPECIFICS. THERE ARE LOGISTICS TO HANDLE.” So forgive her for being concerned over all this, or for not believing Tyrion when he says the Lannister army is coming to join the fight (they’re not.) Sansa has earned her skepticism. By now, she knows better than to trust men for anything.
Almost immediately, the seeds of doubt are sown in the minds of the fickle Northern Houses. Lyanna Mormont — by now a grizzled veteran everyone has a deep, abiding respect for — calls Jon a sellout. She liked him way better when he was the humble King in the North, when only Northerners knew about him, and he was theirs as much as they were his. Now however, he’s gone and signed with a major label and forgotten all about where he came from. It used to be about the music, Jon Snow. Jon assures everyone that this was the right call, and that by going mainstream, he’s actually paved the way for other independent artists to make money off of their art. In giving up his title of King in the North and pledging allegiance to Daenerys, Jon swears he actually is choosing the North. Without allies, they’d all surely be killed. At least now they have a slightly better chance of living beyond whatever is coming for them. The Northern houses, this tight-knit group of white people who don’t like outsiders and are experiencing some economic anxiety, can only grumble.
What does Jon care though, really? He gets to fly a dragon. Sorry, I feel like I undersold it. HE GETS TO FLY A MOTHER F’ING DRAGON!!! Much better. Yeah, Jon Snow flies a dragon and the CGI looks rough, but it’s still a very big and very cool moment. Plus, they land by some romantic waterfalls and Jon gets to french with his Queen, what’s not to love and appreciate?
EXCEPT, oh yeah, don’t forget they are related. This is a fact that you and I know and bandy about on a daily basis. Game of Thrones has broken our brains, and is all people are able to talk about anymore. Within the show however, only Bran and Samwell Tarly are privy to this secret.
After a very emotional exchange with Daenerys, in which he does as good a job as anyone could at being reverential while learning that the person he’s talking to executed his father and brother, Sam stumbles outside to have a cry. Thankfully, Bran is still just sitting there, waiting on an old friend. Bran decides for the both of them that now is the time to tell Jon what’s what, and that Sam is going to be the one to do it. Not one to reject the words of an all-seeing, all-knowing teen who can project his consciousness into animals, Sam heads down to the crypts to confront Jon with the truth: His mother is Lyanna Stark and his father is Rhaegar Targaryen. He is the true heir to the Iron Throne. Jon gave up his crown to serve under Daenerys and save the people. Would she do the same? Let the D R A M A begin!
In a locale that is not Winterfell and is therefore less important this episode, Euron Greyjoy is just a real piece of work. I’m trying not to outright curse as much because some people find it unprofessional and immature, but fuck this stupid-ass character. He sucks so hard. Like, obviously Euron serves the functional narrative purpose of “has ships and is scum and can therefore help Cersei with her scummy ship-related goals,” but does he have to be so god damned one-note? Wants to have sex with the Queen. Makes fun of Theon for being castrated. Kills some people for no reason other than that he’s tWiStEd. Wants to have sex with the Queen some more. Repeat on and on. FIND A NEW SLANT.
To her credit, Cersei tries to “true friend of the crown and an honored guest-zone” Euron, but he keeps shooting his shot. “Cersei, have sex with me. Cersei, I give you all these things and you give me nothing how is that fair, have sex with me. Come on! Sex! With me!”
Then, in perhaps a moment of weakness (or strength?) Cersei gives in. They get it on for probably around two minutes — when you’re with Euron you only need two minutes, because he’s so intense — which to be fair to this scumbum is at least better than Robert Baratheon’s record-time of “too drunk to have sex with his wife, ever.” So I guess Euron’s got that going for him.
What Euron does not got going for him, is that in this incredibly small window of time, Theon sneaks aboard The Silence, splits some skulls and rescues Yara. Yara headbutts Theon, but then gives her hand to help him up — SIBLINGS! — and together, they escape! For Yara, it’s back to reclaim the Iron Islands. Theon however, has a redemption arc to complete. That’s why he’s off to Winterfell to fight, WITH, THE, STARKS. Got so pumped up by this I had to bench press my large dog just to let off some steam, no lie.
In a welcome surprise, it turns out Tormund and Beric Dondarrion survived the ice dragon attack on The Wall. Guess they must have ducked and covered, and then somehow also avoided all the dead dudes walking through the crumbled edifice. They’re somewhere, it’s not too clear, and they’re sneaking around in the dark looking for clues and whatnot. After investigating some scary footsteps, they run into Edd and a small band of Night’s Watchmen. The united groups then go deeper into the depths of wherever, where they find something truly terrifying. Affixed to the wall of what is now clearly House Umber are several severed arms in the shape of a galaxy spiral. And at the center of that spiral, the body of the very very young Lord Umber, a child who we met earlier in the episode. Things quickly take a turn for the more horrifying, when the dead kid re-animates, forcing Beric to burn him — thank god for that flaming sword! — and the Night King’s macabre art installation. It’s all a message from the Night King, but what does it mean? People around the internet are asking themselves “but what is the message from the Night King.” Well, I’ve done the research, examined the shot frame-by-frame, and feel pretty confident in saying, THE MESSAGE IS THAT HE WANTS TO KILL LITERALLY EVERYONE.
Lastly, there’s Bran, who’s been patiently waiting in the snow for this last paragraph to get here. These days, Bran seems really just out there. Maybe he’s always looking at things using his Three-Eyed Raven powers, maybe his Three-Eyed Raven powers have overloaded his brain with too much information, but it seems increasingly hard to hold a standard conversation with the guy. Everything he says makes it seem like he’s rushing things along — we have to tell Jon now, stop exchanging pleasantries when the Night King has a dragon — yet for all his urgency, he spends the majority of this episode sitting in the snow, waiting, staring, thinking. He tells Sam he’s waiting for an old friend and Sam is like “ooookay man.” As an audience, we’re kind of left wondering what his “deal” is. But then, a mysterious hooded stranger arrives at Winterfell… and it’s Jaime Lannister. He of “pushed Bran out a window in the first episode” fame. They lock eyes. An old friend indeed. I love REUNIONS.
Spare thoughts that are also not elephants:
- Also happening this episode: Arya is around too and reunites with Jon, The Hound and Gendry. Jon is very happy to see her (for the first time since the first season?) but is a little concerned with what she’s become. The Hound is really pissed at her for both leaving him for dead and robbing him, but also respects her for it. Gendry is… into her? Don’t know how I feel about this yet. Whatever the case, Arya is enlisting Gendry’s talents as a smith to make her a new dragonglass weapon that will surely be used in some still-to-come bad ass moments.
- Also also happening this episode: Qyburn cockblocks Bronn to let him know that Cersei is enlisting him to hunt down and kill both of her brothers. The weapon: the Lannister crossbow for maximum poetic justice. The reward: a whole lot of gold. Bronn is skeptical, but Qyburn reminds him that Cersei appreciates loyalty. Qyburn is a total freak, but he’s stuck with Cersei long enough and is now Hand of the Queen. Imagine what Cersei would do for the man who kills her brothers?
- Tyrion’s genius-status has been dubious at best these last few seasons, but Sansa telling him, “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive,” explicitly hammers it home.
- Euron must have so many god damned STDs. And scurvy.
- The new intro graphics this episode were very cool!
- My lone prediction for the end of the series is that no one will sit on the Iron Throne, as it will be melted down for parts and replaced by a throne made out of a giant loaf of bread by Hot Pie.
- Second-half of that is more wishful thinking, but I do really believe the Iron Throne will be destroyed by series end. It’s become a symbol that perpetuates hate and violence, and whichever hero (or heroes) stands tall at the end will have to erase it to usher in an era of peace and prosperity. Guess I’m also predicting that the show will have a relatively “happy” and conventional ending too. Lock it in!
That’s it! Follow me on Twitter here and on Instagram here. If you want to read more of my work, I write about music for Tiny Mix Tapes and about pro wrestling for Fansided. Check out any and all prior editions of Sansa Snark here. Sorry for any weird ads, I don’t have enough money to pay for a premium WordPress. See you all back here next week-ish.