Thoughts on Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more…

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76 thoughts on “Thoughts on Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1

  1. artihcus022 says:

    I love the dragon-riding date scene, and the opening credits. I did like that bit where Bran tells Sam to reveal the truth to Jon right that moment, it was a brilliant bit of manipulation on his part.

    I am not happy with the show’s first episode painting Dany as a “bad guy” and them using Randyll and Dickon Tarly’s death against her. How is that different from Robb executing Harald Karstark, Jon executing those NW conspirators who stabbed him, and why is executing people only a problem when a woman does it by the same rules as anyone else? That bit where Sam tells us that Dany wouldn’t give the crown away for saving people ignores her staying at Slaver’s Bay all those years to end slavery, which I think people should mention here. And the fact that Dany did spare all the other Reacherman and others who bent the knee.

    I did like that scene where Dany looks Sam in the eye and tells him that he executed his father and brother.

    But I think the series is confirming what Poor Quentyn said about Jon and Dany and Tyrion ultimately choosing to be heroes rather than rulers.

    • JG says:

      Yeah, it’s hard to take the case against Dany seriously when the show lets Cersei get away with everything and Dany ended (worldwide?) slavery.

      I’m not sure if this is the “show’s” view or just Sam’s but the fact that Jon didn’t want the crown doesn’t mean he would be a better (or worse) king imo. Bobby B didn’t want to be king and he just turned out to be a lazy depressed fatass as king. Plus the show has hit us over the head for seven seasons about how being a good guy doesn’t equal good king.

      • artihcus022 says:

        I did like the slight nuance in that conversation between Sam and Jon. When Sam says Dany executed his father and his brother, Jon points out he executed people. And when Sam says Jon doesn’t want the crown and now tells him he could have had it all along…I wonder if that’s a new wrinkle, Jon never wanted a crown because he was raised all his life to never covet one, and now he’s told that was all a lie. it’s easier to be humble when you are raised that way, and difficult when told that it could have all been different.

        Dany is shown quite negatively throughout this episode. Except for the dragon riding scene between Jon and Dany.

        • Ganondalf says:

          I agree that Dany is show negatively in this scene, and iirc at the time her executing the Tarly’s was portrayed negatively as a “Mad-King-esque” event. Tyrion wasn’t happy about it. I like the idea that Dany’s acting like an entitled conqueror. Jon is right when he says that the war against the dead is bigger than who sits on the throne… so how come that doesn’t apply to Dany as well, why does everyone have to swear fealty to her instead of working together as equals?

          However I was baffled in the aftershow when Benioff and Weiss seem to think Dany is completely in the right and everyone’s being mean to her. I have no idea how the show seems to get it in one sense and then the guys in charge completely don’t.

          • Jim B says:

            I think that Benioff and Weiss have, overall, done a magnificent job of adapting a seemingly unadaptable text into a series that has generally been high quality as well as a critical and commercial success. That’s quite an accomplishment.

            Having said that, I do feel that they — like some fans — have a tendency to view GRRM’s complex moral and political universe in a rather simplistic way. Or else they assume that’s the best way to portray it onscreen, which amounts to the same thing for our purposes. Specifically, they regard rulership as mostly being a one-dimensional thing, ranging from Really Evil to Really Good, with Really Good being essentially Lawful Stupid. In their view, the point is that Ned and Robb Stark were “too good,” Cersei is “too evil,” and Jon and Dany’s story has been about learning to be just the right shade of grey. Ergo, Dany can do things that are “bad” (burning the Tarlys), and it’s proper for Tyrion and Sam and others to be troubled by it, but ultimately they’re supposed to realize as Jon does that Dany is a good ruler because she does only the necessary amount of bad things.

          • Agree with the second part, Jim B.

        • Murc says:

          When Sam says Dany executed his father and his brother, Jon points out he executed people.

          This is a super fuckin’ dick move on Jon’s part, considering that when he first met with Dany one of the things he laid at her feet was “You expect us to keep faith with House Targaryen after your father did all those executions for no good reason?”

          Daenerys’ response to him was rather glib, but it at least acknowledged her father had done a great crime against House Stark for no good reason. Jon should be smart enough and empathetic enough to make the case to Sam that Daenerys isn’t just executing people because she likes it, and he fails at this because it turns out Jon, in the show, is actually bad at this.

      • That’s a good point, but I think that is the showrunner’s views on kingship.

    • Yeah, the Dany/Jon conflict felt somewhat over-engineered by the authors.

  2. David Remer says:

    Does anyone in the Iron Islands believe in setting a perimeter or having scouts out to protect the fleet? First Euron totally wipes out Yara’s fleet coming out of nowhere, and then Theon infiltrates the flagship of a few hundred ships to rescue Yara? These guys are supposed to be the rulers of he sea, so not buying it.

    I love the show, but I feel insulted that I have to learn the most important plot points of the two final books from TV writers instead of the genius who created this amazing world, but doesn’t know how to tie it all together. It’s a cool looking show for sure, but depressing to invest all the time in the novels just to get the cliff notes at the end, especially when GRRM just released a prequel that’s 700 pages long.

    Does that bother you Steve?

    • Captain Splendid says:

      I think that’s what the “10 good men” comment is about.

    • Jack says:

      God you’ve summed up my thoughts completely. Absolutely disappointing investing a decade of my life and so much of my time to this series only to receive a cliffs notes version of the ending. And so much of the plot delivery is insulting to the audience.

    • Eh. I’m somewhat skeptical of the learning plot points thing; it feels to me that the accelerating divergences between the book and the show means that we shouldn’t necessarily take anything we see as binding. (Hence the way I structured the OP.)

      See, the thing is that I get a sense that Benioff and Weiss’ takeaway from their “spoiler” meeting with GRRM was that they would focus on the trinity of Jon/Dany/Tyrion in terms of what to follow through on (at least in broad strokes), and that anything outside of that they could improvise on unless they thought it was cool (like “Hold the door”).

  3. Mrs Bauser says:

    I feel like book Sam would be rather relieved that his father was executed. This was a man who gave him the choice of going to the wall or having an “accident” in the woods. Why is show Sam suddenly being all sentimental about his asshole dad and brother. Not to mention that Sam stole his family’s sword. Or did the show forget that happened?

    • artihcus022 says:

      The show does qualify that. When Sam hears of his dad’s execution he does feel sad, but then says that at least he can be welcome to meet his brother, and then Dany says she killed him too. Also, the way that scene is framed, where Sam steals the sword Heartsbane and him asking for a pardon, means he will never get that validation or triumph over his Dad and so on. It’s not uncommon for abused children to still feel and care for their parents approval or disapproval.

      • Mrs bauser says:

        I get that more from show Sam than book Sam. I don’t feel like book Sam is going to be that heartbroken about his father’s death.

      • Captain Splendid says:

        Thinking it over, I think now that D&D staged the Tarly execution not to sow hints of a “mad queen”, but to set up extra Sam/Jon/Dany conflict.

        Not to mention the whole thing stunk of them not understanding feudal politics. Literally the only reason Randyl can afford to be a “make westeros great again” martyr is because strapping, manly Dickon is there to continue the line.

      • godot123 says:

        Honestly, I thought that was a really good scene. You could see the way Sam’s grief changed from shock to rage as Dany informed him that she also killed his brother.

    • I totally bought this. A friend of mine once said that when you lose a parent, you don’t grieve for the relationship you had, you grieve for the relationship you didn’t have – you grieve for all the missed opportunities to say ‘I love you’, for all the time you wasted fighting over stupid stuff, for the perfect, happy parent-child relationship you thought you’d eventually reach and now you never will. Emotions are far from rational – love most of all.

  4. Mrs Bauser says:

    I am not surprised that Jon is riding Rhaegal since Rhaegar is his dad but I wonder if Euron will end up riding Viserion in the books since he has the Dragon binding horn

    • Steven Xue says:

      I suspect Viserion will not have a rider and will instead die before anyone could claim him.

    • Murc says:

      Viserion is for Tyrion.

      Or at least he’d better be.

      • Brett says:

        I think he is, and Tyrion is going to win him over the “Sheepstealer” way – i.e. feed him sheep, etc and win him over before trying to mount him.

        I’m divided over whether or not Viserion will be “stolen” by Euron. I suspect not, because I think Victarion is going to use the horn to summon the dragons, try to mount Rhaegal, and then get thrown off mid-air to die. The only fitting death for him.

        • Brett says:

          Although Euron might still have the horn, I can’t remember.

          . . . Same thing, I think. I don’t think Euron is going to get a dragon before he goes Squid Apocalypse on Oldtown.

          • Murc says:

            Euron does not have the horn. He gave it to Vic.

          • Brett says:

            Then yes, I totally think Victarion is going to use it to summon the dragons to his person, then try to mount Rhaegal before getting tossed to his death. Rhaegal’s been set up as the wild, temperamental dragon – he killed Quentyn, probably will kill Victarion, and won’t be mounted until Jon pulls it off (possibly by warging into him first).

          • Captain Splendid says:

            If Euron is still alive by the end of the second episode, I’ll be suprised.

        • No, I think Vic burns blowing the horn.

    • In the wake of the Forsaken chapter, I think the dragon stuff was always something of a bluff/Plan B. After all, what’s a dragon to a god?

  5. Murc says:

    Last Hearth falling as a prelude to the siege of Winterfell is a plausible stakes-raising event.

    Steven, I would suggest there’s a more logical location for this in the books than Last Hearth, and that’s Karhold.

    We’ve never seen Karhold, but in the books it has a person (Alys Karstark) the books have primed us to like holding it, and will be defended by a joint northmen/wildling force.

  6. thatrabidpotato says:

    So you think Jon’s siblings are going to approve of his new girlfriend? I mean, they should, Dany’s awesome.

    • Steven Xue says:

      I’m not sure if Bran would since he knows just how closely related they are.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        A Stark disapproving of Jon and Dany needs to look closer at their own family tree, specifically the cases of Serena and Sansa Stark.

        • Steven Xue says:

          Yeah you’re right the Starks seem to keep it in the family quite a lot as well. Although to be fair they don’t make a habit of inbreeding as much as the Targaryens did and I doubt its something the current generation of Starks are ok with.

          • Captain Splendid says:

            Also, the Stark family line does keep getting regular injections of wildling blood, so that helps.

        • Hedrigal says:

          Also every major northern house has married into the stark family many times over the past 8000 years. The northern political elite is probably more one large extended family than anything else.

    • I think they should be focusing less on his girlfriend and more on the army of the dead out to kill all warm blooded life.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        The show does it extremely incompetently, but I’d venture to say that “idiots still slapfighting about trivialities with the Army of the Dead a week’s march away” is something that quite likely will be present in the books, only a thousand times more competently written. It’s human nature to do dumb shit.

        • Agreed. I just think the triviliaties are going to be whether Jon, Bran, Rickon, or Sansa should rule the North.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            I don’t think Rickon’s going to be part of it. If he was meant to be Lord/King in the end the show would’ve kept him for that purpose.

            If Rickon’s alive, he’s the clear best candidate. Not crippled or bastard born or a girl. If you want an actually muddled succession then he needs to be gone.

          • Rickon isn’t as strong a candidate as that: he’s substantially younger, and there’s something of an aversion to child rulers in times of crisis, plus there’s the belief that a younger brother can’t inherit before an older brother. There’s also the question of factionalism: Sansa’s claim will clearly be backed by the army of the Vale; I imagine Jon’s claim will be backed by the Mormonts, Glovers, and crannogmen who feel more bound to Robb’s will; and then there’s the question of who Stannis will support.

          • Wat Barleycorn says:

            Rickon’s direwolf is named Shaggydog for a reason, I suspect…

  7. jedimaesteryoda says:

    1. I don’t think Jon and Dany are going to end up together. The problem of Jon+Dany = ice and fire, is that if Dany is fire by being a Targaryen, then Jon is too since he is also a Targaryen. I think “song of ice and fire” refers solely to Jon given not just his origins being half-Targaryen and half-Stark, but look at his story.

    He was born in Dorne (the southernmost kingdom) and raised in the North. He is prince who was raised as a bastard. He is the heir to the Targaryen dynasty raised by one of the Usurper’s biggest supporters. He is Nights Watch man who rode with the wildings. He could also be argued to Lord Commander of the NW while being de facto King-beyond-the-Wall.

    2. I do see Jon mounting a dragon, but not find out his heritage, but rather to publicly prove it a la pulling the sword from the stone.

    In place of a churchyard, Jon mounts the dragon in the godswood of Winterfell, and in place of the Lady of the Lake who gives a sword to prove Arthur’s heritage, a skeptical Daenerys (from across the Narrow Sea) who already had to deal with a false pretender posing as her late brother’s son allows Jon the opportunity to mount one of her dragons with the expectation that he will fail.

    3. I don’t think Cersei will sleep with Euron either. He is far away with a long way to travel to KL, wants the IT and she wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize her children’s and by extension, her hold on the Crown. There is also the long history of enmity between the Iron Islands and the Westerlands.

    4. Agreed on Bronn, too. I think he is more likely to link up with Tyrion again. Of course, he makes it clear he won’t do it for free, he wants Rosby as his reward as he is likely one of the claimants Kevan mentioned.

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      Jon and Dany ending up together has been foreshadowed since Clash, when the blue rose in the wall of ice is clearly placed in the Bride of Fire section of the HotU prophecies. TV series has messed around with so much, but not this.

    • Murc says:

      a skeptical Daenerys (from across the Narrow Sea) who already had to deal with a false pretender posing as her late brother’s son allows Jon the opportunity to mount one of her dragons with the expectation that he will fail.

      If Aegon VI is in fact a fake (people keep taking this for granted, to the point where I refuse to respond effectively to anyone using that tooth-grinding “fAegon” construction) I expect this is precisely how it will go: Daenerys will demand he prove he prove his bonafides by mounting a dragon, and Aegon will end up Quentyn’d.

      Then Jon will show up with his claim, and Daenerys will be like “shit, another one. Okay, hotshot, you know the drill” and kick back expecting to get another show, and it… won’t work out the way she expects.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        If fAegon is indeed fAegon, it’s because he’s a Blackfyre and still blood of the dragon. It wouldn’t serve Dany to even give him the chance at all, she’ll just roast him straight up.

        • Murc says:

          I’m not comfortable with Daenerys being that evil, so I hope you’re wrong.

          (This is assuming Daenerys has no specific proof he’s a fake but just decides spuriously she’s going to burn anyone between her and the Iron Throne, kinship be damned.)

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            I don’t think that would make her evil. He’s her enemy. You kill your enemies.

          • Murc says:

            The context wherein that occurs matters a lot. “This guy has a better legal and equivalent moral claim, which is a problem, so I will simply murder him in order to remove the problem” is not a flattering context. That’s some Maegor the Cruel bullshit.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Mummer’s Dragon, remember? The moment Dany learns of him, she’ll make the connection, and nobody will be able to convince her otherwise. In her mind, the dude’s a fraud and pretender, not a legitimate claimant at all.

        • Brett says:

          I don’t think she’ll know that he’s a Blackfyre, since he believes he’s the real deal and the Golden Company is not going to contradict him otherwise.

        • teageegeepea says:

          Quentyn claimed he had dragon blood. How much of it would a Blackfyre have by this generation? We know that Daemon Blackfyre himself didn’t marry a Targaryen, and GRRM has said Bittersteel left no descendants.

      • jedimaesteryoda says:

        Except if Daenerys is going to fight Aegon in a second Dance of Dragons, I doubt he is going to be able to come near her dragons.

      • Captain Splendid says:

        Doesn’t matter if Aegon’s real or a Blackfyre or whatever, since his hand is basically Tywin without any redeeming qualities. That boy’s going nowhere fast.

    • Sean C. says:

      1. I don’t think Jon and Dany are going to end up together. The problem of Jon+Dany = ice and fire, is that if Dany is fire by being a Targaryen, then Jon is too since he is also a Targaryen. I think “song of ice and fire” refers solely to Jon given not just his origins being half-Targaryen and half-Stark, but look at his story.

      GRRM has already said that there isn’t just one meaning to “ice and fire” in the context of the books, and I’m pretty sure he’s already said that Jon and Dany are ice and fire in one sense. The whole story is not just about Jon.

    • 1. I entirely disagree, especially when you examine things through the lens of GRRM as a Romantic. Fire and Ice is repeatedly associated with love: the Pact of Ice and Fire is a marriage alliance, the prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised (of whom it is said “his is the song of ice and fire”) is very much focused on the bringing to birth of a savior through star-crossed love, Nyssa Nyssa is crucial to the story of Azor Ahai, Meera and Bran discuss how ice and fire are like love and hate, and Danys’ third prophecies all revolve around fires and mounts dedicated to love.

      2. Jon has to find out. There’s been way too much setup not to have a payoff.

      3. Agreed, but also because Euron is long past interest in worldly power. The only thing he wants the Iron Throne for now is to impale dead gods on it.

      4. Sure.

      • jedimaesteryoda says:

        1. It still could just refer to Jon going by your argument. The Pact of Ice and Fire referred to a Stark-Targaryen marriage, which we already had. Jon’s birth was the result of star-crossed lovers Rhaegar and Lyanna.

        Nissa Nissa’s life was used to create forge Lightbringer which pierced her chest, or in a form of love symbolism, it pierced her heart, just as Lyanna died bringing Jon into the world which did pierce her heart, or create a deep, emotional impact on her as the definition goes. (Jon was also Rhaegar’s third child, a guy obsessed with the prophecy just as AA had three tries at making Lightbringer.)

        2. I think you misunderstand. I meant Jon would find out his identity long before he mounts the dragon. I’m guessing he would learn via Bloodraven in a dream after the Ides of Marsh, and be confirmed by Benjen if he shows up by then. I don’t think he would find out his heritage by simply mounting a dragon, but that if he did mount a dragon, it would be to prove his pedigree to the public, ie Daenerys, not himself.

        • 1. If it just involved Jon, there’s no reason for GRRM to have gone to the efforts he did of tying Daenerys into the prophecies, having her prophecies revolve around love, and tying them to Jon specifically.

          2. Fair enough.

  8. […] spoilers in all the comments. Steven’s thoughts are here. I thought it was a largely serviceable episode with no standout scenes (except the new opening […]

  9. Jim B says:

    I’m assuming that Cersei (and Euron) are filling the role that Aegon will play in the books — the human obstacle to Dany’s (and/or Jon’s) claim to the throne who serves as another threat in addition to the inhuman threat of the white walkers. The fact that the Golden Company is working for Cersei is consistent with that.

  10. Benjamin says:

    I think that a lot of the dumbed down storylines come from Benioff & Weiss playing to the most casual of viewers. Which I agree that they shouldn’t do. I listen to Bill Simmons podcast regularly, and he’s pretty casual and for instance doesn’t even know who Euron is. Amongst other things. So I think that’s why they didn’t get too advanced or intricate with the storyline. Not saying it’s right, at all.

    I hope the books are much different and more descriptive.

  11. The Dragon Demands says:

    Daenerys acts uncharacteristically bubbly and funny in the dragon-riding scene….because they’ve openly stated in interviews, “Emilia Clarke is bubbly and funny, unlike Daenerys…so we started writing Daenerys as bubbly and funny, to show her off”.

    They Reconceived the Roles to Make Them Worthy of the Actor’s Talents.

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      And there are still people that say D&D aren’t utter hacks.

      That these fools were entrusted with THIS series enrages me. Any one of the commenters on this site could do better.

      • Troy Larson says:

        At the end of the day, HBO doesn’t want a rigorously faithful adaptation of ASOIAF because the marketable audience for something that intricate & involved is drastically small and nowhere near profitable for the needed budget. D&D, on the other hand, have reshaped the source material into a medieval fantasy soap opera with one of the largest mainstream followings ever. While they are by any objective standard poor storytellers, they’re wildly successful showrunners.

  12. […] those of you who haven’t gotten their fill of talking about Season 8 Episode 1, I appeared on Graphic Policy Radio along with Elana Levin and Dothraki expert Tihi […]

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