Game of Thrones – Season 8 Episodes 1 – 3 Review

GOT S8 P1

We’re half way through the final season of Game of Thrones already, and we’ve had the long awaited showdown with the Night King and his army of the dead. Frankly that is all we’ve had, with episode 2 being entirely build up, and episode 3 being the entire battle. While it was good, and had some great moments, I can’t help feeling it was a bit of an anti-climax, probably because it wasn’t the climax… Let’s have a look, anyway!

Synopsis:

Upon reaching Winterfell with their combined armies, Jon and Daenerys learn the White Walkers have breached the Wall and the Night King commands an undead dragon. In response, the Northern lords and their allies rally around Winterfell but distrust Daenerys and doubt Cersei’s pledge, a doubt that is soon founded with the arrival of Jamie Lannister…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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“This is it, my big hero moment!”   “Yeah….*ahem*”

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) – Daenerys has her mind set on becoming Queen of the seven Kingdoms, something she has been focusing on for a long time now, but before she can march towards King’s Landing, she has to survive the onslaught of the dead…

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) – Stopping the Night King and his undead army has consumed Jon’s life in the recent times, with only his meeting of Daenerys being a bright point. Now it’s finally do or die… or die again, I guess…

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) – Arya has returned home to Winterfell, and has come to  terms with the idea of fighting legions of undead warriors, after all, her training has prepared her for anything, hasn’t it?

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – Tyrion wishes to do his best and fight the hordes of the undead, but his Queen wishes to see him live and sends him to the catacombs… full of corpses… sounds safe!

Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Jamie has seen the threat of the undead and has rushed to Winterfell in order to fight for the living… it’s just a shame his sister has decided to stay behind with their army in hopes of securing her throne, even if it’s post-apocalyptically…

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) – Brienne is once again by the side of the Starks, and soon also fighting alongside Jamie Lannister. Good company, which is nice given the opponents they’ll have to fight…

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) – Sansa is the lady of Winterfell, and wishes to command her people through this tough time, as really, that’s all she can do…

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) – Bran is Bran no more, instead his body belongs to the Three-Eyed Raven, a being that is of great importance to the up-coming battle… and of great importance as a target for the Night King…

Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) – Samwell is a scholar at heart, and certainly not a fighter, but he has decided to fight on the front-lines anyway… better that than the humiliation of hiding in the catacombs with the women and children, I guess?

Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) – The Hound has never really cared for anyone other than himself, at least until he met Arya, and foresaw the coming of the Night King. Then suddenly he realised he cared about living, rather than living in spite of himself, and now it’s time to prove it.

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) – Theon has re-found his courage, and wishes to free the leader of his family before heading to Winterfell and facing down the forces of the undead… so pretty busy calendar for him, really!

Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) – Jorah is fully dedicated to protecting his Queen, and can think of no greater pleasure than to die by her side in duty… which is good, because as it happens there is a near-invincible army of the dead about to arrive!

Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) – Tormund was once a member of the “free folk” beyond the wall, but now he’s the trusted ally and friend of many of those that stand to take down the Night King…

The Night King (Vladimir Furdik) – The being known as The Night King has a long history, but it all comes down to now, as he is finally through the wall and on his way to destroy humanity…

Plus many more!

The Good:

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“Howdy”.

The build up to the big battle was well played over the first two episodes, with various characters meeting either for the first time, or for the first time in a long while. The Hound and Arya’s meeting in particular was funny, with Hound stating she left him for dead, which resulted in the flat response of “I robbed you too.”, followed by a strange silence where you can still pick up on something that feels like friendship. A scene with several characters gathered around a fireplace moments before probable death was good as well, with some good humour and Brienne becoming a knight. It all did a really good job of convincing you this was probably the end for a lot of people… even if it wasn’t (well, a lot of people died, but very few named ones…)

We also got Sam revealing to Jon that he is actually half Targaryen and the true heir to the throne, which he is horrified about. Amusingly when he tells Daenerys her first thought is how that makes Jon ahead of her in the royal rankings, so to speak, rather than how she’s been screwing her nephew. Priorities, and all that…

Then we get to the battle itself. Now, a lot of people have complained how it was too dark to see, but I didn’t have any problem. In fact, with my 4K TV, the effects of the fire in the dark made those scenes really pop, it was quite the visual treat when characters were walking in dark hallways with just a flaming sword or torch to light the way. Overviews of the army riding across the dark fields and scenes of dragons fighting above the clouds in the moonlight were all really thrilling, and Arya’s running and hiding from the undead after nearly succumbing to them was a tense scene.

Everyone is having a hard time, but they’re surviving, until the Night King raises the freshly dead and even the Starks buried in the catacombs in order to find and kill the Three-Eyed Raven, his nemesis, so to speak. In the last moments Theon and Jorah died, then Arya, who had been re-inspired, kills the Night King with the dagger Bran/Three-Eyed Raven had given her in that very spot last season. All the other undead become re-dead, and the battle is won. Those final moments, with mostly an eerie soundtrack playing, were great stuff.

The Bad:

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“I’m beginning to think hiding in catacombs full of the dead isn’t the best place to hide from someone who can raise the dead…”

The main bad is that “Winter is Coming” has been the tagline of the series since Season 1, and now the Night King is dead with only, at best, two big characters dying. Now all attention turns to the Iron Throne and Cersei, which given the title of the series makes sense, but that doesn’t change the fact that this feels like it was sort of… thrown away. Like the writers had to do it, but all their big plans and deaths are going to happen in the next three episodes, so the whole Night King battle doesn’t have the kind of impact I was expecting. Still had plenty of great moments, don’t get me wrong, but I still feel it didn’t live up to its potential. Battles such as the Battle of Blackwater and definitely the Battle of the Bastards were better, visually, and had more thrilling moments, but then there is only so much you can do when one side is just a sea of roaming corpses, rather than an army with strategy…

That was it really, well, except for feeling uncomfortable during the Arya sex scene, not because I’m bashful over sex scenes, but because I still see Arya as a little girl, even though she’s now in her early 20s. It just felt… well, like I said, uncomfortable.

Overall Thoughts:

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“I will die to protect you, my Queen”  “I know.”  “No, I mean, literally…”

So winter has not only come, but it’s been and gone as the Night King’s long-gestating plan has been stopped with very few lead characters getting killed. It’s a shame, though it’s not a bad set of three episodes, just not the big deal I was hoping for. All that’s left is the true big finale!

4 Star Watch

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