Here it is, then. Winter has come. Did you brace yourself? You should have, pictures of Sean Bean reminded us for the past decade.

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Even the opening titles are hammering it home page that this, now, is the endgame – with the Mã Sản Phẩm Westeros now completely wintered up, the Wall irreparably holed, and the locations whittled down lớn Winterfell, King’s Landing, and also Last Hearth, directly in the path of the White Walkers so highly unlikely khổng lồ be appearing in the credits next week.

Despite having already had the best part of seventy hours lớn get all the pieces in position, the bulk of ‘Winterfell’ is still just that – arranging all the remaining characters at one of the two main remaining locales. This naturally brings about any number of reunions, which could have been heart-warming – but the tone is phối when Arya spots Jon, then immediately also spots the Hound & Gendry, giving it the feel of all her chickens coming trang chính to roost, & then Tyrion makes a joke about balls. This joke is the first actual words spoken of the season. Welcome khổng lồ a rich fantasy world.

Perhaps it’s unfair lớn rag on trò chơi of Thrones for being vulgar in this way. Baông chồng in season one, Viserys telling Daenerys that he’d let Drogo’s whole khalasar fuông chồng her decisively illustrated that here was a fantasy series with more bodily fluids involved than Lord of the Rings. Still, Tyrion’s meant to be the mastermind of the good guys – oh yes, the way the characters are assembled are fairly clear-cut groups of good guys và bad guys now – but in practice he instead appears khổng lồ be the one who makes pithy comments.

Jon & Bran reuniting likewise has the wind taken out of its sails by the fact that Isaac Hempstead-Wright is now playing Bran about as stiffly as HAL 9000 – but at least, confined to lớn a wheelchair, the show manages lớn avoid the incongruous sight of hlặng towering over Kit Harington lượt thích the rest of the Stark kids. Even Arya can more-or-less look hlặng in the eyes these days.

The best-done of the reunions is probably Theon rescuing Yara – for no other reason that the show remembers Theon’s thing was being a deadshot with a bow, and that deep down he prefers the Starks to lớn his own family. As such, you can expect a further round of reunions next week when Theon rocks up at Winterfell. The worst, meanwhile, is Tyrion and Sansa, since the show has her apologise for running for the hills after being forced into marrying hyên ổn. The show’s never seemed certain what lớn bởi with Sansa – actually, that’s a lie. It has very clear ideas on what to lớn vị with Sansa, & they’re bloody stupid. And the clearest omission, by far, is little Lady Mormont somehow missing that Jorah Mormont, her family’s own black sheep, is wandering around the same castle as her as bold as brass.

While this surprisingly isn’t a reunion, ‘Winterfell’ sees Daenerys và Sansa coming face-to-face – & here the show sticks firmly by its old adage that women be catty. On trò chơi of Thrones, if two women share a scene and have speaking parts there’s incredibly good odds that they will choose any reason available to lớn hate each other. Of the women who’ve met each other through all stacking up in Winterfell, the two who’ve sầu got along best are Arya and Brienne, & this literally manifested itself in a swordfight.

Sansa does at least have sầu an internally consistent reason not lớn like Daenerys, since Jon’s given up being King in the North to bow to a fancy-Dan Targaryen overlord. This would have sầu been the perfect time for the show lớn cite its own internal lore, lượt thích I’m about to – the North was one of few of the Seven Kingdoms lớn be incorporated into lớn a unified Westeros without massive sầu bloodshed, thanks lớn the actions of Torrhen Stark, the King who knelt. Seeing a massive Targaryen army with a bunch of dragons poised lớn come down on his head, Torrhen – as his title suggests – knelt, rather than getting his people burnt alive sầu. As Greatjon Umber put it in season 1, “it was the dragons we bowed to”. Instead of any of this, the show chooses khổng lồ have sầu Sansa put it down to Jon’s massive sầu crush on Daenerys.

Granted, she’s not strictly wrong about that, và we get a profoundly silly moment of Jon và Daenerys walking through a field of dung-age war preparations making heart eyes at each other. While this is going on, Tyrion, Varys, & Davos – Team Older and Wiser, as they seem lớn be positioning themselves – speculate that maybe they should have their photogenic young rulers get married, lớn ensure the succession after the war.

This is risible for two reasons. One, Jon & Daenerys clearly don’t need the help, they’re already banging. Two, and here you can probably taông chồng on an extra spoiler alert, it’s unlikely they’ll make it out alive sầu. I’ll be upfront about this, I’ve sầu read the books, I got heavily inlớn the meta-analysis, and all the evidence points to lớn Jon, Daenerys, & probably also Tyrion sacrificing themselves lớn stop the White Walkers. It’s the slightly younger generation who are tipped khổng lồ rebuild the Seven Kingdoms – which will probably Balkanize baông chồng into lớn being Seven Kingdoms rather than a unified feudal state. Remember when Daenerys had that vision quest, và saw the Red Keep’s throne room wrecked up & full of snow? That wasn’t poetic license, or a kind of friendly suggestion.

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Uncle George has always been clear that the series will have sầu a ‘bittersweet’ ending. God knows the show’s strayed alarmingly from the books, và you can interpret ‘bittersweet’ any way you lượt thích, but this isn’t going to be a Return of the King scenario where every main character (apart from Sean Bean) miraculously survives, and then they all drink lemonade. Game of Thrones likes khổng lồ shochồng, & since the start, its main triông xã has been khổng lồ not have the heroes always win. Remember Sean Bean’s character? Rethành viên his sad wife and ill-fated son? Hell, the show’s already killed off Jon Snow once.

True khổng lồ khung, the villains are all doing fine. Cersei is pleased lớn hear the Wall’s come down, although manages not to kichồng any dogs. Euron’s pleased with himself – as Cersei laboriously explains khổng lồ us, he’s incredibly arrogant, và he has every reason lớn be, given that he’s still King of the independent Iron Islands, và nobody seems khổng lồ have sầu noticed. And now he’s brought in the Golden Company on Cersei’s side, under Harry Strickland – more properly ‘Homeless’ Harry Stricklvà, a reference to lớn how both he & the core of the Golden Company are Westeroham exiles. Again, a choice bit of worldbuilding which the show omits in favour of sexual tension và smutty jokes.

So yes, Team Bad Guys seem absurdly complacent about the world-ending threat coming through the Wall – but so are Team Good Guys, with far less excuse. The preparations for the upcoming battles (“longer than Helm’s Deep”, remember) are all consigned to lớn the background – the main issues of note are people getting bitter the North’s no longer independent, and Jon’s parentage. If you’ll remember, Bran was insisting they tell him he’s a Targaryen in the season seven finale, yet they take most of ‘Winterfell’ lớn get around khổng lồ it.

It does, at least, carry an appropriate cấp độ of unpleasant weight, helped somewhat by Sam making the reveal moments after Daenerys tells him she killed his whole family. (Despite the tragic music in the background, this is a moment of wonderful blaông xã comedy – when Daenerys says she burned his father alive, Sam blubberingly reasons it’ll at least be nice khổng lồ see his brother again, & she has to lớn chew her lip over breaking that news as well.) And like the heroes not always winning, here, again, Game of Thrones is getting back khổng lồ its mission of subverting fantasy stories. Our beloved underdog protagonist discovering he’s the secret heir lớn the throne isn’t a moment of triumph – it’s a heart-rending thing that destroys his whole self-identity, & also means he fucked his aunt.

Speaking of incest, when Jaime turns up at Winterfell, the final reunion of ‘Winterfell’ hits the same black comedy note as Sam’s unfortunate family matters. He’s probably hoping he has an in here with Tyrion, the brother who through it all still loves hyên ổn, or otherwise Brienne, his weird chivalric crush. Instead, he gets off his horse, & immediately locks eyes with Bran – who he tried to lớn fling khổng lồ a gruesome death in the first episode.

The essential stats:

Killings: a couple of Euron’s crewmen – one being a blink-and-you’ll-miss-hyên cameo from Rob McElhenney – and the poor little Lord Umber, twice over.

Gratuitous sex: Bronn’s having a go on three prostitutes at once, but is rudely interrupted, so half a point.

Dragons: more gratuitous than the sex this week. Daenerys takes Jon for the other sort of ride, và they get plenty of flybys of Winterfell, to lớn the point everyone’s already getting used to them being there. This amount of CGI comes at a cost, though – neither hide nor hair of the direwolves to be seen, và the Golden Company – khổng lồ Cersei’s disappointment – haven’t brought their war elephants.


Jon & Arya reuniting – yes, it was overcooked, but theirs is the strongest bond of the remaining Starks. Extra points for Arya’s understated reponse when Jon asks if she’s ever used Needle.Sam telling Jon about his real parents, down in the Stark crypts, which almost always play host lớn genuinely meaningful scenes.As much as the show turned Arya & the Hound’s traumatic bond of circumstance inlớn a bro-team, if anyone’s going lớn be sniping at each other I’m glad it’s them.

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Daenerys và Jon going on Game of Thrones: The Alton Towers ride. I’m sure the CGI used to lớn be better than this.As well as John Bradley played it, Sam hated his dad, & his reaction khổng lồ the guy’s death would in no universe be uncomplicated grief.Everyone’s bizarre obsession with feudal politics in the face of an oncoming army of ice zombies. There’s priorities here, guys.