After two years of grueling waiting, the season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones finally welcomed back fans into the world of Westeros for the last time. Despite the lofty expectations, "Winterfell" introduced the final season of Game of Thrones rather quietly, filled with heartwarming reunions and plot-setting conversations between key players. While certainly exposition-heavy, episode 1 of season 8 still managed plenty of substance for fans to discuss. And to that end, here are 5 things that satisfied fans and 5 things that bothered them.
10 Satisfied: The Nostalgic Opening Sequence
The opening sequence of season 8's premiere brought everything full circle, built like a loving tribute to the very first episode of the series. Set to a familiar score to season 1's premiere, "Winter is Coming," the commoners of Winterfell are seen lining the streets in anticipation of Daenerys' and Jon's arrival. Speckled with clever call-backs to that fateful first episode, the first few minutes of season 8's premiere are wonderfully nostalgic, yet still manage to grip the viewer with meaningful character interactions.
9 Bothered: Cersei Giving In Eo Euron's Pressure
One might assume a character as powerful and strong-willed as Cersei, daughter of Tywin Lannister and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, would sooner execute a man pressuring her into sex than welcome him into her bed.
But in the season 8 premiere, Cersei succumbed to Euron Greyjoy's unconventional, erm, charm, and begrudgingly gave him exactly what he'd insisted on since the Lord of the Iron Islands was introduced last season. It was a rare out-of-character moment for a queen best known for forcefully, violently asserting her will over Game of Thrones' seven seasons, not bending to obnoxious, petulant strongmen.
8 Satisfied: Reunion Upon Reunion
If there's one thing we've grown used to as Game of Thrones fans, it's our favorite characters being ripped apart and scattered across the map. The Stark family, in particular, has seen its members tortured, murdered, and driven apart by acts of dishonor and betrayal.
Beyond bringing together what members remain of the Stark family, the season 8 premiere reunited odd couples like the Hound and Arya and Tyrion and Sansa. Better yet, the writers cleverly gave fans satisfying reunions while adding substance to the circumstances that thicken and further the plot. Why does Tyrion seem to suddenly trust that Cersei will remain faithful to her commitment? What is the weapon Arya asks Gendry to craft for her? Will Jon's allegiance to Daenerys drive a wedge between his relationship with Arya? The bittersweet reunions we saw in the premiere opened up these questions and more.
7 Bothered: Sansa And Arya Mistrusting Jon Snow
Given these characters' histories, it's completely understandable that Arya and Sansa are bothered by Jon Snow kneeling to Daenerys and inviting the Lannisters, of all people, to join their cause. That being said, it's just as understandable that Jon feels the need to build as formidable an army as possible to defend Winterfell against the Night King.
Considering the truly massive threat the world faces, it's infuriating to watch Jon's own family question his efforts to unite houses against a common enemy. The only character in Game of Thrones to match Jon's commitment to family and honor is Ned Stark, and we'd be willing to bet Ned would do everything in his power to protect his ancestral home and family, just like Jon is trying to do by joining forces with Daenerys and Cersei. Again, we all sympathize with Sansa and Arya, but this might be one situation where they'd be better of burying the hatchet, at least with Daenerys.
6 Satisfied: Jon Snow Riding A Dragon
It's a moment fans have fantasized about since Jon's Targaryen lineage was revealed back in season 6. Of course, such a hotly anticipated moment is bound to fail some fans' expectations, but it's hard to deny Jon's ascent into the skies atop Rhaegal the dragon was a glorious thing to witness. Call it fan service, but if there's one reliable crowd-pleaser in Game of Thrones, it's our heroes riding dragons. Plus, it was probably wise for Daenerys to test Jon's dragon-riding prowess before he's forced to improvise during the coming Battle of Winterfell. And if that means treating viewers to a thrilling cinematic sequence featuring the two Targaryens riding dragons, we're all for it.
5 Bothered: Sam's Reaction
If you thought the Red Wedding was tragic, try watching the singularly sweet and innocent Samwell Tarly shed tears over his fallen brother. Not only was this moment one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in Game of Thrones history, but it also sets up a potential rift between Sam and Daenerys Targaryen, two characters we never want to see at odds with each other. Adding to the tragedy, the conflict exposes something about Daenerys Targaryen we'd all rather ignore: she can be frighteningly trigger-happy with dragon fire, unhesitatingly roasting alive anyone who doesn't immediately bend the knee.
4 Satisfied: Jaime Lannister Arriving At Winterfell
As far as Jaime Lannister has come since he threw Bran from a tower window and crippled him, he still needs to face judgment for his crimes. The revelation at the end of the episode that Bran was anticipating his arrival, and the looks exchanged between him and Jaime, felt like the sweetest justice for the Stark family. Jaime Lannister's original sin in episode 1 of season 1 will, at last, be tried by the remaining members of the Stark family, giving Jaime the chance to repent and further advance his redemption arc. The cliffhanger also neatly closed the circle of Jaime and Bran's fraught relationship, seeing the Kingslayer face-to-face with Bran at the opposite end of desperation.
3 Bothered: Cersei's Proposal To Bronn
With nearly every main character featured at length in the season 8 premiere, it was a pleasant surprise to see a scene featuring the charismatic sellsword, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Well, it was pleasant, until Qyburn interrupted Bronn's nighttime fun with a proposal from Cersei, who wants Bronn to kill Tyrion and Jaime using the same crossbow Tyrion used to murder Tywin Lannister. It's comforting to think Bronn would never betray his two BFFs, but this is Game of Thrones we're talking about, and Bronn isn't well-known for turning down gold. Best case scenario, Bronn is able to trick Cersei into thinking he'll commit the act and instead head north with a pocket full of gold only to expose Cersei's plan to the Lannister brothers, but that also sounds a little too convenient for Game of Thrones.
2 Satisfied: The Subtle Nod To Ygritte
Near the end of Game of Thrones' fourth season, we witness the devastating death of Jon Snow's first love, the wildling, Ygritte. Cast in the orange blaze of fire and blue glimmer of snow, Jon cradles Ygritte in her final moments as the muted chaos of battle surrounds them. The scene in the season 8 premiere where Jon and Daenerys dismount their dragons near a cave instantly evokes memories of Jon and Ygritte's tragic romance. However, when Daenerys suggests to Jon that they "could stay a thousand years," it was clear the writers were asking viewers to remember the tale of Ygritte's war-torn love for Jon Snow. Perhaps fittingly, it doesn't seem that Jon catches the reference, ringing true Ygritte's final words, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
1 Bothered: Jon Snow's Reaction To His Targaryen Lineage
Ever since Bran's flashback to the Tower of Joy confirmed that Jon Snow is, in fact, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, we've wanted nothing more than to yell right through the screen at Jon, "you're the heir to the Iron Throne!" So when Samwell finally broke the news, and Jon reacted by stubbornly affirming Daenerys' claim, fans couldn't help but sigh in frustration and worry. It's understandable that Jon, or Aegon, would exhibit some hesitation, outright denying Sam's information doesn't seem like the most productive way of handling things. Even if it takes Sam showing Jon the passage he read about Rhaegar and Lyanna's annulment, Jon Snow needs to accept his destiny sooner or later for the story to continue.