By AJ Willingham, CNN
(CNN) — SPOILERS AHEAD: If you haven’t watched Season 8, Episode 1 of “Game of Thrones,” scramble onto your nearest dragon and fly away because this post is full of spoilers.
Sweet relief! “Game of Thrones” is finally back, and to celebrate, everyone gets a reunion! Jon and Arya! Gendry and Arya! Jon and Sam! Tyrion and Sansa! Jaime and the creepy omniscient child he pushed off a tower mid-coitus all the way back in the very first episode!
Bet you didn’t see that one coming (unless you’re Bran).
When we left the gang at the end of Season 7, the Army of the Dead had breached the wall and were heading southward. While this is the most pressing issue of the entire series, one foretelling an epic battle of life and death, there is still time for a royal procession and various heart eyes, hugs and political squabbles before everyone gets their hands dirty.
Unsurprisingly, the Northmen don’t take it well that Jon has bent the knee to Daenerys and her fancy coat, and Sansa and Arya make it abundantly clear that they aren’t down with a Targaryen coming in and acting like she owns the place. Jon hears this and, yes, he understands, but counterpoint: She has dragons and they are extremely fun to ride.
He and Dany pull a “Whole New World” moment on Drogon and Rhaegal, and while it’s beautiful and romantic, you may have gotten a twinge of foreboding when Dany looked at a frozen waterfall and said,”We could live here a thousand years and no one would know.”
The last time Jon canoodled with a woman in the craggy splendors of the north, he heard something similar: “I don’t ever want to leave this cave, Jon Snow. Not ever,” Ygritte told him in Season 3. “Let’s not go back.” But they did, and things went terribly.
Dany also has some pecadilloes to answer for, like the minor issue of using her dragon to rotisserie the father and brother of one of Jon’s most trusted and important friends. Sam doesn’t take well to the news of the Tarley-cue, and he finally tells Jon the truth: Jon is actually a Targaryen, and as much a royal as his beloved Dragon Queen. Also, she’s his aunt, so … there’s a lot for him to unpack. (Spoiler Alert: The next five episodes are just Jon going to therapy.)
Meanwhile, in parts south, Cersei cashes the check her mouth wrote and sleeps with Euron Greyjoy after he brings her the Golden Company. Maybe it’s just a vibe, but it seems like the Golden Company’s leader has absolutely no idea what he’s gotten himself into and will not be pleased when he figures it out.
Luckily, while Euron is otherwise engaged, Theon rescues Yara and they reconcile, but instead of hunkering down in the Iron Islands, where the Army of the Dead can’t get him, Theon chooses to bail on her to go fight with Jon and Dany in the north. A Theon redemption arc is high on a lot of viewers’ wish lists, but are they really telling us he could have opted out of this whole mess but instead chooses to get back into it? That boy will never have any sense.
Also in the south: Qyburn, professional lurker, offers Bronn an obscene amount of cash to kill Jaime and Tyrion, two men the former sellsword truly admires. Can’t wait to see how that pans out.
Finally Tormund, Beric and company meet up with Dolorous Edd and company at an abandoned Castle Umber only to discover a gruesome version of “The Army of the Dead wuz here” in the form of little Ned Umber, impaled among a spiral of severed arms.
As the band of men discuss this horror, Ned’s eyes suddenly turn blue and Beric has to literally set the whole array on fire. Just as soon as you thought “Game of Thrones” was getting soft by showing you 55 minutes of happy reunions and gratuitous nudity, they give you a shrieking, flaming undead-child pinwheel. Be careful what you wish for.
Sam’s one of Jon’s most trusted friends, and he’s definitely NOT over the fact Dany roasted half of his family. Jon also didn’t seem too thrilled that Dany didn’t slip that little tidbit in among all the pillow talk and dragon riding. Will this affect Jon’s rosy outlook on his queen/aunt/girlfriend?
Will Arya ever stop being coy about the obscene amount of people she’s killed?
What can Bran and Jaime possibly have to say to each other?
And is Cersei still pregnant? Tyrion mentions that she still has something to live for, but then Euron, ever the charmer, talks of putting a prince in her belly (UGH) and she gets that inscrutable Cersei look on her face. What’s the deal?
Sansa: “What do dragons eat?”
Daenerys: “Whatever they want.”
Forgive us but … OOH, BURN!
Fans have been frothing at the mouth for a Jon and Arya reunion for SEVEN SEASONS NOW. Are you happy? You should be happy. Tempered but tender. Stern but loving. And what better way for brother and sister to show their true affection than by comparing swords?
It was a perfect illustration of their respective accomplishments and how far they’ve come to find their true selves. Jon is on the cusp of discovering his royal potential, shining in the Valyrian steel of his sword. And despite facing her facelessness, Arya has managed to hold on to Needle, and with it, her truest identity: A Stark of Winterfell.
Gendry and Arya
Look at Arya, being a normal human person and flirting with her long-lost blacksmith bud! Both of these crazy kids have been through some slop, so if they want to trade barbs and m’ladys and weapons commissions before the Army of the Dead destroys everything good and beautiful in the world, let them!
Cersei and Euron
Raise your hand if you absolutely did not need to know how good or bad Euron Greyjoy is at sex! Is that everyone? You in the back, too? Still, it seems like Cersei is more than happy to pick up what he is putting down. Will this this one-off transactional coupling morph into the dark ship of our nightmares? Seven hells.
~10 random Greyjoy grunts skewered by Theon +
1 poor innocent Ned Umber +
~10 armless Umbers (hey, those spiral limbs had to come from somewhere)
= 21 deaths. All in all, a very gentle “Game of Thrones” total.
Bran clearly knew Jaime was heading toward Winterfell. Which means there’s probably some greater stakes to Jaime’s visit beyond informing everyone of Cersei’s treachery (duh).
Cersei is crazy, but come on. Of course elephants shouldn’t sail across the sea.
Turns out, dragons are like cats. They absolutely WILL watch you get busy with your honey, and maintain eye contact throughout.
Varys very clearly hates being cold and it is very relatable.
One bold prediction
Sansa and Dany are going to be BFFs.
The tension between Sansa and Daenerys is so intense (and well-justified), it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a single event or exchange that flipped their whole vibe and drew these two intelligent, headstrong women together under a shared motivation.
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.