THE Game of Thrones opener of the final series really was a satisfying scene-setter. We’d waited almost two years for the return of the show and despite just six episodes to go, the first instalment was more slow-burner than dragon fire.
With millions staying up on both sides of the Atlantic for its 2am airing to dodge the potential spoilers online, many more will catch the 9pm broadcast on Monday. The first show had heart, plotting and one-liners — all the things we love about the show.
We see the Unsullied march on Winterfell in a less than triumphant return of Jon Snow with Daenerys at his side. As Jon introduces the new queen to his family, Bran kills the mood by reminding them they don’t have time for pleasantries. “The Night King has your dragon, the Wall has fallen and the army of the dead is marching south.”
Even her dragons fail to impress the northerners. “What do dragons eat,” Sansa scathingly asks as she wonders how she is to feed the greatest army ever assembled? “Whatever they like,” Daenerys counters. It’s a frosty start to the new alliance.
Tensions mount between Jon and Sansa as he insists he chose the north over a crown. But Sansa cuttingly asks if he bent the knee for the north or for love.
It was an episode of reunions — Arya and The Hound, Arya and Gendry, and of course the one we have all been waiting for, Arya and Jon. Spotting Needle, the sword he had forged for her in series one, he asks if she has ever used it. “Once or twice,” she admits awkwardly.
With so much happiness, death will not be far behind.
Sam finally tells Jon of his parentage and that he is the true king. He casts doubt in Jon’s mind about the fitness of Daenerys to rule after he learned she roasted his father and brother. “You gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Pretty much every major character got a nod in the 54-minute episode — with one notable exception — the Night King. While young Lord Umber was found pinned to the walls of his hall as a wight by Tormand, Beric and the Nights Watch, the army of the blue-eyed dead must make an appearance next week, if only to get us ready for the battle to end all battles.
There’s also a big showdown looming between Jon and Daenerys as he gets to break it to her that he is her long lost nephew. Will she lose her fiery temper?
Even after two years, another week to wait seems like a long time. Appetite truly whetted, episode two should see the action go up another gear.