Like all good things, Game of Thrones must come to an end. But before the curtain falls, there are elements of the past which need revisiting.
The first episode of season eight took us right back to where things started, when Ned still had a head, the direwolves were adorable pups, and we were all starting to think young Joffrey needed a firm plonking on the naughty step.
Throwback after throwback to series one, this brand new episode rang with echoes of our first ever meeting with the noble families before they were torn asunder by grief, war, and the promise of horrors to come.
In many ways, this latest episode mirrored the first. We had the fraught arrival of a divisive and strong-minded queen at Winterfell, with Daenerys taking Cersei’s place. The mother of dragons even complimented Sansa on her beauty, which Sansa wasn’t quite so flattered by this time around.
We saw Jaime returning to Winterfell for the first time since season one, and – although a more sympathetic character than in times gone by – his first evil deed in the series overshadows his every interaction with the Stark family.
Who could forget the shocking moment a swaggering Jaime of old shoved little Bran out of a window, all in the name ‘of love?’
And now here Jaime is facing Bran as an adult – both of them having suffered debilitating physical injuries – and showing a conscious and a discomfort which would’ve been unimaginable in the days before he met Brienne of Tarth, and began to forge allegiances beyond his family.
— Mwangi wa Mumbi (@mwas_symon) April 15, 2019
It was an episode of reunions, with the long awaited hug between Arya and Jon Snow melting even the iciest of hearts.
However, perhaps the most significant reunion was the one between Arya and Gendry, which some fans on Reddit believe mirrors a crucial exchange between Ned and King Robert Baratheon in episode one.
Fans will no doubt recall the moment shared between Ned and King Robert as they stand in the crypts of Winterfell, reflecting on the untimely death of Lyanna Stark.
King Robert – who we learn has never gotten over Lyanna’s death – states:
You helped me win the Iron Throne, now help me keep the fucking thing. We were meant to rule together. If your sister had lived, we’d have been bound by blood.
Well, it’s not too late. I have a son, you have a daughter. We will join our houses.
Of course, in this instance King Robert was referring to forging a marriage alliance between Sansa and Joffrey (ugh).
However, we now have a real potential – and happy – love match in the form of Gendry and Arya at Winterfell; King Robert’s son and Ned’s daughter respectively.
Once again the cleverness of the narrative reveals itself, with old details embroidered through the new writing, showing us points of significance and worth as we reach the end game.
You can now – finally – watch the new season of Game of Thrones on HBO or Sky Atlantic.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.