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‘Game of Thrones’ return is properly messy

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Ladies and lords, a year-and-a-half later and we’re finally here. Winter may have passed for us, but the new and final season of “Game of Thrones” has come. Many excitedly huddled around a screen this past Sunday to watch the premiere, and after hurriedly dashing back from rush, I was no exception. As one of the most popular shows of our time, a lot is riding on this final season, as both the writing team and George R.R. Martin seek to wrap up the song of ice and fire. There’s plenty of room for triumph — or disappointment.

With only six episodes remaining (including the premiere), the show has a lot to get through, plenty of loose ends to tie up and inevitably more main characters to kill off. Perhaps that’s what makes it all the more surprising that this first episode was surprisingly slow paced, a deliberate (and relieving) break from the breakneck speed of season seven. There’s been some accusations that this episode was “filler,” which I disagree with. We had hot tears, cold looks and a blood-curdling scream on my part — all the good stuff I’ve come to expect from “Game of Thrones.” It was admittedly nice to return to the days of the early seasons where events were built up to and people couldn’t cross the sea within a single day. After all, it is only the first episode — how much action can they pack in right off the bat?

Chock full of reunions seasons in the making, frigid encounters and occasionally a mixture of the two (looking at you, Jaime and Bran), it’s the homecoming we’ve all been waiting for, with all our favorites or least-favorites making a return. The rifts between allies, enemies and lovers are beginning to open, and the Night King is marching down from the north. This premiere still leaves a lot to be determined. It’s unclear in which direction the rest of the season will take us. It’s obviously still not clear who, if anyone, will sit upon the Iron Throne when all is said and done.

“Game of Thrones” seems to have returned to its roots with this one. A mortal threat to the realm marches ever nearer while the nobility resumes their petty power squabble — what’s new? Yet with Jon learning his true identity already so early into the season, it really could be anyone’s game at this point. In classic “Thrones” fashion, things are about to get very, very messy.

Contact Hannah Blum at hannahbl ‘at’ stanford.edu.