The first episode of Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season premiered on Apr.14, initiating the beginning of the end. There are few television premieres as hyped and anticipated as this one, so I went into the episode with probably unrealistic expectations. I don’t feel inclined to add a spoiler disclaimer for those who have yet to watch the new season, because so far nothing of significance has occurred.
The majority of the episode consisted of build-up and tension. After the episode concluded, I expressed my disappointment to my family and peers. I was surprised to find that my rejective opinions were in the minority, as the response to the opening episode was overwhelmingly positive. While I kept being assured, “they’re just setting the table.” I mean… I agree, but you don’t need an entire episode to do so.
When there’s literal prop bets on who Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams, will kill first in the new season, I expect fights. Unnecessary scenes that contributed little to no plot development plagued the premiere of the final season of a dynasty. Sure, some characters learned things that the audience already knew and there were some touching familial moments. But, overall it felt like the episode was 10 minutes long because there was nothing that significant or surprising- it was a Real Housewives reunion show but with more dragons.
Speaking of dragons, I think part of my disgust with the premiere was mainly due Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) prolonged dragon-riding scene. This excursion is a strong contender for most unnecessary uses of CGI in cinematic history, possibly surpassing the pod race in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. One can only assume that there was no glimpse at the white walker army in this episode because the studio blew their budget on this scene.
The first episode had a few entertaining snippets; what the plot lacked in action, the writers tried to make up for in humor. Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage) eunuch jokes land every time. It’s safe to say that he and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivjua) are officially the comedic backbone of the show.
The episode spent its duration “setting the table” so I headed into the second episode, airing on Apr. 24, expecting a feast. Instead, the writers concocted yet another episode of virtually nothing happening. However, this episode was better, because it was heavily catered to the fans. Gendry and Arya, Arya and the Hound, Brienne’s love triangle; it was as if the writers collectively decided to incorporate fan fiction and fan theories into the plot.
By doing this, the plot made no holistic development but, by golly if that wasn’t good television. It’s called fan service for a reason.
It is a curse to always have to be the voice of reason and not mindlessly follow the other sheep in the herd. Season seven was just so good, perfectly balancing twists and reveals as well as sprinkling the meaningful reunions along the way. I expect the rest of the season will pick up from here. All in all, Samwell Tarly deserves the iron throne.