The beginning of the end has finally arrived for “Game of Thrones,” and it did not disappoint.
Now if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading, go watch it, and come back. I’m about to spoil quite a lot.
Let’s start at the beginning of the episode. Right away, we are thrilled by a beautiful new opening credits animation, this time starting from the perspective of the dreaded White Walkers, showing us their path and progress since we last left off. This intro is not only highly detailed but immediately gives us a sense of impending doom with their slow march towards Winterfell, which felt like an unstoppable iceberg sliding across the continent.
The episode begins in earnest, starting with the first of many parallels to season one: episode one. The young Ned Umber climbs hurriedly to get a better view of the approaching king and queen, just like Bran did in the very first episode. This time however, the king and queen are Jon and Daenerys instead of Robert and Cersei.
The episode continues to parallel the first in many ways, but also diverges at points. The White Walkers are now a much more serious threat, as Bran and his wonderfully disturbing deadpan mannerisms point out when he cuts introductions short, telling everyone quite simply that they don’t have time for this. (Also, I personally want to thank Bran, because I’ve gotten really tired of hearing someone announce every single one of Dany’s 85 titles every time she enters a room.)
The pacing of the show has quickened considerably, and this makes sense because with only six episodes in this season they need to start tying up loose ends very quickly. Unfortunately, the quicker pace makes some moments, Jon and Dany’s five-minute-long dragon ride in particular, feel like wasted screen time that could have been more useful on other scenes that better serve the plot, such as Theon’s rescue of Yara which felt unusually abrupt.
We do finally get the reunions we’ve been dying to see for almost the entire show. Arya and Jon’s reunion is a particularly heartwarming one, which immediately raises a red flag, because I don’t trust this show not to rip my heart out and stomp all over it.
Also, exciting news for those of us who love the ginger giant — Tormund is still alive and cracking jokes that are as funny as they are unexpected.
So far this season seems to be shaping up excitingly, and with Jaime arriving at the very end of the episode, the next is sure to be just as riveting. The White Walkers march on, passing Last Hearth, and The Battle of Winterfell is sure to come in the near future.