Spoiler Alert - We Meet Again, in Winterfell
People the world over have been gripped by Game of Thrones since Jaime Lannister pushed Brandon Stark from the tower, crippling him. It is fascinating that one action between two characters catalysed the most intense political, fantastical power plays on television today.
It is fascinating still that this extensive ensemble of characters, though separated by years, seas, assassinations, and murders – kept apart by war, political turmoil, and intrigue – has brought fans full circle for the last time to celebrate fateful revelations and revel in overdue reunions.
For the premiere at Digicel’s regional headquarters in downtown Kingston, faithful fans gathered to see the end start much like the beginning – the scene opens in Winterfell, and a royal procession makes its way into the castle grounds from a long, arduous journey on the King’s (or Queen’s) Road. The opening scene almost mirrors the first episode – following a child excitedly scurrying through a spectator crowd and climbing high to watch the sombre parade of soldiers and their royal leaders.
It was an episode full of reunions. A mature, but still small Arya offers a smile at the scurrying child, likely as she recalls her own youthful abandon during such occasions. Arya’s reunion with Jon Snow was satisfying as they had not seen each other since he gifted her the trusty thin-blade needle in the very first season. Still by her side, she was understandably modest in her admittance of using Needle ‘once or twice’. Along with Jon, and her everlasting nemesis, The Hound, she was also reunited with Gendry, who pulled femininity from her in a way fans have never seen before.
Sansa, properly styled as the Lady of Winterfell, perhaps, has the starkest transformation. From her beginnings as a love-struck simpleton to giving the most unflinching reaction to Daenerys’ dragons as they roared and screeched above Winterfell’s towers, Sansa now stands unmoved by claims of power.
She was also unflinching in her reunion with her estranged husband Tyrion, whose last encounter was shared at Joffery’s tragic wedding. After surviving the clutches of two of Westeros’ most vile villains, her countenance seems as discerning, prickly, and rigid as her late mother Catelyn.
Speaking of prickly mothers, Cersei continues to plot with King’s Landing, alongside Euron Greyjoy (and support from the Gold Company, minus the elephants) their eventual journey to the North. Whether it’s to join the fight against the Night King, as Tyrion seems to believe, or to fight to claim the North, is left to be seen.
Back in Winterfell, Sansa and Jon Snow were never warm to each other, but the possibility of compassion between them at reunion was dampened by Daenerys – the queenly threat to the North’s fevered and powerful naming of Jon ‘King in the North’ in the last season.
As titles have followed him throughout this story, from Commander of the Night’s Watch to King in the North, Jon has once again been saddled with responsibilities he did not ask for and didn’t see coming. And so, last season’s revelation, uncovered by Bran the Crow and Samwell Tarly, finally makes it to Jon’s ear – that he is indeed the protector of the realm, true and rightful heir to the Iron Throne. So what happens now?
That issue actually took a back seat for the final reunion of the episode.
It was Bran the Crow’s urging that sped up the formalities and got the Northern houses gathered for talks of war. But mostly, he sat silent and watchful and waiting for the arrival of an ‘old friend’.
Before the credits rolled, fans sat silent and watchful, too – with bated breath as a hooded figure entered the castle grounds followed by Bran’s stoic eyes. Fittingly, the episode closed as Jaime and Bran’s eyes met – again.