The highly anticipated and long awaited eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones finally premiered on Sunday night, and it was everything we could have hoped for and more. With the greatest threat Westeros has ever seen looming over their heads, the episode is surprisingly, overall, lighthearted. It has moments of joy, of laughter, and too many reunions to count. This is the calm before the storm, make no mistake.
But there’s also a certain tone of finality about this episode. It really hits us that this is the last season premiere that Game Of Thrones will ever have. We can’t help but think back to that first season. So many of those characters are now gone, and the ones who aren’t have completely changed. But in this, the final season premiere, there is a surprising and touching throwback to that very first episode, Winter Is Coming. And it would melt even the Night King’s icy heart.
In the beginning of the Season 8 premiere, a little boy is running through the snowy woods. At first, we think he might be running away from something. But he’s running towards the King’s Road, wanting to see the army of Unsullied that is marching through the streets, and, of course, the Dragon Queen who commands them. He can’t see above the many adults in front of him, when suddenly, one moves to the side so he can run through. And who should that be, but Arya Stark herself.
She smiles as the boy runs past and towards a tree, which he quickly climbs, so that he can get the best view of not only the King’s Road, but also of Winterfell itself, where the Queen and her army will be staying.
This all feels incredibly familiar, reminiscent of the series premiere many years ago. Season 1, Episode 1, titled Winter Is Coming, featured the same excitement when the King and Queen arrived in Winterfell. When Robert Baratheon and the Lannisters came marching down, the North was abuzz. Bran, who still had full use of his legs at the time, was climbing to the very top of Winterfell to see when the Royals would be arriving. And Arya? She disguised herself, running in between guards and soldiers to climb atop a wagon, to get the best possible view of everyone arriving.
This element of nostalgia, this subtle mirroring to the first episode, when many members of House Stark were still children, and hadn’t yet seen the horrors of the world, it reminds us of how much time has passed. How much our characters have suffered. But it also reminds us that there are still innocents in Westeros. Innocents that must be protected from both the army of the dead and from Cersei Lannister. But does the North stand a chance against what’s coming for them? Only time will tell.
The Season 8 Premiere Of Game Of Thrones Is Streaming Now On HBO.