'Game of Thrones' Premiere Recap: A Family Reunion Before Everyone Dies

It's no longer coming; Winter has finally arrived. The final season of Game of Thrones just aired on HBO, the beginning of the end of the long-running fantasy series that ensnared millions of fans. And since George R. R. Martin's novels have yet to catch up with the show, we are now in uncharted territory. So, let's dive in.

The episode begins in Winterfell, showing Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow's arrival accompanied by their respected armies. With dragons in tow, the northerners are rightfully freaking out, but Sansa and Bran Stark remain cool enough to welcome the Mother of Dragons and the King in the North. Sansa welcomes Dany, Jon attempts to bond with Bran, but the Three-Eyed Raven wants to get down to business. He informs them of the wall falling and the Night King turning Dany's dragon into a White Walker.

The other houses in Winterfell are not happy that Jon bent the knee to Dany, including Season 7 MVP Lyanna Mormont. Tyrion's presence and his allegiance to Dany doesn't make it any better. But the remaining Starks and Dany manage to command enough respect to order the surviving heir to House Umber, one of the jerks who aligned with Ramsay Bolton in Season 6, to return to his home of Last Hearth and to bring his people to Winterfell — where they will make their stand against the Night King's armies.

Sansa and Tyrion reunite briefly; Tyrion is pissed that his wife left him to die after Joffrey's murder, Sansa thinks Tyrion is an idiot for thinking Cersei will have their back in the war against the White Walkers. Marriage, what're you gonna do?

Arya has reunions with both Gendry and the Hound, one is a lot more pleasant than the other (guess which one). Gendry is busy making weapons out of dragon glass so they can kill more White Walkers, and Arya has something special in mind.

As Dany's small council debates over getting her to marry Jon, the two lovebirds tend to the Queen's dragons. Jon ends up riding Rhaegal, and the two kiss. Shortly after, Jon and Arya reunite. While they're happy to see each other, Arya remains in support of their sister Sansa despite Jon whining about her behavior.

Dany thanks Samwell for saving Jorah, then brags to him about killing his dad and brother in the previous season. But Sam doesn't have time to be sad, as Bran tells the Maester-in-Training that he heeds to tell Jon about his true parentage. Sam finds Jon in the crypts, mourning over the late Ned Stark, and tells him. Jon seems blown away but still trusts his friend, but Sam starts planting seeds of doubts about Dany and how she'll react to such a revelation.

In King's Landing, Euron Greyjoy arrives with the Golden Company and their leader Harry Strickland, which is by far the most generic name we've yet come across in the entire series. At least Jon Snow has some meaning behind it. Anyway, Euron manages to seduce Cersei and prompts an existential crisis for the Lannister, while Theon sneaks on Euron's boat to rescue his captive sister Yara. The former ward of the Starks wants to return to Winterfell and help in the fight against the Walkers.

Cersei prompts her creepy Maester Qyburn to find Bronn, who is seemingly enjoying less and less of his passive life among prostitutes. The Crown makes an offer to Bronn; kill both Jaime and Tyrion Lannister, the two people he came to be friends with among his rise to power. Brown doesn't seem entirely down on the idea...

Meanwhile, fans finally get the question we've all been dying to learn the answer to: the fate of Tormund Giantsbane. Yes, he's still alive despite the now-evil dragon Viserion destroying the Wall at Eastwatch. He, Beric Dondarrion, and Edd Tollett of the Nights Watch arrive at Last Hearth (the place mentioned at the beginning of the episode, try to keep up), only to see that everyone is dead — killed by White Walkers. They decide to trek to Winterfell, fully aware that the army of the dead is somewhere ahead of them in their journey.

Finally, the episode ends with a confrontation we've been waiting to see ever since the first episode premiered eight years ago: Jaime Lannister returns to Winterfell. The first person he lays eyes on? Bran Stark, the boy he shoved from the window all that time ago.

We'll see how it all turns out when Game of Thrones' final season continues on HBO next Sunday. Click here to check out our review of the season premiere.


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Additional reporting by PopCulture.com's Mike Hein.