Louisa Mellor

Apr 15, 2019

Major spoilers in the background to the reunions, hostilities and history behind the Game Of Thrones season eight premiere…

If your memory of previous seasons is at all foggy, we’ve assembled the below to help answer any questions you may have following the Game Of Thrones season eight premiere, Winterfell. Major spoilers ahead…

What’s changed in the new opening titles?

Loads of stuff, chief of which is the focus on two main locations – Winterfell and King’s Landing – and the tiles of ice making their way down from the Wall in reflection of the Night King’s army’s progress south.

Now that all of the major characters have gathered in Westeros to fight the Night King (or not, as the case may be), the new credits are set only there, taking us inside Winterfell’s crypts and Great Hall, and under King’s Landing’s Red Keep and into its Throne Room.

Read more about the new credits sequence over at Vulture.

 

Why did the opening shot feel familiar?

Because it referred back to Game Of Thrones’ very first episode, about twenty minutes in, when Bran Stark climbs the castle walls to get a better vantage point of King Robert’s arrival at Winterfell. In the season eight premiere, a young boy climbs a tree to see Jon and Dany’s retinue march into Winterfell, and in both scenes, Arya witnesses the arrival apart from her family and has a particular reaction to the sight of the Hound.

How much time has passed since the season seven finale?

Very little. A matter of weeks. Long enough for Jaime to ride incognito from King’s Landing to Winterfell, which took King Robert’s retinue a month back in season one, but would likely be faster for one man alone without all the royal hangers-on. If Cersei is telling the truth about her pregnancy, she hasn’t yet started to show, either.

What went on between Arya and the Hound?

She hated him in season one after he killed her friend Mycah on Prince Joffrey’s orders. In season four, the Hound kidnapped Arya after she escaped from the Brotherhood Without Banners and first attempted to ransom her to her mother and then to her aunt, but both were killed just before the Hound and Arya arrived at their respective locations, scuppering his plans. When the pair encountered Brienne of Tarth, who tried to rescue Arya from him, he was beaten in combat and asked for Arya to kill him, but she simply took his money and left him for dead on a hillside, escaping on a ship to Braavos.

 

Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 1 questions answered

 

When did Jon last see Bran Stark?

Season one, episode two, when Bran was still in a coma after being pushed from the tower by Jaime Lannister, and Jon went off to join the Night’s Watch. Bran and Jon came very close to meeting again in season three when Jon was embedded with Ygritte and the Wildlings, and Bran, Jojen and Meera were on their way North to find the Three-Eyed Raven, but this episode is their first reunion since season one.

What was all that stuff in Gendry’s wagons?

Nobody will be asking this, but just in case. It was Dragonglass mined from the seam underneath Dragonstone, Dany’s birthplace and former seat of Stannis Baratheon. As Samwell Tarly discovered, dragonglass and Valyrian steel are the only weapons that work against the Night King’s army. Gendry’s making it into weapons to arm the living.

Why was Lord Royce huffy with Tyrion?

Tyrion’s not only a hated Lannister, against whom the lords of the North fought in season two, but also Hand to Queen Daenerys Targaryen, whose father, the Mad King Aerys, Lord Royce fought to overthrow during Robert’s rebellion.

When did Sansa and Tyrion last see each other?

The former husband and wife (their marriage was annulled as Tyrion refused to consummate it with an unwilling Sansa) were last together at the Purple Wedding in season four, when King Joffrey was poisoned. While both were accused of having murdered Joffrey, neither was responsible (that was Olenna Tyrell, though Sansa was the ‘mule’ for the poison that was stored unbeknownst to her in an amethyst on a necklace she was given to wear). Using Ser Dontas, Littlefinger spirited Sansa away immediately after Joffrey’s death and took her her aunt Lysa in the Vale. Tyrion was arrested, faced trial, and sentenced to death, but escaped to Essos with Jaime and Varys’ help.

Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 1 questions answered

 

What is the Golden Company?

The largest army of mercenaries in the Seven Kingdoms, who will fight for the highest bidder. Cersei has taken out a loan with the Iron Bank of Braavos to hire them to fight for her against Daenerys Targaryen’s Unsullied. They have war elephants, which Cersei clearly wanted to compete with Dany’s dragons, but alas, elephants don’t fit in ships. They’re led by Harry Strickland, played by German actor Marc Rissman.

What is Bronn’s history with the Lannisters?

For gold, Sellsword Bronn volunteered to fight as Tyrion Lannister’s champion at his trial in the Eeyrie, after Catelyn Stark accused him of the attempted murder of her son Bran, and the murder of her sister’s husband and Hand of the King, Jon Arryn. Bronn and Tyrion formed a kind of friendship, based on the fact that Tyrion promised to always pay Bronn double what anyone asked him to betray the Lannister. The two formed a friendship of sorts and Bronn was knighted by King Joffrey after his role in the Battle of Blackwater.

After Jaime Lannister lost his right hand, Tyrion arranged for Bronn to train with him so he could get used to fighting with his left in season four. In season five, Bronn refused to fight as Tyrion’s champion a second time because Cersei had given him a castle and a wife in heiress-to-be Lollys Stockworth, but before he married her, Cersei ordered Bronn and Jamie to Dorne to retrieve her daughter Myrcella. In their various journeys and scrapes, the two formed a kind of friendship as well, and Bronn saved Jaime’s life when he was drowning after the dragon attack in season seven. Will he kill those two men simply for gold?

Why was Qyburn expelled from the Citadel?

For conducting forbidden medical experiments on the living and the dead. Seeing as it enabled him to resurrect The Mountain as a zombie bodyguard, pretty successful experiments, all told. But definitely creepy.

Is Cersei pregnant?

That’s certainly what she told Jaime last season (not that it’s kept her off the Dornish wine). When Euron Greyjoy promises to put a prince in her belly, Cersei has an emotional moment. Is she thinking about the child already in her belly, and its father-uncle who’s left her?

Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 1 questions answered

What is the significance of the crossbow Qyburn gives to Bronn?

It belonged to Joffrey and is the very one Tyrion used to kill their father Tywin in season five. She now wants Bronn to use it to kill Tyrion and Jaime. Qyburn’s right about Cersei having a taste for the poetic when it comes to her punishments. She poisoned Tyene Sand using the exact same poison Ellaria Sand had used to kill Cersei’s daughter Myrcella.

Why does Yara headbutt Theon when he rescues her?

Because she’s rock hard, and also because when their bad uncle Euron’s ships attacked her fleet, Theon panicked and swam away instead of trying to save his sister. He made up for it by finding his mettle and defeating her lieutenant in single combat then recruiting her men to come and rescue her though, and now they’re all friends again.

What is Theon’s history with the Starks and Winterfell?

Complicated. He grew up in Winterfell as Ned Stark’s ward (read: prisoner, but to an honourable man) after Ned defeated Theon’s dad’s rebellion. Theon pledged allegiance to Robb as King in the North, but secretly plotted to finish what his dad had started and take Winterfell for the Ironborn. He lied about having killed Bran and Rickon, and was taken prisoner by Ramsay Bolton, who tortured him. But after Sansa was married to, and abused by, Ramsay, Theon helped her to escape. When Theon turned up on Dragonstone and met Jon Snow in season seven, he received an initially frosty reception which thawed as Jon forgave him.

Can the dead swim?

No (see the Wildlings’ coastal escape in Hardhome), but that won’t save the Iron Islands. When Yara tells Theon that the Iron Islands would be safe from the Night King’s undead army, she’s obviously not been told about the massive flying undead dragon the White Walkers have now.

Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 1 questions answered

When did Arya last see Gendry?

Back in season three, when both were taken by Ser Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners. Ser Beric sold Gendry to Melisandre the Red Priestess (who knew the secret of his royal lineage as King Robert Baratheon’s bastard and intended to use him for blood magic) in exchange for two bags of gold. Ser Davos rescued Gendry (played by Joe Dempsie) from the witch, and hid him back in Flea Bottom in King’s Landing, until his season seven return.

One line in this scene, when Gendry calls Arya “milady” (after quoting Wesley in The Princess Bride’s catchphrase) is a call-back to season three, episode five, Kissed By Fire. In that episode, Gendry tells Arya that he’s staying on to smith for the Brotherhood Without Banners because he’s “done serving” and wishes to work with men who’ve chosen their leader and who are a family. “I could be your family,” says a teary Arya, but now knowing her high-born status, Gendry replies: “You wouldn’t be my family, you’d be milady.” Him being the son of a king though, might change that.

What weapon does Arya ask Gendry to make her?

It’s a little Dragonglass dagger with an ornamental hilt, to go with the Catspaw Assassin’s Valyrian steel dagger, and Needle. Three blades, two for the dead and one for the living.

Who survived the Night King attack on the Wall?

All the important ones! Tormund, Ser Beric Dondarrion and Dolorous Edd!

How far south have the Night King’s army reached?

To House Umber’s former stronghold, Last Hearth, which is one of the most northerly castles, and on a path directly south from Castle Black.

Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 1 questions answered

 

What’s the meaning of the Night King’s ‘message’?

Like a creepy serial killer (which is exactly what he is, a serial killer-reanimator), after the Night King’s army murdered House Umber, it arranged its young lord in the middle of a sort of screaming death octopus made out of decapitated limbs. It’s a message, said Ser Beric Dondarrion. The Night King left a similar message in the opening moments of season one, when a Wildling village was massacred by White Walkers, and their body parts were arranged a bit like the Ghostbusters symbol, but missing the portly ghost and with more heads on sticks. It also made a massive spiral from bits of the Night’s Watch after murdering them at the Fist of the First Men in season three. What do the messages mean? I’m on my way…

When did Jaime Lannister last see Bran Stark?

Nobody can have forgotten this, but here goes – in season one, Jaime pushed a ten year-old Bran out of a tower when the boy stumbled upon Jaime and Cersei having sex, callously uttering the words “the things I do for love.” As a result, Bran fell into a coma and lost the use of his legs, which started him on the path to becoming the all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven. Jaime left for King’s Landing with the royal party, Ned, Sansa and Arya Stark, and this is the first time Bran’s faced his attacker.

What do dragons eat?

Goats, sheep, cows, small children, grown adults and with any luck, the undead. As Dany says, whatever they want!

Game Of Thrones season two continues next Monday the 22nd of April on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.