Game Of Thrones Season 8 Premiere: All Parallels With The Season 1 Pilot
Game of Thrones is officially approaching its end. The premiere of Season 8 saw a number of characters drawn back together at Winterfell to prepare for the army of the dead as it marches south against the realms of men. The interactions between characters threw into contrast the long journeys and major developments many of the show's characters have endured during the last seven seasons, as everyone prepares for the end.
Throughout the premiere episode, "Winterfell," Game of Thrones creates contrast by mirroring moments from the very first episode of the series, "Winter is Coming"; the first and last time all of these people were together in the same place at the same time. Imagery, music, characters, and moments are all used to create direct callbacks to the beginning of the story as we approach its end.
There are a huge number of parallels between the first episode of Game of Thrones and the premiere of Season 8--so many, in fact, that you might have missed a few. Here are all the callbacks, Easter eggs, and shoutouts from the pilot that we caught in the premiere. If you've caught anything we've missed, feel free to share it in the comments below.
Running Through The Snow
The first few images of the Season 8 premiere likely instilled a bit of dread in fans, as a boy goes running through the snowy woods. It's only later that we realize he's rushing to catch a glimpse of Queen Daenerys and her huge procession of Unsullied and Dothraki soldiers, but at first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking he was fleeing the White Walkers. After all, we know they're on the march south from the hole in the wall near Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, and the show originally opened with three men of the Night's Watch encountering the White Walkers north of the wall. That expedition got two of them killed, and the third beheaded by Ned Stark for desertion.
The Royal Arrival
The premiere of Season 8 begins with a royal procession arriving in Winterfell. Daenerys and her armies finally visit the North, the same as King Robert arriving with his entourage in the first episode of the show. The two moments even feature the same music. Both monarchs look to secure alliances, but Daenerys is met much more coolly by the northerns than Robert was--even with Lannister troops joining in.
Arya Watching The Royal Procession
Arya watching the arrival of another queen obviously takes her back to when she was a child, dreaming of being a knight. She's come a long way since those times, but markedly makes way for an excited kid as he scrambles through the crowd to watch the procession, much like she did.
The young boy who carries us through the beginning of the scene as Daenerys arrives in Winterfell has a lot in common with Bran Stark from the pilot episode. They're both excited to see the incoming procession of soldiers, and both do a little climbing for a better look. Despite all that has happened, and even despite the arrival of winter, we get a sense of the innocence of youth. The kid running around is also a major contrast to Bran, who, as the Three-Eyed Raven, has lost a lot more than his innocence.
The Hound's Arrival
The Hound returns to Winterfell with the queen's procession, is yet another mirror to the arrival with King Robert in the first episode of Game of Thrones. The Hound's path has taken him quite a long way, from the personal protector of Prince Joffrey all the way to a member of the Brotherhood Without Banners, preparing to fight the White Walkers. Sandor Clegane is just as mean as he always was, though.
Jaime Lannister has also changed significantly over the years. Instead of being the shining and famous Kingsguard knight during his arrival in Season 1, he appears in Winterfell cloaked, hiding his identity, and generally not looking great. The Kingslayer has fallen pretty far over the years.
Reunion Of Brothers
Jon comes back to Winterfell to find his brother, Bran, who he hasn't seen in years, and greets him with a hug. The reunion of men who consider themselves brothers is a centerpiece of the Game of Thrones pilot; it's the history between King Robert and Ned Stark that gets Ned into so much trouble. Loyalty to friends and family has been pretty bad for Starks, as it happens, and everyone has changed so much that one wonders how strong the bonds of the Stark kids will be in the future.
Receiving The Queen
Daenerys' arrival in Winterfell is supposed to be a boon to the North, with her pledging to help fight the march of the White Walkers. She's not especially welcome in the north, despite Jon's efforts. Sansa and her bannermen line up to meet the queen regardless, just like Ned did with his family on Robert's arrival. The king's visit to Winterfell did not bode well for the Stark family, though, and Sansa is definitely not expecting the queen's arrival to be much better, it seems.
Sansa Greets The Queen
Sansa's meeting with her queen is significantly different in Season 8 than in Season 1. When Cersei arrives in Winterfell, Sansa is excited to see the lady she might become, and is delighted when Cersei tells her how beautiful she is. Meeting Daenerys, Sansa has learned quite a few lessons in the interim, and she's a whole lot less excited about a new monarch demanding fealty from her.
Jon Visits The Godswood
The Starks' worship of the old gods means they find a lot of comfort in the Winterfell godswood. It's where we found Ned Stark after he executed the Night's Watch deserter in Game of Thrones' first episode, and it's where Jon goes soon after arriving back at his home with the procession. Jon is his father's son, even if Ned was actually Jon's uncle.
Jon's Reunion With Arya
Catelyn finds Ned in the godswood in the Game of Thrones pilot, where she delivers the bad news about the death of Jon Arryn--which kicks off everything in the series and eventually gets both Ned and Catelyn killed. When Jon visits the godswood, it's Arya who comes to meet him, and the conversation is a happier one than between Ned and Catelyn. But Jon and Arya talk things that are probably just as important: the strife between Sansa and Daenerys, and whether trusting Dany will really be the best thing for the Starks and the North in the end.
Jon's Moment In The Crypts
Jon's moment in the crypts beneath Winterfell are full of deeper meaning. King Robert and Ned Stark head down to the crypts so Robert can pay his respects to his one and only love, Lyanna Stark. Jon heads down to pay respects to Ned, and has a conversation with Samwell Tarly not too dissimilar from the one in which Robert asked Ned to be Hand of the King, in which Sam tells Jon he's actually heir to the throne. Lyanna's statue is even framed behind Jon as he learns the news.
Bronn In The Brothel
Our first introduction to Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, the former sellsword who served both Tyrion and Jaime (and, seemingly, considered them friends) is in a brothel. Bronn has become a fun, fan-favorite character, just like Tyrion is. When we first met Tyrion in the pilot of Game of Thrones, it was under very similar circumstances. Both men are soon interrupted by people who want something from them--Bronn by Qyburn, Tyrion by Jaime. But for Bronn the request isn't to meet new allies, but to murder former ones.
Jon Makes A New Animal Friend
In Season 7, we saw Jon get closer to Daenerys' dragon Drogon than just almost anyone else ever has. The dragons trust Jon, we see in the Season 8 premiere: so much so that Rhaegal (the dragon named for Jon's father, Rhaegar) allows Jon to ride him. Jon makes some strong bonds with animals, just like he did with Ghost when he found the direwolf pup in the first episode of Season 1. We'll have to see if Jon really does bond with Rhaegal as closely as he did with Ghost--who, it must be noted, we haven't seen in a whole season.
Discussing A Proposal
While Jon and Daenerys are away from Winterfell, their advisers take it upon themselves to talk about the future of the realm. Though the pair are currently allies, uniting their houses would make things a lot more stable in Westeros. Cersei and Catelyn had a similar conversation in the Game of Thrones pilot as they talk over uniting the Stark and Baratheon houses through marrying Sansa to Joffrey. The pair seem decidedly less happy about the prospect, though. Cersei in particular is no fan of the Starks, peace and stability be damned.
White Walkers Symbology
The White Walkers don’t just march through the countryside murdering everyone, they also leave signs behind, arranging hacked-up body parts into strange patterns we still don't understand. The rangers of the Night's Watch encountered a similar symbol of dismembered bits back in Season 1. Hopefully soon we'll start to see what these weird markings are all about.
Jaime's Frightening Moment With Bran
In an episode full of reunions, the most chilling moment of the Season 8 premiere was also the shortest. It found Jaime Lannister meeting eyes with Bran Stark for the first time since the very first episode of the show, when Jaime shoved Bran out a window. Jaime's action more or less kicked off the war that has ravaged both houses, and it also helped make Bran who he is today. While Bran was the fearful one during their first meeting, it's clear that in Season 8, Jaime is the one who is frightened.