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Though surprisingly bloodless, hard-fought reunions, bone-chilling surprises, and unexpected humor help "Winterfell" set the stage for what should be an epic final season.
Lovers may become rivals. Siblings have become enemies. And a gigantic zombie army is marching south to kill everyone. Seems as if this final "Game Of Thrones" is off to an exciting and well-crafted start.
If anything, this episode made me marvel at just how much has changed since this whole journey began, which is clearly what Benioff and Weiss intended to do before they knock down the next set of dominoes.
After a two-year gap and a dragon's-feast worth of hype, fans probably wanted grand plot movements. Instead, they got a buffet of inevitabilities... Yet I'd argue that this was one of the best Thrones episodes in a long time.
It feels like the show's burning through the stuff it knows we're expecting so it can start doing the stuff we aren't.
The writing is fairly blunt, as all the plot strands hurtle towards their respective climaxes, but atmospheric direction by David Nutter and stellar performances from all, particularly John Bradley, anchor the proceedings and give a sense of gravitas.
I found myself thrilled by getting to go inside the cuckoo clock, but mostly I was reassured by the underlying implication. After so many years of sprawl, Thrones now wants to go deep, not wide.
It's been a hellish wait for the new season. Yes, we've had the chance to theorise, to analyse every tiny scrap of information, each little tease of footage... but there's nothing in television that compares to when Game of Thrones is actually on.
Winterfell was content with merely laying the groundwork for possible things to come. In a sense, it was a giant series of family reunions.
We know these characters intimately, and that earns us a level of depth and nuance which would be wasted on a whole season of flat-out war. It would be an insult to the show to start simplifying everything now in order to air a Hobbit-style battle scene.
Game of Thrones again used his premiere to let us know where each character was and what were doing [Full Review in Spanish]
As it happened with the seventh season, it seems that the creators are going to hurry to close all the narrative lines that have been open for eight years. And we just hope they give us enough time to savor them. [Full Review in Spanish]
The CGI dragon ride was well put together and sort of made up for the lack of elephants brought to Westeros.