BY NADIA BABAR ’19
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
After a painfully long, two-year wait, the final season of “Game of Thrones” premiered on April 14. The eight-season series is based on George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” an epic high fantasy series first published in 1996, opening with the novel, “A Game of Thrones.” Set primarily on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, “Game of Thrones” follows seven families as they struggle for the Iron Throne. The television series premiered in 2011 and has since established itself as one of — if not the most — popular television series of this decade. Created by Dan Benioff and D. B. Weiss, Martin also serves as an executive producer for the series, which smashed HBO’s ratings record with the premiere of its eighth season on Sunday.
This latest season concludes the saga that has kept HBO afloat for almost 10 years. Since “Game of Thrones” departed from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series in terms of plot starting in season six, viewers are completely unaware of how the story ultimately ends. The season will consist of six episodes, with the first having already drawn in 17 million viewers, according to CNN. The episode, titled “Winterfell,” saw viewers breathe a sigh of relief as many characters finally reunite after seasons apart, including siblings Jon Snow, Arya Stark and Bran Stark, best friends Jon and Samwell Tarly and exspouses Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark. Conflicts are already looming on the horizon, as we see Daenerys Targaryen struggle to gain the trust of the Northerners that have been forced to swear fealty to her. The episode’s biggest reveal was delivered towards the end, when Samwell reveals to Jon the truth of his parentage — that Jon is not the bastard that he was brought up to be, but is actually the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. This information, which was theorized and agonized over by fans for years, was delivered plainly and without fanfare, the best choice considering how long viewers had been waiting to see it transpire on screen.
With a budget of approximately $10 million, the episode was also notable for its impressive CGI, especially during the visually dazzling scene where Jon and Daenerys fly around the snow-capped tundra of the North on Daenerys’ dragons. The episode also saw the season’s main threat — the White Walkers, a race of mysterious undead creatures — advance past the wall that had until this point protected the population of Westeros. Ultimately, the episode tied up a number of loose ends from previous seasons, while setting up major plot lines for the forthcoming episodes. While it may have seemed slow in certain parts, the episode definitely did not disappoint long-time fans of the series. Viewers are left eagerly anticipating the rest of the season, especially the upcoming battle scene that reportedly took 55 days to film.
The next episode of “Game of Thrones” will air this Sunday, April 21, with the series finally concluding on May 19.