Last night, HBO held the red-carpet premiere for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. While only the first episode was screened (there will be a total of six in Season 8), the event was a chance for the entire cast and crew to gather in one place, whether their characters have died or not over the years.
Social media has so far been mum about the contents of the episode itself, clearly per an embargo on reviews. Nevertheless, some initial (if scant) feedback has surfaced, courtesy of James Hibberd from Entertainment Weekly and Jane Mulkerrins from The Telegraph.
"Just watched @GameOfThrones season 8 premiere: Fantastic. So many reunions. Some epic sequences. Not just table setting for the rest of season. Major Stuff happens in deeply satisfying ways. More thoughts in next podcast," wrote Hibberd in a Twitter post, which got retweeted over a thousand times.
Mulkerrins echoed Hibberd's take on the episode, underscoring its many reunions. She also mentioned that it's a bit more low-key than other season openers, lacking any major action or battle sequences. What it doesn't do in the adrenaline-pumping department, however, it makes up for in comedy.
"The episode, as yet officially unnamed, is heavy focussed around reunions — many of them familial and long-awaited, between fond siblings... others less so; the most unsuited of former wives and husbands are also flung together again, along with a would-be murderer and his seriously damaged would-be victim... Unlike some season openers in years gone by, this eighth premiere contains no epic battles or large-scale set pieces, but what violence there is, is dark, brutal and unsettling. That’s balanced out, however, by a noticeably lighter, more humorous tone, with plenty of witty one-liners."
The major battle of the new season will arrive in Episode 3, which is set to depict the "Battle of Winterfell," aka the final stand by the living against the Night King and his army of the undead. Directed by Thrones alum Miguel Sapochnik ("Battle of the Bastards"), the conflict took 59 consecutive night shoots to complete and is so massive in scope that it flits between all kinds of different genres throughout its runtime.
Before the screening, Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) warned the gathered audience (per Collider) of what would happen if a cellphone began to ring during the episode. Turner joked, in character, that if this happened, owner of said phone would have their face mounted on Arya's wall due to the fact that the youngest Stark daughter is an accomplished Faceless assassin.
“Remember what happened to the last bastard who f---ed us," added Williams, referring to Walder Frey (David Bradley), the man responsible for the Red Wedding, which resulted in the murders of Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). The character finally got his comeuppance in Season 6 when Arya fed him one of his wives in a pie before gleefully slitting his throat.
“Making the show is a team effort, but Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen were born in a single brilliant ruthless mind. George [R.R. Martin], thank you for letting us take your children into our care. Sorry we didn’t treat them better,” added co-creator/showrunner, D.B. Weiss, at the premiere, poking fun at the fact that most characters in the show tend to end up dead in the most gruesome of ways.
Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres on HBO on April 14. Weiss wrote four of the six episodes with his co-creator/showrunner David Benioff. The duo also directed the series finale, which hits on May 19.