Game of Thrones: Season 8 Kicks Off with a Cold Homecoming

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones.

After over a year of anticipation, the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones has premiered on HBO to bring fans back to Westeros for the final battle against the Night King and reveal if anyone will survive to take the Iron Throne. However, as Jon Snow made his long-awaited return to Winterfell and reunited with his adopted siblings, he found his homecoming reception was a particularly frosty one.

Word of Jon swearing loyalty to Daenerys Targaryen on behalf of the North and recognizing her as the true queen has since made its way back to Jon's wintry home. Having recently reclaimed Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton and eliminated the internal threat in Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, Sansa and Arya Stark are not particularly thrilled by the change in status quo made without their say and the sudden influx of new visitors.

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Immediately apparent from the arrival of the Unsullied and Dothraki to Winterfell, tensions come to a head during an assembled meeting between the lords and ladies of the North to prepare for the White Walker and their army of the dead. Lyanna Mormont, the girl leading her house who had risked much to secure the throne for the Starks from Ramsay, questions why Jon would cede his title as King of the North so seemingly easily to a Lannister.

With the discussion now out in the open, Sansa expresses her concerns that the larders may not be properly stocked to handle the two new armies and pair of ravenous dragons, with Sansa later asking her brother if he swore fealty to Daenerys out of his devotion to save Winterfell or out of love; a question Jon refuses to answer.

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It is not the only awkward meeting back in the North with the Hound briefly reuniting with Arya after she had robbed him and left him for dead some time ago. Similarly, Tyrion meets with his former wife Sansa, forced into marriage in a cruel joke by the late King Joffrey. Sansa had left Tyrion to his own devices after Joffrey's death, further arousing suspicion that he was involved in the king's murder; their meeting is also not a particularly warm one, nor is Jaime Lannister's awkward encounter with Bran Stark in the spot where he first pushed and crippled the boy upon their first meeting in a callback to the series premiere.


However, the biggest revelation comes from two separate encounters with Samwell Tarly. After learning that Daenerys had personally executed his father and brother after they refused to swear allegiance to her, Sam is tasked by Bran to reveal to Jon that Daenerys is his long-lost aunt, previously unknown to the romantic couple.

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Catching Jon reflecting on his the death of Ned Stark, whom he still believes is his biological father, in the catacombs below Winterfell, Sam tells his friend the truth based on his finds in the library of Oldtown. Not only is Jon shocked to learn that Ned had been lying to him his entire life about his parentage, but that his real parents are Lyanna Stark and Rhaeger Targaryen. Not only does it make Jon and his lover directly related, it also makes the Lord of the North the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros by birth.

With one faction of Jon's allies secretly vying to see him married to Daenerys and rule the land after the Night King's hopeful defeat and another looking to install Jon on the Iron Throne alone after the conflict, this revelation stands the chance of fracturing this fragile alliance to its core right before its inevitable confrontation with the White Walkers.

Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres Sunday. The HBO drama stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.

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