By Andrew Ayala
Winter is finally here in the world of HBO’s award-winning television show “Game of Thrones,” and the first episode of the final season hit the audience with the intensity and heat of a fire-breathing dragon.
Over 500 days have passed since the last episode, yet this chapter of the story adds just as much, if not more, excitement to the series.
For those who are unfamiliar with the series, “Game of Thrones” is a drama-filled medieval series full of fantasy, action, love, deceit and some of the biggest plot twists on t.v.
The story takes place in Westeros and Essos which are the western and eastern countries.
Throughout the lands, there are many kingdoms which are either strong enough to standalone or are so weak that they must pledge an allegiance to a major family.
Although there is an internal war between these kingdoms, there is an even bigger external threat which can destroy all of Westeros, the undead.
Viewers last saw the undead forcing their way through the northernmost wall with a fully functional army. The wall separates the kingdoms from the wild people and creatures beyond it.
The newly acquired dragon which was captured by the dreaded Night King, played by Vladimir Furdik, proved to be the undeads secret weapon during their attack on the wall.
Just as quick as families rise to power, they can crumble to nothing, which is a factor that makes the show interesting.
The biggest players in the game for the throne are House Targaryen represented by Daenerys Targaryen or Khaleesi, played by Emilia Clarke, House Lannister represented by Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey and House Stark represented by Jon Snow, played by Kit Harington.
At the end of season seven, the audience saw these three powerful players have a meeting where they discussed putting their differences aside to fight a greater threat.
The problem is, Cersei is untrustworthy and has been known to deceive those who put their trust in her.
The season premiere begins in the northern land of Winterfell, which is controlled by the Starks, and shows Daenerys and Jon riding in with her army, her hand Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage, her male advisor Varys, played by Conleth Hill, her female advisor Missandei, played by Nathalie Emmanuel and the leader of her unsullied army, Grey Worm, played by Jacob Anderson.
Although Jon is doing everything he can to make sure Westeros is protected, tensions begin to rise higher as Daenerys meets Jon’s sister Sansa Stark, played by Sophie Turner.
While most are worried about who the true king or queen is, Jon, his council of advisors, Daenerys and her council of advisors seem to have the bigger picture in mind.
They are focused on surviving the long winter and ensuring the defeat of the undead army.
Although many questions are answered, there are many more that are unveiled, which may affect the series in multiple ways.
The episode felt like more of a movie than a television show due to the way certain parts were filmed and the way they reintroduced the characters.
There was a perfect balance of drama, violence and love which made the episode flow smoothly.
The locations in this episode specifically revolve around the snowy setting of the north which shows the cold and troubling times that every house is facing.
Most of the lighting in the scenes matches the overall mood of what is going on and that helps execute the emotions they are trying to relay.
The attention to detail that they have with their shots is shown in the most important scenes, because they manage to keep certain items or people in the frame either blurred out or barely visible.
The costumes looked beautiful and very detailed, as well as the settings and backgrounds. The show never fails to give a realistic look to a mythical world.
The issues and situations that the characters go through make the show relatable.
Whether it’s a love web, a plot for power or even a betrayal, these are the things that show the humanity behind the violent battle and lustful sex scenes.
The reunions between characters can get so emotional and intimate that viewers who have been following the show since the first season may get a bit teary-eyed or sentimental because it’s been years since many of them have seen each other.
The way the actors portray their characters seems so natural and real especially since they have been working together on this series since 2011.
It is amazing to see characters such as Bran Stark, played by Isaac Hempstead Wright and Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams grow up as the show progresses.
Most of the characters mature and find their own paths, but somehow end up uniting or crossing paths once again.
For being just the first episode, the creators manage to keep audiences just as entertained and interested as they have for eight years.
There are still so many unanswered questions and unknown facts that continue to make the show entertaining and suspenseful.
It is rare for a show to have such longevity, but with a plot as rich as this one it is no mystery as to why “Game of Thrones” has won and been nominated for so many awards.
Those who are barely hearing about the show, but are interested, should watch the previous seasons to understand it in its entirety.
It is possible to enjoy the episode and still understand what is going on, but gaining a connection to the characters and actually understanding how far the show has come is self-rewarding.
This episode reached a new high in viewership as it was viewed by 17.4 million viewers, which is about a million more than the season seven finale.
Season eight will be six episodes long with the longest having a run-time of 82 minutes.
Episode two releases next Sunday on all platforms that support HBO and will be rated TV MA.