game of thrones season 8 premiere: looking back

I didn’t start watching “Game of Thrones” until years after it had premiered. Right before the fifth season premiered, HBO did a “Game of Thrones” marathon that lasted a couple of days. I decided to binge the entire first season in one night. The show was so entertaining and bizarre that I didn’t need a break once; which says a lot, because every “Game of Thrones” fanatic knows that the first season is the worst one. But this does not make it any less incredible. Once I finished watching it, I knew there was no going back — I was too committed to the storyline and the characters. As a result, I felt my heart collapse as I watched the first episode of the show’s final season: it was the beginning of the end, and winter was finally here.

The eighth season started as a nod to both the first season and the show’s fans, as it almost mirrored the show’s beginning. I remembered seeing little Arya Stark, wearing a soldier helmet that was too big for her head, watching as the King of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon, arrived at Winterfell. She was barely a girl, fascinated by this royal arrival, who didn’t know that she would eventually become an extremely dangerous assassin.

It hit me like a rock when the first episode of the last season began with a little boy excitedly witnessing the arrival of the now-proclaimed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Daenerys Targaryen — Dany, to those of us who know her well — to Winterfell. We saw how Arya stepped aside so the little boy could have a better look at the event, as if remembering how she felt when she was in his place. It was a beautiful “welcome back” episode, as well as a bittersweet “farewell.” It felt weirdly personal, as if the mirroring between the start of the show and its ending’s beginning was a secret that connected me to the creators.

The first episode truly was an epic kick-off for “Game of Thrones.” We have huge reunions in this first episode: Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister — formerly a married couple — reunite, and Arya Stark and Jon Snow — my favorite sort-of-siblings — meet again. Incestuous relationships, typical for the show at this point, continue with Jon and Dany, who are actually nephew and aunt. Even Jon finds out that he’s actually a Targaryen and true heir to the throne. Overall, this episode was, to me, the most complete I’ve seen in a really long time, and it didn’t exhaust me.

“Game of Thrones” has shattered and completely destroyed me, so I don’t feel bad when I say that I’m happy that it’s ending. My favorite characters have been killed, I’ve waited for long periods of time to feel a little bit of resolution (e.g. it took two years for season eight to come out), I’ve been stressed out, my heart’s been broken, and I keep coming back because I am a masochistic fanatic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thrilled to find out who gets to sit on the Iron Throne. Will Dany become queen and go mad like her father? Will Jon take the throne? Will Cersei remain queen in King’s Landing? Will Arya kill everyone on her list and make herself queen? Will Sansa surprise us all and take the throne? I’ve scoured many theories in the black hole that is the internet, but I’m still not sure what will happen. “Game of Thrones” — as addicting as it is, and as happy as it sometimes makes me — must reach a conclusion. The only thing I’m sure about at the moment is that winter really needs to end.

Oriana Gonzalez is a third-year literary journalism major and gender and sexuality studies minor. She can be reached at orianag@uci.edu.