WARNING: This review contains spoilers
Today winter finally arrived.
Due to its elongated production period fans had been out in the cold for two long years waiting for this final season of Game of Thrones to begin. We'd been left grasping on to last season's brilliant, action-packed cliffhanger that saw the Night King violently breach The Wall, the colossal fortification that had kept him and his undead army out for thousands of years, thanks to his newly acquired zombie dragon which swooped down from the skies to unleash unholy terror on man and brick alike.
It's fair to say the first episode of this final season was far more subdued than that, despite featuring two action scenes, some bombshells, betrayals and a whole lotta lovin'.
But mostly, season eight's premiere acted as a reunion episode, for viewers and the characters. We saw most of the A-List, and a fair chunk of the B-List got a look in as well. About the only person we didn't see was Ol' Blue Eyes himself, the Night King.
It helped that all the various Houses and their armies were rendezvousing at Winterfell to make preparations for a last stand. Daenerys and Jon Snow arrived together and enjoyed a frosty welcome from Sansa who was less than impressed that Snow had yielded sovereignty of the North to the dragon queen.
"Did you bend the knee to save the North," she'd spit at him later in private, "Or because you love her?"
The answer appeared to be a little from column A and a little from column B as we'd just seen the young lovers go on a Bachelor style date, flying dragons up to the romantic seclusion of a snow-covered mountain top.
Meanwhile Tyrion reunited with his estranged wife Sansa. Usually silver-tongued, he found himself no match for Sansa's newfound sass and fierce eyebrow-raising game. After he insisted, wrongly, that his sister Cersei was indeed sending the full force of the Lannister army to the frontline she savaged him with a raised eyebrow and the cutting remark, "I used to think you were the smartest man alive," before gliding off, victorious.
Elsewhere at Winterfell, Ayra and her former mentor/victim the Hound had an uncomfortable reunion. "You left me for dead," he sneered. "I robbed you as well," the young assassin shot back. Awk-ward.
Speaking of awk-ward, Daenerys takes home the prize for most cringe worthy conversation of the episode after managing to turn a congratulatory, 'thanks for saving my mate' chat with Samwell Tarly into an, 'oops, sorry I killed your entire family last season' convo.
You could say he didn't take it well due to the fact he turned around and ran away. Unfortunately for him he ran straight into Bran, who is making a habit of being where people don't want him to be and talking in riddles, who convinced him that now, moments after learning his family was all dead, was the exact right time to inform his mate Jon Snow that he's not actually a bastard and is, in fact, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and the true King of the Seven Kingdoms. Which also, by the way, means you've just instigated an affair with your aunt. Soz mate.
You could say Jon Snow didn't take it well, but to his credit he didn't run away, he just sort of gazed off confusedly into the distance instead.
Leaving Winterfell we saw Cersei scheming about invading rival kingdoms, stewing over the lack of elephants in her own army and doing what had to be done between the sheets to ensure the ongoing support of the dastardly Euron Greyjoy and his Iron Fleet...
She also found time to betray her two brothers - one of which is (probably) the father of her unborn child. A feat which is both ice cold and icky eww.
She did this by making an offer to the sell sword Bronn while he was, err, entertaining three fair lasses. Seven chests of gold she promised, to shoot an arrow through each brother. He accepted the crossbow but we don't yet know if he accepted the job. One would hope not considering he's had swashbuckling adventures with both Jamie and Tyrion during the show's run.
Reek also began his long road of redemption, coming to the rescue of his sister Yarra before securing a headbutt for his efforts and then her blessing to head off to Winterfell to try and make things right there. Good luck with that...
So the long-awaited episode was very much about moving pieces around the board and setting things up for what's to come. Like Cersei, it did what had to be done but we've got a little longer to wait for winter to well and truly arrive.