At Winterfell, in what seems like a nod to the last time a monarch came to the seat of House Stark, a grand procession is headed by Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, accompanied by her entire court, her armies of Unsullied and Dothraki and of course, her dragons. Watching from the crowd, Arya is overcome when she sees Jon, her beloved brother who she hasn't seen since they both left Winterfell ages ago. As Daenerys's entourage continues, Sandor Clegane passes and Arya's smile dies when she sees him but it returns when she sees Gendry. In the castle courtyard, an overjoyed Jon greets Bran for the first time since his fall and hugs Sansa. He asks about Arya and Sansa reassures him she's around somewhere, "Lurking." Jon presents Daenerys to Sansa and the rest of their allies. Sansa and Dany exchange courtesies and fortunately, the glacial atmosphere on both sides is broken by Bran pointing out they have no time for exchanging pleasantries; the Wall is broken, the Army of the Dead has invaded the Seven Kingdoms, and the Night King commands a dragon of his own now. Dany is horrified to learn what became of Viserion.
In Winterfell's great hall, Sansa informs Jon she gave commands for all the northern lords to fall back to Winterfell after word reached them the Wall had been breached. Young Ned Umber, lord of Last Hearth, the next castle directly in the Army of the Dead's path, requests more horses and wagons to evacuate his people before the undead reach the castle, departing once Sansa agrees. Unfortunately, the Northern lords who proclaimed him King in the North are less than pleased about Jon forfeiting his crown to a southern ruler, and the daughter of the Mad King at that. Jon tells the assembly that when he left Winterfell, he said he was going to bring home allies — they need these allies in the war against the undead or they're all going to die; he gave up his title to protect the North. Tyrion backs up Jon's assertions, stating that in addition to Daenerys's forces and dragons, Cersei will add the Lannister forces to their war effort; they have "the greatest army the world has ever seen." Unfortunately, few are appeased, least of all Sansa. Sansa asks Tyrion how they're going to feed "the greatest army the world has ever seen," and adds, "What do dragons eat anyway?" Dany snarks back, "Whatever they want." Dany and Sansa exchange a nice frosty glare.
In the godswood, Jon broods before the heart tree when Arya appears. They rush to each other and Arya leaps into his arms. They hug each other long and just as tightly as they did the last time they saw each other ages ago. Jon sees Arya still has Needle, the sword he had made for Arya and gave to her so long ago. When he asks if she's ever had to use it, Arya quietly replies, "Once or twice." After a brief moment of levity regarding their past adventures since they had to part, Jon is surprised when Arya agrees with Sansa's distrust of Daenerys. She tells him Sansa is defending their family, as is she. When Jon replies he's also their family, Arya agrees and tells Jon not to forget that and they hug again. In another part of the castle, Tyrion reunites with Sansa for the first time since she was spirited away from King's Landing by Littlefinger; Tyrion surmises that Sansa isn't happy to hear the Lannister army is on their way and he's right about that at the very least. Sansa is incredulous that Tyrion, of all people, would believe Cersei and Tyrion replies, "You have every right to be fearful of my sister. No one fears her more than I do," but she'll be safe. Tyrion believes Cersei will support them because she has a reason to want to survive the army of the dead. Sansa grimly replies that she used to think Tyrion was the cleverest man alive.
In King's Landing, Cersei smugly watches as the Iron Fleet returns bearing reinforcements for her cause. When Qyburn arrives to inform her that the Army of the Dead has broken through the Wall and invaded the North, Cersei dismissively replies "Good".
In the bowels of the Silence, Evil Uncle Euron spends his time before he makes land drinking and proselytizing with Yara as his captive audience. When Yara questions why he keeps her alive, Euron simply replies he gets bored hearing his own voice (apparently, a crew of mutes aren't particularly talkative) and wants to brag. When Yara retorts that he's backing the losing side, Euron bluntly replies if that's the case, he'll up sticks and take the Iron Fleet somewhere else... but not before he gets his reward of fucking the Queen.
In the throne room of the Red Keep, Euron presents Harry Strickland, commander of the Golden Company, to Cersei. Cersei asks about the Golden Company's famed elephants and is disappointed to hear the elephants wouldn't be able to make it across the Narrow Sea. She nonetheless welcomes her new military ally to King's Landing. When Strickland has departed, Euron questions why Cersei isn't treating him like an honoured guest too and requests a private audience. Cersei reminds him their arrangement was to be after the war, but Euron reminds her wars can last years; he doesn't want to wait any longer for his reward. Cersei tells him that if he wants a queen, he has to earn her; Euron retorts that by now, having given her justice for Myrcella's murder, an army, and a navy, he's surely more than proved his loyalty. Despite her distaste, Cersei realises too much is at stake for her not to keep Euron sweet and reluctantly concedes to his desires.
Back aboard the Silence, a small raiding party commanded by Theon slips aboard, kills the guards and frees Yara. After giving him a good whack for abandoning her, Yara helps her brother back up and they make good their escape. Yara declares her intention to retake the Iron Islands while Euron dallies in King's Landing, so Daenerys can use it as a fall-back position if she can't hold the undead back in the North. Sensing that Theon wishes to fight beside his adoptive family the Starks, Yara releases him from her service and encourages her brother to go to Winterfell, "What is dead may never die... But kill the bastards anyway."
In a King's Landing brothel, Bronn finds his amorous encounter with three whores interrupted by Qyburn, who's come with a business proposal; Jaime and Tyrion made Bronn certain promises but failed to make good on them. Cersei, however, is more than willing to give him the castle, lordship and highborn wife he was promised, as well as an advance payment of significant amounts of gold, in exchange for a small task. Bronn, guessing Cersei wants an assassin rather than a soldier, is flatly dismissive of his chances of success trying to kill Daenerys, but Qyburn informs him his targets are Jaime and Tyrion; on the off chance they survive the undead onslaught on the north, Cersei wants her brothers dead... and for that added touch of irony, wants them killed with the same crossbow Tyrion used to kill Tywin. Bronn is stunned, but Qyburn points out that Cersei greatly rewards loyal service, as his own promotion to Hand of the Queen proves. How would she reward the man who killed her two traitorous brothers?
Back at Winterfell, more northern forces arrive to reinforce the castle, watched by Varys, Tyrion and Davos. Davos asserts his own experience at dealing with the stubborn northerners and says Daenerys will need to earn the loyalty of the northerners and free folk. Given the bad blood between the North and House Targaryen, Davos suggests on the off-chance they survive the Night King, a marriage between Daenerys and Jon as King and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms might go a long way towards healing the rifts between the northern and southern halves of Westeros. Outside the castle, as Jon and Daenerys inspect the defenses, Dany notes that Jon's sister doesn't seem to like her much. Jon tries to ease Dany's displeasure at the cold shoulder she's gotten from the rest of House Stark, not to mention the North, but they are interrupted when a Dothraki patrol reports to Daenerys that her dragons are still barely eating. Concerned, Daenerys and Jon make their way to the open field Drogon and Rhaegal have claimed as their territory. As Dany climbs aboard Drogon, she sees Jon by Rhaegal and invites Jon to ride him. Despite his consternation at such a prospect, Jon heaves himself onto Rhaegal's back and manages to mount him just before the dragon takes off. Daenerys smiles and follows on Drogon. Jon struggles but eventually gets the hang of it, finding himself captivated by the experience as Daenerys explores and admires both the beauty of the northern part of her kingdom and her handsome new consort.
However, that night, events take a downward turn for both Jon and Daenerys. When Jon goes to see Sansa in her study, she tells him that Lord Glover has decided to hunker down at Deepwood Motte rather than join them at Winterfell because of Jon's decision to bend the knee to a southern ruler. Jon is frustrated but Sansa points out it's a feeling of anger shared by many of the Northern nobles, including herself. Jon points out that they need allies and they have no chance of defeating the undead without Daenerys ("Do you think we can beat the Army of the Dead without her? I fought them, Sansa. Twice.") and their squabbling over who holds what title will be irrelevant if the undead aren't defeated. Sansa and Jon seem to reach a brief stalemate but Jon tells Sansa that Daenerys is not like her father, she's a good queen. Sansa wonders if there's a more personal aspect in her brother's decision to bend the knee, "Did you bend the knee to save the North, or because you love her?" Jon can't answer.
At the castle forges, Arya finds Gendry arming men, including Sandor, with dragonglass weapons for the battle to come. After a fond reunion for the two, Arya requests that Gendry fashion an unspecified weapon she has in mind to fight with. In the castle library, Samwell is met by Daenerys and Jorah, who wants to introduce his queen to the man who saved his life in defiance of the rest of the Citadel; Sam's idea of a reward for such a service is simply a royal pardon for the books he "borrowed" from the Citadel's libraries. Unfortunately, the jovial mood turns sour when he says he also needs a pardon for stealing his family's Valyrian steel sword, at which point to their horror, Jorah and Daenerys realise Sam is the son and brother of Randyll and Dickon Tarly respectively, executed on her orders for refusing to bend the knee to her. Devastated, Sam holds back tears and excuses himself, fleeing outside. He then finds Bran in the courtyard. Sam asks what he's doing there and Bran replies, "Waiting for an old friend." Bran urges Sam to tell Jon the truth that he needs to know and Sam must be the one to tell him, for Jon trusts Sam more than anyone.
In the Winterfell crypts, Jon is delighted to see his old friend again, but dismayed when he learns what the woman he loves has done to the family of his best friend. When Sam asks Jon if he'd do the same, Jon admits he has executed men who have disobeyed him. Sam responds that Jon has also spared men when they've refused to kneel. Jon points out he wasn't a king then but Sam tells Jon, "But you were. You've always been." He proceeds to drop one hell of a bombshell on Jon; while Eddard Stark loved and raised Jon like a son, he was Jon's uncle, not his biological father — Jon's mother is Lyanna Stark and his father was Rhaegar Targaryen. Ned lied to everyone — his nephew, his wife, his children, all of Westeros — keeping the secret of Jon's true parentage to the grave to protect Jon from Robert Baratheon's wrath. Sam reveals that his friend is in truth Aegon Targaryen, the trueborn son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen... and as such, possesses a better claim to the Iron Throne than that of Daenerys. Jon is stunned and horrified as everything he thought to be true comes crashing down around him, but Sam insists his friend has what it takes to be a good king. "You gave up your crown to save your people," Sam remarks. "Would she do the same?"
At Last Hearth, Tormund, Beric Dondarrion and the few remaining survivors from Eastwatch-by-the-sea enter the courtyard to find it deserted; though there are immense patches of dried blood in the snow, there are no corpses, the Army of the Dead having seemingly massacred Last Hearth's garrison then incorporated the dead soldiers into their ranks. Exploring the castle, Tormund and Beric's party run into Dolorous Edd Tollett and a handful of black brothers; Edd explains that he gave orders for the Night's Watch to fall back to Winterfell when the Night King breached the Wall. When Beric asks if they found anyone alive or dead within the castle, Edd's face becomes more grim than usual.
Leading them into the bowels of the castle, Edd shows Tormund and Beric a horrific message from the Night King; the corpse of Ned Umber, nailed to a wail in the center of a spiral pattern formed from severed human limbs. When Tormund points out the Army of the Dead is now between them and Winterfell, Edd remarks their best bet is to ride double on the horses he brought from Castle Black and hope they can get ahead of the undead. Their conversation is interrupted by Ned reanimating as a wight, letting loose a bloodcurdling screech; Beric sets the child wight ablaze with his flaming sword and all three watch in horror as the boy and the macabre tableau he is part of ignites, a grim warning of the fate that awaits them all if they don't win the Great War.
Back at Winterfell, a lone rider enters the castle's courtyard and removes his hood, revealing himself to be Jaime Lannister, having come to make good his pledge to fight against the Army of the Dead. Taking in a place he hasn't seen in years, Jaime is mortified to find himself met by the last person he wants to see... Bran.
This episode contains examples of the following:
- Abandon Ship: With the Wall breached, the Night's Watch has abandoned Castle Black and the Shadow Tower and retreated south.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Varys says that neither Dany nor Jon are likely to listen to lonely old men because the young keep them at a distance to avoid unpleasant truths. Tyrion takes offense to 'old men' and says he's not old — well, not as old as Davos. The Onion Knight can't help but smirk at this.
- Incidentally, Peter Dinklage is actually the oldest of the three Lannister sibling actors, despite playing the youngest.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Harry Strickland is younger and looks more like a warrior than his book counterpart.From the books...
- Admiring the Abomination: In contrast to the other citizens of Winterfell, who start screaming and panicking when Drogon and Rhaegal make their presence known, Arya seems genuinely awed to see a live dragon flying overhead.
- All for Nothing: In Season 7, Jon decides to restore the Umbers back to Last Hearth under Ned Umber and confirmed his title. But when the little lord is dispatched to his castle so he can relieve his people in person and bring them back to Winterfell, he is killed and made into a wight along the way, ending up nailed to a wall as a grotesque calling card from the Night King.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Cersei admits to liking Euron Greyjoy after having sex with him... because he's the most arrogant man she's ever met.
- Ambiguous Situation: The previous season's revelation of Cersei's pregnancy is put in doubt in this episode (or a possible miscarriage), as Cersei both drinks wine and beds Euron Greyjoy. This implies that Cersei might have used the leverage of a pregnancy to manipulate Tyrion and Jaime, as she had revealed it for the first time in the aftermath of the greatest Lannister loss in the war (Daenerys' storming on the caravan), at a point where Jaime was desperate and pushing for a surrender, reaching with a pregnancy so that Jaime wouldn't leave her, but she eventually pushed it too far and Jaime indeed left her.
- Animate Dead: Implied to have happened after Last Hearth fell to the Army of the Dead, given the copious amounts of blood, but no corpses in the castle courtyard; presumably after they massacred the defenders, the White Walkers then raised them as wights.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Two towards Jon, and he can't answer either of them:Sansa Stark: Did you bend the knee to save the North, or because you love her?
Samwell Tarly: You gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?
Qyburn: What will she do for the man who rids her of her treasonous brothers?
- Qyburn also asks Bronn one clearly meant to appeal to his sense of greed, pointing out that Cersei does reward those who serve her well.
- Artistic License Engineering: Used also with Artistic License Geology. You can't actually cast obsidian weapons effectively; they only get extremely brittle, you can't flake it anymore (rendering it permanently dull), and you even have to add dye to keep it black. Making it doubly odd is that the weapons shown are clearly knapped and not actually cast or otherwise forged.
- Awful Truth: How Jon feels about Sam's revelation that he is secretly the heir to the throne; to him, his entire life and sense of identity (as the illegitimate son of Ned Stark) being founded on a lie — even a lie that was done to protect him — is not an easy pill to swallow. He doesn't even get into the fact that this would mean Daenerys is his aunt.
- Bait-and-Switch: The episode opens with a boy running flat out through a snowy wood. Judging by the way the previous season opened and concluded, with the dead invading Westeros, it looks at first like he's trying to escape from monsters — then he comes to a town, and it's revealed that he's trying to get a glimpse of Daenerys's forces marching past.
- Better Living Through Evil: Qyburn tempts Bronn to act as Cersei's assassin by invoking this trope, telling him Cersei will give him the castle, lordship and highborn wife Tyrion and Jaime promised him, along with an advance payment of several chests of gold, in exchange for killing Jaime and Tyrion.
- Bling of War: The Golden Company all appear to be clad in extremely ornate suits of golden plate armor.
- Body Horror: The brief glimpse beneath Gregor Clegane's helmet shows his skin has turned a cyanotic blue-grey and his eyes are completely red and bloodshot.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Jon believes that his family is focusing on titles instead of the fact that he brought over a massive army and two dragons, but Sansa points out that if he ostracizes the Northern lords, they still won't stand much of a chance and we see at least one of them refusing aid to Winterfell because of Jon's decision.
- Brutal Honesty: Daenerys does not dodge the difficult part of her job, looks Sam in the eye and tells him that she executed his father and brother, even when it might have been more advantageous to lie and simply say they died in battle.
- Cain and Abel: Cersei sends Qyburn to hire Bronn to assassinate both her brothers for treason, though she was the one who put them in that position herself by turning coat in the first place.
- The first scene in the episode is a vast royal procession arriving at Winterfell, with even the background theme being the same as for Robert's arrival.
- When Daenerys arrives at Winterfell, Sansa greets her with, "Winterfell is yours, your Grace," much like Ned received Robert back in the very first episode, even if the tone is entirely different.
- The kid skipping stones, running about, sneaking through the crowd and climbing to get a peek at the procession is a call-back to both Arya and Bran doing the same back then, while Arya is standing front and center, where her sister once stood, who in turn is standing in her mother's place. Arya also asks where someone's (their) brother is. Many camera angles are taken from the scenes with either Bran or Arya.
- The people in the procession Arya is looking for: the king and queen, the Hound, and then Robert Baratheon's son.
- Jon and Sam in the crypt: The ruling Stark lord's Fat Best Friend is overwhelmed with grief and then, with rage against the Targaryens, makes a disturbing revelation to the Stark; Lyanna's secret which Ned hid from Robert last time is now revealed. Again, many camera angles are the same. Sam's voice even booms just like Robert's when he says "the bloody Seven Kingdoms" as Robert once did (in another scene).
- When Jon and Dany descend after their flight, they stop by a waterfall, alluding to the scene of the cave behind the falls where Jon and Ygritte had Their First Time. Dany says: "We could stay a thousand years", which is pretty similar to what Ygritte said then: "I don't ever want to leave this cave, Jon Snow. Not ever."
- When Qyburn orders Bronn to kill both Jaime and Tyrion, he gives him Joffrey's pricey crossbow. Tyrion used it to kill Tywin back in the day, and Cersei intends Bronn to kill Tyrion with it in return.
- Bronn is yet again interrupted just before he can get laid.
- The episode ends with Jaime and Bran, much like the very first episode ended, which was also the last time the two characters met. And once again, Bran manages to catch Jaime by surprise, but Jaime is the one whose presence is unwelcome this time.
- When Jon and Arya reunite, Arya leaps into Jon's arms and Jon holds her tight, just like they hugged in the second episode of the first season when they last saw each other, also proceeding to talk about Needle and Arya's usage, both which she dismisses with witty remarks. Upon reuniting with Bran, Jon kisses his forehead like he did in the second episode of the first season when he was saying good-bye.
- Daenerys' revelation of her execution of Randyl and Dickon brings to mind her all-too-familiar tendency as a judge, jury and executioner, as shown previously with her treatment of the Slavers of Astapor, and how poorly she measures the consequences of her brash actions. In that instance, she unwittingly made the people she swore to protect vulnerable (the slaves), and in this instance, she unwittingly alienates a man that she doesn't know is aware that her claim to the Iron Throne is inferior than Jon Snow's.
- Even the episode title calls back to the very first episode: From "Winter is coming" to "Winter fell".
- The Cameo: Rob McElhenney and Martin Starr appear as two of Euron's men that Theon kills while rescuing Yara.
- Character Death: Lord Ned Umber is killed twice: first by the White Walkers offscreen with his body desecrated in typical undead fashion and later set on fire after rising as a wight.
- Character Development:
- Arya defending Sansa's attitude to Jon, when last season she was worried that Sansa was undermining Jon's authority, shows that she also doesn't trust Dany and that she trusts their sister.
- Putting aside her (rather understandable) first instinct to headbutt him, Yara genuinely acts significantly kinder and more respectful toward Theon after being freed, discussing plans with him as an equal and completely going along with his wishes to return to the North.
- Composite Character: Euron Greyjoy takes on aspects of Osney Kettleback and Aurane Waters, two suitors who Cersei has physical and emotional affairs with during A Feast for Crows. Kettleblack is the uncouth lord whose low manners Cersei is both attracted and repelled by, and Aurane Waters is the roguish admiral of dubious loyalty (albeit Cersei isn't known to have had a physical relationship with Waters, merely coveting him).
- Conflict Ball: Several characters at Winterfell, particularly Dany and Sansa, seem more interested in playing hacky sack with it over minor details of pride and prestige instead of just focusing on the imminent Zombie Apocalypse. Jon is shown getting irritated with both of them.
- Cryptic Conversation: When Samwell walks out of the library and finds Bran seated outside in the yard, he asks Bran what he's doing there, to which Bran says, "I'm waiting for an old friend." Alluding to Jaime's arrival in Winterfell the morning of the next day when Jaime enters the courtyard and finds Bran, there, looking at him.
- Deadly Euphemism: The way that Daenerys breaks out the news to Sam about his family's death: she says that she offered Sam's father to retain his lands and titles if he bent the knee but he refused, and that his brother sided with his father. This is enough for Sam to connect the dots and realize they are both dead.
- When Bronn states there's no amount of gold that could convince him to try and assassinate Daenerys, Qyburn replied that Cersei "has other plans for the Targaryen girl".
- Death by Irony: Qyburn hires Bronn to kill Tyrion and Jaime should they survive the war with the Night King, and he's given the same crossbow Tyrion used to murder Tywin to add that extra bit of irony to their deaths.Qyburn: (about Cersei) She has a keen sense of poetic justice.
- Death of a Child: Child house leader Ned Umber bites it along with his whole people and army courtesy of the Night King, as they're the first castle on the way to Winterfell.
- Did You Actually Believe...?: Sansa gives Tyrion this when he speaks of negotiating a truce with Cersei.Sansa: I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.
- Didn't See That Coming: Daenerys did not expect that she'd find another Tarly when she met Sam, and that she'd face consequences for his father and brother's execution. A meaningful conversation with either Jon or Jorah would have brought that tidbit to light.
- Disappointed in You: Sansa finds it risible and disappointing that Tyrion sincerely believed that Cersei would send her armies to fight for him, stating that she once knew him to be the smartest person she'd ever met, yet no more.
- Dissonant Serenity: Cersei's response when told that the Wall has finally fallen? "Good." Even Qyburn looks a little unsettled by her cheery attitude.
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: As everyone is going through the formal introductions and conversation when Daenerys arrives in Winterfell, Bran gets impatient and tells everyone they don't have time for all this. The Wall has fallen and they need to focus on getting organized for the coming fight.
- Divided We Fall: Tyrion invokes this when the northern lords erupt in outrage at the prospect of Lannister soldiers reinforcing them against the undead. While the wounds left between the north and south by the War of the Five Kings are still fresh, Tyrion insists they must band together against the enemy facing them all.Tyrion: [[Understatement I know our peoples haven't been friends in the past]]... but we must fight together now, or die.
- Dragon Rider: Jon becomes one in this episode. He does poorly at first, but he learns quickly and he finds the whole thing enjoyable at the end.Jon: (to Daenerys) You've completely ruined horses for me.
- Dramatic Irony:
- Sam asks Danenerys to issue a pardon for him stealing books from the Citadel, which include documents that prove that she has a lesser claim to the Iron Throne than Jon does;
- When greeting Sam, Daenerys is entirely unaware of how much harm she would cause him with her brash actions by executing his father and brother, which she thought cemented her authority at the time; in reality, she put cracks in her own foundations, as Sam is Jon's closest friend and confidant.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Euron throws this at Cersei when she tries to blow him off once again. She says a whore is bought while a queen is earned, but he points out that he brought her justice for her murdered daughter, the Iron Fleet, and the Golden Company — each a gift that should have earned him her favor, but she's still as cold to him as ever.Euron: (mock hurt) My heart's nearly broken.
- Easy Logistics: Zig-Zagged. Sansa does point out that Winterfell's food reserves might not be enough now that Daenerys brought her armies and dragons there, but the show then carries on without actually addressing the issue at all.
- Every Man Has His Price: Cersei tries to exploit this to get Bronn on her side, offering him everything Tyrion and Jaime promised him (a castle, a noble title, a highborn wife) along with a down payment in the form of a significant amount of gold, in exchange for him acting as her assassin. The ambiguous look on Bronn's face makes it unclear whether or not it worked.
- Evolving Credits: The Game of Thrones credits have been overhauled for Season 8 after the Wall has fallen.
- Usually, the credits track the castles and huts from the North to the South and East and then closes at the Wall. Here it starts with the broken section of the Wall, and follows the winter and cold spreading southwards, into the castle of Last Hearth, and then into Winterfell and its tunnels, all the way to King's Landing. Unusually for the credits, where before they showed models of the castle exteriors with gears and knobs, this time they go inside, showing Winterfell's great hall and then into the Red Keep all the way to the Iron Throne (which is where the opening credits close).
- Additionally the designs on the astrolabe depicting events from pre-series history have been replaced with depictions of the Night King and Viserion breaking through the wall, The Red Wedding, Ned Stark's beheading and the birth of Danaerys' dragons.
- Fair Weather Friend: Lord Glover once again abandons the Starks to their fate when his oath of fealty to the King in the North becomes too much of an inconvenience to him.
- Felony Misdemeanor: When Sam is offered a reward by Dany he asks for a royal pardon, something typically thought of for forgiving treason or murder, because he "borrowed" some books from the Citadel.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Eagle-eyed viewers can spot the undead Lord Umber opening his eyes, revealing them to be the same Occult Blue Eyes as those of a wight or White Walker, just prior to his Jump Scare.
- Forgiveness: Sansa and Tyrion have had an interesting relationship, given they were forcibly married on Tywin's word, and she was reminded of his complicity in her family members' deaths when he was trying to protect her. Tyrion also could have easily believed that Sansa abandoned him to take the fall when Joffrey died. But none of that matters now; Tyrion takes pride in treating Sansa like an equal and not a child, and she is unafraid to tell him that trusting his sister's word is a bad move and he knows that. While they may not be able to be friends, they can at least be allies and put the past in the past.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the first meeting in Winterfell's great hall a raven can be seen hopping on the windowsill just behind Sansa.
- From Bad to Worse:
- After finding Ned Umber's corpse nailed to the wall of his castle as a message from the White Walkers, Tormund notes that this means the Night King's army is now between them and Winterfell. Edd suggests they can ride double on the horses he brought from Castle Black to try and get ahead of the undead, to which Tormund replies that between the cold and carrying two riders, they'll be lucky if their horses last that long.
- Daenerys finds out that Sam is Randyl Tarly's son and tells him that she executed him. Sam is shaken with grief, yet takes it standing... then she reveals that she executed his brother too, and Sam crumbles in tears, excusing himself from the room.
- Hell Is That Noise: The shriek that undead Ned Umber utters when he awakens is the stuff of nightmares.
- History Repeats:
- Cersei is (possibly) pregnant with Jaime's child while talking to Euron who she has slept with, and who promises to put a prince in her belly. In other words, Cersei is once again in the same situation she was with Robert, a shallow dead-end relationship which she is going to undermine by means of an incest baby that her consort expects will be his child.
- Once again, Lord Glover abandons House Stark in its hour of need and holes up in his castle to wait out the crisis, much to Jon and Sansa's frustration.
- Hollywood Tactics: Last Hearth should have been the very first castle to have been de-manned, as it's the northernmost keep in the North. Predictably, and having lagged in bringing their people to Winterfell, House Umber and the castle's occupants are the first to fall to the White Walkers.
- Hypocritical Humor: Upon their arrival in Winterfell, Varys points out to Tyrion that he detests dwarf jokes but constantly makes eunuch jokes.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Young Lord Umber is discovered to have been impaled to a wall by the Night King, with several human arms pinned in a pattern around him. Beric has to then do it a second time when the boy reanimates as a wight with his Flaming Sword to put Ned out of his misery.
- Internal Reveal:
- Bran tells everyone that the Night King has raised Viserion as a wight and the Army of the Dead has broken through the Wall.
- Daenerys tells Sam about how she had his father and brother executed for refusing to bend the knee.
- Sam tells Jon about his true parentage and status as the heir to the Iron Throne.
- Interrupted Intimacy: Bronn is in the middle of a foursome with three prostitutes when he's interrupted by Qyburn walking in.
- I've Come Too Far: How Cersei finally conceding to sleep with Euron comes across as; at this point, he's the only powerful ally she has left, nearly all the military assets she has are due to him and she has too much invested in Euron to have him turn against her, so letting him have his way with her is, in Cersei's mind, a small price to pay to keep Euron loyal.
- Jump Scare: The corpse of young Lord Umber pinned to the wall turns out to be a wight, which suddenly starts screaming after laying dormant for a couple of minutes. Beric sets it on fire.
- Lady Drunk: Cersei seeks refuge in a goblet of wine after having to sleep with Euron; since she avoided alcohol last season due to her pregnancy, it's a mark of how much her situation is really getting to her; it also sheds some doubts as to whether she's pregnant or not.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Jaime has decided to join Dany's forces on hearing Cersei would renege her promise. Sounds like a HeelFace Turn and redemption for this season? Not so fast; the first person to greet him at Winterfell is Bran, the boy he pushed out of a window, and whose parents started a feud for that crime.
- Likes Older Men: One of the prostitutes that was getting it on with Bronn later offers herself to Qyburn, telling him straight that she has a thing for older gentlemen.
- Manly Tears: Sam is on the verge of tears after hearing about his father and brother's deaths.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": Beric, Tormund and Edd's reaction to finding the corpse of Ned Umber nailed to a wall at Last Hearth — along with an assortment of severed limbs — as a warning from the Night King.
- Mathematician's Answer: Upon seeing Bran, Jon remarks that he is now "a man," but Bran replies "Almost." Indeed, whatever being the Three-Eyed Raven makes him, "man" doesn't really describe it.
- Meaningful Background Event: The wight of young Lord Umber can be seen to be opening its eyes while Tormund stands in front of it.
- Meet the In-Laws: Dany meets the Stark family, and finds them hostile, with Sansa essentially seeing her as her brother's annoying girlfriend who he is too smitten with, while Dany is confused as to why a girl she has just met is treating her so rudely.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: What Qyburn seems to be invoking with Bronn, since Tyrion and Jaime didn't uphold their end of what they promised Bronn.Qyburn: The Queen's brothers made promises to you and then broke them. Her Grace wishes to rectify their mistake.
- Moe Greene Special: A few sailors on Euron's flagship meet this fate as Theon mounts his rescue of Yara.
- Mood Whiplash: Daenerys is beyond amused when Sam asks for a pardon from her for... taking books from the Citadel without permission. Then Sam mentions he also stole the Tarly family sword from his father... whom Daenerys realizes she burned to death along with Sam's younger brother last season.
- Morton's Fork: Bronn is given a doozy of one by Qyburn - either he can refuse Cersei's order and be killed for defying her, go to Winterfell to assassinate Tyrion and Jaime and probably get murdered by their allies (especially as Tyrion is Daenerys' Hand), or Take a Third Option, pretend to go along with the assassination by accepting the gold, riding North and then join forces with Tyrion and Jaime instead. Time will tell which he chooses.
- My Fist Forgives You: When Yara is freed by Theon, the first thing she does is headbutt him so hard it knocks him down. Then she helps him back up.
- Noodle Incident: Euron claims he killed some soldiers of the Golden Company, either for trying to cheat him at dice, or because they tried to kill him for cheating at dice.
- Not So Above It All: Despite stressing to Daenerys, Jon, and Sansa that they don't have time for petty interpersonal drama, Bran spends much of the episode lying in wait for Jaime seemingly for no other reason than to remind him of their personal history.
- Not So Different:
- When Sam asks Jon if he would have executed men like Daenerys did, Jon points out that he has also executed people for rebelling against him. When Sam notes that he spared the Wildlings after they refused to kneel, Jon points out, "I wasn't a king", admitting that it wasn't really his call, either way, as it wasn't him they refused to kneel to.
- On a more humorous note, when Dany complains to Jon about Sansa not liking her, Jon replies that Sansa didn't like him much either when they were growing up, suggesting Sansa will come around eventually.
- Not So Similar: When Sam asks Jon if Daenerys would be willing to surrender the crown for the sake of the people, much like Jon did, Jon has no answer.
- Nothing Personal: Sansa is shown to dislike Daenerys from the get-go not because of anything personal, as they don't know each other, but rather because Daenerys being the queen Jon pledged allegiance to effectively undermines Jon's authority in the North, and also, because she's under the impression that Daenerys seduced Jon into submission. Sansa also finds herself frustrated as news of Daenerys's queenship alienates one of the houses she worked to keep loyal in Season 7, and to say nothing of the North's bitter history with the Targaryens.
- Oh, Crap!:
- This is Bronn's reaction when Qyburn mentions that one of the women he was bedding will be dead of pox in a year. Qyburn doesn't mention which one. Fridge Brilliance kicks in too: He's worried he might have it as well.
- Jaime shows up in Winterfell and is greeted by probably the last person he wanted to see: Bran.
- Daenerys gets a look of utter horror when Bran tells her that Viserion is now part of the Army of the Dead.
- She gets another one later when she hears Sam's last name and realizes that she'd executed the family of the man who saved her most loyal knight.
- Praetorian Guard: Cersei has expanded her Queensguard to consist entirely of black-clad giant soldiers reanimated by Qyburn's alchemy.
- Precision F-Strike: Bronn's reaction to Qyburn telling him Cersei is hiring him to kill Jaime and Tyrion with the same crossbow Tyrion used to murder Tywin?
- Reality Ensues:
- Jon not only bends the knee, but does so to House Targaryen, the house that killed the previous generation's Warden of the North and his eldest son and (in their view) kidnapped his daughter. The Northern Lords, and Jon's own family, are furious; Lord Glover loses all faith in Jon and retreats to his own stronghold, and Sansa is not inclined to be very civil to the daughter of the man who killed her grandfather and uncle.
- So, you brought a huge army to help defend your home and people against the army of the dead and wage war in what's gonna be a very long and harsh winter? You also brought a lot more mouths to feed. As Sansa points out, feeding an enormous army and two dragons is going to stretch Winterfell's meager supplies well beyond the breaking point, and additional help isn't likely to come from the South, either. They're in between a rock and a hard place — the North needs those armies and dragons to stand any chance of surviving the army of the dead. At the same time, this help might starve the North out.
- Many of the North's newest allies are from southern noble families, several of whom Daenerys has already torched both on the battlefield and in public executions. As shown by Sam's visceral reaction, this could cause serious problems in the near future.
- Qyburn casually saying that one of the girls has an STD freaks out Bronn, but this is a reality check on the series' earlier use of Fanservice; in a medieval world, protection from venereal diseases is difficult to come by.
- Though Randyll Tarly was a horribly abusive father even by the standards of this show, Sam is visibly distraught rather than happy at first upon hearing about his death. Dickon's death just further compounds this.
- As the Golden Company commander points out, elephants make excellent war beasts, but aren't well-suited for long sea voyages, meaning no elephants for Cersei.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Cersei sends Bronn away from King's Landing to assassinate her brothers (and gets Qyburn to give him the specifics rather than doing it herself) so that Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn, as per usual, don't have to share any scenes.
- Reforged into a Minion: Bran drops a hell of a Wham Line in telling Daenerys this has been Viserion's fate.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Euron manages to talk his way into Cersei's bed through unrelenting arrogance, a trait which she admits she admires.
- Cersei has Qyburn hire Bronn to kill Tyrion and Jaime, and specifically instructs him to use the same crossbow Tyrion used to kill their father to do the deed.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- Yara's plan after being freed is to return to the Iron Islands and hold them in case Daenerys needs a fallback location, effectively sitting out the rest of the war. Theon clearly disapproves, but he respects his Queen's wishes. And in response, Yara releases him from her service to go do what he thinks is right.
- Euron invokes this when Yara tells him he's on the losing side, bluntly stating he'll get out of dodge if things take a turn from the worse, but not before he's extorted his reward from Cersei.
- Robett Glover withdraws his house's forces again to hole up in Deepwood Motte after Jon renounces his throne.
- Self-Deprecation: One of the whores Bronn hired mentions a ginger Lannister soldier by the name of Eddie, who was horribly burnt by dragonfire and no longer has eyelids, implied to be the same Lannister soldier that Ed Sheeran cameoed as. The cameo was controversial among some fan groups, which seems to have been acknowledged here.
- Shipper on Deck: Davos, who teased Jon about his attraction to Dany, decides to go a step further and proposes to Varys and Tyrion (his counterparts in Dany's camp) a marriage proposal between Jon and Dany, seeing a way to unite both houses and heal tensions.
- Ship Tease: Between Gendry and Arya in the forge. He stammers as he compliments her on how good she looks. Then he calls her "M'lady" again, which causes her to smile and giggle. Finally, after requesting him to make her a knife, she gives him a flirty smirk as she leaves.
- Skewed Priorities: Much to Jon's frustration, all the Northern lords and even his own family care more about him bending the knee to Dany than the fact he just got them the allies they needed to survive the war against the Night King's army.
- Speak Ill of the Dead: Euron and Cersei indulge in this at Robert's expense. When Euron asks Cersei how he compares to "the fat king" in the bedroom, Cersei replies that despite screwing around with a different whore every night, Robert still had no idea how to satisfy a woman.
- STD Immunity: Averted. Qyburn detects that one of the prostitutes has a venereal disease, and will be dead within the year.
- Suppressed Rage: Sam acts as formal and polite as ever when bidding farewell to Daenerys, even though his voice makes it clear how he feels about what happened to his family.
- Take That, Audience!: Cersei complains multiple times about the Golden Company not bringing over their War Elephants, something that the fans of the book have been anticipating seeing and would most likely complain about the show runners omitting, even though it is simply pointed out that trying to transport elephants overseas is very difficult at best.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Bronn's reaction to being told that Cersei is offering him a hefty bribe in exchange for an unspecified service.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Bran spends most of the episode creepily staring at various characters that arrive to Winterfell. Actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright has stated that in order to achieve the unsettling stare, he removes his contact lenses on set, so he can't actually focus on the person he's staring at. He also stated that his co-star Sophie Turner finds it impressive as he stated that "She said, 'Isaac, your stare is like you're staring into my soul!'".
- Undead Child: The young Lord Umber is revealed to have become one by the end of the episode. He doesn't last long as Beric sets his corpse on fire.
- Undying Loyalty: Qyburn states he has this to Cersei, stating that he would have died penniless on the streets after being kicked out of the Citadel, had Cersei not taken him into her service.
- Unperson: Littlefinger seems to have become this, since no one makes mention of his absence or his execution, even those like Jon who were unaware of his fate.
- Villain Has a Point: Qyburn is correct when he reminds Bronn it was Jaime and not Cersei who screwed up the arrangement Bronn had to marry Lollys Stokeworth.
- Euron also has a fair point that he's done more than enough by now to prove his loyalty to Cersei.
- War Elephants: The Golden Company has them, but couldn't bring them along because they're not suited to long sea voyages. Cersei is quite disappointed.
- Was It All a Lie?: Jon is horrified to learn that Ned wasn't actually his father. The most honorable man Jon ever knew and the only parent Jon's ever known lied to him all his life to protect him from Robert Baratheon's murderous wrath. Even with Sam pointing out that Ned did it to keep him safe from Robert Baratheon, Jon is reeling — everything he knew about himself and his identity is wrong.
- We ARE Struggling Together: It's clear right off the bat that neither Sansa, Arya, nor the Northern nobles are all too happy about the alliance with Daenerys's forces, and each of them shows it throughout the episode in their own way. Daenerys herself is none too happy with the perceived lack of respect, at least from Sansa.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Alas, poor Ned Umber. The kid only got two scenes in the whole show before being killed off-screen and having his body left on display by the Night King.
- Wham Line: "The Night King has your dragon. He's one of them now".
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Sansa calls out Tyrion for actually believing that Cersei would send the Lannister army north to aid them.
- The Northern lords are furious at Jon for relinquishing his title as King of the North.
- Sam doesn't take the revelation that Dany had his father and brother executed very well, though he's wise enough to vent these frustrations to Jon rather than her.
- Winter Warfare: Subverted. Lord Glover has retreated to Deepwood Motte, whose main defensive feature is a wall of logs surrounded by a ditch, hardly enough for the biggest winter in history.
- Would Hurt a Child: As shown at "Hardhome", the White Walkers have no qualms about killing children and then raising them as undead minions. Ned Umber can attest to that.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Sam thinks that Jon would be a better king than Dany would be queen, especially since his claim is more legitimate. Jon doesn't quite agree because he doesn't want to be king in the first place. Sam, however, asks him if Dany is really willing to surrender her crown for her people as he did, to which he has no answer.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Bronn's reaction when Qyburn walks in with an offer right in the middle of him having sex with three prostitutes — and when Qyburn tells Bronn that Cersei wants him to assassinate her brothers with the same crossbow Tyrion used to kill Tywin with.