Game of Thrones Season 8 premiered last weekend, and so far critics have been cautiously optimistic.
Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones lie ahead!
Game of Thrones has dominated the TV landscape over the last decade, so naturally its final season is a huge topic of discussions. Critical reception for the fantasy series has been mixed for the last few years, since it moved beyond the story told in its source novels. Still, the Season 8 premiere left critics excited for what is to come.
One thing many critics took note of was the unfamiliar pacing of the premiere. The show has typically juggled disparate plot points, but having all of the characters together now makes it feel much more rapid-fire. In a review published by Variety, Daniel D'Addario wrote that the episode was "hitting the accelerator and delivering major plot developments, hurriedly, in its home stretch."
Still, as much as many loved the newly dense version of the show, some felt it was light on action. The final season is expected to revolve mostly around the War for the Dawn fought against the Army of the Dead, and on that score there was little development this week. In a review published by The Guardian, Lucy Mangan wrote that the episode was "a sedate affair, concentrating largely on retrenchment, and narrowing the scope of the narrative and emotional landscape."
"This was doubtless disappointing to the many who expected nothing but mighty spectacle all the way down the home straight, but pleasing to those of us who found that the sprawl of later series was dissipating our ability to care about the characters and rendering the (many) deaths, twists, unions and partings increasingly insignificant," she added.
In spite of this and a few other lingering flaws, both reviews — and most assessments so far — have been generally positive. The episode was a strong start to the climactic season, honoring the show's history of political intrigue and big surprises while acknowledging that it has become more of a straightforward fantasy battleground.
Going forward, there is no telling how critics and fans will feel. Game of Thrones is near and dear to many hearts around the world, and is the subject of countless in-depth fan theories. The story could just as easily be condemned as too predictable or too far afield, depending on how the twists and turns go from here. One way or another, the TV world is going to have a hard time saying goodbye to this beloved show.