Game of Thrones Winterfell review: our expectations were as high as The Wall but they fell a bit flat as the blockbuster returned for its swansong series

Game of Thrones, series eight, episode one (C) HBO

Game of Thrones, series eight, episode one (C) HBO - Credit: HBO

It was one of the most anticipated returns in television history with millions waiting to see what would happen in the massive-budget last-ever six episodes of the dragon and magic blockbuster. The answer? Not much. CONTAINS SPOILERS

Game of Thrones (C) HBO

Game of Thrones (C) HBO - Credit: (C) HBO

It wouldn't be an overstatement to call the premiere of the eighth - and final season - of Game of Thrones as one of the most anticipated television event in history.

So it's disappointing that as far as season opener goes, 'Winterfell' was rather bland.

It certainly wasn't a bad hour of television, don't misunderstand me, but ultimately the events of this first episode amounted to very little.

The episode got good mileage out of reintroducing fan-favourite characters, after all the show took an extended hiatus after last season, but the total absence of the Night King and his army was a shame.

Game of Thrones, series eight, episode one (C) HBO

Game of Thrones, series eight, episode one (C) HBO - Credit: (C) HBO

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The majority of the episode was spent up in the North with Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow bringing the Unsullied and Dothraki armies to Winterfell to prepare for the rapidly approaching white walker threat.

Much of the run-ime was dedicated to the budding relationship between Daenerys and Jon, which was enjoyable enough if a little forced. A scene in which they ride Dany's dragons together would have been a highlight if not for some ropey CGI.

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The best moments of Winterfell all involved reunions however, from the sweet, like Jon and Arya, to the slightly sour, such as Sansa and Tyrion. Last season was dominated by long-awaited reunions, so while it was pleasing to see even more, their impact is starting to wane just a tad.

Even though the episode was named for the Northern capital we did spend some time down in King's Landing. A potentially interesting plot thread involving Bronn was set up which should pay off later down the road, but otherwise, not much happened in the South.

The 'big' moment of the episode was, of course, Jon finally learning of his true lineage from trusted ally Samwell Tarly. It's just a shame that this was the penultimate scene of the episode as how Jon, and especially Daenerys, will react to this news has been the subject of much fan speculation.

Ultimately as a season opener Winterfell was fairly standard, primarily focused on setting up plot threads that will unravel in subsequent episodes and also reminding us where the remaining characters currently stand.

The problem is that this isn't a standard season of Game of Thrones, so the disappointingly plodding pace was rather unsatisfying.

* Game of Thrones season eight airs on HBO and Sky Atlantic at the same time as part of a Transatlantic simulcast. In America, HBO will screen the show on Sundays at 9pm Eastern Standard Time (ET) and in the UK, at 2am (British Summer Time) BST, repeated at 9pm BST. All episodes of Game of Thrones will be airing on a weekly basis and will also be available on NOW TV.

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