It’s here. The beginning of the end of Game of Thrones as we know it. It’s a bittersweet moment because this could very well be the last time that everyone is together under the same roof. That didn’t stop the entire cast from bringing the energy to Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the advance premiere of season 8 episode 1. And thanks to HBO, AiPT! got to be a part of this incredible event.
The evening began at the AT&T flagship store on Boylston Street in Boston. We hopped on the Dragon Wagon where we watched several fan favorite episodes, including The Rains of Castamere. At this point we realized our HBO hosts were heartless souls ferrying a bus full of people through the most distressing moments of Game of Thrones for the next four hours. Actually, they were incredibly accommodating, super thoughtful of our needs during the ride, had trivia set up with tons of prizes between episodes, and made sure everyone had everything they needed.
When we arrived in New York, we made a pit stop at HBO’s headquarters where we ate and enjoyed an amazing view of the city. From there we headed to Rockefeller Center where an incredible 40 foot replica of the Iron Throne was on display. For those lucky few contest winners (and those lucky enough to be invited along with them), the area around the red carpet was sectioned off for hand shakes, high fives and photo ops with pretty much the entire cast — outside of Lena Heady, who was home sick. Even actors we haven’t seen since season 1, such as Mark Addy and Sean Bean, were there to greet the fans. Jacob Anderson, who plays Grey Worm, made a point to go around and high five every single person, while Kristian Nairn (Hodor) shook hands with everyone. George R.R. Martin was there and I’m still in awe that I got to meet him even for the briefest of moments. It didn’t stop there: Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Natalie Dormer and even Emilia Clarke took the time to take a selfie with anyone around the red carpet who wanted one (which was everyone). From what I could tell of those around me, the most anticipated attendee was Kit Harington who was next door recording for the weekend’s episode of SNL. Sadly due to the time constraint he wasn’t able to get there early enough to participate in photos.
The inside of Radio City Music Hall was illuminated in an orange glow. It was my first time inside, and it is truly a stunning venue. To kick off the countdown to the premiere episode, a live pipe organist played “Welcome To The Beginning Of The End.” Casey Bloy of HBO made an introductory speech, specifically thanking Richard Plepler and several others for bringing us Game of Thrones. Then he welcomed David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the series’ creators, onto the stage. The pair thanked the cast and crew for all of their hard work over the past several years, and shared a story of how Richard Plepler really took a chance on their idea. Despite the expense of the pilot, it needed extensive reshoots because the episode was falling flat. Knowing the cost, Richard Plepler green lit the continued production because he was able to see the potential that David and D. B. brought before him. They thanked their wives for standing by their side through all of it, and then welcomed the entire cast onto the stage. This moment felt very special because it may never happen again. As the curtain pulled back, 40 of the cast members were in a row on stage. It was an amazing moment as the audience stood for applause in appreciation. These people are a part of a show that will go down as one of the greatest of all time. A lot of them have been on our TVs in our living rooms for the past seven years, and while it’s sad that Game of Thrones is coming to an end, I’m glad’s happening while the series is on top.
As for the episode itself, there’s obviously not much I can say without winding up like Ned Stark at the end of season 1. What I will say is that it’s a good start to the season. It’s not the most action packed episode but there are a lot of great payoffs. Remember, drink it in while you can, because it’s only going to get more chaotic, hectic and bloody from here.