The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones kicked off on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET with a new title sequence, new alliances, and new theories as to who, if anyone, will sit on the Iron Throne when the dust (and snow) settles.
Leading up to each episode of Season 8, we’ll be going deep on what happened last week with watchthroughs and recaps. We’ll also lay out what to expect in Sunday’s episode, plus how to watch Game of Thrones on your streaming service of choice.
[Ed. note: These next two sections contain spoilers for the first episode of Game of Thrones season 8, “Winterfell.” If you still need to catch up, scroll down to the last section, or check out our post on how to watch the season premiere.]
Episode 1 recap: Winterfell
Season 8 begins very similarly to season 1, with a royal visit to Winterfell, the seat of the North that gives this episode its title. “Winterfell” does a lot of stage setting, getting our heroes into position for the coming faceoff(s) and clarifying where they stand.
White Walkers breach the wall and move further south, bringing their mysterious magic with them. Theon Greyjoy continues his redemptive arc by rescuing his sister from their sadistic uncle Euron. Tensions arise between Sansa Stark, now the Lady of Winterfell, and Queen Daenerys, who wastes no time in flexing her power. Jaime Lannister arrives at Winterfell and the first thing he sees is the piercing stare of Brandon Stark, now the Three-Eyed Raven, who he recognizes as the boy he tried to murder by defenestration. And a long awaited reunion between Jon and Arya feels bittersweet, as we’re confronted with how much these two, who grew up as siblings, have changed since they last saw each other...
But about that siblings thing. The biggest revelation from last week’s episode came when Sam revealed to Jon, who lived his whole life as the bastard of Winterfell, that he’s in fact the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and therefore has the strongest claim to the Iron Throne. Of course the audience has known of Jon’s true parentage since the final episode of season 6, but the news comes as a shock to Jon. What this means for the future of his alliance (and romance) with his aunt Daenerys will surely be a major plot point of this final season.
What to expect in Episode 2
HBO released an episode preview on Thursday, which sees a newly grizzled Jaime Lannister on trial before Daenerys and the Northern lords. Jaime’s redemptive arc seemed to be on an upswing last season, when he finally cut ties with his ultimate bad influence, Cersei. But Dany hasn’t forgotten Jaime’s old nickname, the Kingslayer, which he earned by assassinating her father, the Mad King Aerys. Granted, that was after Aerys tried to burn Kings Landing to the ground, but it seems unlikely that Dany will accept this justification, especially since she’s shown signs of the Mad Queen herself during her reign.
While they’re at it, Sansa will likely call for justice for her little brother, Bran, who’s off in the corner observing the trial/practicing his signature creepy stare. Jaime has his own little brother in Winterfell to vouch for him — these two have been getting each other out of scrapes for nearly the entire run of the show — but whether Tyrion is able to convince Targaryens and Starks to work with another Lannister remains to be seen.
The rest of the preview focuses on battle preparations: shots of siege weapons, men marching through the yard, and Arya drawing a bow while invoking the Many-Faced God. Jon asks Tormund, “How long do we have?” and Tormund’s voiceover replies, ”Before the sun comes up tomorrow,” which suggests an overnight assault by the Night King’s forces. Hopefully the internal politics at Winterfell will be resolved, or at least put on hold, in time to defend the living from the dead.
HBO also dropped some promotional images that show the Winterfell crew taking some last moments of peace before things pop off.
Where to watch Episode 2
Episode 2 will air on HBO and (drop onto streaming services) at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 21. Here’s all the ways to watch Game of Thrones, whether directly from HBO or as a streaming service add-on.
Those who subscribe to HBO through a cable or satellite package can stream Game of Thrones live or on demand via the HBO Go service. The HBO Go app is available on most phones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. Check if your device is supported at HBO’s Help Center.
Stream Game of Thrones on HBO Go.
Cord cutters can still watch HBO on the network’s own platform. HBO Now is a stand-alone service, so it doesn’t require a cable subscription or another streaming platform; you stream directly from the HBO Now website or app. A one-week free trial is available — after that, it’s $14.99 per month.
Stream Game of Thrones on HBO Now.
Hulu also offers an HBO add-on for $14.99, which allows live HBO streaming whether or not you subscribe to Hulu’s live TV subscription tier. Subscribing through Hulu, or any other streaming service, also grants access to HBO Now.
Stream Game of Thrones on Hulu.
In addition to the TV shows and movies available free to Prime members, Amazon offers add-on premium subscriptions through the Amazon Channels program. The HBO add-on costs $14.99 per month (the same as HBO Now).
Stream Game of Thrones on Amazon Channels.
Sony’s own TV subscription service, PlayStation Vue, is another streaming option. HBO is available as an add-on to a multi-channel package or as a stand-alone subscription. It costs $14.99 per month either way. The PlayStation Vue Ultra package, which costs $79.99 per month, includes HBO and Showtime.
Stream Game of Thrones on PlayStation Vue.
AT&T’s streaming service is the only subscription that includes HBO at its base level, though at $50 per month, it’s the most expensive plan on the market. Because DirecTV Now operates more like a traditional cable package, subscribers have access to HBO Go, rather than HBO Now.
Stream Game of Thrones on DirecTV Now.