Welcome back to Stark Contrast! We’re happy to return to our perennial podcast show where we discuss Game of Thrones. This week, we’re kicking off with the Season 8 premiere, “Winterfell.” It’s a slow burn re-introduction to the denizens of Westeros and Essos that never managed to get J and me excited about the series again. Repetitive jokes, bizarrely allocated budgets and uneventful reunions did little to keep our sincere interest.
Back in the day, the central conceit of Stark Contrast was that J had read the books while I had not. Now, of course, that distinction matters a bit less as the television series has gone far beyond George R.R. Martin’s last words (to date). Whether that’s a good thing is a question that’s haunted the both of us for several years. Season 8, so far, keeps that fear alive with the glacially paced and underwhelming “Winterfell.”
The show has seen some incredible peaks and laughable valleys in the years since its spectacular first season. The exchange of talented directors like Daniel Minahan (whose phenomenal Deadwood work we recently revisited), Tim Van Patten (another Deadwood alum) and Michelle MacLaren for folks like David Nutter, who directs this season premiere, has not been in the show’s interest. “Winterfell” does itself few favors drawing intentional parallels this week to the show’s excellent S1 premie, “Winter is Coming.”
Indeed, this isn’t the explosive start we’d hoped Season 8 — really a second half of Season 7 — would offer. Next week looks like it’s also directed by David Nutter, so things aren’t liable to look up just yet. However, the last bastion of great television of direction on this show, Miguel Sapochnik, returns for Episodes 3 and 4. So for all of our griping, hope is on the horizon!
For those looking for J’s excellent essay on James Cameron’s Avatar, it can be found here. I can’t recommend it enough.
What did you think of the premiere? Did it rev your engines in a way it didn’t for us? Leave a comment, question or idea and we may discuss it on the next episode!
And of course, tune in next week to Stark Contrast where hopefully we can go a bit easier on Season 8 Episode 2 of Game of Thrones, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”