The first episode of season 8 is here, and the consensus has been a resounding "meh." Apparently, a lot of folks didn't care for this episode, which puts me in the minority because I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was discussing this with my brother, who feels the same way I do, but maybe that's because we're just stoked that Game of Thrones is back after two years. Personally, I felt the episode did a lot of set-up for when things inevitably go crazy later in the season. And in all fairness, Game of Thrones needs a lot of set-up if only because of how large the cast is and how big the stakes are.
When you stop and think about it, quite a bit happened in this episode, and almost all of it will have serious repercussions later. Daenerys her dragons and her army arrive in Winterfell; and now the entire North doesn't seem to trust Jon Snow any longer. Arya had her long-awaited reunions with Jon, Gendry and the Hound. Theon rescues Yara before sailing away to help the Starks, while his Uncle Theon arrives with the Golden Company to fight for Queen Cersei. Qyburn instructs Bronn to kill Tyrion AND Jamie. He specifically refers to Cersei's treasonous brothers, in the plural. There's a creepy message left by the Night King involving severed arms arranged in a spiral with an impaled dead kid in the center. Samwell learns of the deaths of his father and brother at Deanery's hand, and Jon FINALLY learns his true parentage. But that still wasn't the final reveal. The whole episode Bran is waiting in the courtyard for "an old friend." He turns out to be waiting for Jamie Lannister, who has the biggest "oh shit," look on his face when he sees Bran. Oh, and the opening credits changed.
Maybe this episode seemed slow by Game of Thrones standards since no one died (that's going to change in the coming weeks, probably in the next episode) and other than Jon riding a dragon, there weren't any major action pieces. But Jon rode a dragon, something everyone has been waiting to see since at least season 6. This episode was necessary to get all the pieces on the board, and its revelations are going to have serious repercussions for the Seven Kingdoms. Personally, I can't wait.