Watching the Game of Thrones season eight premiere (entitled “Winterfell”), we were struck by the majesty of the soaring dragons, the fierceness of Daenerys Targaryen’s white fur coat, and the haunting qualities of the chilling human arm sculpture (yes, a sculpture made from human arms). But more than any of that, one thought kept entering our minds throughout the episode: “Damn, that’s awkward.”
Yes, critics have lauded the episode — our sister publication Vulture has even called it “the best Game of Thrones premiere since the pilot” — but despite the episode’s cinematic feats, it was also packed with cringeworthy moments that made us squirm. From Jon Snow’s incestuous revelation to Jamie Lannister’s uncomfortable reunion, here are the most awkward moments from the episode. Warning: spoilers below.
When the dragons were visibly uncomfortable watching a nephew (Jon Snow) make out with his aunt (Daenerys Targaryen).
There are two things to know about Jon Snow (the erstwhile King in the North, played by Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (the “Mother of Dragons,” played by Emilia Clarke). The first is that they are both extremely beautiful, so watching them is like reading a poem. The second is that it turns out they are related and don’t know it. She is his aunt, and he, her nephew.
As the two of them make out, the dragons appear visibly bothered. We can only assume the dragons know the background here.
When Samwell Tarly confesses to taking a book here, a sword there, and Daenerys tells him she killed his family.
Samwell Tarly, a.k.a. Sam, is a lovable character. Maybe one of the only lovable characters on the show, actually. So when he comes across Daenerys, he says he might need a pardon from her some day, because he took some books from the Citadel and a sword from his father. That cute moment then gets dark because, well. Let’s just go through the scene:
Daenerys: “Not Randyll Tarley?”
Sam: “You know hm?”
Daenerys: “I offered to let him retain his lands and titles if he bent the knee. He refused.” [subtext: “I had him killed.”]
Sam, trying to defuse the situation, jokes: “Least I’ll be allowed home again now that my brother’s the lord.”
Daenerys: “Your brother stood with your father.” [subtext: “He’s dead, too.”]
Sam: “Thank you, your grace, for telling me.” [subtext, buried deep under his grief: “Also I know about you and your nephew.”]
Awkward AND devastating.
When Jamie Lannister locks eyes with Bran Stark, whom he tried to murder as a child.
Not to make this list entirely about incest, but, uh, it is. Toward the end of the episode, there’s an extremely uncomfortable moment where Jamie Lannister locks eyes at Winterfell with Bran Stark. The reason this is so excruciating is because when he was a child, Bran was climbing up a tower and accidentally came across Jamie having sex with his twin sister Cersei. Jamie then tossed Bran out of the tower, presumably hoping to kill him to protect his secret. Bran survived but became paralyzed. And now, looks like these two might finally have a chance to chat about what happened. Yikes.
When Jon Snow learns that his girlfriend is his aunt.
Sam, understandably, was quite upset that Daenerys had his father and brother executed, and ended up having a heated conversation with Jon Snow about his loss. Meanwhile, it had already been decided that Sam would be the one to tell Jon that he is a Targaryen, not a Stark, and that he is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. By Targaryen we mean, the son of Daenerys’s brother. “You’re the true king,” Sam explains. Jon takes it all in and says, “Daenerys is our queen.” He tells Sam it would be “treason” to claim his crown, as Sam tries to encourage him to do so.
As Jon lets it all sink in — his real identity, his claim to the throne, all the questions he’s ever had about his past — we can only assume it’s also sinking in that his girlfriend is his aunt.
This post has been updated.