After nearly two years of waiting, Game of Thrones season eight premiered last night on Amazon with an hour-long episode that was largely well-received by critics. “Winterfell” set the stage for a promising final season marked by several big moments, from Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s showy arrival in Winterfell, to the former finally learning he’s the rightful heir the Iron Throne.
There were also, in classic GOT fashion, plenty of loaded stares. Honorable mentions go to Sansa and Dany exchanging full elevator-eyes at their first meeting, and Dany’s dragon, Drogon, giving Jon Snow a don’t-hurt-my-mom-or-I’ll-burn-you-to-a-crisp look when the new couple makes out in front of him.
— James Hibberd (@JamesHibberd) April 15, 2019
However, the King of Stares this episode was clearly Bran Stark (aka the Three-Eyed Raven) whose had few words to say but lots of blank, vaguely sinister looking at people to do. A recently-anointed clairvoyant, the teenage Stark has been through it in the last several seasons. He’s paralyzed from being pushed out of a window by Jaime Lannister in season one, and seems to have completely lost his ability to empathize with humans since the former Three-Eyed Raven uploaded a few centuries worth of knowledge and memory into his brain.
Although Bran was immediately and perhaps unfairly meme-ed after the first episode of season eight aired, it’s worth noting that each of Bran’s stares said more than a few lines of dialogue could have. Here’s your guide to all of them, and why you should pay close attention to future staring:
Bran stares at Jon Snow
The stare: You look great for someone who recently died, but you’re about to get the surprise of your goddamn life.
Bran’s vague smile is the closest thing to an actual facial expression that he displays this episode, but indicates that there’s enough of real Bran left to recognize Jon as someone he once loved. However, the look is tinged with concern, probably because Bran saw in a season-seven vision that Jon—who believes he’s the illegitimate child of Ned Stark, Bran’s father—is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and therefore the rightful King of Westeros.
Bran stares at Daenerys Targaryen
The stare: Honestly I still have mixed feelings about you.
This stare hints at Bran’s concerns about Dany, whose dragons and army could be the thing that helps the living win the war against the dead, but whose general obsession with power might prove problematic, especially when she learns Jon’s true heritage. He’s also probably concerned about Dany’s loss of one her dragons to the undead, which is highlighted by the mood-killing line he hits her with right after this stare: “We don’t have time for all of this. The Night King has your dragon, he’s one of them now. The wall has fallen. The dead march south.”
Bran stares at Tyrion Lannister
Stare: Sansa is right, you’re being an idiot. Like, seriously, think about it.
This stare—which requires Bran to crane his neck to deliver it to Tyrion from two stories below—takes place shortly after Sansa basically calls Tyrion stupid for trusting his sister, Cersei. Bran is likely aware of the truth: that Cersei is not in fact bringing her army north, and is in cahoots with Euron Greyjoy to maintain control of Westeros after the north deals with the zombies. The stare seems to have its intended effect, as Tyrion looks unsettled.
Bran stares at Samwell Tarley
The stare: Listen, I know it’s bad timing, but you need to tell Jon what’s up ASAP.
Samwell Tarley, who is back in Winterfell after working on his postdoc in Oldtown, is the next victim of Bran’s empty stare, right after Sam got word of his father and brother’s execution. He stumbles out of the library and finds Bran lurking there, staring at him from across a dark street. “What are you doing out here?” Sam asks, reasonably. “Waiting for an old friend,” Bran replies, not sounding particularly friendly. Bran’s look this time is of someone who has an unpleasant but necessary responsibility, which proves to be the case when he commands Sam to tell Jon about his true heritage.
Bran stares at Jaime Lannister
The stare: Yes, it’s me, the kid you pushed out of a building in season one. I’m different now, but you’re still an asshole.
We end with a veritable bombshell of a stare when a travel-worn Jaime Lannister locks eyes with Bran at the end of the episode. (Jaimie, of course, tried to kill Bran last time they hung out.) Although the all-knowing Bran is likely aware that Jaime is in Winterfell as a part of his redemption arc, he still seems kinda mad.
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