Throne Room

5 thoughts on Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1

5 thoughts on Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1
HBO

Since enough people asked for this, we will recap each episode of the final season of Game of Thrones. Starting next week, these will be posted shortly after the show. But since we just decided to do it today, this one is a little late.

Warning: Spoilers follow. If you have not watched it yet, proceed at your own risk.

As Dany would say, "shall we begin?"

1) An old school episode

Sunday's show was a contrast to Season 7, where everything moved way too fast. It was more of an old school Thrones episode, with a lot of character interaction. I honestly believe this is when Thrones is at its best. While primarily a setup for later episodes, it featured some strong interactions between Jon and Sansa, Jon and Arya, Sansa and Tyrion, Jon and Bran, and Sam and Dany, Euron and Cersei. It was emotional and well done.

2) Sansa might be the smartest of all

Arya even told Jon that. She is the only one not fooled by Cersei, and is even critical of Tyrion for believing his sister. She is emerging as a strong leader, and a practical one. If someone other than Cersei is to sit on the Iron Throne at the end, Sansa will be a big reason. She gets it and her character evolution is one of the most impressive on the show. She learned her lessons from Lord Baelish well.

3) And the not so good...

The flying dragon love scene was useless. It was an obvious attempt to pander to fans who have been wanting to see it. But it did not serve to move the story. We already know Jon is a Targaryen, a reveal that happened last season. He finds out himself later in the episode, when Sam tells him. This could complicate the Jon and Dany relationship. Sam is loyal to a fault to Jon, but the way she killed his father and brother clearly is going to be an issue going forward.

4) Cersei continues to outsmart everyone

She has always been one step ahead of everyone. Her calculating nature has time and time again beaten her enemies. She is single-minded, and is playing the game at the highest level. She even enlists Bron to kill Jamie and Tyrion if the white walkers fail to do it. (Hard to believe he would). She has played this perfectly; if the Night King's army weakens the Jon/Dany alliance, Cersei will be prepared. From a strategy perspective, she is always a step ahead...Unless the Night King outplays everyone by skipping Winterfell and going straight to King's Landing. But there seems to be no indication of that.

5) Bran awareness

Bran's character continues to be vague and unlikeable. But the last scene when he sees Jamie - who tossed Bran out of the tower and crippled him in season 1 - was powerful, even with no words spoken. The previews for episode 2 indicate Dany is not happy with Jamie killing her father, and I suspect Bran will say Jamie has a part to play. Bran would likely not be the three-eyed raven if he had not been tossed out of the tower, and it appears those two will wind up intertwined again. Still, Bran, along with Gendry and anyone named Greyjoy...just not all that interesting.

The wrap-up

I liked the episode. It sets things up nicely for the final five episodes. The five most interesting characters remain The Night King, Jon, Sansa, Tyrion and Arya. The Night King's message - an impaled child on a wall with a flesh version of the pattern we have seen before - was the only wow moment, but the interaction between characters throughout was classic Thrones.

Expect more action in episode 2.

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Will the Astros ever give Joey Loperfido a chance to fix the black hole at first base? Composite Getty Image.

So how long do you suppose the Astros will cling to the ludicrous notion that Jose Abreu will return to being a sustainably decent hitter (much less a good hitter)? The All-Star break? The trade deadline July 30? The day the Astros are eliminated from the playoff race? End of the season? End of his contract at the end of next season? Maybe they sign him to a two-year extension?

Since rejoining the team Abreu has played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. He has seven hits in 42 at bats for a .167 batting average. That’s only not horrible in comparison to the sub-pathetic .099 mark Abreu had when hiatus time arrived. Since returning, Abreu has walked once. If you remember or are familiar with Susan Powter you know what comes next. STOP THE INSANITY!

Kyle Tucker’s absence obviously punches a big hole in the Astros’ lineup. Still, that regularly running out Jeremy Pena in the cleanup or fifth spot in the lineup doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, is ridiculous! Pena has been abysmal for the last month. May 11 he put up his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. In 29 games since, Pena has added one more homer with an anemic on-base percentage of .238. Not batting average, OBP. Yuck. All teams solicit All-Star votes for non-worthy guys. Pena plays in the same league as Gunnar Henderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Corey Seager, and Anthony Volpe. Hyping Pena for the All-Star game is plain ol’ silly.

Jon Singleton ever slotting in the lineup fourth or fifth, sigh. He of one homer and 28 strikeouts in his last 79 at bats. It’s just a sad state of affairs that no one below Pena or Singleton in the lineup should obviously be higher in the lineup. Mauricio Dubon, Victor Caratini, Trey Cabbage are all bottom third of the lineup if in the lineup type guys. Chas McCormick seemingly losing almost all of his hitting ability has hurt. Yainer Diaz stinking for much more of the season to date than he’s been good has hurt.

The refusal to try Joey Loperfido at first base is somewhere from perplexing to stupid. Look, Loperfido is not an elite prospect. His poor contact skills may doom him from becoming a quality regular. But find out! He struck out a bunch in his first taste but also hit .333. The low upside of the Abreu-Singleton combo is obvious. Evidently to just about all but Astros’ decision makers. Going with Trey Cabbage over Loperfido in the outfield also underwhelms.

Chasing down the Mariners?

It could all still turn for the better, but the Astros are at increasing risk of fading to oblivion behind Seattle in the American League West race. They deserve to be 31-38. They have a losing record at home, they have a losing record on the road. They have a losing record in day games, they have a losing record in night games. They are 7-14 in games against left-handed starting pitchers, they are 24-24 (hey, .500, yippee!) vs. right-handed starters. It would take a serious collapse to fall entirely out of the Wild Card race before the trade deadline, but the Astros are flirting with danger there too. They have to leapfrog several teams to get to the third Wild Card position, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. This doesn’t seem to be a good weekend to gain ground on them. Not that A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers visiting Minute Maid Park this weekend are anything special, though in Friday night’s series opener the Astros face the arguably best starting pitcher in the big leagues this season (Tarik Skubal). But the Twins have four games at home against the lowly Oakland A’s.

If Minnesota is not to overtake Kansas City and Cleveland to win the AL Central, you know Carlos Correa would love to make the playoffs at his ex-team’s expense. Wednesday Correa banged out the first five-hit game of his career. It’s pretty amazing that Jose Altuve has never had a five-hit game given how great a hitter he’s been and the relatively few walks he’s drawn. Sunday in Anaheim, Altuve racked up his 39th four-hit game. Remember, last September, Altuve hit five home runs over seven innings that overlapped two games against the Texas Rangers.

George Springer is the lone Astro ever to rack up six hits in a game, doing so at Oakland in 2018. So far this month, Springer is six for 40. Springer has two seasons left after this one on the six-year 150 million dollar contract he signed with Toronto. At 34 years old he is playing as if washed up. 2023 was the worst season of Springer’s career and he has fallen off a cliff from there thus far in 2024. Springer is batting .198 with his OPS at a sickly .582.

There is only one player in the modern era (1900 forward) of Major League Baseball to amass seven hits in a nine-inning game. In 1975 Rennie Stennett went seven for seven at Wrigley Field in a Pittsburgh Pirates 22-0 obliteration of the Chicago Cubs. The “Bleacher Bums” must have had fun that day.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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