Game of Thrones: What did people make of its return?

This story does not contain spoilers.

Image copyrightHBO
Image caption Jon Snow: He knows something

Game Of Thrones returned for its eighth and final season on Monday morning after a near two-year absence.

HBO aired episode one of the fantasy epic simultaneously in the US and UK.

Hardcore British fans had to stay up until 0200 BST to return to the Westeros winter for the first time since August 2017.

Secrets were revealed and families reunited as the battle for the Iron Throne intensified, with the ‘undead’ army inching ever closer.

While many battle-weary viewers were either heading back to bed, or off to work, journalists were busy filing their early reviews:

Breathtaking moments

The Guardian, which declares “the end is now,” writes “the final series is off to a thrilling start, with reunions we’ve waited years for, a shocking new kill list – and even a homage to the show’s own ‘sexposition'”

We’ll let you figure that one out for yourselves.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, sums it up as “Winterfell: Sex, reunions, and a glimpse of the carnage to come.”

According to The Sun, the new opener for the show – which has been running since 2011 – was a “heady mix of dark gags and breathtaking moments and helped the series opener to “live up to expectations”, while Variety added the GoT writers have done something new this time around; “Hitting the accelerator and delivering major plot developments, hurriedly, in its home stretch.”

Image copyrightHBO
Image caption Daenerys Targaryen

One of the most eagerly-anticipated TV moments of the decade is expected to have drawn a huge audience.

According to HBO last month, 81 million people watched the trailer across all online platforms (including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) in just 24 hours.

Skip Twitter post by @GameOfThrones

The Great War is here.#GameofThrones begins in 10 minutes.

— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) April 15, 2019

End of Twitter post by @GameOfThrones

The show’s return lit up social media again early on Monday.

One fan online appeared to get a little hot under the collar about the latest edition of the TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series.

Lauren Knight tweeted: “Freaking out over that Game of Thrones episode!! So worth the wait! But why, why do we have to wait another week.”

Skip Twitter post by @Laurenknight95

Freaking out over that #GameofThrones episode!! So worth the wait! But why, why do we have to wait another week.

— Lauren Knight (@Laurenknight95) April 15, 2019

End of Twitter post by @Laurenknight95

Another remained ice cool, commenting: “Already waited a year and some change, how bad could another week be?”

Skip Twitter post by @BullishItalian

Already waited a year and some change, how bad could another week be? #GameOfThrones 🙁

— Alex (@BullishItalian) April 15, 2019

End of Twitter post by @BullishItalian

Some fans even hosted public viewing parties, like the one below in New York, where the episode was screened at the more respectable hour of 21:00 EST.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Game of Thrones party at the Understudy bar in Brooklyn in New York

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption GoT fan: ‘I drink and I watch things’

Many of the stars stepped out on Friday night for a screening in Belfast, where large parts of the show are filmed.

Maisie Williams, who has played Arya Stark since she was a teenager, was there and she told the Observer she has no intention of chasing more fame than she already has, once the show wraps up at the end of the series.

“I feel like I personally have to remove myself,” said the 22-year-old, “because I had a taste of that sort of fame with this show and I made a vow to myself: I do not want that.

“My agents say things to me like, ‘We’ll raise your profile’, and I don’t really understand what that means because to me it sounds like getting a whole lot more famous, which is something I’m not interested in.

“If this show is the greatest thing I ever do, I did OK. I didn’t do too bad.”

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Maisie Williams, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead Wright attend Belfast screening on Friday night

Episode one, starring Williams, Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, as well as Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister, had a running time of 54 minutes which is, apparently, the shortest of the eighth season.

The third instalment is set to be the longest, running to 82 minutes.

Oscar-winning American actress Reese Witherspoon was tuned in and tweeted: “Have a very important date with my couch tonight… excited is an understatement!!!!!!”

Skip Twitter post by @ReeseW

Have a very important date with my couch tonight… excited is an understatement!!!!!!

— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) April 15, 2019

End of Twitter post by @ReeseW

Six exclamation marks says it all really.

Elsewhere US singer, The Weeknd let us know he was keeping an eye on proceedings from the comfort of his exotic Dorne-esque beachside property.

“Found HBO out here let’s gooooo,” he said in an Instagram story.

Game of Thrones is on Sky Atlantic and Now TV on Monday at 21:00 BST

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