Game of Thrones Season 8 Premiere: Emotion by the Second

Bárbara Silva | April 26, 2019

The anxiety was at impressive levels, the speculation about who will win the throne has inflamed social media and HBO’s streaming outage almost overshadowed the debut of the series’ last season.

While waiting for winter, we partnered with Mindprober to do a live monitoring study of the first episode premiere, leveraging their scalable biometrics data collection platform.

Overall, the first episode reflected the enthusiasm of the fans – with several moments of distinct emotional activation peaks – shared between dragonsconfessions, and reunions.

Image 1 – Overall timeline of the first episode

The dragons are major figures in the series – the public has been following the growth of these fantastic creatures, from small babies born at the end of the first season, to adored big beasts. The moments where the dragons appear are always relevant and have a big impact on the audience, not only due to the amazing CGI that the team of Game of Thrones masterfully crafted but also due to their meaning in the canon. In fact, the first truly engaging scene seems to be the initial appearance of the dragons (along with a change in the music) at around minute 5:30. The second “dragon” moment at around 30 minutes, not only has thrilling visuals but also shows Jon Snow riding Rhaegal, underlining his Targaryen lineage.

This scene builds up the return to Winterfell after a period of decreasing activation from minute 16 onwards, where secondary action unfolds. This overall pattern of disengagement is only (slightly) interrupted by the scene between Cersei and Euron Greyjoy, which may turn out to be relevant for the show.

Another moment that may turn to be relevant (ok, we saw the second episode, it did!) is the scene (at around 10 minutes) when Tyrion announces that the Lannister army will join the North. The disbelief of the crowd matches a spike in engagement, which may foresee hints into Cersei not following her word.

The reunion between Arya and Jon Snow after years (seasons!) apart and the culmination of an emotional conversation about family into an intense and warm hug – corresponds to the second major peak in emotional activation (15:30). Who doesn’t like to see the family coming together?

The last stretch of the episode from around minute 37 builds up emotion roughly until the end. Emotion starts building from Sansa and Jon’s dramatic conversation to Sam learning that Daenerys has in fact executed his father and brother (with an excellent delivery from John Bradley-West), and culminating with Sam delivering Jon the news we already knew: that he is, in fact, Aegon Targaryen and the rightful heir to the throne of the seven kingdoms (with tension building up from around minute 44 to the minute of the revelation).

Finally, after learning that the Night King has already reached Last Hearth (showing off his gory art), we end the episode with another crucial and tense reunion: Jaime arriving at Winterfell and recognizing Bran years after throwing him off a window. The cliffhanger is visible in engagement levels but, honestly, we’ve seen bigger ones.

Image 5

Where do we go from here? We’re developing methods to take this data and weave it into both online communities and real-time video interviews. Using this kind of information, we can better engage respondents, or find ways to uncover new insights.

This can make our research more focused, and help us find trends and themes that help content creators develop more engagement, or help shows better advertise to specific audiences based on specific levels of interest in a demographic group.

But in the meantime, like Game of Thrones fans worldwide, we’re just happy be along for the ride as this epic narrative draws to a close.

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Bárbara Silva
Bárbara Silva


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