A Prelude To The End
Reunions, conversations, and pre-battle companionship. The second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season – “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” – is a quiet and intimate one. It’s a “Last Night On Earth” as it focuses on the characters and their relationships while the upcoming battle approaches. As we all should be aware of, Game Of Thrones likes to build up relationships before tearing them down. Along with our hearts.
In a more intimate episode, we primarily follow characters conversating and reminiscing. And yet, it’s still engaging because of how invested we are in these characters we’ve followed for several years. Even though the whole episode takes place in Winterfell, we still get the grand scale we’ve come to love about the show as several characters arrive for the big battle.
Trail & Error
We open with Jaime on trial; accused of murdering Aearys II and going to war against House Stark – both Sansa and Daenerys initially want him dead. When Jaime admits that Cersei never intended to send an army to help them, things begin to look dour for him. But it’s Brienne, the ever quiet and noble Lady, to defend his honor, convincing Dany and Sansa to pardon him. We then also get the Jaime – Bran confrontation we’ve all been craving. Although, much to Jaime’s surprise, Bran isn’t upset over being crippled by him. He’s accepted the incident as a defining point in both their lives. One lost the ability to walk, the other, to fight. Both wouldn’t be the person had that exchange never occurred.
Theon then arrives and explains how Yara is going to take back the Iron Islands on the Queen’s behalf. His reasoning for showing up without her is that he intends to fight for Winterfell and Sansa. He and Sansa then share a warm embrace – if she is willing to forgive him for his past wrongdoings, maybe we all can too (though I’m still bitter about Robb’s death). Joining the cause is Beric Dondarion, Dolorous Edd and Tormund, who’ve evaded the Night King, but warn Jon of his imminent arrival.
The Real Cost
Even when we’re not following our main characters, we explore the grueling effects of the upcoming war on the people of Winterfell. Kids are being separated from their parents; men, who’ve never fought before, are being armed. They’re just regular people thrown into a seemingly futile situation, outnumbered and struggling for resources. There’s even a heartfelt moment where a young girl with facial burns stands in line for food, reminding Davos and Gilly of Shireen.
But what about the current plan to defend Winterfell? They seem to be in abundance Dragonglass and Valyrian steel weapons. However, they’re still heavily outnumbered. Jon concludes they need to kill the Night King, whom Bran believes will be after him (like the other Three-Eyed Ravens). It’s at this moment we finally understand what the Night King is after: He’s intent on destroying all memory of the world. Bran plans on waiting in the Godswood as bait (with Theon’s accompaniment) to lure out the Night King, so the others can try and strike him.
It’s About The People
Most of the episode consists of conversations between characters regarding how far they’ve come and how much they’ve changed over the years. Dolorous tries to make fun of Sam, but Sam retorts that he has a woman and child to look after. He also adds that he is the first person to kill a White Walker in recent times, along with a Thenn.
Meanwhile, Jaime and Tyrion share how they no longer desire the same things as before. With imminent death by the White Walkers, Tyrion is glad he at least won’t die at the hands of Cersei (or will he?). Jaime also insists that Cersei was indeed pregnant, but who really knows if that was true, or if she was lying to him as well. There were some nice fan service moments too: Sam giving House Tarly’s Valyrian steel sword to Jorah and Greyworm and Missandei planning to head to the Island of Naath after the war is over.
The Conflicts Of Relationships
Throughout the episode, Dany seems focussed on the Iron Throne more than anything else. And despite Tyrion’s belief about Cersei sending troops, Dany begins to question if he’s the right person by her side. Even Jorah – despite how much he wanted to be Dany’s Hand himself– vouches for Tyrion. We then get a nice moment between Sansa and Dany, solidifying her commitment to defeating the Night King before taking the Throne. Things heat up once Sansa questions Dany regarding the freedom of the North after she is crowned.
Meanwhile, in the crypts, Jon finally reveals his true Targaryen heritage to Dany, much to her disbelief. However, rather than being dismayed over sleeping with her nephew, Dany seems more irritated that Jon now has a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne. Considering she’s always believed herself to be the last Targaryen, it makes sense this news is both shocking and upsetting. With the White walkers advancing, the Throne seems like an afterthought for Jon. But it’s clearly still a priority on Dany. It’ll be interesting to see how their relationship changes and whether it will have an impact on the upcoming battle.
Meanwhile, after briefly hanging out with the Hound and Beric, Arya chooses to spend her night with Gendry instead. After he delivers the weapon she requested, Gendry comes clean about his Baratheon lineage. Arya then prompts Gendry to sleep with her that night, as it might be her last chance. The two of them have always enjoyed each others banter and company, so it was a nice, very human, moment for them to be together after all they’ve been through.
A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms
Elsewhere in Winterfell, Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Podrick, Davos, and Tormund gather around a fireplace for a night of drinking and conversation. Tormund tells stories about being breastfed by a giantess, before questioning why women can’t be knights. In my favorite moment of the episode, we witness Ser Jaime Lannister knight Brienne. It was arguably one of the most emotionally triumphant scenes in the series. Lady Brienne of Tarth, fulfilling her dreams by becoming a knight. It was an intimate and impromptu ceremony on the eve of the battle which made it a much-deserved reward. But also the best kind of fan service in the process. Both characters have had an unexpectedly wonderful relationship built towards an amazing redemptive Arc for Jaime. It was also nice to see the Kingslayer, of all people, pledge to fight under Brienne’s command earlier this episode.
Even more subdued than the season premiere, this week’s episode succeeds in its attention to character above all. The camaraderie and reminiscing among characters displayed throughout was a sweet way to look back at all they’ve been through. It was also nice to see how far they’ve come before the end for probably many of them. With little narrative progression or dramatic reveals, there were some meaningful character and relationship payoffs. It was a perfect way encapsulate what this season is building towards. The episode culminates with the White Walkers’ intimidating arrival, leaving us in anticipation for next week’s big battle. Until then!
If You Missed Last Weeks Review, click to read about ‘Winterfell’.
Here’s the preview for next weeks episode:
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