Game of Thrones slows down and revels in its united cast for the second episode of its final run
Season 8, Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Original air date: 21/04/19
Directed by: David Nutter
Written by: Bryan Cogman
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Kristofer Hivju, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen & Hannah Murray
Game of Thrones is really enjoying its characters this week, as the single location of Winterfell allows some great character moments throughout the second hour of Season 8. Some of these characters, like Jaime and Brienne, haven’t interacted in a meaningful way in years, and some characters haven’t even met before, like Dany and Jaime. It sets up a delightful hour of entertainment, where the writers focus themselves more upon character development as some characters reach the end of their arcs, than the big action pieces that Game of Thrones is known for and perhaps we were expecting. I must say, I expected for a lot more of the episode to be dedicated towards the defeat of the Night King/culling of characters than eventually came to pass.
Instead, this episode takes place over one seemingly timeless evening as the inhabitants of Winterfell (which, at this stage, is pretty much the entire main cast with the exception of Cersei and Bronn) gather together to engage in wistful rumination in the face of impending death.
This episode is very limited, therefore, in what actually happens and is more just us watching and enjoying our characters before, presumably, all hell breaks loose.
Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) making some interesting decisions this season. Having her separated from the vast majority of the main cast has reduced some of her more headstrong and stubborn qualities, but they are at the fore during this episode. She is initially in favour of not trusting Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and waxes lyrical about his betrayal of her father the Mad King. She is also terse with her Hand Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), berating him for his errors of judgement (of which there have been plenty) while he has been counselling her. It’s only speaking to Jorah (Iain Glen) that persuades her to relax on Tyrion, as well as make amends with Sansa (Sophie Turner). It’s very apparent, however, that Dany is unsure what will happen with the North once the Iron Throne has been won, regardless of the alliance she has with Jon (Kit Harington). Dany again seems unpredictable when she finds Jon in the crypt and he reveals to her his true parentage, making him the male heir to the Iron Throne. Uh-oh…
Elsewhere, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) sits drinking and enduring the slightly bizarre stories of Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) when she is asked why she is not a knight. Brienne responds that it is tradition that women cannot become knights. Jaime reveals that any knight has the ability to knight somebody else, and asks Brienne to kneel. What began as a joking conversation is fast becoming something entirely different. Clearly affected, Brienne kneels in front of Jaime as he makes her a knight. You can see the armour that Brienne has metaphorically strip away and she smiles, with tears in her eyes, looking the happiest she’s ever been at the accolade she thought would never come to pass…
I’m still unsure how to refer to Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) these days. He’s hardly the same character he was before becoming the Three Eyed Raven, and now pretty much exists to be a human buzzkill. He is delightfully creepy towards Jaime at the beginning of the episode, by creepily stating “The things we do for love” when Jaime is defending his actions in service of his own house. Their actual conversation comes later, when Jaime comes to speak to Bran in the Godswood. He apologises for his actions, stating that he isn’t the same person that he was when he did that. Bran points out that without that action, Jaime would still be that man, and Bran would still be how he used to be. It’s a valid point. It was sort of the igniting point that has changed them both in some way, though you would have thought that Bran would be a little bit peeved that it led indirectly to the death of his parents and two of his brothers. Nevertheless, as predicted, Bran has no ill feeling towards Jaime – as he is pretty much immune to emotion at this point. Another takeaway from this episode is that Bran agrees to stay in the Godswood as bait to draw the Night King out of hiding to kill him, therefore enabling Theon (Alfie Allen) to dispose of the Night King.
Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to interact with Gendry (Joe Dempsie). She insists with him about making a weapon for her to fight the White Walkers. Originally, he doesn’t want to make her one, but once she demonstrates her ability by dramatically throwing daggers at a post, he relents and makes her a spear that she can use. Arya then quizzes Gendry on his past with women, revealing that she doesn’t want to die without knowing what it is like. Consequently, the pair have sex, with Arya possibly showing the least arousing manner by proclaiming “I’m not the Red Woman, take off your own bloody pants”. Charming.
Arya is once again the Queen of sass in this episode, proclaiming to the Hound and Beric that she doesn’t want to spend her last moments with “you two miserable old shits”, as well as being acerbic to Gendry pre-coitus.
Much as I enjoy sassy energy, it would be nice for Arya to drop this front once in a while. We get it, she’s been through a lot – as have all of our characters – but that doesn’t mean that she can never drop it around her family or those that she values.
Dany’s response to Jon’s revelation was vaguely amusing. It is quite convenient how Jon’s brother and best friend told him about his true heritage. If I lived in a time before ancestry DNA, I would probably be equally as sceptical.
Tormund tells a delightful story about murdering a giant when he was a child, before suckling from his wife’s teat when he was only 10 years old, accounting for his intense strength. What made it even more amusing was his prompt guzzling from his horn, replete with slurps and spills.
It was nice to see Jorah doing something purposeful this episode, and to have Dany actually listen to his sage advice.
Lady Mormont has got absolutely no time for any nonsense. She is a gem and I love her, but I do fear that she’s no match for the White Walkers, which is a shame.
Missandei and Grey Worm talking about leaving after the war is over was really sweet.
So Gilly has finally turned up and we even got a sight of baby Sam. However, her contribution to the plot was pretty much saying that she’s going to be sat in the crypt doing nothing during the fight. Will she ever do anything of consequence?
Missandei and Grey Worm planning their future pretty much guarantees that one of them will end up dying before the end.
Dany is definitely showing her true colours this season. Her entire journey has been about her claim to the throne, so rightfully she should be showing due deference to Jon in this scenario. He is definitely more in line than her, but she has definitely started to view the throne as her particular right and her destiny. She is not going to give it up without a fight.
I think I might have to change my prediction about Sansa. She is such an able Queen of the North, and it would be a shame for her journey to end with an unceremonious killing at the hand of a soldier. Justice for Sansa.
Theon’s volunteering to protect Bran will only end in his death, I predict.
I was very fond of this episode. As most of my reviews show, I am a sucker for character development – and it’s a sage move by the writers to make us wait like this. After all, it’s probably going to hurt much more when they kill of a character we’ve become particularly attached to. I hope that next week will deal with the defeat of the White Walkers, before we can then turn out attention towards the fight for the Iron Throne afterwards, but it is no doubt foolish of me to assume the White Walkers will be so easily defeated.
Jaime LannisterDaenerys Targaryen
Davos SeaworthArya Stark
Brienne of Tarth
Okay so everyone is still alive. But, it looks like a total shitstorm is coming next week, so I’m just going to clutch this list to my chest just in case.
Tune in next week for another review of Game of Thrones‘ final season.