Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was the kind of episode that made fans like us fall in love with the show. Sure, the big battle that's to come next week will have its fair share of excitement. (It reportedly contains the longest-filmed battle sequence, beating out Helm's Deep from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.) But by focusing on a select few quiet hours before the chaos engulfs Winterfell, Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 gave us a peek into how our favourite characters are preparing for, well, Death, and in turn helped deliver a wonderful episode.
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is the perfect predecessor to the incoming hack-and-slash nightmare that will inevitably bring loss, something we, as viewers, will feel a lot more strongly given the (final) moments we have spent with all of them. When they are being hacked to pieces by the White Walkers or being chased by the Army of the Dead, we will root and wail at our screens because we know them, just like our friends. These are our six favourite moments from Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2.
Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”.
Undoubtedly, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) was the clear winner of Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2. After all, the episode was named for her: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”. At the outset, Brienne defended Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at his trial and essentially saved him, what with both Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) ready to tear him to shreds for what he's done in the past to their respective families.
Jaime wasn't exactly helping himself though his face was wonderful to see when Bran repeated his words from the season one premiere — “the things we do for love” — back at him. If it weren't for Brienne, Jaime would have likely suffered a worse fate than Bran. Jaime wondered why Bran didn't tell everyone else that he was responsible for his fate, but the Three-Eyed Raven simply said that the one-handed Lannister was needed to help in the fight against the dead.
Before he can aid in the upcoming battle, Jaime had another role to play in the episode. Sitting around the fire as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is counting the battles the gathered group has been in, Jaime reveals that “any knight can make another knight”, in response to Tormund's (Kristofer Hivju) boast that he would knight Brienne 10 times over, if he were a king, even though Westeros tradition prevents women from becoming knights.
Brienne is initially flustered and thinks Jaime might be having a laugh, but then she realises he's not bluffing. What proceeds is easily the emotional high-point of Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2, as we see Brienne emerging crying and smiling from the short-and-sweet knighting ceremony. (I'm not crying, you're crying.) Even though she scoffed and remarked that she never really wanted to be a knight minutes ago, it's clear that this means a lot to her.
As it does for everyone at home, given she's one of the only truly honourable characters still around, who hasn't paid for her goodness with death.
Speaking of emotional moments, there was that mini-reunion between Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), who has come to fight for the family he grew up with and betrayed. In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, Theon said to Sansa that he wants “to fight for Winterfell, if you'll have me.” The usually-reserved Sansa turned into a crying mess as she ran and hugged Theon, which is even more special and interesting because Sansa's reunion with her own siblings wasn't that emotional.
And that's because of the shared history (and trauma) between the two. Theon betrayed the Starks and captured Winterfell in season 2, even going so far to kill and burn two farm boys to make it look like Bran and Rickon Stark were dead, after both had escaped with Hodor, Osha and their direwolves. But Theon then lost Winterfell to the Boltons and would suffer greatly at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, being renamed ‘Reek' and being turned into a shell of his former self.
Sansa joined him at Winterfell a season later, after Littlefinger gave her in marriage to the Boltons for his own cause. Sansa pinned her hopes of escaping Winterfell on Theon, but he only ended up outing her to Ramsay, being Reek and all. But since she had no other options, she chose to forgive him, including for what he did to her brothers. (This was when she believed them to be dead.) Sansa eventually managed to draw out a little of Theon, who repaid that belief by helping to escape Winterfell at the end of season 5.
The new Theon has gradually realised the debt he owes to the Starks and it's something he's sworn to repay, as well as he can. In the first episode of season 8, Theon revealed to his sister Yara that Winterfell, where he was essentially a hostage, feels more like home to him than the Iron Islands, where he was born. Yara understood, putting Theon on a redemptive path that led straight to this week's moment with Sansa.
His additional promise to defend Bran with his life, who will be used as bait near the Godswood in the heart of Winterfell to draw in the Night King, is poetic given Theon was once happy to bear the Stark boy's death on his neck.
P.S.: A moment later in season 8 episode 2 suggests Game of Thrones might be trying to pair off Sansa and Theon, though we won't have to contemplate that awkward situation until after the big battle.
Game of Thrones season 8 made it clear it was interested in giving Arya-Gendry shippers what they have wanted for years with the tease in the first episode, and the second episode delivered on that front. First, we had Arya (Maisie Williams) paying Gendry (Joe Dempsie) another visit in the Winterfell armoury, wondering if he had made her weapon yet. Apparently, the Baratheon bastard hasn't really put the task on priority. Couldn't she have emphasised that the first time?
Anyhow, the two then begin to talk about the dead, as Arya wants to what they are like, what they are really like. Gendry doesn't have much to say, except that they are like... death. Wow, eloquent much. Arya then notes that she knows Death and proceeds to show off her dagger-throwing skills. That seems to be enough for Gendry to prioritise her weapon. Wait, was he putting it off because he thought she couldn't fight very well?
Gendry then brings it to her later down in the Winterfell crypts, where Arya is practising with a bow and arrow. It does seem to be a double-edged spear, though we don't get too much of a close look at it. Guess the show is saving that for the third episode. More importantly, Arya then starts to talk about the women Gendry has been with, asking him to provide the exact number. It's immediately clear where this is leading and that's exactly what does happen, as the two end up sleeping together.
Now if only someone could survive the coming war, get on the Iron Throne and then legitimise Gendry, so the shippers can have a proper Stark-Baratheon pairing. That's if both Arya and Gendry somehow make it out alive as well.
From the beginning of Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2, it was clear that Jon (Kit Harington) had been avoiding his love Dany (Emilia Clarke), given what he had learnt from his best friend Sam (John Bradley) in the first episode. Sam even asked him about it in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” and whether he was trying to find the perfect mo(ment). Before Tarly could finish his sentence, Jon gave him massive side-eye, confirming that well, he was clearly doing exactly that.
Towards the end of Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2, Jon went down into the Winterfell crypts again, only this time standing beside his mother Lyanna instead of the father Ned he thought he had. After he told Dany whose statue it was, the dragon queen repeated the public tale, that her ‘decent and kind' brother Rhaegar had raped Lyanna. But Jon, like Bran and Sam, now knew more than most. He then proceeded to tell her the truth, which clearly was too much for Dany.
She recoiled in shock, though her first thought — just like Jon with Sam — was what it meant for the rule of succession for the Iron Throne. How is it that both aunt and nephew aren't concerned that they are part of an incestuous relationship? Dany worked it out that Jon precedes her because he's the son of her brother, but somehow didn't strike upon the other meaning of this sea change.
They might have gotten to it were it not for the war horn, but the future of their relationship was hinted at minutes before by way of Podrick's song, which is called “Jenny of Oldstones” on the show and “Jenny's Song” in George R.R. Martin's books. Most of the lyrics — which are below — are original to the show, as the Game of Thrones creators revealed in a behind-the-scenes video. And they refer to a prince, a Targaryen in fact, who gave up his claim to the throne because he wanted to marry a common woman named Jenny.
“High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts.
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found.
And the ones who had loved her the most.
The ones who'd been gone for so very long
She couldn't remember their names
They spun her around on the damp, cold stone
Spun away her sorrow and pain
And she never wanted to leave.”
The show has never brought up any of this before, and we only know about the song's background thanks to Martin's novels. But once you do, there's a clear parallel to draw here with Jon and Dany's relationship, given one of them will potentially have to give up their crown for love. Of course, that is a big hypothetical right now, considering the threat that's outside the walls of Winterfell. But it's some clever foreshadowing, just in case.
As part of the song montage and Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 as a whole, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” provided various hints (and possible red herrings) for which characters might not survive the coming onslaught of the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead. Grey Worm (Jacbo Anderson) might be top of that list, given his position as the leader of the Unsullied. His promise to Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), that he would take her home to the island of Naath, further suggests that he is going to die.
Another soldier poised for death is Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), who was always fit to go out protecting Dany, and now seems especially so given Sam just handed him a Heartsbane, the Valyrian steel sword that he stole from his family home. You'd think that would increase his chances of survival, but we expect Jorah to take out one or two White Walkers before he is over-powered.
Meanwhile, Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) has clearly run out of his arc, and it's possible that Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) will go with him to the grave together. Though all Cleganebowl fans will hope he does make it out alive. Also, how is the Hound going to react once everyone starts lighting the wights with fire? Does he plan to stay away from the action on the frontlines?
And lastly, if Game of Thrones has taught us anything, any sweet moments such as Brienne's are likely followed by brutal, heart-wrenching ones. We really hope that's not the case, though (insert sad emoji here).
Did you miss him? With no dragons to spend VFX money on in this episode, Game of Thrones was able to squeeze out a piece of budget for Jon's white direwolf, Ghost. But he wasn't placed prominently at all in the frame and if you were watching in a non-ideal environment, it's entirely possible you missed his presence. He appears when Sam and Jon are discussing whether he's told Dany the truth yet, and then later when Castle Black leader/survivor Ed shows up to reminisce about the old days.
It's brief, so keep your eyes peeled.
Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 is available on Hotstar. On TV, it will air Tuesday 10pm on Star World.