Whew. After a disappointing season premiere, it’s extremely reassuring to see such a phenomenal episode.
The interesting thing about A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is that it’s not an action-packed hour. This one is all about characters, finally bringing together the diverging subplots we’ve been watching for years into one emotional blend. It’s the perfect calm before the storm.
Let’s start with Jaime Lannister. The King Slayer’s journey has been a fascinating one to watch across eight seasons. Here’s a character who kickstarted the show with one of the most despicable acts of all time (pushing a little boy out a window) and who has now morphed into one of the most likable “heroes” in Westeros. Thrones has done such a terrific job of making us feel sympathy for the character by showcasing numerous sides to Jaime, particularly in relation to his bubbling romance with Brienne. That’s not to say all is forgiven, but it is intriguing to see how complex Cersei’s brother actually is. This week’s hour brings his character full circle by having him apologize to Bran (who isn’t really Bran anymore) and knighting Brienne (a scene that singlehandedly elevated this episode to greatness). If his story ends next week, it will certainly have been an unforgettable one.
I was sure the writers were going to carry on with the contrived cattiness between Sansa and Daenerys, so their scene this week was surprisingly refreshing. Thankfully, the Jon element is nudged aside in favor of something more interesting: Dany has no interest in letting the North remain independent when she takes the Throne. That obviously puts her and Sansa at odds and I can’t wait to see how the show handles this conflict with Jon stuck in the middle. Sophie Turner and Emilia Clarke definitely need more scenes together before the show comes to a close.
Speaking of Dany, she finally knows the truth about Jon’s true lineage. It’s quite revealing to see that her first reaction is to worry over the throne instead of their relationship; is the show planning on having her follow in her dad’s footsteps and go “mad”? She’s definitely been showing a more villainous and cutthroat side in recent seasons but I’d like to see something more unexpected with regards to her arc.
This is also a monumental episode for Arya. I for one found her showing off her dagger-throwing skills to Gendry pretty rom-com cheesy (much like the Dragon ride last week), but the sex scene definitely made sense from a character perspective. Arya has been through a lot after all – I just wish the show filmed it in a less awkward manner. Bizarre camera placement, choppy staging – I assumed this was to hide a body double but Maisie confirmed doing it herself. Weird.
But the highlight of the episode is undeniable: Brienne getting knighted by Jaime. It’s a tear-inducing sequence that’s beautiful in every way. Brienne has had such an empowering and noble journey throughout the show’s run, so it’s very satisfying to see her get due. It’s actually refreshing to have a female character become so kickass on the show without her strength being the result of rape (unlike say Cersei, Sansa and Daenerys). And as the cherry on top? She gets to be part of the most amusing love triangle of all time with Jaime and Tormund (who is just hysterical on every level). Who will she choose? Does that even matter if they all get slaughtered next week?
Bits & Beheadings
- You might have missed it, but the ice in the title sequence has now taken over the Last Hearth, signaling the advance of the Army of the Dead. Also, there are more constructions around the castle since the battle is almost there. I love these details.
- Goosebump-worthy moment: Bran uttering Jaime’s iconic line “The things we do for love“. For those of you who forgot, that’s exactly what Jaime said before pushing Bran off the ledge in the pilot.Wow.
- Lots of great callbacks this week: Sansa mentions how Jaime attacked Ned in season one, Brienne recalls Jaime saving her from rape, and Tyrion repeats his line about wanting to die you-know-how.
- Isn’t it weird how Sansa’s reunion with Theon was more touching than Arya and Jon’s last week?
- The little girl who looks like Shereen has to be the cutest kid of all time. I love how Davos and Gilly get her to “guard” the crypts. It’s both funny and inspiring.
- Notice how Tyrion overfills Podrick’s wine, much like the latter accidentally did the same with Tyrion’s glass in season two.
- Everyone getting together to discuss the battle in the War Room gave me chills. We’re so used to seeing them all on their own, especially the Stark children who haven’t been reunited like this since the pilot.
- This is Bran’s most significant episode to date as he gets to share quite a bit of mythology with us. We now know what the Night King’s mission is: to wipe out Westeros’ history by killing The Three-Eyed Raven. A bit anticlimactic perhaps? I’ll reserve judgement for now.
- Yeah I’m sure Theon is going to do a great job protecting Bran from The Night King.
- Jorah gets several great moments this week: he convinces Dany to forgive Tyrion, he finally bonds with his cousin Lyanna, and he gets Heartsbane from Sam. Guess he’s dying next week.
- I bet Tyrion and Bran cooked something up during their fireside talk.
- Missandei and Grey Worm make plans to go the former’s village (Naath) after the war and live happily ever after. That’s quite optimistic of them! I smell DOUBLE DEATH!
- Hey look it’s Ghost! He hasn’t made an appearance since season six!
- How great was the fireplace gathering? This could have been the entire episode as far as I’m concerned.
- Tormund’s story about the giant, his wife, and the milk was just hilarious. And notice how he calls Jaime King Killer not King Slayer.
- I wanted more from Arya’s scene with The Hound. I’ve also never gotten the purpose of Beric as a character so his interrupting them made me hate him more.
- Arya sure has gotten proficient with a bow and arrow. Remember her in the pilot? And I can’t wait to see her wield her new Dragonglass spear.
- Gendry tells Arya that he’s Robert’s bastard. What if he ends up on the Iron Throne?
- Seriously just look at Gwendoline Christie’s face after she gets knighted. It’s so moving – as if her whole life has been building up to this moment.
- The juxtaposition of Podrick singing Jenny’s song with everyone getting ready for battle was beautiful. The end credit version of the song is portrayed by one of my favorite bands: Florence + The Machine.
- Dany looks pregnant in that final crypt scene no? That would certainly complicate things.
- Love the final shot of the White Walkers setting theirs sights on Winterfell. The end is truly near.
Kings & Quips
Jaime: (about Cersei) She’s always been good at using the truth to tell lies.
Sansa: Men do stupid things for women. They’re easily manipulated.
Daenerys: All my life, I’ve known one goal: the Iron Throne. Taking it back from the people who destroyed my family, and almost destroyed yours. My war was against them. Until I met Jon. Now I’m here, half a world away, fighting Jon’s war alongside him. Tell me, who manipulated whom?
Daenerys: I’m here because I love your brother and I trust him and I know he’s true to his word. He’s only the second man in my life I can say that about.
Sansa: Who was the first?
Daenerys: Someone taller.
Missandei: My people are peaceful. We cannot protect ourselves.
Greyworm: My people are not peaceful. We will protect you.
Sam: Everyone seems to forget that I was the first man to kill a White Walker. – I’ve killed Thenns.
Sam: I’ve saved Gilly more than once. I stole a considerable number of books from the Citadel library, survived the Fist of the First Men. You need me out there.
Edd: Well, if that’s what it’s come to, – we really are fucked.
Sam: Well, calling you “fucked” wouldn’t be strictly accurate.
Edd: Samwell Tarly. Slayer of White Walkers. Lover of Ladies. As if we needed any more signs the world was ending.
Tyrion: It was all so simple.
Jaime: It wasn’t so simple. I was sleeping with my sister and you had one friend in the world… who was sleeping with his sister.
Tyrion: I was speaking in relative terms.
Tormund: They call me “Giantsbane. ” Want to know why? I killed a giant when I was 10. Then I climbed right into bed with his wife. When she woke up, you know what she did? Suckled me at her teat for three months. Thought I was her baby. That’s how I got so strong. Giant’s milk.
The Hound: (to Beric) Thoros isn’t here anymore, so I hope you’re not about to give a sermon. Because if you are, the Lord of Light’s gonna wonder why he brought you back 19 times just to watch you die when I chuck you over this fucking wall.
A spectacular character hour that’s insanely satisfying for long-term viewers. This is how you set up a big battle!