Game of Thrones Recap, Season 8 Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Summary: Jaime submits himself to the judgment of the leaders in Winterfell. Dany takes the lead and brings up the murder of her father, the Mad King Aerys. Jaime refuses to apologize for what he’s done in the past, but pledges himself to the Stark-garyen cause and tells them about Cersei’s lie and the arrival of the Golden Company. Bran throws Jaime’s own line, “the things we do for love”, back at him, and things look bleak until Brienne stands up to vouch for him. With Brienne’s backing, Sansa accepts Jaime into the cause and Jon quickly follows suit, then exits the room without a glance at Dany.
The Mother of Dragons is still salty leaving the meeting and chews out Tyrion for his oversight regarding Cersei’s allegiance, threatening to replace him as her Hand.
Arya visits Gendry in the forge and demonstrates her skills with throwing knives to encourage him to get to work on her self-designed weapon.
Jaime visits Bran in Winterfell’s godswood and leads with an apology for pushing him out of the window way back in the series premiere. Bran awkwardly acknowledges the apology and assures Jaime he harbors no anger.
Tyrion comes across Jaime while walking the grounds of Winterfell and attributes his now-precarious hold on the position of Hand of the Queen to his misjudgment of Cersei. Jaime acknowledges the difficulty of reading his sister/lover, but Tyrion points out that he’s always known who Cersei really is. Their attention is drawn to Podrick Payne training new recruits under Brienne’s supervision. Jaime asks to join Brienne’s ranks in the fight to come.
Jorah visits Dany in her chambers to vouch for Tyrion, then encourages her to pay a visit to Sansa in hopes of solidifying one of their greatest potential alliances.
The conversation with Sansa begins successfully, as the two share an appreciation for questioning Jon’s clarity of vision and laughing about his height. It turns icy when Sansa requests sovereignty in the North after the battles to come. Dany pulls back, and they’re interrupted by the arrival of Theon Greyjoy, who informs them of Yara’s new hold on the Iron Islands and pledges himself to the Winterfell cause.
Davos is serving food to Winterfell’s fighting forces when a young girl arrives with signs of greyscale reminiscent of Shireen Baratheon. She wants to fight, but Davos and Gilly convince her to head to the crypts to help protect the rest of the women and children there.
Edd and Tormund arrive in Winterfell to give Jon an update on the Night King’s army. Tormund immediately inquires about Brienne.
The leaders begin drawing up a detailed plan of battle. They’re not optimistic about their odds in a direct confrontation, so the plan is to defend staunchly until the Night King exposes himself by making a run at Bran, who will be waiting in the godswood. Theon and a group of Ironborn are tasked with defending Bran on the ground while Jon and Dany stay near enough with Rhaegal and Drogon to intercept. Tyrion wants to remain in the fray, but Dany assigns him to the crypts with a vote of confidence in his intelligence. Tormund lightens the mood a bit and looks to Brienne, and Jon again makes a speedy exit without conferring with his Aunt Dany.
Tyrion asks Bran to fill him in on what’s happened since he left Winterfell so long ago.
Missandei makes plans with Grey Worm to visit the beaches of her homeland, Naath.
Jon and Sam are joined by Edd on the battlements while Ghost looks on. After some familial trash talk, the three recite the beginning of the Night’s Watch vows and remind themselves to burn the fallen.
Tyrion and Jaime reminisce in front of a fireplace until Brienne and Pod join them. Tyrion generously pours cups of wine despite Brienne’s initial protestations, and the group soon expands to include Tormund and Davos. Tormund tells a curious story about the origin of his “Giantsbane” surname, and the group agrees more wine is the appropriate reaction.
Arya finds the Hound drinking alone on the battlements and joins him for a drink before asking about his newfound selflessness. He reminds her that he fought plenty hard for her when they traveled together, and Beric joins them soon after. Arya confirms she’s removed Beric from her list, and leaves the two to drink while she continues practicing for the upcoming battle.
Gendry finds Arya training with a bow and arrow and delivers the weapon she designed: a staff with blades on both ends.
LORE: SYMEON STAR-EYES
Gendry tells Arya that Melisandre was after him because he was Robert’s bastard, and after some light interrogation about his history with women, Arya makes her move, wanting to experience “it” before she dies. They start stripping off the many layers needed for winter in the North.
Back near the fireplace, Tyrion suggests they might win, generating a good amount of grim laughter. To back up his point, he details the extensive qualifications of those gathered. Tormund asks why Brienne shouldn’t be a knight; Jaime asks Brienne to kneel, knighting her in the name of the Seven.
In one of the courtyards, Jorah attempts to talk his cousin Lyanna into falling back to the crypts for the sake of the Mormont line. She refuses, but wishes Jorah good fortune in the fight to come. Sam approaches Jorah and gives him Heartsbane, the ancestral valyrian steel greatsword of House Tarly.
Tyrion asks for a song to carry them through the evening, and Podrick steps up to sing “Jenny’s Song”.
LORE: JENNY'S SONG
Analysis: A third consecutive reunion tour episode, counting last season’s finale, but this one resonated most with myself and the majority of my Thrones-watching friends. Perhaps the impending threat of the Night King’s army lent a certain finality and urgency to this episode’s conversations. When long-separated duos met in King’s Landing in The Dragon and the Wolf, everything was overshadowed by the wight-in-a-box approach, and the farewells when they dispersed felt more like “farewell for now” than final shared moments. Likewise, “Winterfell” gave us big reunions, but they evoked more relief and caution than sentimentality; think Jon (or anyone, for that matter) greeting Bran but getting the Three-Eyed Raven in return, or Jon and Arya leaving much unsaid and concluding on the subject of Sansa. With an undead army on the doorstep, our characters were finally free to vocalize their hopes and fears and focus on the people around them. Take, for example, Tyrion and Jaime: reminiscing about their last visit to Winterfell gave them the opportunity to take cheap shots at each other and put to rest some of the issues between them, even joking about how helpful Tywin would be at a time like this. When they first re-connected last season, the moment was dampened by Davos’s absurd mid-day smuggling maneuvers and petty blame-casting. With those shackles removed, we returned to the funny, witty, and ultimately tender banter that has always made this show special (think Arya and the Hound or Daario and Jorah). The set pieces are often magnificent, but the dialogue and complexity of the characters have always set Game of Thrones apart.
Let’s talk about the battle plan before getting into the many individual exchanges we luxuriated in this week. Sansa has fortunately been hard at work preparing Winterfell for some time, but our heroes could really use a Robb Stark or Tywin Lannister about now. The plan begins with using the Unsullied as defensive bulwarks, which is a good start; their style and technique is conducive to defending against large numbers, and they’ve earned a reputation for being able to do so.
LORE: THE THREE THOUSAND OF QOHOR
After that, the Dothraki will..? Anyone have any ideas? They’re on the big table, but no one explains what exactly they’ll be used for. Meanwhile, Theon Greyjoy of all people is tasked with defending the Night King’s top target, who will be patiently waiting as bait. Also patiently waiting? John and Dany and the two dragons they command! I understand staying close to intercept when the Night King makes his move, but it’s not far in dragon flight from the battle lines to where Bran sits, and enormous swaths of directed flame would be SUPER useful against an army of wights. The more times I see the Stark-garyens making plans, the more I worry that Cersei might win this thing after all.
To avoid writing 10,000 words on the histories and meanings of each interaction, let’s run through the basic reactions and takeaways:
Jaime and the Tribunal – I’m not sure why Dany remains so upset about Jaime killing her father. She never knew him, and Barristan Selmy told her his sobriquet “the Mad King” was well-deserved. Dany is just super salty these days, and I guess they didn’t want to let off the gas in this moment. To be fair, Jaime doesn’t use the opportunity to mention the Mad King’s plan to detonate King’s Landing with caches of wildfire, but it gave us a chance to see Brienne stand up and vouch for him, which was both sentimental and effective. I’m just happy they didn’t drag this scene on for the majority of the episode.
Jaime and Bran – Seeing Jaime own up to the shove that set everything since into motion was unexpectedly powerful. Bran’s very Three-Eyed Raven response was easy to predict, but dropping the “the things I do for love” line was almost as great as watching him dunk on Littlefinger with “chaos is a ladder” last season. I don’t know how much of his power he’s using to eavesdrop on past conversations and verbally eviscerate his family’s enemies in the present, but I’m good with it.
Jaime and Tyrion – Not only does Tyrion get a chance to scold his older brother for pretending to be naïve about Cersei’s nature, but together they re-hash Tyrion’s preferred final moments on earth and joke about their weaknesses. It’s good to have these two back on the same side after so long.
Jorah and Dany – Jorah uses his influence with Dany to promote her faith in Tyrion, which is strange; Jorah has only witnessed Tyrion’s failures, and was a full continent away during his masterful maneuvering and puppeteering in King’s Landing. Still, it’s nice to see Jorah showing such faith in a former foe and rival.
Dany and Sansa – The less said about this one, the better. A brief moment of bonding over a joke about Jon’s height quickly dissipates when the topic of Northern independence comes up. The only way Dany could have prepared is if she read anything about the history of Westeros, paid attention to anything Jon said since meeting him, or picked up on any social cues from Sansa or other Northerners. Onward.
Theon and Sansa – Sansa is surprisingly excited to see Theon, but their shared history with Ramsay Bolton explains the fondness despite Theon’s treacherous past. I’m more interested to see my prediction play out now that Theon has told them about the Iron Islands as an escape route.
Jon and Sam and Edd – Joined by an oddly small Ghost on the Winterfell battlements, hearing Edd re-state the beginning of their shared vows, “and now our watch begins” on a dark wall gave me chills. Unfortunately, Ned’s response to Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy would fit perfectly here: “No. Now it ends.”
Jon and Tormund – Tormund may very well die next week, but thank goodness he doesn’t change. From jumping in front of Edd to embrace Jon to asking “is the big woman here?”, Tormund remains the show’s most relatable character.
Arya and the Hound – They still don’t talk much, but the Hound’s plain statement, “I fought for you, didn’t I?” when asked about his newfound altruism shows how far he’s come in terms of transparent humanity.
The Hound and Beric – Two battle-hardened men facing down their longest odds to-date (except for being resurrected, maybe), and the Hound has no desire to spend his last moments hearing about the Lord of Light: “Thoros isn’t here anymore. So I hope you’re not about to give a sermon. Because if you are, the Lord of Light is going to wonder why he brought you back 19 times just to watch you die when I chuck you off this fucking wall.” At least they can share a drink happily.
Jorah and Lyanna – There was never a chance that Jorah could dissuade Lyanna from taking part in the battle to come, but Lyanna’s “I wish you good fortune, cousin” is the closest thing to absolution he could hope for.
Sam and Jorah – Sam, despite insisting on taking part in the fighting to come, understands his limitations. Giving Heartsbane to Jorah not only ties off a Tarly family loose end, it puts a formidable weapon in a seasoned warrior’s hands and provides Jorah the equipment to notch a high-profile kill before all is said and done.
Tyrion and Bran – We don’t know what they actually discuss, but I’m including this one because it must has to be relevant. Tyrion singled out Bran to pick his brain, and something he learned will come in handy. Perhaps a secret way to defend or escape from the conspicuously oft-described “safe” crypts of Winterfell?
Grey Worm and Missandei – Two of Dany’s longest-serving and most loyal advisors share what are essentially honeymoon plans. This will not end well.
Arya and Gendry – I’m excited to see Arya wield the bladestaff Gendry made for her, but her decision to pursue something as human as sex in the moments before a great battle is encouraging after two seasons wondering if she had turned into a sociopathic assassin.
Jon and Dany – The moment we’d been waiting for ended exactly as predicted: an even saltier Queen Daenerys and three horns announcing the arrival of White Walkers. It’s a lame tease, but there is one strange piece of the exchange I want to focus on:
When Dany looks at Lyanna Stark’s statue, she expresses confusion at what drove Rhaegar to kidnap and rape. This has been the widely accepted story in the Seven Kingdoms since Robert’s Rebellion, which makes some sense; anyone suggesting otherwise would be eyed with suspicion and potentially branded a traitor. But there were and are houses secretly loyal to the Targaryens. Why, then, did neither Rhaegar nor Lyanna send any communications in the 9+ months they were on the run explaining the nature of their relationship? Even if no one believed them (they would likely suspect anything from Lyanna was sent under duress, like Sansa’s letter to Winterfell), they could let SOMEONE know they planned to run off together. For that matter, why run off at all? Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, but if she told her father she was in love with the crown prince and that she’d be marrying into the royal family, I doubt he’d be despondent. Rhaegar would have to do some damage control to appease the now-spurned Baratheons, and Dorne would be upset to see Elia Martell replaced by a new princess, but could it really have worked out any worse than it did? Unless something in the prophecy that set Rhaegar on his path specified secrecy, I can’t quite reason this one out.
The Big One
Most of this episode was fond final moments or teases of disagreements to come, but the small group around the fire made episode 2 stand out. Watching Tyrion pour Pod’s wine well past Brienne’s mandated half-cup and seeing his former squire smile appreciatively was cheerful. Listening to Davos embrace a new pre-battle routine and Tormund explain his nickname lightened the mood considerably. But most importantly, we got to see a wildling question the Westerosi tradition of knighthood, a human redemption story find a new way to exert his power, and a woman who fought to join a club she could never join be welcomed in by the member she respects the most. On the eve of a battle for the future of humanity, Brienne the Beauty was able to shed the uncaring demeanor she donned as armor and arise, beaming, as Ser Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.
Dragonflame Burn of the Week
Thanks for checking out our recap! If you need some more historical context for what you're seeing, you can check out our Game of Thrones Lore series, which details the history of Westeros and some of what we know of Essos. Check back for another recap next week, and until then, remember: just because someone thinks they’re smarter than everyone doesn’t mean they aren’t.