TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 2 ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’


***WARNING!!! BELOW THERE BE****

 

Episode Plot: Jamie faces down Dany as Brienne comes to his aid. Tyrion faces Dany’s wrath while Dany and Sansa discuss the future. Arya and Gendry bond. Tormund, Edd, and Beric return to Winterfell bearing grave news. Brienne receives an unexpected honor from Jamie. A council prepares for battle. The Night King and his army arrive at Winterfell.

 

Review: If last week’s episode was all about reunions, this week’s episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” can best be described as the calm before the storm. Everyone seems to be enjoying a relative moment of peace before the dam breaks and there’s an overarching feeling that death is coming next week. We are about to say goodbye to some of our favorite characters (again) and I’m sure it will be just as heartbreaking as it has been in the past.

We start out with Jamie appearing before Dany to answer for the crime of killing Aerys “The Mad King.” What surprised me about this encounter was that Jamie seemed equal parts defiant and conciliatory. Jamie accounts for what he did to both Dany and Sansa’s families as a part of war yet pledges his sword to the defense of Winterfell and brings news that Cersei’s armies are not coming. I’d suspected that Bran would somehow come to Jamie’s defense but instead it ends up being Brienne. She’s the only one to really know what kind of arc Jamie has had and without her I think Jamie might have been toast. Jamie’s come a long way in terms of his respect for Brienne which makes his decision to fight under her even more poignant, as is another act which I’ll get to.

Dany of course is none to pleased with Tyrion and can’t believe he was so foolish as to trust Cersei. To be fair Dany is right and Tyrion’s been through enough wars, figuratively and metaphorically, to know that his sister can’t be trusted. At least Jorah defends Tyrion later on pointing out that he’s made mistakes as have all of them, including Dany. (Side note: I love the fact that Jorah will be taking Sam’s sword Heartsbane into the battle. To give a Valyrian steel sword back to the son of the man who helped Sam become a man is some nice symmetry.) However, it was Dany’s outburst and threat to replace Tyrion that really turned the tide for me as a viewer. For years I’ve been on Dany’s side but her entitled attitude goes beyond the pale. She’s turning into her father even if she can’t see it. This idea is reinforced later in her “peace-offering” sit-down with Sansa which by the end of the conversation seems like nothing more than manipulation. Sansa will not cede the North again and if they make it past this upcoming battle, there’s going to be Hell to pay.

One of the best scenes of this episode occurs in the Godswood at the weirwood tree (been a lot of these lately) between Jamie and Bran. The duo have had some of the more interesting arcs in the entire series and it was fascinating to watch the two interact for the first significant time since Jamie threw Bran off the tower. If not for that act, everything that came afterward may never have happened or at the very least would have turned out differently. It’s too bad Bran has to be a giant buzz kill suggesting to Jamie that there may not be an “after” when it comes to this battle.

Another character who’s come a long way since he sacked Winterfell and murdered two innocent mill boys, is Theon. At one time I hated him, then pitied him, and now I’ve come to admire him. Theon rescued his sister and came back to Winterfell to defend it when he didn’t have to. Obviously Sansa respects this as she embraces him tearfully. Despite his atrocities, Theon helped free Sansa from the brutality of Ramsay Bolton, something she’ll never forget. Theon steps up to the plate even further offering to defend Bran in the Godswood with the Ironborn when the Armies of the Dead finally show up. I can’t help but think Theon will die defending Bran next week.

Speaking of Bran being in the Godswood, it’s a decision that comes from the war council about mid way through the episode. The Night King wants to cover everything in darkness and somehow Bran is the key to that. As the three-eyed raven, he’s the key to the Seven Kingdoms’ memory. The confrontation between the two should prove interesting. Hell, maybe the Night King will even talk! By the way don’t discount the fact that Bran tells Tyrion his tale. If Bran doesn’t survive, Tyrion may be one of the few people who brings Bran’s story to light. The fact that Dany also wishes Tyrion safe in the crypts to “protect his mind” suggests that Tyrion has a larger role to play after the Night King is (hopefully) defeated.

What I loved about this episode was how everyone just a took a moment to enjoy each other’s company. They are all keenly aware that not all of them are going to make it out alive and want to experience life as much as they can before that event happens. Arya probably exemplifies this the most as she decides to make love to Gendry in order to experience the act for the first time. Arya’s very direct in this scene but it’s also a very tender moment in some ways which I appreciated.

There are certain times in Game of Thrones that warm the heart and Jamie, Tyrion, Davos, Pod, Brienne, and Tormund sitting around a fire drinking and reminiscing were some of the more touching moments of the entire series. You’ve got Tormund explaining to everyone why he’s called “Giant’s Bane,” Jamie and Tyrion discussing how they are different people now and would not want to go back to who they were before, and Podrick receiving a giant cup of wine from his former master Tyrion. Yet the defining moment of this episode and for Brienne of Tarth is when Jamie decides to knight her. “Fuck tradition!” as Tormund says. Has there ever been anyone on this show who exemplifies what it means to be a true knight than Brienne? Anyone more deserving of the honor? You could see how much that moment meant to her and Jamie as well. Not everyone in that little pow-wow is going to make it after this week and I’ll look back on this scene with fondness.

Fondness however, is something Dany may begin to lose for Jon. He’s standoffish towards her for most of the episode and for good reason. Again a significant moment happens between two major characters in the crypts of Winterfell, this time in front of Lyanna’s statue. There Jon finally tells Dany the truth, something she tries to dismiss quickly. You can see the emotions warring on her face. Jon is not just her lover any more, now he’s a legitimate threat to her claim for the Iron Throne. The fact that Jon doesn’t say he doesn’t want the crown speaks volumes about how he’s begun to perceive Dany as a leader. How this plays out is anyone’s guess.

Overall “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” comes off as a solid episode and probably the closest thing we’ll get to a “happy” episode for the rest of the season. Next week features the Battle of Winterfell and at 80 minutes this sucker is going to be a doozy. Prepare yourself. Winter is here.

 

Season 8 Episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” rates:  8/10 Severed Ned Heads

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