“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” will go down as probably the most beautiful episode of Game of Thrones. For a start, no one died—no one!—which is rare, to say the least. All our heroes and most beloved characters joined together at Winterfell. It’s bittersweet, of course, because you know this is it. The battle is about to commence, and for some this is their last night alive in the Seven Kingdoms.
What this episode lacked in action, it made up for in dialogue. I can’t help but feel that every single word spoken held something more meaningful that we should take notice of, for it might just hint at what is to come. And while the men were preparing for war and reminiscing about better times, the women were the ones really wielding the power.
Ser Jaime’s return to Winterfell for the first time since he crippled Bran was never going to be easy. Only the two of them know that secret, though, and thankfully Bran is happy to keep it that way. For it is true: Jaime is not the man he was then, and Bran would never have realised his destiny as the Three-Eyed Raven without this tragedy happening. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (or weirder, in Bran’s case). Jaime hopes that Bran is able to return to some normalcy after all this, but Bran isn’t convinced that there will be an “after,” which—if you are speaking to a kid that can see the future—isn’t too encouraging I must say.
Jaime’s getting off scot-free for the attempted murder of Bran, for now at least, but it’s not quite so easy to get around Daenerys. And that’s understandable because after all Jaime did murder her father, the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. Emphasis on the “mad” though; Aerys had ordered Jaime to murder his own father and planned to burn King’s Landing (and all its people) with wildfire. He definitely needed to be stopped.
Jaime’s honesty about Cersei’s plans earns him some grace, but it is Brienne of Tarth who saves his bacon. Brienne vouching for him and explaining that he saved her from being raped (losing his hand in the process) was enough for Sansa. Her life was—in a roundabout way—saved because of Jaime’s actions. Plus, being a victim of rape herself, she would have appreciated his morality. Daenerys was probably hoping for some back-up from her boyfriend when she asked his opinion on Jaime. Jon didn’t look too bothered either way, but with battle on his mind (among other things) he decided the more men the better. 1-0 to Sansa.
“I always imagined myself dying in my bed, at the age of 80, with a girl’s mouth around my cock.” – Tyrion Lannister lamenting his possible death in Winterfell of all places
This calm-before-the-storm episode allowed for a lot of humour and a return to some brilliant one-liners from Tyrion (see above) which have been much missed of late. Dany rightfully berates Tyrion for his truly poor decision to believe and trust Cersei, but Jorah convinces her to allow him to remain Hand of the Queen for he is wise and she will need him. He also suggests that she needs to try to warm the ice queen Sansa to her.
Oh, how I cringed. This scene with Daenerys trying to make friends with Sansa reminds me so much of how I am with other women. Like me, Daenerys has never really had any women in her life. Missandei is her only real female ally. You may think this is because Dany likes to try to manipulate men with her beauty and power, and while that is probably an outcome of her friendships with men (everyone seems to adore her), that is not her intention. She just gels with and prefers the company of men. I get that Dany!
There is painful recognition for me in this scene as Dany tries and fails to win Sansa round. It looks hopeful for a moment, as they joke about Jon’s height and bond over their girl power, but it doesn’t last. As soon as Sansa asks Daenerys what her intentions are for the North, Lady Stark freezes over again as it becomes clear that Daenerys, should she win the battle for the Iron Throne, has no intention of letting the man she apparently loves rule his own home. Dany’s got a shock coming, and her hunger for power is not going to get her anywhere at this late stage in the game. Camaraderie is what is needed now and that is something Dany only seems to support if everyone is joined to fight for her.
Their awkward bonding session is thankfully interrupted by the arrival of Theon Greyjoy, much to Sansa’s delight. He reports that his sister Yara has retaken the Iron Islands and that they have pledged their allegiance to The North and Daenerys. 2-0 to Sansa, though, as he asks her permission to fight for Winterfell. Later, when the whole gang are discussing battle tactics, Theon volunteers himself to protect Bran in the Godswood, where Bran will be waiting, baiting the Night King to come for him. It is very honourable of Theon, but honestly, if I was as important as Bran I’d be asking for Tormund, The Hound, or even a dragon to watch my back. I don’t think Theon is going to be much of a match for a White Walker. Theon is definitely on my “won’t last the next episode” list.
Tormund, Beric, and Edd all arrive safely back at Winterfell after last week’s horrifying discovery at Last Hearth, where the reanimated body of the boy Ned Umber was strapped to the wall, wailing. It’s a joyous reunion for the men but Beric brings bad news. All members of House Umber are dead/reanimated, which means it’s likely that everyone North of Winterfell has also perished. There really isn’t much time left.
So what do you do on the last night of your life? Well, drink of course! Tyrion and Jaime sit sipping wine next to a cozy fire, reminiscing about simpler times when Jaime only had to worry about the fact that he was sleeping with his sister. Brienne arrives with Podrick, followed by Ser Davos and Tormund, much to Brienne’s social agony and Tormund’s glee. His crush on the “big woman” has not waned at all since he’s been gone. Tormund has got to be the worst flirt in the Seven Kingdoms.
“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.” – Tormund flirting with Brienne
Brienne wasn’t quite as impressed with this story as Tormund would have hoped. There are a few reasons for this: (a) it’s bullshit; (b) it’s bullshit that he thought she’d be naive enough to believe; and (c) it’s bullshit that he actually thought would impress her! There’s no doubt she thinks he has a fetish for giants, and that’s why he’s so fond of her, a “big woman,” which is a little bit offensive. But you do have to give it to him. He’s always treated her well, and he wants her but has never forced himself upon her. The Free Folk treat women with more respect than most of the wealthy families south of the Wall do, that’s for sure.
As this clan of warriors gather to drink to their last night, Tyrion leads a toast to the famous battles Ser Jaime, Ser Davos, and Lady Brienne have fought over the years. It becomes clear that Brienne is unhappy that she cannot be made a Knight because she is a woman. Jaime won’t stand for it and reveals that it doesn’t have to be the King to give Knighthood; another Knight can do it. This scene is my favourite of the whole episode. Brienne agrees and kneels before Jaime, tears in her eyes as her lifelong dream is realised when he Knights her Ser Brienne of Tarth. This scene is so powerful: a man handing a woman the power, in a room full of men, all of whom are jubilant and proud that this is happening. Tormund looks seriously aroused. It’s quite terrifying really.
Brienne and Jaime, though. This is true love, isn’t it? Not romantic love, maybe, but true love. What Jaime feels for Cersei is an unhealthy obsession and weird passion. Brienne may not be his type physically, but they click. They are both brave warriors, but with a sensitive side, totally dedicated to the cause and honourable to the very end. Do I want to ship this pair? Yes, I kinda do, but also no. Their “bromance” of sorts is one of the most beautiful relationships of the whole shebang. To turn it into something sexual could ruin it.
One romance I am definitely shipping, though, is that of Arya and Gendry. After spending a thoroughly depressing few minutes drinking with The Hound, and then Beric—both grumpy as hell—Arya decides she needs to do something more fun on what could be the final night of her life. She’s experienced a lot over the years. She’s fought and killed many men, learned the ways of the Many-Faced God, become a Faceless Man herself, but there’s one thing she hasn’t tried yet: sex.
She may still be a child to many viewers, but she is not. Arya is a woman now, and she’s not the kind of woman who messes about. She’s had her eye on Gendry for years (and he’s pretty damn fine). I felt hugely proud of her for taking the lead and holding power over her own body. Her sister, Sansa, never got the choice of who her first was. No, it may not have been the romantic setting most young women dream about for their first time, but let’s face it, the first time is never good. It’s awkward and messy and quick. But Arya’s was passionate, with someone she wanted, and on her own terms. In Game of Thrones you can’t ask for much more than that.
Lyanna Mormont is not a girl to be messed with either. And if you (I’m looking at you Jorah) are going to suggest she stays underground with the other women and children during the forthcoming battle then expect to be snapped at. That girl is going to go down with her army, and she will be triumphant whatever the outcome. She is the hero we all need.
So the players of the female variety really killed it this week. Cersei wasn’t even in this episode but she did manage to almost get Jaime killed/imprisoned and Tyrion fired, and to totally piss off everyone in the North. She remains in King’s Landing, out of harm’s way (for now). Sansa is becoming a better leader day by day. She commands respect, and I believe is as wise as Arya knows her to be. Brienne is now a Knight of the Realm and no one could deserve it more. Lyanna is about to go ape-shit on every dead thing she sees. That just leaves Daenerys.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Daenerys is strong and powerful but my respect for her is dwindling. She meets Jon down in the crypts of Winterfell, where he stands gazing at the statue of his mother, Lyanna Stark. Dany joins him and he tells her the true story of her brother Rhaegar’s relationship with Lyanna, and finally shares with her the truth about his own lineage. She denies it firstly, then loses her cool a bit at the realisation that Jon could just breeze in here at the end and take the Iron Throne just because he is the male heir. Yeah, I get why she’s annoyed at that bit. She is the mother of dragons after all. But he is also a worthy ruler. Can’t they both just rule together? As husband and wife? Aunt and nephew?
I’m not even sure that Jon wants the job. He’s the kind of guy who would agree that being a man shouldn’t automatically put him in the hot seat. When it comes to war, though, everything changes. How one acts out on the battlefield—who fights for their people and not for power—determines who should rule. But this is Game of Thrones and they don’t play by the rules.
Final thoughts this week:
Where is Melisandre? It feels about the right time for the Red Woman to return and stir up some trouble. Honestly, they could probably do with the Red Priestess’s help right about now. She is powerful and she knows she will return to Westeros to die. If she could bring back Jon Snow from the dead, she could be a powerful ally.
Who was the little girl with the disfigured face that told Davos she wanted to fight? She must have reminded him of Shireen.
Will we ever see Jaqen H’ghar again? My gut tells me no, but please, please! Let a man return for a girl, even if it’s just for one scene, one last time.
I don’t think Missandei is going to see Grey Worm alive again and my heart aches for her. I hope they can be reunited in a warmer climate and feel the sand between their toes again, if only in dreams.
What is wrong with everyone at Winterfell? Ser Davos dishes out soup to the people, yet nobody takes a piece of that delicious looking crusty bread! Pure craziness, this could be your last meal, people! Take the bread!
Tyrion and Samwell Tarly are the only two men who seem to have any faith that they can come out of this battle alive. The cynic in me tells me that both their cards are marked for daring to be optimistic. Or they really could be the last two men standing. The Seven Kingdoms would be in good hands if that turned out to be the case. I can’t see it, though. I am not convinced anyone will sit on the Iron Throne in the end.
We have a week now to prepare for Episode 3. Get your tissues at the ready for I have a feeling we are going to be saying goodbye to a lot of old friends. Brace yourselves; the night is dark and full of terrors.