Greetings, and welcome! My name is Nicole, filling in for Ben this week with the ONLY Game of Thrones recap on the entire internet. Week to week he breaks down each episode of season 8, giving out highly prestigious awards, and wrapping everything up with a haiku.
Season 8, Episode 2: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”
In this almost interminable build-up to the battle with the army of the dead, things are getting weird.
With every character except Cersei’s ghastly cadre of advisors in Winterfell, the reunions have been spectacularly awkward. Take, for example, poor Jamie Lannister, greeted once again by everyone he has ever wronged in the realm. (In a pseudo-bonding moment with Sansa, Daenerys spends the first scene of the episode upbraiding him for murdering her murderous father.)
But the other thing about all these characters locked up, waiting to die, in a castle in the middle of nowhere is that, well, waiting is getting everyone hot and bothered. Old flames, new flames, flame-haired Wildling rogues—doesn’t matter. This episode is chocked full of furtive glances, gallows flirting, and desperation bonking.
Missandei and Grey Worm talk of a future literally anywhere but the North. While Jamie watches, Tormund tries to woo Brienne by telling her a story that ends with him suckling from a giant’s teat. (Because reasons.) When Theon shows up at the door, Sansa throws herself into his arms in a surprise fit of joy. And then there is Arya and Gendry, who spend the whole episode doing something that seems like a bizarre version of flirting, which finally culminates in a slightly jarring (but entirely consensual!!) sex scene.
Elsewhere, Tyrion laments that his days of patronizing brothels are behind him. (Pour one out for Littlefinger.)
It makes sense that tensions (and hormones) are running high. Early in the episode, Tormund, Dolorous Edd, and Beric Dondarrion—fresh off finding that grotesque modern-art installation (“Screeching Child of the Undead Encircled with Human Limbs”)—turn up with an estimated timeline for the Night King’s assault. And that timeline is tomorrow.
This reality of impending doom provokes different reactions for different characters.
Those not looking for nookie opt for reconciliation. Prodded by Jorah, Dany not only forgives Tyrion for making a series of stupid mistakes, she also tries to extend the Northern equivalent of an olive branch to Sansa. In a stilted but hopeful conversation, she and Sansa seem to make progress. But the lady of Winterfell ends that swiftly by addressing the elephant (no, not the one you’re looking for, Cersei!) in the room: what will you do with the now fiercely independent North when you’re queen?
Likewise, Jamie has an awkward conversation with the entity formerly known as Bran in the godswood. When he apologizes for permanently disabling the boy, he is greeted by the customary riddles.
The center of the episode is anchored not by riddles but two curious group scenes with way different dynamics.
The first is a meeting of the war council, which apparently includes every single named character left in the show. Up for debate is Jon’s suggested strategy of cutting the head off the snake: kill the Night King and, thus, kill his subjects. How will it work? Why would he expose himself in battle? Leave that to Bran, once again lurking in the literal shadows, who pipes up to say that Night King will come for him, just as he has all Three-Eyed Ravens, the embodiment of all memory.
In a touching moment of his redemption arc, Theon volunteers his iron-born forces as protection for Bran the bait.
The other group scene involves a roaring fire, barrels of wine, and the following characters: Jamie, Tyrion, Brienne, Podrick, Davos, and Tormund. 10/10 would watch again for the triumphant display from two unlikely feminist allies: Tormund Giantsbane and Jamie Lannister. After Brienne explains to Tormund that ladies can’t be knights, he utters words that would make many a knee weak: “F@&$ tradition … I’m no king, but if I were, I’d knight you ten times over.”
Too bad he’s outdone by Jamie who, as a knight of the realm, bestows the honor on Brienne right then and there. This is a love triangle I wholeheartedly endorse, and not only because of the look of pure joy on Tormund’s face as he claps for Ser Brienne.
Meanwhile, Lyanna and Jorah Mormont exchange unpleasantries outside as the young firebrand refuses to take shelter in the crypts during the battle. I mention this only because I hope Lyanna wins this, the whole dang Game of Thrones.
You may have noticed two characters I have said little about: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Or should I say, Aegon and Daenerys Targaryen. They’re kept apart for most of the episode, until the moment Dany finds her man in the crypts, peering at Lyanna Stark’s grave. Apparently having now fully absorbed last week’s bombshell, he springs the news of his heritage on his lover—and aunt. She does not take it well, justifiably questioning his sources (his best friend and his “brother”). But her reaction is cut short by the sounds of raised alarms.
The Night King is here, and he waits for no Targaryen.
And now, a few random thoughts:
— Beric Dondarrion doesn’t have a whole lot to do now that his hipster healer Thoros is gone, but he did come up with my new favorite euphemism for dying: “They’re fighting for the Night King now.”
—Everyone in this show is slowly morphing into Cersei. Jamie’s stolen her hairstyle and Sansa’s outfits are getting progressively more armor-like.
—Arya’s unanswered question—can dragon fire kill the White Walkers?—seems like an important one.
“The things we do for love.” — Bran, with the sickest burn of all
”So. We’re going to die. At Winterfell.” — Tyrion, saying what’s on the mind of every non-Stark character currently trapped here
“Men do stupid things for women. They’re easily manipulated.” — PREACH IT SISTER SANSA
“The big woman still here?” — Tormund Giantsbane, lothario at large, upon arrival at Winterfell
“I stole a considerable number of books from the Citadel library” — Samwell Tarly, in reeling off his masculine credentials to his Night’s Watch brethren
“I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old sh!$s” — Arya has the last word in a conversation with a pair of men who both made her List at different points: Beric Dondarrion and The Hound
— The “We Miss You and Wish You Weren’t Murdered in a Horrifying Fashion!” award goes to a character whose sunny demeanor I don’t particularly miss but whose absence was deeply felt: Tywin Lannister. Tyrion wishes his dear ol’ dad were still here to see his two adult sons preparing to die in defense of Winterfell. The look on his face would be almost as good as the one he had when you killed him on the toilet, Tyrion.
— The “Ridiculously Cinematic Shot of the Week” award goes to none other than Podrick Payne, whose strangely beautiful singing voice guides us through a montage of our favorite characters preparing for battle. Genuinely, I was verklempt when staring at all of these characters I love—and even those I tolerate—knowing that many of them will not make it through the next episode. Good job, Pod.
—Two new contenders take this week’s “Potential Spinoff Alert” award. I long for the future Grey Worm promises Missandei in which they leave this land of pale, frigid, bigoted people and make a new life somewhere warm and more racially diverse. Stay alive, you two.
And now, a haiku from Ghost the direwolf
Hello, it’s me, Ghost
I was in hiding, dummies
I could die any time
Who is on your Death List for the battle with the army of the dead?