Trial and Error
Marieke: Yes, Dany, Jaime killed your father, but he was not called the MAD king for nothing. He was a proper little bitch towards Ned though. But that was past!Jaime. Now!Jaime has changed and the woman who has been part of that change vouches for him. Sansa trusts Brienne more than anything and so Jaime has a double back up including Ned Stark’s daughter, because of Brienne’s honour. Way to go! The brothers should not have believed their sister, but Sansa was right, neither should Dany. Yes, she has Tyrion to trust, but that does not mean she has no mind of her own. It was both nice and cringe-worthy to see Dany try to bond with Sansa. They do have quite a few things in common, but where Dany still wants to be a ruler, Sansa has become the more practical leader. Jon is also a complicating factor between them. If they were all to make it through alive, Starkgaryen Christmases are going to be aaaaawkward! Jorah sticking up for Tyrion was also a lovely moment. Whilst I am glad he didn’t, the image of Jorah chucking talkative Tyrion out of the boat would have been priceless. He is a loyal fighter, nevertheless he lacks Tyrion’s strategic skills. Owning up to one’s mistakes is something Jorah admires, and therefore he’s willing to let Tyrion have his Hand of the Queen position. Hopefully Tyrion going into the crypt because his mind needs to be preserved will bring about a bright idea on his part.
Danielle: Jaime does have a lot to apologise for, but killing Aerys and consequently saving the population of King’s Landing is not one of the things he needed to feel regretful for. It’s not as if Dany hasn’t had his actions explained to her: Tyrion was responsible for telling her about her father’s intentions to blow the capital up a couple of seasons ago. Furthermore, her Mad Dad was also responsible for brutally murdering the uncle and grandfather of the current Stark children. Her passing judgement reeks of hypocrisy. To that end, I’m glad that Jaime refused to bend the knee to the Targaryen Queen, and instead relied on the testimony of Brienne to get him out of that trial in one piece. Not only did she vouch for him and attest to her ease at fighting beside him, she also reminded Sansa that he was the one who armed and armoured her and sent her after the Lady of Winterfell in the first place after swearing an oath to Catelyn. It was a meaningful scene on so many levels, and a culmination of years of trust building between both Jaime and Brienne, and Brienne and Sansa.
In spite of Jorah’s intervention in the wake of Dany calling her current Hand out for believing his sister, there’s a sense now that any sort of advisement cautioning diplomacy is lost on her. Her and Sansa did seems to bond momentarily, but there was zero acknowledgement on her part that Jon’s ‘sister’ was asking valid questions about the future of the North. Her character arc seems to be lurching towards a clear representation of one thing: power corrupts.
Ghosts of the Past
Marieke: Tormuuuuuund. Scene stealer. He loves his little crow! ‘The big woman’ is always on his mind too! By the way, Tormund, Beric and Edd should know about the turned dragon. Why haven’t they mentioned him yet?? They did see him destroy the Wall. Edd, standing on the ramparts alongside his former ‘brothers’, stating that their watch begins was truly apt. This is what they have unknowingly trained for. Edd was teasing Sam, but he might just be a little jealous. Of the three left, he is the only true Night Watch member, not having a woman and such. It was lovely of them to remember Pyp and Grenn. Reminding themselves of their dead just before dying, possibly. Those Umbers betrayed the Starks, but the lovely artistic piece last week showed that this time them joining the opposing side was not a conscious decision. Now I wonder if they Night King would be able to raise the already dead beyond the wall. That big tear in the wall we see during the opening credits, is that letting all the magic through? Time will tell.
Not only the dead were remembered. The Lannister brothers had to discuss their sister whilst being spat at. They both feel a bit foolish at trusting her, but laugh about thinking what Tywin would say had he seen them there defending Winterfell, and Tyrion finally noticed that Jaime can also look at other women. Brienne didn’t really know how to handle Jaime’s proposal of fighting under her command. He meant it though. Now give him a dragonglass hand dammit! Jaime also sought out Bran, who totally Bran’d on him and did not really care about what happened. Possibly because it set him on the path to becoming the Three-Eyed Raven. Let’s see how happy that role makes him next episode eh? Anyway, the things we do for love. Or family. I also loved that Tyrion was genuinely interested in Bran’s story and wish we had seen some of that exchange. Here’s hoping that info will help his brain!
The Hound shared wine and memories with Beric and Arya, but the latter decides to not spend her last night with two grumpy, old men. It was nice that the Hound and Arya both realised how they’d changed, even though he admitted he hadn’t always done everything only for himself: Sandor may have wanted a bounty for her, but he did fight for Arya. Then there’s the tough little girl. That seems to be a Northerner’s trait. You could see she had more strength in her than the two slightly cowardly men before her. The look on Davos face said, ‘I WISH I COULD ADOPT YOU, SHIREEN the SECOND!’ or he at least had a lovely thought about her. Gilly’s maternal instinct kicked in too and hopefully the wee lass will actually be helping Gilly and Little Sam out. She deserves that!
Danielle: Tormund nearly taking Jon out when he arrived back at Winterfell was hilarious! I was glad to see human torch Beric there as well bearing news of the ‘wightified’ Umbers. I’ve always thought that he’d have an important role to play in the battle against the White Walkers in comparison with his book arc, so I’m poised to see how that’s going to play out. It was great to see the band of crows back together reminiscing about their departed brothers too. That brought a tear to my eyes. Out of all his deeds, Sam really is most concerned about stealing those books from the Citadel, isn’t he? He’s mentioning them often enough to make me wonder if a clue-like breadcrumb is being dropped here by the writers about their importance.
Meanwhile, even though their sister is thousands of miles away, Cersei’s actions still seem to haunt Tyrion and Jaime in different ways. The latter may have known who she was ‘but loved her anyway’, however he seems far more accepting of the fact that she’s a part of his past now, rather than his present and future; leaving his little brother to discuss means of murdering their shared sibling on the castle walls while he casts his eye towards a certain blonde warrior woman. Later, when he offers his services to Brienne as a fighter in spite of his disability, his half-finished sentence, ‘I came to Winterfell because…’ felt loaded with the subtext of what he admitted to Bronn back in Season 5 – that he wants to die ‘in the arms of the woman he loves’. Bran ominously inferring that there won’t be an ‘after’ in terms of the fight with the Night King when he approached him in the Godswood seems to strengthen the much supported theory that Jaime will die in Brienne’s arms, but at least he might do so with a clearer conscience now that the new Three-Eyed Raven bears him no ill will for defenestrating him when he was a boy.
I much preferred this quiet moment between Arya and the Hound when they shared a drink atop the ramparts. Their initial reunion felt a little underbaked, but this seemed like a much more fitting encounter without straying directly into sentimentality. I did enjoy Sandor threatening to throw Beric over the castle walls now that Thoros isn’t here to bring him back anymore, although that seemed a LOT like foreshadowing to me. As did the scarred little girl’s arrival in Winterfell requesting to fight. There was something deeply moving about Davos and Gilly coming across someone who reminded them of Shireen, the girl who took the time to teach them both to read. I did feel like there was something slightly off about the newly introduced character though, and have seen theories that she’s actually Melisandre in disguise. I mean, damn! If you are going to prevent yourself from being murdered by the man who threatened to do just that, then disguising yourself as someone who reminds him of the girl he thought of as a surrogate daughter is as inspired as it is cold.
Marieke: Arya fancies Gendry and always has. As a girl it was a teenage girl crush due to a lack of Westerosi boybands. Now, on her final night, she decides she wants to share it with him. She has become a woman, and at the same time, she has become a human with feelings again. Also that this happens at Winterfell shows how much that is a safe place for Arya. There has been a lot of fuss about this scene. Both Arya and Maisie are adults, but I guess her height and appearance still make a lot of people think she is just a girl. I loved that this was a consensual act, that there are feeling between them and it was the most tasteful GoT sex scene to date. Her face afterwards was up for interpretation, but maybe the coming battle was already bugging her. Arya is the only one who specifically requested a dragonglass spear and seeing her knife-throwing skills are fabulous (and totally a turn-on for Gendry), this might be incredibly important.
Danielle: I do get why some people might have struggled to come to terms with Arya’s romance with Gendry coming to an, *ahem*, peak. It’s a bit weird to see someone who’s grown up before your very eyes become a sexual being, but like Marieke said, both Arya and Maisie are adults. In a show where there’s been a lot of controversy about the presence of rape scenes throughout the years, it was good to see two people who are clearly into each other getting down to it, particularly where the woman wasn’t playing second fiddle to a man’s wants and needs. I think it also served an important purpose. The terrible circumstances that she found herself in and then her training with the Faceless Men did remove a lot of Arya’s humanity. It’s hard to care for someone who behaves like a murderous sociopath, but now that we know that she cares about someone outside her family (and that’s what I believe that odd expression on her face was in their aftermath of their pre-battle passion), we can reinvest in her safety as she navigates through whatever the Night King throws at them. Sadly, I do think this encounter has doomed Robert’s last remaining bastard.
A Song of Wine and Giant’s Milk
Marieke: Absolutely the best scene was set around the fireplace. The Lannister bros are joined by cold arse Davos, Brienne and Pod and a very open Tormund. He still lusts after Brienne, but she does not know how to handle that. Also a serious knight like her does not shag before battle. And a true knight she became: Ser Brienne of Tarth. Tormund cheering her on and telling to fuck traditions, because he would’ve knighted her ten times over had he been king. Jaime remembers a knight can knight a knight and softly strikes Brienne with his sword three times. Brienne has the biggest beaming smile EVER, and received all she ever wanted from Jaime. It was something he really wanted to do, and it was a very sweet scene which was full of happiness. Oh shit, happiness… Also, do not forget, right before we had Tormund explaining how he got the name Giantsbane. It is not a scene I’ll soon forget, especially as afterwards he charmingly drank sour goat’s milk from his own horn-cup. Oh Tormund, never change! Him applauding ser Brienne too. He is her loudest fan, Jaime her most quiet one.
Tyrion reminisces that at one point, or another, they all fought the Starks and are now there to defend Winterfell. Go figure! He also plays his own version The Voice without spinning his chair. Surprisingly, but of course obviously it had to be Pod with the right voice and song to heighten the melancholy of the final night before a big battle and possibly death. Wonderful.
Danielle: I honestly can’t remember enjoying a set-up so much as I did the one that took place in Winterfell’s Great Hall in front of the fireplace. Amidst discussions about their love lives, and how their father would receive them defending Winterfell, Brienne and Pod break up the cosy Lannister brother chat, and once again Jaime demonstrates that he has the flirting skills of a particularly nervous teenager, pulling up a chair for the woman he quite clearly has feelings for. Tormund has his own means of wooing the ‘big woman’ however, divulging how he suckled at the ‘teat’ of the wife of the giant he’d just killed, before messily downing the goat’s milk he’s brought with him to the impromptu ‘party’. Brienne isn’t particularly impressed, but Jaime does take note of how she responds to this kind of courting and later, when Tormund declares that he’d have knighted her ten times over, he does take the initiative and do the deed itself. The whole ceremony was beautiful: Brienne’s hesitance to believe that it was actually going to happen and her jubilation as she was instructed to arise as a knight, to Tormund’s little clap at the end that pulled Jaime out of his fervent admiration of this woman and what, dare I say, looked a lot like the moment that he realised he was madly in love with her.
It was easily the most romantic scene we’ve ever witnessed on the show, so it’s hardly surprising that many are wary that they’ll have to be some kind of karmic reckoning to readdress a moment so full to the brim with happiness. Whilst it’s left many convinced that Brienne is now a goner, I don’t believe that becoming a knight is the peak of her character arc. Yes, she craved the recognition from those who mocked her for her appearance and having the tenacity to believe she could be a warrior, but from her conversations with Pod about her childhood in earlier seasons and her love of Renly, it’s clear that she’s always been a romantic at heart under all that armour. Rather than her being in danger of not making it through the Battle of Winterfell, I fear her squire may have sung his own swansong.
Battle Lines Drawn
Marieke: Northerners look down on Grey Worm and Missandei. It is not necessarily the cold making them feel unwelcome, it’s the people. I would love to see them together on the beaches of Naath, but by now we should now better. GoT touches very lightly on the racism they experience, and had there not been a bloody undead army at the gates, it would have been more interesting to explore. The Night King, however, only discriminates between the dead and the living, the day and the night. I am pretty sure Naath beaches are not nice at night.
Sam cannot wield Heartsbane, awww. He would fall over, wouldn’t he? Jorah is a knight fit for that sword. Valyrian steel too. As I think the knight might bite the dust, the sword dwindles those odds a little, and Sam will protect his family in his own way. The crypts are supposed to be totally safe. Can the Night King raise the dead there? Or is there some sort of secret entrance everyone forgets about? Or maybe they actually have easy access anyway. The crypts have been mentioned so often they are going to play a role (maaaaybe a teaser trailer made us think that too). Then the bombshell fell. Rhaegar is not a rapist, loved Lyanna and Jon is their son, Aegon. Dany quickly makes out that Jon has a better claim to the throne than her. Banging whilst related really does not bother full Targaryens does it? This news changes everything between them, but then, three horn blows. Discussion regarding claims to the Iron Thrones has to be put on hold… The dead have arrived!
Danielle: I found the conversation between Grey Worm and Missandei about not just failing to feel like they belong in the North, but also Westeros as a whole, really interesting. The plan is to fight all of Dany’s battles for her, install her on the throne and then beat a hasty retreat to Missandei’s home to restore some sort of order there with the help of the Unsullied. Does anybody else get the impression that their Queen won’t necessarily go for that, even if they do manage to beat both the Night King and Cersei?
All this talk about the Crypts, eh? It’s almost as if they aren’t the safest place to be after all, what with all those dead Starks down there. As terrifying as it would be, seeing the Night King raise the Kings of Winter really would be something. I do worry for all the characters down there as well, not least of all Tyrion, Sansa and Varys. It’s hard to imagine all three of them getting out of there alive should the threat be realised. At least young Lady Lyanna Mormont seems to have actually improved her chances of survival by refusing to hide down there with the other women and children. I do feel like her kin, Jorah, is in deep, deep trouble however, in spite of the fact that he’s now wielding House Tarly’s ancestral sword. Let’s hope that Heartsbane lives up to its name and that Ser Jorah gets to go down in glory, at getting a pop at the Night King before his seemingly inevitable demise.
There may be a hell of a lot of trouble ahead now that Dany knows the truth of Jon/Aegon’s parentage, and that he has the better claim to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Bearing in mind that she described the fight against the White Walkers as Jon’s war to Sansa, it’ll be interesting to see if these new revelations affect how she fights this upcoming battle. Twice we saw her top about to blow in this episode, and that Targ madness threaten to seep out when her absolute power is challenged, only for interruptions to force her to rein herself back in. We’re in very interesting territory…
Marieke: This is it. The episode that makes you reminisce, smile, feel a little comfy, peaceful. And then they are going to rip our hearts out and makes us weep for the characters we are going to lose. We are going to miss the connections established in this episode. We witnessed journeys, changes, other deaths, growth, love. The Night King does not care about any of those. Buy loads of tissues, next episode is truly going to hurt. Make it a little worse and rewatch this one and then rip the band-aid off Sunday/Monday.
Danielle: For a show that’s set a rip-roaring pace for the last couple of seasons, this character-driven calm before the storm was as surprising as it was welcome. Bryan Cogman has described ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ as a ‘love letter’ to the characters he cares so much about, and there doesn’t seem like a more fitting description. Funny, profound and considered, we’re unlikely to see it’s like again as we head into the show’s back stretch.
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What did you think of ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’? Let us know in the comments…