When the runtime for Season 8, Episode 3 of Game Of Thrones was released, we all knew what it meant. An 80 minute episode could only mean one thing: the Great War is coming. Episode 3 would be the battle against the army of the dead, which begged one question. What could possibly happen in the second episode?
Episode 2 of the eighth and final season aired on Sunday night, and it left fans speechless. An incredible piece of television, the second episode, aptly titled A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms, finds us only hours away from the arrival of the army of the dead. And our characters must decide how to choose those final hours, knowing full well that the odds are against them, and that they will most likely die before the sun rises. There is a lot of raw emotion in this episode, many moments of despair and relief, joy and pain. There’s a lot to discuss, so sit back, relax, and let’s recap.
The Season 8 premiere ended with a hooded Jaime Lannister arriving in Winterfell. His tense arrival is only worsened by the fact that Bran is the first person he locks eyes with. If you remember, it was Jaime that pushed Bran from the window all those years ago, which makes things more than a little awkward. So, it’s no surprise that Episode 2 begins with Jaime standing before Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Sansa Stark, all who will decide his fate. And they all seem to be of the same mind.
“When I was a child, my brother would tell me a bedtime story. About the man who murdered our father. Who stabbed him in the back and cut his throat. Who sat down on the Iron Throne and watched as his blood poured onto the floor. He told me other stories, as well. About all the things we would do to that man once we took back the Seven Kingdoms, and had him in our grasp.”-Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys and Jaime have met before, in the Season 7 finale when Daenerys, Jon, and Cersei all met to call a truce. But this is very different. Cersei promised she would send the Lannister army, yet here Jaime stands. Alone. And Daenerys doesn’t know Jaime as we do, she only knows him as the man who murdered her father and helped the Usurper take her throne. And Sansa doesn’t see him in much of a better light. She seems him as the man who attacked her father in the middle of the street. Though it’s important to note that none of them mention Bran, because no one but Bran and Jaime know about that. But we’ll get back to that later.
Tyrion is the only one who tries to defend Jaime, which Dany doesn’t take seriously, as they’re brothers. But though Jaime admits he regrets none of his actions, he does tell them everything he knows about Cersei’s plan, and he does so willingly. He knew the risks coming to Winterfell, yet he came anyway. Doesn’t that say something his character? We think so. And luckily, we aren’t the only ones.
When asked why he’s choosing to stop serving his family now, Jaime says exactly what Brienne said to him in the Season 7 finale, that this is about survival, not loyalty. He looks back at her as he says this, and she can’t sit silently any longer. She stands before Jon, Dany, and Sansa, standing slightly in front of Jaime, as if wanting to protect him.
“You don’t know me well, Your Grace. But I know Ser Jaime. He is a man of honor. I was his captor, once. But when we were both taken prisoner and the men holding us tried to force themselves on me, Ser Jaime defended me. And lost his hand because of it. Without him, my Lady, you would not be alive. He armed me, armored me, and sent me to find you and bring you home, because he’d sworn an oath to your mother.”– Brienne of Tarth
Dany still doesn’t look convinced, but Sansa is shaken. She trusts Brienne with her life, and if she is willing to vouch for him, if she would fight by his side, than Jaime is welcome in Winterfell. Dany’s glare says it all, but still, she asks Jon’s opinion on the matter. He, of course, knows they need every man they can get. So Daenerys allows him to stay and fight, ordering his sword returned to him. But she isn’t about to be cordial towards him, which, we suppose, is understandable.
Tensions run high as they each leave the hall, and Daenerys is shocked when Jon barely looks at her, leaving without saying anything. He still isn’t ready to reveal his secret, nor is he about to lie to her. But Daenerys is not happy with the outcome of this meeting, and she’s taking it out on Tyrion. She threatens to find a new Hand of the Queen if he can’t help her take the Iron Throne from his sister, even accusing him of knowing that Cersei was lying. Things are not looking great for the Lannister men right now.
Meanwhile, Gendry is hard at work forging weapons as fast as he can, when he’s visited by Arya. There’s quite a bit of foreshadowing in this scene, as Arya watches him work with a certain look in her eye. But more on that later. For now, she’s upset that he hasn’t started working on her weapon yet. But he still isn’t entirely convinced that she should be fighting. He hasn’t seen her in years, after all. He doesn’t know what she can do. But when she asks him what the White Walkers are like, and he tells her that they’re like looking death in the face, she simply nods and picks up a dagger of dragonglass.
“I know Death. He’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.”– Arya Stark
With each sentence she utters, she throws a dagger at a wooden beam, hitting the same mark each time. Gendry laughs in astonishment, impressed and ensuring her weapon is the next to be made. We think she made her point!
Meanwhile, in the Godswood, Jaime goes to visit Bran. And the first thing he does is apologize, promising that he isn’t the same man as he was when he pushed Bran from the window. Bran says that he would be the same person if not for the fact that he pushed him. Pushing him from the window changed both of their lives. But that still doesn’t answer why Bran didn’t tell the others the truth about it. Of course, that answer should be obvious. Jaime can’t help win the Great War if they executed him first. So, Jaime asks what happens after, to which he receives this haunting answer.
“How do you know there is an afterwards?”-Bran Stark
Understandably, Jaime needs to go for a walk after hearing that, so he returns to Winterfell and runs into Tyrion in the courtyard. Jaime briefly asks him about Daenerys, if he really thinks she’ll be a good Queen, and Tyrion admits that he does. Though he made a mistake trusting Cersei. Jaime confirms that the pregnancy is real, but everything else she told him was a lie. He knows how it feels, Cersei was always able to fool him more than anyone else. But Tyrion disagrees, as do we. Jaime always knew what Cersei was, and he loved her anyway. That’s why it meant so much when he left her. It meant she was truly lost.
The Lannister brothers never thought they’d die at Winterfell, but Tyrion takes comfort in the fact that Cersei won’t get the satisfaction of killing him herself. He jokes that if he dies, and returns as a dead man, he might march on King’s Landing and kill her himself. He turns to Jaime, but he’s no longer listening. He’s staring off, outside the gates of Winterfell, where Brienne is training soldiers. So, he goes down and joins her, admiring how far Podrick has come, how well she’s trained him. Brienne accepts the compliment, but is visibly uneasy, so she begins to walk away. But Jaime doesn’t give up that easily. Not after he’s traveled so far. Jaime asks her about battle plans, how she’s commanding the left flank, hoping that if they keep a tight formation, they can keep them at bay. Jaime agrees, and Brienne stops him there.
Brienne: “We have never had a conversation last this long without you insulting me. Not once.”
Jaime: “You want me to insult you?”
Jaime: “Good!…I came to Winterfell because…I’m not the fighter I used to be. But I’d be honored to serve under your command. If you’d have me.”
Brienne is taken aback. These two have a lot of history, and they’ve suffered all types of trauma together. Considering where they began, no one could have guessed they’d end up here. But having Jaime truly respect her as he does means the world to her. And her respect means just as much to him. Neither of them are hiding their admiration any longer.
Inside the castle, Daenerys is visited by Jorah, who has some advice for his Queen. He advises her to forgive Tyrion. She’s shocked at this advice, knowing that Jorah himself had long wanted the position of Hand of the Queen. But Jorah admits that Tyrion has a sharp mind. All men make mistakes, but he learns from his. He will help her take the Iron Throne, despite his mistakes. Dany still isn’t happy, but if anyone can be her voice of reason, it’s Jorah. Which is why he also suggests she try to make peace with the Lady of Winterfell. As Queen, it’s her duty to listen to and understand her subjects. This would be a great place to start.
Things have been tense between Daenerys and Sansa, to say the least. But Daenerys points out that they have so much more in common than it may seem. The similarities don’t end with complicated families.
“We’ve both known what it means to lead people who aren’t inclined to accept a woman’s rule. And we’ve both done a damn good job of it, from what I can tell.”-Daenerys Targaryen
These words are not only kind, but true, which is why Sansa is so open to accepting them. But Sansa admits that she’s troubled by the fact that Jon loves her. Men can be easily manipulated by women, especially beautiful women. Daenerys understands this, she’s witnessed it many times. But she assures Sansa that isn’t the case. After all, she had only one goal before she met Jon. It was he that convinced her to fight in the Great War.
The pair are finally getting along, having an open and honest conversation with no hostility. Daenerys even takes Sansa’s hand. Sansa apologizes for not being more welcoming, and Dany assures her that she’s there because she loves and trusts Jon. She’s there to help defeat the Night King. But then, Sansa asks a question that the Mother of Dragons was not expecting. She asks what happens after the war ends, after Daenerys takes the Iron Throne.
“What about the North? It was taken from us. And we took it back. And we said we’d never bow to anyone else again. What about the North?-Sansa Stark
Tensions are starting to rise again when they’re interrupted by the announcement of an unexpected arrival. Talk about good timing. The two ladies walk into the great hall together, where they’re both shocked to see none other than Theon Greyjoy.
This is perhaps the most beautiful reunion we’ve seen yet. Yes, even more touching than Arya and Jon’s reunion. Theon looks to Sansa before he looks to Daenerys. He kneels quickly before his Queen, telling her that he rescued Yara, that she is taking back the Iron Islands in her name while Euron is distracted with Cersei. When Dany asks why he isn’t with his sister, Theon looks towards Sansa, tears in his eyes.
“I want to fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa. If you’ll have me.”-Theon Greyjoy
Daenerys is both in awe and in shock of what she’s witnessing. Theon may be loyal to her, but he’s more loyal to Sansa. And Sansa is openly crying, smiling as she rushes towards him, throwing her arms around him. They both silently cry as they embrace, the relief obvious on their faces. Neither of them would be alive without each other. They both survived Ramsay because of each other. No one can take away their bond.
Meanwhile, in the courtyard, Davos and Gilly are giving the people of Winterfell strength, each in their own way. Gilly is comforting the women who can’t fight, telling them they’ll be safe in the Crypts, while Davos helps the people who are fighting for the first time find their courage. But both are taken aback by the courage of a little girl with a burnt cheek. Of course, she reminds them both of Shireen, and she is even more fierce. She can’t be older than 8 or 9, but she wants to fight. Gilly tells her that she’s relieved to hear that, since she’ll be down in the Crypts and will need someone to protect her. The young girl smiles and agrees to defending them. Davos and Gilly smile at each other, but there’s pain behind their eyes. Young children shouldn’t have to be that brave.
The horn blows, signalling the return of rangers, and Jon rushes out to greet them. His prayers were answered. He speeds towards Edd, but before he can embrace him, he’s nearly tackled by Tormund. These two may once have been enemies, but no longer. Tormund lovingly calls Jon his ‘little crow’, and the relief on Jon’s face that Tormund is alive is clear as day. But the relief is short-lived. They inform Jon that the Night King and his army have passed Last Hearth, and that they’ll be there before the sun rises. Sam and Jon look like they might puke, but Tormund is in good spirits. All he wants to know is if Brienne, or the ‘big woman’ as he calls her, is still there!
Things are kicking into high gear. These are the final hours. This is the time to make a plan. All of our favourite characters from Dany and Jon to Sansa and Arya, Tormund and Theon to Brienne and Jaime, everyone gathers for this last meeting. They know they can’t defeat the dead, not in battle. There’s too many of them and they don’t tire. So, their best chance is to kill the Night King. He made all of them. If they kill him, the rest should follow.
As Jaime points out, however, the Night King knows this, and would never expose himself. Never allow himself to be vulnerable. But that’s not true, according to Bran. The Night King wants him. He wants to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven, and while we knew this already, we now finally find out why.
Bran reveals that the Night King wants an endless night, and to do that, he wants to erase all memory of the world as we know it. He wants the world to be nothing but death. And the Three-Eyed Raven has seen and does see all things. He is the world’s memory. Destroy him, and the Night King is much closer to his goal.
Bran shows them his wrist, where the Night King left his mark. He’ll know where he is, which is why Bran refuses to wait in the Crypts like the others insist. He wants them to use him as bait. It’s the only chance they have. His siblings are firmly against it, knowing they can’t leave him alone, but Theon doesn’t hesitate in volunteering to protect him.
“I took this castle from you. Let me defend you now.”-Theon Greyjoy
So, that establishes that. As far as Tyrion, Daenerys has taken Jorah’s advice and is insisting he remains in the Crypts. Yes, Tyrion can fight, but he has what no one else does: his mind. That’s what she needs him for, above all else when everything is said and done. His mind is his greatest weapon, and it’s no use against the Night King, only Cersei. As for the dragons, they’ll be far enough away from the Godswood that the Night King will try to kill Bran, but close enough that they can rush to his aid. No one knows if dragon fire will kill him, so all they can do is hope. Hope, and rest. They’ll need it.
As night begins to fall, the weight of the coming battle is finally hitting our heroes. What if these are their final hours? Or, if they manage to survive, what do they really want? This is the exact question that Grey Worm asks Missandei.
We all know and love Missandei, so watching what she’s endured so far this season has been nothing short of heartbreaking. She’s one of the kindest people in Westeros, and yet when she smiles and tries talking to people, even children, they hurry away, avoiding her like the plague. And we wish we could say it has nothing to do with her skin color…but that would be incredibly naive of us.
The racism in the Seven Kingdoms is real, and it’s not going to change overnight, even if Daenerys takes the throne. So, Grey Worm asks Missandei if she can see herself living the rest of her life here, if she even wants to. She admits that she’d love to go back home to Naath, so Grey Worm promises that after all is said and done, he’ll take her there. And he and the Unsullied who choose to go with them will protect her and her people. It’s this beautiful and loving moment where, just for a second, the two can forget how far away from home they are, and how close their deaths may be.
As darkness falls, Sam, Jon, and Edd stand watch on the walls of Winterfell, reminiscing of their days at the Wall. They’ve come so far, and lost so many brothers in the process. Now, it’s just the three of them. Jon tells Sam that he can stay in the Crypts with Gilly and Sam, to protect them, but Sam refuses. He was the first of any of them to kill a White Walker, as many people seem to forget! He’s going to be on the battlefield, whether others think it wise or not.
Inside the castle, Jaime and Tyrion drink by the fire, trying to distract themselves from the coming fight. They joke about what their father, Tywin, would’ve thought of his two sons dying at Winterfell, fighting with the Starks. It’d almost be worth the look on his face.
Things have changed a lot for the Lannister brothers since the first time they visited Winterfell. All Tyrion was interested in was drinking and whoring. Well, maybe just one thing has changed for him. But as for Jaime, he was sleeping with his sister, was cold-blooded, and cared for nothing but his family. Now, he’s fighting for a family that he once tried to extinguish. He has one hand, and much more honor. Perhaps things aren’t as dire as they seem.
As they drink to “the perils of self-betterment”, the Lannisters are unexpectedly joined by Brienne and Pod, who’re looking for a place to keep warm before the battle starts. Jaime convinces them to join their company, and as he does, they’re joined by Davos and Tormund. Soon, they’re all sitting next to each other, drinking, and of course, Tormund is flirting with Brienne.
Tormund: “It could be our last night in this world, you know?”
Brienne: “Yes, well I’m glad you’re here…here fighting with us! Glad you survived Eastwatch.”
Tormund is making all kinds of eyes at Brienne, and then he notices Jaime sitting next to her. He puffs out his chest, and the competition begins. Tormund looks him up and down, saying that he knows he’s called ‘Kingkiller’. Close enough, right? But Tormund is determined to beat that by introducing himself with the name he is often called: Tormund Giantsbane. And after seasons upon seasons of waiting, we finally learn why he’s called that!
“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 3 months. Thought I was her baby. That’s how I got so strong. Giant’s milk.”
He then proceeds to take his horn of…whatever ungodly alcohol he drinks, and gulps it down, spilling it all over himself without flinching. Everyone looks at him like he’s an alien, and truthfully, we can’t blame them! There is no one like Tormund Giantsbane, and this story makes perfect sense! Of course, it is Tormund, so it’s entirely possible it’s made up, but we’d like to believe it’s true!
While the six unlikely friends drink and enjoy each other’s company, Arya is shooting her bow. Not that she needs the practice, she hits her target every time! But she needed to get away from the Hound and Beric, who she just visited at the battlements. The two are spending their final hours drinking, while the Hound complains and Beric preaches. She isn’t about to spend her last few hours with them.
While she’s shooting, she’s joined by Gendry, who’s completed her weapon just in time! The weapon is almost exactly like the one she trained with at the House of Black and White, as a Faceless Man, but it has dragonglass tips at both ends, perfect for killing White Walkers. She flips it in her hands, throwing Gendry off, as she asks what happened when the Red Woman took him all those years ago. He tells her, even admitting that he’s Robert Baratheon’s bastard son, but that isn’t the part she’s most interested in. No, what Arya wants to know above all else is if that was his first time with a woman. And exactly how many women he’s been with.
Gendry’s visibly flustered, taken aback. But Arya is persistent, and eventually, Gendry admits he’s slept with 3 women. She nods and takes off her gloves, stepping towards him.
“We’re probably going to die soon. I want to know what it’s like before that happens.”
He looks at her, flushed, but only manages to speak her name before she kisses him fast and hard. Before we know it, the two are tearing off each other’s clothes, naked, and on top of each other.
This scene was a little controversial among fans. Some loved it, some despised it, but we need to remember that Arya is no longer a child. She’s a woman now, and she’s experienced everything else there is to experience in life. If she is to die, she wants to have seen and felt everything she could before she goes, and that includes sex. It wasn’t our favourite scene of the episode, but we loved that Arya took charge and that these two, who have had so much chemistry over the years, finally got theirs.
While Arya and Gendry have their fun, we’re taken back to the Great Hall, where our band of misfits are still sitting and drinking. And Tyrion points out that he thinks they could all survive the battle against the army of the dead. After all, between the six of them, they’ve survived countless battles that they shouldn’t have! The Battle of the Bastards, the Blackwater, Hardhome, etc. And not to mention the fact that Brienne single-handedly took down the Hound!
As they talk about the great victories, Tyrion calls each person by their proper title, as both Jaime and Davos are Knights. But he accidentally calls Brienne ‘Ser’, and when he corrects himself, Tormund is taken aback, shocked when he finds out that women can’t become Knights. He knows as well as anyone does that Brienne would make a better Knight than most, and if he were a King, he’d knight her “ten times over”. That’s when Jaime points out that you don’t have to be a King to knight someone, that any Knight can anoint another Knight. And that’s when you see it in his eyes, the makings of a brilliant and beautiful idea.
Jaime unsheathes his sword and orders Brienne to kneel. She scoffs, shrugging it off, assuming it’s a joke. But he’s not joking, and after moments of silence, they all realize what’s about to happen. With tears of joy and surprise in her eyes, she walks over to Jaime and kneels before him. And he recites the words, charging her to be brave and just, to protect the innocent. And when he’s done, he tells her to rise, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (which just so happens to be the title of this episode!).
As she stands, everyone begins to clap, and Tyrion toasts in her honor. She begins to cry, just slightly, and has the most joyful smile we’ve ever seen in the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms. In these final hours, as our favourite characters face certain death, there’s this moment of light and love. In this moment, we watch a young girl’s biggest and brightest dream come true. Even Cersei would smile if she saw this.
In the courtyard, Jorah pleads with his cousin, Lyanna Mormont, to stay in the Crypts. But Lyanna is one of the fiercest characters we’ve ever met, and she’s determined to fight for the North. She wishes Jorah good fortune, but he will not be changing her mind. And so, we add another name to list of characters who may die. But that’s not all! We also add another name to list of those wielding weapons of Valyrian steel!
If you recall, Sam stole his father’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, before he left Horn Hill. But he can’t wield it properly, it’s too heavy! So, he offers it to Jorah in honor of Lord Commander Mormont, who taught Sam what it meant to do the right thing. Jorah swears to wield it in his name, to guard the realms of men.
Back in the Great Hall, our heroes sense the end is near. And while they may be out of wine, Tyrion is desperate to try and lift their spirits, encouraging someone to sing. But while many among them are great warriors, none are great singers. Except for Podrick Payne.
Pod has always been full of surprises, and this season seems to be no exception. Without hesitation, he begins to sing a song titled Jenny Of Oldstones, a melancholy tune that reminds us how high the stakes are.
As Podrick sings, we see how our favourite characters spend their final moments, realizing that the battle will soon be upon them. Gilly and Sam lay awake, with little Sam in between them, sound asleep. Gendry also sleeps as Arya lays wide awake beside him. Missandei and Grey Worm share one final, passionate kiss before he heads off to lead the Unsullied. Some soldiers are scurrying about, making their final preparations, while some are in the courtyard, eating what may be their last meal. And among them are Sansa and Theon, who are spending their final moments together, proving yet again how close the two have grown. They are each other’s family, and you can tell by the look in their eyes that they hold so much love for each other.
As Podrick’s song ends, we see Dany entering the Crypts, where Jon is already standing, looking at one of the statues. As Daenerys links her arm through his, their intimacy shining through, she asks who the statue is of. When Jon tells her that it’s Lyanna Stark, she goes ashen. She had heard the stories of Rhaegar raping her. It is in this moment that Jon reveals the truth. Rhaegar never raped Lyanna. The two married in secret, and she had a child who she died giving birth to. A child by the name of Aegon Targaryen, Jon’s true identity.
Daenerys literally staggers at the news. When hearing that it was Bran and Sam who told him, she suggests that they made it up, that it couldn’t be true. But Jon knows, he feels it. And now Dany knows too. Her expression darkens. If this is true, it would make Jon the last surviving male Targaryen. It would mean he had a claim to the Iron Throne. Before he can respond, the horn blows, signalling what everyone has been dreading: the White Walkers have arrived.
Dany and Jon rush to the battlements, where Tyrion awaits. They nod to each other. They’ll have to put this fight on hold. They hasten away, no doubt to her dragons, leaving Tyrion alone to watch in horror as the army of the dead marches on. There are more White Walkers than ever before, all riding dead horses, and armed with fierce weapons.
And so it begins.
Though Episode 2, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, had no deaths and no battles, it was packed with countless incredible scenes. This episode was moving, emotional in more ways than one, and reminded us of how much our heroes have to lose. They cannot let the dead win. No matter what it costs them.
Episode 3 will be the longest episode yet, featuring the biggest battle in television history! So stay tuned, and make sure you have tissues ready.
The Final Season Of Game Of Thrones Airs Sundays At 9 On HBO.