Game of Thrones: Recap of Season 8 Episode 2 – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
We are back for the recap of Episode 2 of the final season of Game of Thrones. While I have read some people complaining that “nothing happened,” I found Sunday’s viewing to be excellent: brilliantly written with mounting tension as characters come to terms with what might ultimately be their last night alive. This episode focused heavily on characters’ relationship and growth, which I believe has always been the show’s strength and when it has been at its best in the previous eight seasons. Ultimately, what has made Game of Thrones so great is its character-building and its portrayal of relationships between those people; this episode was a fantastic culmination of seven previous seasons worth of dialogue, action and plot between our beloved characters.
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The title of the episode (“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”) clearly is a nod to Brienne being knighted (more on that later) but I would argue that much of the episode’s focus (particularly the first third or so) alludes to the redemption of Jaime Lannister.
Right after the title sequence rolls, we immediately enter in to Winterfell’s Great Hall where Jaime Lannister is facing trial, most notably for his killing of Aerys Targaryen, Dany’s father, but also for Cersei’s lies about bringing the Lannister forces north to combat the dead. The Mother of Dragons also mentions her continuing levels of distrust in her Hand (Tyrion) as he vouches for his brother. The matter on Jaime is settled when Brienne comes to his defense, which convinces Sansa enough to let him fight for the living.
A bit later, Bran awaits Jaime in the godswood, where Jaime attempts to apologize to Bran. Jaime is still shocked that Bran did not mention that it was he who crippled the boy many years ago, but Bran points out that they need his help in the fight against the White Walkers. In what has everyone discussing the foreshadowing of Jaime, Bran mentions to him “How do you know there’s an afterwards?” which is certainly a bit unnerving for Jaime.
Jaime later comes upon Brienne who is watching men practice sword-fighting (including Pod who has clearly improved) and he asks if he can fight under Brienne’s command in the war to come. This is particularly notable for the two characters: for Brienne, she has always wanted to be a follower and someone who is bound by honor to perform the duties set out to her by her lord or commander. With her command of a defense unit, she is now a leader of men and giving orders instead of taking them. On the flip side, all his life Jaime has been the golden child and the commander of armies. With his injury, he has become humbled and wants to fight behind and for the woman that he (likely) loves.
After Jorah convinces Dany to forgive Tyrion and continue to trust his advice and counsel, the Queen meets with Sansa to discuss their early discord. They seem to be coming to an agreement of sorts, only for Sansa to remind Dany that it is the North’s intention to remain independent following the Great War. Due to Theon’s abrupt arrival to announce his intentions to defend the Starks and Winterfell, the two women’s conflict is left unfinished for now.
Prior to the arrival of Tormund, Beric and Dolorous Edd Tollett, we see Davos and Gilly feeding the common-folk and telling the young and old to seek safe haven in the crypts when the fighting begins. This feels like at least the fifth time where characters have been describing the crypts as safe, which obviously leads me to believe that this is massive foreshadowing to some very horrible things that will occur down there next episode. It’s Game of Thrones after all; perceived safety and happiness seemingly always ends up being the exact opposite. I mean, let’s remember: every previous Stark Kings remains are buried in the crypts of Winterfell; as are (at least) presumably the bones and/or remains of Ned, Catelyn, Brandon, Lyanna and Rickon. I’m expecting some serious callbacks and horror to persist in the crypts once the Night King raises them.
The next scene involves the War Council. Bran reveals that the Night King will be coming for him as the Three-Eyed Raven (as he has with “many” previous Three-Eyed Ravens – which is certainly interesting given The Long Night prequel spin-off series coming soon to HBO). I appreciated that Bran explained the Night King’s motive to essentially destroy life and his goal is to create a dark, lifeless, end-of-existence world. While I’d prefer to have a more gray reasoning/motive (which I still believe GRRM will ultimately arrive to in the books), I am satisfied with this explanation of the motive, at the very least. Bran does not know if dragonfire will kill the Night King (which I’m guessing is a “no” given that it was mentioned) but between that and Valyrian Steel and dragonglass, that’s all they have for now. After some debate, Bran’s plan to use himself as bait for the Night King in the godswood is accepted by the group; Theon and the Ironborn will protect him (as I’m sure Jon, Dany and the dragons will as well). the group disbands throughout the castle.
A quick scene that I feel has not gotten much discussion online at all is that Tyrion stays behind to chat with Bran. Always the knowledge-seeker, Tyrion attempts to connect with the Three-Eyed Raven and perhaps requests Bran’s predictions of the future of himself, the war, Winterfell, the Seven Kingdoms, and ultimately life? The fact that this remains a cliffhanger leads me to believe that it will be important down the road.
Additional great character-building scenes follow, starting with Missandei and Grey Worm who agree to return to her home island of Naath after the wars. The three Night’s Watch men (Jon, Edd, Sam) reminisce on the castle walls of Winterfell and we even get a Ghost sighting for the first time in seasons! I truly hope the show didn’t blow all of its CGI load on the dragons; I’d love to see some heroic actions by the direwolf (if they want to be real fan-servicey they can add Nymeria and her pack of wolves to the fight next episode and I’d truly love it). We also find Arya, the Hound and Beric quickly catching up before Arya leaves because she doesn’t want to spend her last night with those two.
In what is surely the most fan-servicey part of the episode, Gendry gives Arya her custom-made weapon and reveals his Baratheon heritage to Arya. Wanting to enjoy what could be her last night, she comes on to Gendry and what started as mild flirtation in Season 2 resulted in a cementing of the Gendrya romance that ‘shippers have been asking for for years. I thought it was a bit out of character for Arya, but when you might be dying in mere hours, perhaps she just wanted to go out with a bang.
One of the pivotal scenes of the episode comes in the fireside chat with Jaime, Tyrion, Pod, Brienne, Davos and Tormund. Tormund provides his patented comic relief as he explains his romance with a giant in an attempt to impress Brienne. The group contemplates their past as they each had (at one point or another) fought against the Starks and now find themselves defending their very castle. They discuss knighthood, and Jaime declares Brienne a knight of the Seven Kingdoms. You can truly see the look of joy and honor on Brienne’s face as she finally achieves what she has always wanted throughout her youth and adulthood.
Prior to Sam gifting his family’s Valyrian sword, Heartsbane, to Jorah, we saw a touching reunion between Uncle Jorah and Lyanna Mormont. Despite not really knowing her, I was excited to see this “reunion” as Jorah offers her advice and protection, only for Lyanna to show her true, strong spirit in wanting to fight the White Walkers.
Later, the multi-talented Podrick Payne sings a melody from the books, Jenny of Oldstones. For reference from the books, Jenny of Oldstones was the wife of Duncan Targaryen. Against his father’s wishes, Prince Duncan loved Jenny, a commoner, and abdicated his right to the throne to remain with her. A tie-in to the current show’s plot, she brought a woods witch/prophesier (likely a Children of the Forest) to the royal court who ultimately prophesied that the Prince that was Promised would be born from the line of Prince Aerys and Princess Rhaella. This ties in perfectly in to the scene where Jon tells Dany the truth: he is the trueborn son of Rhaegar (her brother) and Lyanna. Is it foreshadowing that Jon may abdicate his right to the Iron Throne (if of course they defeat the White Walkers)? Only time will tell but it’s certainly an interesting nod to the source material. Dany almost refuses to believe what she has just been told, given Jon’s best friend and brother have claimed this, and because it would mean her right and desire to be on the Iron Throne would be quashed. As it appears Jon is about to reason with her, we hear three horns.
The countdown officially begins for what is easily the most anticipated episode in Game of Thrones history. Episode 2 was a great tease as it continued to build tension and momentum for the pivotal battle against the White Walkers. I’m fully expecting to be on the edge of my seat for all 82 minutes of next Sunday’s episode as every character will be facing life-or-death in every scene.
A graduate of Xavier University, Chris began his writing career as a Xavier Musketeers Athletic Communications Intern where he wrote previews and post-game recaps for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and other Olympic sports. He has worked in the sports industry in various capacities for over 5 years. Chris is a fan of the Xavier Musketeers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. Other hobbies and passions includes Game of Thrones and, as an Eagle Scout, volunteering as a Boy Scout Troop Assistant Scoutmaster. Chris was born in Baltimore, raised in Baltimore County and currently resides in Canton.