So here’s where we’re at in Game of Thrones: Winterfell, with an interminable night about to descend on the castle. There are men sparring in the courtyard, preparing for the battle ahead, and women and children gathering their provisions and preparing to hunker down in the crypt.
But before the big battle, there’s a lot of emotional business to attend to. This week’s episode, which took place exclusively in the North, opened with Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark reminding Jaime Lannister of the wrongs he perpetrated on their families (seemingly speaking for everyone watching this show, whose memories seem to last longer than that of, say, Brienne of Tarth). Later, Sansa and Daenerys have a little tête-à-tête, perhaps the most extensive conversation between two women in power about their power on the show so far. “We both know what it’s like to lead people who aren’t inclined to accept a woman’s rule,” Daenerys says to Sansa. This should unite them, she says; instead, Jon Snow—Sansa’s not-really-brother, Daenerys’s nephew (not that either of them know this)—has hammered a wedge between them. (“Men do stupid things for women,” Sansa tells Dany.)
But here’s the thing: No one died this week. (Unlike last week, which saw the demise of Ned Umber and the resulting reunion of the surviving Night’s Watchmen.) Instead, we were treated to one long-anticipated hookup (the impending end of the world made everyone very horny), an unexpected knighting, and this sisterly heart-to-heart. Here’s how everyone and their emotional baggage played out in Episode 2 of the final season.
Brienne of Tarth
Men may come and go, but knighthood is forever.
The Night King
He’s the only one who’s managed not to get political.
True to his word, Theon came back to defend Winterfell. Sansa welcomed him wholeheartedly; despite his prior betrayal, he did, after all, prove his worth in helping her escape Ramsay Bolton. Certainly an improvement over last week’s sock in the face, no?
Bran continued to oh-so-subtly remind Jaime of their initial encounter many years ago, when Jaime pushed Bran out the tower window, paralyzing him and setting him on his trajectory towards ravendom: “The things we do for love,” he said, repeating what Jaime had said at the time. Jaime looked vaguely perturbed; no one else seemed to notice. Maybe, after a little while, you just get used to Bran being Bran.
Instead, talk quickly turned to how Bran is sort of Night King catnip. After the leader of the Army of the Dead left his mark on the young Stark several seasons ago, he’s been able to track Bran’s location, making him a kind of bait. But Bran is also a kind of foil to the Night King: “He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory,” he said. Is there, perhaps, anything to that Night King theory that has plagued Isaac Hempstead-Wright?
Still flirting, still blacksmithing. It’s working for him, even if he has to take off his own pants.
Missandei and Greyworm
Just get these two romantics a nice beach honeymoon, please.
Honestly, good for Arya, setting her sights on what she wants and getting it. And good for Arya, getting laid before the end of the world. (Even if it was… in the crypt. And even if her version of flirting seems to be… asking Gendry about his past conquests. We should cut her a break; she hasn’t done this before.)
Has a set of pipes, it turns out. Almost as good as Florence Welch.
Not even in this episode; still managed to outplay both her brothers.
Tormund would knight Brienne; Jaime went ahead and did it.
Still the best kid on this show.
Jon Snow is once again “Warden of the North”—justice for Sansa?—and, as the surviving legitimate male Targaryen, he’s usurped his aunt’s legitimate claim to the Iron Throne. A win for Jon Snow, personally, but a loss for his relationships with the women in his life. Which really just makes this a loss.
Let us revisit the refrain once more: Westeros is not a feminist utopia. In this week’s episode’s final moments, Jon Snow revealed his parentage to his new girlfriend, and it, predictably, did not go well. “It would make you the last male heir of house Targaryen,” she told him. What a way to end an episode that started with two women discussing their claims to power.
Are we supposed to read anything into Winterfell’s foremost mall goth looking very wistfully at Theon Greyjoy immediately before the scene cuts to Arya lying awake in bed with Gendry and then Greyworm giving Missandei one last kiss before heading off to the war? If so, we’re going to need a little more exposition here.
This was, generally speaking, not a great look for Tormund, trying to impress Brienne of Tarth with his ability to chug middling wine from a jug and regaling the crowd with his stories of drinking a giant’s breast milk. He’s getting a bit leery, honestly, calling her “the big woman” and starting pissing contests with Jaime Lannister. (This does not, however, mean we’re shipping Brienne and Jaime, for the record.)
Tricked by Cersei; out of Daenerys’s good graces. At the very least, Jorah Mormont still thinks he should be Hand of the Queen. (Jorah’s not super happy he wasn’t named Hand, but that’s a separate matter.)
Everyone going to the crypt.
Aside from Arya and Gendry’s rendez-vous, it seems like a bad idea, generally speaking, to send the women and children down to the crypt, with the bodies of the dead, when the Army of the Dead is rolling into town.