Game of Thrones' final season sure is off to a chatty start! Those who complained that the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones didn't have enough action probably had an aneurysm by the time the season's second episode, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms," ended. It. Was. Talky. Dudes literally just hanging out in Winterfell made up about 80 percent of the episode.
That's not a complaint! Game of Thrones does verbal disembowelments as well as it does physical disembowelments, and the increasing tension since Dany's arrival left many doubled over from some sharp disses. But even more of the conversations from the episode felt like last rites. You know how TV shows do that thing where someone gets a surprise monologue out of nowhere or reconciles with another character in a final act of redemption, and all you can think is, "Oh, that person is definitely dying very soon"? I don't know about you, but for me, every tender moment in the hour was followed by a creeping sense of sorrow, knowing most of these characters will be fighting for the Night King in about a week. That was the mood of the entire episode. It was kind of boring, but I also kind of loved it!
So while "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" might be the first episode of Game of Thrones to have absolutely no action, it was an important one... for creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Now they can kill everyone in the next episode knowing each character had their final moment. I can just picture them mouthing, "You're welcome." Thanks, guys.
The episode started with the Jaime Lannister Redemption Tour 2019, and I'm here for it. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is the best character in Game of Thrones, hands down, and while I don't think he needs any more redeeming, a few of you stubborn Stark loyalists out there probably disagree. After just a blip at the end of the premiere, he dominated the first half of the episode, starting with an impromptu courtroom session before Dany (Emilia Clarke), whose dad he killed; Sansa (Sophie Turner), whose father was killed by Jaime's family; and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), whose dad was killed by Jaime's family and whom Jaime pushed out of a window, crippling him for life. At best, he was getting kicked out of Winterfell. At worst, he would be passing through Dany's dragons' GI tracts by end of day. Let's just say it was a less-than-optimal situation for Jaime. It reminded me of those cartoons where a dog is on trial but the jury is made up of all cats.
But Jaime's main dawg Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) stepped up and gave Sansa the lowdown: Jaime saved Brienne from being gang-raped and lost his hand as a result. She didn't mention anything about Jaime saving her in a gladiatorial fight against a bear, but such is the extent of Jaime's legend. He's too amazing to mention everything he does or the cool jackets he wears. Do I have a crush on Jaime? Maybe!
Dany coming to Winterfell is turning out so much better than I thought; she's making things delightfully awkward. Sansa will do anything to undermine Dany, and now Jon (Kit Harington) can't even look Dany in the eye without bile tickling the back of his throat. After Brienne made the case for Jaime to stay, Sansa was OK with it, and I would bet part of that decision was just to piss off Dany. Sassy move. Dany was not OK with it but had no choice but to allow it, and Jon just wanted to get the hell out of there so he could brood in a corner knowing that he has to tell his aunt/girlfriend that he has claim to everything she's worked for her whole for. Things are a beautiful mess, as evidenced how none of them were on the same page about the whole Jaime thing.
As awkward as that was, things between Jaime and Bran were even more weird. Well, Bran and anything is weird. All he wants to do is tell people he's not Bran, but also, he wants to tell people that he's Bran. The human VCR on wheels remembers details from all the way back in Season 1, Episode 1, but is also quick to say that he's a mutant bird now. He made a lot more sense as a backpack. Can anyone follow anything he says?
Then there was a LOT of talking. Like, A LOT. Sometimes talking with people we didn't even know, which seems like an odd choice for a series with only four episodes left. Why is some street urchin getting lines of dialogue at this point in the show when the Hound (Rory McCann) is somewhere being quiet? Why are random dudes complaining about fighting when Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) can sh-- on something? This chunk of the episode would have made a good time to go to the bathroom. Here are the highlights:
- Ser Jorah of House Friendzone (Iain Glen) tried to convince Dany to keep Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) as Hand of the Queen after she got mad that Cersei (Lena Headey) duped them all into thinking she was bringing her army up to Winterfell. He should get some sort of title, too, for everything he's done. Someone get this guy something.
- Dany approached Sansa with a "Hey girl" chat that didn't quite go how she planned when Sansa demanded spoilers for the end of the season by asking what happens when they defeat the White Walkers. Who will sit on the Iron Throne? What will happen to the North? We all are wondering, too, Sansa, and someone finally said it out loud on the show. Sansa is not only winning this battle of diplomacy, she's also gaining on Dany in the battle of outfits. Her BDSM-chic leather getup was hot stuff.
- A few guys waiting for gruel told Davos (Liam Cunningham) they didn't want to fight. They're going to die next episode. Nice to meet you guys. Let us know what it's like to be a White Walker!
- An adorable little girl told Davos she wanted to fight the White Walkers, but Onion Man convinced her to "defend" the crypts with the rest of the
cowards people who weren't able to fight. Awww, so cute! It's going to be sad when she dies a gruesome death in the next episode.
- Theon (Alfie Allen) returned, looking wet as always, and pledged his loyalty to Winterfell and Sansa. Sansa gave him a big hug that squeezed a bunch of seawater out of his doublet. The music swelled and Sansa teared up, but all I could think about was how Theon betrayed Robb (Richard Madden), killed those boys, and became Ramsay's (Iwan Rheon) pet. The North remembers! While next episode's battle was being planned, Bran revealed that the Night King would be coming for him, so it would be best that he be used as bait to lure the Night King out into the open so he could be killed. Theon volunteered to stay with Bran. Theon's going to die in the next episode.
- Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) shared a moment together, because they shared a scene together. This is literally all they do now. I'm rooting for them still, but that's partially because I don't even know what else they can do. Except die. Grey Worm is going to die in the next episode.
- GHOST ALERT! We haven't seen Jon's direwolf since Season 6, but he's back! And he's the size of a regular dog now. Also, he just looks like a regular dog. I'm pretty sure the effects artists forgot to alter anything, or maybe someone's dog got loose on set and the director just went with it. Ghost is now a diredog. Ghost is NOT dying next episode. But Edd probably is.
- Sam (John Bradley) gave Jorah his Valyrian sword because he doesn't even know which end to hold. Sam's the kind of guy who, if you gave him a gun, he'd fire it off in his holster and shoot off his pinky toe. This was a good decision by Sam; his strength is his brain, which he may weaponize when it spills all over the floor of the crypts and makes a bunch of White Walkers slip and fall. Jorah will not die next episode. If he dies, I promise to make an alternate fan cut of the series where Jorah lives and ends up on the Iron Throne with Dany by his side. He deserves it.
And those were just the highlights of the talking. There was even more blabbering going on, if you can believe it. We just all had to get through this excessive fan-pandering together. Thankfully, there were two moments that were really important sandwiched in between all that yammering.
The buzziest moment of the episode continued the incredibly amateurish fourth-grade flirting between Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie), as Arya found any excuse to go bug Gendry while he was doing his best Christian Bale from The Machinist but in Batman's body impression while sweating profusely in the forge making dragonglass weapons for the big fight. You have to remember that Arya hasn't exactly had a regular childhood -- while other princesses learned how to curtsy, Arya was learning where the pressure point to break a man's elbow was -- which made the clumsy courtship more comical than anything. Her game is zero. Jaqen H'ghar taught her how to fight blind, but he skipped the lesson about seduction, because Arya's idea of showing Gendry she liked him was ordering him to do things, criticizing his workflow, and throwing sharp objects across the room in a threatening manner.
If that was the foreplay, then the main course came from Arya using the "the plane's going down, I don't want to die a virgin" line of justification for expediting virginity loss, and it worked like a charm.
They got it on, and Maisie Williams underlined, in permanent marker, that Arya is no longer a little girl by leaving the order of the Faceless Men and joining the order of the Shirtless Women. Initially, the overprotective father of a young girl in me wanted to reach in there and strangle Gendry, but soon the woke feminist in me was like, "Yeah, Arya, dominate that sub and take what's yours!" Needless to say, I had conflicting emotions.
But I've since reconciled: I loved when Arya turned a pedophile into mince meat, so how can I approve of her violent acts but judge if she wants to fool around a bit? We've watched the kids of Game of Thrones grow up before our eyes (Arya is now 18 in the show, and Williams is 22), and here they are growing up and exploring grown-up things. Compared to most of the sex in the show, this was downright romantic. (But did you see how long it took them to get their casual clothes off? So many layers and buttons and ties! It's not even worth it if you ask me. Just go straight to the disappointing cuddling.)
But don't let my airtight logic influence your opinion. What did YOU think?
How do you feel about it, Sophie Turner?
While the kids were playing doctor unsupervised downstairs, the adults were getting smashed upstairs. This collection of characters -- Jaime, Brienne, Tyrion, Davos, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), Pod -- was host to a very special and emotional moment that left viewers weeping. No, not Jaime knighting Brienne, I'm talking about Tormund "drinking" milk. Tormund explained that he killed a giant when he was 10 years old, then crawled into bed with the giant's wife and breastfed off giant's milk for three months. It's total bullhonky, but a good story, and Tormund backed it up by chugging a horn of creamy goodness. If that IS giant's milk, I do not want to know where he gets it.
But of course the moment that brought the house down was Jaime giving tradition the finger and knighting Brienne, even though she is a woman and ladies aren't allowed to become knights for some backward-ass reason. After seasons of insults about her size, appearance, and intelligence, Redemption Jaime made her a knight of the Seven Kingdoms with a few taps of his sword on her mammoth shoulders. Everyone was happy!
Tormund clapped like an idiot hopped up on giant's milk, Tyrion slurred out some congratulations, and if you rewatch the scene closely, you'll notice that Davos did that thing where he clapped by smashing a single hand into his chair over and over because he couldn't be bothered to put his drink down. (Davos, feel ya.) And Brienne's smile was EVERYTHING.
What a moment for Brienne! The series could have ended right there and I would be happy. 'Tis a shame she's dying in the next episode. (JK, mehopes.)
Last week I was effusive in my praise of the show for spilling the truth of Jon's lineage to Jon in the season premiere, but I will have to take a little of that back after this episode. It took until the very end for Jon to tell Dany what he found out, and as they should have had a big blow-out argument about it, the horn blew and the White Walkers showed up. Ugh! Talk about inconvenient timing. They spent 400 years walking 20 miles and they show up right when Dany and Jon are going to have a breakup talk? Also weird is that no one has made any comment about the incest part of this truth, with Dany wayyyyy more worried about losing her right to the Iron Throne. This is exactly why this conversation needed to last longer, but now we probably won't hear anything about for a few weeks because it will be hard to talk about who has the right to the throne while everyone is spurting blood out of their mouths and turning into ice zombies.
Next week: Everyone dies! See you then!
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO, but viewers on the West Coast can watch it at 6/5c on HBO GO or HBO Now #lifehacks.
More Photo Recaps:
Episode 1: Weird Bran Stole the Game of Thrones Premiere
Episode 3: People Could Have Died Better, To Be Honest
Episode 4: Drunk With Power and Just Plain Drunk
Episode 5: Give Drogon a Spin-Off Already
Episode 6: Is This Really How We're Picking Kings Now?