Winter has come. After almost two years of waiting (and 67 hours of screentime), “Game of Thrones” season 8 episode 2 has revealed itself on HBO.
Here at Super, we wish to share our excitement by re-watching the episode with you. But instead of a recap, we will detail all the Easter Eggs, little references and how all the little clues tie in to the great story that George R.R. Martin—and by extension, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff—are telling. We will tie in every little thing in these episodes with the events that have happened in the past.
Yes, we will turn everyone in Three-Eyed Ravens, able to see the events on Westeros from season 1 to season 8 all at once. We will share and savor the Maester-level intelligence. This is the best, and we believe, the only way to truly appreciate for what the most anticipated season of TV ever.
So massive, SUPER SPOILER warnings on a level never seen before.
We get the new opening credits and it almost looks exactly the same as the first episode’s credits but there is a pretty huge twist to it. Yes, we see the ruined Wall, Last Hearth and King’s Landing, but none of those locations are identified by name. Only one location was shown and named.
This is the first time on “GOT” that an entire episode happens in only location. Part of this is because, while the previous few seasons were spent scattering the characters to all the ends of Westeros, the last few episodes have shown how these characters (including our friends from Essos) have now all come together in Winterfell. It wasn’t previously possible, but this is what they can do now.
The episode title refers to two people. One of them is Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Koster-Waldau), who is, of course, such a knight. But he has constantly fallen below the requirements of what a knight is supposed to be. In fact, he had the title but none of the honor or the morals at the very beginning of the show. He was best known for what was essentially an act of betrayal, his killing of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, for which he got his title “Kingslayer.”
But Jaime’s gone on a true journey of redemption, symbolized by the loss of his hand but the reclaiming of his soul. After reaffirming his bond with brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), fighting to protect Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and rejecting the ways of his sister Cersei, he appeared at the very end of the first episode in Winterfell—only to be confronted by Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), the boy he threw out a window in “Winter is Coming.”
Jaime is here to put things right and thus winds up in front of the council. This is the crucible for Jaime, as all he wants to is to fight for the right—if he is not executed right here and now.
Daenrys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has a lot of things to say for the man who became famous for killing her father. She doesn’t believe him. She does agree with Jaime that Cersei is not sending any troops to reinforce them; in fact, he reveals that the Golden Company has arrived in King’s Landing to attack them. Tyrion defends his brother, but Dany isn’t listening to him right now. He’s just made too many mistakes.
But then Brienne stands for Jaime. Remember that these two have had their own journey together, sharing an odd kind of love for each other. Jaime has been nothing but heroic and honest to her.
Dany is caught by surprise by Sansa (Sophe Turner) siding with Brienne, but is even more surprised by Jon Snow (Kit Harington) agreeing with Sansa. One imagines that Dany had no intention of a man she’s dreamt of executing for so long being allowed to fight for her, but Jon, ever practical, wants every able fighting man.
We also get a quick reminder of their titles under Dany as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Sansa is Lady of Winterfell and Jon is Warden of the North.
Jon is still reeling from being told of his true parentage so he huffs out of the meeting to Dany’s surprise. The way these three exited the meeting indicates there remains tension between them.
In the smithy, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is working hard on the Dragonglass weapons when he is accosted by Arya (Maisie Williams) who is waiting for him to finish the custom weapon she designed. This is a bit of snarky and flirty exchange between these two. Arya is curious about the White Walkers, and all Gendry can say is they “really bad” and they are “death.” Arya is not having it: “I know death. He’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.” She then impresses Gendry with her skill throwing knives. It’s important to note that Gendry knows Arya from their time together before Arya went of to Braavos to train. He doesn’t know that Arya is now trained as an assassin, and so this bit surprised him.
Jaime is now going through the process of making amends with those he has wronged, and has a conversation with Bran in the Godswood. Bran essentially says OK, next. Oh by the way, I’m not Brandon Stark anymore; I’m something else. “How do you know there is an afterward?”
Now it’s Tyrion’s time to come to terms with Jaime, and the two bond over how much the North hates them.
Here we see that Tyrion is aware of Dany’s decreasing faith in his as her Hand and his own mistakes: “I made a mistake common to clever people, I underestimated my opponents.” Interestingly enough, Jaime says Cersei really is pregnant, despite all we’ve seen to the contrary.
Now it’s Brienne’s turn. Jaime interrupts Podrick Payne’s (Daniel Portman) training with Brienne. Jaime asks to fight next to her, admitting in the process that he is no longer the fighter he once was, and that it would be his honor to fight next to her. Braced by Jaime’s honesty, she agrees.
Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) tells Dany to trust Tyrion despite his mistakes. “He owns them. He learns from them,” he says.
Dany then goes off to have a talk with Sansa. Dany is trying to win her over and they have what appears to be a bonding moment and it seems to be working, the two talking about their shared affection for Jon, but when Sansa asks what happens to the North if they win and Dany is Queen. Dany clearly isn’t ready for this part and the meeting goes coldly.
It’s good then the meeting is interrupted, by Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) arriving wit his Ironborn and declaring they will fight with the Starks. Dany is going all Queen-y of them when Sansa just ups and hugs Theon with tears. She remembers that, despite all the torture he went through, he risked all to rescue her. Dany is unnerved by all these people pledging themselves to their cause—but not to her exactly.
Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) is giving advice and soup when he meets a girl with greyscale who wants to fight instead of hide in the crypts. She reminds him of the poor Shireen Baratheon, and Gilly (Hannah Murray) luckily convinces the girl she doesn’t not to fight to be brave. Davos and Gilly each had their bonds with Shireen and this is a callback to that.
The survivors of the Wall and Castle Black arrive at Winterfell and we see the remaining members of the Night’s Watch led by Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) reunite with Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Jon. Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) is there and they update Jon about how Last Hearth has fallen and that the army of the dead would be arriving in Winterfell before sunrise.
So what’s the plan? Now that all the important personalities are here, there is a meeting. Jon notes they cannot defeat the dead by sheer numbers. Bran then volunteers to be the bait as he is sure the Night King is there for him. Theon volunteers to guard him. For Theon, who had betrayed Bran by taking Winterfell, it is the culmination of his own redemption.
Everyone gets their assignments. The dragons would be close to the Godswood where they hope to get the jump on the Night King and zombie Viserion.
It has to be said, it’s not a very good plan. It’s predicated on sacrificing men while they spring the trap on the Night King. Remember the zombie battle trope: Every man they lose is added to the enemy side. Plus Bran is really exposed. But this is a desperate plan from desperate men.
In the court yard Missandei (Nathalie Emmmanuel) is shunned by some Winterfell children. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) says the two of them will retreat to the beaches of Naath when all this is over.
Unlike what others have pointed out, this is not a moment of racism, at least not completely. The Winterfell children don’t trust Missandei not because of her (or Grey Worm’s) color, but because they are simply not Northerners. From the very start of the series, it’s clear that isolated, faraway Winterfell simply doesn’t trust anyone from the South. It is ironic because these “strangers” are there to fight even die for the same people who shun them.
In every war movie, there is a trope where a character has a personal, warm moment where they talk about what they’ll do after the war, or express their love for someone, or approach a moment of redemption. Those characters invariably die.
This is the red flag for Grey Worm, just as Theon’s volunteering to defend Bran is a red flag for him.
Sam, Edd and Jon talk. “And now our watch begins,” Edd says. Red flag for Edd.
Now comes the important scene of this episode. Waiting for the attack, Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Podrick, Davos and Tormund gather around a fire. They share stories and secrets.
This scene is literally a last supper for several of these characters will not survive the next episode. They literally say each character’s name and what they’re known for. The most hilarious moment is when Tormund explains why he’s called Giantsbane—he killed a giant and then suckled on the giant’s wife, so giant’s milk makes him the size he is.
On the ramparts, Arya is talking with the Hound but leaves when Beric arrives. Deric talks to the Hound about their experience together. Red flag for Beric.
Here comes the episode’s most controversial scene. Arya is practicing her very good archery skills when Gendry arrives with her weapon. She doesn’t spent all that much time with the weapon as she quizzes him about his sexual experiences. She then notes that they might die the next say and she doesn’t want to die not having slept with someone. They then proceed to do the deed.
This scene, Wiliiams’ first topless scenes, outraged some because it sexualized a character they loved, noting that Arya is a child, right?
But the showrunners aged all the characters from the books and the show version of Arya is a full-grown woman and this moment, as many have pointed out, is Arya choosing to lose her virginity as well as choosing the person she’s losing it to, something that doesn’t happen on the show. While it was icky for some who cannot think of Arya save for the little girl from season 1, this moment completes her transformation. It also completes the story arc that began when a much younger Arya and Gendry met on the way to Winterfell. Gendry had finally arrived there and Arya was there, too.
The most touching scene in the episode is when Jaime knights Brienne. This is all Brienne has ever wanted. She wanted to be a knight and has acted and fought throughout the series as an exemplar of honor. It takes an outsider, Tormund, to say it’s stupid tradition doesn’t let women become knights and Jaime figures out he can make her a knight.
The expression on Brienne’s face when she rises a knight is priceless. This is truly one of the show’s best moments, a moment of reward for honor, after characters who had upheld honor die instead (i.e., Ned Stark). But with this, her own story arc ends. Red flag for Brienne.
Sam is walking in the courtyard holding something when he sees Jorah talking to Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey). Jorah is pleading with her to stay in the crypt but Lyanna bluntly tells him no. She is a leader and will lead the few fighters of Bear Island in this fight. She does pause to wish her cousin well. Lyanna is Lady of Bear Island because everyone else with a claim to the territory is dead—except for Jorah, who should be Lord of Bear Island except that he was disgraced after running a slavery ring. He, too, comes to the point of redemption here.
Tarly gives his family’s Valyrian Steel sword, Heartsbane, to Jorah because Sam cannot use it. Sam tells Jorah how much Jorah’s late father, then-Knight Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jeor Mormont, make him a man. Jorad takes the sword: “I’ll wield it in his memory, to guard the realms of men.” Red flag for Jorah.
As they settle back in the room with the fireplace, they ask for a song, and Podrick once again displays an unknown talent as he beautifully sings “Jenny’s Song,” now also known as “Jenny of Oldstones.”
This song is a bittersweet poem of lost loves, a lyrical tribute to loss and regret. Part of it appeared in the books, and the writers added to it with series composer Ramin Djawadi providing the music. There is a haunting version of this same song that plays during the credits by Florence + the Machine.
Here are the lyrics:
High in the halls
Of the Kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts
The ones she had lost
And the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most
The ones who’d been gone
For so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around
On the damp old stones
Spun away all her sorrow and pain
And she never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave
This is an incredible, and an incredibly sad song. Its lyrics talk about the show’s central focus on the frailty of its characters, and it is perfect for this episode.
As the showrunners have said, much inspiration as has been taken from the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films, and this song is a direct reference to Pippin singing part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “A Walking Song” in “Return of the King.” We see shots of Sam with Gilly and Little Sam. Red flag for Sam. There is Arya awake in bed next to a sleeping Gendry. Red flag for Gendry. Theon is eating happily with Sansa. Second red flag for Theon. Jorah is on horseback as he prepares.
Weirdly enough, this next scene at one point was the most anticipated scene on the show, but here, buried amids all the character moments, it seems like just one of the scene in this packed episode. In the crypt, Dany looks for Jon who, as always, in front of the Lyanna Stark statue.
In a moment that brings the “R+L+J” theory to fruition, Jon tells her the truth. “My name, my real name is Aegon Targaryen.” Dany is stunned, but she’s not stunned by the fact she’s been sleeping with (and admittedly in love with) her nephew. She says: “If it were true, it would make you the last male heir of House Targaryen. You’d have a claim to the Iron Throne.”
It is clear here that Dany is worried about her own claim to the Iron Throne. After all the talk about how much she loves Jon, it appears her desire for the Iron Throne may be as powerful as her love for him. This has been noted by some to be a scene that shows Dany is not the kind-hearted Queen she’s been portrayed as, but the truth is she’s never been. Now the moment has arrived when she will have to choose between love and power.
They don’t get that moment here, as the horn sounds, meaning the army of the dead has arrived. Jon and Dany run to the ramparts where Tyrion is standing. Men are calling out orders, getting ready.
Jon turns to Dany and nods. Dany, her face expressionless, leaves, to go to her dragons.
Tyrion looks over the wall.
On the other side, White Walkers on their horses arrives, the lights of Winterfell in the distance.
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is all about saying goodbye to our characters. Some have complained that it was a slow episode, with no action, but that was the point. Every important character in Winterfell is given a moment here, and now that moment is done.
This brings us to the highly-anticipated third episode featuring the Battle Winterfell. Beloved characters will die, horribly probably returning as wights. The episode is directed by the magnificent Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the Battle of Hardhomme and the Battle of the Bastards. There is no one better suited for the job. This next episode has been heralded as the greatest battle ever aired on television, and it has a rumored runtime of 82 minutes, the first feature-length episode for the show. It will irrevocably change the show, leading viewers to ponder, what can possible happen next?
We’re about to find out.
Best Line: Jaime Lannister: “Arise, Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Game of Thrones” season 8 episode 2 airs on HBO on Monday at 9 a.m. with a primetime replay at 10 p.m.