Game of Thrones 8.02: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

What about afterwards?

For its fans and characters alike, thinking about the future in Game of Thrones is a dangerous game to play. As Bran reminds Jaime, “How do you know there is an afterwards?”

And yet, with a likely-to-be disastrous battle on the horizon, looking ahead is an understandable reaction. Everyone is fighting for something. For someone. For memories—those we have, and those not yet made. So while we, as show-watchers, want to just get to the battle already, I urge you all to take one more moment to appreciate the memories. Personally, I’m not ready to part with these people yet. If I had my way, I’d watch Ser Davos work the soup kitchen line all day. I’d gladly pull up a chair and listen to Tormund’s milky escapades for hours on end. Hell, I’d probably even willingly welcome another Greyworm and Missandei love scene if it meant not losing Thrones. But no matter how hard I close my eyes and pray to gods old and new, that won’t happen. In a few short hours, it’ll all be over. And the memories that sit between now and then are likely to hurt. People we love are going to die. And before we can properly mourn them, they’re going to be re-animated and forced to fight other people we love. Starting next week, it’s not going to be pretty. So before our memories turn grim, let’s appreciate the ones we have, because in four weeks, the ones we’re left with are going to be painfully remembered.

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Riser of the Week: Ser Brienne of Tarth

Now this is a memory worth holding on to, and for me, it instantly joins the Mount Rushmore of Best Thrones Moments.

With the exception of Barristan Selmy, every knight we’ve met has, at times, been far from upstanding. But Brienne has been a rock. From serving on Renly’s Kingsguard to scouring Westeros in search of the Stark girls, Brienne has proven her honor time and again.

And while the formality of knighthood doesn’t do anything to better her chances at surviving, odds are someone who makes it through the war will know who she was, and if the gods are good, history will know her as the first female knight.

In relation to the battle, Brienne’s still as good a bet to survive as anyone. She’s leading a flank. She fights better than most. And she wields a Valyrian steel sword. Brienne is no stranger to being bet against, but if it were my money on the line, I’d look elsewhere for wight-fodder.

Honorable Mention: Gendry. Let’s just say Brienne wasn’t the only one commanded to rise this week.

Faller of the Week: Tyrion Lannister

Not a good week for our little lion man, and to be honest, I can’t really argue with Daenerys’s reactions towards him. More than anyone, Tyrion should know that Cersei is a master manipulator. And yet, when it came time to put Cersei in a stranglehold, he softened and decided to believe she’d changed, despite the fact that only a short time ago, she had blown up the Red Keep and killed everyone inside it. The rubble was still burning!

So yes, Daenerys was justified in lashing out towards Tyrion. And she drove the knife in further when she relegated him to the crypt to hide with the women and children.

And speaking of the crypt, there’s a 100% chance that shit’s going down there, right? Call it the Titanic maxim. The more unsinkable a boat is deemed, the greater the likelihood of it sinking. So with every assurance that the crypt will be safe, the greater the chance that everything will go horribly wrong. Like the Titanic, it’s going to be freezing. But don’t expect any lifeboats for these women and children. All they’ll have is Tyrion, and I fear there’s not much he’ll be able to do.

Honorable Mention: Tormund. Despite his best attempt, there was no rising to be done.

Item of Power: Heartsbane

It was a smart and honorable move by Sam to give Jorah his sword. Like a mime with a speakerphone, Valyrian steel would have been wasted on Sam. And we know Jorah can definitely hold his own in a sword fight, so he found Heartsbane a worthy home.

With Jorah now wielding Valyrian steel and the dead at the doorsteps of Winterfell, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone who is in possession of Valyrian steel. There’s Jon Snow who wields Longclaw, the ancestral sword of House Mormont which was given to Jon by Jeor Mormont, the 997th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Then there is Brienne and Jaime who use Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail respectively. Both of these swords were reforged from Ice, the greatsword of House Stark. Jaime gave Oathkeeper to Brienne after she successfully brought him to King’s Landing, and Jaime took ownership of Widow’s Wail after Joffrey kicked it. And last is the dagger in Arya’s possession—the same dagger that was originally wielded by the assassin sent by Littlefinger to kill Bran Stark in Season 1. Arya came into possession of it last season when Bran gifted it to her. And that’s it. Just five Valyrian steel weapons. Luckily for the sake of the realm, they’re in the hands of worthy fighters, though I wouldn’t mind seeing Jaime hand it over to the Hound. For everyone else, here’s hoping Gendry’s dragonglass weapons hold up in battle.

Singer in the hearth, but a freak in the sheets.

Backstory of the Week: Jenny of Oldstones

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

In the books, Jenny of Oldstones was a poor woman who would go on to marry Duncan Targaryen, the heir to the Iron Throne. This outraged Aegon V Targaryen, who tried to have the marriage undone. Duncan refused and ultimately gave up his claim to the throne for Jenny. Unsurprisingly, the legend of Jenny grew, and thousands of young girls just like Jenny dreamed of one day marrying a prince. Ultimately, Duncan would perish in the mysterious fire at Summerhall, but it is unknown what happened to Jenny.

People have long theorized about Jenny, with some even going as far to say the song “Jenny of Oldstones” is actually the titular Song of Ice and Fire. I won’t go there, but I do think the song is a timely reflection of the audience. There are many ghosts in our past: Robb, Ned, Catelyn, Shireen, Drogo, Ygritte, and on and on. So before the music ends, and before we fade to black, let’s all enjoy one last dance with the ghosts we once knew so well.

The final line of the song says that Jenny never wanted to leave. Neither do I.

Maester’s Musings:

  • While I think it’s a foregone conclusion that tragedy will strike in the crypt, do you think it will go so far that we’ll see a reanimated Stark family of Ned, Lyanna, and Robb? And what about the direwolves?
  • Props to Arya for waiting until Episode 69 to get it on.
  • And yes, it was weird seeing Arya get it on. With so many of us having just finished a rewatch, it’s all too easy to see Arya as the 12-year-old girl she was when we first met her.
  • I think it’s telling that they didn’t show the Night King in the last shot of the White Walkers outside Winterfell. Is he on his way towards Bran like everyone hopes? Or could he be somewhere else altogether? He can fly, after all. Perhaps King’s Landing could be his first stop? There’s an army of the dead just waiting to be reanimated in Blackwater Bay, and maybe he can even bring the long-buried dragons back to life…
  • Sansa once again showed us why she is already a great leader. Not many people go toe-to-toe with Daenerys and leave with the upper hand.
  • I think it’s also telling that the writers keep making Daenerys skeptical and incendiary towards other characters we already like. In this episode alone, she butted heads with Tyrion, Jaime, Sansa, and Jon. Could this be the writers’ way of preparing us to get ready to hate her? I still think she’s our final villain.
  • If the Night King is in fact at Winterfell, it’s looking like we’re going to wrap that storyline up faster than I thought. Which means after the war with the dead, we’ll have a second war that pits Cersei’s army against the battered and beaten Northern army. It would very GRRM-esque to have mankind defeat the Night King only to watch everyone die at the hands of the very people they just fought alongside.
  • I know that Twitter was aflame with comments likening this episode’s buildup to the scene’s leading into the battle at Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I’m not a big enough LotR fan to speak to that, but if it follows the Helm’s Deep blueprint, that means we’re going to need someone to play the deus ex-Gandalf role, and I know just the right person, and no it’s not Ghost:
The night is dark and full of terrors. Believe me now?

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