This review contains spoilers for season eight, episode two of “Game of Thrones.”
If last week’s episode of “Game of Thrones” consisted of laying the logistical groundwork for the Battle of Winterfell, then this week’s episode was all about laying the emotional groundwork. Before we head into what is certainly going to be the most deadly battle in the show’s history, we need to be reminded of why we love these characters and what is really at stake.
This emotional journey starts with the trial of Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). While the majority of fans have long forgiven Jaime for his grave misdeeds, there are still plenty of people in the Seven Kingdoms who are out for his blood.
Mainly there is Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), who are both eager to get revenge on the man who killed their fathers. There is also Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) who could easily hold a grudge toward Jaime for pushing him out of a window.
Luckily for Jaime, and for “Thrones” fans, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), along with Jaime’s brother Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) vouch for Jaime’s honor. Their word is enough to convince Sansa and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to save him from a swift death. Watching Brienne stand up for Jaime is only the first of many touching moments that happen this episode.
The rest of the episode is largely spent emotionally preparing for the upcoming Battle of Winterfell. And with that preparation comes the ultimate question: What would you want to do with your last guaranteed day in Westeros? For each character, the answer differs.
For Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) it means learning the feeling of intimacy with someone else, and it just so happens that someone is her longtime friend Gendry (Joe Dempsie). While it may seem that the scene is at odds with Arya’s character arc, it is yet another example of the character taking charge of her own destiny and going after what she wants.
For others, the end of the world means one last time to drink, sing and be merry. Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) flirts heavily with Brienne and Tyrion reviews the group’s battle resume. And in an act of thanks and warm generosity, Jaime knights Brienne who becomes the first woman in the Seven Kingdoms to be knighted.
All of these warm, fuzzy scenes are not to say that there wasn’t some serious action occurring throughout the episode. Behind the sappy moments were the more typical “Thrones” scenes that included preparations for battle, some heavy politicking and the revelation of a big secret.
There was the attempted peace offering from Daenerys to Sansa that was first well-received but was then met with icy looks when the fate of The North was brought up. There was also the war preparation scene that gave the audience a glimpse of what’s to come in the next episode’s battle.
But perhaps most importantly, right before the White Walkers arrive at Winterfell, Jon reveals to Daenerys that he is actually Aegon Targaryen which makes him the true heir to the Iron Throne. This is a huge bombshell for Daenerys who has spent her whole life preparing to take back her family’s throne, and she does not take the news particularly well.
Before the bickering between aunt and nephew can commence, they are drawn back to reality by the warning alarms that signal that the Army of the Dead has finally arrived.
While most fans were probably hoping for the Battle of Winterfell to start, this episode was overall a great one for the show. Not only were there fantastic emotional moments between characters but there was also an overall sense of being reminded of what is actually at stake and what this fighting is really for.
Next episode is the Battle of Winterfell, and based on the episode preview, it is going to be a doozy.
Edited by Joe Cross | firstname.lastname@example.org