EPISODE 8.2: The Great War has come, the Wall has fallen and the Night King’s army of the dead marches towards Westeros. The end is here, but who will take the Iron Throne?
THE LOWDOWN (SPOILERS!):
We pick up right where we left off last episode with Jamie Lannister in Winterfell and now facing Sansa, Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion in the throne room. Daenerys is naturally against Jamie being there, as he is the one who killed her father. Seeing as he is not only a Lannister, but also the brother of Cersei, who promised to send soldiers to help fight the Army of the Dead and has yet to deliver, Jamie has very little to bargain with. He volunteers information about what her plans are and the army she has at her back (The Gold Company and Euron Greyjoy’s fleet). Sansa isn’t a fan of Jamie sticking around either and it doesn’t look like he’ll survive the councel. However, there is one person who can truly vouce for him; Brienne of Tarth, who stands up and speaks up for him, letting them know what he did to protect her (losing his hand along the way) and upholding his promise to Catlyn Stark. “You vouch for him?” asks Sansa. “I do,” Brienne replies. “You would fight beside him?” Sansa follows. “I would.” Brienne stands firm, knowing what she risks.
Jon Snow has less invested and tosses out the old, “we need every man we can get” which is likely the right call. At this point Jamie really has no other move, so the idea that he’d betray this last bit of trust seems well out of character. Still, he IS a Lannister. Daenerys, allows him, reluctantly, to stay, leaving the council with Tyrion behind. Now that she knows that Cersei never had any intention of aiding them, she takes it out on Tyrion, her Hand, saying that he’s either a traitor or a fool for not seeing that. Tyrion relents that he was a fool in this case. “Cersei still sits on the the throne. If you can’t help me take it back, I’ll find another hand who can.” This is the most defeated we’ve seen Tyrion in the position of The Hand, seeing as when he held the job at King’s Landing he was much more confident. Is Daenerys more scary to him than Cersei? That says a lot right there. It’s another scene that show the deeper nature of Daenerys as well. The throne is everything to her, but is that really what it should be? Outside of vengeance for her family name (a family she hardly knew), she seems to have tunnel vision on capturing that stupid chair and is burning bridges (pun intended) along the way.
At the smith, Arya goes to see Gendry, who’s hard at work on dragonglass weapons. Obviously busy, he doesn’t really have time to deal with her, but she wants to know where the weapon she asked him to make is. Gendry hasn’t gotten to it yet, but Arya seems to want more than the weapon. She asks if he’s fought the white walkers. She wants to know about them so that she can kill them. Gendry has trouble explaining what they’re like and says simply that they’re “like death.” At first it seems like this has shaken Arya. But, no. Not the new Arya. She picks up some dragonglass and chucks them at a wooden beam, landing each shot. “I know death. He’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.” If there was any doubt that Arya was ready to face the Army of the Dead, that should be erased. Also, it’s also obvious that she’s sizing up Gendry for more than just a weapon. In truth, she always has been.
We then go to Bran at the Weirwood tree. Jamie approaches, reluctantly. “I’m sorry for what I did to you,” he says, referring to when he pushed Bran out of the castle all the way back in season one, leading to Bran’s paralysis. “You weren’t sorry then,” Bran says. “You were protecting your family.” Jamie says he’s not that man anymore and Bran reminds him that he still would be had he not pushed him out of that window and that Bran would still be Brandon Stark. “I’m something else now.” Jamie questions why he didn’t tell the others. “You’re not angry with me?” he asks. “I’m not angry with anyone,” Bran replies. “You won’t be able to help us in this fight if I let them murder you first.” Jamie is still unsatisfied. “What about afterwards?” Bran, always the cheermonger, replies, “How do you know there is an afterwards?” The share a beat and it ends up being almost a nice reunion, especially considering how badly things went when they last met. Both are very different people now and have gone through a journey that’s altered them forever at this point. It’s such an interesting thing to look back on; watching season one of the show you’d never guess where they’d end up and now, here they are, two very changed characters, realigning on a similar path with a similar objective. Also, note: Don’t invite Bran to parties.
Tyrion and Jamie meet up in the Winterfell courtyard and have a chat, discussing Daenerys. “They’ll come around once they see Daenerys is different.” Jamie questions if Tyrion really believes that. He then asks Jamie if Cersei was lying about the baby. Jamie says it’s true. “She’s always been good at using the truth to tell lies,” he says. “She never fooled you,” says Tyrion. “You always knew exactly what she was. You loved her anyway.” Looking out over the battlements, Tyrion laments their assumed fate. “So, we’re going to die…at Winterfell. Not the death I would’ve chosen.” Jamie is distracted and looks out to see Brienne overseeing sword training with Podrick. Jamie moves down to talk to her and they make small talk about battle plans. Brienne suddenly complains that Jamie hasn’t insulted her and she wants to know what’s wrong. Jamie says he came to Winterfell because he’s not the fighter he used to be and would be honored to serve under Brienne’s command. Brienne, always the tortured look on her face, doesn’t accept or deny his request, walking off instead. It’s such a complicated dynamic, Jamie and Brienne, and I’d dare say it’s more brother and sister than a question of unrequited love. Of course, that’s not saying much for Jamie, am I right? Will they take things to the next level? Will they even have time? As brisk as things are moving, I’m left wondering if that will be the curse of this final season, especially compared to the relatively steady pace of the early seasons.
Meanwhile, Daenerys stands by a fire in Winterfell as Jorah enters. He confeses that it broke his heart that Daenerys made Tyrion her Hand, but then says she made the right choice. It’s obvious he’s going to bat for Tyrion. “He’s made mistakes. Serious mistakes,” she says. “As have we all. He owns his and learns from them.” Daenerys surmises that Jorah is advising her to forgive the man who stole the position he wanted. She is correct and Jorah has another suggestion as well.
That suggestion comes in the next scene as Daenerys goes to Sansa, asking to speak to her alone. While the two are meeting in a friendly manner, the scene is still anxious and much of it rests on Sansa’s shoulders. She stands up for Tyrion as well, saying “Tyrion is a good man. He was never anything but decent towards me.” However, Daenerys clears up what her intent was in naming him The Hand, “I didn’t ask him to be my Hand simply because he was good. I asked him to be my hand because he was good and intelligent and ruthless when he had to be. He never should’ve trusted Cersei.” Sansa comes back with, “You never should have either.” If anyone knows that it’s definitely Sansa. The whole scene feels like a chess game. Daenerys says she can’t help but feel that they’re at odds with one another. Daenerys asks if it’s her brother. “He loves you, you know that?” Sansa says. “That bothers you?” Daenerys asks. “Men do stupid things for women. They’re easily manipulated.” She brings up the fact that her whole life was all about getting back the iron throne and yet when she met Jon she came to Winterfell to fight his war. “Tell me, who manipulated whom?” Sansa says she should’ve thanked Daenerys when she arrived and that it was a mistake not to.
Sansa wants to know what happens after the war. “I take the Iron Throne,” Daenerys says, assuredly. “What about the North? It was taken from us. We took it back and we said we’d never bow to anyone else again. What about the North?” Sansa asks, determined and heated. Daenerys removes her hand, anger in her face. Before she can speak, however, they’re interrupted. Theon has arrived.
Theon bends the knee to Daenerys, who asks about his sister, Yara. He tells her she has sailed back to the Iron Island to retake them in her name. She asks why he didn’t sail with her and he looks to Sansa, saying he wants to fight for Winterfell. Sansa is overwhelmed and embraces Theon. If it weren’t for him rescuing her from Ramsay she would surely be dead (or worse) at this point. In so many ways, Theon has redeemed himself, but it’s only now that it feels like he can take some form of solace in that. It’s a nice, tearful moment for both characters and serves to distract from the very heated question that is left hanging in the air from the previous scene. Indeed, what about The North?
Back outside, Tollett, Beric and Tormund arrive. Jon embraces them, happy to see them alive. They advise that the dead have taken over Last Hearth. Tormund, however, has something else on his mind. “The big woman still here?” Man, Tormund’s got it bad, eh?
In the war councel, Jon plans their defense, saying that taking out the Night King may be their best bet. Bran says that the Night King will come for him, as he has for every three-eyed raven. Samwell wants to know why. Bran says that The Night King wants an “endless night” and to erase this world, while Bran is the memory. Bran wants to lure the Night King to the Godswood, in the open. Theon offers to protect him. “I took this castle from you. Let me defend you now.” Bran agrees to this. Daenerys wants Tyrion to stay in the crypt, taking to heart Jorah’s advice in keeping him safe. “You’re here because of your mind. If you survive, we’ll need it.” The dragons should give us an edge in the field,” says Davos. Jon disagrees. He wants the dragons nearby to help protect Bran. “Dragonfire will stop him?” Arya asks. Bran doesn’t know. “No one’s ever tried.” They’re silent for a moment. “We’re all going to die,” says Tormund. “But at least we die together.”As everyone leaves, Tryion asks Bran if he needs help. He says he doesn’t. Tyrion says that Bran has had a strange journey and that he’d like to hear about it. He sits next to Bran, open to hear his tale. Something tells me this will come to play in the long run.
We next see Missandei and Grey Worm inside the castle walls. Grey Worm says that when Daenerys takes the throne they will no longer have a place there. He wants to know if Missandei would like to see or do anything beyond this world. Missandei says she’d like to go North to see the beaches again. Grey Worm says he’ll take her there when the war is over and I just can’t help but feel that’s all being set up to NOT happen, as, well, this IS Game of Thrones. Happy endings come in bittersweet moments around here.
Later, Jon and Samwell are atop the castle (and Ghost is nearby, too!) and Samwell asks if Jon has told her the truth yet (about him being a Targaryan). Jon asks Samwell if he wants to stay in the crypt with Gilly and Little Sam and Samwell is offended, bringing up that he was the first one to kill a white walker. Totten approaches, saying “and now our watch has begun” as they reminisce about their old friends, Gren, Pip, etc., that they’ve lost since joining the watch and now it’s just the three of them. “Last man left. Burn the rest of us,” Totten says as they look out beyond the walls. It’s a nice “Night’s Watch” moment and it becomes very clear that while the last episode was about reunions, this episode is about clearing the slate. Everyone is mending a fence, burying a hatchet or generally making peace with one another as they prepare for what they believe may well be the end.
Tyrion and Jamie sit by the fire, sharing a drink and reminiscing themselves, Tyrion saying he wishes their father was there so he could see his two sons about to die defending Winterfell. Brienne and Podrick enter, looking for a warm fire. Ser Davos and Tormund then enter. Tormund, of course, moves in on Brienne, then sizes up Jamie, telling a story about how he got his name “Giantsbane” which involved killing a giant and sucklng the teet of the giant’s wife. I can’t imagine anything would be as awkward as getting drunk with Tormund, especially with the apple of his eye sitting nearby.
Arya catches The Hound sitting atop the castle, drinking. She sits next to him and shares a drink, asking what he’s doing there in Winterfell. “When was the last time you fought for anyone but yourself?” He looks to her. “I fought for you, didn’t I?” Beric then enters, apologizing for the way he left things with Arya. Arya gets up to leave saying she doesn’t want to spend her final hours with them. She then goes to fire off a few arrows when Gendry approaches, carrying the weapon she asked him to build, which is a spear-like dragonglass weapon. Arya then makes her move, asking what the red woman wanted with him. Gendry confesses that he’s the bastard of Robert Baratheon, which only mildly shocks Arya as she has other things she wants to know. She wants to know how many women Gendry has been with. “We’re probably going to die soon. I want to know what it’s like before that happens.” They kiss and both begin to strip, Arya eager to get going, Gendry showing hesitance, but not exactly resistence. “I’m not the red woman. Take your own bloody pants off.” It’s kind of the final moment in Arya’s growth as a woman, seeing as she’s already become a great and cunning assassin, but not has fully transitioned from the little girl we met in season one to a capable and vulnerable woman. It’s also nice to see her embrace something other than killing.
Back to Tyrion, Brienne, Ser Davos, Tormund, Jamie and Podrick. Tormund asks why Brienne isn’t a knight. “Tradition,” she replies. “Fuck tradition,” says Tormund. “I’m no king, but if I were, I’d knight ten times over.” Jamie suddenly has a revelation. “You don’t need a king. Any knight can make another knight,” says Jamie. He pulls out his sword and asks her to kneel. She reluctantly does and Jamie knights her. “Arise, Briene of Tarth. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” She stands, tears in her eyes. The rest begin to clap. It’s a proud, defining moment for her and one she’s surely earned in her tenure serving the people she has. In fact, she’s probably the most knightly of all the knight’s in the series. It’s also a more defining thing for her to be knighted than, say, sleeping with either Tormund or Jamie. For Brienne, this is the best she could hope for.
Jorah, meanwhile, is squarring off with his cousin, the tenacious Lyanna Mormont. She wishes to fight, but Jorah is trying to convince her to go below. Of course, she refuses, wishing him good fortune as Samwell approaches carrying his father’s Valeryian steel blade, Heartsbane. “Your father, he taught me how to be a man. How to do what’s right. This is right,” he says. “I’d be honored if you’d take it.” Jorah accepts, saying he’ll weild it in his father’s memory “to guard the realms of men.” Samwell says he’ll see him when it’s through, adding, “I hope we win.” Jorah doesn’t look so sure. Again, another “nice” moment that gives Jorah some more honor to his name and some closure with his father, who bestoyed the family sword to Jon Snow. Now, inadvertently, Jorah will wield a family sword after all and in his father’s name. It’s the best you could hope for in this situation.
Back to the fireplace crew and Tyrion suggests someone sing a song. Podrick is the only one who volunteers, belting out a sad tune that remdinded me very much of the Peregrin Took scene in RETURN OF THE KING. As the song goes on we see all the many characters on the eve of battle; Sansa and Theon eating together, looking almost lovingly at one another, Arya lying awake next to a sleeping Gendry, Greyworm kissing Missandei, Jorah mounting his horse and riding out. It’s the last throes of peace and probably the last time some of these characters will be seen alive.
Jon, meanwhile, is in the crypts, looking at the statue of Lyanna Stark. Daenerys approaches, lamenting what her brother, Rhagar, did to her, according to common knowledge. Jon then clears the air, telling Danearys that Rhagar loved Lyanna and that she had his child after he fell at the Trident. Jon then confesses to her who he really is. “My name…My real name is Aegon Targaryan.” Daenerys wants to know who told him this. He informs her that Bran told him and Sam confirmed it. She questions that a secret like that was told to him by his brother and his best friend and wonders if that doesn’t seem strange to him. “If it were true, it would make you the last male heir of House Targaryan. You’d have claim to the Iron Throne.” And, of course, in AQUAMAN fashion, an interruption comes to break up the moment, this time in the form of a battle horn. Jon and Daenerys meet Tyrion atop the battlements. Jon looks to Daenerys and nods. They both walk off, leaving Tyrion to stare out in the distance. We then see the Army of the Dead arriving, just outside of Winterfell. The battle is upon us.
So, another low-key kind of episode that carries on the tradition of wrapping up loose ends and bringing closure to many of our long-standing (and surviving) characters, while building tension among others. As I knew would be the case when we got to a shortened final season, much of this feels a bit rushed, but I don’t know how you get away from that. It would feel worse if we didn’t get these slower character moments, which, thankfully, feel earned, even if rushed at this point. Jamie, Brienne, Tyrion, Jorah, Arya, Samwell, Missandei, Grey Worm, etc., feel like they’ve gotten to a clean slate, where death could claim them or life breathed into them. We’re no longer waiting on the edge of our seat to see their situation(s) to resolve. The same can’t be said for Jon and Daenerys (or Sansa and Daenerys for that matter), as the the truth of who Jon really is was always going to disrupt who they are together. But, with a looming battle literally on the horizon that confrontation will have to wait. Something tells me the next time they revisit it the circumstances will have changed even more. Next week is gonna be a doozy.
SEX/NUDITY: Arya and Gendry consummate their relationship after years of holding a torch for one another. Maisie Williams lets viewers know she’s most certainly a woman now, but not in a gratuitious way. Still, it’s tastefully “Game of Thrones” for the most part and handled in a respectable, yet still hot, way.
VIOLENCE: None to speak of at all in this episode, as this is purely a “calm before the storm” kind of episode. Not even random celebrity henchmen biting the dust. I’m pretty sure they’ll make up or it next Sunday, though.
BEST SCENE: Some may argue that Jon revealing who he is to Daenerys is the key scene here, but I’d argue that while it’s an important and pivotal one, the chess game between Daenerys and Sansa was the one to beat and the one that held the most weight. An answer to what happens to the North once Daenerys “wins the throne” is a big one and it’s still hovering in the air, waiting to be answered. With Daenerys continually showing her ruthlessness and need for total subservience from her subjects, I feel that her winning the war for the throne may well just ignite another.
NEXT ON GAME OF THRONES: