Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms review: An emotional love letter to beloved characters
Game of Thrones
Director - David Nutter
Cast - Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams
Rating - 4.5
The ravens flew in earlier than expected this week but they came bearing great gifts. The second episode of Game of Thrones season 8 arrived several hours too early on torrent websites on Sunday. And it’s a shame because this is the one episode that deserved all the love (one expressed through legal and legitimate avenues) that HBO could get.
The latest Game of Thrones episode (for which the official title was weirdly not released for the first couple of hours) delves into several different relationships, ideas, complications and emotions through several different characters. Perhaps this is why even the makers found it difficult to pin a title on this one. However, their intention was a noble one: to make your eyes well with tears multiple times over by the end of it all. Brave and noble women finally get their due while little girls prepare to fight a war, lords and knights celebrate their final night over songs and wine, loyal friends are welcomed with hugs and lovers bid each other goodbye. The episode (and its writers with it) achieves so much more than simply build up to a long impending battle between the living and the dead. It reassures you of the humanity and kindness in the Game of Thrones world, loyalty and friendship that these men and women are capable of and why they are the ones to root for.
Watch the Game of Thrones episode two teaser here:
Ironically, for a title-less episode, there were quite a few doled out to its characters. Samwell Tarly is called ‘Slayer of White Walkers, Lover of Ladies’, Daenerys Targaryen learns Jon Snow is the ‘rightful male heir of House Targaryen’, and Tyrion Lannister worries his queen will strip him off his title as the Hand of the King. But what deserves a larger mention is the one that Jaime Lannister bestows on Brienne of Tarth in one of the best, most hopeful scenes of the entire series.
The scene in front of the fireplace kicks off as any other conversation between friends to kill time and raise their spirits before the doom that awaits them. But unlike your usual get-togethers over drinks and songs, it effortlessly and still so convincingly flows into a moment so large and warming when Jaime unsheathes his sword and gives her what she has always deserved, a knighthood. She had begun to tell herself that she does not even want it but as Jaime read out the vows to her -- of bravery, justice and defending the innocents — you imagine flashbacks of all the times she did just that through the seasons, protecting Catelyn, fighting for Sansa or Arya and vouching for Jaime. In a series that is notorious for treating its characters unjustly, Brienne gets a send-off that she deserves.
Another moment showed a promise of similar warmth in the cold days of winter but just when we started to get cosy, the blanket was snatched away. The scene between Daenerys and Sansa yet again gives a big boost to the latter on the likeability scale. Personally, I have never hated Sansa and this episode made me root for her even more. I have maintained it for long that she has been the most human (with all the attached selfishness, foolishness, hopefulness) of them all. In this episode she takes all the steps in the right direction to win over the trust of the show’s fans that have always been quick to hate her. She is the first one to give Jaime her approval after trusting Brienne’s word; she extends a sincere hand of friendship towards Daenerys with no unfair demands; and finally, that scene with Theon was just plain cherry on the cake. I am not accepting any bets just yet but I am pretty sure Sansa’s approval ratings are much higher than Daenerys’ at this point.
You know who doesn’t get any approval though, the Night King and his army. Definitely not after watching little Shireen No. 2 talk about fighting a zombie in her ‘Merida from Brave’ accent. Until now, the oncoming fight with the army of the dead had begun to feel like just another battle to strap in for and enjoy but little scenes throughout the episode did a big service to the show in establishing what is at stake here. Parents lie awake in bed with their children as they fear the new day, brothers advise their stubborn sisters to stay behind, and friends laugh about death. ‘We are all going to die tomorrow so let’s drink the night away’, they say. They say it right until the horn blares, harkening the arrival of the enemy. The ‘acceptance’ of death fades away just as quickly from their faces.
A face that has accepted death doesn’t look like Tyrion’s in the final scene. He still wants to live to the ripe old age of 80 with wine in his belly (and other unmentionable luxuries). That is the face that makes you want to definitely stay alive for the next four weeks. After that, I am open to bargain.
*The episode’s title was later revealed to be A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. How poetic.