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Game of Thrones S08E02 Ser Brienne of Tarth
Ser Brienne of Tarth

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Game of Thrones season 8 watchthrough: ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’

Analyzing every second of the character-driven episode 2

We spend most of the second episode in Game of Thrones’ final season saying goodbye, but to whom, we don’t know. By the end of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” war isn’t coming. War has arrived. People will probably die soon.

So let’s spend our last moments of peace walking through the episode, scene-by-scene. Then we’ll follow that with “Maester’s Research,” where we dive deep into the most interesting and important parts of the episode.


Game of Thrones S08E02 Jaime on trial HBO

We begin with the trial of Jaime Lannister, who must answer for all the crap he’s done.

In the great hall of Winterfell, where everyone everyone important has gathered, Dany begins by making her case.

“When I was a child,” she says, “my brother would tell me a bedtime story about the man who murdered our father. Who stabbed him in the back and cut his throat. Who sat down on the Iron Throne and watched as his blood poured onto the floor. He told me other stories as well. About all the things we would do to that man once we took back the Seven Kingdoms and had him in our grasp.”

She changes the subject, saying that Cersei pledged to send an army north. Jaime agrees, but tells of his twin sister’s duplicity.

“She never had any intention of sending her army north,” Jaime says. “She has Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and 20,000 fresh troops. The Golden Company from Essos, bought and paid for. Even if we defeat the dead, she’ll have more than enough to destroy the survivors.”

Whether or not they can trust Jaime is the (entirely reasonable) question on everyone’s mind.

Tyrion says yes, they can trust his brother, because he came here alone knowing full well how he’d be received. He has no reason to lie.

Sansa says no, because of the part that Jaime played in the death of her father.

“Do you want me to apologize?” Jaime asks. “I won’t. We were at war. Everything I did, I did for my house and my family. I’d do it all again.”

And here’s the thing: He’s right. The Lannisters were at war with Ned Stark in season 1. The inevitable consequence of Ned’s discovery — that King Robert Baratheon’s children were, in fact, Cersei and Jaime’s children — would mean the fall of the house of Lannister.

That doesn’t excuse what Jaime did. That doesn’t make him or the Lannisters good people. But it does explain and justify (to Jaime, at least) their (terrible) actions.

“The things we do for love,” the Three-Eyed Raven nee Brandon Stark says, apropos of nothing, but echoing the words that Jaime said when he threw Bran out of the window at the end of Game of Thrones’ first episode. Jaime looks at him in horror.

Jaime says that he’s abandoned family loyalty now because the war with the White Walkers transcends it. And then the one person in all of Westeros who could possibly help Jaime steps forward.

Game of Thrones S08E02 Brienne vouches for Jaime HBO

Game of Thrones’ world is brutal, amoral, and grim, where evil often triumphs over good and effectively everyone exists in an ethical shade of gray. But Brienne of Tarth is an exception. She was, and is, a jewel of unambiguous good in a world where might makes right.

“You don’t know me well, Your Grace,” Brienne says to Dany. “But I know Ser Jaime. He is a man of honor. I was his captor once. But when we were both taken prisoner and the men holding us tried to force themselves on me, Ser Jaime defended me — and lost his hand because of it. Without him, my lady, you would not be alive. He armed me, armored me, and sent me to find you and bring you home because he’d sworn an oath to your mother.”

Brienne says she’d vouch for Jaime, she’d fight alongside him, she’d trust him with her life. And because of that — and in no small part, because she invoked the memory of her late mother — Sansa relents. Then Jon relents. Then Dany relents … or just rolls with it, really.

Jaime Lannister is spared. Grey Worm, the Unsullied soldier, returns Jaime’s sword.

Jon (who’s probably avoiding a certain conversation he needs to have) and Sansa make a quick exit, leaving Dany alone at the head table. She leaves through a different exit, with Tyrion, Jorah, and Varys following close behind.

Dany, Tyrion, Jorah, and Varys in the hallway

Dany excoriates Tyrion for believing his sister would help them. If he can’t get his head on straight, she says, she’ll find another Hand.

“I suspect one of you will be wearing this before it’s all over,” Tyrion says to Jorah and Varys, indicating his Hand of the Queen pin.

Arya and Gendry in the forge

As many men pound dragonglass into weapons for the upcoming war, Arya visits Gendry to check in on her weapon, the blueprints for which she gave him in the previous episode.

Gendry says he’s on it, but he has a few thousand other weapons to make first. Her counterargument: He should make hers first.

Gendry’s (understandable) position is that she’s no warrior. We know that she is, but that’s only because we’re viewers. The last they were around each other, Arya was just a little girl. A lot has changed. He doesn’t know that. So Arya makes it her mission to convince him otherwise.

She speaks of death without fear. She throws dragonglass arrowheads. She succeeds.

Jaime and Bran at the Weirwood tree

Game of Thrones S08E02 Jaime and Bran at the Weirwood tree HBO

Jaime Lannister approaches the person who used to be Brandon Stark, and they speak for the first time since Jaime pushed him out of a window and paralyzed him way back at the end of Game of Thrones’ first episode.

Jaime approaches and stops, unsure of how to begin. He takes a deep breath and looks down in shame.

“I’m sorry for what I did to you,” Jaime says.

“You weren’t sorry then,” Bran says. “You were protecting your family.”

“I’m not that person anymore.”

“You still would be, if you hadn’t pushed me out of that window. And I would still be Brandon Stark.”

“You’re not?”

“No. I’m something else now,” Bran says. A raven caws in the distance to remind us that Bran doesn’t identify as a Stark anymore.

“You’re not angry at me,” Jaime says, delivering a question as a statement.

“I’m not angry at anyone.”

Bran can’t be angry at anyone anymore. He’s taking the long view. He knows literally everything that’s happened. As the Three-Eyed Raven, he sees way too much to get caught up in being angry — and he knows that anger would be unproductive, too.

“Why didn’t you tell them?” Jaime asks, meaning the people assembled in the Winterfell great hall earlier.

“You won’t be able to help us in this fight if I let them murder you first,” Bran says. And it fits with what he said when Dany, Jon, and the others arrived at Winterfell in the first episode. “We don’t have time for all this,” Bran said to Dany. “The Night King has your dragon. He’s one of them now. The Wall has fallen. The dead march south.”

“What about afterwards?” Jaime asks, wondering if he’ll have to pay the piper later.

“How do you know there is an afterwards?” Bran asks, making a grim good point.

Jaime and Tyrion in the Winterfell courtyard

The brothers reunite, and their conversation turns to their sister, the woman who would replace her on the Iron Throne, and the people of the North who distrust all outsiders.

“They’ll come around once they see Daenerys is different,” Tyrion says.

“And she is? Different?” Jaime asks.

“She is.”

“You’re sure about her?”

“I am.”

“She didn’t seem sure about you.”

“It’s hard to blame her. I made a mistake common to clever people. I underestimated my opponents.”

Game of Thrones S08E02 Jaime and Tyrion in the Winterfell courtyard HBO

They speak about what convinced Tyrion to trust his fundamentally dishonest sister. In season 7, she told Jaime she was pregnant with his child. Tyrion knows that, too. And his assumption was that, for the sake of the child, she had good reason to help others. She’d be serving her own self-interest by serving others’ self-interest.

That was a dumb thing to think.

“Was she lying about the baby too?” Tyrion asks.

“No, that part is real,” Jaime says, though the reason for his certainty isn’t clear. “She’s always been good at using the truth to tell lies. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. She’s fooled me more than anybody.”

Tyrion gives him a knowing stare. “What?” Jaime asks.

“She never fooled you. You always knew exactly what she was, and you loved her anyway.”

The color and confidence fade from Jaime’s face, as the truth sinks in.

They speak of how and where they’d rather die. Jaime walks away, leaving his brother talking to himself, musing about killing Cersei. Jaime looks down at Brienne.

Brienne, Jaime, and Pod in the training grounds

Game of Thrones S08E02 Brienne and Jaime on the training grounds at Winterfell HBO

Jaime approaches Brianne as men train for the battle to come. They look at Podrick, who was once Tyrion’s squire. He’s been serving of Brienne for a while now. Once, he couldn’t fight. Now he’s ably training others to fight the most important of battles.

Jaime continues the leitmotif of taking his lumps and apologizing for how he used to be. She’s uneasy. Who is Jaime Lannister, if not arrogant and mocking?

“I came to Winterfell because I’m not the fighter I used to be,” Jaime says. “But I’d be honored to serve under your command, if you’ll have me.”

Brienne leaves without giving him an answer.

Jorah and Dany

Game of Thrones S08E02 Jorah and Dany HBO

Jorah enters the room where Dany stands alone, contemplative. He’s come to discuss Tyrion, her Hand whose council she’s come to doubt after learning that Cersei isn’t sending her troops.

He begins with an apology for intruding, but she says that he has nothing to apologize for. He says he’s made many mistakes, and she says he’s been forgiven them. It’s a template for what she can do to Tyrion.

“He’s made mistakes,” she says through tight lips. “Serious mistakes.”

“As have we all” Jorah says. “He owns his and learns from them.”

“You’re advising me to forgive the man who stole your position?”

“I am.”

He also has one other suggestion, which ushers us into the next scene.

Dany and Sansa

Dany enters a room where Sansa and her loyal bannerman, Yohn Royce, are speaking of the people still coming to Winterfell. She asks to speak with Sansa alone, and Sansa dismisses Royce.

Dany begins her diplomatic mission.

“I thought you and I were on the verge of agreement before,” Dany says. “About Ser Jaime.”

“Brienne has been loyal to me, always,” Sansa says. “I trust her more than anyone.”

“I wish I could have that kind of faith in my advisors.”

“Tyrion is a good man,” Sansa says. “He was never anything but decent towards me.”

“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 have trusted Cersei.”

“You never should have either,” Sansa says.

Dany pauses. Sansa has a point. Tyrion isn’t the only one who carries blame, and Sansa’s got the stones to say so. Dany swallows her anger and continues.

“I thought he knew his sister,” Dany says to a person who doesn’t really know her brother Jon.

“Families are complicated,” Sansa says, with more meaning than she knows.

“Ours certainly have been,” Dany says and motions for Sansa to sit down.

Dany steers the conversation into their commonalities. She intuits that the gulf between her and Sansa has to do with Jon — the King in the North version of Jon, specifically — and Sansa admits as much. She isn’t sure whether her brother is following Dany because it’s the right thing to do or because Dany manipulated him.

“All my life,” Dany says, “I’ve known one goal: the Iron Throne. Taking it back from the people who destroyed my family, and almost destroyed yours. My war was against them. Until I met Jon. Now I’m here, half a world away, fighting Jon’s war alongside him. Tell me, who manipulated whom?”

Sansa takes a moment to reflect on Dany’s creative interpretation of the past. She apologizes for the cold welcome that she gave Dany when she arrived in Winterfell.

Game of Thrones S08E02 Dany and Sansa HBO

Dany places her hand on Sansa’s, in a gesture of affection. Maybe also as a power move.

“I’m here because I love your brother, and I trust him, and I know he’s true to his word. He’s only the second man in my life I can say that about.”

“Who was the first?”

“Someone taller,” Dany says, and they both laugh.

“And what happens afterwards?” Sansa asks, echoing the question that Jaime asked Bran earlier. “We defeat the dead, we destroy Cersei. What happens then?”

“I take the Iron Throne,” Dany says with utter certainty.

And now we arrive at the unbridgeable gap.

“What about the North?” Sansa asks. “It was taken from us, and we took it back. And we said we’d never bow to anyone else again. What about the North?”

Dany takes her hand off of Sansa’s. Before things can get more uncomfortable, they’re interrupted. They have a visitor.

Dany, Sansa, and Theon

Game of Thrones S08E02 Dany, Sansa, and Theon HBO

Maester Wolkan ushers Dany and Sansa into a room, where Theon Greyjoy and a few ironborn men stand.

“My queen,” Theon says to Dany and bows.

“Your sister?” Dany asks.

“She only has a few ships, and she couldn’t sail them here. So she’s sailing to the Iron Islands instead, to take them back in your name.”

“But why aren’t you with her?”

Theon looks at Sansa.

“I want to fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa, if you’ll have me.”

Sansa embraces Theon. She will.

Ser Davos Seaworth, Gilly, and Teela

Ser Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight, ladles a thin gruel to the throngs of people crowded into Winterfell. A man who looks as frail as he does frightened reaches the front of the line and speaks.

Game of Thrones S08E02 Ser Davos Seaworth and Gilly HBO

“Milord, we’re not soldiers,” he says.

“You are now,” Ser Davos says. Then he thinks better of being dismissive.

“Look: I made it through most of my years without ever getting near a fight, but then I survived the Battle of the Bastards. Right outside these walls. If I can live through that, you can live through this. They’ll outfit you with weapons at the forge. Right that way.”

The man and his two companions look, if not suddenly confident, at least a little calmer. They follow Davos’ directions.

A little girl named Teela (according to the subtitles) with scars covering her right cheek walks up to Davos next. Her face reminds us (and Davos) of Princess Shireen Baratheon, the little girl he once served and loved as if she were his own daughter.

Game of Thrones S08E02 Teela the little girl with a scar on her face HBO

“Which way should I go?” she asks as she hands

“Which way do you want to go?” Davos asks.

“All the children will be going below when the time comes,” Teela says. “But both me brothers were soldiers. I want to fight, too.”

Gilly overhears Teela and approaches her.

“That’s good to hear,” Gilly says. “I’m going to be in the crypt with my son, and I’d feel a lot better with you down there to protect us.”

“I’m sure a lot of people would,” Davos says.

“All right,” Teela says. “I’ll defend the crypt, then.”

They watch as the girl walks away and exchange a knowing look. A horn blares in the courtyard.

“Riders coming in!” a man shouts as several men run.

Jon, Tormund, Sam, and others

Jon Snow rushes into the courtyard to see who’s arrived. Sam embraces one of them, and Jon runs to greet him. Before he can get to them, Tormund Giantsbane nearly tackles him.

The last we saw these men, they were at Last Hearth discovering the zombified little Lord Umber surrounded by flaming body parts. They tell what they found — that the Night King’s army is on the way, and they had to travel around them to get to Winterfell.

Game of Thrones S08E02 Tormund HBO

“How long do we have?” Jon asks.

“Before the sun comes up tomorrow,” Tormund says.

Jon and Sam exchange a worried look.

“The big woman still here?” Tormund asks.

In the war room with everybody important

Game of Thrones S08E02 war room HBO

“They’re coming,” Jon says. “We have dragonglass and Valyrian steel, but there are too many of them. Far too many. Our enemy doesn’t tire. Doesn’t stop. Doesn’t feel. We can’t beat them in a straight fight.”

“So, what can we do?” Jaime asks. (At least it sounds like Jaime.)

“The Night King made them all,” Jon says. “They follow his command. If he falls — getting to him may be our best chance.”

“If that’s true, he’ll never expose himself,” Jaime says.

“Yes, he will,” Bran says. “He’ll come for me. He’s tried before, many times, with many Three-Eyed Ravens.”

“Why? What does he want?” Sam asks.

“An endless night,” Bran says. “He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory.”

“That’s what death is, isn’t it?” Sam asks. “Forgetting. Being forgotten. If we forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re not men anymore. Just animals. Your memories don’t come from books. Your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men, I’d start with you.”

“How will he find you?” Tyrion asks.

Game of Thrones S08E02 Bran Night King mark HBO

“His mark is on me,” Bran says and rolls up his sleeve to show four red slashes on his forearm. “He always knows where I am.”

“We’ll put you in the crypt, where it’s safest,” Jon says.

“No,” Bran says. “We need to lure him into the open before his army destroys us all. I’ll wait for him in the Godswood.” Near the Weirwood tree, that is.

“You want us to use you as bait?” Sansa says.

“We’re not leaving you alone out there,” Arya says.

“He won’t be,” Theon says. “I’ll stay with him. With the ironborn. I took this castle from you. Let me defend you now. We’ll hold off the rest of them for as long as we can.”

Tyrion says that he and Ser Davos will be on the wall, and they’ll give the order to ignite the trench surrounding Winterfell when the time comes. Dany isn’t having it. Tyrion will be in the crypt, where it’s safest, she says. He protests. He wants to fight alongside everyone else.

“There are thousands of them and only one of you,” Dany says. “You can’t fight as well as they can, but you can think better than any of them. You’re here because of your mind. If we survive, I’ll need it.”

And with that, she’s forgiven her Hand.

The plan is to keep the dragons close — but not too close — to Bran. The hope is that dragonfire will stop the Night King. Nobody knows if it will.

“We’re all going to die,” Tormund says and looks at Brienne. “But at least we die together,” he says with a smile.

Brienne stifles a gag.

Jon tells everyone to get some rest. Nobody will.

Everyone leaves the room except for Tyrion and Bran.

Tyrion and Bran

Tyrion strikes up a conversation.

“Do you need help?” he asks Bran.

“No,” Bran says.

“You’ve had a strange journey.”

“Stranger than most.”

“I’d like to hear about it.”

“It’s a long story.”

“If only we were trapped in a castle, in the middle of winter, with nowhere to go.”

It’s funny. But it’s also … unnecessary? The scene ends before we hear any of the story. Presumably, Tyrion hears about Bran’s long, strange trip. But why would that be important enough to make the cut into the episode?

It’s difficult to say with any specificity — unless it will become important later. Tyrion suspected back in the first season that Jaime played a part in Bran’s accident. Maybe he learns the truth when the cameras are elsewhere. And maybe that’s foreshadowing. Maybe Jaime will save a life that he once tried to end.

Then again, as Dany said, Tyrion is here because of his mind. Her belief is that, if they survive, she’ll need it. Maybe she’s right, in a slightly different way.

Maybe for them to survive — when things are at their worst, in the 11th hour when the army of the dead is about to overthrow Winterfell — they’ll need Tyrion’s excellent brain to help them win from the Winterfell crypt.

Grey Worm and Missandei

Game of Thrones S08E02 Grey Worm and Missandei HBO

The torches are lit in the Winterfell courtyard, night is falling, and Grey Worm the Unsullied inspects his soldiers preparing for war.

Nearby, Missandei approaches two children and says hello. She smiles. They shrink away, give her the stink eye, and walk away. Could this be medieval fantasy racism? Yes, it could. Could it also just be the well-established Northerner’s distrust of outsiders? For sure.

Grey Worm approaches.

“When Daenerys takes her throne there will be no place for us here,” he says. “I am loyal to my queen. I will fight for her until her enemies are defeated, but when the war is over and she has won, do you want to grow old in this place? Is there nothing else you want to do, nothing else you want to see?”

“Naath,” she says. “I’d like to see the beaches again.”

“Then I will take you there.”

“My people are peaceful. We cannot protect ourselves.”

“My people are not peaceful. We will protect you.”

They smile.

Sam and Jon (and Ghost)

Game of Thrones S08E02 Sam and Jon on the wall HBO

Sam and Jon (and, for a few frames, Jon’s wolf Ghost) stand on the Winterfell wall. Night has fallen. Men everywhere are still preparing for war.

Sam asks Jon if he’s told Dany about his birth parents. He hasn’t. Sam gives him a little grief for that, but he relents with a quick smile.

Jon says that Sam is welcome to stay with Gilly and little Sam in the crypt, but Sam isn’t having it.

“Everyone seems to forget that I was the first man to kill a White Walker,” He says. “I’ve killed Thenns. I’ve saved Gilly more than once. I stole a considerable number of books from the Citadel library, survived the Fist of the First Men. You need me out there.”

They joke about Sam. About their current dire situation. About where they first met on the Wall, ages ago. They’re all that remains of the cadre they created when they were part of the Night’s Watch.

They lapse into silence, looking over the wall, north, where, not very far away, an army of White Walkers approaches.

Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Pod, Davos, and Tormund

Game of Thrones S08E02 Tormund drinks giant’s milk HBO

The brothers sit in front of a fire, talking about the last time they were in Winterfell together. It was easier back then, when Jaime was sleeping with his sister and Tyrion was sleeping with every prostitute he could find.

Brienne and Pod enter the room, and they invite them in for a drink. Brienne, ever the Girl Scout, declines at first. But she relents and allows Pod to have half a cup, which Tyrion drunkenly overfills.

Ser Davos the Onion Knight wanders in, declines a drink, but stays for the company.

The big, red-headed, lovestruck Tormund clops in and delivers the best origin story.

“They call me ‘Giantsbane,’” he says. “Want to know why? I killed a giant when I was 10. Then I climbed right into bed with his wife. When she woke up, you know what she did? Suckled me at her teat for three months. Thought I was her baby. That’s how I got so strong. Giant’s milk.”

Everybody looks at each other in quasi-horror. Davos decides to have a drink after all.

Arya, the Hound, and Beric

Game of Thrones S08E02 Arya, the Hound, and Beric HBO

Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, sits alone on a Winterfell wall drinking from a gigantic bladder full of what must be alcohol. Arya joins him, and he offers her a drink. She takes it and says nothing.

“You never used to shut up,” he says. “Now you’re just sitting there like a mute.”

“Guess I’ve changed,” she says.

“What are you doing up here?”

“What’s it look like?”

“No, I mean, what are you doing up here? You joined the Brotherhood. You went beyond the Wall with Jon. You’re here now. Why? When was the last time you fought for anyone but yourself?”

“I fought for you, didn’t I? ”

Beric Dondarrion, the man with the eyepatch, appears.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” the Hound says. “Might as well be at a bloody wedding.” (Or a red wedding, we suppose.)

Beric’s been dead many times. And he’s been resurrected many times, too, thanks (he says) to a strange god. It is his considered opinion that the Lord of Light has brought them all together.

“Thoros isn’t here anymore,” the Hound says, “so I hope you’re not about to give a sermon. Because if you are, the Lord of Light’s gonna wonder why he brought you back 19 times just to watch you die when I chuck you over this fucking wall.”

Arya leaves.

“I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old shits,” she says.

Arya and Gendry

Game of Thrones S08E02 Arya and Gendry HBO

Arya is practicing her archery when Gendry appears. He’s prepared her weapon.

He tells her that he’s Robert Baratheon’s bastard, that the Red Woman told him that just before she tied him up, stripped him down, and covered him in leeches. (Westeros is a great place.)

Arya flirts, asking if that was his first time with a woman. Gendry’s nervous, defensive. He admits to having slept with three women.

“We’re probably going to die soon,” Arya says. “I want to know what it’s like before that happens.”

They kiss. She takes off her shirt, and we can see lines of scars up her right side. Gendry stares.

Arya tells Gendry to take his own damn pants off before she climbs on top of him.

Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Pod, Davos, and Tormund

Game of Thrones S08E02 Brienne knighted HBO

The drinking buddies sit in front of the fire, and Tyrion breaks the silence.

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” he asks. “Almost everyone here’s fought the Starks at one time or another. And here we are in their castle, ready to defend it. Together.”

“At least we’ll die with honor,” Brienne says, which is so very Brienne.

“I think we might live,” Tyrion says. Almost everyone chuckles. “I do.”

He makes the case for their survival, pointing to their success in the past. When he gets to Brienne, Tormund interrupts. He’s shocked that she isn’t a knight. Tradition prevents it, turns out. Brienne says she doesn’t care. Except that she does.

“I’m no king,” Tormund says, “but if I were, I’d knight you 10 times over.”

“You don’t need a king,” Jaime says. “Any knight can make another knight. I’ll prove it. Kneel, Lady Brienne.”

She hesitates.

“Do you want to be a knight or not? Kneel.”

She kneels. Jaime extends his sword, placing it on alternating shoulders, as he knights her.

“In the name of the Warrior, I charge you to be brave. In the name of the Father, I charge you to be just. In the name of the Mother, I charge you to defend the innocent.

“Arise, Brienne of Tarth, a knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”

Everyone claps. Brienne tears up. (We might have, too.)

Jorah, Lyanna, and Sam

Game of Thrones S08E02 Jorah, Lyanna, and Sam HBO

As Sam walks down a Winterfell staircase, he overhears Jorah Mormont trying to convince Lyanna Mormont to stay out of the battle. She ain’t havin’ it.

You may remember that Jorah was once heir to House Mormont. Years before Game of Thrones began, he disgraced himself as a slaver. Ned Stark spared his life, and Jorah went into exile, where he met Dany and her execrable brother way back at the very beginning of Game of Thrones.

After his son’s disgrace, Jorah’s father, Jeor Mormont, surrendered the family titles. We met him back at the beginning of season 1, when Jeor was Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch when Jon and Sam arrived there way back when. After Jon and Ghost saved Jeor’s life, Jeor gave Jon the sword that the secret Targaryen still carries — Longclaw, which would otherwise have passed to Jorah.

With Jorah in exile and Jeor at the Night’s Watch, Jeor’s sister took charge of House Mormont. When she died fighting for Rob Stark, her daughter Lyanna assumed responsibility for House Mormont.

That makes Lyanna Jorah’s first cousin.

“We have all we need to win this war,” Jorah says.

“I have trained my men, women, and children,” Lyanna, a certified badass, says. “I have fought before. I can fight again.”

“Please, listen to me. You’re the future of our house.”

“I don’t need you to remind me of that.”

“You’ll be safer in the crypt. These things we’re fighting —”

“I will not hide underground. I pledged to fight for the North, and I will fight.”

Sam approaches, and Lyanne leaves wishing Jorah good fortune.

“What have you got there?” Jorah asks.

“It’s called Heartsbane,” Sam says. “It’s my family sword.”

“You still have a family.”

“Yes. And I’d love to defend them with it. But I can’t really hold it upright. Your father, he taught me how to be a man. How to do what’s right. This is right. It’s Valyrian steel. I’d be honored if you’d take it.”

Game of Thrones S08E02 Jorah gets a sword HBO

“I’ll wield it in his memory to guard the realms of men.”

“I’ll see you when it’s through.”

“I hope we win.”

Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Pod, Davos, and Tormund

The skunky wine is running out, and Jaime suggests that it’s time to get some rest. Tyrion doesn’t want the party to end. He suggests that someone sings a song. Everyone begs off, except for Pod, who begins singing a song familiar to book readers.

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

Dany and Jon

Jon is contemplating life and death in the Winterfell crypt when Dany arrives. She asks who the statue next to him is.

“Lyanna Stark,” Jon says.

“My brother Rhaegar — everyone told me he was decent and kind,” Dany says. “He liked to sing. Gave money to poor children. And he raped her.”

“He didn’t. He loved her. They were married in secret. After Rhaegar fell on the Trident, she had a son. Robert would have murdered the baby if he ever found out, and Lyanna knew it. So the last thing she did as she bled to death on her birthing bed was give the boy to her brother, Ned Stark, to raise as his bastard.”

“My name — my real name — is Aegon Targaryen.”

Game of Thrones S08E02 Dany and Jon HBO

“That’s impossible.”

“I wish it were.”

Jon says that Bran told him and Sam confirmed it.

“A secret no one in the world knew, except your brother and your best friend,” Dany says, hanging a lantern on it. “Doesn’t seem strange to you?”

“It’s true, Dany. I know it is.”

“If it were true, it would make you the last male heir of House Targaryen. You’d have a claim to the Iron Throne.”

A horn with a distinctive sound blares in the distance. The Night King’s army is here.

God help them all.

Maester’s research

In any other Game of Thrones season, this kind of episode — another series of meetings — could leave many viewers eager to get on with the overall story. But we only have a few episodes left, only a handful of hours to spend with these characters. And “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is designed for us, the viewers, to get some finality.


Much of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” follows Jaime Lannister on his apology tour around Winterfell. His trial didn’t last as long as we thought it might, but the themes reverberated throughout the episode.

If there was a main character here, it was Jaime. And by the end of the episode, he got as close to forgiveness as he’s ever likely to get. For him and for the audience, it is the acknowledgement of a years-long evolution. It is catharsis.

Sure, it only happened because there was an existential threat to humanity bearing down on Winterfell, but still: Public redemption, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, is a rare and beautiful occurrence in Game of Thrones. If the worst happens to Jaime, to borrow a phrase from Brienne, then he can die with honor.

Family matters

Family is both good and bad, and Game of Thrones has been playing with that concept for the last two episodes (and also for the last seven seasons).

Let’s compare two parts of three scenes to learn a little about family.

When Arya and Jon meet at the Weirwood tree in episode 1, Jon says he could have used her help with Sansa — that Sansa thinks she’s smarter than everyone. Arya thinks Sansa’s the smartest person she’s ever met. Jon’s taken aback, but Arya says she’s defending not just Sansa, but their family.

“I’m her family, too,” Jon says.

“Don’t forget that,” Arya says.

As viewers, we can read the subtext. He is a Stark, yes, but he’s also a Targaryen. There’s another component, too, which becomes clearer after watching this episode: The great Houses of Westeros are still at war. They’re just pausing to fight another war for a while. As we wrote last week, they’re still playing the game of thrones, which is fundamentally about families.

Now let’s turn to Jaime’s trial in this episode, when Sansa is angry about what Jaime did to her father.

“Do you want me to apologize?” Jaime asks. “I won’t. We were at war. Everything I did, I did for my house and my family. I’d do it all again.”

As I wrote about, Jaime’s right. The Lannisters were at war with Hand of the King Ned Stark. The inevitable consequence of Ned’s discovery — that King Robert Baratheon’s children were, in fact, Cersei and Jaime’s children — was the fall of the house of Lannister.

That doesn’t excuse what Jaime did. That doesn’t make him or the Lannisters good people. But it does explain and justify (to Jaime, at least) their (terrible) actions.

“The things we do for love,” the Three-Eyed Raven nee Brandon Stark says, apropos of nothing, but echoing the words that Jaime said when he threw Bran out of the window at the end of Game of Thrones’ first episode. Again, it’s about family. Family is complicated.

Hell, even Theon Greyjoy is back in Winterfell, defending the land of the family that captured him as a spoil of war when he was a kid. Talk about split allegiances!

And nobody in Game of Thrones epitomizes this duality better than Jon Snow, Targaryen by birth, Stark by nurture. The Starks are the only family he’s ever known, and his loyalty presumably lies with them. But he has a birthright. Speaking of which …

Family versus birthright

The question that Sam asked in “Winterfell” remains open: Would Dany turn down the throne like Jon did for the greater good?

Dany spent her entire life believing that her family, the Targaryens, belonged on the Iron Throne. From that perspective, the world in which she lives is an aberration. Her family’s mission is to reclaim the throne, which is (and has always been) rightfully theirs.

But if she really believes that, then Jon is the rightful heir.

It’s a question of family versus birthright. Is it more important to Dany that the Targaryens reign or that she reigns?


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