Daenerys confronts Sansa, Jon confronts Daenerys, Arya confronts Gendry, Tormund confronts Brienne and everyone confronts Jaime.
Fans anxiously awaiting the war between the living and the dead on "Game of Thrones" did a lot more waiting in the second episode of the final season.
But that doesn't mean they didn't get the chance to see some action. Plus, all of the characters currently holed up in Winterfell -- including new arrivals in the forms of Tormund, Edd, Beric and the rest of their brethren -- got a moment of quiet to prepare for what many believed would be their final battle.
It was a quiet episode, but a heavy one with melancholy and the weight of impending doom. It brought out the best in almost every character present, as they were able to set aside their differences (sometimes begrudgingly) to unite against the common enemy coming to destroy them and everything else.
Arya and Gendry shared a huge moment, while Jaime and Bran had their inevitable confrontation. Meanwhile, Daenerys had pivotal moments with the other two Stark children. But perhaps the best moments of the entire hour came with Brienne of Tarth; moments she shared with Tormund and Jaime.
While it may not look like there was a lot of gameplay happening here, there were nevertheless subtle moves that could mean everything. The general idea is that Westeros will survive this battle between the Night King and the united forces at Winterfell. After that, the original game picks up again for the Iron Throne, and it grows ever more complicated.
This week, we didn't hear or see a peep from Cersei or anyone else in King's Landing, precisely because her machinations are completely irrelevant at this juncture. The only significance she has to the battle of Winterfell is the fact she lied and sent no forces to aid. Her time will come next.
Tormund Comes on to Brienne
Tormund doesn't care about the game, the board or even the battle at hand Within seconds of updating Jon about the army of the dead, he was asking about Brienne. He is a man obsessed and in love. It's just too bad she's madly in love with Jaime and seemingly dismissive of his adorably and hilariously barbaric charms.
Easily the funniest character of the night, Tormund does still stand a chance, as it's a union fans have been shipping for a few years now. We have no idea who will survive the coming battle, but if Tormund does, he's not likely to stop his aggressive pursuit.
Arya Takes Some
Arya took her own aggressive pursuit of Gendry to its inevitable conclusion in an adorably aggressive scene. The sparks have been flying between them for awhile now, but it was totally appropriate that it was Arya who was the aggressor. She convinced him earlier in the episode what a badass she is, and now she's taken complete control in a scene we suspect was every bit as CGI as Cersei's walk of shame, but was nevertheless tasteful and deserved.
Arya has been through the ringer in her short life, and if she wants to experience sex before she (maybe) dies, she absolutely should. And Gendry is a kind and decent man, so she made a good choice there. Could she actually settle down with him and have a totally abnormal life together? We ship it.
Brienne Backs Jaime
When Jaime Lannister arrived at Winterfell, he did so at his own peril. At this point, he is an enemy of virtually everyone there, as Daenerys was quick to tell him. He did, after all, kill her father. He also crippled Bran, but the Three-Eyed Raven chose to keep that kernel to himself, which probably saved Jaime's life.
What more overtly changed his fate, though, was Brienne standing for him. She is easily one of the most true and honorable people on this show, and thus her words in his favor were enough to sway Sansa. And quite frankly, it's the right move.
Brienne seems too pure and good to survive this twisted world, but if goodness is ever rewarded and she survives, she could have a bright future ahead of her.
Bran Offers Himself as Bait
Whatever Bran is now, he's certainly quite brave. He already knows the Night King is coming for him, and so he quickly offers himself up as bait. Jon made it clear that taking down the Night King is the only way to really stop his army of the dead, so they need to draw him out.
Bran could well survive the war to come, or he could die and transcend into whatever happens to three-eyed ravens. Even if he ends his life here, he could warg into another boyd, jump into the past or even become the Night King if some theories are to be believed. We're expecting a crazy fate for him.
Sansa Stands for the North
While everyone else cows beneath Daenerys and her dragons, Sansa stands tall and firm. And so she was when Dany tried to make amends with her and Sansa countered by asking point-blank, "What about the North?" The North just reclaimed its freedom and they're not looking to bend the knee to anyone.
Dany wants the Iron Throne, but does she need all the Seven Kingdoms? It's more of an abstract concept to her than anything tangible. This was but the first time her ambition would be challenged in the episode. How she adapts to these new challenges will say everything.
Sansa is poised to remain in charge of Winterfell and could well become the first Queen in the North. She's certainly proving herself capable and strong enough and, more importantly, she's earned the respect of the people.
Theon Defends Bran
Another character seeking redemption after past misdeeds, Theon has the advantage of having helped Sansa out most recently, and so he was received quite warmly by her. Bran, on the other hand, has no reason to think so well of him, and so Theon offers to serve as his guard before the Night King.
Setting himself up for a noble and heroic death that would complete his redemption arc, it seems unlikely that Theon will survive this game. His has been a tragic story from the start, and tragedies generally end with the hero's death.
Greyworm Plans a Better Future
In a twist, Greyworm is actually planning his own exit from the gameboard, alongside Missandei. What remains to be seen his how Daenerys will take news that he wants to leave Westeros altogether with Missandei, and bring along his Unsullied to protect her.
It's fair to say that Dany's Essos army doesn't really belong in Westeros, and many will want to return home once they help her secure her throne, or whatever her fate winds up being. We suspect they will be allowed to do so and find their own happiness and destiny beyond hers.
Jaime Knights Brienne
The most touching moment of the night was also the most surprising, as Jaime formally knighted an incredibly deserving Brienne. She is the most knightly of all the knights on the show after Ser Barristan Selmy. That it was Jaime was even more meaningful considering her feelings for him and his years of disdain.
Jaime has come a long way from the pilot, and become an honorable and decent man. Fans are torn on how to feel about him because his resume is rather horrid, but his "betterment" journey has been so well told, he's become sympathetic, if still flawed. He feels like a character who might not see the end of this show, but he won't die here. He needs a final moment with Cersei.
Sam Honors Jorah
A sweet moment between Sam and Jorah Mormont connected both men through the former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and Jorah's father. That the connection came through the Tarly sword was also appropriate in that the Commander was more a father to Sam than his own ever was, making him a brother of sorts to Jorah.
While Jorah is another character who feels destined to die an honorable death in service of his queen, Sam feels like someone who will once again surprise everyone with his bravery. And as he might be the second cleverest man in Winterfell right now, and perhaps the most well read, he could find himself in a key position of the new administration, depending on who winds up on the Iron Throne.
Jorah Stands Up for Tyrion
Jorah Mormont has been Daenerys' most loyal adviser -- except for that one thing, but that's ancient history and forgiven -- and so his words still carry weight, even as Tyrion Lannister is her Hand now. And it is his words that perhaps spared Tyrion from getting fired and again finding himself in the middle of a battles.
Despite his mistakes, Jorah was quick to remind Dany his is still the cleverest mind they've got and worth protecting and keeping inside his head. Thus, he not only found himself still employed but also sent to the crypt so he'll be around to advise again post-battle.
Jorah, though, might just be too noble and loyal to possibly survive the war to come. We've been promised heavy casualties, and Jorah -- with Sam's family sword -- seems a likely candidate.
Jon Tells Dany the Truth
Jon made a huge step in taking that claim for himself, if he wants it, but telling Daenerys the truth of his heritage. He did so seconds before the horns blew to announce the coming of the battle so Dany had very little time to process it or really respond.
Her response will tell everything about her future on the show. If his is the rightful claim, she now has a chance to prove if she wants what is right or just wants the throne. Dany has been growing a little darker and more pompous and ambitious of late, so we're not totally sure what she'll do.
She and Jon could still easily rule together, no matter which of them claims the throne. It's not unprecedented, even in their family, for relatives to form a union. And Davos kind of set the stage for that result when he described them as a just woman and an honorable man.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
While it might seem logical to see Jon Snow as the player of the week for the baller move of telling Daenerys the truth of his lineage, effectively challenging her claim to the Iron Throne, there's another player that stepped up even more, and did so playing their own game.
Sansa Stark flatly told the Queen that she isn't interested in playing her game of ruling the Seven Kingdoms. Her interest is in the North, and she made it quite clear where the North stands. As a fellow female ruler, Dany already respects Sansa's strength and conviction.
Like Jon's revelation, this is a statement to challenge her own ambitions. She doesn't necessarily need the North to reclaim her throne. They can be allies without having Sansa or anyone bend the knee. Sansa is setting up her own game board in the North and it looks like she may well get to win the only game she's interested in playing.
Well played indeed.
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