Spoilers for Season 8, Episode 2 ahead.
Throughout the second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season, I couldn’t help but say to myself: boy, this reminds me of Helms Deep a lot. In case you need a refresher on your fantasy, Helms Deep was the site of the fearsome and climactic battle in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
That probably isn’t a coincidence, as the team working on the next episode wanted to create a battle scene that was longer and more epic than The Battle of Helms Deep. Like that film, Winterfell found itself on the brink of an epic battle (at nightfall no less) stacked against inhumane odds. Ordinary citizens are forced into the army to help as numbers are key here. Women, children, the elderly and even Tyrion are urged to seek refuge in the crypts below the city when the fighting commences. That sense of dread hangs over this episode like a cloud, following the characters, who repeatedly cited that they’re going to die. Many of them probably will. But before that happens, we got some quality time and bonding between the heroes, many who fought against the Starks at some point or another, now seeking warmth and ale in their castle.
Unlike the very exposition/set up focus of last week’s episode, this one felt more purposeful, even though less probably happened. A big focus was put on Jamie Lannister, a character who has had an excellent character arc over eight seasons. He was met with ice-cold hostility at the front of the episode but despite having murdered Daenerys’ father and tried to kill Bran, he’s eventually accepted into the army and is willing to fight for the living, sharing a drink with Tyrion, Tormund, Podrick and Davos Seaworth. Jamie then gets the honour of knighting Brienne himself, a moment for which the episode is named after and a direct connection to the collection of novellas George R.R. Martin published titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which dealt with one of Brienne’s ancestors. Despite Jamie being pretty bad in the past, he’s done a lot of good things throughout the years and many people vouched for him. The same can be said for Theon, who once took over Winterfell and now comes to fight for it.
The plan for next week is simply: the Night King wants Bran as he’s the living memory of the world since he’s able to see the past. He suggests using himself as bait and waiting for the King to come to him, all while laying a trap that involves dragons. If he falls, the whole army should fall. It’s quite a gamble, as Bran even states he’s not sure if Dragon Fire will work against the Night King as no one has tried it before, therefore he does not have that knowledge.
Elsewhere, Dany tries to make amends with Sansa but that situation was met with a stalemate as Sansa reiterated that the North does not wish to be ruled by anyone other than a northerner. Dany finds her allies slowing becoming more like obstacles as she wants the throne more than anything in the world and will likely do anything for it, perhaps even turn on her allies. The walls around Dany close even more when Jon Snow tells her he’s Aegon Targaryen, her nephew and rightful male heir to the throne. Will Dany turn her back on Winterfell after the upcoming battle is over? The show is certainly making it harder to root for her now that she’s in the north as she’s become slightly more antagonistic towards the heroes of the show.
Also, can we all acknowledge how funny this show can get?
This episode was all about reflection, reconciliation and redemption. Many of these characters, The Hound, Jamie, Varys, are bad people and have done awful things throughout the show’s run, yet standing in the face of oblivion, they’ve come together, the most unlikely of allies, in the name of life. Many believe it to be their final hours and yeah, that’s true for a lot of them. With three more episodes left after next week’s episode, I reckon things will get worse before they get better. The calm before the storm has passed; time to strap in.
As you await next week’s episode, why not check out our latest, including a review of Childish Gambino’s Guava Island and why the First Blood sequels missed the point. Likewise, stay tuned for our spoiler-free and spoiler-filled reviews of Avengers: Endgame this week. If you haven’t bought tickets yet, you can buy them below at Atom (ScreenHub may get a percentage of the sale if you do buy from this link.)