Game of Thrones’ writers must have heard we like reunions. Because they delivered another episode FULL of them – along with some heart-wrenching goodbyes. Instead of the bloody dismemberment we were expecting, this episode took some time to remind us of why we love these characters (presumably so their inevitable deaths will be even more distressing). Here’s a recap of the highlights:
Unions and Reunions
Jaime appears before Daenerys, Jon, Sansa, and all the important folks in Winterfell to make a case for why they should trust him. Daenerys reminds us that Jaime’s nickname is “Kingslayer” because he killed her father. Sansa agrees with Daenerys that he can’t be trusted. Tyrion attempts to speak on his brother’s behalf but Daenerys is having none of it. Finally, Brienne steps forward and vouches for Jaime, causing Sansa to abruptly change course. Jon avoids eye contact with Daenerys throughout the exchange, but when asked for his opinion simply says that they need every man to fight. Jaime is grudgingly allowed to stay and both Jon and Sansa exit the room before being dismissed by the queen. Jaime follows Brienne and says he would be honored to fight the dead under her command.
Daenerys spends the rest of the episode stomping her feet impatiently, wondering why everyone doesn’t give her the respect she deserves (Wah! I want my throne!). She’s mad at Tyrion for making mistakes and Sansa for having too much authority in her own castle. Jorah spends some time talking her down, and Daenerys tries to play nice with Sansa. But Sansa isn’t easily persuaded by Daenerys’ charm. Lady Stark reminds Daenerys that The North won’t submit to her rule once she’s on the Iron Throne, and asks the queen what she plans to do about that. Before the Mother of Dragons can respond, they are interrupted by the arrival of Theon. Sansa embraces him warmly – glad to see him return to fight for Winterfell. At this moment, it is clear that these people are sacrificing everything for Sansa, Jon, and House Stark. Dany is totally out of her element.
Later, when the group from the wall arrives, the friendly greetings are cut short when they tell Jon that the dead will be in Winterfell before dawn. In a meeting to discuss strategy, Bran reveals that he knows the Night King will come for him because he is the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran plans to wait for the leader of the dead in Godswood, and Theon promises that he and the ironborn will protect him there.
Meanwhile, Arya is busy making sure that Gendry gets her weapon ready as soon as possible – and spends some time flirting and showing off in the process. After he’s finished her dragonglass spear, Arya confronts him in a remote part of the castle and asks him how many women he’s slept with. She then insists that she wants to have sex before she dies, Gendry seems OK with this plan, and they hurriedly undress. (Cue everyone at home Googling Arya’s age. To save you the trouble – the character is roughly 18 at this point in the HBO adaptation.)
After the sun sets on Winterfell, Tyrion, Davos, Podrick, Jaime, Tormund, and Brienne find themselves keeping warm at the same hearth. Tormund is clearly interested in a more private reunion with Brienne. She ignores his advances, and the group begins swapping battle stories. When it is revealed that Brienne is not a knight simply because she is a woman, Tormund protests the injustice loudly. Jaime, who has been closely watching Tormund flirt from across the room, declares that as a knight himself he can make Brienne a knight, too. In a brief but emotional ceremony that is met with enthusiastic applause from the small group, our favorite woman warrior becomes “Ser Brienne of Tarth”. But we can’t help but wonder – now that she’s achieved her dream, how long will she have to enjoy her new title?
Grey Worm and Missandei’s scene of refusing to say goodbye struck a chord with anyone who has a heart. They vowed to return to Naath together once Daenerys takes the throne. It’s easy to imagine these two sailing into the sunset, and the thought of the alternative is just too painful to dwell on.
Daenerys eventually goes looking for Jon just before the army of the dead arrives. Her lover, who now knows he is also her nephew, spends most of the episode avoiding her. But when finally given an opportunity to speak with the queen privately, he reveals his true identity. Daenerys immediately denies this revelation, angry at what she perceives to be a bid for power from Jon.
As soldiers prepare for battle, families go their separate ways – with women and children being confined to the crypt for the battle. Two men that might join them there are Tyrion and Sam. Tyrion has been ordered by the queen to stay off the battlefield. Sam may still choose to fight, but has given his Valyrian steel sword to Jorah, and could take the advice from other soldiers and stay with his family. The shot of Gilly, Sam, and Little Sam tucked away in bed was reminiscent of some of the final scenes from Titanic. Everyone huddled together in close quarters – waiting for the end. Perhaps because we know this ship is going down, too.
With only four episodes left in the series, we can expect that episode 3 is going to be a bloodbath (and this time I mean it!). Winter is here. The dead have arrived. Grab your wine and your tissues for episode three!