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Game of Thrones - A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms - Review

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Game of Thrones “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was written by Bryan Cogman and was directed by David Nutter. This episode once again delivered intimate interactions between the characters leading up to the very edge of what will no doubt be the most epic battle ever filmed for any screen (sorry Tolkien fans!). There were just too many wonderful performances and interactions in this episode. Two of the standouts have to be the titular sequence of Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) knighting Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Arya (Maise Williams) losing the last of her innocence completely on her own terms. The title works on two levels and we see a night shared by the members of the Seven Kingdoms who have come together to fight for the living. And then there was that final scene – in which we see that Jon (Kit Harington) values love and family above all else while Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) values the Iron Throne. There’s no changing those first, gut reactions…

The episode begins with Jaime facing Daenerys and the others. Apparently, no one ever told Daenerys what really happened between Jaime and Aerys Targaryen. Apparently, his heirs had no idea that he was mad… Jaime has to break the news that Cersei (Lena Headey) lied to all of them and is sitting in King’s Landing with the Golden Company army and the Iron Fleet. Jaime reiterates that he promised to fight for the living, and he, unlike Cersei, will keep his promise. Of course, this looks bad for Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) who has once again been out maneuvered. Not a good look for the Hand of the Queen. Tyrion is quick to defend his brother, but Daenerys doesn’t have faith in Tyrion’s knowing his brother any better than his sister.

Surprisingly, Sansa (Sophie Turner) supports Daenerys. She remembers Jaime attacking Ned in the street and trying to destroy her House the same way he tried to destroy the Targaryens. Jaime refuses to apologize for any of it because they were at war – he is only following a code of honor to defend and fight for his House. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) chimes in with “the things we do for love” – the exact phrase that Jaime used when he pushed Bran out of that window! Is it a threat? Coster-Waldau’s reaction here is brilliant – and the stare he shares with Bran is terrific.

Daenerys asks why he’s abandoned his House and family now, and Jaime echoes Brienne’s words to him: “This goes beyond loyalty. This is about survival.” Brienne has proven to be a better Knight than Ser Jaime. And at that point, Brienne gets up and speaks for Jaime. She declares him a man of honor and relates their time together. I adored this scene. Daenerys is clearly moved by the story of how Jaime lost his hand, and Sansa is completely won over when she hears that Brienne is only there – and Sansa is only alive – because of the oath that Jaime swore to her mother. Sansa is completely willing to accept Jaime as soon as Brienne declares that she vouches for him and would fight beside him.

Sansa declares that she trusts Brienne with her life, so if Brienne trust hers to Jaime – they should let him stay. Daenerys is not so pleased and asks for Jon’s opinion. He says that they need every man they can get. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) returns his sword. Daenerys is surprised by Jon’s refusing to look at her and simply walking off. It’s sad as all the main players file out to their respective business, leaving Jaime at loose ends. What is his place going to be?

Once out of the Hall, we get a great walk and talk sequence as Daenerys lets Tyrion have it. He’s either a traitor or a fool. She threatens to find another Hand. Tyrion is not wrong to suspect that either Jorah (Iain Glen) or Varys (Conleth Hill) will be next…

Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is busy in the forge. I adored the way Maise Williams moves as Arya and she slips into the forge. She’s also terrific at clearly telegraphing her admiration for Gendry… Arya questions Gendry about the army of the dead. She wants details, but he wants her to hide in the crypt. He tries to scare her by telling her that they are like death – and she tells him that she knows death. We know, of course, that Arya is far more prepared to fight them than Gendry – and she proves it. Gendry is in awe as she pinpoints the three daggers onto a column as she speaks. He recognizes that she is a warrior – I loved that he didn’t need any more convincing and tells her that he’ll get right on making her weapon.

Jaime goes to Bran under the Weirwood tree and apologizes for what he did to him. Hempstead Wright is simply fantastic – I loved the look he gives Jaime that is both blank and ‘what are you on about.’ He tells Jaime that he wasn’t sorry then – and he completely gets Jaime protecting his family. Jaime declares that he’s changed, but Bran points out that neither of them would have changed if Jaime hadn’t pushed him out of that window. Bran tells Jaime that he’s something else now. Jaime is amazed that Bran isn’t angry and didn’t tell them, but the Three-eyed Raven is pragmatic if nothing else – I called this – Bran explains that Jaime could hardly help them if he was dead! When Jaime asks about afterwards, Bran asks “how do you know there is an afterwards?” And again, Coster-Waldau’s reaction is perfect – he’d never truly considered that…

Tyrion walks through the courtyard watching the preparations and runs into Jaime. They discuss the fact that the Northerners are still unsure about Daenerys and Tyrion points out that she is now Jaime’s Queen too. He tells Jaime that she’s different. Tyrion also admits that he’s failed Daenerys by underestimating his opponents – a common failing of the clever! Tyrion asks about the baby, and Jaime says that part is real. Jaime claims that Cersei fooled him too, but Tyrion calls him on it, saying that Jaime always knew what Cersei was but loved her anyway. Tyrion doesn’t condemn Jaime for his love and loyalty.

It’s hilarious as Tyrion bemoans that they will die at Winterfell. He’s at least happy that Cersei won’t get to kill him. He takes some comfort in thinking that once he’s dead, he’ll march down to King’s Landing and rip her apart!

Jaime goes to see Brienne as she prepares the battlefield. I loved her little smile of pride as she watches Podrick (Daniel Portman) training another soldier – and doing it easily and capably – and with the same disdain she showed to him. Jaime remarks that he’s come a long way, and she says he’s alright but has a lot left to learn. She’s not taking Jaime’s compliment!

Brienne is in charge of the left flank. She comments on the ground and their chances and Jaime continues to agree with her until she tells him to stop it. They’ve never had a conversation for so long without him insulting her! He tells her that he came to Winterfell because he’s not the fighter he used to be, but he’d be honored to fight under her if she will have him. Brienne is completely stunned and answers with a single nod. She goes back to preparations, leaving Jaime again at loose ends. It’s yet another brilliant and satisfying scene.

Jorah goes to Daenerys. He reminds her that she forgave him for his many failures, and he tells her that she broke his heart when she named Tyrion Hand, but she made the right choice. Jorah still believes in Tyrion’s mind. Daenerys insists that Tyrion has made mistakes, but Jorah reminds her that they all have, but Tyrion owns his and learns from them. Daenerys is surprised that Jorah is speaking for Tyrion – and he also advises her to make peace with Sansa.

I loved the scene between these two strong women who have both endured so much. It’s their both being forged in the fire as it were that has made them both such great leaders. They have so very much in common that they should be friends – but then, they also have a thirst for power, for never being beholden to anyone ever again, in common too. Daenerys begins by discussing that they seemed to be on the brink of agreement over Jaime and says she wishes she could have as much faith in her advisors as Sansa has in hers. Sansa then speaks for Tyrion. One of the things that I loved so much about this episode is how many of the characters stick up for one another based on what they have gone through to get here. It does feel like so many threads are being wrapped up – now, if only they all could live!

Sansa says that Tyrion was nothing but kind to her, but Daenerys says that she picked Tyrion as hand because he was smart and ruthless when he needed to be – not because he was kind. He never should have trusted his sister. Sansa doesn’t miss a beat in telling Daenerys that she shouldn’t have either! When Daenerys says she thought Sansa knew Cersei, Sansa says families are complicated – OMG _ THE IRONY!!! And of course, Daenerys agrees, and focuses on the other things that they have in common. Daenerys does not want to be at odds with Sansa. They discuss Jon, and Sansa points out that men do stupid things for love. Daenerys tells Sansa that the one goal she’s had her entire life has been the Iron Throne – until she met Jon. And now she’s in the North, fighting his war – who manipulated whom? But of course, this doesn’t mean that her end goal is forgotten, just delayed.

Sansa tells Daenerys that she should have thanked her when she arrived. Daenerys lays her hand over Sansa’s as she tells her that she’s there because she loves Jon and trusts him and knows that he is true to his word. Daenerys says that Jon is only the second man in her life that she can say that about. When Sansa asks who the first was, Daenerys says someone taller – must everyone mock poor Kit Harington for being under tall??? Regardless, does she mean Jorah? Or does she maybe been Drogo? I’d like to think it’s a call back to Drogo.

But Sansa, like Jaime, is focused on what happens afterwards. After they defeat the army of the dead and Cersei – what then. And Daenerys doesn’t hesitate. She takes the Iron Throne. But Sansa is still focused on the North. She reminds Daenerys that it was taken from them and they vowed never to lose it again. And Daenerys takes her hand back – she’s unwilling to budge – but Sansa is also clearly not going to back down. The scene ends as the two are called away…

And Theon (Alfie Allen) has arrived just in time for the battle. I suspect that he will be one of the first to fall. I adored this scene. Theon immediately bends the knee to Daenerys. He tells her that Yara has sailed back to reclaim the Iron Islands with the few ships she has. He leaves out his rescue of her. Daenerys asks why he isn’t with her, and he turns to Sansa and asks to fight for Winterfell if she’ll have him. Unlike Brienne’s response, Sansa immediately rushes to hug him.

We finally catch up with Davos (Liam Cunningham), and he’s doing the most unglamorous thing possible – helping feed the troops. When one man tells Davos he’s not a soldier, Davos pragmatically tells him he is now, but he does try to reassure him with his own story – and tells him he’ll be outfitted with weapons – it’s a nice touch when we later see him fitted out in that armor and ready for battle.

We also finally get a sight of Gilly (Hannah Murray) who is helping organize the women, children, and elderly into the crypt. Davos is caught off guard when a young girl – who clearly reminds him of Shireen – wants to know where she should go. She wants to fight, not hide in the crypt, and Gilly comes to his rescue by asking her to help protect those down in the crypt.

The horns sound, and then we’re treated to yet another terrific reunion. Jon is thrilled to see Eddison (Ben Crompton) and Sam (John Bradley) has beaten him there to say hello. I loved Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) completely catching Jon off guard – and us! – with a gigantic bear hug. Jon also welcomes Beric (Richard Dormer), and they tell him about the Umbers and Last Hearth. Tormund tells them they only have until before the sun comes up tomorrow. And of course, my favorite part of this scene is when Tormund asks “Is the big woman still here?”

As Jon sums up what they have, we get treated to shots of the preparations, reminding us of the detail that has gone into this show. Of course, they keep the shots tight, which helps to keep costs of extras, etc, down, but it’s still a terrific way to begin to ramp up for the battle. Jon points out that they are still outnumbered and that their enemy doesn’t tire, stop, or feel. They can’t beat them in a straight fight.

I loved this scene – I’m starting to become a broken record! But we have never had all of these characters in the same room before – and we never will again. We have to accept (NO!!!) that some of them are about to die. Jon’s plan is to kill the Night King. Jaime insists that he’ll never expose himself, but Bran tells them that he’ll come for him. Bran tells them that the Night King has tried many times for many Three-eyed Ravens. Sam wants to know why and what he wants. Bran tells them he wants an endless night – he wants to erase this world, and Bran is its memory. That rings true for Sam who says that’s what death is – forgetting, being forgotten. “If we forget what where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re not men anymore, just animals.” And that rings true as the theme throughout this episode – all the characters now acknowledge what’s brought them to this moment.

Sam points out that Bran’s memories aren’t just stories. Bran is the logical place to start to erase the history of men. Tyrion asks how the Night King will find him, and Bran shows them where the Night King marked him. Jon immediately wants to put Bran in the crypt where it’s safest, but Bran is having none of it – he’s prepared to act as bait. He tells them he’ll wait for the Night King in the godswoods. Sansa and Arya immediately object and Arya says that they won’t leave him out there alone. Theon immediately says he won’t be – he’ll stay with him because he’s the Ironborn – and suddenly it all makes sense – why Theon is both Stark and Ironborn. Why the Ironborn moto is what it is – and Theon making amends for what he’s done. Like Brienne, Bran accepts Theon’s offer with a single nod.

Tyrion is planning to be on the wall with Ser Davos, but Daenerys insists that Tyrion will be in the crypt. Tyrion points out that he’s fought before and insists he wants to be beside the other men and women risking their lives. Daenerys insists that he’s there because of his mind and if they survive, she’ll need it. Tyrion also accepts with a single nod of his head – he also recognizes that this is Daenerys’ way of telling him that they are moving on from his mistake. He’s still her Hand and that isn’t about to change. Did you catch that Tyrion was going to help Davos light the trenches? Does that mean that they somehow have acquired some wildfire???

Davos points out that the dragons give then an advantage in the field, but Jon points out that they need the dragons close enough to protect Bran – but not too close or the Night King won’t come – and pursue the Night King when he comes for Bran. Arya asks if dragon fire will kill him, and Bran says he doesn’t know – no one has ever tried. That’s a sobering thought for everyone. And Tormund – always the one to ignore basic social niceties says “We’re all going to die.” But then he looks sideways at Brienne and smiles as he says “at least we’ll all die together…” Jon tells them to get some rest. Once again, he won’t look at Daenerys and rushes out of the room.

Tyrion and Bran are left together, and Tyrion asks Bran if he needs help, which Bran refuses. Tyrion remarks on Bran’s strange journey and pulls up a chair to hear about it. Bran tells him that it’s a long story, and Tyrion replies “If only we were trapped in a castle in winter with nowhere to go…”

Grey Worm oversees preparations but spares a moment for Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is uncomfortable with the cold reception she’s getting from the northerners. Grey Worm points out that once Daenerys takes the throne, there will be no place for them in Westeros. Grey Worm insists that he is loyal and will fight for his Queen until she wins – but even he is considering that afterwards. He asks Missandei if she wants to grow old in Westeros – or does she want to do something else. She admits that she would like to see Naath again. Grey Worm tells her that he will take her there. I thought the exchange that her people are peaceful and that they can’t protect themselves and Grey Worm’s answer that his people aren’t peaceful and will protect her was a bit odd. If her people are peaceful, why do they need protecting????

Sam and Jon share a moment on the wall – with Ghost! Sam asks if Jon has told Daenerys who he really is yet. Jon says no, and Sam prattles on about being careful and finding the perfect moment – as if there is one! Jon basically rolls his eyes. The two are joined by Edd who says “And now our watch begins…” Jon checks to make sure that Gilly and little Sam are safe in the crypt – and offers Sam a way out – to join them and protect them in the crypt.

Sam actually takes offence, pointing out that he was the first one to kill a White Walker, a Fenn, and saved Gilly several times. Of course it’s hilarious when he adds stealing books from the Citadel to the list. When Edd says if they have to rely on Sam as a fighter they are truly fucked, Sam jokes that Edd isn’t – and Jon laughs. Sam remarks on how far they’ve come and who they’ve lost. There’s a gorgeous shot of the three looking over the wall at Winterfell. It’s another terrific moment and a great way to recap.

Tyrion is joined in front of the fire by Jaime. Tyrion remarks he wishes there father was there – earning a surprised look from Jaime. Tyrion explains he’d like to see the look on his face, seeing his two sons about to die defending Winterfell! And Jaime does find that amusing. Tyrion remembers the first time they were in the hall – and again, we get another quick recap. Both remark that they can’t go back to what they were – a whore mongerer and a Golden Lion – too much has happened, and they have changed too much. Tyrion toasts the perils of self-betterment. The two are joined by Brienne and Pod.

Tyrion offers Pod a drink and Brienne immediately objects – the battle might start at any moment! Pod will listen to Brienne, but she relents for half a cup – and of course Tyrion fills the glass to over flowing. Brienne refuses any for herself, insisting she should get some sleep. Of course, when Jaime points out that none of them will be sleeping that night and pulls a chair up for her, she smiles and relents – on both counts. The group is joined by Davos – who’s there for the fire – and then Tormund.

I’ve made no secret of my love for Tormund with Brienne, so this is one of my favorite moments in the episode. Tormund addresses Brienne as he says “this could be our last night in this world, you know…” And Brienne answers, “I’m glad you’re here” and Tormund’s face lights up, causing Brienne to clarify quickly “Glad you’re here fighting with us. Glad you survived East Watch…” Tyrion jumps to her rescue by offering Tormund a drink. But he brought his own in a giant mug!

Jaime is watching bemused, and if you thought Tormund was oblivious or stupid, you’d be wrong. He immediately challenges his rival by saying “they call you King Killer. They call me Giant’s Bane.” And then he asks if Jaime wants to know why. I loved him pulling a chair up so that it faces Jaime and he maintains eye contact – like every good alpha male. He tells the story of killing a giant when he was 10. Then he got in bed with his wife. When she woke up, she suckled him for 3 months because she thought he was her baby! And that’s how he got so strong – giant’s milk. Everyone is stunned – and somewhat disgusted as Tormund messily down his entire drink…

Back on the wall, we get another great moment between the Hound (Rory McCann) and Arya. He’s drinking alone and she sits down beside him and shares a drink with him. It’s another great scene that reflects on how much the two have changed. He’s freaked out by the fact that she never used to shut up and now she’s sitting there like a mute! Arya simply remarks, “Guess I’ve changed.” She wants to know what he’s doing “up here.” He answers literally, but she wants to know why he’s in the North – not simply on the wall. She remembers him as someone who only fought for themselves. The Hound points out that he fought for her. And she was so much his catalyst for change, though I’d argue that that tendency was always in him – let’s not forget that he did defend Sansa too.

The two are joined by Beric, and the Hound remarks he might as well be at a “bloody wedding” – echoes of that red wedding, anyone? I loved this little throwaway that carries so much baggage! Of course, in the novels Catelyn is brought back in the same way as Beric, and Arya has killed Walder Frey in the very hall of the red wedding. Beric says it’s good to see her and he apologizes. I loved the Hound asking if Beric was on her list! Ayra tells him “for a little while” – so it IS possible to come off the list without her killing them. Is Arya’s listing of all the things the Hound has done and indication that he’s come off her list? I hope so…

Beric sits down with them and is about to go into a sermon on the Lord of Light when the Hound cuts him off, saying the Lord of Light is going to wonder why he brought Beric back 19 times only to have him die when the Hound threw him over the wall! Arya gets up, telling them that she’s not spending her final hours with “you two old miserable shits.” I suspect that was her absolving the Hound…

Arya goes to practice with her bow – and Gendry watches before stepping out of the shadows to give her the weapon he’s made for her. She asks him what the Red Woman wanted with him. He tells her everything, including that he’s Robert Baratheon’s son. She asks him if that was his first time, and I loved him saying, “yeah. I’d never had leeches put all over me…” But that’s clearly not what she was asking. I loved the matter of fact way she questions his sexual experience. Maise Williams is terrific in this scene as she takes of her gloves, and her face slowly softens as she approaches Gendry and tells him that they are likely about to die, and she wants to know what “it’s” like before she dies.

The sexual tension that they started building between the two in the last episode plays out nicely here. I liked the close up on Gendry’s face as he sees the scars on Arya’s body. I also loved that Arya was clearly the one in charge in the entire scene. This didn’t feel gratuitous of demeaning of the character in any way. It was beautifully done – a strong woman, taking control of her own destiny and body.

We go back to the fire, and Tyrion remarks that at one time or another, all of them seated there had fought the Starks. Brienne remarks “At least we’ll die with honor.” But Tyrion counters that he thinks they’ll live – causing Davos and Pod to laugh – does this mean they will die? Tyrion lists the number of battles they’ve won between them. When Tyrion corrects himself on calling Brienne Ser, Tormund is shocked! Why isn’t she a Ser? Brienne tells him that by tradition, women can’t be Knights, to which Tormund, somewhat predictably says, “Fuck tradition!” Jaime smiles – he could get to like Tormund. Brienne says she didn’t want to be a Knight and she shares a look with Pod – hard to be a squire without a Knight…

Tormund says that he’s no Knight, but if he were a King, he’d Knight her ten times over. Jaime jumps in and points out that you don’t need a King. Any Knight can make a Knight. And then proves it. If this wasn’t everyone’s favorite scene in this episode and among your top 10 for the entire series, I just don’t know! Everyone watches as Brienne kneels in front of Jaime. It’s simply beautifully shot and acted.

Jaime places his sword on alternating shoulders as he recites “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.” Tormund begins the clapping and Tyrion offers the toast – and we have never seen such a smile on Brienne’s face!

In the courtyard, Jorah tries to convince Lady Mormont (Bella Ramsey) to go to the crypt. She’s a Mormont through and through and refuses to hide underground. Please DO NOT KILL HER!!! She tells Jorah in no uncertain terms that she will fight. She tells Jorah, “I wish you good fortune cousin” before going off in the midst of her men.

Jorah is then joined by Sam who has brought him Heartsbane – his family’s sword. Jorah reminds him that he still has a family, and Sam admits that while he’d love to defend them with it, he can’t hold it upright! I was wondering about him offering it to Jorah, but again, it makes perfect sense and comes full circle. Sam tells Jorah that Jorah’s father, Jeor, taught Sam to be a man – and then Sam saved Jorah’s life. Jeor taught Sam to do what was right – and giving Jorah the sword is right. Also? It’s valyrian steel. Jorah promises to wield it in Jeor’s memory – to guard the realms of men. Sam tells him that he’ll see him when they’re through – and he hopes they win.

The fireside group is about to break up – they’re out of wine – so Tyrion calls for a song. Surely one of them knows a song and can sing?!? Davos says they’d wish for a quick death if he sang. FYI – Hivju can sing and if you’ve missed the videos of him and McCann singing – do yourself a favor and google it!

And then Pod breaks into “Jenny’s Song” and it is glorious. Of course, Pod would have yet another hidden talent. The plaintive acapella rendition covers so many wonderful scenes – Theon and Sansa sharing a meal in the courtyard, Sam in bed with Gilly and little Sam, Arya in bed awake with a sleeping Gendry, Grey Worm taking his leave of Missandei, Jorah heading out, and then we are finally with Daenerys and Jon in the crypt.

Daenerys finds Jon in front of Lyanna Stark’s statue. Daenerys knows her history too. She tells Jon that everyone told her that her brother Rhaegar was decent and kind and liked to sing – which is a nice link to the previous scene. Daenerys knows the story that Rhaegar raped Lyanna – but Jon tells her that he didn’t. He tells her the truth. I loved how this was shot with Lyanna’s statute between the two at the beginning with the lit candle in her hand – a nice nod to Daenerys’ dawning knowledge. I also like how Nutter zooms in on Clarke’s face as Daenerys listens as Jon tells her the story of his birth. And her dawning horror. Jon tells her that Bran saw it, and Sam confirmed it. Daenerys continues to question it – your brother and best friend are the only ones who knew…

Now the focus shifts to Jon’s face – and his growing confusion over what Daenerys is saying – why she’s reluctant to believe it. It’s not because of what it means to their personal relationship. Her concern is that Jon now has the better claim to the Iron Throne. And then the horns sound – the battle is beginning. And the shot of Tyrion on the walls feels very much like the beginning of the Battle of the Blackwater – but instead of Stannis’ fleet, we see the White Walkers lined up facing Winterfell.

This was a beautifully shot and acted episode. I particularly appreciated all the echoes and reminders of how far these characters have come. We were treated to so many wonderful scenes between characters – many of whom we know won’t make it out of the next episode. But who will live and who will die? What was your favorite scene/character moment from the episode? Who can you live with dying and who can’t you stand to lose? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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