Written by Evan Northrup
Season 8 Episode 1 was full of call backs to some of the earliest episodes of Game of Thrones, like the mirroring of the arrival of Dany and King Robert, or the final stare down between Jaime and Bran. However, if Episode 1 was a nod to specific events from the earliest seasons, then Episode 2 was a callback in substance and quality; reminiscent of character interactions, emotional weight, incredible dialogue and surprising moments that made us fall in love with the show all those years ago. Where Episode 1 was heavy handed and fast paced, Episode 2 gave the characters room to breathe and interact.
The pacing in Episode 2 allowed for some of the truest to character dialogue and actions we have seen since the earliest seasons. Tyrion’s dialogue was superb, Arya reminded us her adventurous nature isn’t confined to battle, Jaime's and Brienne’s character arcs peaked with a wordless stare that could only be described as love, and to close the episode Podrick delivered a chillingly beautiful rendition of “Jenny Of Old Stones," proving the bedroom isn’t the only place that Podrick lays pipes.
For now, these tender moments of love and longing are beautiful interactions between people we have watched grow for the past eight years. But next Sunday these sincerely heartwarming moments will develop into goodbyes. Scenes that were full of love will become melancholy, acts of passion becoming tragic last moments of freedom, and secrets yet to be told will become secrets never to be heard.
So try to enjoy these beautiful moments with your favorite characters as much as they enjoyed their final moments with each other, because by the time the closing credits roll on Sunday, you better believe many of them will be fighting for the wrong side.
The episode begins at Winterfell with Jaime Lanister standing trial for basically everything he’s ever done. Dany wants him dead and Sansa agrees until Brienne intercedes on the Golden Lion’s behalf, but not before Jaime informs everyone that Cersei has hired the Golden Company with no intention of fighting the dead. Jon gives Dany the cold shoulder and Dany gives Tyrion the ultimatum of, "Stop fucking up or you’re fired."
Arya stares hungrily at Gendry while he bangs some hot metal, then asks him if she's ever going to get that big rod she asked for. Later Arya gets tired of asking and takes that big rod, along with the weapon Gendry made for her.
Jaime and Bran reminisce on the window shove that lost them a combined total of one hand, two legs, two identities, and countless family and friends. Later the Lannister brothers reunite on the Winterfell grounds until Jaimie is distracted by Lady Brienne and asks if she would allow him to serve under her command in the battle against the dead.
Ser Jorah councils Dany to forgive Tyrion of his failures as well as try to make peace with the Lady of Winterfell, which goes remarkably well until Sansa basically tells her that she has no intention of kneeling for Dany, whether she has the Iron Throne or not.
Edd, Tormund and Beric arrive, informing the castle that the dead will be here before sun up. All the leaders assemble and Bran finally decides to do something useful by informing us the Night King has one goal, the erasure of this world and a night that never ends. They make a plan that centers around using Bran as bait to draw the Night King into the open, and Theon offers to protect him with the rest of the Iron Born. The biggest issue with this proposed plan is that it's literally putting the fate of the world into the hands of a House that Jaime once referred to as, “Not good at anything.” Nice choice.
Night approaches and the characters stand vigil, waiting for the dead. Jon, Sam, Edd and Ghost have a Night’s Watch reunion on the battlements of Winterfell.
Jaime, Tyrion, Brienne, Podrick, Davos and Tormund warm themselves with wine, fire and good stories.
Arya drinks with the Hound, who reminds her who kept her alive after she left King’s Landing, until Beric shows up and she decides to go hang with her boo thang.
Back in the great hall with Tyrion and co., Jaime makes Brienne an official Knight, which Jaime’s actor, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, described as an “act of love,” and this action of love completes the duo’s character arc from squabbling prisoner and captor to respectful comrades at arms.
Sam gives Jorah his family’s Valyrian steel sword, and Jorah tells him he will wield it in his own father Jeor Mormant’s memory, who was more of a father to Sam than Randall Tarly ever was.
Podrick surprises everyone with a verse of “Jenny Of Oldstones,” which leads into a final montage of the characters we love spending their last few moments together. As the song ends we are left with a forlorn Jon standing in front of his mother’s tomb, Dany at his side.
This was the moment of the show that everybody was waiting for, when "Jon" tells Dany that he is Aegon Targaryen, and Dany responds with disbelief and anxiety about the stress this puts on her claim to the Iron Throne. The horn blows to signal battle, and the final shot we are given is a long line of White Walkers staring down upon Winterfell from across the field that surrounds it. Chilllllllllllllllllllllllls.
What this Means Moving Forward
This episode was a final love letter to the fans and characters. Although the story definitely developed, for the most part we just got a doubling down on the plot threads that were set up in the previous episode. Sansa and Dany’s tension is heading towards a collision at breakneck speed, especially when Dany reacts to the news of Jon’s parentage in the worst possible way (but in the end, the way we all knew she would), and the dead have arrived on Winterfell’s doorstep.
Similarly, the show doubled down on the thematic elements of love, duty, family and survival that they introduced in the first episode. Podrick’s singing of “Jenny of Oldstones” is a literal representation of this, a song about a Targaryen Prince who gave up his crown to be with the woman he loved, choosing love over duty, then dying because of it. This aligns with the choices we knew Jon would have to make once he knew who he really was. Family or duty? Responsibility or the woman he loves?
Although this episode built itself around characters and their relationships, the show runners did foreshadow one thing we already knew was coming; Death. And lots of it. So instead of diving into plot predictions and end game theories, here is a list of all the characters who we think will meet a sticky end next week during the Battle of Winterfell.
Future Wights All-Star Team
Ser Brienne never wanted power, glory, or riches. All she wanted to do was serve, and whether or not she could admit it to herself, be respected by those around her as the great and faithful warrior she was. Last Sunday we got to see her most inner desires come true.
First, we saw Brienne get the respect and trust she finally deserved from Sansa, allowing a man who fought her father to live because Brienne told her he could be trusted. We also saw that she had her own command of soldiers in the upcoming fight, and more importantly the man she loves finally respects her enough to ask for a place in that command.
Lastly, Jaime knighted her, completing her character arc from being boo’d for winning Renly’s tournament to becoming a Knight at the hand of the man who for so long denied her that respect she deserved. And she might have gotten away with it too. She might have lived to become a world renowned Knight or even a future Kings Guard. But then she had to go and smile about it. And not just any smile. Oh no. This was a face splitting, toothy, pure happiness grin.
Sorry, Brienne, but no one in Westeros EVER gets to be this happy for long. The only thing we can hope for now is that she will go out sacrificing herself for the man she loves.
Theon’s story may be the darkest in Westeros. He was taken from his biological family as a child, lost most of his real family during the War of the Five Kings, and lost the chance of having any future family to Ramsay Bolton. And now he has pledged to defend Bran against the most dangerous entity in the world's long history. Yeah, uh, YOU DEAD.
Assuredly his final act will be to sacrifice himself for Bran or one of the other Starks, but Theon will get more than just the redemption that he's longing for. He also gets to make Winterfell his home again, if just for a little while. When he was Reek, Winterfell became a prison wardened by Ramsay Bolton. This final act of defending Winterfell will allow him to reclaim this place as his home and part of his identity instead of just the site of past traumas. As far as GOT deaths go, I’d say that's a pretty beautiful way for his story to end.
Ever since we saw Beric be reincarnated in Season 2, we have been assured by many in the show that he has some purpose to serve in the war to come. Well Beric, its time to shit or get off the pot. No more Lord of Light talk or cryptic phrases buddy, go fucking do something. The Great War is here, and whatever purpose he does serve in this fight, it will most likely be his last.
Some theories suggest that he is Azhor Ahai and will slay the Night King. However, he will most likely just have some sort of assist in that endeavor. The odds a character with practically no screen time kills the most important villain is low, but he most likely will sacrifice himself to make it possible for another character (like Jon) to do just that.
Grey Worm + Missandei = Dead AF
Look, I get it Grey Worm. You haven’t lived in Westeros long. You don’t know the way things work around here. So here’s a little lesson. Never make plans. NEVER. I don’t care if its a dinner date, a time to visit your mother, or a fucking doctor appointment. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
You could’ve planned this dream beach vacation with Missandei literally any other time. But you had to do it right before the battle, didn’t you? Just couldn’t help yourself. Well, I hope you’re happy, because now you’re gonna get impaled on a big ass sword made of Ice along with the love of your life. Deuces amigos.
In the first season we learn from Jeor Mormant that his son Jorah dishonored his house, but left their ancestral Valyrian steel sword behind when he left. Seven seasons later, we see a man who claims that Jeor “taught him how to be a man” give Jorah another Valyrian steel sword. This would have been a fitting end to Jorah’s story on its own, but they gave him another moment to solidify the completion of his arc.
Jorah was once Dany’s most trusted adviser, until she found out he had sold her secrets to Robert Baratheon. After a multi season climb back into Daenerys's good graces, we see her give Jorah her trust once more. In a fitting callback to early seasons where Jorah was often seen counseling Daenerys, he gives her great advice about Tyrion and Sansa. Daenerys follows his advice.
This, along with his cousin Lyanna Mormont wishing him good fortune, completes his trifled journey from Lord, to the disgrace of his house, to advisor of a Queen, to banished by the Queen, and back to being accepted by his house and Queen both.
In Game of Thrones, goal fulfillment is always a sign of imminent death.
It's sad to say, but some deaths just have to happen for the sake of a clean ending. The Dothraki are a savage warrior people that raid, rape and destroy cities. Their unmatched fighting ability will give them a great advantage against the dead, but in the end they must die simply because there is no place for them in Westeros.
If they did survive, the showrunners could have them board ships and go back to Essos or award them with a “House Dothraki,” but neither makes sense in the context of the story. They are a mobile people, not meant to sit in castle or be lords. If Dany dies (which she will by the end of this season), and the Dothraki survive then they would wreak havoc on the people of Westeros. Sadly, their only real option is death by wights.
Tormund / Dolorous Edd
Sadly, some of us never get to complete our goals. It's shaping up to look like Tormund will be one of those people. While it would be amazing to have a “House Giantsbane” at the end of this story, descendants of the Free Folk, bedders of bears and sucklers of Giant boobs, it’s not looking good for the our big bearded friend.
The same could be said for Dolorous Edd. While the two have come a long way from their days with the Wildlings and Night’s Watch, neither have much they can contribute to the plot at this point. As the end gets nearer and the show makes the story more streamlined, is there a place for the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch or the de facto Commander of the Wildlings? Probably not. That doesn’t mean we will miss them any less.
Some of our favorite characters will have to make it through this battle to keep the plot going, and the most crucial of these are the Starks (including Jon), none of whom will die in the fight against the dead. If a character isn't going to die, then someone close to them has to.
This is the only way the writers can make the S8E3 not only emotionally impactfull for viewers, but for the characters as well.
Arya only cares deeply about one person aside from her own family, Gendry. This is why he will die. Only his death could make the battle of the dead have a character changing impact on Arya. We could see his death make her an even darker, more vengeful character.
It's a tragedy we got Gendry back just to lose him again, but hey, at least he got to “know what it feels like” before he died. Robert would be proud.
If you know me, you know I have been praying for this moment for at least two seasons.
He doesn’t have any combat ability. He doesn’t have anything to add to the plot whether the living win or lose, and it’s been hard not to scream “Thanks Captain Obvious” after every line of dialogue that has creeped out of his stinky smuggler’s mouth during the past two seasons.
Somewhere inside me lives a creeping, sinking, horrible feeling that Davos will live. But he deserves to be on this list. He deserves it so fucking much. And I don’t want him to die a normal death, I want it to be the worst possible way that Dave and Dan can imagine. I want him to be slow roasted by an ice dragon, eaten by ice spiders, chopped in half by an undead Stannis, or if my prayers are answered, killed by the character I’m about to mention next.
Little Burnt Face Girl
Oh. My. God.
This little girl is so dead.
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen someone in this show who is as dead as this girl.
She has a lower chance of survival than Jorah does of smashing Dany.
If I had to stake my life on either her or Cersei surviving the show, I’d choose Cersei.
If Bran got out of his wheelchair and joined the Night King in a sexy, slow, romantic ballroom dance (with lots of ass grabbing) around the Gods Wood, I’d be less surprised than if this little girl lives.
Look, the crypts are fucked. All those lines about them being the safest place are clear signs that the opposite will be true. And then this girl comes along with her cute little voice and goes “I’ll guard the crypts then!” Oh honey. Oh you poor soul. You don’t even know how dead you are.
However, there is some good that could come from this sweet little girl getting viciously murdered by undead Starks slinking from their crypts.
When Davos sees her he is obviously reminded of Shireen, whom died at the hands of her own father. Davos (IMO) should have known Stannis was going to kill her, and yet did nothing to save her life. So this little girl's entrance into the show will mean one of two things.
1. She will survive (so NOT gonna happen though) because Davos sacrifices himself for her, redeeming himself for leaving Shireen with her murderous father.
2. She gets killed in the crypts, then just goes hard as a motherfucker on Davos. I’m talking a brutal, carnivorous death. Like I said, I don’t want a normal death for Davos, and my favorite way for him to go would be him shouting, “Shireen, NOOOO!” as this cute little reminder of the little girl he left behind stabs him to death outside the Winterfell crypts. Ahh, I’m smiling just thinking about it.