Game of Thrones: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (S8Ep2) (****)

The second instalment of the latest season came earlier this week, and boy was it worth the wait. In an episode which almost saw harmony between Sansa and Daenerys (before we were swiftly dragged back down to earth), the arrival of the white walkers at Winterfell and a little TMI from Tormund (someone hide the milk!), there were also many moments fans have been anticipating for years now.

Standout Moments

Theories of a relationship between Arya and Gendry have been circling the internet for longer than I can remember, and writers gave fans what they wanted in this episode which saw the pair finally get together. Despite many viewers having ‘shipped’ them for years, however, the scene has heavily divided opinion in the fandom with many complaining it was jarring to see Arya in that light. I personally found the scene thoroughly un-sexy and wished a more vulnerable side to Arya had been shown, but doesn’t that really defeat the point? Wouldn’t it be even more unusual for her to suddenly become a skilled seductress or emotional woman, the complete opposite of who she actually is? I assume debate about the scene will continue for some time, but there’s no doubt Arya deserves a bit of fun for once!

A hugely important, and for me the most emotional, moment in the episode was Brienne’s knighthood. Having fought in Renly’s Kingsguard and served as sworn protector of the Stark girls, Brienne has proved herself more than worthy of a knighthood over the years but has never been given the honour. The fact that it was Jaime who finally knighted her is particularly important, especially given their history with many fans wondering if the spark between them will ever ignite (despite Tormund’s clear affection for her – “where’s the big woman?”). Unfortunately, the fact that Brienne’s character journey has gone full circle puts her in a precarious position with the Battle of Winterfell looming – but more on that later.

Jon / Aegon also casually revealed his true identity to his aunt / lover in this episode… no big deal. Naturally, Daenerys was unhappy at the revelation which gives Jon a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than the Khaleesi herself, but it’s difficult to determine how angry she actually is with the battle horn blasting just seconds after Jon dropped the bomb. It will be interesting to see the catastrophic results of the untimely revelation during the battle next week. Will Daenerys turn psycho-villain before our very eyes? Will she allow Jon to live despite the problems it may cause? It’s too difficult to call at this point but I’m certainly excited to watch it all unfold during Sunday night’s episode.

Reunions

Two characters which have undergone a complete transformation since season one are Sansa and Theon, and their reunion during this week’s episode was a hugely emotional moment highly anticipated by fans. Similarly to Brienne, Sansa’s kindness to Theon also completes his character journey and places him in a risky position for next week’s episode as an easily expendable character. On the other hand, some fans seem to think there could be something more between the pair which makes him far more valuable. Only time will tell!

Bran’s casual forgiveness of Jaime was truly unexpected, and came during their long-awaited reunion after Jaime’s ‘trial’ before Daenerys and the Starks. Although everyone mocks Bran for being a little more trippy than his previous self, it takes a lot to forgive someone for causing a crippling disability…. points to the Three-Eyed Raven for letting it go!

Looking Forward To…

There’s no doubt that next week’s episode is going to see serious bloodshed. Characters that are hugely at risk include Brienne, Theon, Tormund, Jorah and Greyworm with all of them lacking any more real opportunity for character development. My prediction is at least one significant lead will also be killed off, something which I’m definitely not looking forward to but will definitely cause some heart-wrenching moments woven through the action.

The Battle of Winterfell is expected to be one of the most exciting battles in cinematic history, with a huge budget having been thrown at it as well as several months of gruelling filming. There’s no doubt that tears will be shed by fans across the world, but these kinds of shocking moments are what captured all of our hearts in the first place and I’m certainly looking forward to a couple more of them in the next instalment.

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