“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is “a love letter to the characters”

Helen Sloan - HBO (12) Brienne
Helen Sloan - HBO (12) Brienne /

Longtime Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman wrote last night’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” and there aren’t enough words to convey how much I loved it. That Brienne of Tarth knighting scene…uff, my delicate heart.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cogman reflects on what could be deemed one of the show’s best episodes:

"This episode is really a love letter to the characters. With most of our battles, you get about 15 minutes of calm-before-the-storm with the characters participating in that battle taking stock of where they are in their lives before the dam breaks. This is an entire episode of that so that episode 3 can hit the ground running."

Going back to Brienne, because I can’t stay away, Cogman broke down his approach to the moment where she stands up for Jaime at his trial:

"Brienne’s perspective mirrors the audience. One thing I have to remind myself is that not everyone on Game of Thrones is watching Game of Thrones. The characters only know what they know and they only know their own experiences, but the natural thing for you to want is to say ‘they’re both good guys, just put aside your differences.’ What’s fun about Brienne’s testimony is she’s the only character who’s bore witness to the amazing changes Jamie’s gone through over the course of the season — apart from Tyrion who has his own reasons for loving his brother and knowing he’s different than how he’s perceived."

But the standout moment of the episode is the knighting scene, which almost comes as a “throwaway” moment during some sitting around and drinking and chatting. “We wanted to take the audience by surprise,” Cogman said. “It’s not a ceremonial scene on a cliff at sunset with billowing capes…It’s a moment of grace and beauty in the middle of a nightmare and the main reason I wanted to write this episode.”

Now, both Jaime and Brienne are knights of the Seven Kingdoms. And Jaime only became a knight honorable enough to honor a deserving warrior like Brienne because she taught him how to be. It’s stuff like that makes me love this moment so much. Gwendoline Christie herself called it her favorite scene from the series and it’s hard to argue with her.

Cogman also touched on Arya’s arc. Between her conversation with the Hound and that scene with Gendry, there was a lot going on with her. You got us good, Bryan Cogman:

"Arya asks, ‘When have you fought for anything or anyone other than yourself,’ and The Hound says, ‘I fought for you.’ There were glimmers of ‘goodness’ — for lack of a better term — in The Hound before he encountered Arya — certainly in his occasional protection of Sansa. But that scene in season 4 when he fights for Arya he was protecting her in his mind. He believed Brienne was there to do her harm. The tragedy of that scene was, again, if they had just seen each other’s subplots they would know to work together. Yeah, The Hound is always going to be a killer, he’s never going to embrace the life of peace that Brother Ray was preaching. But that time with Brother Ray fundamentally changed him and the seed of that was protecting Arya which grew into who he is now."

I’m starting to realize that seeing things take place from the outside perspective is pretty damn stressful. In another world, I see the Hound and Arya being the best of friends.


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Miami Marlins Game Of Thrones Night King Bobblehead /

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And then there’s Arya and Gendry’s night of passion. “We asked ourselves what a lot of these characters would do on their final night,” Cogman said. “For Arya, there’s an attraction to Gendry and she’s like, ‘If I’m going to die, I might as well see what all the fuss is about.’”

"There are so many things Gendry doesn’t understand about Arya. They’re having this nice flirtation and have this own shared history they draw upon but she’s very different from the Arya he used to know. There’s an attraction for him, but she’s also a bit scary too."

Scary may be an understatement.

I must talk about “Jenny’s Song” because it just hit me in the feels so hard as Podrick began to sing. Way to go, Daniel Portman! He killed it with his singing.

Songs have been a huge part of Game of Thrones from the get-go but there is something particular about “Jenny’s Song” that just fit so perfectly into this episode. Cogman explained the thought process behind it:

"Songs have been important in the past on the show, but they’re more present in [George R.R. Martin’s] books. Pod once again surprises us when we find out he has a lovely singing voice. It was fun to find a reason to get ‘Jenny of Oldstones’ [a.k.a. ‘Jenny’s Song’] in there in a way that feels organic and appropriate. It’s not something we normally do, but I think it works. Dan wrote the [bulk of the] lyrics — about it being warm and having fellowship together and how they wish it could last longer, but it’s not going to."

For Cogman, this Game of Thrones script was the most difficult of the 11 he’s written, and clearly the strain paid off. This calm is the perfect prelude to the Battle of Winterfell, which airs this Sunday. “There was such a breakneck pace to season 7 that I was delighted when the [showrunners] proposed an episode of just spending time with characters in this space,” Cogman said. “I think it will make episode 3 — which is spectacular — all the richer. The moment that episode 3 starts we’re in full 100 percent battle mode.”

Bring it on! And in the meanwhile, you can pick up more factoids at Entertainment Weekly, such as how early drafts of the Davos/Gilly scene differed from the final product.

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