Unsullied Recap—Game of Thrones Episode 802—“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

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Helen Sloan - HBO (13) Jaime Brienne /

Spoiler note: “A girl says nothing. A girl keeps her mouth closed. No one hears.” — Girls, boys, and everyone alike, Jaqen H’ghar has spoken, so please remember: Spoilers don’t make friends. Feel free to take book discussions over to our book-reader’s recap here at WIC, but keep all spoilers to yourself. Thank you!


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First, let me just say… Wow. Episode two brought out all the dramatic stops. While it blends seamlessly with the premiere, it provides us with more in-depth reunions and reflections on the past, as the defenders of the realm prepare for the White Walkers’ arrival. So many loose threads of the story so far tie back together, whilst setting up for plot elements that will need to be resolved in the second half of the final season. These fifty-odd minutes had me applauding at every turn, shouting “This. Is. So. Good!” so emphatically that I’m waiting for my neighbors to complain about the noise.

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” may have rendered me near-incoherent, but let’s get into it, anyway.

We begin this episode more or less where we left things last week: with Jaime Lannister’s arrival to Winterfell. He stands before Daenerys, Jon, Sansa, Bran, and the habitual gathering of Northerners and other troops in the Great Hall.

Daenerys, Tyrion, Sansa, and Jaime do most of the initial talking, as they recall the ages-old feuds between their three families. Tyrion attempts to speak on behalf of his brother, but Daenerys remains unmoved in her suspicion of Jaime. It’s been Targaryen versus Stark versus Lannister, all of them committing atrocities against one another for the sake of their own.

For this reason, though, Daenerys and Sansa are momentarily on the same page as they declare their mistrust for Jaime. He killed Aerys Targaryen and, years later, attacked Ned Stark and his men in King’s Landing, the latter of which was seen onscreen in season 1, while the former was seen only in Bran’s visions of the past. Jaime offers justifications for both, and refuses to apologize for either. “We were at war,” he says. “Everything I did, I did for my house and my family. I’d do it all again.”

“The things we do for love,” Bran cuts in, in much the same way he echoed Petyr Baelish’s “Chaos is a ladder” to the man himself last season. Jaime is as rattled by the reminder as Littlefinger had been, but in this case Bran doesn’t use the knowledge against him.

Jaime’s refusal to atone for his crimes against Aerys and Ned is understandable, in a sense, because none of the characters can ask forgiveness for their family’s sins if they’re not willing to do likewise for others, for the sake of the greater good they’re meant to be facing. Ultimately, the choice is between justice for the wrongs committed against the dead or a truce so that they might all face the coming wars together.

When Brienne vouches for Jaime — stand by your man, girl! — the tenuous camaraderie between Sansa and Daenerys is lost. Sansa trusts Brienne’s judgment without a doubt, and Jon states that they “need every man we can get.” This sort of faith and trust among allies is precisely what these characters need to face the White Walkers and whatever comes after.

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Game of Thrones /

Daenerys, meanwhile, lashes out at Tyrion again for his mistake, much in the same way she did when Cersei’s troops got the better of them last season.

"DAENERYS: “Either you knew Cersei was lying and let me believe otherwise, or you didn’t know at all, which either makes you a traitor or a fool.”TYRION: “I was a fool.”DAENERYS: “Not for the first time. Cersei still sits on the throne. If you can’t help me take it back, I’ll find another Hand who can.”"

This exchange speaks to Daenerys’ growing paranoia, or her lack of trust in her Hand. Neither possibility is good. It also suggests that Daenerys’ main objective remains the Iron Throne. She may have come to Winterfell to aid in the fight against the White Walkers, but her ultimate commitment is to her ambition. This fact will come into play in a couple of other scenes we’ll get to later in the recap.

We catch up with Arya and Gendry again in a scene so rife with sexual tension that I almost wanted to fast-forward just to give these two some privacy. But I love a good romance, so even though I fanned myself so vigorously I might now have carpal tunnel, I stuck with it.

There’s much back-and-forth about Arya’s requested weapon, about how she’d be safer in the crypts, and her desire to know about Gendry’s experience with the White Walkers. It’s a life-and-death conversation, but somewhere in the distance slow jams can most definitely be heard. When Arya shows off her dagger-throwing skills, all the while monologuing about death so expertly she could give Hamlet a run for his money, Gendry is rendered a tongue-lolling, smitten schoolboy, and none of us can blame him.

Then, because that scene made us all need to get right with the lord, we head to the godswood.

Bran sits by the heart tree, contemplating, as he’s so wont to do these days. Jaime approaches to apologize for pushing him to his supposed death so many years ago. Because he refused to make amends for what he did to Aerys and Ned, this apology really speaks to Jaime’s character development. He’s not sorry for fighting, killing, or double-crossing in times of war, but he seeks absolution for what he did to Bran, an innocent boy who simply found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the years since Bran’s fall, Jaime has begun to distinguish between right and wrong, beyond what’s best for his family. It seems that there is more grey area than he once believed.

Bran, however, has a very “it was destiny” mentality. When Jaime asks why he didn’t tell anyone of their past, Bran explains, “You wouldn’t be able to help us in this fight if I let them murder you first.” As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran’s immediate priority is the Night King — which he would have no stake in if Jaime hadn’t pushed him and set off this chain of events in the first place.

Back in the Winterfell courtyard, Tyrion and Jaime meet to discuss all manner of plot points: Daenerys’ capabilities, Tyrion’s faith in her and Jaime’s doubt, Cersei’s pregnancy and the apparent inevitability of their deaths at the hands of ice zombies. Tyrion says, almost wistfully, “Maybe after I’m dead, I’ll march down to King’s Landing and rip [Cersei] apart.”

Whether this is foreshadowing of Cersei’s demise remains to be seen. Jaime’s too busy checking out Brienne to think on his brother’s words. I still haven’t recovered from Arya and Gendry’s interaction, but it looks like we’re getting some Jaime/Brienne whether I’m ready or not.

Podrick’s become markedly more adept with a sword, so there I go, swooning all over the place. Jaime and Brienne snap, crackle, and pop, without any regard whatsoever to my need for smelling salts as it is. We’re not 20 minutes in and the romantic tension has gutted me soundly.

And the hits just keep on coming when Jorah and Daenerys are alone in a room together. I’ll forever be disappointed that their chemistry never got a payoff. Alas, moving on…

Jorah advises Daenerys on the importance of forgiveness and maintaining her alliances.

"DAENERYS: “[Tyrion’s] made mistakes. Serious mistakes.”JORAH: “As have we all. He owns his, and learns from them.”"

This dialogue aids in one of the show’s themes: that learning from the mistakes of the past is tantamount to survival. If these characters don’t grow, or if they do the same things as those who came before them, they’ll meet the same end. We’ve seen so many characters fall because of their pride, or their honor, or their self-importance or naivete or trust or lack thereof. Those left can either learn to deal with similar challenges or die facing them.

At Jorah’s suggestion, Daenerys then seeks out Sansa in an attempt to find some common ground. It doesn’t go swimmingly, and there’s plenty to unpack in their scene. It highlights the fundamental differences between these characters. Both, as Daenerys points out, are ruling women in a male-dominated society who have “done a damn good job of [leading].”

But there needs to be more than this shared experience for them to be true allies. While their pasts may be similar, their goals for the future clash: Daenerys wants the Seven Kingdoms, and Sansa wants Northern independence, a struggle the Starks have been fighting since Robb was crowned King in the North way back in season 1.

Jon is a point of contention between them as well.

"SANSA: “Men do stupid things for women. They’re easily manipulated.”DAENERYS: “All my life I’ve known one goal: the Iron Throne. Taking it back from the people who destroyed my family, who almost destroyed yours. My war was against them. Until I met Jon. Now I’m here, half a world away, fighting Jon’s war alongside him. Tell me, who manipulated whom?”"

An interesting question, Daenerys, and one that might haunt her by episode’s end (we’ll get to that in a bit). Another significant takeaway here is that Daenerys doesn’t consider the fight against the White Walkers to be her war as much as Jon’s, when in fact it’s everyone’s war. The North and other armies have come to Winterfell to protect Westeros from this threat. If they fail, Daenerys will have no kingdoms to rule. Being queen means more than avenging the past; it means preparing for the future, and what comes after the conquering.

Sansa poses this question, “What comes afterwards?” and the reality of it drives the wedge back between these women. Their ambitions, what they want for themselves and their people, are at odds. This sets up for potential further war, should these tentative allies defeat their common enemies (the White Walkers and Cersei).

This tension remains, as Sansa and Daenerys’ tete-a-tete is interrupted by Theon’s arrival. He tells them that Yara has taken her fleet to the Iron Islands, “to take them back in [Daenerys’] name.” Then, when Daenerys asks why he didn’t accompany his sister, Theon turns his attention to Sansa:

"I want to fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa. If you’ll have me."

The two embrace, reestablishing their connection. Not only did Theon and Sansa grow up together, but they endured torture and trauma at the hands of the same man, and escaped his clutches. They saved each other’s lives, and still Theon feels indebted to the Starks — not only as his family, but as he seeks retribution for betraying them years ago.

Theon’s declaration that he wants to fight for Winterfell likely doesn’t sit well with Daenerys after the conversation she’s just had with Sansa. The Greyjoys were her allies, and Theon has now pledged himself to Winterfell rather than declare he’s come to fight for Daenerys’ claim to the throne. While there is supposed to be an alliance between Daenerys and the North, we’ve just seen how precarious that balance is.

As a personal sidenote, I have to say… this episode made me consider Theon/Sansa as a viable ship. You can make me ship anyone as long as the love is palpable. And this week is so filled with romance as it is, my cup runneth over! I’ve got candy hearts on the brain, and I don’t want to replace them with battles and character death and all the grief that follows just yet.

Outside, Davos is doling out rations and pep talks while Gilly directs women and children to the crypts so they’ll know where to go when the fighting starts. Much emphasis has been placed on the safety of the crypts, which makes me wonder how safe they’ll turn out to be. Will the Night King be able to raise the dead therein? I’m not particularly looking forward to finding out.

A nameless little girl steals my heart and makes me burst into tears when she asks Davos where she should go, because her brothers were soldiers and she wants to fight. Gilly swoops in for the rescue and convinces the girl to join her in the crypts, because she would “feel a lot better with you down there to protect us.” She agrees, but I cry harder, anyway. If HBO makes me watch this precious darling die, I’ll sue them for emotional distress.

(Disclaimer: Not really, but I think most of you get where I’m coming from here.)

The horn sounds, announcing new arrivals to Winterfell. Jon and Sam are reunited with Beric, Edd, and Tormund, who inform them that the Umbers and “anyone who’s not here now” have sadly joined the Night King’s ranks. They have one last night before the White Walkers reach them.

Bless Tormund’s comedic timing. “Is the big woman still here?” he asks, reminding us all that there are things worth fighting this war for. Namely Brienne, who is indeed worth it all on her own.

The North prepares for the swiftly approaching attack, accompanied by Jon’s voiceover:

"They’re coming. We have dragonglass and Valyrian steel. But there are too many of them, far too many. Our enemy doesn’t tire, doesn’t stop, doesn’t feel."

This segues into a war council, where all the major players are present to strategize. The Starks are looking fresh to death as they present a united front at the head of the table. Jon shares information learned during last season’s wight hunt: if the Night King falls, his army will as well.

Bran takes this opportunity to reveal his importance and role as the Three-Eyed Raven.

"BRAN: “[The Night King] will come for me. He’s tried before, many times with many Three-Eyed Ravens.”SAM: “Why? What does he want?”BRAN: “An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory,”SAM: “That’s what death is, isn’t it? Forgetting. Being forgotten. If we forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re not men anymore — just animals. Your memories don’t come from books. Your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men, I’d start with you.”"

Once again we’re treated to one of this series’ themes: remembering who you are and where you came from, and what you’re fighting for. Perhaps there’s more complexity to the Night King and his army than it seems on the outset, maybe there’s more to their story than to play the role of the ultimate evil. But as it stands now, they represent the threats all of these characters have faced: death, and becoming nothing more than a memory or a cautionary tale.

In efforts to end this war, Bran announces that “[The Night King’s] mark is on me. He always knows where I am. […] We need to lure him into the open before his army destroys us all. I’ll wait for him in the godswood.”

Jon, Sansa, and Arya protest this plan, but Theon offers his protection, saying, “I took this castle from you. Let me defend you now.”

This brings Theon’s redemption arc closer to completion, as his transgressions come full circle so that he might repent for them. This has been a major point in Theon’s story since he was taken prisoner by Ramsay Bolton: He betrayed the Starks and lost his way without them, and part of the reclamation of his identity is to do right by the people who raised him.

Daenerys, too, attempts to make amends. In her case, it’s with Tyrion, per Jorah’s advice. She bids him to stay out of the fray and in the safety of the crypts, so that he has a better chance of survival. Should they win this war, she’ll need him, as his brain serves a greater purpose than his physical prowess would on the battlefield.

It’s determined that the dragons will be kept close enough to Bran to follow the Night King once he appears, though no one — not even Bran — knows if dragonfire will stop him, since “no one’s ever tried [it].” So, basically, they’re just wingin’ it. What’s Game of Thrones without a little ominous uncertainty, eh?

We’re rewarded with another dash of romance and some further set-up with Grey Worm and Missandei, who are making plans for after the war. They vow to stand by Daenerys until the war is won, but this couple has wishes beyond Westeros. Specifically, Missandei longs to return home to Naath, and Grey Worm vows to go with her.

The rest of the episode focuses on reconnections and meetings between characters, reminding the audience of our fondness for them before some of them most assuredly die next week. It’s a cruel thing, but this is what makes the episode such a masterpiece. It brings back relationship dynamics we haven’t seen in years, and fleshes out these already colorful, multifaceted characters even more as they come back together.

What’s left of the Night’s Watch meets on the battlements: Jon, Sam, Edd, and finally, Ghost. There is some quick conversation between Sam and Jon about whether the latter has told Daenerys the truth of his birth yet (he hasn’t), but the scene concentrates on the friendship between these men. Sam says, “Think back to where we started,” which summarizes this episode in a succinct yet heartfelt way. Sentimentality, thy name is Game of Thrones. Whoda thunk it?

Jaime and Tyrion reminisce about the first time they came to Winterfell, and how they’ve changed in the interim. Brienne and Podrick join them, thereby reuniting Tyrion with his former squire. Davos and Tormund aren’t far behind. It’s both a ragtag bunch as well as a reconnection of characters who have met before.

There is hope, humor, and companionship in their conversations. And then, Brienne has her moment in the sun, when Tormund and Jaime tag-team her self-esteem. She’s long past earned her knighthood, regardless of the patriarchal tradition that women can’t be knights. Jaime does the honors and Brienne looks so happy that it makes me worry for her fate, but for now I’m just going to enjoy her smile and try not to stress.

We join Arya, the Hound, and Beric Dondarrion next.

"ARYA: “When was the last time you fought for anyone but yourself?”THE HOUND: “I fought for you, didn’t I?”[…]BERIC: “My lady. It’s good to see you again. I’m sorry we parted the way we did.”THE HOUND: “Was he on your list?”ARYA: “For a little while.”"

This is another reminder that even the most hardened of characters have some humanity left in them. There is some good to be found, forgiveness to be had, and so there’s hope for the future, however bleak it may seem now.

Arya moves on to another white-hot scene with Gendry, which starts with a spear — as all good love scenes do. Gendry sputters over the questions Arya lobs at him about his sexual experience. But this is a girl who knows what she wants, sputtering or no, and she goes for it. They make out like they’ve just been waiting for Arya to be age-appropriate to do so, and years of pent-up romantic tension between these characters come to fruition, hallelujah.

For a character whose story never seemed to have room for a romance, Arya’s night with Gendry goes to show that she’s now able to take control of her life in ways that were so long denied to her. She could never truly be herself while she was on the road, and now that she’s come home and embraced her identity, that means she can open herself up to the things that she wants. She’s not Arry or “No One” or a girl selling oysters, clams, and cockles — she’s Arya Stark and she does as she pleases, even if that means something other than wielding a weapon.

Jorah and Lyanna Mormont bicker about her safety and the future of their house. But there’s no stopping that scrappy Lady of Bear Island from fighting, so no dice, Jorah.

Sam steps into the scene to offer Jorah the Tarly family sword, the Valyrian steel “Heartsbane” Sam stole from Horn Hill in season 6. Both men suffered strained relationships with their fathers, so this gesture forges a further connection between these two.

As the episode nears its close, Podrick shows off a major set of pipes and I’m swooning again as he sings “Jenny of Oldstones.” It’s a haunting ballad as it shifts to a voiceover, and the audience is served a series of shots of beloved characters around Winterfell: Sam, Gilly, and Little Sam, all together; Sansa and Theon, exchanging soft, sad smiles; Arya and Gendry, laying next to one another; Grey Worm and Missandei, sharing a kiss before he joins his fellow Unsullied; Jorah, heading out on horseback; and finally, Daenerys coming upon Jon in the crypts.

So it looks like we have one more plot point to tackle before the credits roll this week: Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne.

Jon, who has been avoiding Daenerys’ eye and company as a whole throughout the episode, has nowhere to run when she finds him at Lyanna Stark’s burial spot. When Daenerys asks after her identity, it prompts the truth from Jon: that Rhaegar and Lyanna eloped, that she died giving birth to a son, that Ned Stark raised the boy as his own for his protection, and that Jon’s true name is Aegon Targaryen.

Daenerys is rattled by the news, and doesn’t seem to want to believe it.

"DAENERYS: “Who told you this?”JON: “Bran. He saw it.”DAENERYS: “He saw it?”JON: “And Samwell confirmed it. He read about their marriage at the Citadel without even knowing what it meant.”DAENERYS: “A secret no one in the world knew, except your brother and your best friend. Doesn’t seem strange to you?”JON: “It’s true, Dany. I know it is.”DAENERYS: “If it were true, it would make you the last male heir of House Targaryen. You’d have a claim to the Iron Throne.”"

There are notes of accusation and suspicion in Daenerys’ dialogue, as she realizes the man she loves has a better claim to what she’s believed for so long to be her birthright. Her observation that it’s Jon’s “brother and [your] best friend” who told him this truth suggests that she doesn’t believe it, and may think that it’s a ploy to rob her of the throne,

Again, we see that Daenerys’ predominant concern is how she’ll take the throne and the Seven Kingdoms. Sansa is no longer her major obstacle in the North, but rather it’s something official, whether Jon wants the kingship or not. Her status as the last Targaryen is no longer her trump card. While she may have been able to overthrow Cersei, things are no longer so cut and dry. Should this secret become widely known, Daenerys will have to vie for the people’s support against Jon.

But there’s no time left to hash this out, as the White Walkers have arrived at Winterfell’s gates. The stage is set for further political drama in the aftermath, but first there’s a war to be fought and (hopefully) won.

Will the knowledge of Jon’s claim to the throne hinder his alliance with Daenerys before the White Walkers are defeated? How will Bran’s showdown with the Night King affect his role as the Three-Eyed Raven? Are the crypts really as safe as they seem? How will Daenerys react to the news that Missandei and Grey Worm want to leave Westeros? Who will make it out of the next episode alive, and what comes next for them? And, most importantly… Will we see Ghost again, or is he just a one-trick direwolf this season?

Remember — speculation is encouraged, spoilers aren’t! Thanks, and see you next week!

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