Sunday, April 21, 2019

REVIEW: 'Game of Thrones' - Jaime and Brienne Support Each Other Before the Battle in 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms'

HBO's Game of Thrones - Episode 8.02 "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"

Jaime argues his case before a skeptical audience.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of

"A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" was written by Bryan Cogman and directed by David Nutter

The interpersonal relationships are absolutely cackling throughout this entire episode. This is actually one of the best episodes the show has ever produced. It remains so impressive whenever a show can do that late in its run. It proves that the creative team understands perfectly what has been at stake for so long and who these characters are at their core. It's no longer just about getting the characters from plot A to plot B. Everything is coming to fruition with all of the recollection of the past. When Jaime returns to Winterfell, he does so as a changed man from when he first pushed Bran out the window to keep his illicit relationship with Cersei a secret. Daenerys knows him as the man who killed her father. She has gone on a long and complicated journey reconciling with the truth about her family's lineage and the horrible things they have done in the past. The show has always been about family loyalty. But it has also proven just how damaging and toxic those bonds can become. Tyrion has long believed he understood his brother and sister. The seventh season proved he didn't because he made mistake after mistake in navigating Daenerys' army. He can't speak for his brother here and why he deserves to be trusted. Instead, that honor falls to Brienne. They too have shared a long and complicated relationship. But it's also so mesmerizing to watch as she speaks up and is immediately respected. All of the characters are preparing for the arrival of the Night King and his army. Tormund, Beric and Edd show up to warn that they have less than a day before the dead arrive. Everyone is assembling at Winterfell preparing for battle. Some of these interpersonal conflicts don't matter at all. They only make a difference if the living prevail in this battle. Jon has been able to persuade everyone that this is the only war worth fighting in at the moment. Daenerys changed her entire plans for Westeros to be here. She wants to be appreciated and honored for those efforts. And yet, she doesn't fully understand the struggles and history of the region. Neither does Jon. He may have been called the King of the North but he has never sought power. He may be the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. That's the most damning issue to Daenerys when she learns the truth about his lineage. It doesn't even matter to them that they are related and thus carrying forward the most twisted Targaryen tradition. Instead, it's about the threat that Jon suddenly poses to the thing Daenerys has worked so hard to achieve. She has long pictured herself sitting on the Iron Throne. She is putting in the work to mend fences with Sansa and form a stronger bond with her. And yet, their mutual love for Jon isn't enough for Sansa to be welcoming to this new leader. Daenerys doesn't have a plan for the North that recognizes their independence and the struggles they have endured for so many years. She doesn't understand what has happened but expects everyone to be grateful now that she has brought her dragons to save the day. In the end, the dragons may not even be the ones to defeat the Night King. Instead, Bran is preparing himself as bait to lure him into a trap. Bran explains that the Night King wishes to rid this world of all memories of its existence. He wants to shape a new world that revolves around death and those under his control. There is a connection between him and Bran. That bond is strong. It may be the only hope of emerging victorious in this war as well. It could also come with a great sacrifice as everyone is preparing for the worst outcome. Sure, some are looking forward to the future with the certainty that they will prevail. But there are far more who understand this could be the end.

Death is literally marching on Winterfell. This will be a battle unlike any previously fought in the North. Tyrion may point out the many battles his motley crew of fighters have survived across their varied lives. He sees that as a good enough reason to be hopeful about the coming conflict. But the state of the world is on the line. The audience is asked to be hopeful that all of this doesn't come to a brutal and bloody end with everyone dying and joining the Night King's army as he marches to King's Landing. But the reality is also sinking in that not everyone will service this conflict. This entire hour is spent in Winterfell. It never jumps to another location on the map. It never goes beyond those wars as everyone is preparing for the fight. They do so in many different ways as well. Some of them are choosing to drink and stay warm. They share tales around the fire as they hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Both Jaime and Tormund are making plays at Brienne's love. But it's absolutely so meaningful to watch as Brienne is knighted. That's a huge accomplishment that recognizes everything she embodies. She is the rightful leader of the army on the ground against the dead. She has been preparing the troops for battle. She is also an honorable woman who stands by her word and speaks up for those who need it most. She expects Jaime to torment her like he did when they were previously held captive together. Instead, their bond is nothing but loving as they get universal support from one another. Tormund being obsessed with her is fun and all. But Brienne has a true history with Jaime and all of its complications. He may not deserve all the facets of this kind of love and appreciation. But it's a true recognition that is aware that they are true equals who stand by the same moral compass. That is so appreciated in a world that thrives on deceit and manipulations. Tyrion has survived for so long because of his smarts and wit. That may no longer be enough to protect him though. People stand in support of him. But even he sees the end coming and can appreciate the irony of the circumstances that could lead to the fall of the Lannister name at Winterfell. So much has changed since the brothers first arrived here all those years ago. They can't simply return to being those people either. They have grown in tremendous ways. They have had to make up for the sins of their pasts. They are still trying to redeem themselves in the faces of those who have long judged them. That is the sweeping emotion throughout this entire hour. Some of it may play as more place-setting after a premiere which functioned in the same way. However, this episode is so brutal because it establishes the hopes of all of these characters. Missandei and Grey Worm hope to return to the beach. Arya wishes to experience sex before she dies - even though she's the least likely character to actually be afraid of death. Sam wants an honorable soldier to use his family sword. Theon aspires to make up for the past by defending Bran now. These memories are what keeps the world alive. The Night King is a fundamental threat to that. He has now arrived. What comes next is going to be so emotional. That's all a result of the power of this specific episode and the bonds amongst the characters that have played out for so long.