Four weeks from now this final season of Game of Thrones will be over. The Battle of Winterfell will be won or lost. Characters we have long loved shall be dead and mourned. The Night King will hopefully be vanquished while Bran uncomfortably stares in the direction of someone in Winterfell. Arya will have crossed the final name off of her list. Sansa will sit the Iron Throne having outsmarted them all (oh, it’s going to happen!). When all the dust has settled we will look back on this final season and there will be one thing that outshines all the battles, all the death, even the Iron Throne itself. That one thing will be “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” an all-time episode that not only provided the proper amounts of gravity for this final season but delivered such rich and fulfilling character moments that highlight the strength of this television series.
We have long sought reunions in Game of Thrones whether it be the Starks reuniting or something as small as Tyrion and Pod. We care about these characters while also understanding just how vast and harsh this universe is. There is a list as long as Master Pycelle’s beard of characters who never got to say goodbye or reunited with the ones they love. That’s part of what makes Game of Thrones such a unique viewing experience. Nothing is ever guaranteed or promised. With “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” we were given something special not just for these characters, but for the audience as well. A last chance to remember them as they were. To laugh with them. To cry with them. To say goodbye to them… before everything changes.
Rest assured, everything is going to change but let us enjoy these moments just a while longer. Before the Night King comes swooping in on his zombie dragon or before Daenerys makes a decision that will divide the fandom. Let us remember “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” fondly as it was a celebration of storytelling and character as much as it was a chance to say goodbye.
Death is on the horizon, but before it arrives we can remember Jamie Lannister, the man who pushed a child out of a window in the very first episode, knighting Brienne of Tarth in the halls of Winterfell while Tyrion, Davos, Pod, and Tormund watched. A moment so beautiful that it’s hard not to get misty-eyed talking about it right now. All Brienne has ever wanted was to be a knight. When we first met her, she fought valiantly to be apart of Renly Baratheon’s Rainbow Guard. She has endured a lifetime of being mocked and laughed at for her size and inability to just be a “lady”. She is Arya Stark if Arya Stark didn’t witness her father’s beheading in King’s Landing. Now on the eve of everyone’s death, the person that she loves the most in the world recognizes her as an equal and gives her all she’s ever wanted. From a storytelling standpoint, it feels like a kiss of death, hell, most of this episode does. But from a character perspective, it’s intensely satisfying in a universe that often makes a point of ripping your heart out. Jamie Lannister, a man who doesn’t know how to love anyone who isn’t his sister, makes the ultimate move on Brienne. Something Tormund can’t compete with but game recognizes game. Brienne’s journey has been hard fought and now she is the most trusted advisor to the Lady of Winterfell and a knight of the Seven Kingdoms. I will long savor her smile as she arises to applause and appreciation.
As the Army of the Dead gathers their forces outside the walls of Winterfell, we can look back at Arya Stark not wanting to waste her possible last moments alive listening to The Hound and Beric Dondarrion throw barbs at each other while drinking. No, Arya seeks out life with the one person she’s been closest to this entire series. Gendry is given the task of making Arya a weapon, a weapon that will no doubt play an important role in the upcoming Battle of Winterfell, but his role in her life has been something more. A friend when life pushed her away from her family. A confidant who learned her true identity and didn’t give her up to the Lannisters. Arya has done many things throughout the course of this show, but on this eve of battle, she just wants to feel alive. Gendry is more than just a warm body here, he represents trust to Arya. Perhaps he represents a life that could have been before Arya stuffed her bag full of faces. It’s a tender moment that proves that Arya isn’t just cold, distant, and dead inside. That she recognizes that life is something that she probably won’t get to experience the same way as someone like Sansa. This is a character who isn’t afraid of dying, at her strongest but most vulnerable. While Gendry sleeps, Arya turns that switch to become the killer she has based her life upon but this moment has rooted something human within her. A last shred of humanity for her to hold on to when things take a turn for the worst.
Scene after scene help reminds us of the past. Seeing Jamie and Tyrion together once again or Jon, Sam, and Ed recounting their time in the Nights Watch. Seeing Sam give his families sword to Jorah or Jorah talking to Lady Mormont. All these scenes helped to remind us how we got here. An opportunity to appreciate the journey thus far. But the journey doesn’t end here. For some of these characters it does, but not for us. We still have four episodes to go and after the Battle of Winterfell there is more story to be told, and after all the reunions and memories are shared, Game of Thrones painted a picture of what’s to come after the Battle of Winterfell, and things look just as dark and unsettling.
While Jon Snow may not be the son of Ned Stark he clearly has adopted his principals of honesty, the very same principals that got Ned killed and it’s hard not to think that the same thing has happened to Jon. Confessing his identity to Daenerys, on the eve of the biggest battle of their life, after she has confessed her love for him was a mistake. Instead of understanding or trying to reason with Jon, Daenerys instantly views him as a threat to the Throne. Sansa helped point out earlier in the episode of what comes after Daenerys takes the Iron Throne and it doesn’t seem that the Mother of Dragons has much of an answer for that. Maybe that’s what she needs Tyrion for. The problem is she’s so blinded by the Iron Throne itself that she sees very little else. If she did, then she would know that Jon Snow wants nothing to do with the Iron Throne. That Jon Snow has deemed her his queen and is a man of his word. That once the battle in the North is done, Jon, as he promised, will march to King’s Landing to help Daenerys overthrow Cersei. And now I’m worried.
The Battle of Winterfell will be chaos. Key characters will be falling left and right as they fight for the living. As they attempt to protect Bran from the Night King which turns out is all the Night King wants. Bran represents the past, present, and future of Westeros and the Night King just wants to thrust it into darkness. They’re not the same person but two sides of a coin. As the army of Winterfell tries to vanquish the Night King we have to begin to question Daenerys Targaryen. I have little doubt that during the battle a moment will arise where Daenerys will have an opportunity to save Jon Snow from dying. We know that Sansa will not allow the North bow to another queen. We know that Jon is the rightful heir to the throne. Daenerys knows these things as well… is it possible that when given the chance to save the man she supposedly loves that she just… won’t. That Daenerys will let Jon die in order to achieve her goal.
War is at the doorstep of Winterfell. Death to follow. But before that happens we have these moments. These beautiful, heart-aching, moments that remind us why we have traveled in Westeros for so long. “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is the best that Game of Thrones has to offer. It’s not the dragons or the battles or direwolves. At the end of the day, Game of Thrones works because of how rich it is in character, and “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a celebration of that. A goodbye before it all falls apart…
There you have it Geeklings, what did you think of this week’s Game of Thrones? What moment was your favorite? What do you think of Jon telling Daenerys? Do they stand a chance against the Night King? Sound off in the comments or throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll be there all week waiting to talk Thrones with you as we build towards the Battle of Winterfell. Next week is going to be a tough one, but we can do this together. We shall be the swords in the darkness and the shield that guards the realms of men. I’ll see you all next week!