The following are a few notes from Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2. Warning: mild spoilers may be included, though I’ve tried to stay away from anything too glaring. Either way, consider yourself warned.
In Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2, Jaime argues his case before a skeptical and hostile audience. Afterwards, old friends and respected adversaries reconnect as Winterfell prepares for the coming onslaught of the dead. In the midst of all this, Jon shares the truth of his birth with Daenerys, creating friction just as they will need to depend on one another to enact their desperate plan to defeat the Night King.
What Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 boiled down to was a series of meaningful conversations. As the second episode in a row without a lot of action after last week’s premiere, one could be forgiven for jonesing for a swordfight or two. Truthfully, this episode felt like it and the premiere could’ve been the same outing with a bit more editing. I’m not complaining, however. Tonight represented a long slow exhalation before the sharp intake of breath that will be next week’s huge battle. In truth, I expect it was a way for the writers to give some characters a final moment in the proverbial spotlight before the bloodbath to come. I think we are definitely losing some folks next week, and we’ll talk a bit more about that later.
First, though, let’s touch on a few other important things that took place.
A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms
Jaime knighting Brienne was a touching moment as well as something that felt like a natural consequence of their relationship. Sharing something like that on the eve of battle also made me fear for both of their safety, honestly. As before, the mortality issue is something we’ll talk about more later. For now, let’s just concentrate on what it meant for the characters.
Brienne of Tarth has been fighting Westerosi gender norms her entire life. Readers of the books will know more detail about her history, but suffice it to say she takes offense to being thought of as a court lady, wishing only to be a warrior. Any man in her position of noble birth would naturally have been knighted long ago. She’s also probably the greatest example of knightly chivalry we’ve seen on this series, further highlighting the unfairness.
Meanwhile, Jaime Lannister – despite some folks saying nasty things behind his back – flourished under the same system. His skill with sword and lance immediately translated to a knighthood and a position of respect. Never mind the fact that he not only failed to live chivalrously for most of his life, but he didn’t even believe in those ideals. He was a knight of the seven kingdoms, sworn and anointed, yet Brienne was the one embodying those oaths. Further, it was his interactions with her that pushed him towards the true path, so him being the one to bestow the honor upon her was really great.
“Jenny of Oldstones” and what it might mean for the rest of the story.
One of the more beautiful moments from Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 was Pod breaking into song. It was a melancholy tune, to be sure, but that’s to be expected with everyone understanding how closely death looms over them. For me, it was a callback to Pippin singing for Denethor from The Return of the King. The thing is the song actually comes straight from the Game of Thrones novels with a bit added for the show. As a result, we need to at least talk about this character never before introduced in the show to see if there might be some significance.
Frankly, there’s a lot that could be said, since the books are quite voluminous. I think a lot of that would be unnecessary, however. Getting to the bones of it, mostly you need to know that Jenny was a girl with whom a Targaryen prince fell in love. Needless to say, this was a big problem for the family, seeing as how they had him selected for a political marriage. In the end, he gave up his claim to the throne for love, and I wonder if that’s not what is being foreshadowed in the HBO series. Will Jon or Dany choose love over the Iron Throne? Frankly, I could see Jon doing that a lot quicker than the Dragon Queen.
There’s also another aspect of the story worth mentioning. The prince who gave up his claim for love – by doing so – ultimately set in motion events that would put the Mad King (Dany’s father and Jon’s grandfather, if you’re keeping up) on the throne in the first place. Also, Prince Duncan died in the Tragedy at Summerhall. He and his father, King Aegon (brother to Maester Aemon), are likely two of the ghosts with whom she’s dancing in the song.
So, is someone going to give up their claim for love? And, if so, are they going to tragically die anyway? Perhaps that’s reading into it a bit much, but it’s definitely interesting to think about from a story perspective.
Who lives and who dies?
Anyone who’s watched the past two episodes is aware a huge battle is brewing. Folks who’ve been watching the show for a long time should also recall that Game of Thrones usually provides one large set piece battle per season, serving as the climax. That’s what next week represents, and they are bringing back the director behind “The Battle of the Bastards” and other similar episodes. News leaked from filming tells us the battle took 55 nights to film just the outdoor sequences and months to be completed, and is perhaps going to be the largest battle sequence in television history. All that coupled with the fact that the series is coming to an end soon virtually guarantees some major deaths.
First, there’s a few people I definitely think survive the next episode. These are Jon, Arya, Tyrion, Sansa, The Hound, Varys, and Sam. Jon – we know from filming leaks – eventually ends up having scenes opposite Cersei in King’s Landing. Plus, you know, he’s the main character and all. That being said, I seriously doubt we are done with Arya either. Not only is she another one of the main point of view characters the whole saga has been based around, but I also don’t feel like her story isn’t finished.
Ditto with Tyrion, and because he’s going to be in the crypts with Sansa and Varys, they get a pass. I actually think Sansa is going to be one of the ones to survive the whole thing. The Hound, for his part, I feel like must survive to face his brother in Clegane Bowl. Otherwise, I’m going to be highly disappointed. Sam, I think, makes it to the end as well.
There are others, however, I’m almost sure won’t make it through next week’s big battle.
Theon Greyjoy – Easily the most obvious sacrifice. Dude has had a lot for which he has needed to atone. That’s been his jive for the last couple of seasons, and he quickly volunteered for really dangerous duty defending Bran. I’d love to see him happily married to Sansa after all this, but I think he dies in the godswood. It’s the final redemption for his character. He gets to die a Stark, in spirit at least.
Grey Worm – Anyone who’s ever watched Game of Thrones knows happy endings are few and far between. All that talk between the lovers in Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 about leaving together after the fighting is done pretty much put the nail in the coffin, so to say. Grey Worm is a strong second-tier character, whose usefulness to the story is waning as we approach the end. I think he dies at Winterfell.
Lord Beric Dondarion – Another second-tier character likely to go. He lost his traveling buddy Thoros late last season. Plus, he’s basically been brought back all those times by the Lord of Light, probably just to have him around for next week’s battle. He dies at Winterfell.
Either Jaime or Brienne, maybe both – Honestly, it’s difficult for me to see a scenario where both of them survive, as much as I hope for it. Brienne being knighted tonight actually makes me fear for her next week. No matter what happens, it’s going to be heartbreaking. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t happen.
A longer list, though, would include the characters I’m not sure about either way.
Let’s be clear: making it onto this list doesn’t mean safety. Some of these names will most assuredly be scratched off the board after next week. The question is which ones fall and which ones continue on for the remainder of the final season?
Here are some reasons they might or might not fall…
Daenerys Targaryen – Obviously, hers is the biggest name on the Not Sure list. The only reason to doubt her survival right now is that Emilia Clarke commented publicly she was troubled after reading the scripts. Still, I think she makes it further into the story, possibly to become the final antagonist.
Ser Jorah Mormont – More likely than Daenerys. I hope not, though. Dude has been through enough. I could see him sacrificing himself to save his Queen, actually. That would at least be a fitting way for him to go.
Dolorous Edd – It will hurt my heart, but after seeing he, Jon, and Sam together tonight, I think it’s questionable they all survive.
Podrick Payne – Because war sucks and he’s a likable character who sang a sad song tonight.
Either Jaime or Brienne, maybe both – See above.
Bran – If the Night King is defeated, the Three-Eyed Raven survives. This is the likely scenario, honestly. I feel like the Battle of Winterfell is the Battle for the Dawn, leaving the rest of the season to deal with Cersei in King’s Landing.
Lady Lyanna Mormont – Because she’s young and headstrong, and it will make us sad. Plus, she’s the last of her line, but that might actually be why she survives. Maybe Ser Jorah dies defending her instead.
Lord Yohn Royce from the Vale – I wouldn’t be surprised if he falls. This is another second-tier character. I could easily see him dying at Winterfell or in the wars to come.
Ser Davos Seaworth – My heart would be absolutely shattered if he dies, but we must all of us accept the possibility. “The Onion Knight” is actually one of my favorite characters, especially in the books. He’s an honestly decent man, which probably means he’s not going to make it. That little girl with the greyscale scar on her face was definitely reminding him of Shereen. I could easily see him sacrificing himself to save her.
Tormund Giantsbane – Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll miss the loud bastard if he falls. That’s for sure.
Also, it should go without saying that anyone I haven’t named specifically also falls under the Not Sure category.
So, what do you think?