First, allow me to apologize: I had a family emergency that kept me away from writing the first episode’s recap last week. In recompense, I present to you a twofer this week! Yay!
So, it’s 11 p.m. the night before deadline, I’ve got myself a homemade jalapeno and lime margarita, a stack of notes on the episodes, and a nice lil stash of memes! Let’s do this!
Filed under: things Jon Snow wishes someone had told him earlier.
As always, this way there be spoilers; so, if you’re not caught up, just give that back button a loving tap.
Alright, first up: “Winterfell.” We laughed; we cried; Bran stared. A lot. All in all, a pretty great first episode of the season—though, let’s be honest, after a two year draught just about any new, half-way decent episode would have slaked my thirst. …and maybe that thirst a lil bit too.
Let’s talk about that new opening credit sequence though! I’ve watched it a handful of times now and I’m fascinated! The inclusion of Winterfell’s crypt was unexpected but, given the sheer number of impactful scenes to occur in the crypt last season and so far this season, it makes sense. The King’s Landing bit is jam-packed with details: Cersei’s giant floor map of Westeros in the Red Keep, Qyburn’s Scorpion aimed at the skull of Balerion the Dread, and then the Iron Throne itself. And the scenes chosen for the golden rings?! Intense.
The episode itself opens on a kid running through and around Wintertown to get a good look at the procession taking Daenerys and Jon to Winterfell, along with their advisors, the Unsullied and the Dothraki. The scene takes us back to watching a much younger Arya doing much the same to watch King Robert’s arrival in the first episode of season 1, so it’s fitting that we see Arya—who is among those the road to Winterfell, rather than waiting in the castle—letting the kid pass to find a better vantage point. When Jon passes by, she almost calls out to him but opts to not say anything. She looks dejected when Jon rides past without recognizing her but that is quickly replaced with shock at the Hound’s appearance in the procession and, then, surprise and joy when she sees Gendry.
Daenerys is BOTHER at the fact that the Northerner’s aren’t rejoicing to see her and Jon reminds her that the North doesn’t really have a lot of trust in outsiders because *gestures at the last seven seasons*. She delights in Rhaegal and Drogon’s startling everyone—it seems that if she doesn’t inspire love in folks, she’s down with inspiring fear. I mean, look at that extra sass she’s carrying up on that horse afterward. Speaking of horse, I guess Greyworm and Missandei just kind of automagically learned to ride off screen sometime because I don’t recall having ever seen them on horses before; I will concede, though, that Greyworm doesn’t look like he’s terribly comfortable up there.
At Winterfell, Jon is thrilled to see Bran. Well, until he gets weirded out by Bran being all That’s So Raven—understandable. Jon and Sansa have a loving reunion but Sansa goes ice cold when Dany’s introduced. “I said, BRRRRRR! It’s cold in here! There must be some [reeeeaaaal bitter Northerner spirit] in the atmosphere!” Then Bran makes sure everyone knows that no one has time for all this, the Night King has a dragon now and the dead are marching south. Bran then proceeds to sit in the courtyard, staring. At everyone.
Then we’re in the Great Hall, where little Lord Umber requests horses and wagons to move his people to Winterfell and then Lady Lyanna Mormont lays into Jon. Well, as courteously as possible, but *still*. And you can’t blame her really: they named Jon King in the North and it feels like his bending the knee is a betrayal. Jon’s reply was pretty spot on though: he had a choice between his crown and the North’s survival—he, as he sees it, chose the North. Tyrion tries to intercede and calm the waters… with minimal success. Then there is some snark about being able to feed the largest army ever known and the fact that dragons eat whatever the hell they want to eat. Then Tyrion and Sansa have a quieter reunion outside which ends with one of the sickest burns delivered on this show.
Jon and Arya are finally reunited in the Godswood and it’s just delightful! It made my heart super happy. They spend a minute admiring one another’s weapons and then it turns serious with Jon admitting he could have used her help with Sansa. Arya’s responses show just how wise she’s become and how much she’s grown to love and respect Sansa as a ruler. Honestly, the whole scene just got me in the feels. Hard.
Then we skip on down to King’s Landing where Cersei is pleased to hear that the dead have broken through the Wall, because Cersei. Euron’s fleet sails into Blackwater Bay carrying thousands of Golden Company mercenaries and one very pissed off Yara Greyjoy. Euron makes his way into the Red Keep with the commander of the Golden Company and pleads his case for a more intimate “conversation,” which Cersei initially rebuffs and then eats her words. *ahem* While Euron is showing Cersei his Iron Fleet *cough* and Cersei laments her lack of elephants, Theon shows up to rescue Yara. Upon being untied, Yara gives her brother a well-deserved headbutt, helps him up, and then they’re on their way. Meanwhile, Qyburn tracks down Bronn, who is definitely *not* having the best time he’s ever had at a brothel, to give him a shitton of gold, the task of killing Jaime and/or Tyrion should they survive, and the crossbow Tyrion used to kill Tywin—because “she has a keen sense of poetic justice.”
Back up at Winterfell, Davos, Varys, and Tyrion are walking and talking—it’s like a medieval fantasy version of an Aaron Sorkin production. Davos tells Varys and Tyrion that it’s a long, hard road to earning the trust and loyalty of Northerners and proposes a proposal, thinking that being bound by marriage would shorten that road a bit. Meanwhile, Dany talks to Jon about the fact that Sansa doesn’t like her. She then goes on to say, that Sansa doesn’t have to be her friend but she does have to respect Dany as queen. This bothered me. Much like watching her take pleasure in her dragons scaring the common folk in Wintertown. She seems to be equating like and love with respect and service. Though Sansa is decidedly not happy about it, she has followed the protocols of courtesy and afforded Daenerys the accommodations she is due as queen. Those protocols were put in place specifically to ensure peace between Lords and Ladies and their monarchs when they don’t like one another. That’s the whole thing about courtesy: it is about proper behavior as a member of court.
A personal note to Dany: if you can’t handle someone not liking you without making them out to be an enemy who must be intimidated into obedience or wholly destroyed, you should not be queen. Like at all. NOOOOPE.
Anywhoozzle, then we find out that, yes, Jon can ride dragons too! They get all “I can show you the world about it” and then end up at a pretty waterfall and well…
While Jon is likely dealing with being goosed by a cold dragon nose while he and Dany get busy, Arya is reunited with the Hound—which is kind of sweet in its very own, bizarre, Arya & the House kinda way—and, more importantly, with Gendry! Yesssssss! It’s all very adorable and kind of snarky. Y’all. Folks are getting thirsty on this show.
Sansa and Jon have a rather intense discussion precipitating from the news that Lord Glover—that turd—has decided to hunker down in his own castle. Jon’s upset because Glover swore loyalty to the North and Sansa corrects him: he swore loyalty to Jon Snow, the King in the North. They argue, both still making valid points, and then Sansa just cuts right to it, asking if he bent the knee for the North or because he loves Daenerys.
Meanwhile, Jorah goes to introduce Dany to Samwell Tarly, the man who saved his life. It’s all fun and games until it comes out that Dany killed both Sam’s father and brother. And, I swear to the old gods and the new, I will personally punch the next person to make Sam cry right in the ear. My heart broke watching his heart break. He leaves and ends up approaching Bran—who is still in the courtyard. Staring. Seriously, how long has he just been chilling out there? Like, literally chilling—it’s friggin cold out there. Bran tells Sam that it is time to break the news to Jon. So, Sam finds Jon down in the crypt and they have a happy reunion, for a minute. Things get serious real quick and Sam lays it out for Jon: R+L=J, my man. You’re name’s Aegon Targaryen and you’re the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Elsewhere, Tormund and his crew of Free Folk-turned-Night’s Watch run into Dolorous Edd and his crew of Night’s watch at Last Hearth. The Night King has already been through Last Hearth and left little Ned Umber and some parts of some of his men looking like the most terrifying pinwheel ever. The Night King sure has a thing for creating child corpsicles specifically to send his messages—remember that little girl at the beginning of the series premiere? *shudders*
While Edd, Tormund, et al agree on a game plan to get to Winterfell before the Night King does, a hooded figure rides into the walls of Winterfell. Surprise!—it’s Jaime! And surprise!—Bran’s still staring!
And the credits roll.
But wait!—there’s more! Let’s jump on in to Episode 2, shall we?
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” occurs exclusively at Winterfell, which is a rare thing for Game of Thrones, and it is a stage-setting episode, packed with feels of all kinds. It opens with Jaime arguing his case to, well, everyone. Daenerys clearly wants his ass gone, as does Sansa. Brienne steps to the plate and vouches for Jaime—when Brienne tells Sansa that she would gladly fight beside Jaime, Sansa heeds her council: “I trust you with my life. If you trust him with yours, we should let him stay.” Dany is none too pleased at being outnumbered when Jon agrees that Jaime should stay, though she relents. Sansa proceeds to book it the hell out of there, as does Jon, leaving Dany awkwardly standing there as people file out of the hall. She lays into Tyrion for not anticipating that Cersei wouldn’t send her army north and threatens his standing as Hand.
We switch gears as we head over to the smithy, where Gendry is working away at forging the obsidian into weapons. Arya asks if he’s finished the weapon she commissioned and after he tells her he hasn’t, she moves the conversation toward the wights. She asks what they are like, pressing him when his first response is a nondescript, “bad. Really bad.” He replies that they are Death. Arya’s in her wheelhouse now: “I know Death. It’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one,” she says as she calmly throws three obsidian daggers into a beam, in a tight cluster. Gendry promptly bumps Arya’s weapon to the top of the priority list.
Next up, Jaime finds Bran in the Godswood and apologizes for having pushed him from that window all those years ago. Bran kind of whatevers that off and Jaime asks why he didn’t tell everyone in the Great Hall about his being the one to push Bran out of that window. Bran says that Jaime wouldn’t be terribly useful in the days to come if his family murdered him first. Jaime asks what happens after the fight is over and Bran basically replies, “bold of you to assume there’s an after.”
Later, Tyrion and Jaime are reunited in the courtyard and “the masses rejoice,” Tyrion says after some soldiers spit at them. They talk about Cersei lying to everyone about sending her army north; Tyrion admits to having made the mistake of underestimating her. He asks Jaime if her claims of pregnancy was also a lie and Jaime reassures him that that is true: “She’s always been good at using the truth to tell lies.” He goes on to tell Tyrion to not feel bad, she’s fooled him more than anyone else; Tyrion, rightly, calls bullshit on that.
Next up, Jaime’s outside the castle walls looking for Brienne, who was watching Pod train someone else to fight and looking like a proud Mama Bear about it. After they exchange a few sentences, Brienne loses it, trying to find Jaime’s angle because, as she put it, “We’ve never had a conversation this long without you insulting me.” Finally, Jaime puts it out there: “I’m not the fighter I used to be but I’d be honored to serve under your command, if you’ll have me.”
Back inside, Jorah approached Dany and advocates that she forgive Tyrion—yes, he’s made mistakes but he owns them and he learns from them. The scene closes on him saying that he has one more suggestion and then we cut to Sansa talking to Lord Royce. Dany approaches and asks to speak with Sansa alone. It starts a little rough and then it warms up a little, enough so that Dany has her hands on Sansa’s… until Sansa asks the real question: what about the North? She explains that North was taken from them and they won it back but if Dany wants to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, then what about the North? Dany yanks her hand back and looks pissed. Sansa just stares at Dany unfazed.
Theon arrives at Winterfell with some of the Ironborn. He updates Dany on his sister—Yara had only a few ships and men, so she’s taking back the Iron Islands in Dany’s name as a place to retreat if need be. When asked why he came to Winterfell, he turns to Sansa and says that he wants for fight for Winterfell. He and Sansa share a beautiful, teary hug.
The horn blows—one, in keeping with Night’s Watch tradition, to announce the return of rangers. Tormund, Edd, Beric & Co. arrive at Winterfell and the reunions are cut very short with the news that Last Hearth has fallen and the Night King and his army will be at Winterfell before the next morning. So, we find ourselves at the war council; it’s a sight to see all these different folks surrounding the map table. They decide the best course of action is to take out the Night King: if he goes down, the entire army of the dead will go down since he made all the other White Walkers and, thus, all the wights. Bran offers himself up as bait to lure the Night King into the open, knowing that he wants to get to the Three-Eyed Raven: “He wants to erase this world and I am its memory.” Theon volunteers to protect Bran as he sits in the Godswood. Everyone else has the job of just beating back the wights for as long as they can. And with that—aside from another significantly awkward interaction between Jon and Dany—we go into “this may be our last night on earth” mode.
Missandei and Greyworm make plans to go to Naath after the wars are over and Dany sits on the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Sam, Jon, and Edd—and HOLY SHIT! GHOST!—are up on the battlements saying serious words and making not serious jabs: “well, calling you ‘fucked’ wouldn’t be strictly accurate.” *cacklesnorts forever* I love Sam. I really do.
Jaime and Tyrion are in the Great Hall, drinking wine in front of the fire. Tyrion remarks that he wishes Tywin were there; when Jaime looks at him sideways, Tyrion responds, “I would love to see the look on his face when he realizes his two sons are about to die defending Winterfell.” They reminisce, harkening back to the first two episodes of season 1: “You were a Golden Lion and I was a drunken whoremonger.” Brienne and Pod join the pair of brothers; Tyrion pours wine for Pod and Jaime pulls up a chair for Brienne. Then Davos joins the mix. And last, but certainly not least, Tormund comes in all Tormund-y, remarking to Brienne that it could be their last night. She tells him that she’s glad he’s there and quickly adds on, in attempt to discourage any romantic overtures, she’s glad he’s there at Winterfell, glad he survived Eastwatch.
Tormund turns his attention to Jaime: “They call you ‘king killer.’ … They call me ‘giantsbane.’ Want to know why?” He noisily drags a chair over. “I killed a giant when I was ten. Then I clamored right into bed with his wife. When she woke up, you know what she did? Suckled me at her teat for three months. Thought I was her baby. That’s how I got so strong.” *chest thump* “Giant’s milk.” And then:
Y’all, I nearly peed myself laughing!
We then find the Hound on the battlements and Arya joins him. After some classic Arya & the Hound™ banter, Arya asked why he’s there—he’s never fought for anyone but himself, so why is he there? He responds, “I fought for you, didn’t I?” Then Beric joins and, after some initial back and forth, he starts launching to some “the Lord of Light brought us together,” and the Hound promptly cuts him off: “Thoros isn’t here anymore, so I hope you’re not about to give a sermon. Because if you are, the Lord of Light is gonna wonder why he brought you back nineteen times just to watch you die when I chuck you over this fucking wall.” Arya gets up to leave and when asked where she’s going, she replies: “I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old shits.” Valid.
We cut away to Arya in the middle of target practice. We haven’t seen her with a bow in a long hot minute but, damn, if she isn’t way better with it than she once was. Gendry’s lurking in the background watching her shoot for a minute before stepping forward and handing her the weapon she asked him to make. It’s a staff with dragonglass daggers affixed to either end—after learning to fight the Waif with a staff, while blind, Arya certainly has a proficiency and I’m interested to see how she’s going to put it to work.
After checking out her new staff, Arya asks what the Red Woman wanted with him and ends up finding out that Gendry is Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. She presses him about sex and, then, finally admits that this may be their last night and she wants to experience sex before she dies. And, man, does she take charge of the situation: she kisses him, starts undressing him, throwing him back on a bed, and then giving him orders—“I’m not the Red Woman; take your own bloody pants off.” YES! ARYA! GET YOU SOME! YESSSS!
Back in the Great Hall, Tyrion says that he thinks they might survive: they’re all survivors and warriors. Tyrion makes his way around the room, crediting each person with a battle they’ve survived. When he gets to Brienne, he calls her “Ser Brienne” and corrects himself: “Lady Brienne.” Tormund is blown away when he finds out Brienne isn’t a knight and can’t understand why. Brienne tells him that women can’t be knights, because tradition. Tormund, rightly, responds with, “Fuck tradition!” He goes on and says that if he were a king, he would knight her ten times over. It then dawns on Jaime and he tells the group that they don’t need a king: a knight can make another knight.
I cried, y’all. My face was leaking.
We clip away to the courtyard, where Sam comes upon Lyanna and Jorah—the last remaining Mormonts, I think—having words: Lady Mormont will not stay in the crypt. She will fight and that is that. When Jorah and Lyanna are done, Sam walks over to Jorah and offers him Heartsbane, his family sword. Back at the Great Hall, after Tyrion asks for a song, Pod starts singing “Jenny of Oldstones.” Under the haunting lyrics, there’s a montage of everyone preparing for battle, spending time with loved ones, thinking. “High in the halls of the kings who are gone/Jenny would dance with her ghosts. The ones she had lost and the ones she hand found/And the ones who had loved her the most…”
Finally, we find Jon in the crypt and Dany approaching. She asks who the statue he is staring at is of and he tells her it is Lyanna Stark. Dany expresses shock at her brother, who she was told was kind, being Lyanna’s kidnapper and rapist. Jon says, “No, he loved her.” And proceeds to launch into his origin story. He ends with: “My name—my real name—is Aegon Targaryen.” At which point, Dany freaks out. She starts into doubts of the claim as it has only been made by his “brother” and his best friend but then swiftly turns to OMG YOU HAVE A CLAIM TO MY METAL CHAIR!? Not “oh, um… that means I just slept with my nephew?!” Not “everything we’ve been told our whole lives has been a lie?!” Not even “wow! I thought I was the last Targaryen! I’m not alone.” Nope. It’s immediately about the Iron Throne. Which is telling: when Sam revealed the truth to Jon/Aegon, he asked, “you gave up your crown to save your people, would she do the same?”
And then the horns blast. Three times. The army of the dead has arrived at Winterfell.
CHEERY! Well, next week promises to be …well, this is Game of Thrones, let’s be honest: it’s going to be bloody and we’re going to be mourning at least one character before the end of the episode. So, brace yourself. Winter is here.