There are so many spoilers below, do not read if you are not up-to-date on Game of Thrones...
"The things we do for love" epitomises the theme of Season 8, Episode 2. It is the end of an era for the characters we have grown up with for the past eight years; it is the night before war; it is the night where we get to see what everyone would do for each other and what they would do for the Iron Throne, (cough, cough, Dany).
From the off, this episode sees Dany and Sansa’s juxtaposing approaches to ruling. Sansa, despite her stoic front gives fair, level-headed judgement, whilst Dany looks like someone just stole her dragons again. This really plays into the theory that Dany will become the “mad queen”, much like her father, the “mad king”.
Firstly, Dany's conversation with Sansa makes a quick turn when she questions whether the North will live under her rule after the great battle. And if this wasn't enough to reveal Dany's priorities, then perhaps the big 'auntie reveal' will: even in the moment we have all been waiting for, as Jon tells Dany he is her nephew, Dany still turns it into a battle for power. Does she focus on the fact Jon is her nephew? No, instead she brings it back to the fact that he is now the true heir to the iron throne. I know this show kind of makes incest okay, but c’mon Dany?
© Game of Thrones, HBO
Regardless, it is rather pleasant that the episode focuses on sweet, tender moments, not the vile gritty deaths we are all so used to. It is an episode of connections, if you will. Tyrion looking at Podrick singing, Brienne and Jaime’s ogling, Sansa and Theon's loving looks, Tormund's support of Brienne, Jorah attempting to look after his little, but fierce cousin, Grey Worm and Missandei’s emotional goodbye, and Tormund (again) ambushing Jon. The episode explores the nature and relationships of our core characters, and it was really nice to see this before they all—y’know—die.
My favourite connection is that explored between Sansa and Theon. Barely any words are exchanged, and yet we see this formidable, raw relationship between the two. Years of abuse prevail through their characters and in consequence we get the most heart wrenching, loving connection of them all.
© Game of Thrones, HBO
Another favourite is the scene where Ser Davos serves the tough, but sweet little girl a bowl of soup. It is a tragic reminder of how he wished he could have saved Shireen all those years ago and and the continued nobility of the man. It was a scene of really lovely character development and a sincerely heart-warming exchange. Perhaps Ser Davos will fulfil his destiny by proudly saving that little girl – a moment I am sure will all have us weeping.
Two moments in particular however, blew up online: the first, naturally, being the brewing relationship between Arya and Gendry…
I (humbly) think that Arya has had the best storyline (and yes, I am a major fangirl) in the series, and in each episode we get to see a little piece of how everything, and everyone has influenced her. One of my favourite lines this week: 'I know death, he’s got many faces', proving a quick reminder of Arya's journey and Jaqen’s impact. A nice touch to the end of this scene was using the Baratheon theme song, highlighting the on-going desire between Arya and Gendry and—dare I say—frames how cute they both are. The sexual tension, finally, comes to a climax, and has somewhat split viewers. It was, however, an undoubtedly powerful and an intimate moment for Arya and it was nice to finally see her being able to enjoy something – even if it is due to the grave presence of imminent death.
The second moment that circled social media was the exchanges between Jaime and Brienne: firstly, their playful flirting throughout the episode acted as a breather between the war preparations. A particular favourite is when they argue about the fact that they are not insulting each other and are rather having a nice, civil conversation… the very notion (if this isn’t an insight into a woman’s mind, then I don’t know what is). The pauses and silences are picked perfectly, provoking a stifled laugh, and slight gush like that of a childhood crush, at least from the audience.
Side note: it is interesting that Dany manages to make herself the malcontent of the series, yet Jaime, who we did not dare like in the first few seasons, is now the knight in shining armour; the damaged prince charming, if you will. Yet Dany, the ‘mother of dragons’, the once vulnerable Targaryen becomes as disliked by the characters and viewers, as her father was by his subjects.
Double side note: I did love Dany in the first few seasons, however, season after season it became apparent that she was just a pawn in the writers predictable awful storytelling. It's sad to see a good character with so much potential go to waste under the careless hands of D.B Weiss and and David Benioff.
Jaime knighting Brienne, however, was the obvious highlight of this episode. This has to be one of most the humble, pure moments of the whole of the Game of Thrones series’. We not only see Brienne fulfilling her dream of becoming a knight, but we also see everyone around her actually supporting her – a rarity for GoT; Tormund has a wide smile on his face and pushes for the knighthood, despite the fact it was Jaime fulfilling it – this is a sentiment we can only dream humanity could pertain. There was no jealousy or envy (again, cough,cough, Dany), but simply love. Both Gwendoline (Brienne) and Nikolaj’s (Jaime) acting shines through here, and it really is a touching scene.
We also finally found out what Podrick’s secret is… his singing? As we see a handful of characters gathered around the fire, sharing tales and jokes, Podrick begins to sing the Jenny of Oldstones song, and it really just brings the nostalgia and tragedy of the episode together.
The plethora of connections acts as a stark reminder to the mad queens lack of. The tragedy of Daenerys is that Jorah has unconditional devotion to her, and due to her odyssey for power, she will never be attune to this connection. Sadly, it will not be until he (inevitably) dies that she realises she had what she needed all along. Sansa and Theon’s powerful, raw connection, built through tragedy exemplifies Dany’s cold distance to humanity.
© Game of Thrones, HBO
Let us not forget, that the father of GoT, George R. R. Martin said that the dragons are ‘destructive forces’ somewhat resembling power-hungry leaders using atomic bombs. As Martin states, Dany ‘has the power to destroy, she can wipe out entire cities, and we certainly see that in Fire and Blood, we see the dragons wiping out entire armies, wiping out towns and cities, destroying them, but that doesn’t necessarily enable you to rule – it just enables you to destroy’. We must remember that the books have diverged from the series, so now we do not know what to believe – it is Game of Thrones, after all! However, my predictions are on seeing a mad queen, Dany ascending the Iron Throne – unless Jon can save her before this, although it now appears he is Dany’s enemy too!
Who will die and who will live are questions we have been asking all week and tonight is (finally) the night. Good luck to us all!
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor
To tide you over for the last few hours, here’s a couple of videos to watch:
A really lovely lyric video featuring the characters in Season 8, but also some of their journeys throughout the series.
Again, this video shows some really heart-warming moments and reminds us of the lovely connections before tonight’s inevitable deaths...