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Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 2 - A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (Review)

Game of Thrones

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WE ALWAYS knew the final season of Game of Thrones would be emotional as we said farewell to some of our favourite characters. What we weren’t prepared for, as the season gets underway, is just how early this emotional investment delivers the goods.

The second episode of the epic eighth season was another quiet one. But it was also brilliant. It allowed characters to breathe, to bond and to remind viewers of why they had become so popular in the first place.

It was also a subtle acknowledgement of what each of them had survived – and how characters had changed and/or evolved over the course of the seven previous seasons.

So, while certainly the calm before the storm, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms was no less striking. Rather, it delivered one of the show’s biggest tear-jerking moments to date – a genuinely poignant sequence in which Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) knighted Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie).

This was a bittersweet moment to savour… bittersweet because these were people who had suffered so much already, preparing to face possibly their final days. The warmth and affection between Jaime and Brienne was palpable and the scene was beautifully played. You’ll now be rooting for both to survive – although Game of Thrones has never been a show to rely on sentiment.

Throughout the episode there were moments to savour – unions, discussions, jokes and hard truths. Again, there was a palpable sense of camaraderie among a group of men who, by their own admission, had spent so much of their time fighting the Starks, only to find themselves now unified in defending their home, Winterfell.

And in doing so, it underlined just how unpredictable each man and woman’s journey had been. Characters that may have been despised early on, were now heroes – none more so than Jaime.

Other favourite moments came in the form of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)’s earnest chat with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), in a bid to clear the air between them. It began as a mutual appreciation session over the worth of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), before turning to the similarities between the two.

And yet, just as it seemed they could become close allies, Sansa threw a spanner in the works by asking what Daenerys plans for the north would be once they had survived the Night King’s army and removed Cersei Lannister from the Iron Throne. There wasn’t enough time for Daenerys to answer, but both women knew the response would be something they couldn’t see eye to eye on.

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) also had her own coming-of-age moment by losing her virginity to Gendry (Joe Dempsie) – a surprise union but a tender one by Game of Thrones sexual standards. It also allowed room for Bryan Cogman’s script to employ more laugh out loud humour, as Arya took charge of the moment and commanded Gendry to remove his own clothes.

Arya also got one more nice moment with The Hound (Rory McCann), which again illustrated the complexity of the show’s many relationships, while affording McCann some typically gruff put-downs.

Yet while there was a lot of light-hearted bonding, there were also more serious nods to what lies ahead. The battle plan, for instance, will employ Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) as bait for the Night King, with Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) as his protector. That surely can’t end well for the latter.

And Jon did finally tell Daenerys the truth about his claim to the throne, while standing by Lyanna Stark’s tomb – possibly placing their union at risk.

But while certainly suggesting plenty of intriguing possibilities for the remaining episodes, the biggest joy of watching this episode was spending time in the company of the characters we have come to love.

Hence, while devoid of action and bloodshed, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms will be looked upon fondly as, quite possibly, the episode that really sets up the tears that are sure to follow as favourite characters begin to fall.