We’re two episodes into Game of Thrones’ final season, and it feels like we just watched the remaining characters have one last hurrah before everything comes spiraling down. There were no deaths this episode! Not one person died! And while that’s great for the citizens of Winterfell, it’s not exactly helping any Game of Game of Thrones players.
Fortunately, despite all of the violence that didn’t happen in this episode, there were plenty of funny and brutal one-liners to go around. There was also some sex. And some drinking. It was kind of like Game of Thrones Animal House moment, right down to everyone’s uncertainty about their futures.
This episode opens with the brief trial of my future betrothed, Jaime Lannister. He’s looking incredibly dashing. It’s wild just how well he wears unbathed. Sadly, I’m the only one who thinks so. Daenerys isn’t happy to see him — but why should she be? Here’s the man responsible for her entire family’s plight. She wastes no time berating him, either, scolding Jaime and Cersei for not holding up their end of the bargain. “I don’t see an army. I see one man — with one hand.” (+10 for brutality.) Daenerys has hated the Lannisters for years, thriving on her raging ambitions to overthrow their family. Not even Tyrion, her most loyal Hand, can convince her otherwise. He tries to insist that he knows Jaime and can vouch for him, but Daenerys wastes no time in cutting him down with a simple, “Just like you knew your sister?” (+10)
Even Bran, Winterfell’s local sociopath, manages to get a jab in at Jaime. As the most handsome Lannister tries to defend his actions from the show’s first season when his family essentially tore through Winterfell, Bran not-so-subtly calls out, “The things we do for love.” (+10)
No one really wants Jaime around, but if it’s a matter of allowing him to hang out for a while and help take down some ice zombies or sending him away to rekindle the flame with his sister, Winterfell is going to take what they can get. Jaime will be allowed to fight. (+15 for joining an alliance.) One hand is better than no hands? It’s like the Flobots said in their 2007 hit song — “I can kill White Walkers with one hand, ya huh!” (I refuse to apologize for this.)
Just because they gained another fighter doesn’t mean Daenerys is a happy camper. She reminds Tyrion that if he can’t do what she needs, Daenerys will “find another Hand who can.” (+10) Nothing’s going right for the poor Lannisters. Tyrion’s fighting with Daenerys and Jaime’s fighting with, uh, everyone but Brienne, who stands up for him. Between the bickering and Sansa’s ongoing ice-glare feud with Daenerys, it’s a wonder that Winterfell hasn’t already fallen from internal power struggles alone.
Not everyone is out for blood, though. Arya and Gendry, Winterfell’s most popular will-they/ won’t-they couple, are still bonding over weaponry. She needs her secret blade — quickly. Gendry, happy to twiddle his thumbs by making substandard weaponry for the rest of Winterfell, isn’t working fast enough. “You should make mine first,” Arya tells him, picking up one of his other projects. “And make sure it’s stronger than this.” (+10) Gendry is concerned about death, but Arya isn’t. “I know death,” she reminds him. “He’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.” (+10)
Is anyone else concerned that Arya is just kind of cool with Gendry making subpar swords? Where is his mentor? This is a terrible apprenticeship program. Someone should change up the rules of this internship if any of them survive the war.
Speaking of things we’re looking forward to, Bran and Jaime finally have their face-to-face, one-on-one confrontation. Bran is sitting in the godswood by himself again when Jaime approaches him. (How does Bran keep ending up parked outside in the cold? Why is no one more concerned that Bran, the only one who can see into the future, is constantly disappearing when there is a horde of zombies approaching? This is not the time to be physically losing people just because they have terrible communication skills!)
Jaime apologizes for pushing Bran out of the tower window all those years ago, but Bran says he’s totally good and that Jaime’s murder attempt let Bran go on his vision quest in the first place. When Jaime asks whether Bran could try to return to some state of normalcy after the war (read: “Be less weird, kid”), Bran reminds him that there’s no guarantee of an “after.” (+10) None of this matters anyway! The question at the heart of their conversation is, why didn’t Bran rat Jaime out as an attempted child-killer when he had the chance? All of Winterfell could have watched Drogon smoke Jaime down to finely cooked meat, then chomp on him for a light snack. Bran shrugs that off: “You won’t be able to help us in this fight if I let them murder you first.” (+10)
This episode wasn’t all about Jaime, but it was certainly mostly about Jaime. It was a dream for yours truly! Jaime bounced from person to person, moving like a pinball across Winterfell. His conversation with Tyrion about Cersei’s deceptive tactics results in some harsh words of wisdom from the youngest Lannister. “She never fooled you. You always knew exactly what she was. You loved her anyway.” (+10) The brothers even get a chance to joke around with each other, letting Tyrion reference one of the show’s most famous lines: “I always imagined myself dying in my bed, at the age of 80, with a girl’s mouth around my cock.” (+5 for a clever quip.) It’s adorable! Incredibly juvenile, slightly fan-baiting, and borderline gross, but adorable all the same because the boys are back together.
Jaime then finally makes his way over to Brienne (a quintessential moment for all of you Braime shippers), and, in a moment of trying to be a gentleman, he gets yelled at by the woman he loves! “We’ve never had a conversation this long without you insulting me!” she snaps. (+5)
“We’ve never had a conversation this long without you insulting me!”
Insulting conversations are the cornerstone of any good television show: Veep, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Paw Patrol, and now, the Daenerys and Sansa Show. The two women have their own heart-to-heart this episode. Dany confides in Sansa that she wishes Tyrion hadn’t trusted Cersei. “You never should have either,” Sansa knowingly replies. (+10) Hmm, turns out insulting Tyrion is not the way into Sansa’s heart. Dany decides to try a different route by addressing the elephant in the room: Dany loves Jon and she wants to know why Sansa has an issue with their love. Sansa doesn’t even know that Jon and Dany are related yet!
“Men do stupid things for women,” Sansa explains. “They’re easily manipulated.” (+10)
For those keeping score at home, that’s 2-0 for Sansa. It’s only when Dany makes a joke about Jon’s height (+5) that the two women kind of hit it off. Things are going so well! Jon can finally rest easy knowing that his sister and his aunt-turned-girlfriend-turned-queen are becoming best friends. That is, until Sansa asks what Dany’s plans for the North are after she claims the Iron Throne. (+10) Ah, well. Not all friendships can last. Even those that just started.
But some friendships do last! Tonight’s episode brought us a beautiful reunion between Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (or, as I keep referring to him, “Lily Allen’s little brother who was once a music video star”). Theon tells Daenerys that both he and his sister Yara have pledged their allegiance to Winterfell, the North, and Dany’s army-at-large. (+15 for Theon; +15 for Yara.) Across the courtyard, more reunions with more friends! Jon and Sam are reunited with Tormund, Edd, and Beric. They waste no time hugging one another, and staring lovingly into each other’s eyes — though Tormund looks around for Brienne, asking, “The big woman still here?” (+5)
I love this part of Game of Thrones. It’s pure fan service. It’s the last reunion before the big battle, a chance for longtime fans to see all of their favorites (who are still alive) reunite before they head into battle and die. It’s Tony Stark hugging Bruce Banner or Thor complimenting Steve Rogers in Avengers: Infinity War before Thanos snaps his fingers and kills almost all the superheroes we’ve come to love. That’s this Game of Thrones episode.
Unfortunately, like in Infinity War, there is a giant battle that Winterfell must prepare to fight. In a scene ripped straight out of The Fellowship of the Ring, everyone who matters is gathered around a giant table map. They’re solemn, which is to be expected when you’re preparing for your own death. At this meeting, Theon pledges to guard Bran to make up for his past mistakes — “I took this castle from you. Let me defend you now.” (+10) — and Daenerys tells Tyrion that he can’t fight at all. “Ser Davos is perfectly capable of waving a torch on his own.” (+5) Someone has finally moved Bran inside (again, am I the only one worried about this boy’s health?), and he’s sitting in the corner, serving up premonition after premonition. It’s great fun watching Jon look at his younger brother as he tries to wrap his brain around how strange Bran has become.
Just because death is around the corner doesn’t mean it’s all gloom and doom! Tormund says, “We’re all going to die, but at least we die together.” (+10), and Edd jokes that if Samwell Tarly is their best bet for survival, “We really are fucked.” (+5) It’s important to find the lighthearted moments in the hours before death. Have a cup of tea, play a game of Chutes and Ladders, or, if you’re like our collective partiers, drink until you can’t remember your name or the fact that a horde of seemingly unstoppable zombies is just a couple of horse-trots away from seizing the castle.
Just to make it simple, here’s a list of everyone who drank to forget their current life status: Tyrion (+10), Podrick (+10), Jaime (+10), Tormund (+10), Arya (+10), The Hound (+10), and Beric (+10). Congratulations to everyone who drafted the fun people.
It’s within this group, at different points throughout the episode, that we get some of our best moments. There’s one point when Tyrion reminisces about his first trip to Winterfell (+5), and his relationship with his brother. Remember when Tyrion and Jaime used to be best friends and everything was good in the world and happiness existed? Tyrion does. Jaime remembers it slightly differently. “I was sleeping with my sister, and you had one friend in the world... who was sleeping with his sister.” (+5)
As more people join Tyrion and Jaime in the “nice room with a cozy fireplace,” as I’ve dubbed it, the more ludicrous and heartwarming the evening becomes. Tormund, in an odd attempt to flirt with Brienne, tells a horrible story about nursing at a giant’s breast for three months while he was held captive. “That’s how I got so strong: giant’s milk.” (+5) This is why practicing flirting with your friends is so important! Tormund should have tried to flirt with Edd so that he would be better prepared for seeing Brienne again! Flirting with friends isn’t weird if you’re upfront about needing to learn how to flirt! Men, word of advice: don’t use tales of breast milk to flirt with anyone.
Tormund’s tale even prompts Davos to say, “Maybe I will have that drink.” (+5) Oh, speaking of Davos: points for an earlier comment about waiting to die, “freezing balls off outside or inside.” (+5)
Post-milk tale, we get to one of the best scenes in the episode. Gathered in a circle, Tyrion leads the group in a reminiscing monologue of sorts (+5 for a soliloquy about the past) about famous battles of Ser Davos, Ser Jaime, and Lady Brienne. It’s awkward; Brienne isn’t a knight. It’s a touchy subject for her. The scene is made only slightly less awkward by Tormund’s attempt at flirting again: “I’m not a knight, but I would knight you 10 times over if I could.” (+5) Classic Tormund.
Jaime won’t stand for it anymore. He informs the group that a knight has the power to create another knight. So he does. Brienne becomes Ser Brienne (+25 for a promotion) in a devastatingly beautiful scene that we’ve waited so long to see. Gwendoline Christie pours so much love and adoration for her character into this scene that it’s nearly impossible to not well up while watching it. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m a sensitive baby, but this scene absolutely ruined me. It’s also why I named Brienne this episode’s MVP. There was simply no other option. (+20)
This episode had almost everything: reunions, fights, drinking, Jaime, and controversial sex.
Arya’s awkward silent drinking session with the Hound — which prompts him to deliver the fantastic line, “You never used to shut up. Now you’re just sitting there like a mute.” (+10) — ends when Beric shows up. Neither Arya nor the Hound necessarily wants to hang out with Beric. The Hound quite literally threatens to “chuck him over the fucking wall” (+5) if he bursts into a sermon. This is the final night before war descends upon them! There’s no time for squabbling and quibbling. If other people in Winterfell can find time to spend their last few hours with the people they love — like Grey Worm telling Missandei that his people “are not peaceful. We will protect you.” (+10) — then Arya can follow in their footsteps. “I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old shits,” she says, before peacing out only a couple of minutes into this tender double reunion. (+10)
In the most controversial scene of the evening, Arya has sex with Gendry. (+15 for both for partial nudity and +15 for both for getting it on.) It shouldn’t be controversial, really. Arya is supposed to be an adult at this point in the series, and she does have a connection with Gendry. But this isn’t a declaration of love followed by throes of passion. It’s not even a drunken admittance of lust followed by a desperate need to have sex before a battle. It’s calculated. Arya wants to experience sex before she possibly dies and Gendry seems like the obvious choice, so she quizzes him about his past experiences, including getting stripped and leached by Melisandre for spell components. “I’m not the Red Woman,” Arya tells him, devoid of any real emotion. “Take your own bloody pants off.”
That’s weird! I’m not saying all sex needs to be hugely emotional, but, like, you should feel something, girl. Listen, I’m here for Arya. I want her to have fun with whomever she wants. But this seems like a weird way to write a character into a sex scene — especially a character that so many of us still think of as the young child from the show’s first season. We never got a chance to see Arya mature, and the result is that some of us feel bad for watching this scene. The whole thing gave me the heebie-jeebies, and I don’t want to think about it ever again.
Luckily for us, the episode does not end on Arya and Gendry. We get to witness a wonderful moment between Lyanna Mormont and her cousin, Jorah. Even at Jorah’s request, Lyanna refuses to sit back and send her men to war. She’s joining them. She’s their leader, and hell will freeze over before she agrees to play pattycake and drink Ser Davos’ Dav-Os soup underground. “We’re done here,” Lyanna snaps, dismissing Jorah. “I wish you good fortune, cousin.” (+10)
Can I just say that I want to be Lyanna Mormont when I grow up? She’s like medieval Sally Draper! Everything Lyanna does makes me want to kick names and take ass! She’s going to fight, and she’s going to win, damn it!
The good fortune she wishes him happens right away: just as Lyanna leaves, Sam walks up to Jorah and hands him the Tarly family’s sword, Heartsbane. (+50 to Jorah for gaining Valyrian steel.) I’ll leave the theories about what this all means to the theory-masters (like my co-workers Shannon Liao and Chaim Gartenberg), but I definitely watched this scene and went, “Ooh, that’s a pretty sword!”
It’s a good thing Jorah has this sword because the episode ends with the White Walkers arriving at Winterfell. This is it, lads. The big one. The five Ws: Westeros’ White Walker World War. I’m sure showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will work extra hard to make up for this spectacular hour without any on-screen deaths. Prepare to lose some of your characters next week! And get amped up to see some of our favorites kick White Walker ass. War has finally arrived.
THE VERGE FANTASY LEAGUE STANDINGS
Liz Lopatto: 130 points
Top scorer: Daenerys Targaryen — 40 points
Note: This episode was a big one for Liz. Daenerys, Lyanna Mormont, Yara Greyjoy, and even Podrick helped propel her into the lead. Take this as a lesson: never doubt Podrick again.
Julia Alexander: 120 points
Top scorer: Jaime Lannister — 30 points
Shannon Liao: 115 points
Top scorer: Tormund Giantsbane — 35 points
Note: “Never bet against Tormund” is the lesson this season.
Tasha Robinson: 110 points
Top scorer: Brienne of Tarth — 50 points
Chaim Gartenberg: 105 points
Top scorer: The Hound, Theon Greyjoy — 25 points each
Andy Hawkins: 100 points
Top scorer: Tyrion Lannister — 35 points
Sarah Bishop Woods: 85 points
Top scorer: Arya Stark — 75 points
Note: Damn, Arya!
Adi Robertson: 60 points
Top scorer: Jorah Mormont — 50 points
T.C. Sottek: 0 points
Top scorer: N/A
Note: It’s not looking great for T.C. right now, but I have a feeling that all of the creatures he drafted will come in handy starting in the next episode.