Winter is here: The final season of “Game of Thrones” is one of the most highly anticipated television events of the last decade. Follow our columnists as they explore students’ weekly reactions as an iconic era of pop culture comes to an end. Beware, spoilers lie ahead.
Death is coming!
But first, we return to Winterfell for a fairly anticlimactic – if uncharacteristically wholesome – build up to the long-awaited battle.
The episode opens with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who faces a room of people who hate him. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) would like to see him dead, until Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) steps in to vouch for his honor. The moment is sweet, calling back to Jaime and Brienne’s friendship from seasons ago and re-establishing their respect for each other.
Sansa takes her word, and Jon (Kit Harington) supports the decision, saying Jaime can stay to fight. Two against one gives Daenerys no choice but to agree her remaining dragons will have to wait another day for a quick snack. But clearly, her power doesn’t extend as far as she once thought it did.
Arya (Maisie Williams) – fierce as ever – is raring to fight the dead, despite her friend Gendry (Joe Dempsie) telling her that the White Walkers are scarier than any foe she has ever faced. But Arya just throws a few knives in response, establishing the theme for the rest of the episode: The battle is almost here and death is near.
Daenerys then goes to talk to Sansa to find some common ground. Sansa says Jon’s love for Daenerys worries her because, according to her, “Men do stupid things for women.” She has a point. After all, her brother Robb Stark married the woman he loved, and it didn’t turn out well. Daenerys, however, insists that Jon is one of two men she knows to be true to their word – the first, of course, being her deceased husband Khal Drogo.
But their bonding session comes to a screeching halt when Sansa asks her about the North’s independence if they make it out alive and when Daenerys takes back the Iron Throne. With an eerie silence, the queen removes her hand away from Sansa’s before they are interrupted, making it clear that Daenerys intends to keep the power in her grasp.
Fourth-year economics student Zoha Mortazavi said she felt the scene was important because it seemed the two get along, but it didn’t happen because of the threat Daenerys poses to Sansa’s power. Yet neither of them know Jon is the true heir, and their anger is misplaced, she said.
But romance and power struggles are tabled as the wildling Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) reports that the army of dead will arrive before the sun rises. Tormund sums their situation up best: “We are all going to die.”
Despite the doom and gloom, the most touching scene of the episode soon follows, in which some of the main characters sit by the fireplace and Brienne reveals that she is not a knight because it is against custom for a woman to be a knight. But as a knight – and someone who clearly cares deeply for Brienne – Jaime states that he can knight her.
Brienne kneels and Jaime proclaims her “Brienne of Tarth, a knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” It beautifully brings Brienne’s storyline full circle, as she finally receives the recognition she has deserved since first appearing on the show in season two.
Third-year political science student Karla Aparicio said she felt the scene foreshadows Brienne’s death in next week’s episode.
“Her life goal was to be a knight and she got that,” Aparicio said. “It just feels like such a goodbye.”
The episode ends with Jon and Daenerys down in Winterfell’s crypt, where Jon reveals the truth: He is the son of Lyanna Stark and her brother Rhaegar Targaryen. Daenerys doesn’t seem to care much about the fact that she’s had sex with her nephew; instead, the worried look on her face suggests that she’s much more bothered by Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne.
In that moment, Mortazavi said Daenerys realizes the North is not going to stand behind her.
In an episode devoted to subtle character moments, it’s clear that Daenerys will have her work cut out for her to maintain her current power status. But there are currently more pressing matters to handle; with the army of the dead only minutes away, it will be interesting to see how this newfound power struggle plays out in the upcoming battle.
Overall, the second episode continued to build the pressure as the season progresses. Though it felt a bit slow paced, it was necessary to have all characters’ relationships and emotions established before the battle of Winterfell next week. Fans should prepare for deaths and tears in the coming week.