Episode 2 of Game of Thrones: 8 Winners and 4 Losers of "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"


"A knight of the seven kingdoms" is the kind of episode that made me fall in love with Game of thrones.

It contains many awkward scenes, and it is remarkable how much we do not know how the alliance Jon and Dany plans to fight the king of nights. But the heart of the episode is a group of adored characters who spend a last and long night together, before the White Walkers arrive to turn them into ice zombies.

Everything happens in and around Winterfell, over a period of 12 hours, and you can almost feel that writer Bryan Cogman and director David Nutter are thrilled at the prospect of only having to serve that window specific time in these characters. "Lives, before they're stuck in another giant battle."

"A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" reminded me that viewers were hooked Game of thrones It was not the show or the battles. It was not even the twists or the political intrigue. That's how the show's character collection felt a bit like Real people live through massive events that change lives. "A knight of the seven kingdoms" marks a clear improvement over the first season of the eighth season and the kind of episode Game of thrones necessary before sinking into the chaos of the impending war with the king of the night.

So, the episode in general was a winner! But divide other winners and losers within the episode.

Winner: Death

If there is one central theme of "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms", it is that death happens for all of us, but also, more specifically, for the group of rugged warriors gathered at Winterfell.

White Walkers have always been a bit derisory in terms of metaphor. They can defend climate change, harm or whatever you want, but they are not really characters so much as an overwhelming force. I've always assumed that George RR Martin would eventually find a way to undermine the perverse generic nature of White Walkers in his books, but the series sees the little time left (only four more). episodes after this one!), continues to make the White Walkers replace death itself.

It works so much better than I expected. Sam's thinking that the whites' desire to sweep the human being off the map is parallel to the way death makes us forget (and makes us forget) the incessant refrains of "We are all going to die here!" just about everyone, "a knight of the seven kingdoms" specifies who these characters are, who they were and where they are going, when the world seems to be ending.

My favorite scene in this regard was what happens at a wedding reception when guests start to break away from the main party and spend time around the pool with a few drinks. Except here, the characters stood out from the long night waiting night night to sit around the corner of a crackling fire. (They still had a few drinks.)

It is sometimes a scene that directly evokes the specter of death (especially when Tyrion can not seem to let go that this small group of people will die fighting to save Winterfell when they all fought the Starks at one time or another), but that's largely an indirect reflection on this idea. When you know that your hours are probably limited, what are you going to do with these last hours? With whom are you going to spend them? Well…

Winner: Ser Brienne

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We did it, everyone !!!
Helen Sloan / HBO

The "knight" of the title of the episode turns out to be Brienne, who has never been knighted all his time, because it is not something that women can do in the Seven Kingdoms. She plays as if she does not care, but Tormund continues to tell how he would knight her 10 times if he could, the more you can see in Gwendoline Christie's eyes how difficult it is for Brienne should to be a knight, dangit.

And then Jaime says, oh, hey, cool power that I can – I can just knight no matter who i wantand he proceeds exactly like this, introducing Brienne in the order of the Seven Kingdoms. And if she survives one way or the other with some of these people by her side, does anybody really will he take away the title? (Yes, yes, "strip Brienne of his title" is definitely in the Cersei wheelhouse.)

The knights of Brienne – and its smiling and tearful reaction – constitute the culmination of this episode. This is the kind of thing that can only happen in a TV show that is coming to an end. We have lived with Brienne and Jaime, together and separately, for so long that this moment has really depth.

And even if I question the idea that everyone in the room would be so ready to applaud for it, I will allow it on the basis of all the characters standing in front of the audience.

But that's not all! Brienne is also quite high in the chain of command in the coming battle, she seems to be the only person to have thought about the series' military strategy, and Jaime says he'll be happy to serve under it. Brienne is one of Game of thronesFew characters whose moral confusion is usually not tainted by an obscure act or another, it is therefore good to see that recognized by someone & # 39; a.

Winner: Jaime

For someone who started this episode in lawsuits, Jaime really had a good time together throughout the hour (which almost guarantees that he will die next week, huh?).

He saw Brienne for the first time in years. He is more or less reconciled with Tyrion. He convinced Dany not to kill him. He even a little arranged things with Bran, that he pushed out the window and paralyzed so long ago. (That the clip of Game of thronesJaime's pilot pushing Bran through the tower window that appeared in the "Formerly" segment is perhaps my favorite part of this episode.)

Will everything come Jaime? Not yet. But for a character who has sometimes felt a bit stuck in recent seasons, trapped in a toxic relationship and dependent on his code that Game of thrones struggled to find new facets of, it's nice to have at least one episode where the character is at its best.

Winner: Jaime / Brienne shippers


(What's more, do you remember how Jaime said that he wanted to die in the arms of the woman he loved in Season Five? It seems pretty obvious to know where this one stands. directed.)

Loser: Shippers Tormund / Brienne

Listen, I love Tormund, especially when he boasts of a giant who has raised him for three months (!), But he can not do the knight to whom he wants, which really puts it to two no Jaime. (That said, Tormund seems more likely to survive the next episode, so remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint, buddy!)

Winner: Shippers Arya / Gendry

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So, this is happening.

Apparently, many people sent Arya and Gendry all the time, hoping the two would still cross each other and connect. And this is the only potential love relationship that Game of thrones decides to bear fruit in this episode, because Arya loses her virginity against the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. (Wild how he always bombs, right?)

Arya and Gendry have never been my pair of choices in the series – it looks somehow like that Arya should hang on to some kind of personification of death – and Nutter's leadership choices. seemed almost destined to send worried and / or amazed viewers to Google to see how old Maisie Williams was. (What Google Trends tells me is what they did.) Awesome! Well, I can play this game: "Arya Game of Thrones, how old?" L & # 39; actress Maisie Williams was born on April 15, 1997 and is just 22 years old.)

But good for those two crazy kids. And now, if they both survive the coming battle, the consequences could be very difficult for them, which could be fun.

Loser: This scene with Daenerys and Sansa trying to find a common ground

Cogman's script for this episode is lyrical and melancholy, which is exactly the right balance for the story of a group of people facing their deaths. But at the same time, there is a leaden scene very early, when Dany and Sansa discuss their complicated family situation, then spend most of the conversation summing up the plot of Game of thrones to another.

Do I understand that? In the pure sense of "this is what the scene was trying to accomplish", of course. Sansa and Dany have just met, and trying to find common ground is a smart way for Dany to win a very skeptical ally. And Emilia Clarke and Sophie Turner have a fragile chemistry that could lead to interesting experiments.

But in the run, the scene was a stalemate for all the impulse that the episode had built up at this point. I had the impression, briefly, that it would suggest that Sansa and Dany had buried the hatchet, in a totally improbable way, before Sansa asked Dany what she was going to to do the North, which promised independence once the war ended. (Dany gently removed his hand from Sansa's top.) It was an acceptable reward, but probably did not deserve such a long exhibition scene to get there.

In addition, the rest of the episode for these two characters was not much better. Dany discovered that Jon could pretend more legitimately to the throne than she, and she had to handle the whole situation. "Tyrion and Jorah both want to be the Hand, and they're both in love with me, but that's all. in the subtext, so I can not know it. "

So what Sansa seems to be being put in place for some sort of romantic thing with Theon, which, what???? I do not really think Game of thrones will go there, but still, this brief photo where both of them look at each other with neutral eyes worries me a lot.

Winner: chiaroscuro lighting

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Sansa and Daenerys in the half-lit shade.
Helen Sloan / HBO

I complain a lot about lighting Game of thrones. It's a popular pastime among those of us who watch television professionally, as well as many people who do not. The show is so often so dark that viewers can not really know what's going on.

But what do you know? David Nutter and Director of Photography David Franco have done a solid job in giving this episode a strange, wintery feel without burying it in the shadows.

The chiaroscuro lighting – which dramatically underlines the contrast between darkness and light – is a big hit on TV these days, as it's an easy way to convey the feeling of "prestige" without having to work to tell a good story. this trend as seen on the show Ozark).

It is so that the series have plunged their scenes in the dark and in the shade, instead of trying to highlight the difference between darkness and light, to the way of the legendary filmmaker Gordon Willis in the film Godfather movies.

The popularity of this lighting technique in recent years is probably directly attributable to Game of thrones, where the construction "we exist before the electric light" of the show gives it at least a defense for an aesthetic that so many other shows resembling his look can absolutely not hope to justify. But even Game of thrones sometimes had the impression that his characters were engulfed in the dark.

Imagine my surprise, then, that "A knight of the seven kingdoms" was full of scenes where the contrast between light and darkness was not right, but often very subtle. And most of these scenes also had realistic reasons for why the lighting was as it was, whereas when the fire roared, all the characters gathered around the best stage of the episode provided the essential light.

Game of thrones It can sometimes seem dark to be black, but "A knight of the seven kingdoms" was an episode so exemplary that the rest of the TV could do worse by taking as an example. The, it seemed, c & # 39; how do you do it And yes, if Game of thrones win a movie Emmy for this episode, well … that would be fine.

Loser: Military Tactics

Listen: I did not really want to see an episode where the characters broke their battle plans for the coming war, because that sounds boring. (A prominent dissident: Matt Yglesias of Vox, who seemed upset on Twitter that the episode did not involve more strategies.) I did not know that I even needed a scene of that.

But it would have been nice to see some the proof that these people have a plan to then go beyond Brienne's vague gestures for an ascent which could give a tactical advantage to the living forces, and Bran suggesting that it would be a really good bait for the Night King . (Mad Max says, "It's a bait." Dot gif.)

(By the way, if Game of thrones draws the old "just defeat the leader to defeat the horde" of far too many sci-fi, fantasy and horror stories telling that the death of the King of the night leads to the death of all Whites, I will cry! )

This is perhaps best summarized by a scene where Davos serves soup to a group of soldiers. Remember how the first of the season had an ephemeral moment when Sansa asked how the army was going to be nurtured? Have you ever imagined that the answer would be: "Davos will serve them soup"? This is just another example of how Game of thrones has largely abandoned the idea of ​​creating a politically sustainable alternative reality in favor of the simplest possible explanations.

It did not even look like a good soup! (Alright, that's definitely the goal.)

Winner: Emotional Strategies

Game of thrones

We know that Jaime will die in the arms of Brienne, realizing the announcement!
Helen Sloan / HBO

But I must oppose the idea that a "Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" would have been improved by scenes involving many military strategies. Watch how the show has spent most of the episode to clarify which characters are going to be where when the battle comes.

This is the standard "first act of a war movie", but it's standard because it works. We want to know that Jaime will be with Brienne and that Jorah will have Sam Valyrian's steel sword, and that Gilly will be in the crypts. The series does not really prepare us for the physical reality of this battle, but it is prepares us for his emotional the reality, letting us know who we need to worry about and when we feel the echoes of past events such as Jorah exiled from the Seven Kingdoms and his own family. (He has a very sweet scene in this episode with little Lyanna Mormont, who now runs her house.)

This is in agreement with Game of thrones& # 39; operating mode. Basically, his military tactic is rubbish and makes no sense if you think about it for five seconds. But he is so good at highlighting the emotional issues of his battles that we find ourselves with the head anyway. It does not excel exactly to the extent that you understand why either side won or lost, but that Is excel to make sure you know who does what and when.

A montage took place at the end of the episode, in which Podrick played a beautiful solitary song, and it appears on several shots of characters who are essentially waiting to die. In some places, it's almost the direct lifting of a similar moment in the movie TitanicThis is another film in which you get a high-level explanation of the reasons for the sinking of the ship. So you can just let go and watch the characters rush around the boat, barely avoiding death in a heartbreaking way.

I bet you do not think we would compare Game of thrones at Titanic this season, huh?

Loser: The first of the season, "Winterfell"

By and large, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" repeats the plot points and character beats of "Winterfell," note by note.

Someone else discovers that Jon is really Aegon Targaryen, but this time around, it's Daenerys who is learning Jon's news. The characters are gathered. The patterns are hatched. They end up in places, and it's always really strange.

And because "A knight of the seven kingdoms" is such a good episode, "Winterfell" seems a little more disappointing in comparison – and I was already quite disappointed! "Knight" has the soul that "Winterfell" failed to achieve, thanks to his "essentially a long afternoon and one night" schedule and the force with which he forces the characters to talk about their feelings. And then it ends with a tremendous promise of total war next week.

It would be a thing if "Winterfell" had been disappointing, but radically different from "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms". Television shows require after all episodes of setting table, especially programs with as many pieces to place on the table. Game of thrones. But I'm not sure this last season requires two episodes of table, with points of intrigue so similar. And then, once that was produced, he probably was not helped if one of the episodes was much better than the other.

"Winterfell" has briefly raised fears that Game of thrones could kick this latest series of episodes. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" has now given me hope that I will be disappointed. But I wish that these first two hours were not felt like two repetitions of the same basic idea, that which animates so many positions in the fantastic literature: here we are, once again, at the end .

Winner: Cersei

She's not even in "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms", but I said last week that she would always win and I would always keep my word.

Moreover, everyone realizes that he will have no great plan to defeat Cersei's army if they survive the battle with King Night. and The seemingly hypnotic power of Cersei to have Tyrion briefly believe that she had changed her attitude had almost led to her being expelled from Dany.

Even if she is not in the episode, she is my favorite character! Hooray for Cersei! [The crowd cheers.]

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