Game of Thrones has been an epic ride that has taken the world by storm, but for all intents and purposes the first episode of season 8 left many wanting more action. Episode two, titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” continues the trend of table setting and preparation as the White Walkers get ever closer to Jon (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Being ever true to the show’s title however, the real danger lies in the would-be kings, the queens who want to hold onto power, and those who reject all that royalty entirely. The game of thrones is very much in play even though enemies to all living things are knocking on the door.
The episode opens right where the preview hinted at with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) standing before Daenerys as if by trial. As he’s attempting to barter and make his stake, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) utters, “The things we do for love” certifiably shutting down Jaime at the moment. This leads to a moment we’ve all been waiting for as Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) stands up for Jaime. This is a key scene in part because it shows the power struggle in play. From Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) defending his brother to Sansa (Sophie Turner) seemingly making a judgment without the official Queen’s say. This leads to a key scene between Jaime and Bran as they finally come face to face after Jaime crippled Bran in season one. It’s that scene that seemed to kick off so much of this narrative and it’s nice to see them coming face to face after all this time.
The relationship between Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to heat up. In the opening scenes, the characters essentially repeat what we saw in the last episode. It doesn’t add much, but it does make one wonder how important this relationship is to the bigger story. It might just get hot and heavy even if Arya is a little young and that’s a bit creepy. Armaggeddon has that effect on people. The relationship between Jaime and Brienne continues to be delightful in a key scene later on with Jaime essentially asking for her to be his leader. Considering their history it’s intensely satisfying to see them come full circle. There’s a touching scene later we’ve all been hoping for that’ll have fans cheering involving a great honor.
Once again with Sansa and Daenerys, this episode feels like it’s table setting so that when the White Walkers storm their gates we know where they stand. These characters have come at odds, but in a key scene, they parlay and seem to speak honestly. In a bit of excellent acting, Daenerys proves her love for Jon to Sansa in a wholesome and believable bit of vulnerability and honesty. Even though these characters connect in a real way there is still the issue of the Winterfell folks never bowing to any king again.
The episode also continues to bring every important character to the north, including Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) which brings plenty of drama considering his relationship to Winterfell. Arya and The Hound (Rory McCann) get a moment together too. It’s starting to feel like all these characters we’ve seen together once before are forced to commune and break bread, make peace, or at least notice each other. It feels a bit forced here and there, but overall this is a crowd pleasing element of the episode. We want to see these characters reconnect and it enhances the impending attack of White Walkers since we know this may be their last moments alive.
In a key moment which foreshadows the Night King’s eventual conquering of Winterfell, Bran says, “He wants to erase this world and I am its memory,” to which Sam says, “If we forget who we are and where we’ve been we aren’t men anymore. We’re just animals.” This is an important moment as it adds gravity to the entire series. It’s not about any one person becoming king, or any one hero growing in power as we’ve come to see most aspire to. No, it’s about this race of people not being forgotten and preventing the Night King from smiting them off the face of the world.
In another key scene late in the episode, the cliffhanger of the last episode comes to a head. Jon found out he is a Targaryen and, in the same tomb in which he found out, Daenerys seeks out Jon and finds out the truth. It’s a scene we’ve all been waiting for since season one and it’s a scene stealer to be sure much like Jon finding out he is a Targaryen in the first place. In probably the most frustrating moment in the series Dany tells Jon to his face that makes him the last male Targaryen heir with a claim to the Iron Throne and he says nothing. No, instead they are disturbed because war horns go off as the White Walkers are upon them. It’s a cheap way to delay their eventual confrontation, but damn it, it would have taken Jon to say, “I don’t want to be king” to resolve it.
Ultimately much of this episode brings many of these characters up to speed, at peace with one another, and most importantly reminds us why we love them. It’s heartbreaking in a sense because the showrunners are making us love these characters all over again, so that when they most likely drop like flies fighting for their lives, our hearts will be crushed.