Episode #69 (nice) is the calm before the storm. Character conflicts, including some that have been brewing since before the show’s narrative even began, finally get resolved. So does at least one very specific shipper request. It feels like a much stronger episode than GoT #68 and I’m hopeful that it’s a sign that the showrunners can “stick” the landing for their show: that somehow they can give some kind of impressive resolution to their convoluted nearly-80-hour-long narrative.
As I have done for previous installments, I assume any audience reading about Game of Thrones has read a lot about A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones. I will not be held responsible for any information about these fictional settings, characters, and plots that you may gain as a consequence of reading this article. That said, I do not address leaked information.
The title sequence from GoT #68 cost so much to make that it couldn’t be changed for this episode, which is kind of odd because the episode never leaves Winterfell. Maybe next week.
The episode begins inside Winterfell’s Great Hall. Daenerys (with Grey Worm and Jon to her left and Sansa and Bran to her right) sits at the front of the room, with Jaime in, well, basically the same place Petyr Baelish was standing in just two episodes earlier. To the left of Jaime are seated five people who we could consider as allies of the Starks: Davos, Lyanna Mormont, Yohn Royce, Alys Karstark, and Brienne. To the right are seated people who are on Team Daenerys: Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Jorah. Behind the two tables and Jaime are a line of Stark bannermen, armed and armored.
Daenerys is telling Jaime that he is a bad person for being the Kingslayer. Whereas Bran was told bedtime stories that involved the horrors of the Long Night, Daenerys was told by her brother Viserys of the man who murdered their father. Daenerys is delivering her words very calmly, but it’s a calm face over a very angry and justice-wanting person. Jaime’s face is one of acceptance; he has had a lot of time to think about killing Aerys II Targaryen, he knows what he has done. Daenerys also wants Jaime to know that Viserys told her what they, the last two remaining Targaryens, would do to Jaime once they had Westeros and him within their grasp. She does not state what Viserys said, allowing Jaime and the audience to imagine. It probably involves fire and blood?
Daenerys asks where Cersei’s army is, Jaime does not pretend that there is any army coming. Daenerys says that Cersei lied to her, and all that Jaime can say is that Cersei lied to him as well.
Daenerys looks at Tyrion during this monologue, and Tyrion looks back with a “She played me too!” resigned look. Daenerys asks what ‘we’ Jaime is speaking of, and he says that he promised to fight for the living and that he will keep that promise. Daenerys looks mad. Before she can speak, Tyrion wants to speak on behalf of Jaime, he “knows” him. Daenerys, accurately, burns him by reminding him that he also claimed that he “knew” his sister. He tries to logic: Jaime wouldn’t come up on his own, knowing that Daenerys will not be happy to see him, unless he was honest. Daenerys points out that it’s possible Tyrion would just keep apologizing for Jaime up until the moment Jaime kills her. Tyrion... you’ve seen films wherein a superhero suddenly loses their powers and they don’t know what to do? That’s Tyrion in this scene. He’s really used to talking his way out of problems and he’s just flummoxed that he can’t talk his way out of this one.
Sansa agrees that Jaime can’t be trusted because Jaime once attacked Ned and his bannermen in the streets of King’s Landing (GoT #5); Sansa correctly points out that Jaime did harm to the Starks and the Targaryens. Jaime says he won’t apologize because they (the Starks and Lannisters) were at war, and it’s okay to do whatever in war to defend one’s house and family, blah blah blah. For what it’s worth the Starks and Lannisters were not at all “at war” when the first incident Sansa mentioned happened: Jaime was just angry to hear that Tyrion had been arrested (GoT #4) and he intentionally caused a violent incident that spilled Lannister and Stark soldier blood because he was an angry person.
Bran mentions, very randomly, “the things we do for love” and both Jaime and the rest of the front table look at him. Bran doesn’t say anything else, but Jaime knows what Bran is referring to, and he looks like he maybe is starting to realize that he can’t defend all of his actions over the course of the show.
So Daenerys wants to know why Jaime has chosen now to abandon his house and family. And he looks over at Brienne and says that this goes beyond loyalty, this is about survival.
Brienne has dialogue in this episode! She gets up from the table, walking to a place in front of Jaime, and begins to address the Queen. She says that Jaime is a man of honor; that one time when they were both captured and their captors threatened to sexually assault her that he defended her, losing his hand. Brienne also addresses Sansa: Jaime armed and armored her, sending her North to find Sansa and get her to Winterfell, because he’d sworn that oath to Catelyn and he knew he couldn’t fulfill it.
None of what Brienne says here had, apparently, come up in conversation between Brienne and Sansa before, because Sansa is affected by this. She asks if Brienne vouches for Jaime, Brienne says she does. She asks if Brienne would fight beside him, Brienne says she would. Sansa says that this is good enough for her: if Brienne trusts Jaime, then he should be allowed to stay. Daenerys looks over at Sansa but does not say anything right then.
And I suspect that at least someone watching this expected Brienne to bring up that Jaime probably saved King’s Landing from being burned to the ground by Aerys II but Brienne correctly read the room and knew that Daenerys would not accept the allegation that her dad was out-of-control and that Jaime’s kingslaying action was for the greater good.
There’s a moment where everyone in the room kind of accepts that Brienne’s testimony just happened, and then Brienne goes back to sit where she was at. Daenerys asks for the opinion of the Warden of the North. Jon sighs. Jaime has this “Yeah, Jon, what do you say?” look to him. Jon says that they need every man they can get. Jaime nods.
Daenerys considers all these opinions and agrees to let Jaime stay and/or not immediately die to dragonfire. Tyrion takes in a loud breath. Grey Worm walks Jaime’s sword back to Jaime. The two of them share some looks: Grey Worm is here to defend Daenerys and so I think he is trying to telepathically tell Jaime that if he does anything to betray Daenerys that he will dead before he knows what happened. Jaime bows and thanks His Grace, Daenerys angrily pushes her chair back and stands, the rest of the room (except, you know, Bran. Who Jaime assaulted with intent to kill) stands. Sansa leaves first, exiting to the ‘front’. Daenerys stays there to look at Jon, Jon also leaves to the front. Daenerys still has emotions and words she wants to work through with this guy who very literally killed her dad. She realizes she can’t; she’s the Queen but Winterfell is not her base, and if the Starks want the Kingslayer to stay there then she’ll have to accept that.
She begins to leave by walking through the room to the ‘back’, past Jaime. Varys in particular seems to pick up on how annoyed at this situation Daenerys is: he is literally the only person in the room who worked for Aerys II so he probably has his own very complex emotions about Jaime. Jaime looks happy to not be dead: he watches Brienne leave the room, and she looks at him, and then his gaze centers back on Bran, who is still there, just staring, and who helped Jaime not get sentenced to death by not saying the truth that they (and Cersei) are alone in knowing.
Outside the Great Hall, Daenerys has words for Tyrion, who is in the line of her staff (just Jorah and Varys, as Missandei didn’t follow them out) who are following her on her way to the Winterfell courtyard. Either Tyrion knew Cersei was lying and didn’t tell Dany, or he didn’t know: he’s either a traitor or a fool. Tyrion accepts that he was a fool, and she glibly states that that’s not for the first time. She turns around and says that if he can’t help her take the Iron Throne from Cersei that she will find a Hand of the Queen who can. Tyrion has no quick comeback as Dany leaves. He turns to look at Varys and Jorah, saying that he suspects one of them will be wearing this (the pin of the Hand) before it’s all over. This little scene breaks my brain because if anyone deserves to be Hand of the Queen it’s Missandei (since Missandei has literally been serving Daenerys consistently for longer than Varys or Jorah) but the show decided a long time ago she’s a low Tier 2 (or maybe even only Tier 3) character and is unworthy of promotion. Probably some really good possible essays on the topic of why that might be, if you know what I mean.
At the Winterfell forges, Winterfell smiths are still doing their best at working with the dragonglass that
Aegon Targaryen Jon Snow brought from Dragonstone. The people at the Game of Thrones wiki want all of us to know that dragonglass aka obsidian can’t actually be worked with in the way that the show is showing, and as someone who didn’t fail mineralogy I’ll say that they are entirely right. Of the 50 zillion things that the show has decided to be fantastical about, obsidian smithing is not where I draw the line. I draw the line at Ardry Jon being named Aegon Podrick being amazing at sex Bran being an alien I have lost the ability to draw the line on this show’s choices..
Anyway anyway Gendry is at the forges. There are other characters here, working at the forges and also bringing in more dragonglass, but none of them have dialogue so they are not important (to the “story”). Arya shows up. She watches Gendry work. She looks hot and bothered. Gendry puts hot metal into a water bath, creating steam, as the show cannot handle subtlety. Gendry looks over at Arya, Arya looks at him, he asks if she doesn’t have something better to do, she wants to know if her weapon’s been made yet. Gendry says that he has to make a few thousand of these, as he hands her a dragonglass axe. Arya wants her weapon made first and made stronger than the axe that Gendry handed her. He puts the axe into a block, tells her it’s strong enough, and her response is 🤤.
He tells her that it’s going to be safer in the crypt. She asks if he’s going to be in the crypt, and he says no, so she says he’s not a fighter, and he says he’s done his share. I mean, in this case he is right, he has fought wights, unlike a lot of the troops assembling in Winterfell. She asks if he has fought them, he says some of them, she asks how many, he says a few and that that was enough. She wants to know what they’re like as opponents. He tries to intimidate her by saying that fighting them is
And she is not at all intimidated and mocks him by saying that even a smith’s apprentice can do better than “really bad”: she wants details on how they move, what they look like, how they smell, how hard they are to kill. Gendry gets that Arya wants to fight the Dead, and that she’s fought some really bad humans so far, but he wants to get across that the Dead are not humans.
Arya picks up a spearhead, throws it really ably into a wall, and says that she knows Death, and that he has many faces. She throws a second spearhead into the wall, next to the first. And that she looks forward to seeing this one, and she throws a third spearhead between the other two. Gendry is impressed. Arya starts to walk away, asking again about her weapon, and he says that he’ll get right on it, and he’s got a Not Bad look on his face.
In the godswood, Bran is sitting near the weirwood. Jaime has come to have a talk. Jaime takes a few seconds to figure out how to say what he wants to say.
Bran replies that he wasn’t sorry then and that he was protecting his family. Jaime says that he’s not that person anymore. Bran replies that he still would be if he hadn’t pushed Bran out of that window, and that Bran would still be Brandon Stark. Jaime is like ... you’re not? Bran says that he’s not, he’s something else now. Jaime asks if Bran is angry at him, Bran says he’s not angry at anyone, Jaime wants to know why Bran said nothing, Bran says that Jaime can’t help in the upcoming fight if he’s dead. Jaime nods; makes sense to him. Jaime wants to know about afterwards, Bran asks how Jaime knows there is an afterwards, and Jamie seems to maybe actually realize how incredibly dire and maybe world-ending this upcoming fight will be.
In the courtyard, Tyrion is walking. Various unnamed characters are preparing various defensive structures in the courtyard. They recognize him but he isn’t interested in talking to them, he’s only interested in talking to a named character. Thankfully, a named character shows up: it’s Jaime. They remark on “here we are”, together again. A Northerner loudly spits on the ground towards these Lannisters in their center of power, and Tyrion wryly observes that the masses rejoice, as the two of them begin to walk and talk.
Jaime wants to know how they’re handling their new Queen and Tyrion reminds him that she’s his new Queen too. Tyrion says they’re still salty about the last time Targaryens brought dragons north and he says that they’ll come around once they see Daenerys is different. I assume he is referring to the submission of Torrhen Stark (the “King Who Knelt”) to Aegon I. But Aegon I didn’t bring dragons to the North: Torrhen’s army met dragons at the Trident, quite a bit to the south of Winterfell. Jaehaerys I, his wife Alysanne, and four unnamed people (presumably Targaryens) and their six dragons visited Winterfell in 58 AC (roughly 240 years before the start of the show), but history doesn’t record that as a bad time for the North. Tyrion is a history nerd so maybe he wasn’t being literal, maybe he was just referencing popular understanding for the sake of Jaime. Oh also for what it’s worth on that trip in 58 AC Alysanne attempted, on multiple occasions, to fly her dragon, Silverwing, over the Wall. But Silverwing refused. That means that, at least as far as published and broadcast ASoIaF content is concerned, Daenerys’s actions in GoT #66 may have been the furthest north Targaryen dragons have ever gone. It’s up to you if you think that’s significant, since the show seems not to have time to think about things.
Jaime asks if she is, if she is different. Tyrion says she is, Jaime asks if he’s sure, Tyrion says yep. Jaime reminds Tyrion that Dany expressed uncertainty about Tyrion, and Tyrion admits that it’s hard to blame her because
his writing since the show went past the books has been wackadoodle he underestimated his opponents. He believed that Cersei’s pragnency (the one that GoT #68 made no mention of, leading all of us show-watchers to make up head canon for why) had changed Cersei and given both her and Jaime a chance to start again. Here, Tyrion steps in front of Jaime to stop him. He wants to know if Cersei was lying about the gregnancy. Jaime says “no”, as if he actually heard the news from a medical professional, and Tyrion’s eyes say “Oh no”, and Jaime continues that Cersei has always been good at using the truth to tell lies, which is a really funny comment coming from a guy who was just lying to save his skin three scenes ago.
Jaime tells Tyrion he shouldn’t be too hard on himself, since Cersei has fooled him more than anybody. Tyrion, standing on a staircase, looks directly into Jaime’s eyes. Jaime says “what”, and Tyrion says that she never fooled Jaime: Jaime always knew exactly what she was, and he loved her anyway. Jaime does not have any good response to that because
in Season 7 he never ever asked Cersei how she became Queen and why Tommen, their son, was dead because his character had to not be allowed to have any growth until the season finale he does, for whatever reason, actually love Cersei. So he silently follows his younger brother up the stairs.
The two walk to a wall overlooking the courtyard to continue. Tyrion breaks the silence.
Tyrion: So. We’re going to die. At Winterfell. Not the death I would have chosen. I always pictured myself dying in my own bed at the age of 80 with a bellyful of wine and
Tyrion and Jaime, at same time: a girl’s mouth around my [your] cock.
::Tyrion smiles at how his brother remembers one of his lines::
Tyrion: At least Cersei won’t get to murder me. I’m sure I’ll feel some satisfaction denying her that pleasure, while I’m being ripped apart by dead men.
Somewhere in the distance, Bronn probably hears that. Maybe that’s why Jaime is looking around when Tyrion says that last line, he’s expecting a crossbow bolt to show up out of nowhere.
Tyrion smiles at his really morbid joke and looks to where Jaime was standing, but Jaime walked to the outward-facing wall, because he saw something. Tyrion walks over to join his older brother in looking at someone. Who are they looking at? The only other blonde person up here, Brienne, because Lannisters gonna Lannister.
The camera shifts to the grounds around Winterfell, wherein Northerners and Grey Worm are working on various defensive structures, including a cool collapsing bridge over a trench, which will probably get a brief cameo next week in the Big Battle of Winterfell episode (stay tuned!). Jaime goes downstairs to find Brienne. She is watching a Northern lad swordfight with Podrick. She watches with a smile, proud that her squire is learning and teaching and is capable of holding his own in a fight. Jaime walks up to her right. She acknowledges he’s there, he replies in kind. Jaime says that Pod has come a long way, Brienne says he’s alright and that he still has a lot to learn. Jaime is sure she’ll teach him. He’s been told that Brienne is commanding the left flank, Brienne confirms this. That’s a pretty solid assignment for the soldier who killed Stannis Baratheon. I mean she has told everyone in Winterfell about that, right? Like in particular she told Daenerys about how she killed off one of the Baratheon usurpers? She probably told Daenerys about that, that’s probably why she got assigned to that role.
Brienne says that it’s good ground with a rise that should give them some advantage against the Dead. Jaime agrees. Brienne is tired of his act, she asks what he’s doing. Jaime pleads ignorance, she says he thinks he knows. He keeps pleading ignorance. Brienne says that they have never had a conversation go on this long without him insulting her, he asks if she wants to be insulted, she says no, he says good. They stand next to one another, staring in different directions, before he finally gets real.
Brienne accepts Jaime as a troop under her command. This is a big frakkin deal for both of them, and the soundtrack gets loud to remind you of this. She walks away, he bows his head in loyalty and watches her leave. Then he looks forward. Then he looks towards her again. Then the scene ends.
Daenerys is inside a room at Winterfell, looking forlorn. Maybe that’s because her dad’s murderer is walking around Winterfell a free man. Too bad Brienne never told her that Jaime served the greater good by killing Aerys II! Her door opens, and in walks Jorah. Jorah asks for his Khaleesi’s forgiveness, she asks what he did to offend her, he says many things, she says that was long ago and long forgiven.
And that’s his point: that she did forgive, in spite of his failures. He admits that when he heard that she had named Tyrion her Hand (back in GoT #60) that it broke his heart. She defends her decision, saying that at the time she didn’t know if she’d ever see him again. Jorah says that she made the right choice, and she responds that she wasn’t under the impression that Jorah liked Tyrion. Jorah says that he didn’t, particularly when Tyrion wouldn’t shut up, but that the mind behind those words is a good one. Dany, who has been paying more attention to the show, insists that “he’s made mistakes. Serious mistakes,” but Jorah reminds her that we all have and that Tyrion owns his mistakes and learns from them, which I would label as roughly 50% true.
Dany asks if Jorah is advising her to forgive the man who stole (???) his position, Jorah says yes. He also has another suggestion, which is stated off-screen because scene change.
Daenerys walks into a planning room wherein Sansa and Yohn are planning for the Battle of Winterfell (next episode! stay tuned!). Sansa sees that Daenerys walked in, Yohn sees who Sansa sees, they stand in the presence of their Queen. Dany says she was hoping she could speak to Sansa alone. Yohn and Sansa look at one another, Sansa nods to Yohn, Yohn leaves, bowing slightly to Dany on his way out of the room. He doesn’t close the door to the room on the way out, which makes sense because it wasn’t closed in the first place.
Daenerys starts the discussion by saying she thought her and Sansa were on the verge of agreement earlier on the topic of Jaime’s continued alive-status. Sansa says that Brienne has been loyal to her and that she trusts her. Dany says that she wishes she could have that kind of faith in her advisors, which makes me wonder what unfaithful action Missandei did to Dany? Sansa says that Tyrion is a good man, and that he was always decent towards her, which is a show invention because the books presented a Tyrion who thought not-decent things about his wife. Daenerys did not make him her Hand because he was good, she made that decision because he was intelligent and ruthless when he had to be. Sansa slightly bows to Her Majesty’s wisdom. Dany continues that Tyrion should have never trusted Cersei, and Sansa says that Dany shouldn’t have either, to which Dany responds firstly by going through five emotions with her face. She secondly says that she thought Tyrion knew his sister, to which Sansa responds that families are complicated. Daenerys, unaware of the immense irony of her words, says that theirs certainly have been, motioning towards the chairs, so that this conversation can continue to happen between two seated people.
Sansa continues, while sitting, that complicated families are a sad thing to have in common. Daenerys says that they have other things in common, in particular that they both know what it’s like to rule people raised in a misogynistic culture and that they both did a “damn good job of it” from what she can tell. That seems like a weird thing to say in lieu of how Sansa never officially ruled the North but uh okay whatever, Sansa just accepts the compliment with a smile. Dany continues that she feels that she and Sansa are at odds with one another, and she asks why. Sansa doesn’t want to say it, so Dany says “your brother” and Sansa says
“Bran’s weird but not that weird” “He loves you”, and Dany asks if that bothers Sansa. Sansa says that men do stupid things for women and that they’re easily manipulated and as a man I will say Sansa continues to be the smartest character on the show congrats Sansa.
Dany, who has had ... at least four? men do stupid things for her (while writing this I forgot Hizdahr zo Loraq was a character. Remember Hizdahr? Remember Meereen?), says that her life’s goal is the Iron Throne: taking it back from the people who destroyed her family (Gendry, Jaime, and Tyrion, watch out, she’s talking about your dads) (Sandor, watch out, she’s talking about your brother) and almost destroyed Sansa’s. Her war was against them (pause for effect) until she met
Aegon Jon, and now she’s at Winterfell, fighting Jon’s war besides him. She’s making the claim that, if anyone got manipulated, it was her.
Sansa somehow realizes, right at this moment, right here, that this is true, and that she should have thanked Dany the moment she arrived, and that she was mistaken not to do so. Dany reaches out to take Sansa’s hand (that’s for all you Sanny shippers out there) and says she’s there because she loves and trusts her brother,
Bran Aegon Jon, and knows he’s true to his word. That’s the second man in her life she can say that about. Sansa asks who the first was, and Dany says someone taller, which makes Sansa laugh. Saying as how (almost) everyone is taller than Kit Harington, Dany could be talking about a lot of people here but I think we’re supposed to assume she’s talking about Khal Drogo who, uh, raped her on multiple occasions.
(brief pause while I try to just fast-forward my brain past this)
Sansa asks what happens after they defeat the Dead and Cersei, she asks what happens then. Dany says she takes the Iron Throne. Sansa asks what about the North? It was taken from the Starks and the Starks took it back and they said they would never bow to anyone else again. So
Dany removes her hand from on top of Sansa’s. Maester Wolkan shows up to ruin the moment by bringing something to Dany and Sansa’s attention.
The something is Theon who was able to teleport from an undisclosed location. Sansa hasn’t seen Theon since they parted ways outside at an undisclosed location in the North in GoT #52. Sansa looks glad to see Theon, Dany looks like she doesn’t know how Theon got to Winterfell so quickly. Theon kneels before Dany, addressing her as his Queen. Dany asks after her sister, he says that she only has a few ships and she couldn’t sail them there (get it it’s because Winterfell is land-locked) (wait Theon how did you get to Winterfell) so she’s sailing to the Iron Islands instead to take them back in her name. Dany is like okay but why aren’t you with her? That’s where Theon looks at Sansa.
She crosses the room to hug him and the music gets loud to remind us this is emotional. He hugs her back. This emotional moment of possible redemption is waaaaaay more earned than Jaime’s but Jaime’s a higher tier character than Theon so this is the best a Greyjoy can get. Unmentioned in this moment are the reasons why Theon and Sansa split up earlier: Theon thought Jon wouldn’t forgive him for his earlier actions in the sack of Winterfell. Jon and him kind of made amends (GoT #64) and maybe Jon and Sansa discussed that sometime off-screen. Who knows, those “things that motivated a character to act in a way in an earlier episode” are not important to this scene, which is already over.
Young people in the courtyard of Winterfell are eating soup. The camera follows a line of them to a bigger line of people getting soup, with the named character here being Davos. An unnamed character with lines tells Davos that they’re not soldiers. Davos tells him they are now. The guy and his friends? look concerned, so Davos tells him that he also spent years of his life not getting into fights, but then he survived the Battle of the Bastards (when the historians learn Jon’s identity I guess they’ll have to re-name that fight). If he could survive that fight, they can survive this. The guy doesn’t look convinced. Davos tells him that they’ll be outfitted with weapons at the forge, right that way. The guy says thank you and him and his two friends? wander in that direction.
Elsewhere in the courtyard, Gilly is talking to three women who will go into the crypts, because they’re the safest place to be. I’ve read some Internet people saying “actually crypts are not a safe place to be when necromancers show up” but the show has shown on multiple occasions that the White Walkers need to work with fairly fresh dead so those Internet people are wrong, sorry Internet people. Gilly sees the soup line and the show is always up for putting two named characters in one scene so she starts walking closer to Davos.
A young girl with some scarring on her face, and a bowl for soup in her hands, asks Davos which way she should go. Davos asks which way she wants to go. She says that all the children will be going below when the time comes, but both her brothers were soldiers.
Gilly comes over to this child while Davos takes her bowl. Gilly says that’s good to hear, because she’s going to be down there with her son and she would feel a lot better with her there to protect them. Davos adds that he’s sure a lot of people will, handing the soup to Gilly, who hands the soup to the girl.
Davos and Gilly smile at one another at how well they passed their Diplomacy checks on that situation. A horn blows. People run towards the gates of Winterfell.
Aegon Jon walks briskly into the courtyard to see that the Last Hearth party from the previous episode has arrived. Edd hugs Samwell. Jon cracks a smile and is on his way to embrace Edd when Tormund intercepts to give him a hug first. Tormund calls him his little crow, Jon says he thought they lost him, Tormund says almost, and then Tormund leaves to allow Jon to hug Edd. Beric appears to not get any hugs. :-( He gets a handshake from Jon.
Jon asks how they found each other. Edd says they met up at the Last Hearth, Tormund says the dead got there first, and Jon suspects what that news means, but he still asks about the Umbers. Beric says they’re fighting for the Night King now. Tormund says they had to travel around the Army of the Dead to get there, and that whoever is not already in Winterfell is with them. Jon asks how long they have. Tormund says before the sun comes up tomorrow.
Jon does not verbally respond. Jon looks at Samwell. Samwell also does not verbally respond. Tormund, aware of how dire this situation is, asks if the big woman is still there.
Over various pieces of external footage, Jon gives a monologue. The footage includes: Northern and wildling troops preparing outside of Winterfell, Gendry handing out weapons in the courtyard, Unsullied troops readying a catapult, archers, including the guy who Davos was just giving soup to, preparing their bows on the walls of Winterfell, and Dothraki riders circling the castle.
After “doesn’t feel”, the camera shifts to a big war map table inside of Winterfell which almost everyone is standing around. The crew, starting with Sansa and going clockwise, is Sansa, Jon, Arya, Samwell, Theon, Alys, Brienne, Jamie, Beric, Tormund, Davos, Lyanna, Yohn, Qhono, Grey Worm, Varys, Dany, Jorah, and Tyrion. The four sides of the table are roughly the Starks, Stark allies 1, Stark allies 2, and Targaryen allies.
Jon is still monologuing, saying that we can’t beat them in a straight fight. Jamie asks what can we do. Jon gives his idea: the Night King made them all (who told you this), they follow his command (who told you this), and if he falls then (he doesn’t finish the sentence) so getting to him might be their best chance. Jamie says that if that’s true, he’ll never expose himself. Bran, from the side of the room closest to the Stark side of the table, says yes he will, because he’ll come for him.
Bran: He’s tried before, many times with many Three-Eyed Ravens.
Samwell: Why? What does he want?
Bran: An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory.
Samwell: Well that’s what Death is, isn’t it. Forgetting. Being forgotten. If we forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re not Men anymore. Just animals. Your memories don’t come from books, your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of Men, I’d start with you.
Tyrion asks how the Night King will find Bran, Bran mentions that his mark is on him and that he always knows where he is. Jon suggests putting him in the crypt, where it’s safest, and Bran shuts that down immediately, because we need to lure him into the open before his army destroys us all. A bit fatalistic but okay then. Bran says he’ll wait for him in the godswood, and the camera zooms down closer to the Winterfell map.
Sansa doesn’t sound sure about this plan to use Bran as bait and Arya says they won’t leave him alone out there, and Theon says he won’t be because he’ll stay there with him, and that he’s an ironborn. The bookreader in me feels like this is a callback to when Bran, as a tree, “talked” to Theon in A Dance with Dragons, but it also could have been decided by a random number generator. Theon says that he took this castle from Bran, so he wants to defend Bran now. Bran nods, Theon nods back. Jon and Sansa both look like they recognize how dead Theon is likely going to be. Davos says we’ll hold off the rest of them for as long as they can, and the camera shows that the war map plan is for several divisions of humans to hold off A LOT of Dead.
Tyrion says that when the time comes Davos and him will be on the walls to give Jon the signal to light the trench. Jon nods quickly. Daenerys says Davos is capable of waving a torch on his own and tells Tyrion he’ll be in the crypt. Tyrion says that he has fought before and he can do it again alongside the men and women risking their lives. Dany says there are thousands of them and only one of him and that while he can’t fight as well as they can, they can’t think as well as he can.
Tyrion accepts the command of his Queen. Davos says the dragons should give them an edge in the field, and Jon says that if they’re in the field they’re not protecting Bran. So his idea is that they (Dany, him, Rhaegal, and Drogon) need to be near Bran, but not so near that the Night King won’t show up inside Winterfell, but close enough to pursue him when he does. Arya asks if dragonfire will stop him and Bran says he doesn’t know, because no one’s ever tried. Everyone in the room is uncertain how to take that lack of answer.
Tormund says the most optimistic thing: “We’re all going to die.” Brienne looks at him, and he adds “But at least we die together” and he grins and she considers whether that does or does not make her feel better about her possibly imminent death. Jon, sensing that they’ve said all that needs to be said, ends the war council and says they should get some rest. People leave the room, although Dany does not, and her entourage also stop leaving because she’s remained.
Jon says “Your Grace” and he makes to leave and once again in this episode she wants to say something and a lot of emotions flit across her face but she instead says nothing. She leaves. Tyrion watches her go, and he looks over at Bran, who is still there. Tyrion asks if Bran needs help and Bran says no. Tyrion observes that Bran has had a strange journey, and Bran agrees that it’s been stranger than most. Tyrion would like to hear about, and he pulls up a chair. Bran says it’s a long story, and Tyrion says they’re trapped in a castle, in the middle of winter, with nowhere to go. As far as I can tell this is the first time anyone on screen has actually asked Bran to tell them what happened to him. Also this entire scene is the least weird Bran has been since he got to Winterfell (him dismissing Meera was one of the weakest moments of Season 7, let’s not even try to pretend that wasn’t off-puttingly weird) so congratulations to the writers for remembering, at least for this episode, that Bran is a human.
Back in the courtyards, preparations are still occurring. Unsullied are connecting dragonglass heads to their spears. Grey Worm walks over to observe and sees that on the eve of battle more spearheads are still being created. Missandei walks into the courtyard. She says hello to two Northern girls who just kind of leave. Missandei does not know what she did wrong. Grey Worm watches and walks over to Missandei. He says that when Daenerys takes her throne, there will be no place for them there. I’m unsure if he means ‘there’ as in Winterfell or Westeros, the implication is Westeros. Grey Worms says that he is loyal to his Queen and that he will fight for her until her enemies are defeated. But he asks Missandei if, when the war is over and Dany was won, she wants to grow old in this place. Grey Worm asks if there’s nothing else she wants to do, nothing else she wants to see. And she replies Naath. She’d like to see the beaches of her home again. Grey Worm gives a half smile and says he will take her there. She says that her people are peaceful and that they cannot protect themselves, Grey Worm says his people are not peaceful and they will protect her. She smiles.
It’s nighttime now. The camera starts on some lower walls of Winterfell before reaching some of the upper ones. Here are Jon, Samwell, and, to make all 30 million dire wolf fans out there happy, Ghost. Samwell asks if he’s told her yet. Jon, after some delay, says no. Samwell kind of grunts ‘mmhmm’, saying that he’s being careful, biding his time, waiting for the perfect- and he realizes Jon is looking at him so he smiles and stops. Edd walks up some stairs to join them. Edd quotes the crow mantra “And now our watch begins.” Jon asks after Gilly and Sam, Samwell says they’ll be safe down in the crypt. Jon tells Samwell that if he wants to join them... and Samwell gives him a look, and Jon adds to protect them. Samwell points out that he was the first man to kill a White Walker and that he’s killed Thenns, he saved Gilly more than once, he stole a considerable number of books from the Citadel library, and survived the Fist of the First Men. In short, they need him out there, and Edd says they really are fucked if that’s what they’ve come to. Samwell says that calling Edd fucked wouldn’t be strictly accurate, and Jon smiles and starts laughing because of the three of those guys Edd is the only one who hasn’t had sex.
Edd mentions that Samwell Tarly being a slayer of White Walkers and lover of ladies are signs that the world is ending. Samwell remembers where they all started and lists off names of their brothers who have died, such as Grenn and Pyp. Jon says its now just them three. Edd says that the last man left should burn the rest of them. And the camera lifts upwards to show the dark night these three last named characters of the Night’s Watch plan to face.
Inside Winterfell seated next to a fire are Jaime and Tyrion, who are drinking wine. Tyrion quips that he wishes Tywin was there, and Jaime looks at him like what and Tyrion goes on to explain he wants to see the look on Tywin’s face when he realizes his two sons are about to die defending Winterfell. Jaime snorts and agrees that that would be something to see. Tyrion remembers the first time they were there. Jaime was a golden lion and he was a drunken whoremonger. It was all so simple. Jaime disagrees that it was simple; he was sleeping with his sister and Tyrion had one friend in the world ... who was sleeping with his sister. Tyrion explains that he was speaking in relative terms. Jaime asks if he misses it and Tyrion of course misses it. Jaime says that he won’t ever be a golden lion again but that Tyrion can go back to whoremongering as an option. Tyrion shakes his head and says it’s not and that things would be easier if it were. Why and/or when did Tyrion decide that his employment of sex workers was over? Did that happen off-screen? Was this a deleted scene? Did he remember his wife Tysha?
Tyrion proposes a toast to the perils of self-betterment, which Jaime raises his cup and drinks to. Brienne and Podrick open the door to enter. Brienne says that she didn’t mean to interrupt, they were just looking for somewhere warm to, and Tyrion fills in the rest of the sentence as “contemplate your imminent death”. He says they’ve come to the right place. Tyrion asks if Podrick wants any of the alcohol and Podrick is like thank you milord and Brienne says that she doesn’t think that is wise as the battle might start at any moment. Podrick is torn between his want to drink with his old boss Tyrion and his want to obey his new boss Brienne. Brienne tells Tyrion to pour Podrick only a half cup. Tyrion pours a cup to overflowing for Podrick while asking if Brienne wants any, she says no as she should try to get some sleep. Podrick mouths “Thank you” as Jaime asks if Brienne thinks anyone is really going to get any sleep that night. He gets a third chair, sets it down, and invites Brienne to join them. Brienne agrees to for just a bit.
Podrick gets his own chair. Davos enters the room as well. Tyrion invites Davos to join them. Davos says thanks but no thanks as he came there for the fire; he figured he could die freezing his balls off outside or wait to die nice and warm inside. Tormund also enters the room, his eyes all Brienne. Tormund tells Brienne that it could be their last night in this world. Brienne says that she’s glad he’s here. By which she means fighting with them, and that he survived Eastwatch. Tyrion asks if Tormund wants a drink, he shows off his horn and says he brought his own. Brienne and Jaime both look at Tormund. Tormund addresses Jaime.
It’s cute, Tormund keeps reminding the audience that the Westeros common tongue is not the one he is most familiar with. Jaime is sure someone does. Tormund tells him they call him Giantsbane and asks if he wants to know why. Jaime looks at Tyrion. Tyrion looks at Jaime. Tormund is obviously not sober. Tormund grabs a chair and drags it over to sit next to the rest of the group. He got his name because he killed a giant when he was 10 and then he climbed right into bed with his wife. Davos looks at him like “what”.
Tormund then chugs whatever is in his horn, spilling much of it down himself. Brienne and Jamie both listen to this story with a look of ‘what is this even’ and Jamie once again looks over at Tyrion to see if he has any input on the situation. Davos, watching all this drinking happening, says that maybe he will have that drink.
Back outside on the walls, Sandor is drinking alone. Arya approaches him. He offers her his waterskin, she sits down and drinks some. Sandor says that she never used to shut up and now she just sits there like a mute. Arya says she guesses she’s changed. She asks what he’s doing up here. Sandor asks what’s it look like, and Arya repeats her question and recites what she knows of his recent history: he joined the Brotherhood Without Banners, went beyond the Wall with Jon, and he’s here now. Why.
Sandor asks Arya, rhetorically, if he fought for her and she has no reply. Sandor gets back to drinking when Beric walks into the scene, Sandor does not appreciate how his quiet time keeps getting interrupted. Beric says he’s happy to see Arya again and he’s sorry they parted the way they did. Sandor asks Arya if Beric is on her List, and she admits that he was for a little while. Beric says that’s alright, because the Lord of Light has brought them together all the same, this is his moment, when Light- and he’d keep going but Sandor interrupts to say that Thoros isn’t there any more and that he hopes Beric isn’t about to give a sermon, because if he is the Lord of Light will wonder why he brought Beric back to life “19 times” when he’ll die anyway when Sandor throws him off the wall. Beric, wisely, chuckles and stops giving a sermon. After he’s sure he’s done sermonizing, Sandor throws him his waterskin. Arya, who’s just been quietly sitting there for a moment or two, gets up and leaves. She forgot she had something *COUGH* else she had to do. Sandor asks where she’s going and she gives a very Sandor-esque response.
Sandor and Beric look at one another, wondering whether they are truly miserable old shits. Beric drinks some more, closes the spout of the waterskin, and throws it back to Sandor.
In a refreshing callback to GoT #1 (hope you enjoy these, audience, since the showrunners bought them in bulk) Arya is shooting arrows into a post in some sort of storage room. Gendry finds her, bringing a gift. A spear with a dragonglass spearhead? She asks if that’s for her, he doesn’t say anything, but hands it to her.
Gendry reminds Arya that the last time she saw him she wanted him to come to Winterfell. He admits that he took the long road but here he is. She asks what the Red Woman wanted with him. He steps out of her way as she’s now pacing around and twirling her spear. He tells her that she wanted his blood for some kind of spell. Arya asks why his blood, and he tells her it’s because he’s the illegitimate son of Robert I Baratheon. Her eyes open wider and she stops twirling the spear; apparently she had not read the script. Gendry didn’t know until Melisandre told him.
Arya closes her eyes to think about that, just for a second, and then asks if that was his first time. He replies that it was his first time someone put leeches all over him and she interrupts to ask if it was his first time with a woman. He, stutteringly, asks ‘WHAT’. He clarifies that he wasn’t ‘with’ her. She asks if he was ‘with’ other girls, before that, in King’s Landing, or after? She takes off a glove. He doesn’t give any answer, so Arya, taking off her other glove, asks if he doesn’t remember. Gendry says yes, he was. Arya asks if it was one or two or 20, Gendry says he didn’t keep count. Arya says yes he did, and he sighs, because of course he did, and he says three. Arya thinks about this answer and finds it suitable.
And Gendry’s doing calculus in his head because he’s probably never had a noble girl ask him to be her bedwarmer and he stutters a bit before Arya draws him in for a kiss. They kiss more, they disrobe one another, you know what’s happening here.
Arya says she’s not the Red Woman and tells Gendry to take his own pants off. She takes her pants off, Gendry takes his off. They’re nude, she’s on top of him, scene cuts out. It’s actually a fairly tasteful and consensual sex scene on Game of Thrones it’s almost as if the show is aware of how tasteless and bad some of its earlier sexual content was. Good stuff.
Tormund is intently watching something which is a very good scene fade from the previous scene. He’s watching the fire in the same room he was in the last time this episode checked in on him. Brienne, Jaime, Davos, Tyrion, and Podrick are also watching the fire. Tyrion starts talking. He might not be entirely sober.
I don’t know who he’s talking about? Is he talking about the people in the room? Of the crew assembled in this room only Tyrion and Jaime have fought Starks: Jaime literally, Tyrion in the sense of fighting Stark-aligned armies. But Brienne never did (she served Renly but Renly’s troops never fought Stark troops), nor did Davos (Stannis’s troops never fought Stark troops. If anything since Stannis’s troops fought Bolton troops Davos has been neutral-at-worst towards the Starks), nor did Tormund (Free Folk fight Night’s Watch guys who have formally renounced all their House allegiances). Tyrion literally who are you talking about?
points out Tyrion’s error says that at least they’ll die with honor. Podrick looks at her. Jaime looks at her. Tyrion says he thinks they might live, before he laughs a little. Davos openly laughs, while Podrick smiles at the silliness of the thought, but Tyrion continues. He does. He rhetorically asks how many battles they’ve survived between them and then, because the script tells him to do this, goes over which battles the characters in this room have survived. This starts fairly not-surprisingly to anyone who watched the show because he starts with Davos, he mentions that Davos has survived two major battles shown on the show, everyone remembers those battles, they got entire episodes devoted to them.
But then he jumps to Jaime who is, in Tyrion’s words, a fabled hero of the Siege of Pyke. Now that is a less-superficial ASoIaF cut; that happened 9 years before the show’s timeline, some of the show’s older characters (i.e. Robert, Ned, Jorah, Thoros...) were combatants in the battle, and Jaime has earlier mentioned his participation in it. Jaime counters that he was a fabled loser of the Battle of Whispering Wood which is, well, honest, he did really lose that battle to Stark and Tully-aligned armies. Remember the Tullys? I wonder what Edmure Tully is up to.
Tyrion recognizes Brienne’s defeat of the Hound. Which. Seriously? That’s the only “battle” victory by Brienne you know of? Did Brienne seriously not tell anyone about how she killed Stannis? Tyrion realizes that he called Brienne a Ser falsely. Tormund asks, astounded, she’s not a Ser? She’s not a knight? Brienne says that women can’t be knights. Tormund, well-known egalitarian, asks why not. Brienne says tradition. Tormund says
And Jaime briefly half-smiles. Brienne, maybe not convincingly, says she didn’t even want to be a knight. She looks at Podrick, Podrick looks at her, Podrick can tell she’s not being honest here. Tormund says that he’s no king, but if he were, he’d knight her 10 times over. Davos smiles at that. Jaime, who has studied knightly lore more than anyone else in the room, says that you don’t need a king. Any knight can make another knight. In this fictional universe, that is true. Jaime puts down his glass of wine and says he’ll prove it. He takes out his sword and asks Brienne to kneel. Brienne laughs, she thinks this is Jaime taking the piss. But he’s not; Jaime is insistent.
Tormund leans forward on his chair a bit and Brienne is doing the calculus in her head to figure out if this should happen. She looks at Podrick, who is taking this completely seriously, nods at her. She looks at Jaime. He nods at her. She gets up, puts her wine glass down, and pauses for gravity. The camera moves closer to her, for additional gravity, and the soundtrack gets slightly louder for even more additional gravity. She walks over to where Jaime is waiting; Tyrion slightly following to get a better view while Davos and Podrick turn in their chairs for a better view. She kneels. Tormund stands. The other three guys watch as Jaime knights Brienne.
And she does. Tormund starts clapping, as does Podrick. Tyrion toasts her. Davos slaps his hand on his leg because he’s too cool to clap. Brienne is silent for a bit before she starts beaming with pride. This is the best godsdamned scene of the episode and I want it to end here which obviously means the episode has to keep going.
Outside, Samwell is walking down some stairs. We hear, but do not at first see, Jorah and Lyanna having a discussion. Jorah is saying that they have all they need to win this war. Lyanna is saying that she has trained people and fought before and she can fight again. Jorah is insisting that Lyanna not fight the Army of the Dead; she’s the future of their house. She doesn’t need him to remind her of that (good burn, Lyanna). Jorah says she’ll be safer in the crypt, Lyanna says she will not hide underground.
Jorah realizes that someone is watching their talk and he looks at Samwell. Lyanna turns around to also look at Samwell. He apologizes, he didn’t mean to interrupt or intrude. Lyanna says that it’s alright because they’re done there. She starts to walk off and then she stops and turns back to wish good fortune to Jorah, her cousin. He thanks her.
Samwell is sort of holding out a sword. Jorah asks what he has there and Samwell says it’s called Heartsbane, his family sword. Jorah says that Samwell still has a family, and Samwell says yes and that he’d love to defend them with it, but he doesn’t have a high enough STR score to hold it upright. Samwell brings up Jorah’s father Jeor and says that he taught him how to be a man, how to do what’s right. This, giving the sword to Jorah, is right. Samwell mentions that it’s Valyrian steel, and that he’d be honored if Jorah would take it. And he extends the weapon forward. Jorah takes it. Jorah inspects it and says he’ll wield it in his memory to guard the realms of Men. Samwell says he’ll see him when it’s through. They non-verbally acknowledge how unlikely it is any of them survives the next episode and Samwell walks away. He turns around after a bit and says
As the understatement of the episode, and he continues on his way.
Tormund, Brienne, Jaime, Davos, Tyrion, and Podrick are still drinking near a fire. Jaime says they’d better get some rest and Tyrion says NOOO let’s stay a bit longer. Davos, checking the wine supply, says they’re out of wine, and he sits back down. Tyrion asks how about a song? One of them must know one. Davos? Davos says they’ll pray for a quick death if he sings. Brienne? Brienne shakes her head. Tyrion looks over at Tormund. Tormund shakes his head and shakes a throaty noise, to which Tyrion says ‘hmmm’ in his throat.
So Podrick starts singing Jenny’s song, which is some A Storm of Swords content which is interesting to hear now that the show’s narrative has gone way past that.
High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts.
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most.
The camera shifts to other scenes as the song continues.
The ones who’d been gone for so very long
Samwell, Sam (who grew a bit since the last we saw him, in GoT #67), and Gilly share a bed somewhere in Winterfell.
She couldn’t remember their names
The various armed forces gather in the courtyard, awaiting what may be their last battle. Sansa and Theon are in the foreground, eating.
They spun her around on the damp, cold stone
Sansa and Theon share a look.
Spun away all her sorrow and pain
Gendry and Arya share a bed, him asleep, her not.
And she never wanted to leave
More armed forces gathered in the courtyard, with Missandei and Grey Worm in the foreground. They walk towards an Unsullied division. Missandei stops and Grey Worm bids her goodbye with a kiss. He rushes away to join his men and Missandei watches him leave.
Outside the walls of Winterfell, Jorah gets a moment to look majestic on a horse, looking out into the night.
In the crypt, Daenerys walks down to find Jon, since he’s been kind of weirdly evasive during this episode. Jon is staring at a statue but he looks over at Daenerys and notices she’s there, he smiles briefly. But he’s got something on his mind. Dany walks closer, to stand there half-hugging him while he looks at the statue.
She asks who’s that and he says Lyanna Stark and he wants to say something else but he isn’t saying it. Daenerys says what she thinks needs to be said, that her brother Rhaegar, and she shakes her head in disgust before she continues. Continuing she states that everyone told her he was decent and kind, and that he liked to sing and give money to poor children. And she looks back to Lyanna’s statue and the weird dire wolf statue next to hers and says “And he raped her.”
Dany looks at Jon, like, how does Jon know that? Jon says he loved her. And Jon has made up his mind, he is going to tell Dany that he’s her nephew. He moves so that they’re facing one another and he continues to say that Lyanna and Rhaegar were married in secret (by which he means that the High Septon officiated it but it wasn’t performed in King’s Landing or any other high-population venue) and that after Rhaegar died in battle, Lyanna had a son. Daenerys is listening to this story with a look in her face of growing realization of where the story is going. Jon continues that Robert would have killed the child if he had known and Lyanna knew, so the last thing she did, as she bled to death on her birthing bed, was to give the boy to her brother, Ned Stark, to raise as his bastard.
Dany right about _here_ is like (internally screaming) and I mean I feel you Dany it is probably really awkward to realize you’re in a relationship with a relative but hey maybe when Jon was able to fly a dragon without any problems you should have realized something like this was going to happen.
Dany can’t stand it any longer, she has to move away from Jon because
that name is too dumb for words she has to process this. She says that’s impossible, he says he wishes it were. She asks who told him this, he says Bran saw it. Dany asks, incredulously, he saw it? Jon says that Samwell confirmed it because he read about their marriage in the Citadel without even knowing what it meant.
Dany is not taking this news well, saying it’s a secret no one in the world knew except for his brother and his best friend. Howland Reed, off-screen, tries to DM Dany but her DMs are closed. Doesn’t that seem strange to Jon that two people he knows are the only people who know this information? Jon gets closer to her and says
Dany I literally died why are you being skeptical about this particular claim it’s true, Dany, he knows it is. Dany says that if it were true, it would make him the last male heir of House Targaryen.
All of which is stated by her in a real ... I want to say clunky way, but I think the script wants her to say those lines really matter-of-factly as a way of saying she has just realized, at the 11th hour before an important battle, that her life’s goal, of getting the Throne, may have just been made impossible.
Jon is trying to figure out how to tell Dany that he already knows this, and Dany is still processing what she will do with this news. That’s when the horns blow. Jon and Dany emerge from the crypt and join Tyrion who is looking out onto the fields near Winterfell. Jon looks at Dany and nods, she goes off to get Drogon and Rhaegal ready. Jon follows. Tyrion looks at them leave and then goes back to look at the gathering Army of the Dead.
At the limits of sight from Winterfell, one undead horse stops advancing. Its rider is a White Walker with an icy spear. The camera pans to show that to his left are ... more. Quite a few more. And they look at Winterfell, and the episode ends.