"A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" is the second episode of the eighth season of Game of Thrones. It is the sixty-ninth episode of the series overall. It premiered on April 21, 2019. It was written by Bryan Cogman and directed by David Nutter.
Jaime stands still while Daenerys speaks. She begins by saying that when she was a child, her brother would tell her a bedtime story - about the man who murdered their father. He told her other stories as well, about all the things they would do to that man, once they took back the Seven Kingdoms and had him in their grasp. Dany remarks to him that Cersei had pledged to send her army north, but that all she sees is one man with one hand, and it appears Cersei lied. Jaime makes it clear that she lied to him as well, and that she never had any intention of sending her army north. Jaime tells her that Cersei has Euron Greyjoy's fleet and 20,000 fresh troops, that the Golden Company from Essos paid for. Even if they defeat the Army of the Dead, she'll have plenty of men to kill the survivors. Jaime states he promised to fight for the living and he intends to keep that promise.
Tyrion tries to step in but Dany quickly shuts him down, knowing that Tyrion was wrong about his sister too. Sansa also says they are right, that they can't trust him, that Jaime attacked their father in the streets and tried to destroy her house and family the same as he did Dany's. Jaime quickly retorts if it's an apology they are seeking, they won't get it. He says they were at war, and that everything he did, he did for his house and his family and would do it all again. Bran interjects: "The things we do for love."
Brienne of Tarth stands and steps forward on Jaime's behalf. She tells Dany that Jaime is indeed a man of honor. That as they were traveling a group of men attempted to rape her, and Jaime defended her. For trying to do so, he lost his hand as punishment. She then looks to Sansa and adds that without Jaime, she wouldn't be alive. Jaime armed and armored her, and sent her to find Sansa and bring her home because he swore an oath to her mother. Sansa eventually agrees that they should let Jaime stay. Without seeking approval for this from Dany first, Dany looks at Jon and asks his advice on the matter. Jon says they need every man they can get. Dany eventually acquiesces, and Tyrion gives an audible sigh of relief. Grey Worm walks over and gives Jaime back his sword. After Jaime thanks Daenerys, Sansa walks away and Jon follows soon after, avoiding Daenerys - leaving it slightly awkward for the Queen, who is then left to walk off in her own direction. Once out of view from everyone, Daenerys, Tyrion, Jorah and Varys are walking down a corridor where Dany can vent her anger at the matter to her Hand. Both Dany and Tyrion agree he was a fool in this matter, and that if he cannot help get Dany on the Iron Throne, she'll find another Hand who can.
At the Forge
At the Forge, the men are hard at work with the Dragonglass forging weapons. Gendry is busy working, not seeing Arya watching him at first. She is watching him with piqued interest. Gendry asks Arya if she has something better to do, for which she replies, "Have you made my weapon yet?" He remarks he'll get to it after he's done making a few 1000 more arrowhead style weapons first. Arya says he needs to make hers first, and that it should be stronger than the weapon he's currently working on. Gendry says it'll be safer down in the crypt anyway. Arya asks if he'll be in the crypt, and he says no. She then questions, 'but you're a fighter?'. Gendry says he's done his share and even fought a few. He even describes the Army of the Dead as best as possible to Arya. He tells her that he knows she wants to fight, but that they are much different than rapers or murderers, that they are simply put 'death'.
Arya says coyly that she knows 'death', and lifts one of the dragonglass arrowhead weapons and throws it like a dagger, hitting a door frame in the near distance. She adds 'he's got many faces', before throwing another and have it landing right beside the first dagger she threw. Gendry is stunned by what all he is seeing. Lastly, Arya adds, "I look forward to seeing this one," and throws the last dagger, it landing exactly beside the other two weapons. She walks past Gendry and asks one last time for her weapon, for which he hastily replies, "I'll get right on it."
In the Godswood
Bran is in his wheelchair out in snow, just beneath the red leaves of the heart tree. Jaime slowly nears. The first thing Jaime says is that he is sorry for what he did to him. Bran replies: "You weren't sorry then." He adds that he was protecting his family. Jaime says he isn't that person anymore. Bran states that he still would be if he hadn't pushed him out of that window, and that he'd still be Brandon Stark. Curious, Jaime simply asks, "You're not?" Bran replies that he isn't, and that he is something else now. Jaime is curious why Bran isn't angry at him, and Bran says he isn't angry at anyone. Jaime asks why Bran didn't tell anyone the truth. He replies that Jaime wouldn't have been able to help them in this war if they had been able to murder him first. When he asks about 'afterwards', Bran says, 'how do you know there is an afterwards?'.
While Tyrion is walking about the castle grounds inspecting everything, Jaime approaches him. The brothers are back together, saying a quick 'here we are' to one another. Up on a staircase, one of the Stark military men spits down near the Lannister brothers, where Tyrion replies "and the masses rejoice". Jaime asks Tyrion what they think of their new Queen Daenerys. After reminding Jaime that she's now his new queen as well, he remarks the people remember what happened the last time Targaryens brought dragons north. He also states they'll come around once they see Daenerys is different. Jaime asks his brother if he is sure about her, and Tyrion says yes. And when Jaime states that Daenerys didn't seem to be sure of his brother, Tyrion agreed saying he didn't blame her. During their conversation, Tyrion finds out through Jaime that Cersei's pregnancy wasn't a lie.
Jaime says for Tyrion to not be too hard on himself, that Cersei fooled him more than anybody. Tyrion states that Cersei never fooled him, that Jaime always knew exactly what she was and he loved her anyway. Tyrion tells Jaime he never imagined he'd die at Winterfell, bringing a past joke between the two of exactly how Tyrion pictured himself dying. As Tyrion is talking, finding some black humor in the prospect that being killed by the undead will deny Cersei the satisfaction of having him killed, Jaime is distracted and walks away to look out in the distance at Brienne, who is overseeing sword practicing in the yard.
Jaime walks out of the castle gate where moats of traps, catapults, and men, like Podrick Payne are practicing with their swords. He eventually reaches Brienne and they greet one another. Jaime tells her that he has been told she is commanding the left flank during battle. She states it is great ground and with the rise it would give good advantage. Quickly, she finally turns to him and asks what he's doing, knowing they've never had a conversation this long without him insulting her. He finally admits that he came to Winterfell because he's not the fighter he use to be, and that he'd be honored to serve under her command, if she'd have him.
Elsewhere, back in the castle, Jorah enters to speak to Khaleesi on Tyrion's behalf. He tells her she should give him a second chance and they both remark on why Jorah isn't Daenerys's Hand of the Queen. She remarks that if he hadn't gone away, he surely would've have taken on that role and not Tyrion. Jorah however, insists Daenerys made the right choice in naming Tyrion her Hand; he has made mistakes, yes, but he learns from them, takes them to heart, and he has Daenerys' best interests at heart. Jorah advises that Daenerys forgive Tyrion, and offers another suggestion of advice...
In Winterfell's library, Daenerys finds Sansa conversing with Lord Royce: Royce advocates sealing the gates as soon as they have their troops deployed outside the walls, while Sansa is in favour of keeping them open as long as possible to let as many refugees reach Winterfell as possible. Daenerys requests a private audience with Sansa; once Royce is gone, Daenerys remarks on how she thought they were on the verge of agreeing in regards to Jaime; why did she change her mind? Sansa replies that she trusts Brienne's judgement completely. Daenerys responds that she wishes she could have faith like that in her own advisors. Sansa tells Daenerys that Tyrion is a good man; he was nothing but decent to her while she was captive in King's Landing. Daenerys replies she chose Tyrion for her Hand not just because he was good, but also because he was intelligent and ruthless when necessary. Daenerys adds, "He never should have trusted Cersei," to which Sansa replies, "You never should have either."
Wanting to clear the air and find common ground between them, Daenerys acknowledges she and Sansa have similar experiences: they have complicated families, they're both women who've been trusted with ruling in a world where few women can do that — and they've done it well, to which Sansa agrees. However, Daenerys notes that despite this, she can't help but feel they're still at odds with one another but then realizes, "Your brother." Sansa admits she is wary of Daenerys because Jon clearly loves Daenerys, remarking that men do foolish things for the women they love, and their emotions can be manipulated to exploit them. Daenerys replies she's only known one goal all her life - the Iron Throne - but then she met Jon. Now, she's North, having brought her armies north to fight the Army of the Dead. Taken aback, Sansa responds she should have thanked Daenerys when she arrived and Daenerys confides she is here because she loves Sansa's brother and trusts him completely, "He's only the second man in my life I can say that about." When Sansa asks about the first, Daenerys replies, "Someone taller," making both Sansa and Daenerys laugh. However, Sansa has one sticking point that drives a wedge through her and Daenerys's new rapport: assuming they succeed in defeating the Night King and Cersei and Daenerys takes the Iron Throne, what happens to the North? After taking it back from the Boltons, Sansa vowed they'd never bow to another ruler. Before Daenerys and Sansa can talk that out, Maester Wolkan interrupts. Theon has arrived.
In Winterfell's Great Hall, Theon waits with a detachment of Ironborn. He informs Daenerys of Yara's plans to reclaim the Iron Islands from Euron in her name, but he's come back to fight to defend Winterfell if Lady Stark will have him. Sansa embraces him emotionally. Elsewhere, Missandei finds herself on the receiving end of a lot of racial prejudice from the hostile Northerners, prompting Grey Worm to ask if she would want to stay once Daenerys has the Iron Throne. He says he'll fight for his queen until the war is done but there is no place for them in Westeros, "Do you want to grow old in this place? Is there nothing else you want to do, nothing else you want to see?" When Missandei admits she'd like to see the beaches of Naath again, Grey Worm promises he'll take her back there, and his fellow Unsullied will come to help protect the natives from the pirates and slavers who've long preyed on the peaceful Naathi.
The sound of a horn blowing brings Jon out into the courtyard, where to his delight, he finds Edd, Beric and the rest of the Night's Watch dismounting from their horses. As he moves to greet them, he is unexpectedly tackled by Tormund, ecstatic to see his "little crow" again. Unfortunately, the new arrivals bring bad news: Last Hearth has fallen, the Umbers are now part of the army of the dead, as is anyone who has not reached Winterfell by now, and the undead will reach Winterfell before daybreak.
As night falls, the defenders gather to make their plans for the battle to come. Jon notes that even with weapons of dragonglass and Valyrian steel, and the defences they have laid, the army of the dead outnumbers the living too heavily for them to have a chance at winning a conventional battle. When Jaime asks what they can do, Jon suggests they make the Night King their primary target; given that he raised every monster in the army of the dead, if they can kill him, his army should die with him. Jaime predicts that the Night King, knowing this weakness, will never risk himself on the battlefield, but Bran interjects that the Night King will come for him, as he's tried to kill the Three-Eyed Raven many times before. When Sam asks why, Bran explains the Night King's ultimate desire is to erase all memory of the world of men, something which he, as the Three Eyed Raven, now possesses. Jon states they will place Bran in the crypts for his safety, but Bran refuses, declaring he'll wait in the godswood to lure the Night King out. Sansa and Arya balk at the prospect of Bran using himself as bait, but Theon declares he and his men will defend Bran, as atonement for his previous capture of Winterfell. When Tyrion questions how the Night King will know where to find him, Bran reveals the claw marks the Night King left on him during their last encounter allows the creature to track him wherever he is. Tyrion declares that he and Davos will signal Jon and Daenerys at the right time to ignite the trench around Winterfell, but Daenerys overrides him, declaring he will be in the crypts for his own safety; if the battle is won, she will need him. Jon also dashes Davos's hope the dragons should give them an advantage by insisting that Rhaegal and Drogon must protect Bran from the Night King; they'll hold the dragons back to keep the Night King from suspecting a trap, then when their enemy makes his move for Bran, they'll strike. Arya asks if dragonfire will stop the Night King, to which Bran can only reply he has no idea, as no one has ever tried that.
After everyone leaves the meeting, Tyrion pulls up a chair next to Bran and they exchange stories.
At the large fireplace in the main hall of Winterfell castle, Tyrion and Jaime are drinking and talking. At one point Tyrion says he'd love to see their father's face when they decided to defend Winterfell. Soon, Podrick, Brienne and walk in and begin to drink. Eventually Davos joins them to warm himself by the fire, as does Tormund who instantly hones in on Brienne, bragging how he killed a giant at the age of 10. He then tells them how he got his surname 'Giantsbane' by being nursed be a giant for 3 months. The rest of the group looks on, unsure how to react to such a story, as Tormund guzzles down his milk from a horn.
Upon the upstairs rooftop's walkway, Arya approaches the Hound, and Beric eventually arrives to sit as well. After their short conversation, Arya begins to walk off, remarking she'd rather be anywhere than with the two 'miserable s*its' drinking together.
Arya begins target practicing with her bow and arrow instead, and while doing so, Gendry arrives with her new weapon he forged for her. Being curious after all time, she asks Gendry what the Red Woman wanted from him so many years ago. Gendry said his blood, that leaches were used for a spell, and that he is the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Arya asks him how many partners he has slept with in his past, and Gendry answers 3. Arya's response is that if they may possibly die soon, she'd like to know what it's like before that happens. They kiss and eventually have sex soon after.
Back at the fireplace, the group of Brienne, Tormund, Davos, Pod, Jaime and Tyrion continue to drink and regale stories. Soon the subject turns to Knighthood, and Tormund, unsure the concept of being or becoming a Knight, asks Brienne why she isn't one - she replies simply, 'tradition'.
Jaime was refilling his drink when he mentioned aloud, that the tradition isn't necessarily true. He states that any knight and make a knight. At first, Brienne isn't sure what to do, but after looking at Pod, who gives her the faintest of smiles and a nod, she stands and moves away from the group so that she can kneel. Bringing his sword with him, Jaime gives Brienne her knighthood, before adding 'arise Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms'. While they are all clapping for her, she stands and gives a tearful smile to the small group in the room.
Outside in the courtyard, Jorah is speaking to his cousin Lyanna. As everyone prepares for the imminent arrival of the army of the dead, Lyanna and her cousin Jorah have an argument. Jorah strongly advises her to remain in the crypt with the other women and children, as she is the future of House Mormont, but Lyanna stoutly refuses. She wants to fight along the rest of the men and women, and Jorah allows her to make up her own mind. Sam then approaches Jorah, giving his families sword 'Heartsbane', knowing it'll be put to better use with Jorah wielding it, in honour of his late father Jeor, who was more of a father to Sam than his own. Jorah indeed says he will use it in his father's memory, "to guard the realms of men". Before leaving Sam adds "I hope we win".
At the hearth and out of wine, Tyrion asks the small group if anyone can sing. With no one answering, Pod simply begins singing softly, "Jenny of Oldstones". While he sings, we see various other characters on their last night before the coming of the battle. Sam, Gilly, and Sam are lying in bed together.
Sansa is in the castle courtyard eating a bowl of soup with Theon, Gendry and Arya in bed after sleeping together - he is fast asleep, while she is staring off in deep thought. Missandei gives Grey Worm one heavy and deep kiss goodbye, before he must leave with the rest of the Unsullied army.
In the crypts, Jon is staring at a statue of Lyanna Stark. Daenerys finds him there and approaches. She wraps an arm around his waist as he holds her hand before Daenerys asks who the statue is of. He explains that she is Lyanna Stark, and Daenerys is quick to mention she can't believe her own brother Rhaegar, had raped her, knowing how much out of character that would've been for her brother. Jon turns to face Daenerys and tell her the truth. He said Rhaegar didn't rape Lyanna, but that he loved and her and together they were secretly wed. He added that they had a son, and if Robert Baratheon had found out, the baby surely would've been killed. Eddard Stark took his sister's child and raised his nephew as his own child, pretending the child was a bastard. The last words spoken on Lyanna's birthing bed was the name of her son. It's then that Jon finally tells Daenerys that he was that child and that his true name is Aegon Targaryen. Of course, Daenerys finds it nearly impossible to believe, especially that the truth came from two men so close to Jon. But as the pieces quickly fall into place, she realizes and even speaks out, that Jon is the last living male heir of the Targaryens.
Before any other words are spoken or reactions can be reached, a horn is heard sounding in the distance. Jon and Daenerys run to the roof walkways and sees the army of the dead standing in formation in the distance - having arrived and ready for battle.
- 19 of 22 starring cast members appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister). Carice van Houten (Melisandre) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- Kristina Baskett, Richard Bradshaw, Yusuf Chaudhri, Nick Chopping, Chris Cox, Jake Cox, Dom Dumaresq, Lawrence Hansen, Paul Howell, Rowley Irlam, Erol Ismail, Leigh Maddern, Leona McCarron, Camilla Naprous, David Newton, Josh Ravenscroft, Andrej Riabokon, Zach Roberts, Paul Shapcott, Jonny Stockwell, Will Willoughby, Leo Woodruff, Ben Wright, Rob Hayns, Jason Oettlé, Sam Stefan were stunt performers in this episode.
- The episode title refers to the hardcover collection of the first three short stories in the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequels, itself titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (2015). Within the episode it is the phrase that Jaime uses when he knights Brienne: rather than say she is sworn to a specific part of it, he just says she is a knight of the whole realm.
- The connection that the title makes between Brienne and Ser Duncan the Tall is perhaps a reference to the prominent hints in the novels that Brienne is actually Duncan's descendant.
- In a post-episode interview, episode writer Bryan Cogman explained that the title "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" is meant to refer equally to Brienne and Jaime. Brienne is knighted in the episode - and on a deeper level, by keeping his word to the Starks and by fully acknowledging Brienne's worth and honor, Jaime has finally become the honorable knight he's been struggling to be his whole life.
- The King's Landing storylines do not appear in this episode, instead focusing entirely on the various storylines at Winterfell. This has only happened a few other times, usually major battle episodes such as "Blackwater" and "The Watchers on the Wall".
- The Title sequence has been updated slightly since the preceding episode: the same locations appear, but the ice which covered the landscape down to the Wall has now extended south to cover Last Hearth, showing the advance of the Army of the Dead. The Winterfell map animation also now includes more of the entrenchments being constructed around the castle in this episode.
- The end credits version of Jenny's Song was performed by major music group Florence + The Machine. Lead singer Florence Welch subsequently gave an interview with The New York Times about it. The showrunners are fans of her work and had actually been trying to get her to be one of their soundtrack cameos since Season 2 - indeed, one of the Season 2 trailers famously licensed and used her song "Seven Hells". For Season 2, the showrunners had originally hoped she could be the one to record a cover of The Rains of Castamere, but at the time she hadn't watched the show and declined.
- As Benioff acknowledged in the Inside the Episode featurette, while Jenny's Song is famous in the books, only the first lines have actually been presented in the text, so they had to invent the next few lines to fit with it. The full importance of the song hasn't been revealed, but it was about Jenny of Oldstones - a commoner that the Targaryen crown prince abdicated to marry. The crown then passed to his younger brother, and then to Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King, setting in motion the events surrounding Rhaegar, Lyanna, Jon, and Daenerys's lives. There is some speculation that Jenny's Song might have even been the specific one that Rhaegar performed during the great Tourney at Harrenhal, singing and harping the mournful song so beautifully that Lyanna Stark wept and fell in love with him.
- Vanity Fair noted that Podrick singing a mournful song before a hopeless battle may have been an homage to Pippin Took doing the same thing in the 2003 film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
- This is one of the few episodes (alongside "Lord Snow" and "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"), in which absolutely no one has died. Not even magical creatures (wights) or simply animals (from hunting, etc.).
- The off-screen conversation between Tyrion and Bran is the likely source of Tyrion's reasoning for putting forward Bran as King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men. If this is so, this scene could be seen to be foreshadowing the "winner" of the Game of Thrones.
This episode includes numerous callbacks to prior episodes and events:
- Jaime and Bran, of course, discuss how he threw Bran out a tower window in the first episode of the TV series, Season 1's "Winter Is Coming".
- Sansa initially distrusts Jaime, specifically recalling how he attacked her father in the streets of King's Landing in Season 1's "The Wolf and the Lion", resulting in one of his men badly injuring Ned's leg.
- Tyrion calls Jaime a war hero from the Siege of Pyke (which was first mentioned in "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"), but Jaime points out that he also lost the battle of the Whispering Wood, at Season 1's episode "Baelor", resulting in his army's destruction and his capture.
- Tyrion recounts that he always thought he'd die at the age of 80, in his own bed, with a belly full of wine, and a girl's mouth around his cock. This is what he said to Shagga and the Hill Tribes back in Season 1's "The Pointy End". Jaime joins in saying the last lines in this episode, implying that it is an old joke Tyrion has been saying for years.
- When Brienne tells Podrick to only have half a cup of wine, Tyrion fills his cup until it overflows and spills. This recalls Podrick's first scene, back in Season 2's "The Night Lands", when as a new squire he accidentally overfilled Tyrion's wine glass until it spilled.
- Sandor asks Arya if Beric Dondarrion is still on her kill list, that she recites as a prayer every night, but she confirms he was on briefly ("First of His Name"), but she took him off.
- In the books, the Brotherhood never took Gendry the way they did in Season 3, thus he remained with them, and Arya never added Beric or Melisandre or Thoros to her list. In the TV series, she added them in Season 3 after they took Gendry away, but then she simply stopped mentioning them again when she recited her list in later TV seasons. She had bigger problems with the Freys and Boltons after the Red Wedding, and Gendry ultimately came to no lasting harm. The exchange in this episode acknowledges that this change to her list relative to the books was later simply removed.
- At this point, the only people left on Arya's kill list in the TV series are Cersei and Gregor Clegane. Ilyn Payne, the executioner who personally beheaded Ned at Joffrey's order, was also on the list, but after his actor developed near-terminal cancer he was simply phased out of being mentioned on the show.
- In the books, the Brotherhood never took Gendry the way they did in Season 3, thus he remained with them, and Arya never added Beric or Melisandre or Thoros to her list. In the TV series, she added them in Season 3 after they took Gendry away, but then she simply stopped mentioning them again when she recited her list in later TV seasons. She had bigger problems with the Freys and Boltons after the Red Wedding, and Gendry ultimately came to no lasting harm. The exchange in this episode acknowledges that this change to her list relative to the books was later simply removed.
- Gendry mentions the Wight Hunt ("Beyond the Wall").
- Arya mentions that the Hound joined the Brotherhood ("No One") and participated the Wight Hunt.
- Jorah refers to the cruise with Tyrion between Volantis and Meereen ("Kill the Boy").
- Tyrion and Davos refer to the battle of the Bastards ("Battle of the Bastards").
- Beric reports the fall of Last Hearth ("Winterfell").
- Sam says that he destroyed a White Walker ("Second Sons"), fought the Thenns (referring to the battle of Castle Black - "The Watchers on the Wall"), stole books from the Citadel ("Eastwatch") and survived the battle of the Fist of the First Men ("Valar Dohaeris").
- Tyrion reminds Jaime the first time they were in Winterfell ("Winter Is Coming").
- Brienne tells Tormund she is glad he survived the breaching of the Wall ("The Dragon and the Wolf").
- Gendry reminds Arya that she wanted him to come with her ("Kissed by Fire").
- Gendry tells about the leech ritual ("Second Sons") and that Melisandre told him he was Robert's bastard son ("The Bear and the Maiden Fair").
- Tyrion states that Brienne defeated the Hound ("The Children").
- Jon tells Daenerys that Sam read about the marriage of Rhaegar and Lyanna ("Eastwatch"), and mentions Lyanna's death and her request from Ned (seen in Bran's vision in "The Winds of Winter").
- Bran shows the mark on his forearm, which he received from the Night King in his vision ("The Door").
- Daenerys says her brother liked to sing; Ser Barristan Selmy told her that in "Sons of the Harpy".
- Jaime tells Daenerys that he abandoned his family and house because "this goes beyond loyalty", referring to what Brienne told him in "The Dragon and the Wolf", when he insisted that he was loyal to Cersei: "This goes beyond houses and honor and oaths".
- Tyrion tells Daenerys that he has fought before, presumably referring to the fight on the way to the Eyrie ("The Wolf and the Lion"), the battle of the Green Fork, and the battle of the Blackwater. He might have referred to the siege of Meereen, though he has not participated the fighting at that occasion, but served as an advisor.
- Jaime is shocked when Bran quotes the sentence he said prior to pushing Bran from the window "The things I do for love". Littlefinger reacted similarly in "The Spoils of War" when Bran quoted the sentence "chaos is a ladder" which he said in "The Climb".
- Theon tells the Starks "I took this castle from you", referring to the fall of Winterfell ("The Old Gods and the New").
- Podrick training recruits mirrors how he was trained by Brienne, giving his sparring partners similar advice she gave him in "The Queen's Justice".
- Sansa's reunion with Theon recalls the one between Daenerys and Jorah in "Eastwatch": a conversation between Sansa and Daenerys is interrupted by Wolkan to announce that a man important in Sansa's life, Theon, has arrived, just like Qhono interrupted a conversation between Daenerys and Jon to tell her of Jorah's return. Theon offers to fight for Winterfell "if Sansa will have him", the same words Jorah spoke to Daenerys. Then, just like Daenerys did to Jorah, Sansa hugs him out of joy of having him back.
- This episode is the first time that the four surviving Stark children have shared the same scene since the first episode of the TV series, when the assembled Stark household welcomed King Robert to Winterfell. Even then, they didn't exchange speaking lines with each other as they do during the war room scene in this episode. Jon didn't attend the feast afterwards, then left to join the Night's Watch, only returning last episode - but then Arya wasn't there with Sansa and Bran to greet him, because she had gone ahead to the winter town to see him. So this is really the first time all four have been part of the same conversation, during the battle map scene.
- Director David Nutter discussed the positioning of characters in the Game Revealed behind the scenes video. In the preceding episode, Jon Snow was seated front and center at the main table in the great hall of Winterfell, because he was trying to rally all the lords to accept Daenerys Targaryen and fight the White Walkers together. In this episode, Daenerys is now the one sitting front and center at the table, as she judges Jaime Lannister - a visual display she is putting on, to act like she is taking command as the rightful queen. Unfortunately, the intended display of power doesn't work, as both Sansa and Jon end opt to let Jaime stay, so Jaime can help them battle against the Army of the Dead instead of being killed. The whole event leaves Daenerys upset that her supposed allies either openly disagree with her, or in the case of Tyrion, have failed her.
- Daenerys pointedly refers to Jon Snow as the "Warden of the North": this title is inherently inferior and subject to the monarch on the Iron Throne, as one of four regional Wardens tasked with defending each section of the realm. When the Starks declared their independence again, they gave up claim to being "Warden" for being King in the North. This was probably intentional by the writers: Daenerys seems to be pointedly reminding Jon that when he bent the knee to her as his queen, he gave up his title as "king" (comparable to her pointedly calling him "governor").
- Ghost the direwolf finally returns in this episode, having missed all of Season 7; he was previously seen in "Oathbreaker". Originally he was going to briefly appear in "Stormborn" but this was cut due to time and budget. There are often trade-off decisions that need to be made with CGI budget (i.e. faced with having a giant or a direwolf in the same episode, but not both). Moreover, the direwolves have been particularly difficult to work into scenes, as they are actually played by live animals, who are then digitally scaled-up.
- Tyrion incongruously says that the Northerners aren't warming up to Daenerys because they remember "what happened the last time Targaryens took dragons to the North". This line is vague and doesn't really apply well to any specific context:
- Most recently, the Targaryens went to war with the Starks during Robert's Rebellion - when the Starks marched south to fight them after the Mad King killed their lord, Rickard Stark. Moreover, the last Targaryen dragon died about a century and a half before Robert's Rebellion, so they couldn't have "taken dragons north".
- During the reign of the Targaryen dynasty before that, they did sometimes fly dragons to the North on royal processions, or rarely, as messengers. One of Rhaenyra's sons, Jacaerys Velaryon, flew to Winterfell as a messenger during the Dance of the Dragons.
- Before that, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen made a famous royal visit to Winterfell with his sister-wife Alysanne - during which they did much to win over the support of the Starks, including giving generous donations to the Night's Watch.
- The only context this line might loosely apply to was already explained in Season 7 dialogue, when Jon first met Daenerys: during the Targaryen Conquest, King Torrhen Stark marched his army south to the Trident River, after the Targaryens had already conquered all of the other southern kingdoms, adding their surviving forces to their own, which marched "north" - in the sense that they were heading to the North, but were still in the Riverlands at the time. But when Torrhen saw their now much larger army, and in addition, their three live dragons, he realized he had no real hope of victory, so he peacefully surrendered without a fight. In return, Aegon treated him generously, confirming his position as ruler of the North under the Targaryens.
- Therefore, other than "losing their sovereignty" by voluntarily joining a larger regional union of realms - and thus benefiting in various improvements to infrastructure, trade, and internal borders - nothing particularly bad happened "the last time Targaryens took dragons to the North".
- In contrast to Tyrion's comments that the last interaction between the Starks and Targaryens were particularly harsh (when they didn't have dragons during Robert's Rebellion), Daenerys's comments about Robert's Rebellion to Sansa Stark almost leave out any animosity between the Starks and Targaryens. Daenerys says that they're both enemies of the Lannisters, who destroyed all of the rest of House Targaryen and tried to destroy the Starks. Actually, the Starks were one of the leading forces in the rebellion, right behind House Baratheon itself - and it was Robert Baratheon, not a Lannister, who killed Rhaegar Targaryen and smashed his army at the Battle of the Trident. The Lannisters only joined the rebellion after Rhaegar died and the Targaryens' armies were destroyed, opportunistically sacking King's Landing to curry favor with Robert once it became obvious he would win. Jaime Lannister did kill Daenerys's father the Mad King - but he is now at Winterfell pledging to help them. Other Lannister forces did, technically, wipe out the rest of her family - as Rhaegar's other two children were killed by Gregor Clegane. Still, the rebellion is generally seen as the Baratheons and their Stark allies overthrowing the Targaryens. It is possible that this scene was intended to be Daenerys giving a slanted view of history to try to ingratiate herself with Sansa (certainly, the Lannisters are their common enemy now), but it contradicts Tyrion's own statements in the episode that the North has been badly treated by the Targaryens.
- Tyrion's remark that "almost everyone" there had fought the Starks, but was now defending Winterfell, is somewhat odd: this is true of those who fought for the Lannisters or the wildlings, but not of Baratheon followers like Brienne and Davos, or Beric. Of course, he did say "almost" everyone.
- This episode is the first time that Missandei has given any specific details about her homeland, Naath, and its culture, in the five years she has been on the TV show. Naath is a large island off the northwest coast of Sothoryos, the third continent, which is loosely their Fantasy world's version of Africa. Missandei explains here that the people of Naath are peaceful, and cannot defend themselves. The books give more detail: the Naathi "cannot" defend themselves due to their religious beliefs, which command utter pacifism. Their religion forbids them from taking any life, to the point that they will not eat the flesh of animals, and are strict vegetarians. So great is their devotion to pacifism that they are forbidden to resort to violence even to directly defend their own lives. Unfortunately, this has made them a favored target for slaver-raids from foreign lands.
- The books further reveal that the reason the Naathi have survived so long despite their extreme pacifism is that the island is home to a terrible plague, carried by butterflies, which causes the flesh to literally slough off a man's bones like wet parchment. The Naathi themselves are immune to this disease, but a drawback is that outsiders cannot survive on the isle for more than a few hours. This dialog doesn't take into account if Grey Worm or the Unsullied could even survive on Naath. In-universe, Missandei, who must be aware of the plague due to both her childhood and her education, might have decided not to ruin the moment by bringing up the butterfly plague.
- According to leaked script reports for Season 7, which turned out to be mostly accurate, Bryan Cogman originally intended to have this exchange between Missandei and Grey Worm about Naath island right before their sex scene in "Stormborn", the second episode of Season 7 - but it was cut for time, and pushed back here to the second episode of Season 8.
- This is the first time that Jorah Mormont and Lyanna Mormont have shared dialogue in a scene together. As they state in dialogue, Jorah is indeed Lyanna's "cousin", specifically her first cousin. When Lyanna was introduced in Season 6, Jon prominently explained in dialogue that she is the niece of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont through his sister, and Jeor was Jorah's father. When Jorah was exiled rule passed to his aunt Maege Mormont, and after she died (off-screen) to Lyanna. Jorah makes absolutely no attempt to have his rank and title restored, openly saying that Lyanna is "the future of our House".
- Every Valyrian steel blade introduced in the TV series is now present at Winterfell - there are more in the books and animated featurettes that haven't appeared in live-action. The books have not yet explicitly confirmed that Valyrian steel can kill White Walkers, though Samwell suspects that references in ancient texts to "dragon-steel" killing White Walkers refers to Valyrian steel, forged in dragon-flame and imbued with magical spells. The swords and their current wielders are:
- Longclaw - wielded by Jon Snow, a gift from Jeor Mormont
- Heartsbane - wielded by Jorah Mormont, ancestral blade of House Tarly, lent to Jorah as a gift by Samwell Tarly in memory of his father Jeor
- Oathkeeper - wielded by Brienne of Tarth, one of two new swords made by melting down the ancestral Stark sword, Ice.
- Widow's Wail - wielded by Jaime Lannister, the second of two swords made by melting down Ned Stark's sword Ice.
- A Valyrian steel dagger - wielded by Arya Stark. Not a full sword, originally belonging to Littlefinger, who gifts it to Bran Stark, who in turn passes it to Arya.
- Jaime and Brienne carry the two swords which have been forged of Ice, the ancestral sword of House Stark, at Tywin's order in "Two Swords". Although they are not Starks, Jaime's arrival at Winterfell and his request to serve under Brienne's command can be considered as symbolizing the return of Ice to its rightful place.
- As Jaime says, any knight can dub another man a knight - though the prestige varies, much like how a college degree from a major university versus a local college is technically the same. The full knight dubbing ceremony has not yet been presented in the texts, for what the new knight is charged with in the name of each of The Seven. Jaime gives the first three here, though the fourth one is also known: "In the name of the Maiden, I charge you to defend women". It is still unknown what the Smith, the Crone, and the Stranger charge knights with.
- Tormund's tall-tale about being nursed by a female giant is actually from the books, although slightly revised. In the books, he claimed that he slit open the belly of a sleeping female giant for warmth on a freezing night, only for her to mistake him for her baby when he came out of her; he admits to Jon that he never killed that female giant, or any giant in general, but asks Jon not to reveal that; otherwise, that would ruin his reputation. The TV version is not quite as blatantly made-up, with Tormund claiming he killed a giant, and the giant's wife mistook him for her baby.
- Jon, Sam, and Dolorous Edd remark that only the three of them are left from the Night's Watch members who were together in the beginning, mentioning Grenn and Pyp by name. Actually, while this is true in-universe, Edd wasn't introduced until the second novel, and thus second TV season. Retroactively, it was established that he was always there, but in the background. Pyp didn't go beyond the Wall with the rest of them, and Jon left soon after they reached the Fist of the First Men in Season 2. All five of them were only on-screen for the first time when Edd and Grenn made their way back to Castle Black, in Season 4's "Breaker of Chains", but then Grenn and Pyp died six episodes later in "The Watchers on the Wall".
- Edd recites the first line of the Night's Watch oath (mentioned in "You Win or You Die").
- Jon Snow isn't just the rightful "male heir" to the Iron Throne, ahead of Daenerys. Even under gender-blind inheritance law, Rhaegar was simply Daenerys's older sibling, thus any child of Rhaegar's would rank ahead of her.
- Daenerys says she was told Rhaegar had raped Lyanna; she makes it sound as if she believes that. It is very unlikely that she'd believe such a thing about her elder brother, whom she adored. In the books, Jorah and Barristan Selmy tell her very "sugarcoated" versions of her father and brother's personalities and deeds, mostly sticking to positive facts. Viserys told Daenerys that Rhaegar had kidnapped Lyanna, but not a word about rape.
- Brienne states that Jaime saved her from gang-rape, and lost his hand because of that ("Walk of Punishment"). This is incorrect: Jaime indeed saved Brienne from being raped, by telling Locke the lie about sapphires, but it had nothing to do with his maiming, both in the show and the novels: Locke cut Jaime's hand because the latter annoyed him, by telling about the wealth and power of his father; Vargo Hoat (Locke's analogous book character) had Jaime maimed in order to drive a wedge between Tywin and Roose Bolton.
- Brienne doesn't even go into much detail about how Jaime saved her from a bear, which was unquestionable heroic. The answer seems to be that this was in the original draft, but later cut. In post-episode interviews, Bryan Cogman explained that the original draft he wrote was filled with very detailed recaps of every character's prior story on the TV show - but he scoffed that "it looked like a Wikipedia page", so Benioff and Weiss revised his script to focus it down to how the actors non-verbally react to each other, with minimal exposition.
- In the fourth novel A Feast for Crows, Brienne confronts people who hate the Lannisters, one of them (a character which was omitted from the show) particularly wishes Jaime dead, based on Roose Bolton statement while killing Robb "Jaime Lannister sends his regards". They accuse Brienne that she serves the Lannisters, because she carries a Lannister sword. Brienne insists that Jaime has changed, and couldn't possibly be involved in the Red Wedding; she says that he saved her from being gang-raped by the Brave Companions, jumped into the bear pit to save her, and sent her to find and protect Sansa. Everything Brienne says is true, but her words fall on deaf ears.
- Brienne also relates to Jaime's oath to Catelyn (first mentioned in "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", and in "Two Swords", "The Broken Man" and "No One"), claiming that he armed her and sent her to bring Sansa home.
- Brienn claimed before ("No One") that Jaime has fulfilled his oath; actually, he did not, since he swore that he would return the Stark girls to their mother, not just help Brienne find them, and not only in respect of Sansa. Jaime had a chance to try to help Sansa escape in "Two Swords", but he didn't act on it: when Brienne reminded him his promise, he refused on the grounds that all the other Starks were dead, so there was no one to send her back to. The complication, of course, arises from the fact that in the books, Jaime only returns to King's Landing after Sansa escapes, so keeping his vow was a moot point.
- Jaime claims that in general, everything he did (killing Aerys and his actions against the Starks) - he did for his house and his family. In respect to Aerys's death, this is ironically a lie - because he did that out of genuine altruism, horrified that Aerys would have killed all the civilians in King's Landing had he not intervened. This detail, which would have been of particular interest to Daenerys, is not brought up.
- Tyrion says "Maybe after I'm dead... I'll march down to King's Landing and rip her [Cersei] apart". This is perhaps a reference to Maggy's prophecy "the valonqar ["little brother" in High Valyrian] shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you", which has been omitted from the show.
- Daenerys tells Sansa that she loves Jon, trusts him and knows he's true to his word, and that he's only the second man in her life she can say that about. To Sansa's question "Who was the first?", she quips "Someone taller" - presumably referring to Drogo.
- Daenerys questions why Tyrion would trust Cersei's promise at this point, even due to her pregnancy. In the books, Tyrion has certainly decided never to trust Cersei again, and both wish the other sibling dead. Tyrion assesses in the fifth novel that Cersei is ""as gentle as King Maegor, as selfless as Aegon the Unworthy, as wise as Mad Aerys".
- Daenerys says it is not the first time Tyrion disappointed her, referring to his plan to seize Casterly Rock.
- Tormund tells Jaime that people call him "King-killer". Actually, Jaime's derogatory nickname is "Kingslayer" - apparently the mistake was intentional in-universe, as Tormund doesn't know the story of Jaime very well. Tormund made a similar mistake in "Beyond the Wall", referring to Sandor Clegane as "The Dog" rather than "The Hound".
- Brienne is addressed to both as "Lady" and "Ser" during the scene of her knighting. This is presumably a reference to the fourth novel "A Feast for Crows": since Pod is uncertain what is the proper way to address Brienne, he keeps saying "Ser? My Lady?" whenever he speaks to her.
- Tyrion calls his brother "Ser Jaime Lannister, fabled hero of the Siege of Pyke". In the show, it has been mentioned before ("Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things") that Jaime participated in the siege.
- In the novels, however, his name is never mentioned in respect of that battle, or any other stage of the Greyjoy Rebellion. Presumably he did, given that Robert himself and Barristan Selmy were there, and it would be unusual for a Kingsguard to be absent from his king during a war; perhaps the reason for not mentioning his name is that he has not distinguished himself in that battle, in contrast to Jorah and Thoros.
- Bran says "We need to lure him [the Night King] into the open before his army destroys us all. I'll wait for him in the Godswood". He does not specify what plan he has in mind, and why it is necessary to lure the Night King into the Godswood of all places, especially since Bran seems to be able to use his Three-Eyed Raven abilities from anywhere. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Night King was created while strapped to a weirwood tree ("The Door").
- Arya asks Bran whether dragonfire will stop the Night King; he answers "I don't know, no one has ever tried". Why didn't Jon and Daenerys answer that question? They have seen with their own eyes (Jon - during the massacre at Hardhome, both of them - during the Wight Hunt) that the White Walkers were not harmed by fire, and the Night King was unaffected by dragonfire.
- It is curious why Winterfell was first warned by specifically Tormund and Eddison Tollett about the imminent approach of the Army of the Dead - as if Jon and Daenerys didn't post scouts of any kind to monitor the advance of the White Walkers' large army after the Wall was breached.
- In a post-episode interview with Entertainment Weekly, Emilia Clarke commented on the ending scene between Jon and Daenerys: particularly that, being a Targaryen, Daenerys did not have a strong reaction to learning she incestuously had sex with her own nephew, whereas it deeply shook Jon - and in turn, the fact that this didn't bother Daenerys shocked Jon even more:
- "The related thing, to her, is so normal. She could have easily married her brother. It's not a thing. It's a thing for Jon, but let's just forget about that. The main thing is we’re up for the same promotion and I’ve been working for it for my entire existence..." She continued: "This is my whole existence - since birth! Dany literally was brought into this world going: RUN! These f—ers [in Westeros] have f—ed everything up. Now it’s, 'You're our only hope.' There's so much she's taken on in her duty in life to rectify. There's so much she's seen and witnessed and been through and lost and suffered and hurt to get here...and Jon doesn't even want it!"
- Writer Bryan Cogman reiterated Clarke's point about aunt-nephew incest being normal to Daenerys: "What really upsets Jon is that he's a blood relative to the woman he's in love with. In the crypt, Jon is taken aback when essentially the first thing she says is acknowledging that he has a claim to the Iron Throne - and Jon's immediate concern is the fact that that's her immediate concern. [Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke] play it beautifully."
- As pointed out in the Notes for the first episode, creating Dragonglass weapons is nothing like what is being presented on-screen during the forge scenes. They treat it essentially like casting and forging metal - but "dragonglass" has been stated to be "obsidian" - the volcanic rock, which as the name implies is closer to "glass". Obsidian can be chipped into a shape, much like making tools out of flint, but heating it up like metal and then pouring it into forms would only make material so brittle that it would shatter impact.
- Director David Nutter explained in the Game Revealed behind the scenes video for this episode that Gendry is leading all the blacksmiths in the forge creating dragonglass weapons, as he has experience with it - presumably referring to how he started making dragonglass weapons while at Dragonstone in Season 7.
- The Game Revealed behind the scenes video for this episode goes into great detail explaining how the Winterfell set was significantly expanded for Season 8, even more so than the incremental expansions it received with each passing season, so it is now essentially a fully realized castle. Not only are all of the towers in place, but everyday things such as functional baker's ovens, kitchens, brewing vats, etc. Another major new addition was the Winterfell library set, where Sansa and Daenerys have their long discussion scene (which is incredibly detailed, even featuring direwolf heads carved into the ceiling beams).
- Episode writer Bryan Cogman noted that Jaime's "trial" (more of an interrogation) that starts this episode was "not unlike" the trial of his brother Tyrion, which Cogman also wrote (in Season 4's "The Laws of Gods and Men").
- Cogman also wrote the Sansa rape scene in Season 5's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" (which wasn't in the books). He now has the dubious distinction of writing trial episodes for both Lannister brothers, and writing episodes with sex scenes for both Stark sisters.
Arya Stark and Gendry
- Main article: Arya Stark and Gendry
- Arya Stark has sex with Gendry in this episode.
- As for Arya Stark's age, she is at most 18 years old, possibly 17 by this point (as explained in detail in the "Timeline" section below) . Characters younger than this have sex in the books, and have had sex even in the TV show. By this point she is roughly around as old as her brother Robb Stark was when he had sex with and married Talisa in Season 2.
- Maisie Williams, the actor, is actually older than Arya, and she filmed this episode when she was 22 years old (her small and slight frame makes her seem younger, as she is only 5'1" tall). Joe Dempsie, the actor playing Gendry, was a bit uncomfortable with the scene - citing that he is actually almost ten years older than Maisie (Dempsie is around 5 to 6 years older than Gendry is in-universe). Gendry-the-character is roughly the same age as Jon Snow, and is thus only around five years older than Arya-the-character.
- This isn't even the first sex scene that Maisie Williams has ever filmed: that happened in the 2014 film The Falling (in which her character had sex with her own brother). Due to production delay, she was 18 years old when she shot that movie.
- When she undresses, Arya has large scars on her right side - from when the Waif stabbed her deeply (matching how she was stabbed on her right side on-screen in Season 6).
- Gendry also shares with Arya the information he learned from Melisandre, that he is in fact the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon.
- Gendry's revelation of his father's real identity now mirrors how Arya herself, in Season 2's "The Night Lands", revealed that her own father was a powerful lord, Eddard Stark. In both cases, they actually met their partner's parent before meeting them: Ned came to Gendry's forge before Gendry met Arya, and Arya met King Robert before she met Gendry.
- The way Arya eyes Gendry while he works in the forge in this episode directly mirrors how she previously eyed him while he was blacksmithing, in Season 2's "The Ghost of Harrenhal".
- In the books, it is said that Gendry greatly resembles King Robert in his handsome youth, so much so that it is blatantly obvious to anyone who meets him that also knew young Robert (Eddard, Stannis) that he is Robert's son. Somewhat similarly, Arya is also said to greatly resemble her aunt Lyanna Stark in her youth - in that while Lyanna grew into a great beauty, she had rougher features like Arya when she was younger, leading Ned to assure her that she's growing up to look just like her aunt. The irony of all this is that Robert Baratheon was originally betrothed to Lyanna Stark, and if Rhaegar Targaryen hadn't "stolen" her away, they would have married: Arya and Gendry being together are like a ghost of the Robert/Lyanna match which almost happened.
- Of course, back in the first episode of the TV series, King Robert said his hope was to marry his "son" (Joffrey) to Eddard Stark's "daughter" (Sansa) to formally cement the alliance between the Starks and Baratheons and maintain stability over Westeros - and ultimately a different son and daughter ended up together. In the books, Robert specifically remarked that pairing his son with Ned's daughter would be an attempt to re-create the union of their families that should have happened if Lyanna had lived to marry him.
- It has gone unstated so far in the TV series that Gendry's parentage means he also has Targaryen blood: one of King Robert's grandmothers was a younger Targaryen princess, which after he won the rebellion was used as a token pretext for his claim to the Iron Throne. Renly and Stannis thus also had Targaryen blood, and Stannis's daughter Shireen Baratheon was even known to have "dragon dreams" - prophetic dreams about dragons that often affect members of their bloodline. Robert was, of course, a usurper, as his younger branch of the Targaryen family tree ranked behind Aerys II Targaryen, or his children Rhaegar and Daenerys. Moreover, so far no one has pointed out that if nothing else, Gendry is the last remaining heir to Storm's End and rule of House Baratheon (albeit as a bastard).
- We have no idea if Arya and Gendry will begin a relationship in the books, as the TV series has surpassed the current novels. So far, there have not been any hints of romance between them; in fact, Arya at first intends to kill Gendry once he discovers she is a girl, and what stops her is not her conscience or any romantic feelings - but the simple fact that he is armed and stronger than her. She feels a bit sad when he decides to remain with the brotherhood, but soon gets over it; in the fourth novel, she barely gives him any thought.
- As of the fifth and most recent novel, Arya is still in Braavos, while Gendry is still in the Riverlands hiding from the Lannisters (and in some friendly contact with the Brotherhood Without Banners). The TV show streamlined this to have Gendry hiding out in King's Landing itself. From a "glass half full" perspective, they may indeed develop a relationship in later novels - though the context will be somewhat different - but this remains to be seen.
- Gendry tells Arya "last time you saw me, you wanted me to come to Winterfell". Actually, Arya did not invite him to her home (which was destroyed back then), but offered him to serve Robb ("Kissed by Fire"), and he refused.
- In reaction to the Arya/Gendry sex scene, actress Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) posted a drunken video to her Instagram, in which she gulped down a large glass of wine while wearing a bathrobe, and crassly joked, "In honor of Easter I guess Game of Thrones wanted the storyline to have a little Easter bunny, hop hop hopping into that PUSSY!"
- Actress Maisie Williams herself gave a detailed post-episode interview with Entertainment Weekly about her sex scene:
- The scripts for the entire new season are delivered to cast members all at once, but while Williams reads through them slowly, Sophie Turner skims through quickly to find any important parts. Therefore Turner found the sex scene first, and quickly phoned Williams, urging her to immediately read ahead to it. Even then, Williams explained, she honestly thought it was a prank by the showrunners - as they have been known to do, on multiple past occasions, when they gave cast members fake scripts (i.e. Hodor killing Theon at the end of Season 2, Jon Snow getting horrifically burned when he first killed a wight in Season 1). Soon after, however, the showrunners assured her that it wasn't a prank, and that they hadn't done any script pranks for the final season. By the time of the table read, she realized it was actually going to happen: "I got to the read-through and I'm reading the scene and thought, 'Oh, we're actually going to do this. When do I shoot this? I need to go to the gym.' A whole list of things."
- She went on to explain that the showrunners gave her control over how much nudity to actually have in the scene (apparently there was no body double), saying: "David and Dan were like: 'You can show as much or as little as you want. So I kept myself pretty private. I don't think it’s important for Arya to flash. This beat isn't really about that. And everybody else has already done it on the show, so..." - Williams did say she was a little embarrassed when it came to actual filming: "In the beginning, everyone was really respectful. No one wants to make you feel uncomfortable which kind of makes you feel more uncomfortable, because no one wants to look at anything that they shouldn’t look at, which in turn makes you feel like you look awful because everyone is kind of like - " [averts her eyes] - "You want people to act more normal."
- As for the emotional significance of the scene for Arya, Maisie Williams confirmed that this wasn't just Arya having random casual sex because she might die tomorrow, but a growing emotional intimacy with Gendry and reclaiming part of her humanity after being consumed with killing for so many years: "It was really interesting because it’s a very human relationship for Arya. This is something she's stayed away from, an emotion we've never really seen her engage with. David and Dan were like, 'It's the end of the world, what else would you have her do?' This may be is a moment where Arya accepts death tomorrow, which she never does — 'Not Today.' So it was that moment where she says, 'We're probably going to die tomorrow, I want to know what this feels like before that happens.' It's interesting to see Arya be a bit more human, speak more normally about things people are scared of."
- Two days after the episode aired, Maisie Williams did post a message on her Twitter channel pointing out that no matter how uncomfortable viewers may have been, "If u feel uncomfortable just know that my mother and my step dad and my 2 sisters and my 4 brothers have all probably watched this too ahahakillmeehehe".
- Screenwriter Bryan Cogman in a post-episode interview reiterated Maisie's statements that Arya was reclaiming part of her humanity, and had her own agency in the sex scene: "She's been so focused on one thing for so long, which is vengeance, and almost forgetting herself and forgetting what it is to be human. That was very much what the time with the Faceless Men was—it was about erasing humanity. This is her facing what she thinks might be her imminent demise. It's like she's thinking, 'I want to be a human being. I want to be a young woman. I want to experience this stuff, and I want to experience it on my terms' - and she drives the scene...Gendry's more than happy to go along with it, but it's all on her terms."
- Cogman did stress that Arya is a "woman" now ("a teenager", "not a child") and not having underaged sex, pointing out that Maisie Williams is herself 22 years old. He scoffed, however, that it was "foolhardy" to figure out Arya's exact age given how sloppy ("murky") the timeline has gotten on the show. In contrast with Cogman, however, the official HBO Twitter channel prominently tweeted out hours before the episode aired that Arya is 18 years old now. According to timeline kept by Game of Thrones Wiki, it was actually already assumed that Arya is 18 in Season 8 (the timeline is a little loose, but not that much: see Timeline notes subsection below).
Timeline and Character Ages
Arya and Gendry have sex in this episode, and also, Gilly's son Sam appears again - bringing up the question of just how much time has passed since the beginning of the TV series, and how old all of the younger characters are supposed to be.
The short answer is that the TV writers did not thoroughly keep track of the internal Timeline. Particularly, travel time stops following established information, so that journeys that should have taken weeks or months could take plays in days - or even a few hours, as was the case with the Wight Hunt at the end of Season 7. Nonetheless the number of calendar years that have passed can more or less be worked out. The early TV seasons clearly followed the rule that one TV season equaled one year of internal time: Robert's Rebellion was "17 years ago" in Season 1, but then said to be "18 years ago" in Season 2. Characters in Season 3 directly stated that the War of the Five Kings had been going on for "two years", when it began at the end of Season 1. Afterwards, story time expanded or contracted depending on the storyline - and this is not necessarily an error. The writers did accurately point out that every storyline seen in a given week isn't in sync with all the others, but presented due to dramatic pacing: i.e. Arya's storyline in Braavos wasn't physically tied to events at the Wall or King's Landing, and could have taken up entirely different spans of time. What matters is when storylines intersect.
- It generally seems that the TV show continued to follow the rule that one TV season equals one year, though somewhat more loosely, and as more of an average in the later seasons.
- An internal event which can be timed is that Gilly's son was born on-screen in Season 3. This puts an upper limit on how much time has passed in the TV series: something like "ten years" can't have passed between Seasons 3 and 8 due to unstated, off-screen time skips, otherwise Gilly's son would look like a ten year old.
Thus, the major characters still alive at this point are all, at most, seven years older than they were stated to be in Season 1, five years older than stated in Season 3. Possibly a year younger if the half-seasons of Seasons 7 and 8 combined take up a single year. Their maximum ages, assuming one season to one year through Season 8, are:
- Daenerys Targaryen: 23 - stated to be 16 in Season 1, born after her father died at the end of Robert's Rebellion, 17 years before Season 1.
- Jon Snow: 23 - stated to be 16 in Season 1, born after Robert's Rebellion.
- Sansa Stark: 20 - stated she was 13 years old in Season 1.
- Sansa stated on her wedding night to Tyrion in Season 3 that she was 14 years old, but this may have been in error, as it contradicted several other lines also in Season 3 which said that 2 years had passed since Season 1. This also means that at the time of her rape by Ramsay Bolton in Season 5, she was 17 years old (possibly 16 to 17 if the Season 4 line during her wedding to Tyrion was somehow not an error).
- Arya Stark: 18 - Arya stated during Season 1 that she was 11 years old, thus she is at most 18 years old by Season 8 - possibly 17 if Seasons 7 and 8 cover a single year.
- By the transitive property, it was well established that two years passed by Season 3, at which point Arya was 13 and Gilly's son was born. Thus Arya is "13 plus however old Gilly's son is".
- Gendry: 23 - In the books, Gendry is stated to be around the same age as Jon Snow (and thus around the same age as Robb and Daenerys). King Robert fathered him on a whore in Flea Bottom, apparently not long after the war ended and he moved to King's Landing.
- Bran Stark: 17 - Stated on-screen to be 10 years old in Season 1.
- Theon Greyjoy: 24 - In Season 1, Theon said he came to Winterfell when he was eight years old, and other characters said the Greyjoy Rebellion was nine years ago: thus he was 17 years old in Season 1. This means that he is one year older than Robb and Jon Snow (in the books, he is five years older than them). Yara Greyjoy is Theon's older sister, old enough to remember when he was a baby, but her exact age may have been changed around in the TV continuity (in the books, she is three years older than him).
In the books, the age of legal adulthood in Westeros is 16 years old - though the TV series apparently made a tacit retcon of this up to 18 years, due to legal restrictions on depicting very young characters having sex: specifically due to Daenerys's sex scenes in Season 1). Because Daenerys's birth is tied to the end of Robert's Rebellion (being born after her father died at the end of it), Robert's Rebellion had to be pushed back from 15 years before the beginning of the narrative in the first book, to 17 years before Season 1. Most younger characters were then aged-up by two years to match this. Daenerys was still, fundamentally, a 16 year old having sex with Drogo throughout Season 1 - but depicting her as 13 years old as she was at that time in the novels would not have worked due to U.K. television filming laws.
While showrunners Benioff and Weiss haven't normally given detailed post-episode interviews, Bryan Cogman gave an extensive interview about his writing for this episode in the Vanity Fair "Still Watching" podcast, hosted by Joanna Robinson. He also gave a text interview with Entertainment Weekly, but it wasn't as long and largely just repeated the same points he gave in the podcast interview.
Cogman explained that this was the most difficult script he ever wrote for the TV show, as it didn't have a single through-plot or battle, but consisted of various character reunions. The challenge this presented, he pointed out, is that characters who haven't seen each other for multiple TV seasons logically should discuss their separate experiences, but the audience already saw these events - running the risk of repeating information back at the audience which they already know.
Cogman lamented that his first draft of the script that he submitted to Benioff and Weiss was awful, because "it was a Wikipedia page". The showrunners then sent back his draft covered with revisions written in red ink, to "streamline" the dialogue. Many lines of dialogue were removed from throughout the script, and instead replaced with non-verbal moments of the actors reacting to each other with their eyes and facial expressions.
Among the scenes significantly affected by these revisions:
- Jaime's trial scene was originally much longer, as Brienne recounted all of her journey with Jaime in great detail.
- The final scene of Jon telling Daenerys his real parentage just ends in a one-line reaction from Daenerys, before they are interrupted. In the original draft, the scene continues on for a significant amount of time beyond that, as they fully discuss all of the ramifications of this.
- When Theon is reunited with Sansa, in the final version all she does is hug him. Originally, Cogman wanted to have a full scene of dialogue beyond that, as Theon and Sansa fully talked out and reflected on their shared trauma as victims of Ramsay Bolton, what they went through and what they'll do now. Cogman said he struggled to write this scene for two weeks, but ultimately didn't even include it in the first draft he submitted.
- The most drastically changed scene was the one of Davos and Gilly, which was totally redone from scratch. In the original version, Davos and Gilly would be talking and stumble onto the fact that they both only recently learned how to read, and then realize that Shireen Baratheon taught both of them. Benioff and Weiss convinced him that this was "contrived", so they rewrote it into a scene of Davos and Gilly serving soup to refugees, when a girl with a burn scar on her cheek shows up - non-verbally reminding them both of Shireen, though in this version the name "Shireen" isn't spoken aloud, but playing off the actors' facial reactions.
In the books
[This section will be updated with comparisons when the sixth and seventh novels are released.]
- The episode contains influences from the following chapter of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 15, Jon II: Tormund tells a story about a female giant, who mistook him for her baby and suckled him for three months.
- The episode contains influences from the following chapter of A Feast for Crows:
Daenerys Targaryen: "When I was a child, my brother would tell me a bedtime story... about the man who murdered our father, about all the things we would do to that man."
Daenerys Targaryen: "He never should've trusted Cersei."
Sansa Stark: "You never should've either."
Arya Stark: "I know Death. He's got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one."
Jon Snow: "How long do we have?"
Tormund: "Before the sun comes up tomorrow."
Jaime Lannister: "Arise, Brienne of Tarth, a knight of the Seven Kingdoms."
Grey Worm: "Do you want to grow old in this place? Is there nothing else you want to do?
Nothing else you want to see?"
Grey Worm: "Then I will take you there."
Missandei: "My people are peaceful. We cannot protect ourselves."
Grey Worm: "My people are not peaceful. We will protect you."
Samwell Tarly: Everyone seems to forget that I was the first man to kill a White Walker! I've killed Thenns."
Eddison Tollett: "A Thenn."
Jaime Lannister: (Knighting Brienne of Tarth) "In the name of the Warrior, I charge you to be brave. In the name of the Father, I charge you to be just. In the name of the Mother, I charge you to defend the innocent.
Arise, Brienne of Tarth: a knight of the Seven Kingdoms."
Bran Stark: "He will come for me. He has tried before, many times with many three-eyed ravens."
Samwell Tarly: "Why? What does he want?"
Bran Stark: "An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory."
Samwell Tarly: "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: we're 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: "You've had a strange journey"
- Stranger than most.: "I'd like to hear about it."
- Tyrion: "It's a long story."
- Stranger than most.: "If only we were trapped in a castle, in the middle of winter with nowhere to go..."
- — Tyrion and Bran exchange stories
There is a range of promotional images and screen captures featuring 'Episode 2, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" of 'Season 8' in the gallery.
- ↑ [ https://ew.com/tv/2019/04/21/game-of-thrones-bryan-cogman-knight-seven-kingdoms-interview/ Bryan Cogman interview,] EW.com
- ↑ ‘Game of Thrones’: Florence and the Machine’s Frontwoman on That Haunting Closing Song, NYTimes.com
- ↑ Game of Thrones: The Hidden Meaning Behind Podrick's Song, VanityFair.com
- ↑ The Game Revealed, Episode 8.2
- ↑ Emilia Clarke defends Dany's reaction to Jon's parentage, EW.com
- ↑ Bryan Cogman interview, EW.com
- ↑ The Game Revealed, Episode 8.2
- ↑ The Game Revealed, Episode 8.2
- ↑ Bryan Cogman interview, EW.com
- ↑ Maisie Williams discusses Arya's surprise Gendry scene, EW.com
- ↑ Maisie Williams Twitter
- ↑ Bryan Cogman podcast interview, VanityFair.com
- ↑ HBO Clarified Arya’s Age Before Airing ‘Game of Thrones’ Sex Scene, Plus Maisie Williams Reacts, IndieWire
- ↑ Bryan Cogman podcast interview, VanityFair.com
- ↑ [https://ew.com/tv/2019/04/21/game-of-thrones-bryan-cogman-knight-seven-kingdoms-interview/ Bryan Cogman interview,] EW.com