Beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect.
This week: Backstory ago go!
While we were told that several episodes would be feature length this season, this episode could well have been mashed together with last week’s to create one, giant reunion-filled catch-up of where everyone has been, how they fit into the story and a summation of their likely chances. As an hour of television, A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms wasn’t so much full of drama as it was a living recap of past stories. Which, for all its minor (and a couple of major incidences) came off as a little less than totally satisfying in the shadow of last week.
Still, for those who have long waited to see characters get together – in more ways than one – the episode delivered on different levels. Jaime looked like he was headed for a bad end, only to be saved by in the court of public opinion by those who know what he has done in the years since he killed the mad king, shoved Bran out of the window and slept with Cersei. Brienne in particular speaks up for him, and is rewarded later with that impromptu (and effective) knighting sequence which gives the episode its title.
A good chunk of the episode was taken up with characters relating how far they’ve come, and debating who will take shelter in the crypt versus who will stand and fight. It serves one main purpose – to lead us into next week’s much-vaunted epic battle episode, so there’s value in getting all the check-ins and emotional connections out of the way before the Army of the Dead arrives to sweep it all away.
On the plus side, we had Jaime and Brienne getting the chance to interact again, while the former’s confrontation with Bran felt a little bit of a letdown. Tyrion continued his tour of people he’s met, taking stock of how far he’s come as a character, while Jorah Mormont was given Heartsbane the sword by Sam. Talking of, we got a brief moment with Gilly (but not the two of them together), so if you were wondering what she was up to, now you know.
By far the most memorable scene saw Arya finally embracing her humanity again on the eve of battle, while never quite letting her badass side drop. Seeing her take sexual agency with Gendry was a welcome step in her development, without losing what has made her a compelling character. And there was no visit to King’s Landing or the Iron Islands this week, the likes of Cersei and Yara reduced to mentions by others.
In the more positive column, we watched Sansa and Dany interact in a way that suggested they can find common ground – even if the issue of what happens with the North after the battle remains a touchy subject. It was rewarding to see them striving to find a way to work together, instead of all the side eye.
A lot of tell rather than show, then, some of which worked better than others, but still a worthwhile watch, particularly given what’s coming. Writer Bryan Cogman has described this episode as a play, and it certainly felt like something designed to put the characters first, even if there were repetitive moments and check-ins that felt like throwaway fan service (sorry, Grey Worm and Missandei, hope you get more to do later if you make it).
Highlight: Every scene with Arya or Tyrion.
Lowlight: Jon and Dany’s interrupted revelation, which hopefully will be revisited down the line, assuming they both survive the big fight.
Kill of the week: No deaths this week. Except some braincells with all that drinking.
Quote of the week: “Oh, for fuck’s sake. Might as well be at a bloody wedding” – The Hound, speaking for the audience at certain points.
MVP: Arya. Also? Ser Brienne. Well deserved!
Random thought: Jeremy the Night King is clearly holding back Zombie Viserion for when he needs a big gun again.
If no one can get to Winterfell now without encountering the dead, how did Theon manage the route north?
We have to assume he came by the sea and was somehow able to evade The Night King and company.
Was Viserys Targaryen the world’s worst bedtime storyteller?
At least he helped Dany prepare for the violent, dangerous world she was headed for.
What’s that song Pod sings and we hear at the end?
It’s called Jenny Of Oldstones, and appears in George RR Martin’s A Storm Of Swords, the third book in the A Song Of Fire And Ice series. While only one line appears in the book, the song is referenced several times and has ties to the story’s mythology.
You can hear the version from the end credits, expanded for the show, below.
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Game Of Thrones airs Sunday evenings on HBO in the States, with a simulcast on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the early hours of Monday and a repeat Monday evenings at 9pm.