Monday, April 22, 2019

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: Final Season Episode 2

Episode Two took place entirely in the North-more specifically at Winterfell. This episode was another set up show in which there was a great deal of exposition, a little sex (not from Tormund), a little humor (mostly from Tormund), and a great deal of foreshadowing of presumed future events. We open up at Jaime's, well trial seems too formal, let's say his hearing in front of Daenerys, Sansa and Jon. Daenerys is of course eager to kill the man who murdered her father. Once again Jaime eschews the opportunity to point out that Aerys intended to incinerate King's Landing. Daenerys also gets Jaime to admit that Cersei lied about sending forces to help.  Cersei's armies, augmented by mercenaries, are going to let the North, Daenerys and allies bleed themselves dry. 

Jaime argues that he is not his sister and is at Winterfell because he wants to fight for the living. Tyrion comes to Jaime's defense but that was the wrong thing to do as Daenerys (shades of Michael Corleone's anger at Tom Hagen?) is tired of Tyrion's wrongheaded advice. She wonders if Tyrion knew ahead of time about his sister's treachery.  She basically tells him to shut up; she later wonders if she needs to find a new Hand, perhaps one not so tied to the current occupant of the Iron Throne. 

Although she's angry Daenerys still accepts that she's in someone else's home. Pointing out that the Lannisters have committed crimes against the Starks as well she wants to know Sansa's and Jon's decision. Bran quotes Jaime's words to him right before Jaime pushed him out of the window. 

But no one except Jaime pays attention because Bran has become similar to the glue sniffing high school loner mumbling to himself at the rear of the class. Bran doesn't say "Hey this guy pushed me out of a window!" Sansa says it would always be a mistake to trust Cersei but she wants to know what her sworn sword Brienne thinks. Brienne speaks up strongly for Jaime and his honor and compassion. She talks of him saving her from rape and murder. She says she trusts Jaime with her life. Moved by that or perhaps just moved by the opportunity to stick it to Daenerys, Sansa says let Jaime stay live. Jon is very clearly checked out of the discussion. He says we need every man we can get. Daenerys backs down. Jon leaves the room and avoids eye contact with his aunt. At the weirwood Jaime thanks Bran and apologizes. Bran says he's beyond such things but that they will need Jaime's help before the end. Bran continues to be a very cold person with zero emotional intelligence. He's always around but has the personality of a brick.

In the courtyard Tyrion and Jaime are comparing notes about how Daenerys and Cersei are different. They also talk about how the Northerners don't like the two brothers. The Northerners helpfully show their disdain for the Lannister brothers by spitting in their general direction and making rude arm gestures. 

Brienne is overseeing Podrick training and/or sparring with other men. Jaime is polite and courteous and thankful to Brienne, something that makes her suspicious. But Jaime says there's no catch. He wants to serve under Brienne's command, though obviously he's not the warrior he used to be.

Showing again why he never broke out of the friendzone, Jorah decides to spend his alone time with Daenerys not saying please baby please baby please but instead arguing for Tyrion's competence and loyalty. He also advises his Queen to break bread with Sansa. Sansa says that no one should have trusted Cersei. Daenerys agrees. The two women are beginning to bond over what they see as the fecklessness of men right up until the point when Sansa presses Daenerys on what happens to the North if Daenerys takes the Iron Throne. The North fought alone and cherishes its independence after its last three rulers (Rickard, Ned, Robb) were all treacherously murdered by Southerners. Daenerys won't give up her claim. Before the knives can come out the women are notified that Theon Greyjoy  has arrived. 

Davos is feeding people and trying to keep up morale. He sees a little girl (with grayscale?) who reminds him of Shireen. Gilly is there as well. The women, children and other non-combatants will hide in the Winterfell crypts.  Tormund, Edd, and Beric arrive at Winterfell. They inform everyone that the Army of the Dead took Last Hearth. They may only have 6-10 hours before that army reaches Winterfell. After surviving the breach of the wall, below freezing temperatures, near starvation, ice zombies,  and arriving at Winterfell to again face almost certain death in a matter of hours, Tormund only has one question:

Is the big woman here?

He's a man with purpose, is Tormund.

Arya has been harassing Gendry to finish her weapon. She's also looking at Gendry in a new light. Arya wants to know what the White Walkers are like and is disappointed when Gendry can't articulate a good answer other than "like death".

In a final status meeting before the expected onslaught Jon plays captain obvious and reminds everyone that they're already outnumbered and can't slug it out with an enemy who can raise the dead. Bran says that the Night King wants him. The Night King wants endless night and death for everyone. But there is a chance that if they can use Bran as bait they can draw out the Night King and burn him until he melts away. The plan is to put Bran in the Winterfell Godswood protected by Theon and some Ironborn. 

Daenerys intends to put Tyrion in the crypts saying that he's too valuable to her to risk losing. It's a downer meeting. Tormund says we're all gonna die but at least we'll do so together and looks meaningfully at Brienne. Jon rushes out of the meeting or more accurately rushes away from Daenerys. Tyrion decides to talk to Bran and learn his story. Missandei and Grey Worm encounter some more Northern unfriendliness. They talk about leaving together to her homeland. Over the night people reminisce and share regrets or old stories. We finally have a Ghost appearance. Sam wants to know why Jon hasn't told Daenerys yet.

Sam also takes offense to suggestion that he hide in the crypts reminding everyone that he was the first to kill a White Walker. The Hound admits that he fought for Arya, not for any money. Arya finds Gendry. Her weapon is ready. Or maybe his weapon is ready. That look she was giving him before is exactly what you thought it was. Arya Stark is tired of waiting. Arya Stark isn't going to die a virgin dammit!

Tyrion points out how ironic it is that many of the people at Winterfell fought against the Starks and now here they are defending the Stark ancestral home. When it comes out that Brienne is not technically a knight, Jaime says that well technically any knight can make another knight. He knights Ser Brienne. Tormund is most excited but would still like everyone else but Brienne to leave and leave now please. Jorah and his little cousin Lyanna are arguing. Lyanna intends to fight and that's that. Sam gives Jorah Sam's family sword, in appreciation for all that Jorah's father did for him.

Daenerys goes to the crypts to find Jon and ask why he's been avoiding her. In front of his mother's statue, Jon (Aegon Targrayen) tells Daenerys the truth. Daenerys is not happy, saying that Jon's claim would be better than hers. Daenerys doesn't believe Jon, telling him that his brother and best friend are not exactly unbiased unimpeachable sources. The White Walker Army of the Dead closes in.

For an episode without a lot of action I thought this one moved pretty well. I thought that the Northern unfriendliness might have been overdone a bit. It would make sense with regards to the Lannisters obviously, but a scene where Missandei says hello to some children and they leave without even speaking to or acknowledging her felt like something out of a 1970s school desegregation movie. 

As much as people talked about the crypts something big is going to happen there. It doesn't appear to be the best plan to hide the most vulnerable and defenseless population in a massive cemetery when fighting an entity who can raise the dead but sometimes there are no good choices I guess.

I didn't care for the Arya/Gendry scene, not because it didn't make sense or wasn't tastefully done but because I have never thought of the character or actress that way. I do think of Carice Van Houten that way. Snicker. But everyone grows up, characters and actresses alike.

I was a little confused by the whole "make Brienne a knight thing". I always felt that it was a big part of her character's arc that she was already a true knight. She took oaths to Renly. Even more transgressively she took oaths to Catelyn and Sansa Stark.  They "knighted" her. She very clearly was protector to and enforcer for both women. She's a mentor to Podrick Payne who is very obviously her squire. And she's been given command (presumably by Sansa) of at least one third of the human forces. And yet she's supposed to be brought to tears by the prospect of Jaime "knighting" her and people calling her "Ser"? Not getting that. 

The "Ser" thing doesn't make you a knight, it just means you're male. The equivalent is Lady. If we think that she would be happy to have Jaime's respect ok, but haven't we seen plenty of episodes where he's made that clear to her already. When you say "F*** you. If you won't let me in I'll do my own thing!", (see Mormont women, The Hound) it seems to damage that independent message to be all "You like me, you really like me" when the exclusionary institution changes its mind.

I liked how this episode had Jon in a bit of depressed funk. Of course that's traditionally been his primary mode but finding out that your father is really your uncle, that you might be the "rightful king" and that you've unwittingly just bedded your aunt is enough to make most people pause and try to think thru things. Then again given that this is the woman who barbecued your best friend's relatives AFTER they surrendered perhaps you can tell her the truth after you survive the battle. I mean if I were Jon I might be more worried now by some accidentally on purpose "friendly dragonfire" aimed at me during the chaos of battle.
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