’Twas the night before battle and all through Winterfell, every creature was stirring awaiting a plunge…into hell. With mere hours to go until the White Walkers lay siege to the Stark stronghold, the warriors inside seek a variety of distractions to keep thoughts of their impending doom at bay. Some find comfort in each other, others find comfort in the bottle and one finds comfort in the realization of a lifelong dream. After enduring years of scorn and abuse from her fellow soldiers, Brienne of Tarth is, at long last, a knight of the seven kingdoms—a well-deserved promotion that additionally serves as the title for the second episode of Game of Thrones’s final season.
Not only does this honor represent the culmination of Brienne’s battlefield career, but it’s also the culmination of her tortured relationship with Jaime Lannister, who is the one that anoints her as Ser Brienne of Tarth. While this may be a task that traditionally falls to a king rather than a kingslayer, it’s only too appropriate that Jaime is wielding the sword during her simple knighting ceremony. After all, he’s fought her and fought alongside her, in both cases witnessing her unbeatable combination of brute strength, masterful swordplay and undying loyalty up close and personal.
Not for nothing, but Brienne is also the reason why his head isn’t mounted on a pike on Winterfell’s wall, while Sansa and Daenerys trade warm smiles instead of frosty side-eye. Their mutual hatred of Jaime is the only thing they’ve bonded over so far, but Brienne manages to turn the tide of public opinion when she describes the disgraced Lannister as a “man of honor.” That endorsement placates Sansa, who owes her own life debt to Brienne. “I trust you with my life; if you trust him with yours, we should let him stay.” Jon Snow falls in line with his sister, and Daenerys reluctantly agrees to issue a stay of execution. Jaime then spends the rest of the episode trying to find a way to say “Thank you” to his rescuer, until he realizes that this particular course of action will speak louder than mere words.
Brienne’s knighting absolutely slayed on Twitter, which had been waiting for this day for six seasons.
Here are the other major dramas that going down in Winterfell as the ice men cometh.
Arya didn’t want to wait for her life to be over
There’s little time for courtship when death is on the march. So Arya took it upon herself to speed up her flirtation with Gendry, zooming past the friend zone into the…well, you know. Their love scene had people freaking out, and not necessarily in a good way.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Arya’s alter ego, Maisie Williams, revealed that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss allowed her to take command of the scene. “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.” Instead, as Williams explains, it’s about how the stoic assassin allows some of her humanity to creep back in. “It’s interesting to see Arya be a bit more human, speak more normally about things people are scared of.”
The secret is out, again
Last week, Jon Snow learned the truth about his origins courtesy of Samwell Tarly. This week, he drops that truth bomb on Aunt Daenerys, thus effectively cancelling any chance of them enjoying their own pre-battle canoodling. Tellingly, neither of them are dwelling on the fact they are related in more than the carnal sense, preferring instead to think about what it means for the line of succession. Jon looked absolutely crestfallen when he realized being the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen makes him the true heir to the Iron Throne. And that’s the first place that Daenerys’s mind goes as well. “It would make you the last male heir of House Targaryen,” she says slowly. “You’d have a claim to the Iron Throne.” Luckily for Jon, that’s the exact moment that Winterfell’s battle horns sound, announcing the Night King’s arrival and saving him from any further throne talk. This is the one circumstance where fighting White Walkers is the preferable option.
Watch the throne
Jon’s not the only one to be slightly unnerved by the tyrant-in-training vibes that Daenerys is throwing off since returning to Westeros. Earlier in the episode, Tyrion gets royally chewed out by the would-be queen for his failure to recognize that Cersei had no intention of joining the Northern campaign. And while he still insists to Jaime that this particular Targaryen really is different from the other rulers in her House, his words ring a bit...hollow. But it’s Sansa who gets Daenerys’s mask to drop—if only for a second—by challenging her to explain what she intends for the North after assuming the Iron Throne. As far as the Lady of Winterfell is concerned, the Starks won’t bend the knee to another ruler. But Daenerys clearly never thought she’d be ruling just a portion of Westeros: she wants all of it.
Storytime with Tormund
As superhero origin stories go, drinking giant’s milk straight from the source easily tops being bitten by a radioactive spider or inheriting a power ring from a dying alien. Tormund’s explanation for how he acquired the name “Giantsbane” was every bit as crass and hilarious as we wanted it to be. Granted, it didn’t exactly achieve his intended goal of winning Brienne’s affections, but boy did it win the story-share portion of the evening.
Ghost in the Thrones
What’s a direwolf got to do to get some attention around Winterfell? Twitter is none too happy with the way Jon has ignored his faithful animal companion ever since taking his dragon ride on the season premiere. Ghost was absent for the entirety of that episode, and only appeared briefly in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” standing next to Jon and Sam on the battlements. If you think the Internet will put up with more Ghost neglect, you really do know nothing, Jon Snow.