What’s Next After The Fight?
Following Game Of Thrones’ return last week and a slightly wobbly start, the worldwide phenomenon returns with another episode clocking in at a little under an hour. Picking up where it left off from before, we return to Winterfell where Jamie receives a frosty reception. “The things we do for love”, Bran says indifferently at one point while Dany and Sansa admit they don’t trust the Lannister. With all seemingly lost, Brienne steps forward and defends him, explaining to the council about their ordeal together. After hearing about his oath to Cat, they begrudgingly agree to keep him in their ranks, especially with the ensuing army on their way.
Meanwhile, Arya visits Gendry and quizzes him over her weapon and the dead themselves. After arrogantly proclaiming she welcomes death, he explains the threat to her in a suitably descriptive manner. “They’re really bad”, he says, elaborating enough to explain to her the threat is unlike anything they’ve faced before. Arya grins and after throwing a few obsidian knives into the wall she walks off, leaving the Smith visibly impressed by her skills.
Bran and Jamie finally get their talk moments later under the watchful eyes of the Weirdwood Tree. After promising not to apologise for what he did earlier in the episode, Jamie apologises to Bran in private but his words leave him a little shaken. He tells him there may not be an afterwards.
Jamie then discusses tactics with Lady Brienne, while Bran’s words ring in his ears. After a contrived conversation about the best way of dealing with the dead, he tells her he wants to fight under her command. Taken aback, she deliberates over what he says before leaving him in the frosty courtyard without an answer.
With much improved pacing this episode, the next conversation between Dany and Sansa has the potential to be a really tense and powerful moment but agonizingly, it’s cut short when Theon shows up, telling them he wants to fight alongside Winterfell. In a very un-Sansa-like manner, she throws herself forward and embraces the man, thanking him for his service and seemingly forgetting the ordeal he caused the Starks in the first place.
Tormund and the remaining fragments of the Night’s Watch then show up. After some brief pleasantries, Jon narrates part of the scene before the group talk about the best way of dealing with the Night King threat. Bran tells them he will reveal himself to the group, specifically coming after Bran after sending numerous 3 eyed ravens over the past few years. Bran offers himself up as bait in the Godswood while Theon steps forward to regain his honour and defending him, potentially sealing his fate.
Speaking of sealed fates, Grey Worm and Missandei discuss matters beyond the fight. They talk about retiring in the East before we finally get our first glimpse of Ghost this season. Albeit a brief one. Samwell fights for his place amongst the other fighters and after cracking a joke about virgins, the trio discuss their journey from the early days in the Night’s Watch to the eve of the biggest fight the North has ever seen.
The fragments of supporting characters then converge next to the fire in the Great Hall on the eve of battle. Here, Tormund tries to impress Brienne with tales of slaying giants and drinking giant’s milk which leaves the group visibly taken aback.
In the most left-field move of the episode, Arya leaves Sandor and Dondarrion to bicker on the walls of Winterfell while Arya practices her fighting. Gendry shows up and gives her the weapon she required – an obsidian spear. She then decides she wants to experience love before they die and, out of nowhere, they have sex. Given her age in the books and HBO’s recent tweet used to re-confirm Arya’s legal age of 18, this feels awkward, contrived and in poor taste, especially given her character development up until this point.
From the worst moment to the best, Jamie then knights Brienne in a really emotional and touching moment. After giving Ser Jorah Heartsbane, Samwell returns to the others while the remaining fragment of supporting characters gather round for one final drink. Podrick serenades this moment with a haunting ballad as we cut to various different characters around Winterfell, potentially sealing their fate.
The episode then ends with the dead arriving at the gates of Winterfell and Jon finally spilling the truth to Daenarys about his lineage, explaining to her that he is Aegon Targaryen. As the horns blare and the dead prepare for battle, we leave the episode on the eve of the biggest fight the North, and the show, has ever seen.
Much improved this week, Game Of Thrones returns for a decent episode that manages to build tension ready for next week’s big fight. As the various characters discuss what lies beyond this battle, Bran’s words stick out the most after admitting there may not be an afterwards. It’s not all good news though and if there’s one casualty from the character writing this season, it’s Arya and Tormund. Both have been reduced to little more than fan service. Arya’s sex scene with Gendry is certainly up there with one of the most ill-timed and poorly contrived moments of the show while Tormund’s admittedly hilarious attempts to woo Brienne reduce him to one-liners rather than meaningful progression.
Quite what will happen next week is anyone’s guess but given the way these characters have been built up over the past few episodes, one thing’s for sure – not everyone will survive. If I’m predicting who will die, the list could be very long indeed but I’d take a stab that most people talking in The Great Hall will die, along with Theon, Gendry and Grey Worm. Still, there’s a good week to chew over this week’s episode and predict what may happen but thankfully this one was much improved this time around, even if the show is still a shadow of what it once was.