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The Night Before the Battle

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven” Review

The stillness before battle is unbearable. Such a quiet dread.

-Chief Arnook, “The Siege of the North, Part 1”, Avatar: the Last Airbender

I must apologize for the fact that this is coming out just hours before the premiere of episode three. Sometimes, it can take a while to figure out what I want to say. And considering what happened in Episode two, I had a lot to think about.

The above quote comes from the Season One finale to my favorite cartoon as a kid, Avatar: The Last Airbender. All the heroes are preparing for a massive invasion by the oppressive Fire Nation, and one of them remarks on how quiet it gets before battle. It’s that gnawing sensation that sharpens people’s nerves as they prepare to fight, knowing in the back of their minds that they may not live to see another day. That’s what this episode comes down to, in the end.

Tormund, Eddison, and the remaining Free Folk and Night’s Watch get to Winterfell and let everyone know: the Army of the Dead is coming. They have less than a day before they arrive. And so, Winterfell prepares for battle, even though they know that not all hands are on deck.

After showing up at the end of the last episode, Jaime lets everyone know that Cersei hopes they and the White Walkers kill each other, save her the trouble. Daenerys is livid that Tyrion messed up again, but her bigger focus is on Jaime. Despite knowing full well that her father got what he deserved, it seems like she wants to punish Jaime for killing Aerys Targaryen. Not to mention his transgressions against House Stark. The only reason that Sansa doesn’t try and kill him is because Brienne vouches for him and how he saved her from the Bolton’s, twice.

While two of the most powerful women in Winterfell may not be able to forgive Jaime yet, Sansa seems willing to forgive another new arrival: Theon Greyjoy. He took a handful of Ironborn and came to the sight of the worst mistake of his life to fight for the living, and Sansa hugs him for it. They will need all the help they can get.

The Night King’s goal isn’t just to wipe out humanity: he wants to erase all memory of the world and the people in it. That’s why he was hellbent on killing Bran Stark before: as the Three-Eyed Raven, he holds all the world’s history in his head, and is the Night King’s biggest threat. Against his family’s wishes, Bran opts to wait for the Night King in the Godswood as bait. Theon and the Ironborn will guard him, and Jon and Daenerys will use Drogon and Rhaegal to destroy him.

And with that, the rest of the episode is essentially the surviving cast preparing for what’s to come, knowing full well they may not survive. It’s an emotional time, both for the people in the show and for the people watching this on TV. We know, just as the cast does, that not everyone at Winterfell is going to survive what happens next.

The thing about the prospect of imminent death is that it makes people reflect on their lives up to that moment. The entire cast starts talking with each other, swapping stories and bonding over the events that brought them to this moment. And I will be going over them in my list of favorite moments for the episode

The one that may end up having the biggest impact, though, is the meeting between Jon and Daenerys in the Crypts. Daenerys has heard so many good things about Rhaegar from the people who knew him, so the fact that he kidnapped another woman doesn’t make sense to her. Then, Jon tells her the truth: that Lyanna and Rhaegar loved each other, and that he is their son, and thus a Prince by birth.

I think it’s telling that Daenerys is less concerned with the fact that she slept with her nephew, and more about the fact that this makes Jon the King of the Seven Kingdoms by birth. I would freak out, too, if I learned that the dream that I had all my life may not even be mine to begin with. If it weren’t for the fact that Westeros is facing Armageddon, this might be more important an issue. But like I said last week, Jon doesn’t want the Iron Throne. If Daenerys really wants that thing so badly, I don’t think Jon would care.

The only reason I’m brought this scene up here rather than my list (which will be shorter this week) is because I think that only one of these two Targaryens will survive to the end of the show. There’s even an algorithm made by German students that says that Dany has a 1% chance of dying in the final season. I’ll believe it when I see it, and the next two episodes may decide who lives and who dies.

There are only a few hours left before the Battle of Winterfell begins. The Night King is upon Westeros once more, and whatever happens tonight will make TV history. Given the fact that so many people are going to die, I think it was smart for the show to take one final episode to breathe and let us say our goodbyes to everyone. Because tonight, the bodies start dropping

I Give “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” a 5 out of 5.

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