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Thrones revisited

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After a debut episode that was bogged down somewhat though the reintroduction of what seem like every character who’s ever appeared on the HBO saga, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones final season couldn’t be described as action-packed.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/04/2019 (1377 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After a debut episode that was bogged down somewhat though the reintroduction of what seem like every character who’s ever appeared on the HBO saga, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones final season couldn’t be described as action-packed.

However, the series slow burn is definitely getting hotter (despite the steady approach of the wintry White Walkers), as the characters gathered in Winterfell to prepare to battle the undead ice creatures.

Though it was mostly a case of battening down the hatches and enjoying the calm before the storm, the episode brought long-separated characters together for encounters that were sentimental, revealing and surprising — and often satisfying for viewers.

From left: Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Bran Stark (Isaack Hempstead Wright) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) prepare for the Battle for Winterfell. (HBO)

Three Free Press GoT fans weigh in on what might be the last episode for many of these characters.

Alan Small: That was some convenient justice for Jaime Lannister. How many deaths and maimings is he directly or indirectly responsible for in Westeros? All nicely brushed under the carpet when Westeros needs every hand on deck against the Army of the Dead.

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: So many interesting characters meeting or confronting each other for the first time in this episode, most of which revolved around Jaime. Seeing him in front of Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark was the most notable for me, with Brienne and Tyrion coming to his defence in a confrontation that was decidedly… awkward. And then Sansa and Daenerys chumming it up was pretty funny.

Alan: Did either of you start singing the sappy 10cc song the second Bran Stark uttered, “The things we do for love” to Jaime? The whole quasi-courtroom scene was pretty tense, but Bran’s poorly chosen words — blame the scriptwriter, not the actor — were a howler.

Jill Wilson: I feel kind of bad for Isaac Hempstead Wright as an actor, too. Young-old Bran and his thousand-yard stare are just a vessel for exposition. He doesn’t even get the benefit of coming across as having the wisdom of the ages. He’s just blankly sullen, like a teenager who’s resentful of sitting at the adult table.

Ben: Bran is just so irritating to me; he’s a convenient character the writers can plop down somewhere. Whenever they need a character to learn about something right away that they otherwise couldn’t possibly know, Bran pipes up all monotone and emotionless. And yes, we all know you’re now the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran — no need to mention it every time you see someone. (I also had the 10cc song in my head for much of the episode, Alan.)

Alan: There was a lot of excitement building for the confrontation between Jaime and Bran but that all fizzled out when Bran showed so little emotion about the original incident, when Jaime pushed Bran out the window. It set the whole series’ politics in motion right from the start, but like every other conflict between the characters — like the one building between Jon and Daenerys — it is swept away as they all prepare for the Battle for Winterfell.

To be fair, I’d probably set aside all the petty squabbles if so many people’s lives were on the line, too.

Jill: But remember, Bran isn’t Bran — he’s the Three-Eyed Raven! So he doesn’t really care about what Jaime did to his former self.

As for our star-crossed aunt and nephew, it was surely bad timing for Jon to reveal that he’s likely the true heir to the Iron Throne to Daenerys right before they enter the battle of their lives. Couldn’t it have waited until later, when it: A) wouldn’t have been a distraction; and B) might have been moot, depending on who survives?

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: My favourite scene of this episode was actually the knighting of Brienne of Tarth by Jaime. There was such a strange dynamic in this ragtag group of weathered battle vets sitting around the fire, and the… tension (not sure “love triangle” is the right word here) between Jaime, Brienne of Tarth and Tormund was compelling and a more than a little bit funny. And then to see Brienne so visibly moved — she has emotions! — that for me was kind of sweet.

Jill: I actually got choked up a bit during that scene. I will cry at the drop of a hat, but Game of Thrones isn’t usually something that moves me in that way. Gwendoline Christie’s smile as she goes from Lady Brienne to Ser was such a weirdly unexpected, joyful moment, it brought a tear to my eye.

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harington) in a scene from last Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones. (HBO)

Alan Small: It was nice to see Brienne finally get her due, but I’m sure making her a knight is something many of Game of Thrones fans wanted to see. Does it affect GoT’s major story arcs? Not a whit.

The scriptwriters seemed to be following the axiom, “Give the audience what they want,” by bringing all the lesser characters to the fireplace for drinks and to swap stories, and to bring Arya and Gendry together for their tryst. Since George R.R. Martin hasn’t written (or at least hasn’t published) the end of the books, the scriptwriters have to go somewhere for source material. Hence, the fans love the silly Tormund, so here’s some more silly Tormund. The fans have wanted to see Arya and Gendry get it on for years, so, they do.

Ben: The Arya Stark/Gendry sex scene… after watching Arya/Maisie Williams “grow up” on screen, it was a little unnerving to see her disrobe and hop in the sack with Winterfell’s favourite bastard blacksmith. I feel like Gendry should have been focused on making more of those dragonglass arrows and less on getting frisky, but what the heck — I guess if you’ll soon be bleeding to death in the armory, you might as well go out with a bang.

Jill Wilson: The series does seem to be checking some boxes to please fans, who have probably been shipping Jaime/Brienne and Arya/Gendry for many seasons now. And it works, for the most part — I enjoyed the fireplace scene, seeing all those characters interact with a kind of camaraderie tinged with a sense of their mortality.

Ben: Speaking of mortality, this was the first episode I can recall in some time where no one died on-screen. In fact, it was nice that Ghost, Jon Snow’s dire wolf, got a fleeting second of screen time. Also of note: no dragons, no Cersei, and just a fleeting glimpse of White Walkers right at the end. Those chilly dudes will almost certainly ensure at least a couple of this week’s central characters don’t make it to Episode 4.

 

jill.wilson@freepress.mb.ca

ben.macphee-sigurdson@freepress.mb.ca

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca

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Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
Senior copy editor

Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.

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