I dips me lid to Havoc for bringing this to my atention over on the Book of Face. DANGER CLOSE, a retelling of the Battle of Long Tan. Not sure how I missed it before. I cant tell if the script is any good from this clip (although I'm amused by the need for subtitles.) I think the actors and producers have done well to capture the character of the soldiers from that era. They look normal, eve a bit vintage, not like the muscle mountains of the present day.
I will be interested to see whether the Vietnamese get to be three dimensional characters or simply bullet fodder. I thought the Mel Gibson film (We Were Soliders Once, And Young) did reasonably well for a Hollywood effort on that front, even if the humanisation of the Other was all invested in one character.
TORMUND IS A FEMINIST HERO, GENDRY IS NEKKID AND #BOATSEX IS NO MORE!
Sure, the imminent demise of the entire North is upon us, Bran “Three-Eyed Raven” Stark is about to play Captain Catfish in the Tinderfell Godswood and forget Mance Rayder, Arya Stark just lit THE BIGGEST FIRE THE NORTH HAS EVER SEEN, but wowsers, that in-the-nick-o-time confession from Jon Snow that threw Dany almost to The Wall itself made for buttock-clenching viewing.
I mean, sure, Jon could have just LIED and held off telling the truth until AFTER the carnage. He had been slightly avoiding Dany for most of the episode anyway, and why not just see how the ultimate boss battle plays out first? No need to distract Dany’s focus when we all need her and her dragons at Peak Barbeque Readiness.
But as we know from the Dragon Pits last season, Jon Snow is the Al Gore of Westeros - full of inconvenient truths. It’s never been My Beloved’s style to be backwards in coming honorably forwards, even when, let’s face it, his timing could be better. Except for me, who thinks it’s perfect, because there’s nothing less of a turn-on than finding out not only your bed-buddy is your nephew but has a better claim to Your Iron Throne than you do.
"I have chosen... poorly."
Did you notice? Yes, that’s right. I said it. MY BELOVED. Welcome back.
NOW, YOU STAY ALIVE. NO MATTER WHAT OCCURS, I WILL FIND YOU.
Sorry, I just came over all Last of the Mohicans there, which was sort of the Taken of the early 90s with longer hairdos.
Gosh, imagine if you’d never read a Raven On recap before. You’d think I was entirely mad.
Imagine if you HAD read a Raven On recap before. You’d think I was entirely mad.
But mad is as mad does, and we’re going to start this week’s rocking Raven On recap with some MAD DANCE TUNES.
All hail the Homecoming, for it is Queen Bey we bow to, as we praise our favourite Men of Westeros.
All the Jon Snow ladies (All the Jon Snow ladies) All the Tormund ladies (All the Tormund ladies) All the Gendry ladies (All the Gendry ladies) All the thirsty ladies Now put your hands up
Up in the crypt, feeling whipped From trying to save Winterfell Well, I got the blues, but you gonna bruise 'Cause another brother broke the spell Lyanna Stark, her story arc Breaks with normal convention She cried her tears, but faced her fears You can’t be mad at me
'Cause Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it Don’t be mad ‘cause your face has got Aegon it Westeros, well I should be the king of it Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh 'Cause Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it Don’t be mad ‘cause your face has got Aegon it Westeros, well I should be the king of it
I got milk on my lips, an axe on my hips There’s a giant running through my genes Kissed by fire, my one desire The Big Woman to notice me Jaime’s decision, did I mention? Don’t give me apprehension ’Cause I applauded When she got lauded And I really think she loves me beardy
'Cause if you like it, then get Pod to sing on it If you like it, then get Pod to sing on it We’re gonna live so she’ll have my offspring on it Come on Pod, why don’t you just sing on it Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh 'Cause if you like it, then get Pod to sing on it If you like it, then get Pod to sing on it We’re gonna live so she’ll have my offspring on it Come on Pod, why don’t you just sing on it Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Don't treat me like I’m wearing skirts that twirl I’m not that kind of girl Your love is what I prefer, as much as murder Before death comes to take you, I shall shake you And deliver you to your destiny, thanks for my new magic wand Petite mort we now dance Say, you’re still wearing pants I swear I’ll use no leeches If you just ditch your breeches
All the Jon Snow ladies (All the Jon Snow ladies) All the Tormund ladies (All the Tormund ladies) All the Gendry ladies (All the Gendry ladies) All the thirsty ladies Now put your hands up Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Whoa, oh, oh, oh
'Cause Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it ‘Cause my origin has got quite a sting on it Dany’s mad ‘cause her face has got Aegon it But Westeros, well, I should be the king of it Whoa, oh, oh, oh ‘Cause Jaime knights her and her smile’s all bling on it Fight’s a-coming and Pod will sing on it The God of Death says might as well fling on it Gendry made a weapon now go swing on it Whoa, oh, oh
And that’s all without mentioning Señor Narrativa de Redención himself, Jaime Lannister, who demands a few thirst-quenchers in his own right.
S8E2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
I know I began with a fair bit of fan fanfare, but this episode could also be called “All Quiet on the Winterfell Front”. It’s a pre-war war movie, in which people made up for quarrels that seem so remote now, talk about hopes for a future they will (gulp) likely not have, and say their farewells to loved ones without ever actually using the phrase “goodbye”.
So yeah, Cersei’s non-existent elephant in the room is... not *that* much happened.
But dammmmmnnnnn, we are going to get slammmmmmmmed with death next week. I hate the thought of it, but they prepped us good and hard. Tyrion, Tormund, Beric, The Hound and Arya were just some of our favourites to ruminate about impending doom. So for gods’ sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings, at least until The Hound threatens to throw us off the f***ing battlements. Next week we’ll get plenty of action.
All in good time, all in good red-hot-Gendrya-hook-up time.
For now, let us muse on the line that Tyrion says to Jaime midway through the episode: “The perils of self-betterment”. This for me carries through for all of our characters; from often murky, self-serving and/or treacherous beginnings, they forged alliances, learned from mistakes and now stand at the edge of the world ready to die. Becoming a better person might give you a moral salve, but as Tyrion further remarks, you might end up being torn apart by dead men for your troubles.
Someone who may be in need of rapid personal growth is Daenarys Targaryen.
She begins this episode as she ends it: PISSED. OFF.
Jaime Lannister is responsible for the death of her father and numerous other crimes Daenarys would consider treason. Now he’s brought the news his one-time lover/close genetic relative Darth Cersei has given them a bigger royal brush-off than Megan Markle’s Dad. There ain’t no Lannister forces coming to help fight the army of the dead; just one man with one hand.
He's not even this useful.
Tyrion pleads on his brother’s behalf, but given Jaime’s history with the Starks, it’s no surprise Sansa is onboard with Dany’s plan to hobble the Kingslayer permanently. It’s only when the GLORIOUS WONDER that is Brienne of Tarth gets up to defend him, that Dany finds herself on the outer.
Brienne describes Jaime as a “man of honour” - a touching callback to the time in the Harrenhal bathtub when she called him out as a “man without honour” before he explained the tragic events leading up to his king-slaying moment, and their whole relationship began to change.
Sansa trusts Brienne, and so if she vouches for Jaime, that’s good enough for her. Jon Snow, ever practical, only cares about the body count that can help reduce the body count.
(Sidebar: it’s interesting that Jon and Sansa seem to have reconciled titles for the moment; he is the Warden of the North and she is the Lady of Winterfell. Every kid gets a prize!)
Jaime looks rather adoringly at Brienne, and with good reason. He later says he used to be Tyrion’s only friend; in fact, Jaime didn’t really have a non-related friend either, until Brienne. Brienne though, keeps her gaze firmly on Dany and Sansa; if she were to look at Jaime who knows what OUTPOURINGS OF LOVE might spill forth. Actually, there probably wouldn’t be anything, just more repression. Brienne is at such Jane Austen levels of broody we may as well dub her Mr Tarthy.
There’s a moment when Bran chirps up with the old “The things we do for love” rejoinder, which floors Jaime, but which everyone else seems to treat like Bran’s attempt to start a 10cc karaoke singalong and ignores.
Dany is forced to accept Jaime’s heartfelt apology and pledge to fight on the side of the living. Tyrion breathes a sigh of relief, and with not much of a word, Jon nopes out of there.
Dany stalks out, with Tyrion readying himself for the oncoming tongue-lashing, a very different type to those received earlier in his career.
Predictably, Dany is so cheesed off it’s almost too much to camembert. Tyrion decries himself as a fool not a traitor, but Dany says his recent run of foolish decisions means she might be in the market for a new Hand of the Queen. Jorah and Varys have some visible sympathy for Tyrion, whose voice near trembles when he says one of them might be wearing the badge soon enough.
Jaime begins his Winterfell Apology tour, making the rounds to atone for some of his sins. He interrupts Bran interfacing with the weirwood tree to say soz for the pushing and the paralysing. But, as I predicted (sorry to brag, but if you can’t give yourself the odd pat on the back, what’s the point), Bran’s nonchalant about his Lannister-inflicted loss of limb function. “I’m not angry at anyone,” he deadbrans, proving he’s on some sort of supernatural sedative (Diaze-bran?)
Branadol tells Jaime he needed him to fight the White Walkers, not be murdered, which is why he didn’t dob him in. Jaime’s interested in what might follow the battle. “How do you know there’ll be an ‘afterwards’?” Bran responds, confirming to Jaime that he really isn’t Bran anymore, because sure, Bran may have spied on Jaime rooting in the tower back in the day, but that wasn’t nearly as creepy as now.
Jaime wanders back into the courtyard to meet his lil’ bro, still smarting from his dressing down from Dany. He tries to convince Tyrion that Cersei pulled the wool over his eyes, but Tyrion says Jaime let Cersei get the leg over him.
Tyrion’s cranky he underestimated Cersei; but Jaime confirms that she is, in fact, preggers, a question that’s been doing the rounds since last week’s episode intensified theories that she might just be making the whole baby thing up.
There’s a lovely moment when Tyrion calls back to when he was trying to convince the Hill Tribes of The Vale not to murder him, saying he always pictured dying in his own bed, with a belly full of wine and a women’s mouth wrapped around his, well, downstairs chicken. Jaime joins in on the quote halfway through; clearly an old joke between the pair long before the events of the show began.
Tyrion gets a bit ironically bleak, picturing himself being ripped apart by dead men to deprive Cersei of that honour, then marching on King’s Landing to do the same to her. But Jaime has eyes for someone else… the MIGHTY PRINCESS, FORGED IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE, SHE WAS XENA… no, wait, sorry, my other favourite ass-kicking hero, Brienne of Tarth.
Things have gotten quite… tender… between these two, in a way that only YouTube mash-up fanfic can capture.
As the trenches are dug outside the castle walls, Brienne is watching Pod help train other fighters, and quick sidebar to say HELLO, PODRICK PAYNE, I’M STARTING TO SEE WHAT ALL THOSE GIRLS WERE KEEN ON. Seriously, Brienne’s specialised form of H.I.I.T training is paying off.
Jaime tries to be respectful, but Brienne can’t believe the old sarcastic Jaime will burst out with another insult like all the other boys. The Kingslayer is genuinely trying to be a bettter dude, and is not joking when he steps down in status to simply be a soldier at her command. Brienne is touched, although not quite as golden-hands-on as I would like.
Goodness, why am I SO onboard the Jaime traime? He was SUCH an INCESTUOUS GIT early on, but he’s turning more noble than Don Quixote, and I can totally understand why Brienne might want to tilt at his windmills.
We’ll get back to those two and their fireside moment later, because it’s a KNIGHT TO REMEMBER.
"Congratulations on your 659th Terrible Pun."
Ser Jorah Mormont now seems to be in the pinnacle position of his career, and one he would have thought impossible a few seasons ago: being the only person who can make Daenarys smile.
It’s Jorah, using his many years of very personal experience, who suggests that as Dany forgave him, perhaps she needs to forgive Tyrion for his muck-ups. Jorah says his heart was broken when he found out Dany had appointed Tyrion Hand of the Queen over him, even though he was off in the Citadel being de-scaled by Sam Tarly. But he now thinks she made the right call, and even though Tyrion’s a motor mouth he often wished he could throw into the sea, he is the right dude to be by Dany’s side, because he learns from his mistakes. AND LEARNING FROM MISTAKES IS GOOD, DANY.
He has another suggestion too: Girl Talk with Sansa Stark.
This scene was a beautifully played chamber drama, with the stakes tipping back and forth and back again - and not in Dany’s favour.
Sansa reiterates her trust in Brienne re: Jaime, and backs Tyrion as a good man. Dany’s still a little bit peeved, wanting Tyrion to have been ruthless not good, but Sansa points out nobody should have trusted Cersei, even Dany.
Sidebar: Can I just reiterate again how much I love that Game of Thrones has these big, momentous events - that sometimes turn out to be giant mistakes? We were all so excited for the Dragon Pit sequence at the end of season seven, and sure, it was a great spectacle, but really, had Jon sent a raven to Sansa after capturing the wight up north, she would have told him straight away that Cersei wouldn’t give a shit, and to hightail it to Winterfell without buggerising around down south. Arya is right: Sansa really is the smartest person in the room.
As I grow older, it’s the one thing that becomes clearer to me - that the world is just full of people either learning or not learning from previous mistakes. And because it’s impossible to soak up all possible mistakes made by all sorts of people, it’s no wonder we repeat them. Throw in different types of personality conflicts and it’s a small miracle that humans have things like wheels and hospitals and sprawling multi-arc fantasy television series.
Sansa softens towards Dany a little when the Dragon Queen highlights their shared victories - being leaders, being women leaders, and being damn good women leaders. But what could POSSIBLY be cock-blocking their friendship?
"Who has two thumbs and is THIS GUY?"
Sansa doesn’t hold back telling Dany she thinks men in love can be easily manipulated. But Dany fires back, Targaryen eyes flashing, that all she has wanted is the Iron Throne, and yet here she is in the godforsaken north about to risk everything she’s worked for to potentially die at the hands of some crypto-fascist zombie climate polluters. “Who’s manipulated whom here, Sansa? Huh?”
"Men, am I right?"
Sansa concedes the point and the glacier between them seems to thaw again. But then Sansa queries what will happen to the North if the battle against the dead is won and Dany takes the Iron Throne. “WHAT ABOUT THE NORTH, DANY? WHAT ABOUT IT?”
Dany’s face, so smiling and warm a moment before, turns icy again. The Wall goes back up between them.
Luckily an attendant enters just before the WWE-style scrag fight can begin.
Dany takes his return quite calmly, even though technically he abandoned the fleet he and Yara had pledged to serve her when Euron attacked. But hey, at least he rescued Yara, who’s on her way to claim back the Iron Islands.
Sansa is a quiet presence in this exchange until Theon declares he wants to fight for Winterfell. I must admit I wasn’t expecting as much emotion from Sansa, as she flings herself into his arms, tears in her eyes.
Theon ruined life for the Starks for a few seasons there, but he saved Sansa’s life from BOO HISS Ramsay Bolton. It’s an example to Dany of what gaps Sansa has had to bridge to forgive; gaps wider than, say, Tyrion under-estimating Cersei.
Ser Davos Seaworth’s Soup Kitchen is open for business, serving the finest bowls of brown in the North. The Onion Knight’s job is to tell reluctant refugees that they’re going to have to fight, as may as well head to the forge to get suited up.
There’s a sweet moment with a young girl with a scarred face, bringing to mind lost little Shireen Baratheon. She wants to fight the zombies, but Gilly asks her to come to the crypts to protect her and Baby Sam. The girl accepts this proposal, and hurries off with her food, just as a horn sounds.
TIME FOR A HAPPY REUNION!
Jon rushes over to embrace Dolorous Ed from the Night’s Watch, but before he can get there, is crash-tackled by everybody’s favourite everything, TORMUND GIANTSBANE.
There are hugs all around, and it’s genuinely charming to see Jon Snow smiling. Like with his face. You can see his teeth. The gang’s all back together - at least until dawn the next day, which is when the Night King is bringing his Endless Rave to the gates of Winterfell. Of course, Tormund has his priorities right - is The Big Woman still here?
It’s time for Everybody We Love in The Known Universe (Except Bronn) to gather for a Giant War Room Tabletop Strategy Meeting.
I actually got goose flesh seeing so many of these dearly loved people all standing together preparing for what could be a final stand.
Jon thinks their best chance is taking out the Night King, which should cause all the others to cark it, but it’s Bran who realises he will be the key to victory, as the Night King will be coming for him.
We’ve been trying to figure out what the Night King actually wants for about four seasons, but it appears to be nothing more complex than deleting Bran’s internal hard drive. I once fried a motherboard by tripping and accidentally throwing a full glass of Pepsi Max over my Mac, but I’m not sure if the Night King’s thought of that cunning plan, or if Bran is susceptible to attack by cola products.
Oh, that is in very poor taste, shame on you.
Sam says it’s more than just erasing memory; it’s about erasing the humanity that memory creates. Bran’s plan is to park himself in the Godswood and dangle his big juicy all-knowing humanity-inspiring brain out as bait.
Sansa and Arya aren’t up for that idea, but Theon quickly shows you don’t need testicles to have balls. He volunteers to be Bran’s bodyguard, explaining “I took this castle from you. Let me defend it now.” Again, another flawed Thrones character who it’s just become too hard to hate. There’s a moment while everyone accepts that Theon is going to die, a few quiet coughs, then planning continues.
Tyrion says he and Davos will be on the walls to give a signal for Jon to light the trench (ooooh, foreshadowing!), but Dany’s having none of it. Tyrion may be keen to fight alongside everyone else, but he’s also the smartest adviser she’s got. With Jorah listening, Dany indirectly apologises to Tyrion for ranting at him, and says he must stay in the crypts so at least one brain survives to help post-battle. Well done, Dany, that seems to be a decent bit of tempering your temper.
The group hopes dragon fire will assist, but the dragons can’t be too far away from Bran. Arya questions whether dragon fire will defeat the Night King, but Bran’s like “Dunno, mate, no bastard’s ever tried, but first time for everything, ay?”
“We’re all going to die at Winterfell,” chirrups Tormund. “But at least we die together!”
He’s ever the optimist our Tormund, hoping this last ditch pitch might sway Brienne to climb aboard his ginger love beard for the evening. But as always, she’s just mildly disturbed by his penetrating gaze.
Jon urges everyone to get some rest, but nopes out on Dany once again, refusing to meet her eyes as she clearly was hoping for a late night snuggle post battle-planning. It’s a moment Tyrion notices and notes, before pulling up a chair and asking Bran to spin him a yarn about his bizarre career change.
It’s then that the goodbyes begin.
Grey Worm tells Missandei he’s loyal to Dany, but once she’s won the battle and the Iron Throne, he’s keen to pack up and just take a vacation. Missandei is not averse to the idea of a Contiki tour to her homeland of Narth, and Grey Worm is confident his men will bring the muscle. It’s a benign, couple-y type of conversation, the sort of other plans you make while life is busy happening.
Jon and Sam keep watch on the battlements, something they would have done time and time again at Castle Black. They’re joined by a white dog which surely, SURELY, can’t be Ghost?!?! He looked too small to be Ghost. The last time we saw Ghost was in season six, and he was much bigger. I know Ghost was the runt of the litter, but he was still a direwolf. What’s going on?
Don't tell me this is a Milo & Otis situation.
Sam ribs Jon about not yet dropping his origin story bombshell on Daenarys, but Jon is not here for his “biding your time” jokes. Dolorous Ed joins them, and Jon suggests Sam join Gilly and Baby Sam in the crypts. Sam’s ego is dented by this slight on his physical ability - after all, he was the first dude to dust a White Walker in the current era. He also stole a bunch of library books, he’ll have you know, and he’s capable of zinging Ed about his lack of boning action.
“Sam Tarly, Slayer of White Walkers, Lover of Ladies. If we needed any more proof the world was ending.” Ed Tollett really is the driest son of a bitch this side of the Narrow Sea.
The trio remark on how they’re the only ones left from the Night’s Watch, and pledge that any survivors burn the corpses of the others.
We travel now, ladies and gentlemen, to the Great Hall, where the Brothers Lannister are enjoying an aperitif or seven before the final fight. After all, who can sleep? Tyrion would like to see the look on their father’s face, to see both of his sons facing impending death defending Winterfell. They reminisce about the good old days, which weren’t that good, really, what with all the sister-shagging. But they’ve come a long way, with Tyrion also giving up his shagging habits. So here they are, two celibate bros, about to die for a woman from a rival house. Now that’s progress.
Brienne and Pod show up, looking for somewhere warm to “contemplate their impending deaths”. Brienne allows Pod half a cup of wine, but Tyrion of course fills it up for his one-time squire. Davos rushes in to embrace the fire; and I love the fact that he stood immediately with his back to it, which is EXACTLY what I do if I’m somewhere cold and want to warm up. The butt must come first.
Tormund prowls in next, with eyes just for Brienne. This moment with Tormund is one of the greatest virtuoso comic performances I’ve ever seen, and this is a character rich with them. His story about the origins of his Giantsbane name are hilarious, and the way he caps it by downing a full horn of Farmers’ Union Iced Coffee is spectacular.
Once again, thank you, Reddit geniuses.
The rest of the cast watch on in the most delightful confusion, until Davos relents and says maybe he will have a drink after all.
Tyrion remarks that most people in the room have fought against the Starks at some point, but here they are now, all together, fighting for them. He also lets a glimmer of hope in, and starts to think they might live. After all, they have each survived many battles - I loved Jaime pointing out he was the “fabled loser” of the Battle of Whispering Wood. Tyrion misnames Brienne as Ser Brienne, and she has to explain to Tormund that women can’t be knights.
Why not? Tradition. “F*** tradition!” declares Tormund, instantly rocketing to the top of the Feminist Hero charts. Brienne’s like “I don’t even WANT to be a knight”, and Pod shoots her the best “Bullshit!” look in the show. Tormund, ever out to impress Brienne, says he would knight her ten times over if he were a king, and one imagines there’s some subtext to that offer.
It’s Jaime who brings the conversation back on track. “I’m a knight, I can make another knight,” he says, bringing up a rule I wasn’t really aware of, but maybe it’s a special Westerosi tradition.
Brienne doesn’t move at first, and it’s not hard to see her processing whether this is yet another bad joke at her expense. But Jaime is serious, and she kneels before him. Citing the Warrior, the Father and the Mother, he charges her to be brave, just and defend the innocent (Well Ser Gregor Clegane never took that oath to heart). “Arise, Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms!”
Applause breaks out, and no one is more enthusiastic than Tormund, clapping his great paws together like the bear he allegedly once copulated with.
But Brienne’s eyes shine with love at Jaime, and he recognises that light. He sees in her the kind of knight he wished he could have been, the kind of knight who would fill the pages of those dusty biography books back in King’s Landing that had his major achievement of note as being the “Kingslayer”. His father Tywin once told him a lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of sheep; but in this moment Jaime realises that is totally wrong. Brienne has given him the standard of knighthood he should have had all along; it is her gift to him. His knighting her is but a small recognition in return.
"This is the first time I have ever smiled in my life and it HURTS my FACE."
Down in the courtyard, we FINALLY see Ser Jorah Mormont talking to Lady Lyanna Mormont, his cousin and BETTER. He’s gently urging her against fighting in order to protect the future of their house, but Lyanna is like “Sorry, cous, duty calls, and I’ve got some zombie ass to kick.”
Lyanna wishes him well and stalks off, leaving Sam to fill the conversational gap. He’s brought along the Tarly Family Sword he stole from Dad Randall before the old grouch got roasted more savagely than Barnaby Joyce at a summertime outdoor Family Values conference with happy hour rum cocktail specials.
Sam wants Jorah to have Heartsbane (Heartsbae, remember?!), because he basically can’t even lift it, and it would make sense to have a kick ass fighter be armed with Valyrian steel in this take-no-prisoners battle royale. Sam also has Jorah’s dad Jeor for helping him in the Night’s Watch, and Jorah says he will wield it in the old Bear’s honour.
Now this, I think, marks a full circle for Jorah. He’s given up any claim on Dany’s affection, told her she’s right to trust others, and now has had his honour restored. He betrayed his father and was not entitled to Longclaw, but now Sam, a protege of Ser Jeor, has closed the gap.
Which means Ser Jorah is likely to be No More-ah next week. I know, I know, he’s stuck around this far! But if I had to bet on one character carking it in the battle, I would throw those golden dragons on Ser Jorah. I’M SORRY, JORAH THE ANDAL. I have loved your gravelly voice and devotion beyond measure and that yellow shirt you don’t wear anymore because it got too sweaty. I will remember you, I promise.
"Look at the stars, look how they shine for you"
Let’s talk GENDRYA, which was the hook-up we all wanted, and yet were strangely uncomfortable with.
The foreplay starts with forge-play, as Arya visits Gendry all sweaty at work, demanding he hurry up and finish her specialty weapon (ooer). She wants to know what the White Walkers and wights are like, and the best Gendry can come up with is that they’re like Death, coming at you. Arya casually describes how she knows Death, and how it has many faces, and she’s super chill to meet this one, all while flinging dragon glass knives at the wall like she just escaped a circus. Gendry is like “Cool, well I’ll get right on that weapon, then, you strangely flirty nutbag.”
"It is hot in here, and I'm not talking about the forge."
Later Arya chills for a bit with the Hound on the battlements. He’s confused by her newfound stoic silence, which replaced the non-stop nattering she used to do when travelling with him. Beric Dondarrion soon joins them, having returned with Tormund. He’s still a believer in the Lord of Light, even if the Hound reminds him that Thoros of Myr is dead and the Lord of Light will be pretty pissed to have brought Beric back 19 times only to see him be flung over the castle walls by the Hound for trying to pray.
All this is nice, and all, but Arya isn’t keen to spend her final few hours on earth with these miserable old bastards. What, and miss out on that sparkling Hound banter? Yes, because she’s got a better idea about how to employ her mouth.
Obviously knowing he would magically locate her, Arya practises with bow and arrow in what seems to be a grain storage room, judging by all those sacks piled around the room. Gendry shows up with the new weapon, which Arya judges as being good enough. She then subjects Gendry to a series of emotionless questions about The Red Woman, better known as reclusive singer-songwriter Kate Bush. Gendry gets all flustered as she pumps him for information on what she wanted with him; and to her credit Arya is actually surprised when Gendry confesses he is Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. But then, Robert had a son, Ned had a daughter. It seems this is the real way they’ll join their houses.
“We may both die tomorrow; I ought to know what it’s like,” Arya declares, before jumping Gendry. “I’m not the Red Woman,” she says as she disrobes. “Take your own bloody pants off.”
Yes, Arya is a grown woman, but she’s still a LITTLE GIRL! We’ve watched her since she was 12, and NOW LOOK THERE’S SOME SIDEBOOB. It’s awesome and empowering for the character, but awkward for us as viewers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who blushed and did some mental arithmetic around their ages.
For a cherry-popping scene, it was intimate and cosy, but hey, I guess it was a nice time to show the joy of sacks.
Back at the big fire party, Tyrion’s keen for a song, which you know is the sign when everyone should pack up their eskies and head home. Nobody’s stepping up until Pod opens his mouth and starts warbling a tune about a girl named Jenny dancing with ghosts (or possibly goats, who knows). The man has a golden tongue, after all, I shouldn’t be surprised he has a golden voice.
The maudlin melody prompts more introspection from our late night partygoers, and opens up to a montage of where everyone else is: Sam and Gilly deep in shared thought as Baby Sam sleeps between them; Sansa and Theon having a last meal as friends; Arya pondering her first sack race while Gendry sleeps; Grey Worm kissing Missandei before leading a column of Unsullied out to prepare; Ser Jorah checking the defences on horseback. The final refrain of the song is “never wanted to leave” repeated over and over, a reminder that all these people are making sacrifices they’d rather not, but do out of duty.
Dany ventures down to find Jon Snow standing in front of the statue of Lyanna Stark. She reaches for him, but he makes no move to embrace her. She’s awkward as she tries to understand how her brother Rhaegar, famed for being kind and artistic, could also have raped Lyanna.
"I swear to the old gods I did not get this from InfoWars."
“He didn’t,” Jon says, the first blow struck at the lie that has held the Seven Kingdoms in its grip for more than 20 years.
“He loved her. They were married in secret. After Rhaegar fell at the Trident, she had a son.”
In an echo of Sam telling Jon the truth last week, the camera stays on Dany’s face as she takes it in - the threat to the child, Ned’s promise to Lyanna, Jon’s real name of Aegon Targaryen.
Dany is disbelieving. A secret nobody knows - except Jon’s brother and best friend? But it is true, Jon says, the acceptance in his voice. It must feel right to him, despite last week’s shock upon hearing it. All this time, his whole motherless life - his mother was underneath him at Winterfell all along. Suddenly his inside-but-outside life made sense. Not that he necessarily wants to be the King, of course, but in true Jon Snow-style, the truth is always his best path.
“You would have a claim to the Iron Throne,” is the last statement Dany utters before the horns herald the approaching army of the dead. Jon turns at the sound, but Dany’s gaze is still on him, steely. In just a few moments, her whole identity has changed; and she doesn’t have the luxury of a day or two to get used to the concept before charging into war.
The pair join Tyrion on the battlements, and once again he notices the emotional space between them. But they rush off to get in position, leaving Tyrion still on the wall, staring down the massed army of doom.
Out in the snow, the White Walkers on horseback line up side by side, at the head of their mighty army. There is no sign of the Night King; waiting further back on Ice Viserion, perhaps?
Either way, everything’s changed, and nothing will be the same again. Let’s hope the work our characters have done to survive stands them in good stead at this moment.
Yay! Best Moments
Tormund crash-cuddling Jon as he’s trying to hug Dolorous Ed is a memory I will retreat to whenever I need a happy place.
I’m not sure if he really is a bear-f***ker, but there’s no doubt he’s a bear-hugger.
He also claims the title of Most Disconcerting Milk Drinker since Robin Arryn, and that whole sad drinking and knighting scene was glorious.
Zing! Best Lines
So much of the Arya/Hound/Beric banter was great, but I think I have to go with the girls:
Dany: I’m here because I love your brother, and I trust him. I know he is true to his word. He’s only the second man in my life I can say that about. Sansa: Who was the first? Dany: Someone taller.
With no Cersei or Euron this episode, there really wasn’t that much to get grossed out by this episode. A brief reprieve, perhaps, before the inevitable.
SO MUCH DEATH TO COME OUR WAY MY BODY IS NOT READY.
Finally, a random thought that occurred to me, and gave me a certain degree of strength facing down next week’s likely bloodbath. A metaphorical stiff dram, if you will.
I’ve never known the origins of the name “Winterfell”, and I’m certainly not going to look into it now, lest it ruin my sense of self-satisfaction at finally coming up with a potentially possibly plausible theory.
But what if the location of the Winterfell fortress was chosen because it’s literally the place where winter… fell? Perhaps this is the location of the defeat of the White Walkers the last time round, more than one thousand years ago? I know Bran the Builder, one of the early Stark kings, built both The Wall and Winterfell. Perhaps the name has been giving us the answer the whole time - that this is the place where winter - aka, the Night King - falls?
Again, there are probably 549 YouTube channels with deep dives already on this theory, but I’m terrible at foreshadowing, so dang it, I’m proud of myself.
Thank you to everyone for reading, but in particular my gorgeous Patreon subscibers, including:
Kym W, Seakla K, Rebecca C, Nick, Mark B, Victoria S, Rachel H, Nay, Rhino, Tarryn K and Vicki R.
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19 Responses to ‘GoT S8E2: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"’
Why hello, sexy Throners. You look so lovely and nubile in the candlelight. Let’s all disrobe and enjoy some cosy naked time here on this surprisingly plush bed.
What’s that, you say? You just want to talk about Game of Thrones? About how it’s back, after 595 days of waiting in agony? About how all our favourites reconvened, reunited, reacted to or rode each other? Are you seriously going to chitter chatter over me, trading minute details and emotional responses while I attempt to have my wicked way with all of you?
Well, a woman simply can’t CONCENTRATE on getting her beginning away (it’s hardly an end, thank you very much) with all of this TALK. Honestly, you’d think the WORLD was about to END listening to your gory obsession with dragons and fire and missing eyelids and things that are in no way compliments about my sexual prowess. What do you think this is, a true crime podcast?
Bah. I see there’s no use trying to convince you. Sexy times will have to wait. For now, there is only time to RECAP GAME OF THRONES.
Here we are, back together after so long, dear readers!
Much has happened. They took pictures of a black hole that wasn’t the gaping heart of Australian politics. Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire in Paris while I was writing late into the night, a heart-breaking sight that made me think immediately of Cersei blowing the Sept of Baelor, because that’s what happens when your brain moors itself near-completely in Westeros.
Much has stayed the same. I still have three foster kittens, maintaining my “Mother of Kittens” title. I am still unchallenged as “The World’s Foremost Game of Thrones Recappespondent”, mostly because I made that term up and am still the only person on Planet Earth to use it.
I’m sure we are all a little older, a little wearier, a little ground down by the relentless task of Existing In This World.
Thank heavens then, that Existence has been improved for six final, glorious weeks with the return of The Greatest Television Show That Ever Was Or Will Be.
Let’s just ignore the Impending End, and focus on the Now. For the Night is Dark and Full of Terrors, Winter is Coming, What is Dead May Never Die and in the end we will all be cleansed by Fire and Blood.
The Raven On recaps have returned. I wish us all good fortune in the words to come.
As usual for a Game of Thrones season-opener, this episode was very much about blowing cobwebs off dusty chess pieces, moving them into position, and setting up what’s to come.
It was always going to be dominated by the arrival of Daenarys Targaryen, Jon Snow (sigh) and a mighty army descending on Winterfell. But the throughline for me this episode was the nature of allegiances. How are they formed? What bends them, what breaks them? Is trust a necessary ingredient, or can you ally in bad faith? How does the blowing away of assumed knowledge affect your allegiances?
And what kind of deal do you make with a dragon that’s staring you down as you play tonsil hockey with his Mum?
Let’s begin then, as the episode does, with the march into Winterfell of Dany, her massed army of Unsullied, Dothraki and dragons, and her *seemingly* equal partner, Jon Snow.
Our first glimpses of the huge host are from the eyes of young Lord Ned Umber, which interestingly enough will feature again later in this episode (gulp). As predicted, their entry mirrors the very first episode, when King Robert Baratheon’s travelling party marched into Winterfell - they even played a twist on King Robert’s theme music.
It was no surprise to see the point of view pass from Ned Umber to Arya Stark, not waiting in the castle with the official party, but taking in the sights from the parade route through Winter Town, not dissimilar to how she watched that first arrival years ago.
Daenarys and Jon ride side by side in the middle of the Unsullied, all regal and serious, but with the odd look of delight from Dany. This is her first official reception as Queen on the Westerosi mainland; it’s understandable she’s looking forward to it.
I was actually quite cross with Jon when he didn’t even notice Arya, but then, why would he have cause to look? He’s Mr Serious Lord Ally to Hot Lady Dragon Queen now, and he’s expecting everyone to be up at Winterfell.
Arya has further Emotions when she spies the Hound plodding along, dour as ever, and Gendry, looking quite rugged atop his mount (ooer). Can we expect a “Genrya” coupling this season? Does Arya even have space in her life for romance, given she seems to derive the most personal satisfaction from beautifully executed executions?
There’s a rather uncomfortable moment when Grey Worm and Missandei, along with a bunch of Dothraki, pass by town folk throwing them narrow-eyed suspicious looks. Their skin is dark, not something you normally see ‘round these here parts, pardners. Come on, Winter Town, please don’t call the cops on them for no reason. There will be excessive force deployed, but it ain’t gonna be by the white people.
The first lines of the season are fittingly given to Tyrion and Varys, riding in a carriage, and fittingly for me, they’re jokes about testicles. This show just KNOWS me. I feel SEEN.
Drogon and Rhaegal arrive in a blaze of sound and fury, soaring over the snow in a display of wonder not seen since the end of the Official Winterfell Summer Box Kite Competition.
Everyone’s a bit scared, except Arya, whose eyes light up, and Sansa on the castle battlements, who’s more “OK, cool, this is a thing, I can deal.”
The main party roll into the castle, and we get our first moment of real emotion from Jon, when he spies Bran, all calm, all knowing, staring at him from his wheelchair.
We’ll get more into Bran’s preternatural gazing, but for now, let’s follow Jon as he bolts down from his horse, runs to his little bro, and smooches him on the head. “You’re a man!” he exclaims. “Almost,” deadpans Bran (deadbran?)
"I'm still All Bran. Which is incidentally why I look this creepy all the time."
Now you may have noticed I have yet to refer to Jon Snow with any of his usual epithets - My Beloved, Lord of #Junkmound, Possessor of #Abs, King in My Pants.
Because, kittens, I’ve got to admit - I feel a little distant from him. Disconnected.
Like...it’s possible that...I might be losing him.
That this whole *thing* with Daenarys might not have simply been a one-off abhorrent aberration, but an ongoing - *gulp* - genuine affection.
I’m sure everything will be sorted out once the truth of what Donald Trump might describe as Jon’s “oranges” is revealed. But I’m just being a bit tender with my heart right now. Just bubble wrapping it for a moment, to perhaps prevent the damage of a full smash later this season.
Sansa gave Jon an efficient but affectionate hug; she was then introduced to her new Queen, Daenarys. Sansa was polite, gracious even, but we all saw the guardedness in her countenance when it came to the Mother of Dragons.
Bran, though, ain’t got no time for this polite bullshit. He abruptly informs Dany that the Night King has turned Viserion, an excellent way to quickly impart that piece of knowledge in less than three seconds of screentime.
The tension deepens when the northern lords and ladies gather in the Great Hall to discuss preparations for the Oncoming Storm. Little Lord Umber pops up again, requesting more wagons to properly evacuate his home, The Last Hearth. And then, YEAAAAAHHHHHHH, it’s our one true Queen, Lyanna Mormont, asking some Very. Pointed. Questions about what in seven hells Jon Snow has been doing.
Lyanna, remember, was the one who first hailed Jon Snow as King in the North at the end of Season Six, and so it’s only right that she be the Enola Gay dropping nuclear truth bombs onto the Hiroshima that is the North.
Yeah, that was possibly not the ideal metaphor.
Anyways, Jon does have the stones (and the pillar, but I’m trying not to think about that, remember) to defend his actions. “We needed allies, I chose the North over my crown” is his base line argument.
He’s noble and such, and he is doing the right thing as he sees it, but he is being a bit selfish to think that Sansa, Lyanna and others wouldn’t interrogate his choices. He was ACCLAIMED as a king, remember, he didn’t take the crown and inform everyone it was now Jon’s World, and You’re Just Living In It. That was an allegiance forged by the people who voted for their King in the North, with or without a democracy sausage. Jon accepted it reluctantly, sure, but it was not necessarily 100 per cent his to give up.
Dany is all cock of the walk - as far as she’s concerned, she’s Queen, she’s the bizzzzzznezzzzz, Jon’s only doing what’s right and proper. She even gives Sansa some SERIOUS SIDE-EYE when the Lady of Winterfell questions how they’re going to feed not only the greatest army ever assembled, but two dragons.
There’s something of an elemental reversal here as it’s Sansa who fires up with the question “What do dragons even EAT?” and Dany who brings the CHILL with “Whatever they want.”
It’s once again left to Tyrion to be the voice of reason. He’s insistent that they must all fight together - even the Lannisters. Yes, Tyrion reveals to the Northmen that his hated family’s forces are heading north to join the fight. They are NOT. HAPPY. LAN.
But Tyrion is convinced. He even bails up Sansa a bit later to explain just why he thinks Darth Cersei is going to come through for the Rebellion, even if he has absolutely no proof she has withdrawn the fully operational Death Star option from the table.
It’s a great reunion between the one-time husband and wife (or ARE they still married? The internet is ablaze with deep dives), particularly Sansa’s rejoinder that the last time they saw each other, Joffrey’s wedding/murder, “had its moments”.
Tyrion thinks Cersei has something to live for - aka, bubba onboard - but Sansa is blown away he could be convinced. “I once thought you were the smartest man alive,” she quips, then stalking off, shaking her head in disbelief at her younger self.
I love this because Sansa and Tyrion are both acutely aware of Cersei’s treachery, but they come at it from different angles. Sansa was but a girl when she was brought under Cersei’s control after her Dad’s head was nipped off. She grew up being intimately acquainted with Cersei’s cruel and inhuman nature. She also spent a fair bit of time with Chief Creep Littlefinger, and not to mention the pure evil of Ramsay Bolton. The girl has a First Class Honours in the University of Terrible Awful People, How to Spot Them and Why To Treat Everything They Say as a Lie at Best and a Deliberate, Manipulative and Likely Painful Trap at Worst.
Tyrion, though, was a grown man when the events of season one rammed into his cosy world of tits and wine. Despite having the surface knowledge that his sister and father hated him, then achieving a more in-depth understanding after numerous attempts to bump him off, somehow he has a vague sense of being bulletproof when it comes to Cersei’s murderous intent.
He once said Cersei’s only two redeeming features were her cheekbones and the love she bore her children. He is banking on that maternal instinct to come good in the great war against the army of the dead. That’s his weakness.
Sansa knows better. Sansa knows Cersei would sooner give up day drinking than help not one, but now two brothers who are putting a literal life or death fight before her. No wonder she’s disappointed in Tyrion’s supposed intelligence.
"I was so out of that guy's league."
Ser Davos Seaworth (kill him and answer to me, HBO) is not from the North himself, but he knows a thing or two about forging and managing useful alliances. Let’s not forget he had to tone down his initial outright hostility to Red Priestess/80s Chanteuse Kate Bush to a general wariness, in order to maintain his friendship with his former King, Stannis Baratheon. Their wobbly detente was destroyed when Melisandre burned Shireen at the stake, but you know, fair cop. That’s not a frenemy you need anymore.
He’s since been a key adviser to Jon Snow, both as he negotiated with the free folk to join forces, and subsequently as a sort of quasi-hand-of-the-king-in-the-north, helping him with Dragonstone negotiations with Dany.
The Onion Knight knows enough to understand Northerners distrust foreigners, outsiders. And how best to make an alliance? Remove the “D” from “dalliance” it seems.
“A proposal is my proposal,” he says, checking out Jon and Dany’s annoyingly convincing body language as they inspect the campsite outside the castle walls below.
Oh Davos, you old romantic. “Old” being the operative word; Tyrion takes offence at being lumped in with Davos and Varys as the “elder statesmen” of the Targaryen/Stark political machine.
Dany, meanwhile, is concerned that her attempts to get on Sansa’s good side early with all those lovely compliments about her beauty have not worked as she hoped.
She doesn’t think my girl Sansa likes her, but Jon, ever the peacemaker, says it’s just because Sansa doesn’t know Dany yet. Dany’s like, sure, but even if she doesn’t like me, she must respect mah authoritah (is South Park still a reasonable relevant cultural touchstone?)
The pair is interrupted by Dothraki horsemen bringing news that the dragons have only eaten 18 goats and 11 sheep, indicating they may be starving themselves in protest at being flown up to the cold, damp wasteland of the north. They are reptiles after all (one assumes).
It’s like the time I started a hunger strike to protest not being allowed to go to Schoolies at the end of Year 12. Although that lasted approximately 23 minutes before I remembered I didn’t drink, I really didn’t care about the beach, and that no teenage rite-of-passage could ever be as good as food.
Let’s talk about the dragon-riding.
I must admit to having mixed feelings about this sequence. On the one hand, of course I loved it, because it was joyous and funny and it gave the opportunity for Jon Snow to practice dragon-riding before an emergency situation where it might be needed. Dany’s quips to Jon about holding onto “whatever you can” and that should Rhaegal not want him to ride, then “I will miss your company, Jon Snow” were pretty ace.
On the other hand, I was surprised they would choose to burn the dragons’ limited calorific intake on a joy flight; and I really wasn’t expecting the first time Jon Snow rode a dragon that it would be an almost shot-for-shot remake of Neville Longbottom’s first attempt to ride a broomstick in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
As a quick sidebar, given JK Rowling seems to love throwing out new revelations about the Potterverse from 10 years post-Deathly Hallows, has she clarified at all about how painful broomstick riding must be? Think about it - you have a wooden stick clamped between your crotch for potentially hours at a time. Are those wizard robes padded like weekend biking dudes’ lycra pants? Or do they cast anti-chafing spells before they take-off? You never saw that explained in Harry Potter. Nobody ever complained of wang splinters. If anything, side-saddle should be the default riding position in the wizarding world, but no, it was always proper cowboy-style. I’m surprised it was just the Slytherins who were irritable.
Back to Jon. I did somewhat anticipate his first dragon ride would be at a Rather More Dramatic Moment; having to hop on to help out in a battle or something like that. I guess points again to HBO for flipping my expectations on that, making it about the sheer joy of flying rather than the grave necessity of mounting a living scaly missile to deliver maximum payload.
Dany’s never let anybody else attempt a dragon-ride; never set up a little $2 a ride charity stall like they do with Shetland ponies at school fairs. Clearly she trusts Jon enough.
But do the dragons trust him? When they get off to look at waterfalls and… well, get off, Jon has to be reassured that Drogon in particular is OK with his Mommy pashing on with a new boyfriend.
Drogon and I share a similar point of view.
Sigh. Again, the distance, the bubble wrap. I’m just trying to work through the Jon/Dany Boning Reality as best I can, lest I descend into madness, 19th century gothic fiction anti-heroine style.
That’s probably a wise move, because back at Rancho Winterfell, it’s Sansa who explains more clearly to Jon the danger he’s placed them in by resigning his kingship, and asks the key question - did you bend the knee for duty… or love?
Let’s head to King’s Landing, where Qyburn has terrible news for Darth Cersei - the White Walkers have breached The Wall. “Good,” the Queen replies, with one of her trademark smug grins. She’s watching as Euron MacGregor’s Iron Fleet sails back into town, complete with 20,000-odd Golden Company mercenary soldiers, and it’s giving her life.
Cersei sees little threat from an army of the dead: if anything, she considers them more of an ally-from-afar, a convenient way to dispatch her enemies to the North while not risking her own troops.
In the Throne Room, we’re introduced to Golden Company Captain Harry Strickland, a striking-looking blond chap with a throaty Teutonic accent I find highly jarring for a character named “Harry Strickland”. To my mind, “Harry Strickland” should be some sort of Cockney geezer, referring to everyone as “Guv’Nor” and saying things like “Cor blimey, Runner Bean, I felt a bit Moby Dick coming over on the old Nanny Goat” before breaking into a musical number from My Fair Lady.
Someone with the poise, and dare I say it, ethnic features deemed very popular in both Nazi Germany and several James Bond films, should have a name like Reinhold Von Wolfgang Dieter-Meyer Hammerschlag. Not “Harry Strickland”, for Friar Tuck’s sake.
Cersei is Not Impressed by the fact that Harry Me ‘Ol Steiner didn’t make like Hannibal and bring his Battle Elephants from Essos (incidentally my new urban hip hop band name) because they would be too long in quarantine or something.
Harry’s dismissed, but Euron Greyjoy’s keen to sniff out a reward for his work bringing the ships and soldiers to Cersei.
Initially, Cersei’s not taking any of his crap, telling him only that he’s a loyal servant to the Iron Throne and they would marry when the war was over. She even delivers the cold line “You want a whore, buy one. You want a Queen…EARN HER.”
And that, my friends, has inspired…THE FIRST RAVEN ON SONG PARODY OF SEASON EIGHT!
I didn’t know if these song ideas would return to me in 2019, but clearly the muse is hovering about, at least this week. Cersei’s declaration put me immediately in mind of the ultimate Queen of Pop, Madonna, and on the 30th anniversary of its release, I am proud to present:
Come on girls Do you believe in love? ‘Cause I do for political reasons And they go something like this
Just try out second best baby Put Euron to the test You know, you know, you've got to Let him express how he feels And maybe then you’ll know his word is real
You don't need elephants But you’re pissed they didn’t show Golden Co. they came very fast You were really aghast, oh, oh Your request didn’t go to plan There’s no way you’ll get a pachyderm And you’re already queen on a throne But this jerk wants you to take his sperm (So much gross sperm)
Just try out second best, baby Even if it’s in jest You know, you know, you’ve got to Let Euron loose his large eel And maybe then you know the bitch will heel
Your twin brother has deserted your keep And there’s nary a peep from your kids Prophecies left you sad and alone, so You might as well bone crazy squids You deserve to keep the crown But what if people see your belly has grown? Euron wants you right up the duff Might as well have him think the babe’s his own (The seed he’s sown)
Just bounce with second best, baby Count yourself mighty blessed You know, you know, you’ve got to Let him undress his winged keel And baby, you won’t be the one to kneel
Express Eur-self You’ve got to make him Impress himself Hey hey hey hey So if you want a new toy, make love to Greyjoy He may be a snot but he’s more ready than knot
He’s got his niece tied up below deck But Theon’s proved he’s still her comrade Now the yoke has gone from around Yara’s neck He’ll need all your mercies The sleaze
Just settle second best, baby Tell him he beats the rest You know, you know, you’ve got to Make him forget Jaime’s zeal And baby just talk up his sex appeal
Express Eur-self So you can de-stress yourself Hey, hey, hey, hey So if you are feeling torn, just bed a nut Ironborn Finesse what he's got, oh baby ready or not
But onboard ship, Euron MacGregor had been very insistent to his captive, niece Yara Greyjoy, that he was going to, ahem, get to know Cersei better, and starts playing the manipulative, “hey you owe me” crap that shows he’s clearly learned nothing from the #MeToo movement.
Cersei makes to leave, but then she changes her mind. She flips her head back suddenly to Euron, giving him some sort of nod of approval, and he snakes past The Zombie Mountain (oh hi there, you appalling monstrosity), and follows her.
Next time we see them, Euron’s buckling his grotty, fishy pants back up and patting himself on the back for a job well done. Cersei, clad in a soft lavender nightgown which is the first colour we’ve seen her in since she blew up the Sept of Baelor, is already trying to drink away the memory.
Euron wants to know if he’s better than Robert Baratheon (remember him?), and Jaime Lannister. Cersei says he enjoys risking his head - but that she likes his arrogance.
Was that it then? Was that why she let him get his Casterly Rocks off? Surely she finds him revolting? Or is his kind of self-confidence really a turn-on for a Queen who gets off on power? After all, she would often bed Jaime after making life hell for somebody else - maybe she really does have a bitch itch to scratch and she may as well test out Euron’s clammy fingers.
The alternative of course is that she quickly worked out a way of potentially covering up her Jaime Lannister legacy pregnancy with a quick tumble or two with Euron. Given he touched her stomach and said he was going to put a prince in her belly, it’s a live theory - but did Cersei think of it before he did? Is that what prompted her to change her mind?
Meanwhile Bronn’s attempts to drown his sorrows in sex are not going well. His three sexy girls are more interested in gossiping about the latest victims of war than satisfying the dictums of whore.
“Can we stop talking about the f***ing dragons?” he pleads, before Qyburn interrupts from the end of the bed. I assume this was a brothel; the settings looked similar to Littlefinger’s old whorehouse (RIP, but don’t, you creep), but emptier, and more bundled up, like there’s not a lot of disposal income around for ladies of the night. It’s sad when impending continental doom hurts the economy, isn’t it, climate change deniers?
What, you don't all have sex like this?
Qyburn has an offer to Bronn, direct from Cersei. She wants him to go after both Jaime and Tyrion, and dispatch them with the crossbow that was made for Joffrey, and later used by Tyrion to kill Tywin.
“That f***ing family,” Bronn says, echoing the sentiments of EVERY VIEWER EVER.
Qyburn waggles his eyebrows as he tells Bronn that if Darth Cersei raised him up to be her Hand, despite being expelled from the Citadel, imagine what she would do for the man who took out her treasonous brothers?
Now as Ned Flanders might say, this is a dilly of a pickle. Could Bronn actually go through with the assassination of the Lannister Bros? He’s a sellsword, through and through - but he’s been close to both of them, put his life on the line to save them. Does that mean anything to him?
I recall, in the deep dark of foggy memory, a famous declaration Tyrion made to Bronn on their first bromantic walk together through The Vale: “If the day ever comes when you’re tempted to sell me out, remember - whatever their price, I’ll beat it.”
I hope Bronn hasn’t forgotten that, and will turn up at Winterfell in time seeking only a bigger wagon full of gold to join the real fight. And don’t think I didn’t notice that Bronn-belly he was sporting as he put his shirt back on. Could Bronn have lost his edge after losing Jaime to the North? Maybe he's just looking for a good excuse to get out of the capital.
Out on the Blackwater, the quiet sleep of Euron’s ship is disturbed by the pffffthhht of arrows, fired at the eyes of Ironborn guarding his prisoner Yara.
Her main guard falls through the door with an axe in his forehead, before Theon Motherf***ing Greyjoy walks in with his baby blond curls all grown back.
He frees Yara, and she does the only thing appropriate for an Ironborn Queen to do - she gives him a Pyke Kiss right in his stupid cowardly noggin and he hits the deck. But then, heartwarmingly, she offers him her hand and pulls him back up. T’was the most beautiful metaphor for their relationship.
Later, we see the pair at sea, heading for the Iron Islands. Yara reasons that with Euron and his fleet in King’s Landing, he cannot hold his home territory - and Queen Daenarys may need somewhere to fall back to should those pesky Death Zombie Nightmare Shufflers overrun her forces.
Theon half-heartedly says he will follow where she leads, but Yara’s picking up what Theon’s putting down. He wants to go to Winterfell to fight the White Walkers alongside Jon Snow, who gave him such sweet absolution at the end of Season Seven. “You can be a Greyjoy and a Stark” - and having rescued his sister, this move would fulfil both. Theon is a fairly certain candidate for fairly certain death, and it makes a poetic point that he die in the service of Winterfell, the castle he grew up in, but then sacked and burned. Despite his physical injuries, he’s got the figurative balls to honour all of his allegiances.
"Let's mark this moment with a trademark warm Greyjoy embrace."
Can we get a big F***ING HUZZAH for the return of Tormund Giantsbane? He and Beric Dondarrion and a few other escapees from Viserion’s attack on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea turn up at The Last Hearth, which is looking more like the “before” shot in a home renovation TV show than a typical stronghold. There’s snow everywhere, the furniture’s been ruined, and unless they can do something quick with plywood and Dulux Wash & Wear Semi-Gloss the damn thing is never going to sell at auction.
The posse hear noises coming from below the great hall, and head down to scope it out. It’s all very tense until the two separate groups jump out at each other like the world’s worst-organised surprise party. The other group is, of course, a group of Night’s Watchmen led by Acting Lord Commander Dolorous Ed.
Beric's flaming sword is the handy medieval fantasy world version of the torch app.
Again, another sight for sore eyes - this show just has a way of making you adore minor characters enough you’d be quite happy to see them have a spin off procedural drama called “Tormund & Tollett: The Cold Hands of Justice”.
Tormund asks if they’ve found anything, and Ed gives them an ominous look and leads them down to a chamber. Skewered on the wall is poor young Ned Umber, the centre of a spiral of leg and arm segments stretched out across the stone.
As our favourite bearded warriors discuss the meaning of this message, we see the Umber boy’s eyes flick open behind Tormund’s head. The eyes, so incredulous at the sight of Jon and Dany just days earlier, are now terrifyingly dead blue. He mouth opens into brain-shattering scream, and he lunges for Giantsbane.
Thankfully Beric Dondarrion has that very handy flaming sword, which he seems to be able to control as easily as the torch app on your smartphone. Very convenient for finding your way; and a hundred times more effective at snuffing out the screaming undead.
Beric stabs the creature, and the flames spread outwards around the limbs, making a bloody, fiery feature wall.
"I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."
The spiral of body parts is a recurring image through the season: from the very first pre-credit sequence of dead Wildling bodies; to the Night’s Watch slaughtered at the Fist of the First Men; to the rocks around the Tree of Knowledge; to the symbols carved into the caves of Dragonstone. Is it a symbol that all the evil of the White Walkers stems back to one central point, aka The Night King? Could it be that it’s a signpost to a way to undo the curse, to reverse the magic of the world? Or are the White Walkers just a little bit f***ing extra?
Whatever the meaning, they have to get to Winterfell to warn everyone the Army of the Dead is on the march. Thankfully Dolorous Ed and the Night’s Watch brigade brought horses with them; but as Tormund says, they’ll have to last if they can beat the Night King & Co there. Gods speed, my glorious ginger bastard. You, Beric and Ed may just be my secret favourite alliance of all.
Let’s head back to Winterfell for the show’s final one-two revelatory punches.
We start with Sam Tarly going from a blushing servant of Ser Jorah “No More Greyscale” Mormont and asking Dany for a pardon for nicking off with some Citadel books and his father’s Valyrian steel sword, to getting quite startlingly upset at the revelation that Randall and his brother Dickon were flambéd for insolence after the Loot Train Battle.
To control his feelings, he steps out for a breath of oh-so-fresh air, to find Bran waiting patiently in the courtyard, apparently for “an old friend”. Bran then hassles Sam to tell Jon about his true parentage, because it’s best coming from his bestie.
I’m a little circumspect about Sam’s anger here about his family; his Dad treated him woefully, and while he loved his brother, he surely would have understood the rules of war. But it works well for what happens next.
Jon is lighting candles for dead Starks in the crypts when Sam stumbles in. I had forgotten that Sam hadn’t been in the initial reunion greeting party; it makes sense now, he was avoiding Jon lest he inadvertently yells “SHE’S YOUR AUNTIE!” in front of everyone.
It’s Sam who really hits home the theme of allegiances here. He probes Jon about his decision to give up the crown, and how he’s had to make decisions about whom to put to death and whom to spare. Jon says he’s no longer king; Sam says he always bloody has been.
And then, the revelation: Your Mum was Lyanna Stark. Your Dad was Rhaegar Targaryen. You are Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name, ALL OF IT. Jon stumbles back, his face more shocked by this news than by anything the Night King has ever thrown at him.
"Actually, I'm not sure I CAN handle the truth."
Jon cannot believe the Right Honourable Ned Stark could have lied to him his whole life; Sam insists it was to protect him.
Then the key question of alliance.
“You’ve given up your crown for her...would she do the same for you?” Sam asks, righteously, about Danaerys.
Jon has no answer. The rest of the planet does though - OH HELL NO.
As much as Jon has clung to his bastard identity, she has clung to her Queenhood. Jon has never wanted crowns; Dany has. She is similar to someone in this regard… who would that be… oh yes. Cersei.
Man, I wish I could take credit for this meme, but this is all Reddit wizardry.
This is going to make for some interesting discussions next week.
Finally, in a beautifully paced piece of comic comeuppance, Jaime Lannister arrives at Winterfell, shaking snow out of his less-and-less blond hair after a long ride north. He’s fulfilling his promise to fight for the living; but had not paid much thought to whether ghosts from his past might show up.
And then there he is, Bran Stark, stoic, calm, and in full precision laser-beam creep mode. Hello, old friend.
Jaime’s face at this moment can now forever replace the phrase “Ohhhh…. Shiiiiit” in the dictionary.
Last time he saw Bran was a split second before he shoved him out of a tower window where he’d caught Jaime and Cersei in flagrante incesto.
I love that Bran has been carrying this secret around for who knows how long since he got his spooky powers. This is his personal reckoning, he doesn’t need anyone else to take it fom him.
Jaime will face trial of course; but weirdly enough I think Bran will emerge as his best hope for salvation. Bran’s accepted his lot; if Jaime HADN’T have pushed him out of that window, he never would have become the Three-Eyed Raven, and have access to the entire world’s browser history. Worth it? We’ll find out.
And look, I’ve got to say I’m weirdly on the “Save Jaime” train. I need to see he and Brienne have a heart to heart. And given Tormund will no doubt return to Winterfell next week, there are some delicious allegiances just waiting to be made or broken.
Yay! Best Moments
Arya’s reunions with Jon, The Hound and Gendry were my favourite parts of this episode. How glorious was she, stalking Jon Snow into the Godswood, sneaking up behind him, having a brief “how did you survive?”-off, then jumping into his arms EXACTLY the way she did the last time she saw him, as they were both about to leave Winterfell in season one?
"And I've... had... the time of my life."
This was an important moment too, for we saw Jon expressing his frustration with Sansa, and how he wished Arya could have helped him with that. Arya tartly replies Sansa is the smartest person she’s ever met - and let’s not forget that girl has a list that includes Tywin Lannister, Jaqen H’ghar and Hot Pie. She reminds him that Sansa is only acting to protect the Stark family - and Jon should remember that’s his family too. It’s her own message to him to take his newfound alliance to Queen Daenarys carefully - that he’s a Stark first.
Arya’s surprising of Gendry and the Hound in the forge was almost as satisfying - when the Hound sauntered up to stare at her, I had this compulsion to yell “HUG! JUST HUG!” at the screen. There was so much tension and for some reason I just wanted these one-time bitter enemies to just hug it out.
But the Hound, true to form, did the next best thing - he called her a cold little bitch. “I suppose that’s why you’re still alive,” he huffed, zipping out of there before she could mock his grudging respect for her.
Gendry, however, was much more obviously happy to see his old friend from the Kingsroad, Harrenhal, and the Brotherhood Without Banners, and Arya threw him a few almost-flirty looks.
She even asked him to create a new weapon for her, which looked something like a cross between a sword, a spear and a bow. Oh, she has plans, my deadly little delight. Please murder many zombastards, and soon.
Zing! Best Lines
Lots of contenders here - given not a huge amount of action/death was taking place, the writers really punched up the comedy moments. But my favourites were:
Dolorous Ed: Careful, he’s got blue eyes! Tormund Giantsbane: I’ve always had blue eyes!
Qyburn: Poor girl. The pox will take her within the year. Bronn: (coughing up wine) Which girl?!?!
When Euron MacGregor put his hand on Cersei’s stomach and said he’s going to put a prince in her belly, I threw up a little in my mouth.
I was reliably informed we would see Ghost return this season, and I did not see Ghost return this episode. I want to see Ghost return this episode. Yes, Dany’s dragons are cool, but isn’t it time Jon gets a moment to introduce her to his amazingly cool fantasy beast? And a lot of dog-owners talk about how their pets sometimes creepily watch them while the humans try to make the beast with two backs. Maybe Ghost could rival Drogon in the intense stare stakes?
Also - how the HELL did Jorah Mormont arrive at Winterfell, where Lyanna Mormont had a vocal role and WE DID NOT GET A MEETING?!?! DENIED!
Thank you all once again for your patience, dear readers!
As many of you know, I was asked to be a guest on the first live episode of Foxtel's Game of Thrones companion show, Thrones 360. I also did my show "Raven On" in Sydney the night before filming, so it was a PACKED few days.
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7 Responses to ‘Raven On Recap: GoT S8E1 "Winterfell"’
To set the stage – Captain Rogers and his host nation ally Black Panther positioned a Wakandan infantry battalion in close order on the plains outside Benin Zana, the capital city of Wakanda. While they were transported to the battlefield by vehicle, these craft were sent away. This dramatically cut down on the tactical mobility of the overall force and forced an engagement at that location. Given the enemy had superior numbers, this complete disregard of manoeuvre was a critical mistake.
It is true that the transport craft were unarmoured and open-topped. If fighting an adversary with strong anti-armour or indirect fire capabilities, sending them away would be reasonable. However, the Thanosian forces lacked this entirely. Their troops were incapable of using ranged weapons, or indeed, higher brain functions. They traveled on foot and bit the opposition to death.
Captain Roger’s disregard for vehicles is perhaps excusable as being on brand for a career light infantry officer. However, his next sin was far more grievous.
NBlob posted an interesting question, which IMHO deserves something more then just a simple in line response. Quote: One of the most interesting things in WoC was the transplanted social contexts of up timers, feminism, LGBTQ, & race were discussed, but not the Green movement. Would it be possible to kick off the Green Movement without Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, without the blights of oil spills, dead rivers, introduced species. Or would we accelerate Pell Mell into a hellscape of neonicanatoids, organochlorines, and hormone disrupters? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring Historical context: Post WW2 Western Europe and to a lesser extent the United States were more or less industrialized but to a large degree rural country. Small scale farming was the norm, with big industry concentrated in urban areas. And at those places pollution was already rampant. I’ll give you an example. As I am typing this, I can look at a small river 8 meters away from my desk. 70 years ago, this was more or less used as a sewer for small scale ironworking, shipbuilding and a coal to gas plant that supplied heating gas for this part of the city. It took from the late 60s to the late 80s to clean up the river, with the remaining brownfield site reworked to housing in the decade following that. On the other hand, the waste that society produced was mild. Most products were packaged in (treated) paper, sold without rapping and disposable plastic bags were in a distant future. The fridge made his first appearance over here in the late 50s, so shopping was mostly a daily occurrence. Organic waste was picked up even before sanctioned recycling by small traders called “schillenboeren”. Literally that means “peel traders”. Edible refuse was sold to lice stock holding farmers (Pigs will eat almost anything) and the rest went up the compost heap to be sold as fertilizer and top soil for the next spring. Green movement and/or government intervention. So how green will our 1955 be? Probably greener than it would have been. Footage from Tsjernobyl and Fukushima would make the appetite for nuclear energy a lot lower. Other factors would be more economical. Norway and The Netherlands are sitting on vast bubbles of natural gas and in the North Sea is enough oil for decades. So, coal could be on its way out in Europe. Governments would be eager to pick off other low hanging fruit. Recycling, CFC free fridges and spray cans and lead-free gasoline intermixed with ethanol are the first to spring to mind. Intensive agriculture pioneered in the US and rolled out by people like Sicco Mansholt will supply cheap food and other materials. Manure can be used as a source for green gas which can be used in greenhouse farming. Early solar and wind power as well as city planning – southward facing roofs, utility ducts and city-wide warming systems will do the rest. There will be green movement, attacking the excesses and finding itself in a watchdog role not unlike people in road and child safety. So less militant but more influence.
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