Game of Thrones, By a Fucking Idiot: S8E2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

by thethreepennyguignol

Episodes set on the eve of battles – whether metaphorical or literal ones – are often standouts for any show. If everyone is on the brink of losing everything, then you don’t need to bother with the careful teasing-out of all the emotional nuances you’ve been working with. People are honest, they’re usually drunk, and they have nothing left to lose – so all those big emotional denouments you’ve been waiting for? Yeah, it’s time to cram them all in.

And, with a cast as huge as Game of Thrones-es (?), that makes for a jam-packed and pretty damn satisfying episode. Look, while I may not love this show, I have no problem admitting that there are some things it pulls off with enormous gusto, and this week’s outing – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – is a great example of that.

Firstly and most foremost-ly, Brienne of Tarth, the titular Knight of my pussy of the Seven Kingdoms, is arguably at the forefront of this episode, and that’s a magical thing for me. I adore Brienne and have since the very start, her unusual femininity underlined by her involvement in a traditionally masculine trade, a superb performance from Gwendoline Christie sealing the deal as one of the most unique and original characters the show has to offer. Her arc hasn’t always been at the very forefront of the show’s storytelling, but she makes a perfect centrepiece to this episode – a warrior in unusual circumstances, surrounded by unlikely allies. It might be new for the rest of them, but for Brienne, it’s business as usual, though this time, she earns true recognition for her skills and commitment.

In fact, this is a great all-round episode for the women of Winterfell: Arya, exhibiting some frankly enormous dick energy, has some probably-unsatisfying but emotionally symbolic sex with Gendry, in a scene everyone in the universe spent panickedly googling “How old is Maisie Williams” while Sansa (rocking the most Project Runway structured dress I think I’ve ever seen) faces off with the Khaleesi in a scene crackling with far more sexual tension than anything Dany has shared with Jon. In times of crisis, the gender divides that plague so many female power figures become pretty arbitrary, allowing for these women to take centre stage without the universe undercutting them.

There’s also some smokin’ Lannister-on-Lannister action (not the incestuous kind, you animals) as Jaime and Tyrion come back together again and share dialogue that mostly sounds like an SNL sketch turned Shakespearean and is somehow just utter magic anyway. The Lannisters are, without a doubt, the most bangable most intently watchable part of the show, and Nikolaj Costeau-Walder as Jaime has, for my money, consistently been one of the most impressive performances of the entire, enormous cast. Tyrion and Jaime have always had a blunt, affectionate relationship, and with nothing left to lose, there is nothing guarded about their fascinating encounters in this episode.

Deliciously, this outing features a distinct lack of everyone’s least favourite hairpiece, J*n Sn*w – aside from some encounters with his girlfriend/recently-revealed-aunt Dany, which are one music cue away from being sitcom-ready, and some primo castle-wall grunting sequences (the foundation upon which this show is built, truly), I’m mercifully released of his burgenoning presence for another week. The less said about his plan to keep the unwarriors of the realm safe against a power that can raise the dead in a fucking crypt surrounded by dead people the better, but, you know, good seeding for the inevitable cliffhanger next week? All-Bran is still sitting around looking like he’s eight seconds away from telling me about this life-changing experience he had on mushrooms on a beach in Thailand on his gap year, but for some reason I actually find his vague smugness and know-it-all-ism slightly charming in that I would like to embody it myself and still have people like me as much as they like him.

So, less to stark snark on this week – but honestly, I really enjoyed this episode of television, and I’m looking forward to the inevitable battle next week. After a slightly wobbly start, things are beginning to take shape, as the past and the present collide in an emotionally literate and convincingly-performed hour of knighting, drinking, and bangin’.

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more stuff like it, check out some of my other recapping projects – I’ve looked at Stephen King’s Carrie and the first Harry Potter book, as well as writing episode-by-episode recaps of RiverdaleDoctor Who, and American Horror Story. I also run the film site No But Listen, where you can find my musings on movies along with writings from my brilliant co-editor. If you liked this recap and want to support me, you can do so on Patreon!

(header image via Variety)

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