Last week on Game Of Thrones, Jon and Dany went on a dragon ride, the Night King made some art, and Bran waited for an old friend. This week, Tormund explained the origins of his last name, Jaime caught up with everyone, and Brienne got a new title. GOT is all about how people jockey for power, so click through for our SPOILER-FILLED season eight, episode 2 Game of Thrones Power Rankings.
1. The Incredibly Appropriate 69th Episode Of The Incredibly Nice Show Game Of Thrones: There is a thin line between pure fan service and satisfying emotional moments, and for some people, this episode really blurred the line. But not for the Powers That Be here at The (Only) Official Game Of Thrones Power Rankings, no siree Bob! This was just one unforgettable scene after another, with one unmistakable through-line: everybody is horny. Hey, if the army of the dead were right outside your gates, wouldn't you want to know what sex is?
And never forget: this is the show that invented sexposition! Sex has always been an important ingredient in the premium cable mix (not always for good, ahem Ramsay Bolton and Littlefinger's monologuing). Whether it was Dany and Sansa talking about boys, Brienne staring intensely at Jaime, Tormund staring even more intensely at Brienne, Grey Worm & Missandei making out, or Arya straight up jumping Gendry, this episode was tailor-made for the shippers like no episode before it. It was possibly the last chance for us to appreciate the unyielding horniness of the magical dragon show. And best of all, most of those people aren't even related!!
Overall, this was a very nice episode.
Tormund, aggressively horny as the world is ending, is the only relatable character on this show.
— Slade (@Slade) April 22, 2019
A song of nice and fire pic.twitter.com/TPcqshUDRd
— Silvia Killingsworth (@silviakillings) April 22, 2019
The 69th episode is directed by a guy named Nutter
— evan romano (@EvanRomano) April 22, 2019
2. A Song Of Chats & Convos: Last week's season premiere was a table-setting, calm-before-the-storm type episode, a chance to make sure everyone was in the right place before the big battles to come, and also an important moment to remind the audience who cares about whom, what's at stake for these characters, and why these relationships matter to us so damn much. And then this episode... did that again. Not only did nobody die—there wasn't even gratuitous wind-swept dragon-flirting to remind everyone that the CGI budget for this show is equal to that of a small developing nation.
Except here's the thing: this episode did everything even better than last week. And unlike some people who thought it was too slow, I enjoyed the premiere. But this was probably the best episode of the last two seasons (so far—something tells me next week is gonna be something special).
GOT is at its best when it throws two or three people in a room and lets them, and their shared history, bounce off each other. Some of the greatest moments on this show came when people were telling each other stories that illuminate our understanding of this universe and of what these characters want. Sam basically says as much during the big planning meeting: "If we forget where we've been and what we've done, we're not men anymore, just animals. Your memories don't come from books, your stories aren't just stories."
When the show has weighed too heavily toward the spectacle side without servicing the characters (like with last season's fun but deeply stupid wight hunt "Beyond The Wall"), it seems hollow and frustrating. But when we get an episode like this, it is a rich return on the audience's investment.
We got to see this dynamic play out in countless scenes this week, with Tyrion and Jaime slipping back into their familiar brotherly banter; Brienne and Jaime exchanging loaded looks; Jaime apologizing to Bran; Arya falling into bed with Gendry; Arya bonding one more time with The Hound; Jorah counseling Dany just like the old days; Dany and Sansa nearly bonding; Grey Worm and Missandei discussing their boat "The Live-4-Ever"; even Jorah and Sam connecting. There was the trio of Night's Watch members (Jon, Sam, Dolorous Edd) reflecting on fallen brothers, the gathering of all the main characters to prepare for the battle ahead (topped off by Bran being super Bran-ish), and The Breakfast Club collective who rally around Brienne in the beautiful knighting scene.
Enjoy it while it lasts, because make no mistake: the work the writers put into these first two episodes are only going to make you care that much more when half of these characters die gruesome deaths in the coming weeks!
3. A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms: Brienne Of Motherfucking Tarth has been one of the best characters on the show since her introduction in season two, and despite always being a secondary character in the larger story, she's arguably the most honorable person in the show—and she's brought out the best of everyone she's been paired with. She got the spotlight in countless scenes this week, vouching for Jaime ("He is a man of honor") during his very brief trial, processing Jaime asking to serve under her (TOP NOTCH BRIENNE/JAIME TELEVISION CONTENT), and offering hilarious reaction shots to everything Tormund says.
Best of all, we come to the incredible scene of Tyrion, Pod, Brienne, Tormund, Jaime and Davos sitting around a fire together contemplating their deaths (the only thing that could have made it even better is if Varys joined in). "It's strange isn't it?" Tyrion notes. "Almost everyone here has fought the Starks at one time or another, and here we are in their castle ready to defend it." If we only got the banter, it would have been one of the best scenes of the final season. But it culminates in Jaime knighting Brienne in the Great Hall, making it one of the best scenes in the entire show. It's the culmination of everything she wanted: to be taken seriously by her peers, to be rewarded for her service, to be a true knight.
Jaime being the one to knight Brienne
Brienne's lip quivering as she looks up at him
Podrick looking on so proud
Tormund bursting into applause
Put this scene in a museum#GameOfThrones pic.twitter.com/Rdfe8SUJAD
— Jillian Sederholm (@JillianSed) April 22, 2019
"It’s not a ceremonial scene on a cliff at sunset with billowing capes," writer Bryan Cogman told EW. "It comes out of a throwaway moment that even some people in the room think is a joke and then they quickly realize it’s not. It’s a monumental thing. It’s a moment of grace and beauty in the middle of a nightmare and the main reason I wanted to write this episode."
When Brienne smiles, we all smile.
Brienne: "I don't even WANT to be a knight."
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) April 22, 2019
4. Putting The Giant In Giantsbane: There's nothing I can possibly write that would do justice to Tormund's incredible story about how he got his last name: "I killed a giant when I was 10. Then I climbed right into bed with his wife. When she woke up, you know what she did? Suckled me at her teat for three months. Thought I was her baby. That's how I got so strong. Giant's milk." [Cue Tormund chugging milk out of a horn] Tormund Giantsbane is the best possible outcome on what happens when you befriend the weirdo in your neighborhood. TORMUND IS A TREASURE WHO TRANSCENDS TIME AND SPACE AND MUST SURVIVE TO SIRE BIG GIANT BABIES WITH BRIENNE.
Wait so did he get in bed with the giant's wife to have sex with her and then his plans changed when she thought he was her baby or
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) April 22, 2019
Just give me an entire series of Tormund Giantsbane narrating tales from his life.
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) April 22, 2019
— ellie sunakawa (@elliesunakawa) April 22, 2019
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) April 22, 2019
5. The Love Triangle In Which Everyone Is A Winner: What was a more romantic moment: Brienne vouching for Jaime, Jaime knighting Brienne, or Tormund giving her a standing ovation? Or when Tormund said, "I'd knight you ten times over"? Or when Tormind said, "We're all going to die, but at least we'll die together!" We all know where I stand on this one, but there are no losers here.
— LadyVirtueMoir 👑 (@ladyvirtuemoir) April 22, 2019
Tormund to Brienne: pic.twitter.com/GweDyY1u4p
— Lilly Dancyger (@lillydancyger) April 22, 2019
6. Jaime's Redemption Song: The arc Jaime started in season three when he was on the road with Brienne and lost his hand reaches its culmination in this episode. He's no longer the arrogant Golden Lion who pushed children off balconies—he's been humbled, beaten down, and had his true nature revealed. He owns this episode every bit as much as Brienne, and the fact that so many of his former enemies have credibly, believably forgiven him is a testament to the work he's undergone.
He had too many wonderful moments here to count them all (literally all his charged looks with Brienne are priceless), but my favorite might be the renewal of his fraternal bond with Tyrion. "I wish father were here. I'd love to see the look on his face when he realized his two sons are going to die defending Winterfell." Thank god the show gave us the time to savor these relationships before...you know...
— Corey Smith (@CourtsideCorey) April 22, 2019
As Bran said to him as they contemplated life after the White Walkers, "How do you know there is an afterwards?"
7. Forge Sex: The Blacksmith Chronicles: Instead of spending her final hours with two miserable old shits (The Hound and Beric Dondarrion), Arya heads over to the forge. She has been lightly flirting with Gendry ever since they first met back in season two, but things really ramped up last week when they saw each other for the first time as adults, which I think makes this the ultimate Tumblr relationship or something.
If these characters are all asking themselves what they want to do if this is their final night alive, it seems totally reasonable that Arya would want to know what's up with sex, even if it takes an hour just to take off all those layers of clothes and armor. But fans seem to be polarized about their sex scene.
We've watched Arya kill a man then cook him into meat pies to feed to his family before murdering all of them too and we cheered when it happened but somehow it's Arya having sex that weirds everyone out 😂 https://t.co/qRcqjRuLNY
— Bey Phi Bey, Philly Chapter President. (@brownandbella) April 22, 2019
I think this is why I’ve been so uncomfortable with the Arya-Gendry stuff. We’ve never actually seen her grow up. Yes we’ve seen her do a lot and kill a lot, but she’s always seemed sexless. Until now she never seemed interested in sex. https://t.co/qXGbLrrlsY
— Tracie Hunte (@TracieHunte) April 22, 2019
— Impeach Salinger (@jacobtwop) April 22, 2019
Actress Maise Williams, who is 22 in real life, talked to EW about filming the scene and her feelings about nudity. She said showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss let her decide precisely how much to show: "David and Dan were like: 'You can show as much or as little as you want,'" Williams says. "So I kept myself pretty private. I don’t think it’s important for Arya to flash. This beat isn’t really about that. And everybody else has already done it on the show, so..." She added that it was an important moment for Arya as she recovers her humanity: "It was that moment where she says, ‘We’re probably going to die tomorrow, I want to know what this feels like before that happens.’ It’s interesting to see Arya be a bit more human, speak more normally about things people are scared of."
I particularly like how the HBO UK Twitter account attempted to prepare the audience to accept Arya's blossoming sexuality before the episode began.
By age 18 in Westeros you should have:
- Had a pet.
- Moved out on your own.
- Travelled extensively.
- Had a kill list.
- Pretended to be the opposite sex to evade capture.
- Been blind for a while.
- Ticked at least three people off of your kill list.
— HBO (@HBO_UK) April 21, 2019
8. The Unlikeliest Warm & Fuzzy Hug Of The Week: Sansa and Theon have known each other since they were children, though I can't imagine they were very close back then considering that Theon was an arrogant dick (RIP) with a chip on his shoulder and Sansa was a spoiled princess. When Theon stupidly took over Winterfell and told everyone he had killed Bran and Rickon, it was hard to imagine him and Sansa ever finding themselves in the same room together, let alone on the same side, again. But both of them were severely emotionally and physically abused by Ramsey Bolton, an experience that ended up bonding them. She helped Theon find the strength to shrug off the shackles of his abuse and seek redemption for his many mistakes. And he ended up saving her from Ramsey and smuggling her out of Winterfell at the end of season five.
So in an episode filled with satisfying reunions and recollections, this was one of the ones that hit the hardest. "I want to fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa, if you'll have me," he says, and her frosty facade melts as they embrace like long-lost siblings. It's the completion of Theon's arc (ruh roh!) and also one of Sophie Turner's best acting moments. (Note: anyone who is shipping them is insane.)
9. Ser Good Guy: After years of being the ultimate also-ran, pining for his queen while going on the occasional side quest to cure greyscale or become a gladiator or something, Ser Jorah Mormont (formerly Ser Friendzone, Ser Friendstone, Ser IJustReallyStronglyFeelLikeWeShouldBeMoreThanFriends, and Ser SayAnything) did everything right this week. He pushed aside his own ego and defended Tyrion to Dany, saying she made the exact right decision picking him as her Hand. He encouraged Dany to find common ground with Sansa instead of throwing shade at each other (it almost worked!). He got to chat with his cousin Lyanna Mormont, which is great, everyone should be so lucky to talk to her. And he was given Heartsbane, a Valyrian sword, by Samwell in honor of his deceased father. "My father taught me how to be a man, how to do what's right," Sam tells Jorah. "This is right. It's Valyrian steel. I'd be honored if you take it."
Too bad this just about guarantees he's going to die soon :(
10. Samwell Tarley, Slayer Of White Walkers, Lover Of Ladies: As Dolorous Edd put it, it's all the proof we need that the world really is ending. But it is pretty great to see how much Sam has matured over the years and learned to stand-up for himself, even if it comes in the form of a brief recap of his entire storyline across the show: "Everyone seems to forget I was the first man to kill a White Walker. I've killed Thenns, I've saved Gilly more than once, I've stolen a considerable number of books from the Citadel library, survived the Fist at the First Men. You need me out there." Also, if we need him out there on the front lines...then um...why did he just give away the Valyrian steel sword he used to kill the aforementioned White Walker?
11. Ser Elmo: This is just the most adorable thing I saw all week. Watch Cersei and Tyrion learn an important lesson about respect from Ser Elmo:
12. Ser Davos's Artisanal Northern Soup Truck: Now with 100% more inspiring pep talks for the poor red shirts who are going to get absolutely slaughtered by the White Walkers in the next episode. Then again, if the finger-deficient Onion Knight was able to survive The Battle Of The Blackwater and The Battle Of The Bastards, maybe they can get through this too. There's just as much of a chance that Davos is going to die in the next episode as any of them.
But for what it's worth, I think he will survive, because he has unfinished business with Melisandre. That was subtly hinted at this episode with the little girl with facial scars who reminded him of Shireen, Stannis' daughter who was burned at the stake on Melisandre's advice.
Shireen is also the person who unites Davos and Gilly, not that either one knows it: "The name ‘Shireen’ is not said in the scene. But Shireen taught both Davos and Gilly how to read," episode writer Bryan Cogman told EW. The episode "evolved into this where the scene is absolutely about Shireen, but neither of them are aware of the impact she had on the other. It was a beautiful way of acknowledging all of these threads between all of these characters that many of them are not aware of and never will be aware of — only we as the audience have the privilege of being aware of them."
OK I was wavering on this season of Thrones but then Davos cooked a big pot of soup
— David Sims (@davidlsims) April 22, 2019
13. Bran Listening To 10CC: After Bran magically warged into the comic relief during last week's season premiere, he got back to doing what he does best this week: discussing death with deadpan frankness and freaking everyone out around him. As he tells Jaime, he's not even Bran Stark anymore—he's a three-eyed raven magic tree creature with a really good memory whose musical tastes run toward '70s art rock bands. The lyrics to the classic "The Things We Do For Love" are quite apt here: "Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river/ Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea/ You lay your bets and then you pay the price/ The things we do for love, the things three-eyed ravens with too much time on their hands do to freak out the people around them."
The biggest plot development for him is that Bran volunteers to be bait for the Night King, and Bran proceeds to reveal the Night King's motivations. Apparently...the Night King is not a Branfan and really wants to kill him because he wants an "endless night" in order to avoid UV rays (I assume). "He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory." Why does no one ask Bran why he's like this??
When the Night King sees Bran pic.twitter.com/hEESmfGwOP
— KFC Radio (@KFCradio) April 11, 2019
14. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (When You're Related): Is it really a coincidence that one of the greatest episodes of recent seasons contains the least amount of Jon and Dany in that same time period? Both characters have had great storylines in the past, but both have hardened into the most boring versions of themselves: Jon is now in permanent mope mode and weighed down by the burdens of leadership, while Dany seems to become more and more like her father every episode. Is it because of the pre-ordained nature of their coupling? Because the actors don't have a lot of romantic chemistry? Is it because it really hurts to ride the fake dragons?
— jolie (@aegonsdaenerys) April 15, 2019
Either way, Jon's direwolf might be named Ghost, but Jon was the only person doing the ghosting after discovering his true ancestry from Sam last week. As Cogman told EW, "Jon is avoiding Dany the whole episode because this bombshell has been dropped on him and he can’t even process how to be in the same room with her. She senses a strange tension and can’t understand why."
It's not easy to tell on the screen, but Cogman claims Jon is freaked out about the incest, and it's a relief that someone cares about it, even if it's more subtext than text at this point: "What really upsets Jon is that he’s a blood relative to the woman he’s in love with. In the crypt, Jon is taken aback when essentially the first thing she says is acknowledging that he has a claim to the Iron Throne. And Jon’s immediate concern is the fact that that’s her immediate concern."
After hearing his whole backstory spiel, a shocked Dany responds, "A secret no one in the world knew except your brother and best friend. Doesn't it seem strange to you?" She makes a pretty good point—but then again, she also once spent half a season trying to get her dragons back from a weird little warlock who lived in a magical house, so stranger things have happened.
— alondra™️ (@heeyvesoul) April 22, 2019
Is the show setting up an ultimate Jon vs. Dany showdown for the Throne once the White Walkers are dealt with? Actor John Bradley, who plays Sam, hinted at some pretty dark stuff in a recent interview: "I’d be interested to know what Jorah’s view on Daenerys is now. In Season 2 he tells Daenerys she has a good heart and that’s why she’d be a good leader and you’re not really seeing that anymore. After all of her experiences and all she’s gone through and all that she’s withstood and the person she is now, she doesn’t seem to have that heart anymore. She seems much more—in that scene especially—she seems psychopathic almost and she seems to have regressed in terms of morality so much that I don’t know what he thinks of her anymore."
— Diana ✨ (@msdianabeloved) April 22, 2019
15. The Perils Of Self-Betterment: For the first time in a couple seasons, Tyrion sounded like the rascally, charming old Tyrion we all know and love (and not the guy who suggested the King in the North go beyond the wall to snag a dead guy in order to impress his sister, who hates his guts). He had tons of great lines and conversations in this episode ("So, we're going to die at Winterfell. Not the death I would have chosen"), but I'm feeling increasingly pessimistic about where his story is heading. Tyrion is pessimistic that he is going to survive much longer as Hand, and Dany seems at wit's end with him at times. Tyrion may still be good and intelligent, but is he ruthless anymore? (Though his homicidal fantasy of marching to King's Landing to kill Cersei as part of the army of the dead suggest he's got some serious fight left.)
16. Game Of Murders: So Uh...Who Is Gonna Die Next Week? The downside of having an episode like this that is built on a foundation of seemingly-perfect emotional beats is that everything is going completely to shit in a week. No time for romps in the hay or singing—death is at the door. Truly, cuffing season has never been this deadly.
So there are two things to really consider when trying to impress your friends and coworkers with your guesses for who will bite the dust next week: whose character arc has come to a natural conclusion, and what side characters are expendable at this point? Jon and Dany have lots of On the former count: after completing his redemption arc in an incredibly satisfying matter, I would wager that Jaime will die in Brienne's arms on the battlefield. Ser Jorah, who has escaped certain death more than once, also doesn't seem long for this life: he got a tender moment with Dany, made peace with House Mormont, and got his father's sword from Sam. And Theon is also a goner after saving his sister, coming to fight on the Stark's behalf, and basically volunteering to be White Walker fodder by guarding Bran.
And as for extraneous side characters, I'm not holding my breath for Edd or Beric Dondarrion to make it out alive. After their romantic conversation about retiring together and going off to a beach somewhere up north, I'm seriously worried about Grey Worm. And I could go either way with dear sweet Pod. His death would have a profound emotional impact on Tyrion and Brienne—though hopefully the writers won't inflict two major deaths on Brienne like that.
And, dear god, I refuse to speculate about Tormund. I don't know what I'd do without him.
In the first two episodes everybody got boyfriends. In the third episode we'll see whose boyfriends die.
— Judy Berman (@judyberman) April 22, 2019
The Viserys Targaryen Memorial Least Powerful Person Of The Week Award: In the rare episode in which nobody died—and on the eve of a battle in which anyone really could die—it's hard to judge who is truly the Viserys of the week. But I'm going with All Those Winterfell Citizens Who Are Going To Be Hiding In The Crypts. Do they really think they'll be safe down there? Just imagine: the White Walkers make it inside Winterfell, and suddenly they start raising the dead...including the bodies of the Starks buried down there. I don't think I have the emotional capacity to handle Zombie Rickon.
The Ser Pounce Memorial Most Powerful Pet Of The Week Award: He's back: Ghost! Ghost! Ghost! Jon Snow's beloved direwolf showed up for the first time since season six in order to...stand in the corner of the screen while Jon, Sam and Edd talk about what a playboy Sam is? I know wolf actors can be prima donnas and the show blew its CGI budget on the dragon ride last episode, but at least have Jon pet him for chrissakes. I have it on good authority that he is a very good boy, and the survival rate of direwolves in giant episodes on this show is not great.
The Hodoriffic Honorary Minor Character Of The Week Award: In an episode that was like 69% "great minor character moments," this one goes out to the world's most loyal squire Podrick Payne. He's finally picked up some fighting skills under Brienne's tutelage, he's a legendary sex machine, and it turns out he also has a lovely singing voice!
Even more notable: the song he sings is called "Jenny’s Song." (Florence + the Machine sings it over the credits.) The first lines of it were mentioned in A Storm of Swords, the third novel of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The Ringer writes that the song's lyrics may be foreshadowing Dany and Jon's post-White Walker relationship—specifically, they both can't end up on the Iron Throne. Unless they somehow figure out that if they just talk straight to each other, they might realize that ruling together is a far better proposition than any other option on the table.
The Leslie Jones Award For Outstanding Celebrity Contributions To GOT Fandom: It's not enough that she's a brilliant policy-focused progressive with big, exciting ideas about how to help the country—Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is now also a GOT blogger. She's coming for my job!
She wrote about her love for the female characters on the show—in particular her admiration for Dany's approach to leadership—and how the Cersei's of the world suck for The Cut. She does not have any weird nicknames for anyone, which I think is an automatic demerit, but overall it's a solid take. But she may have made a fatal misstep in aligning herself so closely with the character most likely to have a heel turn with four episodes left. She calls Dany "a ruler who doesn’t want to control the political system but to break the system as it is known?" which sounds well and good until people start getting barbecued by giant dragons.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 21, 2019
BOATSEX WATCH 2019: How Much Pro-Incest Propaganda Was In The Episode? Let's put it like this: if you just found out that your new boyfriend, who you were making out with by a waterfall like 10 minutes ago, is actually your nephew, would you react by saying, "Holy shit, how do I put my life back together after learning this humongous news?" or would you accuse them of trying to steal your job? If you picked the latter, then you are Dany, and also, you might want to reassess your priorities, because you are waaaay too comfortable with all the incest stuff.
Dany: but are we sure your omnipotent, all-seeing brother can be trusted
— Kate Halliwell (@katehalliwell) April 22, 2019
Way Beyond The Wall: Despite it showing up in the opening credits, we did not have time to visit to King's Landing, so no sign of Cersei, Psychotic Pirate Joshua Jackson, Qyburn, Bronn or Zombie Mountain. Yara is off re-taking the Iron Islands, the dragons were taking a well-deserved long nap, and The Ghost Of Ned Stark's Man Bun haunted nary a Winterfellian. And then we have the rest of the minor randos: Melisandre, Robyn Arryn (aka Prepubescent Julian Casablancas), Salladhor Saan, Daario Naharis 2.0, Meera Reed, Edmure Tully (?), The Children Of The Forest (maybe some of them are still kicking?), The Faceless Men (I guess they count?), and of course, the mighty Hot Pie, who I guarantee will appear one more time before this whole thing is over (now THAT is fan service, baby).
On next week's episode of GOT, the White Walkers and the army of the dead arrive at Winterfell, and all hell breaks loose. Until then, here is an amazing video which imagines a world in which GOT was an anime.
If Game of Thrones was an anime pic.twitter.com/yndXw4JiEi
— Jamal (@CarpeDM____) April 21, 2019