After a rough season premiere, Game of Thrones veteran Bryan Cogman turns the show in a positive direction with “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Cogman is responsible for writing some of the show’s best episodes (including Season 1’s “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things” and Season 4’s “Oathkeeper”). His dialogue and character work shows a deep appreciation and recognition for the characters he’s helped shape for eight seasons. While not every decision landed for J and me, there is no doubt of the improvement from last week.
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” sees some of the show’s best remaining characters discussing their lives amiably in the sleepless nights preceding the impending battle of Winterfell. J and I loved Tormund’s (Kristofer Hivju) bizarre and hilarious story about how he got his name (iterating on a story from the books and the Brothers Grimm) and enjoyed Brienne’s (Gwendoline Christie) heartwarming and long overdue knighthood. In a battle strategy meeting, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has similarly fantastic moment in which he recognizes (and perhaps empathizes with) Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead Wright) mobility impediment. It’s not a big scene but it sticks out for really reminding us how Tyrion was written all the way back in Season 1.
On the other side of things, we question the logic of the Stark family — long shown to be an inseparable unit — not bothering to see one another on the night before certain death. Quite the contrary: Arya (Maisie Williams) instead seeks out and sleeps with Gendry (Joe Dempsie) in a moment that seems to have taken everyone by surprise. J and I disagree on some of the politics of this encounter but we both agree it seems out of character for the cold, laser-focused assassin the show has made Arya into throughout its run.
We also predict some of what we might see next week, even predicting imminent deaths. We recall sullenly how silly the rules for the White Walkers have become: kill one, all of the wights they’ve resurrected die, too. J smartly points out the illogic of hiding the most vulnerable people in Winterfell in the crypt among the dead. One idea we hadn’t considered is that maybe because Winterfell was built with the same magic as the Wall, the dead may be unable to resurrect there — but then again, the Wall fell immediately to the Knight King’s (Vladimir Furdik) so that may not count for anything. At one point, I reference a theory about how the battle of Winterfell might subvert our expectations and keep the Knight King a player into future episodes.
I probably bought into the idea more out of hope than sincere belief.
You can check out the Jimmy Kimmel interview where Isaac Hempstead Wright discusses his forlorn stare (and near blindness without glasses) here. And if you really want to scratch your head, here’s… something perhaps better left unseen.
Please do leave your thoughts below! And don’t forget to swing by next week for our discussion of Season 8 Episode 3, “The Long Night” — featuring a special guest!