[Spoilers for season 8, episode 2 of Game Of Thrones]
“A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms” was Game Of Thrones’ 69th episode, a landmark of sorts for a show that’s oft been called a show about “tits and dragons.” What was striking about last night’s episode, then, was how its inevitable horniness veered far from the exploitation of its earlier episodes, manifesting instead as a natural consequence of character and circumstance.
Arya, for example, who’s been steeped in death for years, leaves a dire chat with war-torn brutes The Hound and Beric Dondarrion to seek out Gendry, who can still manage to stir whatever part of her is still vulnerable. She could sit in the cold, drinking and doomsaying, or she could, for one last time, reveal her true face. It’s both logical and lovely that, on the eve of what could very well be their death, she’d want to experience love with someone who knows that face. That David Nutter’s camera lingers on Arya’s scars, though, as well as on Gendry’s shocked reaction to them, serves as a powerful reminder that these characters—Arya perhaps most of all—have been broken time and again over the years, the innocence they once had now irrevocably lost. She and Gendry’s union here doesn’t feel born of love, but of a desperate need for humanity.
Maisie Williams said as much in an interview about the scene with Entertainment Weekly. “It was really interesting because it’s a very human relationship for Arya,” she said. “This is something she’s stayed away from, an emotion we’ve never really seen her engage with. David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] were like, ‘It’s the end of the world, what else would you have her do?’ This may be is a moment where Arya accepts death tomorrow, which she never does—‘Not Today.’ So 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.”
The scene’s thematic core, of course, hasn’t stopped fans from taking to Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram with joy, shock, and squees, the likes of which have been simmering since the pair first linked up nearly a decade ago.
It’s been much easier all these years to meme the hell out of Tormund Giantsbane’s obsession with Brienne of Tarth, which continued last night when the pair both ended up at Winterfell.
What’s refreshing, though, is that Tormund’s horniness transcends itself. He genuinely just seems to like her, replying to old traditions about ladies not being knights by declaring “fuck tradition.” His mad cheering after Jaime graces her with knighthood is one of the episode’s best moments.
All of this is swaddled, of course, in the wildling’s tale of, as a fresh-faced 10-year old, conquering a giant, climbing into bed with the beast’s wife, and “suckling at her teat” for three months. His post-tale chugging results in a milk-like substance dribbling down his beard, causing one to wonder where exactly he’s procuring giant’s milk these days. But it’s also a sign of Tormund’s own status as an outsider in a realm of outsiders—even he, as with his companions, seems to understand that he and Brienne are on different planets.
It’s pretty clear that a future for Tormund and Brienne isn’t in the cards, though plenty of fans would credit that not to his general weirdness, but rather to their aggressive shipping of Brienne and Jaime Lannister, whose bond is perhaps one of the series’ most ironclad.
Is it pointless, though? To envision futures for these characters? At least half of them are dying in the next episode, we’d wager. Valar Morghulis, so on.