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Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 Review: So Everyone’s Going to Die, Right?

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan

I grew up on World War II movies. In nearly every one I saw there was a lengthy segment that focused on the heroes before the final big battle. Inevitably, there’d be lengthy speeches about life and death, gallows humor, pie in the sky optimism, and foreshadowing of who was not making it out alive once the battle was done.

‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdom’ was literally this minus someone wistfully playing the harmonica, and a gruff American actor mentioning “The Germans.”

The reason this scene/segment is a staple in not just World War II movies, but nearly every movie that involves a battle, is because it’s simple and effective. It allows the audience to connect with characters over an emotion we call can relate to — fear, in particular the fear of death. I’m not going to get all existential on you, but we all know fear, and we all know that anxiety, that terror, that cold sweat that comes when something bad is on the horizon. We can connect with these fictional characters whether they’re men in the trenches of a world war, or men and women alike in the snowy realm of Winterfell.

The connections we make in this episode do one thing, and one thing only. They make us think every character who has a significant moment in this episode is going to die a terrible death. It makes total sense. Game of Thrones has killed off so many characters, and not in a nice, peaceful way. No one thought Ned Stark — the lead character of Season One — was going to die. Or that Khal Drogo, Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Stannis Baratheon, his daughter, Tywin Lannister, Joffrey, Margery or literally any character of note in this series was going to get killed off in the way they did, or even when they did. This series has programmed us to expect the worst, and the worst is usually a horrible death.

To make matters worse, every character in this episode has a “kiss of death scene.” This is a scene that, as we’ve seen in the aforementioned war pictures, spells near certain doom for them. They’re filled with optimism, or crippling fear, or lies to conceal fear. Let’s look at all of them…

  • Grey Worm and Missandei making plans for the future.
  • Sam giving away his family sword.
  • Lady Mormont demanding to fight.
  • Theon volunteering to protect Brann
  • Brienne being made a knight.
  • Jamie admitting his age and that his prime has past.
  • Arya losing her virginity.
  • Gendry having sex with Arya.
  • The “spiritual” talk between Beric and The Hound.
  • Gilly even being in the episode.
  • Jorah talking about defending the living.
  • Jon’s admission of his real identity.
  • Davos mentioning his lack of fighting skills.

All these characters could easily be dead or turned into a white walker by the end of  Episode 3. Game of Thrones has conditioned us to the fact that major characters can and will die. I’m absolutely stressed out. So, the episode definitely did it’s job there.

As an episode,’Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ may not have delivered on the action, or a long run-time, but it did deliver on the building tension to an insane level, and it allowed for some terrific moments.

The moment of the episode was not the big reveal of Jon’s true identity. No, the moment of the episode was undoubtedly the knighting of Brienne of Tarth. It was a truly emotional moment that’s been a in the works for the entire run of the series, but one we thought we’d never see. The culmination of Tormund, Podrick, and Jamie all pushing Brienne to accept knighthood — something which she denied wanting, but we know she so desperately desired — was truly wonderful. Brienne has been a character that has gone through hell and proven herself in spite of the patriarchy of her time. Gwendoline Christie has been wonderful in this series, and this was an excellent moment for her character.

Of course, she may have been a bit overshadowed Kristofer Hivju’s tour de force comedic performance. Since becoming a good guy the series has really leaned on Hivju’s natural charisma and comedic timing. Like so many on the show he’s become a fan favorite. However, his ability to inject honest, natural humor into any scene has been a god send to a show that sometimes can get a little too serious, a little too dark for its own good. Too bad, he’s probably going to die.

In the end, Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 was probably a frustrating episode for some. However, like I’ve mentioned numerous times, it did the job of building the tension for the impending arrival of the White Walkers. It also leaves us with questions we have to deal with if our heroes survive the dead. So as we wait seven days for the battle we’ve been waiting for for years, let’s also put ‘Jenny of Oldstones’ by Florence + the Machine on repeat, and get our theories on who’s going to make it out alive ready.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 is now streaming on HBO’s digital platforms.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.
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