- Warning: Spoilers ahead for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode two, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
- Below is a full recap and analysis of the latest instalment in HBO’s final season of “Game of Thrones.”
- From the weighty meaning of Jaime and Brienne’s swords seen side by side to the musical cue that added emotional depth to scenes with Davos, keep reading for a look at the major details and callbacks you might have missed.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
The eighth and final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” pushed forward Sunday night with an intimate and emotional episode. Acting as a precursor to next week’s massive 82-minute battle sequence, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was packed with meaningful character moments and callbacks to earlier seasons.
Keep reading for a look at the 15 details you might have missed.
The opening credits changed slightly again, this time showing the war preparations at Winterfell.
While last week’s credits were new for the series (showing three major historical events on the show), this week there were simple additions.
First, Last Hearth was shown enveloped in the icy-blue tiles that represent the Night King and his Army of the Dead. Then, as seen above, Winterfell was shown battle-ready with the deep trenches built around its border.
Daenerys referred to Tyrion as Jaime’s “little brother,” nodding to one of the more popular fan theories for the Lannister siblings.
“Perhaps he trusts his little brother to defend him,” Daenerys said when Tyrion tried to come to Jaime’s defence. “Right up until the moment he slits my throat.”
In George R.R. Martin’s books, the prophecy told to Cersei as a young girl has a third and important part. The woods witch told Cersei, “The valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
Valonqar means “little brother” in Valyrian, and Cersei interpreted that to mean Tyrion would eventually kill her.
But many fans have come around to the idea that Jaime is the real valonqar – he’s also her little brother, after all, just by mere minutes.
But the show removed this part of the prophecy back on season five when we were given the flashback of Young Cersei hearing the predictions, so we can’t be certain this theory will manifest at all on “Game of Thrones.”
Regardless, this episode appeared to make a clear reference to it, if only to stoke the fires of speculation once more.
Jaime repeated Brienne’s argument from the season seven finale when Daenerys asked him to explain his desertion of Cersei.
When Queen Daenerys still seems doubtful of Jaime’s intentions, he turns and looks at Brienne before answering.
“Because this goes beyond loyalty,” Jaime said. “This is about survival.”
That’s very close to what Brienne told Jaime in the dragonpit when she was trying to persuade him to fight with the North.
“Oh f— loyalty,” Brienne said, much to Jaime’s shock. “This goes beyond houses and honour and oaths. Talk to the queen.”
It was Jaime’s invocation of this sentiment that finally pushed her to stand up and defend Jaime in front of all the Northern lords, Lady Sansa, and Queen Daenerys.
A familiar musical cue played at the end of Jaime’s scene in the great hall of Winterfell.
Just as Grey Worm roughly thrust Widow’s Wail into Jaime’s chest (more on that important sword in a moment), the score kicks in and plays Jaime’s theme song.
This music was first heard on the series back on season three toward the end of Jaime’s memorable bathtub confession scene, in which he told Brienne the story of killing the Mad King.
That theme has never been featured on the official soundtracks released by HBO, but that will change this season.
It was notably heard on season six, when Jaime went to Riverrun to break the Blackfish’s siege. Composer Ramin Djawadi said this emotional theme would “definitely” appear on the season eight soundtrack.
“Yes, definitely,” Djawadi told INSIDER at HBO’s red-carpet premiere for season eight when we asked whether we could finally expect the theme to be officially released.
“A lot of people have approached me” about that, he said.
Arya and Gendry’s flirtatious forge scene was a shot-by-shot recreation of a season two moment between them.
When Arya walked up to the forge just as Gendry was starting to work on a weapon, the framing of the shots was identical to a scene from the end of season two, episode five, “The Ghost of Harrenhal.”
Here’s Gendry, now and then, in the same shot.
The actors Joe Dempsie (Gendry) and Maisie Williams (Arya) have aged along with their characters as the series has filmed over the past decade.
When they first began shooting, Williams was 12 years old. Now, she’s 22. Dempsie was about 23 by the time season two rolled around, and now he’s 31. Their characters are meant to be much closer in age (about 18 and 23, respectively).
Tyrion repeated a joke we’ve heard before about how he’d prefer to die.
“I always pictured myself dying in my bed, at the age of 80 with a belly full of wine and girl’s mouth around my c—,” Tyrion told Jaime.
Clearly Tyrion loves this little jest, because Jaime finished his sentence for him.
We heard it the first time back on the first season, when Tyrion was surrounded by the mountain clans in the Vale.
“How would you like to die, Tyrion son of Tywin?” said Shagga, son of Dolf. And Tyrion answered with his typical wit, saying the “belly full of wine” joke again.
The scene on season eight ended on a potentially more terrifying note, when Tyrion said perhaps he’d “march to King’s Landing and rip [Cersei] apart” after he was killed.
This might have been a line in the script designed to prepare fans to see their favourite characters not only killed in the coming battle but resurrected and turned into murder-happy wights.
With Jaime and Brienne together, this marked the first time the pieces of Ned Stark’s sword have been back in Winterfell since his death.
The ancestral blade of House Stark was a greatsword named Ice. The blade was Valyrian steel, making the metal precious (and one of the rare substances that can kill White Walkers).
The sword was taken by the Lannister when Ned was arrested and later melted into two new blades.
At the start of season two, Tywin Lannister had Ice melted down and forged two new swords from it.
He gave one of these swords to Jaime, who in turn gifted it to Brienne. She named it Oathkeeper. The second sword was given to King Joffrey, who named it Widow’s Wail. After Joffrey’s death, Jaime took the blade for himself.
Now, for the first time since Ned left Winterfell on season one, episode two, Ice is back in its rightful place of House Stark.
Both Davos and Gilly were visibly moved by the sight of a young girl who reminded them of Princess Shireen Baratheon.
The young girl had burn marks on her face, in the same place where Shireen’s greyscale covered her cheek.
Davos thought of Shireen as a daughter and was devastated to learn not only of her death but to hear she was executed by Stannis and Melisandre. Shireen helped both Davos and Gilly learn how to read. We saw the young princess bond with Gilly on season five, when they were both at Castle Black.
The scene was given added emotional weight with an instrumental version of the song Shireen once sang playing in the background.
During a season three scene with Shireen, she was heard singing an eerie ballad called “It’s Always Summer Under the Sea.”
The melody of that song is the same music heard on the season eight scene when Davos has a visceral reaction to seeing the young Winterfell girl in front of him.
During the War Room session, we got a peek at the battle plans for the coming fight.
From left to right on the top, the plan is to have House Stark and Arryn forces on the left (where Brienne will lead), then Targaryen and Dothraki fighters in the center. On the far right is more Stark soldiers.
Inside the castle walls, House Mormont (led by Lady Lyanna) will apparently protect the main holdfast. Then there’s a blank black tile, marking a mysterious set of people. Perhaps this indicates where the crypts are, but we can’t be sure.
We also know House Greyjoy will be posted in the godswood with Bran, aka the Three-Eyed raven.
Meanwhile, Sam Tarly keeps reminding us of those important books he stole. What could be inside them?
Upon the ramparts, Sam talked to Jon and Edd about the books he stole from the Citadel library. What exactly are those books? Is there important information in them? Sam poached them from the restricted section of the library, where tales about the Long Night and Azor Ahai were kept.
We had hoped to get a peek in them before the big battle started, thinking there might be useful info inside for our heroes. But we’re still waiting for whatever those pages will reveal.
When Arya found out Gendry was a Baratheon, the weight of that revelation added fuel to a fun fan theory.
Back on the pilot episode of “Game of Thrones,” Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark spoke in the crypts of Winterfell about their families.
“I have a son – you have a daughter,” Robert said. “We’ll join our houses.”
King Robert was referring to Joffrey and Sansa but, as we soon learned, Joffrey wasn’t Robert’s son at all but the bastard of Cersei and Jaime.
Fans have spent years hoping that line might foreshadow a romance between Gendry and Arya, the real son and daughter of Robert and Ned. And tonight they got their wish (just sans the arranged betrothal part).
Tyrion and Jaime mention the Siege of Pyke and Whispering Wood, two battles with loaded significance.
Tyrion calls Jaime the “fabled hero of the Siege of Pyke.” That fight happened decades before the contemporary events of “Game of Thrones,” but Jaime had a meaningful conversation with one of the Stark household soldiers about it on the first season.
On season one, Jaime was standing guard duty when Jory — one of Ned Stark’s most trusted men — came to him with a message.
The two exchanged pleasantries, and talk turned to the battle at the Siege of Pyke, where they had fought side by side. Jory mentioned how he nearly lost an eye fighting one of the Greyjoy men.
The next time Jaime and Jory saw each other was when Jaime and the Lannister men attacked Ned in the streets of King’s Landing.
Jory tried to take Jaime on single-handedly, but Jaime shoved his dagger through Jory’s eye, killing him instantly and bringing their earlier conversation around full circle.
Back on our season eight episode, Jaime calls himself the “fabled loser of the battle of Whispering Wood.”
This was the first major battle Robb Stark won. He surprised the Lannister forces and captured Jaime, which eventually led to Jaime’s release with Brienne and the loss of his hand.
Given how Jaime-centric Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones” was, it’s fitting for us to be reminded of these two monumental character moments for Jaime. The first is an example of his previous cutthroat loyalty to his family, and the latter shows how far the relationship between House Stark and Lannister has come.
Meanwhile, that emotional knighting ceremony was a deep reference to George R.R. Martin’s books.
In addition to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, Martin wrote three novellas set in Westeros about 100 years prior to the events of “Game of Thrones.”
Each novella follows the tales of a knight called Ser Duncan the Tall and a young Targaryen prince known simply as Egg. Ser Duncan even got name-dropped on the fourth season of “Game of Thrones,” when King Joffrey was reading through the White Book of the Kingsguard.
Ser Duncan the Tall is Brienne of Tarth’s ancestor.
After years of fans speculating that the unusually tall Ser Duncan might be one of Brienne’s ancestors, Martin confirmed the theory at a convention in 2016. The three “Dunk and Egg” novellas were packaged into a single book called “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Knowing Brienne’s shared heritage with the chivalrous Ser Duncan made that incredible knighting ceremony all the more powerful when Jaime said, “Arise, Brienne of Tarth, a knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
The song Podrick sang was pulled straight from the books, and it’s known as “Jenny’s Song.”
For now, here are the full lyrics to Podrick’s version:
“High in the halls of the kings who are gone Jenny would dance with her ghosts The ones she had lost and the ones she had found And the ones who had loved her the most The ones who’d been gone for so very long She couldn’t remember their names
“They spun her around on the damp old stones Spun away all her sorrow and pain And she never wanted to leave Never wanted to leave (x5)”
The version that played as the credits on the episode ran was by Florence and the Machine.
Just after Jon Snow dropped the bombshell news of his parentage on Daenerys, the Night King’s army arrived and the episode faded on an ominous note. Watch the lyric video for the Florence and the Machine version of “Jenny of Oldstones” here.
For more “Game of Thrones” insights like these from INSIDER’s Kim Renfro, preorder her book “The Unofficial Guide to ‘Game of Thrones'” now.
- Read more:
- Next week’s ‘Game of Thrones’ episode will be nearly 90 minutes of epic battle
- ‘Game of Thrones’ finally delivered some key answers about the Night King and what he wants
- Why Theon and Sansa are the perfect non-romantic pairing on ‘Game of Thrones’
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