‘Game of Thrones’ 8×02 Review: A Tale of Three Love Stories

Winter is here, and with it comes the army of the dead, we only have four more episodes left of Game of Thrones, and I can  – and should – legitimately spend every single second of this review talking about shippy stuff, so we’re either seeing our fondest dreams come to life, or our biggest nightmares.

For me, it’s a dream. This show has given us precious little to be happy about in the last seven seasons, and there comes a point where we become jaded. I, for one, had decided to go into the season thinking everyone was going to die, so I would be pleasantly surprised if someone survived, and not crushed if my favorites died.

Apparently all it took for me to get lost in the feels and toss common sense aside was this episode. Because in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” Game of Thrones contrasted the two love stories that the show set up seasons and seasons ago without any seeming payoff with the one love story we always thought we were going to get, and the song of ice and fire was found lacking.

To be fair, Jon and Daenerys can be the song of ice and fire without that meaning happiness, in fact, I never really expected a straightforward happy ending for this tale, but I thought we were going to get so into the feels for the main couple, incest or not, that we were going to suffer at the end.

We indeed will suffer, but at least when it comes to me, it won’t be because of Jonerys, but because of Gendrya and Braime.

So let’s go into the three contrasting love stories, the setup, and the fight that’s most certainly coming as we talk “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

THE KNIGHTS OF OLD

Look, I’m taking that knighting ceremony to be the equivalent of a marriage, weirder things have happened in Westeros, so you will have to pry this headcanon off my dead, cold hands.

Remember when Jaime and Brienne met? Remember going from hating each other, to not understanding each other, to trusting each other, to respecting each other? Did you believe we’d ever get here, to this moment, where these two are literally standing in a room filled with people staring at each other with the biggest heart eyes ever in the closest thing to a declaration of love these characters are ever likely to get? Did you?

I hoped, but I never really believed it. Not with Game of Thrones. The setup, as I mentioned before, was there. Brienne was the first person to truly believe in Jaime’s honor, to trust that he was better than what the world thought of him. Jaime was the first person to believe Brienne could be the thing the world told him she’d never become, and not just that, the first person to trust she’d be more than capable at it.

And now here they are, getting ready to fight side by side, because there’s literally nowhere else they’d rather be. They are those nights of old now, both of them, and the only way to face the long night is side by side.

This, however, doesn’t mean that what Jaime and Brienne have isn’t a love story – it most certainly is, even if it’s not the normal love story. But in a way, that’s what makes it even more important, what makes it transcendental. That a man like Jaime could look at Brienne and see through the scowl and the metaphorical armor she puts around her heart, and that a woman like Brienne could see Jaime and look behind the bravado to see the real, kind soul …that’s the stuff of fairy tales.

So this, tonight, this is what canon looks like for a couple like Jaime and Brienne. Together. She vouched for him, and he vouched for her, and now they go, together, to face what comes next. Whether they make it out, or not, their story is now one and the same.

Love, like death, takes many forms, after all.

MILADY

Though Arya and Gendrya met when she was way too young for shipping to be truly comfortable, there was, of course, a clear setup for them from the beginning as well, not just in their interactions, but in who they were, and what that would mean for the story that was being told.

But yes, it’s been six years, and Arya was 12 then, 18 now, and we just don’t ship 12 year olds with anyone, no matter how cute the whole Milady thing was. And yet, the thing is, back then, it was cute in a way that didn’t mean we wanted them together then, it was cute in a way that meant they were family.

Six years later, Gendry and Arya are still family, they are just new layers to their relationship, and I think part of that journey required them to be apart for so long. If they’d stayed together it’s possible this wouldn’t have turned romantic, because the family aspect would have been too ingrained. As it stands, though, we can appreciate Arya checking him out constantly; just as we can appreciate the way Gendry looks at her as if she hung the moon with her bare hands.

And the thing is, Gendry doesn’t love her because she’s Arya Stark, he loves her because she’s Arry and because she’s No One, because he loves all of who she is, all of what she can do, and because he trusts her, implicitly, to tell him the truth, to be able to defend herself, and more importantly, to decide if she wants him or not.

Similarly, if Arya can go to Gendry, in a way she’s never wanted to go to anyone, is because she trusts him, trusts him to want her for the right reasons, no matter the banter, trusts him to see more than just a lady, to see her, really and truly. This isn’t Arya saying just hey, let’s fuck before the end of the world comes, this is Arya also staking a claim, in case the world doesn’t end.

And boy, do I really want it not to. For the two of them, if nothing else.

THE SONG OF ICE AND FIRE

Jon and Daenerys had a rougher episode, not the least of which because Jon was avoiding Daenerys so he wouldn’t have to, you know, confess he was actually her nephew. And then, of course, there was the fact that she, predictably, didn’t take it well. This, of course, leaves us where we always thought we were going to be, at a crossroads, and looking more and more like this song of ice and fire is not really a love story, but a tragedy.

And yet, it seems just too obvious, too cut and dry. Can Daenerys become the Mad Queen? Yes. Is there setup for her to go that road? Arguably, yes. Is this a satisfying ending to the story? I’d say no, but that doesn’t mean others might not disagree with me. Is it unpredictable? Hell no.

This is what makes me pause. Certainly a happy ending, or at least an ending where Dany decides that the fact that Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen isn’t the worst thing in the world is less likely than the tragic end, but then again, maybe that’s why we’ll get it? Maybe, like Tyrion joked, they survive, and realize none of this truly matters?

Either way, though Emilia and Kit are certainly aesthetically pleasing together, and though I have no real complaints about their chemistry together, I just don’t feel anything when I see Jon and Daenerys together. I don’t get excited, and I don’t look for gifs, or fic, or even care about re-watching their scenes. They’re a part of the show, and that’s it and though I would certainly mourn both characters separately were they to perish, I’m not sure I would truly mourn the relationship.

Which isn’t exactly what you want of your main “ship.”

But, you could have argued, Game of Thrones isn’t about ships. And I would have agreed with you. I mean, it’s not like the ships in the show had ever been done right, so what standards was I judging against?

Except now I do have a point of comparison, and sadly, Jonerys just came up short.

Things I think I think:

  • The whole first scene could have been summarized this way: Jaime does what Brienne asked, period.
  • I started having heart palpitations when Brienne vouched for Jaime and basically never stopped.
  • Sansa’s whole: If Brienne trusts him, then I trust him vibe was a whole-ass fucking MOOD.
  • Gendry and Arya’s whole flirting/courtship scenario is so them that I’m legitimately sad we’re only getting this in Season 8.
  • I’m glad Jaime and Tyrion got some time together, before the end.
  • Jaime Lannister is in love with Brienne of Tarth, PASS IT ON.
  • No, but seriously, the way he was looking at her? He never looked at Cersei that way.
  • Or anyone, for that matter.
  • HE SAID HE’D BE HONORED TO SERVE UNDER HER COMMAND.
  • The glow up Sansa Stark has done is unparalleled, I swear.
  • Fine, I forgive you, Theon. Not sure you deserve it, but I forgive you.
  • I legitimately screamed when Arya kissed Gendry. Like, the setup was clear, I knew it was coming, and I STILL screamed.
  • I’m that Meredith Grey drowning gif, and the ocean is my feels.
  • Tywin would find it ironic that they were all gonna die at Winterfell, on that Tyrion is correct.
  • I SWEAR TO GOD, IF YOU SHOW ME 0.2 SECONDS OF GHOST ONLY TO KILL HIM NEXT EPISODE.
  • *shakes head at blowing all the budget on dragons*
  • Hey, Game of Thrones, imagine that, when there’s sufficient build up and emotion behind a sex scene, it can actually be beautiful. Glad you finally figured that out.
  • Gendry’s FACE at Arya, every second. He’s so in LOVE, and he can’t believe he gets to be with her, even if just for a moment.
  • Tormund’s whole milk story was just so …Tormund.
  • I’ll be crying about Jaime making Brienne a knight for the next week.
  • She’s just so …good, and pure, and just …a role model.
  • For everyone.
  • I’m trying to mentally prepare for my favorites to die but now that my walls have cracked I just CAN’T GO BACK.
  • The song broke me.
  • Also, is that a vibe between Sansa and Theon? Do I detect a vibe?
  • Not that it matters because he’s my #1 pick to die quickly.
  • Well, him and Grey Worm.
  • Also, I’m ignoring that whole thing about how Jaime said in season 5 he wanted to die in the arms of the woman he loved, because that’s absolutely not t the kind of thing I should be thinking about right now, not after he and Brienne basically declared their love for each other, and ESPECIALLY NOT WHEN A BIG FREAKING BATTLE IS COMING.
  • Heat Wave Sun GIF
  • God, I’m so hoping the thing with Daenerys’ reaction is a misdirect. I really am. Because it’s all setting up to be a tragedy, and I don’t want that.
  • All the cripples, bastards and broken things are set up for redemption. Talk about full circle.
  • I’M NOT READY FOR NEXT WEEK.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.