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Season 8, episode 2 (updated)

Ken Ilgunas and David Dalton are reviewing each episode of the final season of Game of Thrones. Check the “Game of Thrones” category to list all of these posts.


Mornin’, Ken …

Well, was I ever wrong last week. I expected treachery at at Winterfell. But I didn’t realize that we were right on the edge of battle. So instead of treachery we got a series of very tender goodbyes, as well as the long-awaited scene between Jon and Daenerys. I’m afraid that, next week, we’re going to be writing a bunch of obituaries. It’s Brienne whom I’m most worried about.

You predicted last week that Jaime will die in the arms of Brienne. I wonder if it mightn’t be the other way around — that Brienne will die in the arms of Jaime. Foreshadowing in Game of Thrones often doesn’t mean what we think it means, but it seems to me that Brienne’s death is all too clearly foreshadowed. Jaime makes her a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, providing her with a deep sense of gratification for all her selfless sacrifice and sublimated love. Podrick, revealing a very fine voice, sings a sad song, “And she never wanted to leave.” A different voice picks up the same song as the titles roll. The song is a dirge. It was heartbreaking.

I rarely make predictions about Game of Thrones, but if the day is saved in the coming battle, then I think that Brienne will do it.

As a matter of drama, I can imagine a better job of giving viewers a stronger sense of hopelessness and impending doom. Still, we are clearly to understand that the characters all believe that they may be living their last hours. The series’ long investment in rich, complex, lovable characters is now paying dividends in the kind of scenes we got in this episode. Some of what happened was obviously going to happen — for example, Arya and Gendry. But there also were a great many subtle touches where the love between the characters is loftier than the ripping off of costumes, such as the looks that Brienne and Podrick were giving each other just before Jaime knighted Brienne. Clearly they know each other very well, and they have told each other many things. It’s hard for me to imagine Brienne without Podrick, or Podrick without Brienne. Next week’s episode is not going to be easy to watch.

It was Bran who had the plan, with Bran himself as bait. Let’s hope that Bran’s plan will work.

Where was Varys? How could he have been overlooked? Is he away and up to something?

I had assumed that the great battle with the dead would be postponed until the last or next-to-last episode. If the great battle comes in the third episode, then that will leave three more episodes for struggles among the remaining characters, plus some denouement. A long epic deserves a long denouement. It should be the sweetest part of a good story, as long as the writers follow the rules of classic storytelling — and I greatly hope they do.


Morning David. My god, that was a good episode. I’d go so far to say that it was among the best episodes. Almost all the actors nailed their little scenes, as short as they were. [Jamie and Brienne on the training grounds; the three Crows; Sam and Jorah; Arya and Gendry all glistening with sweat by the forge (their sex scene, not so much); Dany and Sansa; Dany and Jon; and one of the briefest was among the bestest: Sansa greeting Theon, and later them lovingly looking upon one another over a bowl of soup–that’s a perfect example of how so much can be done with so little.]

And of course the fireside scene! This sort of scene is what GoT was missing last season. Last season, the dialogue on the expedition north of the wall seemed too chummy and forced. The dialogue at the all-star conference in Kings Landing seemed so stilted and dry and humorless and full of tiresome exposition. It could have been a grand scene, but it was lifeless. Here, by the fire, we heard good stories, saw a lot of character, and felt the atmosphere with the characters: enjoying with them a bit of wine and warmth before the storm to come. And we were reminded of what they’re all trying to save: the best of their civilization, as all of these characters exemplify honor, loyalty, justice, forbearance, and compromise.

It was only natural that it ended with a moving knighting ceremony and a song. It was the little moments that won the scene, like the mischievous and warm smile Tyrion gave to Pod upon handing him an overflowing cup of wine. (Side note: There were a few other great smiles in the episode, including Gendry’s titillated grin upon watching Arya skillfully fling daggers.) (Extra side note: Verys’s presence at the fireside might have been inappropriate because, although he is a virtuous character, his career in espionage might have subtracted from the purity of the gathering.)

At this point, the show is moving confidently toward the end, with far more poise than I anticipated, and I’m glad to admit that I may have been wrong to have doubted the writers two blog entries ago…

Some stray thoughts…

– A friend once pointed out to me that GoT battle scenes are almost always creative. This is certainly true: think of the tightening circle in the Battle of the Bastards, where everyone was getting trampled to death, or the cool ways the Night’s Watch fended off the attack against the wildlings at the Wall. We’re bound to see some really interesting battle scenes. But I’m struggling to imagine how all the moving parts will interact. We have the forces at Winterfell vs. The Dead vs. Cersei’s mercenaries. What will the battle sequence be?

– I’m also interested in what they’re going to do with the remaining four episodes. (This season has six.) The first two episodes were set-up episodes. I’m guessing the next two will be epic war episodes, with whom and versus whom, I don’t know. And then maybe we get two more as an epilogue, or as denouement, as you say? Doesn’t this all seem a bit rushed to you? If this is one of the biggest battles in this world’s history, shouldn’t it take up more than 1-2 episodes? I wouldn’t mind three. I wouldn’t even mind a whole season set aside for military maneuvers, though it’s easy for me to suggest such a thing when I have no responsibility for the CGI budget. I fail to see how, in a few epilogue episodes, we figure out who’s the real ruler, how to deal with Cersei, and then send off the surviving cast members with a few goodbyes. There’s a lot to fix in Westeros other than the zombie invasion, right? I would have written for 10 episodes.

– You can’t go wrong with a summarizing lullaby scene, in which we get quick vignette scenes of characters set to the tune of pretty music. I love that shit. It works every time. Braveheart did it well. So did The Wire. They could end the series this way.

– Where is winter, exactly? They’ve been saying winter is coming for 8 seasons now, and there’s pretty much the same amount of snow on the ground.

– I feel the plan to lure the Night King toward Bran is a bit too convenient. The Night King should know that the Living People know that killing one of the White Walkers kills all their followers. I feel like the show is making it a bit too easy for itself to resolve a difficult plot conundrum (a million zombies versus a small castle).

Death prediction possibilities for the next two episodes: Theon, Jaime, Brienne, Jorah, Hound.

Another friend’s prediction/question: Could the dead in the crypt come to life?

More unaccounted for characters: Edmure Tully, Arya’s wolf Nymaria, Meera Reed, the fire witch from Mereen, Robin Arryn.

Unanswered questions: When does the Hound get to take on the Mountain? Will that scorpion dragon-killing contraption make its way north? Is Bronn being commissioned to kill the Lannister brothers the lamest and most predictable story this season? What’s with the Night King’s fascination with his spiral body flesh designs? Who is Azor Ahai?



Was it Josh who thought of the dead in the crypt being revived? It’s a brilliant insight. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think that’s what’s going to happen. The setup is just too perfect. And how like Martin to set up, at the very beginning, something that doesn’t figure back in until many books (and episodes) later.

Still, everything happens with a twist. What could the twist be? Maybe the Winterfell ancestors knew of this possibility, and maybe there is something — maybe something magic — that protects the Winterfell crypts or otherwise alters the outcome? Why does Winterfell have crypts in the first place? Isn’t it the only castle that buries its dead that way?

I am terrified of the next episode…


I wish the insight was mine, but yes, it was Josh’s. I am positive something nasty will happen in the crypts. There were at least three occasions when someone said something like, “It’ll be safer in the crypts.” Which means it’s definitely not safe in the crypts. You’ll remember that Tyrion is one of the few high profile characters assigned to stay in the crypts, so there’ll be some heroics for him to carry out.

And I think you’re correct to think there’s something else about the crypts that we don’t know. Didn’t the youngest Stark have a strange, ghoulish draw to the crypts? Didn’t the three-eyed raven in young Bran’s dreams lead him down there? There could be some magic power or long-dead ancestor that might hold special significance. I believe it was “Bran the Builder” who built Winterfell in a different epoch.

What are some of the wildest theories we could propose? Could it somehow explain the origins of the Night King? Might the dead be seeking nothing short of a resting place (or the ability to rest)? Could the Night King be a Stark? (The Night King does have a strange relationship with Bran, and he has a tendency to stare with wonder at Jon Snow). Some people have proposed that Bran’s ability to travel back in time and change events might play into these last episodes (the way he influenced a young Hodor, who’d eventually “hold the door”). Some have even proposed that the Night King is Bran and the only way to kill the Night King will be to kill Bran. (I picked a few of these insights up from The Ringer’s GoT podcast, Binge Mode, specifically their episode titled, “Our Seven Biggest Questions Ahead of Season 8.” It was so good, and they were so geeky, I actually had to stop listening because they may have been taking away some of the fun of coming up with my own predictions, or the joy of simply being startled by missing something obvious, such as the coming crypt twist. From now on, I’ll probably stick with our own flawed analyses.

Binge Mode: Our Seven Biggest Questions Ahead of Season 8


  1. frigast wrote:

    How many episodes are there – in this the final season ??

    Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 2:27 am | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Frigast… This is the final season. There are four more episodes …

    Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 7:41 am | Permalink
  3. Josh wrote:

    The next episode is going to harrowing.

    There is going to be some wrinkle thrown into the battle. There’s usually one side that is out-strategized by the other in GoT battles, which leads to the victory. There is no way the battle is as straightforward as Jon’s strategy session suggested it will be, so that seems to suggest the Night King will be the one with the clever plan.

    Raising the dead in the crypts fits, though I’m curious what else could happen. Whatever the wrinkle in this battle is, it probably is not good news for the living.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  4. daltoni wrote:

    Josh: Such a good call on the crypts! I am almost afraid to watch the next episode on Sunday night and to wait until daylight instead… 🙂

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  5. Joshua Pruyn wrote:

    Rereading the original entry, I connected my above comment with Ken pointing out the plan to kill the Night King is too convenient. It could be a case of resolving a difficult plot conundrum, as Ken suggested. Or that could be where our heroes are misguided. I’m wondering how the dragons play into all of this too. They are such an overwhelming force, you’d think they’d be decisive unless they are taken out of the equation.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  6. Ken Ilgunas wrote:

    I’m in agreement with all of the above. Indeed, it’s way too early for a definitive, successful victory. We could lose three to five full-fledged characters in Episode Three. More than anything, I want to hear the Night King speak and explain a bit more about what he’s doing and who he is. I will be disappointed if the show only uses him as nothing more than a force of nature.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  7. Josh wrote:

    Generally, I strongly agree that having some background on villians make them much stronger and is better for the story. GoT has been full of villainous characters who you can empathize with. And a couple who are more superficial. I’m not feeling the same urge for the Night King though – who I’ve just generally seen as a symbol of death more than a character.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink
  8. daltoni wrote:

    Josh: You make a good point. With the Night King, there has been no hint or foreshadowing of complex motives or his history that I have detected. He has behaved as though he is interested only in destruction, as Bran said. Still, I agree with Ken that it would be a heck of a scene if he were, say, captured, and interrogated in the Great Room of Winterfell. And because Game of Thrones is attentive to history, surely there must be some history of the Night King that we have not been told. The maesters of the Citadel, if anyone, should have recorded that history. But if any of it has been cited, I’ve missed it.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
  9. JDC wrote:

    I read an interesting note that the Night King wasn’t shown arriving to the battle with the other White Walker bosses. Probably because he’s riding the ice dragon…but perhaps he’s riding that dragon down to King’s Landing?

    Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 10:42 am | Permalink
  10. daltoni wrote:

    JDC: Wouldn’t that teach Cersei a lesson! 🙂

    Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  11. Josh wrote:

    The Night King riding to King’s Landing would certainly fit as the unexpected wrinkle. It also reminds me of Dany’s vision in the House of the Undead when the Red Keep was destroyed and it was snowing.

    Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

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