Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” Written Recap Round-Up

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Welcome back, mine fellow legions of Game of Thrones fans. Hopefully everyone survived the long week between episodes; it was hard, but we made it! From a plot standpoint, ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ was about as uneventful an episode of GOT as you can imagine, but from a character standpoint it may have been the most eventful of all time. So which way did the critics tilt?

Every week, I’ll be deconstructing the multitude of reviews out there, boiling them down to one short summary sentence that will perfectly encapsulate what the original author was saying, no questions asked…and by that I mean that I will deconstruct whole essays down to one sentence apiece. What I will do is attempt to summarize the original review as best I can, and if my tease whets your appetite for their style of review, you are encouraged to head over to their site and let them know…after of course letting us know your thoughts in the comments below. All squared? Jolly good, let’s dive in.

Here at Watchers on the Wall, we encourage you to ‘Always Support the Bottom.’ This naturally extends to your support of our editor-in-chief Sue the Fury, and her ‘Sullied recap‘ of the episode, in which her background knowledge of the books informs her perspective on the episode. Once you’ve done that, you would do well to support our peerless Oz of Thrones‘s ‘Unsullied recap,’ in which his fearless determination to avoid reading the books has outlasted all others, continuing on for 8 full seasons. After this, you can check out what these Internet critics thought of ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’:

Akhil Arora, Gadgets 360 – In which he notes that the sweet moments are likely to be followed by brutal, heart-wrenching ones.

Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone – In which he does a deep dive into the knighting of Ser Brienne of Tarth, first of her name.

Alex McLevy, The A.V. Club – In which he claims Bran Stark is the ‘avatar’ for everyone at Winterfell, and the forward momentum of what past memory does for the future.

Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post – In which she believes Dany is most human when her brittleness and rigidity are in full bloom.

Caroline Framke, Variety – In which she revels in the satisfaction of spending the night with so many characters we’ve come to hold dear, as they drink and reminisce.

Dave Gonzales, Thrillist – In which he believes that with all of Theon’s arcs tied up, he will die in the next episode.

David Malitz, The Washington Post – In which he thinks it’s nice that the show finally acknowledges that Tyrion has become something of an idiot lately.

David Rosenblatt, Squinty Overanalyzes Things – In which David – Hey wait, that’s me! I wrote this review. No free peeks. Go check it out!

Hillary Kelly, Vulture – In which she says the episode was nostalgic, heartwarming, and contains the sexiest sex scene in GOT history.

Ian Thomas Malone, Personal Blog – In which she thinks that fan service, while sometimes a little forced, is not a bad way to spend an episode.

James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly – In which he parallels the Stark/Baratheon bond that was once to be Sansa/Joffrey and how it has been replaced with Arya/Gendry.

Jeremy Egner, New York Times – In which he liked Bran’s reference to “The things I do for love,” suggesting it was an excellent callback and fun way to mess with a guy.

Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair – In which she dives into the subtext of the Davos/Gilly interaction.

Josh Wigler, Hollywood Reporter – In which he recaps from a mostly objective standpoint, neglecting to delve into the subjective.

Julia Alexander, The Verge – In which she likens the reunion-based episode to pre-snap Thanos.

Kaitlin Thomas, TV Guide – In which she calls out Brienne as the epitome of goodness.

Kathryn VanArendonk, Vulture – In which she defends the right of Arya Stark to be a teenager.

Kelly Lawler, USA Today – In which she thinks everything came full-circle, and played like a greatest hits album.

Kim Renfro – Business Insider – In which she goes into detail on details you caught and details you missed.

Laura Hudson, WIRED – In which she can oddly see Tyrion becoming a Littlefinger of sorts.

Laura Stone, Hey Don’t Judge Me – In which LAURA. LOVES. LOYAL. BITCHES.

Lauren Sarner, New York Post – In which she concludes who will survive the impending battle with the undead, based largely on moments from episode 2.

Lindsey Romain, Nerdist – In which she discusses why Brienne of Tarth is the MVP of the episode.

Mark Perigard, Boston Herald – In which Arya and Gendry’s intimate moment may have been the hardest moment for him to watch.

Michael Schick,  Hypable – In which she declares Tyrion’s character to be the representation of the episode itself.

Michael Rogeau, Gamespot – In which he thought it was just another episode filled with build-up and anticipation, with the promise of something monumental waiting just over the horizon.

Melanie McFarland, Salon – In which she braces boldly for the aches that will come following Podrick’s inevitable demise.

Mike Bloom, Parade – In which the latest news around Westeros is reported.

Natalie Mokry, Film School Rejects – In which she deduces that Dany’s origin storyline as the ultimate GOT villain kicks off with the gut punch that is the Aegon reveal.

Neela Debnath, Express – In which she believes the episode was jam-packed with wonderful character scenes.

Olivia St. James, That Shelf – In which she thinks Ramin Djawadi’s score during the Sansa/Dany discussion was spot on.

Rob Bricken, io9 – In which he thinks the thoughtful character moments the premiere lacked were in this episode instead.

Ron Hogan, Den of Geek –In which he praises the entire company of actors, among whom he finds zero slouches.

Sarah Hughes, The Guardian – In which she finds Theon pledging to defend Bran to the death among the episode’s most heartbreaking moments.

Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone – In which he calls out writer Bryan Cogman and director David Nutter for digging into the rich library of character relationships, finding the heartwrenching stuff at the center.

Soumya Srivastava, Hindustan Times – In which she loves that the episode reassures us of the humanity, kindness, loyalty, and friendship capable of the characters in GOT, and why they are the ones to root for.

Todd VanDerWerff, Vox – In which he looks at the eight winners and four losers of the episode.

Tori Preston, Pajiba – In which she portends that some of the most memorable moments from this amazing, infuriating, and confounding show will be contained in this episode.

Verne Gay, Newsday – In which he thinks the most crucial scene was Dany’s and Sansa’s Mexican standoff.

Thanks for joining this week. Whose reviews did you love/hate, with all due respect of course, and as always?

38 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. I’m sure this was touched on in another thread but if you’ve watched either the Inside the Ep or The Game Revealed (I can’t remember which one it was in but I think it was the latter) Bryan Cogman literally chokes up talking about how much he loves these characters. I think he’s received his fair share of hatred from the hardcores, mostly because of Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, he acquitted himself admirably here with his last episode. And yes, it was “fan-service-y” in a way that the novels and the show prior to S6 rarely was, but so freaking what? Is every form of entertainment that uplifts us with storylines we want to see trash? I think GoT in particular is criticized very harshly when it comes to fan-service because it’s basically been the anti-fan service show (up to a point). I remember reading Joffrey’s death scene in the books and not quite believing it was happening because nothing “good” or what you want to happen ever happens in Westeros. But GRRM was always good with doling out a little hope and happiness after A LOT of heartbreak. Was Arya wiping out House Frey fan-service? Yup. Loved it anyway.

      So anyway, long story short, as much as WE love this show and these characters, the actors, writers, creators – they all love it more than we could possibly imagine. So be gentle with them these last few eps if they don’t nail every little thing. This show, and its ending, are a gift and I hope to god none of us gets hit by a bus before May 19th so we can finally see how it ends!

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    2. The episode was like the family reuniting at the hospital while waiting to see how the grandma is.
      It is absolutly fantastic. They all have come a long way, they are more humans than ever (even Arya and Brann), they leave all differences behind, they know (and we know) they are all going to die in the next episode.
      And we needed to say goodbye to them. Neither Jon nor Daenerys would have gotten there if it wasnt for them.
      Amazing.

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    3. Although it is true that idiots are wrong a lot more than are smart people, smart people get things wrong an awful lot, too. Tyrion has been wrong a lot: but he has not been wrong in a way that an idiot would be.

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    4. Laura: Was Arya wiping out House Frey fan-service? Yup. Loved it anyway.

      eh, it also fed the plot. It left the Lannisters in even more dire straits to get allies, and that in turn is part of what led them to push hard to get the Tarleys. Sure, it could have happened anyway: but it provided an obvious impetus.

      And, besides: what about all of the fans who think that this means that Arya is insane or evil or something: they probably don’t feel serviced! 😎

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    5. “An episode this great is more, frankly, than I had hoped for after GoT‘s sluggish recent seasons.”

      I always feel like there’s amnesia with reviewers, maybe because they watch so much tv. But I recall for a fact Sepinwall saying that The Door, Winds of Winter and Spoils of War were all timers.

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    6. Cosca:
      “An episode this great is more, frankly, than I had hoped for after GoT‘s sluggish recent seasons.”

      I always feel like there’s amnesia with reviewers, maybe because they watch so much tv. But I recall for a fact Sepinwall saying that The Door, Winds of Winter and Spoils of War were all timers.

      He’s always been so weird about Game of Thrones. It’s like he really wanted to dislike it and was just writing about it to service whatever site he was writing for at the time’s visitors but then he grudgingly fell in love with it along the way. But he always has to remind us that he normally doesn’t go for this fantasy shit and it’s no Sopranos or Breaking Bad *angrily yells at cloud that Sopranos fade to black was best ending ever* (he forgets that The Sopranos had some BAD episodes. Really bad. And that BB’s finale was as fan-service-y as they get while still “doing what they had to do” in terms of who had to die/who got to live etc)

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    7. Lloyd Christmas, I guess Hillary Kelly is still one of those that somewhat believes the waif is wearing Arya’s face. It’s a dumb theory! I erased the rest of my comments on it since it doesn’t really matter in this conversation… It just doesn’t make sense or even work in the books or support anything done on the show since, so… yeah, dumb.

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    8. The Rolling Stone review was a bit of a tear jerker. I too feel like a lot of goodbyes were said in those interactions. Unlike Sepinwall I think it will be Jaime to die not Brienne. I really think he has to die in the arms of the woman he loves. That remark to Bronn has never left me. Unlike Tyrion’s dying wish, I think we will see Jaime’s (thank the gods!)

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    9. Clob,

      Totally dumb. That theory had legs for all of 5 minutes. Why would The Waif go after Walder Frey? How would she recognize all of these people, like Hotpie or The Hound or Gendry or even Jon? Let alone Nymeria. Even if face-wearing came with memories (and I’ve seen nothing to suggest that it does), there would be no emotion accompanying it.

      That theory is dead. Long live Arya Stark.

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    10. KellieisComing,

      What about Brienne’s comment of “Who wants to die defending a Lannister?”

      I personally think both will happen such as Brienne is mortally wounded protecting Jaime who is in a similar state, and then after she succeeds they die in each other’s arms. I think Jaime is much more likely to survive if only one of them makes it. We will know in a few weeks.

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    11. KellieisComing:
      The Rolling Stone review was a bit of a tear jerker. I too feel like a lot of goodbyes were said in those interactions. Unlike Sepinwall I think it will be Jaime to die not Brienne. I really think he has to die in the arms of the woman he loves. That remark to Bronn has never left me. Unlike Tyrion’s dying wish, I think we will see Jaime’s (thank the gods!)

      Wimsey:
      Although it is true that idiots are wrong a lot more than are smart people, smart people get things wrong an awful lot, too. Tyrion has been wrong a lot: but he has not been wrong in a way that an idiot would be.

      Fully agree on those.
      Still pulling for Brienne’s survival if Jaime dies (so she can fill in his blank pages, and maybe-just-maybe get closer to Tormund…)

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    12. well at least reviews agree with me that this should of been the first episode, and the first one sucked,
      they really wasted a whole episode in that first one, as all they done was repeat what they done but better in the 2nd one,

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    13. It’s been interesting to see that the breakdown in opinion over the Arya/Gendry scene breaks down (roughly) by gender. Female reviewers generally appear to be fine with it, if not outright celebratory.

      Male reviewers…well, have not digested it maturely, by and large.

      Specifically, I’ve seen several male reviewers claim the scene made them uncomfortable because of the age difference between Arya and Gendry, and the fact that the audience has literally watched Arya grow up on the show.

      I find very little merit in either position, and it really exhibits the simple truth that men, in large part, still struggle to navigate the realm of sexual politics since the Sexual Revolution and especially #MeToo has decisively taken so much of the power dominance men used to enjoy in that realm.

      Arya has grown into a confident woman. She wanted to experience this major life event before she (maybe) dies. The sexual tension between she and Gendry has existed since Season 2. She acted on it, because she has no reason not to.

      If that made you uncomfortable, ask yourself WHY. Because a girl grew into a woman with agency who made a decision about her body? That happens in the real world literally every single day.

      Or, as my wife put it, “So they’re more bent out of shape by Arya engaging in sexual behavior than when she murders a literal room full of people?”

      As a man, the response by those male reviewers who have chosen to address the scene has been depressingly bad.

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    14. I like what Michal Schick says about Tyrion being the episode. On rewatch, I thought Tyrion was the audience commenting the show, which may be kind of the same feeling. Anticipating the end (We’re going to die /Not the death that was written for us, GRRM mislead me), changing his mind when he’s with friends (“or maybe I think we may live, I really do: what are main characters and plot armors for, after all?”), making theories (“I may come to Cersei as an undead – hey, could still be the valonqar”), analyzing characters (Ser Brienne, I believe in Dany, you knew what Cersei was), noting down information (eventually, I was not a traitor, just an idiot, underestimated the enemy; hum, why is Jon avoiding Dany? maybe Bran has the clue for this story). After all, Tyrion has always been a reader… And of course, let’s dwell together a bit longer and sing a song, because next episode will be a tough one.

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    15. sellsword:
      well at least reviews agree with me that this should of been the first episode, and the first one sucked,
      they really wasted a whole episode in that first one, as all they done was repeat what they done but better in the 2nd one,

      I think I’m in the rare minority that somewhat enjoyed the first one more.

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    16. I have had a thought about how the plot might advance from here.
      the dead win the battle of winterfell but not defeat the army of the north. At least 50% of the army of the north escape via the crypts, but with the aotd hot on their tails jon states the obvious that the dead don’t need sleep while the living do and that the end is neigh if they don’t rethink things. He talks to varys and asks if he could safely hide Bran in the underground labyrinth under the red keep. varys replies that he could hide an entire army in those catacombs if he so wished, in fact he could lose an entire army down there if that was desired. Jon replies with, hold onto that thought, we may yet need it. But what i need you to do now is get bran on the back of drogon with daenerys and get her to drop you off at kings landing at night and get him to safety under the red keep, Bran is the night kings target and it will get him off our back.
      That is done. and the aotd stop chasing the army of the north and start following bran.
      Daenerys, bran, arya, the hound, dondarrion and varys arrive at kings landing and quickly secure brans safety under the red keep. the night king arrives soon after and starts bombing kings landing, the aotd will be about a week behind, and the northern army a further day behind that.
      varys spends the week reasserting his patronage over his little birds and may even deal with qyburn.
      the night king is incensed by the pugnacity of the golden company, seemingly defending bran and resolves to wipe them off the face of the planet as part of the deal of taking bran out.
      The night king is slowly, piece by piece eroding the golden companies defences when the aotd arrive, and start turning the first of the peasants.
      Cersie wants to ignite all the wildfire to prevent the aotd growing out of control.
      Bad luck, varys has removed the primers from all the wildfire excepting those around the perimeter of kings landing. the bulk of the people of kings landing are saved. the perimeter of wildfire around kings landing is preventing the aotd from getting in but it is also preventing the golden company from getting at the aotd.
      The next day the fire has died down and fighting can begin and it is not long before it is obvious that the golden company is going to lose. It is at that moment that the army of the north turns up and catch the aotd in a hammer and anvil, and crush them and the night king.
      On being saved the golden company realize that they can now not fight against their saviors and tell cersie so.
      Bran and varys and co, come out of hiding.
      just a thought that i was thinking made a bit of sense.

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    17. Mr Derp,

      Completely agree! As a woman, I hate it when people try to push this divisive narrative. A cursory search in Youtube from male and female reactors will show that the reception to that Arya/Gendry scene was equally mixed: some people clutched their pearls, others were much more celebratory.

      On the pearl-clutching camp, the most common argument was that it’s was uncomfortable because it was like watching your little sister having sex… And to some extent, I’m sympathetic to that argument. I’ve recently learned that my little brother has become sexually active and even though I’m happy for him, I really don’t want to know the details of his sex life.

      Having said that, it still amazes me how some people have no problem with a “child soldier” killing willy nilly but they are all up in arms the moment a young woman takes control of her own sexuality.

      So, even though I have never given two flying ducks for Arya, good for her!!!

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    18. Triskan,

      That’s why it’s good there is a little something different for everybody in the world, Hey Don’t Judge Me Laura, is absurd and pretentious to the point of parody in my view, but I’m glad you enjoy it.

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    19. Mr Derp:
      David Rosenblatt,

      I said females because the person I was replying to said male, so I said female.

      Let’s not get divisive over semantics, ok?

      Thanks

      Oh, my sweet summer child. Haven’t you heard that freaking out over semantics is the name of the game nowadays ? It’s 2019 ! If you’re not yelling at someone for using the wrong word, you’re doing it wrong.

      It’s also a little sad that some people think the word “female” is an insult. Didn’t realize there was anything wrong with being a female, or a male, or anything else.

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    20. I had no problem with the Gendrya scene save for having to remind myself that she/Maisie wasn’t a kid anymore, despite how she looks. xD It was slightly weird visually for that reason. I’ve seen a lot of people say “But we watched her grow up and it was like watching your little sister and the male writers wanted to have their child star get naked asap.” But the bottom line is, doesn’t matter, she’s old enough. The character wanted to have their crush consummated physically because the end of the world might well be upon them, so why not just have at it? (Personally, the nudity/sex is really never a bother. It’s something I feel just a little detached from; although I’ve always considered myself straight, at 31 I have no desire to toss the v-card or even get a bf unless he’s my 100% perfect match, so. x-p I express my limited romantic side via shipping, and thus far I’m satisfied with seeing nekked people onscreen!) Also I see zero problem with referring to women as “females” or men as “males.” They’re synonymous.

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    21. shelle:
      I had no problem with the Gendrya scene save for having to remind myself that she/Maisie wasn’t a kid anymore, despite how she looks. xD It was slightly weird visually for that reason. I’ve seen a lot of people say “But we watched her grow up and it was like watching your little sister and the male writers wanted to have their child star get naked asap.” But the bottom line is, doesn’t matter, she’s old enough. The character wanted to have their crush consummated physically because the end of the world might well be upon them, so why not just have at it? (Personally, the nudity/sex is really never a bother. It’s something I feel just a little detached from; although I’ve always considered myself straight, at 31 I have no desire to toss the v-card or even get a bf unless he’s my 100% perfect match, so. x-p I express my limited romantic side via shipping, and thus far I’m satisfied with seeing nekked people onscreen!) Also I see zero problem with referring to women as “females” or men as “males.” They’re synonymous.

      Far too often, as is the case above, people refer to “men” and “females” in the same sentence. It relegates women to something more in the animal kingdom than humans. I’ve talked to far too many women who don’t like it. If it’s not good enough for them, it’s not good enough for me.

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    22. Nick20: Didn’t realize there was anything wrong with being a female, or a male, or anything else.

      I thought it was a bit strange to call me out for saying the word “female”, but apparently using the word “male” is perfectly fine. I didn’t realize that double standards are perfectly acceptable.

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    23. Nick20,

      Yes, it is a shame when you get people mansplaining that using the term “female” is wrong. Nothing wrong with using it, depending on the context. I’ve seen both men and women criticise the Arya scene, although I had absolutely no problem with it. It was sensitively shot and written. If you had had full-frontal nudity I would have been uncomfortable, because it would have been gratuitous, but it made sense both in-universe and in real life. I mean, how many times have we seen scenes like that in other shows, but with a young man losing his virginity before a big battle. Nice to see the reverse happen for once.

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    24. Ah, well, since we technically are animals, either set of terms is fine by me; I rarely even take notice…though I guess mixing them could be weirdly inconsistent. “Women and males,” “men and females.” x-p

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