GOT SEASON 8 EPISODE 2 // REVIEW
The Winterfell Crypts are definitely the safest place of all time ever.
~ Warning: this review contains spoilers ~
So we’ve had some arguments around the office about this episode. Elliot, our resident production and videographer dude, thinks it was far too fluffy, involved too much fan service, and repeated facts we already knew (apparently a heinous screenwriting sin). I, for one, thought it was yet another quality showing from director David Nutter. Whilst I will give some airtime to Elliot’s (and many other fans) point of view I’m the one writing the review so, in essence: suck it Elliot, the episode (more or less) rocked.
S08e02 was entirely based in Winterfell. The returning band from The Last Hearth, including Tormund, Beric, and Edd, bring the dire news in the first third of the episode that the Night King and his army will reach the castle by dawn the next day. This causes a renaissance of Jon’s classic brooding, worried looks, before the characters we know and love all settle in to prepare for the oncoming storm.
What ensues is a lot of satisfying (and, admittedly, fan-servicy) story arc resolution. Tyrion and Jamie (who got off with quite a light grilling after entering Winterfell if we’re honest) sit by a cosy looking fire and morbidly discuss the look on Tywin Lannister’s face if he were to have lived to see both of his sons die defending Winterfell.
They’re joined by Brienne, Pod, Tormund, and Ser Davos, who then proceed to drink themselves stupid in an odd show of reconciliation with both death, and one another. The scene is well written, which is good thing considering how clunky the preceeding war-room scene was (did they actually plan anything there, or just cobble together some half-formed tactic of using Bran as bait?).
Tyrion makes an awkward faux pas when he refers to Brienne as ‘Ser’, before quickly correcting his mistake – ‘Lady Brienne’ – when reminded that women can’t be knighted. Jaime, presumably slightly drunk and definitely a little bit in love with Brienne, won’t stand for this, and so knights her. She rises ‘Ser Brienne of the Seven Kingdoms’ and it’s simultaneously touching and awful. Because resolving someone’s entire character motive and finally giving them the validation they deserve the eve before a battle is basically like hanging a sign around their neck saying ‘kill me next episode’.
There’s a lot of death foreshadowing in episode 2, leading to the sense of impending doom which the episode pulls off quite well. Theon’s entrance back into the halls of Winterfell with Sansa’s tearful hug and complete acceptance as a pseudo-Stark? Dead. Greyworm telling Missandei that he’s planning to take her to the beaches of Naath after the war? Extremely, very dead. But, then again, GoT is nothing if not unpredictable, so even the most seemingly certain of predictions could be turned completely on their head.
Possibly the most amusing part of the episode, though, was seeing Jon attempting to avoid any interactions with his Queen-turned-Girlfriend-turned-Aunt.
He then proceeds to tell Dany the truth about his heritage at literally the least opportune moment he could have picked, proving that whilst Rhaegar Targaryen may be his father, Ned Stark is still very much his daddy.
All in all, I understand the complaints about this episode. With this being the second of only six episodes, it is slightly frustrating to hear characters repeating lines (yes Tyrion, we know all about your desire to die at the age of 80 in your bed in a compromising position with a woman, tell us something we don’t know). The call-backs to earlier seasons come thick and fast, and it does raise the question of whether something more constructive could be done with the limited time left. Six episodes is enough for just a little bit of character growth. Just a teeny bit more…
It would be remiss to talk about this episode without mentioning the Arya/Gendry scene. It’s been accused by various reviews, particularly Polygon, of lacking a certain intimacy and vulnerability that sex scenes involving young girls ‘requires’.
First of all, shoehorning the needs and emotions of all young girls into an overarching need for male affection and ‘delicacy’ of sexual sentiment is itself reductive and generalising. Second of all, Arya is not a ‘normal’ young woman – she’s an 18-year-old killing machine with a vague sense of identity and a traumatic past. Admittedly, I didn’t see the scene as a significant progression in Arya’s character as others did so much as an extension of already extant aspects of her personality.
She entered into the sex act more out of curiosity than affection, and dominated the interaction throughout. That’s more than can be said for more women who’ve had sex in GoT. Also, something to note: Maise Williams is 22 years old, whilst Arya (who was 10 when the show first started) would now be 18. Gendry, you’re in the clear mate.
Actor of the episode
Whilst Daniel Portman’s Pod is a strong contender for this title with his surprisingly beautiful rendition of ‘Jenny’s Song’ in the fire-room (anyone else reminded of Pippin’s song before the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King?) the cake has to go to Gwendoline Christie for her portrayal of Brienne’s knighthood. When she rose from being knighted by Jamie, the emotion on her face was palpable. She made the moment so poignant and touching that it was hard not to shed a tear yourself.
All in all, I found the moments of plot catharsis and character redemption wholly satisfying. I’d be lying, however, if I said I wasn’t exited for the real action to start.
In other words, the crypts of Winterfell are undoubtedly the safest place to be during the battle. I’m not at all worried about the fates of Sam, Gilly, Tyrion, and everyone else whose been posted there. They’re totally fine. The crypts aren’t full of ripe-to-be-resurrected dead Starks at all. I literally cannot think of a safer, less problematic place to put a bunch of defenceless women and children. There has never been a safer place than the crypts of Winterfell. Where’s safe? Oh yea, that’s right, the crypts. I cannot forsee there being any problem with this at all…