‘Game of Thrones’ recap: ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ sets up for war

Photo courtesy of HBO

Brandon Shillingford, Contributing Writer

If you’re a “Game of Thrones” veteran, you know what to expect from the middle portion of a season. And since this is an even shorter season than usual, getting the filler out of the way early is pretty valiant.

With that being said, giving us so much great stuff only to end the episode on a cliffhanger is just cruel.

There weren’t any King’s Landing scenes in this episode, which is honestly pretty refreshing. If I had to sit through any more scenes of Euron “seducing” Cersei, I swear I would’ve hurled.

But there were a lot of really sweet scenes alongside some great character moments and some fun callbacks to earlier seasons. There were also some questionable elements I didn’t really like, but we’ll get to that toward the end.

With all of that being said, here is your “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode two recap.

SPOILERS BELOW

Winterfell

The second episode got off to a pretty fantastic start. After last week’s premiere, which was mainly set up and confrontations, we got more set up and confrontation.

Jamie Lannister is back in Winterfell for the first time since season one, and his return did not disappoint. From the opening seconds of the episode, the viewer gets a sense of the high stakes.

This is something “Thrones” has struggled with in the past: balancing more dramatic scenes in which actors give incredibly impassioned performances while screaming nonsense at each other with more lighthearted moments like when Tormund Giantsbane adorably tries to flirt with Brienne Tarth.

But the opening scene of Lannister in Winterfell is a great example of “Game of Thrones” at its peak. And while every actor was incredible during his trial, special props must be given to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Isaac Hempstead Wright. If looks could kill, every single glance Bran Stark shot toward Lannister could be used as a weapon.

Those two haven’t shot together since the first season, so rebuilding the palpable tension between those two in such a short amount of time is pretty astounding. And that line, “The things we do for love …”

Again, when “Thrones” utilizes sharp writing and character beats that actually serve to move the plot along, the show is at its best.

Sansa Stark and Daenerys Targaryen had their first private conversation, and I kind of loved it. Even as someone who’s loved Lady Stark from the very beginning, I would have never imagined she could hold her ground against someone with such a commanding presence as Targaryen. I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

The two have great chemistry. Once Stark brings up the North’s supposed sovereignty, it’s like the air is sucked out of the room in another brilliantly written scene. Bryan Cogman — the writer of this and numerous other episodes — has been one of the most valuable players in this show’s writers’ room for almost a decade, and he deserves an Emmy this fall.

Ghost is back, Tarth is now a knight and Theon Greyjoy is finally back in Winterfell. The last part is super sad, because he is definitely dying next week. This is one of those cases where I hope I’m wrong, but I’m definitely not.

He has nothing left to do; he’s made amends with Sansa Stark, Yara Greyjoy and Jon Snow. All that’s left for him to do is save Bran Stark’s life by sacrificing his own. It’s really sad because, as I said last week, Theon Greyjoy is one of the show’s most compelling characters with one of the best arcs, and Alfie Allen is immensely underappreciated. So, I hope he gets to go out in a blaze of glory.

Now, to talk about that ridiculous Arya Stark and Gendry scene. It’s not even that we’ve seen Maisie Williams grow up on this show, because that really doesn’t matter. Nor does the age difference: Stark is supposed to be 18 and Gendry is 22. It’s just so useless and awkward.

Gratuitous sex scenes aren’t anything new to “Game of Thrones” fans, but it isn’t consistent with Stark’s character to want to hook up with Gendry just hours before the White Walkers come to destroy everyone and everything. That’s not to say it couldn’t work, there just weren’t any chemistry or prior hints of romantic interest between them up until last week’s episode.

In an episode that was otherwise tonally consistent and completely in tune with the previous episode, a scene like that just felt completely out of place and messy.

All-in-all, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” did its job as an appetizer for next week’s entree. It had more highs than lows, and, more importantly, leaves us all restless to see how the living’s impending battle with the White Walkers will end.

Rating: 3.5/5

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