This week’s episode of Game of Thrones was relatively quiet, with Winterfell preparing for the White Walkers.  But even so, it was an episode full of great moments and conversations we’ve been waiting to see.  And EJ and Myndi are here to talk about it.

In case you missed it (and you really should watch the episode first), we spent the whole time in Winterfell.  Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Sansa allowed Jaime Lannister to join their army instead of punishing him for his past misdeeds, thanks to Brienne of Tarth providing a character witness.  Over the course of the hour, Daenerys went off on Tryion and almost made peace with Sansa.  Sam gave Jorah Mormont his father’s sword while battle plans were drawn up – the key is putting Bran in the forest as bait with Theon and the Ironborn to protect him.

Jaime, Tryion, Brienne, Davos, Pod, and Tormund shared a memorable night together which culminated with Jaime knighting Brienne, the first woman to be knighted in Westeros.  Arya decided she was going to experience love before death and that little flirtation with Gendry became something more.  Then, Jon told Daenerys what he learned about his parentage, and it’s not clear whether she was more upset about what she’d been doing with her nephew or that he’s the true heir.  And there’s no time to dwell because the episode ends with the White Walkers approaching.

EJ:  Well, that was quite a calm before the storm episode, right?  It seemed pretty much designed to make sure we’re as sad as possible when people die in battle with the White Walkers next week.  After last week’s reunions, this was everybody saying goodbye just in case.  And the fact that the big battle is coming so early in the season is an interesting choice.  It seems like they’re signaling that the Night King is the miniboss and Cersei is the final boss at the end of the game.  To me, that means we’re going to see massive casualties next week, and that worries me.  Do you have any general impressions to start with, before we dive into some of those interactions and that one scene that sent a lot of viewers to IMDB just to make sure everything was above board?

MYNDI: My general impression was that I have never laughed out loud at an episode of Game of Thrones, and I did last night.  I’ve cringed, I’ve cheered, I’ve cried, but a belly laugh?  Not until Tormund showed up, asked after “The Big Woman” and then told the story of suckling at a giant’s teat before shotgunning mead out of his personal ram’s horn.  That was pretty much the best thing ever!  I agree that it was essentially an epic hour of fan service, and there were pretty amazing callbacks and moments that characters have earned so richly.  I just enjoyed the hell out of it, and am ready to lose my mind next week.  I don’t know how many of these folks are going to survive The Night King, but I’ll be gutted if Cersei somehow ends up on that throne.  She does not deserve anything.

EJ:  I’m glad you mentioned Tormund because that was the best.  The story, the delivery, the chug.  So perfect.  I thought a lot about Daenerys this week, and it feels like they’re really emphasizing the negative aspects of her personality – the way she turned on Tyrion so quickly (and really, he’s almost always right – give him a break!), that bit of bonding with Sansa that turned sour as soon as the subject of the Throne came up.  Even the look that she gave Jon at the end when she found out she was the true heir – I can’t determine if she was processing that this was her nephew or if she was thinking that maybe if he falls in the battle, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  She’s such a hard read for me because I feel like she’s been so busy being Khaleesi that she’s lost track of being a person.  To me, they’re contrasting her with Sansa – just look at that joy on her face when Theon came back.  I’m in a position now where I feel like Daenerys is wrong about a lot of things, and I don’t like that feeling.

MYNDI: I think you’re absolutely right about Dany.  Her first feeling after Jon explained his true parentage was not sadness or horror at the fact that they were blood relatives who are hooking up, but that he is going to betray her and steal the throne out from underneath her.  Couple that with her serious misstep with Sansa (if she wasn’t so stubborn, Tyrion could have been in that meeting, or at least know it was happening), and she no longer looks like the benevolent dictator she seemed determined to be for so long.  She’s worked hard and seen horrible things, and in so many ways has earned that throne.  But she doesn’t look good right now.  On the other hand, I read a point in another recap today that pointed to something interesting that’s afoot here.  Dany is worried because Jon’s status as the last MALE heir automatically vaults him to the front of the line despite everything else, but maybe it’s time for a change to that antiquated rule that women are automatically second.  Look at what happened with Brienne!

EJ:  Yeah, even in a world of giants and dragons, institutional sexism is still flourishing.  I’m interested to see how they address this, because that’s an excellent point.  And the thing is, I don’t think Jon even wants the throne. If you put it to him, I think he’d agree that Daenerys is the one who earned that right.  But that’s not the way they talk to one another and I’m not sure Jon is thinking beyond this battle anyway.  It is pretty great that the first one to really buck the inherent sexism in their system is Jaime.  His scenes with Brienne were all so good, and him knighting her was one of my favorite moments in the series so far.  Gwendoline Christie is so good at remaining impassive that when she lets any emotion through, it’s always so effective, and her joy at being knighted was so beautiful.  It’s weird how Jaime seems to be one of the people who’s the most changed but he insisted to everybody that he’d do it all again.  I’m not sure he would, though.  He’s a complicated mess, that guy.

MYNDI: That entire scene in the Great Hall (I think) was so fantastically well earned.  It was like a Comicon panel or something.  It started with Jaime and Tyrion, expanded out to Brienne and Podric, then added Davos and Tormund.  What a crew! And the unadulterated pride that they all seemed to feel for Brienne at her knighting…that was palpable.  Everyone in that group knows she deserved the honor.  And, yes, Gwendoline Christie was excellent.  Plus, Podric singing! That was lovely.  I hope you stuck around through the credits to hear the Florence and Machine version of the song.  I agree that Jaime may or may not really meant he’d do everything again, but he has this sense of honor that makes him say stuff like that, because it’s more respectable to stand your ground in this world; honor above all else.  Then again, every choice he’s made has allowed him to grow and change, so maybe he did mean it.  Brienne standing up for him cemented her place as MVP of this episode, hands down.

EJ:  Oh, totally.  She stole the show, which is not easy to do when there are a thousand characters.  I think another thing with Jaime is the idea of the Lannisters is still very important to him.  He has this loyalty to his family despite everything.  And that’s actually the main reason I think he’s surviving the White Walkers – we need to see what happens when he finds out that Cersei tasked Bronn with killing him.  (And if I know my Bronn, he’s going to rat her out to her brothers rather than fire any crossbow bolts.)  While it wasn’t as big a moments as so many others, I have to say that I loved Sam giving Jorah Mormont his father’s sword – it was a nice callback to Jorah’s father giving Jon Snow his family sword.  (Also, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t note that Iain “Jorah Mormont” Glenn is going to be playing Bruce Wayne on TV next year.)  And then there’s the thing I feel weird talking about, which is Arya and Gendry.  Any thoughts on that particular scene?  My main thought was “I shouldn’t be seeing this” because I will never not think of Arya as a young girl.

MYNDI: OK, so my first thought was actually something along the lines of “Hell yeah!” because, if you’ll recall, last week, I was begging for some minor flirtation, and this week I got her telling him to “take off (his) own damn pants!” There’s just no time left to mess around with being coy.  I loved all their scenes, as you could see Gendry being both impressed by and slightly terrified of Arya and her weaponry skills.  I don’t know what happens with them if either one or both survives the battle, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.

EJ:  That’s a good point and you’re more mature than I am.  There is a cool idea about a young woman claiming her sexuality, but I also honestly thought Maisie Williams was sixteen years old.  I feel like I went into Big Brother mode and had to pretend I didn’t know what was going on for a few minutes so I could pretend they were studying or something.  I’m not saying this is a rational way to behave, you understand.  Anyway, like you said, we’ve got the big battle next week – reportedly the longest battle ever committed to film.  I think everybody’s spending the next few days trying to figure out who’s going to survive.  Do you want to make any guesses as to who might fall to the White Walkers?  Everybody I think is going to die makes me too sad, so I don’t want to say any of them out loud.

MYNDI: Yeah, I feel like we’re hovering in the world before the Battle of Winterfell and nothing will be the same after the dust settles.  I am terrible at guessing who is going to die, but I kind of feel like either Jaime or Jon has to die, right?  And I’m certainly scared for Brienne and Arya.  I’m not sure about anyone else.  I don’t envision anyone who’s going to the crypt not surviving.  Gilly and Sam will take care of everyone, right?  Right? Speaking of Gilly, did you notice the little scene where she and Ser Davos were feeding the refugees and that sweet little girl with the scarred face wanted to fight because her brother had? I definitely thinkk she reminded Ser Davos of Stanis’ daughter Shireen. That was a nice little Easter Egg…on Easter.

EJ: We were talking about that after the episode!  That was really well done.  I have to say, I’m most worried about Brienne – I have this feeling that either she or Jaime will die after their moments together in this episode.  And I think Jaime has more unfinished business that could drive the remaining episodes.  For the same reason, I think the Hound will be fine because he has to kill his brother.  Everybody else is up for grabs and I have no doubt they’re going to find the most devastating way to do it.  Man, there’s a four day stretch this week with the final episode of Gotham, Avengers: Endgame, and the Battle of Winterfell.  I’m going to be a nervous wreck.

MYNDI: I’ll make sure to check in on you often!  Just breathe, OK?  Is there anything else we’re missing in our discussion?  I think we hit the highs and the smaller moments as well.

EJ:  I was going to make a joke about how screwed Bran is if Theon is the one protecting him, but after his nice moment with Sansa, I maybe can give Theon a pass.  I think that covers it for me.  We’re going to be in a very different mood when we do this next week, I bet!

MYNDI: Oh, go ahead and make your Bran joke!  I found myself actively wondering if he pushes his own wooden wheelchair, because he seems to be left alone a lot and Tyrion even asked if he needed help.  I just saw a meme that was a GoFundMe to raise money to build him a ramp out to his tree.

EJ:  HA!  I like the idea that people have to push him and then immediately ditch him because nobody wants to hang around.  And then he has to beam into a raven and peck at somebody’s head until they go out and find him.  My Bran Stark fan fiction will be available in the lobby.

We’ll see you next week when the show is likely to be a few beloved characters lighter.

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