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It’s been a grueling week having to acclimate back into waiting another week between episodes after already waiting so long for the final series’ arrival. But it was, as always, well worth the wait.
With the battle between the living and the dead looming just before the break of dawn, the fans were gifted with the second and final round of reunions for the characters they’ve been following for eight seasons now. From budding romances to the continued bridging of gender norms and the oh so sweet vocals of Podrick Payne—and the not so sweet flirting of Tormund Giantsbane. Now is the time to click away to avoid spoilers.
This episode was truly a treat, but we also did learn something extraordinarily worthwhile about the impending fight with the Night King. Shortly after the tension subsided between Jaime Lannister and Queen Daenerys, and the final war meeting was called, we find out that the Night King’s goal in this decimation of the human race is to first kill Bran (The Three-Eyed Raven) so as to wipe out all past memory of the world before he brings an end to the world as we know it. No living memory of the past.
This in turn aids our many heroes and heroines in seeking to lay a trap for the Night King to lure him into the Godswood with Bran so they can destroy the Night King first in the hopes it will destroy the rest of his army since he was the one to turn all the others into White Walkers in the first place. For many fans of the show, this information is pivotal and gives hope that we might see some of our favourite heroes or heroines on the other side when the battle concludes.
Now that the traps are set and the troops are armed, ready to move into formation at a moment’s notice, our characters take part in a final rest as they wait for death to march on Winterfell.
In what appears to be his final arc, Theon Greyjoy is back with the Starks and pledges his life to them in repayment for the devastation he brought down upon their home back in seasons 1 and 2. This was an amazing moment to witness, and all the more worthwhile to see that he is accepted back into his home by Sansa Stark. He has finally come to terms that even though he was technically a ward of Ned Stark from the Greyjoys, he was brought up to be one of the Starks just like Jon Snow and is now here to stay and protect the people and land that has always been his home away from home. Theon is redeemed!
And then we saw some much more smaller reunions, some of which appeared a touch too inorganic. We see little Lyanna Mormont finally confronted by Ser Jorrah Mormont. The two cousins butt heads over the matter of her fighting instead of staying down in the crypts with the other women and children. If you’re a fan of the show you can guess how that encounter went over with proud little Lyanna.
Then Sam steps in and presents Jorrah with his own family’s sword, which he has no intention on using in the fight, Missandei and Greyworm plan their honeymoon for after the battle, Tormund uses his northern charm to make a fool out of himself in front of his crush, Brienne of Tarth, when he recounts the story of how he got the name “Giantsbane” (this one is definitely one for the books); Ed, Jon, and Sam reunite for the first time since Jon’s death back in series 6; and Arya and Gendry share an overtly intimate scene that probably shouldn’t have been in the episode.
However, besides those intimate moments, the episode took a very serious turn towards the end. Brienne gets knighted by Jaime Lannister and breaks huge gender norms as the first ever woman to be knighted in Westeros (an element that has always been heavily present in the show’s history), and also fulfills the wish she’s had since the second series. We finally get a word out of Podrick. Only it’s not a word, but a melancholically beautiful bard song that ends with every character reacting to the horn’s indication that the enemy is here. Tensions flew through the roof as Jon finally tells Daenerys of his lineage and his claim to the iron throne, only to have come to the realisation that maybe it wasn’t the opportune moment for that conversation as they also hear the horn’s call to action.
It will surely be a battle of the ages in the next episode of Game of Thrones, and many of the characters we have grown to love and care for may not see the light of the following day. Winter is here.