Season 8, Episode 2 (April 21, 2019)
Director: David Nutter
Writer: Bryan Cogman
Recap: After the rather lackluster season premiere, the second episode in the final season is a welcome, understated return to form for Game of Thrones. Not much happens and it's very talky, being the lead-up to the greatest battle ever on the show, which led many to refer to it as a pseudo-"bottle episode" -- though that's not really accurate, since plenty of important plot stuff does take place. Lots of items get passed around: Gendry makes Arya her dragonglass weapon; Sam hands Heartsbane, the Tarly family's Valyrian steel sword, over to Jorah Mormont; and some battle planning takes place. The episode begins with Jaime Lannister pleading for his life in front of a bunch of people whose lives he either ruined or helped to ruin, but after Brienne vouches for him, Sansa Stark grants him his life. Jon agrees, saying they need all the living warriors they can get for the battle to come. Theon returns and says he wants to fight for the North as well, and Tormund, Beric, and Edd arrive from Last Hearth to tell everyone that the dead will be there by nightfall. The war council makes a weird plan to use Bran as bait to lure out the Night King, so that, presumably, either Daenerys or Jon can kill him. The Hound tells Arya that he did care about her all those years ago in the Riverlands, and Arya seduces Gendry, telling him that she doesn't want to die a virgin. Relatable. In the emotional high point of the episode, and probably the season (and hell, maybe even the whole series), Jaime repays Brienne for saving his life by giving her a knighthood -- the one thing she's always wanted. In the crypts, Jon tells Daenerys that his real name is Aegon Targaryen, and she mentions how convenient it is that the two people who told him he has a strong claim to the Iron Throne are his brother and his best friend. And then the dead arrive, and they have more immediate things to worry about.
Most shocking moment: Arya Stark was maybe the last person we expected to get a sex scene on TV's horniest show, but she sure did, and it served as both a reminder that she's not a little kid anymore, and that it's possible for even the creepiest, most bloodthirsty characters in Westeros to still have emotions and needs.
Why it's important: After a few seasons of light-speed travel and dragon battles, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" felt like we were back in the best era of the show, where what was most important was how characters felt, what they did for each other, and who they'd choose to be with when the world was about to end. --ES