“Heartwarming”, “sweet” and “joyful” are not the kind of words which I would generally use to describe an entire episode of GOT, but has there ever been an ep of this show that had quite so much niceness in it before? Last week’s season premiere had plenty of adorable moments, but “A Knight for the Seven Kingdoms” was another level of loveliness, all wrapped up beautifully for the fans as a final present before the the end of the world (and the possible end of many of these characters) begins next week.
There’s still some frostiness, of course, with Daenerys ready to execute Jaime on the spot, or just as soon as she can give another one of her tiresome speeches, and Sansa not overly keen on him continuing to breathe either, even if this does seem like something of a double standard. After all, Ser Jorah, former slave trader, Baratheon spy and generally top-tier creep, is right there basking in the approval of her Grace, with the well-wishes of Cousin Lyanna and the sword of House Tarly at his disposal. And Sansa welcomes her own prodigal pet in the form of Theon “Walking Dirge” Greyjoy, sacker of Winterfell and murderer of small children, with such tearful, heartfelt happiness that I start to worry that there might be a Stark/Greyjoy romance in their future (please NO). At which point, the Night King coming begins to seem like it might not be an entirely bad thing.
Dany’s griping and Sansa’s misgivings aside, though, we’re not about to lose Jaime yet – maybe next week, but not yet – no matter what he’s done, so Brienne – my heart! – speaks up; Bran just about keeps quiet (“The things we do for love” is a fantastic touch); Sansa lets him stay and Jon is too emo about his accidental incest/secret royal ancestry to care one way or the other. So Her Grace is overruled, and not particularly happy about it but then, unlike almost everyone else, she’s not happy about much this week, what with her boyfriend/nephew and his sister/cousin both now standing in her way to the Throne.
That aside, however, after a poignant Jaime/Bran detente in the Godswood, we’re largely free to weep quietly and smile till our faces hurt at scene after scene of sweetness, tempered with just enough acidity and humour to make it all taste even better.
Where to start? Ser Davos at his soup kitchen and the wonderful, brave little girl who reminds him (and us) of wonderful, brave little Shireen? Gilly’s perfect solution for her? Arya, the Hound and Beric? Arya deciding that life needn’t just be about death, after all, and making Gendry and thousands of fan fiction writers combust with delight as a result? Missandei and Grey Worm? (I don’t care about them, but if I did, I’d be both charmed and very worried for their chances of survival after all that smiling and retirement planning.) Jon, Edd, Sam and Ghost – Ghost! Dude! It’s been years, where have you been?! -on the ramparts? Tyrion settling in for the Story of Bran?
Listen, all of that is delightful, but the best, the absolute best of it all, revolves around Ser Brienne of Tarth, Knight for the Seven Kingdoms and it is glorious. Every moment, every look between her and Jaime – mostly while pointedly not catching each other’s eyes – is a little twist in the heart, till the long, lovely scene by the fire with them, Tormund, Tyrion, Ser Davos and Pod which is so beautiful I don’t really know what to do with myself beyond smile, laugh and cry in quick succession. My God. If I wasn’t already crying at “I charge you to be brave”, I was wailing by the time she smiled and everyone toasted the latest knight of the realm.
Of course, from hereon in, any GOT-related crying I do is likely to be a lot less happy, especially since all the characters repeatedly saying everyone will be “safe in the crypt” clearly means the crypt is going to be a bloodbath, and by the end of the episode the Night Army is standing there ready to make it so. For now, though, what a gift and a balm this episode was to us all.