“I think we might live,” Tyrion says two-thirds of the way through “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” the second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season, as everyone in the room breaks into laughter. Many people watching probably did the same. In an episode that was an hour of characters getting closure, the show laid the foundation for roughly a dozen characters to die with their stories neatly tied up in next week’s Battle of Winterfell, which is primed to be the longest battle sequence in the history of movies or TV, according to Episode 3 director Miguel Sapochnik. We don’t know who will live and who will die, but, well, let’s just say it’s not looking good for some of the folks below—despite all the battle they may have survived. Let’s run through the characters who got proper sendoffs in the second episode—then we’ll leave the speculation to you.
Ser Brienne of Tarth
I am still mopping up my tears. All the way back in Season 2, Brienne swore to Catelyn Stark that she would keep Sansa and Arya safe. She named the Valyrian sword Jaime gives her “Oathkeeper,” fought (and beat) the Hound, and spent months looking for a candle in a window to fulfill this promise. Yet last season Sansa sent Brienne away to King’s Landing because she didn’t trust her.
“I do not need to be watched over or minded or cared for,” Sansa said at the time.
On Sunday, standing in the same spot, Sansa vouched for Brienne and her judgment about Jaime.
“I trust you with my life,” Sansa said this time.
In some ways this was Brienne’s oath to Catelyn fulfilled. There is no way Brienne can guarantee Sansa’s safety against the Night King, so earning Sansa’s trust is about the best she can do. And that Sansa granted her trust to Brienne to vouch for Jaime, who gave Brienne Oathkeeper, is just gravy.
And all of that comes before we get to the knighting (I’m crying again). Brienne tells Tormund that women can’t be knights because of tradition, Tormund says “fuck tradition,” and Jaime reveals he is allowed to knight her. Staring into the eyes of the man she (probably?) loves, Brienne shatters the glass (iron?) ceiling. It’s a wonderful moment, built on years of character development. Alas, this is probably not the face of a woman who is making it past next episode:
Ser Davos Seaworth
Ser Davos may have forgotten about his family, but he’s never forgotten about Shireen Baratheon. On Sunday night, he made peace with Shireen, who was burned alive without Davos by her side. While Davos is handing out his beloved bowls of brown, a young girl comes up to him with a facial mark that is unambiguously a reminder of Shireen’s.
The girl tells him that she wants to fight. Davos takes her bowl, speechless, when Gilly comes up to them and tells her that the girl can be brave and protect people she cares about in the crypts, where it will be safe.
It’s a beautiful moment on a couple of levels. Confronted with the spitting image of the girl who taught him to read, Davos is left speechless until Gilly, the only other illiterate character who also learned to read, swoops in to help him. Shireen died a horrifying death, and Davos was not there for her. But by leading this little girl toward the crypts, it’s a not-so-subtle message from the Lord of Light/showrunners that Davos finally helped Shireen find serenity in the afterlife. He even broke his pre-battle tradition of walking, staying sober, and “shitting my guts out” in exchange for sitting, drinking, and, to the best of our knowledge, shitting healthily. If anyone’s soul (and bowels) is at peace now, it’s Davos’s.
“And now our watch begins.”
Those were Edd’s words when he joined Sam and Jon on the wall of the Winterfell castle. Then they bro’ed out and talked shit for a fleeting moment before everything fell quiet.
“Think back to where we started,” Sam says, noting the brothers who died along the way. (Indeed, they’ve come quite far since Edd told the story of people farting when they die.)
“Now it’s just us three,” Jon replies.
“Last man left, burn the rest of us,” Edd says. As the three stand in silence, the camera fades Edd out of focus while Jon comes into focus as ominous music plays. Best of luck, Edd.
Remember Ghost? No? Jon’s extremely rare direwolf that the show didn’t portray in Season 7 because the CGI is too expensive even though he is supposed to be at Jon’s side? No? You don’t? Well, as Edd, Sam, and Jon talk, Ghost is standing behind them for about 15 seconds, which probably cost $45 million.
I wish I could report otherwise, but this really seemed like it was the show reminding you that Ghost still exists just so that he can die in battle next week.
Of all the sendoffs in the episode, none were as heart-wrenching as Grey Worm’s conversation with Missandei. The Northerners seem pretty racist and have given Missandei an endless series of dehumanizing stares since she arrived in Winterfell, but it is the two kindergarten-age girls running away from her in Episode 2 that seems to be the final straw for her faith in Westeros. Grey Worm tells her they have no place there when the war is over and asks her where else she’d want to go.
“Naath,” Missandei says, naming the land she grew up in before she was sold into slavery. “I’d like to see the beaches again.”
“Then I will take you there,” Grey Worm says.
About that. Anytime people on Game of Thrones make a promise, it’s a red flag. Anytime people on Game of Thrones make a promise about seeing each other again, it’s a blood-stained red flag (Ned telling Jon they’ll see each other again, Robb telling Jon they’ll see each other again, that wildling woman who told her daughters she’d see them again at Hardhome). And anytime people on Game of Thrones make a promise about seeing each other again on a tropical vacation, that’s—well, actually, that’s unprecedented; no one has ever been this preposterously optimistic. In all movies and TV shows—not just Thrones—when you’re promising somebody you love you’ll take them home after a major battle to live out the rest of your days, it’s basically a confirmation that you’re actually talking about the afterlife. May Grey Worm and Missandei wake up together on a beach (in a place with no racists) and grow old together like in Inception.
We knew Pod had a big pipe, but who knew he also had regular pipes? Pod’s song to close the episode may foreshadow how the rest of the season will play out, but it also may be a sendoff for the once-quiet scribe. As Tyrion and Jaime are sitting by the fire reminiscing over the “perils of self-betterment,” Brienne and Podrick crash the party. Podrick accepts wine from Tyrion, but Brienne intervenes. Hangovers aren’t great for fighting the dead, after all. “Half cup,” Brienne relents. Tyrion pours his cup until it is literally running over.
The “half cup” line is a wonderful moment of compromise between Tyrion and Brienne, the two people Pod has learned from in Thrones. Pod was perhaps the quietest person in the series this side of Hodor, but reunited with the two people who taught him much of what he knows, he finds his voice and belts out a song. It’s quite the feature in such a star-studded moment—he basically becomes Westeros’s Ty Dolla $ign.
Also worth noting: The moment on the battlements outside the castle, when Brienne and Jaime fondly looked at a much-improved Pod as he trained and Jaime said, “He’s come a long way.” This is either a hint that Pod will do something important and heroic next episode, or it’s a devastatingly bittersweet moment—or maybe it’s both.
The Hound (and Beric)
The Hound is nothing if not concise. “You never used to shut up. Now you’re just sitting there like a mute,” he tells Arya as they sit atop the castle.
“Thoros isn’t here anymore, so I hope you’re not about to give a sermon,” he tells Beric minutes later. “Because if you are, the Lord of Light’s gonna wonder why he brought you back 19 times just to watch you die when I chuck you over this fucking wall.”
He doesn’t even need any words to apologize, either. Beric reaches his hand out, and the Hound tosses him his wine. They sit there, silently; Beric takes a swig, and tosses the wine back. It’s a massive difference from the last time the Hound was in pre-battle mode, back at Blackwater in Season 2, when he and Bronn nearly killed each other. The moment also represents a big change for Beric, who is finally done preaching now that he’s out of lives, but it’s an even bigger moment for the Hound, whose character arc is contained in the silent tossing of that wine. He still barks like he did in Season 1, but now he has gained the faith to be selfless and the patience to watch it come back around.
Tormund can’t die yet because there needs to be multiple versions of him asking people whether they want to know why he’s called Giantsbane, like the Joker asking people whether they want to know how he got his scars in The Dark Knight. But seriously, if the giant’s milk story was a sendoff, damn, it was a good one.
Jorah was banished from Westeros for slave trading, and out of shame he left behind Longclaw, the priceless Valyrian steel sword that had been passed down in the Mormont family for 500 years. His father, Jeor, the lord commander of the Night’s Watch, gives that sword to Jon Snow at the end of Season 1. Seven seasons later, Jon Snow offers Jorah the sword, but Jorah declines.
“I brought shame into my house,” Jorah says. “Broke my father’s heart. I forfeited the right to claim this sword.”
At Winterfell, Jorah gets no forgiveness from little Lyanna Mormont, who swiftly tells him that she will be fighting in the battle, though when she bids him good fortune it’s basically the nicest thing she’s ever said. But Jorah’s true redemption is when Sam joins him and offers him a gift: the Tarly family sword, also made of Valyrian steel.
“Your father, he taught me how to be a man,” Sam says. “How to do what’s right. This is right. It’s Valyrian steel. I’d be honored if you take it. ”
Jorah is without words. Years after he left behind the family sword because he broke his father’s heart, Sam is giving him a sword named Heartsbane. It’ll be perfect for when the guy makes his last stand.
Before the Red Wedding, nobody had betrayed House Stark quite like Theon. He sacked Winterfell, burned two young farmboys, and pretended they were Bran and Rickon. Yet Theon has come back to fight for Winterfell, which is apparently enough for Sansa to run to him and tearfully embrace him. That moment—being welcomed and accepted like family—is all Theon has ever wanted. (Which means he’s now ready to die.)
But not only is Theon back, he and the Ironborn will also be defending Bran at the Godswood—the Winterfelliest spot in all of Winterfell. “I took this castle from you. Let me defend you now,” Theon says. Sure thing, bud. I’m not saying that Theon deserves a death mission. I’m just saying that Game of Thrones has had some remarkable plot twists over the years, and that if Theon’s arc ends in a way that makes his character worth the previous five seasons, it’ll be the most surprising thing since Robb Stark was turned into sliced bread at the Red Wedding.
Arya and Gendry
There is no sendoff in this episode quite like Arya’s. To paraphrase Bronn, there’s nothing like getting laid the night before a battle, so congrats on the sex, Arya. Maybe this was just a steamy moment of fan service rather than a sendoff—Arya is a main character, after all—but I have a point, so stick with me. Arya finds Gendry while shooting arrows, just as she did when she is first introduced in the pilot. Immediately after that introduction, Ned, Robb, Jon, Bran, and Theon stumble upon a wolf and stag who had killed each other in the woods.
This is how the Stark children got their direwolves, and it’s also a harbinger of what was to come: A direwolf being south of the Wall meant winter was coming, but the dead wolf and stag also symbolized the oncoming doom for the Starks and Baratheons. Fast-forward to Sunday night: Arya, the most similar to Lyanna Stark of the Stark children, gets busy with Gendry, the son of Robert Baratheon, who was in love with Lyanna.
“I have a son. You have a daughter. We’ll join our houses,” Robert told Ned in the pilot episode. In the time from the pilot to now, the Stark and Baratheon houses have gone from destruction all the way back around to creation. This scene may not just be the sendoff for Arya and Gendry—it could be the circle officially closing on the Stark-Baratheon relationship.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.