Game of Thrones returns to lớn form with a bittersweet beauty of an episode that acts as a deep breath (và a drink) before the war.

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More satisfying was how the others rallied for each other now that politics are moot. The best moment of the night is the one where “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” received its title. Faced with imminent death, Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Podrick, Davos, và Tormund Giantsbane all stumble into lớn the Great Hall looking for hearth và fellowship. Not unlike their nobler counterparts in J.R.R. Tolkien’s grander alternative khổng lồ Westeros, they have sầu found community & now communion in an unlikely place.

Yet it is stranger still for a show as cynical as trò chơi of Thrones that so many smiling faces can be found amongst former enemies. As Tyrion is the one lớn vocalize, as is his gift, they’ve sầu all at one point or another stood against House Stark—obviously Tyrion and Jaime as Lannisters, Davos as Stannis’ Hvà, Brienne as Renly’s knight in all but name, và even Tormund who once upon a time might’ve greeted Jon Snow and all “Northerners” with an axe instead of a hug. Now they’re here khổng lồ defend it to their last breath. Tyrion is right lớn smirk at the thought of their father seeing his two sons reunited after a patricide as allies khổng lồ the Starks.

Still, Tyrion speaks too optimistically when he says he thinks they can all survive. Come this time next week, many or all of the characters we’re watching laugh & nói qua suspicious looks as Tormund pours beer down his gullet and speaks of suckling from the teats of widowed giants will be dead. Mayhaps all of them. That makes it all better that each can share a wry glance when Tormund revealed himself lớn be the Homebrewing hipster of the Seven Kingdoms. Seeing Tyrion, meanwhile, pour wine for his former squire until his glass overflows is worth a thousand speeches about “family” and “the team” on a thousand other shows. These two haven’t even had more than a scene together since 2014, but the unspoken joy of being reunited within their shared passion for drink is infectious.

This is realized even more by the contrast of how much they’ve sầu changed. I’ve long suspected that one of the reasons Tyrion has lost his gift for scathing wit is because most of his best lines were authored by George R.R. Martin. But maybe this is too glib considering he is no longer the same man he once was. As much as Jaime Lannister has gone through startling transformation over eight seasons, Tyrion is long past his whore-mongering “impish” days when he too first mix foot in Winterfell. “The perils of self-betterment,” Tyrion bemoans with fair insight. A man weighted by the constraints of power & a Hand’s pin he barely can keep stuchồng lớn his chest cannot be the smartass who always gets the last word. After all, it’s Tyrion who gives a look of caution to lớn Jaime before the Kingslayer insult a gingerhaired ally sitting across from hyên, just as it is Jaime, who once mocked the very idea of nobility, that now celebrates it in Brienne.

For too long the “lady knight” or “large woman” of Game of Thrones has gone by monikers unbefitting her honor and worth. The noblest person on the show by far, she has long run from her heart’s desire. She refused to ever let Podrick Call her a knight, & dared not ask it of Renly or Jaime, two men she loved enough lớn serve sầu but always at a distance & a glance away from eye-contact. When Jaime offers his h& to the better person—the truer knight—by requesting lớn serve beneath her comm&, she flinches. Unlike Tyrion she has never been able to vocalize her wants, desires, or even awareness of the situations around her. Situations lượt thích the plain injustice of a woman of unparalleled talent và skill not being anointed a “knight” because of tradition.

In the shadow of death, we can say fuông xã tradition, & that world becomes a little more perfect when Brienne kneels a lady & rises the truest knight. As the happiest face in Winterfell, it is a poor omen about what will come for Ser Brienne next week, but tonight it is worth all the gold in Casterly Rock. It is something lớn be savored, like Podrick’s singing, a reunion of the Brothers in Blachồng standing atop a wall, Grey Worm’s promise to lớn Missandei for a future that will never be, or a rekindling of old flames.

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Indeed, probably the moment to be most written about & agonized over is Arya Stark & Gendry of House Baratheon (fuông chồng tradition) finally uniting the Wolf và the Stag. It’s been a relationship that’s always been there, at least since they met in the season 1 finale. Arya eyed Gendry as more than just a friover throughout seasons 2 & 3, albeit he knew her only as his little sister then. But the glances she stole of hlặng above a forger’s flame were not of sisterly affection. Nonetheless, I never fully expected Game of Thrones to go there, particularly before the real endgame will be settled. But therein lies the point.

Whether Arya is a teenager or in her 20s now (the timeline is intentionally left fuzzy in the series), she had the ability khổng lồ study Gendry’s physique in season 2 and feel the sting of betrayal when he chose to leave sầu her in season 3. Since that breakup, she has become a woman who defies all conventions of her age và even some of our own. She takes what she wants from the Freys, in pies and blood, & she gives what she needs to lớn in equal measure from the likes of Petyr Baelish và Meryn Trant. Ever since she told Jaqen H’ghar that “a girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, và I’m going trang chủ,” Arya has known exactly who she is and what she wants. That she would wish lớn experience sex, particularly on the precipice of death, with the only torch she’s ever carried is entirely natural and true to lớn the most iconoclastic Stark. So she takes Gendry with as much force as she took Walder Frey, doing in her young adulthood what she dreamed of in her childhood.

Their foreplay before this moment also allowed for several of the subtler joys of the night. Little things like Arya dismissing the cryptic shorthand with which Gendry và a thousand movie/TV characters speak of foreboding things as “really bad.” It also saw Arya, once stealing a perfect bullseye away from Bran, now firing openly & proudly before an archery target. And never missing. Her ability to lớn also land her shot on Gendry and his initial false modesty is true, yet speaks ill of his chances. Tonight she waits alert và troubled by the side of her slumbering lover. I have a hunch that by this time next week, she’ll be forced lớn stare inkhổng lồ that face again with its much bluer eyes.

This really is the over of things. Which is why we’re more or less beginning where we started. Once more Jaime has a word in private with Bran Stark, although now in shameful regret as opposed khổng lồ snide indifference to the little boy he was pushing out a window. Unfortunately the scene is robbed of its full emotional potency since Bran Stark has completely uploaded his soul to the Westerosi cloud & cannot be bothered with heart-to-heart apologies, even in the presence of the Heart Tree. Still, he sums up the beauty and poignancy of this night. When Jaime attempts lớn explain he is no longer the man he was, Bran remarks, “You still would be if you hadn’t pushed me out of that window. And I would still be Brandon Stark.” These two people, a boy & the humbled man who wronged hyên, are genuinely different souls eight seasons later.

If you think back to lớn every character from those early seasons who still breathes, even perma-brooder Jon Snow, you’ll see the shades of their past etched inlớn the dramatically different, and much more so dramatically satisfying, persons they are today. Daenerys is not a passive pawn in men’s games but a queen who has shattered their game board; Arya is not a young girl who grieves the adventures she’ll never allowed khổng lồ go on, but a woman who’s seen too many grim adventures to waste time on grief for the road not taken; Sansa, once the girl who naively dreamed of marrying a king, will now be able lớn refuse fully bending before a queen more than necessary while defending the rights of her people; & Jaime và Bran are now allies surrounded by former enemies, be they Greyjoy or Targaryen, wildlings & crows.

That is the true terror of the Night King: not only will he kill these characters you love sầu, but he’ll kill the culmination of all their pain, all their growth, and all their transformations. It will come khổng lồ mean nothing. They’ll be forgotten in a way Ned, Catelyn, Tywin, & even Ramsay’s ghosts were not tonight. There will be no ghosts if only the dead inherit the earth. It is the threat lớn their shared history—the ties that keep them apart yet bind them together as the living inhabitants of Westeros—that has made this brief, better world possible. “He wants to erase this world and its memory,” warns Three-Eyed Bran while speaking of the Night King. The threat of losing this world, or its purpose for being after eight seasons, should scare viewers. More than any theory, this admission by Bran of White Walker motive sầu should dispel the prospect of the Night King ascending the Iron Throne.