'Game of Thrones' Season 8, Episode 2 Begins the Battle of Winterfell

The enemy’s at the gates and time has run out. In a very straightforward episode of Game of Thrones, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” all the principal characters of the series come together, Avengers-style, for one night of revelry and/or moments of peace before the Night King arrives within spitting distance and the Great Battle of Winterfell kicks off in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3.

It’s midnight on the firing line. Let the madness begin.

Minor spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2 ahead.

One word that sums up this week’s episode: closure. No, not everyone got it. But for a majority of those huddled into Winterfell, there’s a healthy amount of threads wrapped up into neat, if also haphazard, little bows.

For example, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). You couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off a late Thrones episode than to stage this long-festering confrontation.

And yet their fated meet wasn’t quite as charged or rich as last week’s cliffhanger (and subsequent memes) implied. Bran’s aloofness and Jaime’s zen-like outlook undercut what could have been an explosive beginning. Still, they met and they talked things over. (Maybe they learned from Elmo.) It’s good that Game of Thrones got this out of the way, but Bran should have said at least one zinger against Jaime, no?

Elsewhere, Game of Thrones goes all in on the fact that it’s the night before the end of the world. If the show didn’t follow its best characters getting drunk by fire, they’re letting them hook up. Arya (Maisie Williams) and her rugged beau, Gendry (Joe Dempsie), finally get down, though not before Gendry gives Arya her new weapon.

By Thrones standards, their love scene is pretty tame. But as fans have spent the better part of the last seven years watching Arya grow from Stark sibling to cold-blooded killer, it’s almost as bewildering as anything else Thrones has done. Like, Arya, I’m happy for you girl. You should totally get it, but also, I saw you fling your lunch at your sister with a spoon seven years ago.

Luckily, the episode moves on in a huff to its best moment of the night. After Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) reunites with his esteemed Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Brienne earns the best moment of the episode with her knighting by Jaime in a very raw and very rare moment of tenderness; you can almost hear Westeros ceilings shatter like it was dragonglass on White Walker skin.

Finally, though, there is the matter of Jon (Kit Harington), Dany (Emilia Clarke), and Sansa (Sophie Turner). Dany and Sansa are far from finished with each other; the question of what will become of the North has been tabled and will be revisited at a later date (if there still is a North left after next week). But this episode couldn’t end with any matter other than Jon finally telling Dany their shared family lineage. No, Dany doesn’t take it well, as anyone would. But there’s little time to dwell on it, because that’s precisely when the Night King comes knocking.

With an emphasis on character over plot, this week’s episode is determined to lull fans with warmth and sentimentality (a great deal of the episode is made about the actual literal heat of fire) before the cold breeze of death comes marching to the front door. There’s no great or grand mystery to solve or puzzles to mull over. It’s just characters with long histories with each other having the night of their lives, because it might be the last one they’ll ever have.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

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