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« Soundtracking: Teen Spirit | Main | The New Classics - Michael Clayton »
Tuesday
Apr232019

Game of Thrones "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" (S08E02)

previously

by Eric Blume

The Game of Thrones creative team are taking a very strategic approach into this final season.  While last week’s premiere episode laid the groundwork to reorient the viewer and feature satisfying reunions for characters parted for years, they’ve used Episode Two to provide an emotional tapestry between the characters, with a meditation on mortality, before they go into the big battle episodes ahead.  For loyal viewers, this episode served as a reminder of our attachment to these characters beyond the narrative, as well as a laser focus on the show’s main theme of honor.

We started with a killer scene where Jaime stands trial against the two families he has slain and wronged over the years, followed immediately by a tender exchange between him and his brother Tyrion (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage are always magical together)...


Then we're right into a fantastic scene with Jaime and Lady Brienne, one of the most interesting and touching relationships on the series.  These three scenes, which feature multiple complex histories coming together for unity, are filled with all the doubt, tentativeness, confusion, and humanity you’d expect, and it’s exciting to see these characters come together.

We also get Theon and Sansa’s reunion, Arya’s vaguely disturbing deflowering, an almost-reconcile between Sansa and Daenerys, a quick direwolf cameo, and the highlight of the episode, the knighting of Lady Brienne by Jaime, played with just the right amount of emotion by the wonderful Gwendoline Christie.

Basically, this episode was a meditation on death, the entire show taking place during the last 24 hours before the great battle against the White Walkers.  As each character faces his/her own mortality, we see actions and dialogue unfold in quiet, reflective fashion, nothing melodramatic but everything deeply dramatic.  The cast of actors on this show have become almost freakishly superb at translating a host of feelings simply through a silent look (ripe for parody out of context, but within context, it’s stunning acting).


At the thematic heart of Game of Thrones is the notion that these characters, while in a primitive/timeless world, define their humanity through one quality:  honor. The manifestation of this quality takes different forms, but in the reality of the show, it’s the way the characters form and execute their identity.  Jaime explains at his trial that he although he has killed members of the families who are judging him, he would do it again, as it was defending the honor of his family, which, ironically the others understand.  

One of the fascinating and complex things about the show, within this context, is that it allows the characters to redefine their concept of honor.  Many of them have been pushed beyond their previous beliefs and have been forced to see bigger causes, and the need to change. In fact, some characters are in a desperate scramble to prove their honor in this final battle.  It’s insanely difficult for these show creators, who have for almost a decade been telling the story of these families murdering and avenging each other over and over again, to unite in a believable way. By honing in on this concept of honor, and how it takes different forms that are sometimes inexplicable and sometimes tragic, they’re doing a beautiful job of making this final scene play out truthfully and powerfully.


Next up, Ben will take you to Episode Three, which promises some real fireworks.  Happy viewing, my Game of Thrones family!

 

 

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Reader Comments (12)

The Arya thing didn’t bother me. I would have done the same thing.

April 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJono

Great episode, I had no problem with Arya and Gendry, in the show Arya is 18. It was her choice, on the eve of battle.
I was very impressed that the show has actually transformed Theon into a character I almost care about. His reunion with Sansa had some real emotion to it.
And of course Jamie and Brienne. Next week will be much, much harder.

April 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Such good TV. But why didn't anyone ask, "Hey, Bran, WTF is gonna happen tomorrow? Who's gonna die? If this is my last night on Earth, should I have sex or just drink crappy wine in front of a fire?"

And surely, Tormund's giant's milk story is sublime for online meme-making.

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPam

The Brienne part was beautiful. But now her character arc is over, so I’m pretty sure she’s one of the first to go next episode :’(

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJWB

Of all the characters I think Sansa and Jaime have had the most satisfying evolutions over the series. I actually wonder if they made Sophie Turner rewatch Michelle Farley's performance as Catelyn to map Sansa's trajectory. Cersei hasn't changed much but Lena Heady keeps the bar very high.

As other GoT writers have written, Tyrion has slipped a lot. Jon and Dany were always flat. The Tyrells are gone. For as much narrative pressure as they've placed on Arya, I've gotten "angry little boy" (Olenna's Sand Snake read) from Maisie's performance the last few seasons. I don't think she's been given the best writing or direction.

Besides Sansa, Jaime and Cersei the best characters left are supporting: Brienne, Samwell, Davos, Jorah...

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJF

Top 5 GOT episode. This is the Emmy-submission moment for several characters, and if Coster-Waldau and Christie aren't nominated it's a shame.

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Vaguely disturbing deflowering? In what way? It was refreshingly one of the more sex positive scenes, especially on the woman's part, this show has ever given us.

As for the episode, I thought it was one of the show's best. I get that some people are itching for bloodbath, but the war wouldn't be as effective if we didn't care at all about the fates of the people in it and this episode really dug deep on so many characters and relationships. Yes, it might have been heavy-handed and rote to "close" a bunch of character arcs just before the big battle, but this long-time viewer appreciated it.

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

This episode was a giant bore. Very little plot momentum given its one of the final five episodes. Jumping from character to character scene to scene without a cohesive episode byline and a lack of individual character momentum has been a huge problem with GOT throughout it’s run and this episode is an excellent example of that. Almost no plot movement or character conflict or drama.

Only reason I see why the writers would spend almost the entire episode on characters greeting eachother (many of which are very minor and inconsequential to the story) is they wanted to give them a last hurrah before killing them next week


“For loyal viewers this episode served as a reminder of our attachment to these characters”

I guess I’m not a loyal viewer. Cut all the scenes with the hound, the grey worm guy and his girlfriend (promising to take her to the beach), that one Wall guy (?) that Jon Snow was psyched to see, that one eye patch guy I barely recall, Jorah and the little girl leader fighting to not go in the crypt) and the episode gets a heck of a lot better and less bloated/meandering. None of that stuff was interesting nor built any tension at all. Would be good deleted scenes.

The main character interaction was good. If you want to show supporting characters reacquainting themselves with eachother, the fireplace scene did that GREAT. We did not to see similar character reacquainting scenes play out repeatedly in sequence over the entire god damn episode.

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Anon - Man, I’m usually an “all opinions are valuable” kind of bloke... but that was some really ignorant and idiotic stuff you just put out into the world, my friend. Maybe go watch CSI? More your speed?

April 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJake

You’re the idiot Jake

April 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

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April 29, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterelfadz

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