Game of Thrones 8×2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ was a deeply emotional episode, where many characters seemed to purposefully sing their Swan Songs as they charge towards a seemingly unwinnable battle.
The most controversial Swan Song in ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ was Arya’s. The fandom seems completely split on this and with very good reason. Both sides have valid points about their feelings towards the matter, but I’m seeing far too many people villainize the other side. The debate seems deeply rooted in personal emotional attachments rather than objective facts. So let’s break down some objective facts about Arya’s sex scene with Gendry, shall we?
First of all, everything is absolutely legal both in the realm of the show and in real life. Maisie Williams is currently 22 years old. She was 20 when the scene was filmed (late 2017/early 2018). And Arya, as the HBO UK Twitter account was eager to point out, is 18 years old. So for those that are happy that Arya and Gendry are finally together, there is legally no wrong. I wish all you Gendrya shippers well and I’m happy that your ship went canon! Congratulations.
On the flip side, you have people who were uncomfortable with the scene. Despite the legalities of it all, they still don’t view Arya as an adult due to their emotional connection with the character. I’ve seen a lot of people compare her to a little sister or daughter figure, which nobody wants to see strip on screen. This, too, is a completely valid emotion. We’ve watched both Maisie and Arya grow up from a pre-teen to a woman and it’s hard to get past that. So for those of you who feel uncomfortable? That’s also completely valid.
I’m starting to think that your feelings towards this scene come down to how you’ve positioned Arya in your mind. If you relate to her personally, the scene may not have felt awkward. If you position her as a younger sister or daughter figure, it’s deeply uncomfortable. So where do I fall in this? Somewhere in between, honestly. I’m happy her and Gendry are together, but I could have done without seeing her naked.
But there were a lot more Swan Songs in ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ other than Arya’s. The most impactful to me was Brienne’s. The struggle with gender roles and her innate fighting skills has been present since her very first scene when she handily defeated Loras Tyrell in a duel. She’s one of the strongest fighters in the Seven Kingdoms, able to beat Knights with reputations that far exceed her own. And yet, because of the fact that she’s a woman, she’s been unable to become an actual Knight herself. Until now.
The fact that it was Jaime who knighted her is also significant and extremely emotional. Their bond was an unusual one as he was initially her prisoner. But a level of respect blossomed between them on their journey. He recognizes her worth and does away with traditional gender roles to bestow upon her the title she so very much deserves. She is the knight that the title ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ is alluding to, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Side note: Tormund was amazing in this scene. He clearly adores Brienne a great deal, but he’s proud of her achievement here and applauds it enthusiastically. I’m really glad they didn’t waste time with a stupid jealousy subplot. I’d have been pretty cranky if they’d gone that route.
Based on the emotional Swan Song scenes in ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.’ I’m going to put my death predictions out there right now. I think both Brienne and Tormund will die. Jaime will live long enough to get to King’s Landing and kill Cersei. Gendry will die. Arya will likely live long enough to journey south with the survivors, but I’m not sure she’ll make it to the very end. Beric Dondarian will likely die, if only to give the kiss of life to a more important character on the battle field. Sandor Clegane will probably live long enough to do the Clegane Bowl, but he’s probably going to go out too. And lastly, Grey Worm is toast. That talk about what they’ll do once Daenerys has the throne was just way too much. He’s dead, guys. Dead dead dead.
And that last one brings me to Daenerys, who had a pretty major scene this week with Jon. All involved parties are now aware of Jon’s true parentage. In true Targaryen fashion, the implications of their blood relation didn’t seem to register with either of them. Instead, Daenerys was quick to focus on how this impacts her claim. Jon didn’t bother to shift the focus, either. It’s so very… Targaryen.
People have been interpreting her facial expressions in a number of different ways. Some feel this is the start of the ‘Mad Queen’ theory, where she turns into a brutal dictator and mindlessly kills any challengers to her claim. Other see her as going through an identity crisis, realizing she’s not alone. There’s another Targaryen and, yes, he has a claim and that impacts her life goals, but it’s not about to push her into ‘Mad Queen’ territory.
It was all so quick, though. As a fan of Daenerys, I hope she doesn’t turn into a Mad Queen. But I don’t know. My love of her as a character could be tainting my interpretation of the scene. But I’m also on Team Nobody Wins The Throne. I want that sucker to get melted and for the wheel to truly get broken, just as Daenerys promised. Perhaps this challenge to her claim pushes her into that territory as well. It seems she’s already at least partially in favor of it with her ‘break the wheel’ speech from back in season five. If anyone actually sits on that throne at the end, I’m going to actually be kind of disappointed.
Lastly, let’s talk about the opening credits, shall we? Like the past 7 seasons, there will be changes each week as the plot progresses. The tiles flipping represents the Army of the Dead advancing south. Last week it mowed right over Last Hearth. This week it’s close to Winterfell. Another change are the trenches around Winterfell on the map. Those definitely weren’t there last week.
So far I’m really digging how beautiful the opening is and how the changes are integrated into the new sequence. It also strengthens my prediction that the Army of the Dead won’t be defeated next week. When the season 8 trailer dropped, I had a strong feeling that the Battle of Winterfell will end in a AotD win. With the flipping tiles being such an integral part of the title sequence change, I may very well have been right. But I guess we’ll see in a week, won’t we? Next week is going to be emotionally heart wrenching, There’s no doubt about it. And I’m bracing for the absolute worst.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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