The NOC’s Watch: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Welcome back, it’s your humble steward , ever serving in the NOC’s Watch and ready to live tweet episode 2 of ! I’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire twice and have a dog named so I swear by the old Gods and new that I am INVESTED in this show.

Opening credits take us from a broken wall to the fallen Last Hearth and stop at Winterfell, where Lyanna’s statue in the crypts gets prominent placement — I feel like there are even more cues buried in this sequence, but appointment viewing waits for no one!

Jaime Lannister is on trial while his brother Tyrion watches — a reversal of Tyrion’s previous predicament. Jaime is the bearer of bad news and Daenerys is livid enough to be cruel, “All I see is one man. With one hand.” Will Jaime’s redemption arc end here? One of the most compelling aspects of this realm is the secret torment of Jaime. Daenerys is technically correct in calling out the Kingslayer, but Jaime was correct to kill the Mad King to save the innocent people in Kings Landing. But who here knows that? Brienne.

Sansa cuts off Tyrion’s attempt at a defense, listing Jaime’s many sins against House Stark, from killing Jory to attacking Ned. Jaime stuns us by refusing to apologize, but there is no time for shock because Bran repeats Jaime’s infamous line from S1E1 back to him!

Jaime seems doomed until the ONE person who knows him — the real him — best, yes, even better than his family, steps in. Brienne vouches for her former captive. Her word is strong enough to stop the trial. Sansa: “I trust you with my life, if you trust him with yours…” The energy between Jaime and Brienne crackles.

Jon seems to avoid his girlfriend the silver queen as the trial disperses. I think there’s trouble ahead! Daenerys continues her pubic berating of her beleaguered hand in private. Tyrion predicts he’ll be out of a job soon.

This episode is going to be a sprint, they’re packing so much meaningful material in. WHEW. Arya is down in Mikken’s old forge! Watching her flirt with Gendry reminds me of S1E1. King Robert told Ned they’d join their families. “My son, your daughter.” Well, well, well… Different daughter, better son. I’m HERE for it. They’re so into each other. Arched eyebrows, feats of strength. Arya repeatedly asks Gendry for intel on White Walkers (as elite assassins do) and sneers as he struggles to convey the extreme peril they’re in.

“Even a smith’s apprentice can do better.” Gendry gets real. It’s obvious how concerned he is for her. Remember! He has no idea about her training or skills. He wants to protect HER which is adorable til she flings some daggers. “My weapon?” He’ll get RIGHT on that!

Do you have whiplash? I do. Jaime finds Bran under the Heart Tree. OH MY. They haven’t been alone since Jaime’s infamous shove. Bran’s philosophical. Jaime can’t understand his mercy, but it’s actually pragmatism. “How do you know there IS an afterwards?” Jaime moves on to the yard and finds Tyrion; he confirms Cersei’s pregnant. Tyrion climbs a few stairs and is suddenly eye to eye with Jaime as he calls out his incestuous older bro. And ANOTHER callback to Season 1 with Tyrion’s lament over how he thought he’d die. Jaime wanders away from Tyrion to gaze at Brienne, who is supervising her squire, Podrick of the giant peen, as he spars. Suddenly, Jaime is down there with Brienne and she is suspicious AF. Why isn’t he insulting her? Because Jaime has been humbled. He wants to follow her.

Daenerys’ look of weariness as she hears someone about to disturb her is an entire mood. I wonder if she was taken aback by Sansa subtly overruling her regarding Jaime; she was uncommonly gracious about backing down in public. She is clearly exhausted, disappointed. Also, another fly coat! Fashion aside, Jorah brings out the sweeter, more vulnerable side of his Khaleesi. She was an orphan on the run as a child; Ser Jorah is the only person left from her life with Khal Drogo. He’s now her oldest friend, and that matters. I think that’s why she softens and listens to him about Tyrion, and his next suggestion which apparently involves Sansa, who is preparing her home for battle.

Sansa is in armor, Daenerys is in fur. “I thought you and I were on the verge of agreement (re: Jaime).” Everyone can see that Daenerys is down, and they gently offer her advice re: Tyrion. Sansa would know. Compared to Ramsey, Tyrion was a prince. And now, a royal showdown. Daenerys calls out Sansa for not bending the knee: “I can’t help but feel we’re at odds” In a twist, we see Daenerys oscillate from seeming harsh to vulnerable as she confesses how sprung she is on Jon. Sansa responds quite graciously and they clasp hands. Awww! Time for a joke about how short Jon Snow is. But Sansa is not laughing — or submitting.

Daenerys pulls her hand away, stung by Sansa, who is like steel clothed in silk as she stands up for her people. I’d like everyone who ever dismissed or hated on Sansa Stark to drink some wildfire, thanks. This fraught scene ends because the maester interrupts with news. Theon Greyjoy has arrived and his redemption arc is even better than Jaime’s. “I want to fight for Winterfell Lady Sansa, if you’ll have me.” Sansa is in tears and SO ARE WE. Trauma bonds survivors. Sansa and Theon both lived through Ramsey’s horrific cruelty. I once read a survivor of a school shooting say they don’t want to get hugs from strangers, but if the stranger is a fellow shooting survivor, they are so grateful for that embrace, because “they understand.” I thought of that as I watched Theon and Sansa hug.

Sansa is extremely loyal, and not just to Brienne; Theon helped her escape Ramsey. She hasn’t forgotten that courage or love. Also, with Robb and Rickon murdered and Bran… altered… it must be such a comfort to see a face she grew up with at Winterfell again. I swear, every time we see Theon, he looks stronger, braver, more capable, more himself. Reek who? It’s gratifying and empowering to see how he and Sansa emerged from hell and THRIVED. Ramsey hasn’t just been vanquished, he has been forgotten. Just powerful.

On to crowd favorite Ser Davos as he dishes out soup to terrified villagers. I was getting “Battle of Helm’s Deep” vibes throughout this episode and now they are so strong my ears are ringing. Untrained men, pressed into service. Gilly is our Eowyn, isn’t she?

Speaking of Gilly, she went from emaciated and abused at Craster’s Keep to being plump and happy with her Sam. Shoutout to for showing women with a little pudge on them. Also, I wish there were Westerosi tabloids I could read for speculation on baby bumps. JUST KIDDING 😀

After seeing two celeb cameos in the season premiere (Rob McElhenney and Martin Starr!) I look at every ragged, dirty person and peer at them to try and see if they, too, are famous fans getting the greatest perk of all time. No, I’m not jealous why do you ask? And now, our hearts are leveled by a little girl holding a soup bowl who looks like she has greyscale on one cheek, immediately evoking the murdered Shireen Baratheon, not just by her scars, but also her bravery. Gilly invites the little warrior to protect her and Sam in the crypt.

The horn! Incoming! Dolorous Edd hugs Sam. Jon walks up to do the same but gets sacked by Tormund! “My little crow!,” he grunts with pure affection. Jon adds 2+2 and asks why they’re together. The news isn’t good. Jon’s pragmatism and impatience is vindicated. Right before the panic over the Night King’s impending attack can hit, Tormund reminds us of why he’s irresistible and a source of much-needed comic relief by asking, “The big woman still here?” Ah, Tormund. You are a joy. A constantly horny and hilarious joy.

This episode has some of my favorite writing. The way Beric Dondarrion and Tormund give Jon awful news about the Umbers is practically poetic. Jon’s voice plays over a montage of trebuchets and fierce warriors and fretful smallfolk getting ready for battle.

Strategy session: Jon explains the Night King must be their target because it will destroy his army of dead. Jaime, new and naive, thinks the Night King will never “expose himself.” Bran offers himself up as bait. Everyone is creeped out. “He wants to erase this world and I am its memory.” Sam the slayer: “That’s what death is, isn’t it. Forgetting. Being forgotten. If we forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re not men anymore, just animals. Your memories don’t come from books… If I wanted to erase the world of men, I’d start with you.”

Jon wants to protect Bran at all costs but Bran declines the crypts. Bran knows his role. Sansa is incredulous at the thought of Bran-bait. Arya is not on board, either. Theon steps up and promises to defend him with the Ironborn. I LOVE THIS (REDEMPTION) SONG! Daenerys shows all is forgiven by insisting that Tyrion go to the crypts so her hand might survive. Jorah looks away; his intervention worked. Arya asks if dragon fire could stop the Night King and Bran murmurs, “I don’t know. No one has ever tried.” Well, well, WELL.

Tormund: “We’re all going to die. But at least we’ll die together.” Aww. The fellowship of the doomed. Jon snubs Daenerys, again. She is nonplussed. Just as I’m hollering at the TV about how Bran hasn’t spilled enough tea, Tyrion hears my cries and has a seat. Seriously, I’m getting anxious about how little everyone has heard from Bran about key things only he could convey. UGH. Rather than hear if Tyrion gets any goss, we pivot to Missandei and Grey Worm sharing a tender moment after two little blonde girls ditch her.

Missandei had smiled at them sweetly; they stared at her and ran away. Northerners have never seen POC before and they’re not very gracious about it. Grey Worm is protective after that “slight.” His promise to take her home to Naath fills me with foreboding.

GHOST!!! The great white direwolf appears (finally) as Sam gently confronts Jon about whether he’s told Daenerys his Targaryen truth. Dolorous Edd joins them and it’s a Night’s Watch reunion. Edd exhorts his black brothers: “Last man left-burn the rest of us.” Also, hearing, “And now our watch begins” made me emotional. The Wall has fallen, Last Hearth has fallen, the dregs of the Night’s Watch are on a different “wall,” this time at Winterfell. They’re still doing their duty, and trying to protect the realm of men.

The brothers Lannister are drinking by the fire. It’s probably impossible to get any rest if you’re facing death, or in this case, even worse fates.

Podrick Giantpeen and his SerLady interrupt their banter and Jaime looks surprised to see her. HAPPY-surprised. Ser Davos rushes in to warm himself by the fire and I am reminded that his usual strategy for pre-gaming before battles involves shitting himself silly. I’m sure the facilities at Winterfell are quite accommodating! Some thermal spring-powered bidets, mayhaps? Tormund Giantsbane enters the party and then tries very hard to impress his quarry Brienne; she is mostly appalled by him. Jaime is amused and confused at Tormund and everyone is grossed out by his “breastfed by a giant for three months!” tale. Oh, Tormund.

It’s time for everyone’s favorite subplot, the Arya and Hound show! All of these reunions and encounters feel bittersweet. Everyone is trying to settle unfinished business before it’s too late. What would you say and whom would you say it to if you were dying? Beric Dondarrion joins Arry and the Hound and once again I’m glad that they replaced the original actor who played him in Season One. Arya ditches both: “I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old shits” Well, DAMN, Arya. Enjoy target practice!

Four arrows in, Gendry delivers her custom weapon, just in time. Glad he finished it! Arya is pleased with his handiwork, but only for a moment — she starts interrogating him about his sex life (!) and he shocks her with news about his bold Baratheon bloodline. Arya recovers quickly and demands his number. He can’t lie to her. She’s a walking polygraph. Arya gets down to business. If she’s about to die, she’s not going to die a virgin. Half of the fandom is screeching in outrage the other half’s toasting her bravado.

Back to the fire. Tyrion notes everyone there has fought Starks. Ah, so it’s the Fellowship of the Former Stark Enemies. Bit more unwieldy than Fellowship of the Ring. Tyrion starts naming famous “wins,” calls Brienne “Ser” before correcting himself. I caught it immediately — did you? Tormund is confused. Why isn’t she a Ser? “You’re not the Knight?” Brienne mentions her gender. Tormund doesn’t care. Funny how the allegedly “savage” free folk are far freer with such constructs, eh? Brienne claims she never wanted to be a Ser. Sure, Brienne. Tormund declares that if he were a King, he’d “Knight (Brienne) ten times over” and it’s a lovely double entendre. That’s Jaime’s opening! “You don’t need a king, I’ll prove it.” He invites her to kneel before him and his sword. Is… this… really… happening?!

I have to take a moment and be honest with all of you wonderful Nerds of Color that I fell behind in live tweeting this ep because what happened next made me cry so hard, I had to take a quick break. Thank you for your patience with me and your understanding. What a scene! The way Brienne approached, the tears shining in her eyes. The music. The emotion as everyone stopped to honor what they were seeing. Brienne kneels, eyes filled with hope as Jaime takes his sword and begins knighting her with prayers to the Seven. MY HEARTTTT!

All Brienne has EVER wanted was to be accepted for who she was, exactly as she was. She never conformed to gender norms and the only person who loved her enough to let her be herself was her father, Lord Selwyn Tarth… well, he was the only one… until Jaime. Brienne can scarcely believe what’s happening. Jaime is emotional, too. They both know she has followed those vows with all her heart, never thinking she’d be a “real” knight. The look on her face = a tremulous sort of happiness. Tormund gives a standing O. No matter what comes next, Jaime and Brienne shared something incredibly powerful; he accepted and lauded her for her true, honorable self and helped make her dream come true. She vouched for him earlier, he validates her now. And his redemption arc continues!

Elsewhere, Jorah fruitlessly tries to convince Lyanna Mormont “the future of their house” to go below to the crypts and safeguard their line. Ever the unrelenting badass, Lyanna verbally backhands him. Would you expect anything less from the daughter of Maege? The Lady of Bear Island lives up to their fearsome reputation.

Hold on to your hearts, because here’s Samwise Tarly nervously proffering his family’s heirloom Valyrian sword, which he humbly admits he can’t wield, as a thank you for all Jorah’s father taught him. This is REALLY important, because House Mormont’s Valyrian steel weapon is now on Jon Snow’s belt, a gift from the late Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. That left Jorah with no blade. Sam is giving him Heartsbane when it matters most, to “guard the realms of men.” I used to feel devastated that Ice, House Stark’s legendary greatsword, had been used dishonorably to behead Ned Stark right before it was melted into TWO Valyrian swords for House Lannister, but now I’m glad. That’s two warriors well armed vs. White Walkers.

Next, another homage to Lord of the Rings: Tyrion requires a song, just as Denethor did of Pippin. Pod volunteers with a shout-out to readers! “Jenny of Oldstones” is a melancholy song about the girl Duncan Targaryen gave up his kingdom for… thus putting the Mad King on the throne. Jenny is said to have perished at Summerhall, in a tragic fire that destroyed much of House Targaryen… a fire that raged as Rhaegar was born. Rhaegar knew this song, and this may have been the tune he sung that made both Lyanna and young Cersei swoon for him.

Jon reveals his true parentage to Daenerys in front of the statue of his mother Lyanna in the crypts. He seems to have accepted his truth. Daenerys is devastated, but immediately skeptical of his “sources” Bran and Sam. Their talk is interrupted. It is time for war. We see a line of White Walkers staring at Winterfell before sings us out with a haunting cover of “Jenny of Oldstones.”

Next week: Helms Deep, but in The North. Judging by certain scenes, Winterfell is breached… and so are the crypts! EEEEKKKK!!!

Oh my seven, you guys. That was emotional, fraught, satisfying, and… exhausting. We have waited so long for some of these storylines to resolve. Years, really. And they’re all finally coming together, as we approach the end, like our ragtag bunch of warriors, together.

The title of this ep, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” has LAYERS. Jaime dubbed Brienne that, but it’s also the name of the prequel to . In it, Dunk wanted more than anything to be a knight… just like Brienne… who is rumored to be HIS DESCENDENT!! I’ll never forget the sweet smile on Brienne’s face, as she arose, a Knight. The Dunk who may have given Brienne her tall DNA was so beloved by Aegon V, that Aegon named his beloved son Duncan, and he later fell in love with Jenny of Oldstones.

Okay, everyone. It has been my honor tweeting for the NOC’s Watch. Again, I’m sorry I had to pause the ep and fall behind, but maybe that one guy who was mad about spoilers last week appreciated that. 😉 If you have questions or comments find me on twitter ! I love to talk

One thought on “The NOC’s Watch: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

  1. I definitely got major Helm’s Deep vibes, too.
    One thing I noticed, though, because this has always made me absolutely livid about Helm’s Deep: Theoden would rather have little boys and old men fight than let strong women fight. At Winterfell we know at least Brianne is fighting, and Sam (I think?) mentioned the “men and women” fighting to save everyone.
    So..that, at least…

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