“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” | Game of Thrones
Sometimes a piece of fiction could be so achingly shocking it pulls you away while driving you into a state of rage and disgust. But other times, there are moments of rare passion — executed so beautifully, it takes your breath away. And on a show like Game of Thrones where quiet serenity is far and fleeting, there’s something so hauntingly poignant about this episode, appropriately titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”. The end that’s near is expected to be dark and devastating, but I can’t help but marvel in the conception that this episode is what the entire show has led up to. (And maybe one day time will permit me write about the entire thing.) All the pain and suffering, the losses and the seemingly endless winters has all led to this moment of exceptional warmth. An episode filled with interactions so moving, it kept me up all night, and at the top of those gorgeously touching intimate interactions, the one I can’t stop crying about
hours days later is, Jaime Lannister knighting Brienne of Tarth.
I don’t know who’d dare to argue with the sentiment I’m going to make, but Brienne of Tarth is the heart of Game of Thrones. She’s a monarch of transcending goodness, a meritorious presence, from the moment we met her, proving not only that light in darkness is utter bravery, but that no one deserves their wishes granted more. And Brienne of Tarth, the heart of Winterfell, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms has singlehandedly softened the King slayer’s once vile heart without ever trying to. If you had told me years ago that a scene between Jaime and Brienne would become my favorite romantic scene in the show’s history, I would’ve doubted you greatly, swearing an oath even, that you’d be dead wrong. But here we are and I’m happy to admit that I’ve been stunned in the best way possible. This wasn’t a scene with the kind of bold declarations we’re used to, direct physical touch was absent, but the level of intimacy it conveyed is unmatched.
This isn’t the prelude to a happily ever after — Jaime and Brienne aren’t likely to ride off into the sunset after this, but somehow it’s enough to be pivotal. Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have often tapped into the most vulnerable parts of their characters with gorgeous delicacy, bringing to the surface profound emotions solely in the presence of the other. Despite the complicated journey, loyalty has been the center of their relationship — from the very first meeting to the last, (Whenever that dreaded day may be.) they’ve done the most effective job of solidifying that their loyalty to each other is unwavering. And alongside loyalty, belief stands with just as much endurance — a kind of belief that we can safely assume has fueled them on the nights they found most stillness in the world. It’s the belief that Brienne deserves to be appreciated for all that she is and wants to be, and the belief that the goodness Jaime’s veiled could be his greatest strength.
And sometimes, the simple choice to give another the one thing they’ve always wanted, served gallantly with pure belief in their entire being could be more formidable than even the lengthiest declarations of love. Jaime’s heart has and will always belong to Brienne — he gives it to her proudly upon bestowing her with the “Oathkeeper”, and he gives it to her once more when he asks if he could serve under her command. He then fortifies the vow after she’s been knighted with a simple look that unveils the sincere admiration reserved strictly for her, which Coster-Waldau has mastered at exhibiting through brilliant refinements every time. It’s clear in this moment that Jaime Lannister understands he’s just performed the greatest role of his life. This is his utmost redemption — his saving grace.
To quote the episode’s writer Bryan Cogman “Jaime does something here you would never expect the Jaime of season 2 to do. For Jaime, to humble himself to serve under anyone is a huge thing. He would never do that for anybody other than her. […] “We wanted to take the audience by surprise. It’s not a ceremonial scene on a cliff at sunset with billowing capes. It comes out of a throwaway moment that even some people in the room think is a joke and then they quickly realize it’s not. It’s a monumental thing. It’s a moment of grace and beauty in the middle of a nightmare and the main reason I wanted to write this episode. The episode’s title, ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,’ refers to both Jaime and Brienne.”
Sincerity and happiness of any kind had been robbed from both of them, with Jaime especially leading him towards a path far from nobility. To restore that with such a simple moment, brightened with fires in the room reiterates the very notion that transparency is the greatest gift humans can bestow. Brienne of Tarth has worn sincerity as the most resilient armor in existence — her spirit and light have often brought the very warmth Winterfell’s needed. And as a woman who’s been conditioned to believe that she’s not deserving of her desires because of patriarchal beliefs cemented with the ridicule and scorn she’s faced in the past, the transparency in her smile brought innocence to the series in a way nothing ever could. And the beauty in this great act is largely due to the doubt Christie’s often carried Brienne with — she’s fierce and quick-witted, but the failure to believe in herself completely comes from the life she’s lived — the darkness she’s witnessed amongst everyone, including, Jaime. And the tears in Brienne’s eyes beautifully serve as an ode to every woman who believes she can’t be what she wants — it’s an ode to the women who are told no while they’re mocked and torn down. It’s an ode to the women who’ve risen. But to leave us then with the pure joy in her smile as an emblem of the fact that belief in a single person could do more than ever imagined is one of the greatest lessons Game of Thrones will teach. A moment where Gwendoline Christie’s acute embodiment of Brienne floored me (And presumably everyone else.) in a way that I’m going to remember for a long, long time. There’s been so few performances before with quite as much immaculacy.
That’s why this ceremonious moment needed to be between the two of them. She needed to understand, with every fiber of her being, that a man who’d once sworn solely to his blood, would give her the very thing no one else would because his belief in her is the governing beat of his heart. It needed to be him because to him, tradition mattered, blood mattered, honor matters, but where Brienne is concerned, he’d give his hand thrice over. She saved him, without ever intending to, then publicly vouched for him, and this was his moment to give back in the only way he knew how. She’s his undoing and rebirth. She’s his strength and his weakness. And because of the profound, underlying emotions, the intimacy reflected in the scene is unparalleled. It was a moment no kiss or sexual contact could manifest with as much palpable gravity as two people locking eyes did.
It was a moment between two completely different yet undeniably kindred spirits that touched on the parts of their souls that needed healing and strength most. It touched on the parts of them that’s longed for something greater than explanation could ever carry out. It fed into the profound desires that’s long reigned in their beings, swallowing them whole during the quiet moments of conversing entirely with their eyes. It broke down walls and crossed bridges, finding the place of utter serenity where their adoration for the other has been tucked safely away. For a moment, it was just the two of them — righting wrongs and making promises they intend to keep. It was intimacy at its most poignant, captivating, and incomparable form.
What was the most exquisite moment you watched on TV this week?