There is a lot to unpack from this episode. We begin with an updated title sequence, this one almost identical to the first episode, but we see many of the tiles that were shown flipping from white to blue to indicate the march of the Night King’s army already flipped to the blue side. We see this all the way past the Last Hearth, former home of the Umbers where last week’s episode ended, and past that we see the tiles once more flipping white to blue as they approached Winterfell. We also see spikes all around the castle, clearly a defense against the dead.
THE TRIAL OF JAIME LANNISTER AND THE AFTERMATH OF THE VERDICT
The opening scene gave us something that we have been waiting for; Jaime being brought to answer for his crimes, with Brienne coming to his defense after both Daenerys and Sansa seemed to be in agreement that Jaime couldn’t be trusted. One of my predictions would be that Tyrion would lose trust because Jaime would reveal that Cersei had no intention of sending her armies north, and upon that revelation, Daenerys shot Tyrion a look that would strike fear into the bravest heart. Grudgingly, Jaime is accepted by the Lords and Ladies in the Great Hall, or at least, they agree with Jon, newly named Warden of the North, that they will need everyone they could get. After the room clears, and they are out of earshot of nearly everyone, Daenerys tells Tyrion that he is either a traitor or a fool, and he quickly owns up to being a fool. At this point, Dany tells him that’s the case maybe she should have chosen someone else to be her Hand. Tyrion then turned to both Jorah Mormont and Varys, telling them it would likely be one of them wearing the badge soon. Jorah later tells Daenerys that this would be a mistake and that Tyrion is the smartest person he knows and should be forgiven for his mistakes just as Daenerys forgave Jorah.
Next up we get to see a couple of the reunions that we did not get to see last week; Jaime and Tyrion. This was a good scene because we get to see what people think about the Lannister boys being in Winterfell again. The verdict? Not too good. One man looks directly at them and spits a large was of phlegm in their general direction, to which Tyrion responds “the people rejoice”. In the middle of their conversation, Jaime sees something that completely steals his attention away from Tyrion musing about his impending doom (a practice several characters engaged in throughout the episode- there was a lot of gallows humor thrown in). He looks onto a field where battle preparations are being made and sees Brienne. They have a good conversation, with Brienne noting that this was the longest they had spoken without Jaime insulting her, prompting Jaime to ask if she wanted him to insult her, and then asking if he could serve under her in the upcoming battle.
OLD FRIENDS RETURN
We see a lot of battle preparation, a lot of interesting weapons and character interactions. The next one is Davos telling a random man that despite not being a soldier before, he was one now. Davos tries to reassure the man by telling him that he wasn’t a soldier either but he was able to survive several battles. We then see a young girl, no more than six or seven years old with a burn on her face, and Davos is instantly reminded of young Shireen Baratheon, burned in blood sacrifice in season six whom he loved like his own daughter. She says that she wants to fight, and both Davos and Gilly convince her that she needs to head to the crypts, where it will be safe to protect those who cannot fight.
Suddenly there is a horn blast, indicating someone at the gates. Jon and Sam come out to see Dolorous Ed and Beric Dondarrion. Jon goes to hug Ed but is nearly tackled to the ground by a very enthusiastic hug from Tormund. Tormund is very happy to see Jon and calls him “my little crow”. He then gives Jon the news that the army of the dead is on its way, and they have maybe until sunrise. He also reveals that his party had to go around them and that anyone caught between Winterfell and the Wall is now a part of the Night King’s army. And of course, Tormund asks about Brienne.
PLANNING FOR THE BATTLE
We then see a great scene with all the major players standing in a map room around a table, planning strategy. We see Jon, Daenerys, Tormund, Jaime, Brienne, Sansa, Bran, Sam, Arya, Jorah, Alys Karstark (for some reason), Varys (for some reason), Davos, Qhono, Lyanna Mormont, Yohn Royce, the newly-returned Theon Greyjoy, and Beric. There are a couple of conspicuously missing characters, notably Grey Worm (who is outside overseeing preparations) and Sandor Clegane, the Hound. We find out later that the Hound is spending his time sitting on a battlement drinking wine on his last day. He is joined by Arya, then by Beric. Arya leaves because she doesn’t want to spend her final hours in the company of those two.
During the meeting, they discuss how they’re going to fight, and what resources they have. It’s noted that despite everything they have and as much as they’ve prepared it simply won’t be enough. They decide that the only way to ensure victory is to take out the Night King because he created the other Walkers and the wights and as we saw last season if you take out one Walker then all the wights he created will also fall. Jaime says that if that’s true, then the Night King will never expose himself. Bran contradicts him and points out that if they use him as bait to draw the Night King out they will have a better chance of defeating him. Theon pledges the Ironborn to protect Bran while he’s in the Godswood with the white Weirwood tree. Arya asks if dragon fire will work against the Night King, and for once Bran doesn’t know something. He points out that it’s never been attempted, and it’s pretty much left at that.