The second of six final episodes in the Game of Thrones saga has just aired, and HBO spent those valuable 58 minutes giving all our favorite characters some time to reflect on life and their likely impending deaths. Wine was enjoyed, moments were had, hugs (amongst other things) shared. It was a powerful episode that wouldn’t have had the same effect if we hadn’t already spent over 50 hours in the world of Westeros getting to know everyone so well. At this point, who didn’t have tears in their eyes when Jaime told Brienne of Tarth to arise a “knight of the Seven Kingdoms”?
As usual, the amount of detail added to every scene in Game of Thrones is astonishing. If you were too busy getting swept up in the emotional tsunami of this week’s installment, you probably missed at least a few Easter eggs hidden in plain sight. Here’s ten of them that we noticed.
Let’s start at the start with the opening credits, which show a Winterfell preparing for war against the undead army of the Night King. Trenches with spikes line the outside area past the castle walls, and you can see several trebuchet stations set up along the northern side.
As for the Others, last week we mentioned that the world map is showing their progress as they march south from the wall. Last week, the blue tiles that represent the region controlled by the undead pushed down to the edges of Last Hearth. This week that area is completely overrun, and as the camera pans to Winterfell, you can see more tiles flipping ominously in the background, reminding us the White Walker army is on the move.
So, the bad news is that episode two ended with the undead at Winterfell’s doorstep. The good news is the living seem well prepared to fight them. Giant piles of dragonglass were shown repeatedly during the season premiere of season eight, and this episode confirms that while the lords of Westeros may still be bickering about birthright, someone has been making sure things are ready for the battle to end all battles. Dragonglass can be seen scattered across the castle, not just in piles of axes and spear points but with shards added to the walls and battlements.
Here’s one for all the folks who complained about the lack of Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, in the last episode. The often elusive companion made his first appearance of season eight when Jon, Edd, and Sam had their moment upon the battlements of Winterfell. You can see him far off to the left, nice and far away from everyone else, which presumably made it affordable for the special effects team to add him into view. We didn’t get elephants, and this might seem like a stingy approach for direwolves? We imagine it’ll all make more sense once we see how much dragon and White Walker action goes down in the next couple of episodes.
The romance between Arya and Gendry that bloomed in this episode didn’t come out of nowhere. Arya has been checking Gendry out since season two, and her encounter with him at the start of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was filmed as a throwback to that moment in Harrenhal where she watches him working shirtless.
What they have is clearly more than just a physical attraction. There’s another bit of poetic rhyming that goes down when Gendry reveals himself to be the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Back in season two, Gendry was the only person amongst the caravan headed from King’s Landing to the Wall that she confided her true identity to. It’s also interesting to note that Robert Baratheon finally got his wish of House Baratheon and Stark getting together, if less formally than originally planned. In the very first episode of Game of Thrones, Robert suggested to Ned that they join their houses by marrying Sansa to Joffrey. Of course, Joffrey wasn’t really a Baratheon, and those plans were undone the moment Robb Stark raised an army in response to the Lannisters chopping off Ned’s head. But Bobby B might be smiling down from the seven heavens while hearing about Arya and Gendry.
One other detail you may have missed: as Arya is taking off her shirt, you can see scars on her stomach from when the Waif stabbed her in Braavos.
When Daenerys attempts to warm the icy heart of Sansa Stark with a little one-on-one girl talk, she mentions there’s only been one other love of her life, someone who was “taller.” This is a little joke referring to Jon Snow actor Kit Harington’s height. Depending on who you ask, Kit Harington is somewhere between 5’5″ and 5’7″ tall, which became something of an issue when he reunited with his big little sister Sansa, played by the 5’9″ Sophie Turner. Harington ended up having to wear lifts in his shoes, so other actors wouldn’t tower over him in some scenes.
As for the dude that came before Jon, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) was 6’4.” Taller indeed!
While Tyrion always appears to be so witty on Game of Thrones, we’ve often wondered whether the nature of television editing has resulted in us getting a greatest hits collection of his finest jokes. You can put points towards that particular theory based on the moment in this episode where he tries to recycle his “how I’d like to die” joke from season one and Jaime finishes it for him. How many times the Imp retold that one? Jaime’s “Others, hurry up and kill us now” expression makes me think the number is high.
This episode was called “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” in reference to Jaime’s spontaneous knighting of Brienne of Tarth. But those are more than just the words used during the knighting ceremony of Westeros. They’re also the name of a 2015 compilation of short stories written by George R.R. Martin called The Tales of Dunk and Egg. They focus on Ser Duncan the Tall, who would become one of the most famous knights in Westeros reknown for his honor. Brienne takes after him in more than just her height and morality. According to Martin, Brienne is actually a descendant of Ser Duncan.
And finally … the haunting song sung by Pod during the final fireside drinking session before battle is known as “Jenny’s Song,” named after a famous figure in Westeros history named Jenny of Oldstones. She was a commoner so beautiful that Duncan Targaryen gave up the Iron Throne to marry her, and their romance was a favorite topic of singers due to all the consequences of that action. Not only did the Baratheons rise up in bloody rebellion when Duncan broke a betrothal to marry Jenny, but the shift in succession would result in the crown eventually going to the Mad King Aerys, throwing all of Westeros into turmoil and war.
“Jenny’s Song” has even deeper meaning when it comes to prophecy and Jon Snow’s heritage. Jenny of Oldstones claimed to be descended from the kings of the First Men and brought a woods witch with her to court who was the first to tell King Aegon V of the Prince That Was Promised prophecy. She claimed the Prince would be born from the line of Aegon’s children Aerys and Rhaella, which prompted Aegon to marry the two. Further dabbling in magic and prophecy would lead Aegon and Jenny to their fates at Summerhall, which was destroyed during a ritual attempting to bring dragons back into the world. The same tragic moment saw the birth of Rhaegar Targaryen.
Rhaegar regularly spent time near the ruins of Summerhall, and there is evidence in the books that he met Jenny’s woods witch and learned more of her sad story, the prophecy, and how it all might connect to him. Rhaegar would later perform “Jenny’s Song” at the Tournament of Harrenhal, winning the heart of one Lyanna Stark in the process. And this led to the birth of their son, Aegon, known throughout Westeros as Jon Snow.