‘Game of Thrones’: The Knight the Lights Went Out on the Patriarchy

Game of Thrones
“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”
April 21, 2019

Giant’s milk! Folk songs! Even more emotional reunions somehow! Bran revealing the Night King’s beef with him! Jaime getting some justice! Brienne getting the one thing she always wanted! Arya getting into someone’s pants! Daenerys learns the whole truth! And everyone burns down the motherfucking patriarchy! Finally.


The episode begins with the much-overdue Trial of Jaime Lannister in which we hear charges of Regicide! and Street Attacks! and Doing Something Unnamed for Love! And Jaime is like, “Well, I mean, fair enough, I did all of those things, but I did those things for my family when I didn’t realize shit was about to get real. BUT SHIT DONE GOT REAL, so I’m here to help!”

Daenerys, who is in no mood for this fool, points out that Jaime’s sister promised more than just her one-handed twin in the war against the White Walkers, so where are they? Where is the famous Lannister army (that I didn’t melt with my dragons)? Jaime is like “yeaaaaaaah … so about that. Not only are they not coming, but Cersei has also hired the Golden Company to fight whoever manages to survive up here. So I’m pretty much all you got.”

Unimpressed with this answer, Daenerys is prepared to melt down some more Lannister gold when Brienne stands up and is all, “Look, the guy’s a douchebag, no one is arguing that. But he’s an honorable douchebag who protected me and lost a hand in the process. He also upheld an oath he swore to Sansa’s mom — who, at the time it should be noted, was his enemy. The bottom line is that Sansa, you wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for this douchebag.” And so Sansa is like, “Good enough for me!” and Jon Snow is like, “Good enough for me!” and Daenerys is left rolling her eyes and grousing at Tyrion that he is either a fool or a traitor and she hates his whole stupid family. AND SHE WILL FIND ANOTHER HAND IF SHE HAS TO.

Down in the forge, Arya pesters Gendry for her weapon and he’s all, “You’re adorable. I’m busy making all these dragonglass blades for the real soldiers, not for little girls who will be hiding in the crypt.” Undeterred by his patronizing attitude, Arya demands to know what the wights and White Walkers are like — what do they look like, how do they move, what do they smell like. After giving her another patronizing answer — “really bad” — Gendry describes them as “Death.”

“I know Death!” Says Arya, while grabbing a dragonglass blade and tossing it expertly into a nearby pillar. “He’s got many faces,” she adds while throwing another blade into the pillar right next to the first. “I look forward to seeing this one,” she concludes while tossing a third blade that lands right next to the other two.


Out in the Godswood (can it be a Godswood if there’s only one tree? doesn’t a woods require multiple trees?), The Three-Eyed Bran is busy at his staring blankly at nothing duties, which is where Jaime finds him. Jaime apologizes for the whole trying-to-kill-him-by-shoving-him-out-of-a-window thing, but The Three-Eyed Bran is like, “Eh, bygones. If you hadn’t done that, I’d still be Bran right now.” Jaime is all, “Wait, whoa, backup? You’re not Bran?” But The Three-Eyed Bran is like, “Look, there’s a whole bird wizard thing going on, don’t worry about it. The point is, I’m not angry with you, I’m not angry with anyone. And if I told anyone what you did to me, you wouldn’t be able to help them fight.” Jaime wonders what happens “afterwards,” and The Three-Eyed Bran is like, “Bitch, who said anything about an ‘afterwards?'”

After his not-at-all insightful conversation with Bran, Jaime runs into his brother in the courtyard of Winterfell, where the residents make their feelings known about having a pair of Lannisters in their midst:

Tyrion admits that he underestimated Cersei, before checking with Jaime that Cersei really is pregnant. Jaime confirms she is, in fact, pregnant, thereby killing one thousand stupid theories in one fell swoop.

Jaime tries to claim that she fooled him, too, over all these years, but Tyrion is all, “BITCH PLEASE. You always knew who she was and you loved her anyway. Get out of here with that self-delusional bullshit.”

As the brothers survey the grounds of Winterfell, Tyrion ponders their imminent deaths and wonders if he’ll march down to King’s Landing and rip his beloved sister apart as a tiny zombie. But Jaime is too busy brooding over Brienne to pay any attention.

Jaime goes down to the walls of Winterfell where traps are being laid and moats are being dug and men are practicing their swording (shut up, that is too a word) where he finds Brienne overseeing Podrick’s practice. Jaime notes that she will be commanding the left flank and she’s like, “Uh, yeah. WHAT IS THIS? WHY ARE YOU BEING NICE TO ME?” And Jaime explains that he came to Winterfell because he’s not the fighter he used to be — but he would be honored to serve under her.


Inside the castle, Jorah tells Daenerys to not be so hard on Tyrion — he makes mistakes but he owns up to them. Jorah then suggests that Daenerys go make nice with Sansa.

To that end, Daenerys sits down with Sansa and confirms that this Brienne person can be trusted. Sansa adds that not only is Brienne a badass whom she trusts with her life, but Tyrion is pretty great too. Daenerys is irritated that Tyrion trusted Cersei, but Sansa is like, “Girl, none of y’all should have trusted Cersei. Frankly, I should have been the one to go down to King’s Landing and negotiate with that asshole because apparently I’m the only one who can see through her bullshit IN THIS ENTIRE KINGDOM. But lay off Tyrion: family be complicated.”


After noting that she and Sansa have a lot in common, what with them both being HBICs ruling over people who don’t like being ruled by women … and doing a good job at it …

… Daenerys doesn’t understand why there is this tension between them. Sansa’s like, “Don’t play dumb. My brother is in love with you, and like all men, he’s an easily manipulated dummy.” Daenerys argues that she’s the one who is taking a detour from her plan to conquer the world to this snow-covered nightmare to fight his war, so who is manipulating whom? Also, she’s never felt this way for a man since someone … taller.

Sansa’s like, “Cool cool cool. But what happens to the North after we defeat the White Walkers and Cersei? The North was taken from us and we took it back, and what, you want us to just hand it over to you when all is said and done? Does that seem fair or does that seem like some bullshit?”

And that’s what ends Sansa and Daenerys’ friendly little chat — well, that and the arrival of Theon. Welcome back, Theon!

Out in the courtyard, Davos is working the soup kitchen and reassuring farmers that they are not going to die. (They are totally going to die.) Shireen one little scarred girl insists to Davos that she wants to fight with the soldiers, so Gilly intervenes and suggests she would feel better if Shireen Little Scarred Girl would be in the crypts defending her and her baby. Shireen Little Scarred Girl agrees.

A horn blares, announcing the arrival of some riders, and soon Jon is reunited with his Night’s Watch and Wildling buddies, Edd and Tormund. Oh and that weird dude, Beric Dondarrion. The bad news: the walkers have devastated Last Hearth. The worse news: they will be at Winterfell before sunrise.

As for Tormund, he has other concerns:

GROUP MEETING! Jon notes to the assembled that they have dragonglass and Valaryian steel, but they also have an enemy who never tires, so they can’t beat them in a straight fight. Instead, they need to strike at the Night King himself.

The Three-Eyed Bran announces that he’s ready to be bait — that, in fact, the Night’s King is coming for him, the Three-Eyed Raven, because the Night King wants “… An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory.”


But Sam gets it: death is forgetting and being forgotten. The Three-Eyed Bran’s memories are more than books, more than stories, and if the Night King wanted to erase the world of man, The Three-Eyed Raven is a good place to start.

And by the way: the Night King knows exactly where The Three-Eyed Bran is at any given moment because, fun story, Bran done fucked up this one time and now the Night King left his mark on him.

So, Bran’s plan is to sit out by the heart tree and lure the Night King in while everyone else holds off the rest of the zombies for as long as they can. Theon volunteers to stay with Bran because REDEMPTIVE ARC.

Tyrion also volunteers to do something brave and stupid, but Daenerys insists that he stay in the crypts because they are going to need his big brain after all is said and done.

Jon and Daenerys, in the meantime, intend to pursue the Night King with the dragons … before pausing to ask The Three-Eyed Bran if dragonfire can stop the Night King.

The Three-Eyed Bran:

As everyone leaves to get some rest before they die, Tyrion pulls up a chair next to Bran and is all, “So, what’s your story, bird boy?”

Unfortunately, we don’t find out what Tyrion learns, because we instead go out to the courtyard to overhear Missandei and Grey Worm make big plans to retire to the beach together when this is all said and done.

So, R.I.P. Grey Worm.

Up on the walls, Sam asks Jon if he’s told Daenerys about the whole being her nephew thing yet, and Jon is all, “BACK OFF.” Edd joins them and Jon and Edd suggest to Sam that he stay in the crypts with Gilly and Little Sam. Sam fires back that he CAN TOO FIGHT: he’s the first to have killed a White Walker, he’s killed Thenns (“Thenn,” Edd corrects) and also, too, Edd’s a stupid virgin. With that, Edd suggests that whichever of the three of them remains burns the bodies of the others.

In the great hall, Jaime and Tyrion have a drink together and imagine what Tywin would think of his two sons defending Winterfell. After a little blah blah about how much they’ve changed — in the event that we’ve missed their character arcs over the past eight seasons — Brienne, Podrick, Davos, and Tormund join them.

Tormund gets a look at Jaime the “king killer,” and announces that he has a nickname, too: “Giantsbane.” He received his nickname when he was 10. He killed a giant and then climbed into bed with the giant’s wife who suckled him for three months, believing that he was her baby. And that’s why he’s so strong: giant’s milk.


Tyrion points out that it’s strange — all of them there had fought against the Starks at one point or another and here they all are, defending the Stark castle.

ironic alanis

Tyrion remains hopeful that they might just make it out alive; after all, how many battles had they survived between the lot of them? They go around listing battles, and when Tyrion gets to Brienne, he calls her Ser Brienne before correcting himself: Lady Brienne.

Tormund is all, “The fuck? She’s not a knight? Why not?” Brienne explains that women can’t be knights, and Tormund again is all, “why not?” Brienne again explains that it’s just tradition, to which Tormund, that glorious red-headed one-man warrior against the patriarchy declares: FUCK TRADITION.

Tormund also notes that if he were king, he’d knight Brienne 10 times over, and Jaime is like, “FUN FACT: it doesn’t take a king — a knight can make another knight.” And with that, he calls Brienne over, has her kneel before him, and knights her:

“In the name of the Warrior, I charge you to be brave.
In the name of the Father, I charge you to be just.
In the name of the Mother, I charge you to defend the innocent.
Arise, Brienne of Tarth a knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”

With that, Ser Brienne stands to a standing ovation from her fellow warriors.


Finally, the wine gone, Tyrion requests a song — surely someone knows a song. And Podrick begins singing “Jenny of Oldstones,” which we will talk about in a moment.

Meanwhile, while all those guys were getting hammered inside, Arya, The Hound, and Beric Dondarrion get their drink on out on the wall until Arya gets tired of their particular brand of mumbly bullshit and goes looking for more age-appropriate activities.

To that end, Arya heads to the forge to find out how her weapon is coming along, and as it turns out: quite nicely. Arya also has a few questions for Gendry regarding the Red Woman: namely, what did she want from Gendry, and did they, you know,

Gendry explains that Milasandre wanted him for his blood for magic spells because he’s Robert Baratheon’s bastard son, and no, technically, they did not …

After asking how many women he has been with …


And then we all get a whole lot of Maisie Williams’ ass and side boob, which I’m just not sure anyone was prepared for. A GIRL IS NOT ALLOWED TO GROW UP AND BECOME SEXUAL JUST OUT OF NOWHERE, DAMMIT. More on this later.

Out in the courtyard, Jorah is learning that his cousin, Little Lady Badass, is a badass and uninterested in his telling her that she is not invited to the war party. She’s all, “TOO FUCKING BAD, OLD MAN,” before storming off.  Sam then approaches him to offer Jorah Heartsbane, his family’s Valyarian steel sword. HAVE FUN DEFENDING THE CASTLE! I’LL BE IN THE CRYPTS IF YOU NEED ME!

Speaking of the crypts, that’s where Daenerys finds Jon who has spent the entire episode ghosting her. Jon happens to be brooding in front of Lyanna Stark’s statue and when he tells Daenerys it’s Lyanna Stark, she’s all, “Wait, the chick everyone says my only good brother raped?” Jon is like, “FUNNY STORY. Akshully, they were in love and got married and had a secret baby and that secret baby was me.” Daenerys does not think this is a funny story at all considering the punchline is, “And you’re not the real heir to the Iron Throne.” Daenerys thinks that Jon’s evidence for this is AWFULLY CONVENIENT, what with the best friend and the bird-brother -cousin being his only witnesses, but before they can discuss this further, three horns blow outside which means SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL, SON.

you're gonna die oprah game of thrones

So let’s start with Podrick’s song, because JENNY OF OLDSTONES.

For those of you who have not already read 18 different pieces entitled, “WHY PODRICK’S SONG IS SO IMPORTANT AND MAY REVEAL EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SERIES FINALE!!!” let me give you the long version.

OK, so, Aegon Targaryen V.  Aegon V is the great-grandfather of Daenerys, and the great-great-grandfather of Jon (and he is the “Egg” of the Duncan and Egg stories which are, interestingly enough, three novellas published together under the title, “A Knight of Seven Kingdoms”) (and Aegon is also the younger brother of Aemon, the ancient Targaryen who was one of Jon’s mentors at the Wall — this guy:

targaryen alone in the world game of thrones jon) (and he was the last “Aegon” Targaryen who sat on the Iron Throne … until Jon, if he chooses to take it) — so Ageon V, he wasn’t supposed to be king, but because of reasons, he ended up with the throne. Aegon turned out to be a good king, interested in taking care of the little people and grossed out by the Targaryen custom of incest.

As such, he and his wife (who was a Blackwood) promised to marry their three sons to three different highborn houses: their eldest Duncan was supposed to marry a Baratheon girl; their middle, Jaehaerys, was promised to marry a Tully; and their youngest, Daeron, was supposed to marry a Redwyne. But haha, nope. Duncan fell in love with a strange girl he met in the Riverlands who is sometimes described as a “peasant” but who also claimed to be the descendant of the First Men, Jenny of Oldstones. Duncan loved her so much, in fact, he abdicated the throne to be with her. This infuriated the Baratheons who rose up in rebellion against Aegon until his buddy and head of his Kingsguard, Duncan the Tall, squashed it. To make nice, Aegon married off his daughter to a different Baratheon.

As for the other two boys, Jaehaerys fell in love with his sister, Shaera, whom he secretly wed — they are the parents of Aerys, otherwise known as the Mad King, the man who is Daenerys’ father and Jon’s grandfather.

And then the last son, Daeron, was gay. So best laid plans and all that.

Anyway, back to Jenny: she was a wildly popular figure among the commoners, though many suspected she was half-mad or maybe a witch. Jenny brought a friend of hers, a dwarf witch and maybe one of the few remaining Children of the Forest, to court where the witch prophecied that the Prince Who Is Promised would be born from Jaehaerys’ children’s line — through Aerys and Rhaella. And so, even though they weren’t in love with each other, their father forced them to marry. (Also, in the books, it’s suggested that the dwarf witch is still alive nearly 100 years later, and is known as the Ghost of High Heart. In exchange for her prophecies, she asks the Brotherhood with No Banners sing “Jenny of Oldstones” to her.)

So, Aerys and Rhaella are about to have their first baby, the supposed Prince Who Was Promised, and to celebrate, Aegon V called all his friends and neighbors to his Stormlands palace, Summerhall, to celebrate. And Aegon brought fireworks.

Late in his life, Aegon V became obsessed with the idea of bringing the dragons back to Westeros, and he may have been successful in finding some eggs. It is not clear what exactly happened, but from a ruined page in one Maester’s book, it looks like Aegon tried to hatch the eggs, perhaps using wildfire. The whole damn place burned down to the ground, killing Aegon, Duncan the Tall and his son (and Jenny’s husband) Duncan — and presumably Jenny herself.

Hence, the sad song that Podrick sings about Jenny dancing with her ghosts:

High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most

[Verse 1]
The ones who’d been gone for so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around on the damp old stone
Spun away all her sorrow and pain

And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave

[Verse 2]
They danced through the day
And into the night through the snow that swept through the hall
From winter to summer and winter again
‘Til the walls did crumble and fall

And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave
And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave

High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most


Oh, and the son of Aerys and Rhaella was born the night Summerhall burned down, and his name was Rhaegar — big brother to Daenerys, and father of Jon. Crucially, he was “born amidst salt and smoke,” which was part of the whole “Prince Who Was Promised” prophecy: the smoke being from the fire; the salt, the tears wept for the dead. Note: he turned out to not be the Prince Who Was Promised. But Rhaegar might be his father! Or maybe her brother!

As for the song that Podrick actually sings, according to book lore, it was written by Rhaegar, and he sung it to Lyanna at the Tournament at Harrenhal where they fell in love. Soon after, they ran away and made baby Jon/Aegon.

Now, people are making a lot of hay out of this song and its history and WHAT IT ALL MEANS FOR THE FINALE!!!!!!  And the consensus appears to be: Duncan abdicated the throne for the woman he loved, and it’s foreshadowing that Jon will do the same. And you know, maybe! It’s as good an explanation as any. And considering the episode ends before Jon tells Daenerys what his intentions for the Iron Throne are, it is possible that they did give us a clue with the song.

But what I took away from the song was not so much the content, but the purpose of songs in general in this universe. The world of Westeros is a largely illiterate one and common folk would likely learn the news of the day through vehicles like songs and plays — think the traveling theater troupe that Arya befriended and their performance of the Purple Wedding.

Of course, the problem with getting your news from songs and plays is that they have an editorial bent — even more so than our #FAKENEWS! today. Just think how different the theater troupe’s version of the Purple Wedding was from actual events: how Joffrey was portrayed as an innocent darling, how monstrous Tyrion and Sansa were. The point being, in the world of Westeros (and, frankly, in our own), if you have enough power, you can bend history and reality itself to your preferred version.

I’m reminded of the third episode of the series, “Lord Snow,” when after Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, attacked Joffrey for being a piece of shit, Cersei suggested to Joffrey that something else happened entirely:

Cersei: You fought off a direwolf. You’re a warrior like your father.

Joffrey: I’m not like him. I didn’t fight off anything. It bit me and all I did was scream. And the two Stark girls saw it, both of them.

Cersei: That’s not true. You killed the beast. You only spared the girl because of the love your father bears her father.

Joffrey: I didn’t, I …

Cersei: When Aerys Targaryen sat on the iron throne, your father was a rebel and a traitor. Someday you’ll sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it.

Joffrey: Do I have to marry her?

Cersei: Yes. She’s very beautiful and young. If you don’t like her, you only need to see her on formal occasions and when the time comes, to make little princes and princesses. And if you’d rather fuck painted whores, you’ll fuck painted whores. And if you’d rather lie with noble virgins, so be it. You are my darling boy and the world will be exactly as you want it to be.

This idea of drafting history on your terms is an important one to the entire series — which is, after all, called a Song of Ice and Fire. The story we are being told is just that: a story, a song being sung by someone who has their own subjective understanding of what happened and who the heroes and the villains were and how they think the history should be remembered.

Now, the song “Jenny of Oldstones” doesn’t have a particularly political bent, it is not trying to persuade anyone of anything (except maybe for Lyanna to get into bed with Rhaegar), but it does keep history alive for those who hear it in an artistic and metaphorical way. My long-winded point to all of this is that I would argue that the actual value of the song here is as it is used as a contrast to the kind of history that The Three-Eyed Raven supplies; a reminder that there is this distinct “history” that the maesters and the songwriters and the playwrights create, and then there is this unemotional, disengaged and objective “truth” that The Three-Eyed Raven embodies, the memory of the human world, the memory of what actually happened.

As for whether or not this is the true reason the Night King is coming for The Three-Eyed Bran …

Look. The part of me who wants to wildly spin theories about Bran and the Night King and The Three-Eyed Raven and maybe Bran the Builder and time loops and creation/destruction myths, that part is screaming that the Night King’s entire motivation can’t just be as simple as “destroy all men but The Three-Eyed Bran most of all.” That just feels too elementary to me, too basic. I am still inclined to believe that the Night King is after men and The Three-Eyed Raven in particular for their part in creating him.

But the practical part of me realizes that there are only four episodes left and there is not much time to develop a more complicated theory. If the Night King does have some sort of other motivation, we need to find out about it IMMEDIATELY, or we have to just be satisfied with this explanation from The Three-Eyed Bran as it stands, even if it feels just sorta vague.

What sticks with me more than The Three-Eyed Bran’s explanation for why the Night King is coming for him is his unsettling comment to Jaime, “How do you know there is an afterwards?” Dude. I don’t know what that means, other than it doesn’t bode well for an “afterwards” for either Bran or Jaime.

Speaking of Jaime, and characters that I am officially VERY WORRIED ABOUT, how about that moment with Brienne? Being knighted by Jaime was what this relationship has been building up to over the course of the entire series: their relationship was never about sex, it was about respect. Jaime knighting Brienne, tossing aside convention and making this woman his equal, was the single most profound gesture he could make for her. And it was well-earned: Brienne made Jaime the man that he always aspired to be, the honorable knight, the hero, the man he could never fully be as long as he was under Cersei’s malignant thrall. As such, it is appropriate that Jaime knights Brienne in the same episode he is forced by Tyrion to confront a truth about himself: that he loved Cersei while knowing full well the terrible truth about who she is as a person. He wasn’t manipulated, he wasn’t lied to, he knew who she was and he loved her anyway — until he couldn’t anymore. And so, by knighting Brienne, by lifting up the woman who redeemed him, he has finally and fully driven a sword through the heart of the man he used to be.

But I do worry that now that Brienne has the one thing she has always wanted — long-overdue respect and equality — her story can now conclude with a valiant death. (That said, I do hold out hope that she survives and becomes the first Queensguard to either Daenerys or Sansa. This possibility makes me think she has a 25% survival chance.)

Also, as a feminist, I can’t help but celebrate the fiercely anti-patriarchal message of the entire episode, including the knighting of Brienne. Tormund is absolutely right: fuck tradition. And these men, in this moment with death breathing down their necks, they are beginning to recognize that tradition that serves no other purpose than “it’s always been done that way” is worthless. But while some men like Jaime come to understand that on their own, sometimes it has to be said directly to their dumb faces, like Lyanna Mormont does with her uncle.

Similarly, Arya has no time for niceties or pretending to be a proper lady with Gendry. “Take your own bloody pants off,” indeed.

But let me just say this about the Arya sex scene: I’ve seen a lot of takes from people scolding that if you were uncomfortable with Arya taking charge and taking Gendry, you’re a bad feminist who is unable to accept that girls turn into young women and have sexual lives. I mean, maybe. That might be the problem some people had with this scene. But my problem with it was that thanks to the show’s loosey-goosey approach to time — we have literally no idea how much time passed in the last season, much less the entire series, and therefore no idea how old, exactly, Arya is supposed to be aside from one defensive tweet posted by HBO ahead of the show suggesting that she’s 18 now — and because they never really spent any time focusing on Arya’s development as a woman,  just her development as an assassin,  her suddenly becoming sexual felt unexpected and somewhat unearned. On the one hand, good for Arya for taking charge of her own sexuality — she is never sold into marriage, she is never raped, unlike Sansa, Daenerys, and Cersei. She is never a victim as a result of her womanhood, which in this world is a minor miracle. But on the other hand, the scene feels less like a piece of important character development as it does as giving Arya a reason to grieve when Gendry dies in the next episode — when his becomes the face of death that she is least prepared to see.

But back to this episode’s overarching anti-patriarchal theme: let’s talk Daenerys. First, I deeply appreciate the fact that she recognizes within Sansa her own strength and leadership qualities, and I think that in the end, if Daenerys does win the Iron Throne and doesn’t put Sansa on it in her stead, she will return the North to Sansa either at the request of, or in honor of Jon. I don’t believe Daenerys was just trying to make nice with the potential sister-in-law in that moment, I genuinely do believe she respects and identifies with Sansa.

But second: what Daenerys is up against with Jon now declaring, “oh by the way, I have a better claim to the throne than you do,” is an example of patriarchy at its worst — the entrenched notion that a man is entitled to power or benefits over a woman simply because of the gender he was lucky enough to be born into. Daenerys has spent the last several years of her life raising magic dragon babies and using them to conquer corrupt city-states and free slaves and prove her worthiness as a leader and this pretty boy is just going to take the throne she’s been EARNING because he has a penis? I THINK NOT. I mean, yes, Jon has brought the Wildings and the Night’s Watch together which is no mean feat, and he has won in battles against the living and the dead (sorta), and has been resurrected after being stabbed in the heart. But Daenerys has been marching around the world, winning over her own unlikely allies, winning her own battles and walking through motherfucking fire again and again without the help of some witch magic, but she’s supposed to just step aside for some dude? Why, exactly?

And so in the end, I think the people who claim that this episode is foreshadowing that Jon ultimately relinquishing the throne for Daenerys are right, but I think it is this episode’s recurring motif of “fuck tradition” that foreshadows this at least as much if not more than the use of the song, “Jenny of Oldstones.”

Some final thoughts on two popular theories floating around out there: I don’t think the Night King is going to bypass Winterfell and head down to King’s Landing to make the entire population wights because 1. it would be anticlimactic to leave Bran out as bait and not have some sort of confrontation take place and 2. unless we are going to devote an entire episode to the Night King taking over King’s Landing with only three episodes remaining, I would be HELLA PISSED if something that substantial took place off-screen while we were busy watching all of our favorite characters die in Winterfell.

And as far as the theory that the dead are going to rise in the Stark crypt and create trouble for those hiding there, I mean, maybe? But the catch in this theory is that the bodies of the Starks have been prepared by the Silent Sisters who traditionally strip the bodies of their flesh and return only the bones to the families for burial. In the books, the Silent Sisters explicitly return Ned’s bones to Cat who orders them sent to Winterfell for burial. So, sure, Ned and Lyanna and everyone else buried in the crypt could theoretically rise up with the White Walkers, but a pile of bones is not going to be the most dangerous of your zombie threats.

ALRIGHT. The Battle of Winterfell is upon us. Here are my last-minute bets on who survives and who absolutely does not survive:

Arya: Lives
Beric Dondarrion: Dies
Bran: Lives
Brienne: 25% chance she lives
Daenerys: Definitely Lives
Davos: 75% chance he lives
Edd: Dies
Gendry: Dies
Gilly: Lives
Grey Worm: Dies
The Hound: Lives
Jaime: Lives
Jon: Definitely Lives
Jorah: Dies
Lady Mormont: Lives
Little Sam: Lives
Missandei: Lives
Podrick: Lives unless Brienne lives
Sam: Definitely Lives
Sansa: Definitely Lives
Theon: Dies
Tormund: Dies
Tyrion: Definitely Lives
Varys: Lives

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Gendry and Arya survive the Battle of Winterfell and live happily ever after together and raise babies. And maybe Little Sam become as blue-eyed wight who kills Gilly and Sam. And maybe Bran really is the Night King and he kills Jon and Daenerys and their dragons and then he flies to King’s Landing and kills everyone there and then the show is just over. WHO KNOWS, LEAST OF ALL ME.

OH BEFORE I FORGET: Andrew Dansby and I are going to do another Facebook Live Chat on Chron.com’s Facebook page. I’ll post about it more tomorrow once I have the place for you to go! Planning on taking your questions this time, so come comment. PLEASE!

Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays at 8 p.m./9 p.m., CST/EST

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