Game of Thrones delivers one of the best written and superbly plotted episodes of the entire series. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" can be described as the calm before the Night King's storm. We finally learn why the Night King wants to kill Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), and his true goal for Westeros. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) confronts the deeds and misdeeds of his past. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) gets a long overdue honor. Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) take their relationship to a new level. Jon (Kit Harington) reveals his true lineage to a shocked Daenerys (Emilia Clarke).

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms opens with Jaime on trial before Daenerys, Sansa (Sophie Turner), Jon, and the lords of the north. Daenerys acidly tells him what she had planned to do with her father's killer once captured. Sansa chimes in, recounting his betrayal of her father. Jaime refuses to apologize for his actions. Their families were at war. He also admits that Cersei lied to everyone. He tells the north about the Golden Company soldiers. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) attempts to defend his brother, but Daenerys is livid over Cersei's duplicity.

Brienne stands up and speaks for Jaime's honor. When they were captured, he lost his arm preventing her sexual assault. Brienne addresses Sansa directly. She would not be alive without Jaime. He freed, armored, and sent Brienne to return Sansa to Winterfell; a promise he made to Catelyn Stark. Sansa is surprised by this admission. If Brienne trusts Jaime with her life, then release him. Jon, now the Warden of the North, agrees. Daenerys grants him his freedom. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) returns Jaime's sword to him.

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Daenerys walks away with Tyrion, Jorah (Iain Glen), and Varys (Conleth Hill) following. She's furious with Tyrion for being duped by his sister. He's either a "traitor or a fool". Tyrion admits to being a fool. Daenerys threatens his position as her hand. At the Winterfell forge, Gendry and the iron workers continue to make dragonglass weapons. Arya, admiring his sweaty physique, asks for her weapon. Gendry replies he has to make a few thousand more dragonglass spears. Arya asks him what it was like fighting the dead. She knows death. Arya easily throws three spear tips into the wall, side by side. Gendry is impressed. He'll get right to making her weapon.

Jaime approaches Bran at the weirwood tree. He apologizes for throwing him out of the window. He wonders why Bran didn't tell the others. Bran replies he couldn't help them murdered. Tyrion and Jaime walk through the Winterfell courtyard. The northerners are preparing for battle, but look at the Lannister brothers with scorn and contempt. Tyrion laughs at the absurdity of the situation. As he remembers his vulgar wish of dying as an old man receiving fellatio, Jaime sees Brienne outside the wall training soldiers.

Brienne looks on with pride as a bad-assed Podrick (Daniel Portman) schools the serfs. Jaime joins her. He comments that Podrick has "come a long way". Brienne, always the taskmaster, says he has a lot to learn. Brienne will command the left flank of the castle in the battle. She's surprised that Jaime hasn't insulted her yet. Jaime has come for more than contrition. He would be honored to serve under her command.

Jorah visits Daenerys in her study. He counsels her to forgive Tyrion for his mistakes. He has the sharpest mind and should remain her hand. Daenerys is stunned, she counters that Tyrion has made grave errors. Jorah says he will learn from them and be better. He has one more request for his queen.

Sansa is giving Lord Royce (Rupert Vansittart) instructions when Daenerys enters the room. She wants to make peace with Sansa. Both women discuss the difficulties of ruling. Sansa defends Tyrion for being good, but Daenerys also wants ruthlessness in her hand. Daenerys admits her love for Jon. She's in the north, fighting beside him, for this love. She holds Sansa's hands. Sansa apologizes for not thanking her, but reminds Daenerys of a cold truth. The north was taken from them. They will never bow, even if Daenerys kills Cersei and takes the Iron Throne. Daenerys withdraws her hand. They are interrupted by Maester Wolkan (Richard Rycroft).

Theon (Alfie Allen) has arrived. He updates Daenerys that Yara is freed, and that she is retaking the Iron Islands in her name. Theon has come to fight for Winterfell. He and Sansa embrace in tears. In the courtyard, Davos (Liam Cunningham) is pouring soup and giving bread to the hungry northerners. A man admits his fear, we are not soldiers. Davos tells him that if he survived the Battle of the Bastards, the man can survive the fight to come. Gilly (Hannah Murray) leads women and the elderly to the crypt for safety. A young girl with a scarred face tells Davos she wants to fight like her brothers. Davos, remembering his beloved Shireen, pours her soup. Gilly, who looks pregnant, asks the girl to help protect her and baby Sam in the crypt.

A horn blows, riders are approaching. Jon goes into the courtyard with Sam (John Bradley). They embrace Edd (Ben Crompton), Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), and Beric (Richard Dormer). Jon learns that Last Hearth has fallen, and the Night King's army of dead will arrive by morning. Tormund asks if the big woman is still there.

All of Winterfell springs into action. Soldiers are deployed, the fortifications are put in place. Gendry hands out weapons. In the war room, Jon says they have dragonglass and Valyrian steel, but the dead army will never get tired or stop. They are too outnumbered. Everyone gathers around a map of Winterfell. Their goal is to kill the Night King. He made them all.

Bran drops a bombshell. The Night King is coming for him specifically. He's tried to kill every Three-Eyed Raven. The Night King wants the long night, to erase the world of man. The Three-Eyed Raven holds the memories of the past. The Night King scarred Bran, can sense his presence, and will try to kill him first. Bran offers to use himself as bait to lure the Night King. Theon and his men will defend Bran. He took Winterfell from Bran and will now fight to save it.

Tyrion offers that he and Davos will be on the wall. They will give the signal to light the trench. Daenerys countermands him. Tyrion will be in the crypt. His mind is too important to risk. Arya asks if dragonfire can stop the Night King. Bran doesn't know. Tormund pipes up cheerily, "We are all going to die. But at least we die together."

Jon orders everyone to get rest, then hastily walks away from Daenerys. Tyrion pulls up a chair beside Bran. He wants to hear every detail of Bran's story. In the courtyard, Grey Worm and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) come to terms. He asks her what will she do when Daenerys wins the throne. She wants to go home, see the beach again. He will go with her and protect her people.

On the wall, Sam joins Jon and Ghost, his direwolf we haven't seen since season six. Sam asks if Jon has told Daenerys the truth. He hasn't. Edd walks up to them, he says, "And now our watch begins." Jon tells Sam to join Gilly and his son in the crypt. Sam wants to fight. He reminds them that he was the first to kill a white walker. The men reflect on how much has happened. The last man left will burn the rest of them.

Tyrion and Jaime sit and drink by a roaring fire in the banquet room. Tyrion laughs what their father would think of them dying defending Winterfell. They are joined by Podrick and Brienne, who allows him a half glass of wine. Davos comes in, then Tormund, who's drinking his own free folk ale. Tormund tells them why he is called Giantsbane. He killed a giant as boy, then climbed into bed with his wife. She suckled him as a baby for three months. That's why he is so strong.

Arya shares a drink with the Hound (Rory McCann) on the wall. She wonders why he is there. He joined the Brotherhood, went beyond the wall with Jon, and is now fighting for Winterfell. When did he start fighting for anyone but himself? His reply, he fought defending her. Beric crashes their moment. When the Hound starts to drink with Beric, Arya gets up and leaves. She's not spending her final hours with two "miserable old sh*ts."

Arya goes to the crypt to shoot arrows. Gendry brings her the weapon. She wonders what the red woman wanted with him. He admits to being Robert Baratheon's bastard. She quizzes Gendry on how many women he's been with. He finally gives her the number three. Arya wants to know what it's like before she dies. When she gets naked, he sees her scars. They make love passionately.

In the banquet room, Tyrion comments that everyone there had fought the Starks. Now they are there to protect them. They go around the fire as Tyrion talks of their accomplishments in battle. Tormund is surprised to learn that Brienne is not a knight. She explains that women are not allowed to be knights. Jaime stands up, any knight can make another knight. He asks Brienne to kneel. Jamie taps her with his sword and makes Brienne, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms." They all clap as Brienne earns her knighthood.

In the courtyard, Jorah begs Lyanna (Bella Ramsey) to hide in the crypt. She is the future of their house. She doesn't need him to remind her. Lyanna swore to fight for the north. She walks away with her men. Sam gives Jorah Heartsbane, his father's Valyrian steel sword. Lord Mormont taught him how to be a man. Jorah promises to wield it in his father's memory.

By the banquet fire, Tyrion wants to hear a song. Podrick launches into a soul stirring rendition of "Jenny's Song." A montage follows. Sam is in bed with Gilly and their son. Theon is sitting with Sansa. Arya has a post-coital glow beside a sleeping Gendry. Missandei kisses Grey Worm before he joins his men. Jorah leads the cavalry outside the castle. As Podrick sings the last note, Daenerys visits Jon in the crypt.

Jon is standing before the grave of his mother. Daenerys comments that she'd heard her brother Rhaegar was good, but he kidnapped and raped Lyanna. Jon tells her the truth. Rhaegar and Lyanna were married in secret. He is their son. His real name is Aegon Targaryen. Daenerys is shattered by this news. Jon would have a claim to the Iron Throne. The warning horn blares. Daenerys and Jon join Tyrion on the wall. The army of the dead has arrived at Winterfell.

"A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" was absolutely brilliant in its character exposition. The first episode of season eight had the primary characters gathering with a united purpose. Now every secret is laid bare, and the reckoning has come. I have a feeling that next week will be pure carnage as fates are met on the battlefield. It was fantastic to see Brienne get her due as a knight. Gendry and Arya hooking up has huge implications. For the first time, I can picture them being the couple on the Iron Throne. Arya's projectile spear has to be critical. Does Viserion die at her hand?

A few other nuggets stands out. Tyrion has made mistakes, but is given another chance. He listened to Bran's story. Will his superior intellect, not dragonfire, or Valyrian steel beat the Night King? Bran is being used as bait. What happens if he gets killed or turned? His connection with the Night King probably has a major twist. Daenerys knows the truth. But just as in the "The Rains of Castamere", does "Jenny's Song" hint at the outcome. In Westeros Lore, Jenny of Oldstone was married to a Targaryen prince. He gave up the throne for her. Will Jon do the same for Daenerys? The build up is over. Game of Thrones explodes into the epic battle for Winterfell, next week on HBO.

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Julian Roman