Everyone at Winterfell expects to die when the Night King and his army blast their way through the walls, but who will go first?
The lengthy scenes between Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) offer a pretty good clue that they might be first. Jaime confides in Brienne about his best fighting days being behind him and he would be happy to serve underneath her. And then he actually knights Brienne, who knows that women can’t ordinarily be honored that way, in front of a roomful of witnesses, including Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Brienne’s would-be suitor, Tormund Nightbane (Kristofer Hivju). The golden closeup of Christie’s beaming expression almost certainly guarantees that Brienne and Jamie are going to be fighting for their lives in Episode 3, the Battle of Winterfell.
Newly fashioned weapons were brandished — Gendry (Joe Dempsie) delivered the javelin-like weapon custom-made for Arya (Maisie Williams) — but one senses that they will not be enough. Tormund reminds everyone that this is an enemy that does not tire. Even with her new weapon, Arya expects to die and so successfully propositions Gendry so that she can know what lovemaking is like before her young life is snuffed out. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) expects to die, and so on.
Even if they are fighting a losing battle, power is power and Daenerys fully expects to come out of the battle with her claim on the Iron Throne intact. As Sansa reminds her, it’s not going to be easy, even if they do destroy Cersei (Lena Headey) and the Army of the Dead. She’s not about to cede control of the North to Daenerys or anyone. And then Dany gets the shock of her life when Jon Snow (Kit Harington), standing in front of a statue of Lianna Stark, reveals that, as the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, he is the last male heir to the Iron Throne.
With the spectacle of the Night King and his army waiting outside the walls of Winterfell as the final shot of the episode, these power grabs may be ultimately pointless. As Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) asked Jaime early on in the hour, “What happens afterwards?” After it’s all gone.