Game of Thrones season 8 spoilers
For all the disaster that was the latter half of #GameOfThrones TV, I will concede it one thing: Brienne's knighting scene was beautiful. I think I never cried so much over a scene as this. For a week I'd remember it and start crying again.
This is because, unlike most things in the show, Brienne and Jaime had actual growth arcs leading them to this point, an actual connection that we got to see on screen as it developed, and the other ppl in the room made a lot of sense and acted in a believable way true to their character.
Tormund, as a cultural outsider, is the spur. Now that the freefolk have arduously gained enough respect to be listened, he's in position to bring Westerosi traditions into question, to demand a "why" and make the others think "yeah, why not".
Davos is, from the beginning, the moral compass that cuts across convention and class. His approval validates the change in tradition as the right thing to do.
Tyrion, as a scholar and chronicler, lends gravitas; his testimony turns the ceremony from intimate scene to historical landmark.
Podrick, as Brienne's de facto squire, is the one she looks at for validation; being in a power dynamic with her, he's the one who can prove she's worthy, in the way a student is the proof of a worthy teacher. He quietly nods.
Just like Brienne's, Jaime's arc is all about the institution of knighthood. He has seen and experienced how meaningless it can be. He himself is far from an ethical actor, and far from redeemed; this does give him personal perspective on the failure of the ideal. Jaime from the inside, Brienne from outside, both have as their innermost secret drive to transcend cynicism, to make it be true.
Jaime and Brienne's romantic feelings are criss-crossed with their long, complex, individual & shared histories around knighthood. They're the beauty and the beast: Brienne is the beast outwardly and socially, but the roles reverse ethically, Jaime the shiny golden knight saw himself become the monster. If Jaime claims the power to socially institutionalise Brienne, she, by accepting his knighting, forgives him.
Thus Brienne is not the only one becoming a knight, this is Jaime's utmost knightly act; he's bravely facing not an enemy, but the institution itself. By revolutionising the notion of merit, he is symbolically disavowing the many established "no true knight"s in Westeros; "see, this what a knight should be". Unknowingly to either, this is also closure to Brienne's ancestor, Ser Duncan the Tall, who was probably never actually knighted but was recognised as such by the people he was supposed to serve.
ASoIaF is, at a meta level, a fall-and-redemption arc about fantasy itself; the opening act is about naïve trust in power institutions, in the moral of songs, being crushed by harsh material reality; then it becomes about how the core ethical values, matured, socialised, are worth their price after all. Brienne's arc is the series itself in one stroke.
All of these shared connections and personal growth are conveyed by the actors superbly, not just in words but facial expressions, body language, meaningful glances. The weight of meaning plus the great acting make for a scene that's just 😚👌
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