Last Night’s GoT Was Huge for Brienne…But It’s the Ultimate Glass Cliff Situation
It's about time Lady Brienne was knighted—and that's exactly the point
It was a big night for the ladies on #DemThrones.
The second episode of Game of Thrones’s final season saw several women take control, both in battle as well as in their personal lives, and get the respect they deserve. First, little Lady Lyanna Mormont put both her cousin Jorah—and *all* men who have an issue with badass women—in his place by telling, not asking, him that she was planning to fight in the upcoming battle. Next, Sansa and Dany continued their war of words (and icy stare downs), with a tête-a-tête on the status of the North post-war. And, in probably the most shockingly sexy moment of the night, Arya Stark took control of her body and her sexual desires, *finally* getting it on with her long-time BFF and crush, Gendry. The scene was great for a lot of reasons, paramount being that the encounter played out consensually and entirely on her terms.
But, the most celebrated #girlpower moment of the night was by far the knighting of Brienne of Tarth. Sitting around a fire at Winterfell on the eve of the impending battle with the dead, Lady Brienne—a longtime favourite on the show—is asked by her not-so-secret admirer Tormund why she isn’t a knight. Because this is GoT, and because the world continues to be unfair to women, she gives him the Sparknotes version: Tradition forbids women from becoming knights.
Then, fired up on wine and probably the knowledge of his most-likely impending death, Ser Jaime Lannister—a knight—clues in, telling the motley crew that a King isn’t required to make someone a knight, because, “Any knight can make another knight.” Thus ensues the greatest moment of the entire episode, when Jaime knights his BFF (and possible love-interest?) as Tyrion, Podrick, Ser Davos and Tormund look on.
To which we were like:
Honestly, same energy:
— 🌻𝓒𝓸𝓾𝓻𝓽𝓷𝓮𝔂🌻 (@CourtneyMenig) April 22, 2019
You guys, it was so wholesome.
— Nora Dominick (@noradominick) April 22, 2019
And, TBH, our girl B *does* deserve this honour. As we were reminded countless times throughout last night’s episode, Brienne of Tarth is a big deal. From protecting Sansa against Ramsay Bolton, to teaching Podrick how to become a great fighter, to standing up and vouching for Jaime in spite of some serious death glares from Dany (maj mad queen vibes), Brienne has consistently been a person of her word—a rarity in the Seven Kingdoms. It’s because of her loyalty and tendency to do what’s honourable that almost everyone in the show who encounters her (sans maybe the Hound), ends up respecting her. As Rolling Stone points out: “When Brienne of Tarth speaks, people listen.”
But while we’re happy AF for our newest, favourite Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, we can’t help but feel that her knighthood—enacted in the eleventh hour as the North is set to go to war and likely all die at the hands of the White Walkers—is the ultimate example of the glass (ice?) cliff.
Coined in 2005 by the University of Exeter’s Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam, the glass cliff refers to the phenomenon that found women are more likely than men to be promoted to positions of authority in times of crisis or decline. It puts them in high-profile positions that are risky and precarious, setting them up for a greater likelihood of failure by giving them limited opportunity to succeed. While IRL this typically applies to the business or political realms, in the case of Westeros we can add knighthood to the list, too.
Hear us out. Brienne of Tarth has been a knight in all but name since we were first introduced to her in Season 2 of the series. Though she has continuously denied it, even up until the final moments of last night’s episode, telling the group of men that she didn’t want to buck tradition and become a knight, she’s been trying to shun the “Lady” label for as long as we’ve known her, going all the way back to when she swore fealty to Catelyn Stark.
And she’s been seriously putting in the knightly work. Brienne is essentially that person at the office who continuously goes above and beyond, doing the higher ups’ work, but without the title and pay grade. (Sounds all too familiar, right?)
While we commend Jaime for *finally* knighting Brienne, we take serious issue with his timing. Brienne has long been the right person for the job and the title, yet it’s only when the Seven Kingdoms are seriously on the precipice, with essentially all hope of survival lost, that everyone decides to buck a sexist tradition and allow a woman to become a knight. Considering the group is sitting down commiserating about their imminent deaths, and with some fan theories positing that Brienne will die ASAP, it feels like Jaime’s decision and inherent validation is a legit example of someone just going “oh, f*ck it,” giving Brienne what’s she’s always desired and, frankly, deserved, purely as an act of good will because she’s probably about to die. At this point there’s no harm or societal repercussions in doing so—winter is finally here.
— . (@Lara_Mo6) April 22, 2019
As showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss said in a behind-the-scenes featurette for the episode: “When Jaime knights her, it’s a general validation that she’s wanted her entire life, but even more importantly it’s the acceptance and validation of Jaime, who she obviously has feelings towards that she’s never really come to terms with, or even allowed to bubble to the surface of her consciousness—but they’re there all the same.”
Which honestly, just pisses us off. Because, why is it only now that she’s receiving the validation she’s so long deserved? Jaime could have frickin’ knighted her at several other points during the series: There was ample time to bestow this honour on Brienne when the two were travelling together, fighting Bolton banner men and giving each other googly-eyes in the bath in Season 3. Or how about, the most OBVIOUS opportunity, when Jaime literally suited Brienne in armour and sent her off on a knightly journey to save Sansa?? Yet, Jaime waits until the bitter end, when Brienne and everyone else is set up for the ultimate failure…. Damn, King Slayer, you had *almost* redeemed yourself in our eyes.
So Jaime apparently coulda knighted Brienne years ago but now that they’re all gonna die anyway guess no harm in it and against Brienne is touched by these dudes’ validation despite deep down knowing they’re not worthy of her time. This reminded me of my doctoral defense tbh
— Riato (@so_irreverent) April 22, 2019
One thing’s for sure, there’s one character on the battlefield we’re definitely rooting for: Ser Brienne of Tarth. For many reasons, but if only so she can have a little longer with her new, well-deserved title.
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