Why all the Game of Thrones final season reunions have felt so special
So far, the final season of Game of Thrones has involved a lot of reunions. After seven seasons of being put through hell, most of the remaining residents of Westeros converged at Winterfell — only to encounter a whole new definition of hell. Before and after the great battle against the dead, season 8 has involved a lot of meet-ups between characters who haven’t seen each other in years — so many, in fact, that you’d be forgiven for having missed some of them.
So, we went to the trouble of identifying every reunion that’s happened so far in Game of Thrones’ final season, and why they each feel significant in their own way.
Jon & Bran
Last time they saw each other: Episode 1×1, “Winter Is Coming,” though Jon (Kit Harington) bid farewell to a still-unconscious Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) in episode 1×2, “The Kingsroad.”
Why it’s so meaningful: Despite spending most of their time in the North and each earning prime spots on the Night King’s enemy list, Bran and Jon haven’t crossed paths at all since the latter left Winterfell for the Wall. They’ve each grown a lot in the meantime, which is why Jon is overwhelmed with emotion seeing that Bran is “a man now.” But Bran’s cold one-word reply (“almost”) indicates the gulf that has grown between him and other human beings — even his family.
Jon & Arya
Last time they saw each other: Episode 1×2, “The Kingsroad,” when Jon first gave her Needle as a present.
Why it’s so meaningful: Jon and Arya (Maisie Williams) are two of the most beloved characters on the show, and once upon a time they had a special bond as the misfit black sheep of the Stark children. As a result, fans have been waiting a long time to see them together again. It’s great to see them reunited, even if Jon doesn’t yet understand quite how many times Arya has put Needle to use.
The Hound & Arya
Last time they saw each other: Episode 4×10, “The Children.” After losing his fight with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), the Hound (Rory McCann) asked Arya to kill him. She refused, even though his name used to be on her hit list. She (and the rest of us) assumed he died anyway, but he was later saved by Brother Ray (Ian McShane).
Why it’s so meaningful: There’s a simple relief that both of them even survived long enough to meet again, but it’s more than that. Arya’s continuing survival is a reminder that the Hound has done at least one meaningful thing in his life. When she expressed surprise that he had joined up with the Brotherhood Without Banners and was planning to fight for something other than himself, he reminded her that he once fought for her… and eventually did so again, when he saved her from the wight hordes (perhaps not even realizing that he was saving all humanity by doing so). On the other end of this dynamic, the Hound seems to be one of the only people currently at Winterfell who grasps how much Arya has changed in recent years.
Arya & Gendry
Last time they saw each other: Episode 3×6, “The Climb,” when Gendry (Joe Dempsie) was sold to Melisandre (Carice van Houten) by the Brotherhood Without Banners.
Why it’s so meaningful: Do we even need to say it? Obviously Gendry and Arya’s cute reunion ultimately led to the young Stark losing her virginity on the eve of the great battle against the dead. But in the process, Gendry sees some of Arya’s scars, and becomes cognizant of the dark journey she’s been on since they parted.
Jon & Sam
Last time they saw each other: Season 5 finale, “Mother’s Mercy.” Sam talked to Jon before leaving the Night’s Watch for his journey to the Citadel.
Why it’s so meaningful: So much has happened in the time since these friends last saw each other that Jon didn’t even have time to tell Sam about that whole getting-killed-and-then-resurrected thing. Instead, Sam told Jon the truth of his parentage, a secret that has now made its way to Daenerys herself because Jon never heard a secret he didn’t immediately blurt out to everyone he could. It’s good to see Jon and Sam together again (it always sort of felt like Ser Alliser Thorne was only able to marshal his forces for Jon’s assassination because Sam wasn’t there to stop him), but if this secret ends up pitting Jon against Daenerys in a serious way, maybe the trueborn Aegon Targaryen will come to regret reuniting with his friend.
Bonus: Jon, Sam, & Dolorous Edd
Last time they saw each other: “Mother’s Mercy” was also the last time that Sam saw Edd (Ben Crompton), though the latter has worked closely with Jon since then.
Why it’s so meaningful: These are the boys who survived the Night’s Watch — still standing side by side, at the end of all things. Grenn (Mark Stanley) and Pyp (Josef Altin) are gone now, and now only these three remain from Jon’s original group of black-cloak comrades. Like all old friends, Jon and Edd still remember when Sam was a hapless recruit, forcing him to recap his resume and why he deserves to fight the White Walkers’ army alongside them. “You need me out there,” he explains, leading Edd to reply with one of the episode’s most hilarious lines: “Well if that’s what it’s come to, we really are f—ed.”
Edd was, anyway. The long-suffering soldier finally met his end during “The Long Night,” defending Sam from the dead.
Bran & Jaime
Last time they saw each other: Episode 1×1, “Winter Is Coming,” when Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) crippled Bran by pushing him out a Winterfell window.
Why it’s so meaningful: Did anyone expect these two characters to ever meet again? They changed each other’s lives in monumental ways, but have spent their time on opposite ends of the Westeros map ever since. Their reunion was probably the most unexpected yet, an indication that none of us can predict where this season will go.
Tyrion & Jaime
Last time they saw each other: Episode 7×7, “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jaime were both present at the great meeting at the Dragonpit.
Why it’s so meaningful: Tyrion and Jaime already had their big reunion last season; the difference now is the location. Unlike many of the characters on this list, it’s not a surprise that Tyrion and Jaime survived this long (since the Lannisters have always been some of the series’ most interesting characters). The surprise is that they’ve ended up at Winterfell, ancestral home of their archenemies the Starks. Tyrion can’t stop remarking on this fact, leading to the bleakly hilarious moment where he tells Jaime “I wish Father were here” to see it…even though he’s the one who killed Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance).
Jaime & Brienne
Last time they saw each other: These two former traveling companions had a brief reunion at the Dragonpit summit in the season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
Why it’s so meaningful: Like Arya and Gendry, the Jaime/Brienne reunion went far behind a handshake and a “how are you?” They didn’t have sex, but Jaime did become the vessel for Brienne to fulfill her life-long dream of knighthood. It’s a big moment for both of them, and one they’ve been journeying towards ever since season 3. As “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” screenwriter Bryan Cogman told EW’s James Hibberd, “It comes out of a throwaway moment that even some people in the room think is a joke and then they quickly realize it’s not. It’s a monumental thing. It’s a moment of grace and beauty in the middle of a nightmare and the main reason I wanted to write this episode. The episode’s title, ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,’ refers to both Jaime and Brienne.”
Sansa & Theon
Last time they saw each other: Episode 6×2, “Home.” After Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Theon (Alfie Allen) escaped Winterfell together, the former made for Castle Black while the latter headed home to the Iron Islands.
Why it’s so meaningful: Some fans and commentators took the emotional Sansa/Theon reunion in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” as evidence that a romantic relationship might be in the offing, but the connection between these characters goes deeper than that. They haven’t seen each other since the man who abused and tortured them both, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), met his end at Sansa’s hands. They’re still here, and he’s not.
Theon & Bran
Last time they saw each other: Episode 2×6, “The Old Gods and the New,” when Bran and Rickon (Art Parkinson) escaped from a traitorous Theon (Alfie Allen) by hiding in the Winterfell crypts.
Why it’s so meaningful: The peak of Theon’s villainy, the sin that he is still repenting for, was when he killed those two Northern boys and pretended their mutilated corpses belonged to Bran and Rickon. Everyone in Westeros took him at his word, and the supposed deaths of the male Starks created a crisis of legitimacy in the North that allowed Ramsay Bolton to seize power — and we all know what happened to Theon after that.
But in the end, Theon was able to redeem himself by defending Bran from the Night King’s forces during “The Long Night.” All Theon ever wanted in his life was validation — first from his adoptive father, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), then from his birth father, Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide). He never got it from either, and ended up cruelly begging for the approval of Ramsay Bolton as “Reek.” But by putting his line on the life to save the boy he once almost killed, Theon finally got what he had been looking for. Bran told Theon he was a “good man,” and thanked him for what he had done. With that, Theon was able to face down the literal embodiment of death itself with his spear raised.
Sansa & Tyrion
Last time they saw each other: Episode 4×2 “The Lion and the Rose,” when they attended the ill-fated wedding of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). Sansa fled with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) after Joffrey’s death, while Tyrion was arrested and accused of the crime.
Why it’s so meaningful: At the beginning of the series, Sansa was a naive girl out of her depth in King’s Landing, while Tyrion was a master at political machinations (not least because he was constantly underestimated by everyone around him). Now Sansa has vanquished the Boltons and taken back her family’s ancestral home at Winterfell (just in time for the army of the dead to arrive) while Tyrion is the one who seems in over his head as Daenerys’ Hand of the Queen.
Sansa and Tyrion see themselves as heroic leaders, so they were both disappointed to be shuttled into the crypts during “The Long Night” by their comrades. But as it turned out, the crypts weren’t much safer from the Night King due to the abundance of corpses. With a mob of wights bearing down on them, Sansa and Tyrion looked at each other with a silent look of… solidarity, perhaps? When all seemed lost, they were ready to face death down together. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but maybe there’s more coming from their relationship; Sansa certainly seemed to jump at the chance to pull Tyrion’s loyalty away from Daenerys by mentioning their (unconsummated) marriage.
Melisandre & Davos
Last time they saw each other: Season 6 x 10, “The Winds of Winter,” when Jon banned Melisandre from Winterfell after learning how she had Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) sacrificed to R’hllor. Melisandre deliberately avoided Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Jon when they came to meet Daenerys at Dragonstone in season 7, even though she was the one who made it happen.
Why it’s so meaningful: If there’s one thing we all know about Davos Seaworth, it’s that he cared deeply about the late Shireen; just look at how he treated the young Northern girl in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” who reminded him of the late princess. So his reunion with Melisandre ahead of the battle of Winterfell was always going to be ugly. He clearly approached her with murderous intent, only for Melisandre to tell him it wasn’t worth it. True to her word, she perished not long after the Night King did.
Melisandre & Arya
Last time they saw each other: Episode 3×6, “The Climb.” The Brotherhood Without Banners selling Gendry to Melisandre was the last time Arya saw either of them before this season.
Why it’s so meaningful: During their previous encounter, Melisandre proclaimed that Arya would close “brown eyes, blue eyes, and green eyes” in the future, and that they would meet again. Back then it just seemed like more incomprehensible pseudo-prophetic babbling from the Red Woman, but as of “The Long Night” it turned out to be one of the most accurate prophecies in the entire show. Reminded of it by Melisandre at a crucial moment in the battle against the dead, Arya put her skills to use and killed the Night King, closing the White Walkers’ blue eyes forever.
This article was first published April 25, 2019, and most recently updated April 29.
Game of Thrones
HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'