The most recent episode of Game of Thrones was a celebration of characters ― characters we’ve come to know and love over the course of nearly eight seasons.
But perhaps no one person is as universally beloved as Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), the loyal warrior who has fearlessly defended Stark women since Season 2.
In a standout moment from A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the season’s second installment, she finally got her due ― being knighted by her friend (and would-be boyfriend) Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an intimate ceremony before a group of men that included her dedicated squire, Podrick (Daniel Portman).
“Is this the first time we see Brienne smile and be happy? It was beautiful,” Nikolaj told HuffPost during a phone call on Monday evening. “There’s something about that atmosphere: You have the lightness of Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) telling his insane story and then you have the beauty of his honesty. There’s no bullshit, if you will. When he asks Brienne why she isn’t a knight and she says women can’t be because of tradition, he says, ‘Fuck tradition.’
“And that rings a bell with Jaime because it’s the truth. She is clearly the most honorable, the most worthy of the title of knight of anyone in the Seven Kingdoms.”
Clearly there is a strong connection between Jaime and Brienne, who went through a transformative journey together in Seasons 2 and 3 as Brienne escorted Jaime, then Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley) prisoner, back to King’s Landing in exchange for the safety of Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams).
During their ordeal, Jaime loses a hand protecting Brienne against assaulters and even saves her from being dramatically mauled by a bear. Of course, once they’re back in the capital, his power-hungry sister and lover Cersei (Lena Headey) throws cold water on their growing friendship. But before Brienne leaves in pursuit of Sansa and Arya ― who went missing from King’s Landing ― Jaime arms her with a Valyrian steel sword she dubs Oathkeeper.
Nikolaj says that moment as well as the knighting scene in the latest episode, is a “weird love letter” Jaime leaves for Brienne.
“When he gave her Oathkeeper, she comes to give it back and he says, ‘No, it’s yours. It’s always been yours.’ It’s easy to read into it that he’s talking about more than just the sword,” the actor said.
Oathkeeper, however, is very important. Not only is it a powerful weapon against the wights, it is also one of two swords reforged from House Stark’s greatsword, Ice, which landed in Lannister possession after Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) orders it to be used to behead its owner Ned (Sean Bean) in Season 1. Then, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) gives one of the reforged weapons to Jaime and the other to Joffrey in Season 4.
But Jaime, being the honorable man he has become, gives his to Brienne as a sign of respect for her quest to protect the Stark girls. He then inherits Joffrey’s weapon, named Widow’s Wail, after the king’s death.
This is all to say that Brienne and Jaime have sister swords, and they’re going to use them in the battle against the Night King and his army.
When asked about the significance of their swords, Nikolaj paused a bit, thinking over his response before admitting, “I’m starting to get into deep water here.”
“Hopefully, the horrors that were done to the Starks will come to good,” he added. “But I don’t want to talk about deeper meanings when we still have a few episodes to go.
“Things will be revealed and certain things won’t, but obviously, there’s meaning. Will it have special meaning in the future? Who knows.
“But it has meaning in the fact that the Stark children, the girls, were given this sword that was made from Ned Stark’s sword to protect them.”
It also wasn’t lost on Nikolaj that many of the Valyrian steel swords have been passed to different Houses ― Brienne and Jaime now have House Stark’s Ice, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has House Mormont’s Longclaw, Jorah (Iain Glen) has House Tarly’s Heartsbane, and Arya has an unnamed dagger (sometimes referred to as the Catspaw Dagger) that once belonged to the late Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen).
While he wouldn’t admit to any potential spoilers, Nikolaj did tell us: “The whole point is that we have to do this together if we want to survive, and I think that’s one way of reading it, for sure. It is The Song of Ice and Fire, it’s the way it should be.”
Speaking of that icy, fiery song, could it be that ― considering everything we now know about Jon Snow, aka Aegon Targaryen ― Brienne and Jaime are the ice to Jon and Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) fire? (Forget about the White Walkers!)
“Yeah,” Nikolaj told HuffPost, laughing and adding: “Dany didn’t seem too happy about finding out she was related to her lover.”
He continued: “I love how it’s not at all about them being related and having sex ― clearly that’s not a big deal. But she’s like, ‘What? Are you going to fucking claim my throne?! Is that it?’”
No matter who ends up on the Iron Throne, death is coming, that much is for sure. And Jaime wants to be standing next to Brienne when it does.
“She likes Jaime Lannister, and she believes in him and the goodness in him, and he absolutely admires and believes in Brienne of Tarth,” Nikolaj explained. “I love that he goes to her and says, ‘Listen, I would be honored to serve under your command.’
“He’s letting down all his guards and [saying] this is the truth. The truth is I want to be close to you for many reasons but first and foremost, you’re the best.
“Jaime says himself he’s not the knight he used to be. That golden hand is not efficient when it comes to fighting these undead creatures, and he wants to be close to her when they face death.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost US.