Warning! SPOILERS ahead for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2.
Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 may have just made Brienne the show's version of Lady Stoneheart. The hour features a touching scene in where Brienne of Tarth is knighted by Jaime Lannister, arising Ser Brienne, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. And in addition to being a fantastic and incredibly important moment for both characters, the knighting of Brienne has some strong book parallels.
With only a handful of episodes left in Game of Thrones' final season, it's pretty well-established that the character of Lady Stoneheart is not appearing in Game of Thrones season 8. In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Lady Stoneheart is the resurrected Catelyn Stark and by far one of the more supernatural elements in George R.R. Martin's books. And while Game of Thrones has been steadily putting in more magic with each season, a zombie Catelyn consumed by revenge is perhaps a step too far for the broader appeal of the HBO series.
Still, even without actually including Lady Stoneheart, Game of Thrones has managed to incorporate a little of her spirit in other characters. Arya clearly has the same thirst for revenge, slaughtering all of House Frey in return for the Red Wedding. And Beric Dondarrion - who, in the books, gives his life so Catelyn can return - is still alive on the show, meaning that potentially some of his actions are what Lady Stoneheart will do in Martin's novels. However, no character acts on Catelyn's behalf more than Brienne of Tarth, keeping her oath even after Catelyn is killed. Brienne eventually becomes the closest thing Game of Thrones is ever going to give us to Lady Stoneheart thanks to the symbolism found in her knighting ceremony.
The knighting of Brienne in Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 comes about after Tormund is shocked to discover that Brienne is not a "Ser", saying if he were a king, he'd knight her ten times over. But rather than linger on what Tormund really means by that, Jaime explains that they don't need a king to make a knight - any anointed knight can make another person a knight. And so he does, asking Brienne to kneel before dubbing her Ser Brienne, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.
The knighting is an incredibly moving scene, dovetailing both Brienne and Jaime's arcs in a way that perfectly suits who they are and what they mean to each other. But there's an even deeper meaning in the symbolism of what's happening. The sword Jaime uses to dub Brienne is the twin of the one she wields. Both were forged from Ned Stark's greatsword, Ice, and so in a way, that sword has now returned home seeing as both Jaime and Brienne are at Winterfell. But perhaps what is most symbolically striking about the scene is the name of the sword which Jaime uses to knight Brienne - Widow's Wail. Because what is Brienne if not the wail of a widow?
Joffrey's naming the sword Widow's Wail is intended as just another sign of his cruelty, but he is, in fact, who makes Catelyn a widow by ordering the execution of her husband. Additionally, in the novels, Ned is actually beheaded with his own greatsword, which means that Widow's Wail is, technically, the same steel that did the deed. Having it then also be Widow's Wail that knights Brienne symbolically reinforces how she is the embodiment of Catelyn's will after death, continuing to fight Catelyn's battles and protect her children.
It is by no means the same as a zombie fueled by a thirst for revenge like the Lady Stoneheart character in the novels. But Brienne acting as Catelyn's wail, using her own sword, Oathkeeper, as she stays true to the vows she swore, is the closest we'll ever get to Lady Stoneheart appearing on Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones season 8 continues next Sunday, April 28 at 9pm on HBO.