Sweet Summer Child: Lighter Moments of HBO's Game of Thrones - Brienne & Tormund

This article contains mild spoilers for HBO's Game of Thrones. Proceed at your own risk.

In hindsight, I should have been watching the latest season of HBO's Game of Thrones with the intent to review and recap. As a fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin, I was wary of the show at the start of season 6.

To elaborate, season 5 was the weakest showing of the extremely popular series for me, in part because of controversial and problematic scenes (some of which were deviations from the book canon) which even led some fans to stop watching altogether, and perhaps because the fifth season's events partially coincided with the events of the fourth book, which is largely seen by fans as the weakest link of the book series.

The latest season seems to have returned to form, with some marked improvements in writing, execution, and possibly even other more, uh, egalitarian considerations. Rather than go back and recap the entire season thus far (unless there is interest, please feel free to comment below, or let us know on Facebook and Twitter!), I'm going to analyze some of the lighter moments of HBO's Game of Thrones, starting with the latest ship to set sail, in the fandom at least.

Brienne x Tormund a.k.a. #BRIEMUND

It all began in S06E04 Book of the Stranger. After escape the clutches of Ramsay Bolton, Sansa Stark arrives cold and shivering at The Wall with her new knight protector, Brienne of Tarth. Oh, and Podrick's there, too. As the gate opens, Brienne begins to survey the area for potential threats to her charge.

And there he was, Tormund Giantsbane. Tall-talker, Horn-blower and Breaker of Ice, Husband to Bears, the Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods, Father of Hosts. A wildling. From the moment Brienne rode in on her steed, the young maiden wildling man was transfixed.

It seems obvious that Tormund should be attracted to Brienne of Tarth. As far as we know, he likes women but also values strength as an admirable quality in those he would consider friends or even lovers. Brienne projects strength and Tormund can see that: game recognizes game.

In hindsight, I further realized that Tormund's attraction to Brienne is so much more than that.

Thinking back a few seasons to when Ygritte had a falling out with Jon, Tormund experienced first hand the effect that loving a Crow or a kneeler (as as the wildlings refer to people below The Wall) could have on a wildling. It might have planted the first seeds of curiosity: is there something more to these kneelers that I'm not seeing?

There's a lot of time to burn when you're sitting around a campfire in the dead of winter. When Tormund wasn't spinning a yarn about a tryst with a wild bear, it's not hard to imagine he might be dreaming about what one of these royal ladies south of The Wall could be like. And when Tormund lays eyes on Brienne for the first time, he doesn't see what other men see. He doesn't see what Jamie saw. He doesn't see "awkward" or "unfeminine" or "ugly."

Brienne is tall, big, and strong. Tormund is into this. Despite living the life of a fighter, a soldier, and a warrior, Brienne features retain a softness, a gentle elegance than Tormund does not see above The Wall. She isn't a rough and tumble wildling, she is an imposing, formidable, regal, royal, silver armor-adorned FANCY LADY.

When you strip away the heteronormative beauty standards of Westeros and apply the standards and sensibilities of a wildling, Brienne's mix of noble sophistication and true grit is a glorious paradox. A beautiful contradiction to everything Tormund has ever known. The very sort of ethereal being that inspires men to be swept off their feet.

And she looks like she could kick Tormund's ass.

You better believe Tormund is into this.

It only gets more intense awkward after that.
And it's this romantic tension that rode right into town in the following episode, last Sunday's S06E05 The Door when this classic moment occurred:

We don't yet know precisely how Brienne feels about this and it's entirely possible that this awkward crush could go somewhere far less fun, perhaps because of the poor track record of the showrunners when it comes to sex and consent. Or it could simply go sour for the same reason that Ygritte and Jon did, with equally disastrous consequences.

Until we learn more, and perhaps we can take this as a positive hint, actress Gwendoline Christie is loving "Briemund" and there is even a deleted scene yet to be shared! As she told EW.com:

"I enjoyed Brienne being put in that position of feeling awkward and not wanting the attention,” she says. “That was a very fun thing to play. He’s a wildling, he’s very sensual and animal-like and very forthright with his emotions and feelings — which is really the opposite of [Brienne]. I enjoyed trying to navigate that and the beauty of her embarrassment. She can totally deal with the situation, and with him, but she’s just so embarrassed about it."
Game of Thrones has been pretty brutal throughout, so please, try to excuse viewers for grasping on desperately for any ray of sweet summer sunshine they can find. Let us have this, universe. Please, let us have this.

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.