This Game of Thrones article contains spoilers.
In a climactic Game of Thrones Season 8 episode that was filled with loud, chaotic moments, it was often the quieter ones that had the most power. One of the most affecting scenes of the entire episode didn’t have any dialogue. It didn’t have any fancy camerawork. It just had two characters staring at and truly seeing one another.
I’m referring to “The Long Night” crypt scene that sees Sansa and Tyrion hiding behind a tomb as the newly-revived Crypt White Walkers look for victims. Frankly, Sophie Turner and Peter Dinklage slay this scene as hard as Arya slays the Night King later in the episode. In that look, we see them share the knowledge of their own mortality, and of the humanity in the other. We can all only hope to be this fierce, empathetic, and seen in our potential final moments.
For Tyrion, it’s a powerful moment because he is a man who rarely meets a situation he doesn’t think can be improved with a witty observation. For him not to say anything in this moment is not only a sign of him finally facing the reality of the situation, rather than drowning his sorrows in alcohol, but also reflects his deep respect for Sansa—a trait that could come into play again later in this season.
“It’s the most heroic thing we can do now: look truth in the face,” Sansa tells Tyrion earlier in the episode. This is what that heroic act looks like for these two characters, and it’s what spurs them to face their own respective truths about the people they themselves hope to be: the kind of people who will hide behind a tomb when necessary, sure, but who will inevitably fight for those who need them, too.
These two characters have been through a lot together. Thrown into a marriage that neither wanted, they were an unlikely duo then just as they are now. Born into two families that couldn’t be more different in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, and values, Sansa and Tyrion have grown to if not care about one another, then deeply respect one another.
“You were the best of them,” Sansa says earlier in the episode—a sentiment presumably referring to the Lannisters, which makes it a rather low part measure of a man, but a sweet thing to say nonetheless. It’s a comment Tyrion responds to with “Maybe we should have stayed married.”
I don’t think Tyrion wants to be married to Sansa, and I don’t think Sansa wants to be married to Tyrion, but this comment—which is immediately followed up by Sansa’s observations that it wouldn’t work out because Tyrion’s loyalties are divided—does make one think about where Tyrion’s loyalties would eventually fall if the game of thrones should come down to Jon vs. Dany.
Sansa doesn’t trust Tyrion not to prioritize his duty as the Queen’s Hand to Sansa, which is smart. Tyrion has always had a desire to want to prove himself to those he respects, a trait that no doubt comes from the way his father always treated him. He respects Dany and, after getting reamed out by her for failing to anticipate his sister’s actions, he is eager to prove himself valuable to his Queen.
This desire to demonstrate his loyalty to Dany is no doubt further exacerbated by the fact that, as Missandei predicted, Sansa just saved humanity’s collective ass. Without Dany and her dragons, the fight against the Night King and his White Walkers would have been over before it began. Humanity owes Dany an immense debt, even if they don’t owe her their obedience.
If the fight for the Iron Throne comes down to Jon and Dany, Sansa will certainly side with her brother. However, Tyrion’s path forward is less certain. For all of the reasons already stated, he has real reasons to pledge loyalty to Dany. However, Tyrion has always been someone who, in the end, will follow his own heart and moral compass. This is why Sansa was safe with him when they wedded. Will that moral compass lead him to support Jon Snow for king? On this show, known for its plot twists and subversions, it is certainly possible.