It took a minute, but eventually Game of Thrones fan favorites Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) were bound to reunite in season eight — and to the delight of the show’s viewers, their brief interactions continued to provide all fans needed to keep on shipping their relationship as “Tarthbane.”
The lady knight and the Free Man from north of the Wall share a few traits: they’re both very tall, are fearsome fighters and are extremely loyal to the Starks they’ve come across. But the gloriously profane Tormund may have an uphill battle in winning Brienne’s affections, based on her reactions to his attempts at flirting so far. Still, on the final night at Winterfell before the expected attack of the Night King and his army of the dead, it’s Tormund who questions Brienne about her lack of knighthood status; women, Brienne explains, are not traditionally given that title. Yet Tormund’s inquiry encourages Jaime Lannister to honor her with an official knighting at last. Tormund: a true champion for women’s equality. We don’t know if either of them will come out of this season alive, but at least we’ve seen them share important moments.
Here’s a rundown of all the times in Game of Thrones that Brienne and Tormund got viewers excited about their potential relationship in the lead-up to the eighth season.
Book of the Stranger: Season 6, Episode 4
Brienne of Tarth and Tormund Giantsbane first encounter each other as Brienne rides in to the courtyard at Castle Black in the north, arriving at the Night’s Watch’s keep with Sansa Stark and Podrick Payne to meet up with Jon Snow and discuss their options in taking back Winterfell. The camera captures Tormund gazing admiringly at Brienne on her arrival, seemingly stunned by the sight of a woman in armor on horseback. Then, over dinner inside, Tormund only has eyes for Brienne, raising his eyebrows suggestively as he gnaws on his food. Brienne maintains her composure, holding his gaze before looking away.
According to an interview with episode director Daniel Sackheim, these nonverbal clues were very much intentional. “I wasn’t even sure that when I delivered the episode it was really clear,” he told TVGuide.com. “It was like a fun little bit, but I wasn’t sure it was really clear that he had these amorous feelings for Brienne. I’m always amazed what fans pick up.” He added: “I think it was fairly one-sided, but that’s OK… There’s nothing like a challenge. Men love a challenge.”
The Door: Season 6, Episode 5
During a war council at Castle Black, both Tormund and Brienne are present, alongside Davos, Sansa, Podrick, Jon, Melisandre and Eddison Tollett. As they hash out the plan for reconquering Winterfell, with Davos laying out the situation, Brienne shoots Tormund a sideways look across the table; he conveniently happens to be sitting across from her. She immediately looks back down.
Later, as they prepare to ride off in their separate directions, both are mounted on horseback in the courtyard. That’s when Tormund gives her a bright smile. Brienne’s response? To roll her eyes and look away. Ah, love.
Dragonstone: Season 7, Episode 1
At Winterfell, Brienne is sparring with Podrick when Tormund happens upon the pair’s training and walks toward them. While Brienne is momentarily distracted, Podrick lands a blow on her. She promptly punches him in retaliation, throwing him down.
“You’re a lucky man,” Tormund tells a fallen Pod before continuing to saunter up to Brienne. Unfortunately, the show cuts to a conversation between Littlefinger and Sansa at this point, so we will never know if Tormund won or lost points with Brienne with that interaction.
Beyond the Wall: Season 7, Episode 6
While Brienne and Tormund don’t have any interactions in season seven — Tormund is north of the Wall by now, while Brienne remains at Winterfell and further south — the show makes it clear Tormund can’t keep his mind off her.
“I have a beauty waiting for me back at Winterfell, if I ever get back there,” Tormund tells The Hound as they trek across the snowy wilderness. “Yellow hair. Blue eyes. Tallest woman you’ve ever seen. Almost as tall as you!” The Hound quickly realizes he’s talking about Brienne.
“You’re with Brienne of f–king Tarth?” he asks, incredulous. (They have something of a history: Brienne nearly killed him, after all.)
“Well, not with her yet, but I see the way she looks at me,” Tormund says. “I want to make babies with her,” he goes on. “Think of them, great big monsters! They’ll conquer the world.”
So in season eight, fans of “Tarthbane” will have to hope that Tormund survives long enough to return to the south (he’s at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea when the seventh season ends), find Brienne (who’s currently at King’s Landing) and convince her that she shares his feelings. Romance is alive and well on Thrones, indeed.