Game of Thrones: Why Sansa and Theon's reunion was so emotional

The second episode of the eighth season of Game of Thrones featured a moment that was emotionally rich and rewarding in a surprisingly powerful way.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses what happened in Game of Thrones S08E02, 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms'.

While there have been many moving reunions several years in the making already in Game of Thrones' final season, Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy's warm embrace was especially impactful.

It's the first time we've seen Sansa openly weep in years - she didn't even cry when she was reunited with her long-lost siblings Jon, Arya and Bran.

But she cried when she hugged Theon.

Some fans even reckon there's romantic love between the pair - but it's something much deeper.

Sansa and Theon have a complicated, entwined past, having both been captives of the evil Ramsay Bolton, who inflicted unspeakable cruelty them.

Redemption is a key theme in Game of Thrones and is often attempted even by the most irredeemable characters - Jaime Lannister, Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane and, yes, Theon Greyjoy.

He grew up in the Stark home of Winterfell, only to betray the family in their hour of need, usurp the castle and murder several innocent people in the process - including children. In the years since, over seasons 3 -7, Theon has spoken hopelessly about his terrible actions, telling Sansa in season 6: "I can never make amends to your family for the things I've done."

But the torment Ramsay brought on Sansa and Theon was so horrendous that when they helped each other escape it, a very special bond formed between them.

He is the reason she survived Ramsay, while she is the key to his absolution.

Theon and Sansa share a very special bond in Game of Thrones.
Photo credit: HBO

Considering just how broken a man Theon was - when he was convinced he wasn't even Theon, but rather 'Reek' - his heroic rescue of his sister Yara was astonishing, but his returning to Winterfell to help the Starks defend it is the most important step he's so far made towards redemption.

When Daenerys Targaryen asked why he wasn't with Yara liberating the Greyjoy homeland of the Iron Islands, he replied to Sansa: "I want to fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa. If you'll have me."

Sansa broke down in tears as she ran to hug him and the enormity of the moment hit her. She was relieved he'd survived the battles endured since they last saw each other, but more than that, she's the only person with a true understanding of just what Theon has gone through and just what his return to Winterfell means.

The emotional moments like this, which see narrative points blossom years after their seeds were first planted, make Game of Thrones such a rewarding show for its fans.

Of course, the epic battles and intense action is also very cool, and next week's Great Battle of Winterfell promises to deliver on that front in spades.

Game of Thrones S08E03 is expected to run for nearly 90 minutes and is said to include "the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film".