“Dracarys” spoke Missandei in her final moments in the last episode of Game of Thrones, and Daenerys sure didn’t let her down in that department. With what may be one of the more dramatic and horrifying episodes in Game of Thrones history, and with only one more to go, there’s not much room left to manoeuvre – this is what it’s all come down to, for better and for worse.
The plot, such as it is, is quite quick to summarise this time. Let’s talk about what it means after that.
Dany and Co have withdrawn to Dragonstone. Dany is in mourning after the execution of Missandei and Rhaegal being killed. Varys is up to shenanigans, trying to “remove” Dany and place Jon on the throne. Tyrion, feeling conflicted, snitches on Varys, which leads to his death by dragony execution. RIP Varys.
We see Dany and her army, led by Jon and Grey Worm, getting set up for the siege of King’s Landing ahead. Jamie, travelling south from Winterfell, has been captured off-screen and is held by Dany as a prisoner. Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound have arrived and sneak their way into the Red Keep. Tyrion hatches what may be his very final plot – he begs Dany to spare the innocents of the city, and gets her vague assurance that if the bells ring, this means that the city has surrendered and the army can stop killing innocents. Everyone wins. To help ensure that, Tyrion helps free Jamie, with the promise that Jamie will convince Cersei to sneak out with him, so that the aforementioned bells can be rung and a peaceful surrender can take place.
The next morning, as the battle is joined, Dany flying atop Drogon, sneak attacks Euron’s Iron Fleet, destroying it, as well as all the Scorpion launchers on top of the walls. The Golden Company, the mercenary company much feared, is also BTFO in about two seconds. RIP Golden Company. The city is now open to a ground assault. With both their tactical advantage lost and a big freaking dragon overhead, Cersei’s soldiers are willing to surrender. One of them rings the bell. All is well.
But all was not well, dear reader. Daenerys gazes over the city and decides it’s not enough. She decides she wants to nuke the place and starts burning the entire city. All the peasantry and the castle itself burn.
As this is occurring, the Hound convinces Arya to let him finish the job with his brother. She heads back, and he heads on to fight his brother. Qyburn tries to order Gregor around, but the sight of his brother causes the undead monster to just throw Qyburn to the side, killing him. Cersei flees. Cleganebowl is commenced, as the two brothers fight one another. It ends in a draw, as Sandor throws himself over the edge of the crumbling castle into the flames below, taking his brother with him.
Jamie, en route to a secret tunnel into the castle, encounters Euron. They fight. Euron is mortally wounded, but Jamie doesn’t look so great either. He makes his way into the castle, meets up with Cersei, but on his way out with her, the passage has collapsed. They both die down there, in each other’s arms, crushed by the collapsing castle.
The final portion of the episode has Jon and Tyrion both looking horrified at what has occurred. We follow Arya for some time as she attempts to flee the city, helping civilians but being unsuccessful. As the dust clears and things quieten down, only ash remains. She climbs on a horse and rides out of the city.
Final death count:
- Sandor Clegane
- Gregor Clegane
- The entire Golden Company
- Thousands of innocent civilians
Let’s start with the Good, move on to the Neutral, and conclude with the Bad. We might even find some room for a couple of predictions of how it’s all going to end.
Some good acting from certain characters. Varys in his last moments, despite having little to do in a couple of seasons. Jamie and Tyrion, in a heartfelt brotherly embrace. Arya running through the burning city. All excellent and gripping stuff.
I enjoyed the first scene with Varys because it felt like vintage GOT – not everything was explicitly shouted out. For instance, its heavily implied that Varys was trying to poison Dany with the help of the kitchen girl, but never got the chance. The fact that it was not explicitly told to us is some of the better writing in the season. There’s also the very first shot of the letters being written. I could see that they mentioned “the true heir,” so we can only assume it’s about Jon. One last little plot set in motion.
I did actually like the underwhelming nature of the Golden Company, even if I didn’t enjoy all the stuff before it (more on that in a bit). Clearly, they weren’t paying you guys enough for the amount of Dragonfire you had to face.
Qyburn’s death – got what was coming to him.
I thought the scale of destruction of the city was impressive to behold (even if they didn’t have enough CGI budget left to allow Jon to pat Ghost last episode, but could afford this?) I liked the fact that it was shot from the perspective of the civilians mostly – from their point of view, Dany is most definitely a terrifying force of destruction, and that is made abundantly clear in these scenes.
Poor peasants. It’s been a tough few years for them, to be honest.
I also liked the impact that I feel this event will have on Arya – shes been a bit too emotionless these past couple years and, in many ways, I enjoyed seeing her emote a little bit more dynamically as the trauma unfolded.
Cleganebowl was average and underwhelming. I guess Sandor had to do this for his arc, but my initial guess was that it would end with them both dead, which is what happened. Gregor would have most likely been killed by the castle collapsing anyway, and not much would have changed either way.
Tyrion being a good-hearted idiot that probably doomed himself – I had hoped this wouldn’t happen, and I hold out hope for next week, but I do think this is going to end with all Lannisters dead. Still, the speech Tyrion had with Jamie makes it all almost okay. Not bad for a half-bad dwarf.
The automatic-fire sniper arrows that can curve around mountains now suddenly do nothing and get destroyed in an instant by Drogon? Alright then.
Euron teleports out of the ocean literally exactly where Jamie is so that they can fight to the death for no particular reason? Alright then. While I could buy Euron and Jamie fighting, the popping up out of the surf to do so was silly.
Cersei has spent this whole season so far being smug on top of a tower and then cried a bit this episode and then died. Not exactly how best to handle her exit.
Jamie too, accomplished zilch of value, and makes the Brienne subplot turn into needless fanservice that adds only melodrama to the show. If they show that Brienne is pregnant next time, I’ll know they’ve been watching too many soap operas.
Jon is the best choice for king? Well, show us that then. Don’t just show us that he dislikes rape and genocide; those are pretty low standards for any king (better than many in GOT, I’ll admit). But in any event. We’ll need to see what happens next episode before I can wrap up his story and make a final decision about Jon.
I’m going to put Dany and her madness here too. I don’t think it’s the most unreasonable plot direction for her, but it will be dissatisfying for a lot of people. That’s fair enough – the arguments in favour of it being a bad twist are easy enough to bring up. My personal opinion is that everything has just happened far too quickly this season. I wish they had been able to spend 5-6 episodes alone on the White Walkers, and then 5-6 episodes on Cersei + Dany’s decline. As it is, it feels like I’m watching everything on fast forward: an ancient evil, sorted; evil queen, sorted; new evil queen – oh dear!
I think this has been too much for one season, let alone for a reduced season of 6 episodes. The White Walkers have been cheapened, Cersei was cheapened, Dany’s decline has been cheapened. I’ll see how it goes next week, but I think the problems are too set in by now.
My predictions for the finale of Game of Thrones (for what they’re worth):
- Varys was sending those letters to every lord that was left in Westeros to tell them the truth about Jon. Not that they will need much prompting to turn on Dany after the burning of the entire capital.
- Tyrion = executed via dragon.
- Arya kills Dany and does one last fancy face switching thing.
- Jon does something stupid and noble and grimaces a lot.
- I don’t think Jon becomes king. I don’t know who would though.
- Brienne is pregnant (I sure hope not though).
- Bronn gets a castle (any castle – please: he’s desperate!)
Well, one more to go. Let’s get this over with.
Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 – The Bells
Its a Game of Thrones-ish show now, rather than Game of Thrones. It’s a damn impressive episode on a visual basis, and there were plenty of shots I loved in this one, but visuals aren’t all.
- Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5