Following a universally hated Episode 4, HBO‘s juggernaut hit Game of Thrones aired its penultimate episode Sunday night.
Sadly, things haven’t gotten any better.
Let’s just get right into it…
Tyrion tells Dany her Master of Whispers has been whispering against her — specifically, telling others that Jon Snow AKA Aegon Targaryen is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Dany has Greyworm and his men bring Varys out to the beach where she, Jon Snow, and Tyrion watch as she sentences him to death via Drogon.
TYRION – PART 1
Our Lord of Logic has been a bit shaky with his plans lately, but his love and devotion for Daenerys is still in tact. After Daenerys helps him realize Sansa played him for a fiddle when she told him about Jon Snow’s true parentage, he did exactly what the valedictorian of Littlefinger University wanted. Seeds of doubt have been sowed against the Dragon Queen, and Tyrion was a major player in that rotten crop. Still, he lives, with the warning that should he fail her again, it will be the last time. Before the attack on King’s Landing, he begs his Queen to consider ceasing fire if the city rings the bells AKA surrenders. (Too bad he can’t be as good of an adviser as Ser Jorah was, because then we might be getting somewhere great!)
JON SNOW – PART 1
No matter how much Varys or anyone else tries to get him wanting the Throne, he genuinely insists he DOES. NOT. WANT. IT. (And why would you want to push someone into such a position if they don’t want it??) Not only that, he truly respects and believes in his Queen, and he makes a point of saying it over and over again. (So much so you wonder if he’s trying to convince himself he still does.) When he pays a visit to Dany the night before the attack, she gives him the same “I told you so” speech she gave to Tyrion: Sansa played you, clown. Promising her his allegiance regardless, she tries to temper the sting of betrayal with a makeout sesh. Sadly for her, he’s no longer into acting on romantic feelings now that he’s aware of their aunt-nephew relationship. This rejection is salt on the wound for Dany, who just lamented how nobody appears to love her in Westeros like they did across the sea.
DAENERYS – PART 1
Our Dragon Queen is worn the f*****ck out at this point. She’s lost her best adviser, her best friend, another dragon/child, and apparently her grip on reality. When she has the love she never received as a child, she is a gracious ruler. This is the same woman who freed the Unsullied and then gave them the chance to go about their lives or fight for her — they chose her. This is the woman who inspired basically the entire Dothraki to give up their lives of indulgence, CROSS THE SEA and fight for her. This is the breaker of chains, FFS! Some fans say her impending madness has been obvious from Season 1, and to that we say… sure, but like, character development? No? She doesn’t want to rule by fear, she wants to rule with love, but if fear is what it takes, apparently that’s how she’ll roll now. Sorry, character development! Ego wins this round.
ARYA & THE HOUND – PART 1
The most delightful twosome in the whole series has made their way to King’s Landing, each with a specific murder in mind. He’s on his way to at long last enact revenge on his brother, The Mountain, for pushing his face into the fire as a child. Arya? She’s got a couple of green eyes to close forever. They wager if she can kill Cersei before the battle, there will be no need for bloodshed. Arya can cross a name off her list, Dany can take the throne, voila. If only…
TYRION – PART 2
Dany informs Tyrion that her men captured his brother Jaime as he tried to evade them on his way into King’s Landing. Tyrion’s love for his Queen may be mighty, but apparently a Lannister’s kinship with their fellow Lion roars above all else. Tyrion makes his way into Jaime’s makeshift cell (?), frees him, begs him to go find Cersei and escape to live a fulfilling, royalty free life. Jaime has placed his bets on Cersei winning this war, but Tyrion is like, duuuuuude, Dany is piiiiiiiiiisssed. Get OUT.
BATTLE TIME — AKA CERSEI, JAIME, GREYWORM, AND PART 2 FOR DANY, JON SNOW, ARYA, & THE HOUND
So now the day has come. After eight long seasons, Daenerys is so close to the Iron Throne. All she has to do is win this final battle and it’s hers.
Cersei has the Golden Company ready on land, Euron’s fleet ready at sea.
Now, the rest of this section’s recap is gonna swing by pretty fast, because, frankly, it all felt super rushed on the show. Here we go.
Dany rides in on Drogon and sets Euron’s entire fleet ablaze JUST LIKE THAT. Every single one of their Scorpions (the giant machines Qyburn made to kill dragons), every ship… on fire! Rhagal, consider yourself avenged.
Now, as we fully expect the Golden Company and the Jon Snow-led #TeamDany army (it’s a hodge podge of an army at this point) to go head to head, Drogon f**king pushed through the Golden Company from behind King’s Landing’s gates and torches their asses! With their defenses down, Jon and #TeamDany rage in, fighting for their Queen.
As Cersei looks out the Red Keep, Qyburn delivers the news. Things aren’t lookin’ too good for ya, Cers. Maybe surrender? Nope, Cersei is way too proud.
So now we’re back to Jon & Co. versus the Golden Company. But those left in the GC can hear the dragon above them. They know they’re outnumbered, so surrender they do. Dany perches up with Drogon, awaiting the next move.
AMAZING. Feels like we might be able to not ruin everything after all! Minimal bloodshed? Incredible. We’re hearing citizens pleading “ring the bells” — the sign of full city surrender. It takes a minute, but finally, the bells ring. DANY HAS WON. King’s Landing and the Seven Kingdoms are HERS. And she got it all with excellent battle tactic showmanship. Now she can “break the wheel” and free Westeros of tyranny as we’ve seen her want to do in the previous seven seasons.
Ah, but it couldn’t be that easy, could it?
Despite all of her character development, despite countless moments suggesting she could rise above the Targaryen madness trope, something inside her snaps and she decides to burn the ENTIRE city to the ground.
Much to the horror of Tyrion and Jon Snow, Dany goes on a revenge rampage against Cersei, and, figuratively, against anyone else who didn’t believe in her, at the cost of thousands of innocent lives. Yes, King’s Landing is still the same place where Ned Stark’s senseless death was cheered on, but these are mostly innocent lives. Correction, were.
While some fans predicted this, the vast majority — if Twitter is a reliable consensus — is gobsmacked by this dark, dark turn.
As the now senseless siege continues, Arya and The Hound make their way through the carnage and up The Red Keep. It’s at this point, with the building collapsing surely but slowly from the flames, that The Hound stresses to Arya one of the best points of the whole series — ultimately, revenge is a road that ends in death, be it physical death or death of the soul, and today is not the day for his little angry peanut to die. She accepts this wisdom, they share a moment they know is their last, and go their separate ways. He’s off to find and kill his brother. She’s off to save herself and whoever else she encounters on the way.
At this point Qyburn has finally convinced Cersei it’s time to GTFO, so they and Ser Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) head down the crumbling stairs of The Red Keep. That’s where The Hound catches them, and the long-anticipated CleganeBowl shakes out. After killing Qyburn and letting Cersei run off, the two brothers battle to the deaths with The Hound the clear winner. It felt rushed and not so satisfying, but The Hound faced his fear of fire in the end, and that’s something. Sad to see him go.
So now we’re left with the final moments of a once great city. Arya, Jon Snow, and Tyrion are all dumbfounded by the horror. Arya tries to rescue a woman who helped her earlier in the episode, but the rampage is too great. She survives, but they don’t. Meanwhile, Jon Snow stops a soldier from nearly raping a citizen. Tyrion? He’s just lost, man. He has no idea how he got here.
As for his siblings, Jaime eventually finds his way to Cersei (following a most boring fight with Euron that results in Euron’s slaying). Our original Mad Queen is stunned to see her twin brother showing up for her like this, having convinced herself previously it was okay to send his bro Bronn to kill him in earlier episodes. They embrace and try to flee to a life of freedom, but it’s too late. The rubble falls down on the incestuous duo, casting a somewhat unceremonious ending to their story. They shared the womb together, and now they share the tomb.
King’s Landing has fallen, and Dany reigns as its Queen.
Queen of Ashes.
We wish we could tell you how the dark turn happened, how it REALLY happened, but aside from some rushed and forced moments to make her mad at the end of the series, we really can’t make any real sense of it. Other than girl just snapped!
Even with all her heartbreak, it comes across as truly illogical. Predictable, sure. Earned? No way. The show just hasn’t covered enough ground to get everyone buying into her suffering from Anne Boleyn level paranoia. Maybe if things hadn’t been so rushed and they showed her having nightmares beforehand or SOMETHING. The only possible scenario we can come up with is that Dany felt a paranoia about Jon Snow usurping her after her win, and she wanted to show everyone who’s the big bad boss by making good on her new commitment to rule by fear.
It’s such a sad thing to think about when you consider how Daenerys Targaryen has been a great inspiration for women all over the TV-viewing world, especially survivors of abuse.
So what exactly is Game of Thrones trying to say about women?
That a woman can be the best assassin in the world. (Arya)
That a woman can be a Queen but not a truly beloved one. (Cersei)
That a woman can be an intelligent albeit cunning social climber. (Margaery)
That a girl can grow into a strong woman, so long as she’s being thankful for rape. (Sansa)
That a woman can be the best knight in the world. (Brienne)
But a woman can’t go for both TOO high a position AND glory, because otherwise she’ll go mad and kill thousands of innocents on her road to “breaking the wheel”??? (Daenerys)
Game of Thrones isn’t just a tv show anymore. It’s a cultural phenom with the power to influence the masses. The show had a chance to demonstrate how a strong, sound female leader could rise from a past of abusive destruction, but they chose not to seize that opportunity. They might have won a lot of things over the years, but they have failed on that count.
We guess it’s like the saying goes: if you were expecting a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
[Image via HBO.]