Imagine with me, for a moment, friends.
It is sometime in the future.
We know who sits upon the Iron Throne.
We know who won The Fabled Game of Thrones.
How do you feel? How do I feel? How does the general viewing audience feel?
Let’s imagine a few scenarios.
SCENARIO 1: CLEANING THE GREATS
Ramin Djawadi’s music swells. We are super tight on the image of the Baratheon sigil. We pull back back back, slowly and with gravitas to reveal the king of the seven kingdoms: Gendry Baratheon, sitting on the Iron Throne. Holding a warhammer.
Cersei, Daenerys and Jon are all dead.
To Gendry’s right stands Ser Davos who wanted him to be named fucking Clovis and be a nobody. Clovis! That’s a name for a donkey. He’s the Hand of the King. The small council consists of Tyrion Lannister, The Spider and Samwell Tarly, who is the court Maester. Podrick Payne is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
We cut to an image of Winterfell, where Sansa Stark is Warden of the North. Brienne of Tarth watches over her.
Okay, how does that feel?
Gendry is a good man, in general. Do you feel cheated? Do you feel good? Do you think there’s hope for a new day in Westeros?
SCENARIO 2: MAD QUEEN DESTINY CLAIMED
Ramin Djawadi’s music swells. We are tight on the Targaryen crest. We pull back to reveal Queen Daenerys Targaryen, sitting on the Iron Throne with Grey Worm behind her.
Everyone else is basically dead. She caught and burned Varys. Cersei, the Mountain, Euron and both Lannisters are dead.
Sansa is dead.
Arya is dead.
Jon is dead.
Daenerys has secured the thing she always wanted but has no one to share it with.
How does that one feel?
SCENARIO 3: BREAK THE WHEEL
Ramin Djawadi’s music swells. Daenerys is queen, but she has Drogon take a big puff and melt the Iron Throne into nothing. Cersei, Euron et al are gone but Daenerys never went mad queen the way everyone thought she would. Kings Landing isn’t burning. She calls for free elections in every kingdom and gives them the ability to pick their own leader.
Is that one good? Does it feel satisfying?
When I’m writing these, I can’t imagine a scenario where Jon lives. He just seems like his number is up. But if he does, here’s his scenario.
SCENARIO 4: BRONAISSANCE
Ramin Djawadi’s music swells. We are tight on the Targaryen sigil on Aejon’s chest. We pull back. Cersei, Euron et al are dead. Dany and Torgo Nudho are dead. Everyone else basically makes it. Sansa Stark is Hand of the King. The small council is Sam, Davos, Tyrion, Arya, and Jaime. Brienne is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Bronn is Lord of Highgarden. Hell, let’s say the Hound is still alive.
Is that satisfying? Basically everyone makes it? What if Daenerys and Grey Worm make it? What if it’s the exact same scenario, but Daenerys is on the Iron Throne and Jon stands next to her as her First man. Sansa is the Hand.
Is that good enough?
Think about that.
If we kill the generic bad guys and everyone else survives and decides to work together: is that satisfying?
Or, when you consider it all, will nothing really be satisfying enough?
That’s something I’ve been wrangling with since Sunday night as we wind down to the end of the most sweeping and ambitious show in human history.
When I was a kid, there were like four channels of television, in black and white. You had to get up and walk to the television to turn the knob and change the channel.
CLACK CLACK CLACK!
Big silver knobs. Loud as hell. Loud enough to wake a sleeping baby. You had to adjust the antenna on each television to fix static. Shit was grainy. You had to walk to it to turn the volume up or push the knob in to turn it off. Some TV’s had fake wood cabinets made of plastic. Some had sprayed golden wicker weaves to house the speakers. They all weighed more than a Mini Cooper.
Television wasn’t awesome. It was still good, of course, but it was a medium with it’s best days ahead of it. Television is often like pizza: even bad TV is good TV.
There was also no internet. There were no cell phones, and no satellite uplinks.
So people did what they had to do and a bit of what they wanted to do and not much more. My family was simple, down the middle, and unburdened by the pressures of an overactive imagination. They’d do what everyone did back then. Work, do chores, sit around and talk. They listened to top 40 on the radio where DJ’s talked over the music. They fixed cars on the weekend. They chopped wood. They went to church. They did what they were supposed to do without much thought about why.
Meanwhile, I’m in the corner, reading about Mordor.
I’m outside, on a chair in the sun, hearing the words of Lady Galadriel.
I’m in my bed at night, scanning the darkness for danger, and for deliverance, and for meaning.
Many of you will likely have similar stories.
Years later, we are here in the midst of a fantasy revolution, where even the most cerebrally uncomplicated people you know use the word “sigil” and lament the death of dragons.
It’s wonderful. It’s a moment in time that I think merits the care it has earned, and despite the unsustainable pace, missed opportunities and increasing level of fecal matter in the choices, I still want to desperately root for Game of Thrones as it closes. Not because it is easy but because it is hard. Not for the glory of HBO or capitalism, but for the validation of every young dreamer who read of hobbit holes and morgul blades and cried as Gandalf fell. For every one of us born under the Tree of Gondor.
But when the Night King shattered, so did our collective illusion.
This fantasy is ending.
And soon we will be past it, in a world where we can’t just send Arya Stark to take out the vile menace that plagues us.
Soon, we will be back in that world full time.
Rhaegal and Viserion will always be dead. Jorah. Beric. Theon. All gone.
The Dothraki will always have ridden to their deaths.
Stannis will always have burned his child at the stake.
The Lannisters and Freys will always have engineered the Red Wedding.
Ned will always and forever, have been executed by a psychopath.
And what we’re feeling is withdrawal. The bubble is popping before our very eyes. It’s why people are lashing out at Benioff and Weiss rather than thanking them for creating the bubble in the first place. That, of course, and the barbaric way they’re popping it.
Because our very identity is tied up in Game of Thrones.
I’m a Sansa.
I’m a Theon.
I’m a Daenerys.
I’m a Jon Snow.
We have all adopted sigils. How many of us feel pride at the very sight of the Stark wolf? How many of us love Arya like family?
They were crafted in a world that was incomplete, and has remained incomplete for two decades. By never going back, George R.R. Martin allowed the fantasy of the masses to take over. And now, it might be said, two fucking usurpers are tying up his story in a way that feels unsatisfying.
Perhaps it’s not so strange that it feels unsatisfying.
After all, it’s fantasy.
And inside of that, we have all built the scaffolding of our personal dreams.
We want to believe that the world can be better and that we can be better in it.
For example, this past weekend the Pajiba writers room came together for a glorious weekend of Tormund-like drinking and we discussed parts of Game of Thrones.
One of the longer conversations began with a question around Jaime Lannister.
Was Jaime redeemed?
Was he a bad man who had evolved into a good man? Or was he still a bad man who was now just doing good things? Was he now working in service to his redemption arc or was he still the same fuckhead, acting as always, in his own best interests?
And expanding on that, is redemption possible in Game of Thrones? And if so, what does it look like?
Is The Hound Redeemed? Was Jorah redeemed? Was Theon redeemed?
And then, in this week’s episode, we got a huge dose of Jaime and Brienne, culminating with his departure.
Now, I read that 100% as him going to kill Cersei. It was clear as day to me. But many people read it as Jaime returning to Cersei. Missing her and choosing her over Brienne.
And they got fucking ENRAGED.
Because this is fantasy, goddamnit! And in fantasy we need to see that it’s possible for the prom king to leave the spiteful cheerleader and end up with the woman WHO IS ACTUALLY PLAYING FOOTBALL. We need to see that a man — any fucking man — is capable of selecting the obvious better person.
And as Game of Thrones is written and shot and edited to a close in front of our very eyes, characters are reverting to their true natures and not rising to the place where we have fantasized that they would be.
Tyrion is not a master strategist, talker, thinker, and world-changer. He’s a drunken fool who fucks up way more than he succeeds. He’s torn, confused and indecisive. Often, he’s just stupid.
Cersei isn’t some icon of women’s endurance and fortitude. She’s a literal mass murderer and a monster. A one note devil fomenting the ruin of all.
Jon is not an evolved leader or a thinker or a game changer. He’s a dummy. A boy. A man who doesn’t even pet his fucking dog. He makes stupid decisions, horrendous battle plans, is easily manipulated and learned exactly zero from Ned Stark’s mistakes. And he sucks at riding a dragon.
Daenerys is not the leader she wants to be. She has no close friends and never hung out with them and built something even when they were alive. Targaryens are mad (so they would have us believe). End of story. And she will burn them all, even after a decade of promising not to.
Jaime isn’t redeemed.
Brienne isn’t impervious to emotion.
Varys, however, is still the fucking snake we always thought he was.
The wheel will never be broken.
And worst of all…we are powerless to stop it.
We have to stand by as these characters are ‘ruined’. We have to endure watching Brienne of Tarth cry. We have to bear witness to magic plot harpoons going three for three and killing our boy Rhaegal. We have to watch Missandei die, rather than see her turn, grab Cersei, and pull her off the walls of King’s Landing to her death, ending the Last War.
Ours is not to question why, but to do and die.
Either that or quit The Game of Thrones and immediately go back to a world where we feel even more powerless. (Which is what my friend Emily Chambers just did in the biggest bauce move ever. Two episodes left and she peaces out. Nope. Done. Don’t care. Fuck all y’all. I love it, She’s my queen, from this day until her last day.)
Probably the most profound line of this whole episode was kind of buried. We’re in the midst of the celebratory banquet and two ‘great’ minds are chatting on the edge of the hall.
The Onion Knight and The Imp.
“The Lord of Light. We play his game for him. We fight his war and win for him and then? He fucks off. No signs. No blessings. Who knows what he wants?”
“I don’t imagine thinking about that subject will leave you any happier than before.” Tyrion says.
“And what if I’m not trying to be happy?”
“Then you’re in luck.”
GAME OF THRONES IS THE LORD OF LIGHT.
AND WE ARE THE ONES BEING FUCKED OFF.
And so I offer you this, dear friends. Gird yourself against the Long Night that is coming. We have all been part of something magical. Something unique and unlike anything before it. But it’s going to end in a way that will never feel satisfying. It’s going to break our collective hearts before all is said and done.
And then it’s going to fuck off without another word.
For the final three weeks, I endeavor to be your guide, your accomplice and your confidant. Whisper to me in the comments of loves lost and promises broken. Shout to me of pain and grief and songs that will never be sung. Like you, I lament the end of this age, and feel foreboding at the dawn of the next. Like you, I weep for our fallen gods and vanquished idols and tattered heroes.
And, like you, I yearn for a day that has yet to come.
Without further ado….
From the brilliant fantasy wizard who brought you such hits as the Multiple Night Kings theory….
Put your hands together for the WEEK
WOOT WOOT WOOT!
CAN I GET AN AMEN?
We open as we have in the past, with the previously ons, but this time they give us a body count. It’s a sobering, dejecting way to start the night.
In the title sequence, the army of the dead marched on Winterfell and was stopped. Them thar blue tiles will never again be flippéd.
As a show watcher, I don’t know if the Wall needs to be rebuilt. I don’t know if there ever needs to be a Night’s Watch again. I feel like the Night King comes every 1000 years or so, but they’ve beat him before. Perhaps they never killed him before? I don’t know, but I’d be pretty psyched if our goil Arry was the only person to ever kill a Night King. Somebody give that girl a Mountain Dew! Stat!
We open with something that calls for significantly LESS Mountain Dew.
The corpse of Jorah Mormont.
We track up over his books, themselves slashed with wounds from the battle, up over his cuirass and to his white, dead face.
A face that will never smile again.
Ramin Djawadi’s music swells, because Ramin Djawadi is one of the only things that will never let us down in Game of Thrones. Him and Casting Director Nina Gold. Legends.
Ramin Djawadi’s music swells. Jorah Mormont is cold.
He is gone.
Above him, Daenerys Stormborn looks down, a single tear charting a path over her alabaster cheek. It’s…a hard way to start. To see such sadness. To witness such loss.
She bends over and kisses him, taking her time. Pressing her lips against the cold flesh. It is awful to watch. To know that this man who loved her deeper and more profoundly than anyone else, is gone.
She whispers something to him, pain filling her face and furrowing her brow.
THEY ARE GASLIGHTING ME.
Or maybe just something personal. A private tiding. A whispered thank you, meant for the ears of no one alive.
It’s beautiful. True affection. And moreover, a thesis on devotion in the face of unrequited love. Jorah Mormont was in love with Daenerys Targaryen in a way that would never be reciprocated. And yet he loved on, loved nobly, and died protecting his love. What can we say about that character, that universally disgraced man, who fought back from the door of death itself in the Citadel to ride in and be the shield that protected the queen of men?
A man who, once upon a time, was fleeing for his life as Ned Stark himself rode to take his head.
“I’m glad he never caught you.” Jon told him North of the wall.
And so say we all.
Farewell, Ser Jorah. Farewell.
Daenerys stands, exhausted and pale. Not sure if she’ll ever be whole again.
We cut now to another white body. This one with a shock of red hair.
A gloved hand fiddles indecisively on his breastplate. Unsure. Flitting.
We pan up to see a destroyed Sansa Stark. She is heaving with emotion. If Daenerys’ subdued Targaryen tears show restraint, Sansa Stark’s powerful sobs show the oft buried passion of the North. We keep it in. We bury it deep. But this is a loss that cannot be measured for Sansa.
She stands, trying to compose herself, but it’s too much. It’s overwhelming. And then, almost as an afterthought, she reaches for the Stark sigil on her chest and weaves it into the strafed cicatrix of his Ironborn armor.
I start to cry in my living room about a fucking Ironborn for the third time in three weeks. For the love of all that is holy, someone get Alfie Allen off of this goddamn show. My stupid tear ducts can’t take it.
We see Jon looking stoic, which is one of his great skills.
But no skill we’ve ever seen in eight seasons of Game of Thrones prepares us for the skill we see next:
THE GREATEST CLEANUP IN TELEVISION HISTORY.
Beautiful wooden pyres. Tiered, like the dessert cart at a Moroccan restaurant. Like the rice paddies of the Mekong delta. Like the hanging gardens of Babylon themselves.
They have cleaned up all the bodies, several million of them, stacked sometimes twenty or thirty deep around the walls of Winterfell, and turduckened them into like two hundred bodies. First they take an itty bitty Unsullied, and they stuff him into a hollowed out Dothraki, which they in turn stuff into a gutted Northman. Then they take that triple stiff and they lay it with tighter right angles than a stack of folded T’s at the Gap, on custom made mahogany burial pyres from The Bombay Company.
It’s straight up amazing.
I don’t know who organized this, but whoever it was should sit on the Iron Throne like yesterday. You want the fucking trains to run on time? HIRE THIS PERSON.
The front row of the pyres is a rank of wooden waterbed waterbeds with no tiers. This are for the VIP stiff. The special stiffs. Regular importance stiffs get the buffet tiers. VIP stiffs get the serving platters in the front.
HOWS THAT FOR BREAKING THE WHEEL?
Sansa returns to the living, standing there with lit torches, to witness the affair. Arya is there. Ghost is there. Thank the gods.
And now it’s time for the most important person to speak.
EEEEEERRRRRRRRKKKKK Record scratch!
Why is Jon Snoo giving the eulogy? That’s what Lady C wanted to know.
PIPE DOOWN WOMAN! I yell. PRAY DON’T YE’EVER TALK OOVER THE KING IN THE NORTH IF YE KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YE!
I am immediately stabbed and die.
Which is why I don’t speak to Lady C that way. Ever.
But we do, later, talk about why Jon and not Daenerys was the one to eulogize the dead. I surmised that it was like when a president comes to a local funeral. He doesn’t necessarily run the proceedings. Jon was Warden of the North, so it was his duty to say a few words. Daenerys was there as a respected dignitary.
I mean, I don’t know or anything. That was just my guess. DIS SHOW CRAY.
Lady C felt like it was a missed opportunity for Daenerys to establish herself as the victor and the unifying voice in the war. In every other case, Astapor, Meereen, Yunkai, everywhere where there was a victory, the Khaleesi was the one to address her khalasar.
Why would this be different?
Because no one there really wants her to do it? I say, wincing and peeking between two sofa pillows.
Jon is the thing that unites them all. Dothraki mobile rapists and dip-soaked Northern bigots alike. He is the thing that brings them together.
WELL TOUGH SHIT.
She’s the queen. She should have been the one to say something.
But she didn’t.
And now it’s time to for my fuckboi Jon Snow to shine. Because hate him all you want, but that boy can do misery. Holy shit. He can sell it, he can wrap it up in a wrap of its own, independent misery and he can float it on the Nile for everyone to also be miserable about. You can say a lot of things about Jon Snow, but you cannot say he doesn’t improve a funeral.
He walks forward and talks aloud. There’s pain in his voice and a hollowness to the treble of it, like the words originate from some deeper place that will never again be full.
“We’re here to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters. To our fathers and mothers.”
“To our friends.”
“Our fellow men and woman who set aside their differences to fight together…”
“…and die together…”
“…so that others might live.”
He is emotional. Breathy. It’s powerful.
“Everyone in this world owes them a debt that can never be repaid.”
“It is our duty and our honor to keep them alive in memory for those who come after us and those who come after them. For as long as men draw breath.”
“They were the shields that guarded the realms of men. And we will never see their like again.”
That’s a damn good speech. It’s basic. But it’s excellent. Solid. True. Moving. Things don’t have to be complicated to work. Humans R DUM.
I’m wiping away tears again as the camera moves to various shots of the onlookers. Arya and Sansa. Brienne and Jaime. Sandor, Davos and Gendry. Missandei, Daenerys and Tyrion. Jon’s voice resounds over the pyres, over the very moors, and to every corner of the North.
And Ramin Djawadi’s gorgeous score picks up as the leaders are each handed a torch to burn their own dead.
Arya, scarred and bruised, looks down at Ser Beric, who came back to life more than any cat to make sure that No One made it to the Night King alive.
I’m sobbing again.
WHAT ARE WE LIKE FORTY SECONDS INTO THIS BITCH AND I’VE CRIED THRICE? JESUS H. AND I FEEL LIKE I’VE ALREADY BEEN WRITING FOR TWO FULL DAYS AND I’M NOT THROUGH THE FIRST SCENE. THIS DEEP DIVE IS GOING TO KILL ME. KILL ME!
Sam looks down at Edd and I hear the angry voices of many of my favorite Pajiba writers yelling that HE’D STILL BE ALIVE IF YOU’D JUST GONE TO THE BLOODY CRYPT WHERE YE BELONG!
That makes it no less sad.
Jon walks up to a pyre and for a moment I can’t remember whom he lost. And then we see her and air comes out of me that’s like a sigh but if you also add a smidge of death and a teeny pinch of THIS IS THE WORST SHIT EVER to it.
Lyanna Mormont. The Lady of Bear Island. Scratched and scarred, a broad laceration covering half her face. She is motionless on the pyre and this is one of the hardest things for me to watch. A world where children die. What kind of fucked up world takes children from us? What kind of all knowing deity allows that shit to happen?
Lyanna Mormont. By god she was a fierce little bear.
“Your son was butchered in the Red Wedding, Lord Manderly, but you refused the call. You swore allegiance to House Stark, Lord Glover. But in their hour of greatest need, you refused the call. And you! Lord Cerwyn! Your father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton. Still: you refused the call.”
BUT HOUSE MORMONT REMEMBERS. THE NORTH REMEMBERS.
WE KNOW NO KING BUT THE KING IN THE NORTH WHOSE NAME IS STARK.
I DON’T CARE IF HE’S A BASTARD. NED STARK’S BLOOD RUNS THROUGH HIS VEINS.
HE’S MY KING FROM THIS DAY UNTIL HIS LAST DAY.
The scene in season six, episode ten where Lyanna Mormont makes Jon Snow the king in the North is my all time favorite scene in Game of Thrones. It made me feel hope. It made me feel like there was a world on the horizon that made sense.
And as I watch it again today, I get very emotional about what we had then, and what we have lost. Of the promise and the despair. Of the unity and the division. Of the joy and the sadness.
Embodied almost exclusively in the fire and passion of the little girl who lays cold on a stack of wood, in an open field, on a cold, desolate day in the North.
“He’s my king, from this day until his last day.”
Now she’s gone, and her king stands above her, torch in hand, ready to give her tiny body back to the North, where she will be one with the winds that blow across Bear Island forever.
She was larger than life, before we ever met her.
Goodbye little bear.
THERE. SHE. STOOD.
And with that, the pyres are lit in unison, with the kind of planning and precision that not a single soul in this army ever brought to a battle.
The music swells as huge, billowing clouds of smoke fill the Winterfell sky, blowing, one hopes, on draughts of air all the way to King’s Landing where it will signal Queen Cersei of her coming doom.
But first, there’s food to eat.
We cut to the Hogwarts dining hall where the House Elves have outdone themselves this time. Still no house band, though. Not exactly a Mos Eisley cantina vibe as we descend from the chandelier southward, where a certain love struck blacksmith’s apprentice is scanning the room for the Hero of Winterfell.
At the head table, Jon sits between Sansa and Daenerys. Jorah’s last suggestion to his Khaleesi before he dies was that she repair things with Sansa. He saw how important the Lady of Winterfell was to the North, and he knew that the future security of the Seven Kingdoms, and perhaps Daenerys’ very own safety partly rested in the hands of Cat Stark’s daughter.
But they do not speak.
It’s still awkward between them.
Jon glances over at his queen, but she’s looking forward, eating in silence. An island unto herself.
We move to Gendry, who can’t find Arya. He turns back to his food and decides to ask her dad if he knows where she is.
He gathers up his courage, not looking The Hound in the face, lest the biggun’s eyes light him on fire, and asks a simple question:
“Have you seen Arya?”
To any other man in the Known World, this would require a simple answer. But The Hound is not any other man. And he’s a man who’s always in a foul mood from experience.
The Hound glares at him.
“You can still smell the burning bodies and that’s where your head is at?”
“I just want to thank her for-“
“I’m sure you do.”
“Look, it’s not about that.”
“Course it’s about that, you twat. Why shouldn’t it be? The Dead are dead. You’re not.”
Um…okay? So it’s cool that I think of her in that…way….
Tell you what- I’m just going to go find her. BRB.
Gendry gets up and starts to head out the door, but he’s stopped when the Dragon Queen stops him with a word.
This is the first move of the new world, right here. This is the first indicator of where we’re going once global warming has been solved. We have fought the war. We have burned the bodies and everything from here on out is off book, so to speak.
And that’s when it gets scary, because it’s Game of Thrones. And like Sandor Clegane, we are hardened and in a foul mood about these things from nothing more than experience.
Gendry turns slowly to Daenerys, stunned that she knows his name.
Of course she knows his name, because in what must have been a rare moment of insight, Tyrion Lannister did his duty as her Hand and told her something she didn’t already know.
“That’s right, isn’t it?”
Her tone gives away nothing. If anything it’s cool and imperious.
Gendry moves to avail himself to her, coming closer to her table and standing at a beggar’s version of attention.
All conversation in the room ceases immediately.
“Yes, your Grace.” Gendry nods with a small bow.
She studies him.
“You’re Robert Baratheon’s son.”
OHHHHHHH SHIT. Says Ser Davos’ eyes to Jon. He shares a look with The Onion Knight. What’s this all about then?
FUUUUUUCK ARE WE REALLY GONNA RED WEDDING ALREADY? NOW? I HAVEN’T EVEN FINISHED ME MUTTON!
To almost all of the room, this is news. Robert Baratheon had a son?
I mean, Jaime knew that. He had the Gold Cloaks killing all of Bobby B’s Netflix n chill bastards as soon as Ned started poking around the archives for proof of dark hair in the bloodline.
And they thought they got all of them because Arya lied about one. The one who Polliver killed when he took Needle off of her. The Hero of Winterfell saved Gendry all the way back then. And now the only fish to slip the Lannister net stands before The Breaker of Chains.
“You are aware he took my family’s throne and tried to have me murdered.”
“I didn’t even know he was my father until after he was dead.”
“Yes, he’s dead.” She agrees. But it’s not cold. It’s factual. He is no longer among the living. She takes no pleasure in it. “His brothers are, too. So who’s Lord of Storm’s End now?”
OH PISSBOY! PISSBOY? RIGHTY-O! I SAY OLD CHAP, HAVE YOU ANY IDEA WHO THE CURRENT MARQUIS DU FIN DE LA TEMPÊTE MIGHT BE? EH? WHAT SAY YOU ON THE MATTER?
“I don’t know, your grace.”
ATTA BOY. I love people who admit they don’t know things. This world is full of bullshitters. Nothing wrong with not knowing everything. Atta baby, Gen. Ten points to Gryffindor!
“Does anyone?” Daenerys asks out loud, directing her query to the hall but not really looking around.
I’M A GUESSIN THAT’S ONE A THEM RHE-TOR-I-KUL QUESTIONS.
There’s a wide shot. Everyone is stopped, watching the scene play out, except The Hound, who is still eating and truly doesn’t give a shit. No one says a word.
She has an uncertain tone. Even if there’s a correct answer, now would most certainly NOT be the best time to play the feud.
Now she holds Gendry in her gaze. Here it is. Here’s the moment she orders someone to pull his asshole off his body.
“I think you should be Lord of Storm’s End.” She says.
MURMER MURMER MURMER
The Hound is thinking this chicken is terrible.
THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S MUTTON CLEGANE YOU MISERABLE SHIT.
Gendry’s face registers his surprise.
“I can’t be. I’m a bastard.”
Now Jon sees where this is going and he turns for the first time to look at his queen.
“No, you are Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm’s End. The lawful son of Robert Baratheon because that is what I have made you.”
No one says a fucking word because it’s basically a room full of exhausted peasants, filthy swineherds and carneys. Gendry isn’t even sure what to make of it.
THANK ALL THE GODS FOR MY BOY DAVOS SEAWORTH. He springs to his feet to clinch the moment before it skitters South and raises his glass with a loud toast.
“TO LORD GENDRY BARATHEON, OF STORM’S END!”
Everyone rises to their feet, urged eeeeeeeeever so slightly by the tone in The Onion Knight’s thrown voice, and they all toast him.
Daenerys beams with pride. Jon has a huge smile on his face as he hands Gendry a mug to accept the toast with and just like that, the mood in the room improves.
The Hound doesn’t stand or toast. He shakes his head, presumably annoyed at the woeful state of chicken in the North.
Daenerys sits down next to her Hand and we push in on them.
“A fitting tribute for a hero.” Tyrion says. “And a Lord of Storm’s End who will be forever loyal to you.”
“See?” Daenerys asks. “You’re not the only one who’s clever.”
Game of Thrones has re-entered the chat.
I love Daenerys, and so I love a moment where she gets to be good and smart at the same time. It’s a little worrisome that this type of grand gesture hadn’t been discussed with her Hand prior to moving that particular chess piece, but under the circumstances with, y’know, a billion zombies bumrushing them like twelve minutes ago, we can forgive it. But Tyrion better step up his game because his biggest supporter in Dany’s inner inner circle is currently a pile of ashes on Winterfell moor.
A word about focus in Game of Thrones: Lady C and I have noticed that when a character is single minded of focus, they tend to do well. It’s when they start to have two different goals that things go pear shaped.
The Hound is single minded of focus. He is NEVER distracted by anything. His one goal is his own survival. Until he meets Arya, and in the course of trying to find someone to pay him for her, he gets attached and ends up getting his ass kicked and almost dying alone on the side of a mountain.
Sansa used to have split allegiances and goals, but now her focus is on her family. That’s it.
Which is why she seems to be written to view Daenerys as a threat. In the same way that the Night King was an existential threat to humanity, The Khaleesi of the GGS is an existential threat to her family.
Which is why Sansa Stark, the Lady of Winterfell, is the very first person to notice that the Game of Thrones has begun again in earnest, and she flashes Tyrion a look to let him know that she knows.
I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of examples to poke holes in my theory, but in eight years, characters who have been single minded have tended to do far better than characters who are trying to do more than one thing.
Now we move to Jaime and Brienne in the same room, a little bit later, when the wine is flowing. Jaime convinces Brienne to drink a bit, citing the fact that if you can’t celebrate after defeating the undead, when can you?
Yes, if there’s one thing I want my daughter to be exposed to, it’s the unassailable logic of when it’s appropriate to party, compliments of the nearest frat boy to her.
There were a few ways to look at this scene. You could be happy for Brienne that she gets to be one of the gang. You could be happy for Jaime and Brienne that they can just be friends and drinking buddies after all the years of contention and strife and rigidity between them. You can be neutral on the relationship element of it but kind of down on the mechanism of a drinking game, or you can be downright appalled by it, as they take the most noble knight in the land and reduce her to a flushed face freshman.
While I was happy for Brienne to be able to unwind, I didn’t love the use of “I Never” which just felt a little anachronistic and lazy to me. At least have some cool Westerosi game that you can sell at Thinkgeek for $29.99. The Falcon and the Maid. As it stood, it felt sophomoric to me.
I NEVER SHAT MY PANTS.
Yah. Not with it.
And much of the reason I’m not is because I thought Jaime and Brienne were platonic. I was really invested in that storyline. Individually, I love each character. I love Brienne for her integrity and her ferocity and because she is singular in her excellence and rejection of bullshit notions of gender roles. I’M NOT WEARING A DRESS. FUCK YOU.
That’s something I really love and believe in.
And with Jaime Lannister, I want to believe that redemption of a kind is possible.
And I adore what they’ve built together. I adore how they fought side by side on so many occasions. Whether it be in a bear pit or on the walls of Winterfell, repeatedly saving each other’s lives, this is a tandem I can believe in.
I just wasn’t as invested in them rubbing their genitalia against each other.
And then I stood back and thought WELL WHY THE HELL NOT?
I want Brienne to be happy. And I want her to experience everything life has to offer. Am I falling into some archaic notion that a woman can’t be pure unless she’s chaste? Hell to the fuck no. I’m all about getting on that dance floor, throwing on a little Saturday Night Fever and ending up with your trou hanging from a lamp somewhere. That’s humanity. That’s real.
But something about watching Jaime and Brienne end up in the bedroom made me feel a bit icky.
So we begin with a drinking game which Tyrion ruins when his killer instinct takes over.
HEY TYRION, HOW ABOUT POSSIBLY BRINGING THAT COMPETITIVE SPIRIT TO YOUR FUCKING J.O.B. HUH? You haven’t checkmated anything but a wineskin since season 4 you overpaid, mid-tier, Hewlett Packard second shift dictator, you.
So Brienne excuses herself and Tormund goes to follow her.
Jaime gets between them. Like NAH BRO. COBRA KAI, MOTHERFUCKER.
And then Tyrion fills Tormund’s horn with wine as if to say, go get drunk, animal. Let the nobles do what nobles do.
Tormund also, before this, had the best straight up joke of the whole series and made me belly laugh in my living room when he yell-asked
WHICH ONE OF YOU COWARDS SHIT IN MY PANTS?
That’s chef kiss good. My god. Which one of you cowards shit in my pants. It combines so many elements of comedy that I love.
And for my money, I would have honestly preferred that Jaime be Brienne’s best friend and drinking buddy and fighting partner, but for Tormund to be her guy.
Because I want her to feel cherished.
Basically, Brienne is Zoe. Jaime is Mal. Tormund is Wash. Like that.
There’s nothing in the verse that stops Mal and Zoe from getting naked as hell and treating each other’s body like a flume ride except SOMETHING AWESOME.
Friendship. Respect. An Iron bond.
And that’s what it felt like Brienne and Jaime had. Until this episode. Until all of a sudden we were on fraternity row at UCLA.
Last thing about the choices that were made here. We could have honored Jorah and his life in the friendzone by just making Brienne finally come around on Tormund for the first time. He has been 100% crazy about here since the giddyup. He lost his fucking mind when she got knighted. So he’s a little unkempt and rough around the edges. Big fucking deal. That dude is real. The people I trust most in the world remind me of Tormund. Zero pretense. Zero bullshit. In a lifetime of stupid rules, artificial ceilings and people trying to rein her in, Brienne could have used a little freefolk attitude. If it weren’t for Tormund saying ‘fuck tradition’ she never would have been a knight in the first place.
And there’s also a sense that he’s not worthy. I don’t like that vibe at all. It’s like when the corporate vice president woman has a blue collar husband and everyone whispers and rolls their eyes. Fuck that. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes you just need someone that believes in you more than any other soul in the world and wants nothing more than to make you happy.
This is one of the difficult things about Game of Thrones coming to an end and some of the choices that are being made.
Now, they’re made.
From now until the end of time, Brienne will always never pick Tormund over Jaime. I suspected that she secretly was in love with Jaime, but for some reason I never read his love and admiration for her as romantic.
But now it is.
Now it’s cannon and one more fantasy bubble pops, both for me and for Tormund Giantsbane. Don’t tell me he’s not worthy. He’s the de facto King of the Wildlings, a war hero ten times over, brave as the day is long and loyal beyond all measure. He’s honest, happy and fun. I love him and I’m pouring one out for the lost giant babies that will never now be.
The new reality is that Jaime and Brienne are gonna bone down.
Considering I never shipped it, I think there’s a certain charm to the fact that Jaime has never woo’d a woman before and resorts to the lamest pretense imaginable.
IT’S SO HOT IN HERE I BETTER TAKE OFF MY TIGHTY WHITIES.
Oh Jaime, your scalding hotness could have landed you any senorita in the seven kingdoms, and if I’m not mistaken, I think in the books he actually went on like an all expenses paid debutante vacay throughout the Known World to see if he could find a suitable wife. I heard he actually spent time in Riverrun, getting to know the Tully girls, Catelyn and Lysa to see if there was a potential Chuck Woolery Love Connection.
BACK IN TWO AND TWO.
But there was not.
Jaime’s bowl cut is killing me, by the way. KILLING ME. Combing his hair all forward is like putting Marilyn Monroe in a space suit. Use the weapon the way the universe intended. Every time I see that peppered grey front bowl on Jaime I die a little. Someone needs to crank a little Def Leppard and get their pomade game back on point. For all that’s holy, you’re a Dapper Dan Man, Jaime Lannister. Be a Dapper Dan Man.
As the whole love scene is taking shape at one table, lots of other storyline threads are being tugged on.
People have begun to do what they do and pair up, group up and laugh. They gravitate to their people.
But Daenerys Targaryen is alone. Entirely, completely alone. She has no people.
Missandei is off with Torgo Nudho somewhere.
Her closest advisor is dead. Her Hand is hanging out with his bro. Her honeybear sexpot is being surrounded and lauded by his men. It’s not something that is lost on The Spider, who watches her intently.
Prior to settling in to ‘I Never’, Tyrion made the rounds, speaking with Davos about the sorry state of relations at the Head Table and speaking to Bran about being Lord of Winterfell.
Bran doesn’t want it. He says he lives mostly in the past.
Ooooh I like. Let’s take half a week to think through that line, shall we? Yay! A clue a clue! Maybe Bran is talking about being Bran the Builder, who built the very Wall in the past! Maybe this is a tip off that even though the ink on the past is quote unquote ‘DRY’ that Bran has gone back to Hodor a different outcome, one which put all of the people like Jon and Arya into exactly the right places to have things all work out…
And then I remember that we have two episodes left and that the showrunners are doing exactly what my friend Genevieve Burgess said they were doing: tying up everything as quickly and simply as possible.
Lady C said this to me back in March when I was geeking out about all of the things we were going to learn in the final season.
“I’d temper your expectations a bit.” She said.
“You think all of these theories are going to get paid off. But that would only happen if the books were done. You know authors and you know TV writers. You think TV writers are going to do anything more than the bare minimum? You think they’re going to obsess over every detail, or will they just shrug and move past them.”
“I mean, they can’t just not pay off things, can they?” I asked. “There’d be a revolt!”
“I don’t know.” Lady C admitted. “It just seems like a lot of meat on the bone for six episodes of television. What you’re talking about feels like two ten episode seasons to me.”
That was back in March, and I’m sad to see that she was right again. We’re moving so quickly through material that it can feel like paint by numbers at this point. Where rich, woven tablecloths are replaced with plastic throwaway versions for the sake of easy cleanup.
It’s fifty shades of beige now, not the vibrant Madhubani paintings the series seemed to be creating.
So we just take Bran’s line, we brush it off the table into our waiting hand, walk it to the nearest trash receptacle and throw it away with a sigh. Those moments of wonder, like elves and fairies, are gone from the world. This is the age of man, and man is predictable.
But let’s return to Tormund who always manages to bring a smile to our faces. He’s trying to make Jon guzzle a horn full of wine. Or ale. Something. Even Sansa is in on the game, egging Jon on. Jon, for his part, is already a little tipsy and is protesting that he would vomit and vomiting isn’t the same as celebrating.
Tormund stares like Homer Simpson.
“Yes it is.”
Daenerys watches from across the table, not having been invited to drink with the Northern Fools Guild.
Why the fuck not?
Jon, my dude. My hombre. My amigo. Meet me at camera five.
Homes, what are you doing? She’s alone. Yes, it’s gotten sticky of late, but she’s young and in love and confused as hell and she has never been on the Night’s Watch and learned the magical art of shit talking and how to be part of a gang. She has never had a gang because she was sold as a slave the second she was able to procreate. She has been betrayed and hated and abused and attacked and maligned. And because of her — no one else — all of you fools are still in possession of your fragile lives, your stupid egos and your boy’s jokes.
So invite her in. Pull her into the thick of it. Leaders always have to maintain some sense of station, even in social situations, so she doesn’t have to have barbs directed at her. But give her a flagon and throw an arm around her and help her close the inestimable distance from her chair to yours. There is an ocean of misunderstanding there. Just bring her in. I know Sans will flash you some attitude. Tough shit. Do it anyway. She just made Gendry a Lord. She lost her first fam in the field. Somebody throw a little love and attention at our girl and stave off this asinine Mad Queen narrative.
But Jon doesn’t hear me.
He lifts his horn, out of nowhere and yells a toast.
TO THE DRAGON QUEEN!
Men cheer. She’s not beloved yet, but she’s one of them now, sort of, after the war.
But the Dragon Queen is no dummy. Before the cheer has even finished, she refracts the blessing onto one of their own, raising her mug in a voice that chimes like a bell she says
TO ARYA STARK, THE HERO OF WINTERFELL.
And now the crowd roars.
I look at Daenerys there in that moment and I feel such adoration for her. Such a profound affection. I took a screenshot of this moment so I would never forget it. Her last great moment as queen. I think. Maybe.
Because they’re doing her dirty.
They’re turning her into something that I don’t think she is.
They’re building a narrative around her which doesn’t feel right and they’re forcing a square peg into a round hole to make it happen.
But we know her completely in this moment. This pure moment of joy and sincerity. Yes, there’s probably some calculation there, but it’s no less charming. She is a woman who has fought and endured and she deserves a thousand cheers for that. I will forever remember her in this moment and the next, when Jon and her lock eyes and the alcohol has removed inhibitions and there’s a look of devotion and connection between them.
That was a great look. Bravo Emilia. Bravo Kit. I believed it.
And so did Sansa, who reacted to it by walking out in a huff, presumably late for her vegas wedding.
And I get pissed that we’re meant to choose between these two amazing women when we should obviously back them both.
What a shitshow that Sansa leaves. But let’s try to explain the reasoning. She knows Robb was manipulated by a beautiful woman. She knows Jon isn’t mapping the genome in his free time and she knows that this golden beauty is just plain not one of them.
It doesn’t justify her walking out, but perhaps it explains it. To me it felt like an extremely poor character choice.
Jon doesn’t see her do it, but Daenerys does and she sits back down quietly, considering.
And then it comes. The beginning of the end. The quick cut, subjective camera from her viewpoint watching everyone bonding. Watching her closest people, Tyrion and Jon choosing to bond with other people. Watching as the wildling Giantsbane yells a cacophony of praise because Jon rode a dragon.
YEAH FUCKERS. BECAUSE DAENERYS FUCKING GAVE HIM ONE.
BECAUSE SHE GAVE BIRTH TO THREE OF THEM WHY CAN’T I MAKE THIS FONT BIGGER AND REDDER AND HAVE IT COME TO LIFE AND STRANGLE ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PUSH THIS BULLSHIT MAD QUEEN STORYLINE.
Also, Tormund, you uh…also rode a dragon, buddy. Remember when Dany came to save your drowning ass? And Drogon was like The Night Bus for wayward white guys? So, yah. That.
Jon turns to Dany at the dragon riding line and he catches her. He catches her lost in thought and of course she smiles and does a little manufactured tip o’ the flagon at him but he sees it. She is alone.
This is not Mad Queen disease. This is just loneliness. This is just a series of unfortunate events which have conspired to isolate her. All she needs is for you to turn around, get her out of here, take her to a tapas bar and a midnight showing of Captain Marvel and we good.
Instead we get the rack focus shot of Varys watching her from the shadows, and apparently deciding that her mental health is waning.
I have to walk away.
And so does Dany. She gets up and leaves, not wanting to so clearly not be a part of anything when everyone else is a part of everything.
Right after that, Tyrion offends Brienne, who also walks away with Jaime in tow.
Poor Tormund. Fucking Lannisters.
Stupid Tyrion you sonofabitch. I’ve been waiting for you to do something since the Obama administration. And what have you done in just this episode? Offended the most noble person in the seven kingdoms and looked down your nose at a man who has done nothing dishonorable — to his knowledge — in his whole life.
You prick. Do something! Make a good choice somewhere. For fucks sake.
Then Tormund walks away from Pod’s friendly smile. This is a scene of a lot of people walking away. Pod turns and a beautiful girl smiles at him. Jesus christ. Finally a little sanity in the world.
Unfortunately for The Hound, Tormund has walked to him.
It’s a wonderful camera move to see Tormund talking out his problems in therapy only to pull back to reveal that his reluctant therapist is no other than Sandor Clegane L.I.C.S.W. of the school of hard knocks.
He is not thrilled about his new profession. Especially when the wildling puts his arm around him.
“Don’t touch me.” He says.
Valid point. Typically there’s a bit of physical distance between the therapist and patient.
“You can touch me.” Says some working girl.
BAZINGA! Tormund pops behind The Hound.
Tormund is psyched and trots off.
Another server tries to proposition The Hound but he literally growls at her and scares her away.
Sansa watches how the Hound’s personal fuck you aura fills the mead hall and goes to sit with Sandor.
“She could have made you happy for a little while.” Sansa says.
This seems to reference a quote from Clegane when he was dying. He said it to Arya about how he should have just forced himself on Sansa when he had the chance and maybe he’d have one happy memory before he died.
“There’s only one thing that’ll make me happy.” KILLING ME BRUDDER.
“And what’s that?”
“That’s my fucking business.”
Notice with Sandor he’s never polite. There are no m’lords or m’ladys. Fuck you to everyone. Single minded of purpose and a royal shithead to everyone.
Sansa is not offended. She just watches him.
“Used to be you couldn’t look at me.”
“That was a long time ago. I’ve seen much worse than you since then.”
“Yes I’ve heard. I heard you were broken in.” He leans in. “Heard you were broken in rough.”
It makes my stomach turn, what he says and how he says it. I remember those days. I remember what that scum did to Sansa Stark, and how she was powerless to stop it. I remember how Littlefinger sold her to the Boltons. When there was a ‘maybe’ out there about Sansa being pregnant with Ramsay’s baby? Thank god that never happened. I remember dreading that.
Mostly, though, I remember Jon beating Ramsay’s face in. And I remember that smile on Sansa’s face as she walked away hearing Ramsay’s screams as his own hounds tore him apart.
The Hound fires his mean-spirited volley, but Sansa, who is orders of magnitude tougher than me, doesn’t flinch.
“He got what he deserved. I gave it to him.” She says, not allowing a shred of emotion to come across her face.
And The Hound laughs. How often do we see The Hound laugh? Never. Once before when little Arya years ago talked about her waterdancing teacher, Syrio Forel and she confessed that he didn’t have a sword.
That’s when we got a belly laugh from Sandor that the First Sword of Fucking Braavos didn’t have a sword.
And we have one more laugh from the Hound yet to come.
But now he takes a drink and smiles at Sansa. You rarely see him smile like that. And then he goes back in time and tells her that if she had gone with him, none of the evils that befell her would have occured. And he means it, but we can’t possibly know. Especially in this world. Such an amazing thing to think that the most devoted protector of the Stark girls, other than the one who swore to protect them and nearly killed him for that very reason, was the Hound.
Now Sansa responds with a line that seems to reveal a vast cluelessness in the writers room, but I believe is intended to jive with part of the overall theme that Bran mentioned to Theon, which is basically, everything I went through got me here.
She reaches over and grabs his hand, a move she learned from Daenerys Targaryen, and she says “without Littlefinger and Ramsay and all the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.”
She’s a powerhouse. Yes, the line, if taken to mean ‘character evolution through traumatic sexual defilement’ is reprehensible and makes me want to cut someone. If that was the intended meaning, it’s an abhorrent sentiment, utterly wrong and frankly sickening. If it was meant to suggest that the total of all of her life experiences have gotten her to this point, then it has some small merit in the context of that allegory. But we’re moving so fast that it’s hard to discern the sentiment behind the statement. Character wise, looking at Sansa’s current mindset: her conviction, her strength and her resolve are amazing. I called her the hardest mind in the North a few weeks ago and that’s 100% right. She’s a titan.
Now remind me again why we have to choose between her and Daenerys?
Gendry finally finds Arya and is almost shot through the head. THAT’S NOT PROPER RANGE CLEARING, WHAT WHAT!
Lady C has a theory that Sansa is the only Stark child who is really alive. Bran has been bodysnatched, Jon has been resurrected, and Arya when blind in the House of Sand and Fog, drank a bowl of water from the pool that had killed other people, but somehow restored Arya’s sight. Lady C thinks that she actually died then and became truly No One and is now destined to wander the world as shadow.
I don’t know. But I’m sure we won’t get a payoff if it’s true.
So Gendry walks in tells Arya she should be celebrating.
“I am celebrating” she says, loosing another arrow at the bullseye.
Then Gendry asks Arya to marry him. He’s fired up about being a lord and thinks maybe he rates high enough now for them to be together.
He does. He’s a good egg.
But Arya is no one. We call back to the scene with Nymeria where she’s nobody’s sidekick and Arya says “that’s not you.”
A setup for her now saying “that’s not me.” It will play better for future binge watchers who will get to see that bookend sooner. Because some people thought Arya saying that was saying ‘you’re not Nymeria’.
As we watch entire characters being decimated before our eyes, let us pause and take a deep breath about Arya’s arc, which is still intact. Because can you imagine the amount of coronaries that would have happened all over the world if this series finished with Arya Stark in makeup and in a dress? Holy fuck.
Luckily, a bone is thrown to all of us and O.G. Arya Stark goes on.
Single minded of purpose, by the way. Everyone else is revelling. She is practicing to kill people. Arya Stark’s story is intact. There is no flex in her assignments. She is what she is what she is and has no time for distractions, even pleasant ones.
Gendry gives a wonderful proposal and Arya’s response is tender and kind. She goes down to meet his face below her level, and, kissing him all the while, raises him to his feet. She adores him too much to leave him there on a knee. It’s a powerful moment. Arya is pretty fascinating.
“You’ll be a wonderful lord, and any lady would be lucky to have you, but I’m not a lady. That’s not me.”
It is one of the most honest, most straightforward and kindest refusals you’ll ever see.
And with that, she turns back to her bow, and her purpose.
Now we’re in Bri’s one bedroom suite where Baywatch is about to happen. We’ve discussed it. I wasn’t a fan. I hated their first kiss. It was sloppy and kind of gross. And to make it worse, we get Ramin Djawadi’s music behind it. It’s like NO DUDE. I REFUSE TO SCORE THIS FALLACY.
Doing this deep dive for this episode feels that way too, sometimes. Like THIS DOESN’T DESERVE TO BE DEEP DOVED, FUCKERS. YOU ARE MAKING BAD CHOICES. I AM NOT TACITLY APPROVING THIS BY COVERING IT.
This whole deep dive could be just variations on all caps yelling.
Okay I just went to take a walk and air out a little. This is the toughest deep dive I’ve ever had to write, and I wrote a couple on Westworld before I realized what a steaming pile of shite that was. But I wanted to get a little sun on my face because I know a scene that fires me up is about to happen.
Vitamin D? Check.
Remembering how awesome everything was like two episodes ago when Bri got knighted? Check.
Let’s move on.
Daenerys pops into Jon’s room, where he is sitting on his bed drying to dry out a little. I love Jon, as I say every week. I can understand when people get frustrated with him, but I never get quite get it when they hate him. But this scene made me start to understand more. It’s a certain way he passively puts his own interests ahead of the active interests of the women around him.
For example, in my favorite scene, which I mentioned was the kingindanorf scene, for lots of reasons, Jon could have simply said no and said:
“If you believe in me, it’s because you don’t know that my sister was behind it all. She saved me when I fucked up the battle. She tried to warn me when I was planning that Ramsay would do exactly what Ramsay did. My Lords, I will be your sword hand and your shield. I will ride to every battle and stand shoulder to shoulder with you on every wall. But I am no leader. If you believe in me, I promise you, you’ll believe in her. She is the true leader in the Stark family and I pledge HER MY SWORD.”
And then he would kneel in front of Sansa and yell THE QUEEN IN THE NORTH!
Jon didn’t want to be king, but Sans DID. She wanted the accolades. I wasn’t crazy that she didn’t tell Jon about the Knights of the Vale, but she did ultimately turn the tide. So would the Northern Lords have accepted Jon crowning her instead of him?
Now I wasn’t a book reader so I don’t know if he could have thrown his support this way, but I understand how tired this white-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold who somehow deserves to be king all the time is.
With regard to Daenerys we can always wonder why he didn’t laud her publicly. We can always wonder why he doesn’t make it a point to shift the spotlight onto the women who have literally saved his dumb ass. I don’t know. And maybe the blind spots in me, yet another white-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold, haven’t recognized this pattern in Jon for far too long.
Even knowing it, I’m still too dumb to quit him.
So now we’re in his bedchamber. And I’m praying for a resolution here.
Because I’m well past the incest. (Jesus what a sentence to type. Strange times, people.)
If you tell me that Targs marrying Targs is a thing, I’m fine with it. It’s not my bag, but whatever. That’s not what I’m hung up on.
It’s Jon condemning this person. And I’m not sure for what, unless secretly he wants to be king, which is not a read I’ve ever had on him.
Daenerys enters the room and asks if he’s drunk. He gets up and wobbles. Only a little, he says.
She closes the door and I’m like THIS IS IT.
This is a summit. This is where we decide how the end of the show goes.
HINT —————> IT’S NOT FANTASTIC.
Daenerys enters the room and they face each other from a pleasant distance. Jon begins by offering his condolences about the death of Ser Jorah. He rightly suggests that if Jorah could have chosen a way to go it would be protecting his Khaleesi.
And now Dany is at her most vulnerable. The mention of Jorah. It’s too much. But Jon is all she has left.
“He loved me.” She agrees, approaching Jon. “But I couldn’t love him back. Not the way he wanted me to. Not the way I love you.”
She is magnetized by him. She needs him like air. The old days are gone and there is only the two of them and this terrible, terrible secret.
It doesn’t change how she feels. She loves him completely.
“Is that alright?” She asks. My heart weeps for the vulnerability in her voice.
YES IT’S ALRIGHT.
Yes, we have been dealt a terrible hand, but we have chosen each other. Fuck the seven kingdoms and fuck the realm and fuck the dead and fuck every sigil and every man woman and child in the known world. When you’re in love all that matters is the two people in this room and how they feel. In the legendary words of the Bee Gees, HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?
Two people who are totally committed can truly get through anything. Look at Jaime and Cersei and the secret they had to carry around for thirty years. Granted, they’re not exactly the gold standard — pun not intended — but if they can endure, certainly people with actual character like Jon and Daenerys can, can’t they?
I floated like a bee on the wind in this moment, as they kissed. And I found it titillating on some level that this love which was so pure is now so forbidden. I liked seeing them dive past it and start to tear each other’s clothes off. I get really hype on true passion, even when it leads to damnation. Give me USDA Grade A passion and I’ll follow you all day. This moment, this abandon, this believable human abandon is what the show has been missing for quite some time.
And I am praying to all the gods. Just fix this. Just make this work. Find a way.
They start to kiss and fumble with belts and ties and I’m like thank god. Just consummate this new relationship and there will be a bond forged in iron.
And then Jon pulls away.
And I know we’re done.
And a hollow darkness settles in my belly. Because that was it. That was the last chance for this show to treat Daenerys right. Jon has made so many mistakes over the years. Miscalculations that got him murdered. Bonehead moves like falling into Ramsay’s trap. Yes, it was to save his brother, and his reasons are always good. He’s doing his best at all times, but at some point those intellectual weaknesses of character cloaked in some unassailable nobility of character really start to fray.
How often can we forgive a well meaning fool if that fool gets our loved ones killed?
Jon walks away, thinking, and Daenerys talks to his back. It’s so…lovely. So honest and good. There’s no artifice about it. No manipulation. He’s the only one in the whole world she can talk to openly and honestly and so she just lays it all out.
“I wish you’d never told me. If I didn’t know I’d be happy right now. I try to forget. Tonight I did for a while and then I saw them gathered around you. I saw the way they looked at you. I know that look. So many people have looked at me that way, but never here. Never on this side of the sea.”
It’s a soliloquy that might feature Emilia Clarke’s most poignant and understated acting of her career. It’s so soft. So delicate. She’s so desperately alone and she needs him so badly. Why can’t he see that?
“I told you I don’t want it.” He growls back at her. Thick and low and missing every point.
And now Daenerys has to drive the point home because this bumpkin cannot grasp it.
“It doesn’t matter what you want. You didn’t want to be King in the North. What happens when they demand you press your claim and take what is mine?”
He’s shocked by this. Because he’s so idealistic and never sees the inherent greed and evil in men. I have always loved Jon Snow for this innocence and this nobility and this belief in his fellow men.
But now it’s dangerous to Daenerys. It’s foolhardy. But he doesn’t know that. There is no duplicity at play and because of that, this scene actually works. Two characters have goal which cannot intersect peacefully. He needs above all else, to be a Stark. To be Ned’s son. And to hold to the familial values that he was raised upon.
And she knows the minds of men. She knows that for some reason, she is not the sovereign that Westeros wants. She has seen it first hand. She isn’t making this up. It’s not a paranoia or a delusion. Her dream is slipping away and the main culprit, unintentionally, is kneeling in front of her, too daft to see the obvious writing on the wall. Daenerys has already done the math, but Jon can’t add.
“I’ll refuse. You are my queen. I don’t know what else there is to say.”
He cannot see any of it. And here we go again with his loyalty, one of his greatest assets. He has pledged himself to her and he will keep his word. Period.
But that’s not going to be good enough. Because the love: the personal has to be the foundation. Not the job title.
“You can say nothing. To anyone, ever. Never tell them who you really are. Swear your brother and Samwell Tarly to secrecy and tell no one else or it will take on a life of its own and you won’t be able to control it or what it does to people. No matter how many times you bend the knee. No matter what you swear.”
And then we see a flicker of that Targaryen anger. It’s okay in this scenario. It’s a facet of her personality. Not this bullshit Mad Queen anger. Actual human anger at trying to explain the intricacies of politics and power dynamics to a talking potato. She is trying to will it into him. To make him understand.
And, lest we forget how it goes after this, she’s 100% right. She’s never been more right about anything in her entire life. Her point of view on this is not negotiable. She has crystalized the issue into the smallest possible form and is trying to make Jon understand. There is this one beat. This one threshold that cannot be crossed.
She reaches for his hand. Trying to use their powerful physical connection to drive the point home.
“I want it to be the way it was between us.”
He takes her hand in his. They are close again. Close enough to kiss. He is physically reciprocating. There’s a chance here, if he can just listen and understand.
“I have to tell Sansa and Arya.” he says.
Nooooooooooo! That’s who you can’t tell. Poor boy. Poor broken, foolish boy. Raised in a house that wasn’t truly your own, this unbreakable Stark family-first credo is going to do your Targ ass in. Strictly speaking, if loyalty to family is above all else, an aunt is closer than cousins. But Jon doesn’t think of them that way. They and they alone are all the family he has left. We certainly understand why. Howe long did we pine away for all of the Stark children to be reunited at Winterfell? Before we knew R + L = J? Before we knew any of it. That’s where Jon’s heart is. He’s still a Stark child and Ned’s ghost is still commanding all of his directives. And it will be their undoing.
Daenerys can’t believe what he’s saying, because she was never raised as a Stark. Her own brother sold her into slavery. She has no idea how important this is to Jon. But she knows exactly what the Lady of Winterfell will do with the information.
“Sansa will want to see me gone and you on the Iron Throne.”
“She won’t.” Jon says.
WRONG. INCORRECT. 100% BLACK AND WHITE NEGATIVE FALSEHOOD. YOU SUCKLING BUNNY. YOU PONYTAILED POTATO. DEAR HEAVENLY GOD YOU DON’T KNOW WHO SANSA HAS BECOME.
“She’s not the girl you grew up with. Not after what she’s seen. Not after what they’ve done to her.”
And now Jon is fighting within himself. Ned’s stupid foolish do-gooder Northern innocence leading Jon down the same path that got Ned killed. Remember when Ned walked into the Red Keep with a slip of paper that proved Joff was a Lannister? A slip of fucking paper. That’s all Jon has here. Good intention. The right thing to do. Loyalty. Honor. Kindness. He is splitting in two trying to serve two masters, Daenerys and Ned.
“I owe them the truth.” He says, voice quivering.
“Even if the truth destroys us?” She asks.
And this is the moment where we know it’s over. Because if this is Ygritte? Jon keeps that secret. I would bet my bottom dollar on it. If Ygritte asks him for this one favor, he says yes. But the bonds with Dany, even though the show would have us believe that they’re stronger, have been weakened by the revelation of his ancestry and the wrongness of their love.
“It won’t” He says.
She is flooded with emotion. He’s not going to understand. She’s losing this battle. It’s so difficult to watch.
She takes him by the shoulders now. Voice heavy with sadness, and she plays her last card. Something she’s never before done in her whole life.
She begs this oaf to listen and to trust her.
She begs him to understand and to love her again, the way he did before he knew.
She begs for the door to a future to reopen. A future where they both can find true happiness.
“I’ve never begged for anything. But I’m begging you. Don’t do this. Please.”
If it’s Ygritte, this conversation is over. Probably with a few threats to remove his testicles from his body for good measure. But even begging hasn’t worked for Daenerys. The most powerful woman in the Known World, reduced to a beggar, for love for destiny and for her very survival.
And Jon doesn’t get it.
It’s the angriest I’ve ever been at him. Not because I have the capacity to turn my back on him. In that I’m as stupid as he is. But because this is just a girl asking a boy to love her. This isn’t about the goddamn Seven Kingdoms or some chair somewhere. This about them, their love and their future.
And he’s not with her.
Jon puts her face in his mits and he tells her “you are my queen, nothing will change that. And they are my family, we can live together.”
She does not. Because she has begged and he has still refused her.
And that brings out an ancient coldness in her. Again, not some manufactured Mad Queen asinine horseshit. True coldness for a man who doesn’t have her fucking back. After all this. After she changed the world for him and saved him from ruin, personally, on multiple occasions. This fucking boor. This self important douchebag. He would be dead a dozen times over without her. And he still will not listen. Her coldness, her icy anger is warranted.
HE IS WRONG. SHE IS RIGHT.
“We can,” she says, adopting a tone with him we haven’t heard since that first day on Dragonstone when he was her de facto prisoner. “I’ve just told you how.”
He’s shocked at her tone and releases her. WAIT MY WRY LITTLE SMIRK DIDN’T WORK THAT TIME? THAT’S MY GO TO SMIRK!
She turns, almost in a trance, propelled away by an entire life that needs to be instantly rewritten, and departs.
He’s left standing there, at a loss, garbed in a studded leather cloak of +9 Honor, -16 Intelligence and +21 stupidity, gifted to him, one assumes, from Ned Stark himself.
Get me the hell out of that room, friends. I never want to be there again.
Now we’re in another room that I’m having a hard time with.
HARK YE TH’WOES OF THE DEEP DOIVER THIS DAY
TWIXT HEARTH AND BOUDOIR DID MINE HEROES REGRESS
TIL A WASTELAND OF ERROR GAVE CERSEI HER SWAY
AND LEFT WESTEROS IN A FUCK OF A MESS
Jaime looks over at a sleeping Brienne and sighs.
VIRGINS JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO WORK THE SHAFT AMIRITE?
That’s not why he’s sighing.
He’s sighing because he doesn’t deserve her. He’s sighing because he took a shot on happiness but he can feel the darkness inside of him. A gnawing sensation. He has started down a path that he cannot walk upon, not as long as he has business on another path.
Stupid assclown. Maybe your Kelly Slater super wave carving sun god ass should have considered that before you threw your underwear baloney into the Jean Luc Picard of Westeros. You simple, self-hating fuck.
We cannot rewrite destiny.
Or this pile of dookie that is being served to us as an entre.
But we can imagine a different scenario.
We can imagine Tormund there in the Jaime spot…let’s just CTRL C and CTRL V and there we are. He’s staring at Brienne in awe. There’s no sighing. There’s no doubt. He has no demons because he’s as deep as a puddle on a rainy Wednesday. But he’s ECSTATIC.
He sneaks out of bed silently and when Brienne wakes she finds him doing push ups by the fire. Next to her on a small table, he has stacked some biscuits on a wooden plate. Lembas maybe. And a vase of flowers. How did he get flowers in the North? In Winter? Who knows? Brienne sits up. She is groggy from the wine and the slumber. She has the makings of a tiny headache beginning around the edges of her eyes.
When Tormund sees her he sits up, not making too much noise. He’s been brewing some coffee over the fire and he brings her a mug. He doesn’t say a word.
“Thank you.” She whispers. Still trying to remember everything.
“These are biscuits we make in the North to bring stamina back to our muscles after a fight. And this…” he says, pulling out a tiny ramekin of unguent, “is a salve we use on bruises. I noticed that you earned a few in the last fight.”
He sets it on the table next to her.
“It pulls the venom out of your body and spits it into the air.” he says, spitting. “Don’t get it in your eye or you’ll shit black blood for three days.”
His understanding of science leaves a bit to be desired but his earnestness makes up for it.
Brienne sips her coffee. It’s so good. Jesus, that helps.
With that, he smiles. He has never looked so happy.
“I will leave you to tend to yourself. If you need me, just whisper into the air and I’ll come running. My knight! The most powerful and beautiful woman in the whole world.”
He bows deeply and backs out the door, closing it behind him.
Then he opens it back up and comes back inside.
“I, uh, forgot my…”
He sees his drinking horn by the fireplace and grabs it, saluting her with it and hurrying out of the room. Brienne sips her coffee and looks into the fire. Absent mindedly she takes a bite of the lembas. We watch her stare at the fire and chew. She is at peace.
Maybe it’s just me but that’s what I wanted. Not a dude with more baggage than the 6:30 Amtrak to Philadelphia. Christ.
Now we’re out of bedrooms and I can start to feel human again.
We’re in a military planning session. Oh DIS GON B GUD. Nowhere do these characters excel more than in a military planning session.
CUE SLOTH FROM THE GOONIES
DOTHRAAAAKI RIDE AT BAD GUY!
Fucking hell. Okay, let’s see what’s what.
Grey worm starts. He slides half the Unsullied chips off the table.
“Half are gone.”
HALF? DANCE A FUCKING JIG WHEN YOU SAY THAT. From what I saw, every last Unsullied got killed all to hell. If you’re telling me there are like three to five thousand left? Well I say that’s the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen. Because they were all dead. Damn. That episode was dark enough to hide several thousand living Unsullied running for their lives. What a bonus!
“The Northmen as well.” Jon sighs.
He slides four dominoes off the Limited Edition Actual Size Game of Thrones Noble Collection Strategy Map and slings them quietly under the table. Mom hates when her soldiers are dead.
Yohn Royce slides half his dominoes away. Oh Vale Knights! If only you were actually at the battle. Some heavy cav and knights in full plate that wights can’t gnaw through would have really been awesome.
“The Vale Knights refused to be innoculated against the mumps as Lord Robin Arryn is a devoted anti-vaxxer.” Yohn Royce says. “Therefore, half are also dead.”
Yohn fucking Royce people. Can’t believe I still have to type that name.
My boy Jorah takes like eleven prison shivs to the gut but Yohn Royce lives to scowl at black people at his country club for another day. Dear god.
Now a huge Dothraki reaches over the table and snags half the Dothraki triangle checkers.
I take it back. This is the greatest fighting force the world has even seen and now I know what happened.
The Dothraki charged and then a huge flame blew out their fleshlights and half of them just kept riding. The Dothraki have atrocious GPS. Everybody knows that.
Now, I have to admit that I’ve been hard on the Dothraki, seeing them as more of an unkempt horde of criminals than a proper army. It’s because I am an old school snob. I like my legionaries like Lucius Vorenus, even though I’m a Titus Pullo. Read: hypocrite.
But this past weekend, at the Pajiba Staff meet and greet, I finally met Pajiba wunderkind Petr Knava. His name, translated, means “unsustainable diarrhea fountain” in Czech. Anyway, I rolled in late on Friday night and everyone was already partnered up and playing chicken fights in the pool and what have you and this Brit, this effluence from the darkest soot-filled sewer pipes in London comes charging at me yelling profanities.
I have never met this dude.
He’s spewing language that would make a loan shark blush. I know this because Pajiba co-owner Seth Freilich was right there, blushing.
And we do what mindless troglodytes have done for millenia. We grapple. He pushes me back over an ottoman but I recover and pick him up like a fucking silverback and throw him sideways into Dustin’s china cabinet. Dustin screams.
Two glass shelves give way and a tidal wave of porcelain death flows down into the room. A gravy bowl fucking explodes and the handle part rips a seam open over Knava’s eye. The killing floor is set, littered with razor sharp punji sticks.
Two men enter. One man leave.
He wobbles to his feet, overcome with a primal rage and pulls a switchblade out of one of the many zippered pockets of his matching tracksuit, and curses at me in Czech. I pick up a discarded t-shirt from one of Dustin’s children off the back of a dining room chair and quickly spin it into a rat tail. I’m going to weave it around his knife arm and John Wick his ass.
We circle in the living room. Studying each other. Noticing the bounce of our gaits. Inputting the various mechanics of our frames. He is a cheetah. I am a grizzly. Tim Roth vs Liam Neesons in Rob Roy. I will try to overpower him. He will try to feint and outmaneuver me. We both know the game, but now it’s time to find out who’s gonna murder whom.
I see Managing Editor and pageview valkyrie Kristy Puchko filming it on her phone. She’s so excited for one of us to die.
The blood is now streaming out of the gash above Knava’s eye and he’s trying to blink it away. I’m waiting to see him raise an arm to wipe his face and the second he gives me that opening I’m gonna do this fucker old school.
That’s when TK gets between us and yells STOP.
We listen. Because he is big. And scary.
And he makes us apologize and shake hands. Knava says sorry and means it because he’s a millennial. I kind of mumble it and hold an obvious grudge because I’m a dick from the very heart of Gen X and I earned my plaid in the grunge era.
Later, after the initial wave of spite and malice dies down, Knava confesses that he was just amped up over my perennial attacks on the Dothraki. He digs inside his track suit and pulls out his wallet, which is made of faux snakeskin and features an image of a peace symbol sticking a fork into Margaret Thatcher.
WE ARE VEHEMENTLY ANTI-THATCHER.
Out of one of the folds of this ancient thing, he reveals a cherished photograph of his great, great grandfather. He looks like he rode point for Subutai.
All these years, I’ve been unintentionally poking fun at his great, great grandpappy and the grandpappies of every offspring of that Mongol conquest.
Which is why, y’know, Knava tried to kill me.
Totally get it. 100% my bad.
And I resigned to give the Dothraki another chance. After all, they haven’t really committed any crimes on Westeros. They should get credit for that.
Little did I know that I would have done it even without the attempted murder.
BECAUSE WHO IS THAT DOTHRAKI DUDE?
He’s the best!
He’s huge. Khal Drogo big but Jimmy Buffet chill.
I think all the Type A Dothraki got killed in the initial charge and everyone left was like the mellow Betas. Guys who, after the battle, when invited to commit atrocities, actually sneak off and play Breath of the Wild on Nintendo.
And this dude, this monster, is their king. Which, as a beta, he doesn’t want. He basically got forced into it by the other Dothraki and he hates his job.
I imagine him to be really, really funny.
And I imagine that when they rolled the first take, when he reached over to remove half the Dothraki doritos that he made the Krusty the Clown groaning noise and EVERYONE ON SET CRACKED UP.
And this scene took like thirty takes to do because even though he only made the Krusty noise the first time, every time he reached for the Dothraki chits, someone heard it in their mind and busted out.
That’s my salvation in this episode.
A funny Dothraki.
But the good news it that we can reevaluate how POC are treated on this show, right? Only half are dead! Boy did we overreact!
So Dany’s army is only half as large. Okey doke. Whatevs.
And Varys reports that the Golden Company has arrived in King’s Landing, carried by the Greyjoy fleet.
THE GREYJOY’S HAVE A FLEET? MAKE A NOTE OF THAT SOMEONE! JEEPERS!
The sides have become distressingly even, reports the Spider.
BLECH. OH HOW LUCKY THAT THEY’RE EVEN.
I feel like I’m watching shitty network TV when they pull shit like that. I mean, yes, you have to amp up the dramatic tension. But even? How about “we’re fucked! They outnumber us four to one.”
I watch this and I’m so happy to be doing deep dives for…what is this again? Chicago Fire? Oh, no. It’s Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones. On HBO.
Missandei offers that when people hear how they’ve saved them all that they’ll flock to Dany’s side but Dany says Cersei will make sure they don’t believe it.
Now the most powerful woman in Westeros makes her decree and we imagine that after she left Jon she did a lot of soul searching and trying to figure out what went wrong, and more importantly, how to save it.
And we imagine that she went back to probably the best advice she’s gotten since she landed on this godforsaken shitshow of a continent.
From a woman, first of all.
And second from a person with the wisdom to know.
Olenna Tyrell. The Queen of Thorns.
BE A DRAGON. Olenna had told her. BE A DRAGON.
(Just imagine what Lyanna Mormont would have done with three dragons, y’all.)
If Daenerys had listened to Olenna instead of the whiskey-filled thimble of piss she pinned a Hand brooch onto, this shit would have already been broughten.
Dorne and The Reach would still be hers. She’d already have the Iron Throne. Yes, many nameless pissants in KL would have died. Boo fucking hoo. They’d all slit your throat for a handful of coppers and a dry reacharound from a pox infested concubine. The dead would never have breached the Wall because they would never have a dragon, and Daenerys would still have three children.
Jorah would be alive.
If the dead did somehow breach the wall they could fly endless sorties with dragons to just roast the whole ocean of shamblers before they ever made is to King’s Landing.
In short, everything would be better.
Daenerys has decided to reclaim her control. She is a dragon. She’s ready to fuuuuuuuuck Cersei up.
“We will hit her hard. We will rip her out, root and stem.”
Varys looks at her, shocked.
Tyrion mansplains the plan to her.
“The objective here is to remove Cersei without destroying King’s Landing.”
ACTUALLY THAT’S NOT THE FUCKING OBJECTIVE YOU PUSILLANIMOUS, INEFFECTUAL FARTGOBLIN.
YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW? BECAUSE I JUST TOLD YOU WHAT THE OBJECTIVE IS AND I’M THE MOTHER OF FUCKING DRAGONS.
OR DID I SOMEHOW MISUNDERSTAND THE FUCKING DIRECTIVE THAT CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH?
Men! Holy shit!
It’s like, can the queen of the seven kingdoms get a witness up in this beeyotch?
It’s always difficult for women in the workplace, be it a restaurant or an office building or the White House itself.
When President Obama took office, two-thirds of his top aides were men. Women complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored.
So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.
“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.
The workplace of a Westerosi Dragon Queen planning meeting unfortunately is no different. So which woman in the room is going to do a sister proud and amplify her message, lest her message be diminished by the ever-poo-pooing presence of male middle managers?
Instead, Sansa wants to give the men a powder. Maybe a spa day or two.
This infuriates Daenerys, who feels like it’s bad faith.
I’m not sure it is. Honestly, it makes sense. I’m not sure a few weeks on the range wouldn’t be good for everyone, including the HALF Dothraki and HALF Unsullied that are left. But that’s not what Daenerys wants. She’s been in a mad race to get to the Iron Throne her whole life and now there’s nothing to stop her except Cersei, her armies, her mercenaries and the Greyjoy fleet. And a bunch of Scorpions.
And Sansa Stark. Who doesn’t like her.
But the plan is to starve her out. Dany reluctantly agrees, licking the taste of a near Dracarys off her lips.
And despite Sansa’s protests, the Warden of the Norf makes it abundantly clear that whatever the Dragon Queen wants, she gets. True to his word, he has her back vocally and without reservation.
Dany still glares at Tyrion in this scene, earns a look of shock from Varys, is silently studied by an Arya, sent daggers of resentment and some dangerous attitude from Sansa and then she finishes by giving a speech that falls on the deafest of ears. Why she chose to address this group in this manner is uncertain, but it was a poor read of the room.
“We have won the Great War, now we will win The Last War. In all Seven Kingdoms, men will live without fear and cruelty, under their rightful queen.”
It’s a terrible coda.
There’s fear and fucking cruelty in this room! And who’s she addressing? Arya won’t budge if she has a take already. Sansa is firmly against her and reiterating her claim as the ‘rightful’ air will only fortify Sansa against her. Torgo Nudho will always be with her. Ditto Missandei and my new BFF Dothraki Big Boi. Varys is too old and too realistic to believe that tripe. Ditto Tyrion. Much of their own indirect power originates from a place of fear, if not cruelty. Double ditto Ser Davos, the smuggler, who would never believe in a fantasy world where there’s no fear or cruelty. Not Bran isn’t even there, he’s probably picking tangerines in Dorne 300 years ago. Brienne and Jon are just swords.
It’s just the worst. If Dany came in, all business and rolled up her sleeves and was sort of Northern and practical, it would have helped with the Stark girls. Even if she had agreed to an extra week of rest, it would have meant something. But a lofty speech with asinine goals is a surefire way to alienate the North, and make no mistake about it: the envoy of the North is Sansa. Not Jon.
I really hate the dynamic between the two. The show has every right to choose it as a means to build dramatic tension, but it doesn’t track. If we had seen Sansa being read bedtime stories about the Targaryens when she was wee and how they burned her Grandfather and Uncle and she had grown up resenting it and dreaming about it, etc, then you might be able to establish the type of vociferous resentment that you got from, say Oberyn vs The Lannisters. He had a damn good reason to hate them. But to my eye, we don’t see a comparably compelling reason for Sansa and Daenerys to be at odds of this magnitude.
Daenerys gives Sansa a look of superiority and departs. The room clears, but before Jon can leave, Arya blocks his path.
“We need a word.” She says, motioning to Sans and Not Bran.
TO THE TREE!
Probably my favorite thing about this episode is that the Starks go to the tree to talk. That’s adorable. And visually it’s a significant upgrade over the burlapy, mildewed sanctums of Winterfell.
Jon is like GUYS WE’D ALL BE DEAD.
Sansa is ripping him. But Arya zags, saying that she gets it. We needed her. We needed her armies.
But she characterizes it in the past tense. Like those days are over.
Guys, is Arya going to kill the Dragon Queen?
I want to like so much about this particular scene but I feel so burnt by the horseshit fake plot like between Arya and Sansa last season. And I’m so twisted around because I love both of them. And Jon. Sansa has just come into her own, is rabid about protecting her family and I love how cautious she is and how protective of her safety, especially at having learned how it feels to be so unsafe (in varying degrees over the years and in differing locations).
Arya is carrying a lot of weight for me because we’ve noticed her being part of these strategy battles, but she never talks. She just watches everyone. In this scene, specifically, Jon is compromised because he has a history with Daenerys. Not Bran is eating an english muffin in a roadside tavern in the Stormlands 3800 years ago. And Sansa seems more emotional around the topic than anyone. Maybe that’s okay though? I don’t know what to think here. I also don’t want to get lulled into siding with Arya because her written mannerisms are more ‘male’ in nature and therefore more ‘restrained’ and subconsciously I’m drawn to that?
I don’t know.
It seemed to me that Arya was the one in this scene who came up with a new position.
Sansa was saying everything Dragon Queen is bad. Jon was claiming the opposite.
Arya is like: It was good what you did. And now it’s good what we’re doing to wake you the fuck up.
Does anyone have a bead on why Arya is down in Daenerys? Because I sure don’t. But then again, I never ever ever understood why Arya was down on Sansa until it was revealed that she never really was and all of those scenes were just the worst writing on the show and meant to ‘fool’ us by faking an entire subplot.
How much of that is this?
I don’t know.
But I get why Jon tells them. Yes, I have been screaming at him for not just agreeing with Daenerys and shutting this whole thing down. But these are the closest people in the world to him, and this dude is sitting on the hottest goss in the history of the seven kingdoms. This isn’t like I saw mommy kissing santa claus. This is the single hottest bit of gossip in the known world. A secret like that would burn a hole in your soul. Especially if it made you the king or queen. And I don’t want to hear any dissenting opinion from Pajiba writers who hold their breaths just to get through spoiler moratoriums for the MCU. This is the biggest secret ever. It would eat all of us alive.
There was an early, abandoned outline of GRRM’s work, I think, where Arya falls in love with Jon, if anyone wants to feel super icky.
I was wondering about Jon’s motivation to tell them his secret and it comes on the heels of them saying they don’t trust her and they don’t need allies. It feels like he’s choosing to tell them he’s a Targ as a way of appealing to their familial loyalty. Like, he’s half Stark and half Targ. How could they ask him to be truthful to his Stark side and not expect him to be truthful to his Targ side by the same set of rules?
But we never see that, of course, because the show has stopped showing us the scenes we really want to see.
Anyway, Jon decides to tell.
He swears Arya to secrecy.
Then he swears Sansa to secrecy.
I SRUERE she says.
What was that?
Not quite hearing it-
I SWEEWRWR okay? Jesus. I SWWR. Tell me!
Okay, Brahn you tell them. Jon looks utterly dejected when he says it. Like he’s lost something by agreeing to it. And maybe he has.
Sansa smiles. She didn’t swear shit about anything Brahn would tell them. LOOPHOLE BITCHES.
Speaking of locations, we now move to…where? A barn? A coopers hut? Where the hell are we? In some mill-looking Winterfell side building, where Jaime and Tyrion are yukkin’ it up.
If we had everything else firing on all cylinders, maybe I wouldn’t feel like racing past this scene. I am happy to see that Jaime and Tyrion have a relationship. I’m a sucker for brothers. I remember how Tyrion wanted to explain so much to Jaime when Bronn set up that meeting in the basement of the Red Keep and Jaime didn’t want to hear it.
Do you think I asked to be born like this?
So now, yes, it does my heart good to see them having some actual bro time in a show that has seemed to tilt to fuckhead bro time.
We learn that Jaime is staying with Bri. Good. Whatever. I’m over it. Just treat her right, dumbass.
Then Bronn comes in and is a complete tosser. I used to really love Bronn but he’s hard to like anymore. I can respect that in this world all characters have to look out for themselves, and his speech about how noble lord got to be noble lords is accurate.
But he’s just such a d-bag doing Cersei’s dirty work that I can’t somach him. I don’t know what the point is to even having him around on the show anymore unless he’s going to fire a bolt from that crossbow into one of these poor sad Lannister dickheads.
And I’m suffering trying to reconcile Tyrion’s rampant stupidity. Like not having a guard at the door, I suppose.
Remember when Daenerys said “you’re either a traitor or a fool!”
And he was like “I’m a fool!”
But what if he’s a traitor?
Anyway, I can’t tell if Jerome Flynn is a casual one-take actor or he’s just mailing it in in this scene. Something about the performance felt wildly off to me. And I have zero regard for this man who was their friend of a sort who now holds them hostage. Just as, I imagine, he feels zero regard for two entitled shitheads who promised him the world and haven’t delivered. The last time he saw Jaime he saved his life. Risking his own life to do so! And before that Jaime had given him a monstrous bag of gold. Like, a HUGE one.
What’s Bronn pissed about, exactly, to the point where he is punching Tyrion in the face?
I don’t know. I used to like him so much, and this may just be the ghost of saltiness present taking over every ancillary element of a show which feels so rushed and crayola’d together but fuck this rushed plotline to put the Lannisters in danger and fuck the new Bronn. I have no time for this dude’s Gordon Gekko, me-first bullshit.
He used to be so cool. What a shame. It feels like just checking a box. We need a person to put the Lannister boys in danger. How about the man who is their only friend in the world? Tyrion made him the head of the gold cloaks, didn’t he? How exactly did he deserve to get his nose pushed in? When has he ever not done right by Bronn?
Makes no sense.
Give me a second to growl softly to myself.
Grrr rrrr rrrr. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Goddamnit.
Now we move from one of the worst scenes to the best.
The Hound is riding away from Winterfell, alone, as is his way, and we see him curse as a rider approaches.
God, it would fill my heart with such joy if it were capable of feeling joy in the midst of all this loss. I have talked and talked about how important this pairing is.
Arya is the only person as single minded as him. And she’s just as hard boiled. These scenes are always written by Hemingway. That’s what makes them so laconic and memorable.
Arya doesn’t like crowds either.
Arya doesn’t like heroes. She puts zero stock in that bullshit.
And Arya gives the ULTIMATE Hound answer. When he says it must have felt good to stick a knife in that horned fucker she says
“It felt better than dying.”
THE HOUND IS OUT-HOUNDED. FILM AT 11!
Damn, girl. You a bad. Ass.
Now we get the second chuckle of the episode from Sandor, when Arya says she’d probably leave him to die if he gets hurt again.
This shit works.
Like Jaime and Brienne used to work.
People would lose their fucking minds if the Hound and Arya pull over to set up camp for the night and then they start to kiss and they get all naked and shit. And then Arya leaves the Hound to either go back to Gendry or Kill Gendry and The Hound stands there crying like a baby.
I don’t know why these things feel so difficult to grasp. But they seem to be.
So they’re both headed to King’s Landing. They both have unfinished business there. For Sandor it’s presumably The Mountain. For Arya it’s presumably Cersei. But who knows? I firmly believe that The Hound saw the future in the fire when he was a boy and saw that a little girl kills Gregor and that’s why Gregor mashed his face in the fire. That’s also why, when Arya said she had unfinished business in King’s Landing he studied her for a moment. Because they’re going to kill the same man.
The only thing than made me sad about this scene was Arya not looking back at Winterfell even as she says she’s not coming back. That’s ice cold, even for her.
They ride on, and I’m proud of them. Because they are both strong in their saddles. Their sword hilts are on their hips at precisely the same angles and they both ride with their heels down. Bravo.
This is the halfway point of the episode but it’s all stupid from here on out so I’m going to do my best to work through it but I’m rapidly running out of both time and care and so much of me just wants this to be over so I can lament the lost wonder rather than dreading the let downs to come.
Daenerys is petting Rhaegal.
When I first saw this I thought, man that’s so sad. The only people who love her are lizards. How shit her life has become.
Rhaegal takes off and both Daenerys and Drogon watch him fly away. I wondered if she was watching Rhaegal become riderless again, and if that was having any emotional impact on her. You sort of got the feeling that they were a couple, riding dragons together as a visible show of their unity and commitment.
But now, Rhaegal is riderless.
How might that affect Dany?
Notice, to this point, no Missandei. No hanging with her. No girl talk. The absence of any character exploring scene with Missandei in an episode where we lose Missandei reinforces the undercurrent of marginalizing both POC and women all at once. It’s nice when your glaring failures can be lumped into one package!
Off they soar.
Sansa watches them go. Tyrion comes to bid her farewell. So there really was no point to the kiss of the hand in the crypt, huh? No deeper connection between the two?
My neck is killing me from how often I’m shaking my head.
Tyrion tries to interact with Sansa but she keeps giving him curt responses. She’s watching the dragons and thinking of Jon leaving and she’s holding a lot of emotion in.
They parry with words for a bit, Tyrion trying to mend, Sansa holding him away. He suggests that she’s determined to dislike the queen. Sansa is resolute. She never calls Daenerys her queen. Tyrion asks why she provokes Daenerys, suggesting that to do so might be — he never says dangerous — but that suggestion is there.
Sansa notices that her own Hand is afraid of her.
That realization worries Sansa further.
“I don’t want Jon to go down there. The men in my family don’t do well in the capital.”
UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR.
“No,” Tyrion agrees. “But as your brother once told me, he’s not a Stark.”
That line almost makes Sansa break out into tears right there. A huge breath escapes her lungs and she turns away from Tyrion.
He notices her emotional swing and studied her, genuinely concerned. Or so it seems. He looks concerned.
“Are you alright?” He asks.
Sansa just stares out over the ramparts. Tyrion gives a little speech about how he believes in Daenerys, and then sort of gives up. He nods and turns away. Such a strange ending to all they’ve endured together. He’s just going to turn and go and likely never see or talk to Sansa again. What a goddamn shame. And with about three hours of footage left, that’s likely the end of this twosome.
That’s a shit end.
Now Sansa is working the secret around in her head. And we have to think of the tutors she’s had. Let’s think of them as advisors to Sansa now.
Her brother is going to go south.
He’s gonna die.
She knows King’s Landing and she knows the dumbass men in her family and she knows that in not saying anything, she’s sentencing her brother to death.
She will be able to look back on this very moment — this moment where she could have done something, anything, to change her brother’s fate, and she said nothing. For what? A promise to a dummy who doesn’t even fully comprehend that he’s a dummy?
Also at stake: her personal safety. She fought her whole life to get back to Winterfell and control her own destiny. Now she is the vassal of the Dragon Queen, and thusly subject to her whims. She is pledged, not of her own accord but of her brother’s blindness, to an untrustworthy person.
Lastly, the safety and independence of the North itself. With Daenerys on the Iron Throne, the North is a banner state to the Targaryens. With Jon on the throne, The North is free.
Now let’s look at the entire list of Sansa’s lifelong tutors — anyone she may have gleaned knowledge from be they friend or foe — and see what guidance they would give her. To say nothing and keep your word or to use the information to save your family?
NED: Say noothing.
DEAD NED: Use it.
CAT: Use it.
ROBB: Say noothing.
DEAD ROBB: Use it.
JON: Say noothing.
BRIENNE: Say nothing.
GOOD KING JOFF: Use it.
MARGAERY TYRELL: Use it.
OLENNA TYRELL: Use it.
RAMSAY BOLTON: Use it.
LORD BAELISH: Use it.
TYRION: Use it.
CERSEI: Of course you use it you stupid girl.
I think the last tutor is the most important.
The camera pushes in on her. The music picks up. She’s rolling it over in her mind. Then the floodgates burst.
“Tyrion?” Sansa asks, turning to him. “What if there’s someone else? Someone better?”
And just like that, Daenerys is proven right. The secret begins to spread like Wyldefire at Blackwater Bay.
We cut to Jon, prepping to leave. I know he’s a dummy but I root for him. Personally I don’t want him to rule anything. I want him to police the crypts and collect garden gnomes and have a bunch of little kids and read bedtime stories to his daughters by a warm fire. I definitely don’t need any prophecies fulfilled. I just don’t want him to die.
And he’s going to, if this scene is any indication.
This is the generic pre-death closing of the relationships scene. It’s so much the generic closing of the relationships scene that I hope the writers are yanking my fucking chain. It is so by the book and terrible.
First to say buh bye is Tormund.
He’s taking all the other illiterate dumbasses back north of the wall where there’s no food! OH TO BE HOME AND STARVING TO DEATH LIKE A WILDLING SHOULD BE.
Okay! I don’t get it, but okay. Weren’t the wildlings always trying to range south of the wall for grub?
GONNA GO BACK TO HARDHOME AND EAT ME A SHEET OF ICE. MAYBE, WITH LUCK, WE’LL EVEN GET THE THENNS GOING AGAIN AND THEY CAN EAT ME!
I thought the Freefolk were sort of part of Jon’s personal entourage at this point. Like he does a guest spot on SNL and they all show up and destroy the craft services table. But no, I guess he just takes a Lyft there by himself while Tormund is melting on a vanishing polar ice cap somewhere.
John says “I guess this is farewell.”
And Tormund says “You never know.”
Oh please tell me that Jon fakes his death, steals a dragon and rides to live in the North and hunt with Tormund. I’d accept that. I’m just happy that Tormund is not gonna die on the show. That’s pretty great.
Now Jon does the thing with Ghost.
I’m not getting into it. You already have a locked in position on it and nothing I say will even remotely change that. But I do like that the very first spinoff of Game of Thrones is going to be called “Ghost and the Bane” and the title sequence is going to show a smiling Tormund in sunglasses, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and laughing and then it pans down to Ghost and he’s also wearing sunglasses. But in this show he can talk and he’s sarcastic and the brains of the operation. They’re a pair of private dicks who solve crimes and Ghost is the boss and Tormund is basically his sidekick. Tormund is the only one who can hear Ghost. But Tormund is as dumb as GOT Tormund he’s pretty much Ghost’s pet. Ghost uses his amazing powers of smell to figure out things that no cop could and Tormund has to do all the human interfacing, explaining what happened at a crime scene as Ghost barks him information and Tormund fucks it up, interviewing prospective clients and dealing with with press.
You can try to tell me it’s not the best show ever, but we know it is. And so does Jon. Which is why he makes this decision. It’s always hard to let a family member make it on their own in Hollywood and Jon is just stepping out of the way so Ghost can stake his own claim in the entertainment industry.
That, and Jon is saying goodbye to him being a Stark. He’s becoming a Targ and by god if he approaches Ghost, he’s not gonna be able to do it. He’s pledged to Dany so he has to go south and fight a war but goddamnit does he not feel like it.
If he lays a single finger on his boy this dream is over. He won’t be able to leave. He’ll stay in the North forever.
Jon also says goodbye to Sam. I love Kit’s face acting when he looks from Sam with pain, to Gilly, and his face alights with the warmest of smiles.
Is he seriously saying farewell forever to his best friend in the whole world? How and why is this?
I’m gonna need a minute. Getting verklempt.
I mean, I guess he has to. He’s a general. Sam is a dad. Sam can’t go following him to certain death.
They each say goodbye. Forever. To the best friend they ever had.
Jesus. This is hard to watch.
And not the way the rest of it is hard to watch. It’s hard to think Jon will never see Sam again. Never laugh with him again. Never see Winterfell again. Will never sit in the great hall or walk where he and Robb played.
I’m in denial, friends.
These characters are leaving W-Fell and never looking back and I’m here getting misty on their behalf. I need to do much more mental scaffolding to prepare for the end of this show. Jesus.
When Jon hugs Tormund and Tormund puts his hand on the back of Jon’s neck, I’m a sobbing fool. Doubly so with Jon hugging Sam, both of them squeezing and closing their eyes tightly. Goddamn. I’m the idiot who, after everyone else had cleared out of the shitty dorms for the summer, would sit there alone and cry about never being in those shitty dorms again.
I am not built for goodbyes.
And as Jon leaves Ghost behind I can only try to be thankful that now Ghost joins the ranks of the living. Characters like Hot Pie and Meera Reed and Jaqen H’ghar and Daario Naharis who will survive past the end.
It’s little comfort.
We don’t see Jon bid Sansa farewell. Terrible from a story standpoint. A saving grace from a me falling on the floor and ugly crying standpoint. I may not have survived that.
Jon rides away with Davos.
Neither of them look back.
Pop Quiz. Multiple choice. Circle one answer.
If you’re in the Targ fleet heading south, what’s the single biggest threat you should be on the lookout for?
A. Cresting whales.
D. German U-boats.
E. A floating island of plastic waste as big as Texas.
F. EURON GREYJOY’S FLEET
Take a minute. No rush.
Missandei and the greyest of worms are holding hands and listening to Daydream Believer by the Monkeys.
In the captain’s quarters, Tyrion has just imparted the most dangerous secret in the world to the one person he knows will use it.
Unless you’re actively a traitor, The Spider is the last person you tell this to.
And that’s when the wheels start turning. At first it’s just reflecting on the information itself, and then it becomes an impromptu election campaign strategy meeting.
We’ll lose The North and The Vale.
The people are drawn to him.
He has the better claim.
And then we get this, from Lord Varys: “I worry about her state of mind.”
SAY FUCKING WHAT, DUDE?
You worry about what? That she just lost a top advisor that would cut your forked tongue out of your face if he heard you say that? Is that what you’re worried about?
Or is it that she had the gall to demand that her depleted forces return to the mission she’s been on her whole life before she took time to, y’know, pit stop in the great white North and SAVE THE FUCKING WORLD?
You sat by for years as Aerys burned everyone. You did Robert’s bidding for how long and never once ‘worried about his state of mind’, drunken, whoremongering filth bucket that he was.
But now, you worry about Daenerys’ state of mind? Did you just find out women ovulate you miserable fuck? TOO EMOTIONAL. SHRILL. CAN’T HAZ TRUST.
I have always liked Lord Varys. He was a fun character and his concern for the realm has been something worthy of praise, if it’s true. But this is stupid. This is just a by product of the breakneck pace we’re at to finish this story.
Meanwhile Queen D is in the clouds above, thrilled to be away from the North, and happy to feel the sun on her face. She’s playing a little Barry Manilow and catching thermals with her babies. The only creatures in the Known World not intentionally or unintentionally plotting her demise.
“I made it throooooooough the rain! And kept my world protected. I made it through the rain. And kept my point of view. I made it throoooooough the rain. And found myself respected-“
A magic bullet hits Rhaegal in the chest.
SCHWUNK! A second one hits and then
THWASH! He gets speared through the neck as a third one skewers him with a killing shot.
He falls to his death.
So three for three, huh? From a moving ship, undulating on the waves like 1600 feet below? Yep. Okay.
Their ballistics experts, I’m guessing, are the same magicians that built him a thousand ships with nonexistent wood from Iron Islands in eleven days and crewed them with the sixteen sailors left on the island.
Yep, sure. Whatever. CANNA HAVE DOS DRAGONES WHEN DE NEXT SCENE ONLY CALLS FOR ONE!
Plus, ladies be trippin’ when you kill their kids. It’s like: you want to see a lady go fucking mental right in front of your eyes? Magic missile something she gave birth to. It’s like hitting tilt.
Welcome to Idiotville. Population: us.
Daenerys is of course now being written to be a crazy who is going to fly into the teeth of Euron’s attack. He’s back to being that smiling meth head and he mans the scorpion himself. As she dives, they loose a thousand arrows at her and they all miss.
CUZ THESE ONES AIN’T MAGIC!
And she turns and retreats at the last moment. I mean, any of us would just use their tactics against them, drop low and use Dragonstone as cover and then bust up their six hole and roast the fuckers, BECAUSE ZERO SCORPIONS ON THEIR QUARTERDECKS and frigates like that have a turning radius of seventy five minutes, but she just leaves.
Okay. I guess. Take your last child out of range.
If Jonny was on Rhaegal they would have both been dead. Lucky that! Hoo! Dodged a bullie!
Now Euron does what Euron does best: Fires uranium tipped surface to surface missiles into tall ships. I mean, that’s the only thing that could tear up hulls like that from seventeen leagues away, right? Straight line ballistics. No arc. The nine inch thick hull shatters but not the two inch thick shaft of the ordinance. Fine design that! Assumably, they’re propelled by Euron’s dick sweat, the elixir from whence all naval miracles doth spring.
It’s pandemonium on the ships. Tyrion jumps into the water.
Side note: never, ever, ever jump into the water. Your odds of survival plummet in the water. Dumb dumb dumb. Guess he never read ‘A Perfect Storm’.
Tyrion breaks the surface, looks up and A MIZZENMAST FALLS ON HIS HEAD.
HE IS DEAD.
Of all the dead / not dead deads on the show, that’s the stupidest one. That’s Sam laying on a chaise lounge of undead and scream-stabbing under his armpits level of stupidity. That’s like half a ton caving in your head and you drown and that’s it.
Holy shit is this a dumpster fire. I could cry. And not in the good way.
We are on the beach.
Varys’ bald old ass makes it but somehow lithe as fuck Missandei is a casualty of war.
Lots of stuff making sense here.
At long last, we are back with Cersei and Euron.
HEY YOU GUYS! HOW YA BEEN?
I fucking hate them both. Though, as always, Cersei’s gilded shoulder pads are a sight to behold. Is here hair more red than before? Orangy maybe? Maybe it’s my TV and all the fiddling I did to try to calibrate properly for The Long Night.
She’s flooding the Red Keep with human shields. And she tells Euron she’s carrying his perverse demonspawn in her ladypurse.
Euron looks to Qyburn for confirmation.
After all, he is a doctor, right?
Qyburn nods. The wholesome picture of AMA standards.
God men are so fucking dumb. Have we come full circle on the latent misogyny in this show to talk about how stupid the men are? At this point maybe it’s misandry. My goodness. So much dumb to wade through I don’t even know who’s getting maligned anymore.
But the important takeaway from this scene is that Euron loves banging Cersei. So much that he keeps going out on his boats and bringing back gifts for her. Yara. Ellaria Sand and Obama Sand. Or whoever the last sand snake was. Now Missandei. Why change anything up? Dude catches more big fish than anyone on ESPN 3.
And she’s back in chains, which is heartless and makes me want to scream.
Now we move to the Dragonstone strategy session. No more Jon Snow to lay down a brilliant tactical plan so the Mother of Dragons will have to do it herself. If I’m her I seriously think I’m summoning Daario Naharis and the second sons. Even just having him nearby would be safer for her. If anyone poisons Grey Worm, she’s naked. A nine year old with a spud gun and a plastic wiffle ball bat could take her out on the ground when she has no Drogon. Although I did love how she picked up a sword and fought alongside Jorah at the BOW. She stuck some fools.
But now they are turning her into the Mad Queen. I mean, if this was Stannis, he probably would have already burned his entire senior staff at the stake to get better trade winds, but okay. She’s the Mad Queen.
Cersei fucking immolated every important person, religious fanatic and landed gentry in the capitol, but Daenerys, who — let’s face it, scowls — is the Mad Queen.
Gotta rein in that scowling if you want to be president, hon.
I mean, yes, you have saved the world - sort of (it was another woman) and you have freed slaves and united all the khalasars and birthed mythical beings and all that. Can’t take that away from you, sweetie. But the main question is this: do people wanna crack a bud light with you? Because that’s where the epicenter of power is. Good old fashioned aw shucks diplomacy and farmgirl: you ain’t got it.
You look mad to me! Mad! Like a…MAD QUEEN!
And now you’re not taking the advice of Lord Varys, who would never dare talk to any of the other autocrats he whored himself to like that.
I respect that he told you he’d tell you the truth and he did. That’s something. But with the men, if they didn’t agree, he’d just go traipsing on his merry fucking way and continue do their bidding ad infinitum. But you? You look like you might have a private email account. And if you don’t take his advice, babe, well I got two words for you: REGIME CHANGE.
Before we get to treason, Tyrion suggests a parley. Because, again, he’s either a fool or a traitor and at this point, with two episodes left, I don’t think there’s enough time to explain fool, so it better be that he’s a traitor.
Because one of the super duper tension amplifying moves of season 8 is to cut away from any scene that has direct relevance to anything interesting or good!
Tyrion and Cersei make a deal.
Tyrion and Bran have a chat.
Bran tells the Stark Gals ‘bout Aegon.
And then the ones that presumably happened off screen.
Sans and Arry hatch a plan.
The serving girl posts on IG “just fucked Giantsbane NO LIE”
Jonny says peace to Sansie.
Jonny says peace to Rhaegsy.
Jonny’s final visit to the crypt.
Pod’s threesome and what are his tricks.
Davos plants a tree where Shireen died.
Ghost breaks his first case wide open.
Y’know, important stuff.
But we can’t dilly dally there because….in the main throne room of the Holiday Inn, Dragonstone Isle….it’s…..TREASON!
Is it cloaked treason, you ask? Hinted-at treason?
HAHAHAHAHA OH YOU! NO.
It’s just straight up, IMA KILL THE QUEEN garden variety treason from the two people who advise said queen.
Varys has made his choice. It’s all artificial. With ten seasons and time to let her brew, someone might have been able to sell me a scenario where there’s a genetic thread of mental illness in House Targaryen and that, combined with centuries of inbreeding has culminated in a queen who is slowly losing her mind.
But this? This horseshit?
Varys may be, in a way, the most noble person in the halls of power because he’s always — if you believe him — looking out for the little guy.
But they way he’s framing the little guy in opposition to Daenerys after nine minutes in a planning meeting where she’s hurt and isolated and reeling? C’mon dude.
If the Westerosi laws of succession stipulate that male lineage supersedes female then his preference of a male Targ is warranted, but I feel like the line of succession is out the window anyway and it’s basically the Throne of whoever puts their but-tocks on it first.
And Varys is gonna arrange for Dany to die.
Was that Tyrion’s play all along? To have her 86’d without having to do it himself? Was that his deal with Cersei?
Who knows and who cares. It’s tough to watch Daenerys’ most trusted advisors planning her downfall. Even if one of them is kinda sorta saying not to. If Tyrion isn’t a traitor he has to tell Daenerys immediately and they have to flambe Varys “no matter the personal cost to myself.”
We cut from there to Winterfell, where Jaime has just spent an hour and a half combing his hair toward his nose just to give me neurological tics.
He sees Bri talking to Sans and he’s like WHAT’S THE TEA BISHES?
Sansa nods to allow Brienne to tell him and we find out that Daenerys’ fleet was attacked, one of the Drigginz was kilt and Missandei was captured.
Sansa looks Jaime in the eye and says “I always wanted to be there when your sister was executed. Looks like I won’t get the chance.”
Girl, you cold.
This news hits Jaime hard and we cut to later, in a quiet room in Winterfell where a certain fire always seems to stay hotter and brighter than any other.
Jaime is spending one night trying to figure out every mistake he’s ever made. Better late than never! He looks back behind him at a sleeping Brienne. They’ve been together one day.
One whole day and he’s already doing the look back at them sleeping move.
HOOO DADDY! RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD, BOI.
He pulls out a tin mug and starts clanging it against the bars of his imagined cage.
NOBODY KNOWS! THE TROUBLE I SEEN! NOBODY KNOWS!
While she’s sleeping, he fucking skips out on her. LIKE A MAN DOES.
Bri wakes up and heads out in her robe to see what’s what. His horse is already saddled and he’s fixin to Gene Autry hisself down the old dusty trail.
And he’s in a zone. A killin’ zone.
“They’re going to destroy that city.” Brienne says. “You know they will.”
Okay so she’s saying don’t go there.
“Have you ever run away from a fight?” He asks.
What fight? The fight against Daenerys or against Cersei? I can’t tell. What’s he thinking? Brienne realizes that he’s in the zone and the zone is going to fly him away. She tries to break the spell by rushing to him and grabbing him.
“You’re not like your sister. You’re not. You’re better than she is.” She says.
Okay, so her read is that his self loathing is driving this? Or is it that she thinks he thinks he’s like Cersei and thus…what?
“You’re a good man and you can’t save her. You don’t need to die with her.”
Oh! So she thinks he’s running back to save Cersei now that he knows the Flying Targ is going to rain hot lead down on KL. Hmm.
“Stay here.” She offers, with the hint of a plea creasing her voice “Stay with me.” This is the love of her life and if he gets on that horse, there’s a very good chance watching him ride away is the last she’ll ever see of him.
“Please.” She asks. “Stay.”
But he can’t. Because her room is small and dingy and up here his hair is a horrible bowl cut. He has to sleep in a bed under the nastiest goat skin rug you ever did smell and he has to shit in a bucket and then carry it outside himself. Sansa hates him and thinks he’s the one stealing money from the tip jar and it’s only been one day. It’s just not his jam. He wants to put lemon in his hair again and wear gold armor and cool capes and fuck with people in the streets and drop babymakers in his big sis’s supa fresh puss. So he has to go.
“You think I’m a good man? I pushed a boy out a tower, crippled him for life — for Cersei. I strangled my own cousin with my own hands just to get back to Cersei. I would have murdered every man, woman and child in Riverrun for Cersei.”
He pauses and he looks crazy. Possessed.
“She’s hateful. And so am I.”
With that he mounts and rides off. Ser Brienne bursts into tears.
I didn’t want to see her cry either. It feels arbitrary that she’s laid low, but perhaps it was her crying because she knew she couldn’t save him.
I didn’t read this as him going to die with Cersei. I read it as he’s either going to kill her before the city is destroyed or he’s going to commit suicide by cop.
But lots of people had different takes.
It’s tough to watch Brienne cry, and I certainly could have lived with her not breaking down in that way, but a case can be made that this is the love of her life and she’s allowed herself to be vulnerable for the first time and the wave of emotions between her imminent loss and the inability to save a broken man hits her too hard. There’s nothing wrong with crying, in and of itself. Hell, it’s like a second job for me, but it’s also fair to wonder if that’s a misread of Ser Brienne’s personality, to make her so weepy.
Finally, at long last, we arrive at the piece de resistance of this flaming bucket of horse manure. The Parley.
Possibly the dumbest, worst and most wantonly tedious scene in Game of Thrones history.
There is no reason for them to be there. You would send one dude, not put targets on everyone important in your administration and have them stand in front of archers. Fucking mockery level stupidity.
This would never happen in a wartime situation.
Seventy two Unsullied are lined up in ranks with Daenerys’ entire command staff. That’s it. I don’t care about flags of truce or any of that bullshit. If you’re Cersei you find a way to draw them closer — maybe agree to lower Missandei down from the wall via rope or something and then you send out your cavalry. Daenerys could never make it to Drogon in time on foot.
Plus you have umpteen archers and a few dozen scorpions. We saw what they did to ships of the line. What do you think they’d do to the Unsullied’s dinner plate shields?
It’s just stupid. And there’s zero new information imparted in this costly scene.
WE DEMAND YOU SURRENDER UNCONDITIONALLY MY GOOD SIR.
FUNNILY ENOUGH, WE DEMAND THE SAME!
If Cersei gives the order to attack? It’s over. Yust like that. The command staff isn’t even armed. You don’t need to kill the dragon. You just need to kill the rider.
Likewise, if Missandei grabs Cersei and falls backward over the edge, the war is over the other way. AGENCY MISSANDEI. AGENCY. At least jump. Don’t stand there to get fridged. It’s just frustrating.
I’m watching this scene wondering if either of these teams WANT IT ENOUGH. It’s like they both mailed away for the JON SNOO ONLINE COURSE OF STRATEGY AND POLITICS AND WAR STUFF, WITH ME, JON SNOO!
JOHN SNOO GIVES A THUMBS UP TO CAMERA AND WINKS.
In my new online course you’ll learn:
— how to be a white man and have shit work out
— the art form of springing a trap with your own bod-ay
— Maps! Are they just cool things on a table or do they do something?
— how to orally please your neighborhood dragon queen
— why brooding, instead of planning, is what wins wars
— how to fuck up and be promoted for it
— how to survive your own murder
— curling your hair with a toothbrush
— how to use your fur game to get thousands of bigots to attack people for you
I mean, this could be over. On either side.
Tyrion’s plea to save the people of King’s Landing seems sincere. But I don’t understand any of it.
CERSEI: Ser Bong of the Bongwater, take this crossbow and kill my brothers please.
BRONN: Like, now?
CERSEI: Yes! At once!
BRONN: I’m off.
Cersei looks down and sees one of the people she paid to be shot with projectiles.
ARCHER CAPTAIN: We have a thousand archers trained on that furry desert mole, your majesty! Should we turn him into a porcupine?
CERSEI: Hmmm. Best not.
THE FUCK? He’s right there, Lady! The fucking Valonqar! I know you probably don’t read much but that dude is here to kill you. He killed your father. What am I missing?
Is there a deal of some kind? Are the archers a ruse to make it look like you’re still enemies when you’re working together?
I don’t see it. I don’t think this show is clever enough to pull it off, though I desperately want it to.
I would love for there to be any twist on the horizon that makes sense and was plotted properly. But if we get any twist it’s likely to be of the deus ex variety.
So Tyrion begs for the life of his unborn nephew or niece.
EURON blinks nearby. Not wondering how The Imp knew of his powerful Kraken Seed. I’m telling you, we lament the women, but the men? JEEEEEEEEZUS. Not a bright one in the bunch since Tywin died. Where are the heroes of yesteryear? I’m not kidding when I say that based on the evidence on the board, if Daario Naharis had come west with Dany he’d be the greatest strategic military mind on the continent. FUUUCK THAT’S SO LAME.
TYRION: You’re not a monster.
CERSEI: Hold my beer.
We don’t learn anything new except that Daenerys is turning into the Mad Queen. Goddamnit, if they killed my friend like that I’d look a whole lot worse than she did. That’s not insanity. That’s rage, and righteous rage to boot. She’s not manufacturing reasons to be angry.
They just beheaded her friend. Hard stop.
Missandei’s head and body are both expelling blood on the ground outside King’s Landing, which was once a verdant field but is now, inexplicably, a desert. HOKAY! Maybe it’s like a Disney movie and Cersei is Maleficent and her general malicious aura is making all the dew dry up and all the flowers wilt.
That must be it.
Tyrion is bent in shame and disbelief, because he knows this was the last change to save Dany from herself.
OR GIVE HER A FUCKING HUG? MAYBE? HAS ANYONE IN EIGHT YEARS OFFERED THAT POOR GIRL A HUG OR TO PLAY A GAME OF GIN RUMMY OR TO TAKE HER TO SEE LIKE, THE HUNGER GAMES ON THE BIG SCREEN? HAS ANYONE BOUGHT HER A COOL ANKLET OR MADE HER BREAKFAST OR GOT HIGH WITH HER AND WATCHED KEY AND PEELE?
Who is helping this woman to live — day to day? To have highs along with all the lows?
The nicest thing I remember anyone doing for her is Yara taking back the iron Isles in her name. That’s it.
This whole thing is infuriating, and I certainly don’t blame anyone who is fed up and ready for the Dragon Queen to Burn It All.
But I don’t want to end on that.
I want to fast forward to a point after the show is over.
We’re on a beach in a warmer climate, following a path of footsteps across sand. In the distance, docked at a wharf, a large ship burns.
Butterflies, large and beautiful, flutter about in distinct opposition to the fire. They are slow and wondrous and plentiful in the sky.
We turn our attention back to the beach where we now see a number of dead bodies.
They have been caught by a fast-kill force of attackers.
As we move up the beach we head the sounds of violence and we catch up to the action. A small force of Unsullied is taking on a much larger force of roving corsairs, cutlass-wielding pirates and slavers.
They are greatly outnumbered, but better trained, and they hew through the wall of men.
We focus on one particular Unsullied, their leader, spinning his spear, dancing in the middle of the fray with grace and beauty. In the time we have focused on him, he has ended the lives of five slavers and two more fall to his advance.
He is a sight.
Weaving and dodging, he annihilates the force of slavers until the last one turns tail and starts to run for his life down the beach.
The Unsullied leader regrips his spear, does a bunny hop and heaves it toward the escaping slaver.
It skewers him through the chest and he drops to the sand, dead.
Now the Unsullied approach the cages. Rows and rows of makeshift cells, built right next to the wharf for easy loading. One by one, the cages open and men, women and children stumble out into the light.
The Unsullied leader addresses them. We are behind him, looking over his shoulder at the ragged mass of humanity assembling in front of him. A butterfly lands on his shoulder but he doesn’t notice.
The man removes his helmet and the freed slaves stare at his face.
“People of Naath!” The man says. “We are the Unsullied and we have come here to protect you. As long as we are alive, no man, woman or child from this island will ever be a slave again.”
The people look around. Shocked. Delighted. They are so in awe they don’t know what to do. Just then a little girl bursts through the crowd. She is dirty and malnourished. No more than seven years old. But her eyes are full of passion and she has a huge mane of gorgeous black hair tied back with a stained bit of torn cloth.
She approaches the Unsullied leader and extends her hand.
In it, she holds a flower.
She offers it to the leader.
He kneels to accept it and greets her with a broad, genuine smile. We recognize the face.
“What’s your name, little one?” He asks.
“Essie,” whispers the child.
“Essie,” He says, accepting the flower with ceremony. “My name is Grey Worm.”
With that, the butterfly leaves him, flying higher and higher, into the gentle, tropical air that surrounds the idyllic isle of Naath.
The butterfly continues, joining tens and then hundreds until we lose it among the others. We pull back, seeing the scene on the beach below, the jungle that protects the expanse of the island, and the mighty sea beyond.
And NOW, we fade to black.
See you next week friends, and pray for an armored Drogon on Sunday.
As always, I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.
Header Image Source: Images courtesy of HBO