“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!” - J. R. R. Tolkien
I don’t ever remember loving a television show as much as I loved Game of Thrones at its peak.
At any given point I related to more than a dozen characters, and absolutely adored the ones I didn’t, even if they were awful people. Any of us might loathe Cersei, for example, but we can’t say that she wasn’t perfectly cast, exquisitely drawn (for most of the show) and remarkably acted. We cannot say we will ever forget the Good King Joffs or the Ramsays or the Roose Boltons. They were part of a rich tapestry of characters that has never before been matched.
The world of Game of Thrones itself was vibrant and ancient and alive. It wasn’t created for HBO, it existed of its own volition, with the HBO lenses dropping in to eavesdrop and watch. The stories of the lore, even to show watchers, feel like history rather than fiction. Just think how many people loved Ned and Cat and Robb and Olenna and Oberyn and Mance and Stannis and Renly and Margaery and The High Sparrow.
And then, they were gone.
But you could somehow move on, magically, it seemed. You could get past it because there was so much lore. So many more fascinating characters coming down the path to replace the ones we lost.
The depth of the world was so rich, so ostentatiously deep and storied that it felt like it would be impossible to screw it up.
Until, y’know, it was.
In screwing it up, it made what I believe will endure as the singular most notable and glaring mistake of television history, which is taking a vast, deep text of source material prose and reducing it to tweets and bullet points.
The things that made Game of Thrones stand out were rooted in its inestimable depth. Depth of history. Depth of characters. Depth of plot. And by removing that depth, speeding up the pace and brushing past the important fantasy conventions that broke this magical world into the mainstream, they changed and reduced it in the only way that it was vulnerable. In making it banal, not only did they not pay off years of well laid pipe, but they took the pipe for granted in a way which translated as callous and bizarrely detached.
You want to know why the white walkers even matter?
You care why Jon is a Targaryen and how that plays into the final story?
You want to know if Ellaria Sand ever actually died?
It had so much potential, so much possibility, and like many of our favorite characters, then it was just…gone.
If you’re wondering why you’re getting this recap a week or so late, after you’ve already long stopped caring about the outcome, that’s precisely why. I was so deeply unsatisfied with the ending that my first attempts at deep diving were thin veils of complaint and righteous anger. I wanted to yell at the powers that be and throw decorum asunder. It was such a departure.
The week or so of gap time has allowed me to recover from that frustration a bit. While I’ll never be okay with the way the last season went, at least now I have enough distance to talk more thoughtfully about it, and perhaps with even the hint of some humor.
And maybe now, with a little time, you do too.
I lament the loss, truly.
While I’m not the type of person to engage in ad hominem attacks, or to disregard the vast, profound achievement that was the first six seasons, I still shudder about the going-off-books years, and watching Tywin-depth characters replaced by Euron-depth characters.
Still, what we experienced, the friends we made, the countless hours you’ve endured of my blathering, perhaps that was the real iron throne all along.
Y’know. Before a dragon became sentient and melted it.
For those first six seasons, and for bringing the treasure that is the fantasy genre to the dumbest people I know? Friends and family who snorted like Crabbe and Goyle at me while I pored over fantasy texts over the years now use the word sigil and have an opinion on Lannisters. The proverbial door has been kicked in, and maybe, just maybe, we might have a future where fantasy shows get greenlit more frequently than in the past.
For those gifts alone, I will always be grateful.
Now join me, your personal, bruised and battered ‘greenseer’. Whatever the fuck that is. The recapper that swore that Daenerys was a woman who wasn’t going insane, but was really choosing a course of action that men have chosen and gotten away with for centuries! I mean Tywin killed House Reyne! Arya killed House Frey and didn’t ‘go mad’. But let’s cast fuckit and ride into a happier day.
Here it comes! Your final GAME OF THRONES
“Roll out the barrels! Roll out the barrels of fun!”
Party poppers pop. Balloons drop from nets on the ceiling. One net gets stuck. We look up at it in anticipation. It’s still stuck.
We look around at each other, nervously.
WE EXPECTED SO MANY MORE BALLOONS AND WE KNOW THEY’RE THERE.
We can see them. It’s not just blind emotion here. There are so many more balloons to drop. Who was in charge of this? A satisfying feeling requires that the person doing the work really maximizes the effort.
Shit, I could have rigged that up better than that and I’ve never rigged a balloon net in my life, we think.
But the balloons don’t drop.
We are left wanting. We are left wondering if someone else, someone with more passion and frankly more skill, might have dropped better balloons. More balloons.
The right amount of balloons for us to feel satisfied. Complete. Whole.
Gods, the world is so full of disappointment lately. And we thought we could have one nice thing.
We stare up at the balloons.
“You and I in a little toy shop buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got.
Set them free at the break of dawn.
Til one by one,
They were gone…”
— 99 Luftballons by Nena
Someday, friends, we will get a show that lets all the balloons drop and we will roar with appreciation, because now, like the Hound, we have experience about how it feels when they don’t.
But now, let’s unpucker our own balloon knots and get to it!
DUH DUH DUH DUH
DUH DUH DUH DUH
DUH DUH DUH DUH
DUH DUH DUH DUH
DAAAAA DAAAAA DA DA DA DAHHH DADADA
The last cry of that magical anthem. A song that carried us for years. A theme that will live in infamy. No matter where we are, no matter how many years from now, we will hear it and remember.
The beauty. Oh the inestimable lost beauty.
From black we open tight on the face of Tyrion Lannister. Ashen and sunken as he walks the road of fire carved by his queen.
His face betrays a thousand regrets.
There is no music, just the light crackle of smoldering fires and the faint martial hubbub of troops in the distance and the sound of his boots crunching through the debris.
Ash still drops from the sky like snow.
The camera swirls around to the back of the Hand, and we see his view settle on a dead child. He walks past a man in shock. Burned so badly he’s like a walking scab. No hair, barely any clothes. He shuffles by Tyrion in a limping fog.
In an alley, on a pile of rubble, a man cries, face in his hands. The body language is easy to read: I HAVE LOST EVERYTHING.
Now we pull back to a wider shot. We see that Tyrion is trailed by Jon and Davos Seaworth.
They come to the corpse of the little girl with the horse whom Arry tried to save. Man, I don’t know if there’s ever been two characters used with such blunt force than the smallfolk mom and the daughter to try to infuse compassion into the viewer, and here they are yet again, transcending death itself to remind us: The Dragon Queen Done bad.
GREEK CHORUS: Wait, more blunt force than you using a Greek fucking chorus in your own recaps?
What the- Where’d you guys come from?
GREEK CHORUS: We were hibernating. We thought we wouldn’t be needed anymore and then we heard some BOOLSHIT being slung about.
Okay fine. We all have our crutches. But seriously, we’re not here to talk about how crappy I am! We’re here to poke fun of Game of Thrones and how crappy THEY are. So, yes, I admit. One time I used a Greek Chorus to hammer a point home. It’s not like I do that as a rule.
Sir W! Holy shit! Where you been fellah? And you’re speaking in Game of Thrones font! Does that mean you watched it? What’d you think?
Diverting. My god I forgot what an insufferable bag of hot wind you are. Diverting. Did you ever see ‘Flushed Away’? There was a great word joke where the main bad guy is like LOOK AT MY COLLECTION, IT’S DIVERTING. And the main good guy agrees and says YEAH IT’S VERY AMUSING. And the main bad guy is like I SAID IT WAS DIVERTING, NOT AMUSING! Hahaha! Oh man. Good times. You uh, ever catch that flick?
OHOHOHOKAY THEN! What a conversationalist! No flies on you, bub. You mind if I, uh, get back to my job here and recap the final ep of G.O.T.?
Wow. Did you just put quotes around progress? Nobody missed you. I want you to know that. When you were gone, it was FINE.
I pause here for a slew of lost idylls. Forgive me for beating this drum, but I want to mark the milestones of this descent.
I don’t know how things unravelled so quickly, but I remember just a few short weeks ago coming into this season with excitement and passion. An emotion I truly miss is feeling hopeful about characters and automatically giving the showrunners the benefit of the doubt.
I miss the possibility of complexity and variable outcomes, rather than the straightest line between two points.
I miss the old days. You know. Like six weeks ago, when the world was fresh and hope sprung eternal.
Before, well, you know.
And gee whillikers do I ever I miss the potential of an unpainted canvas.
Now, all the lines are drawn and all the choices are canon. For book readers, there’s still the wisp of a hope that GRRM maaaaaay someday right these wrongs. But I’m one of the people who just didn’t cotton to his writing style, and for me, and those like me, this is it.
Daenerys will have always done bad.
Jon will always have supported a person blindly who had the capacity to murder hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Likewise everyone in their army, like Davos and Tyrion.
When I look back at the choices, I weep for the missed opportunities. I weep for those moments where the writers were talking, ruminating and deciding. I weep for the moments when they were so close to the material that they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Screenwriting is hard: much much harder than anyone thinks. It’s not like writing prose. There’s more arithmetic to it and far less time to fill the holes. It’s a tremendous amount of dark alchemy. You have to always be aware of the audience and what cards you’ve shown them. You have to setup every payoff, push plots forward and keep characters in the lane you’ve written for them. And you have to do all that primarily through dialogue without it being expository.
It’s grueling work.
And everyone gets in the weeds. I don’t care how good you are. You sometimes need to step back and make sure that you’re not just dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. Sometimes you need to rethink decisions and let the magic happen.
I don’t know when these moments happened for the showrunners. Where they met and decided to kill or not kill Grey Worm. When they decided that Daenerys would go mad. When they decided that none of Craster’s goons would fight during the battle of Winterfell. When they decided that Sir Barristan Selmy, long revered as the most gifted and dangerous swordsman in Westeros, an artist who painted in red, and who was rumored to be so good that he could carve through the Kingsguard all by himself, would be killed by a bunch of untrained fighters in Chuck E. Cheese masks wielding sporks the first time he fought on screen.
Maybe that was the first tip. Maybe that was the first big decision that many of us missed.
When the Sons of the Harpy killed Ser Barristan.
Because…it doesn’t track, does it? I mean, it wouldn’t happen. Sure, in real life, things happen all the time. If I had a nickel for every video I’ve seen online of people being killed by fast moving, randomly bouncing automobile tires I’d have like forty cents. But when you set up the pageant, you say that someone is indomitable, and then he’s killed by Smurfs?
I don’t know.
I just don’t know.
I just wish they had boys, gal pals, friends, family, ANYONE. I wish someone could have come to them in those moments and said: you’re making a mistake. You are about to fundamentally destroy one of the great television shows of all time. If your heart isn’t in it? Hand it off. Let someone who has the passion run with it. But those moments never happened and the decisions inside of them ended up as canon. Almost two weeks later and I’m sitting and shaking my head at my desk.
What a shame. What a damn shame.
This is rough. What are the five stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model?
I was hoping the week delay in writing was going to whisk me all the way to acceptance, where most of you are. But I’m an unevolved hayseed who adored this show, and I seem to be at mired in a nightmarish amalgam of the first four steps.
But we go back to the episode, where Tyrion tells Davos and Jon that he’ll meet them later. I sighed.
Because it’s dangerous.
I mean, it just is. There’s this through line I’ve been trying to wrap my head around since the show ended that I’m calling the Ballad of the Guard Down Player.
Game of Thrones, in the early days, established the importance of constant GUARD UP vigilance. Always be on your guard. Never let your guard down. Ned gets to King’s Landing and figures out that Baratheon heirs have dark hair, but there is no true rule of law, because when he approaches Cersei with a piece of paper rather than an army, he’s undone.
When Robb lets his guard down at The Twins, he’s undone. When Daenerys lets her guard down in the fighting pits, the Sons of the Harpy attack.
We have a number of these examples over the years, both grand in scale and tiny in scale. When there’s a riot in the capitol and Joff’s guards let their guard down, a gaggle of vile rapists grab Sansa and if not for the Hound, that would have been it for her.
Brienne, while transporting Jaime south, lets her guard down for a split second and voila! He gets her sword.
The lesson we’ve been taught, over and over again, across hill and dale is: NEVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN.
ENEMIES AND FRIENDS ALIKE ARE ALWAYS READY TO EXPOSE ANY WEAKNESS AND SURGE THROUGH THE GAP.
And frankly, it works, because having your characters consciously aware of their own danger amps up the tension for the viewer. I hated the scene when Varys and Tyrion walked through the streets of Meereen together (Was it Meereen? I forget.) one season without guards because they could have been killed. I was already trained by then to view the lack of an escort to be taking one’s life into their very hands.
So it irks me that Tyrion wants to walk alone through a city where even an angry old lady with a copper pot could brain his unguarded ass.
Maybe, we’re meant to believe, he doesn’t care.
It just bothers me. Not nearly as much as the Missandei death scene where Cersei could have just ordered her 800 archers and twenty six ballistae to fire on the dumbass Daenerys Targaryen who was standing like 30 meters away with her general and Hand and 32 Unsullied. Not THAT much. In retrospect, that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen on television. Not as much, either, as Missandei NOT grabbing Cersei and pushing her to her death off the wall. But it still stings.
“It’s not safe” says Jon. “Let me send some men with you.”
And Tyrion looks at him. “I’m going alone.”
OKAY THEN, SO SUICIDE? THAT’S WHUT’S HAPPENING RAGHT NOOW? AT LEAST LET ME GIVE YOU A BEAR HOOG LIL BUDDY! MEMBER WHEN WE PISSED OFF THE EDGE OF THE WORLD TOGETHER BEFORE ME MUSTACHE CONNECTED WITH ME CHIN WHISKERS AND YOU TOLD ME ALL DWARVES ARE BASTARDS IN THEIR FATHER’S EYES??? SO FOONNY RIGHT? ESPECIALLY NOW THAT YOU’RE THE ONLY BASTARD SINCE I’M JOHN F KENNEDY. ANYWAY, GOOD TIMES. NICE KNOWIN YA, SERIOUSLY. GO ON AND GET UP AFTER IT YOU LITTLE SHIT.
Jon watches him go.
He doesn’t insist. He doesn’t motion to a couple of his more trusted guys to just shadow the obstinate bastard. He just shrugs and lets Tyrion walk to his death in an occupied city. Ahhhh. One can only imagine the safety the German high command must have felt the day after taking Paris. Certainly no one would deign to take a pot shot at any of them after the misery they caused. No siree. Just a casual walk down the Champs-Élysées, all by your lonesome, without a care in the world. Makes total sense.
Tyrion turns the corner and walks past a giant, downed bell.
OH MY! IS THAT THE BELLS THAT DONE GOT RUNG? HOOOOO BOY THAT’S SOME IMAGERY RAGHT THERE PARDNER!
You guys get it? Because the bells, they were a ringin’ but mama say NO!
And now the bell itself has been blown the fuck out of its tower and lies on the ground. The very symbol of potential peace knocked from its roost to die be-crack-ed in the muck.
Where’s Bob Ross to blast out a potent image when you need him?
I kid. It’s, as the Welsh say, a wee bit heavy handed.
HEY I HAVE AN IDEA FELLERS! LET’S OPEN THE FINAL EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES WITH A LITTLE NAP TIME, SHALL WE? If folks are bored right out of the gate, they’ll be more likely to be excited later when anything happens! And let’s not use Jon or Davos. Let’s have Tyrion be like super mopey and walk by himself. Oh man! This is gonna be soooooo boring it’ll be awesome! And no dialogue or music either! I bet it’ll be rated best nap-start of any show ever! HIGH FIVE!
Tyrion walks on, with the image of the Red Keep rising in the distance.
Like FAR FAR in the distance. Farther than Cersei had to walk for her dance of atonement. I wonder what will take longer in Game of Thrones time:
1. Gendry to Row Away
2. The Army of the Dead to head south
3. The Ironborn to build Euron a thousand ships with no trees
4. The Breaker of Chains to cross the narrow sea
5. The Imp to walk to the Red Keep
We know it takes Tyrion a country assload of time to get there with his little legs because a minute ago he left Jon and Davos behind and then somehow, magically, in the next scene they’re ahead of him.
First, though, we see a very matter of fact Grey Worm in front of five kneeling Lannisters. They all look like a bunch of investment bankers in the Lannister National Guard playing soldier on weekends, but they should have called in sick. Where’s Ed Sheeran when you need him?
“In the name of the one true queen, Daenerys Targaryen, I sentence you to die.”
HOLD UP THERE SON!
I’m not sure that’s the best way to treat prisoners!
Here’s a missed opportunity of the show: they didn’t do a thorough enough job discerning the different cultural differences between the armies of Westeros and Essos.
For example, I’m pretty sure book readers will tell you that there are horror stories about Dothraki (or Unsullied?) killing babies in front of their mothers. Book readers can jump in here. But the level of brutality is resoundingly different.
For Unsullied, executing five dudes is a yawn.
Which is why it’s a little strange that Torgo Nudho feels the need to personally do it, and to have a contingent of eighteen Unsullied with him as a guard. (I counted)
Jon Snoo rolls up.
“Hey Jon Snoo! What’s the haps my brother?”
“I brought you a Strohs Light, Torgo! We won! It’s a great day to be pals and be on the same side of an army that totally won and kicked all the ass.”
“Yeah man! But when we were down on the street before, you told men to stop. I was kind of shocked, dude! It’s like HAVE MY BACK, SON! Amirite?”
“Oh totally totally. But I was just sort of hoping we could like, y’know, not kill soldiers that had surrendered or whatever.”
“I get that. I get that.” Nods Grey Worm.
“So what’s the deal here?”
“Here? Oh just cutting the throats of these soldiers who surrendered.”
“BOY STOP YOU PLAYIN.”
“HA! SO NOT PLAYIN BRUH. GOTTA SNICK THESE FOOLS. QUEEN SAY.”
Now Davos Seaworth jumps in.
“At some point, a beaten enemy is beaten, friend.”
“Yeah well, I’ll consider them beaten when they ded.”
“How about just let them go or whatever?” Asks Jon.
“How about: NO.”
“Seriously.” Says Grey Worm. “These aren’t slaves. They chose to fight Queen D, baby! Now they gots to go!”
“G dubs! Come on!” Says Jon.
“No can do, sailor.”
“Wish I could, Pard. I really do, but remember: I’m not really a character. I’m blindly obedient to my non-slave owner de facto slave owner. I’m not an advisor. This is for real the most I’ve ever talked in nine years. I’m the one that inflicts the blunt force trauma. You ever see Queen D ask my opinion? Heeeeeellll No. Because I’m a killer. She says shit I ask how high? That’s my role, amigo. We’re in season 8. It’s not like I’m magically going to start playing the fucking Game of Thrones.”
“Hold up. I’ll gash the throats of these tools pronto and we can go play some skeeball and drink some hard lemonade.”
THE QUEEN BOORNED ALL THE FOOKIN SKEE BALL ARCADES. Says Ser Davos WHY DO YOU THINK THE DOTHRAKI ARE ALL PISSED OFF?
Torgo Nudho shrugs and pulls out his dagger. The dagger he used to slash the throats of the two masters when they came to attack Daenerys in Meereen and she unleashed the dragons for the first time.
OOOOH!!! Back up everyone! This badass over here has a fuckin DAGGER!
I mean, Jon Snoo has Longclaw, a Valyrian sword. But then again, when has that actually mattered since Hardhome?
Jon grabs Grey Worm’s arm to stop him. The Unsullied HUH and get in the POKIN’ STANCE, spears forward, eyes peeking over the rim of their super fresh dinner plate shields.
I weep, friends. I weep for the thing where we don’t know enough to know that the sword and board Northmen are more than a match for a bunch of Unsullied soldiers who are outfitted for a phalanx and not close-quarters combat. You come at me with a spear at that distance? Honestly, I’ll kill you with a fucking cucumber, provided it’s not overly ripe. Once you step past the tip of those spears, the Unsullied have jack. They don’t have edged weapons, excluding the fabled ginsu steak knife that Grey Worm uses to cut through Pepsi cans, fresh tomatoes and Lannister necks. It looks fierce, but it’s the wrong weaponry for the task at hand.
Provided, of course, you can slide past their pokes.
Davos isn’t willing to take that chance.
JON! He says. WE SHOULD TALK TO THE QUEEN.
Jon looks at Torgo Nudho. Now they’re really not pals anymore.
“We are totally not pals anymore.” Says Jon.
“That’s not my problem.” Says Torgo Nudho. “I’m doing my fucking J.O.B. You got beef? It’s with the Breaker of Chains, not me. She’s spent a lifetime helping innocent people.”
“You mean, like the prisoners?”
“Yeah like the unarmed Lannisters I’m about to murder, yeah. That’s what she’s all about.”
Jon releases his grip on Grey Worm.
“Can you at least wait til I leave so I don’t have to-“
Grey Worm cuts the throat of the first innocent Lannister and pushes him forward to bleed out and die with his face in the dirt like a dick.
“Wow.” Jon says. “Just fucking wow.”
“Don’t @ me bruh.” Says Grey Worm. “We all got shit to do.”
Yes, we do. Thinks Jon Snoo, winking at the camera.
Now we cut to Tyrion.
STILL WALKING, BABY!
He’s now walking in the map room of the Red Keep where he had so many good times. Like when his dad shit on him that one time. Or the other time. Or that other time when he shit on him and humiliated him. Man! THE RED KEEP, Tyrion must be thinking! Where I was demoted after winning the Battle of Blackwater! Where I threatened Cersei that my debt would be paid when she tasted ash in her mouth but then tried to save her eleven times while she was hiring assassins to crossbow me! The place where my dad used to plow my girlfriend! The place where Joff used to threaten to kill me! The place where I was mocked and married to Sansa and forced to stand on a box of wheaties like a child at my own state wedding! The place where my dad and everyone else framed me for a murder I didn’t commit! The place where I was master of coin and got no credit! The place where Cersei almost had the Mountain cut me in half!
OH MAN SUCH GOOD TIMES Y’ALL!
You’d think, with all of that amazing character buildup, not to mention reading every book, and travelling all over Westeros I would have made at least one good decision in the last three years. Remember when I said shit like “I try to know as many people as I can. You never know which one you’ll need.”
NOPE! We do not remember you before you were a plot robot only designed to incrementally whittle away the Dragon Queen’s armada through a sonorous litany of hellacious advice.
Ash is still raining down like the feathers at the end of True Romance. Tyrion surveys the room. Everything is messed up, but magically some books have survived. Though the tower of the Hand was lasered off by Drogon, this room still remains, and the table is still intact. This is where we’ll return for the first meeting of the small council later on.
But first things first.
Tyrion grabs a torch.
He’s looking for something.
Now he’s in the dark, looking over his shoulder.
OH! So this is why he wanted to walk alone. Because he’s holding onto the hope that Jaime and Cersei are still alive and he doesn’t want a couple of Northern barbarians to tag along.
So Tyrion is lying to Jon now, too? OHOHOHOHOHKAY!
We follow Tyrion down to the dungeon level where Oberyn told him I WILL BE YOUR CHAMPION.
The place is rubble.
Tyrion manages to find a gap at the top of a debris pile and salamander himself through it.
Twelve minutes into the episode and not a solitary note of music yet from rockin Ramin Djawadi.
Tyrion is in the main Balerion the Dread chamber. Fallen rubble litters the room.
In one of the piles, he spots a GOLDEN HAND, lit by a rectangle of natural light that’s coming in presumably from one of the picture windows in the under under underbasement. Ze unterkeller.
Lady C called this exact moment the minute Jaime died.
“Jesus! They’re buried under the fucking Red Keep?” I asked incredulously. “How is anyone ever going to know if they’re even dead? Maybe Tyrion will search Pentos for them in case they got away.”
“No, no.” Lady C said. “They’re going to find a golden hand in the rubble.”
When we see it, she doesn’t gloat. I begrudgingly extend my hand and we tickle fingertips and the deed is done. She was right, once again.
Now Tyrion knows what’s up.
Jaime died because he was the dumb one.
Had he studied his architecture a liiiiiitle more instead of chasing tail and stabbing Ned’s friends in the eye, he might have thought to stand under the keystone of any arch in the basement, all of which look perfectly intact. The earthquake preparedness protocols for the Crownlands are for shit.
Now we finally get some music as Tyrion pulls bricks off his brother. Aptly, the Rains of Castamere.
Dude is country strong. Those bricks are probably fifteen pounds each and he moves them like they’re nothing.
Now we see her dead for the first time. Cersei Lannister. And with his head on her bosom, Jaime Lannister.
Both now gone.
Tyrion is crying. The music swells. He smashes a brick over and over again. We’re meant to feel for him but I’m lost in so many confusing threads of his story. Because he hated Cersei but gave her so many chances to live. Did she, before the end, taste ash in her mouth and think the debt from Tyrion was paid? The revenge he promised? I never got that vibe. Cersei eagerly and gladly supported having him convicted of killing her son, even though she suspected he didn’t. She was vicious to him, even as a baby. But somehow he was incapable of hurting his family.
Maybe he’s crying over Jaime. That, at least, I could believe.
Or maybe he’s crying over his lost niece or nephew.
I for one, never saw any evidence of any baby, and in the loosely paraphrased words of Sansa Stark, “Cersei told you she was pregnant….and you believed her?”
More than anything, this is a moment where I realize how disconnected I am from the Tyrion Lannister I once knew and loved. I should be reeling with him in this moment. I should be feeling his pain. But ultimately, it feels more like a double beat to me. We knew they were dead, or suspected, based on the previous episode. So that’s not news. What is news is Tyrion’s reaction to it, but I just can’t get there, despite all the ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Station Agent’ goodwill that Dinklage has built up tirelessly over the years. I am poisoned by the recent dumbness.
So I watch him cry and feel nothing.
Perhaps the real Game of Thrones was the Cersei we all became in the end.
Now we cut to Arya, somewhere, who sees Jon walking up the ass end of horses. WHERE’S HER HORSE FROM THE DREAM SEQUENCE? No one knows. I like to think that she had a talk with it and they came to an understanding.
ARYA: I’m glad we found each other, Horse.
HORSE: What’s that? Way I sees it was I was just standing aroun’ trying not to have a bloomin’ tannery fall on me and next thing I know you’ve mounted me! What are the rules around consent in this part of the land anyway?
ARYA: I’d say they’re a little iffy right now. What with the genocide and everything.
HORSE: Just my luck! Not enough I’m all scratched up and burnt and whatnot. But after finally ridding myself of a saddle I’m back to being a literal beast of burden. I’ve got a PHD you know! I used to have a proper teachin’ job, me.
ARYA: You’re funny.
HORSE: Oh grand, that’s grand. That’s all I am is it? A clown with a red nose for your bloody amusement?
ARYA: No, you’re also a ride.
HORSE: Pants. This whole episode is pants.
ARYA: I think they were going for kind of a cool, LSD trip kind of vibe. Like were you really ever there? It’s poetic when you think about it.
HORSE: Is it? Is it really? Well then, I’ve got a poem for you, young madam.
GET OFFA MY BACK
THIS SHIT IS SO WHACK
WE NEVER ESTABLISHED THIS DREAM SEQUENCE TACK.
ARYA: Huh! They technically never established talking animals, either. So how are you-
HORSE: WILL YOU KINDLY DISMOUNT AND I’LL BE ON MY WAY PLEASE?
ARYA: (dismounting) Okay! Okay! I’m getting off. You don’t have-
HORSE: Good day, madam.
ARYA: Sheesh! I was just-
HORSE: I SAID GOOD. DAY.
And the horse runs off to be an adjunct professor in Old Town. It’s not the highest paying job, but once he cleans up he’ll still be eligible for tweed. So.
That’s my best guess as to why Arya is walking, using all of the germane clues at my disposal.
Jon Snoo has done a lot of wacky things over the years but not one of them was as stupid as creeping up on horses from behind. I was worried for Kit filming this scene.
WHO DOES THAT?
If you know anything about horses, even a little bit about horses, that’s the one black box warning they have. DON’T CREEP UP ON THEM FROM THE BACK WHERE THEY CAN’T SEE YOU AND 200,000 YEARS OF EVOLUTION MIGHT KICK IN AS THEY PUNT YOU INTO NEXT CENTURY.
But magically, like when he sprinted headlong into the teeth of Ramsay’s trap, he survives.
AHVE SOOFERED WERSE FEHTES!
But have we been missing a very clear goal of Jon Snoo here? Does he want to die? Is he trying to die? It’s like every choice he makes is to try to die. Actively.
Dude can stand anywhere on Dragonstone. Where does he stand? THE EDGE OF A CLIFF. A light breeze could have caught that wolf pelt cape and tossed him over the edge and now I think that’s what he was hoping for.
His dragon fighting move is to stand up, out of cover, and trying to FUS RO DAH it. He wasn’t attacking! HE WAS TRYING TO DIE.
He climbed the wall where the dude he picked for his on-belay pal, Orell, was the man who wanted him dead the most and actually tried to kill him by CUTTING THE ROPE.
He rides dragons and stands in front of heavy cavalry. He volunteers to go North, first as a spy among wildlings, then with like nine dudes vs the entire army of the dead. If Benjen doesn’t put him on that horse, does he even bother coming home? Or does he just smile and die in the frozen water?
His real name is not Aegon Targaryen. It’s DEATHWISH ‘POTATO’ JONES. I’m telling you.
Anyway, he pushes through the Dothraki horses from behind, like a pimp do, and then walks through the corridor left by the fucking automaton Unsullied army who are just once again standing in formation for some reason. At least the Dothraki have passion! What are the Unsullied all about anyway? Standing? Are they trying to usurp the motto of Bear Island?
Goddamnit, the Unsullied! You just won the war. Unhitch your jeans! Have a Seven Up! Kick up your dogs! Take a load off for chrissakes.
NOPE. WE STAND HERE. IN FORMATION. NOT LIKE SLAVES. LIKE NOT SLAVES.
Okay there, chief. Whateeeeeever you say.
Jon is walking alone and it’s weird.
This whole thing is weird. Arya is alone and it’s weird and then she sees Jon playing frogger through a gate and that’s weird. He’s super miserable looking and he’s a mess. He had to kill his own man, went against Grey Worm, and has to confront the Dragon Queen. In the blink of an eye he went from Aragorn to Kylo Ren and he had jack shit to say about it.
Now he’s grump-stepping through an ocean of cyborgs with a puss on his face.
Where’d Davos go?
Member? They were together? Member?
Now, for some reason, they aren’t.
And here’s where I’m gonna blow your mind: THEY NEVER SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN.
You want to know why some of us had a gnawing sensation about this episode? It’s things like this. People will tell me JON ENDED UP IN THE BEST PLACE FOR HIM.
Sure sure. I hear ya. Like it would have totally been better for Aragorn to end up in the wilderness rather than on the throne of Gondor. Gotcha. Hunnerd percent there. Loud and clear.
But I’d MAYBE believe it if he had a scene where he said that to Davos.
HIS FUCKING HAND.
Too bad they never share the screen again. The man who defended his corpse from the mutineers in Castle Black. The man who marched into the teeth of death with him at the Battle of the Bastards. The one man he took with him to Dragonstone. The man on the wall in the battle of winterfell tasked with signaling for the trench to be lit. HIS MOST SENIOR, MOST HONORABLE, MOST TRUSTED ADVISOR.
THEY NEVER SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN.
Like, Oopsie! Ya think maybe that’s kind of a big miss?
The Onion Knight has ostensibly fucked off to Flea Bottom to see if anyone made it, and Jon is on his own. No troops. No pals. No plan. Just a rolling potato of consternation in House Stark Limited Edition Cosplay Gear.
He’s approaching the huge stairway and it’s got this grooved track in the middle of it and for anyone who’s played Skyrim, that spells DANGER! The Dwemer would hide these spinning propeller blades in that track which would travel up and down the stairs, scything the legs off any unsuspecting nerfherder who was clueless enough to climb the middle.
It looks like Dragonfire > Dwemer artifacts because Jon makes it to the top with nary a scratch.
But Grey Worm clocks his ass the whooooooole way.
Even the mighty potato of the north is not unaware of it.
Some shit gonna go down with these two.
Okay, now wait. Is Jon the one moving slowly? I can’t tell.
FIRST ——-> Tyrion leaves Jon to find Daenerys. He doesn’t find her.
SECOND ——-> Jon beats Tyrion to the Keep. He comes across Grey Worm and leaves him behind to talk to the Queen. He doesn’t find her.
THIRD ———> Jon arrives at his destination, where Grey Worm is casually waiting for the Khaleesi of the Grizzle Grazzle Sizzle with like a million dudes standing at attention and like five thousand Dothraki just knobbing around on their land dragons.
Can we, like, get a glimpse of the deleted scenes? Because I feel like I missed an evite to brunch somewhere along the line.
Before Torgo Nudho can give DAKINGINDANORF any more stinkeye, there’s a screech on the horizon and Drogon enters the frame. Where were they? Maybe burning the children in another city? Maybe having a quiet chat in a field somewhere? Maybe a quick Latte? But they’re back, and none too soon. Drogon screals as he flies overhead.
YEAH! Yell the Dothraki. YEAH! WOO! THAT’S OUR GUY! YOU GUYS SEE THAT DRAGON? HE’S WITH US! AW YEAH! WOOO! WOOO! FUCKIN ROCK ON! YEAH!
The Unsullied say shit. Because along with transcending the ONE THING that they were afraid of, they apparently also were taught how to hibernate while standing.
Maybe the real Game of Thrones was trying to use silent, masked pylons to build dramatic tension.
Drogon lands, and Daenerys gets off. She doesn’t have to pay him for the ride because she has the Dryft app.
While she struts to the stairs, CGI Drogon flares his batarang wings behind her and far away in distant Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon smiles. I don’t mind the shot a bit. Is it heavy handed in a Disney bad guy kind of way? Yep. But it does look cool and I’m solidly in “grasping at straws mode.”
A victory then! Daenerys is the bad guy! Huzzah! Huzzah! She has finally embraced her true nature and the thing that we’ve built up to without discrepancy of any kind for almost a decade!
OHOHOHOHOHKAY THEN! Solid! Good! That’s it then. Bitches be crackin. Riiiiiight. Because if there’s ever someone in need of emotional support for life experiences for things like oh I don’t know, living under the pressure of non stop sexual predators or working as hard as co workers and making less, or having eighty year old men make it illegal to make decisions for your body or a little thing called childbirth or being the emotional rock for family or all of the holiday planning or being the one in the passenger seat on long ass road trips who has to do all the fucking passing out of snacks while dad drives blissfully, or being denied the basic humanitarian necessity of pockets or the process of every morning deciding what to wear in order to look professional but not so put together that it invites commentary or sends the ‘wrong message’ while also not completely abandoning your sense of womanhood and the right to make more feminine and less objectively masculine wardrobe choices, all the while dodging office creeps who make more than you for the same or a lesser job? You know who I want in situations like that? A MAN, BABY!
Nobody handles strife like a man. Say it with me! MEN MEN MEN MEN! That’s why men never crack. We’re just stronger I guess. Yawn.
Every time I think of Daenerys’ arc I want to sob. Pauvre pauvre Emilia Clarke. You deserved better, girlfriend.
But out she strides in a fancy black pleather ensemble. QUEEN MEAN BIDNESS.
We follow her from behind and we see, once and for all, that she has earned ALL OF THE BRAIDS.
She stands atop the steps. High ass steps. Rocky Balboa would have gotten like half way up those steps and would have stopped to bend at the waist and take a breather.
But she stands there, a vision in black.
ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR.
The Dothraki are still whooping it up. The Unsullied make no sound.
“BLOOD OF MY BLOOD!” She calls out to the disgusting Dothraki mobile assault unit.
They all quiet down. I have no idea how they can hear her from that far away. She must be able to project better than that Braavosi Theatre Group.
DUDE. You guys remember how much time we spent with Arya in that stupid theater plot line? And I say this as a person with half a performing arts major. But looking back, knowing how rushed we are and how much more time we needed, I think about that theater subplot and weep.
But she somehow gets her voice past the forest of emasculated spearholders and to the Dothraki Screamers.
YO, QUIET DOWN. Think the Dothraki. We actually get a couple of shots of them quieting down. I close my eyes in pain.
I wonder why she’s addressing them first? Think the Unsullied. What are we, chopped liver? Pretty sure we didn’t all ride into certain death, but WHATEVS.
YOU KILLED MY ENEMIES IN THEIR IRON SUITS. She yells.
Yup we sure did! Think the Dothraki. Dur de dur de dur.
IN THEIR IRON SUITS. The Dothraki must really be fucking morons.
YOU SAT ON YOUR LAND BEAVERS AND SWUNG YOUR HAND CIRCLES AND KILLED MY ENEMIES IN THEIR STEEL PAJAMAS! WHEN I ASKED YOU TO GET ON THE WOODEN SOAP DISHES AND HAVE THE MAGIC BLOW SKY PUSH YOU ACROSS THE GIANT BATHTUB I WASN’T SURE IF YOU WOULD WIN THE MEANY POOPYHEAD FIGHT. BUT YOU DID.
Yeah we done did!
Oh the Dothraki. The poor, poor Dothraki. I’ve had a long time to think about how they were treated in the show and what the whole run of Game of Thrones must have looked like from their point of view as an uneducated horde.
Oh Kevin. We haerdly knew ye.
So Khaleesi rails atop the stairs. There’s a huge Targaryen banner draped over the ruined Red Keep.
Where, praytell, did that motherfucker come from? It’s as big as a footy pitch. It’s a callback to the amazing moment when the Stark sigils replaced the Bolton Flayed Man sigils on Winterfell.
But this is so gigantic, so needlessly outsized that I can only imagine it was sewn together by the tiniest-penised tailor in the Seven Kingdoms, whom, I’m guessing, looking at the Targaryen Tarp, is around 48-52 years old and drives a Porsche Carrera.
Her voice is magically loud.
“You tore down their stone houses! You gave me the Seven Kingdoms!”
YEAH! Shout the Dothraki. THE SEVEN KINDONS! They have no idea what that is. Is somebody gonna fuck a horse or what?
DROGON SCREALS AGAIN.
Say what you want about Drogon, but he’s a HELL of a hype man.
This whole scene is so strange. It’s Queen D addressing a captive audience. It would be like me giving a speech to my kids. PRETTY SURE IT’S GONNA GO WELL.
Then there’s Jon, Grey Worm and Dunny. No one else. It’s like a speech for no one. It’s like a high school pep rally.
TORGO NUDHO! Dany says. YOU HAVE WALKED BESIDE ME SINCE THE PLAZA OF PRIDE!
Oh yeah! I remember the Plaza of Pride!
NO I DON’T because we’ve never heard of it before. Was that where they killed the masters in Astapor? Okay then! Plaza of Pride it is!
YOU ARE THE BRAVEST OF MEN. THE MOST LOYAL OF SOLDIERS.
Nobody kills innocent people like you except for me. Tee hee hee!
I NAME YOU COMMANDER OF ALL MY FORCES.
DAARIO VALYRIO VALERIAT!
Jon Snoo is literally standing there with his cock in his hand. He doesn’t speak Valyrian. He must be soooo bored.
If he did speak Valyrian, he’d know that Daario Valyrio Valeriat translates to THE QUEEN’S MASTER OF WAR.
A bullshit position created by Cersei to try to appease her uncle, Kevan Lannister, who told her to stick the title directly up her bum, a bum which would be rumored to host the finger of a certain swashbuckling fishmonger in the future. Then she waited until her dear uncle Kevan was chillin in the Sept of Baelor and she blew his ass to kingdom come.
But now, somehow, that’s a job title again.
Master of War! Noice.
But like, we just won the war, right? So…..
The Unsullied respond to the promotion of their James T. Kirk with a House of Lords-esque polite rapping of the knuckles. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times. The Unsullied are Gentlemen.
Now Tyrion walks up from behind. If he had any balls he’d come at this crazy fascist like a spider monkey and drive his Hand pin into her neck. Then Jon would be king.
Although….does Grey Worm technically outrank him now?
What’s higher in the official chain of command? I forget. Is it ‘Master of War’ or Great Northern Muffdiver?
GOOD JOB UNSULLIED The Unburnt yells. YOU DID GOOD LIBERATING THE PEOPLE OF KINGS LANDING FROM THEIR BURDENS. NOW WE GONNA LIBERATE EVERYONE ELSE!
WE’RE GONNA KILL EVERYONE ON THE PLANETOS! Daenerys continues. FROM FUCKING VINTERFELL TO DOVRNE!
Jon’s like SAYWHATAGAIN? VINTERFELL? Is that like Winterfell in 80’s Eastern European bad guy?
FROM LAVVNISPORT TO QVARTH!
Tyrion speaks Valyrian. POORLY! OH HO HO HO HO Have you guys seen the scene where-
Queen D is like I’m gonna LIBERATE the good people where my two top dicks are from. The war will never end. OH GOD IT’S GONNA BE SO HOT WHEN I LIBERATE SANSA. MMMMM. YOU LIKE THAT? TASTE THE LIBERATION SANSA YOU MEAN SPIRITED BITCH.
Oh Super Yay! Think the Unsullied. There are all of the exact same mind because they’re not real characters.
No one among them is saying: Goody! Because when I was snatched as a baby and made a slave and had my nethers removed and endured an ungodly amount of suffering and was told that we were going west to conquer the seven kingdoms I definitely hoped that once that mission was accomplished I’d get to keep killing women and children guarding Torgo Nudho as he murders prisoners. Because I TOTALLY did not just order a matching set of floral shorts and tevas on Amazon and put a down payment on an amazing corner lot south of KL where I was gonna open up an artisanal grilled cheese shop with fresh smoothies daily and a smattering of various dry goods and sundries. Totally glad that’s not gonna happen. Cool cool cool cool cool cool.
“Will you break the wheel with me?” Yells Daenerys.
All the Unsullied, the Dovagheris in Valyrian, tap tap tap tap their spears.
Yes, indeed, the wheel! Whatever that is! Indeed we shall breaketh the wheel! Just point us in direction of said wheel and watch us commence to breaking! That wheel will rue the day it ever tangled with The Unsuilled! I’ll tell you that for free, mom.
Behind them Arya Stark is like “I also don’t speak Valyrian because I’m from a white-centric Northern Tribe that doesn’t value education, but I don’t like the cut of her jib!”
Dany has gone full Mad Queen. It’s heartbreaking to watch.
But, to Emilia Clarke’s credit, she kills it in a fake language. That can not be easy. Imagine trying to recite the Gettysburg Address in Klingon. It just seems unlikely to land. But there is no mistaking the tone and tenor of Dunny’s speech. She’s the head of a burn unit and that’s pretty much it. Whomever she doesn’t nail with fire can be chopped up by her dudes. Led by the greatest warrior in her employ! The man who couldn’t save Barriston Selmy from a bunch of carneys with swirly straws.
I remember thinking, okay, at this point. Okay. She has to go.
She takes a moment to get a little sex vibe off the adoration of her not slave slaves before she’s approached from behind by The Hand of the Queen.
On my last rewatch, that scene meant so much to me. When she first pinned him before the big dance? The validation of Tyrion at that point felt so wondrous. I cried and cried.
Now he approaches her, and comes to her side.
“You freed your brother.” She says. “You committed treason.”
“I freed my brother, and you burnt a city.”
Touche, bitch! I jus one-upped yo mad ass!
Then Tyrion does the most honorable thing we’ve seen in years, as he pulls off the custom made Hand pin she had made special for him, and shits it down the stairs with a disgusted flick of his wrist.
In front of everyone.
The Dovagheris stop tapping. Except for one dude. Earl. Who’s always late on the uptake.
EARL: Shit! Sorry guys!
Daenerys stares down at Tyrion, she looks like a crazy person. I fucking HATE THIS. I hate that this is where we are. I hate that this amazing relationship which seemed to right so many wrongs and supercede the mistakes of two miserable fathers has descended into her giving him crazy eye on the village green.
“Take him.” She says in Valyrian.
Goddamn. God. Damn.
In the words of the glorious Helen Mirren, “You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.”
I thought I had given up on Tyrion because of the recent dumbness, but his defiance brought me back to the fold. And now as he’s marched away to god knows where, he flashes a look at Jon to say HOMIE, WE FUCKED.
Jon looks up to see Daenerys staring at him with crazy eyes, almost daring him to join his little pal.
Side question: Is it weird that I’ve never been more attracted to Dunny than now? Like can people get turned on by insanely powerful crazy eyed women? Is that a thing? Don’t answer that. I’m just gonna casually work that into the conversation in my next therapy session.
Jon sees Dunny’s look and just kind of re-potatos. He avoids her gaze and just stands there, choosing not to confront her.
GODDAMNIT I HATE THIS.
Remember when they were so happy? Giggling together before asshole Not Bran fucked them over by ruining everything intentionally? Remember how she undressed Jon with her eyes after the toast in the moot hall and Sansa stormed away? She was like MMMMMM BOY. I’M GONNA HAVE ME SOME POTATOES AU GRATIN TONIGHT CHILE.
But then Jon couldn’t keep banging his aunt because of asshole Brahn.
God I hate Brahn.
In the brilliant words of the eternal Michelle Pfeiffer, “Ultimately, I believe the only secret to a happy marriage is choosing the right person. Life is a series of choices, right?”
They had it all! Just like Bogey and Bacall! Jon had the coolest girlfriend ever. When he got in trouble she’d ride a dragon to save his dumb potato ass. She had a guy that everyone loved. No matter what event, party, rally, meeting, she brought him to, everyone was like GURL YOUR BOO COO.
They totally accepted each other for who they were. It wasn’t always fire and ice! When they first met she was such a bend the knee psycho, but then she softened and tried to bond with his sister but she got snubbed. Where would we be now if Sansa had just taken her to see Crazy Rich Asians and cracked a few cans of Miller Genuine Draft with Dunny? Where would we be if Sansa had been her BFF? Where would we be if Arya was like I CHOO CHOOSE YOU and said “you’re my sister from here on out” and held onto her like a koala on a eucalyptus tree for three hours so Dunny just felt what a family was supposed to be for a hot second?
YOU COULDN’T LET HER HAVE THE KOALA TREATMENT NOT BRAN YOU SICK FUCK?
You see this? Two weeks later and I’m still bargaining. Or is this denial? I’m in all caps so it seems like anger. What a pathetic mess.
So Jon is standing there. I like to imagine we hear the voice of Ygritte laughing and mocking him as he averts his eyes from Dunny.
WHA YA DOIN? LOOKIN AWAI FROM THIS LETTLE SHITE? SUCH A BEG MAHN WITH MAH BEG SWORD BU I CANNA MAKE EYE CONTA WETH A WEE LEL TREE SPRITE? OH JON SNOO YU SUD BUSTAR. IM A FANCY LAD IN MA FANCY TOWER BU OM AFRAY OF A GERL!
And with that, Daenerys is gone. Walking without moving her arms for some reason, like she’s mentally preparing to do some Irish Step Dancing.
Jon watches her go.
When he turns, Arya has covered like 400 yards in one second.
Jon is worried about her hanging out at the epicenter of crazy. The intersection of Loco and Nuts boulevards.
“What are you doing here?” He whispers. Then he touches her face where she’s injured. “What happened?” He asks.
I love this. We waited so so so so long for these two to hang. Please just have three more episodes of them hanging out and him being a protective, loving big brother and her being a puckish little shit. Please! I love. Them. Sohohohoho. Muhuhuhuch.
“I came to kill Cersei.” She replies. “Your queen got there first.”
We got some super testosteroney women up on these stairs, yo! Hows about we stop racing to KILL PEOPLE and instead like try to see who has the best banana bread recipe or who knows the fastest shortcut to the beach? Why all our girls gotta be Deadpool n shit?
“She’s everyone’s queen now.”
“Try telling that to Sans.”
Jon does the math in his head. Sansa never liked the bottle blonde he brought home for Thanksgiving. And now with all this Vinterfell chatter?
Papa no like.
“Wait for me outside the gates of the city you adorable little cutie.” Jon says. You may hate it but I adore how she’s always a little sis to him. She recently SAVED THE FUCKING WORLD while he was trying to paint a dragon sized target on his chest, but still he’s obsessed with keeping her safe. Every brother should be so concerned. And vice versa.
JON. She stops him with a hand on his arm.
“She knows who you are. Who you really are. You’ll always be a threat to her.”
Jon takes this in. Would she really harm him? I mean what proof does he have of that? I mean, yeah she just arrested her closest advisor for treason and burned her second closest advisor alive for treason and everything, but would she? Really?
“I know a killer when I see one.” Says Arya.
HEAR YE! HEAR YE!
TO ALL CITIZENS FAR AND WIDE! LET THE DUMBING OF ARYA STARK BEGIN!
We can’t let this beloved character get away unscathed before the end!
Do tell, Arya, how you identified her as a killer? Was it the outfit or the copious amount of kill-based war braids? Or was it maybe the fact that she killed a million people or so? DON’T LEAVE US HANGIN’ SISTAH! WHAT TIPPED YOU OFF?
Ohhhhh kay. So Arya is Captain Obvious. Cool. Sweet. Swizzle.
I’m just gonna put on a little Pink Martini and listen for a while. It’s not too much to take a moment in situations like this.
So let’s take a moment, before we move on, dear friends.
Just a moment.
—————————-> Join me for PART TWO after the weekend. <——————————
Image sources (in order of posting): HBO, Lord Castleton, reddit,