There isn’t much to cover from last night’s episode, but there is a lot to discuss. Social media is angry, and who can blame them? There was no way to tell that the worst death of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones would be the show itself, even very early on this season.
As soon as the episode opened with an image of Lord Varys penning a letter about Jon Snow, I knew Aegon Targaryen, the true heir to the throne, was going to die. There was no way Daenerys could let him live if this is what the Master of Whispers was going to do. He had it coming for a long time, always lurking in the shadows and turning on pretty much everyone. I don’t like that it was Tyrion to turn him in, it did seem out of character, but I think everyone is just trying to stay alive under the new Mad Queen. Including…Jon Snow.
I thought we would witness another hot and heavy make-out scene between the two relatives last night before both of them remembered that tiny piece of information, but it seems all of this has finally sunk into Jon’s head. Though Daenerys still seems unfazed. Then again, she was born and raised in a family where this kind of thing was normal. I don’t think it plays into Dany’s descent into madness, but I do think she feels rejected in this moment. A moment where she is looking to be loved not feared, and it isn’t reciprocated. This descent into madness makes sense for her character arc, and it’s probably one of the few things that didn’t make me cringe this episode.
Arya and the Hound ride right on into King’s Landing with no issues. Arya announces herself with all of the confidence someone who just killed the Night King should have. “I’m Arya Stark and I’m going to kill Queen Cersei.” Had Arya Stark been the one to kill both threats to the Seven Kingdoms, I wouldn’t have been mad. No one deserves to take down royalty and death in one season as much as Arya.
I really wanted to believe Jaime was headed to King’s Landing to kill Cersei and redeem himself to the highest degree possible. It was working. For about four seasons and we started to see a more human side of the King Slayer, who no longer appeared to be the same man who threw a kid out a window or killed his cousin to escape imprisonment. Monsters are hard to kill, and the monster inside Jaime was probably the hardest thing for him to vanquish. Tyrion shows up where Jaime is being held and helps him escape so both Jaime and Cersei can escape unscathed while Daenerys moves into the city and takes her throne. This is a good plan if Tyrion had the Bran Stark ability to anticipate what would happen. “Ring the bells,” Tyrion tells Jaime, that’s how they will know the Lannister’s army surrenders. If you thought this would go off without a hitch, you clearly know nothing. It is never that easy in the Game of Thrones. You win or you die.
Jaime isn’t too far behind Arya and the Hound heading into King’s Landing, but he gets a surprise. Like Tyrion promised, the boat was there waiting for Jaime and Cersei to make their escape through the dungeons where the dragon skulls are kept. Euron Greyjoy, however, is right behind him waiting to become the man who kills Jaime Lannister. There is a bit of a love triangle rivalry going on between these two, and I thought finding out Cersei had slept with Euron would be enough to send Jaime over the edge and ready to kill his sister. But the fight that goes on between these two isn’t the stupidest thing to result from this scene. Jaime is stabbed twice, and he still runs around the castle like he’s perfectly in tact. Meanwhile, one swift stab into Euron is enough to kill him. The most poetic thing in this episode is Euron believing he is the man who kills Jaime, when actually the crumbling buildings are what get him.
The one thing everyone was worried about was the number of scorpions Cersei’s army had to shoot down Drogon. They already took down one dragon with three clean hits, but every shot they take this episode seems to miss both Dany and Drogon. I have no problem with this because this is the most realistic element of the entire show. Arrows miss a moving target, no one is surprised. The one thing on my mind was how long does it take to turn those scorpions? How long does it take to reload? They had two or three men on each one just reloading arrows and turning the crank. It couldn’t be an easy feat, so it leaves a wide window for Drogon to attack. That’s exactly what happens. Drogon and Daenerys take that city by storm, burning every single ship in the Iron Fleet and every scorpion along the walls. This leaves Cersei with nothing but fear in her eyes, but she believes her army will fight for her to the last. Before the bells can even ring, the Lannister army has thrown down their swords in surrender.
Daenerys and Drogon are perched on a building top when the bells ring. She knows Cersei is in the Red Keep, and even with the ringing bells there was nothing stopping Dany from flying over and just killing Cersei with fire. The fighting below has completely ceased. There is a standoff between Jon and Grey Worm’s men and the Lannister army. Until Daenerys decides she is going to burn the whole damn city to the ground. Grey Worm makes the hasty decision to end the ceasefire on land by throwing his spear into one of the Lannister men, and the fighting resumes. Until this moment, the innocent bystanders got to do just that: stand by safely. Once the fighting resumes, it is every man, woman, and child for themselves. And no one on their own two feet is any match for a dragon.
While King’s Landing is burning down, Arya and the Hound find their way into the Red Keep. This is the most touching scene in the whole episode because this relationship developed into something beautiful. This moment is earned. The Hound looks at Arya and tells her to get out of King’s Landing because she’s sure to die if she stays. Basically, he tells her that she deserves more than death on a vengeance spree. It is the first time Arya calls him Sandor, neither one shielding their emotions from the other. I want to believe that this is the moment Arya basically says “fuck this” and runs away to Gendry. There’s a moment after she flees, in which she sees someone who looks like him, but alas, it isn’t. The Hound, on the other hand, is off to Clegane Bowl.
Qyburn, Cersei, and the Mountain are all off to a safer place in the castle when the Hound finds them on the steps. Clegane Bowl ensues. Qyburn is killed at the hands of his own creation, Zombie Mountain, which should have been predicted by anyone who has read Frankenstein. Knowing she doesn’t want to get in the middle of a brotherly squabble, Cersei walks right past the Hound. At first I felt like he should have killed her, but by this point I don’t think her dying would have ended the rampage going on outside the castle. Clegane Bowl was intense, the Hound doing everything he can to kill his older brother even though the Mountain seems to be pretty much immortal. Even a knife to the eye isn’t enough to kill this Zombie monster. So Sandor Clegane ends it the only way possible: taking both of them out the tower window and into the flames below. It’s poetic justice if I’ve ever seen it. I just wish the Hound could have survived until the end.
Jaime does meet up with Cersei eventually, and the two make a mad dash to escape. Jaime, not realizing the castle is quite literally crumbling around them. How are we surprised that the escape route was completely blocked off? Both of these characters deserve to die at this point. Jaime’s arc was completely destroyed in this episode, and if he didn’t die I would be afraid of what would happen next. Cersei cries in the dungeon wanting their baby to be safe. Are we supposed to feel bad? She could have just surrendered last week. When the roof caves in, I found myself grateful that it would be the last time I’d have to see her face.
image via pinkvilla
The real story of this episode is Arya’s. Arya does everything she can to make it out alive, while buildings and people burn around her and the Dothraki kill anyone with whom they come into contact. There were so many moments I thought it was curtains on her character, but she kept on fighting. Her escape from King’s Landing on horseback makes sense, but I have no idea where she could possibly be going. I want to say she’s heading off to Storm’s End to find Gendry, who’s waiting for her with open arms. But this show is sick and twisted, so who knows.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. Daenerys finally has her throne, but will this really be the last war? Can she still find a way to rule with grace and dignity? I think she can. I think taking King’s Landing with blood and fire isn’t off from her character. I think it’s just something that had to be done even with the surrender bells going. While she could find a way to rule peacefully, I don’t think the writers will let her. With just one episode left, I think we’re going to see more characters die than ever. If the Mad Queen doesn’t execute them, they’ll die fighting against her.
Featured Image Via Vanity Fair