Game of Thrones: Game of Throne Episode 8.5   Show Only 
May 12, 2019 7:20 PM - Season 8, Episode 5 - Subscribe

The armies of Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen face each other at Kings Landing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (959 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was some bullshit and I am furious.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:21 PM on May 12 [56 favorites]


.
posted by drezdn at 7:22 PM on May 12


I know some of you are going to be mad, but can we agree that this episode was also pretty funny?
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:22 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


Another queen on the list then.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:22 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


Death rides a pale horse.
posted by bfranklin at 7:22 PM on May 12 [28 favorites]


That was the sound of all the fucks I gave about this property flying out the window off to give fucks about more deserving whatnot.
posted by Alterscape at 7:22 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


So I guess the snow in the vision was ash then?

Only cop out was Jamie not killing Cersei, otherwise it felt very in line with what has happened before - a brief glimpse of a positive outcome and then it all goes horribly wrong.

Also that was a VERY TV show Euon way to go out.

GLEGANE BOOOOWL. I can image finding out the literal embodiment of your past trauma is actually immortal can do one in.

Also hey the Dothraki didn’t get genocided!
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


well, uh, jesus

(tangentially: cleganebowl was as stupid as anyone might have expected, but in its prelude it did a good encapsulation of late-era GoT in general when intriguing, shades-of-grey Qyburn was brained against a rock basically for a quick punchline before the "good stuff")
posted by Kybard at 7:23 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


The only 2 moments I liked:

- Tyrion's farewell to Jaime
- The Hound's farewell to Arya

The rest of it was terrible. I mean, it was beautifully shot, the music was good, but the rest was terrible.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:23 PM on May 12 [28 favorites]


I'm mostly out of anger, but I'm so incredibly disappointed that they went with the absolute worst option of having Jaime and Cersei die in each other's arms. Ugh, I hate that so much.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:24 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]


The best I can say at this point is that the relationship between the Hound and Arya has consistently been pretty great and this episode did not disappoint on that front.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on May 12 [51 favorites]


I'm looking forward to next week's episode just so I can be done with this trainwreck.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:24 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


episode was also pretty funny?

The dark humor of Varys removing his rings and Tyrion not speaking Dothraki combined with the over the top gothic house of usher YOUR CASTLE IS COLLAPSING AROUND YOU stuff.

I maintain the show has always been like this, it’s just been a lot slower and talkier about it.

All of this is better then season five for one thing.
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


it had a horrific beauty to it in moments, but in service of essentially nothing

like the whole final third felt like an extended metaphor for the showrunners getting pretty excited to nope on outta town to their next project in which they, presumably, will not have to figure out ways to avoid spending CGI budget on large wolves and stuff to instead spend it on endless and nonsensical fight scenes
posted by Kybard at 7:24 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


On future re-watches, if I ever bring myself to watch this show again, I'm definitely going to pretend this all ended when Brienne and Jaime first hooked up.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:25 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Also, didn't we say Baelish was the one that would see this country burn just to be king of the ashes?
posted by bfranklin at 7:25 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


it'll be a sweet relief when it's over and we can stop letting them do this to us
posted by entropone at 7:25 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


That was some bullshit and I am furious.

Whoa, calm down there, Dany.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:25 PM on May 12 [67 favorites]


Also, Qyburn deserved better. I know he was terrible in a lot of ways, but I kind of loved how loyal he was to Cersei, and how much she responded to his simple kindness towards her.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:25 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


Cersei’s “Yeah I’m just gonna goooooo” scoot out of Cleganebowl was pretty legendary
posted by yellowbinder at 7:25 PM on May 12 [118 favorites]


Sigh. So much anger.

Jaime trying to save Cersei?! WTF! I mean I thought he was dumb going to try and kill her, but SAVE HER?

Varys dies, but Tyrion and Jon still don't have their "Oh shit moment" until KL looks like Pompeii. To my mind that makes both of them pretty crap as well.

And poor Arya. I was really hoping for an Arya and Hound spin off where they ride around together having adventures.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:26 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


That opening shot of Varys blogging could’ve used a few Starbucks cups
posted by oulipian at 7:27 PM on May 12 [63 favorites]


I loved every minute of that.
posted by octothorpe at 7:27 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


How much fire can dragons hold? don't they have to reload once in a while?
posted by McSly at 7:27 PM on May 12 [54 favorites]


also: glad to see the surprise twist way to defeat cersei's army of scorpions was to, uh, do dragon-ing faster?

and, last note: having the underground stores of wildfire exploding was a neat little touch, even if it only emphasizes how the only thing this show has any time or memory for anymore is stuff that blows up good
posted by Kybard at 7:27 PM on May 12 [45 favorites]


I think that its inarguable that Dany going full Burn Them All is where the story was going from the start (I mean, a large part of her force are Dothraki for gods sake) but it's also inarguable that a lot of peeps are not going to be happy about it for very legitimate reasons.

At least nobody can claim that this isn't what GRRM was gonna do!

Although I'm still pretty sure he'd have had Jaime actually kill Cersei, if possibly only out of mercy to prevent capture, rather than the way it went down.
posted by Justinian at 7:28 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


Sansa and Arya are going to kill the mad queen. Dany has the strength (Drogon), but not the smarts. Sansa and Arya outsmarted Littlefinger. I bet they kill Dany and Sansa becomes queen after Jon bows out.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:28 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Who would have thought that "[neighs hoarsely]" would end up the high point of the final season...
posted by Rallon at 7:29 PM on May 12 [35 favorites]


I bet they kill Dany and Sansa becomes queen after Jon bows out.

I am completely on board with Queen Sansa, First of Her Name. Completely.
posted by Justinian at 7:29 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]


I would like to note the evolving symbolism of Arya's choice in horse:

- She starts on a white pony while she's first traveling with the Hound (while he always has a black horse)
- Then after she leaves the House of Black and White, she rides a dapple grey horse, as seen when she meets Ed Sheeran and Nymeria.
- Then last episode, she and the Hound were both riding black horses,
- And then, as of the end of this episode, she's riding a white horse. At least, I think it's white under all that dust.

I won't belabor the obvious symbolism, but I have to say, they seem to care so little about the show at this point, it's surprising they even bother with this kind of detail.

(Also, that was a gorgeous horse. Completely improbable that it survived, but then again, so is Arya's survival, so...)

(And yes, technically white horses are just very, very light greys, except in rare cases, but you get the point.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:30 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Ugh.

Tyrion will have to whack Danerys, who has become her father, and Tyrion follows in the footsteps of Jamie to become Kingslayer II.

Jon then has to whack Tyrion, take the throne.

Scene.

Ugh.
posted by Thistledown at 7:31 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I think the thing that made me the most angry is after all that character building Arya goes right back to be traumatized in KL. She deserved far better than that.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:31 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


I think we can update Dany's bio:
Queen Daenerys I Targaryen, commonly called "the Mad Queen", was the seventeenth and last member of House Targaryen to rule from the Iron Throne...
posted by McSly at 7:31 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


While watching 8.03, I actually enjoyed the episode, even though I had a lot of criticisms once it was done, but I didn't even really enjoyed this. It was just one big disappointment after another.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:31 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Two thoughts:
(1) will tonight's events be reflected in the opening credits next week?
(2) at least Euron died happy. That's like the opposite of fanservice.
(3) I think the actor who played Varys would have made a better Mycroft Holmes than Mark Gatiss.
(4) I loved Cersei noping out of Cleganebowl and I genuinely love that the way it ended was very anime.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:32 PM on May 12 [29 favorites]


Keep in mind Ned didn't kill Jaime so there's no reason why Jon has to kill Tyrion. They both now recognize the threat Dany poses so he could well keep Tyrion alive.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:32 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to think that Targaryens aren't the most mentally stable bunch.
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


i laughed my ass off ngl but OH MY GOD the post credits bit with the last table read and how it showed the night shots in the middle of shooting?!??!@>JWJLGFKHDGKJD

THEY KNOW HOW TO LIGHT IT AT NIGHT THEY'RE JUST FUCKING IDIOT ASSHOLE MORONS WHO THINK IT'S ~*EDGY*~ FOR NO ONE BE ABLE TO SEE

honestly i fucking salute them. the most expensive and popular show in the history of human media and no one can actually see what's happening. i bet there's a sbux cup in every scene. god i hope there is.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:32 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


I mean. It was dumb as hell, but I sort of enjoyed reign-of-death Daenerys, especially after the first half hour when they stopped showing the dragon and I periodically heard an explosion and said "oh huh, she's still going then?"

Arya picking a couple of people to choose to feel protective over while not giving a shit about anyone else is very Arya. She's...definitely gonna kill Daenerys, huh.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:32 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


(a nice quiet storytelling beat, to give the director/writer some credit: dany's face is never seen again once she decides to Burn Them All.)
posted by Kybard at 7:32 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


Eh. I didn’t hate it. It was trite and bow-tying, but, like, of course it was. How could it not be?

That said, Clegane Bowl can DIAF for all I care.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:32 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


I'm kinda over the "they don't care about the show" thing, peeps. D&D may have, in some people's opinions, messed it up. Hell they may be the worst writers in the history of television. But there simply is no way to look at the last 10 years and come away with anything other than the belief that they poured their hearts and souls into it. As I said, they may not be good enough storytellers for you. But the idea that they just don't give a shit is absurd and, frankly, kind of offensive.
posted by Justinian at 7:33 PM on May 12 [51 favorites]


i hope the dragon becomes king and the dog is his hand. paw. long live king whatshisname, one firey dude
posted by poffin boffin at 7:33 PM on May 12 [31 favorites]


And, goddammit, *now* they learn how to use a dragon?

*Now* she figures out that an assault from the rear might make sense?

If the application of Dragon-based close-air-support had existed in the last two episodes maybe there would be less wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Also, when did fire suddenly start doing impact damage?
posted by Thistledown at 7:34 PM on May 12 [42 favorites]


Do we have any new Truthers for this episode? Was the stone crumbling in the right way? Did the ships burn correctly? Please turn in any new Truther group locations by midnight EDT, so I can reserve space in the convention hall.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:34 PM on May 12 [22 favorites]


What the fuck was that?
posted by vitout at 7:34 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


I'm glad I read the spoiler leaks so I didn't actually have any emotional investment left once it was clear (within the first few minutes of the episode) that they were true.
posted by karayel at 7:35 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Karayel I was tempted to look at spoilers. I resisted. I wish I had.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:36 PM on May 12


I think D&D cared about the show early on, although I also think they always cared most about the big spectacles and deaths and the worst characters (Ramsay, Euron). I don't think it's disrespectful to say that the final 2 seasons, from a plot perspective, seem rushed and not particularly well thought out. What I personally find disrespectful is how they're ruining several characters's story arcs, characters that people have spent a lot of time investing in.

No doubt it's a beautiful show with high production values, but this really feels to me like a race to the finish. And since HBO apparently wasn't in a hurry to end this, I have to assume that D&D were the ones who wanted to slap this together and get it done.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:36 PM on May 12 [29 favorites]


when they faked us out on arya's death for like the 4th time i was like, lol, this is embarrassing. i don't actually care now so good job on that i guess.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:36 PM on May 12 [22 favorites]


Anyway, I'm still voting for Queen Sansa, and even if it doesn't happen on the show, it will happen in my heart.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:36 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


I loved every minute of that.

I'm not quite masochistic enough to say "every minute", and yet ... well, let's just say not all of the rage here is due to sloppy writing and whatnot. More of a Red Wedding aftermath vibe. This felt very Game of Thrones.
posted by philip-random at 7:36 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


I'm glad I read the spoiler leaks so I didn't actually have any emotional investment left once it was clear (within the first few minutes of the episode) that they were true.

Yeah, I did too. I spent all week hoping they would be wrong, but in retrospect, I'm glad I read them. I think I would have been furious watching this episode if I hadn't read the spoilers. But the minute I saw that it was heading right where the spoilers predicted, I was just sort of done.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:37 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


And, goddammit, *now* they learn how to use a dragon?

*Now* she figures out that an assault from the rear might make sense?


Yeah. This is the first time that a dragon has been portrayed as the devastating weapon of mass destruction that they are described as. Which I kind of understand; it's the Superman problem. IF you give one side... like... B-52 bombers and the other side doesn't even have a biplane you either have to tie yourself in knots to come up with implausible ways to stymie the B-52s or make that side kind of... well, dumb.

Because dragons are like nukes in the context of the GoT world and this is the first time we saw it portrayed that way. I'm glad we finally saw it. Better late than never, I guess?
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]


How much fire can dragons hold? don't they have to reload once in a while?

I had norovirus last month.

The answer is "There is a lot more inside you than you'd think"
posted by srboisvert at 7:39 PM on May 12 [137 favorites]


OK, I'll admit the Tyrion and Jaime farewell made me feel a flutter of something, while the rest of my brain was still yelling wtf, they're really going to go with THIS?

also I stand by my prior comment that if my beloved Ser Brienne turns out to be pregnant next week I am also going to set things on fire.
posted by karayel at 7:39 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


And since HBO apparently wasn't in a hurry to end this, I have to assume that D&D were the ones who wanted to slap this together and get it done.

That's not how any of this works. Everybody's contracts were up!
posted by Justinian at 7:39 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Litera scripta magnet-Man I wish I could be that eloquent. Yes that's pretty much how I feel. Only with a lot more rage.

Apparently D and D are in a rush to finish this so they can do their show Confederate (which I think is gonna be a mess). So I am less than pleased that they are ruining this show instead of giving it the time that the fans deserve.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:40 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


i read no spoilers and found every moment more gloriously incomprehensible than the last. i EXTREMELY like the metaphor of dany destroying all of king's landing as a "whatevs, fuck it" as representing thingy & thingy destroying all the canon character development they've built over the past 8 years, though. not quite as hamfisted as the christ imagery in superman but p close.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:41 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


That was asinine. Absolutely asinine. Danerys had no reason to do that except that the showrunners wanted to do apocalyptic city scenes. Asinine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


I don't think it's disrespectful to say that the final 2 seasons, from a plot perspective, seem rushed and not particularly well thought out.

Yeah I can totally believe that Dany would go Mad Queen and raze the city. But I can also believe that there's an interesting version of the story of how she gets to that place, and this wasn't it.
posted by traveler_ at 7:42 PM on May 12 [91 favorites]


Here's some extremely light praise - this is the best episode all season. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel earned at all. It seems to be the most GOTCHA! out of everything that's happened in a while, but Daenerys' turn of character feels way too extreme for what's happened this season. I guess they're really leaning into hereditary Targ madness? Eh... It'd be like if instead of a season's worth of content leading up to The Red Wedding, Rob had just been sitting in his tent, a messenger had come in and said, "Oh, by the way, Walder Frey betrayed you, you lost your allies in the Riverlands, and everyone hates your guts except for your immediate troops, well bye!" and then he'd been decapitated.

Jaime's scene with Tyrion was great, but his character arc ended up feeling like a wet fart. Again, I can see that paying off with more time (oh, he's reformed! no, wait, he hasn't!), but again, it felt like the show jerking people around just to jerk people around. Jesus, at least Euron didn't kill him after popping up in the single 1/4 mile of shoreline around a coastal city roughly the size of London that Jaime was on (spitting water! he just made landfall exactly there!)

Color me foolish, but I was hoping for more from Cleganebowl. I guess it's thematically appropriate, but it just ended up feeling like a big nothing that they put in because people had said it enough online. There were basically zero stakes to it.

The less said about the battle logistics the better, but only because they finally seem to care about them. Yes, crossbows (even ones that you carry around in your arms!) are hard to load, slow to turn, and difficult to aim! Yes, the equivalent of a fighter jet wouldn't be threatened by them! I am glad that the Golden Company turned out to be basically nothing - it's actually pretty funny if you've read the books. This does just make everything that happened in the preceding episodes that much stupider though. As an aside to the battle, I think the way that they're using the only people of color on the show is gross as shit, though. Daenerys' army of freed slaves and tribal folk ended up being a ravening, raping horde. Fucking disgusting.

The show fridges another non-straight, non-male character to provide motivation: Varys. Now Tyrion probably has the proper motivation to betray Daenerys, and they did it by killing the master spymaster in the least satisfying way possible. RIP Varys, you deserved so much more.

I can't imagine that many people liked this.
posted by codacorolla at 7:42 PM on May 12 [42 favorites]


(a nice quiet storytelling beat, to give the director/writer some credit: dany's face is never seen again once she decides to Burn Them All.)

I'd be interested to know if it was in the script or a directorial choice. I'd bet on the latter since D&D's writing can generally best be described as workmanlike. But it was definitely a good and effective choice.
posted by Justinian at 7:42 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


"That's not how any of this works!"

Um..


posted by miss-lapin at 7:42 PM on May 12


Whoever decided to build King’s Landing out of brittle clay blocks must be feeling pretty stupid right now.
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:42 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]


I am annoyed they screwed up Jamie’s arc with the end although in a book with an internal monologue I could see him arguing “I am bleeding out and about to die, she’s about to die, I might as well do this cause fate has killed us both anyway” but that’s putting words in people’s mouths, who knows.

The assault on the city was thrilling and the instant the swords went down I thought “yeah one of them is not going to accept this surrender and /or someone in the ranks is gonna snap “ and lo
posted by The Whelk at 7:43 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Apparently my link didn't link. Here's my link about D and D rushing to the end of the show.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:44 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


That's not how any of this works. Everybody's contracts were up!

You mean they couldn't have done 10 episodes this season and last season to wrap everything up? I personally find that very hard to believe, but what do I know.

But none of that really matters. I could point to a million moments that make me feel like they are just slapping the final episodes together (Jon and Ghost, for one), but I don't want to derail this thread, so I won't argue this anymore.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:44 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Yeah, at the moment when Grey Worm threw the spear, I said to my friend on the phone "yuuuuup, this show is gross about POC."

Blah.
posted by Alterscape at 7:45 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


Sooooo whose face is Arya going to be wearing when she ices Daenarys?
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:46 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


AFAIK and from everything has been reported in the press, pretty much the entire cast's contracts were up after Season 7, and they all agreed to sign a 1-season extension to finish the story at a massive, massive cost. Something like $2million PER EPISODE for much of the main cast. There was never, again via the media, any serious consideration of more seasons. 10 years is a really long time.
posted by Justinian at 7:46 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


I am annoyed they screwed up Jamie’s arc with the end although in a book with an internal monologue I could see him arguing “I am bleeding out and about to die, she’s about to die, I might as well do this cause fate has killed us both anyway” but that’s putting words in people’s mouths, who knows.

Yeah if there had been an indication that his plan was to kill her, until it became clear that they were both going to die, so why not die together, I would have felt better about that. The books will never be finished, but I find it hard to believe this is how it would have played out. The Dany turning into the Mad Queen thing I buy, and I also buy it in the show.

Then again, they've butchered Jaime's character arc for many seasons now, so I guess it's not surprising they decided to be consistent. Although if this is where it was going to end up, I wish they had just skipped him hooking up with Brienne. Why even bother having him go back up North at all? If in the end, all he was going to do was run back to Cersei's side 10 minutes later.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:47 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


I guess dragon fire is like Cyclops eye beams? It punches through whole castles with force.

Also Jaime being all "IDGAF about the civilians" - motherfucker saving the people of King's Landing is the entire reason you killed Aerys and got your nickname.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:48 PM on May 12 [62 favorites]


Daenerys' turn of character feels way too extreme for what's happened this season.

yeah, when she made the grumpy baby face i was like HA HA CERSEI'S GONNA GET ROASTY FUCKIN TOASTED but instead dany just like.... set random people on fire? for??? reasons??? bc baby was grumpy?? what? what even.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:48 PM on May 12 [53 favorites]


1) GOT HYPED so uh.. how's.. how's everyone feeling about that? He did leap into fire, finally.

2) Death on a White Horse is a little on the nose. I'm assuming she kills Dany, because where else does she go with this?

3) I was fully expecting that the bells would ring, Dany's army would assume good faith, and get slaughtered. So at least we avoided that trope.

4) Man, fuck Jaime and his arc. He was a shit, he's always been a shit, this is not a surprise to anyone, there's no redemption for him and that's the way it should be.
posted by curious nu at 7:48 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


That was asinine. Absolutely asinine. Danerys had no reason to do that except that the showrunners wanted to do apocalyptic city scenes. Asinine.

And it would be so easy to fix, even in post! Just make it Drogon who goes nuts from the bells (dragons have notoriously sensitive hearing; it is known), and Dany is all WTF NO.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


Also, me to everyone left standing: Get in the nearest boat to Essos and go live the rest of your dumb, dumb lives in peace where it's sunny and the food is better. I'm ready for Tyrion and Jon Snow's new sitcom where they're the Odd Couple in Braavos.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:49 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


I have always really liked Arya, so even though it's laughable that she survived, I appreciate that they took the time to give a credible build up for her to turn away from the revenge path. I would have also been okay if she just decided to embrace it and run off to the House of Black and White, but if they weren't going to do that, it was going to take a lot to make us believe her change of heart, and this did a pretty good job of it, I think.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:50 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


The comments for this post sound exactly like the subreddit for whatever sports team lost the final championship game. Complete with the same justification for the suckage over and over (in this case it’s “of course, D&D wanted to wrap this up early....”), rather than just admitting you been backing a losing horse.

GoT has always been the same amount of terrible that it was tonight.
posted by sideshow at 7:50 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]


I feel like the show just burned down my entire understanding of its meaning, and I’m left with a miasma. Like all the things I valued about the show—characterizations and coherent ethics—lost out to meaningless, slasher violence. Jaime’s story alone, viewed from beginning to end, makes me sick.

I’m so curious how much of this came from GRRM...
posted by sallybrown at 7:50 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


New theory: The entire Game of Thrones series has been building up to the final line of the final episode: "The Aristocrats!"
posted by JDHarper at 7:50 PM on May 12 [38 favorites]


The comments for this post sound exactly like the subreddit for whatever sports team lost the final championship game.


ok buddy
posted by poffin boffin at 7:51 PM on May 12 [47 favorites]


I’ve been team Dany-is-gonna-be-a-crazy-ass-tyrant since like season 2 and this felt so stupid. I could totally buy her torching the Red Keep and everyone inside it to get to Cersei even after the troops have surrendered but I do not buy, even in her madness, the sudden barbecuing of civilians for sport.

In continuing the theme of Everyone is Stupid Again there was still one standout! Varys telling Tyrion he was attempting a coup was ESPECIALLY dumb good fucking god.
posted by lydhre at 7:51 PM on May 12 [47 favorites]


fuck though if barca ever went fucking balls out crazy and messi set the stadium on fire while suarez just bit the fuck out of everyone that would be b o s s
posted by poffin boffin at 7:52 PM on May 12 [52 favorites]


Yeah if there had been an indication that his plan was to kill her, until it became clear that they were both going to die, so why not die together, I would have felt better about that. The books will never be finished, but I find it hard to believe this is how it would have played out. The Dany turning into the Mad Queen thing I buy, and I also buy it in the show.

I agree with you 100% here though! I felt the Dany arc was foreshadowed better than Jaime's. I absolutely buy that he still loved her but his priority given the last few seasons seemed like it should have been saving the city at all costs and Cersei only if possible.

'Course Dany made the saving-the-city thing moot.
posted by Justinian at 7:53 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Varys telling Tyrion he was attempting a coup was ESPECIALLY dumb good fucking god.

I also thought it was dumb of him to run up to Jon Snow like that. Varys is usually been shown to be smart and very careful about what he reveals to people. That seemed like a really bad move.

Also, with all his little birds, was there really no way for him to slip out of Dragonstone? I mean, maybe there really wasn't.

So was he trying to poison Dany? I was guessing that was the subtext with the "little bird" from the kitchens and the conversation about Dany refusing to eat, but I don't know if I'm misreading that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:54 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


There was a line or two in last week's episode about how Dany shouldn't take King's Landing with Unsullied and Dothraki, because they (and not just the dragons) would kill civilians, whereas Jon's plan...wouldn't? I don't think that sieges are good PR for the besieging army. And it's not like Northerners wouldn't be above killing civilians and looting their stuff. I mean, the fact that Westerosi armies do this to civilian populaces is a major point throughout earlier seasons.

And while the Dothraki are consistently portrayed as being uncontrollable, the exact opposite is true of the Unsullied, who are by reputation disciplined.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with what these various groups look like.
posted by pykrete jungle at 7:55 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


Yeah, torching the Red Keep would have been good and fine! It would have made sense! Not only would you kill Cersei and her advisors, you'd be literally destroying the seat of all the abuse and tyranny Danerys is waging her war and winning the allegiance of her followers on the back of eliminating. Perfectly smart choice, perfectly in line with what she wants and how she gets it. But it doesn't let D&D write and film the stupid fucking shit they want to do. Asinine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]


I'm sort of wondering what you all wanted out of this episode. I'll admit that I didn't know going in how it was going to go but I found this totally satisfying and in keeping with the show. Did you expect a Return of the King kind of ending to Game of Thrones?
posted by octothorpe at 7:57 PM on May 12 [40 favorites]


So was he trying to poison Dany? I was guessing that was the subtext with the "little bird" from the kitchens and the conversation about Dany refusing to eat, but I don't know if I'm misreading that.

I got the same impression, that Varys was attempting to poison Dany so that Jon would be the only one left.

Also guys I think I figured out the show's last scene: the dragon has moved to the Pacific Northwest and has become a lumberjack.
posted by Justinian at 7:57 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Not sure why y'all expected Jaime to kill his sister and unborn child.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:57 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


There was a line or two in last week's episode about how Dany shouldn't take King's Landing with Unsullied and Dothraki, because they (and not just the dragons) would kill civilians, whereas Jon's plan...wouldn't? I

I assumed that it was about the optics of foreign invading armies versus a Westeros army. I think they also discussed this in S7 as well, with wanting to use either the Dorne or Highgarden armies instead of the Dothraki and Unsullied, but i may be misremembering.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:57 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Jaime’s story alone, viewed from beginning to end, makes me sick.

Right? How could a man who rapes his sister next to their child’s corpse turn out to be a bad person?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:58 PM on May 12 [37 favorites]


I don't necessarily mind where most things ended up but you just can't rush getting there like this and there was plenty of fat to trim in previous seasons to do the proper buildup to this stuff.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:59 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]


If Dany had any fucking sense she'd have arranged for Jon to be killed in battle.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:00 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


octothorpe: I think a lot of people probably will feel that the Dany heel turn was too abrupt and needed another season of setup. Which I think is legitimate although I was ok with it as is, perhaps from being a book-reader?

Also I think plenty of folks will not like how Jaime abandoned Brienne and seemed to revert to his old self. I don't think that's what happened since I believe he fully intended to die when he left Winterfell, but again I think it's a valid way to feel.

The only thing I've been arguing at people over is saying that the folks making the show don't care about it (despite pouring 10 years of their lives into it) not that there aren't real criticisms to be made.
posted by Justinian at 8:00 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


Having every major antagonist in your story be invincibly powerful until suddenly they're not and they just get instantly chumped is... Well, I guess that technically counts as subverting a "trope".
posted by codacorolla at 8:00 PM on May 12 [28 favorites]


I'm sort of wondering what you all wanted out of this episode. I'll admit that I didn't know going in how it was going to go but I found this totally satisfying and in keeping with the show. Did you expect a Return of the King kind of ending to Game of Thrones?

I didn't expect any different, but I've been incredibly frustrated with Jaime's arc, and I thought briefly at the start of this season that they were turning that around, but since they obviously weren't, I'm annoyed that they even teased a redemption arc for him. I don't think Jaime necessarily deserves that redemption, but I love Brienne a lot, so for her sake if nothing else, I wanted to see Jaime follow through on that path.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:00 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Yeah I can totally believe that Dany would go Mad Queen and raze the city. But I can also believe that there's an interesting version of the story of how she gets to that place, and this wasn't it.

Same; I'm not at all opposed to the Mad Queen Dany storyline, I just wish they'd done a better job with it (and Emilia Clarke did a solid job of selling the script she was given). Her transformation from victim to leader to liberator to war criminal is at least in theory an interesting and tragic arc, even if the bitches-be-cray overtones of the series' portrayal of women in power leaves a pretty unappetizing aftertaste. Here's hoping Sansa provides at least a bit of a counterexample.

Whereas Jaime's character arc basically just ends up going in circles and making me disappointed for caring about his dumb ass to start with (the throwaway line about not caring if the people of King's Landing all burn? fuck that). And while Tyrion at least isn't ending where he started, I remain deeply perplexed by how exactly he got here.
posted by karayel at 8:01 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


Or what jason_steakums said.
posted by Justinian at 8:01 PM on May 12


The Doom has come to King's Landing.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:01 PM on May 12


Having Grey Worm intentionally throw a spear at the back of a surrendering army was another terrible low. Oy.
posted by sallybrown at 8:01 PM on May 12 [28 favorites]


At least Drogon had fun.
posted by Pyry at 8:01 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


I mean they're all terrible people, that's sort of the whole point.
posted by octothorpe at 8:02 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


So is nobody else going to comment on the whole symbolism of this airing on Mother’s Day? Mother of dragons versus mama to be Lannister? Seems to me one of the writers must have some serious mother issues.
posted by jzb at 8:02 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


the throwaway line about not caring if the people of King's Landing all burn?

Hmmm, did you read him as being sincere there? I thought it was more of a resigned... not joke... I don't know what the word I'm searching for is. But I didn't see it as being made in earnest.
posted by Justinian at 8:03 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


GoT has always been the same amount of terrible that it was tonight.

The galling thing is that, having recently binged straight from the first episode, no it has not. I think every season declines by an even percentage, and so we end up here.

Also if people could stop saying "you don't hate it for the reason you say, you hate it for a secret reason I can figure out" I'd be most grateful.
posted by traveler_ at 8:03 PM on May 12 [72 favorites]


I'm sort of wondering what you all wanted out of this episode.

Good characterization in an interesting narrative story that had gripping action.

The Hound and Arya was great, no question! Everything just felt silly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


So is nobody else going to comment on the whole symbolism of this airing on Mother’s Day? Mother of dragons versus mama to be Lannister? Seems to me one of the writers must have some serious mother issues.

They had Tyrion shoot Tywin on the crapper on Father's day, so it's kind of like a toddler who gets a laugh off of a line and then keeps repeating it for a week.
posted by codacorolla at 8:05 PM on May 12 [28 favorites]


GoT has always been the same amount of terrible that it was tonight.


But it has not been quite so highly concentrated before.
posted by Hypatia at 8:05 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I mean they're all terrible people, that's sort of the whole point.

This is what I mean when I say this episode revealed that my understanding of the meaning of the show was completely wrong, because I couldn’t disagree more with that.
posted by sallybrown at 8:06 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


I also think the Mad Queen arc could have used more room to breathe, but at the same time, I do feel like there have been hints of this for awhile. Actually, at one point, I was afraid this wasn't where they were heading, because it wasn't always clear to me that they were aware how she was coming off, but I do wish we had more time to explore this part of her arc. I especially think it would have been helpful to see a bit more of her shift because it's one thing to mercilessly kill oppressors like slave owners and nobles and soldiers, but the burning the entire city to the ground, including screaming civilians...well, that's a shift that could have used a bit more time to build, but I'm not bothered by that the same way I'm bothered by Jaime's arc.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:06 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


I hope Arya just rode off into the sunset, never to return to GoT. I'm giving it some serious thought myself.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:07 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


That wa fucking amazing and gripping start to finish. Our house was on the edge of our seats. I feel like I live in a different universe than everyone else ... I think I am noping out of fanfare for now. I’ve developed a pattern (not just with GoT) where I watch a show or movie, love it, come here to talk about it, and then everyone hates it. So then it kinda takes the fun out of everything. I never learn though. Part of me wonders what other fantasy shows are out there that people think are great. I grew up watching Krull and the Ice Pirates and bullshit like that, so maybe I’m easy to please.

My other theory is that people these days watch shows on a laptop while tweeting and fast forwarding and doing 80 other things and just kind of pre analyzing what to say online. Other than MF I don’t participate in any other social media so I’m isolated from so called “fandom” . Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad. Sigh.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:08 PM on May 12 [74 favorites]


So Bronn just kinda didn't need to be in this season huh
posted by jason_steakums at 8:08 PM on May 12 [44 favorites]


It’s too bad they never made an 8th season of GoT.

Guess will have to wait for George RR Martin to finish the books to find out how it ends.
posted by Mick at 8:08 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


You know what else I would have liked from this episode? To see Euron get eaten by a Dragon. Having him be killed by Jaime was not what I wanted out of his death, and I've spent a lot of time imagining how I wanted him to die. Chomped by dragon is definitely how I wanted it to go down.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:09 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


IDK, I grew up loving Krull too. I wish I could love this, but. I really, really did not.
posted by rewil at 8:09 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I'm sort of wondering what you all wanted out of this episode. I'll admit that I didn't know going in how it was going to go but I found this totally satisfying and in keeping with the show.

Yeah, did people not read the interviews way back in 2014 where the show writers said they had a meeting with GRR Martin where he told them his plan for his intended ending? Like, I get that the fine tiny details of how we get through it all at this point are not there because the books don’t exist, but as for me I’m perfectly fine riding out the story in the actual show before I go playing armchair literary critic and attacking it for not being the story I wrote in my own head.
posted by dnash at 8:10 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Looks like Winter came anyway, eh?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:11 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


What do dragons poop, anyway? I DEMAND ANSWERS.
posted by _dario at 8:12 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Things I liked:

John is shown, again, to be a complete goddamn idiot who has no political capabilities, nor even any real martial capabilities.
The CG on ruined King's Landing was actually pretty good! They blew up the buildings real nice!
It was decently shot, I thought. Compared to the Long Night (lol) it was actually pretty visually coherent.
Having Euron die completely deluded and pointlessly is literally the least that they could give the audience with that character.

What do dragons poop, anyway? I DEMAND ANSWERS.

You just watched an hour and a half of it.
posted by codacorolla at 8:12 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]


I definitely didn't expect somebody with neither a history of mass-murdering civilians, nor any motivation to, to respond to winning the siege of a city by trying to kill everybody in it. Her actions do not make sense based on her past, they do not make sense based on her desires, they do not make sense based on her character. I'm seeing people on Twitter talking about "well she killed a bunch of people she had a motivation to kill, why are you surprised when she killed thousands of defenseless people for no reason or gain?" and it completely blows my mind.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:12 PM on May 12 [66 favorites]


You know what else I would have liked from this episode? To see Euron get eaten by a Dragon. Having him be killed by Jaime was not what I wanted out of his death, and I've spent a lot of time imagining how I wanted him to die. Chomped by dragon is definitely how I wanted it to go down.

I wish he could have just been roasted on his ship because Jaime was up and running around like he hadn't taken a foot long dagger to the guts within a few minutes, so it was totally a fight without consequence.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:14 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Yeah, it just seemed like Daenerys was going to go and burn the tops of the Red Keep after the army surrendered and that would be scene but then it was mandatory village burnination time.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:15 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


Looks like Winter came anyway, eh?

I do remember a lot of speculation that the snow falling on the Iron Throne in Dany's visions would, in fact, turn out to be ash. But I gotta admit I don't remember if that was from the show or the books.

I definitely didn't expect somebody with neither a history of mass-murdering civilians, nor any motivation to, to respond to winning the siege of a city by trying to kill everybody in it. Her actions do not make sense based on her past, they do not make sense based on her desires, they do not make sense based on her character.

"Madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land."

A lot of people aren't going to find that satisfying, obviously, but that's why.
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


I think the Burn Them All rationale comes down to what she said to Jon. “Then it’ll be fear.” Without the love of the populace and another claim to the throne better than hers, the only way she can rule is by fear. This was punishment not just to her enemies, but a lesson to her new subjects.

I don’t agree with how it’s been setup and whether she’d actually go there but hey, D&D run the show not me.
posted by chris24 at 8:18 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


Oh, Dany did butcher a ton of civilians over in Essos. We just tend to give her a pass because many of them deserved it. All the upper class in... Yunkai (I think?) for example.
posted by Justinian at 8:19 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


>> (a nice quiet storytelling beat, to give the director/writer some credit: dany's face is never seen again once she decides to Burn Them All.)

> I'd be interested to know if it was in the script or a directorial choice. I'd bet on the latter since D&D's writing can generally best be described as workmanlike. But it was definitely a good and effective choice.


They didn't show Daenerys's face because they were making her do something that makes no sense for her character, and the more time we had to watch Emilia Clarke try to perform an impossible acting task, the more it would highlight how the writing made no sense.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:19 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


Another relevant line for Dany's arc, was something Barristan Selmy said:

"The Mad King gave his enemies the justice he thought they deserved, and each time, it made him feel powerful and right until the very end."

That even more than the "God flips a coin" line seems to foreshadow what happens in Dany's arc.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:19 PM on May 12 [22 favorites]


Danerys had no reason to do that except that the showrunners wanted to do apocalyptic city scenes.

Sorry, you forgot the most compelling reason of all: Bitches Be Crazy. It can explain anything!
posted by praemunire at 8:19 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


"She did it because she went crazy all of a sudden" is, again, asinine, and if that's the angle D&D are taking them fuck 'em.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:19 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


She expected the people of Westeros to fall in love with her, and in line with her, just for showing up and challenging the existing order, because that’s what happened in Meereen. It didn’t happen. She’s as hot tempered as her dead brother and always has been, she’s just had enough people keeping it in check. Between her and Cersei we’re at “mutually assured destruction” (as they used to say about nuclear war in the 80s). So this doesn’t surprise me at all.

The internet is full of “who ends up on the Iron Throne” - what I don’t see is what makes anyone think there will BE an Iron Throne left next week.
posted by dnash at 8:20 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


I think the Burn Them All rationale comes down to what she said to Jon. “Then it’ll be fear.” Without the love of the populace and another claim to the throne better than hers, the only way she can rule is by fear. This was punishment not just to her enemies, but a lesson to her new subjects.

To carry the dragons-as-weapons-of-mass-destruction metaphor to its conclusion, it was basically the bombing of Nagasaki.
posted by Justinian at 8:23 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


I called it years ago but I'm still disappointed.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:23 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


If "sometimes Targaryens turn crazy" is the in-show explanation for Daenerys, characters who know Jon's heritage should be a lot more wary, yes?
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:25 PM on May 12 [30 favorites]


Also re: finally smart dragon use: micromanaging is hard and the AI is only so good with group attacks.
posted by curious nu at 8:25 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Little did we all know that the long gap between seasons 7 and 8 were to give D&D six whole months to sit around going “ughhhhhhh do we HAFTA???”
posted by Automocar at 8:27 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Kohl's made a powerful enemy of me yesterday.

The shit fucking show this is now has made a powerful enemy of me.. .uhm, I guess last week. But also today. Sigh. Just... why. Why telegraph it so badly and just shoehorn 3 seasons in 3 episodes. It's so bad. It's so, so, so bad. it was so obvious it went Night King, Cersei, Dany vs. Jon. Fuck it all. I hate that 20 years ago I told my parents this would be an awesome show... except the first three seasons were great and that's how many books I'd read.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:27 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


If the Targaryen coin flip explains why Dany chose to rampage after the bells sounded, why did the soldiers on the ground—including Grey Worm, who we’ve grown to know as a disciplined, moral character—indiscriminately murder the people on the ground in a surrendering city?

The “behind the episode” acknowledged this, noting that the moral lines are crossed and Jon notices that the “good guys” are “bad guy”ing it up. Is this ultimately a story about the total immorality of war, that being a “good guy” is merely situational (this is what Jaime’s story would suggest)? But what does that mean in a universe in pretty much constant war, where every character is fighting...?

One of the most interesting things about this universe to me is (was?) the way that different families, cities, regions of its world have different moral codes—but they have them. With everyone but the Starks seemingly abandoning those, does that mean only the Starks can win?
posted by sallybrown at 8:28 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]


Looking at it from Dany's perspective: She puts her war on hold to help fight the army of the dead. She lost her first dragon to the army of the dead, rescuing Jon et al. She lost her oldest friend, Jorah, fighting at Winterfell. And yet, the people in the North still don't want her to be their ruler. You could see how frustrated she was with Tormund heaping all that praise on to Jon.

And then she lost Rhaegal, and then Missendei, who has been her closest friend for awhile now. She feels that Jon betrayed her by revealing the truth to his sisters. Not to mention how blindsided she was by Jon's reveal.

We've also seen how set she's been on everyone "bending the knee" since she set foot in Westeros. And she probably has a point that the people won't love her the way the Northerners love the Starks, for example. Or the way the freed slaves loved her in Slaver's bay.

Not to mention, she has always had a pretty ruthless side to her.

I'm not saying they couldn't have done more to build to this. But to me, it's not the most egregious of issues. There was some build up. There were outlines of a character arc, that you can trace back to early on in the show.

Meanwhile, I feel like Jaime just keeps flipping back and forth every time the wind blows.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:28 PM on May 12 [38 favorites]


I won't belabor the obvious symbolism, but I have to say, they seem to care so little about the show at this point, it's surprising they even bother with this kind of detail.

Even in this episode, this is a show that many people are giving their all for.

The actors did a great job tonight, I will say especially Lena Headey, who did a whole lot with so few lines. The effects crews and costume department and other crafts do and have always done a great job, like the earlier thing here or in the blue thread someone linked to about the Sansa costumes. Sapochkin did a good job as director.

Everyone gave it their all except the writers, so everyone is pinning all their details and work and care over a core of fuck-it-close-enough and here-have-more-Squidward-everyone-loves-Squidward. But those details and work and care are still there, too.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:28 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


Also re: finally smart dragon use: micromanaging is hard and the AI is only so good with group attacks.


My mutalisk micro feels personally attacked because it sucked.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:28 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


I predict that even if Sansa takes the Iron Throne, she'll only do so long enough to have it melted down and dissolve the Seven Kingdoms.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:29 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


If "sometimes Targaryens turn crazy" is the in-show explanation for Daenerys, characters who know Jon's heritage should be a lot more wary, yes?

Well, I would assume the difference there is that Jon is half Stark, so significantly less Targ in bred compared to Dany. Now, if Jon and Dany had stayed together, you could definitely argue that they should not be having kids. But it looks like that's off the table anyway.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:30 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


At least it was a daylight war so I could fucking see what was happening.

I will never forgive D&D for ruining Jaime's arc. Also for making Tyrion SO. FUCKING. STUPID. Also, how many of her own soldiers did Dany light on fire? And there were way, way, waaaaaaaayyyyyyy too many scenes of children in peril and dying just for cheap horror, not because they meant anything, and that is my NUMBER. ONE. PET. PEEVE and if we weren't one episode from this being over, I'd be DONE just for that. (I've quit watching NUMEROUS police procedurals over the years that went for cheap children-in-danger-because-scriptwriters-are-lazy shit.) Truly THAT is the real Mother's Day gift of D&D, not Cersei or Dany the mothers who are crazy -- putting countless children in danger because they're too damn lazy to write a script.

I 100% buy mad Queen Dany and they've been building it upfor several seasons, although they did do it FAST here in the last season. But Emilia Clarke did a good job selling it. Jon and Davos also managed to give a bit of "oh shit we seem to have backed the wrong horse" in their retreating looks at each other; still the moral center of the show. (I'm a bit annoyed by how much of a hero's edit Jon is getting.) And yeah, definitely "Arya in the city" was getting Arya read to kill everyone she deems responsible for what just happened.

I liked the Golden Company guy's visual parallel to Jon in Battle of the Bastards, standing up against the charge and, unlike Jon, just running away and getting endeadenated.

It's good that Cersei took the time to have the stained(/etched) glass on the Red Keep replaced with Lannister lions, definitely focusing on the important parts of ruling.

I probably just don't remember this, but why is The Mountain still so angry at The Hound that even though he's an undead zombie he'll break his control word to try to kill The Hound a lot? Like I get why The Hound is pissed but wtf is The Mountain's problem?

"So Bronn just kinda didn't need to be in this season huh"

Bronn!actor shouldn't have broken up with Cersei!actress and he coulda had a better plot!

There was too much gin in my GoT gin & tonic, and it still wasn't nearly enough gin for this bullshit.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:31 PM on May 12 [30 favorites]


Best one from reddit so far:

Hound: Go home and abandon your character arc, Arya.

Arya: OK.


And to clarify because that's necessary apparently: I'm not saying I don't think she'll appear in the next episode. I'm not saying this doesn't match the plot outline GRRM set up for the ending. I'm not saying it wasn't neat to see her POV trying to escape the city while random dragonfire and civilian tragedy surrounded her. I'm saying it's not portrayed believably in the writing, in that scene, in that moment, that after everything we've seen about her character she'd be convinced to change her mind at that point by what the Hound said just then. It was nonsensical.
posted by traveler_ at 8:32 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


She expected the people of Westeros to fall in love with her, and in line with her, just for showing up and challenging the existing order, because that’s what happened in Meereen. It didn’t happen. She’s as hot tempered as her dead brother and always has been, she’s just had enough people keeping it in check. Between her and Cersei we’re at “mutually assured destruction” (as they used to say about nuclear war in the 80s). So this doesn’t surprise me at all.

Maybe I was confused but I interpreted the ringing of the bells (not to mention the dropping of swords) as unconditional surrender, on the part not just of the Lannister and Golden Co armies but also civilians (we could hear them shouting “ring the bells”) and Cersei. Dany clearly understood this, and then we see her making the decision to effectively nuke the city.
posted by sallybrown at 8:32 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


The smarter of our two dogs, the husky mix who can follow scenes on the television, hated this episode so much. She wouldn’t stop growling at the sacking of King’s Landing until I pulled her up onto my lap where she stress-shed a thick layer of fur all over my clothes, then slunk out of the room in disgust.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:34 PM on May 12 [28 favorites]


The irony is that dragons are deathly afraid of elephants. This whole disaster could have been avoided.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:34 PM on May 12 [47 favorites]


I honestly don't even really mind where they're taking this plot-wise at this point. It's not perfect, but full Mad Queen makes sense as one of the few ways to tie up a story as complex as the one GRRM set up.

The thing that does frustrate me about this episode though is the like 30 solid minutes of shots of nothing but dragonfire and rocks falling on people instead of, you know, using the time in the second last episode to give these characters we've been following for ten years one or two more story beats before killing them all off.
posted by 256 at 8:35 PM on May 12 [36 favorites]


Remember the last season of LOST.

I'm just saying....REMEMBER IT.


*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 8:36 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


What did Tyrion ask Davos to smuggle? Did I miss it or did they not reveal it?
posted by pearlybob at 8:36 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


I probably just don't remember this, but why is The Mountain still so angry at The Hound that even though he's an undead zombie he'll break his control word to try to kill The Hound a lot? Like I get why The Hound is pissed but wtf is The Mountain's problem?

Oh yeah, I wondered about that too. I was actually originally expecting the Mountain to just ignore the Hound until the hound stabbed him. I didn't think the Mountain ever had positive feelings towards his brother, but I kind of figured it was mostly a one sided dislike. Is there something I'm forgetting that set up the Mountain disobeying Cersei and killing Qyburn to get to his brother?
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:36 PM on May 12


I take it back I loved it it was a great episode the only way it could have been better is if dany sang “all along the watchtower” when she started burning everything.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:38 PM on May 12 [38 favorites]


Everyone gave it their all except the writers,

Except I think D&D did give the writing their all. Think about what you consider the best episodes of GoT. Now go back and look up how many were written by D&D. I bet I can guess the number.

One thing I wish more show creators would get through their heads is that they aren't always, or even often, the best episode/film writers working on their properties. The show/movie could not exist without them, sure, but know your strengths.

Consider Chris Carter and the X-Files. Dude was a force of nature making it work... and he can't write for shit. Everything he wrote was basically garbage. Or George Lucas to a slightly lesser degree. D&D are, by comparison, perfectly average. This was light years ahead of a typical Chris Carter penned script. It's just that guys like Bryan Cogman ("A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms") are award winners and among the best writers to work in television while D&D... aren't at that level. Sometimes people do their absolute best and it's B-work. Not because they didn't pour their hearts and souls into it but because they are B-workers.

Showrunners/creators haven't learned to stay in their lanes!
posted by Justinian at 8:38 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


The real winter is go fuck yourself.
posted by East14thTaco at 8:38 PM on May 12 [29 favorites]


Oh they telegraphed this a few eps ago. It is just so fucking stupid and bad that we're mad about it. I think they should've made 5 seasons of breaking bad then end of season 5 he cooks and season 6 is like he has to deal with all the stuff from seasons 2 onward. In just 6 episodes.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:38 PM on May 12


TROGDOOOOOR!!!!!

I know. I'm old. But as soon as I realized the spoilers were dead on....that's all I could think of.
posted by Laetiporus at 8:39 PM on May 12 [26 favorites]


What did Tyrion ask Davos to smuggle? Did I miss it or did they not reveal it?

I'm pretty sure that was for arranging the dinghy to be there so Cersei and Jaime could escape.
posted by Quonab at 8:39 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


My Wife Literally 10 Minutes Into This Episode: “So we're basically hate-watching this at this point, right?”
posted by Fizz at 8:39 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


I'm saying it's not portrayed believably in the writing, in that scene, in that moment, that after everything we've seen about her character she'd be convinced to change her mind at that point by what the Hound said just then. It was nonsensical.

Disagree! They're in a city that's being destroyed because they're looking for revenge. That was beautiful, Arya about set to kill the queen and Sandor pointing out the queen was gonna die anyway, so why is it so important she die by your hand Arya?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:40 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


So, the finale is going to open with Danaerys rebuilding Kings Landing using slave labor? Right?
posted by nightrecordings at 8:40 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Dany’s behavior makes narrative sense and has been telegraphed, although the whole arc was super rushed and suffered for it. Varys throwing a daylight coup relying on support and discretion from notorious dingdong Jon? Nope. And, uh, Shadowfax surviving the firestorm outside the gates then moseying into the city to pick up Arya? Nope.

I really expected Grey Worm to take out Jon (on dany’s orders) every time we saw Jon after the “war” turned into pillaging and raping.
posted by janell at 8:40 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


I wish they'd both gotten to that dinghy then Euron popped up with a hook hand and shouted DIE MOBY DICK

and you're like wait.

Anyway, can someone explain why Euron was right there and also alone just to fight Jaime? No?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:41 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


"Dany clearly understood this, and then we see her making the decision to effectively nuke the city."

I interpreted Dany hearing the bells and starting to sob (like a lost child) as her realizing that it was over and she wouldn't get satisfaction for Missandei's death and her dragon's death ... and feeling so empty and despairing she decided to go ahead and take satisfaction anyway. But that may have just been Emilia Clarke's acting giving more meaning to the scene than it was written with.

(Also, I said this last week and I will say it again: KEEP YOUR FUCKING HELMET ON GRAY WORM!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:42 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


I actually half expected Jon and GreyWorm to throw down. Which would have been kind of cool and made so many people's head's explode. Maybe next episode.
posted by Justinian at 8:42 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Other things I was screaming at my display: "Wait, last week, Iron Island Balistas were extremely fast to reload and traverse/elevate! This week they take hours?!" I'm pretty sure the crews on the walls above the gate where Jon and Grey Worm were waiting weren't even attempting to operate their weapons when Drogon burned them up, which, what? Considering they're elevated and had to have seen it coming you'd think they'd be doing SOMETHING, even if that something was getting the hell away from the weapons to avoid getting incinerated. Also: How do you have balistas that were used to great effect to tear through Dany's ships last week, and not even toss a couple of bolts at the massed troops well within range of the weapons on the walls? They've got the range, but.. I guess the plot didn't call for competent weapons employment...
posted by Alterscape at 8:42 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


Euron crispified in his flagship would have made much more sense and been more gratifying, for sure.
posted by janell at 8:42 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


The internet is full of “who ends up on the Iron Throne” - what I don’t see is what makes anyone think there will BE an Iron Throne left next week.

I'm seriously at this point on team "every named character not currently in Winterfell dead by end of final episode."

Sansa is Queen of the North, the only remaining functioning kingdom..
posted by 256 at 8:43 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I don't even think you need to get into some Crazy Targs stuff to sell Dany's arc really, just being told since birth that your family is entitled to rule over people, and then amping that entitlement up to "also the universe and magic and prophecy made it super clear that I deserve to tell everyone in the world what to do and murder them if they question me" levels is so toxic that of course it would build up a horrible nightmare of a person under a paper thin veneer of royal mercy and grace.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:43 PM on May 12 [31 favorites]


Anyway, can someone explain why Euron was right there and also alone just to fight Jaime? No?

Also why Jaime was like, “I was going to look for Cersei but I’ll just wander down to the beach for a bit instead.”

(We saw Euron’s ship get torched by the dragon, so I guess he just happened to wash up there? I don’t think either Euron or Jaime expected to bump into each other.)
posted by sallybrown at 8:44 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I definitely didn't expect somebody with neither a history of mass-murdering civilians, nor any motivation to, to respond to winning the siege of a city by trying to kill everybody in it. Her actions do not make sense based on her past, they do not make sense based on her desires, they do not make sense based on her character.

While I have several beefs about this episode, and Dany's arc could have been built out better, I don't find this result as implausible as the rest of you. She's brave, smart, and compassionate, and has done good for people throughout Essos, although her journey through that land was a mixed bag with more than a whiff of white saviour. But she also has been absolutely fixated on two things:

1) Getting the Iron Throne not just because she thought she could rule compassionately, but because, by God, she had the right bloodlines, and
2) Being praised and loved and never, ever criticized

She was lucky to have several people who did love her, but Jorah and Missandei are dead, and Jon has backed out of the romance. She knew that the North loved Jon more, and she knew that even if she were to win the battle for King's Landing without committing war crimes, she probably wouldn't get a lot of love from the commoners, either.

So if she was never going to get loved again as intensely as she wanted, her only remaining goal was to rule. And I, too, expected that after she destroyed the ships and the scorpions, and got the bells to ring, she was going to go straight for Cersei. There would be destruction and pain for the civilian population along the way, but maybe they would eventually get over their fear and accept her. But they probably would never love her the way she wanted her subjects to love her.

Some people in Dany's position would have been pragmatic about who they murdered. Some would have despaired and abdicated or even chosen to die. GRRM decided that the Targ coin would get flipped the wrong way and she would go full Charles Whitman. It wasn't the only possible outcome but it's not implausible.

And while I've been hate-watching all season, this episode actually had me transfixed and trembling. We saw "enemy" soldiers as human beings with real faces expressing real emotion. Civilians died horribly, over and over again. People who were good in many ways -- Jon, Tyrion -- helped create total fucking evil in King's Landing because they continued to trust Dany until it was too late. Lots of mostly good people FUCKED UP royally because of their characters and histories, and that's more devastating and difficult to accept than mostly bad people doing the same.
posted by maudlin at 8:44 PM on May 12 [69 favorites]


I strongly suspect Dany's heel turn is what GRRM outlined. It does make sense for her character -- but we have to see her take that walk. The show cheats and skips a lot of steps, making what could have been a tragic arc over into "daaaamn, you know that bitch is crazy, right??" We don't really buy it because that isn't the character we've come to know, but we could have bought it if the show had done a better job of selling it. That would have required the show to begin laying the groundwork much sooner than, like, two episodes ago, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:44 PM on May 12 [32 favorites]


I will give D&D this, although I don't feel like giving them anything else because watching a whole city get napalmed ain't fun: they make the point in the afterword that this was done by the same lady who watched Khal Drogo pour molten gold on her brother's head and shrugged. Cleganebowl was about how I'd have expected it to go down; Varys facing his death (and Tyrion his likely death) was well-done, and Arya trying to escape the city and save the lady whose name may as well have been Dead Meat had a certain brutal elegance about it.

But otherwise... the best I can come up with for gallows humor at this point is to imagine GIFs of Dany looking at the Red Keep with the siren music from Kill Bill over it. Next ep will likely be the assassination, and maybe the Essos Squad getting mowed down by the Westerosi or something.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:45 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


That would have required the show to begin laying the groundwork much sooner than, like, two episodes ago, though.

I still blame GRRM's inability to finish the story for a lot of D&D's problems with pacing! Although that doesn't absolve them, obviously, given the "bad pussy" era of a few seasons back.
posted by Justinian at 8:47 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


I also wish we had time for exploring the impact of Jon finding out about his Targ heritage. Not because of what it means for who sits on the Iron Throne, but because we've watched these characters for a long time, and that was one of the things that has been built up the most, and there's definitely a lot to explore there. How he feels about the fact that Ned isn't his father, that Ned kept this secret from everyone to protect him...not to mention the fact that we didn't even get to see the full conversation where he revealed this to Arya and Sansa. I would have loved to trade most of this burning civilians to spend some more time on those kinds of character beats.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:47 PM on May 12 [34 favorites]


Massive credit to Conleth Hill for acting Varys so well that not once in eight seasons have I been able to figure out whether he’s up to good things, bad things, or in between.
posted by sallybrown at 8:48 PM on May 12 [68 favorites]


Also why Jaime was like, “I was going to look for Cersei but I’ll just wander down to the beach for a bit instead.”

They closed the gate to the Red Keep before he could get in, so he had to go down to the beach to use the secret underground entrance that goes up through the dragon skulls storage halls. It was the way Tyrion told him to get OUT of the Red Keep, so he used it to get IN to it instead.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:48 PM on May 12 [37 favorites]


The official title for this episode is "The Bells".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


I thought this episode was mostly really good and am surprised at its poor reception here. I do agree that the show handled Jaime's arc poorly, partly because it has actually been handled very well in the books up to this point, and that they rushed through Dany's heel turn, but it's kind of one of the main points of the books that leaders who seize power by force do so at the expense of the people they rule. I also thought it was a smart descision to show the sack of the city through the eyes of Arya Stark, who had been built up into an improbably unstoppable killing machine up until now.
posted by whir at 8:53 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


Massive credit to Conleth Hill for acting Varys so well that not once in eight seasons have I been able to figure out whether he’s up to good things, bad things, or in between.

I think Varys was more or less the only character with any sort of power whose sole care was the good of the people as a whole. Sure, some of the Starks try to do right by their subjects. But that's not the same thing and they still buy into the framework of the system. Noblesse Oblige and so on.
posted by Justinian at 8:53 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


The razing was just too complete and too civilian-centered. If she'd "snapped" and bee-lined for the Red Keep, or even meandered in that direction while taking a few pot-shots at civil targets, it'd have made sense. Or even if she hit the Red Keep first, and then continued through the city a bit more.

It just doesn't make sense that if she's decided violence is the method, that she's suddenly slow and methodical, going back and forth like she's mowing a lawn. Even if she is choosing to rule by fear rather than love, she can't burn all of her subjects!
posted by explosion at 8:54 PM on May 12 [30 favorites]


I couldn't figure out until now who Tyrion was reminding me of all season... black outfit, glorious curly hair, the beard, he is totally rocking the Alan Rickman Sheriff of Nottingham look.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:56 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


I am a bit baffled that some here take "I was born to rule" to "I will now burn entire whole long streets where people are clearly running and screaming". And shit, it WAS like mowing a lawn. I had the same thought! I hated mowing the lawn as a kid.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:56 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]


It just doesn't make sense that if she's decided violence is the method, that she's suddenly slow and methodical, going back and forth like she's mowing a lawn. Even if she is choosing to rule by fear rather than love, she can't burn all of her subjects!

Dragons are not precision weapons. She told him to Dracarys and he Dracarysied.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:56 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Babou, serpentine! *flames spew*
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:58 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Dragons are not precision weapons.

Seemed pretty precise to me when he burned one single man to death, like, 20 minutes ago...
posted by Ragini at 8:58 PM on May 12 [50 favorites]


Disagree! They're in a city that's being destroyed because they're looking for revenge. That was beautiful, Arya about set to kill the queen and Sandor pointing out the queen was gonna die anyway, so why is it so important she die by your hand Arya?

Ok, but is Arya the sort of person to accept that Cersei will probably die by losing the war in King's Landing, or the sort of person who has to see it through to its conclusion personally? I'm not sure, but I am sure she's the sort of person to figure that out before she gets to the Red Keep! I'd expect her to hang back so as to assassinate Cersei quietly if the battle doesn't do the job, or press on forward as all the walls fall around them both. Not start on one before switching to the other.
posted by traveler_ at 8:59 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Seemed pretty precise to me when he burned one single man to death, like, 20 minutes ago...

While on the ground, not in the heat of battle, not after people were just trying to kill him.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:59 PM on May 12


Should we now be questioning Jaime as an unreliable narrator for why he actually killed Aerys II? Jaime’s dying words were that only he and Cersei mattered, and earlier he said he didn’t care about the innocents. Derision of him as the Kingslayer was based on him killing the king to favor his family, and we know Aerys ordered Jaime to kill his father (in addition to ordering the burning of the city). Did Jaime actually care about the wildfire, or use Aerys’ madness as a good excuse to save his father or even attempt to take the throne for the Lannisters? Maybe Ned was right about him all along?
posted by sallybrown at 9:00 PM on May 12 [23 favorites]




Ok, but is Arya the sort of person to accept that Cersei will probably die by losing the war in King's Landing, or the sort of person who has to see it through to its conclusion personally?

Maybe this was a further step away from the Faceless Men and back toward her identity as a Stark. She abandoned the list.
posted by sallybrown at 9:02 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


What was up with the horse miraculously showing up at the end? That made zero sense to me.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 9:04 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Ok, but is Arya the sort of person to accept that Cersei will probably die by losing the war in King's Landing, or the sort of person who has to see it through to its conclusion personally? I'm not sure, but I am sure she's the sort of person to figure that out before she gets to the Red Keep! I'd expect her to hang back so as to assassinate Cersei quietly if the battle doesn't do the job, or press on forward as all the walls fall around them both. Not start on one before switching to the other.

To me, the most compelling part of that scene was when the Hound was basically like, "Look at me. This is what spending your life focused on revenge turns you into. You can do better than that." And I mean, that's a pretty compelling argument. Although I do think it would work better if we could have seen Arya spend more time reconnecting with Jon and Sansa and her Stark origins. I'm not saying it's a perfect character arc, but all things considered, it works better than a lot of other character arcs for me.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:05 PM on May 12 [26 favorites]


This was a great episode.

It was tense and it was unsparing about the violence of kings and queens, and the consequences to everyone else unlucky enough to be in their way.

There's one shot, fleeting, lasting two or three seconds, which instantly evokes the iconic outline of the Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome building.

Dany was given awesome power and she abused it, committing war crimes on the scale of a nuclear holocaust, not only killing surrendered combatants, but particularly targeting citizens for annihilation.

She has to go. Along with General Grey Worm for going along with her war plan and her atrocities.

Jon is on borrowed time, having already been killed and brought back to life. The Lord of Light/Many-faced God is due and Arya is still alive to collect the sad king's face, using it to get to the mad queen.

Great setup for the finale. Can't wait to see Sansa take reign. She's bloodthirsty, but at least she knows how to keep it in check.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:07 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


Yeah I did like the focus back to the small folk of KL and the whole overarching theme of how cruel and arbitrary monarchial power is
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


There's a lot going on here, most of it whinging and that's fine, though wrong.

Remember how Ned's execution subverted the tropes you were to expect fro that sort of story, while being entirely true to what he'd actually done/been through?

Remember how shocking and unjust the Red Wedding was, despite it making perfect sense from all we'd seen?

That's this. This was the series-wide version of that. As much as we love Dany, she's spent her entire arc high on her own branding supply and asserting her rightness through her dragons, killing those who hate her and liberating those who love her and failing to actually maintain an empire or rule one behind her, and now she sacrificed everything, all for the good of the people who still hate and distrust her, and this is where the other penny finally drops.

And we get to live in that real horror for about a full hour of screentime.

That was bold and brilliant and rough and exactly right.

Sorry if it pissed you off. But it was right.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:09 PM on May 12 [78 favorites]


Eh... this episode was a fitting end for the themes of the show, but wasn't supported by the year and a half that came before it, and especially not the preceding 4 episodes. It's well directed, and because it came from the actual gameplan of the series it makes thematic sense, but it's not well written by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by codacorolla at 9:13 PM on May 12 [34 favorites]


I think most people here are saying it makes sense but it was set up badly.

Anyway. So Ellaria Sand's probably toast along with the Black Cells, so that's one prolonged torturing session over, what do we think's going to happen with Varys' man in the box? Starvation?
posted by rewil at 9:14 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


I liked being tricked. The Dragon attack seemed like complete nonsense, given how disastrous it was last time. But maybe the fade to black in the previous episode may have skipped over Dany learning how to avoid the scorpions. So maybe it wasn't as foolish a plan as it first seemed.

I liked the Arya fake outs. It was a roller coaster.

I think Euron ashore was improbable, but I guess both were headed for the secret passage into Red Keep, fine. When Euron brought up sleeping with the Queen, Jamie should have mentioned the child is his, to unsettle Euron, but it seems like the writers wanted Euron to die happy, so meh.

Jamie and Cersi dying in rubble wasn't in anyone's prediction list. But having the Red Keep crumble also gives closure to Ellaria Sand, and Ms. "Confess!".

---

So now we have;

Team Dany; Grey Worm, Unsullied, Dothraki, any of the Northern army folk who became civilian killers/rapists, Yara Greyjoy, Drogon.

Team Jon; Arya, Davos, Tyrion, Sansa, Bran, Brienne, Tormund, whatever Northern army folk who didn't become civilian killers/rapists and who'd be willing to cross their Queen.

Dany has the full support of her armies, a Dragon, and has beaten everyone who has underestimated her. She has taken the throne.

Arya may follow Hound's advice and not seek a life of revenge, or maybe she tries to kill Dany. Good luck, and get in line. If the green eyed prophecy is still in play, then it'd be metaphoric, green-eyed with envy for the throne, Daenerys.

Dany has a great motive to kill Jon, but he was bending his knee, and he may continue to do so, reluctantly. He has seen his own country men becomes monsters. So support of Dany would just be to preserve the North from an invasion.

Dany can just steam roll the North, though. She doesn't need any Stark to survive.

Dany will want any Northern ruler to bend the knee.

Pax Daenerys!
posted by ecco at 9:14 PM on May 12


this is where the other penny finally drops

This sums up the episode for me (and perhaps the series, if the writers don't fuck it up). As time passes and people get to think on this series a bit more, I hope this is the stuff that sticks with viewers.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:15 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


rewil: "So Ellaria Sand's probably toast along with the Black Cells, so that's one prolonged torturing session over"

Would have been great to get a one-second shot of her cell collapsing around her.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:15 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Jaime is not "going back and forth". He loves Brienne and he loves his sister. Brienne is safe. His sister is not. Please someone explain to me why we all assumed he was going to kill Cersei.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:16 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


I cannot tell if people are pissed that Dany, who by the moral universe of the show was always going to end up a tyrant (I mean they even gave her a goddamn white saviour thing in Meereen), became a tyrant, or that they handled it badly.

I'm not entirely sure what they could have done differently, given that a key part of it was that her advisors, who are supposed to be the cleverest people in Westeros, were seduced by the idea that Dany could be different, that they missed the very obvious signs that she wielded her power without wisdom, and so they had to realise at the exact worst moment that they'd been wrong about her. The point where they started to think "maybe we fucked up here", people were jumping all over it for betraying their characters. Power corrupts. Even if you're black. Even if you're a woman.

I feel for the kids named Khaleesi, though.
posted by Merus at 9:17 PM on May 12 [20 favorites]


I liked it. I like this show that’s why I watch it.

Jon is not good at leading. Which tracks.

I’m glad somebody finally died in the maelstrom of falling rocks. I liked the call back to the origin of getting the unsullied. With Jorah talking about men sieging city’s murdering raping looting and burning and how the unsullied will never do that... many other monologues by brown, Jamie, the hound and the septim brother ray about the horrors of conquest all coming to a head here.

Oddly was neither mad nor elated. Just pretty good. I’ll watch the next one.
posted by French Fry at 9:17 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Team Jon; Arya, Davos, Tyrion, Sansa, Bran, Brienne, Tormund, whatever Northern army folk who didn't become civilian killers/rapists and who'd be willing to cross their Queen.

Hypothetically, Jon and Co. have a lot of Westeros they could muster, unfortunately those parts of the continent have receded into the black mists of the Plot Hole, so who knows. Just magically infate or deflate forces to get whatever result you need to hit in the GRRM master word document, and call it a day.
posted by codacorolla at 9:18 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Remember the last season of LOST.

I'm just saying....REMEMBER IT.


Heh. The first season of Lost was the last season for me. I have yet to regret this decision.

Anyway, to the matter at hand: I find myself wondering if the decision not to show us Dany during her Roaring Rampage of... well, not Revenge but maybe Wrecking Stuff... was because this napalming was an after-the-fact decision after a different ending had been shot and found unsatisfactory. It had the same feel, somehow, as when an actor has died partway through a film and the plot takes a sudden left turn, with plenty of long shots of the now-deceased performer. The numerous shots of smallfolk fleeing down streets and huddling in doorways seemed almost gratuitous when, as someone observed above, we could be getting more character beats in with these characters we have followed for a decade.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:18 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


If I weren't so mad about basically everything else I might have actually been very interested in this episode as a story about Arya reconsidering the limitations of violence as a method. I was happy with her being the one who took down the Night King in 8x03 (that felt both surprising, and yet retroactively foreshadowed/earned--if the war against the dead was going to end there, I'm glad it was at her hand) and I think the way the camera/viewpoint followed her through the destruction of the city works as an interesting counterpoint to her sweet-murder-child characterization over the course of the series. Unfortunately I was too distracted by assorted whiplash character arcs to find the spectacle of the slaughter as immersive and horrifying as it should have been.
posted by karayel at 9:21 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Maybe this show is intentionally bad so that George R. R. Martin will be forced out of his slumber to finish the books and redeem the series.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:25 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Remember the last season of LOST.

I'm just saying....REMEMBER IT.


*sighs*


So I avoided GoT because I was afraid I would come to regret watching it in the same way I came to regret watching Lost. But then I decided, what the hell, it sounds like a show I would enjoy, and the rest of the world seems to be watching it.

And, well, we see how that decision turned out.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:25 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Unsubscirbe.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:25 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]



Remember the last season of LOST.


no i wont and you cant make me
posted by poffin boffin at 9:28 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


He has seen his own country men becomes monsters.

Maybe it's more clear in the books, but raping and pillaging after the sack of a city definitely seems to be standard operating procedure in this universe, so I don't think Jon would be particularly surprised by this, even though he surely wouldn't like it.
posted by whir at 9:29 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Power corrupts. Even if you're black. Even if you're a woman.

More like "always and especially."

Seriously, the trope in the honor-based culture of the Crazy Woman Who Wants Too Much Vengeance (Not The Right Amount That The Men Want) is so, so old and played-out. And by "old," I mean "literally thousands of years old." Clytemnestra slaughtering Agamemnon in his bath. Hildigunn throwing the bloody cloak over Flosi's shoulders. Etc.

Boring.
posted by praemunire at 9:30 PM on May 12 [45 favorites]


So I don't understand how an 80-minute episode still felt so rushed. Like, even Varys's execution just felt like the writers needed to check it off the list. Ditto the Cleghanes, complete with "oh fuck it, guess we'll just go over the edge into fire." Dany's decision to choose fear was even frustrating because it feels like the writers skipped taking the time to draw more parallels to how Cersei had made that same decision, essentially; I do think there's more that a different set of writing priorities could have done to explore the "unlikeability" metaphor.

I probably felt most bad for Arya, mostly because watching her run around and try to survive the chaos was too similar to her running around and trying to survive the chaos of the long night and I imagine she must have been thinking, "I survived the long night and killed the Night Kind for THIS SHIT?"

Things I did like:
-That I could mostly see what was going on
-The shot of Dany's last dragon (who FINALLY smarted up!) emerging from the utter darkness to execute Varys (even though that broke my heart)
-"Cersei called me the stupidest Lannister." I mean, you're in good company, Jaime.
-The Hound trying to save Arya and her calling him "Sandor" for once

At this point, I'm for Davos or Bronn on the Rubble Throne at the end of next week. Augh.
posted by TwoStride at 9:33 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


In some way Dany's actions worked for me, because I couldn't understand or believe what she was doing, and that feeling of confusion and disbelief meshed perfectly with the street level POV that the episode turns to as they first surrender and then get nuked. And they did a good job of drawing those connections visually. So it worked for me metaphorically.

I'm not convinced they intentionally obscured Dany's mental state to get that effect though.
posted by joeyh at 9:34 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


So... we can't conceivably have a third 'epic' battle, right? However Daenerys is handled has to be through something that doesn't involve big sweeping CGI set-pieces of people getting butchered, I assume.
posted by codacorolla at 9:37 PM on May 12


1. Five minutes ago Cersei murdered a cathedral full of innocent folks (and some bad folks). Literally everyone, even in King's Landing, seems to have forgotten that.

2. Sir Brienne deserved better than a child-maining, murdering, raping, incestuous asshole. What could Jaime possibly have done that would have earned redemption from all that? What exactly was his redemption anyway? Being willing to fuck someone who didn't look like Cersei? Why didn't Brienne deserve better?

3. Sansa was molded by a naive, lying father, Cersei, Ramsey, and Little Finger. On the iron throne, she would turn into Cersei v2.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 9:39 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


You know, this would all be a great setup to a final season where the surviving Starks have to navigate the unfamiliar and uncomfortable dynamics of power and intrigue in King's Landing to save the realm while using the lessons learned from Ned's failure to do the same and from all of the tragedies since then. But uh... I don't think they're going to squeeze all that into next week's episode.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:39 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


I am currently imploding over how atrociously they've treated Jaime and Brienne's arc, but so as to not implode all over this page, I've been instead imploding in a dedicated Jaime/Brienne Discord channel. The people there are a right tip-top bunch. If anyone else is hurting due to how meaningful Jaime/Brienne have been to them over the years, you can me-mail me for a link to the channel.
posted by facehugger at 9:40 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Clytemnestra slaughtering Agamemnon in his bath

he had it coming
posted by poffin boffin at 9:40 PM on May 12 [39 favorites]


If this is all about how the powerful always win over the just, my theory is that the Iron Bank will recognize the existential threat to their natural ruling order, Invade Westeros, repo the dragon, and restore the Old Guard for the sake of financial stability.
posted by cardboard at 9:42 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


2. Sir Brienne deserved better than a child-maining, murdering, raping, incestuous asshole. What could Jaime possibly have done that would have earned redemption from all that? What exactly was his redemption anyway? Being willing to fuck someone who didn't look like Cersei? Why didn't Brienne deserve better?

Homer: I guess some people never change. Or, they quickly change and then quickly change back.
posted by codacorolla at 9:42 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


The amazing thing about this episode is how virtually every character was betrayed by the writing on two levels: politically retrograde, and fundamentally illogical.

Daenerys: Suddenly insane for some sort of biological reason, yet systematically strafing civilians instead of just attacking the castle.
Cersei: Suddenly weeping and needing comfort from her strong man, surprised that her non-existent defenses didn't work at all with no escape plan whatsoever.
Jaime: Idiotic fight with irrelevant character, character development replaced with return to where we started, dies stupidly. Incorrect about being stupidest Lannister.
Tyrion: Stupidest Lannister.
Hound: Abandonment of character development, attacked by character with zero explanation for mutual animosity, no thought to just kill Cersei as she goes by, triumphantly throws himself off tower that collapses anyway 2 seconds later.
Greyworm: Turned into irrationally violent black man.
Arya: Reverses life ambition after three second conversation, turns into weakling for second time, drags family out of hiding to be incinerated two seconds later, bequeathed magical horse.
Varys: Inexplicably refuses to flee when he knows they are coming for him, dies for nothing.
Crossbows: Zero installed at the castle, suddenly unable to aim at dragon even after it's out of the sun.
Jon: Well, I'll give it to them there -- consistently a complete moron.
posted by chortly at 9:44 PM on May 12 [70 favorites]


I had problems with much of the show but not the penultimate moment when Dany lost it. I expected her to lose it, but not immediately after she won with the city surrendering. And yet, I find that totally believable as a thing that happens in war. You start and the hate builds and you just can't stop. That moment was perfect for me, and redeems the rest of it.
posted by xammerboy at 9:44 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Jon: Well, I'll give it to them there -- consistently a complete moron.

For better or for worse, they also wrote Euron a thoroughly consistent character arc.
posted by codacorolla at 9:46 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Garbage-ass man who has the manuerisms of a possum, but none of the charm.
posted by codacorolla at 9:47 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]


Jaime: Idiotic fight with irrelevant character, character development replaced with return to where we started, dies stupidly. Incorrect about being stupidest Lannister.

I was expecting there to be some deeper meaning behind his explanation for why he kept his golden hand on while trying to get to KL, which caused his capture—like, some ploy that would help put him in a better position to kill Cersei—but it really was just his own idiocy. Okay.
posted by sallybrown at 9:48 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Euron: Forgettable and forgotten from start to finish.
posted by chortly at 9:48 PM on May 12


repo the dragon

That would make for one hell of a Braavosi used vehicle lot.

Greyworm: Turned into irrationally violent black man.

You mean, about two days after losing the only person in the world whom he loved and loved him back, and five seconds after his queen gave implicit permission to go balls to the wall?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:48 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]


Oh, Dany did butcher a ton of civilians over in Essos. We just tend to give her a pass because many of them deserved it. All the upper class in... Yunkai (I think?) for example.

But that's the problem. Dany up to this point has been quite brutal against people that were either resisting her, or had done really evil shit she was mad about. So people stop resisting her, people she has nothing against... and she randomly slaughters them.

Now, it would be possible to get there and sell the Mad Queen -- she takes over, but instead of being grateful the population is mutinous, she gets rebellions, etc. But they didn't do any of the work. She's basically had zero contact with the smallfolk of Westeros, and her sum total of 'they aren't grateful enough' experience has been looking lonely at a party.

"Bitches be crazy" is not character development.
posted by tavella at 9:48 PM on May 12 [30 favorites]


Also I feel like this episode was at least 15 minutes of people just staring at things.
posted by TwoStride at 9:49 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Crossbows: Zero installed at the castle, suddenly unable to aim at dragon even after it's out of the sun.

You know that actually went over my head. They couldn't aim the crossbow at her because she was flying directly behind the sun blinding them. Thanks.
posted by xammerboy at 9:49 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Well that was fucking great. I was prepared to hate-watch this episode as it hit a bunch of smarmy emotional beats. Instead they leaned full-in on the horrors of war, 80 minutes of grey bleakness. From Varys' execution to Jon's rapid retreat from Mad Queen Daenerys to the brutal end of Cleganebowl. Nothing good happened this whole episode. The only slightly lighter grey spot in this dark greyness was Arya escaping on a Pale Horse. I've been on Team Stranger for a long time now, I'm glad she's slipped out among the ashes of hundreds of thousands of corpses.
posted by Nelson at 9:50 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


"Team Dany"

Aren't most of them dead? Jon and the Northerners ran for it, but the Unsullied and Dothraki wouldn't run... and the whole town is ashes.

Nice TV trope: Tell someone "I'm sharing this secret with you, don't tell anyone" means everyone knows the secret in minutes.

At least Ned Stark could keep a secret.

I hope Sansa is smart enough to evacuate Winterfell before it goes up in smoke as well.
posted by Marky at 9:51 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Hound: Abandonment of character development, attacked by character with zero explanation for mutual animosity

that was his older brother gregor who set him on fire for fun when they were children
posted by poffin boffin at 9:52 PM on May 12 [19 favorites]


I thought Dany's decision to sack King's Landing was politically rational.

She said that she knew she would never be loved, so she needed to be feared. So she needed to terrorize the inhabitants of King's Landing and create a kind of "Dany the Terrible" mythos around herself in order to create that fear. She knew that before the battle of King's Landing, she actually had too much of a reputation for mercy and heroism, and assholes like Cersei were already trying to take advantage of it. Politically, she needed to make a very public heel turn to stop people from thinking she was soft and that her softness could be exploited.

She also said that she saw sacking the city as a way of ending the war for good, which would be for the best for everyone in the long run (the line was "future generations will thank us" or something). I think just like Tyrion said that if the price for saving a city full of innocent civilians was the life of one not-so-innocent dwarf then so be it, Dany was thinking that if the price for conquering the Seven Kingdoms and ending this long and horrible war for the Iron Throne was sacking one city, then that city needed to get sacked.

I think emotionally, she also was taking revenge on the city and every one of the people in it for taking the Lannister's/Kingslayer's side against her family. Of course we know the smallfolk don't give a shit about who's on the Iron Throne, but for the royals it's always all about them -- and Dany and Cersei are both more isolated than even most royals/nobles.
posted by rue72 at 9:54 PM on May 12 [34 favorites]


All I can say about this episode, without imploding all over the page, is that this episode seems to confirm to me that D&D have always misunderstood ASOIAF, that not only is their only priority ~plot twists~, they also seem to actively dislike positive character progression. Dany went through seven seasons of learning how to be a different type of ruler, but no she's just another Mad Targaryen. Jaime's time with Brienne made him a more honorable person, someone who could see outside of his family, but not only did he go back to Cersei saying, "It's always only been us," he also said that he didn't care about the innocents burning outside, when that was the reason why he killed Aerys in the first place. Even Cersei was treated terribly - the past few seasons have shown a woman who thought that she would be fulfilled just by being a good mother, but has realized that she's in her element as a queen, that she relishes power. And then in this episode, she says that all that ever mattered was her child and her lover. Even a character like Jon has just stayed his honorable, good self.

The only characters who seem to have truly changed, Arya and Sansa, have changed in a negative sense - the world is terrible, and they've have to become more cruel, ruthless people to survive. Which is a truth of the world, sure, but there is nothing to balance it out. Either you are privileged enough to be able to remain your same, puppy dog self (Jon), or you become grimdark to match the grimdark world, or if you are marked as baddie, no matter what you do, you will always return to your worst, base self.

For a show that was supposed to be about how "we're not your daddy's fantasy," it's exhausting that the one thing that they've been most faithful to is fantasy's nihilistic unchanging duality.

D&D has gone beyond "not caring" about the character arcs, they are actively spitting on them.
posted by facehugger at 9:55 PM on May 12 [33 favorites]


Sansa was molded by a naive, lying father, Cersei, Ramsey, and Little Finger. On the iron throne, she would turn into Cersei v2.

I totally agree with this. The lessons Sansa has learned from all of her horrifying experiences have been about realpolitik and making sure that you have power so you are not vulnerable to those who would harm you, which is completely understandable but not really the things that make for good governance.
posted by whir at 9:56 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


If Dany's had followed the bells and taken Knights Landing without torching civilians, she'd have more competition for the game of thrones.

People would have kept trying to convince Jon that he could rule. Tyrion would have convinced himself that he was right and that he got the bells to toll (a bit late though) and he'd have tried to talk his way back to being the hand of the Queen. Cersi and Jamie may have survived and kept plotting. Bronn would have tried to leverage something out of the survivors.

But Dany torching the place, sent a message to all cities. Do not oppose Daenerys, the one true Queen. (on preview, what rue72 said).


Also in my previous list of Teams. Lord Gendry is team Dany. Sam team Jon.

I look forward to 90 minutes of a coronation ceremony. Some Dragon belly rubs. Maybe some celebratory Fortnite style dancing.

Dany laying down some rules for how the new government will work. Pax Daenerys!
posted by ecco at 9:58 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


Death rides a pale horse.

And on the bloody morning aft-er-er,
One tin Arya rides away.
posted by scalefree at 9:58 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Oof, another gut punch for Brienne I didn't think of before, Jaime turning out to be the piece of shit everyone else knew he was, instead of the once-honorable knight working his way back towards the light Brienne thought he was, probably really taints her knighthood for her since that asshole bestowed it and then stomped all over her ideas of noble knights.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:59 PM on May 12 [29 favorites]


Dragons are not precision weapons.
Dany managed to incinerate Varys while everybody else was standing like six feet away from him.
posted by Hatashran at 10:00 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


Dany went through seven seasons of learning how to be a different type of ruler

I mean, did she, though? She was different from the existing rulers of Essos in that she freed the slaves, but besides that she didn't actually seem to be very good at ruling any of the places she conquered in Essos, and Westeros doesn't have the same culture of slavery.
posted by whir at 10:03 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


Yeah I feel so bad for Brienne after all this. Also that's a good point chortly, why the heck does zombie!Mountain hate Sandor enough to overrule his programming now? I always thought that thing between them was completely one-sided, that was the point, he was just casually cruel.
posted by traveler_ at 10:04 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Hound: Abandonment of character development, attacked by character with zero explanation for mutual animosity

that was his older brother gregor who set him on fire for fun when they were children


I have to say I did like the "Hey so this zombie from your past that embodies ALL YOUR TRAUMA and why you're the way you are is literally unkillable as the castle falls around you House Of Usher style" just as a High Gothic beat.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]




Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

posted by sacrifix at 10:06 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Also I mean I guess anything can happen next episode but it really is looking like they gave Bran the ability to warg through goddamn time just for one sad Hodor moment. What a weird toy to put in the toybox and then never play with again.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:07 PM on May 12 [39 favorites]


I have to say I did like the "Hey so this zombie from your past that embodies ALL YOUR TRAUMA and why you're the way you are is literally unkillable as the castle falls around you House Of Usher style" just as a High Gothic beat.

Was I imagining it, or did the Hound start laughing at one point after he stabbed him like seven times to no effect? I liked that he didn't give in to despair and continued his MurderQuest, and even that ridiculous eye-smooshing head-explosion move didn't kill Sandor
posted by clockzero at 10:09 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


Clegane bowl should have been more.

This has got to be a joke, right? I half expected The Hound to turn to the camera in the middle and say "Could this fight scene be any more more?"
posted by xammerboy at 10:09 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Jaime turning out to be the piece of shit everyone else knew he was, instead of the once-honorable knight working his way back towards the light Brienne thought he was

There has often been tension in the narrative between the Brienne/Ned Stark type people (strong, even inflexible moral compass; considered naive in the game of thrones) and the Littlefinger/Cersei/Olenna type people (you win the game of thrones or you die, nothing else matters), and Jaime as the character who seemed to be moving (slowly) from the latter group to the former, going from someone who didn’t care to explain to others why he killed the king to someone who cared what ended up about him in the White Book. But with this ending to that arc, it seemed to suddenly flip—the guy who charged Brienne to protect the innocent now explicitly says he doesn’t care about them. What that means in the ultimate story is really throwing me for a loop.
posted by sallybrown at 10:10 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


and even that ridiculous eye-smooshing head-explosion move didn't kill Sandor

Sandor has always been hard-headed
posted by rue72 at 10:10 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


He does laugh Clockzero. Just kind of that laughter of unbelief that he made it this far and discovered his brother was unkillable.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:10 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


I assume the Bran stuff is coming up to one big "So I had to tell you that so I could explain how I actually orchestrated all of this" moment but I've eaten hats before
posted by The Whelk at 10:11 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Ok, I know this is a dumb idea but if Bran warged into Dany at the moment she went all dracarys on King's landing it would explain why they didn't show her face during the sack.
posted by whir at 10:11 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


I liked that part. He laughed at the absurdity and then destroyed him anyway. With gusto!
posted by clockzero at 10:12 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


I like Cleganebowl as an anticlimax in an abstract sense (it also fits with the idea that seeking mindless revenge is unsatisfying), but it was also one of the few things I was genuinely looking forward to with a show that seemed to have bought entirely into fan service and spectacle, so I feel kind of cheated that I didn't get my particular fan service and spectacle. Also as far as fight choreography goes it was blah, and the makeup on Darth Mountain was laughable.
posted by codacorolla at 10:15 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


I liked the laughter because it kind of mirrored my feelings about this entire episode. After all this time, THIS is what I get? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA
posted by miss-lapin at 10:15 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


It's a good thing Bran made sure Jon knew he was a Targaryen so all this carnage could happen, and everything end unhappily ever after...?
posted by xammerboy at 10:15 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


pour molten gold on her brother's head and shrugged.

Yeah but that guy was a #MeToo-grade dick. Her "shrugging" at that
meant something to us, the viewers, because that was her growing up, on her own (well okay she was saved by big strong cuddly Drogo, but), recognizing that her brother's authority was just bullying. Her burning the streets of the city, on the other hand, is just "the cycle of abuse." Big deal. Eight seasons just for that? Remember all the Dorne shit? WINTER IS COMING but then things warmed up the tomato plants are ok


But the idea that they just don't give a shit is absurd

"I'm the man who killed Jaime Lannister!" is what they spent money to tell us.


and, frankly, kind of offensive.

Hi there, I'm TV Critic Euron, and I'm here to offend you:
- The Night King was what, again?
- Bran raven time knowledge what, again?
- The Golden Company was what, again?
- The Hound's end was unworthy.
- The Mountain's end was BORING
- Cersei's end was BORING
- Qyburn's end was BORING
- Last episode: Dragon taken out in seconds by... three or four ballistas?
- This episode: Dragon burns them all because... Dany used the von Richtofen Gambit?
- No shit, the woman (they showed her pausing when the bells rang, and looking right at the Red Keep - you know, the thing she's been laser-focused on since season 1) and the black guy got overcome with emotion, but the white guy knew what was right and just?

Fucking Battle of the Planets has more narrative complexity than this show.

But don't mind me, I'm only complaining because it wasn't Joffrey's head on top of the Mountain. I mean go ahead, explain why that wouldn't be correct and better...
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:17 PM on May 12 [30 favorites]


Varys: "I've always hated the bells. They ring for horror. A dead king. A city under siege...."
Tyrion: "A wedding."
Varys: "Exactly."

From season two
posted by qi at 10:17 PM on May 12 [36 favorites]


It's a good thing Bran made sure Jon knew he was a Targaryen so all this carnage could happen, and everything end unhappily ever after...?

Bran's eyes turning blue and the corpses of the dead rising in the streets of KL would be an interesting way to cap the series, and probably my preferred ending at this point, but that's probably pure fantasy given what we've seen so far this season.
posted by codacorolla at 10:18 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


This show is dead to me.
posted by jurymast at 10:18 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Oh, I also feel like this is the second episode where I've been waiting for Jon to get burned by a dragon so we could see if he emerges unscathed... I kind of hoped they would somehow try to force a confrontation where he tried to stop Dany. While it's possibly in character that he just ran around totally haplessly, it was disappointing nonetheless.
posted by TwoStride at 10:20 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Thanks I hate it
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:22 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


I cleaned the fuck up in the dead pool this week, y'all.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:22 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Blood-and-fire Daenerys: cool; I've been on team 'this has been foreshadowed since the very early seasons' since... the very early seasons.

Arya choosing life, and super obviously going to kill Dany before bouncing: cool; called it; liked that exchange with Sandor, even if it was a little on the nose.

Everything else was nuclear-grade bullshit, and I hate it. I HATE IT. I can't be more coherent than that. Fuck this show.
posted by jurymast at 10:24 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


The first real lesson in how this show's world works was Cersei showing Ned that he has no idea how power works, and her undoing is that she couldn't really figure out how to apply critical thinking about power imbalances to a giant fire-breathing sky monster.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:24 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


The first real lesson in how this show's world works was Cersei showing Ned that he has no idea how power works, and her undoing is that she couldn't really figure out how to apply critical thinking about power imbalances to a giant fire-breathing sky monster.

It's just a little airborne, it's still good, it's still good! It's just a little on fire, it's still good, it's still good! We're just a little cornered, it's still good, it's still good! It's just a little crumbly, It's stil-

We're screwed m'lady.

Ohhh, I know...
posted by codacorolla at 10:27 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


Cersei, the self-aggrandizing tyrant who ruled by manipulation and intimidation, died helpless and begging in a basement while no one saw. And there was no one she could threaten, cheat, or trick into doing a damned thing about it. Not even having Jamie with her made it any less bespoke awful a way for her to die.

I think I like that better than any of the _____ kills Cersei scenarios.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:35 PM on May 12 [43 favorites]


Should we now be questioning Jaime as an unreliable narrator for why he actually killed Aerys II? Jaime’s dying words were that only he and Cersei mattered, and earlier he said he didn’t care about the innocents.

I don't think there is much question that the unreliable part is his words to Cersei. He was saying that for her benefit. Everything we've seen for the last 5 seasons shows that he came to the point where things besides Cersei mattered and he did care about other people. That's the entire reason he was at Winterfell for what he expected to be his death.

Interestingly, it occurs to me that a whole lot of the last 5 seasons could be seen as Jaime looking for ways to get himself killed without doing the deed himself. But as with the parallels to The Magicians and Quentin I don't think that's necessarily fair.

Emilia's thoughts

I've seen a bunch of these on twitter and they remind me of the weird compilations people made of other Avengers actors making slightly awkward of out context mentions of Brie Larson in an attempt to paint there being a bunch of hating of Brie Larson going on. In this link's case it seems like pretty standard gotta-awkwardly-avoid-spoilers-particularly-that-Missandei-dies taken to reinforce the narrative people already want to believe.
posted by Justinian at 10:37 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


TAKE THAT HARRY STRICKLAND!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:38 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


Cersei, the self-aggrandizing tyrant who ruled by manipulation and intimidation, died helpless and begging in a basement while no one saw. And there was no one she could threaten, cheat, or trick into doing a damned thing about it. Not even having Jamie with her made it any less bespoke awful a way for her to die.

yeah as much as I don't like the way it took Jamie (I would;ve liked SOME indications he was ready to kill her before it became obvious they where both doomed) she died scared and anonymous in a rubble pit where no one will find her which is pretty good for a dictator who blew up a church and half the ruling class a month ago
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


she couldn't really figure out how to apply critical thinking about power imbalances to a giant fire-breathing sky monster.

Given what happened this week, with the entirely predictable dragon engaging in entirely predictable tactics, it's hard to understand her behavior as anything other than purely suicidal (even without a massacre of civilians, there was no way she was going to survive a sack after that). But it wasn't read that way.
posted by praemunire at 10:40 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Cersei, the self-aggrandizing tyrant who ruled by manipulation and intimidation, died helpless and begging in a basement while no one saw. And there was no one she could threaten, cheat, or trick into doing a damned thing about it. Not even having Jamie with her made it any less bespoke awful a way for her to die.



Or Cersei dies ALONE in the basement without the comfort of Jaime. Cut to Jaime waking from a nightmare, he rolls over to see the peaceful slumber of Brienne, he holds her closer and goes back to sleep.

This ending honors his character arc and gives Cersei a slightly worse death.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:42 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


I think that the 'Daenerys ends up being the ultimate villain' is sort of an artifact of the American triumphalism of when the story started. Daeny's story is basically going into the middle-east, trying to play savior, fucking things up, and then returning home for her manifest destiny. If you read the series as 'America is actually pretty bad, and having a bunch of superior weaponry and an unearned self-concept of heroism makes it even worse' then I guess this all fits.
posted by codacorolla at 10:42 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


Sure are a lot of people pro woman who just flew on a flying napalm stick who killed tons of innocent people. I'm not a fan, personally.

Ugh, I'm 10000% done now that I see a comment how this is about the middle east wars. GG metafilter. No.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:44 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


WINTER IS COMING but then things warmed up the tomato plants are ok

Heh.

I guess what kinda disappoints me, but also makes some sense in its way, is that the Stark kids seem like they are going to come out on top without having had to deal with being confronted with the choices that come from wielding power at the level Cersei and Dany had. They had to suffer and Arya gets to kill selectively, but the show used Dany to take out Cersei so the Starks won't have to worry about that kind of threat and how they would face it. Bran will probably warg into dragon and fly to both avoid that threat as a power issue and as the other bookend to his fall in the first episode, much as Cersei and Jaime had theirs this time, ending as they started. I suppose that's all satisfying in a way, but it seems to evade the kinds of questions about power and relationships by some sleight of hand and the idea that those Stark kids are good eggs so they wouldn't have those kinds of problems. It works in a basic way, but I was hoping for something different since that feels a lot easier an end that the show seemed to promise at the start.


Or maybe I'm way off base and something else will happen I dunno.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:45 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


My money is on next week King's Landing is mostly intact--a few shops torched, the Red Keep has lost maybe one tower. Just to be in sync with the battle of Winterfell.
posted by maxwelton at 10:45 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


Also, a lot of people disappointed the incest twin rapist who crippled a child didn't get a happier ending. Yeah, yeah. Redemption arc and all. But still.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:46 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


Dragonfire can't melt brick beams, Qyburn.
posted by lkc at 10:46 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Any war is about the middle east. Or Afghanistan, or invading Russia which don't do during winter Dany. Bleh. BLEH.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:47 PM on May 12


You know what would be a good way to inspire fear, if you're fireproof? Just walk around on fire, like the dude crossing the street at the end of Rihanna's Diamonds video, all of the time. No one wants to mess with that shit.
posted by maxwelton at 10:49 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure what they could have done differently

Never do anything with Dorne, since it turns out not to matter
Never do anything with Jorah's greyscale, since it doesn't matter
Compress the wandering and Qarth into half a season so they get to Yunkai or Meereen halfway through season 2
Compress Ramsay and Theon into one or two episodes

Expand Yunkai and Meereen so we get more of her fucking up and more of her being susceptible to flattery and more of her getting high on herself

Get her to Westeros by mid-season 5 instead of 7 so that we can have an entire extra season of watching her wrestle with Westerosi who don't know, care, or love her instead of vast populations of ex-slaves who mostly adore her

If Daenarys's slide into burning a city is important, give space for the development of that plotline instead of all the ones that don't matter, even the ones with torture and boobies.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:49 PM on May 12 [74 favorites]


Any war is about the middle east. Or Afghanistan, or invading Russia which don't do during winter Dany. Bleh. BLEH.

Hmm, I wonder what George R. R. Martin could've been referencing when he put a western-coded character into a scenario where she invades an eastern-coded foreign country trying to instill her values while advancing her conveniently aligned goals for personal power. Well... probably nothing!
posted by codacorolla at 10:52 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


I heartily agree with GCU SaFoG about the ideal pacing. As long as "never do anything with Dorne" means never do anything POST-red-viper since I think that arc has widely been viewed as quite successful. But the rest I sign on completely

(I also wish a certain other person had taken this and similar advice *cough jon connington quentyn martell why why why cough* and excised or compressed a bunch of needless fluff)
posted by Justinian at 10:55 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Get her to Westeros by mid-season 5 instead of 7 so that we can have an entire extra season of watching her wrestle with Westerosi who don't know, care, or love her instead of vast populations of ex-slaves who mostly adore her

A season of war with the Night King just crushing Westeros before they turn it around and a final season of Dany v Cersei with everyone around Dany getting real worried about the horse they backed would have been excellent.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:55 PM on May 12 [33 favorites]


I'm sort of wondering what you all wanted out of this episode. I'll admit that I didn't know going in how it was going to go but I found this totally satisfying and in keeping with the show. Did you expect a Return of the King kind of ending to Game of Thrones?

21st century fandom - a dysfunctional sense of complete ownership over properties you have no control over. I wonder how many people who've been saying "I'm done with this show" this season have been saying the same thing since back in season 5 when that view start to tick upward with how brutal that season was. And a lot of the angst here over characters like Jamie remind me of how much fans of BrBa loved Walt, who was also a less than stellar human.

It is a bummer how the accelerated pace has diminished the show these last two seasons in conjunction with the issue of Dany's power problem, which D&D inherited from GRRM. But I was fine with this episode. The deaths all made sense. Showing the horrors of war is what this show does over and over, which is why we saw it from the perspective of the civilians instead of Dany. I think D&D are problematic in that they at least don't valorize war or psychopaths, but they sure do give them all the attention. Mirrors their interest in doing a show about the south wining the civil war. Just asking the question has meaning.

After season 7 I was pretty sure we weren't going to get an all-timer like Ozymandias from BrBa toward the end. But this show's seasons 1-4 will be hard to top by any show in the future.
posted by MillMan at 10:59 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


what i really wanted was for all the dead raised by the night king to do the thriller dance
posted by poffin boffin at 11:02 PM on May 12 [24 favorites]


Never do anything with Dorne, since it turns out not to matter
Never do anything with Jorah's greyscale, since it doesn't matter
Compress the wandering and Qarth into half a season so they get to Yunkai or Meereen halfway through season 2
Compress Ramsay and Theon into one or two episodes

Oh, this is a fun game! I'd add:

- Cut out the Iron Islands from S6-S8. Yara was the only character I cared about, and they clearly aren't doing anything of note with her character so just scrap that whole storyline.
- Dany doesn't really do anything in the first 8 episodes of S6, so maybe compress that whole being taken captive by the Dothraki's narrative to get her back to Mereen faster.
- Get rid of the Sansa marries Ramsay storyline.
- Littlefinger just spends S7 twirling his mustache and creepily hitting on Sansa, so that could free up a few minutes too.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:03 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Without the love of the populace and another claim to the throne better than hers, the only way she can rule is by fear.

So I am FURIOUS at this episode, but one thing I want to point out was her asking Jon if that’s all they were was actually I believe her attempt to see if she COULD rule through love - if she could marry Jon and gain his popularity and neutralize the threat to herself. If she could be not a lone Targaryen but a paired Targ, with Jon there to temper her impulses and to feel safe. And she can’t. And so she decides fuck it, she is going to rule through fear, and it feels so good.

I don’t think Dany violating the surrender was all that surprising at all, and I think that part is probably going to be mimicked. But I think that everything else was made completely nonsensical. Why does Jaime have to kill Sea Ramsay? Why do we see a million shots of “is Arya going to die?” Why for the love of god does Jaime just come there to comfort Cersei as she dies? What the actual fuck, I’m getting mad again just thinking about it.
posted by corb at 11:22 PM on May 12 [22 favorites]


Should we now be questioning Jaime as an unreliable narrator for why he actually killed Aerys II? Jaime’s dying words were that only he and Cersei mattered, and earlier he said he didn’t care about the innocents. Derision of him as the Kingslayer was based on him killing the king to favor his family, and we know Aerys ordered Jaime to kill his father (in addition to ordering the burning of the city). Did Jaime actually care about the wildfire, or use Aerys’ madness as a good excuse to save his father or even attempt to take the throne for the Lannisters? Maybe Ned was right about him all along?

Oooh, that's compelling and would kind of redeem the mushy writing WRT Jaime for me, which was the only truly off spot this episode. I'd assumed that Jaime was going to go to maybe save Cersei but then was going to end up killing her. The after-show chat with D&D was all "this is the woman jaime loves and he's getting back to her" but his interactions with Brienne just made that feel off to me. But it was paralleled well in the duel between the bros Clegaene, where siblings are just kind of stuck in their naive childhood patterns. Still, it's disappointing, mostly because I love Brienne and wanted to see her--and only her, really!--get her happy ending.

I've thought Dany was a creepy creepster forever and totally bought her revenge rampage.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:23 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


The Arya thing absolutely made sense - she’s always been content with other events/people taking out her targets before she could, she just steadily moves on to the next name on her list when that happens. The Hound pointed out that in this case her next target was definitely a goner, and he was obviously right, so... thanks. For breaking me out my murderbot autopilot/fugue and thereby saving my life.

I do not understand why people are questioning Grey Worm’s violence, or Dany’s. He has said since we met him that Dany freeing him meant he finally got to make a choice and he chose to follow the person who destroyed the slavery system that literally castrated and brainwashed him. Against all odds his choice leads to him finding love... and then he loses it, simultaneous with Dany losing her only remaining moral anchor now that Ser Barristan is gone. Dany reached out to Jon to to see if he would assume that role, and he denied her because he’s an idiot who didn’t understand what she was really asking, and so she decided to take the course most likely to fulfill what she felt was her destiny, and was likely to keep her alive, and provided catharsis for Cercei’s betrayal and the death of two of her child-surrogate dragons and the death of Missandei. Grey Worm shared her need for a similar catharsis, and when he saw the person he chose to follow sanction that goal, he followed suit.

All of the major characters’ decisions in this episode made sense except for Jaime’s. Literally everything else rang true given the nature and motivations of the characters.
posted by Ryvar at 11:25 PM on May 12 [38 favorites]


Maybe Arya's real name is...Susan. Death was obviously quite busy (by contract I think he'd have to come for Qyburn personally), so she borrowed Binky to get the hell out of Dodge.
posted by maxwelton at 11:25 PM on May 12 [18 favorites]


So for the people in the "Jaime was always a douchebag, why should we care?" camp, an attempt to explain why I'm annoyed about his ending. (I’m going to make the definitely problematic decision here to regard the infamous sept rape scene as not-quite-canonical, because it’s pretty clear the showrunners/director were too stupid and/or misogynistic to realize that’s what they were showing—yes, this is super fucked up and part of what’s always been Very Bad about this show.) Anyway, so, here's a terribly privileged dude who's done many unforgivable things, so why is it frustrating that he's getting his just desserts in the form of several tons of Red Keep rubble?

First, what bothers me most is the way it seems to reduce Brienne (whom I adore unreservedly) to being largely an accessory to Jaime’s sad story. Recall that it’s pretty much via her perspective that we first see a different side of Jaime in S 3-4 to start with, and she’s not simply a witness (as in the infamous Harrenhal bathtub scene) but a catalyst: she’s the one who forces him to see himself reflected in the mirror of her ability to live up to the ideals he mocks but still sort of cares about. And as a result his own actions and choices start to shift—not completely or in any kind of linear fashion, but we see it over and over again in their encounters, up until “fuck loyalty!” and his subsequent decision to ride north. So even without their romantic/sexual entanglement this season, it’s already heartbreaking from her perspective to see him give up on the hope of transcending who he was before they met. (Also, yeah, I ship it, even to my own dismay; NC-W and GC just have such excellent chemistry that I fell for them as a pair, and I wanted that relationship to mean more than just a failed attempt at a rebound from Cersei.) I guess the counter-argument here is that even if it didn’t change his own final trajectory, their interaction does have tangible consequences for others: she’s able to befriend Podrick, rescue Sansa, etc partly as a result. But the fact that her impact on him doesn’t last, in the end, still makes it seem as if her storyline has been rendered subordinate to his, like her real function in this whole thing has just been to witness Jaime Lannister try and fail to be the person she hoped he would manage to be. And the way that they consummate the relationship only to have him return to Cersei reinforces all of the worst and most painful narratives about the sexual/romantic rejection of women who don't meet or aspire to normative femininity (it's not surprising that many people felt gutted by their final scene in 8x04). Also, as someone noted above, it feels like it cheapens the gift of her knighthood in retrospect, which isn’t bittersweet; it’s just bitter.

Second, while I don’t want to dismiss the intensity or importance of Jaime and Cersei’s relationship (and I actually found the portrayal of it moving, if deeply fucked-up, at many points in earlier seasons), there’s something really depressing and actually kind of boring about the inescapability of their fate. Yeah, there's a sort of facile realism to it—people do in fact often return to toxic relationships and regress back into abusive family dynamics, no shit! and the whole Lannister narrative is probably most effective when it’s really digging into the way all three of the siblings were basically ruined by their father and the family-above-all ethos. But this is actually a wheel that can be broken—and it feels like the show instead has decided to treat it something as inevitable as Targaryen insanity genetics or whatever. There’s a narrative symmetry to the circularity of it all, the twins who came into the world together and die together, but I don’t actually find it particularly meaningful—or, given the way it actually played out as written in the hasty final seasons, particularly realistic.

oops, that's a lot of feelings about a show I claimed to only watch for the watercooler conversation and so as to understand bad metaphors for contemporary politics on twitter; it's totally Gwendoline Christie's fault. May she be cast in everything henceforth, especially by female showrunners who will hopefully put her to better use than Star Wars or this.
posted by karayel at 11:30 PM on May 12 [57 favorites]


I thought the dragon fire collapsing buildings was appropriate and it's bugged me we haven't seen more of it. Harrenhall was friggin melted by dragon fire. I'm still irritated that un-dead Viserion at Winterfell was shooting his un-dead flames around and Jon was able to duck behind a few bricks to be safe from them. By all rights, those flames should have been melting the walls.
posted by maxwelton at 11:31 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]


Okay! Pencils down, everybody. I'm going to grade myself on my predictions from last week while updating them for the last episode:

> Jamie tries to kill Cersei, but fails, and is killed. He doesn't die nobly or well.

Correct!. Well, except for the motivation. That was disappointing.

> Dany learns of Varys' plotting and keeps to her word, burning him alive for treason. This becomes the motivation for Tyrion finally abandoning her and joining Jon.

Correct, mostly. Varys' death wasn't enough, but the immoltion of King's Landing will be. The question is if Tyrion will survive next episode. In the aftermath of the sack, it's possible that Jamie's escape will be overlooked, or everyone will simply assume that he's dead, and it no longer matters. Also, I suspect that Varys' death was the biggest, final roll of the dice he could make: by being killed, he may have thought that it would show Dany for the tyrant he believed she was.

> As her allies die, leave or betray her Dany becomes increasingly paranoid, impulsive and cruel. She has some sort of redemptive moment at the end in which she sacrifices herself, destroying both her and Drogon in the process (and probably, finally, taking out SeaRamsey).

Nope. I'm not even going to give myself partial marks for that one, as her psychological breakdown was clearly indicated in the last episode.

> Cleganebowl happens. Both brothers die in the fight.

Ding!

> Arya sneaks into King's Landing and takes Jamie's face. As the Red Keep crumbles around her, an increasingly unstable Cersei is stunned to see her brother impossibly alive. Arya uses the opportunity to kill her, fulfilling the prophecy and finishing off her list, before returning to Bravos.

Bzzzt. Pretty sure Arya is going to target Dany now. If she succeeds, it's going to be the thing that drives her away: Jon isn't going to keep a Queenslayer around.

> Tyrion survives, returning to Winterfell to be with Sansa.

Too soon to tell. Depends on whether he survives the Mad Queen, obviously. I'm betting yes.

> The kingdom recognizes that you should never go full Targ. Jon reluctantly takes the Iron Throne, the loneliest, saddest, and prettiest boy to ever rule.

Too soon to tell. I think that Jon will reluctantly recognize that Dany has gone too far. But can he be drawn to fight her? I don't know. If he does take the throne, I think that he immediately abdicates and calls for a democracy: "No more kings, no more lords. All we've done is bring people death and misery. Let the people rule". That's been telegraphed since Jon's experience of politics in the Night's Watch, one of the only democratic institutions in Westeros.


posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:35 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Burninating the countryside, burninating all the people, burninating all the villages, and the THATCHED ROOF COTTAGES!....(ahem) CLAY ROOFED COTTAGES!
And then Trogdor comes in the niiiiiiight!
--I seriously sang that at least 3 times this episode.

My read of Grey Worm was that everyone saw that the dragon was starting the burninating, and he was like, "welp, guess we're doing this then!" and following his queen, since it was pretty obvious that the KL guards were going to turn and pick up their swords once they got over the initial shock. Jon Snow knew nothing, of course. And all the bells talk ended up just being another "the crypt is the safest place to be!" for this episode.

Unfortunately, I don't think show Jamie had the same motivations as book Jamie, which showed more of his internal thought process about Cersi's actions.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:40 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Second, while I don’t want to dismiss the intensity or importance of Jaime and Cersei’s relationship (and I actually found the portrayal of it moving, if deeply fucked-up, at many points in earlier seasons), there’s something really depressing and actually kind of boring about the inescapability of their fate. Yeah, there's a sort of facile realism to it—people do in fact often return to toxic relationships and regress back into abusive family dynamics, no shit! and the whole Lannister narrative is probably most effective when it’s really digging into the way all three of the siblings were basically ruined by their father and the family-above-all ethos. But this is actually a wheel that can be broken—and it feels like the show instead has decided to treat it something as inevitable as Targaryen insanity genetics or whatever. There’s a narrative symmetry to the circularity of it all, the twins who came into the world together and die together, but I don’t actually find it particularly meaningful—or, given the way it actually played out as written in the hasty final seasons, particularly realistic.

Same, same. I found Jaime believable as someone who is in the grasp of a narcissist but damn if I didn't want him to escape it.

I do think it's significant that Tyrion sends Jaime into the city explicitly with a plan to take Cesei out and get the bells ringing--so it's kind of noble? And there's a kind nobility in calming her fears when she's about to die, too. But damn, more than anything, what was that shit about now caring if the people of king's landing burn?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:42 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


If Arya has been truly given a (late) gift from Sandor--the ability to turn to the light, so to speak--she will ride her beautiful self on that beautiful horse straight back to her beautiful beau, Gendry, and fuck the rest of it.
posted by maxwelton at 11:42 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


Never do anything with Dorne, since it turns out not to matter

But Dorne gave us the fight that gave us the zombo-Mountain that was finally paid off with a two-minute fight on a collapsing tower!

And by this logic, we can now retroactively dispense with the entirety of the wall, the white walkers, winter is coming, and all the rest, since that turned out to be disposed of with a single episode/dagger.

Anyone have any fun speculations about what new character betrayals they will come up with for the final episode that render other large swathes of the show irrelevant?
posted by chortly at 11:44 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


I LOVED IT! So much! Little hearts from my eyes! I had no expectations but it met all of them. That was some heavy metal Shakespearean epic pulp, and OMG I stan it so much.

So, therefore, as soon as it was over, I knew everyone would hate it and bitch about it endlessly. Which is what I saw as soon as I checked into the Fanfare thread. I truly have #unpopularopinions

So while I do have mixed feelings about this season, I thought this episode was wonderful. I was enthralled from beginning to end. GoT has done a great job of deconstructing the usual high fantasy Chosen One monarchist nonsense: instead, kings (and queens) are narcissistic megalomaniacs who prate on about their "destiny." The innocent are the ones to suffer for their delusions.

A relevant tweet here.

I think Daenarys is an interesting character, but she she clearly has some mental issues because of her heritage and her background. The abused becomes the abuser; she has become like her father and brother. It seems fitting. It's not like it hasn't been foreshadowed-- for example, watch this video. Viserys and Mirri Maaz Duur are arguably the worst, but do they deserve the horrible punishments they got? Dany's reactions to their deaths is just chilling.

I also loved how Arya, the competent supernaturally trained assassin, is just another scared kid running through a dying city. She can't do anything against fire or bombs or the massacre of thousands. All she can do is save herself. I thought that decision was inspired.

I didn't have any major problems with Jaime dying with Cersei. From womb to tomb. I did like the fact that it went against all the 'volonquar' stuff I've been reading about for years. I mean, sure, I can see why fans who are particularly invested in the Jaime/Brienne relationship are bothered, but I'm not.

So, hey, so many ideas for my next fanfiction about the future of Westeros! *rubs hands, cackling*
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:46 PM on May 12 [31 favorites]


AV Club (Experts) has some other things to say that I think are super relevant:
There were pieces of the puzzle they could have latched onto here—like her prophecy in Qarth, echoed by Cersei’s later in the series—but chose not to, leaving this to be read as an immediate reaction as opposed to a cumulative story development. The fact that Daenerys Targaryen committed these acts does not betray the arc of her character, but it is the kind of development that requires nuanced development that the ensemble spectacle of the series just might not be built for, and which the show certainly never achieved.
posted by corb at 11:48 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


I was more negative on the last few episodes than many posters but I find this one OK. I mean I agree it was bad but better than a lot of options plot wise (e.g., I thought they might go "Jamie and Cersei fake surrender and betray the too trusting Tyrion and Dany")

Choosing to slaughter a surrendering army is definitely Dumb. Armies would switch allegiance; intact they are a valuable tool. That notwithstanding, historically the list of "good" medieval types who leveled a defiant city is not zero. I consider frying Varys essentially required under the circumstances.

In fact, if Dany calmed down and then ruled well and reasonably benevolently for the next 50 years I'd almost regain some respect for the damn show. The gap between personal virtue and ability to govern used to be a theme in the books, but I doubt they are going there.

Daenerys' army of freed slaves and tribal folk ended up being a ravening, raping horde.

So did the Starks TBF. Or did I get confused by the costumes? But I thought the guy Jon killed was definitely a Stark.

This was what troops did after sieges. Some strong leaders could prevent them but it was the exception, not the rule.
posted by mark k at 11:54 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


A minor note of annoyance. When she first shows up, thought that it was interesting that the KL small folk woman has Cersi's haircut- it looked like they were showing that the people were starting to warm up to her, and she was setting trends, but then I noticed that most of the other women running around had long or braided hair, and this character kept showing up in the burninating scenes. And then she's fridged for Arya! So now I'm wondering, did they purposefully give her the haircut so she'd stand out, or was it because she kind of looked like Cersi and that would have been interesting, or was it actually because they were trying to show a Lannister supporter? I guess we'll never know!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:56 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Every time Jon has had a chance to do the right thing, he instead opts for the easy thing.

I mean "I must always tell the truth" or "I always keep my word" is a great way to hurt those around you, and completely removes any agency you might wield in complicated situations. It's easy because it requires no thought. Never trust anyone who sees only black and white.
posted by maxwelton at 12:01 AM on May 13 [23 favorites]


oh man it would be straight up fucking hilarious if arya used cersei's face to get herself brought into dany's presence to kill her
posted by poffin boffin at 12:01 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


From the AV Club thing: That hurts if you’re someone who has earnestly embraced the “good vs. evil” battle of the show, or someone who cites Daenerys as your “favorite character,” or particularly—as Twitter has latched onto—someone who named your daughter Daenerys or Khaleesi over the past decade.

Hahahahah hahahahah.

Sorry, I hadn't even thought of that. Those poor people. This is why you don't name your kids Khaleesi, people. Don't do it.
posted by Justinian at 12:02 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


My head is killing me so I'm not going to read all 300 comments above right now.

I thought that was a pretty well done episode. If I was on board with the story I would have thought it was fucking amazing. I don't LIKE the story choices really, and I sigh at the "in the end you are what you always were," thing going on, but it's their story they can end it how they want. If they'd taken the time to bend the characters to these things more naturally it would have helped... some. I mean I don't know if anything could fix Arya going from what she was the last two episodes to what she was this episode, and nothing can redeem Jon giving Ghost away like an old suitcase, but okay.

Maybe a little I am pro dragon burning things. I'm pro dragon burning those stupid ships and scorpions in the first ten minutes of the battle. I am pro dragons burning this whole stupid show. They had locations and visuals and they used them, it went big and dramatic and I like that shit.

(Though I was hoping Qyburn would have one little trick left, like he'd pull out a little crossbow and shoot it, and it'd ping off the Hound's shoulder harmlessly. The setup of that scene wasn't quite right -- it didn't really make sense for them to order Gregor to stay with the Queen when the Hound was blocking the way anyway; it should have been more like Gregor deciding to stay behind, though then we'd lose Cersei sneaking by on her own which was pretty funny. Sandor's "Your grace," to start it all off was so good though.)
posted by fleacircus at 12:05 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


For what its worth, the AV Club is worth reading as always and has many of the same discussions going on in those reviews. And is similarly divided, with the Newbies reviewing going A- on the episode while the Experts review goes B-.

Well, ok, some people here would obviously go D- or F---- or whatever rather than B- but it's unusual to see a full grade difference in the GoT reviews there.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Yeah, there's a lot more meat to the AVClub review than "don't name your kids Khaleesi". You can feel Myles wrestling with the episode. (He's the "expert" books-included reviewer, but that's kinda moot at this point.)

Todd VanDerWerff, Vox: 4 winners and 10 losers from Game of Thrones’ next-to-last episode, “The Bells”: "a grim installment that is satisfying until you think about it for a bit".
Loser: the “Inside Game of Thrones” segments at the end of each episode

Honestly, these are the stupidest fucking things. Have you ever watched them? Scenes from the episode replay, while showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss try to explain what’s happening in them. [...]

I realize the joke is on me for actually watching these things, when I know they’re going to have next to nothing insightful to say about what I’ve just seen. But even by bottom-of-the-barrel standards of segments meant to discuss an episode you’ve just watched in the most superficial way possible, they’re so, so bad. Benioff and Weiss either don’t want to share insight into their characters or can’t. HBO should just dump these segments entirely.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:10 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


Ah, fuck, I just realised that D&D might really have Arya take Grey Worm's face to assassinate Dany. That's really a thing that D&D might do.

(GOD I'M MAD ABOUT WHAT THEY DID TO GREY WORM.)
posted by jurymast at 12:11 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


I have feelings mostly about pacing, which I've had with this whole seasons with it's few long episodes that lavish a ton of time on non-character set pieces in a rushed effort to wrap up a hugely character-driven show. Without wading in on whether any character arc decision was The Right One or not, I think it's really pretty darned fair to say they spent less time on good elaboration of the motivation for those decisions than they could have.

The episode didn't feel out of place for this season but also feels very at odds with stuff several seasons back, and that sense of character focus vs. spectacle feels like it's at the heart of it for me. I like spectacle, but it's not really what I got into this whole thing for, and I don't need to be shown-not-told in gratuitous montage yet again that war is indeed horrible.

Although if this is where it was going to end up, I wish they had just skipped him hooking up with Brienne. Why even bother having him go back up North at all? If in the end, all he was going to do was run back to Cersei's side 10 minutes later.

He had a lot of podcasts to catch up on, he liked the commute.

I assume the Bran stuff is coming up to one big "So I had to tell you that so I could explain how I actually orchestrated all of this" moment

Ah, yes, the Branatos Gambit
posted by cortex at 12:11 AM on May 13 [17 favorites]


I think the thing that made me the most angry is after all that character building Arya goes right back to be traumatized in KL. She deserved far better than that.

I thought that she just added Dany to her list.

Also, me to everyone left standing: Get in the nearest boat to Essos and go live the rest of your dumb, dumb lives in peace where it's sunny and the food is better.

This worked out great for Jorah Mormont and Viserys Targaryen hamburger {\}
and Harry Strickland and his little dog too!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:12 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


You can feel Myles wrestling with the episode

That's one big takeaway I got from it; he was genuinely struggling with lots of conflicting thoughts and emotions.
posted by Justinian at 12:13 AM on May 13


Justinian, I thought it was interesting the two AV Club reviews had such wildly different grades. I understand many of the points made in the experts review; but I would say that my feelings are generally in line with the Newbies review.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:15 AM on May 13


Yeah. In conclusion, Game of Thrones is a land of contrasts.

That said, there was this weird sentence from Todd VanDerWerff at Vox: So if you thought Game of Thrones was a show about making the world slightly better, about the slow march of progress uh... you’d better be a Jon Snow fan? Good luck in the finale!

I think somebody needs to send him a couple dozen gifs of Tyrion giving the "you haven't been paying attention" speech.
posted by Justinian at 12:22 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah but even with explosions nihilism is boring.
posted by rewil at 12:35 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


The thing is... over the last few years, the show has been revealing that all the stuff about Subverting Expectations and Questioning the Traditional Narrative is nonsense. It's actually a very traditional story: the Triumph of the Noble Starks over the Evil Kings and the Mad Dragon Wizard bloodline. The only way it looked like anything else was if you got interested in any of the other characters.

Ned dying? Pfui. That's absolutely traditional, got to kick the protagonists out of the their comfy lives to start the Journey, so you make them orphans. I suppose *someone* cared about Rickon, but the narrative didn't so his death barely counted. I'll give them points for Robb, but given that the remaining Stark-Winterfell nobles are likely to end up outnumbering the survivors of the rest of the seven Great Families combined, it's become extremely clear who had the plot armor.
posted by tavella at 12:48 AM on May 13 [16 favorites]


> ...someone who named your daughter Daenerys or Khaleesi over the past decade.

Those poor people. This is why you don't name your kids Khaleesi, people. Don't do it.
I always thought Daenerys or Khaleesi was a great name for many/most housecats. And after this episode, I stand by it.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 12:51 AM on May 13 [34 favorites]


Khaleesi is a title. It's not specific to Dany. Assuming there are enough Dothraki left after this (what are the odds) and someone can pay to get them back across the narrow sea, I guess they could try to resurrect their culture.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:54 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


On the one hand it seems strange in general to name someone after a character whose story is still ongoing. On the other hand, considering the stories of many of our biblical and historical namesakes, those kids are in good company.
posted by trig at 1:06 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


I bet Gendry ends up on the iron throne. A Baratheon back on the throne is exactly the kind of neat, superficial parallel D&D are fond of.
posted by Pyry at 1:08 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Great episode. Almost everyone acting in line within their character arcs — the exception being Varys of course who paid the ultimate price. Tyrion and Jon stood by because this is life in Westeros. You do not fuck around with your loyalties or you die and Varys should have known better.

I definitely didn't expect somebody with neither a history of mass-murdering civilians, nor any motivation to, to respond to winning the siege of a city by trying to kill everybody in it. Her actions do not make sense based on her past, they do not make sense based on her desires, they do not make sense based on her character.


Danyreas absolutely murdered civilians — if you had been at all aligned with the slaveholder class, then that was all the justification she needed. And that was what was so jaw dropping tonight. She considers anyone in Westeros an oppressor, including those Westerosi fighting for her. Victory is in sight now and she is ready to cleanse with fire. This was entirely premeditated and discussed with the Dothraki and the Unsullied beforehand. And what’s chilling is we saw nothing of Winterfell this episode. My guess is that Sansa and Bran and Sam and Brienne and the rest are already dead.

Tyrion was talking to Davos about smuggling civilians out of Kings Landing, or possibly the Northern Army out of Kings Landing.

And I don’t even know what planet the people complaining about Jaime’s fate are from. His number one flaw was consistent from literally the first episode. He is a complicated person from a fucked up family who truly loves his sister in icky and nonicky ways. He 100% was always going to die trying to protect her and knowing that he was kinda fucked for doing so. His goodbye with Tyrion was honestly one of the most touching scenes in the entire series.

I hated this season until this episode but they won me back. I think the whole White Walker thing was an unsolvable plot problem for TV and it might have been better if they figured out a way to keep it unresolved but it did provide a reason to align the armies prior to this episode.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:24 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


More of a Red Wedding aftermath vibe. This felt very Game of Thrones.

Remember how shocking and unjust the Red Wedding was, despite it making perfect sense from all we'd seen?


This is actually closely related to my diagnosis of the root problem with this ending, which is that I think D&D really wanted the Daenerys heel turn to be the second big Red Wedding moment. I remember people posting here about how the showrunners always said that's what sold them on the series, and this (foreshadowed) twist gives them an opportunity to have a Red Wedding that is more their own in execution. I don't really have any problem with that plot development in itself - I can believe it's GRRM-approved, even - beyond the harebrained way parts of it are executed, like Dany just having to dragon way harder now that she's really pissed. The problem is a metanarrative problem, and it's that leaning so hard into Dany being the Mad Queen turns far more interesting and watchable characters like Cersei and Jaime into props and blows the conclusion of their arcs.

It's actually a very traditional story: the Triumph of the Noble Starks over the Evil Kings and the Mad Dragon Wizard bloodline.

This is the other part of the problem with the direction of the last couple episodes. If they actually do manage to avert this I will say right now I will regain a fair amount of respect (a respectable amount of respect) for the showrunners. I mean, a lot of details will still not make sense no matter what, but we already knew we were going to see a lot of that in the rush to wrap things up. But as it is it seems like it sets up the boring good guy nobody watching really likes as the big winner and savior of the realm - or at least his family, who are more compelling but still pretty traditional protagonist types.

Also, maybe the name should be HateWatchFare instead of FanFare.

Man, believe me, I really liked this show at one point.
posted by atoxyl at 1:27 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


But as it is it seems like it sets up the boring good guy nobody watching really likes.

I think it's clear what I mean when I say this but I'm not talking about who's a likable personality, but who I like to watch doing things - and I know plenty of people here would agree with me as to the relative rankings of Jon Snow vs. Cersei in that respect...
posted by atoxyl at 1:32 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Pyry - I couldn't agree more - it's especially egregious re: Jaime

Guys, narrative symmetry =/ meaning

The characters are doing all sorts of things, and while there are good arguments for how/why they would do them from a plot point, D&D are utterly failing to explain why they would do this from a thematic point. Yes, it wouldn't be entirely impossible for Jaime to go back to Cersei, for Tyrion to keep saving his family, for Dany to go crazy after hearing the bells, for Arya to kill the Night King etc, but it is entirely thematically incoherent - it disrespects seasons-long character arcs or it tries to create deep character relationships where there weren't ones.

Ultimately you have to ask, not if it made sense, but what is trying to be said? What does Jaime going back to Cersei say? That you can't escape abuse and you can't change? But then where were was the supporting evidence for this arc over the past season, when all the evidence pointed otherwise? What does Arya killing the Night King say, when she's had no thematic connection to him before, while another character has been deeply intertwined with him from the start?

D&D have said before that themes are for 8th grade book reports.i don't think I've ever spent more than 10 hours on a piece of fiction that has straight up no thematic resonance, no desire to actually have something coherent to say about the world.
posted by facehugger at 1:39 AM on May 13 [22 favorites]


MillMan I don't think being defensive over Jaime is at all similar to being defensive over Walt because if you look at Jaime's actions throughout the series, his arc was all about becoming a more honorable man and separating from Cersei, and especially in the first half of this season, he was truly walking the walk.

(Before this episode) it's an inverse Breaking Bad, Jaime is Breaking Good. People keep mentioning Bran but look at how much he's done after the first season,

He starts out pushing Bran out the window but then he loses his hand to save Brienne, he tells her that he secretly killed the king to save King's Landing, he jumps into a bear pit to save her again, he gives her an invaluable sword and gives her a mission to continue to find the Starks girls, he rescues Tyrion, he takes Riverrrun without bloodshed, he lives Cersei to fight for the living, he knights Brienne, and he decides to stay at Winterfell to be with her instead of Cersei (until he finds out that Dany's troops were losing -last week was also a badly written episode).
posted by facehugger at 1:52 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


Dany might as well destroy King's Landing because she could not rule it. She has trouble ruling even when she surrounded by competent staff and at this point she has no trustworthy advisers left. Jorah is dead. Varys has been executed. She knows that Tyrion betrayed her. Jon's not into aunt fucking. She's not going to be welcomed as a liberator in the south. Dragon or no dragon, if she ascends to the iron throne she can look forward to a short life until court intrigue catches up to her. She can't very well turn around after pursuing the iron throne all her life.

I've been watching the Sansa/Dany conflict and wondering why Sansa didn't bother to hide her distrust of Dany. I should have trusted Sansa's read of Dany's character. I should also have wondered why Dany didn't compromise instead of wondering why Sansa didn't compromise. Dany's conception of power is that everyone bends the knee to her. Sansa's conception of power is much more based on politics and practicality.

I will be very disappointed if our girl death on a pale horse doesn't come for Dany in the final episode.
posted by rdr at 1:55 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


If you ever find yourself in a fantasy army, and your side has dragons... you are probably the baddies. (The only thing worse would be necromancers.)

I don't think Dany went crazy, I think she made a decision in keeping with the same villainous burninating impulses she has had since the early seasons. I do wish that the writing and lead up to her going full blood and fire had been better somehow. I think the writers probably hoped people would be horrified but also look back on her past behavior and go "Oh, no. But that makes sense. She's been this way for a while. How did I not notice?" Instead people are wondering how come this heroic character suddenly turned crazy.
posted by surlyben at 1:58 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


I feel like I can see the bones of the interesting ending. This world has two powerful forces: ice and fire. Ice comes from the north, makes zombies, bring darkness. Fire requires human sacrifices, kills indiscriminately, and presumably did whatever happened to Valyria. First no one pays attention to the existential threat of ice. But finally they do, and get together an alliance to stop it. And you think that is the end of the story. But no, because it was an alliance with fire. And fire demands death. In fact, maybe fire manipulated this whole thing so you would fight ice zombies and feed it death. Maybe ice would never have made it through the wall without all the mistakes fire led you into.
posted by Nothing at 2:04 AM on May 13 [40 favorites]


Ultimately you have to ask, not if it made sense, but what is trying to be said?

Seemingly that black ops revenge killing is fine, but don't get carried away with it. If Arya had a dragon after the red wedding, how restrained would she have been? Now they can still pull her back by having her take the Hound's advice and not kill Dany when given the opportunity, by some sleight of hand that removes the dragon threat and leaves Dany, once again, naked, though only metaphorically so one presumes and allows House Stark to look clean for finding better magic than the others. It could still be very after school special about lessons learned and friends met along the way if that's how they want to play it.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:07 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I guess my preferred ending, at this point, would be Jon and Tyrion teaming up to take down Dany, Jon refusing the throne as he has always said he would, the kingdoms going back to being self-governed (what Sansa calls independence which, obviously barring democracy which won’t happen, is the closest to chosen leaders as Westeros can get), Arya riding off to see the world, Jon living in “exile” beyond the wall with his giant puppy and Ghost, Bran says some “this was the way to break the wheel” shit and melts into a tree.

I’d be dissatisfied with how we got here but not necessarily with the outcome, at least. I’ve been TeamSansa for a long time but all she should want is the North, so they better not push any of this on her.
posted by lydhre at 2:23 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Yeah, it makes sense to me that Jon would head North forever rather than taking the Iron Throne. It is the game of thrones, and the one beat the show has always been consistent on is that it's bad for everyone except the person on the throne.

I think this is an illustration of how twist writing goes wrong. Dany going tyrant was written like a twist, but it needed to have been the natural end of her character arc, how a girl who'd been promised she was going to be the Most High Queen one day tried to rule through love and bring justice, and that didn't work, and so then she tried fear and that did work, and then scaled up the same lesson to horrifying consequences. They put down the signposts as they went but without that necessary character work, without making it clear that's where she was ending up, it still looks like a bullshit swerve.

For that matter, the Red Wedding ended up being a bit of a bullshit swerve. That mostly ended up resonating for the Starks but I expected a betrayal like that to resonate throughout the rest of the series. And yet, it never really did. It unleashed the Boltons, I guess, but that kind of felt like the next hateable villains.

Of course, you'd hope that writers would just have nice character arcs with satisfying endings that make sense instead of trying to force a twist! in there, but twists! get thinkpieces and buzz and solid writing does not. You have to twist to get noticed in this climate, and twisting usually makes your story worse.
posted by Merus at 2:58 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


A lot of people seem to think that aerial bombing of civilians means that Danaerys has gone mad. But (and this has also been argued above) this could be read as a coldly rational Machiavellian move to secure the obedience of Westeros through fear. I wonder if this could actually be part of an Ozymandias/God Emperor of Dune-type plan on Dany's part to ensure that future generations will be free of tyranny by destroying not only the Iron Throne and the Red Keep, the symbols of the monarchy, but anyone's appetite for accepting another monarch after her. Because she has no children, and (perhaps) can never have children, she has no lineage to bequeath the future. That was some pretty early underlining back in Season 1 that if Dany took the throne, no one would succeed her.

Dany has said over and over that she means to break the wheel of oppression in Westeros – surely she had some sort of plan in mind, even if she was unwilling to discuss it with Tyrion? I mean, she can clearly still see several moves ahead. She demonstrated this by telling Tyrion not only that she knew that he knew Jon's secret, but that he had told Varys, that Sansa had told Tyrion, and that Jon had betrayed her by telling Sansa. None of us knew that she had known any of this up until that moment. What other plans and knowledge has she been keeping from us?
posted by skoosh at 3:45 AM on May 13 [17 favorites]


I'm oddly numb about the episode and show at this point. Friends ask me what I think will happen in the last episode and such and I just. don't. care. What will happen is gonna happen, but there's just not much point in thinking about the show because whatever happens, it's going to be immensely unsatisfying.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:50 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


Also, I suspect my final thoughts and feelings about this episode will probably be decided by how the final episode is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:57 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


A lot of people seem to think that aerial bombing of civilians means that Danaerys has gone mad. But (and this has also been argued above) this could be read as a coldly rational Machiavellian move to secure the obedience of Westeros through fear.

I feel like the show was pretty explicit, with its long focus on her crumbling, enraged, verge-of-sobbing expression, that Dany going full dracarys was the result of her finally falling over that precipice and lashing out. Dany's burnings/other executions have always, always involved an element of personal satisfaction for her, and she absolutely went into that fight looking for vengeance for Missandei (and Rhaegal, and all the loss she's endured and the struggles she's faced on the path that led her there). Once the bells began to ring, that face is her realising that she would be deprived of that satisfaction - and then the very last of her fucks vanishing as she decided to Burn Them All™ anyway.

I mean, she can clearly still see several moves ahead. She demonstrated this by telling Tyrion not only that she knew that he knew Jon's secret, but that he had told Varys, that Sansa had told Tyrion, and that Jon had betrayed her by telling Sansa. None of us knew that she had known any of this up until that moment. What other plans and knowledge has she been keeping from us?

She knows this because she is paranoid; because from the very first moment Jon insisted that he would have to tell his family, she has been running through the infinity-number of ways that it will go horribly wrong and start a chain reaction of turning people against her. In fact, her very first reaction was to guess that it was Jon himself who had betrayed her. She only extrapolated the chain backwards through Varys -> Tyrion -> etc., once Tyrion told her that it was Varys who was the culprit.
posted by jurymast at 4:02 AM on May 13 [22 favorites]


> Jamie tries to kill Cersei, but fails, and is killed. He doesn't die nobly or well.

Correct!. Well, except for the motivation. That was disappointing.


Was Jamie trying to kill Cersei in that episode? I was confused by that bit of the episode - I guess if he was, that might have made the Euron fight make a little bit more sense maybe?


But I think Cersei and Jaime died both nobly and well at the last moment.
posted by Bwithh at 4:11 AM on May 13


Or we find Cersei alive in the rubble clutching a dead Jaime. In either case Arya probably has Daenerys higher up on her kill list now anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:18 AM on May 13


that matter, the Red Wedding ended up being a bit of a bullshit swerve. That mostly ended up resonating for the Starks but I expected a betrayal like that to resonate throughout the rest of the series.

I think it does, though, to an extent. Because it’s such a huge violation of the laws of chivalry and fair warfare, that anyone who continues to follow the Lannister’s at that point, rather than rise up in revolt, should have known that it was not going to be the end. It is the Red Wedding that allows for the explosion of the Sept of Baelor, and if you have a mad family doing unethical shit that benefits them, you should absolutely question the Sept of Baelor and realize you should get the fuck out of dodge.

Everyone who stays with Cersei, everyone who trusts her word, is ignoring the lessons taught by the Red Wedding, and assuming that you can live with crazy as long as it doesn’t turn it’s baleful gaze on you - forgetting why some things are supposed to be beyond the pale.
posted by corb at 4:18 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


I liked this episode (except the violence against children, but I understand that it aided the horror of the situation). I actually think it’s entirely in character for the series to show that a violent conquerer is still a bad thing, even if she has done some good. It needed a lot more time to get here without feeling rushed and forced (it felt rushed and forced), but I am hoping the books are written at some point to get us there more smoothly. That said, Dany has been miserable and out of place in Westeros the whole time. Turns out the people don’t recall the Targaryens fondly, and for good reason.

What Dany did to the Tarleys shows that she uses fear and violence, not diplomacy. And as others have pointed out, this shock and awe tactic leaves her in a better position than accepting the surrender. Of course, it’s a pyrrhic victory, appropriately.

And Jaime and Cersei’s ending was perfect for me. A happy ending was not in character for him.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:38 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


So now I'm wondering, did they purposefully give her the haircut so she'd stand out, or was it because she kind of looked like Cersi and that would have been interesting, or was it actually because they were trying to show a Lannister supporter?

I thought the child that was with this woman was Martha, one of Varys’s little birds from the beginning of the episode, so I thought for a while they were trying to make their way into the Red Keep to do something, like Jaime, the Hound, and Arya. I don’t think that turned out to be right—the kid maybe just looked like Martha? Either way I think the woman’s hair was unusual looking like that so we would be able to spot her easily among the other townspeople and follow her journey through the episode.
posted by sallybrown at 4:48 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


How To Live A Happy and Successful Life and See All Your Dreams Come True in Westeros, by Euron Greyjoy.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:48 AM on May 13 [17 favorites]


Should we now be questioning Jaime as an unreliable narrator for why he actually killed Aerys II? Jaime’s dying words were that only he and Cersei mattered, and earlier he said he didn’t care about the innocents. Derision of him as the Kingslayer was based on him killing the king to favor his family, and we know Aerys ordered Jaime to kill his father (in addition to ordering the burning of the city). Did Jaime actually care about the wildfire, or use Aerys’ madness as a good excuse to save his father or even attempt to take the throne for the Lannisters? Maybe Ned was right about him all along?

I keep coming back to this thought. Can you imagine how much better written it would seem if Jaime had said this to Tyrion? Something like, "I once told someone that I killed the king to save the people of King's Landing. I wanted her to think I was a good person. I'm not. I killed Aerys to give father the throne, because my family is all that matters to me. I care about you, and I care about Cersei. That's why I left Winterfell. That's why I don't care if the people of King's Landing burn now."

It would still suck for the Jaime/Brienne shippers on a certain level, but at least Jaime would have some internal consistency. Which isn't to say that people can't have wildly differing motivations depending on context but usually they at least THINK of themselves as internally consistent.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:48 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


But that's the problem. Dany up to this point has been quite brutal against people that were either resisting her, or had done really evil shit she was mad about. So people stop resisting her, people she has nothing against... and she randomly slaughters them.

I think that's been kind of the point. Dany has her brother sizzled with molten gold and burns Mirri Maz Duur alive, and we cheer for her because those guys were dicks! She toasts the warlock in Qarth and entombs her handmaid and Xaro Xhoan Daxos alive for plotting against her, and we cheer for her because fuck those guys! She barbecues the Unsullied seller, and commands the Unsullied to kill the Masters in Astapor, and we cheer for her because those guys are transparently evil!

She crucifies 163 Masters in Meereen, even those who had tried to prevent the crucifixion of children, and we go, "Oh, uh. Well, I mean, they were still slavers, so they deserved it anyway." She feeds a randomly-selected head of a noble Meereenese house to her dragons in retribution for Barristan Selmy's death at the hands of the Sons of the Harpy, and we go, "Um, well, sure, I guess. He was almost certainly a bad person."

She burns all the Dothraki khals at KhalCon, and we cheer because our girl's making a comeback! Those guys were definitely all jerks! She burns a couple of slave masters' ships just to make a point, and we go, "Yeah! You show 'em. Those ships were - I mean the leaders were slavers, but probably there weren't any slaves crewing the ships or anything, right?"

Then she bops over to Westeros, sets up camp on Dragonstone, and threatens to burn our bro Jon Snow if he doesn't bend the knee. "Alright, chill out," we go. "That's not necessary; he's your ally! All he wants to do is honour the wishes of the people who named him King." Then she burns the Tarlys and her other already-defeated prisoners of war who won't bend the knee, and we go, "Hey now, hold on just a sec - "

My point is: Dany's done this all along. We just started out cheering for her because she was doing it to people we didn't like. Dany's instincts have escalated, and intensified, but they haven't actually fundamentally changed - only our perception of them has.
posted by jurymast at 4:48 AM on May 13 [132 favorites]


Why for the love of god does Jaime just come there to comfort Cersei as she dies? What the actual fuck, I’m getting mad again just thinking about it.

That’s not why he was there. He was doing what Tyrion requested, trying to slip with her out the back door, sail away, saving his child and leaving the city to Dany. Of course once Dany started burning everything and he got stuck in the guts the it was all moot, but that’s still what he was trying to do.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:49 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


I thought Dany's decision to sack King's Landing was politically rational.

If there is a quick scene of the survivors being delivered bags of salt sewn into the fields around Kings Landing to prevent it from being a center of power for generations, I'll take that, but no just random 12 year old plotting "my dragon is biggest, bam bam bam, I win" logic.
posted by sammyo at 4:51 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I bet Gendry ends up on the iron throne. A Baratheon back on the throne is exactly the kind of neat, superficial parallel D&D are fond of.

And Arya as his hand. So she doesn't have to be his lady but they hang together and can bone.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:54 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


I feel like I can see the bones of the interesting ending.

I expect the book ending, unlikely as it is to ever appear, goes in a different order.

King's Landing comes first, where Daenarys still does a heel-turn that's better set up.

Jon kills her with Longclaw, turning it into Lightbringer because he's already full of red god juju, turning him into Azor Ahai (sp?). Ideally Drogon burns him but it doesn't work, because Targaryen, so he kills her with a glowing-hot blade.

They toodle up north to kill the Night King and maybe it's still Arya who kills him I dunno
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:58 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


Danerys had no reason to do that except that the showrunners wanted to do apocalyptic city scenes. Asinine.

Really? I expected this from the very start. I expect this kind of conduct from everyone who thinks they are entitled to control others lives either by birth or by merit.
posted by srboisvert at 4:58 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


I bet Gendry ends up on the iron throne. A Baratheon back on the throne is exactly the kind of neat, superficial parallel D&D are fond of.

And Arya as his hand. So she doesn't have to be his lady but they hang together and can bone.


Kings have to reproduce so Gendry would have to marry. While having an assassin as a mistress. That'd probably not go well.
posted by srboisvert at 5:00 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: Which isn't to say that people can't have wildly differing motivations depending on context but usually they at least THINK of themselves as internally consistent.

schoolgirl report: He was doing what Tyrion requested, trying to slip with her out the back door, sail away, saving his child and leaving the city to Dany.

This is what I’m struggling with with Jaime’s character. He can’t just be reacting to other characters in the story—he has an internal conception of himself and internal motivations. Is he delusional about his own motivations or being deceptive about them to people like Brienne? When he lets Brienne defend him to others for years on end, does he think it’s stolen valor, or does he not realize until this very last episode that he doesn’t care about innocents?

His scene with Tyrion in the tent was moving from Tyrion’s perspective, and Tyrion gave him a clear directive, but I got no real sense of why Jaime was there or what he had planned to do, other than his admission that he got caught because he didn’t take off his hand. It was odd for me that that was even missing from the dialogue between the brothers, like it was self-evident. There was no “hey, the last time I saw you Bronn was telling us that our sister hired him to kill us and you were telling me that you were happy up North with your knight, so just run me through what’s on your mind, here.”
posted by sallybrown at 5:00 AM on May 13 [17 favorites]


The new Starbucks cup is Jaime’s magically regenerated right hand.
posted by sallybrown at 5:09 AM on May 13 [17 favorites]


Qyburn getting his head bashed in for daring to try to interrupt Cleganebowl was pure fan service and I loved it.
posted by exogenous at 5:10 AM on May 13 [28 favorites]


I feel like the show was pretty explicit, with its long focus on her crumbling, enraged, verge-of-sobbing expression, that Dany going full dracarys was the result of her finally falling over that precipice and lashing out.
Another way to look at this is that this is Dany's last pang of conscience before setting out on the dark version of the Golden Path. Nobody likes taking the Golden Path.

To be fair, I think that your reading of this moment is more likely, given Missandei's death and her reaction to it; I just think that the Golden Path plan is still possible, and more interesting than a simple heel turn. And either way, it's more likely than not that Arya kills her next episode. Really, the destruction of the throne as a prize is the only ending that seems fitting, given the epic scale of the story.

I wonder when the last time was that Danaerys showed that she cared about the immediate impact of her decisions on the little people who weren't already loyal to her? Like, of her own accord, and not because an advisor suggested it.
posted by skoosh at 5:16 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I hadn't seen GoT until a couple of months ago, and binged it all. This episode seemed consistent with the previous 70 odd hours I've just watched. Which is to say, I think it's all a bit silly, yet very enjoyable.
I mean, for example, Jaime's character has been all over the place from the start. Not sure if that's a "D&D" thing or a "GRRM" thing (and it makes zero difference to me) but his character development and the way others interacted with him never made *a shred* of sense to me. Where he ended up made as much sense as anything else, from that point of view.
posted by chill at 5:16 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


I'm kind of in a weird spot, because I like what this episode did, but not necessarily how it did it. I was thinking about that this morning, and I think that at least part of that is it fits the books, but the books also provide more textual support for what happened on screen. In the books there are two parts that people generally don't like that much: a meandering journey around Westeros as it's falling apart in the chaos that surrounds Robb's death, and also the so-called 'Mereneese Knot' where Daenerys frustratingly fails to rule Mereen for almost an entire book. Both of those provide the POV of the smallfolk, and help to contextualize all of the 'heroic' stuff that our major named characters are doing. The show has almost none of that. Mereen is wrapped up fairly neatly, and (especially since season 5) we have almost no perspective other than our named characters, who are almost all noble lords and ladies (or at least have been elevated to that position). So I can kind of square this ending in my head given the books, but can also see how people hate it. People are expecting traditional fantasy because... that's what the show gives you. Having it swerve back to the more realistic and grim tone of the books is jarring, to say the least.

It took Beinhoff and Weiss to finally get me to say: maybe the meandering in A Feast for Crows and a Dance of Dragons was actually... good?
posted by codacorolla at 5:27 AM on May 13 [21 favorites]


Can we spare just a moment to note the incredible fucking idiocy of having the Golden Company line up outside the supposedly impregnable fortress walls? Granted, it’s exactly the same stupidity we saw in the battle of Winterfell, but seriously. Ok, done. And with that said, I actually liked the way the big, bad mercenary force turned out to be just a speed bump.
posted by Zonker at 5:39 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Qyburn 100% had to get iced by the Mountain. He's the mad scientist who created a monster, must be destroyed by his own creation etc.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:43 AM on May 13 [26 favorites]


I still have a lot of processing to do w/r/t this episode, and the parts of it I enjoyed/felt some feelings about that weren't overshadowed by rage blackouts every time there was a Jaime and/or Euron scene.

But! One thing I don't think I've yet seen discussed in the comments above: those raven letters Varys was writing revealing Jon's true identity. By the time the Unsullied arrived to arrest him, he had a couple sitting in a little pile on his desk; how many had he sent off before that? And to whom? Who's gonna pop up in the next episode declaring themselves for Jon?

(And what was on that one piece of parchment he quickly burned before the Unsullied opened the door? He didn't burn any of the other letters that were just sitting there, and by then the jig was up anyway.)
posted by jurymast at 5:55 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


I think what's bothering me even more than how poorly the show executed Dany's heel turn is how -- I'm sorry -- just really dumb Tyrion has somehow become. Perhaps it's just me, but from the moment Tyrion proposed Dany's forces stand down when the bells rang I knew that when the South surrendered Dany would kill everyone. She said like twenty times through the episode that she knew she now had to rule through fear! Also, the nuclear option is always Dany's default mode. Do I think the show should have done a better job of showing how Dany got to this decision? Yeah! I think they blew it, man! But there was no question in my mind, ever, that she would kill everyone when the bells rang. We've all been watching the same show, all right? Of course she would. So how is it that Tyrion of all people thought something else would happen?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:03 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


I liked the part where the fight started between Kratos and the Hound and the escape countdown timer appeared in the corner after the last boss

Also I liked how it turned into anime when their swordfight was so rad it broke the floor

Guys help I did not expect the sorts of clichés they would subvert to include things like “characters get interesting endings”
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:05 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


Also this episode was 40% shots of characters staring off into the middle distance

Good thing it was 90 minutes long huh
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:06 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Also, I’d expect both Jon and Dany to die next week, ending the Targaryen line forever to the very great benefit of everyone in Westeros. Jon first, most likely, killed (by an enthusiastic Grey Worm) at Dany’s order.
posted by Zonker at 6:10 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I don't think that Tyrion's ever been terribly confident since the destruction of House Tarly that his attempts to mitigate the situation are going to work, but if the choice is between making desperate attempt after desperate attempt to avoid a bloodbath, and doing nothing so that he can look smart (or even keep his own life at the expense of thousands of others), he's going to keep trying. That look in his eyes this whole season is not one of optimism.
posted by skoosh at 6:12 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


k. Both of those provide the POV of the smallfolk, and help to contextualize all of the 'heroic' stuff that our major named characters are doing.

I've always thought the show should have had story arc of a common family dealing with the fallout from the various wars. It might have helped me care more about the city being burnt, instead of X number of shots of Arya almost dying, but not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Things I believe after watching s08e05
  • I still believe that Daenerys’s chief flaw as a ruler is that she’s insufficiently ruthless
  • The only word she should say to Jon Snow henceforth is “dracarys” — but that’s not going to happen, because the writers are making her dumb
  • Stalin was right to send tanks into Hungary in 1956

posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:17 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Clearly the script - and specifically Cersei's arc - was composed with the LAY-Z-RITE app. The same app that was used to write F8 Of The Furious, in which Charlize Theron's character, who is unstoppable and conniving in the first half, is suddenly stuck in a control room doing nothing for the second half of the movie, just like Cersei is stuck in the Red Keep going this is fine.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:18 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


also (and I really do stand by this, and going forward this will be my explanation of why I think the show isn’t just aesthetically bad but is in fact morally bad):
  • People who think that Grey Worm was wrong to spear that Lannister soldier probably also think that Mookie was wrong to throw a garbage can through the window of Sal’s. and I don’t trust those people at all.

posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:30 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


I've been on Team Nobody for awhile now, and I don't mind the story beats themselves, just the pacing. Folks have already kind of gone over that above, I guess. Currently my improbable dream scenarios are thus:

- This was all as intended and manipulated by Sansa, and she becomes a brutal and shrewd ruler of the North in a come-from-behind victory and to hell with everyone else.

- The fiery Lord of Light is the equal-and-opposite force of whatever is behind the icy Night King. The burned people rise as fire zombies because unknowable god magic and the march of the dead begins anew from the South. Westeros is turned into a scorched desert and everyone dies except Davos. It is also somehow Jon's fault. The end.
posted by one of these days at 6:43 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


If we are making predictions:

I’m predicting the reason the magical Prince of Dorne was mentioned is because he’s one of the people that Varys sent ravens to, which is why we got just enough Dorne exposition to know it exists and loved the Targs, but not enough Dorne exposition to handwave why they have no reaction at all to Dany landing.

I think that they way they are going to deal with Daenerys is to have Jon ride Drogon, and he’s just going to ride him all the way away, like Valyria or something, because dragons are basically the WMDs of Westeros, and there’s no way to guarantee that whoever has them won’t go crazy.

Tyrion is going to get killed by Dany in some way, closing his arc where it is his heroic deeds, not his knavish ones, that hurt him.
posted by corb at 6:44 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The only word she should say to Jon Snow henceforth is “dracarys” — but that’s not going to happen, because the writers are making her dumb

Yes, the writers are making her dumb(er than needed), but if Drogon burns Jon surely all you get is naked Jon and everyone still alive being impressed at how unburned he is?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:47 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Okay I've slept on it and generally speaking I think I like the directions the characters went in but mostly agree with the AV Club Experts review - the buildup didn't quite justify the payoff.

- Cersei's end: perfect. We wanted her to be a Big Bad who got a dramatic death and instead she died powerless and terrified where no one could see. No martyrdom. No attention. Very GoT. Approve, in a grudging way.
- Jamie's end: eh fuck that shit. I guess if I buy the meaninglessness of Cersei's death, I have to buy Jamie's as well - he was built up for a big redemption arc and then ended up still succumbing to his weakness for Cersei. But I don't like it.
- The Hound's end: predictable, but still had to be seen.
- Daenerys's turn: it had to happen. They totally laid the groundwork for it, even in the last few episodes as you see some of her close advisers going "um.... we're still okay with her, right? She'll do the right thing in the end, right?" The buildup to the actual turn seemed too rushed - I get the Missandei thing and I see what they were trying to do in the convo with Jon but I think there needed to be a little more emphasis on her understanding that there was no way she'd ever be welcomed in Westeros as queen, maybe happening during the battle. They had just surrendered! Fear of her had succeeded! Like, what if she'd gotten down to start walking the streets toward the Red Keep and seeing the absolute terror in the eyes of everyone around her made her realize that fear wouldn't actually work long-term, so then she went nuclear? I would have bought that more.

Also, Jon is totally still Azor Ahai, and he's going to stab Daenerys in the heart with what turns out to be Lightbringer. She was the "darkness", not the Night King, and being "born again" on Dragonstone is about realizing and accepting who he is, not about actual physical birth. Then after stabbing Daenerys and fulfilling the prophecy, he keels over, because Lord of Light BS. Long live Queen Sansa and King consort Tyrion.
posted by olinerd at 6:52 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


I know that at least one of you nerds with some sense about coherent character arcs is going to write a fanfic version of this season and when you do, please link it for us. That’s going to be pretty enjoyable.
posted by a hat out of hell at 6:54 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


> but if Drogon burns Jon surely all you get is naked Jon and everyone still alive being impressed at how unburned he is?

then dragonglass that simpering zombie. his Menshevik softheartedness cannot be tolerated.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:55 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


The Grey Worm scene seemed like they were going for the worn action trope where a delicate standoff that might avoid violence teeters and collapses into it, forgetting that Grey Worm has some of the better and deeper characterization on the show. We needed to see more of the battle from his eyes to feel like justice was done was done to his POV (and to POC).
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:55 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Cameron Esposito: Arya’s horse & I have the same hair.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:57 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


brb gonna go spraypaint DAENERYS DID NOTHING WRONG on an overpass
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:58 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


This worked out great for Jorah Mormont and Viserys Targaryen hamburger

(A)East to the Essene Free Cities
(Am)East to the tropical sun
Go the (D)expatriated Westerosi
(G)Hopin' to find some fun

(Dm)Late at night you will find them
In the (Am)cheaper inns and bars
(C)Hustling the old blood (G)smallfolk
(C)While they (G)dance be(D)neath the (G)stars
posted by Iridic at 6:58 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


And by this logic, we can now retroactively dispense with the entirety of the wall, the white walkers, winter is coming, and all the rest, since that turned out to be disposed of with a single episode/dagger.

I'd say more:

We can dispense with the entirety of the wall, white walkers, winter is coming, because in the end the entire purpose and meaning of that show storyline is Daenarys getting huffy about not getting thanked enough.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:59 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


is it terrible of me that i really hate that 5 second clip of the horse dying (i think it was the golden company explodination scene) but am pretty w/e about the civilians getting roasted
posted by lazaruslong at 7:01 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


the clincher was when Jamie was good as dead and Arya was “running away” and “Jaime” showed up in the throne room to “hug” Cersei and then... it really was Jaime and hugging not Arya and stabbing, and Arya really was running away panicked as Faceless Men so often do
posted by nicwolff at 7:04 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


Dany burned the Tarlys because they refused to bend the knee. The Tarly troops that did bend the new were spared.

Now there's an entire city that's clearly surrendered and Dany just says "Nah, Imma burn all of you." That's the part that rings hollow for me. Her burning the city was always possible, but I'm just not sold on how he storytellers got us to this point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 AM on May 13 [20 favorites]


yeah basically their explanation is “surprise! she’s mentally ill! tArGaRyEn mAdNeSs lol!”

I’m jealous of the people who were smart enough to nope out when Ramsey raped Sansa to provide character development for Theon. I’m even more jealous of the people who noped out when Jaime raped Cersei over Joffrey’s corpse because edgy. this show is bad and I resent having spent so much time watching it.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:12 AM on May 13 [16 favorites]


I expect this kind of conduct from everyone who thinks they are entitled to control others lives either by birth or by merit.

This is. every. single. noble. character. on. this. show. Except maybe Arya (and even she feels entitled to go around killing people she's mad at). Beloved Ned Stark starts off the show by executing a young soldier on what he recognizes is an arbitrary and cruel basis. He spins it as a duty rather than a right, but he still feels entitled to take the decision.

The comments about Dany's sense of entitlement to rule which I've seen around seem quite weird to me. Westeros is a hereditary empire built on the back of hereditary monarchies. The weird thing would be for the legitimate heir of any House not to fervently believe they were entitled to rule.
posted by praemunire at 7:14 AM on May 13 [21 favorites]


yeah basically their explanation is “surprise! she’s mentally ill! tArGaRyEn mAdNeSs lol!”

Man, idk, besides the fact that she's shown consistent bloodlust and a need for adulation through the series, she's also deeply grieving (two dragons, Jorah, Missandei, and her relationship with Jon) and feels isolated right now.

I think her "madness" arc was built up fine, not just through this season, but the entire series.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:18 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


So it's not good to live in KL anymore. The citizens will have to move to other towns because of safety, maybe to the north? Also the Iron bank is broke since there is no one that will pay them back?

Also Dany has a new name "Destroyer of Cities"

Also lots of inconsistent color corrections for different shots, some are really warm and contrast, while others had dreamy blurs. It must have been that some were shot in Dubrovnik while others were cgi or in their studio. They don't seem to match.

So in this show the royal families only like their own family? Is that what causes their mental illness on their offspring? like 50/50 toss of a coin.

Surprisingly those advisers did a great job on their rulers. Maybe a throne of advisers would be a better format than one ruler.
posted by metafus at 7:19 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I don't resent the show, have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it.

I'm just numb and befuddled, with a clear sense of "Fucking hell, I could have done better than this."

Yes, hereditary monarchies can be terrible. Tyrants are terrible, especially self-justified ones. Power corrupts even the best of us (except you Cap, never you, nevernevernever you). But if I'm gonna have to watch innocent citizens be slaughtered, I'm hoping for a better narrative pay off than obvious tropes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Also I mean I guess anything can happen next episode but it really is looking like they gave Bran the ability to warg through goddamn time just for one sad Hodor moment. What a weird toy to put in the toybox and then never play with again.

Final scene is the opening credits but the camera keeps pulling back and reveals that all of the little 3D models of Winterfell, King's Landing, etc. are actually inside a snowglobe sitting on top of a television.

Yeah, there's a sort of facile realism to it

"Facile realism" is a pretty good way to describe a lot about this franchise, actually.

I think that they way they are going to deal with Daenerys is to have Jon ride Drogon, and he’s just going to ride him all the way away, like Valyria or something, because dragons are basically the WMDs of Westeros, and there’s no way to guarantee that whoever has them won’t go crazy.

I hope this happens, because it would be hilarious to see how all the "did you think you were watching Lord of the Rings???"-style show apologists would react to that.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:23 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


If Jon flies Drogon into the Doom of Valyria, that would be even better.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:23 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The weird thing would be for the legitimate heir of any House not to fervently believe they were entitled to rule.

Yes, but Dany isn’t the legitimate heir. And she knows it now. Every action she takes besides proclaiming Jon the King of the Seven Kingdoms is illegitimate by that standard. It doesn’t matter if he wants it. And she should have given him Rhaegal to ride - which, incidentally, would have saved his life. She knows Jon can both ride and control dragons. If this was for her House and justice, then the dragons are a Targ resource that should be shared, much less removed from the rightful king.

But no. She loves power. She may claim she wants to free the people from tyrants, but she is really just addicted to the trappings of power. If they’re not crying “Mhysa, Mhysa” in the streets, she doesn’t care at all if they burn.
posted by corb at 7:25 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


So in this show the royal families only like their own family? Is that what causes their mental illness on their offspring?

I originally read this show as being about the human potential to overcome the circumstances of your birth, including your regional, tribal, and family superstitions and hatreds, to become a better person and even make the world a better place, especially through love of others. But actually it’s about how the circumstances and family you’re born into can trap you into tragedy and mistakes and contribute to a world of endless war, violence, and killing. So far the only exception seems to be Davos (knock on wood)—also one of the few characters who wasn’t born into a corrupted royal/monarchical family, although he arguably debased himself in service to one (Stannis).
posted by sallybrown at 7:25 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


This season has been a huge narrative disappointment for me, and this episode particularly so. I think there are a couple of reasons why we have ended up where we are:

1. D&D attempted to stall 'round about Season 4 to let GRRM catch up, and when he didn't, they effectively lost the services of a very good story writer and an excellent world-builder.
2. The justifiable hype surrounding the Red Wedding communicated to D&D that fans and critics loved "shocking twists" when the real narrative delight of the Red Wedding was "deep betrayal".
3. The justifiable kudos delivered to the show for the Battle of the Blackwater and the Battle of the Bastards communicated to D&D that fans and critics loved "massive battles" when the real narrative delight of those episodes was "the payoff to the dramatic build-up towards a massive battle".
4. The decision by D&D to end the show in a blaze of glory Season 8 instead of letting the show find its own path forward. This may well be linked to number 1 above, as they knew they were on their own from here on out.

It is really a shame D&D didn't step down after Season 5 or so and let new showrunners have a crack at guiding the series in a post-GRRM direction.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:26 AM on May 13 [26 favorites]


I just remembered that I already predicted how this show would end back in 2014:
*camera zooms out slowly*
*Hodor holding a snow-globe.*

"HODOR!"

*smiles*
posted by Fizz at 7:27 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


"I mean, sure, I can see why fans who are particularly invested in the Jaime/Brienne relationship are bothered, but I'm not."

It's not even that I'm invested in Jaime/Brienne (I'm actually a little mad they had sex), but that Jaime's slow moral arc has been a difficult move away from "family first" and "Cersei always" and towards a more Kantian moral perspective where he is weighing right and wrong in a more mature and complex way. He seems to decide to stay in Winterfell, away from his addiction that drags him back into bad behavior; then hears Cersei has killed one of Dany's dragons, looks horrified, and then takes off for King's Landing after telling Brienne he's hot garbage. That does not seem to be a man racing to be with the sister he loves, everything about that set-up screams "I have realized she is so terrible and I am so complicit that I must go take responsibility for what I have done, while selflessly (if misguidedly) breaking the heart of the other woman I love so she won't be pining for me."

Instead apparently he heard she killed a dragon, looked horrified, and realized he wanted to tap that ass yet again? THAT MAKES NO SENSE. I don't know where the disconnect occurred, but somewhere between the script, the direction, and the actor, nobody told Jaime he still wanted to be with his sister, so he appears to be heading off to kill a monster he is horrified by last episode and turns up wanting to be with her this episode. WHAT?

And the thing is, I could buy Jaime as a man who can't accept his second chance, or as a man who can't quite escape his sisterly temptations, if those seeds had been planted even a little bit, but this whole season has been about Jaime painfully moving away from his sister and making better choices, choices to benefit all of humanity instead of just him or his family. And certainly nobody told Nikolaj Coster-Waldau that was happening with the character, because that is NOT how he has played it, and that is NOT how prior-episode directors directed it, and that makes this whole sudden change this episode hot garbage.

"Benioff and Weiss either don’t want to share insight into their characters or can’t."

These are SO bad. I feel fremdschamen when I watch them, like, do you not understand your show or are you just stupid? It's so so so so so so obvious they don't really understand much about human motivations or about complex human emotions, like they'd watch Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and come away from it going, "Fuck yeah! Brutus loves to stab people!" and with no understanding of the complexity of Brutus's motivations and emotions.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:32 AM on May 13 [62 favorites]


litera scripta manet: On future re-watches, if I ever bring myself to watch this show again, I'm definitely going to pretend this all ended when Brienne and Jaime first hooked up.

Ah, the Selma edit -- "... and you just know it's going to end. I hate that. I would leave just after the next to last song... and the film would just go on forever."

But for reals, I'm looking forward to some interesting fan edits of this show.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The point re: burning the Tarlys is that Daenerys' use of brutality is not and has never been purely moral, or only when justified. Executing prisoners of war, even those who refuse to acknowledge you as their rightful ruler, is... bad. It was bad when Stannis executed Mance Rayder for failing to bend the knee, and Stannis' rigidity and extremism in this regard was portrayed as unambiguously bad. It is also bad when Daenerys does it, and her rigidity and extremism in this regard is bad. It is a bad and immoral thing to do, particularly for a character whose stated mission is, "I am not going to be like all those other bad and immoral rulers, and I am not going to do all those bad and immoral things that leaves the realm and its population in tatters after war."

Daenerys has absolutely used violence and power before in ways that were immoral and unjustified. She might have thought they were moral and justified - see that Barristan Selmy quote about the Mad King's justice somewhere up above - but that does not make it so.
posted by jurymast at 7:39 AM on May 13 [20 favorites]


Instead apparently he heard she killed a dragon, looked horrified, and realized he wanted to tap that ass yet again? THAT MAKES NO SENSE. I don't know where the disconnect occurred, but somewhere between the script, the direction, and the actor, nobody told Jaime he still wanted to be with his sister, so he appears to be heading off to kill a monster he is horrified by last episode and turns up wanting to be with her this episode. WHAT?

I interpreted that as him hearing that Cersei killed a dragon means that he knows no amount of wise advisors are going to be able to placate Dany and so he's off to try and save Cersei, which made sense to me.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:40 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


litera scripta manet: And then, as of the end of this episode, she's riding a white horse. At least, I think it's white under all that dust.

Dust, and blood. Death rides a pale horse, indeed. (And justice's horse is blind? Or has some emo bangs.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


My dream ending.
-Dany sits on the somehow surviving iron throne, surrounded by a pile of rubble and flames, with no supporters other than Grey Worm.
-Bronn and Tyrion have a get together that somehow ends in Bronn's crossbow taking out Drogon.
-Jon kills Dany (after a big weepy talky scene), then is stabbed by Grey Worm, whom he then kills, ending the last shred of support for Dany.
-Jon rides, bleeding, off to the north, never to be seen again.
-There's a flurry of activity from Maesters and lords of small houses, all declaring their support for king Jon.

Cut to ten years later, in Bran-o-vision.

-Kings landing is nothing but ruins. We get a shot of a broken, partially melted iron throne mostly buried in rubble.
-Tyrion is in Winterfell, retired from politics, happy house husband to Sansa, queen of the north, who, with her Hand, Ser Brienne, is meeting with friendly trade delegations from the new Queen of Dorne, Good King Gendry of Storm's End, and Queen Yara of the Islands.
-Sam, Gilly, and Little Sam are at the Citadel, which they are now running as a public university, teaching a new order of chainless maesters who are free to marry and live normal lives.
-Close with some travelers discussing their travels throughout Westeros now that summer is back. The seven(ish) kingdoms are all basically independent, though nominally swearing allegiance to King Jon, the Wanderer, who is rumored to appear now and then to blurt out some noble truth. In reality, no one knows if he's alive or dead and they're all okay with that. Westeros is at peace, with leaders working together to quickly put down any efforts to consolidate power.
-Pan out to reveal that the lovely and welcoming inn is run by Hot Pie, with his best friend and occasional partner, Arya, who splits her time between serving as queen of Storm's End, innkeeper, and world traveler, accompanied by her son, Sandor Baratheon.
posted by Dojie at 7:51 AM on May 13 [47 favorites]


As a very casual viewer of this show I find myself very dissapointed that so far none of the people I hated from the first season have died suitably horrible deaths. I really wanted Cersei and Jamie to die more drawn out deaths, but as it is I will have to be satisfied with this. But I was really hoping they would have the pair run around whole the dragons chased them from the air


And as far as I can see the best thing for this kingdom and all these individualswould be for none of these people to ever sit on any throne. Ever.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:52 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Hilarious that the show kept cross-cutting between Arya fleeing through the fantasy version of Come and See and the Hound trying to button-mash his way though a Soul Calibur fight. Was this show about the cyclical tragedy of power, or was it about badasses having dustups? Fuck it, why not both
posted by Iridic at 7:53 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


The point re: burning the Tarlys is that Daenerys' use of brutality is not and has never been purely moral, or only when justified. Executing prisoners of war, even those who refuse to acknowledge you as their rightful ruler, is... bad.

No one claimed it was purely moral, but killing the Tarlys made a certain sense: They were high born family of military leaders. Either they're going to accept her as ruler or not. If not, then killing them makes a certain sense, as example and to prevent rebellion, especially if she's letting other live at the same time. War ain't pretty and you win be killing your enemy, which the Tarlys were and clearly were going to continue to be.

Razing Kings Landing after its surrendered doesn't make a lot of sense as it was portrayed. It basically boils down to being mad at Jon 'cause he wouldn't have sex with her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:53 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


I have very little trouble with the story arc so far. I thought it was clear from very early on that Dany would be a burninator.

Jaime was returning to Cersei to save her, not to help her do more awful things. He didn't love Brienne - he respected her, and wanted to love her, but Cersei was the only woman he could ever really love. Brienne helped him to see the man he should have been, but it wasn't the man he truly was. I think if they had survived, he and cersei might have been okay living a quiet anonymous life with their gross incest babies. Not able to make up for their past crimes, but doing their best to not be totally evil going forward.

The only things that bother me are Varys - who is a survivor and should have gotten out of Dodge when he saw what was coming, and Tyrion, whose fanatical devotion to Danaeris and blindness to her faults never made sense to me
posted by Dojie at 8:01 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


I can't say why but the worst for me was when Sea Ramsay came walking up out of the bay in the exact same ten seconds that Jaime would be on that empty beach before disappearing inside. I asked my television, "Seriously?!"
posted by komara at 8:01 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


He didn't love Brienne - he respected her, and wanted to love her, but Cersei was the only woman he could ever really love. Brienne helped him to see the man he should have been, but it wasn't the man he truly was.

I mean just . . . think of how much better and more satisfying his goodbye would have been had he said that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:05 AM on May 13 [33 favorites]


"So Ellaria Sand's probably toast along with the Black Cells, so that's one prolonged torturing session over"
"Would have been great to get a one-second shot of her cell collapsing around her."


That happened. A flash of flame lighting up the dungeon, and we had just a moment of her face. Did you miss it? It was pretty dark...

I've come to the conclusion that the only way to get a conclusion to the story that's worthy of the cast and early seasons is gaslighting others until I myself misrember what actually happened. In a couple of years I can start slipping in larger changes, like the subplot about Bran's negotiations with the Night King. Didn't you see the webisodes?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:05 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


"I can't say why but the worst for me was when Sea Ramsay came walking up out of the bay in the exact same ten seconds that Jaime would be on that empty beach before disappearing inside. I asked my television, "Seriously?!""

and in hindsight I'm even madder that we had to watch the scenes of Jaime being shut out as the doors closed, and bumping his way through the streets, and heading down to the bay only because D&D wanted to make sure we got to watch Sea Ramsay die at Jaime's hand(s). The wounds that Jaime suffered didn't change any of the story from that point on; he would have gotten just as mushed if here were fully intact. Jesus. Just let Sea Ramsay burn up on a ship and save us a few minutes of an ultimately worthless and improbable fight and pointless conversation.
posted by komara at 8:05 AM on May 13 [22 favorites]


With one episode to go, our household is now quite sure that Arya wearing other people’s faces just got ditched as a potential plot element for the entire season.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:05 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


Yes, but Dany isn’t the legitimate heir.

She believed that she was up until two (?) episodes ago. The criticism doesn't just refer to her recent behavior. (And, frankly, if I were Dany, I'd want more than One Dude's Convenient Story before I decided Jon had a better claim. Jon doesn't even have to not be Rhaegal's kid, there only has to have not been a super-convenient Sekrit Marriage.)
posted by praemunire at 8:07 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Sea Ramsay

You mean Zack Morris?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:07 AM on May 13


Jared Let-himself-go.
posted by Ryvar at 8:09 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


With the camera following Arya felt like "Saving Private Arya" to generate an emotional experience for the viewers by seeing the destruction through one of the main character. Instead of having the camera follow Dany close showing her best joker facial expression.
posted by metafus at 8:10 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Hilarious that the show kept cross-cutting between Arya fleeing through the fantasy version of Come and See and the Hound trying to button-mash his way though a Soul Calibur fight. Was this show about the cyclical tragedy of power, or was it about badasses having dustups? Fuck it, why not both

That's really been a major part of the problem for the show since the start. It's one thing to talk or write about how horrible something is and another thing entirely to show it as the "horrible" often becomes very attractive spectacle to an audience, which then wants the very thing the writing is purporting to be against. It's not just the sexual thrills in moments that shouldn't have it, but tut-tutting violence when thats what you're selling and audiences expect, I mean would people actually be satisfied in a show with dragons where cities didn't burn?

It takes a good director and, for tv, show runners who know understand the difference between saying and seeing to not fall into that kind of hypocrisy. Needless to say that didn't happen here for reasons that probably go beyond any single area of blame given how the whole thing was put together.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:10 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


He didn't love Brienne - he respected her, and wanted to love her, but Cersei was the only woman he could ever really love. Brienne helped him to see the man he should have been, but it wasn't the man he truly was.
- - -
I mean just . . . think of how much better and more satisfying his goodbye would have been had he said that.


But if he could understand and express those things, he’d be the man Brienne hoped he could be. He isn’t and can’t.
posted by chris24 at 8:13 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


the worst for me was when Sea Ramsay came walking up out of the bay in the exact same ten seconds that Jaime would be on that empty beach before disappearing inside.

A comment on the AV Club review: “Euron can sense main characters from 100 miles away. It’s one of his powers that he has.”

I'm even madder that we had to watch the scenes of Jaime being shut out as the doors closed

Then we would have missed him listlessly waving his golden hand in the air trying to catch the bouncer’s attention, “lookie here!”

Of all the things I’m stewing about re Jaime now I’m just thinking of the fact that he was going to flee in the night after apparently banging Brienne just one more time for the road.
posted by sallybrown at 8:13 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Razing Kings Landing after its surrendered doesn't make a lot of sense as it was portrayed. It basically boils down to being mad at Jon 'cause he wouldn't have sex with her.

If Jon married her, she would have his legitimacy and the people's love for him, but she would still rule because he didn't want to. He wouldn't do that though, so she had no way to solidify her rule other than showing the world that she would destroy anyone who didn't welcome her with open arms. She believes she's saving the world. If she has to destroy one city and all the people who live there to make that happen, it's a worthy sacrifice. She tried the love and incest route. All she sees left for her is blood and fire.
posted by Dojie at 8:14 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


miss-lapin: I think the thing that made me the most angry is after all that character building Arya goes right back to be traumatized in KL. She deserved far better than that.

But this time, she was trying to make things better for people, including mother Nora and her (unnamed?) child (the subtitles named her Nora, if nowhere else).


poffin boffin: i EXTREMELY like the metaphor of dany destroying all of king's landing as a "whatevs, fuck it"

Wasn't it more of "if they won't love me, at least they'll FEAR ME!" thing?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Has anyone else been consistently irritated by the after-episode clips with D&D sitting there reiterating 3-5 plot points in 3-5 sentences, but never actually adding anything to the show? It seems so ineffectually narcissistic of them, it baffles me every time. Like what is the ever loving point of those segments?
posted by Harry Caul at 8:15 AM on May 13 [28 favorites]


My favorite bit of schadenfreude is completely off-screen and unmentioned (weird because a showrunner is the son of a Goldman Sachs Chairman):

The Iron Bank is so fucked.
posted by srboisvert at 8:16 AM on May 13 [19 favorites]


Has anyone else been consistently irritated by the after-episode clips with D&D sitting there reiterating 3-5 plot points in 3-5 sentences, but never actually adding anything to the show? It seems so ineffectually narcissistic of them, it baffles me every time. Like what is the ever loving point of those segments?

I'm annoyed that they are included at the end of the show. I don't want them. I don't want any 'making of' until I am done with the entire story. So I quit at the credits. And later I will go back and watch them. They really should be extra seperate clips. Like anyone who cares about story would do it rather than breaking through the wall immediately after the story every damn time.
posted by srboisvert at 8:20 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


War ain't pretty and you win be killing your enemy, which the Tarlys were and clearly were going to continue to be.

This is a point of view that I keep running into, like... "Well, what was she supposed to do? Not kill her prisoners of war?"

Uh... Yeah. That's her whole thing: finding a better way. BREAKING THE WHEEL IS HER WHOLE THING. That she did not do this, and instead chose the Stannis Baratheon thing to do, should have been an indication that she would meet a Stannis Baratheon sort of end: undone by her own extremist tendencies.

I do not believe that Dany's burning of the Tarlys was ultimately based on the justification of, "Well, they're just going to cause trouble for me otherwise." We have seen before that her executions are not always logical, but in fact often carry an element of her feeling personally slighted, crossed, hurt, or betrayed, and deriving satisfaction from punishing those she deems responsible. She takes personal insult in people not recognising her as the rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms and her absolute right to rule, and either burns them or threatens to. Burning people just because they made her mad is not new to Dany. We have also seen Dany mete out indiscriminate punishment for transgressions with specific perpetrators, just to satisfy this need for retribution.

Her torching King's Landing is an escalation prompted by grief and rage, but it's not a hard left turn by any means.
posted by jurymast at 8:21 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


jason_steakums: Also Jaime being all "IDGAF about the civilians" - motherfucker saving the people of King's Landing is the entire reason you killed Aerys and got your nickname.

But Jaime pretty clearly laid out his current motivations last episode:
You think I'm a good man? I pushed a boy out a tower window, crippled him for life for Cersei. I strangled my cousin with my own hands just to get back to Cersei. I would have murdered every man, woman and child in Riverrun for Cersei. She's hateful. And so am I.
Pretty much sums up his obsession/ devotion/ love for Cersei.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:23 AM on May 13


I think the thing that made me the most angry is after all that character building Arya goes right back to be traumatized in KL. She deserved far better than that.

There was a part in the Battle of Winterfell where she kinda lost it as well before being rallied by Melisandre. I don’t see her reaction as out of character or unfair to her, but more of an indication of the sheer terror and abject horror of a dragon attack. To use the WMD analogy again, there were battle-hardened people who had seen and survived the worst of war who were stunned and changed by Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
posted by chris24 at 8:24 AM on May 13 [15 favorites]


The only things that bother me are Varys - who is a survivor and should have gotten out of Dodge when he saw what was coming, and Tyrion, whose fanatical devotion to Danaeris and blindness to her faults never made sense to me

This is - and I know I may sound like a one-note pony here - a problem with severely trying to rush a series.

I actually don't think it's improbable that Varys switching allegiance to Jon would ultimately end to his being burned by Dany. I think, in fact, that it's quite likely. But I think it's less likely to come about because he talked unwisely to Jon, or that he had a conversation with Tyrion where he said "I'm definitely going to betray the queen, wanna come?" - and more likely to come about after those letters started getting responses. There is an element of risk in telling people, and I think it would be reasonable and likely and good for at least some of those people who received those letters to be doubtful or not want to get fucked up by dragons, and send messages to Dany more directly. But that would have to be a slower show, and it would have to have more characters in it. Because we would have to see who those letters went to, and their reactions, and we would have had to have known that there were other houses existing outside of following the Starks and the Targs, instead of D&D having blown up all other houses because they didn't want to deal with branching storylines. So like - in the show, there exist no Tyrells, no Tullys, no Arryns, no Martells. Let's not even mention lesser houses, which only get mentioned if they are bannermen of the Starks, even though that is how literally every war has ever worked. There are no bannermen in King's Landing and there are no bannermen in Dany's army, which would actually be a huge and interesting thing if it were true - it would mean that literally every other house in Westeros outside the North has decided to let these two kill each other and sort things out after.

Similarly, Tyrion's loyalty to Dany could be explained if you wanted to take more time to get there and didn't have her trashing him all the time constantly and threatening his life. You could even bring in fan favorite idea that Tyrion is a bastard Targ, if you just wanted to do ridiculous fanservice, and thus hint in that Tyrion is desperate to belong to this new family which hasn't abused him, unlike his actual family of origin. If you wanted to have him betraying Varys, it would make a lot more sense if Tyrion was doing it in service to a new family who has promised him the world and his dreams of dragons early in life - that he was doing it in service of a new future and hope. But it would take more episodes, and it'd have to be a slow burn, as would his eventual turn away from Dany. And we don't have the time, so we get bupkes.
posted by corb at 8:24 AM on May 13 [31 favorites]


Can someone explain how/why Jaime got up through the underground passage, but then like 20 minutes later when he had to come back through, it had been plugged up with bricks?? I guess they could have just been dislodged, but why would they be sitting under a perfectly sound arch?
posted by dusty potato at 8:25 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Pretty much sums up his obsession/ devotion/ love for Cersei.

What I don't get is why there was a change from his past attitude toward innocents to his current, if his story to Brienne in the bathhouse is to be believed (and he was pretty fucked up in that scene so it would be a weird time to fabricate something like that.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:26 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


She also crucified over a hundred nobles because someone had crucified children. So arbitrary slavers died because someone did terrible things. We know for a fact one of those guys was an abolitionist even in hizdar zo lorac’s Dad.

She also feeds some people arbitrarily to her dragons because she knows some masters are conspiring.

She has repeatedly killed the innocent to prove a point. We just were on her side because they framed those subjects as the bad-ish being part of an unjust upper class. Her plan to deal with the other slave cities after they broke into independence was to kill ALL the masters. Just murder every non slave. She gets talked out of it but only barely.
posted by French Fry at 8:28 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Also, it must be noted that it's not even completely clear that what Dany did would be a "war crime" in her world (a later concept anyway)--that is, that anyone in a besieged town that was eventually taken by force could expect to be spared is not so clearly established a concept.

Everyone remembers Henry's speech before Agincourt. How many remember his speech at the siege of Calais?
This is the latest parle we will admit;
Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves;
Or like to men proud of destruction
Defy us to our worst: for, as I am a soldier,
A name that in my thoughts becomes me best,
If I begin the battery once again,
I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
Till in her ashes she lie buried.
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.
What is it then to me, if impious war,
Array'd in flames like to the prince of fiends,
Do, with his smirch'd complexion, all fell feats
Enlink'd to waste and desolation?
What is't to me, when you yourselves are cause,
If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
What rein can hold licentious wickedness
When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
We may as bootless spend our vain command
Upon the enraged soldiers in their spoil
As send precepts to the leviathan
To come ashore. [...]
why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dash'd to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy'd?
posted by praemunire at 8:29 AM on May 13 [21 favorites]


Can we spare just a moment to note the incredible fucking idiocy of having the Golden Company line up outside the supposedly impregnable fortress walls?

I kinda liked that, though? It demonstrates how overconfident Cersei is in her battle plan: we'll shoot down their remaining dragon -- which is easy now, right, and we have so many scorpions -- and then we'll have our hired swords defeat their forces on the field while we all stay safe and cosy behind the walls. She completely believes that she'll win at a distance.

It's also a feint towards the audience: the staging sets up an expectation that this is going to be another big battlefield set-piece which is then subverted by it become an aerial attack and a rout.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:36 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


[Quoted at such length because it's so gory and it just goes on and on...]
posted by praemunire at 8:36 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Also, when did fire suddenly start doing impact damage?

It was very explodey. I thought the show had established through shots and descriptions of Harrenhall that canonically dragonfire melts stone.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:40 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I don't expect a happy ending. I gave up the series for a while because of the Red Wedding, the rapes, and the Ned head choppening. Like what was the point of a world whose only laws are strength, brutality, and oppression? There's good things in the world, I see it, the characters on the show see it, why are you people burning each other alive and putting up with dicks like Joffrey?

But I forced to get back into it, because...marriage and one TV. And once you kind of accept that happy endings and redemption are no guarantee in a world where the only law is who has the biggest army, the whole story got much more interesting for me. It's been fascinating how everyone has thoughts and feelings and a moral compass, but ultimately they are really powerless in big important ways and fated by birth and circumstance. We want triumph for some, revenge for others, punishment for others, but that's not how it works in this ultimately meaningless world. Jaime died like an addict, drawn to the thing he knew would destroy him. Cersei, circumstances changed, her time was up, she made a half hearted attempt to not die and was given an anonymous wimpering underground death. The Hound was an immeasurably better man than his brother but he would never escape from under his shadow.

It seems like a lot of the backlash being written on line right now is people's disappointment that their favorites weren't given better endings, that it wasn't true to their character's development. But to me, looking back through the series, there are very few characters whom you could say have really fundamentally changed. Sure, they've developed some depth and gained insight, but almost none could claim enough change to escape the fate you would have chosen for them from the beginning and I find that interesting. Daenerys was always playing the role that someone else had chosen for her and now that she's stepping into what everyone told her was her entitlement, nothing is the way she expected it to be, her closest advisors are either dead or have betrayed her, and she has no authentic voice of her own to tell her what to do. She has always been a blank canvas onto which various political forces of Westeros have painted their agendas. It totally makes sense that she is angry and flipping out. The fact that this is the hallmark of her blood line puts a fine point on it.

The people I might argue that have actually changed were mostly children at the start of the story so I am not sure if it even counts as free will or escaping fate -- Sansa, Arya, Sam. I think Tyrion counts. If there's one thing I'd like to see from the ending, it's free will and change being rewarded. I am not hopeful about this at all because the series has been so bleak and nihilistic about the role of fate and the capacity for humans to inflict misery on each other, and it would be the most jarring thing of all to get a tight happy ending that we're all rooting for. But the fact that Sansa and Tyrion are still alive I suppose is hopeful. But this fucking show has a history of taking your hope and flaying it, strangling it with the entrails of your dead family, and sticking its head on a pike as a warning to anyone else who dares to have hope.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:43 AM on May 13 [15 favorites]


dragonfire melts stone

King's Landing is very humid. Lots of moisture trapped in that stone. So that was steam explosions #ExplodingStoneTruth.
posted by Nelson at 8:51 AM on May 13 [23 favorites]


Do we have any new Truthers for this episode?

Yes. I’d like to register my new Truther group, which is centered around the idea that Varys’ handwriting was disappointing. He should’ve had beautiful medieval monk writing! They should have hired a calligrapher to do the handwriting close-up.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:51 AM on May 13 [27 favorites]


Do we have any new Truthers for this episode?

There are definitely Jaime Survived truthers. I sympathize but I can’t say I agree...
posted by sallybrown at 8:54 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Eh. Honestly it just isn't a show about realism or being driven on the winds of fate at all, and to the extent it is about being fated by birth it's about whether you are a Stark or not. It's the testing and triumph of the Starks. There's 5 minutes or so where you get to be surprised because the protagonist is a collective, but it's otherwise just pretty standard, good is genetic and so is evil and good eventually triumphs, just with the death rate for the supporting characters dialed to 99. So I think a lot of people are feeling rooked that they were promised something new and it's the same old thing.
posted by tavella at 8:58 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Cut to ten years later, in Bran-o-vision...

-Davos eventually remembered that he has a wife and is living in quiet retirement with her in the Stormlands
-Meera Reed graduates from Fantasy Tulane with a dual MSW/MPH
-Ed Sheeran finally finds a portal back to our universe
posted by Iridic at 8:59 AM on May 13 [16 favorites]


If Dany went on a smallfolk killing rampage for a reason beyond Targs Be Cray, they didn't set it up very well. Why did she mow down several streets and then just give up and then head for the Keep? Burninating the Keep with everyone inside and then getting carried away, I can kind of see. But calmly mowing down several streets full of people before heading over to kill your mortal enemy seemed gratuitous and weird. Seeing your chance at catharsis fall away when the bells ring and deciding fuck it, gonna burn Cersei anyway? I buy that, 100%. Deciding to BBQ a few thousand smallfolk on the way just seemed like a way for the writers to stage a reenactment of Hiroshima, which felt kind of gross.

She's killed people in cold blood for understandable (if sometimes questionable) reasons before, but killing several streets full of smallfolk on a whim did not feel like one of those times.

The arc between her using the dragon judiciously- and the characters and us thinking, oh, maybe she's going to use this power semi responsibly- and then going full fire and blood, that was good. I liked that. But the calm murder of random smallfolk seemed a gratuitous and stupid way to show it.

The Benny Hill sequence of Arya not dying was hilarious, at no point did I think they would kill her by falling masonry so it was just a weird watching experience.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:04 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Dany burning the city probably was some passive aggressiveness. Dany : oh you are the rightful heir to the throne let me burn it for you so that you can't have it. So that no one will desire it. Only I can sit on it since it is super hot. I wouldn't be surprised if she said so you are a Targaryen, prove it and then tries to burn them.

Maybe she has a Mr Glass personality trying to find other Targaryens. So she an prove that she is no longer alone.
posted by metafus at 9:09 AM on May 13


This is a point of view that I keep running into, like... "Well, what was she supposed to do? Not kill her prisoners of war?"

Uh... Yeah. That's her whole thing: finding a better way. BREAKING THE WHEEL IS HER WHOLE THING. That she did not do this, and instead chose the Stannis Baratheon thing to do, should have been an indication that she would meet a Stannis Baratheon sort of end: undone by her own extremist tendencies.


She didn't kill her prisoners of war, she killed the Tarlys, who stupidly refused to bend the knee.

Killing them was harsh, but somewhat reasonable in that if they can't even bring themselves to bend, then you can't work with them, so yeah, "break that wheel" by getting rid of the spokes that refuse to adjust.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Honestly it just isn't a show about realism or being driven on the winds of fate at all, and to the extent it is about being fated by birth it's about whether you are a Stark or not. It's the testing and triumph of the Starks.

Well, that would be nice actually. I have been manipulated into liking the Starks, they seem less malignant than the rest, but they haven't fared thus far. Ned's dead, lost his head. Rob, Catelyn dead. Bran's story line is over. Arya may end up a hero but won't be in charge of anything. That leaves Sansa. Who I think Daenerys already dispatched before she went all blood thirsty murderer at at King's Landing.

Jon Snow isn't even a Stark but let's say he's protected by House Stark Good JuJu. He doesn't want to rule yet it's his birth circumstance and fate that's forcing him to do so against his will.

Obviously, the Starks are portrayed as protagonists but with one and a half remaining members and one long episode full of revenge killings left I don't think you can say the series is about the triumph of the Starks.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:15 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Chuck Wendig has thoughts: "from my storyteller perspective, the shit just didn’t hang together."
Chekhov’s Gun is never about the gun — it’s about that the things you set up in act one are not random. The snake eventually bites its own tail. The echo goes down the cave and back. This felt like a snake without a tail at all.

Cersei’s one of the most manipulative, canny, cunning survivors. So it’ll be sad if this how she goes. Even if she remains alive it was hard to watch this vicious scorpion of a woman — smart, capable, the coldest of blood — to be reduced to someone who understands nothing of what has been wrought. Her end as seen so far is this:

She stares out the window until it’s over and time to go, and then she goes, and then she’s gone.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:15 AM on May 13 [22 favorites]


MillMan I don't think being defensive over Jaime is at all similar to being defensive over Walt because if you look at Jaime's actions throughout the series, his arc was all about becoming a more honorable man and separating from Cersei, and especially in the first half of this season, he was truly walking the walk.

(Before this episode) it's an inverse Breaking Bad, Jaime is Breaking Good. People keep mentioning Bran but look at how much he's done after the first season,


Their arcs are absolutely different, I'm trying to draw a similarity in terms of fandom response when fans love characters who are bad people. With Walt part of the problem is we're taught to like the protagonist, and there was also pretty straightforward misogyny with respect to how many guys hated Skyler at the same time. With Jamie we have one of the best written character arcs in a TV show ever and Coster-Waldau's acting was fantastic, and I claim that folks who wanted a completion of a redemption arc are coming from a place of wish fulfillment rather than the idea that his actual ending was bad writing or non-sensical. [Personally I think his ending was a little diminished by being rushed, but that's it. Leaving Brienne like five minutes of show time after they had sex was rough.]

Mostly unrelated to my above point, this show really did make me ask why I like TV at all. Am I problematic for liking this show, particularly after the season 5 awfulness? Why am I ok with this show but absolutely will not watch Handmaid's Tale? Are D&D just edgelords who use this world as an excuse to play with psychopaths, a-la Tarantino dropping the n-bomb in his own movies? Is this show just nihilism? If so, is that a problem? Do I have a moral responsibility to do better than that view, even just as a consumer?
posted by MillMan at 9:18 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


dragonfire melts stone

There are flashes of green in some of the fires - I mostly noticed them later, as Drogon gets closer to the Red Keep itself. Haven't there been references to the city being laced with caches of wildfire? Still there from when the Mad King was threatening to burn the city down?
posted by dnash at 9:20 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Yes. I’d like to register my new Truther group, which is centered around the idea that Varys’ handwriting was disappointing. He should’ve had beautiful medieval monk writing! They should have hired a calligrapher to do the handwriting close-up.

I actually thought his handwriting was fascinating and appropriate. He wouldn't be doing full-on illuminated text in a dang RavenMail message. He also had a weird lowercase e that is how I learned how to do it as a kid, with two strokes, and the connection to the next letter coming from the center of the e and not the usual place.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:22 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


If the ending of this story is that the Secret Prince takes the throne and rules wisely, I'll be so pissed off.

- I've joked a lot about Cleganebowl but I've always wanted it to happen. it was great to hear The Hound's "fucking die!". But it'd have been more resonant if he'd made the decision to use fire even in the face of PTSD instead of just barrelling over the edge of a balcony.
- I've always thought Dany would become the Mad Queen, before the show even began. This was clunky though.
- did they get Zack Snyder to direct the attack scenes? Gratuitous detailed violence that feels like they were enjoying it.
- Grey Worm, like Missandei, was given a raw deal by the writers. Under the circumstances though he made the only rational decision.
- I don't think the writers understand Jaime at all. Redeem him or don't, but at least make him consistent.
- geez I'm glad Sea Ramsey is dead at last. He should have been burned but fine, as long as he's gone.
posted by harriet vane at 9:24 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


(basically I'm saying, Dany kills people who are in her way. The people in the Keep are in her way. The people in the streets were not. Why did she start with them, and not go straight for her objective? She said she would rule by fear, but this just seems like an utterly ham handed way for the show to depict it)
posted by BungaDunga at 9:26 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


I thought the show had established through shots and descriptions of Harrenhall that canonically dragonfire melts stone.

That is sort of implicit. Back in the first season we explicitly see that a cooking fire will melt several pounds of gold in a minute or two.

In short: fire is odd in ASoIaF.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:28 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Honestly if we never get anything for the last episode about Bran and his magical powers I’m going to be livid. You can introduce that from the first episode and not follow through
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:29 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Cersei should have had some kind of plan with the wildfire and used it to burn the Unsullied as they entered the city. It would be very on brand for Cersei, using the city as a weapon.

This could have motivated Dany to try and burn out the caches herself with dragonfire, which obviously would kill the same thousands of smallfolk that she did anyway.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:29 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


(basically I'm saying, Dany kills people who are in her way. The people in the Keep are in her way. The people in the streets were not. Why did she start with them, and not go straight for her objective? She said she would rule by fear, but this just seems like an utterly ham handed way for the show to depict it)

She killed them because she was furious and hurt and wanted revenge. This is not the first time that she has punished people indiscriminately for a crime for which they were not responsible because she was furious and hurt and wanted revenge.
posted by jurymast at 9:30 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Okay because I've been in a rage, I want to mention one thing I /did/ like about the episode.

I really, really liked that they ended with the Rains of Castamere. Turns out Tywin that when you advertise to people that once someone is your enemy, it won't matter if they surrender or not, all the enemies of your house wind up drowned, somebody is going to do to you what you did to the Reynes. And also - you know what would have been super useful right now to help your kids not die? The Reynes of Castamere as bannermen.

So it is indeed thematically appropriate that Tywin, who killed an entire house, including the children, after a surrender offer had been made, loses his own children and the future of House Lannister - because Tyrion will not survive this as a power, if he even keeps his life - because someone else is as ruthless as Tywin, and also decides she will not accept surrender.

It is also thematically appropriate to have a Targaryen killing Tywin's twins - because it was at Tywin's order that Elia of Dorne's baby Aegon and daughter Rhaenys were killed.
posted by corb at 9:32 AM on May 13 [21 favorites]


Although I think the plot armor is strong with the Starks, it would be very on brand to have Jon forced to kill Dany after she's crowned, return to Winterfell, and find that Dany had already leveled the castle because of his/Sansa's betrayal. Maybe he finds Bran who does a wierwood flashback so we can have more explosions. Or he somehow finds out that Winterfell has been leveled, and THATs what pressures him to off Dany.

At this point, I'm assuming if you're sent off screen, you're safe, so Yara, Ghost, Tormund, Pod, Samwell and Gilly are all going to survive.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 9:42 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


She killed them because she was furious and hurt and wanted revenge.

Against the people she studiously ignored for long enough that they possibly had time to escape. That they didn't is pure coincidence, whatever you call the opposite of eucatastrophe.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:44 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The official title for the episode is out: "Kelly C Goes HAM"
posted by The Tensor at 9:47 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Obviously, the Starks are portrayed as protagonists but with one and a half remaining members and one long episode full of revenge killings left I don't think you can say the series is about the triumph of the Starks.

That's nonsense math, though. The Tyrells and Martells are extinct. The Baratheons are extinct except for bastards (Gendry might be allowed to stand as he's a good pal of a Stark, but he's still just a sub into an extinguished house.) The Arryns have one (developmentally disabled to boot.) The Lannisters are down to one, as are the Greyjoys. If someone hasn't ganked him while he was a prisoner, there's one Tully and a pregnant woman. The last raised-Targaryen is going to die next episode almost certainly. The survivors from the nobles of Winterfell will literally equal the survivors of all the other eight houses together. You can't claim that Arya and Bran don't count because they already got their happy ending!
posted by tavella at 9:48 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I would have bought her beelining for the Red Keep and then not being able to turn the Fire and Blood off after burning it down. Finding that killing Cersei wasn't enough, and taking it out on the wider city? Yeah, I would buy that.

Maybe with a scene where she lands outside the burning Red Keep hoping for either praise or groveling and getting some small act of defiance and going full Burn Them All. That would have been pretty good storytelling.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:48 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


I think that Bran is going to be the king.
posted by all about eevee at 9:51 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, my take on the Jaime is that while there's merit to the criticism around Jaime not explaining himself better to Brienne, his end with Cersei seemed entirely fitting to me as much for his growing acceptance of his own responsibility and freer moral choices as for his love for Cersei alone. She is not only his lover and mother of his children but his twin, turning his back on her at the moment when it looked like things were coming to a head would be an abdication of responsibility and their history. There simply was no way around his choice at that moment as he couldn't have lived with ignoring the situation, couldn't have returned from taking a hand in killing Cersei, and couldn't avoid his own complicity and emotional connection to events turning out as they did and his tie to his twin. At that point their histories were bound.

Over time things could have changed perhaps, but his moment with Brienne was as more recognition of knowing what might have been had he been stronger from the start less than a suggestion of what he could still become as his own greater awareness can't allow him to deny his past for his own good. He could no longer aid Cersei, but he couldn't just abandon her either as that too would be irresponsible. His path is to try and do the best he can in a very constrained set of options that likely end in his death, which has a sense of bravery about it, even if its not quite heroic in a grand way.

Anyway, one thing that really sticks out about the show is how much more interesting everything revolving around the Lannisters, particularly Jaime, Cersei and their father, and the threats they face than any thing else. Tyrion even becomes dull once he's away from them.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:55 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


The Tyrells and Martells are extinct. The Baratheons are extinct except for bastards (Gendry might be allowed to stand as he's a good pal of a Stark, but he's still just a sub into an extinguished house.) The Arryns have one (developmentally disabled to boot.) The Lannisters are down to one, as are the Greyjoys.

This is true of the people we saw on-screen, but it's not true otherwise, or you would have heard about it. I'm not even getting into heirs that aren't brought in from the books, but - you don't hear about people saying "Oh no, we really have no other Tyrells other than Margaery, this marriage is super important because otherwise there will be no heirs to Highgarden." You don't hear people saying "my god we must protect this precious child, let's marry him off as early as humanly possible, because otherwise no one in the Eyrie will have succession rights, how have we possibly gotten to this place?" Similarly with the Greyjoys, who choose via Kingsmoot, there are probably a lot of other Greyjoys not in the immediate family of Theon and Yara.
posted by corb at 9:58 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Can anyone tell me why Varys took off his rings?
posted by harriet vane at 9:59 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


No, there's literally a conversation about Euron, Theon, and Yara are the last Greyjoys, Highgarden is given away because the rulership is empty, etc. There aren't offscreen members ready to roll in.
posted by tavella at 10:03 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Can anyone tell me why Varys took off his rings?

Storytelling device. It telegraphs to us that Varys knows what's coming and is prepared for it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:14 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


Yeah, as unlikely as it sounds, House Tyrell is literally extinct in the TV series. If you need headcanon for this, you can pretend that all the cousins &c were in the Great Sept for Loras's trial.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:20 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


There's not as much of a power vacuum as it might seem. My wife and I were trying to figure out who, if anybody, could claim to be in charge of the various regions/houses, and we came up with:

The True North: Strong and Free
Winterfell (and the "North"): Sansa
Pyke: Yara
The Riverlands: Edmure
The Aerie: Robin Aeryn
Casterly Rock: Tyrion (assuming he lives long enough)
King's Landing: Dany (for the moment...)
Stormlands: Gendry
Highgarden: Bronn (assuming Tyrion lives long enough to make good)
Dorne: A new prince has been mentioned, right?
posted by The Tensor at 10:20 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I think that Bran is going to be the king.

*stares vacantly into the distance*
posted by Fizz at 10:22 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


you don't hear about people saying "Oh no, we really have no other Tyrells other than Margaery, this marriage is super important because otherwise there will be no heirs to Highgarden."

Wasn't that pretty much Olenna's point about "throwing flowers into the dirt"?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:23 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Can anyone tell me why Varys took off his rings?

It was a Donnie Brasco reference.
posted by sacrifix at 10:33 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Can anyone tell me why Varys took off his rings?

Not sure, but I thought one might have been a signet ring? So he may have removed it for the same reason he burns the letter he is writing – to hide evidence of what he's doing.
posted by oulipian at 10:35 AM on May 13


It was a Donnie Brasco reference.

all i care about now is the possibility that both stories take place in the same universe
posted by poffin boffin at 10:35 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Fuckin' props to Emilia Clarke, whose causal, almost flippant orders to execute Varys were as chilling as foreshadowing gets.

Reflecting on this episode this morning, I take her decision to burn the city as a calculated choice. The city yielded in the manner of an online gamer hastily typing "gg" and logging off; for Dany, King's Landing must have seemed a wound that would fester into a giant boil of resentment and treason if she didn't just cauterize the thing now. I am not endorsing that choice, but it makes sense for her.

Jaime was always trash, cleaning up your act to impress some shiny new person you just met isn't redemptive, even if that person isn't conventionally attractive.

I liked that Arya got in way over her head. Ice cold ninja assassin Arya is fun for a while but it was good to see her human and vulnerable again.

Any ending that has a human butt on the Iron Throne is a tragedy for the smallfolk. I'm here for one more episode of ridiculous tragic spectacle and my only stupid fanwish is for Bran to be plot-relevant again somehow.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:35 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


dog/dragon 2020
posted by poffin boffin at 10:38 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


I think that Bran is going to be the king.

I agree - he has to do something big (doesn't he?), and that conversation with Tyrion about how he doesn't want anymore seemed key. A dispassionate, omniscient ruler looks pretty good right now. Arya can be Hand, and Sansa can rule the North. Jon can go find Ghost and pet him.
posted by crone islander at 10:42 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Any ending that has a human butt on the Iron Throne is a tragedy for the smallfolk.

Well, there can be some gains in a consolidated kingdom instead of a collection of individual fiefdoms, or whatever term is used in a particular time and place for smaller centers of control. Those didn't tend to stay any more peaceful or better off for smallfolk than large kingdoms did as the drive for power is always present and some will inevitably pay dearly for that whether they wish to or not.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:42 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]




Do we have any new Truthers for this episode?

The out-of-the-sun attack only works on a single target! Parallax means that every other ship and wall crossbow would have seen her coming from a mile away!
posted by chortly at 10:46 AM on May 13 [22 favorites]


It's one thing to say that there are people, like Gendry and Bron who, in name can lay claim to those places, but considering how picky the bannermen of the north have been about even the little things that the Starks have suggested, it's quite another thing to actually be able to administer, collect taxes, raise an army and so forth when you've had zero experience doing so.

Robyn Aryn I buy. Beyond him, Yara and The North, there's not much leadership left in westeros.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:48 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I’m pretty okay with Dany’s tyrant turn. Didn't love the execution of all of it, but it was a reasonably logical conclusion for a series that has inverted fantasy tropes and always been about the horrors of monarchy/feudalism/war. It was set up decently in plot/character but definitely could've been less rushed and motivated in the moment better.

But if you didn’t like it, you are not alone.

Last Night's Game of Thrones Has The Worst Rotten Tomatoes Rating In The Show's History
Last night’s penultimate Game of Thrones episode, “The Bells,” is officially the most disappointing in the show’s history. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 50%, it ranks even lower than season 5’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” (54%) which featured Sansa Stark’s brutal, controversial rape at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. In fact, a Redditor’s data analysis of Rotten Tomato ratings over the course of the show’s history shows a steep, one-way decline in ratings since the beginning of season 8.
The article also has a good breakdown of the episode with a conclusion opposite mine.
posted by chris24 at 10:55 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


For those saying "this character's turn to the dark side, although telegraphed from super early on, was so bungled in execution that it kinda retroactively ruins the whole character arc for me" - welcome to the angst Buffy fans felt in season 6! We're glad to have you!
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:55 AM on May 13 [21 favorites]


I wouldn't mind a spin-off called Ser Bronn of the Reach that is basically a comedy of manners depicting Ser Bronn's attempts to fit in amongst the Florents and Redwynes and Green Apple/Red Apple Fossoways.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:56 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


“And then she sees the Red Keep, which is, to her, the home that her family built when they first came over to this country 300 years ago. It’s in that moment, on the walls of King’s Landing, when she’s looking at that symbol of everything that was taken from her, when she makes the decision to make this personal.”

I don't watch the post-show commentary, which makes it harder for stuff that exists outside the show to ruin the show for me.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:56 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


> I wouldn't mind a spin-off called Ser Bronn of the Reach that is basically a comedy of manners depicting Ser Bronn's attempts to fit in amongst the Florents and Redwynes and Green Apple/Red Apple Fossoways.

Bronn is boring. The spin-off I want to see is Arya and Yara exploring whatever's west of westeros.

(but that's not going to happen, because Maisie Williams is going to spend the next 30 years or so being way too big a star for TV, even prestige TV. She'll cite the shitty ending of GoT as a key reason why she's never going to do TV again)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:59 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Maisuie Williams would be well justified if she decides to just go into theater acting and never be seen on screen again.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:01 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


I mean, for example, Jaime's character has been all over the place from the start. Not sure if that's a "D&D" thing or a "GRRM" thing (and it makes zero difference to me) but his character development and the way others interacted with him never made *a shred* of sense to me.

This definitely might end up being a divide between people who have more awareness of the books and people who are strictly shown only. There's less of his arc in the books, of course, but it seems better set towards at least minor character development. And he's played by one of the better actors in the show so just having him waver madly throughout the whole thing instead of going somewhere is pretty underwhelming. I've seen people who only watched the show say "well, Jaime was always all over the place," though. That just feels to me more like poor handling than it does characterization.

The whole "try to talk Cersei into leaving with you in secret" bit seems like an attempt to compromise and give him some moral development, except, as I said earlier, once Dany goes Targ Sicko Mode nothing anybody else does really means anything. Except Cleganebowl, which is an explicitly meaningless thing elevated to be a centerpiece of the episode. I want to be able to treat that fight as symbolic, so it's something more than fanservice, but I'm not really sure what it's trying to say?

That's related to the other thing that makes the weak character endings in this episode disappointing. They have all the time in the world for that fight, and for Arya running away from things. I know the latter is a device to show the devastation of the city except - when they used to use Arya to give the smallfolk perspective it made sense. Once she's already one of the biggest heroes in the realm it seems like another strange choice to make the only kind of character path "full circle."
posted by atoxyl at 11:02 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


(she'd probably be good at it and would be able to act to a real script written by serious people)
posted by BungaDunga at 11:02 AM on May 13


- Last episode: Dragon taken out in seconds by... three or four ballistas?
- This episode: Dragon burns them all because... Dany used the von Richtofen Gambit?
The out-of-the-sun attack only works on a single target! Parallax means that every other ship and wall crossbow would have seen her coming from a mile away!


If there's one thing I won't miss about the series, it's that, absent other dragonmongering series, we won't have Monday morning quarterbacks debating Dany's aerial combat skills. For one thing, absent some neglected detail like Sam Tarly digging up Ye Olde Draggon-Fyghtynge Tackticks by Biggles Targaryen from the Oldtown stacks, aerial combat has basically existed for less than three years, and up until the Battle of Winterfell was pretty one-sided, the Night King's successful Hail Mary pass notwithstanding, and effective anti-aircraft fire was first demonstrated, more or less, yesterday. Plus, she's a) making a very steep dive out of the clouds, which is very different from her previous approach; b) they may think that she's giving up, since she's on her last dragon, or at the very least won't go for the Iron Fleet; and c) she's specifically going for Euron's flagship, and everyone in the Fleet may be waiting for orders from Euron, since he's a notorious control freak--remember that he had the tongues of everyone on his pirate ship cut out because he lost his shit once and didn't want them gossiping. Also, closing quickly and very closely on targets is a very effective tactic because, if they're trying to lead the target, they risk hitting another ship or ballista station on the city wall. (One of my minor disappointments for that scene was that they didn't show the wall shooters accidentally hit some of the ships in the Fleet, and the ship shooters retaliate before they realized what was going on.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:07 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Best ending would be the Brotherhood Without Banners rising up to depose all the nobles next episode after being mostly ignored for a few seasons. There have got to be plenty of them lurking about who didn't fall in with Lem Lemoncloak's loot & pillage crew, out there under the radar growing their numbers. Wait until Dany's crew is distracted with infighting and then the people can break the wheel, and fuck the schemes of the ruling class.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:08 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


This thread is as beautiful a repudiation of LPET as I could ever have wished.

I mean, I'm not about to go into some other community where this episode was well-liked and pee in their cornflakes, but within the bounds of the community here, the discussion of what was wrong with the show is far, far more interesting than the show itself. Trying to articulate succinctly why the D&D character motivations are so flimsy, how the first few seasons were actually better, and the politics, aesthetics and logic of cliche, patriarchy, feminism, racism, battle strategy, space-time, foreshadowing, plot arcs, character disservice, spectacle and capitalism and all the rest is actually pretty interesting. Hopefully before it is justifiably consigned to the bin of cheesy spectacle, the show will serve as interesting case study in how all the different forms of bad writing synergize with each other.
posted by chortly at 11:11 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


in retrospect the real fanfare show division should have been not book readers and show watchers but series criticizers and series likers.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:14 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


The Real Fanfare Show Division was the enemies we made along the way.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:17 AM on May 13 [26 favorites]


i'm excited for nonreaders to finally read the books and then come back to these threads and yELL
posted by poffin boffin at 11:22 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


Not gonna read dem books where there's so many other books to be read.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:23 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


LPDT
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:24 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I still can't figure out what that acronym refers to...
posted by Rock Steady at 11:28 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Let People Enjoy Things

vs.

Let People Dislike Things
posted by tobascodagama at 11:31 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


i'm excited for nonreaders to finally read the books and then come back to these threads and yELL

about what? 30 extra plots that also don't matter in the end?
posted by French Fry at 11:34 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Dany's burning the city before the keep makes a bit of sense if what she wants more than anything else is to make sure Cersei knows she's doomed, and to make her last minutes as agonizing as possible.
posted by maxwelton at 11:34 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Seen on /r/freefolk: "Samwell Tarly killed more people than the entire Golden Company"
posted by exogenous at 11:36 AM on May 13 [36 favorites]


Lovely interview with Rory McCann, who plays The Hound:
You live a pretty rustic life.
I’m a sailor and spent all my years trying to do up boats. Now I’m thinking of finishing my last few scenes and sailing off into the sunset. That’s my dream.

That sounds fantastic. Where are you going to go?
That’s my f—ing business.

That should be the end of this story. It’s a perfect final quote for McCann and/or The Hound. But there’s a final bit. When we spoke to Maisie Williams on the set, she had something to say about working with McCann again after they spent several seasons apart. . . . “Rory would always chat with me [when filming the earlier seasons] about adventures he’d have in his life — buying a piece of land and living in bunker — all these crazy things he’d do,” Williams said. “Before I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ Now I’m like, ‘Oh, I just bought a piece of land next to the sea too.’ I realized he’s really shaped me quite a lot as a person. I’ve realized his way of life does seem really appealing and I’ve learned a lot from him. I respect his friendship and loved working with him this year.”
posted by sallybrown at 11:43 AM on May 13 [67 favorites]


Nobody ever drowns on this show. Fall into the ocean miles from land, unconscious and fully armored? No problem, you are guaranteed to wash up on a beach by the next episode at the latest. The Mer-folk search and rescue teams must be flat out amazing.
posted by surlyben at 11:51 AM on May 13 [28 favorites]


Man, I'd forgotten about the Varys is a Merman theories.
posted by codacorolla at 11:55 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


about what? 30 extra plots that also don't matter in the end?

Y E S
posted by poffin boffin at 11:55 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


King's Landing is big. Maybe next episode the main characters are just hanging at Dragonstone, waiting for her to be done with torching the city.
posted by maxwelton at 11:55 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Speaking of /r/freefolk, this is canon now.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:56 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


Yo, D., what's that animal with, uh... the face... and uh... fur... you know that has like... four legs? The short main girl had one for a pet a few years back.

Oh, probably a horse, right? Little girls love horsies.

Yeah, damn, totally. Close enough anyway.
posted by codacorolla at 11:59 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


Honestly the part of this that made me the most uncomfortable was the inspiration they seem to have taken from contemporary accounts of the Hiroshima bombing. This has to have been intentional, right?

I can't decide whether this is a good or a bad thing.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:01 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


but within the bounds of the community here, the discussion of what was wrong with the show is far, far more interesting than the show itself.

I'll be honest, I'm getting a little tired of everybody breathlessly rushing in here on Monday morning to point out all of the ways in which the visual language of storytelling in an episodic television medium necessitated compromises to logic and physics.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:02 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


This is in response to a conversation that is now way up-thread, but: Dany believes that she's the legitimate heir because she birthed dragons and isn't burnt by fire. That's her version of believing she has the divine right to rule. She feels an entitlement because of her blood, but I think more in the mystical "touched by God" sense than anything else. If she were thinking about her claim in the conventional way of inheritance law, then she wouldn't have had such sang froid when he brother was burnt alive. I think she's worried that other people will seize upon any convenient claim to try and rise in rebellion against her, though, which is why she's worried about how much people love Jon.

While it was difficult to watch (and literally gave me nightmares last night), I think Dany's sacking of the city was pretty much in keeping with how conquerors in the West used to do things. In the 1050s or so, when he was still a young up-and-comer, William the Conqueror sacked a city in his own land (on the Norman border) because they hung tanned hides on their walls as an insult to his mother (her father was a tanner). Once he had control of the city, he cut off everyone's hands and feet in retaliation. As far as I know, that was everyone, not just soldiers. And that was considered a normal and proportionate response. His most brutal campaign was the Harrying of the North, and it was considered savage and devastating even back in the 1070s, but it happened after he had already taken London and was more of a practical measure in order to subdue any rebellions and install his own aristocracy even far from his base of power. I think that Dany taking King's Landing is basically analogous to William taking London, but we'll see if she'll even get a chance to do her version of the Harrying. Her other problem is that, unlike William and his scores of Norman nobles, she doesn't really have anyone to install because she didn't have the kind of ties in the East as William had in Normandy or through his wife.

Honestly, I think that Dany's decision to raze the city was probably a good one from a practical standpoint, and not anything exceptional considering how war used to be waged in Europe before the modern age. It was just horrifying to see in graphic detail on screen. Like I said, literally nightmares all night, and finally I just gave up on sleep at 5am.

Instead apparently he heard she killed a dragon, looked horrified, and realized he wanted to tap that ass yet again? THAT MAKES NO SENSE. I don't know where the disconnect occurred, but somewhere between the script, the direction, and the actor, nobody told Jaime he still wanted to be with his sister, so he appears to be heading off to kill a monster he is horrified by last episode and turns up wanting to be with her this episode. WHAT?

I think Jaime felt guilty for betraying and abandoning Cersei for Brienne, and hearing that Cersei was doomed (because she'd killed Dany's dragon) almost immediately after he and Brienne finally slept together compounded that guilt a thousandfold. I think he felt responsible for Cersei's doom, in a sense. Like maybe if he hadn't betrayed her...

Jaime had a skin-crawling chivalric romance with Cersei, but also, he had a duty to her as a Lannister. He was her brother and protector even beyond being her lover. Jaime was a lot of terrible things, but he was always his siblings' hero (and he did a lot of terrible things on their behalf as their champion and protector, too). When he said that Cersei was hateful and he's hateful, I think he was talking about them as Lannisters, the same sour fruit from the same rotten tree, and the duty/love he felt toward her because of that, even more than he was talking about them as a romantic couple.

I think when he ran off, he didn't have a real plan, he was basically making a pilgrimage to Cersei to repent the "sin" of forsaking his sister. He was going to repent by being the closest thing to her white knight as he could. He had had some major and horrible fuck-ups in that department (raping her!) but that's fundamentally always what he was for Cersei and Tyrion -- their white knight -- it was how their family functioned, and it was how Cersei saw him even at the very end. That's what Tyrion thanked him for when rescuing him, too.

Tyrion thanked him for being the only person who didn't see him as a monster, and for loving him like a brother, and giving him the strength to survive -- and I think it was similar for Cersei, actually. Jaime gave her protection and respect that nobody else did, and I think she wouldn't have survived without that. And I think that Jaime understood that, which is why he was so viscerally horrified when, almost to the second that he betrayed her, she doomed herself by killing Dany's dragon.

I think that what Jaime got in return was his brother and sister's acceptance and trust. They trusted him and counted on him, when everyone else saw him as an untrustworthy sleaze (or maybe a pawn) at best.

Brienne was different from everybody outside the three siblings in that she glimpsed Jaime as a white knight, too. That was obviously meaningful to him. I think that Brienne's strength and that she herself was a champion also meant he could trust her in a different and maybe even more intimate way than he could his siblings, and that was apparently meaningful to them both, too. But at the end of the day, he was already pledged to his family, he was still going to be their rock (albeit the grimy and twisted Lannister version).

I don't think that Jaime dying with Cersei while they chanted that they were the only ones that mattered was narcissistic, I think it was just the same old messed up dynamic they'd always had -- shutting out the rest of the world and clinging desperately to each other, trying to create a safe little bubble (a womb) to retreat to no matter what was happening around them. As destructive and cruel as each of them has been, it's still sad to see that they're so damaged, especially in this weird childlike, "twin language" kind of way. I don't know what was going on with Tywin, but Casterly Rock must have been a grim place to grow up, to produce these three misfits.

And when it comes to Dany, I think that as ruthless and ambitious as she is, she's got a fundamentally good heart. As good as anyone else's anyway. But at the end of the day, she didn't have a brother to love and protect her, the closest she had was Drogo, her dead rapist husband. And she's still got Drogon, I guess. While I don't think that loneliness and isolation have caused her to go crazy or anything as Gothic as all that, I do think it weighs on her. Seeing Jaime be there for Cersei and knowing that Jon would never ever be there for Dany like that, it did make me feel bad for her. I think it's hard on her that there's no "home" for her, and never will be, and I think coming to Westeros and *really* realizing that is making her less sentimental and more "burn it down!" than she might otherwise have been.
posted by rue72 at 12:02 PM on May 13 [46 favorites]


Deadspin suggests a simple and effective change that dramatically improves this episode. Briefly, Euron fails to kill Rhaegal at sea, and so both Dani and Jon ride dragons into the Battle of King's Landing. When the city surrenders, she and Jon land their dragons atop the Red Keep and consider their winnings when suddenly, Euron kills Rhaegal from a Scorpion concealed within the upper floors of a civilian King's Landing building, and numerous similarly camouflaged ballistae begin firing on Drogon. This is what drives her to raze the city.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:07 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]


I'm getting a little tired of everybody breathlessly rushing in here on Monday morning

luckily you only have to endure that for 8 more days
posted by poffin boffin at 12:09 PM on May 13 [11 favorites]


posted by rue72 at 12:02 PM on May 13

comments like this, however, are why I love Fanfare.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:09 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


posted by rue72 at 12:02 PM on May 13

comments like this, however, are why I love Fanfare.


This analysis explained a dynamic I haven’t been able to understand in eight seasons!
posted by sallybrown at 12:11 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Deadspin's proposal is so much better than the D&D's that it's almost comical. Is it cheesy and overwought? Of course! Does it track with who Dany has showed herself to be? Absolutely! Mowing through her enemies is extremely Dany, kicking down camouflaged ballistas and thereby turning the city itself into her enemy which she crushes when it won't bend the knee would echo everything she's done up until then.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:15 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


In many ways, I like the final parallels between the Starks and Lannisters. Even when it's stupid and costs their lives, they protect their family. And we are bitterly seeing, even moreso than "lol Targ coin flip", that a Targaryen alone is a terrible thing. Jon betrays Dany by telling his family, which drives home to her that he is foremost a Stark. Tyrion betrays her because he is foremost a Lannister. Jaime dies because in his own messed up way, he has been loyal to Cersei. And Dany has a throne but has lost everything close to a family because they died to give it to her.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:18 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I am completely on board with Queen Sansa, First of Her Name. Completely.

You say that NOW, but what will you think once she feeds Gendry to wild dogs in the next episode? The showrunners have hinted, you see, that Sansa has a well-established hatred of bastards. It's only a matter of time before that comes out.
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:19 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Changing the scene so Daenerys is totes justified in razing King's Landing in response to ballistae breaking the surrender/killing Rhaegal/actively shooting at her is like changing the cantina scene so Greedo shot first.
posted by jurymast at 12:20 PM on May 13 [32 favorites]


I'm also annoyed that for all her talk of 'break the wheel' and 'the last war' we know that Dany believes she can't have children and we've never heard her plan or even ponder what that means for her dynasty.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:20 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Honestly, I think that Dany's decision to raze the city was probably a good one from a practical standpoint, and not anything exceptional considering how war used to be waged in Europe before the modern age. The whole thing is well worth reading.

So once again, the LA Review of Books rides to the rescue, and suggests the marvelous expedient of "I’m going to proceed as if all the things that Benioff and Weiss say in the post-episode featurette are stupid and wrong" and coming up with better explanations instead.
Rationality is the ability to learn: to extrapolate from past experiences, to analyze the present situation, and to anticipate possible future outcomes. None of these idiots are rational; they keep doing the same thing but expecting a different result (just as we do by watching) and we accept it because we recognize their characters doing the things their characters do, and because we like their characters, we’re happy to watch it on our screens. But the only rational person, here, is Daenerys. She has experienced rebellions, both for her and against her, and has learned from them; she correctly apprehends that time is not on her side (King’s Landing is not going to rebel against Cersei and her allies are all betraying her, which will only continue) and she correctly realizes that the only way to win—and not die—is to be a dragon. Without allies who will serve her out of love, she must do what dragons do: eat the sheep.

When Jon and Tyrion do really dumb things that blow up in their face—or when Sansa and Arya act in stunningly short-sighted ways—the show gets away with it because they are Our Heroes. We not only forgive them, we fail to see through them; we let them have it both ways. This particularly works for the men, who the show expects us to see as loyal to their queen, even as they are flagrantly disloyal to her. Because Jon Snow is the hero of the show—who will probably kill Daenerys next week—we don’t see him betraying her when he repeats his father’s mistake (of revealing the inconvenient genealogies of ruling monarchs). And when Tyrion literally engineers the escape of his brother so that he can engineer the escape of Cersei, the Queen’s main enemy, we somehow don’t see this as a betrayal. In both cases, this is just an honest and a clever man doing what’s necessary because their Queen won’t.

It just might possibly be that the gendering of the situation makes it a little bit easier to see them undermining her, in everyone’s best interest—even hers—without being marked by disloyalty, because patriarchy lets you “serve” a woman while also ruling her. Maybe the gendering of the situation makes it easier to see her as abruptly “turning” in a moment of rage and madness and grief and burning King’s Landing. Maybe because she’s young and pretty, and has always been surrounded by male advisors, we overlook how well she’s learned the lessons that Olenna and Cersei have taught, and how completely in line with those lessons her actions are.

But a deeper problem is that we don’t want to admit that Daenerys is right, because we don’t want to admit what monarchy is. There are no good kings and queens, something Varys should have known (Jon Snow would be a good king, maybe, and his reign would be extremely short). Kings and queens are selfish people who will kill you when they need you to die; while Tyrion should have been reading Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Carl Schmitt, Daenerys was out learning, in the field, what exactly the throne is. She is open about it. She is honest. She had wanted everyone to love her, and tried to make it happen. But as the people who loved her kept dying—and as her “allies” turned against her and her enemies grew stronger—she correctly identified the failure of this strategy, and changed tactics. Just like she attacked the ships from the sun—ambushing them instead of letting them ambush her—she has abandoned a failing tactic, based on her knowledge of the field of play, and adopted a winning one.
posted by corb at 12:24 PM on May 13 [52 favorites]


Changing the scene so Daenerys is totes justified in razing King's Landing in response to ballistae breaking the surrender/killing Rhaegal/actively shooting at her is like changing the cantina scene so Greedo shot first.

She still wouldn't be justified in killing all those innocents. The article continues:
It’s where a wiser leader, one more suited to the awesome power she’s spent her life working to claim for herself, might withdraw, marshal her resources, and commit to some combination of a siege and a house-by-house clearing of the city by her infantry. But in her rage and pain and sorrow, and painfully out of reach of all the advisors who’ve helped her rein herself in over the years, Dany reacts—not making a conscious, deliberate decision to do genocide to innocent people, but lashing out as a wounded dragon, as the thing she always has had inside of her, at both the Big Crossbows and at the entire society that has taken so much from her—and just fuckin’ lays waste to King’s Landing.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:26 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The Deadspin idea is not to justify her burninating KL- she could have withdrawn and laid siege, or left the Unsullied to kill the ballistas for her, or any number of things, but in the event responded with overwhelming force. It's not a perfect solution- you are right, it may make her look too justified- but it is a damn sight better than just burninating because she can, which she's never been shown to be interested in before. She's always been happy to burn anyone who won't bend the knee, but has she ever used terror for terror's sake?
posted by BungaDunga at 12:27 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Changing the scene so Daenerys is totes justified in razing King's Landing in response to ballistae breaking the surrender/killing Rhaegal/actively shooting at her is like changing the cantina scene so Greedo shot first.

Yeah, for sure.

My big issue is that it just doesn't make sense for Dany to end her rampage with the Red Keep rather than start there. No concealed scorpions required for that, just like thirty fucking seconds of thought about how to sync up the characters' actions on screen with the internal mental state that motivates those actions.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:27 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


She's always been happy to burn anyone who won't bend the knee, but has she ever used terror for terror's sake?

Yes. Her entire Meereen arc.
posted by jurymast at 12:29 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Oh and I will be pissed as hell if they are telegraphing that a weary Arya is done with all the fire and blood and will now retire to happy womanhood at Storm's end. I get that she can't run on revenge forever, but it makes zero sense for her to be the lady of anything. Maybe Gendry's castellan-with-benefits.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:35 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


My big issue is that it just doesn't make sense for Dany to end her rampage with the Red Keep rather than start there.

If I remember right, she burnt the ballistas on the walls pretty much first thing, so she could attack from Drogon with impunity. I think she was just working her way up the city from the softest targets to the hardest, since as the city's defenses weakened and it literally crumbled into dust, its hardest targets started getting softer and softer, too. Not all that cinematic maybe, but fairly pragmatic. The Red Keep even ended up killing Cersei for her.
posted by rue72 at 12:36 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Just like she attacked the ships from the sun—ambushing them instead of letting them ambush her—she has abandoned a failing tactic, based on her knowledge of the field of play, and adopted a winning one.

That burn-em-all strategy didn't work out so well for pops. Maybe she thinks it will work for her, or perhaps she's really just gone looney tunes like her dad and doesn't care.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:42 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


That burn-em-all strategy didn't work out so well for pops.

The rest of the article kind of goes into that - that if you start from the assumption that "you win or you die", then once your win scenarios start getting smaller and smaller, you essentially are limited to the amount of choices that will let you win, whether they are good choices or not.

The Dothraki were out in front in the battle of Winterfell. They were beyond decimated. We see only about a dozen - maybe two dozen - Dothraki in the streets. We don't see many Unsullied, who were also out front. The vast mass of Dany's army is Northerners - people who could conceivably be expected, once they find out that Jon is the One True King, to switch sides. And Dany knows that Varys - her master of whispers, her spymaster, the man who communicates with everyone - has betrayed her. She doesn't know how far that betrayal runs. And so - is it long-term-stable to burn most of the population of King's Landing? Fuck no, it's not. But she doesn't have a choice that brings long term stability. She has winning in the short term, and hoping it gives her some breathing room.

And this is, again, why I think the Mereen portion was so necessary. It shows that you can come as a liberator, the people of the city can love you, and it's still not going to work out well, the governance is still incredibly complicated and takes a network of advisors, which Dany never, ever has. She has never had advisors that haven't betrayed her. She can't trust anyone.
posted by corb at 12:51 PM on May 13 [20 favorites]


Does she know that that's why Jaime killed her father? It's something of a shame that the show didn't try and tell a story with that. Her knowing that burning KL could turn her allies against her and doing it anyway would have been more interesting. Her knowing that her father was literally murdered for going all fire and blood would have added something.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:53 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Does she know that that's why Jaime killed her father?

I think both Barriston Selmy (who was there) and Tyrion have told her that story.
posted by sallybrown at 1:03 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I'd like to give myself credit for complaining about Dany's failure to fly out of the sun (thus making her hard to see) last episode, now put to ridiculously effective good use this episode!

Upon further reflection today, I'm not mad (or surprised) at Dany's destruction of King's Landing. In many ways I like it as a final repudiation of her white savior complex that I found so incredibly gross during the peak of the "Mhysa" arcs and well into much of the defense of her character in this season as well. But it all just felt so rushed, and so contrived (agreed with those who are tired of everyone surviving falling into the sea, or any more screen time given to Sea Ramsay after his stupid catapault failed).

The Hound pointed out that in this case her next target was definitely a goner,

I did actually love his speculuation about this when he was all, "the Dothraki will get her... or maybe she'll be eaten by a dragon... *shrug*"
posted by TwoStride at 1:05 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


D&D has gone beyond "not caring" about the character arcs, they are actively spitting on them.

Seriously? Because I think it's pretty obvious that this is where Martin intended it to go.

Sure D&D had to compress the next six books into three seasons, but Martin telegraphed this from the beginning. If you look at the first book, hell if you read his earlier Wild Cards stuff, you see Martin has two themes about women: rape and creepy sex is cool and dramatic, and giving women power is a mistake.

The thing that gets me are the people who call out Cersei for not being smarter; just what character have they been watching? The one that over indulged her brat in a stereotypical manner? The one who got manipulated into a male-gazey lesbian seduction (which is pretty much every lesbian relationship in the series, granted)? The one who consistently makes stupid decisions?

Martin's misogyny has been on display from the beginning. But people always make excuses for him.
posted by happyroach at 1:10 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]


It's so so so so so so obvious they don't really understand much about human motivations or about complex human emotions,

I think this is what it boils down to - like what kind of monster doesn't know that people are going to need to see a beloved character pet his fucking dog?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:14 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]


Martin's misogyny has been on display from the beginning. But people always make excuses for him.

misanthropy feels more accurate than misogyny here, because I'm really failing when I try to think of male characters who've had power in GOT and haven't made a mess of things.
posted by philip-random at 1:16 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


What if next episode opens with Zombie Sea Ramsey riding Zombie Rhaegal shouting "THE DROWNED GOD TOLD ME I'M AZOR AHAI AND ALSO SECRETLY A TARGARYEN!!!"
posted by tobascodagama at 1:16 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]




rue72: "The Red Keep even ended up killing Cersei for her."

Oh yeah speaking of which: I don't believe that anyone on Team Burninators ever even laid eyes on Cersei. I think the only outsider that did was The Hound. I'm betting dollars to donuts that in the next episode there won't be mention of "Can we even be sure Cersei is dead?"

I mean it doesn't matter to them if Cersei fled, there's nowhere else in the world she could find an army powerful enough to dethrone Daenerys, much less pay for it. I'm just assuming the writers won't address that no one saw it happen.
posted by komara at 1:20 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


- Last episode: Dragon taken out in seconds by... three or four ballistas?
- This episode: Dragon burns them all because... Dany used the von Richtofen Gambit?


It's not spelled out in the show (or even the books, from what I remember) but having a rider seems to make a big difference. Dragons can do damage on their own, but the Targaryens before Dany always used them in battle with riders. It could be that a dragon's focus is just not suited for battle without a rider to guide them.

Anyway, I prefer thinking that being mad at Jon and sending him with the army instead of letting him fly Rhaegal was the crucial error last episode, more so than Euron investing all his tech points on upgraded scorpions.
posted by Gary at 1:22 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Last Night's Game of Thrones Has The Worst Rotten Tomatoes Rating In The Show's History

which says more about the inherent flaws of Rotten Tomatoes than Game Of Thrones. The movies and episodes that fair best, that get the most unanimous approval are the ones that piss the fewest number of people off ... as opposed to being works of great genius. In other words, a "that was pretty good" review rates as high as "that was the best thing ever". So, it's not a surprise at all that the Game of Thrones episode that saw the most beloved characters either dying or doing terrible things would score such a low rating.

And congrats to the makers for making those unpopular choices.
posted by philip-random at 1:25 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


"This has to have been intentional, right? I can't decide whether this is a good or a bad thing."

I think it's a good thing because it shows how weird it is that a largely American audience is upset at the needless mass incineration of civilians as a definitively war-ending tactic because it is horrifying and unrealistic. Harry Truman wasn't even the product of an inbred family of bloodthirsty lunatics. He just thought it was reasonable. Twice. Even though there was no question that Japan would be defeated. Even though it would largely be civilians killed in a particularly horrifying way. And that's not even bringing the firebombing of Tokyo into it.

The show has been clear from its beginning that dragons are weapons of terrifying mass destruction. The show has been clear that the game of thrones is one where the common people are always the losers. Dany explained her rationale for razing the city; it's exactly the same as Truman's. If we need more than that, well, Dany has been vindictive and bloodthirtsy all along and quick to pass judgement on people of whom she knows nothing.

I don't think Dany's decision was right; but I don't think Truman's was, either. In both cases, the winner gets to tell the story their way, even though there are charred remains in the street of mothers holding their daughters.

Dragons aside, have we forgotten what the Dothraki did to the cities they sacked in Essos? We were told over and over in the show that King's Landing was a very large city filled with common people who were at risk in war. It's unclear to me that anyone other than the Unsullied would have resisted the temptation to sack the city -- perhaps most of those people were going to die in any event. By that world's rules and by our world's rules Dany's decision was not exceptional, it's war. Also, it was personal.

On the long journey of watching this show, I've come to strongly be suspicious of making a spectacle of misogyny and the brutality of war, even if it's supposedly a commentary on how awful it is. Nevertheless, the show has been very consistent about this: war is horror. We don't need ice zombies to bring on the apocalypse; give armies and WMDs to the power-hungry and people will manage it themselves.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:31 PM on May 13 [39 favorites]


So, it's not a surprise at all that the Game of Thrones episode that saw the most beloved characters either dying or doing terrible things would score such a low rating.


That doesn't seem to be the case for any of the other deaths.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:34 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


One weird thing from a historical perspective, not that it matters, but aren't "walled cities" typically pretty messy? I mean, yes, there are walls, but there is always a city outside of the walls, too...the trades you don't want messing up your neat city, the overflow of people who don't fit, the sketchy merchants trying to benefit from the city but not wanting to be under its direct rule, the poor who cannot live inside but scrub the shitters of those who can.

There's no way a big flat piece of land just outside of the gates is going to be empty. I mean, in a walled city as "full" as King's Landing is, where do you even put 20,000* mercenaries?

* We were looking at no more than a couple thousand, tops
posted by maxwelton at 1:42 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Has anyone else been consistently irritated by the after-episode clips with D&D sitting there reiterating 3-5 plot points in 3-5 sentences, but never actually adding anything to the show? It seems so ineffectually narcissistic of them, it baffles me every time. Like what is the ever loving point of those segments?
posted by Harry Caul at 8:15 AM on May 13 [14 favorites +] [!]


With any luck, they are making enough people angry, and demonstrating their own stupidity, that people will turn against their next show valorizing the Confederacy and sink it. we can only hope, and sign petitions.
posted by eustatic at 1:48 PM on May 13 [9 favorites]


"There's no way a big flat piece of land just outside of the gates is going to be empty. I mean, in a walled city as 'full' as King's Landing is, where do you even put 20,000* mercenaries?"

Typically, before a battle or siege the area near the walls were cleared, even though it was usually occupied, to facilitate the defense of the walls and avoid a suffocating fire. I don't think D&D thought about this, but regardless it's small-fry in the show's WTF sweepstakes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:53 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Has anyone else been consistently irritated by the after-episode clips with D&D sitting there reiterating 3-5 plot points in 3-5 sentences, but never actually adding anything to the show? It seems so ineffectually narcissistic of them, it baffles me every time. Like what is the ever loving point of those segments?

I've had to stop letting myself watch them, because every time I do, I just get extra pissed off. Any benefit of the doubt I might have extended to D&D just gets obliterated when I hear these interviews.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:55 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


There’s a whole sub field of political science dedicated to civilian victimization in wartime. Danaerys’s attack on the civilians of Kings Landing doesn’t fit into it. They surrendered. They weren’t loyal supporters of Cersei. It makes no sense. The WWII analogy is silly because the alternative wasn’t bloodier it was less bloody.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:58 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


All in all I quite liked it.
posted by scalefree at 2:09 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I think this is what it boils down to - like what kind of monster doesn't know that people are going to need to see a beloved character pet his fucking dog?

C. G. I. It would look like shit & then you'd all be berating them for showing us a dog that looks like shit. This is what they said. They tried & it looked like shit. People really need to get past it.
posted by scalefree at 2:15 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Meh, I thought the direwolf interactions previously were just fine. The dragon interactions didn't look much better but you know "rule of cool". CGI is CGI most of it is still obvious and shit when it's fantastical in nature.

They also had stopped doing it for a while and thought that it wouldn't look great, but no concern for the actual emotional impact of the moment in that scene.

The dragon riding scenes stand as good evidence for pretty shit looking CGI.
posted by lizarrd at 2:17 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


So, it's not a surprise at all that the Game of Thrones episode that saw the most beloved characters either dying or doing terrible things would score such a low rating.

It's certainly not that they're dying that's the issue. Did anybody die in this episode who wasn't widely expected to die? Jaime could have had a chance, an episode ago, but once he heads back to King's Landing he's pretty much a goner. There's a difference between a happy ending and a narratively satisfying ending. People know characters are going to die, heartbreakingly, but they want to see them go out in ways that a.) are consistent with the way the characters are drawn, b.) give the actors a chance to act, and c.) reinforce some larger themes of the show. I think they fell short of delivering on that.

I know Dany has a legit fanbase - though none of my watching companions are really part of it - so I'm sure some people are upset about her turn. But I don't have a problem with her arc going there in the end. I've just found the way the maneuvered all the necessary pieces into position to set it up prettty clumsy, and then I thought in the big payoff they let all that dragon fire, uh, consume too much dramatic oxygen.
posted by atoxyl at 2:17 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Listen, I just realised that during Cleganebowl, the Mountain gouges out one of Sandor's eyes, and Sandor stabs the Mountain through one of his.

Themes are for eighth grade book reports my ass. You don't get much more on the nose than that. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world plunged into dragonfire.
posted by jurymast at 2:23 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]


The Hound laughing at how ridiculous things were was pretty on point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on May 13 [29 favorites]


If I can take a break from my shitposting, the fact that people have named their children after Daenerys or her title says less about their judgment in naming a child after a character from an unfinished piece of media or whatever than it does about the absolute dearth of female characters in popular works of media who are allowed to be powerful and wield that power with the kind of unyielding and (justified or not) righteous fury that male characters do all the time.

Carol Danvers is probably a better namesake, but her movie wasn't out ten years ago. Same for Rey. So who did we actually have back then showing off that kind of power in a piece of widely-watched and widely-discussed blockbuster entertainment? Iron Man 2 cameo girl?
posted by tobascodagama at 2:27 PM on May 13 [33 favorites]


If we're looking for strong female characters in popular works, I'd vote for Katniss (not that I like the name for a kid, but I did like the character). Although she doesn't necessarily wield power the way someone like Dany does.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:30 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Did Varys poison her to make her mad? What was Martha asked to do? Martha worked in the kitchen. That scene seems to stick out.
posted by metafus at 2:31 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


I would totally name a female child QueenofThorns.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on May 13


I mentioned Hiroshima upthread but apparently the director said in the after show segment that it was modeled on the Dresden firebombing.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:39 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Cleganebowl was the one thing I loved about this episode, the one thing that felt like the proper culmination of seasons' worth of build-up.

Hating his brother -- and the irrational hatred was apparent in the first episode in the fight they had during the tournament, when Gregor was swinging his sword to kill while Gregor was simply defending. Gregor almost ignored King Robert's order to stop fighting.

His hatred for his brother was perhaps the last real bit of him that was left in re-animated form.

And considering how often, in the early days, Sandor pointed out that a lot of the lore about knights was shite, this fight had to be ugly, not a ballet of violence featuring sweeping, magnificent swings and cuts and dodges like the various fights in the Tower of Joy battle.

That, I applauded. Eye rolls at everything else.

Also, while I'm standing up here on this soapbox, let me say that I hate that every "twist" and "subversion" in this show still privileges the cishet white male perspective. If they wanted to be really edgy, they could have done something that would have been both edgy and entirely logical in the milieu of the story: let the single ladies run it.

Given the years of fighting and battles that resolved as routs/massacres, there should be many villages, cities, clans, tribes, and nations that are seriously lacking in able-bodied males older than 14 or so from every walk of life.

D&D could have used the WW 2 years in America as inspiration, with women stepping in to the spaces left by the dead men. Farming, smithing, fishing, sailing, trading....ruling.

Let Lady Mormont survive the battle and grow up to be Queen's Hand. Arya as Master of Whispers. Sansa handling the money. Missandei serving as head of a dipomatic corps, bringing Essos and Westeros together like never before.

Such a missed opportunity.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:39 PM on May 13 [17 favorites]


What if next episode opens with Zombie Sea Ramsey riding Zombie Rhaegal shouting "THE DROWNED GOD TOLD ME I'M AZOR AHAI AND ALSO SECRETLY A TARGARYEN!!!"

Do we know if D&D ever wrote for FASA or White Wolf?
posted by curious nu at 2:44 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Of all the character turns that feel at least rushed, and at most tacked on, Varys' bothered me the most. He may think Daenerys would end up being a terrible ruler, but he served the mad king. And when he served a king he didn't trust or agree with previously, he was at least, subtle.

Running up to her best boy and blurting "We should totes turn on her!" was deafeningly stupid.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:47 PM on May 13 [27 favorites]


Did Varys poison her to make her mad? What was Martha asked to do? Martha worked in the kitchen. That scene seems to stick out.

I think she was just one of his many spies, and reporting that Daenerys wasn’t eating was more background that she wasn’t mentally well after losing another child.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:50 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Yes, to say that to Jon Snow of all people. The most compulsively loyal and honorable character since Ned Stark. Varys is smarter than that. He would want to start by getting Jon on his side, waiting for Jon to see what Dany has turned into. And then he should be like, "Is Sansa safe with Dany like this? What about Arya and Bran?" Or something. There are so many smarter ways to do this.

I would have loved to see Varys and Sansa conspiring together to get Jon on the throne. Not even necessarily that they should succeed, but just to see their brainstorming session.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:51 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


-- PenDevil on the blue, seven years ago

Wait... am I the baddie?
posted by PenDevil at 2:52 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Not at all. But we will always find something to kvetch about.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:54 PM on May 13


I guess my big complaint is that everything this season feels so very forced. It's like that video game gif where a thrown briefcase curves in midair to hit a person because the game has already decided that it's going to hit them: the plot has decided that Jon and Dany must fight so now events must curve however implausibly to get Jon and Dany fighting.
posted by Pyry at 3:08 PM on May 13 [13 favorites]


Bran would be a terrible king because there is zero evidence at all that Bran cares about Westeros or any of its people, great or small. If being invaded and slaughtered to the last individual ended up helping the conquering empire resist some other 'threat to humanity', he'd help it along without blinking most likely. As evidence: presumably Bran knew that a million Westeroi were going to get bbq'd in Kings Landing, and couldn't care less.
posted by tavella at 3:11 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Bran becoming king would be the Ascent to Transcendence ending, as he is some kind of posthuman hivemind entity
posted by Apocryphon at 3:14 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


In terms of purposeful / accidental alignments of film to music, it turns out that AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" works really well as the soundtrack for the burning of King's Landing, right from the initial tolling of the bells in the city.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 3:20 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


The show seem to have skipped the scene when Dany alone writing on the walls and talking to herself for 3 days. Dany not eating and not sleeping. Maybe Bran was watching and can tell us more. There must have been a raven around. She seemed at that point delusional
posted by metafus at 3:22 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Also hey, uh. Re: my prior comments.

Go rewatch the scene of Davos finding the charred remains of Shireen's wooden stag toy, and then the scene of Arya staring at the nameless King's Landing girl's charred wooden horse, and then tell me that the show isn't trying to draw a parallel between Daenerys and Stannis, re: what happens when you lose yourself down the rabbit hole of your own Destiny™ and Righteous Claim™.
posted by jurymast at 3:22 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


The only good bit was the Mountain's response to Qyburn's orders

"You're not my real dad!"
posted by coriolisdave at 3:25 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Bran becoming king would be the Ascent to Transcendence ending, as he is some kind of posthuman hivemind entity

If we handed over governing functions to the Facebook/Zuckerberg machine.
posted by sallybrown at 3:30 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Daenerys should have barbecued every Westerosi with a last name the second she got to the Seven Kingdoms. And she should have done to Meereen what she did to Astapor before it.

In the east, the slavers wear tokars. In the west, they have last names.

I stan a fearsome khaleesi and I don’t care who knows it. I am a dragon tankie and I feel no shame whatsoever about that.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:30 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Harsh light of day, the actual narrative choices aren't all that bad. Dany doing what Jamie killed her father to prevent is pretty spot on thematically. And the fact that he was too obsessed with his sister to help a second time is in character for his dumb ass. (Euron is the stupidest character in almost any creative art I've ever encountered and the less said about him the better. He didn't matter so that's fine).

But the whole thing just seemed...cheap in the end. Arya's all standing around and "THIS IS THE REAL WINTER" mallet smacks us in the head. Thanks guys, I got it. And with one more episode left why the hell wouldn't I watch it? But I'll always know they could have done so much better.
posted by East14thTaco at 3:35 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Yes, to say that to Jon Snow of all people. The most compulsively loyal and honorable character since Ned Stark. Varys is smarter than that. He would want to start by getting Jon on his side, waiting for Jon to see what Dany has turned into. And then he should be like, "Is Sansa safe with Dany like this? What about Arya and Bran?" Or something. There are so many smarter ways to do this.

Not to say Varys did it the smartest way, but he didn’t have time to wait for Jon to realize. Dany wanted to attack the next day. Thousands were at risk. Under the pressure of a ticking clock, he went for it.
posted by chris24 at 3:52 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


What do dragons poop, anyway? I DEMAND ANSWERS.

Whatever they want, I guess.
posted by dis_integration at 3:53 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


Of all the character turns that feel at least rushed, and at most tacked on, Varys' bothered me the most. He may think Daenerys would end up being a terrible ruler, but he served the mad king. And when he served a king he didn't trust or agree with previously, he was at least, subtle.

Good golly this!

The whole episode just got off to such a bad start for me with the way they handled this. It would have cost them nothing in budget to have any, any, ANY lordling in Essos or anywhere in Westeros opening a message from a Raven and puzzling over Varys' revelation that Dany was not the best claim for the throne. It would have cost them little more to skip the whole midnight beachside torchlit tribunal in favor of Dany's small council standing on a bluff watching her and Drogon practicing anti-scorpion maneuvers over the sea only to have them strafe over Varys and toast him on the spot. No words need have been spoken.

Instead the master survivor, the man who pulls the strings, presents the throne to Jon in full daylight in play sight of every eye that cared to look. And then retires to his chamber to await his fate.

dumb
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:58 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


I decided to stop being petulant and actually just watch the final episodes. I have nothing to add that hasn't been said before, but I wanted to write some things for posterity.

• I've accepted that this show could never live up to it's hinted potential. I didn't hate this episode nearly as much as the previous two. Best of the Season IMO. Probably one of the best of the last 2 seasons.
•I'm not happy with all the character send offs, but I've accepted them in context of my limited expectation for the show as it is, not as I wanted it to be.
• That being said, being disappointed in sloppy writing and being angry that your favorite characters doesn't get the end you want is not the same thing.
-Jamie's ending feels tacked on and sloppy to me. Why was he still alive? What did he change?
(It better not be a pregnant Brienne.)
-Dany going full Targ could have been done better, but with earlier decisions about killing the Night King etc, it's the only way to set up a final with gravity.
-Seriously, what was the point of Jamie? I kept waiting for something to culminate. Not even a cool sword block with his hand. Someone loaded Chekhov's blunderbuss then lowered the muzzle and everything fell out on the floor.
• I know it's been mentioned, but when did fire get so kinetic? As was mentioned, dragon fire melts things but I don't think it should be quite that forceful. I know it makes for better visuals but I feel like just melting is fine.
• The dead kids etc was gratuitous.
• I don't know why they played the Scorpion Ballistae like that. Every surprise attack by Euron could have been done better, or better yet, written entirely differently. Did they want to underplay Dragons? Did they want Cersei to have a sense of security?
• I'm glad the ballistae didn't really work, but that makes it even more frustrating how effective they were before.
• Seriously, why was Euron a plot device/character? Nothing about him was necessary. Just retain a Bolton, or Littlefinger or the Iron Bank. Anyone else would have been better.
• Surely Dany sizzling him on the ship would have been more poetic than all that silliness with the beach fight.
• Not sure why they needed to kill 2 dragons before showing how truly powerful they could be. Sure the Tarly/Lannister attack hinted at it, but this was another level.
• Cleganebowl felt tacked on. Qyburn should have made more immortal super zombies. I guess I'm glad it happened, but eh.
• Once again, too many actions happened in isolation. As someone mentioned before, Sandor attacked Gregor only to realize he's effectively immortal, only to charge out of the tower with him, seconds before the entire tower collapses. Nothing would have changed if Sandor hadn't shown up.
-I guess Sandor killed the 3-5 Kingsguard and precipitated the death of Qyburn.
• Do Lannister soldier every close their little french door helmets? If you're not going to close the hinges during that battle, why bother with them at all.
• I actually enjoyed the way they handled the Golden Company. That was a fun misdirection.
• Varsys' death seems pointless, but I've come to terms with all the previously intelligent characters suddenly becoming naive and a bit dull.
• What was the point of framing Tyrion's request to Davos as a secret if it all fell apart anyway? Seemed unnecessary. Also, all things being the same, Davos could have just smuggled Jaimie in.
• Why is Davos walking around with a sword like a Badass? Out of character.
• I don't think framing Grey Worm attacking the Lannisters as a lazily-written POC trope is fair. The dude is grieving and Lannisters killed his love. He saw what Dany was doing. Doesn't need racial overtones as plenty of cis/white males have done equally stupid and cruel things.
• Dothraki raze cities. It's what they do. It's a big part of their culture. They're supposed to be Mongols. Mongols did that sort of thing. Let them raze shit.
• Also, the worst offender was definitely a Stark/Northern soldier. That seems fair enough.
• I like that Dany has learned. Someone mentioned it above; she's learned from every encounter. Yes, it could have been handled more skillfully, but her turn isn't the worst thing thing about these last two seasons.
• What about: warging, time travel, 3 eye Ravens, Children of the Forest, Last Hero/Man and other prophecies? Y'all aren't even going to try are you?
• In retrospect, the Bronn fanservice cameo feels even more forced.
• I'm more more excited about how the show will end now than I was at the end of episode 3.
• I can't wait for someone to reboot GoT in 2-3 years except with an even younger Peter Parker Stark Kids.
• It's weird that they referenced the Wild Fire but didn't have Cersei or Qyburn plot to blow up King's Landing if things went poorly.
• People need to stop giving carved toy figurines to the children they love, because those things are a death sentence.
posted by Telf at 4:02 PM on May 13 [16 favorites]


Speaking of Varys, by god, two seasons ago he would have gone straight to Dany after Tyrion told him about Jon’s parentage, ratted him the fuck out so she executed him, and then proceeded to orchestrate the coup in peace and quiet.
posted by lydhre at 4:07 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


How cool would it have been if they went full merman conspiracy for the last 2 episodes? Right as Dany is about to execute Varys on the beach, he leaps into the water and swims away like Kevin Costner in Waterworld only with a mermaid tail. Then the rest of the show is about the implications of thousands of merpeople emerging from the water to fuck with the surviving characters.
posted by Telf at 4:15 PM on May 13 [23 favorites]


which says more about the inherent flaws of Rotten Tomatoes than Game Of Thrones.

Yeah. There's a reason, for example, steam had to put in place safeguards against review bombing. Or more aptly why Rotten Tomatoes had to do the same. Aggregations of fan reviews reward (as you point out) stuff which offends the fewest people over any other metric.

Also the LA Review of Books link that corb provided is worth reading.
This isn’t Benioff and Weiss’s fault, as such; the problem is forcing this sprawling, excessive show to conclude [...] Endings and conclusions are also false in a way that unexpected deaths are not. An unexpected death contains the story it has cut short and the story that could have continued, and that’s its pathos; because a conclusion wraps it all up in a neat narrative container — and makes everything turn out to have been leading up to that — it’s a lie: nothing really ends conclusively. Life is lived and died in medias res, and death is just the beginning of mourning, and the smartest thing GoT ever did was remember that no one is the center of the story; if you think you’re the protagonist, you’ll die and at best it will turn out that you’re just the new protagonists’ motivation, or just be forgotten. But to end the show with the deaths of some and the crowning of others — which is what we all know they’ll do — is to announce that, no, THESE were the protagonists all along. The other lives and deaths just didn’t matter as much, it will turn out; this really was the story of the Starks, or the Targaryen’s, or whoever.
etc
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


I mean, I'm not about to go into some other community where this episode was well-liked and pee in their cornflakes [...] Hopefully before it is justifiably consigned to the bin of cheesy spectacle, the show will serve as interesting case study in how all the different forms of bad writing synergize with each other.

chortly: well, yes, if you proceed from the axiom that this was all hot garbage and will be consigned to the dustbin of history... I doubt that will end up being the case, though. Even if the judgment of history is that the last couple of seasons failed to live up to the first couple that doesn't mean those seasons ceased to exist. Hell, BSG is still quite well regarded and it peaked in its very first episode.

I read a lot of reviews and criticism of every episode (since as you say the analysis can be so interesting) and the most honest characterization of this one is that it was very polarizing. Beyond any previous episode. Polarizing doesn't necessarily mean bad. Of course you'd rightly point out it doesn't necessarily mean good either.

I do think the polarization was expected; there were interviews before the season where D&D and the writers said as much. Though at the time I thought they were just sandbagging the audience when in fact they were obviously being quite honest.
posted by Justinian at 4:38 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Did Varys poison her to make her mad? What was Martha asked to do? Martha worked in the kitchen. That scene seems to stick out.

He tried to have Martha poison her food (to kill not drive mad - he could see she already had the madness in her) but she wasn't eating. He sent her back to try again, which clearly failed.
posted by scalefree at 4:46 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


LARB thoughts ("Daenerys Was Right!") on this episode in particular rather than thoughts on the difficulties facing the 8th season as a whole.

I used to have a link to a "review roundup" of various critics for GoT episodes but I lost it when I got a new PC. It was quite handy since now I just click around to stuff people link here and I bet I miss a lot.
posted by Justinian at 4:49 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Bran becoming king would be the Ascent to Transcendence ending, as he is some kind of posthuman hivemind entity

More like Doctor Branhattan imo
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:59 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Still stewing over this episode, but most of what pissed me off about Jaime's arc has been better expressed up thread than I could ever hope to.

There did seem to be some deliberate mirroring of the episode towards the end of season 1 where the Dothraki sack Lhazar. Dany's futile attempts to save innocents from the horrors surrounding gets repeated by Jon and then Arya, with similarly inevitably tragic results. The sacking of Lhazar was the first time Dany really came up against the terrible realities of war for the common people, and set up her whole "breaking the wheel" motivation as much as it set up the betrayal by Mirri Maz Duur.

So I dunno, there was something right about it coming full circle and she has literally become Khal Drogo raining death on an innocent city. Would be nice if the show had enough air left in it to explore if Arya and Jon come out of the experience drawing different conclusions to what Dany did but you can't have everything (or even most of the things).
posted by arha at 5:01 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Dany's an imperialist. GRRM has said that he was inspired to write this both by the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. She was never a white knight (though sometimes a white savior) and in the show and the books she's been doing morally dubious things since the start. Remember Mirri Maz Duur - the woman whose village was raided by Drogo as he looked for slaves to sell to purchase an army to get to Westeros for Dany? Remember Mirri, the woman who was gang-raped by Drogo's men and then pressed into service by Dany (I don't think she was getting paid) to save Drogo? Which she actually tried to do at first but he wouldn't keep the stupid poultice on!

Remember what Dany did to her when she finally rebelled?

Remember the stallion who will mount the world? That was Dany. And that was never a good thing.

Dany was one of my favorite characters back when I thought she was the good guy and she still is. I thought D&D did an okay job with her arc, better than some but definitely not as good as it could have been done. Not by a longshot. Still, I think she's a fascinating character up there with Anakin Skywalker and that this episode was okay if way too rushed.

Also, Jaime doesn't have a redemption arc in the books and if he did, murdering the mother of his children would not be a part of it. Jaime was 100% right. If Cersei's hateful, so is he. I still stan Jaime and Dany, two self-aware dark characters.

Finally, my prediction after 8x02 didn't age too badly.
posted by asteria at 5:04 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


I'm an idiot - here was my comment after 8x02.

I was expecting more dragons for their final showdown. Killing Rhaegal was just stupid after they bothered to show Jon learning how to ride them. Maybe Qyburn figured out how to reanimate Rhaegal and he still remembers Jon.
posted by asteria at 5:12 PM on May 13


I agree asteria. What she took out of Lhazar was not "shit, I really am married to a monster" but "how do I get to have All Of The Power with out having to own up to the icky parts of having to brutalise ordinary people in order to keep it".
posted by arha at 5:12 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


It basically boils down to being mad at Jon 'cause he wouldn't have sex with her.

This seemed to be the final step after losing the dragons, the public beheading, etc., but like others I found it weak. John, having discovered she's his Aunt has decided that a romantic relationship is now off the table and I'm not sure why she "loves" him this much. All the signs were there for what she's done but the character work in this show tanked the last couple of seasons and I suspect that's why many are unsatisfied. The problem I have with it is this was an HBO show, now it's a NBC show with HBO swearing and violence. It's also suffered from rushing this season and last. HBO did this with Boardwalk Empire's last season and and it suffered mightly because of it.

I asked my television, "Seriously?!"

How did your television respond? Did it switch channels to that Brady Bunch episode when the bunch go to Hawaii and find an ancient bad luck artifact only to discover a similar level of effort in writing?
posted by juiceCake at 5:17 PM on May 13 [9 favorites]


That LARB article is a bit baffling. It's totally rational and realistic for Dany to alienate her last semi-allies, burn her own capital city, and rule by dragon, but when she inevitably gets in turn murdered by a guy who came back from the dead, his supernatural foresight possessing brother, and their shape-shifting assassin sister, well, now that will be something ridiculous that Dany never could have rationally predicted.
posted by Pyry at 5:29 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I was really hoping that horse would be Jaqen.

“When is a horse not a horse?”
“Wha?”
“When a horse is a man.”
posted by snofoam at 5:34 PM on May 13 [26 favorites]


Albert Burneko at the Concourse has another way the last two episodes could have shaken out, while using most of the same elements, but made more narrative sense.
posted by ishmael at 5:36 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I thought it was pretty good. I mean, it would have been better had they had another full season to tie things up a bit neater, but, considering the constraints of cast contracts ending and that this is TV and thus can't go into depth with each and every character, it was fine.

Dany's turn made sense and was foreshadowed adequately, Jaime's arc showed a man who glimpsed redemption only to see it slip from view (which is fine), Jon's a good but inept man and Cersei cerseied the cersei out of it until the bitter cersei.

There were some interesting mirrored story threads: Tyrion and Varys showed the two sides of the same coin - Varys' side landed face down. Even Urine Greyjoy's arrival on the beach worked; he and Jaime were going to the same place (Cersei), but love trumped ambition, although both achieved naught in the end. Grey Worm slaughtered out of rage beside Jon who killed in desperation. Arya turned away from a path of vengeance that would have killed her at the urging of Sandor, who was compelled to keep pressing onward to his doom.

As I said, it was fine for TV with limitations on time and cast.

Although scorpion crews being told to 'fire' their weapons (a term for shooting projectile weapons that shouldn't show up until the age of gunpowder) - that bugged me.
posted by dazed_one at 5:38 PM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Like if Dany were being rational the very first person she should have incinerated is Arya.
posted by Pyry at 5:39 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


> but when she inevitably gets in turn murdered by a guy who came back from the dead, his supernatural foresight possessing brother, and their shape-shifting assassin sister, well, now that will be something ridiculous that Dany never could have rationally predicted.

I would trade both my pinky toes for:
  1. Daenerys to open the next episode by executing Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister,
  2. The show to suddenly receive an extra season,
  3. The plot of that season to largely consist of Arya waging a private war against Daenerys, who grows more and more paranoid from the knowledge that at any time members of her inner circle could be revealed as actually being a elite magical assassin.
What would make that especially pleasing is that if they didn’t drop the long winter thread now that the night king is dead, it would become a story about a relatively small group of survivors attempting to make it through crisis after crisis in a hostile enviroment as their food supplies dwindle and their already badly damaged infrastructure breaks down, while also driven to paranoia and infighting by the knowledge that they are pursued by an enemy who looks just by them, the knowledge that at any time a member of their inner circle could suddenly reveal themselves as an assassin.

In short, what I am proposing is that Game of Thrones should rip off the good parts of BSG.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:44 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]


I was really hoping that horse would be Jaqen.

What do you say when the God of death comes to claim his prize?

Neigh.
posted by codacorolla at 5:45 PM on May 13 [58 favorites]


Upon rewatch: the rock on the ring on Cersei's finger was so big that at first I thought it was falling debris that had landed on her hand when she and Jaime were embracing. Then I decided it was foreshadowing their end...
posted by TwoStride at 5:47 PM on May 13


Although scorpion crews being told to 'fire' their weapons (a term for shooting projectile weapons that shouldn't show up until the age of gunpowder) - that bugged me.

But that's the part where missus ishmael chimed in with "it's like raiii aaaaaaane..." It was (muah) delicious.
posted by ishmael at 5:52 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Like if Dany were being rational the very first person she should have incinerated is Arya.

Or her prisoner Jaime! She was so upset by Missandei’s death that she was about to incinerate an entire city, but she just holds Jaime in a tent and goes “hey Tyrion yeah I got your bro.”
posted by sallybrown at 5:53 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


It's like people have been watching a different show than I have. Dany has been threatening to burn them all since pretty much the second she's had dragons. And before that, (sea)horse Aquaman was going to Mount the WorldTM for her. And she thought that was great. Every time she's come to a new land and the leaders haven't immediately prostrated themselves before her, she's like: "Should I burn the whole place down? I should totally burn the whole place down!" And then her advisers are all like: "Noooo! Don't do that! There's a better way!"

Now all of her advisers are either dead or out of favor. There's no one left to check her violent impulses, and Cersei has made sure that everything feels very, very personal.

This was totally in character for Dany.

I also called that Cersei was going to die stupid, instead of being murdered. I guessed she would fall to her death, but this was close.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:00 PM on May 13 [29 favorites]


Who now will sit atop the pile of melted slag in the Red Keep's sub-basement? the whole world wonders.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 6:04 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Daenerys becomes a villain: the choose your own adventure

You are DAENERYS of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, [etc.]. Yesterday your spymaster VARYS reported that VARYS your spymaster was plotting against you, so you incinerated him. You are certain that the STARKS will soon launch a coup against you.

What is your first course of action:
A) Kill JON SNOW during the upcoming battle: without him a coup will have no claim to any throne and no charismatic figurehead, and you can easily claim he died in battle.
B) Kill ARYA STARK during the upcoming battle: if the Starks turn against you she will be the most serious threat against your person, and her death likewise can be blamed on the battle.
C) Kill BRAN STARK: he mostly stares out into the distance but the 'foresight' thing could be irritating.
D) Kill SANSA STARK: she is the prime mover in the coup against you.
E) Kill GENDRY BARATHEON: the fewer claimants to the throne the better.
F) Kill JAMIE LANNISTER (free action, can combine with any of the above): He did kill your dad.
G) BURNINATE the PEASANTS
posted by Pyry at 6:15 PM on May 13 [13 favorites]



Burninating the countryside, burninating all the people, burninating all the villages, and the THATCHED ROOF COTTAGES!....(ahem) CLAY ROOFED COTTAGES!
And then Trogdor comes in the niiiiiiight!
--I seriously sang that at least 3 times this episode.



came for trogdor reference, left satisfied.
posted by some loser at 6:18 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


More like Doctor Branhattan imo

Good point.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:19 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Like if Dany were being rational the very first person she should have incinerated is Arya.

Well, only because she would have already had Jon murdered seconds after learning about his claim to the throne in whatever episode that was.
posted by sideshow at 6:20 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Good point.

Obviously this echoed through the time stream but I didn't catch that you had said it because of the tachyon particles
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:23 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


chortly: well, yes, if you proceed from the axiom that this was all hot garbage and will be consigned to the dustbin of history... I doubt that will end up being the case, though.[...]

I read a lot of reviews and criticism of every episode (since as you say the analysis can be so interesting) and the most honest characterization of this one is that it was very polarizing. Beyond any previous episode. Polarizing doesn't necessarily mean bad. Of course you'd rightly point out it doesn't necessarily mean good either.

I do think the polarization was expected; there were interviews before the season where D&D and the writers said as much.


I'm not sure "polarizing" is quite right, since I've seen almost no one saying they loved it; it seems to be split between haters and "eh, it was pretty decent," and I don't think D&D anticipated that.

Looking to the show's place in posterity, I guess I take the long view. Twenty years later 99% of shows and books are forgotten by everyone except those who saw them when they first came out. Twenty years after that, the only ones who retain anything are basically the literary critics. So peering forward a few decades hence, I myself don't know a single English major or PhD who didn't think this episode (and season) was terrible, even though some do appreciate it as camp. Many of them did in fact think the first few seasons were better, but the ubiquitous depiction of sexposition and rape means that those earlier seasons are also unlikely to retain sustained attention, particularly when there's so much better stuff out there, except as occasional illustrations of a cultural time period.
posted by chortly at 6:25 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


My theory is the whole series is an after-the-fact account intended as House Stark propaganda. Some truth and enough exaggeration to justify their actions and continuing rule.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:28 PM on May 13 [13 favorites]


Compared to much of this season, this episode felt more GRRM to me in the broad strokes at least. Lots of problems on the execution though.

I was maybe most annoyed at how much Arya became a disoriented weakling stumbling through the crowd, esp. after just stealthing her way through a zombie battlefield to kill their leader.

My comedic fanfic finale would be: first, all the remaining humans kill each other in violent rage, then the Children of the Forest say "Thank god that's done. Guess we fucked it up with the white walkers. Should've just waited for the humans to kill themselves off." Children of the Forest in unison, "Fuck Humans" and begin ewok style bonfire dance party. Pan to Bran, who says, "What about me? I'm still cool right? 3-eyed raven?", to which they respond, "I don't know man, but at least you can't make babies." Bran winks into the camera, fade to credits (ambiguous ending for Bran to restore the human race in future revival seasons).
posted by p3t3 at 6:34 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Having sat with it for a day (and having read a lot of the comments above), I'm less annoyed with Dany's heel turn. She's committed atrocities before, but until now, her acts of violence have been mostly aimed at people who the audience thought deserved it.

The only thing that doesn't line up is that in the past her agenda has always lined up with the "smallfolk." And this time, she attacked the smallfolk.

But her agenda has never been to liberate the people. It has been to *rule* the people. She wants to "break the wheel," the cycle of houses fighting over power, but she'll do it by crushing any resistance. She's going to win the game of thrones by being the only player on the board.

By laying waste to King's Landing, she has eliminated House Lannister as a threat and demonstrated her power and ruthlessness. No leader left alive would consider open rebellion.

And, winter is still coming, and she now has several thousand fewer mouths to feed, which is a nice side benefit.
posted by JDHarper at 6:39 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


I was maybe most annoyed at how much Arya became a disoriented weakling stumbling through the crowd, esp. after just stealthing her way through a zombie battlefield to kill their leader.


I've been thinking the same. We got the same story beat of "Arya isn't so bad-ass that she can't be shocked by a big battle (and maybe a head injury)" twice in a row. How cool would it have been if she stayed composed fighting a zombie horde and the NK back in EP3, but she totally lost it when the city burned. Would have felt like more of a defining moment for her here.
posted by Wulfhere at 6:40 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


She's definitely getting assassinated though.
posted by JDHarper at 6:40 PM on May 13


Bran winks into the camera, fade to credits (ambiguous ending for Bran to restore the human race in future revival seasons).

Little ditty 'bout Bran & Brienne
Two Westerosi kids growing up in the heart land
posted by exogenous at 6:52 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


"Meanwhile in the true north" - art by Alex Solis
posted by exogenous at 7:11 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


I was maybe most annoyed at how much Arya became a disoriented weakling stumbling through the crowd, esp. after just stealthing her way through a zombie battlefield to kill their leader.

I sort of feel this, but it bothers me to call a person "weak" because they're experiencing combat shock. This is, after all, a thing in real life, and I certainly do not feel comfortable suggesting that a traumatized soldier is not a strong person. That said, when it's Arya, this feeds into some unpleasant stereotypes about women, and the show's not always that great at avoiding those.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:26 PM on May 13 [13 favorites]


I mentioned Hiroshima upthread but apparently the director said in the after show segment that it was modeled on the Dresden firebombing.
The scene when Arya emerges from the ruins was right from Slaughterhouse-Five. I also thought of this quote from Freeman Dyson, about how the people in Britain reacted to the firebombing of Dresden:
I remember arguing about the morality of city bombing with the wife of a senior air force officer, after we heard the results of the Dresden attack. She was a well-educated and intelligent woman who worked part-time for the ORS. I asked her whether she really believed that it was right to kill German women and babies in large numbers at that late stage of the War. She answered, “Oh yes. It is good to kill the babies especially. I am not thinking of this war but of the next one, 20 years from now. The next time the Germans start a war and we have to fight them, those babies will be the soldiers.” After fighting Germans for ten years, four in the first war and six in the second, we had become almost as bloody-minded as Sir Arthur.
Dany's actions are not a "heel turn". She's just done what so many leaders in human history, even otherwise good and moral ones, have done, often with the full support of their own people. For a fantasy series, it's as realistic as it gets. In fact, having the white walkers threat eliminated in Episode 3 before this now makes complet sense (even though it felt disappointing at the time). The zombies were fantasy, and they were eliminated using fantasy. But the real threat, eventually, comes from people, even when they're cute and wear awesome braids.
posted by elgilito at 7:27 PM on May 13 [20 favorites]


Still, I think she's a fascinating character up there with Anakin Skywalker and that this episode was okay if way too rushed.

Ok yes, I didn't want to open the prequels can of worms but when the bells were ringing and Dany was rage glowering, total Anakin vibes.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:33 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Anakin killed the younglings after already throwing his lot in with the Dark Side... Dany doing this feels more like Anakin taking a detour to murder children on his way to kill Mace Windu. The order feels wrong.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:45 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I was maybe most annoyed at how much Arya became a disoriented weakling stumbling through the crowd, esp. after just stealthing her way through a zombie battlefield to kill their leader.

Sandor cowered in a doorway during the siege of Winterfell. Sometimes, even the most hardened warrior's nerves become frayed. A city being sacked and razed is mad, terrible, chaotic mess. I think Arya getting nearly crushed in a press of panicking civilians and battered by collapsing masonry wasn't a comment on her prowess as an assassin.
posted by dazed_one at 7:46 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]


Westeros is a hereditary empire built on the back of hereditary monarchies. The weird thing would be for the legitimate heir of any House not to fervently believe they were entitled to rule.

It's true that I only like the weirds.
posted by srboisvert at 7:52 PM on May 13


She's got ice in her veins when it comes to combat but you can't stab a wall to stop it from falling on you or take down a flaming dragon from the sky (maybe theoretically she could but even for Arya that's a crazy longshot in the middle of all the chaos, fire & screaming & she had no bow or javelin with her).
posted by scalefree at 7:53 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]




Dany's heel turn was the only thing about this season that felt true and genuine. There are a bunch of takes about how it would be hard to end this show but if it just ended with Dany burning the red keep to the ground and landing on the ashes, face of rage, cue end credits, that would be good (almost as good as the ending of the Sopranos).

Everything else was annoying as hell but really expensive looking and pretty entertaining on the whole.
posted by dis_integration at 8:07 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Dany doing this feels more like Anakin taking a detour to murder children on his way to kill Mace Windu. The order feels wrong.

Anakin did kill the "women and children too" in episode 2... we just didn't really care because they were "sand people". Then only in episode 3 does he have the run in with Mace Windu, then pledges allegiance to Sidious, and then finally he kills the Jedi younglings.
posted by xdvesper at 8:13 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


On the other hand, Trogdor the Targaryen did Finally cleaned all the rest of those old wild fire stashes up.
posted by tilde at 8:37 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Little to add except that I found Grey Worm's "actually, fuck this guy" moment with the spear immensely satisfying.
posted by hototogisu at 8:38 PM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Dany's heel turn was the only thing about this season that felt true and genuine. There are a bunch of takes about how it would be hard to end this show but if it just ended with Dany burning the red keep to the ground and landing on the ashes, face of rage, cue end credits, that would be good (almost as good as the ending of the Sopranos).

This is where I'm at with it: in her shoes, I believe I would've done the same. IMO, there's three things going on with that:

- It is consistent with the series' general theme of 'fuck feudalism, it hurts everyone.' Her claim could never end well, it was only a matter of how it turned to shit. This is consistent with many of her prior actions.

- When all you have is a dragon, every problem begins to look like charcoal. Dany's allies betrayed her repeatedly. Prior cities she's spared offered her shit like the Sons of the Harpy. Jon Snow screwed up her lawful claim. Her best friend was executed in front of her and she's so upset she can't eat. All she can really believe in right now is dragonfire.

- In that moment, that bell felt like provocation to me. Like you're in the middle of a fight you've been losing, you get the upper hand for a swing or two and the other guy says, "Okay, okay, I give!" and all you wanna do is bash his brain in with a rock. I have never been there physically, but I have certainly felt that way in verbal conflicts, and I could believe the surrender would actually upset her further.

Anyway, yeah. I would've been cool with this being the ending of the entire series, honestly. All the dumb shit in the episode aside, (Varys can't plot, anything Jon Snow ever does, Jaime doing whatever the fuck he was doing, etc.), this much, I believed completely.

Upon preview:
Little to add except that I found Grey Worm's "actually, fuck this guy" moment with the spear immensely satisfying.

Same. Again: Sons of the Harpy. Who even cares if they dropped the swords now, nip it in the fucking bud.
posted by mordax at 8:42 PM on May 13 [25 favorites]


I didn't understand strategy-wise why she didn't fly Drogon up to like 30,000 feet so he couldn't be seen, fly over King's Landing and then fly straight down onto Cersei's palace, shooting fire when close enough and just coating the place in fire before anyone even knows he's there.

But I guess after watching her best friend get decapitated, whether she wanted to admit it to others or not, she went full on Donald Sutherland in Backdraft.
posted by blueberry at 9:10 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Even though I think Arya is awesone and I want to have her babies, I was totally sold on her fear and confusion given how fucking terrifying all that burninatin' clearly was. You can't assassinate that and running from it is basically a roll of the dice over and over until you die (unless you have plot armor, which she does, but she didn't know that).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:13 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Oh man don't get me started on the aerodynamics of dragons, the biology of their metabolism, and its consequences for their performance ceiling. You think ship truthers are bad?
posted by traveler_ at 9:15 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Noble dragons (Draco nobilis) are intelligent, arrogant, powerful, and graceful and beautiful in a specialized sense. Noble dragons are huge and winged, can produce an extremely hot flame, and seem to defy normal physics in both their flying and their flaming. If they are flesh and blood, each noble dragon will weigh many tons, but the one noble dragon that appeared in Ankh-Morpork lazily flaps its wings once to take off and glides for the rest of the flight. The noble dragon doesn't seem to have eaten much in the way of energy-rich fuels, but its flame has been far hotter than that of the most gluttonous swamp dragons.

The fact is, the noble dragon is one of the Discworld species that has evolved to live on magic. Their body materializes by magic, they flame by magic, and they fly (or glide) by magic. Since the large amount of magic required for a noble dragon to exist in the more normal dimensions of Discworld is not available everywhere, noble dragons have gone into another dimension, all metaphorically squished up like rather huge and beautiful sardines. ...
posted by maudlin at 9:20 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Whoever decided to build King’s Landing out of brittle clay blocks must be feeling pretty stupid right now
Listen, Lord Jenga did a lot of good work!
posted by blueberry at 9:31 PM on May 13 [25 favorites]


That link The Whelk posted is fucking on point, yo.
That the episode begins with its focus on the character most closely associated with the common people of Westeros is grimly fitting. Where previous episodes this season have worked with negative space to highlight the increasing isolation of the series’ surviving characters, “The Bells” leans hard into the panicky crush of crowds. Fleeing commoners pack the streets of King’s Landing so tightly that the slow and infirm are trampled underfoot. Waves of bodies break against unyielding stone. Drogon’s fiery breath leaves carbonized corpses heaped atop each other in contorted tangles. It’s as though the crowds that flocked to Daenerys in earlier seasons and who lifted her with joyful cries of “Mother! Mother!” are now being reforged into the physical foundation of her new capital.

It may be Daenerys’s final mental and emotional unaveling that touches off the sack of King’s Landing — the second in living memory, and orders of magnitude worse than the one Tywin Lannister infamously oversaw — but the queen herself is present only as shadow and flame for the episode’s second half. Maybe that’s all she’s ever been, at least since she tied the midwife Mirri Maz Duur to a stake and burned her alive at the end of the show’s first season almost a decade ago. The truth has always been there in the trail of dead children, crucified slavers, and burning bodies she’s left in her wake. It was there at the end of season seven when the Night King’s army breached the wall and marched into the Seven Kingdoms in a shot eerily reminiscent of so many triumphant scenes of Dany’s dragons soaring over her legions.
posted by corb at 9:33 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Sandor cowered in a doorway during the siege of Winterfell. Sometimes, even the most hardened warrior's nerves become frayed. A city being sacked and razed is mad, terrible, chaotic mess. I think Arya getting nearly crushed in a press of panicking civilians and battered by collapsing masonry wasn't a comment on her prowess as an assassin.

They've just... done this to her a lot. Like there's a whole season where she's constantly getting her ass handed to her, and it got very tiresome then. So it's hard for it not to feel like a regression.
posted by atoxyl at 9:33 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Also, whoever is saying 'we want more focus on Bran Stark' - I get it, but do you want shots of Bran walking in Times Square? That's how you get shots of Bran walking in Times Square.
posted by corb at 9:37 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Chrys Reviews since no one has posted it, apparently.
posted by lkc at 9:46 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Then the rest of the show is about the implications of thousands of merpeople emerging from the water to fuck with the surviving characters.

called it
posted by Apocryphon at 9:54 PM on May 13


They've just... done this to her a lot.

Sure, I guess, but they've kind of done it to every one of the central characters. I can't think of one that hasn't repeatedly gotten the shit kicked out of them. At least Arya a) is still alive and b) got to level up into Night King slaying coolness.

Showing how brutal this kind of world would be is kind of the point of the show; doesn't matter if you're the world's greatest knight, dragon-rider or ninja, there's no glory to be had. Just dirt, ash and blood.
posted by dazed_one at 10:07 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Here's hoping that the show will introduce fake Aegon at the very last moment of the last episode! With all of Westeros' factions mutually killed off, he will stride onto stage and take over the wreckage, like a Shakespearean prince.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:10 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Symmetry: Arya, who melted the ice, extinguishes the fire. I don't like it, but I can see it as tempting.
posted by maxwelton at 10:27 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I think I would have at least been more satisfied if they'd subjected Arya to the same fate of near deaths and failed attempts at helping civilians, but while still being capable and alert, i.e. putting a cloth over her face and running instead of coughing and staggering.

Since we had to watch her transformation over a whole season, becoming invested in her struggle and dedication, it seemed like she should be the one character who could tune out the chaos. Instead she looked worse off than half the civilians.
posted by p3t3 at 10:36 PM on May 13


I rewatched part of the episode last night, as someone else was watching it, and gosh the Hound and Arya's farewell really got me. Maybe I'm forgetting an instance here or there, over the long history of the show. But this feels like the first time since S1 that someone has looked at Arya, someone who really sees her for what she is and can come close to understanding what she's been through, and told her: I want you to live.

This is the Syrio Forel callback we needed.

"What do we say to the God of Death?" / "Not today."

"If you come with me, you die."
posted by jurymast at 11:44 PM on May 13 [17 favorites]


The funny thing I thought in that interaction between Sandor and Arya was how Sandor talks about revenge consuming him and he doesn't want her to follow him on that path...

I mean she plotted revenge for years, then returned and killed two of Walder Frey's kids, butchered them, baked them into a pie and served them to him. After that she slit his throat. Then she went and murdered every single male descendant he had, maybe 10-20 of them?

She's probably thinking, Sandor, you know nothing about revenge.
posted by xdvesper at 11:54 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


C. G. I. It would look like shit & then you'd all be berating them for showing us a dog that looks like shit. This is what they said. They tried & it looked like shit. People really need to get past it

eh, it could have been done if they were willing to bother, it may have looked a bit off, but it would have told the story so much better. I mean, has anyone been complaining that these guys have no shadows? because that's a pretty huge VFX screw up right there...
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:21 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure "polarizing" is quite right, since I've seen almost no one as they loved it;

I loved it, just don t want to ruin the party. I think people will like it more as time goes on. I like that it stands alone, that you can almost just watch this episode, and pick up a lot of the characterisation and themes.

I also loved it because I just read a history of the B-29 in the WWII Pacific theater. The nausea in the military inevitability, from crew to general to field commander to washington, of the way that the US turned to nighttime firebombing, despite just how many people, people high in command positions, felt it might be unnecessary or who opposed it, given the success of the aerial mining operations, And the strategic, limited show of force that the B 29 was invented to accomplish. but command couldn t be sure. And they had to make sure.

All of the leadership involved were bullshit, coasting, either not surrendering clearly enough (what do some bells mean, really, from an enemy that only lies?) or not really re evaluating or resisting themselves hard enough. Weak shit.

The war machine out of control, and everyone suspecting it to be out of control, but just pushing through to find clarity. So it felt like a true war story.

I still don't want these guys to make that show lauding the confederacy in 2019. Ugh. So I hope the disappointment can stop that.

Also, Varys is persistently trying to poison the queen, I think that was too subtle and fast for most viewers. Daenarys is not eating out of mere survival, not out of some fit of emotion. (I imagined Drogon to be sharing some BBQ d goat with her, tho)

I didn't see madness much as the anguish of foreknowledge. The war is madness to begin with.
posted by eustatic at 12:30 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


From the LARB, good advice

"I’m going to proceed as if all the things that Benioff and Weiss say in the post-episode featurette are stupid and wrong"
posted by eustatic at 12:55 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


I like how all these in universe lineage/monarchy wonks are debating minor points about who has the best claim to the Iron Throne. Varys and Tyrion et al. are wringing their hands about heritage and the entire continent has been destroyed. Luckily, winter was canceled or there would be even more mass starvations. Who is it that's supposed to care about Jon's lineage this late in the game?

At this point, from a structural level, what is feudalism/monarchy providing to the people? (Or how are they control means of production etc.) Looking from a Marxist/materialist perspective, it seems like this last war should provide enough societal upheaval to usher in the next production revolution.

• The populace has been decimated. The cost of labour is going to really increase.
•The lordly class' ability to project power will be severely diminished so peasants will have more leverage.
•Many of the hereditary houses are gone.
•There hasn't been a gunpowder level disruption that dislodges knights from their place of power, but armored cavalry seems to play a very small role the actual battles of westeros anyways. I guess the force multiplying effect is still there.
•There is obviously some industrial capacity we don't understand in the TV universe. The Iron Isles had some mad shipyards and Qyburn must have some Eli Whitney-level mass production systems of Scorpions going on.
•We know that the universe has credit, banking and interest. It seems weird that other aspects of late mercantilism/early capitalism haven't evolved as well.
•I'm not entirely clear how the existence of magic has retarded technological growth. The waxing and waning power of the Pyromancers and Sorcerers and Red Clerics makes it hard to decide how that would affect energy production. For example, why aren't we creating engines that run off of wildfire?

Seriously, end the series with Jon ascending the throne and the masses being like, 'Who cares that this guy is a fucking Starkgaryeon? We're going to eat your horses.'

The only ending I'll accept now is complete class revolution.
posted by Telf at 1:23 AM on May 14 [15 favorites]


Also, Varys is persistently trying to poison the queen, I think that was too subtle and fast for most viewers. Daenarys is not eating out of mere survival, not out of some fit of emotion.

Yeah, that was too subtle and fast for me! But are you saying you believe that Daenarys knew someone was trying to poison her? But then why, when Tyrion approached her with the information that someone on their team was a traitor, would she say "Jon"? Obviously, anyone actively trying to kill her would trump Jon's telling his family about his parentage.

I finally finished this thread--WHEW--and don't have much to add, except agreement with those pissed about Jaime's end. And about Euron's role in the episode period. Where the fuck is Yara? Is the show really done with her? I'm trying to imagine how she could fit into the denouement, considering the sea battle was carried out entirely by dragon, and Euron dispatched by Jaime. (In a fight that had no resonance at all--if it was supposed to have had because Cersei, it failed completely because no one ever gave AF about Euron and his kingly aspirations, probably including Jaime, all other things considered. He didn't even bother to tell Euron the baby wasn't his.)

I could theoretically buy Jaime's succumbing to his tragic addiction and meeting his end along with Cersei... but agree with all arguments that his story was not sold that way, so it ended up feeling like a betrayal of characterization rather than a legit tragedy. Among other things I don't buy his cruelty to Brienne, and am mad that on rewatch (or more likely just in headcanon) I will have to accept that scene as played straight.

Also agree with some reviewer linked upthread that Cersei should have had to reckon with her past actions, not die being comforted by someone whose love (twisted as it is) she has repeatedly thrown in the dirt. Sansa, speaking for GoT viewers everywhere:
"I always wanted to be there when they executed your sister. Seems I won't get the chance."
posted by torticat at 1:26 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


All I'll leave here (other than favorites and various flags) is this:
Before the episode, the group of friends I've been watching S8 with was going to rewatch this episode tonight.

After the episode, they instead talked about rewatching "The Long Night".

Ok, one more...the one guy there who read the books is pretty much only watching because it's happening at the house he rents from.
posted by MikeKD at 1:41 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I mean I guess making every character an idiot is one way to wrap up a show quickly, but I feel like it wasn't the best way to do that.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:49 AM on May 14 [10 favorites]


Qyburn 100% had to get iced by the Mountain. He's the mad scientist who created a monster, must be destroyed by his own creation etc

Technically he's called Qyburn's Mountain
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:12 AM on May 14 [36 favorites]


Yeah, that was too subtle and fast for me! But are you saying you believe that Daenarys knew someone was trying to poison her?

Varys may or may not have been trying to poison Dany. Dany, however, was not eating because she believed that someone was attempting to poison her. Varys recognized that paranoia. Even if he wasn't trying poison Dany he would have been concerned for her mental state.
posted by rdr at 2:54 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Finally finished the thread and have enjoyed the discussion and debate. I was disappointed in the episode because spectacle superseded practicality. I kept thinking, how is it you have the greatest smuggler in Westeros, Ser Davos, and two close advisors to Daenerys with knowledge of the tunnels in the Red Keep and not utilize that knowledge? It could be argued that Dany not taking advantage of just taking over the Red Keep through stealth entry was indicative that she wanted to burn Kings Landing in a very public manner.

I am going to agree with the argument that Dany's arc shows she can be ruthless and that ruthlessness is necessary. She is functioning in a world that is brutal in every aspect. Might makes right what sweet reason does not, which is often. Historic descriptions of wars waged in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance make the violence of Kings Landing's destruction more than plausible. Even the epitome of the righteous monarch, Henry V, killed his French prisoners. As much as people would like the monarchy or hereditary rule to be overthrown I am just not sure what could take its place that would not be chaotic and still not have a noble/slave-holding class still develop.

What this season has done has decimated multiple fan theories, such as Varys being a secret Targaryen, Bran is the Night King, etc. I think most of the charm of the TV series is how people really got into the world building and discussion of in-depth political machinations and magic/sorcery. Maybe some of the disappointment is that very elaborate head-canon/theory has been smashed. I admit that Varys this season is not the Varys of previous seasons who is/was one of the smartest and subtlest players of the game. This is a game he has been playing for decades and he just "oops" it? I felt that it was not a sensible part of his arc and so my head-canon is bruised with his rushed death.

A few more details: 1) the Iron Bank is fine since Cersei paid all the debt before the final confrontation; 2) Arya letting go of her vengeance when she is shown to be more than capable of wreaking a deadly vengeance seemed a bit rushed to me; 3) Euron emerging out of the sea... yeah, that was hella stupid no matter how I look at it; 4) Jon Snow, you still don't know anything.

I think we may end up with a Hamlet-like ending with everyone dead and a convenient Fortinbras *cough* Prince of Dorne stepping in and tsk-tsking at all the death and broken crap but deciding to stay awhile.
posted by jadepearl at 2:56 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Prince of Dorne

Jason Dorne?
posted by snofoam at 5:13 AM on May 14 [15 favorites]


My god...is that....?
posted by lazaruslong at 5:20 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The southern prince stood outside the smoking ruins of what had once been King's Landing.
"Hand over the throne to the Seven Kingdoms, Jon Snow, and we will ensure the North is fed from our food supplies. Refuse, and you'll starve."
"So you're giving us..."
"That's right: a Dorne Ultimatum."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:25 AM on May 14 [34 favorites]


In the years after the Not-so-long-after-all Winter, the people of Westeros would be grateful to the Dorne Supremacy for coming to their aid.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:34 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


I can tell you the coat of arms and colors of all six lords waiting outside. I can tell you that the faceless girl over there is left handed and the brooding dwarf up at the bar weighs one hundred ten pounds and can handle himself. I know the best place to look for a sword is in the saddlebag of the grey horse outside, and at this latitude, I can row flat out for four thousand miles before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?
posted by lazaruslong at 5:40 AM on May 14 [35 favorites]


until now, her acts of violence have been mostly aimed at people who the audience thought deserved it

...and that the show said deserved it by how it depicted their destruction. Dragons burn some ships in Slaver's Bay, it's just a cool spectacle. Dragons burn that Lannister loot train, and it's presented as something badass and terrifying but ultimately just cool, not horrifying or unjust or wrong.

But now that the show has decided that I'm not supposed to like Daenerys, there are long lingering shots of burned survivors that the show never gave before.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:03 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]


I'm not entirely clear how the existence of magic has retarded technological growth

It’s not the existence of magic which has retarded technology- remember magic was waning until the dragons returned. It’s the fact that the Maesters lock up every book dealing with advances - such as that grayscale can be cured, etc.
posted by corb at 6:06 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Bran is the Night King

We still have one episode left for Bran to become the Night King, and Varys to come back to life (he was immune to fire all along!).

Seriously though it does seem like we're going to finish this thing out without anyone coming to any kind of reckoning with the fact that Bran can time travel, and I'm ready to knock the torches to the ground in Vaes Dothrak over this bullshit.
posted by dis_integration at 6:06 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


I mean, I have been hollering on these threads for years that Daenerys was an egomaniacal tyrant and none of her actions were justified and how pissed I was at the show for even being ambiguous about it. We've had characters bring it up, timidly, but they were always shut down with "you just don't know her! she wants what's best!" which even Jon was trotting out two fucking episodes ago to his sisters.

What bothers me is not the heel turn, I would have been incredibly pissed if she hadn't turned for all to acknowledge, what bothers me is that we could have used at least five more episodes to actually flesh out the ramifications and the buildup to her going full Targ, but instead we got "oh, it's genetic".
posted by lydhre at 6:20 AM on May 14 [27 favorites]


I do love it that the character whose strategy is based on the US doctrine of air superiority, and whose behavior is explicitly based on the WWII Allied firebombing raids, is the one that every paper in the US is calling insane right now.

Since exactly when do US Americans disapprove of firebombing?

It s wild to hear the exact opposite argument from the one at the world war II museum downtown.

Only fiction can accomplish this kind of truth, can we all at least acknowledge this accomplishment? Across the political spectrum, the US now has a common cultural language around the terror of air superiority.

We do need it, now more than ever.
posted by eustatic at 6:24 AM on May 14 [29 favorites]


After further stewing about why Jaime’s end feels so upsetting, part of it is that he seemed like an empty shell version of Jaime. Even accepting his motivations for going back to Cersei, he did so without any spirit. Instead of the Jaime who jumped into a bear pit without a weapon or went North to fight the army of the dead, it’s like he reverted back to the man who gave up on life when he lost his hand. He didn’t even try to disguise himself to slip through the line. Even when Tyrion freed him he stayed sitting on the ground. He made no attempt to do anything but get to Cersei. (Battling Euron was an exception, but even there his fighting was incredibly sloppy—that “swing and a miss” guy was the man who survived the Night King battle?) it’s as though he left his knight-self behind in Winterfell when he left Brienne, and with it all his fighting spirit or any care for others. He barely even said anything, didn’t even tell Euron he was the baby’s father. He gave up on life. It’s just so bleak.
posted by sallybrown at 6:29 AM on May 14 [28 favorites]


it’s as though he left his knight-self behind in Winterfell when he left Brienne, and with it all his fighting spirit or any care for others. He barely even said anything, didn’t even tell Euron he was the baby’s father. He gave up on life.

Maybe that's why he did leave Brienne - he had the sudden realization that he was a major asshole, and left Brienne to spare her and went back to Kings' Landing to basically commit suicide-by-Daenerys.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


It’s certainly why Brienne reacted as though she was watching him kill himself, because she saw him choose to just give in. The Lannister who fought her while in handcuffs with a wicked smile on his face wasn’t even there anymore. The dialogue in that scene didn’t help with clarity, but I think she sensed that he wasn’t leaving to fight, but rather to be with Cersei as she got roasted with dragonfire or whatever other end Dany planned for her post-Missandei.
posted by sallybrown at 6:57 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]




I went in semi-cold, and gosh, unlike 98% of you, I loved it. There were things that I didn't like --

- I'm not a fan of the dialogue at the end of the Jaime and Cersei scene, in that I wish she'd said that the two of them were the only one that mattered, and he didn't directly answer her, because his entire redemption arc has been learning that other people do matter. It's one thing for him to decide that, for himself, Cersei matters the Most. But it's a weird thing to read given how tender his scenes with Brienne were, and how upset he was at Cersei's betrayal.

Although reading with it all his fighting spirit or any care for others. He barely even said anything, didn’t even tell Euron he was the baby’s father. He gave up on life. It’s just so bleak. from sallybrown has actually reconciled me more to it. Jaime's just done. Jaime's done trying to be a better man. Jaime's done trying to reach for more. (And it's very satisfying to me to think that Brienne was crying more for that than about I LOST MY MAN. Because it represents Jaime giving up on himself, and Brienne is mourning for Jaime setting aside any hope of living up to the knightly ideals that are so important to her, and that he briefly grasped.)

- I wish the sequencing on some of the Danerys-decides-to-rule-by-fear scenes was switched-up, and that it hadn't been framed quite so much as "madness." Like, if you're going to do a thing explaining how reasonable it is for Dany from her POV to burn everyone, then you should really double-down on it being a rational but terrible choice from her POV.

- AND NOW WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE DIFFICULTIES OF FIRING PROJECTILE WEAPONS AT SEA/SUPERIOR SPEED AND CORNERING BY AIR AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE WOOD AND LET IT SEASON SO IT IS HARD AND WATER TIGHT AND WILL LAST

AND THEN A LIVING, FLYING FIREBREATHER COMES BY

But, damn, man, I loved so much. Like. so much.

I loved Varys desperately writing notes to spread the word, while facing up to death with real courage. I loved Drogon coming out of the darkness like a monster of old. I loved that they did it on the beach, where the fire wouldn't spread. I loved that terrible, awful pause where Drogon looked at Varys and made that noise, and we stood in Varys's shoes and felt fear. I loved the moment when King's Landing close the gates to the desperate people, and how, even when Jaime raises his golden hand and uses his command voice, he can't get through. I loved the moment when the dragon came flaming through the walls from the rear, because that's the shit you can do with a dragon.

I loved that the Lannister soldiers were too aware of the oncoming battle to try to stop the Hound and Arya riding to kill Cersei -- and the contrast between the Lannister lack of morale, and how Dany's troops caught Jaime. I loved the Hound turning to Arya at the last moment with the castle starting to fall and telling her to recognize that she still has time: asking her to turn from the path of revenge and death. I love how the sheer disgusting brutality of Cleganebowl, and how it fit the overall episodic theme of the horrors of revenge.

I loved the contrast between Jaime and Cersei, and Jon and Dany. It made me horribly sad when Gray Worm put Missandei's collar into the fire, and I really wish Gray Worm had actual lines, but I'll accept it in an episode where so much was unspoken, where all the most important things were unspoken -- I'm a sucker for scenes that read one way if you don't have the context, but then another, and how Grey Worm had the human feeling tortured out of him, and then he found redemption in Dany and human feeling with Missandei, and now Missandei is dead.

And all he has left is fire.

And blood.

(Oh man, that moment when he looks backward at Jon and sees that Jon is capable of handling himself and then turning back to the job of murdering Lannisters -- it's true, they'd surrendered, but Drogon is burning the city now, so he casts the spear.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:08 AM on May 14 [22 favorites]


As a side note, I have some quibbles with parts of this review, but I think Collins fucking nails it on how this episode "reduces any lingering belief in the redemptive power of violence to ashes in our mouths."

I find it really frustrating whenever I read something where people are frustrated that Cleganebowl was so gruesome, or that Arya turned aside from killing Cersei. It reminds me of all the people who watched Breaking Bad and became angry at Skyler/any character who got in the way of Walter White.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:14 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]


> what bothers me is that we could have used at least five more episodes to actually flesh out the ramifications and the buildup to her going full Targ, but instead we got "oh, it's genetic".

And there are knock-on ramifications to "she's got the tArGaRyEn mAdNeSs! the gods flipped a coin!1!! she's burning the town because she's cray!"
  • Daenerys burns King's Landing because she's fated by her Targaryen genes. Her blood is her destiny. Targs gonna Targ.
  • The Dothraki riders who've been with her for years — and who have been neither raping nor pillaging for years — are going to rape and pillage, because they are fated to rape and pillage. Their blood is their destiny. Dothraki gonna Dothraki.
  • ... And here we look meaningfully toward Grey Worm, the only surviving POC among the main cast, during the scene where the Lannisters have thrown down their swords but are thinking real hard about picking them up again. Grey Worm, rationally, spears a front-line Lannister and restarts the battle. Jon Snow, irrationally, mopes and whines and peacemakes, and thereby tries to get everyone on his own side stabbinated. But Grey Worm is presented as an irrational spear-throwing hothead and Jon white as Snow is presented as a rational morally pure saint.
  • I wonder why that is. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.
  • The showrunners responsible for this decision want to make a show set in an alt-history where the Confederacy won the U.S. civil war.
Meanwhile, observe that Daenerys isn't even the first major character on this show to sack King's Landing. She's not even the first major character on the show to sack King's Landing after it had already surrendered. Recall that Robert's Rebellion ended with Pycelle ordering that the gates of King's Landing be opened to Tywin Lannister's army, and that Tywin proceeded to sack the bejeezus out of the place.

When Tywin Lannister sacks a city that's opened its gates to him, he's presented as a morally dark grey schemer who is nevertheless quite rational — he's got icewater in his veins, he ruthlessly crushes anyone who opposes them and then crushes them a bit more just to make sure everyone else gets the point, but he's portrayed as one of the most competent rulers Westeros has ever seen. He's show to be largely responsible for the prosperity of the Seven Kingdoms during the long summer. He's a hard man who does the things that hard men have to do. Although we often hate him, we always respect him.

When Daenerys Stormborn, that silly girl, sacks a city that's surrendered to her, she's a crazy emotional love-hungry narcissistic bitch with Targaryen madness. The show tries to humiliate the viewers for ever respecting her.

In short: Benioff and Weiss are racist and misogynist, the show they made is racist and misogynist, and we only thought it wasn't because all the great actors tried to save it from itself. And moreover the show is bad on an aesthetic level, on the level of pure entertainment, specifically because it is misogynist and racist. They took an interesting story and scrawled slurs over it. They stepped back from the (admittedly uneven and inconsistent) critique of kyriarchy present within the source text and turned it into a full-throated defense of patriarchy and white supremacy.

This is a trashbag show and ten years from now no one will admit to having watched it. If people talk about it, they'll talk about it as a symptom of the madness that swallowed up America in the last half of the 2010s and as nothing more.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:21 AM on May 14 [36 favorites]


This is a trashbag show and ten years from now no one will admit to having watched it. If people talk about it, they'll talk about it as a symptom of the madness that swallowed up America in the last half of the 2010s and as nothing more.

sir this is a wendys
posted by lazaruslong at 7:22 AM on May 14 [68 favorites]


I remain jealous of all the people who were smart enough to stop watching when Ramsey raped Sansa.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:24 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


At first, I was so so happy to see the dragon finally doing its desolation thing, but then Dany had to take it too far. I guess I'm also, like Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon, a dragon tankie. I brought me so much joy to see see Drogon just smoking the ships & the scorpions. But Dany's turn toward total war, while I agree was probably the inevitable outcome of her arc, happened so fast, there wasn't time for us to understand what it meant to the character. I wish there had been a few more moments to let us see how she's justifying this decision to herself. I'm not upset with what happened, so much as with how it was done. For contrast, see the Kylo & Rey scene in The Last Jedi after they kill Snoke & his guards. Great move from triumph to tragedy because one character is committed to their vision of the future and can't see beyond that. That kind of moment is what I wanted to see from Dany. Do the Mad Queen thing if that's what the story demands, but at least let us see the character reach that conclusion instead of just making it happen to expedite the plot.

Grey Worm, yes, I get what he was doing. Those guys were going to pick those swords right back up in half a second. They might be willing to surrender to the Unsullied, but they weren't about to let the entire city be burnt to a crisp by the dragon. The guys from the North, though, dropped into war crimes mode right away. Basically it was just Jon & Davos who didn't go savage.

I also could have bought Jamie's arc, if the show had taken a little more time to flesh out his decisions. He goes from telling Tyrion "I'm really happy being a good dude with my new Lawful Good GF," to "Fuck King's Landing, I'm going back to the woman who has bounties out on both of us." There's a potential answer to that question that's emotionally honest and makes sense for the character, but it wasn't in this episode. Instead he had an anticlimactic stab-session with Sea Ramsay. And then Jamie & Cersei's reunion? Like, she wants him dead, she hates him for abandoning her, she knows he's working with her enemy, and she's still happy to see him? Maybe she's reduced to desperation even after all the ruthless moves she's made, and yet she recognizes that he has always been her defender and so she falls back into their usual roles, but shouldn't there at least be a hint of the emnity between them? Speaking of Cersei, I fully expected her to try to kill herself rather than be captured. Nope.

At least there's only one more episode left.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:29 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


But Grey Worm is presented as an irrational spear-throwing hothead and Jon white as Snow is presented as a rational morally pure saint.

Those I'm commenting on a particular person's comment, this isn't directed towards anyone in particular. Seriously.

Ok, so...

I don't understand why it's hard to see Grey Worm as anything more than a very pissed off soldier who's about to take some righteous vengeance against the army of the ruler that beheaded his lover. We can agree or disagree on his choice to do that and the morals of it, but I find it really bizarre that folks keep insisting he's being presented as a negative stereotype.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on May 14 [15 favorites]


One more thing about Jaime’s death - I think it’s important that they chose not to have Jaime and Cersei kiss in the end, because it casts Jaime’s choice to be there with her as coming from family love/duty rather than romantic love/duty, a choice to bend to the clan rather than be an individual in love with another individual. It feeds into the theme of a person’s inability to escape the wheel and break out of the course set for him at birth.
posted by sallybrown at 7:39 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


... And here we look meaningfully toward Grey Worm, the only surviving POC among the main cast, during the scene where the Lannisters have thrown down their swords but are thinking real hard about picking them up again. Grey Worm, rationally, spears a front-line Lannister and restarts the battle. Jon Snow, irrationally, mopes and whines and peacemakes, and thereby tries to get everyone on his own side stabbinated. But Grey Worm is presented as an irrational spear-throwing hothead and Jon white as Snow is presented as a rational morally pure saint.

Yes! It was supposed to be this "Oh, see how bad it is to be out for revenge" moment, but it was totally tone-deaf. Like, the show seems to be communicating that Jon Snow is there to be the voice of reason and to represent the choice that they can resolve this without anyone else dying, only Grey Worm ruins it by being a vengeance-soaked hothead. Only Grey Worm is a professional soldier trained for combat from infancy and he can see that the dragonfire is changing the Lannister solders' calculus on how to proceed and his decision to spear that guy explains how he's lived so long, while Lil Jon keeps doing stuff to get himself killed and/or roasted.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:40 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]


I guess in the writers' defense, the Northmen got right down to reaping and raping in a way that the Unsullied absolutely don't. The Unsullied are killing Lannister soldiers.

That said the whole "man mad at enemy for fridging woman" deal for Grey Worm was not to my taste.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:41 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I mean, has anyone been complaining that these guys have no shadows? because that's a pretty huge VFX screw up right there...

There was like a Pixar movie worth of CGI in this episode alone. I'm picturing a 23-year-old SCAD graduate, twitching and trembling after a 600-hour work month, explaining to the compositing supervisor that they deleted the shadow map files for Shot 3319.5.8 because the demon inside their workstation eats shadows, and they don't want the demon to have more food and grow stronger.

"That's fine!" says the supervisor, a 25-year-old Full Sail graduate. "That shot takes place at noon now." They attempt to imitate the "Roll Safe" meme, which involves a wise finger-tap of the temple, but miss badly and prod themselves in the eye. "Everyone knows there are no shadows at noon," they say, wincing.

The artist returns to their desk, and the supervisor turns back to their own screen, where Kit Harrington's outstretched hand is clipping badly through a still image of a cartoon wolf. The date is May 3rd, 2019.
posted by Iridic at 7:44 AM on May 14 [40 favorites]


Watch his face throughout the scene. Watch him make the same lip-bitey vengeance-at-all-costs expression that they make Daenerys make. We are not supposed to identify with him in this scene. We're supposed to identify with Jon Snow, trueborn king of the Seven Kingdoms.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:45 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


We can agree or disagree on his choice to do that and the morals of it, but I find it really bizarre that folks keep insisting he's being presented as a negative stereotype.

Well, maybe it comes from the show treating Arya's and The Hound's missions of vengeance as totally justified, bad-ass, and righteous, while showing Grey Worm's as a tragic mistake.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:45 AM on May 14 [14 favorites]


I don't understand why it's hard to see Grey Worm as anything more than a very pissed off soldier who's about to take some righteous vengeance against the army of the ruler that beheaded his lover.

They very deliberately showed the Lannister soldiers’ backs turned and weapons down when Grey Worm chose to strike. There’s a very strong cultural belief* for many of us watching that hitting an unarmed enemy in the back is a coward’s choice (they’ve played with this trope before in the show with the way Jaime slayed the King—in the back). To me that signaled “Grey Worm is doing something bad.”

*This is irrational in any number of ways especially when examined alongside the choice to fight with nukes or dragonfire, but it really is a strong cultural belief.
posted by sallybrown at 7:47 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I guess I'm also, like Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon, a dragon tankie

May I say I deeply appreciate our TargTanken Fanfare division.
posted by corb at 7:47 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I think probably Space Kitty said it best right at the top of the thread.

Oh well.

I'll have a baconator combo and a classic chocolate frosty to go please.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:49 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


God, Jon would be such a bad king. The idea that Varys actually thought he would be a good king and not someone he could probably manipulate better than Dany is absurd, and yet it was absolutely written that way.

A non-mad Dany would be far more effective and probably a decent, if ruthless, ruler. This is so obvious that the writers had to come up with Targ Madness to force the viewers to come down on Jon's side. It's just so hamfisted. A final showdown between the two in which the viewers legitimately were meant to be divided would have been so much more interesting.

Instead we are getting Dumb Good Jon vs Targ Mad Dany.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:55 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


God, Jon would be such a bad king. The idea that Varys actually thought he would be a good king and not someone he could probably manipulate better than Dany is absurd, and yet it was absolutely written that way.

Jon would be a better king because he would choose advisors for their moral fiber and then defer to them in their area of expertise. You’re right that he would be a ruler ruled by his small council, but that’s only a problem if the small council is shitty, and it’s much less likely to have a single point of failure the way leading-from-the-King would.

Dany is a terrible Queen, because she only cares about her own opinions and doesn’t take anyone else seriously.
posted by corb at 7:58 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


until now, her acts of violence have been mostly aimed at people who the audience thought deserved it

...and that the show said deserved it by how it depicted their destruction. Dragons burn some ships in Slaver's Bay, it's just a cool spectacle. Dragons burn that Lannister loot train, and it's presented as something badass and terrifying but ultimately just cool, not horrifying or unjust or wrong.

But now that the show has decided that I'm not supposed to like Daenerys, there are long lingering shots of burned survivors that the show never gave before.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:03 PM on May 14 [5 favorites +] [!]


One could argue that there are interesting parallels with westerners' contemporary view of warfare here, reduced as it so often is to a spectacle on CNN that completely inoculates viewers against the reality of thousands of innocent men, women and children dying.
posted by chill at 7:59 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Seriously, the trope in the honor-based culture of the Crazy Woman Who Wants Too Much Vengeance (Not The Right Amount That The Men Want) is so, so old and played-out. And by "old," I mean "literally thousands of years old." Clytemnestra slaughtering Agamemnon in his bath.

Wait, I thought everyone understood that she was the good guy in that story? He'd murdered their daughter!
posted by Jacqueline at 8:05 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


They very deliberately showed the Lannister soldiers’ backs turned and weapons down when Grey Worm chose to strike.

Yet he threw the spear at a solider facing him.

Watch him make the same lip-bitey vengeance-at-all-costs expression that they make Daenerys make. We are not supposed to identify with him in this scene. We're supposed to identify with Jon Snow, trueborn king of the Seven Kingdoms.

Must be a me thing, identifying with Missandei's heart broken lover.

Moving on....
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:06 AM on May 14 [10 favorites]


I'm more than disappointed in the use of the armies. Why does anyone bother setting up their armies and march and stand there and wait...

when this motherf*ckin fire breather can swoop in overhead and annihilate everyone in a hot second? Just send the flying beastie out and be done with it all.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:12 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Jon would be a better king because he would choose advisors for their moral fiber and then defer to them in their area of expertise. You’re right that he would be a ruler ruled by his small council, but that’s only a problem if the small council is shitty, and it’s much less likely to have a single point of failure the way leading-from-the-King would.

Yup: observe the fact that the 7 kingdoms were reasonably peaceful and prosperous under Robert Baratheon even though he didn't care about anything other than getting drunk and banging tavern wenches. It wasn't until his (trustworthy, peaceable) hand Jon Arryn bit it that things went haywire.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:12 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Small clarification - I thought that Grey Worm en-spearanated the one Lannister bro who turned around, no? Not that it changes much or w/e, but just curious if missed something.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:16 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, he definitely speared a Lannister solider who was facing him. There's a mixed crowd, some with backs to Grey Worm as they watch something explode, while others are still facing Grey Worm and the rest of Dany's ground forces.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Greyworm vs the surrendering Lannister army...

Except, except! the Lannisters had turned to see a giant fireball heading towards them. Their visceral reaction should have been to head immediately for that adjacent alleyway to get out of the way. Even after Greyworm threw his spear. They had surrendered mentally as well as physically and they couldn't predict that the dragonfire would stop a block away.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:27 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Considering I was one of the first people to complain about Grey Worm stabbing the surrendered Lannister soldier up-thread, a little context: 100% agree that it felt like an authentic decision/motivation for the character. My beef isn't with the character, it's with the show for deciding to play into tropes about helpless POC victims (Missandei) and uncontrollably violent POC ( Grey Worm). Give those particular plot beats to white folk, and, meh, yet more media whatnot? In 2019 America, give them to POC and you're feeding into a long cultural history of giving those particular plot beats to POC. Then again I'm a middle class white dude who tries to have a cultural conscience so maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree here? It just felt like shitty stereotyping to maneuver those characters into those positions.
posted by Alterscape at 8:28 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


So here's an extended analysis of why so many viewers are dissatisfied with how the show is ending. I'm just posting the intro, it's too long to post all of it (30 tweets in all - thanks ThreadReaderApp!) here.

Want to know why Game of Thrones feels so different now? I think I can explain. Without spoilers.
It has to do with the behind-the-scenes process of plotters vs. pantsers. If you’re not familiar with the distinction, plotters create a fairly detailed outline before they commit a single word to the page. /2
Pantsers discover the story as they write it, often treating the first draft like one big elaborate outline. Neither approach is ‘right’ - it’s just a way to characterize the writing process. But the two approaches do tend to have different advantages. /3
Because they have the whole story in mind, it’s usually easier for plotters to deliver tighter stories and stick the landing when it comes to endings, but their characters can sometimes feel stiff, like they’re just plot devices. /4
Pantsers have an easier time writing realistic characters, because they generate the plot by asking themselves what this fully-realized person would do or think next in the dramatic situation the writer has dropped them in. /5
But because pantsers are making it up as they go along (hence the name: they’re flying by the seat of their pants), they’re prone to meandering plots and can struggle to bring everything together in a satisfying conclusion. /6
That’s why a lot of writers plot their stories but pants their characters, and use the second draft to reconcile conflicts between the two. /7
posted by scalefree at 8:53 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


[One comment deleted - sorry, I know the point is meant to be anti-racist, but still let's not make that point by repeating a bunch of racist stuff/stereotypes or inventing "it'd also be super racist if --" scenarios.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:55 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


> Jon would be a better king because he would choose advisors for their moral fiber and then defer to them in their area of expertise.

Counterpoint: the last time Jon was in a position of command, he let himself get stabbed to death by xenophobes in his inner circle, about whom he was in deep denial.

the boy is naïve. he wouldn’t be a good king. he’d be a second Tommen.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:56 AM on May 14 [24 favorites]




uncontrollably violent POC ( Grey Worm)

... except he controls himself all the way up until the point it's clear that Danerys is not extending mercy to the city, even when he is on record as hating Westeros, hating the Northerners he is supposed to be bearing arms with and for, and now wanting vengeance on the people who killed Missandei.

But Grey Worm does his job. He plays his role. He is out in front of Jon in pinning down the Lannister force, but then, Dany shows up, burning the shit out of the street, well, Grey Worm picks up what his queen is laying down. He does not yell. He does not shout. He does not say something smart-ass. Instead, he is under complete control until he has receives official permission to act the way he wants, from the one authority he still recognizes, so he clenches his jaw, breathes fast a couple times, looks angry, and then throws a spear at somebody in full armor facing him with a sword at his feet.

In fact, when Jon is yelling for everyone to stop, there is an actual beat where he looks back with an expression of concern, sees Jon murderize a Lannister soldier, so Grey Worm decides Jon can handle himself, and then turns back to his work. He is specifically shown not to be in a killing rage.

Yes, the show has been racist in the past ASK ME ABOUT MY FEELINGS ON THE WHITE SAVIOR DANY SEASON ENDING SHOT FACEPALM, but I think you'd be more correct if, for example, if he was shown murdering civilians, or if it was a Dothraki shown trying to rape a Kings Landing woman. And God knows the show had plenty of racist moments in the past, but in terms of "revenge is corrosive and terrible and an awful thing to do," it's a lot less viscerally disgusting than the Clegane brothers LITERALLY GOING AN EYE FOR AN EYE, or even hot-headed than Tyrion shooting his even-more-helpess father on the john.

I'll also note there's a tension between not wanting to show negative things about POC characters, and giving POC characters their due narrative weight. What would your version of that scene involve? Grey Worm not acting out his grief, even though he wants to, and Danerys has given him authorization to? Grey Worm absent entirely? Grey Worm suddenly unable to fight?

Finally, yes, that scene shows Jon in the right. And I think we, as the viewers, are meant to think that mercy is the best path. But especially if you're not black, I think it's worthwhile to ask yourself why a single, deliberate act of vengeance by a black man mourning the cruel execution of his black female partner reads to you so easily as being hot-headed and uncontrolled.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:03 AM on May 14 [34 favorites]


It's Official: The First Star Wars Film After Rise of Skywalker Will Be From Game of Thrones' Showrunners

Looking on the bright side, hopefully this means they won't be doing Confederate after all?
posted by tobascodagama at 9:19 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Dragons burn that Lannister loot train, and it's presented as something badass and terrifying but ultimately just cool, not horrifying or unjust or wrong.

That episode takes pains to include quite a lot of shots of Lannister soldiers getting hideously incinerated, screaming in agony, fleeing in terror while burning, etc. etc., while Tyrion watches from a distance with a mix of awe and pure dread at the destructive power of dragons, and later wanders the smoking wasteland of the battlefield and observes the charred remains of combatants with a numb sort of horror.

That sequence is the first time anyone has witnessed a dragon in full open combat, and it was presented as a spectacle, yes - but it was also presented as very, very scary.
posted by jurymast at 9:20 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


(apologies, lobstermitten and others)
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:23 AM on May 14


> But especially if you're not a black, I think it's worthwhile to ask yourself why a single, deliberate act of vengeance by a black man mourning the cruel execution of his black female partner reads to you so easily as being hot-headed and uncontrolled.

Stepping back to let poc lead on this one.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:24 AM on May 14


When there are pervasive and deeply ingrained preexisting tropes about members of some group, those tropes are going to inform how many viewers, consciously or not, perceive the way characters of that group are written. One way to get around that is for your story to include many different and multidimensional characters of the group, so that one character's actions can be more easily interpreted as reflecting the individual and not the trope. When you're either casting a tiny number of POC (say), or applying potentially tropey things to most of your women characters (say), then you've got to expect that to inform the way your work is understood and work especially hard to not reflect those tropes, if that's your intent.

There's a question of how much responsibility lies on the viewer to not see things through the lens of some ingrained trope, versus the responsibility that lies on the creators to not play into (and thus reinforce) the trope in the first place. I think it makes sense to emphasize the latter responsibility over the former.
posted by trig at 9:24 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


There’s a very strong cultural belief* for many of us watching that hitting an unarmed enemy in the back is a coward’s choice

"You'd shoot a man in the back?"
"It's the safest way, isn't it?
"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:25 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


That episode takes pains to include quite a lot of shots of Lannister soldiers getting hideously incinerated, screaming in agony, fleeing in terror while burning

I hear you, and people can differ about this, but to me stuntmen running around on fire flailing their arms around codes as "awesome fun" on tv/movies while badly-burned people lying on the ground whimpering and quivering does not.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:27 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


There’s a very strong cultural belief* for many of us watching that hitting an unarmed enemy in the back is a coward’s choice (they’ve played with this trope before in the show with the way Jaime slayed the King—in the back). To me that signaled “Grey Worm is doing something bad.”

It's even consistent within the moral universe of the show.

From the first season on, you don't hit someone who has yielded. Robert Baratheon admitted to it with disgust. Loras Tyrell was on his back, unarmed, when the Hound saves Loras from the Mountain. When you drop your sword and yield, that's it, fighting's done.

The Unsullied operated under the same moral code, at least until war criminals Daenerys and General G. Worm gave the orders to violate that, to cross that red line.

Some viewers want to let them off the hook for it. It's like a television metatrope, people watching and rooting for the evil leads of The Shield and Breaking Bad.

Or perhaps it is even older than television, the way people in the audience of Shakespeare's Richard III are seduced by the king-to-be — up until the final act, where he gets his comeuppance.

We are meant to root for the villains, up until we're meant to support their defeat. The interesting question is perhaps how much we care to admit to ourselves they are villains, before it is plainly obvious.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:28 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


We are meant to root for the villains, up until we're meant to support their defeat. The interesting question is perhaps how much we care to admit to ourselves they are villains, before it is plainly obvious.

One of the key themes of GoT is that very few people are just hero or villain. Most of us can do heroic or villainous deeds, though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:32 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


You make really good points, Joyceanmachine. Sorry if I took the thread in a bad direction, GCU, Joyceanmachine, and RNTP. Also stepping back.
posted by Alterscape at 9:52 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Counterpoint: the last time Jon was in a position of command, he let himself get stabbed to death by xenophobes in his inner circle, about whom he was in deep denial.

the boy is naïve. he wouldn’t be a good king. he’d be a second Tommen.


Tommen could have been a good king had he not been locked in an abusive thing with his mother. It's not really about the puppets, if they're going to be puppets, but about the people guiding them.

Jon himself is kind of a dopey mess, though. Probably too stubborn to really step back and led wiser heads prevail. He's such a wet blanket lately. Maybe always.

Pantsers discover the story as they write it, often treating the first draft like one big elaborate outline. Neither approach is ‘right’ - it’s just a way to characterize the writing process. But the two approaches do tend to have different advantages. /3
Because they have the whole story in mind, it’s usually easier for plotters to deliver tighter stories and stick the landing when it comes to endings, but their characters can sometimes feel stiff, like they’re just plot devices. /4


This rings true to me, as a writer and a pantser, but I will say that I don't think this is entirely on D&D. We all know that they guessed the series ending ahead of time, and GRRM definitely talked to them about the end game he wanted, broadly speaking. They knew the plot beats that were needed but it takes a pretty strong writer to sell you on motivations for plot beats when the ensuing story has changed around those beats. This isn't unique to their writing, or this show. It's true for most of television and especially movie writing right now--so many commercial films pick up their story beats from Save the Cat! and it's really common to see characters irrationally resisting the call or having a long dark tea time of the soul for really no rational reason, if you think in terms of realistic story motivations. But most viewers don't see it, because plot-driven storytelling moves the story along quickly enough that you don't notice. This story is both too long and too short for what they're doing here. It's not quick enough to trick us into believing unbelievable motivations but it's too quick to let them arise organically for this many characters and they're beholden to certain ending beats. So you get a mushy mess, like with Jaime and Varys. It's almost, but not quite right.

I have zero doubt that what GRRM told them was "Jaime and Cersei die in each other's arms, technically fulfilling the Valonqar prophesy, with Jaime's hands around her neck, but affirming their love for each other." Or "Varys gets executed for treason." I mean, this makes very little sense either on a micro or macro level but it's the image we have to end with.

One tricky thing in writing is convincing readers that a character's errors are actually deliberate choices on the part of a flawed but expertly crafted character rather than just poor writing choices, and I think D&D's failure in this is most clearly seen with Jaime. I've seen several theories that fit--he hasn't transcended his abuse, he's depressed, he's an unreliable storyteller--but I don't think the evidence is textually there for any of them, as far as I can see.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:52 AM on May 14 [20 favorites]


especially if you're not black, I think it's worthwhile to ask yourself why a single, deliberate act of vengeance by a black man mourning the cruel execution of his black female partner reads to you so easily as being hot-headed and uncontrolled.

So I think there's actually some interesting meta-analysis around this, if we're going deep (and I mean come on what else are we going to do until Sunday). (I am a woman of color, I am not black, but D&D had the same problems with Dorne boy howdy did it)

The world of GRRM is presented in different ways in the show and in the books, and part of that is because of the depth you can give worlds in books that are hard to do in the show, and part of that is because the showrunners have seen zero interest in showcasing the unique depth of the world that was created, which is itself probably a reflection of bias, even if they aren't aware of it.

Different cultures have different ethos. They have different ethos about how they treat women, about how they act in war, about how they respond to emotions. Do they show them or do they hide them? If they show them, how do they do so? Do they weep, or do they rage? How do they express that?

One of the things that affects, though does not cause, anti-POC racism in our current real world, is the fact that white people from more-homogenous cultures that have made a cultural value out of restraint often see different cultural factors (loudness, the showing of certain emotions) as Other. One of the things that erases that bias is showing that these are cultural differences, that people are acting appropriately within their cultural context.

One thing that is better done in the books is presenting these differences as multifaceted - each area has things they do differently. Dorne, for example: poison and killings are more common - but also equality both of birth and of gender. Women can and do inherit, bastards aren't shamed, nor is homosexuality. The Dornish rulers deliberately raise their children with the children of all walks of life, to reduce prejudice and inequality. The Bravosi duel in the streets and have a cult of assassins - but were founded by escaped slaves, and refuse to tolerate it within their borders. They also have far greater religious tolerance. All of the Free Cities have elected leadership, and leadership by councils. They do not practice feudalism but mercantilism. The people from these places reflect their values.

It is worth asking -why would Grey Worm reflect the feudal code of chivalry - the thing that is violated by killing an army after its liege surrendered - of Westeros, a code he was neither born to nor raised to? Why should he even consider the morals of Westeros as relevant, other than politically or strategically?

And the answer is that the showrunners, systematically, and repeatedly, have made the choice to elevate the Westerosi system to a problematic but ultimately morally good system. They focus on the codes of chivalry of the knights, but not the problems inherent in each knight being assigned an unpaid squire. They see Ned Stark as a good and moral man, even though he was willing to let Cersei and her children be killed, for the 'crime' of daring to sleep with a man who was not her husband.

What we view is what they want us to view, and they have not showed the benefits or good points of a single culture outside the Westerosi one. So we see Grey Worm through Eurocentric feudalist eyes, because that is the viewpoint angle the showrunners give us. And so it does read as hot-headed and uncontrolled - I agree there with what I see on the television - but that is largely because the showrunners haven't given us any other context to consider it in.
posted by corb at 9:53 AM on May 14 [36 favorites]


In fact, when Jon is yelling for everyone to stop, there is an actual beat where he looks back with an expression of concern, sees Jon murderize a Lannister soldier, so Grey Worm decides Jon can handle himself, and then turns back to his work.

I read this as Grey Worm seeing Jon trying to keep his forces from engaging, thus confirming that Jon is not on Dany's side (more of an "oh - so that's how it's going to be"). I'm guessing this will come back in the next episode.
posted by kokaku at 9:56 AM on May 14 [16 favorites]


Also, reverse engineering story beats: they needed to get rid of Euron and make it clear Jaime wasn't going to survive, so the two needed to fight to the death. But what were they trying to achieve in having Jaime sleep with Brienne? Their story arc was finished by the knighting, and as hot as the sex was, it was unnecessary, from a storytelling perspective. Did they just really need that emotional goodbye? Hmm, not sure. We got that punch from Tyrion and Jaime.

Which is why I'm really afraid Brienne is going to end up with child next episode, because the sex makes sense if they're writing TO that ending. I'm so depressed. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:57 AM on May 14 [14 favorites]


I don't see Grey Worm as uncontrolled. If anything, he is self-possessed and entirely in control of his faculties — he came to decide on his course of action in consultation with and approval from his queen. In fact, I'd suggest that being in control doesn't make him any less of a war criminal — agency makes him more of one — and it was important for viewers to see that he chose to be a part of the outcome.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:00 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Which is why I'm really afraid Brienne is going to end up with child next episode, because the sex makes sense if they're writing TO that ending.

The alternate explanation I’m clinging to is that Jaime and Brienne being together romantically is one of the few plot points GRRM gave the writers, so they tried to shoehorn it in there in this truncated season and didn’t stick the landing. Jaime then giving up his more ambitious/idealized love (tied into his story of becoming a true knight) is one more way he reverts back to his more Lannister self in the end.

I highly doubt the books will have Jaime get up out of the bed he’s sharing with a naked Brienne to try and head back to Cersei without saying a word, though. Ugh.
posted by sallybrown at 10:07 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I thought it was interesting that they didn't translate "Grey Worm" in the subtitles when Dany was talking to him earlier in the episode. Something seemed deliberate about that.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:07 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I caught that too. Felt like another nod in the direction of Dany returning to the starting place of her power, back across the narrow sea.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:10 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I applaud everyone devoting time and energy to writing long sprawling polemics at this point, when the finale will surely bring out a new host of atrocities and errors that will render the ones in this episode moot.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:14 AM on May 14 [20 favorites]


are you saying you believe that Daenarys knew someone was trying to poison her?

Why not? She is shown to have known about everything else. She is Captain exposition this episode.

Why wouldn't a 'ride-or-die for my children in King s Landing' super spy not be trying to poison her via the kitchen staff, after she s had to declare that burning all of his kids may be politically necessary?
posted by eustatic at 10:28 AM on May 14


having a long dark tea time of the soul for really no rational reason

I see this in so many shows and it bugs the heck out of me. It's so frustrating, even when it is realistic and well-acted, it's just not fun to watch 99% of the time.
posted by traveler_ at 10:38 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Qyburn 100% had to get iced by the Mountain. He's the mad scientist who created a monster, must be destroyed by his own creation etc

Technically he's called Qyburn's Mountain


So Qyburn's Mountain is Chekhov's Rifle?
posted by condour75 at 10:50 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I was just wondering what Dany's rule looks like, and she really only needs a small, loyal force to guard her while she sleeps, to prepare her meals and a good spy network to keep watch on her subjects--as long as she has Drogon. The rest of her governance is just insisting on a certain contribution to the royal coffers each year. Hell, outlaw house armies and the penalty for inter-house fighting is death by melting. Any potential invading force is torched at sea.

She should also be sending agents to scour curiousity shoppes, museums, and private collections for "Dragon Egge, Jaehares Dynasty" type of stuff; maybe books like "Dragonne Husbandrie & the Moderne Farmer".
posted by maxwelton at 10:58 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


They very deliberately showed the Lannister soldiers’ backs turned and weapons down when Grey Worm chose to strike.

that is not totally true, the olderguy lannister had already turned to start the battle again.

the sequence goes

stand off
dragon terror /psyop, lannisters turn around (and some run)
burning! dragon strike, battle is on!

the unsullied captain, heaving seen the political leadership's decision to burn, slowly gets ready to follow that decision with military action. Spear lowers slowly. a quick, angry spear movement could warn the lannisters / signal his own guys to charge. they show our captain up close, breathing laboriously (who knew battling could wind you?), but also cut away to the spear itself, while he makes no movement with his body.

olderguy (captain?) lannister remembers that they are in a battle, heel-turns to the front like oh shit burning means battle (he's the only one, so i guess it's confusing)

the unsullied captain, having acted on the brass' decision, is already ready for him, commenses the swift mercking of olderguy implied-leader lannister soldier after he turns but before he can pick up his sword. this gets the job done, and signals the infantry charge. that's leadership.

by the time the northmen / unsullied infantry charge, most lannisters are facing the charge with swords in hand, ostensibly trying to battle, intending to battle, although the elimination of their local command means they are pretty disorganized, thanks to the quick loyalty of a man trained in chain-of-command.

When he turns to look at Jon's relative disloyalty, he is pissed, but holds back emotion and doesn't attack jon 1) because opening up another front against northmen who hate you in the middle of razing a city isn't going to help with effective razing, and the order as given 2) because jon outranks him.

But oh man, irrational anger would have meant killing jon snow right there for disloyalty. If you'd kill someone from behind, Jon was facing away right then. If she's the Queen, you follow the burning with a set up, then an infantry charge, and you do it without asking twice. Otherwise, the command structure is all talk.

We should have the discussion of why it is that we separate our political leadership and military leadership, i think the authors (maybe, maybe one of them does, maybe not) wants us to have that discussion, but this is clearly a 'loyal professional soldier' character showing us Jon's disloyalty and impotence by foil. How is this fool going to be a King?
posted by eustatic at 11:19 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


> I was just wondering what Dany's rule looks like, and she really only needs a small, loyal force to guard her while she sleeps, to prepare her meals and a good spy network to keep watch on her subjects--as long as she has Drogon. The rest of her governance is just insisting on a certain contribution to the royal coffers each year. Hell, outlaw house armies and the penalty for inter-house fighting is death by melting. Any potential invading force is torched at sea.

yeah, now that she's crossed the rubicon, and burned the rubicon, and then crossed back across the rubicon and burned it again, then sort of cruised down the rubicon breathing fire along one bank, then crossed the rubicon yet again and burned the other bank, then [repeat for 60 minutes], uh, now that that's happened, I'm actually legit curious to see what the rule of the mad queen daenerys looks like. because uhhh maybe she could make it work? Upthread skoosh made an interesting comparison to Dune, and your vision of Dany's rule reminds me strongly of that. (wow though before now I never thought about how much Daenerys's career resembles Muad'Dib's).

I guess the main flaw in this scheme is what happens when Daenerys dies. She can't have children and presumably has no way to turn herself into a nigh-immortal human/sandworm hybrid, and so everything goes to hell the day she can no longer sit a dragon.

(but we're not going to get any of that. she's going to get stabbed to death by her idiot zombie nephew after she bafflingly fails to kill him.)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:23 AM on May 14 [13 favorites]


Team Arya for stabbing Dany.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I guess it could be worse than ending a song of ice and fire with the character named after a type of song killing both ice and fire.

the way it could be worse is jon stupid snow killing daenerys
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:28 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


re: Grey Worm is a cold calculator
we are also shown that the Unsullied, even the prison guards, are both smarter-than-you-think ("We speak the common tongue"), and work on chain of command, in the earlier scene with Tyrion.
posted by eustatic at 11:34 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Team Arya for stabbing Dany.

nah, Bran's going to warg Drogon into the Cracks of Doom, or whatever the Westeros equivalent is.
posted by philip-random at 11:38 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


yeah, now that she's crossed the rubicon, and burned the rubicon, and then crossed back across the rubicon and burned it again, then sort of cruised down the rubicon breathing fire along one bank, then crossed the rubicon yet again and burned the other bank, then [repeat for 60 minutes]

Gotta say, there's a part of me that gets dreamy-eyed at the idea of a tactically-competent mini-series about Aegon's conquest, with Aegon on his legendary dragon supported by two competently-ridden additional dragons.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:42 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


nah, Bran's going to warg Drogon into the Cracks of Doom, or whatever the Westeros equivalent is.

The ruins of Valyria itself would be the closest thing, hence my joke a few hundred comments upthread.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:43 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


If we had infinite free time and no jobs and a UBI, or else if we were all trust-fund wastrels, I would propose we get together and team-write an actual good high-fantasy series.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:50 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Jenny Nicholson with the quick response funny stuff
posted by eustatic at 12:03 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Yup: observe the fact that the 7 kingdoms were reasonably peaceful and prosperous under Robert Baratheon even though he didn't care about anything other than getting drunk and banging tavern wenches. It wasn't until his (trustworthy, peaceable) hand Jon Arryn bit it that things went haywire.

Eh, disagree. The speed to which everything went to hell after RB's death is a strong indicator of how rotten his reign was when he lived. RB failed to provide legitimate heirs to secure the future of his line, probably his most important job. He failed to prevent his wife's family from taking almost every important position in Court, though he mentioned to Ned that he was AWARE that Lannisters were everywhere and didn't like it. His court didn't bother attempting to mend relations with Dorne or the Reach, which exacerbated the problems after his death. The Crown's finances were a mess (some of this might be Littlefinger's fault, but WHO CARES, the whole thing with Littlefinger is that no one trusted him but everyone stupidly kept trusting him anyway) and King's Landing was always about one bad day away from starving to death.

Jon isn't as wildly selfish and irresponsible as Robert Baratheon, but I'm not sure that helps. The sainted Starks weren't doing that great of a job up North, either. They forgot about the recurring attack of ice zombies, absolutely their most important duty. Even if you give Ned Stark a pass on the ice zombies -- which apparently had faded into myth by the time he was lord of Winterfell -- I don't give him a pass on the Wall. Ned Stark's born brother was a member of the Night's Watch, and his foster brother sat on the Iron Throne. Why was the Night's Watch so dysfunctional? Or his kids: why did Ned and Catelyn raise kids who had no idea how to behave around powerful sociopaths (aka their social group)?

Anyway, yeah, I don't think RB was a functional king; I don't think Ned Stark would've done much better; and I think Jon Snow would be terrible at the job. They really humanized Varys this season, when I think they should've leaned into the puppetmaster thing. An explicit "I don't think we can control Daenerys" would've worked better, for me, than "Daenerys might be crazy, can't tell yet, let's try the maybe-crazy bumbling Targaryen instead."
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:17 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]


Yeah, the problem with Robert Baratheon (and Edward IV, for that matter) is that a king's job is not just to ensure stability while he's alive but to ensure that stability continues after his death. They both failed miserably at that part.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:25 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


The last person on the show that probably would have made a good king was Margaery, who had a keen grasp of noble politics and interpersonal relationships without being super sociopathic about it like Littlefinger et al, and had a good understanding of the needs of the smallfolk and the ability to make them like her. True, she did get outplayed by Cersei at the very end, but even then she immediately grasped what was happening, just couldn't get out in time.

(Olenna also would have, obviously, but had no more heirs to provide stability after death.)
posted by tavella at 12:35 PM on May 14 [29 favorites]


Why did the civilians in the surrounding area want to get in to King's Landing? I would think getting as far away as possible would make more sense.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:43 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


One thing about the producer segments after the show: they always seem so miserable.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:43 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Jenny Nicholson with the quick response funny stuff

Even funnier if you watched the James Charles/Tati videos.
posted by all about eevee at 12:48 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


if you think of the D&D segments as Here's A Surface-Level Recap Of What You Just Watched In Case You Were Having Trouble Following instead of These Are Official Canon Pronouncements, they're somewhat less odious.

like I notice they preface a lot of their analysis with "I think..." and it's like, you wrote and produced this shit, don't you know? but it makes sense if those segments are meant to be less for the archnerds who can crack each other up with Jon Connington jokes and more for their long-suffering spouses who sit through the show with them

anyway I'm PBO and here's thanks for coming to my TED talk about Wonderwall
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:52 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Why did the civilians in the surrounding area want to get in to King's Landing? I would think getting as far away as possible would make more sense.

Hadn't there been a talky scene where Cersei had encouraged them all to come to KL for "safety" (but really as more human shields between the Dany's army--minus the dragons she assumed would be killed--and herself? And then Cersei stuck her army outside the gates with also implied that it would be safer behind the walls of the city.
posted by TwoStride at 12:58 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I would think getting as far away as possible would make more sense.

we had Seasons of the mountain riding around the country side murdering civilians as part of war, so did stark men and lannister men. And when the bad guys are made up of mounted soldiers famous for rape and murder world wide (dothraki), you'd probably want to hide in a city.
posted by French Fry at 1:07 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I think the "inside the episodes" are very calculated to give nothing away and not complicate things, that's why they are so lame, there have been misdirections in them before leading up to twists so it's obviously not their unvarnished opinions.
posted by French Fry at 1:09 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I watched the episode again and it's a lot better with a couple shots of vodka!
posted by Pendragon at 1:17 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


RB failed to provide legitimate heirs to secure the future of his line, probably his most important job.

I mean, but he didn't know that. The reason he stopped sleeping with Cersei is because he thought he had two legitimate male heirs and one legitimate female heir.

A better argument would be that it didn't matter if he had legitimate heirs or not, he was still a bad king because he failed to estimate - a la Edward of York - the depth of the Great Houses' objections to his wife's family. They don't have science in Westeros! No one can possibly prove that the heirs of Cersei's body weren't Robert's children! What the rest of Westeros has is a bunch of ravens that went out saying 'These children aren't legitimate, signed, a powerful lord' and a game of 'who do you trust more' that can only exist in a land as riven by internal strife as Westeros under Robert's rule was because the Lannisters were far too favored.
posted by corb at 1:25 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


heh heh Iridic I wish I could favourite your comment, like, 50 times
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:30 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The biggest remaining question for me is this: Why did Jon need to know his real name, Bran?

There is no benefit to Jon, nor to anyone else, nor, it seems, to the betterment of the realm, certainly not in the short term (just asked the fried folk in KL). Maybe it ensures one or more of these things:

* Dany destroy's King's Landing
* Dany dies
* Jon dies

And these are important, why? One would think Birdy Three Eyes would only be motivated by Big Reasons, since he is (self-professedly) beyond human wants and needs now.

Maybe there is a bigger picture--Dany will be the last ruler of the seven kingdoms simply by exhausting the small folk to the point where they're willing to overthrow their inbred masters?

But that doesn't seem to slot into anything that the three-eyed raven supposedly cares about, I don't think we've heard a word about politics from him, certainly not in a disproving way vis a vis the feudal system.

(I guess I would be onboard for a reveal that Bran's three-eyed raven detachment is an act, and with the past/future/warg/spy powers he is a scheming duplicitous SOB who masterminded all of this so he can seize the throne. I can think of all sorts of M. Night "what a twist!" things surrounding this reveal (Bran walks, Bran is the actual Aegon, etc., etc.)...which is why I am not allowed into the group writing thingy RNTP suggests when we all get Luxury Gay Space Communism.)
posted by maxwelton at 1:56 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Jon needed to know his true name because when he and the other Northerners say it, I see the spelling "Egg-on" in my head and it makes me giggle every time.
posted by TwoStride at 2:01 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I'm in complete agreement, corb. What I meant by saying that RB failed to ensure stability after his death was that he failed to ensure that his heirs would be the kind of people who all but the most ambitious upstarts would rather leave on the throne than try to usurp. So he really made two huge mistakes, first of all being kind of a shitty dad and second of all not counter-balancing his wife's family in any real way. (He may have thought Ned was that counter-balance, but since the Hand is not a permanent position that was never going to be the case, especially since Ned was so bad at intrigue.)
posted by tobascodagama at 2:04 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, he definitely speared a Lannister solider who was facing him.

even worse then -- he stabs him in the back literally right under his nose
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:12 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


vodka cocktails for your next rewatch:

The Little Bird's Poison
vodka, sambuca, absinthe (drink quickly when nobody is looking)

The Sexy Nephew
vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice, dash of grenadine, shaved ice (do not pet or acknowledge your dog while drinking)

The Grey Wormtini
vodka, dry vermouth, rim glass with crushed animal crackers (lions only)

The Qyburn Wallbanger
vodka, orange juice, midori (slam this one down hard)

The Jaime Lannister Killer
vodka, goldschlager, mello yello (use 2 straws and share with your partner or sibling)

Cleganebowl Punch
vodka, cranberry juice, limeade, mountain dew, ladle rum on top and light it on fire

The Targmopolitan
jalapeno vodka, pineapple juice, white cranberry juice, triple sec, garnish with 1-3 pickled quail eggs

That's Not Arya's Cocktail
vodka, kahlua, cream soda, serve with meat pies
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:15 PM on May 14 [23 favorites]


Yeah, count me as another who thought this was really the only place they could take Dany's story and is surprised that this apparently came as a shock to many people. I am however annoyed that they are apparently just going for the Targ incest thing to explain it, considering that this was clearly built up as a legitimate and logical conclusion to her ruthless quest for power at any cost and to all of her trauma. Emilia Clarke somehow managed to convey not only anger but despair and grief and even a little fear during the descent into madness. Granted I have never been a fan but I think I sympathised with Dany more at the moment she started torching the city than I had at any point in the series since she was sold into sex slavery.

She has been, throughout the series, working toward one goal. Even when she took a break from the whole conquest thing to fight a horde of ice zombies, she was still focused on consolidating her power. But now she's here and she's won the prize and now she knows she spent all that time chasing something she could never truly have.

She can never get back the life and family and sense of home that was taken from her. She's still as alone in the world as she was the day her brother handed her over to Drogo. She wants to be loved, but she knows the people of Westeros never will - not without Jon Snow, and he rejects her. Her advisors and friends are all dead, or have betrayed her - there really is no one left that she can trust (well, I guess Grey Worm). Jon Snow and Tyrion - she can't let either of them live if she wants to keep the throne, or even if she doesn't thanks to Varys - after all, the threats against her life in service of another's claim began in her infancy. A life of rule by fear without any real allies is hardly her Breaker of Chains dream. I think it's the utter hopeless frustration of realising that everything she's sacrificed has been for nothing that pushes her over the edge into taking revenge on the city for Missandei and Rhaegal and everything that was stolen from her - revenge that surrender would deny her because they expect mercy from her where her loved ones were offered none.

She also has no reason to trust the surrender, given how basically everyone has proven themselves untrustworthy. Dany is already paranoid (understandably, imo) and she's kinda going all in on this hand now that she's down to one dragon. So not taking any chances is the most pragmatic approach here.

All that said I think what I'd like to have seen is Dany demanding Cersei brought to her, but Cersei can't be found (because Jaime has smuggled her out), and that's what causes her to snap and burn everything. I think it would be interested to watch Tyrion really grapple with that mistake, with his loyalty to his family leading to the death of a million people, instead of a summary execution after like 3 seasons of uselessness which is what seems most likely now.

I guess Jon Snow executing Dany is where we're going from here, which gives Ned Stark's whole "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword" bit as a bookend for the series. I suppose it could be Arya but I rather think her murderbot days are behind her now.
posted by lwb at 2:18 PM on May 14 [38 favorites]


I feel like we’re in this massive cultural moment where the whole world comes together to scriptdoctor season 8 of game of thrones. like, proposing fixes for GoT is the new The Dress or something.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:33 PM on May 14 [21 favorites]


* Dany destroy's King's Landing
But that doesn't seem to slot into anything that the three-eyed raven supposedly cares about,


The Branatos Gambit. King's Landing - huge polluter! Children of the Forest are tired of it! LET THE WEIRWOODS BLOOM.
posted by corb at 2:42 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


not counter-balancing his wife's family in any real way
Stupid Elizabeth Woodville
posted by bq at 2:43 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


cocktails for your next rewatch:

The Wildfire:
brennivín (burning wine), midori, Ecto Cooler (chaser, optional)
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:45 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


tobascodagama: If Jon flies Drogon into the Doom of Valyria, that would be even better.

HELLO BOYS!! I'M BAAAAAACK!
posted by hanov3r at 2:50 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I feel like a Euron cocktail needs to be more chaotic and repellent. Something like:

Bottom-shelf tequila, salt water, and Four Loko. Sprinkle with cigarette ash and serve in a styrofoam cup you found washed up on the beach.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:57 PM on May 14 [26 favorites]


If you're going full Euron, why not just tequila and urine (as someone so wisely punned upthread)
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:00 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


There is no benefit to Jon, nor to anyone else, nor, it seems, to the betterment of the realm, certainly not in the short term

Possibly it eliminates the other supernatural threat the Kingdoms face, Dany's dragons.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:06 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


> The Branatos Gambit. King's Landing - huge polluter! Children of the Forest are tired of it! LET THE WEIRWOODS BLOOM.

that is the best idea for saving the series in the last episode that i have seen.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:06 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Euron’s cocktail is the bartender picking up the bar mat and pouring it into a shot glass
posted by sallybrown at 3:08 PM on May 14 [15 favorites]


Apropos of nothing: there was never any way this was gonna happen, but I really wanted The Mountain to die by getting smooshed by a giant. Like he faces the giant and suddenly sees what everyone else has seen his whole life when they've faced him, and then he tries to fight it and just get completely destroyed

Celganebowl was p good too though
posted by clockzero at 3:13 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


If we're in the script-doctoring phase then I think this is how I would go about it:
* The first two episodes are roughly the same
* The night king rides in with a blizzard, the battle happens (with perhaps fewer scenes of Sam getting chewed on by zombies yet surviving somehow), Arya shanks the night king, and the snow continues to fall
* They celebrate, and all the while the snow is piling up, because guess what: the seasons aren't actually caused by magical ice zombies.
* Dany demands they march south immediately, Jon says it would be madness now that winter is setting in in earnest, Dany points out that the north doesn't have enough food to support their army, Jon reluctantly agrees.
* Meanwhile, Cersei has really been putting the screws to the smallfolk and consolidating all the food supplies into king's landing. She also burns all the fields for symbolic effect.
* Dany arrives at king's landing with a starving, greatly depleted army, but two dragons. Cersei has a large, well-fed army
* Euron's fleet is stuck in ice and Dany just dragon torches them all, including Euron. Jon frowns.
* Qyburn has, instead of putting all the scorpions into conveniently-torchable rows, hidden them in false roofs across the city.
* Dany on Drogon and Jon on Rhaegal fly over to assault the keep, but hidden scorpions pop out from all over the city and pincushion Rhaegal. Jon crashes to the ground (fate unknown) but Dany barely escapes.
* Dany starts torching the scorpions while they're reloading, and if that happens to take out most of the city at the same time, well, they made their decision.
posted by Pyry at 3:23 PM on May 14 [16 favorites]


Oh one detail I forgot: Cersei uses the bells as the signal for the scorpions to pop out.
posted by Pyry at 3:32 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


I want to see Dany see the error of her ways and settle down with Hot Pie. They are the ideal couple, he can make the pies and she can get them out of the oven without burning her hands. They can keep Drogon on to save on firelighters. Everybody gets good quality pies and no one can claim it doesn't undercut expectations. Everyone is happy. Everyone.
posted by biffa at 3:32 PM on May 14 [19 favorites]


I guess Jon Snow executing Dany is where we're going from here, which gives Ned Stark's whole "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword" bit as a bookend for the series.

This is one of the things that really irritates me about people going 'well of COURSE burning the Tullys/Varys/whatever that she'd torch a city full of civilians after they'd surrendered'. There's been a bunch of guff about how Manly Men kill their enemies with their own weapon. Well, Dany's weapon is her dragons, so of course she kills traitors with it. No one goes around saying that anyone else is clearly going to go bonkers on civilians because they executed someone, even when they are hanging 12 year olds or hacking down people fleeing from white walkers. Hell, Stannis actually did torch his own daughter and no one claimed it as foreshadowing that he was going to kill by the million.

I think there's good reason for people *in the show* to be worried about it, because they remember her father, but as a critique of fiction it comes off sexist, frankly.
posted by tavella at 3:34 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


like, proposing fixes for GoT is the new The Dress or something.

The battle with the Night King certainly had a lot of blue and black that's for sure.

The biggest remaining question for me is this: Why did Jon need to know his real name, Bran?

I still believe there's more to Bran's story coming. I think he's been warging into the past, manipulating events and people to bring about the downfall of the Night King. In fact I'm even growing on the wild theory that he's the mechanism people have been worshipping as the Lord of Light, and is the one who brought all those people back! I think Jon Snow is still alive for one last function (probably killing Daenerys) and telling Jon was part of Bran's plan to make that happen. I expect in the last episode he'll reveal all this ("ooh what a twist that's what you people like isn't it" say D&D) or, more likely, he stares meaningfully at something and they tell us afterward that's what he was thinking, because that's their approach to showing characters' motivations now.
posted by traveler_ at 3:58 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Who's still reading this. Why am I still reading this?

No one cares about what I think, of this I'm sure, but I'll tell you anyway:

I was surprised how many of you did not see these things as obvious (they seemed obvious to me on first watch, and I drink a lot. I'm not saying I'm necessarily right):

- Varys was trying to poison Dany. I mean, he was complicit in trying to poison her back in Season 1! (remember the poisoned wine?) It's how he works.
- Grey Worm did not stab anyone in the back, nor, to my recollection, kill any civilians. He acted as a professionally trained soldier when he saw that the battle was resumed (unlike the Northmen, I might add; and I thought a pretty clear distinction was drawn between the behavior of the Unsullied and the Dothraki/Northmen)
- Tyrion was asking Davos to help smuggle Cersei and Jaime out of the city

People sure love complaining.

Everything else has already been said. Even much of this. Which is why Apocryphon won the thread here.
posted by booooooze at 3:59 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Also just a theory:

Cersei didn't seem overly concerned until Dany went on her rampage. Part of me thinks that she was ready for the city to fall and had strategically placed wildfire around the city to torch the invaders before they got to the Red Keep. She was prepared to blow up both her people and the invaders as they approached. It had worked for her before, after all.

Or it could have just been random stores around the city. But that just seems like a weird CGI detail to bother with. (As opposed to a man petting his wolf).
posted by booooooze at 4:05 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Ultimately, I wonder if Jaime was just distraught by his golden hand being made without flexible digits he could bend into appropriate gestures.

Hm. Speaking of which, do we ever see a culture on this show which uses hand gestures (like the two fingers used in Britain or our own middle finger)? I mean, how to you come up with "fuck you" and not have a matching hand gesture?
posted by maxwelton at 4:32 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


It’s not the existence of magic which has retarded technology- remember magic was waning until the dragons returned. It’s the fact that the Maesters lock up every book dealing with advances

So the Big Bad is essentially Elsevier?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:51 PM on May 14 [21 favorites]


The war of the roses plus Black Plague*. Kill enough small folk and infrastructure to make those surviving the winter on less rations hardy instead of half starving everyone else. No more serfs because who is left seize the means of production and prosper when spring comes again.

BP* Targaryen, her dragon trogdoring. Plot armor when the walls fell.
posted by tilde at 5:08 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


No one goes around saying that anyone else is clearly going to go bonkers on civilians because they executed someone, even when they are hanging 12 year olds or hacking down people fleeing from white walkers.

The executions to which you refer are not analogous. They punish specific individuals for the specific crimes for which they are responsible - and in each case, are shown to be a heavy decision.

A better analogy for the kind of executions Dany likes - bend the knee and serve me, or die; executions when exile/imprisonment is both possible and preferable; execution of individuals having nothing to do with the transgression - might be those ordered by Stannis (Mance Rayder), Joffrey (Ned), and Cersei (Lady and the butcher's boy). And all of those? Were 100% depicted as morally repugnant in the show; at best the sign of a fatally inflexible ideology, and at worst the actions of a cruel despot.

Also, in all of Dany's many executions, the only one she treated with gravity was the execution of the slave turned murderer in Meereen. Someone on her side; someone who revered her as Mhysa. Anyone who crosses her, Dany has killed calmly; easily; sometimes even glibly. Often even with a touch of relish.

I would question the self-preservation instincts of anyone who didn't find that concerning, or a potential harbinger of worse things to come.
posted by jurymast at 5:11 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


So the Big Bad is essentially Elsevier?

Too dark. Let’s go back to the skin-peeling guy.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:15 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Cersei didn't seem overly concerned until Dany went on her rampage. Part of me thinks that she was ready for the city to fall and had strategically placed wildfire

Yeah booooooze that's my internal headcanon. That's why even after she had "lost" Euron's fleet and the Golden Company she was watching from the balcony instead of escaping. She was going to let the Northerners, Unsullied and Dothraki enter the city and blow it all up, that would be her victory. Then escape with Qyburn (who mentioned he had some plan to get her to safety)

Then she's standing on the balcony and it's sinking in that she's finally met the one person in Westeros who is more evil and diabolical than her. Cersei would kill hundreds of thousands of innocents to defeat her enemies. Dany would do it for no reason at all, even after they surrendered. Cersei's inability to predict Dany's ruthlessness was her final undoing. She's standing on the balcony and realizing that she's screwed, everyone is screwed, and there is no way for her to escape. Dany razes the city, setting off the wildfire, before her army moves into the trap.

Dany of course has no idea. The whole thing that set off her arc was the Lannisters killing all the Targ children - Rhaenys and Aemon - even after they had lost. So now she's back, and she will burn everyone even if they surrendered - an eye for an eye. She lost her dragon. She wants Cersei to see and fully realize that she has lost completely, so she burns Kings Landing first, before going to the Red Keep.
posted by xdvesper at 5:15 PM on May 14 [16 favorites]


there were flashes of green in Dany's fire toward the end of her assault, but I didn't notice any at the beginning.
posted by philip-random at 5:46 PM on May 14


I saw Grey Worm as following Dany's lead instead of lashing out in pure anger. Yes, he hated the Lannisters, but I don't think he would have attacked if it was clear that Dany had accepted the surrender.

This doesn't absolve him, of course. "Just following orders" is not an excuse. But I think it's a mischaracterization to say that he was acting solely out of uncontrollable rage. He was in control, but disobeying his leader would have been even more out of character for him.
posted by mcmile at 6:01 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Do you think there was enough of a draft caused by the fires to push Gregor Clegane while he fell?

I.e. Did the Mountain blow in the wind, like leaves?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:06 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Cersei's inability to predict Dany's ruthlessness was her final undoing.

Lady Olenna, last season: “I did unspeakable things to protect my family, or watched them being done on my orders. I never lost a night's sleep over them; they were necessary and whatever I imagined necessary for the safety of House Tyrell, I did. But your sister has done things I wasn't capable of imagining. That was my prize mistake; a failure of imagination.”
posted by sallybrown at 6:10 PM on May 14 [13 favorites]


I think I may decide that the series ended with Oleanna telling Jaime "Tell her it was me."
posted by miss-lapin at 6:16 PM on May 14 [10 favorites]


No one cares about what I think, of this I'm sure

On the contrary!

Cersei didn't seem overly concerned until Dany went on her rampage. Part of me thinks that she was ready for the city to fall and had strategically placed wildfire around the city to torch the invaders before they got to the Red Keep. She was prepared to blow up both her people and the invaders as they approached. It had worked for her before, after all.

*facepalms*

I think you called it, and I feel oblivious for not realizing that at the time.
posted by mordax at 6:17 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


The problem is, Dany still has a dragon, so that doesn't make any sense since she can go right for the Red Keep and isn't in any particular danger from explosions on the ground. So you need bad writing where mysteriously ballistas on a ship take down a dragon with ease, but fixed ballista in a city can't, plus you have to have Dany not actually bother to fry Cersei except as an afterthought, instead of torching the Keep straight off.

And the idea that it was to torture Cersei, she doesn't give a fuck about the smallfolk dying, and Cersei of past seasons would have taken the opportunity to live to fight another day once she saw the dragon wasn't going down. But she also had to be passive and helpless suddenly, just like Dany had to be switched to ultrakill.

Just bad, bad writing/plotting.
posted by tavella at 6:24 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Also, in my headcanon at least, Dany snapped in episode 4, not episode 5, after she realized that no matter how much she sacrificed, Westeros would never accept her willingly. She'd already lost most of her Unsullied and Dothraki, Jorah, Viserion... and still everyone hailed Jon as the hero.

In her mind, having and riding a dragon is what makes you the legitimate ruler. Jon's claim surpasses hers, but if he has no dragon, he can't rule - now that the NK is gone, the strongest weapon by far that exists are Drogon and Rhaegal, so Dany + Dragon will beat Jon alone.

I think she recklessly used Rhaegal and Drogon to sweep the area for Euron's fleet - Rhaegal ahead of Drogon - and it's a win-win situation for her. Either she catches them by surprise and burns the Iron Fleet ... or the Iron Fleet catches her by surprise and kills Rhaegal, cementing her claim to the Iron Throne.
posted by xdvesper at 6:39 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Dany taking her sweet, sweet time to get to the Red Keep, methodically burning everything in her path (a touch of Apocalyse Now here), because that's what you do when you have a dragon (or a Predator drone with Hellfire missiles, or a A-10 with its gatling gun), with Tyrion and Jon realizing that something is going wrong, wrong, wrong, in the wrongest possible way, one that makes the Red Wedding look like a footnote: that was absolutely breathtaking. And the terrible thing is that we all - the viewers, the characters - have seen it coming since the very beginning, from the moment when she burned Mirri, or dragged a man behind a horse until he died, or crucified thousands of people, but we/they chose to ignore it, like all the well-meaning parents who called their daughter Daenerys (though they don't regret it yet).
posted by elgilito at 6:39 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Part of John et al. realizing that something is wrong with Dany also coincides with the realization that he and his troops are in the direct line of fire from the dragon and that she is burning indiscriminately - Lannister troops, civilians, buildings and her own soldiers as well as the possibility that the fire will spread and the whole city will burn and trap them.
posted by srboisvert at 6:49 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I thought Cersei looked worried when Drogon first started flying, when it looked like he might be heading right for her. And then she relaxed when he veered off to strafe King's Landing instead. And then she... just stood there? Did she think Danaerys was going to torch the city and then drop by the castle for a chat about the future of the realm?

Maybe she did - melting King's Landing to slag is one thing (and Cersei might view that as a sensible preventative measure), but most people would want the Red Keep intact.
posted by mersen at 7:11 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


One question I'd like to see addressed in the last episode but don't think will make it: did Tyrion really believe that Dany was capable of being a great leader or did he only offer his services to her because she was his only ticket back into power?

Remember his speech to Shea where he says he loves the Game and being so close to power? As one of the most well-read people in Westeros he had to know about the Targaryan reputation for going insane. And yet he kept going on and on about what a good ruler Danerys would be. Did he really believe that? Or did he lie to himself because he desperately wanted to return to a position of power?
posted by mcmile at 7:22 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Dany taking her sweet, sweet time to get to the Red Keep, methodically burning everything in her path (a touch of Apocalyse Now here), because that's what you do when you have a dragon (or a Predator drone with Hellfire missiles, or a A-10 with its gatling gun)

Nit: An A-10 runs out of 30mm in ~20 seconds.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:35 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I'm just gonna throw my final predictions in the ring :

(b+w style, because it's disrespectful to tar D&D with this storytelling).

* Arya realizes being an assassin is too scary, so settles down with Gendry and opens a gluten free muffin shop, tagline: "a girl serves no gluten".

* Jon falls on his sword. Not as a noble gesture, but because he forgot both which end to hold, and how to tie his shoes, and then trips.

* Dany realizes she's acting stupid because she's blonde, stops bleaching her hair, and goes back to that place with good weather and spicy food, because seriously fuck all these people.

* Sansa, similarly, but since she's already got GRRMs fetishized red hair, charms the north into following her, and peace and stuff.

* Tyrion, in a fitting end, succumbs to his lifetime of vice and dies of a heart attack on the toilet, just like his old man.

* Davos does something honorable. Or maybe remembers he has a wife and kids in the country.

* Sam, being the most invincible character, claims the Iron Throne. Grey Worm does all the work, though is never made "the hand", because that harkens back to oppressive times.

* b+w make the 17th star wars movie in 3 years, it's full of winks and references, and somehow misses the point.
posted by lkc at 8:08 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]


I think we can all agree that GoT will definitely end before the Ed Sheeran ridiculousness.
posted by TwoStride at 9:12 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Night King shoulda won
posted by bookman117 at 9:27 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I just saw someone on another fan forum write:

"Did we even hear her say Dracarys? Was it even her who burned the city?...... I know I’m going out on a limb here but is it possible?"


We have reached full KL truther.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:50 PM on May 14 [14 favorites]


what is trying to be said?

The only way to win is not to play.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 10:49 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


"Did we even hear her say Dracarys? Was it even her who burned the city?...... I know I’m going out on a limb here but is it possible?"

We have reached full KL truther.


They deliberately don't show us her eyes once she starts burning. This is because Bran warged into her, turned her eyes blue, then compelled her to burn everything.

Last episode, Bran flies into King's Landing and raises all the dead as zombies and then sits on the throne as the Night King.
posted by xdvesper at 10:51 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Jeez at this point I expect the final shot to be basically Jon Snow cosplaying this with a title card/voiceover like
So, did Jon Snow return the wayward daughter of Mad King Aerys to her Sun and Stars. And having no further concern, he and his companions sought adventure in the North. Many wars and feuds did Jon Snow fight. Honor and fear were heaped upon his name and, in time, he became a king by his own hand...

but that is another story.
*JonWeeps.gif*
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:52 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


I'm kind of worried that Jon killing Dany (as seems likely at this point, though I'm still hoping she just goes fuck this and fuck all y'all and rides off into the sunset on Drogon never to be seen again) is going to be played as a big hero moment and that her death is just gonna serve as nothing but fodder for his manpain. Having her go Targaryen mad seems like a cop out for Jon accepting any responsibility for his complicity in all the decisions and events that led to this point and idk if I trust the show not to just go "whelp, our poor noble hero's only crime was loving someone who turned out to be mentally ill!"
posted by lwb at 12:28 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


corb wrote:
It’s not the existence of magic which has retarded technology- remember magic was waning until the dragons returned. It’s the fact that the Maesters lock up every book dealing with advances - such as that grayscale can be cured, etc.

Yes, you're right. I only reread the books when a new one comes out, so I haven't read them in like 10 years. (Zing!) I think I remember the books discussing this a lot more. (I wonder what the heck the citadel plot is supposed to be about anyways.)

BUT.....

It's not really possible to control technology like that, and even in the show, it doesn't quite work. I guess they're hinting at parallels to the guild systems but there is plenty of tech outside the confines of the maesters.

There are smiths who can still work with Valyrian steel and are pretty handy with other forms of metallurgy. This implies a healthy mining industry which could be overseen by Maesters but it seems unlikely.

Obviously the Pyromancers have their own knowledge, but I guess they're sort of parallel to the maesters.

Presumably there is a lot of folk wisdom as well. I'm sure agricultural technology isn't controlled. Do we have ploughs? I can't remember if they've shown them. Have we see examples of distilled liquor, or has it all been fermented only?

Also, the textile industry in Westeros is amazing. I'm sure a lot of the exotic stuff is imported but there must be some sort of loom technology at this point.

Do the maesters have a strong grip on continents other than Westeros? I can't imagine that such a vacuum of knowledge could exist when competition is so stiff.

Anyway, I know that within the confines of the rules of GoT/ASoIaF it's accepted that the Maesters control technology, but I'm still not buying that they can prevent basic technology from advancing. I do agree that the development of gunpowder has probably been controlled, or even dismissed as a frivolity in a world with magic napalm and biological ICBMs.

I wonder if anyone has tried to weaponize grayscale? Surely Qyburn could have captured a few hundred Greymen and shot them out of catapults at the enemy. (Interesting that this universe has at least 3 kinds of zombies: Wights, Qyburn Frankenstein Monsters and Graymen.)
posted by Telf at 12:59 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Separate thought. I know people have made Dune references upthread, but maybe GoT takes place in the Dune universe...

A lot of the prophecies could have been embedded by the Bene Gesserit, this planet is just ripe for charismatic house prince to come down and fulfill the prophecies. Wouldn't surprise me if the Targaryens are actually one of the main chapter houses.

We already know that Bran has been hitting the spice a bit too heavily recently.

Maesters definitely hang out and drink Juice of Sapho with their Mentat buddies in their time off. The Maesters are in charge of preventing the spread of technology to prevent AI.

The Faceless Men are Dune as Fuck. (DAF)

Sand Worms vs Dragons, don't seem incompatible.

Probably Planetos is just on the boundary of space accessible to the Spicing Guild. Maybe somebody messed up a fold and now it's been cut off for a few thousand years.

I've decided this is true. GoT takes place in the Dune Universe. It is known.
posted by Telf at 1:08 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Or Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun I guess. But those take place within the Dune Universe too.
posted by Telf at 1:11 AM on May 15


For what it's worth, here's my take on some of the many things that have been mentioned.

The cuts between Arya looking panicked and the Hound fighting are meant to suggest Arya has changed from being a magic murder sprite out only for revenge to someone who actually wants to live. The Hound's words to her provide the connection between his revenge at all costs fight and her flight to safety. He gets hit, they cut to her falling, linking their actions as a way to suggest his path had also been hers. That the Hound can't kill the Mountain by force alone is meant to suggest the path of revenge is a desire can't be sated and it will in the end consume you as the Hound was by the fire that he so feared as he fell with the Mountain.

Cersei's view of the attack was decidedly meant to call back to the Sept of Baelor explosion as a counterpoint. Her satisfaction there matched to the feeling of being the one on the other end of that sort of "justice" this time.

I didn't have any problem seeing Dany and Greyworm's actions from their perspective of rage and pain and that gave their decisions the emotional weight for them to make sense, just as I didn't have any problem also seeing Jon's reaction as that of someone witnessing the effect of that rage. The two views work together, not in a one or the other fashion to give meaning to the events.

The problems I had were more that they split the cause and effect between the last episode and this one, weakening the link between the two and creating a distance that allows the viewer time for rational response that can undercut the relation to the characters actions by thinking too much about it and losing some of the effect.

The desire to hearken back to past episodes to give this one added weight is fine in theory, but the way the show handled Melisandre, the Unsullied, the White Savior idealization, and other racial aspects as been so fraught with problems that the call backs aren't going to work as desired as people are drawing from things other than that they wanted and for good reason.

This is further made a problem by the decision to spark the conflagration, which I do think has been made plain was going to be the end result of Dany's dragon force all along, by Cersei killing Melisandre for little reason other than the dramatic want for her death to cause the destruction. It makes Melisandre's whole arc one of waiting to be killed to get others to go nuclear, which makes the attention given to the character by the audience nothing but a nasty trick for having such an end. Her character was always one of the most easy to appreciate and identify with and as Cersei had little good reason to kill her in that circumstance it undercuts Cersei's character as well and makes the entirety of the battle for King's Landing look suspect when placed along side the stupidity of Euron killing the other dragon and even Cersei relying on sea power when there was no need for Dany and Jon to have to deal with ships at all to accomplish their aims. It all reads as plotting for the sake of an end instead of something organic.

As a guess, I don't think Jon or the Stark kids kill Dany as that would seem to go back on everything they just spent this episode trying to say about revenge and its costs as well as going back a bit against the way this episode sought to implicate the audience in its want for destruction, as problematic as that is given the way the show has worked since the start, but it had at least some sense to it in a narrower way.

What I'd like to see, but don't make any real prediction will happen, is that Sansa has brought the Northern Army down to confront Dany proactively using power to make a sensible end as the battle between Cersei and Dany would have weakened both and Varys' birds could have given the indication of the timing and events. The Stark kids finally show some initiative to make something better and rule wisely, deal with the dragon, and leave Dany the Iron Throne in a desolate city with none to support her as the price of the power she used. I don't want to see Tyrion return to his marriage with Dany as that would make him the GRRM surrogate in a really gross way. I don't care what happens to Jon Snow very much, stay with Dany, go back north, get killed whatever, just not become some mystic rightful yadda yadda thing. Or the show can go completely dark and cynical and kill everyone but whoever they want to have win in the end. Whatever.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:32 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


gus, I think you mean Missandei not Melisande
posted by DebetEsse at 1:41 AM on May 15


You are correct of course. My bad. Writing in a hurry at work as usual.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:44 AM on May 15


I wonder if we'll know who Varys was writing to? It's implied that he probably sent out dozens of letters. How will this play out?

Is there going to be another last minute arrival of troops from around the continent who save Jon as he is about to be overwhelmed? Do we know what's left of the Highgarden armies and their banner men? Is Dorne the only army left with reserves?
posted by Telf at 2:02 AM on May 15


I would actually love to see an ending where Dany is left to sit alone on the Iron Throne, Queen of the Ashes, while everyone else renounces the cycle of violence, turns their back on her, and goes off to rebuild their respective kingdoms/into exile beyond the Wall/to become a tree or some shit/etc. That would be pretty great, and exactly the sort of bittersweet ending GRRM promised us. But realistically, I don't see it happening.

She still has a moderately-sized force of Unsullied and Dothraki at her command; certainly no longer the greatest army the world has ever seen, but probably enough to inflict a lot of hurt on the rest of the kingdoms whose armies have been decimated by years of warfare. And she has now conclusively shown that she will not stop at any amount of bloodshed in order to secure what she sees as hers by right.

(And of course there's her dragon, though I am anticipating an ending that involves Bran warging into Drogon one way or another.)

And I don't think that simply killing Dany herself solves much either. A surgical strike against someone like Cersei - or any other Westeros ruler - at least theoretically makes sense. Remove the leadership, and the actual armies involved can simply go back to their lives. But the Dothraki and the Unsullied have no lives in Westeros to which they can return; their sole reason for being there is to fight for Dany. If she dies, they have no real reason to be there - but they don't have anywhere else to go, either, and I don't simply see them shrugging and settling down. Maybe they'd accept an offer of, "Enter into a truce with us, and Yara will shuttle you back to Essos if you want to go," but that would be awfully neat and tidy.

...Which is why that's probably what'll happen, if the Dothraki and Unsullied aren't handwaved away entirely after Dany is dealt with.
posted by jurymast at 2:52 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


OH WAIT

What if they do a fakeout death with Dany, Drogon flies off with the 'body', and Jon goes into exile beyond the Wall and they meet back up at that, "We could stay here for a thousand years, and they'd never find us," cave?

Why am I still theorizing about this show
posted by jurymast at 3:15 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


...Which is why that's probably what'll happen, if the Dothraki and Unsullied aren't handwaved away entirely after Dany is dealt with.

Yeah, I mean I'd be thrilled if Grey Worm led an uprising to take the throne by leading the Unsullied and Dothraki against everyone else left, but that doesn't seem likely. I'd accept them abandoning Dany if she lost her dragon just because they realize there's no good possibility left for them. I'd be very annoyed if they throw away their lives fighting for a lost cause just cause the nice white lady said so, if it came to that. Anything that provides some sense of independent agency would be a slight plus this late in the game, but with Jon Snow still sitting around they're going to probably have to do something "important" with him and the murder sprite, who evidently has people coming back from the dead to protect her for reasons.

I was annoyed when they brought Jon Snow back from the dead, but really lost interest once they started hinting at fate and higher powers and the like as that worked against the thing that made the show seem more unusual when it started. Decisions have consequences and there is no fated end. So I'd take any end that goes back towards that, even if it now seems less likely.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:46 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Although I also admit I'd at least be grimly satisfied if they went the god's are cruel route and protected Arya this far just so she'd be killed at the right time to serve their ends, but even that would seem to leave so much of the rest of the show pointless it'd be hard to make sense of unless stated in explicit detail which would be dreary.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:05 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


the murder sprite, who evidently has people coming back from the dead to protect her for reasons

Isn't keeping her alive long enough to kill the NK reason enough?
posted by torticat at 4:59 AM on May 15


Cersei's inability to predict Dany's ruthlessness was her final undoing.

and
Lady Olenna, last season: “...your sister has done things I wasn't capable of imagining. That was my prize mistake; a failure of imagination.”

Well, and Danaerys herself said it at the beginning of the episode,
"Your sister knows how to use her enemies' weaknesses against them. That's what she thinks our mercy is--weakness. But she's wrong. Mercy is our strength. Our mercy toward future generations..."
posted by torticat at 5:08 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Isn't keeping her alive long enough to kill the NK reason enough?

Personally I was far from thrilled with even that, but with the way they handled her and the Hound last episode it sure seemed like the special favorite mojo was still strong with her.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:25 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Well, and Danaerys herself said it at the beginning of the episode,
"Your sister knows how to use her enemies' weaknesses against them. That's what she thinks our mercy is--weakness. But she's wrong. Mercy is our strength. Our mercy toward future generations..."


I liked how they had Dany frame it that way, which reminded me so much of Stannis: “What is the life of one bastard boy against an entire kingdom?” Davos: “Everything.”

I am still Team Davos on this one.
posted by sallybrown at 6:12 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


Yeah, the callbacks to Stannis have been very clear. I'm not sure how much narrative sense it makes, at this point, to tie Dany's errors so tightly to Stannis's, but the parallels are overt. Maybe it's supposed to be some kind of inoculation against criticism that the portrayal of Daenerys plays into sexist tropes? Or a reminder that craziness isn't limited to Targaryens, but can crop up in any family?
posted by torticat at 6:24 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Regarding celebrity cameos, I'm glad they didn't give Aaron Rodgers the Ed Sheeran treatment and show him lobbing a spear or some other throwing weapon. But based on my perception of Number 12--friendly, funny and basically a regular guy--he wouldn't have wanted that.
posted by carmicha at 6:34 AM on May 15




Personally I was far from thrilled with even that, but with the way they handled her and the Hound last episode it sure seemed like the special favorite mojo was still strong with her.

I thought the way she & the Hound were handled indicated a continued return for Arya to humanity/her identity as a Stark (the journey to kill Cersei, with no plans to return, being a blip on that arc). The white horse, however, definitely seemed to signal some continuing special favorite mojo. I am personally far from thrilled with that, first for the ridiculously on-the-nose imagery, and second because IMO Arya & her training have fulfilled their part in the story (much as I love Williams). Arya and Dany are the only characters who have kicked ass recently, with everyone else playing backup. I would love to see others come to the forefront in the finale--Sansa and Yara, who have been sidelined all season; Tyrion and Jon, who have yet to show anything for all their vaunted strengths. (I would have liked to see Jaime and/or Cersei go out with a bang rather than a whimper, too; but ah well.)
posted by torticat at 7:07 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I mostly just want Arya to be the one to kill Dany because I desperately don't want it to be Jon Bumblefuck Snow. For all that I've defended the Dark Dany turn as being consistent with and grounded in her previous characterisation, I wish it weren't also tied up in tropes about the abused becoming the abuser and Bitches Be Cray and etc. And if it's Noble Jon, coincidentally the last dude in the game, who has to step in and sort out these damn females, I'm just.

Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
posted by jurymast at 7:22 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]




I figured Arya was going to just ride North to tell Sansa what's up and they can start mobilizing the North or at least moving to protect it.

Forswearing revenge and then going to get revenge would be weird. But not beyond the writing here, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I figured Arya was going to just ride North to tell Sansa what's up and they can start mobilizing the North or at least moving to protect it.

I like this - though aren't all the Northern troops already in KL with Jon? I have seen speculation that Arya and Sansa (and Jon?) hatched some kind of a contingency plan when they were in the Godswood, a just-in-case in the event that Queen Daenerys turned out to be hostile towards the North. Maybe Arya is hauling ass to get word to Sansa that, "THE DRAGON FLIES AT MIDNIGHT."
posted by jurymast at 7:30 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I mostly just want Arya to be the one to kill Dany because I desperately don't want it to be Jon Bumblefuck Snow. For all that I've defended the Dark Dany turn as being consistent with and grounded in her previous characterisation, I wish it weren't also tied up in tropes about the abused becoming the abuser and Bitches Be Cray and etc. And if it's Noble Jon, coincidentally the last dude in the game, who has to step in and sort out these damn females, I'm just.

If the Azor Ahai prophecy has anything to it, it's basically guaranteed to be Jon, right? That's not much, given the state of prophecies on the show right now, but it's seems to point in that direction.
posted by gerryblog at 7:33 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Sansa is my favorite character, so I don't WANT this to be true, but I'm not sure why Daenerys wouldn't just fly up to Winterfell and issue her kneel or die command there while the armies of King's Landing are still getting the smoke out of their lungs. I know the show's geography is really handwavey now, but there's no way Arya-on-horseback beats a dragon.

Maybe Bran will bestir himself to be useful and they'll plan a trap in the Neck? I'm sad that none of the crannogmen predictions have panned out this season...
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:39 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Sansa is my favorite character, so I don't WANT this to be true, but I'm not sure why Daenerys wouldn't just fly up to Winterfell and issue her kneel or die command there while the armies of King's Landing are still getting the smoke out of their lungs.

Enjoying the power flex of summoning people for her coronation and then turning it into a show trial for all to see, would be my guess.
posted by jurymast at 7:42 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


If the Azor Ahai prophecy has anything to it, it's basically guaranteed to be Jon, right?

Why can't the Prince Who Was Promised be Arya? Since the Night King death I've basically been operating under that assumption. If you rewatch Ep. 3 all the ridiculous staring between Melisandre and Arya seem to foreshadow that as being a possibility. Not that Melisandre had a particularly good track record at figuring out The Chosen One, but she certainly seemed to settle on Arya in that one.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:47 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I would actually love to see an ending where Dany is left to sit alone on the Iron Throne, Queen of the Ashes, while everyone else renounces the cycle of violence, turns their back on her, and goes off to rebuild their respective kingdoms/into exile beyond the Wall/to become a tree or some shit/etc.

Not sure why this synapse is firing, but - say there's the equivalent of a sanitarium or assisted-living facility or what have you. The collective decision is made that Dany is too mad to rule, and that power should be based elsewhere. But instead of killing her, they move the Iron Throne into that facility and bring here there, with a room fitted out to look like a throne room, so she comes quietly and "sits on the Iron Throne" for the rest of her life while the real business of Westoros is handled elsewhere and by other people.

As one of the most well-read people in Westeros [Tyrion] had to know about the Targaryan reputation for going insane. And yet he kept going on and on about what a good ruler Danerys would be. Did he really believe that? Or did he lie to himself because he desperately wanted to return to a position of power?

Possibly a little of both - and possibly because he wants to believe. Think back to how he got to where he met Dany - spending a life as the unloved child of the Lannisters, with Cersei and Tywinn bearing a grudge against him for "killing their mother" and everyone else laughing him off as being ugly. His one sincere romance had been a set-up. He was abused by his nephew, framed for one murder, his current girlfriend had betrayed him, and he'd just committed fratricide. He is only alive because his dumb older brother smuggled him out of jail but on the condition that he could never go home again. He's pretty much fucked.

And then suddenly someone comes along who actually not only takes him seriously, but seems to value his opinions and brains and thinking, to the point that she elevates him to a position of power - and not out of family obligation,either, but because she sincerely values his input. After having been the dude everyone hated all his life, for someone to actually treat him with respect must have been a profound sea change; and would inspire immense loyalty, the kind of loyalty that comes with self-delusion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on May 15 [21 favorites]


I would hate to be a producer of episodic content these days. Fandom is weird, and toxic. Imagining how something might end, a fun childhood activity has metastasized into something terrible.

One of my jobs is making board games and I have never made a sequel or a redux because this niche of dedicated and intense fans get such concrete ideas about what they want that they are unpleasable. Which isn't a problem with a new property.

I catch myself doing this a lot and I try not to. Coming up with what I want in GoT or Marvel or Star Wars and feeling not only let down because I didn't like it but because it violated some perfect in my head version of things. This authorial approach to consuming media is fun on it's own but I think it genuinely diminishes my enjoyment of the things I watch/read. Like I imagine being on twitch, or twitter or fanfare watching say Lord of the Rings the first time and people raging about Tom Bombadil or X-Games legolas or 500 endings or shipping sam and frodo ... I imagine I would have liked it all a lot less. Because that negativity is easy and fun to dive into. Which makes me think I should stop coming here.
posted by French Fry at 8:42 AM on May 15 [18 favorites]


Which makes me think I should stop coming here.

Don't! I like your comments!
posted by torticat at 8:58 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I mean, fandom existed in the early 2000s. It just used LiveJournal instead of Tumblr. Where do you think "They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard" came from? Or all those Council of Elrond gifs?

And then even before LotR you had very significant online fandoms around X-Files and Buffy and such. The feelings of ownership over the story have always been there, but sometimes people say a thing is bad because it's actually bad.

I rewatch the X-Files periodically, and I can assure you that the last three seasons are objectively bad, just like the fandom was saying at the time. Not because the fans didn't get what they want (Mulder and Scully hooking up, which happened in the revival, yet everybody said that was bad anyway because it was really, really bad) but because the show got bad.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:01 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


People who feel strongly about a creative work can sometimes go beyond being entertained, to feeling like they can claim some kind of ownership over that work. It's an odd thing, for sure. I don't know what the answer is to it, but it seems like part of the human condition.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:01 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


We totally raged about Tom Bombadil, Legolas "a diversion!' Greenleaf, the endings, and a million people shipped Sam and Frodo. None of this is new in any way, shape, or form.
posted by lydhre at 9:04 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I mean, I came up through Highlander fandom and that show was terrible, and fans loved both mocking much of it (katana space! terrible wigs!) and dreaming up ways the plots could have been better (lots of fanfic). And the timeline on "fans complaining about things" really needs to take a step back and consider the whole of sports fandom, which is equal parts "I love my team! I hate my team! I hate your team more!" and that's... kind of exactly how it should be.

And to bring this back on topic, was Aaron Rodgers actually in the ep? I didn't spot him, but I object on principle.
posted by TwoStride at 9:24 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


If the Azor Ahai prophecy has anything to it, it's basically guaranteed to be Jon, right?

If there's anything GRRM has done right, it's that prophecies are mostly nonsense. If Jon stabbing Dany is his Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa moment and he really is the Prince That Is Promised that would be annoying on multiple levels.
posted by tavella at 9:30 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I understand when people like something they might not want to hear others disparage it, but that either leads to the want to only hear what you already agree with, generalities that aren't much more than thumbs up/thumbs down sort of comments, or to hear nothing at all which isn't really much of an ideal for appreciation of any sort.

Beyond that, many of the criticisms raised are more than just fan talk, there are legit concerns about how shows/movies handle subjects that touch on larger social concerns, which can be a part of the theme of the works or something implicit that the makers don't even notice. Maybe those things should make people uncomfortable rather than allowing easy enjoyment that validates and continues harmful stereotypes and trends.

It's not my place to tell anyone what to enjoy or how but I find value in reading about how other people perceive things because it informs my thinking on the work but even more on the audience's reaction to fiction and media. Some of the criticism whether appreciation or complaints won't mean much but some of it can be really important to hear, for me at least.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:37 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


I would love to read about fandom in Ye Olde Days. There must have been people obsessively discussing how the latest Dickens chapter was going to turn out. (I would not be surprised to see some ancient Bible fanfiction-y thing! I mean maybe that’s what the Bible *is*!)
posted by sallybrown at 9:40 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


The Aeneid is Homer fanfic, and huge swaths of western literature are basically Bible fanfic, so yes, fanfic isn't new, copyright is
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:44 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


John the Revelator woke up one day with this crackfic idea he just couldn't get out of his head without writing it down and enough people headcanoned it that most fans now consider it an official part of the Bible Expanded Universe.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:46 AM on May 15 [26 favorites]


I often wonder, amidst all of the hand-wringing and critique-fighting over the show, whether GRRM would have gotten much more attention had the show never been optioned and the years drug on with the story incomplete.

We ascribe so much these days to his intentions that we have elevated ASoIaF far beyond its literary merits. It's a cultural phenomenon, no doubt, and it has opened up so many conversations about representation in fiction and television that it's shown its worth to our current cultural moment but as much of its success lies in HBO's willingness to throw money into the production as in the actual quality of the story, which is what we're arguing over now.

In the end it's pretty poorly thought out, and fandom or not, that's GRRM's fault. He never committed to a satisfying ending, so it's pretty much impossible to expect one. The showrunners at least have banked on the audience being wowed by spectacle, and probably understand that the worst that can be said of them, for posterity, is that at least they wrapped it up.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:47 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


In the end it's pretty poorly thought out, and fandom or not, that's GRRM's fault. He never committed to a satisfying ending, so it's pretty much impossible to expect one.

I got a big kick out of this graphic meme illustrating that phenomenon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


s08e06 opens in winterfell. tyrion, jon, daenerys, sansa, jorah, tormund and others are gathered around bran, who is sitting next to a strange gold box with a screen on the front. the screen shows daenerys trogdoring king's landing.

bran stares blankly into space, as he does, and preternaturally calmly says:

"and that's what things would be like if you went north of the wall to capture a zombie. does anyone else have any questions for the what-if machine? beric? gendry?"

for some reason, bran has one very long finger.

after the episode we find out that HBO has approved two additional ten-episode seasons. unfortunately they'll have to find new showrunners, since benioff and weiss are leaving to do star wars
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:41 AM on May 15 [18 favorites]


Since I have been 100% WRONG in my predictions, I hope my record continues with this one: Dany accuses Tyrion of treason in the finale. She warned him last episode that his next mistake would be his last one. Then he goes off to free Jaime (in a great scene). Ultimately it didn't affect the battle, Jaime and Cersei die underground but as pointed out upthread, no one actually witnessed that. Dany finds out that Tyrion had arranged for an escape pod so for all anyone knows, they are rowing for Essos like Gendry of yore. She doesn't tolerate disloyalty therefore, exit Tyrion (and I win at Death Bingo)(((sob))) Tyrion was really the best character.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:27 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


> TwoStride: And to bring this back on topic, was Aaron Rodgers actually in the ep? I didn't spot him, but I object on principle.

Yes, apparently.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:40 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


We totally raged about Tom Bombadil, Legolas "a diversion!' Greenleaf, the endings, and a million people shipped Sam and Frodo. None of this is new in any way, shape, or form.

Oh I know that, but I didn't at the time and that's my point; it's not that this is new or didn't exist. it's just much more accessible and omnipresent, the meta-fan narrative is being processed everywhere and so much more of my life (and everyone's) is online and online is now in our pockets instead of back in our highschool computer room. Which I think has intensified this phenomenon in new and maybe not great ways. The whole world is kinda hot take artists and "it was pretty good" or " it was pretty meh" are not flaming content.
posted by French Fry at 11:55 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Regarding the issue of why Daenerys would have burned the city, people have talked about her history of violence and her recent trauma. Consistent with that, I would add this:

When her closest friend and advisor, Missandei, is asked to give her last words before being executed, she looks at the one person who would best understand her last word: “Dracarys.”

Her dying friend made a final request, and she carried it out.
posted by flarbuse at 11:56 AM on May 15 [42 favorites]



In the end it's pretty poorly thought out, and fandom or not, that's GRRM's fault. He never committed to a satisfying ending, so it's pretty much impossible to expect one. The showrunners at least have banked on the audience being wowed by spectacle, and probably understand that the worst that can be said of them, for posterity, is that at least they wrapped it up.


As a Dune superfan, having also been subjected to what happens when money, time, and organization run out, maybe this will sound like condescension.

But in time, Thrones fans will come to appreciate the choice and opportunities to go cinematic, rather than have lots of dialogue scenes.

All this bitterness is very haunting, it sounds so much like the bitterness of GRRM fans in 2006, realizing that there was no way the books would be finished.
posted by eustatic at 12:19 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Her dying friend made a final request, and she carried it out.

Yes, I think D&D really did a disservice (what's new) to the whole buildup to Dany's rampage when they said, "and then she looks at the Red Keep, and that's when things become personal" (or WTTE). There are SO MANY better and more complex ways to read Daenerys's motivations. I really thought her stony face, and her tears, while listening to the bells ring, could have been grief--steeling herself to the resolution to "let it be fear," even though ruling by fear (in this case killing thousands of innocents) has never been her ideal. I mean, yes; there is rage, too, and vengeance; and there are definitely elements in Dany that relish the sheer power the dragons give her. But that is not all she is. The way D&D make it sound like there is one moment in which a switch flipped is just one more example of why it's a good thing their dumbass comments aren't canon. Emilia Clarke did way more with the part than they apparently gave her.
posted by torticat at 12:28 PM on May 15 [17 favorites]


the queen herself is present only as shadow and flame for the episode’s second half.

She became the dragon.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:33 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that D&D do most of their writing in a fugue state, given how little they seem to understand about what is happening in an episode at any given point.
posted by jurymast at 12:33 PM on May 15 [10 favorites]


Regarding the issue of why Daenerys would have burned the city, people have talked about her history of violence and her recent trauma.

Dany has plenty of reasons. She didn't attack KL upon first arrival, she waited, tried to get Cersei to see reason, brought proof of the White Walker threat to Cersei and asked for help, only to be betrayed. In the process, she's lost a considerable amount of her army,dragons, and friends.

If she truly means to win Kings Landing, she has to do a show of force at this point. It won't win her any friends, but she wasn't going to get that anyway.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I had an idea which ties nicely into the Dune references upthread, and also gives us another reason to go back to Winterfell in the final episode:

Danenerys wants to rule the Iron Throne, but also to break the wheel of the game of thrones. So, she flies her remaining dragon to the goodswood, where Bran is waiting for her. He unites ice and fire, and turns her into the Night Queen. With his foresight, he sees that the Golden Path results in the most stability for the most people. No more Houses vying for power, just a cold, stable dictatorship.

Plenty of things wrong with this idea, of course, but it seems as sane as anything these days.
posted by The Outsider at 2:50 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


But in time, Thrones fans will come to appreciate the choice and opportunities to go cinematic, rather than have lots of dialogue scenes.
My neighbor recently retired his old (HEAVY) tube TV and got a rather large flat screen as replacement. Fired it up, turned on some old TV shows like Maverick and declared they looked "terrible" but that "the dialog was still good."
posted by tilde at 4:52 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


So there's a lot of talk here about Dany's turn to insanity, but I feel like Cersei's turn to idiocy was even less justifiable in the context of the plot. Cersei is thoroughly amoral (like many characters!), but she's very effective and I don't recall her ever being full-on irrational until the most recent episode. Yes she is single-minded about her children, so for exactly that reason she strikes me as the type to escape to Essos in order to rise up again from nothing with her child as soon as the city seemed obviously lost, not the type to go down with her fetus in a blatantly unsalvageable ash heap. This felt more like tying off a narrative loop than carrying out the character's truth.
posted by dusty potato at 5:02 PM on May 15 [11 favorites]


Also, I know this doesn't need repeating, but it's incredibly stupid that removing the entire Army of the Dead storyline from this series would not really change much essential about the overall plot at all.
posted by dusty potato at 5:29 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Like if you're going to buck every narrative expectation in our culture by having the culmination of the series-long fight to save the entire world from an existential threat be a mere appetizer to some other thing, you're going to have to work a lot harder than this show did to make that land.
posted by dusty potato at 5:33 PM on May 15 [24 favorites]


Can see Jon killing Dany, not because he's AA or the PTWP, but because that's what the Red God raised him for (a la Beric). Would be OK with that as an ending, definitely not down for 'Jon gets the Iron Throne'. I hope that all the praise from Tormund, the plotting by Varys/Tyrion, is a fake-out, rather than setting us up for him as the hero. That doesn't give much for Arya to do, though.

So Jon kills Dany and then dies himself. No-one on the throne, a federation of kingdoms led by the obvious suspects, or signs of a move away from absolute monarchy.

In terms of this episode, what bugs me is how quickly everything has happened, and how so many things clearly aren't going to be resolved or be important - the White Walkers, as mentioned, also the nature of Brad's powers and the Children of the Forest. Would definitely have preferred a much longer conclusion - or less time spent on battles, cool as they looked, and more on character development.

FWIW I don't see Grey Worm's actions as hot-headed or savage: more that he assessed the situation, saw that his commander had chosen to refuse the surrender, realised that the Lannisters would soon start fighting again, and that he had to get in first. Totally rational to my mind (whereas Jon is just sorta running around and shouting and not in control of the situation at all).
posted by Pink Frost at 6:25 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I just realized that Dany basically (re-)invented aerial warfare from scratch through her short career as a dragon-rider. After she learns to fly Drogon in S5E10, it takes her almost a full season before she uses the her beloved flying zippos for military purpose, inventing dive bombing to destroy the slavers' fleet in S6E09. Then in S7E05, she invents the concept of ground-attack aircraft by having Drogon strafe the Lannister army. She gets her first taste of anti-aircraft defense in that episode, but she doesn't draw the proper lessons and Viserion is downed by a SAM in S706 (Dany does invent helicopter extraction though). In S8E03 she creates the concepts of dogfight and wingman (she and Jon are terrible dogfighters, but so were the young pilots in early WW1, who shot at each other using pistols). Unfortunately, she completely fails at recon in S8E04, still doesn't grasp the concept of anti-aircraft defense, and lose another dragon. But remember, she still new at this and learned everything by herself.

Then at some point during the week she starts reading books (probably to flee internet critics). First: WW1 German ace Oswald Boecke's Dicta, a classic manual of air combat that starts with "Try to secure advantages before attacking. If possible, keep the sun behind you." Then: Italian fascist military theorician Giulio Douhet's The Command of the Air, who advocated in 1921 the strategic bombing of civilian populations for shits and giggles grandiose strategic purposes, mercy-toward-future-generations-style, an influential book that gave us the carpet bombing ("a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land") used generously by the Luftwaffe, the RAF and the USAAF throughout WW2. And she gets very, very good at it, too good in fact. She just (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻, there's no game anymore, not when you can burn anyone who stands in your way. So the question is: will she realize that what she did is wrong, or will she go ballistic? She should be in full Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds mode by now, and it could go either way.
posted by elgilito at 6:50 PM on May 15 [29 favorites]


Oh lordt, the more I read about people's hopes for the finale here, the more I hope they go the full Deconstruction of Falling Stars.

There is absolutely no way to deliver an aesthetically and narratively satisfying resolution to all the threads they've neglected to tie up (NOW INCLUDING THE LONG WINTER AND THE RED GOD WTAF*) so they might as well go full Sun Death and leave us to our fanfics, imaginings and headcanons.



*Is Dany a demigod? Is Jon? Or is all the magic gone now? Seems potentially important to...everything. Agriculture, politics, take your pick.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:03 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


New level of KL truthers:

"Who ordered the bells be rung? Clearly it wasn't Cersei. Maybe Dany had Tyrion sent to KL to do it!"

I wish I was kidding.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:33 PM on May 15


Aw, this is lovely -

Kristofer (Tormond) Hivju caught a moment when he was hanging out by the trailers with some of the other cast, just kickin' back and jamming with a Tom Waits song.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Oh lordt, the more I read about people's hopes for the finale here, the more I hope they go the full Deconstruction of Falling Stars.

... or the bad version of this, the US "Life On Mars" ending. (It was all some kind of... 'gene hunt.')

I would be torn between 'be angry' or 'die laughing, possibly literally.'
posted by mordax at 7:49 PM on May 15


Speculation from the NyTimes:
Few fans picked up on Varys’s apparent poison plot, and after assessing all the different reads on Dany’s behavior (see below), we have to wonder — did Varys actually succeed somewhat? Did some of his poison make it into her meals, possibly causing her to feel sick and then refuse more food? (Her skin had a sallow tone, which we initially attributed to her being in mourning.) If Varys dosed Dany with a slow-acting poison (affecting her mental state), it’s another example of history possibly repeating itself. After all, Varys was also suspected of poisoning Dany’s dad, the Mad King — not with literal poison, but with whispers of treason and traitors at every turn, stoking his paranoia.
All the characters bear some responsibility for Dari's turn, though the responsibility ultimately rests on her shoulders. The poison theory in particular is interesting, because it really does mean she bears less culpability.
posted by xammerboy at 8:49 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


... or the bad version of this, the US "Life On Mars" ending. (It was all some kind of... 'gene hunt.')

I never caught the US version and just read a synopsis of the ending and umm what
posted by jason_steakums at 8:58 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


If the writers made Varys a poisoner, I would join the hate-watchers in hate-watching the last minutes of the last episode. There is absolutely nothing in the narrative past, either in the show or in the books, that suggests he poisons kings or queens.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:24 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


She just (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻, there's no game anymore, not when you can burn anyone who stands in your way. So the question is: will she realize that what she did is wrong, or will she go ballistic? She should be in full Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds mode by now, and it could go either way.

Its weird, but now that she has a superweapon, I kinda want her to go full supervillain. Someone above asked about what her style of rule would be, and I think she would take a page from the Mongols- no walls.

The "rational" thing to do would be to take total war to Westeros: fly from castle to castle almost as fast as a crow, and raize them to the ground before her enemies can organize. Kill all enemies and potential enemies. And after that, people can live in peace, as long as they don't build walls.

I mean she can't possibly succeed, but she has a dragon, it would be a shame not to use it.
posted by happyroach at 9:51 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


... but we’re not going to get any of that, because she’ll get stabbed to death by some stark or another, thereby neatly preventing us from interpreting Daenerys as anything but a crazy villain.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:17 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


For further speculation fodder people should check HBO’s site/app for the trailer for the forthcoming “making of” documentary. It shows some brief shots of character wraps and whatnot that while not explicitly spoilers present some contexts for what kind of ending a certain character might have.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:24 PM on May 15


People who feel strongly about a creative work can sometimes go beyond being entertained, to feeling like they can claim some kind of ownership over that work. It's an odd thing, for sure. I don't know what the answer is to it, but it seems like part of the human condition.

Not ownership over the work, but ownership of the time they invested in the work. I think the sense of the room is that people aren't happy they invested so much -- for so little... See also: BSG...

As a counter-example, I really LIKED Gotham. From the beginning to the end. And they ended it right where they had to. I don't feel chumped that I spent 5 seasons of 24 episodes, like I'm feeling from these 8 seasons of 10 episodes.

An 80 hour investment isn't trivial.
posted by mikelieman at 1:14 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Lots of predictions of who will kill Daenerys and who will end up on the throne. I just don't see how a plot that involves killing Daenerys could be a part of any sort of satisfying ending to our time in this world. I am probably broadly alone in this, but what I'd find satisfying (narratively) would be Daenerys having transformed Westeros from a feudal monarchy to a fascist dictatorship, with all the houses destroyed. I think a Childhood of a Leader style ending would be, well, fantastic.
posted by chill at 1:42 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I just jumped back from Earth-2 and, boy, guys you should see the massive fight going on at SuperFilter over Martin R. R. George's 'Song of Snow and Sun' series based on an article entitled "Idealised Equality in Westerlands: Why Do We Whitewash The Historical Treatment of Women in Fantasy?".


GRRM portraying rape as sexy and women in power as crazy has nothing to do with the historical oppression of women, save that his attitudes stem from the misogyny that causes women to be oppressed in the first place. If Dany were portrayed to be just in her response, nobody would be arguing that Dany should be a terrible ruler because "that's how women are.
posted by schroedinger at 4:23 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


I don’t see how Dany dying would resolve the regional and family/blood tensions that powered the plot. Maybe it will indeed be Sopranos style in that there will be no end to the search for power (I guess that’s reality).

Hobbes in Leviathan:
“During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.

To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.

No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
That’s this world in many ways, although (fitting for a book) there are arts and letters. (I’ve loved the emphasis on music in the books and show.)

I just can’t stand the pessimism of it for an “escapist” work—that’s the subversion, I guess!
posted by sallybrown at 5:48 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Varys was trying to poison Dany.

Nah, I think they were trying to be more, um, subtle/"character insight" (for GoT values of same) about that - Varys was looking for the inside scoop on Dany's state of mind, since she wasn't talking to him (or anyone), and when he finds out that she's still so overcome with grief and rage over Missandei's death that she's not even eating, that's the tipping point where he decides that he doesn't trust her to be a good ruler and decides to betray her.

(I also think that by the time we see the soldiers come for him a bunch of the notes about JS's true heritage have already gone out, which will have repercussions, and him burning the note he was writing at the time was a basic almost instinctive attempt at self-preservation - however slim the chance may have been, if there's no actual physical evidence that he's been spreading seditious information, he might have been able to deny the whole thing and wind up in prison or banished rather than dead. However farfetched that hope is, someone like Varys is gonna take that chance because what have you got to lose?)
posted by soundguy99 at 6:05 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


In thinking about how an audience’s investment of time in a show might dispose them to want certain things for a character - Mad Men handled this much more skillfully than GoT. Don reverted back to his worst self repeatedly, and yet the show was able to sustain some kind of hope that he would eventually choose better, without an audience reaction of “WTF” when he yet again chose poorly. Never once did I feel the show lost meaning or that the plot twists were cheaply done at the expense of the character. They managed to convey that Don was trash (who might at some point change?! But never does?!) while shaping a show and world with deep meaning.
posted by sallybrown at 6:08 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]




So let's say Cersei were to have taken Tyrion's advice to step down peacefully. Where would she go? What would she do?

She gets offered a lifetime of exile on the other side of the narrow sea (where her son, of course, grows up just like Dany believing he is destined to reconquer the seven kingdoms and restore his family as rightful rulers).

Of course, in truth, Dany reneges on this promise and has her burned alive outside the Red Keep.


Just remembered this comment I made in the Episode 4 thread.
posted by 256 at 7:07 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


The God of Light is a jealous god, and would have no pyromaniacs worshipped above him.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:07 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


More to the point: Why is everyone so sure Dany has to die in the end? Isn't it pretty likely that the whole point of the series (books and show) is that the wheel cannot be broken? She always meant to take the throne, not to abolish it.

I'm not 100% down with "Dany is now supposed to be the villain" or "Dany wouldn't do this because she is a pure agent of justice and righteous fury." Further, I think it is silly that most people seem to assume that the show will end with the villain (first Cersei, now Dany) getting their comeuppance from a true hero, mirroring the fight against the Night King. The living live, but that doesn't make them good.

I'm not predicting that Dany lives, but maybe she does, or maybe it is not a "good guy" who does her in and takes the throne. Maybe I am hoping for too much from the show, which has certainly become very clumsy...
posted by nequalsone at 7:09 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


We’re still waiting to find out whether the religion/mythology/prophecy of the show will pay off in the end with some larger meaning (and if so, whose god is right). And I guess whether the choice to have it pay off or not is bungling by the show creators or intentional by GRRM.
posted by sallybrown at 7:15 AM on May 16


Isn't it pretty likely that the whole point of the series (books and show) is that the wheel cannot be broken?

The last book in the series will be called A Dream of Spring, so, presumably, things will be a little better by the end.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:16 AM on May 16


Considering how much they've been doing to show the obvious parallels between what happens now with what happened before, especially the first season, I'm pretty confident Dany is going to get got.
posted by asteria at 7:16 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Alex Siquig at The Ringer: What Was Bran Doing While King’s Landing Burned to the Ground?
Noon
Podrick Payne walks by and smiles at Bran while he is sitting next to a tiny fire in an abandoned room. This actually does make Bran feel a little bit like a human being again. Podrick’s smile is pure light in an ugly world. Bran considers telling Podrick that Dany is going to go full bonkers and murder thousands and thousands of innocent people in a few hours, but he just doesn’t want to bum him out.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:27 AM on May 16 [15 favorites]


The last book in the series will be called A Dream of Spring, so, presumably, things will be a little better by the end.

I haven't read any of the books, but the previous title for the last book was A Time for Wolves, which is a bit more menacing. A Dream of Spring suggests hope, so maybe enough better to be hopeful?

I just think it would be strange for the show to have a "they lived happily ever after" ending versus a "we succeeded but did we really? and at what cost?" ending.

Peace in the Valley

I am tired and weary but I must toil on
Till the Lord come to call me away
Where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the light
And the night is fair as the day

There'll be peace in the valley for me some day
There'll be peace in the valley for me
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be
There'll be peace in the valley for me

There the flow'rs will be blooming, the grass will be green
And the skies will be clear and serene
The sun ever shines, giving one endless beam
And no clouds there will ever be seen

There the bear will be gentle, the wolf will be tame
And the lion will lay down by the lamb
The host from the wild will be led by a Child
I'll be changed from the creature I am

No headaches or heartaches or misunderstands
No confusion or trouble won't be
No frowns to defile, just a big endless smile
There'll be peace and contentment for me

posted by nequalsone at 7:47 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Euron’s cocktail is the bartender picking up the bar mat and pouring it into a shot glass

but first licks his finger and wipes the glass clean.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:50 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


If the writers made Varys a poisoner, I would join the hate-watchers in hate-watching the last minutes of the last episode. There is absolutely nothing in the narrative past, either in the show or in the books, that suggests he poisons kings or queens.

Martha worked in the kitchen, she had a high risk task to do & Dany not eating was getting in its way. What else could it be?
posted by scalefree at 7:59 AM on May 16 [10 favorites]


A Dream of Spring suggests hope, so maybe enough better to be hopeful?

I just think it would be strange for the show to have a "they lived happily ever after" ending versus a "we succeeded but did we really? and at what cost?" ending.


The thing about dreams is that (poetically speaking, anyway) you usually don't dream of something that you already have.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:01 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I thought Martha was just informing him. She was the kitchen source who saw what Dany was or wasn’t eating. Did we see Varys ever using little birds to actually carry out tasks as serious as poisoning the way Qyburn used kids?
posted by sallybrown at 8:02 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


If the writers made Varys a poisoner

This would not even be the first time Varys tried to poison Daenarys.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:04 AM on May 16 [19 favorites]


If there's anything GRRM has done right, it's that prophecies are mostly nonsense.

Actually I think he’s done something far more interesting: prophecies are sometimes true, and sometimes not. The one that Cersei received was true - as was, it seems, the one about ash falling on the throne in the Red Keep. But what if the prophecy that Rhaegar received was just wrong? Or he interpreted it badly, or in the way that most allowed him to live with the woman he loved, Lyanna? I think it would be far more interesting if all of that was for nothing.
posted by corb at 8:17 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


How is the Varys poison thing even a question? Of course he was trying to poison her. "We'll try again at dinner". It was pretty explicit.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:27 AM on May 16 [16 favorites]


A Dream of Spring suggests hope, so maybe enough better to be hopeful?
...
The thing about dreams is that (poetically speaking, anyway) you usually don't dream of something that you already have.


And spring signifies melting Snow, something we haven't yet had but can still dream about.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:27 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Martha [knocks]
Varys "Come in"
Martha [enters]
Varys "Well?"
Martha [shakes head]
Varys "Nothing?"
Martha "She wouldn't eat."
Varys "{Well|We'll} try again at supper."
Martha "I think they're watching me."
Varys "Who?"
Martha "Her soldiers."
Varys "Of course they are. That's their job."
Varys "What have I told you, Martha?"
Martha "The greater the risk, the greater the reward."
Varys "Go on. They'll be missing you in the kitchen."
Martha [nods, leaves]

And scene.
posted by scalefree at 8:39 AM on May 16 [16 favorites]


I feel like under Martinist narrative conventions, dreams are obligatorily dashed.

And spring signifies melting Snow

Dracarys?
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:51 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I always thought that the end would be a clash between fire (Dany) and ice (the Night King). Both would be weakened enough to postpone the day of true reckoning but neither destroyed. So the cycle of seasons, good and bad, life and death continues, and the petty "game" of thrones continues, crushing the small folk under the wheel. Instead, it seems the Night King (ice) has been put to rest by a ninja (huh?) and winter averted, allowing fire (Dany) to reign unchecked, perhaps bringing on a new existential threat (permanent global warming).

I was more disappointed that Dany was not the protagonist of the final battle with the Night King than that she sacked King's Landing. If Dany (or maybe Jon, as a Targaryen) defeated the Night King and then was betrayed by Varys or Tyrion or Arya in the battle for the throne, that would have worked for me. But to have Arya kill the Night King, Dany kill Cersei, and then Arya or Jon kill Dany just seems like making hash of the show's themes. (Of course, I hear the showrunners don't think the story has themes, which, if correct, explains a lot.)

Or maybe we are being tricked into thinking of Jon as a Targaryen because the patriarchal rules of succession see him that way, when he is no more a Targaryen than he is a Stark/Snow. Obviously he still has an important role to play despite having no independent purpose as a character for a while. I hope it is more than killing Dany and becoming King of the Seven Kingdoms. Perhaps, with the help and machinations of the Three-Eyed Raven, Aegon Targaryen will become the New Ice King (fire betraying its essential nature and destiny) acting as a new agent of the Children of the Forest, not only checking Dany's ambitions but also acting as a check on humanity as a whole, as the Night King did before he became too powerful or obsessed with wiping out humanity completely. (Bonus: He can retire north of the wall to be with his people and with his dog.)
posted by nequalsone at 10:17 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Did we see Varys ever using little birds to actually carry out tasks as serious as poisoning the way Qyburn used kids

Well, there was Kevan Lannister... was that books-only?
posted by torticat at 10:45 AM on May 16


If Dany wants to rule, I agree she should torch all of the strongholds in Westeros. But the absolute first thing it makes sense to torch would be the Citadel.
posted by maxwelton at 11:16 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Dany could do worse than sending for Yara Greyjoy to be her hand, if she's going to have Tyrion eaten, which she pretty much has to at this point. Yara would completely understand why KL had to be torched and would also understand the need to rule with an iron fist (and how to accomplish that).

I kind of like the idea of the final scene of the show being Bronn riding towards his new prize of Highgarden, only to watch Drogon melt it down to the bedrock...
posted by maxwelton at 11:23 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


Well, there was Kevan Lannister... was that books-only?

It was. In the television series, Kevan meets his end in the Great Sept, at the hands of his niece Cersei.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:25 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Bronn doesn't get anything he doesn't already have. All the Lannisters are dead (or will be soon).
posted by booooooze at 11:27 AM on May 16


Bronn doesn't get anything he doesn't already have.

I was thinking of it for a way to bring a bit of sunlight to Dany's early days as ruler. Bronn presses his claim to her, she says "absolutely, Highgarden is yours" and when he leaves the throne room:

"Yara, how many days to Highgarden, by horse?"

"Five, your grace."

"And by dragon, one?"

"That would not be a reach, your grace."

And then they both just about die laughing.

And Dany starts thinking about how Yara said she'd be up for anything when marriage was mentioned during the talks with Theon in Mereen, and just how hot Yara looks in her leathers, and please support my fanfic on Patreon.
posted by maxwelton at 12:08 PM on May 16 [18 favorites]


This would not even be the first time Varys tried to poison Daenarys.

Not necessarily wrong, but some possible counterpoints:

It was Robert Baratheon's council who tried to kill her, at the king's behest, so—with the obvious exception of Ned Stark—it could have been any of the council who hired the wine merchant.

We know Varys sent a letter to Jorah warning about assassination attempts against pre-queen Daenarys, knowing that Varys knew that Jorah was protecting her. Varys could have decided not to send that warning.

We also know that Varys and Illyrio met underneath KL, so they were likely communicating before then. If Varys wanted to carry out Baratheon's order, it would have been reasonable to expect him to have conspired with Illyrio to that end, when it would have been much easier to get to her.

Varys is a spymaster who trades in and operates on the basis of information. "We'll try again at supper" could mean poisoning. It could also mean eavesdropping when there are opportunities to do so, such as when the queen dines, when it would not be suspicious to have a servant around.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:18 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Bronn shows up in KL after the carnage looking to see if Cersei made it, sees Daenerys about to execute Tyrion, shoots her with the bigass crossbow? Makes as much sense as any other ending at this point
posted by aiglet at 12:34 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


Varys is a spymaster who trades in and operates on the basis of information. "We'll try again at supper" could mean poisoning. It could also mean eavesdropping when there are opportunities to do so, such as when the queen dines, when it would not be suspicious to have a servant around.

Varys is a spymaster who trades in and operates on the basis of information. Why would they waste 15 seconds of the show to demonstrate that Varys is spying? If they merely wanted to demonstrate that he was spying on her, it would be make sense to have him interact with a servant who cleans her room or helps dress her so he can find out if she is meeting separately with her other advisers (like the meeting in which Tyrion gave him up) to plan something divergent from her small council or military strategy meetings. Is she going to make an offhand comment to the kitchen staff that is important to Varys? It also doesn't fit particularly well with the specific words of the exchange either. The point of the scene is to show that Varys is committing treason by conspiring against Dany to prevent her from taking the throne. If he is already all in on treason, poisoning her makes sense and it's redundant to show he is spying.

People have been asking about the significance of his rings. I think it is just showing that he is resigned to his fate. He is disposing of his worldly possessions. If they do have any significance in themselves, he also must know that they won't survive the most likely manner of his execution.
posted by nequalsone at 1:03 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


You know, if Dany is an agent of the Lord of Light, the Night King was the one force impervious to her powers, and therefore the only real threat to Light's plan. The whole undead arc makes sense if you view it as Light manipulating mortals to eliminate said King.

I've changed my mind, again: the best ending is a shot of Drogon, deep beneath whatever castle Dany decides to rule from, sleeping. The dragon shifts, and we can see they are curled around a clutch of eggs. We switch to a shot of Dany standing on a balcony in the same castle, overlooking her realm, facing into the sun. The camera is behind her; all we see is a silhouette. As she turns, her profile reveals she's pregnant, and scene.

Also, if ever a ruler needed a lair inside a volcano, it's Dany.
posted by maxwelton at 1:15 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I've changed my mind, again: the best ending is a shot of Drogon, deep beneath whatever castle Dany decides to rule from, sleeping. The dragon shifts, and we can see they are curled around a clutch of eggs. We switch to a shot of Dany standing on a balcony in the same castle, overlooking her realm, facing into the sun. The camera is behind her; all we see is a silhouette. As she turns, her profile reveals she's pregnant, and scene.

The best ending is a shot of Drogon, deep beneath Winterfell from which Sansa rules the North and the Seven Kingdoms, sleeping. The dragon shifts, and we can see they are curled around a clutch of eggs. We switch to a shot of Jon, standing before Dany's crypt, reaching up to touch the face of her effigy. The camera is behind him; all we see is a silhouette. As he turns, his profile reveals he's pregnant, and scene.
posted by The Tensor at 1:55 PM on May 16 [18 favorites]


The best ending is Sansa returning from the Winterfell crypts, where she just visited the tomb of her brother Jon who has at last been released from the life-in-death grip of the Red God, and seating herself on the Winter Throne which was constructed from Drogon's skull.

Fuck magic, fuck dragons, fuck the gods and their prophecies.

Dorne can rule everything south of Moat Cailin.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:00 PM on May 16 [12 favorites]


Bran wants to check on his sister so he wargs into a Flea Bottom commoner (played by Christopher Lloyd) who meets Arya on the road and says “Thrones? Where we’re going we don’t need ... thrones.”
posted by komara at 2:09 PM on May 16 [8 favorites]


> Did we see Varys ever using little birds to actually carry out tasks as serious as poisoning the way Qyburn used kids

Well, there was Kevan Lannister... was that books-only?


Yep, books-only. And, Kevan Lannister was not poisoned, nor in any way killed by a little bird.
posted by hanov3r at 2:11 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Why would they waste 15 seconds of the show to demonstrate that Varys is spying?

Have you seen this show?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:52 PM on May 16 [16 favorites]


I think Bronn may have a role in the end, if only because D&D seem like they’re all up for shameless pandering to fan favorites to get some good reviews out of the last episode.
posted by corb at 3:48 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


welp

just watched that interesting episode of mr rogers neighborhood

i particularly liked the touching scenes
the two brothers playing
and the little girl and her horse
and the nice lady and her flying pet
posted by lalochezia at 5:14 PM on May 16 [12 favorites]


HEY after the finale next week we should have a spoiler-filled books thread to yell about all the book things that should have happened. not a separate book spoilers episode/show thread but a full series thread of book nonsense. that is my demand.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:51 PM on May 16 [24 favorites]


Esquire has an article on the theory that Varys was trying to poison Daenerys. They tie it back to something from season 1, where Varys was mentioned for something similar.

A co-worker thought that the stones in the rings Varys took off might be poison like the one Olenna Tyrell used.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:03 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Normally I try to read all the comments here before commenting, but this is absurd so I'm getting this in before Sunday

My predictions, for what they're worth:

We won't see any face changing. Everybody keeps speculating, but I think the show's done with that.
Dany's going to die. I would say by Jon's hand, but they're telegraphing Arya pretty hard.
Jon will stick to his guns and not take the throne. Resulting crisis dissolves the seven kingdoms. Sansa's queen in the North, Jon fucks off north of the wall to chill with Tormund and be sad. Gendry improbably ends up king of several of the middle kingdoms, for lack of any better heir.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:43 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]


“Jon fucks off to the north”

I think the Arya kills Dany, Iron Throne dissolves scenario is likely, but Jon also dies. He has to! He also has to do *something* else noteworthy. The motherfucker CAME BACK TO LIFE and if he did that just to mope a lot, fuck his hot aunt, and yell at a zombie dragon, they should’ve kept him dead.
posted by dis_integration at 3:58 PM on May 17 [14 favorites]


I strongly predict we won't see Arya again until the end, after everyone who's gonna die is dead -- I think she took Sandor's advice and left the path of revenge.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:07 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Arya killing Dany wouldn't need to be for revenge -- more along the lines of taking out an existential threat.
posted by philip-random at 6:56 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


He also has to do *something* else noteworthy.

He did though. Dany would not have brought her dragons and armies north if not for Jon, nor would they have all that dragonglass. Lord of Light has probably been done with him since the Battle of Winterfell though.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:50 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


We never see Dany in close up after Drogon sees his shadow on the rooftops of King’s Landing below and turns from the Red Keep to start strafing the townspeople. The last shots we see before that are her glowing intently at the Keep, lip quivering with anger, and Drogon flying straight for it.

But we have seen that shadow on those rooftops from that POV before – in Bran’s vision in season 4, when he touched the weirwood tree north of the Wall.

So for half an hour of screen time, while we’re supposed to be watching Dany earn her fate by slaughtering innocents in a murderous vengeful rage, they never show us that emotion on her face.

What if it’s not there? What if she’s as aghast as we and Jon and Tyrion and Arya are – and Bran’s the one steering Drogon?

What if the showrunners were thinking through this as closely as we are? LOL.
posted by nicwolff at 12:31 AM on May 18 [6 favorites]


He was also told that he would never walk again but would fly, so I have always assumed those visions were from his own first person perspective. And the close of the season opening “previously on” was Bran warging followed by a dragon’s eye which at the time I assume to be foreshadowing something.
I mean, I don’t see how such a twist would be at all satisfying or make much sense, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
posted by chill at 4:15 AM on May 18


And the close of the season opening “previously on” was Bran warging followed by a dragon’s eye which at the time I assume to be foreshadowing something.

Ooh.

What if it's Bran who kills Dany, by warging into her dragon and toasting her?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


What if it's Bran who kills Dany, by warging into her dragon and toasting her?

Dany is immune to fire, but the huge amount put out by Drogon, and its explosive force might be able to kill her. Not necessarily a satisfying ending, but if they're going to kill Dany that's probably the best way.

Though wargs usually have to be in visual sight of what they're warging into right? That may or may not matter at this point, lol
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:42 AM on May 18


Is Danny related to the Night King, given their shared invulnerability to fire?
posted by biffa at 4:46 AM on May 18


The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones
"It's not just bad storytelling—it’s because the storytelling style changed from sociological to psychological"
By Zeynep Tufekci
Even if the new season had managed to minimize plot holes and avoid clunky coincidences and a clumsy Arya ex machina as a storytelling device, they couldn’t persist in the narrative lane of the past seasons. For Benioff and Weiss, trying to continue what Game of Thrones had set out to do, tell a compelling sociological story, would be like trying to eat melting ice cream with a fork. Hollywood mostly knows how to tell psychological, individualized stories. They do not have the right tools for sociological stories, nor do they even seem to understand the job.
posted by Nelson at 5:20 AM on May 18 [9 favorites]


The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones

This is very good. The shift to an individual-focused story is magnified because of how omitting “extraneous” characters, plots, and background noise from the books since the very beginning of the show has snowballed. They needed to cut out a bunch of stuff to cram the books into a tv show, but the way the books are woven together from characters all over the map (geographically, status-wise, etc) means that focusing on the “important” stuff as the show did shifts what the point of the story feels like (about a cast of characters rather than about a group of societies). That’s not to say the show runners made an obvious error—it seems like GRRM was helping them determine what they could cut. But if the tv show is driven by individual character stories while the books are more a “slice of life,” the disappointment when one of the show’s driving characters ends up differently than you picture is magnified. Whereas in the books it might feel less like the whole point being cast aside, because it’s an individual’s story reflective of the context he’s caught up in.
posted by sallybrown at 6:44 AM on May 18 [6 favorites]


including mother Nora and her (unnamed?) child

After watching the early scenes over again (for seeing Varys get everything right, RIP) I'm pretty sure the little girl Arya spends so much time failing to save is the little bird Varys used to try to poison Danaerys. Her hair looks the same, anyway.

(Varys took the rings off because they're metal and he knew he was about to get burned alive.)
posted by mediareport at 7:25 AM on May 18


I'm pretty sure the little girl Arya spends so much time failing to save is the little bird Varys used to try to poison Danaerys.

It's a shame she wasn't as quick on her feet in King's Landing as she was getting there.
posted by biffa at 7:52 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Oh woops. :)
posted by mediareport at 7:54 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


I stand firm on the rings thing, though.
posted by mediareport at 7:58 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


I assumed Varys took the rings off as gifts to his little birds.
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:59 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


What if it’s not there?
It was always there. Here's what she told to the Qarth's Thirteen in S2E04: When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who wronged me! We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground! Turn us away and we will burn you first. She was a powerless teenager begging for shelter, her kitten-sized dragons could barely burp (they'd have their first human kill at the end of the season), and there she was, threatening a bunch of arrogant dicks from "The greatest city that ever was or will be" with fire and fury. Critics noted that the episode was exceptionally violent, but nobody noticed that line. Later, in S2E08, Varys tells Tyrion that Danaerys is alive, to which Tyrion responds dismissively that "A girl a the edge of the world is the least of our problems". Varys then says: "She has three dragons. But even if what they say is true, it'll be years before they are fully grown, and then there will be nowhere to hide."

Something that could be (or not!) an indication of what's to happen: during her dream visit in the House of the Undying (S2E10), she enters the hollowed-out, burned room of the Iron Throne, which is basically how it should look now, lays down her torch, and climbs the steps to the Throne. There's a close up of her hand that almost touches it, but she lets it go, litterally renouncing the Throne, and she finds herself in Drogo's tent with her son, a warm, loving scene where she says "Maybe I am dead and I just don't know it yet".
posted by elgilito at 8:44 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


In 2011, when this show started and I’d already been obsessed with the books for about 10 years, I had a really good, solid ability to know and yet not care that the vast majority of nerd content creators— your Joss Whedons, Steve Moffats, anyone affiliated with a major comics corporation— had nothing but contempt for me and people like me, hated us, were laughing or celebrating or quietly agreed when legislation was passed to fuck up our lives, would probably be predatory if encountered in real life. Somehow, in 2019, even though I haven’t actually watched this stupid show in about 5 or 6 years, I’ve lost my ability to not care. Something about this “black people are looters and rioters, women are unelectable because they’ll go crazy, mediocre white men have to protect the world from abused child brides who want to end slavery because idealists are just virtue-signaling narcissists” is just... really rough. Watching Daenerys’ character get this kind of misogynistic vilification the week of nationwide abortion bans hurt. Watching Tyrion making disgusting jokes to Jaime about whether or not Brienne’s genitals had intersex traits the week Caster Semenya recieved an IAAF ban for being an intersex woman hurt. “It’s realistic!” Yeah, no fucking shit. It’s just... it’s really a lot.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:38 AM on May 18 [16 favorites]


Btw, Reclusive Novelist, I too am a dragon tankie and think Grey Worm was right, and your posts in this thread have been a ray of light in this shitshow, and I think the problem with this episode and the show in general is that D&D would not agree that Mookie was right to throw the trash can. Sallybrown, I’ve been thinking about your comments about the understanding of the story all day and I think posting a reply here would break the “show only” rules, but if you want a discussion about the themes of people breaking generational curses etc that you picked up on in the early seasons that were based more closely on the books, where that is in fact a major if not THE major theme of the entire work that the showrunners dgaf about in favor of ~~PLOT TWISTS~~ and people being horrible to each other, memail me.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:19 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


He also has to do *something* else noteworthy.

He did though. Dany would not have brought her dragons and armies north if not for Jon, nor would they have all that dragonglass. Lord of Light has probably been done with him since the Battle of Winterfell though.


I was anticipating this rebuff and it's true that Jon played this role in the last season, of convincing Daenerys to go north and fight the army of the dead. But imagine this alternative scenario: Jon dies and is really dead (olly becomes emperor of the wall, and is killed when the Night King conquers it). *Sansa* gets Brienne's help to escape and calls for the Knights of the Vale, and they go and retake Winterfell. She's now Warden of the North, and she goes to Dragonstone to beseech the help of the dragon queen. She relies on her relationship with Tyrion, etc., and this is how they get the dragonglass and the dragons and so on and so on. Anyway, I guess fanfic for this show is an endless project.

I hope Dany burns them all and is empress of the ashes. (Dragon tankies unite)
posted by dis_integration at 12:00 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Anyway, I guess fanfic for this show is an endless project.

I'd love to see an anthology of stories officially released that go down some of the what-if paths. Especially ones that the Official Story wouldn't really consider.
posted by DebetEsse at 12:06 PM on May 18


Esquire has an article on the theory that Varys was trying to poison Daenerys. They tie it back to something from season 1, where Varys was mentioned for something similar

There's nothing theoretical about it, people just seem to have forgotten (reasonably enough) that the show is capable of being understated.
posted by atoxyl at 1:02 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Looks like our friend Nora survived the battle of Kings Landing only to wind up in Chernobyl! (Link to Reddit Freefolk, where there are free roaming spoilers with no warnings required, FYI.)
posted by sallybrown at 2:17 PM on May 18


Also I’m sorry but, with all due respect for civilians in wartime, the assholes who want to make a show about the Confederacy winning WOULD feel the need to point out that the city Dany and her black and brown army razed was NOT like Hiroshima/Nagasaki, but, specifically, based on a Nazi city full of some very fine people, wouldn’t they? 2019, friends. We’re deep in hell in 2019.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:02 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I assumed Varys took the rings off as gifts to his little birds.

What? This is conspiracy-izing on a par with "Jamie's gonna crawl from the Red Keep wreckage into a better life" or "Bran was warging into Drogon all along" or "Bronn's gonna have a happy ending in his new castle" territory. There's no way Varys ever thought the soldiers coming to kill him would somehow give those rings to his little birds.

(Also, Yara is doing a fab job as the stuffy sister of the 19th century transmasculine lesbian lead on "Gentleman Jack," which so far is a wonderfully written HBO series. In case, you know, a wonderfully written HBO series is on your summertime Christmas list.)
posted by mediareport at 8:20 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


I interpreted Varys taking off his rings as the same gesture Gus Fring made at his own end, adjusting his tie, going out correct. Complete.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:53 PM on May 18 [8 favorites]


I just figured that after the soldiers hauled him off, the little birds would come in to clean out the room, and find them... I dunno.
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:45 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


if you want a discussion about the themes of people breaking generational curses etc that you picked up on in the early seasons that were based more closely on the books, where that is in fact a major if not THE major theme of the entire work that the showrunners dgaf about

There’s been an all-season books included thread for thoughts - I kind of hope someone makes a books thread for the finale for all of our screaming though.
posted by corb at 12:50 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


All this bitterness is very haunting, it sounds so much like the bitterness of GRRM fans in 2006, realizing that there was no way the books would be finished.

Hey! I resemble that remark.

I do think you're spot on. One reason I think I'm much happier with what we are getting than some people is that I expected to get nothing at all. I'm so happy that I'm getting an ending! And if the last season is a B (or even a B-) as most reviewers have it, rather than the A of the first 4 seasons... well, that's several grades better than the F- that GRRM is currently rocking.

As I said last thread; if GRRM could have written a better ending to ASoIaF he would have written a better ending to ASoIaF.
posted by Justinian at 2:40 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Also, I just want to tell you good luck tomorrow. We're all counting on you.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


I checked with the registrar and according to them he actually has an Incomplete for the course
posted by cortex at 8:39 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Do we have any new Truthers for this episode?

Arya definitely shouldn’t have any eyebrows or eyelashes left at this point. #singedtruther

[Varys] burning the note he was writing at the time was a basic almost instinctive attempt at self-preservation

I wonder about that burned note. He knows he’s been found out so what’s the point of self preservation? I’m thinking he has burned it strategically so that what remains to be discovered is something that will piss off someone...Dany or Jon or Tyrion maybe. My theory is that Varys left something as one last fuck you to someone.
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:38 AM on May 19


I think the Varys thing will definitely have implications in the final episode. Many of the seasons have had some sort of fairly banal or seemingly trivial scene in episode 6-8 turn out to pay off with wider significance in episode 9 or 10.
posted by biffa at 9:46 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Well, in fairness, an incomplete changes to an F after.....ten years

Cross posted for your enjoyment, A Prince Who Wasn't Promised.
posted by eustatic at 10:01 AM on May 19


I wonder about that burned note. He knows he’s been found out so what’s the point of self preservation?

The idea with burning notes isn't to protect the identity of sender, who's been found out, but that of the would-be recipient so they don't suffer the same fate.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:55 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


So since there’s no more fun in speculating about the plot, I’m gonna speculate a bit about the reception this ending is going to receive - I think it‘s going to be bit like Lost, in the sense that alle the fans who were in it for the riddles will be super pissed. We already heard some of their outrage when the Night King went out like your garden-variety video game end boss and all emotional investment in ASOIAF lore turned out to be completely irrelevant. (For what it’s worth, I also found that turn of events completely underwhelming, but more for thematic reasons - the Night King was supposed to be global warming, damn it! I can’t get over the the fact that Cersei was essentially vindicated in her blithe dismissal of the threat. I’m also not thrilled that Melisandre was essentially vindicated as well - sure there were times when she misread her God’s will, but the ways of the divine, they tend to be mysterious - by the end she has no reason to doubt her faith, the existence of Rhollor, or his best intentions for mankind and the fact that she was right to follow him and burn tons of people in his name. I actually kinda like Mel as a character, but that’s some bullshit, if you ask me. Still if it had to go down like this, I’m glad that at least the kill went to Arya).

But it’s also going to be a bit like How I Met Your Mother, where those parts where the showrunners decided to pay off forshadowing and go through with the twists set out in the original outline, will be reviled, because the story hasn’t developed into something where it really makes sense emotionally (my Stannis burning Shireen issue). I’m gonna be in that camp for now.

And then we’ll have the Sopranos reaction - people who will passionately defend the ending, precisely because it pisses of so many others. Who would have thought that GOT could still pull off a troll like that? After Ned Stark, after the Red Wedding - how would the show get people to fall for that trick again? There has to be some craft involved, no? (Jury’s out on that one - like, not gonna lie, I evidently didn’t learn my lesson from the Red Wedding, but I’m not sure that explains the shock effect for the wider audience - I think those things about the ending that I will hate most will probably go down quite smoothly with large segments of the fandom who will be up in arms for completely different reasons. They wouldn’t have blinked if the Night King had killed everyone in the Battle of Winterfell, but they’re still going to hate this - bleakness won’t be the problem, exactly. I think the show will achieve this effect by pulling both a Lost and HIMYM simultaneously, not paying up enough forshadowing for one sort of fan and paying some of it off in a too perfunctory, forced manner for the other).

There are going to be a lot of people who will say, it’s GOT, what did you expect? And honestly, it’s hard to argue with that. All of the people who only had the most tangential brush with this narrative, getting the gist via cultural osmosis, memes, water cooler talk, or wisely bailing out on it after a couple of episodes, will probably find the ending to be pretty much what they have come to expect by now. To them, dissatisfied fans must seem like Charly Brown, forever hoping that this time, Lucy will actually let him kick that football. So how exactly did that show (or rather the books, I’d argue) turn me into such a Charly Brown? I still think it's an astonishing feat of storytelling and I would still read the books should they ever be written, assuming the ending I'll hate so much on the show will be roughly the same. But yeah, D&D are hacks and all I'm hoping to get from them now is one last nice visual effect.
posted by sohalt at 1:19 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


This is so minor a detail as to be inconsequential at this stage of the game (in terms of when the next episode airs, how far down the thread this is, and general actual story importance), but: I don’t think the girl Arya couldn’t save was Varys’s little bird Martha—Martha was serving at Dragonstone and would presumably have been safe from Dany’s KL massacre.

I suppose that lends credence to the fan theory that Varys’s rings could have held poison, and Dany could still go out that way? That would certainly subvert our Arya-or-Jon expectations.

Though personally I just took the scene where he removed them as a neat little character detail of a man getting ready for his work to end, the same way you’d take off your jewelry before bed at night. And obviously this show would never go that route rather than have one of the anointed Stark protagonists be Dany’s downfall; it’s much too unexpected and interesting (see: miles of discussion above re spectacle over substance).
posted by alleycat01 at 1:26 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


But it’s also going to be a bit like How I Met Your Mother

This is a great comparison, except it’s HIMYM x 10000 given the larger audience size and % of the audience that’s really deeply invested in the show. The HIMYM ending was blindingly obvious but at the same time “WTF?! REALLY?! No! Really...? What?” in the way that I expect this to be. I could have predicted it and yet it disgusted me at the same time because it felt so stupid!
posted by sallybrown at 1:42 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Hollywood mostly knows how to tell psychological, individualized stories. They do not have the right tools for sociological stories, nor do they even seem to understand the job.

That column is an interesting take, Nelson. I think the author leans too hard on D&D's (inane, blinkered) commentary, though. What is actually in the show--what is in there it seems in spite of D&D's intent and interpretation of their own work--is a sociological basis for Daenerys's behavior that runs up to and all the way through season 8. So much that has already been discussed upthread: The loss of half or more (counting the dragons) of Dany's military strength; the loss of a trustworthy council of advisers; her failure to understand the politics of each of the seven kingdoms--that there might be more to getting Westerosis to "bend the knee" than simply showing up on a dragon; her bringing a revolutionary vision of government (free the underclasses and they will follow you by choice) to a culture entrenched in loyalties based on family, history, and geography*--even her lack of foreknowledge of a massive threat to the north that would delay her progress and deplete her resources--all of these are sociological factors that end in her decision, "Let it be fear." Put it all together, and the story told of the pressures on Danaerys is larger and more complex than any of the plots in the early seasons.

*well, actually she brings a revolutionary politics combined with a belief in an inherited right to power, but that's a whole other thing

Tufekci says:
In sociological storytelling, the characters have personal stories and agency, of course, but those are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The incentives for characters’ behavior come noticeably from these external forces, too, and even strongly influence their inner life.

...I think this describes Danaerys's arc as well as it does Ned's, even if the showrunners themselves are too stupid to see it.
posted by torticat at 2:09 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Also... what if Danaerys is pregnant? And Jon executes her and the unborn child in a reverse parallel to the outcome with Jaime and Cersei?
posted by torticat at 2:27 PM on May 19


I think the author leans too hard on D&D's (inane, blinkered) commentary, though.

The greatest decision I ever made with the TV show was to never once watch a single thing D&D say about it.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


Even though I have zero hopes or expectations I’m still kinda amazed that there’s finally going to be some kind of officially-sanctioned conclusion to literally years of speculation on my part in about 45 minutes. (!!!)
posted by alleycat01 at 5:14 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


More to the point: Why is everyone so sure Dany has to die in the end? Isn't it pretty likely that the whole point of the series (books and show) is that the wheel cannot be broken? She always meant to take the throne, not to abolish it.

Fair comment, would definitely be interested in an ending like this. Dany as a morally ambiguous victor makes a lot of sense. (That implies I guess that she has to kill Jon and Tyrion, which would certainly be an interesting ending...).

"Bran warged Dany (or Drogon)" gives her a way out but then how does she prove it?

Have to say, for all my criticisms, we're getting to somewhere that I certainly hadn't predicted a few seasons ago (I was going for 'the dragon has three heads, Tyrion's a secret Targ, and joins Dany and Jon in defeating the white walkers, and that's it'). So I'd call that a success.
posted by Pink Frost at 5:34 PM on May 19


So I'm rewatching this episode pre-finale.

Here's my analysis of the Greyworm scene.

The KL army throws down swords, the bells ring, Dany begins burning KL, Greyworm sees this and picks up his spear and throws it. Both sides re-engage. Jon tries to stop the his troops.

and here's the important part

Greyworm stops and turns to look at Jon telling to people to stop. Then Jon begins to fight in self defense. Greyworm goes back to fighting.

It looked to me like Greyworm was ready to kill Jon if he continued to try and stop his troops. It was when Jon stopped yelling and joined in the fray that Greyworm turned away.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:49 PM on May 19


The greatest decision I ever made with the TV show was to never once watch a single thing D&D say about it.

Same!! Well, I followed up on all their bumbling attempts to explain (or stay mum about) the horrible rape scene in the crypt in season 4 or 5. I don't think I've ever watched one of the the bullshit after-episode recaps though. Just hear snippets through the grapevine, and they are enough for me to form my entirely disgusted opinion of D&D.
posted by torticat at 6:05 PM on May 19


He was also told that he would never walk again but would fly, so I have always assumed those visions were from his own first person perspective.

Chill, I assume Bran's flying has been via his ravens.

I will be so mad if Bran wargs into a dragon. The significance of warging has been so under-explained on the show, it really would seem like a deux-ex-whatever for it to come into play in the finale. At least Arya had seasons' worth of training building up to her surprise attack.
posted by torticat at 6:24 PM on May 19


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