This review is a day late. I recognize that by posting it a day late you’ve probably read about all the takes on this episode you can possibly stomach. So if you’re still reading this one I appreciate you stopping by.
Let me start by saying I fully understand the perspective of those out there that have been disappointed by this season. You’re saying that it is rushed and you are absolutely right. The writing in the last two seasons has been a different pace than what we are used to. A pace where we spent time with characters in seemingly unimportant situations. Unfortunately what that led to was a lot of the fandom saying, “Nothing happened this episode” but Game of Thrones would always play the long game and the seemingly innocuous scene was actually very important. Now we find ourselves with the other half of the fandom saying “Too much is happening too fast.” The last two seasons have taken those little moments away from us. The pacing isn’t truly the issue for me but I wish they would have started their initial descent a tad sooner as it would have greatly alleviated the issues in the final descent.
What I personally have always loved about Game of Thrones is that while I think I might know what will happen or theorize about it, might not be what I get and I like that. If I guessed the answer and get it where is the fun in that? I like being outsmarted by the show. So I was in the camp where last night’s episode……
*wait for it*
….blew me away.
…….so if you’re still with me after THAT, let’s jump in.
The episode started with Varys and we will too. Varys has always been one of my favorite characters. This show made us untrustworthy of everyone (*glares at Roose*) and Varys always seemed untrustworthy and yet he was the most trustworthy. Ironic as he does nothing but spill tea. Varys was always the moral center of this show because he never had a side other than the realm. Whenever I think of Varys I always think of this scene from season one. Varys had a fitting end, always fighting for the good of the realm, and hoping his death was justified. I felt he was at peace knowing he did all he could even if the means weren’t always the best. He even had respect for Tyrion in the end. Tyrion hurt doing this but he too did what he had to. He didn’t save Varys’ life the way Varys saved his. Also, the way Dragon came into the frame fucked me up. A simple “dracarys” and the master of whispers was done.
Varys felt like the prologue to the epic that would follow and a tone of loss had to be set.
The Battle for King’s Landing
This battle was very one sided from the start. I loved that Dany got her revenge on the Iron Fleet, it doesn’t explain why she didn’t do that last episode and take em out then but we agree, that was messy. I realized that a major problem was the amount of Scorpions made. It was too inconsistent of a weapon. It started as a bitch to reload and then seemed to be automatic. It showed that it was a threat to the dragons but only once. I think fewer of them would have had the same effect. Watching Dany take them all out felt so good, as was her breaching the wall allowing her forces to come through. I think my favorite part of all of this that for all the build up of the Golden Company they proved to be the most useless investment money could buy. Watching them be taken out was hilariously satisfying. Having Cersei receive updates from Qyburn and things going bad to worse was the cherry on top. Ultimately the Lannister forces fell. The great force once led by Tywin, fallen so far, they pick life over house….so they thought.
The Coin Finally Lands
Master Aemon once told Jon “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.” That is exactly what Dany is: alone. In the last two episodes she has watched the two most important people to her die, she has watched the army she has taken years to build die, she has seen her efforts be ignored while Jon praised for less. In Jon she lost a lover, gained a nephew, and one who has a stronger claim to the throne. The grip on power and loyalty she became so comfortable with for most of the show now lost. When she saw the Red Keep, finally hers, without too much collateral damage it seemed that in that moment she thought of everything she did to get here, but the two most important people were not there to share it with her. The scene with Grey Worm and Tyrion was ultimately her announcing her decision. She saw mercy but only for the future. She knew those in this world don’t respect her so she’d destroy the world and make a new one where she is praised, even through fear. She never told Tyrion she would agree to stop the attack. She’s a queen why would she? We have seen this from Dany before, she doesn’t like to be told what to do but rather led to the right answer. Dany can be brutally impulsive but Missandei and Jorah were her anchors that helped keep the coin on the right side. Without them she would go on to create her future from ashes. For 8 seasons we have wondered what kind of ruler Dany would be. A just one as we saw in Essos or a mad one like her father. I think ultimately it will all depend on the finale next week and her justification but regardless of that it’s needs to be noted that Emilia Clarke has been out-acting everyone on television this year. Say what you will about the direction they took her and how they got there but don’t aim the disrespect at her.
The Attack on King’s Landing
This started when we saw that mother and her daughter who we would keep bumping into throughout the attack. The attack itself was one of the most horrifying things the show has done. Because I didn’t know Dany would actually do this the whole time I sat there stunned, confused on how I felt about it. When I realized I was as confused as the people in the city. We both felt a sense of horror. Following Arya as our guide helped as it gave us someone to root for, someone to feel for, and someone to fear for. In the end her face said it all, we had all been through something. We all felt the same thing she did and we all knew what had to be done.
The Clegane Bowl
For years we have wanted the Brothers Clegane to go at it and we finally got it. I think my favorite moment here wasn’t the fight itself but the moment before with Arya and Sandor. You know I’ve been critical of the interactions they have had this season but this more than made up for it. I loved that the Hound convinced her that revenge isn’t worth it. Arya has always brought out the Hound’s humanity but in this moment the Hound returned the favor and brought back Arya’s and in the end she, finally, said “Sandor…thank you.” The backdrop for their, the chaos around them on a staircase to nowhere fight only added to the epic nature of it. There was only one outcome and it was where it started for them: in the fire.
The real MVP of this episode wasn’t a character but a crew member: cinematographer Fabian Wagner. He captured the scope of this episode perfectly from the wide shots that set the scene to the closeups that set the tone. Everything felt epic and like a love letter to the crew of this show who have done so much for so many seasons to make this show what it is. They don’t always get the praise the cast does but they do just as much if not more to make this show great. This was their episode as much as anyone else’s.
The Fall of the Lannisters
We knew the moment Jamie left Brienne he had sealed his fate, so I’m glad we got that moment with Tyrion. They always had one of the sweetest relationships and brought out the best in each other. We knew it would be the last time. We knew as well as Jamie did that he wouldn’t be able to save Cersei, let alone himself. Cersei has spent most of this season overlooking the city as if giving it last looks. She looked at it like Dany did, only saw what she lost. She never liked King’s Landing. She never cared for anyone other than her children. When she lost them she also became lost and she made herself the center of her world: Her and Jamie. In the end she and Jamie found their way back together. I know it seems weird that Jamie spent so much of the show redeeming himself only to go back to her, and while he redeemed himself but was never vindicated, he never could be. His crimes were truly that bad. Cersei’s were always worse though. I could see the argument made that she deserved a worse death something to make her feel the pain she made so many others feel. I was expecting her pregnancy to be fake and Jamie to learn and then, as he was dying, the her out. But the more I thought about it the more I enjoyed the symbolism of her end.
The Lannisters were always consumed with their name, their house, and it’s legacy and slowly but surely, over the years, it has fallen so it was fitting that, in the end, her house quite literally fell on her, as she was at the very bottom, begging not to die.
What I also thought that they had followed Tyrion’s directions, had it not been for him they could have gotten out. It might be stretch but Tyrion did send her down that way and she was buried with the fossils of the past.
Last thing I will say on this is thank you Lena Heady. You have made one of the greatest villains in TV history and a truly unforgettable character come to life.
The Bells, in Summation
Varys stayed woke so he didn’t have to get woke. Without Missandei we see that Dany cannot do her own hair and makeup. Varys isn’t a screamer. Jon isn’t into the family thing….glad there’s someone. Dany needs to learn the word Mercy as much as Tyrion needs to learn Valyrian. Drogon learned to fly around. Hope Cersei kept the receipt on the Golden Company. Lena Heady made a million dollars an episode staring off balconies. Get you someone who loves you like Qyburn loves Cersei. The Lord of Light ain’t done with Arya. HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT THE CINEMATOGRAPHY Y’ALL! Incest never pays off. This probably wasn’t what Missandei’s last words to Dany meant.
As I said I do love thinking about and theorizing about this show. I have one more week to do that before I can never do it again and I’ll be taking every opppoutinity to do so.