Thoughts on Game of Thrones, Season 8 Episode 5

One Mo ‘Gain.

151 thoughts on “Thoughts on Game of Thrones, Season 8 Episode 5

  1. gbajithedeceiver says:

    I was sure that Jamie was going to embrace Cersei near a newly-exposed gap and beat the Cleganes to the plunge, muttering “the things I do for love.”

    Those are awfully tall towers for people who can’t use elevators.

    The Tyrion/Jamie scene was genuinely moving. If the writers liked Headey so much that they gave her an extended weepy send-off, I stagger to think how many minutes they’ll give to Tyrion’s inevitable death.

    • David White says:

      I’m laughing at the mental image of Jaime seeing a gap, saying “There! We can make it!” and the two running through the gap only to be crushed by the falling bodies of Ser Gregor and Sandor.

    • Yeah, that was a huge cop-out.

      Yes, I’m surprised how many people made it down the stairs as they were falling down.

      One thing I forgot to put up top was that the acting was genuinely quite good on all parts, pity the script wasn’t up to it.

  2. The Dragon Demands says:

    The entire destruction of King’s Landing was played off Maisie Williams’ nonverbal facial emoting.

    THESE Performances, THESE Faces.

  3. godot123 says:

    I do think Dany is going to get more brutal in the books. The Meereenese Blot made a phenomonal case for that.

    Having said that, I don’t think Dany would choose to deliberately murder thousands of innocent people out of bloodlust. This goes against the majority of her character development.

    This episode felt like misery porn. After the pleading woman got her throat slit, I said “What am I watching”. The episode just felt violent and exploitative.

    Also, WHY DIDN’T JAIME KILL CERSEI! You had one job show!

    • Accidental vs. deliberate destruction I think is going to be key to the KL storyline.

      Misery porn is right. As I said above, the trowelling on of the Horrors of War really desensitized me.

      And yes, that was egregrious.

      • Prince Ire says:

        Heck, we know that D&D themselves have done better in the past with the same subject matter. Just look at Troy, a film one David Benioff wrote the screenplay for. Its depiction of the sack of Troy gets the same message across in vastly less time.

    • Brett says:

      They seem to think that they have to have Dany go full Mad Queen before they can kill her in the final episode. I think it’s one of those things where they were told that she’s dead by the end of the series by Martin, but rather than change that they had to think of some other way to get there (plotting and character development be damned).

      • Steven Xue says:

        No doubt Dany will die by the end of the books. That’s been hinted at but I’m pretty sure it will be as a hero sacrificing herself to save the realm. I think D&D knew of her demise and intended to follow through with it but wrote themselves into a corner by ending the Long Night prematurely, and not killing her off too soon because she’s a star character.

      • Sara says:

        Thet could have some nuance and made dany less evil queen and tyrion and jon less good guys. Have them all as grey characters

      • That is plausible.

    • Murc says:

      Also, WHY DIDN’T JAIME KILL CERSEI! You had one job show!

      TWO jobs; Jaime killing Cersei, and Tyrion riding a dragon.

      It failed at both of them.

    • Eziro says:

      I was thinking ‘Oh, so this is what King’s Landing looked like when the Lannisters under Tywin sacked it during Robert’s Rebellion,’ (without the dragon of course).

  4. medrawt says:

    Really loving/hating various people I kinda like on Twitter out here with sneering takes like “if you didn’t think this was what was coming you weren’t paying attention” and “this is the whole point of what GRRM was doing with the fantasy genre”.

    • Yeah, it’s angering up the blood somewhat.

      • Matt says:

        I would love it if you did an essay on this, like the one you did as a corrective against the notion that The Others weren’t omnicidal death beings.

        • I may do, once the season is over. I’ve written about it scattered here and there, but it can’t hurt to write one essay.

          • Brett says:

            It’d be a good follow-up to your essay about Stannis’ end-game back in Season 5, and the whole issue with Game of Thrones and themes.

      • JG says:

        I fundamentally reject the idea that killing slavers is normally equivalent to mass murdering an entire city and it’s weird to see nominally left wing people say this online.

        • I would second this.

        • Kyle Litke says:

          I do agree with you on this. That said, didn’t book Dany also authorize the torture of innocents? The winesellers daughters? It’s not like killing slavers is the only thing she did.

          I’d also point out the other issue with Dany that sort of gets ignored; she thinks she’s incapable of having children and also thinks she is the last Targaryen. She isn’t trying to take the Iron Throne because she wants to save the smallfolk, or defeat the evil Cersei (who she likely is barely aware of in the books), or even return her dynasty to the throne so her children can rule. Her entire plan is to start a war where many will die because of ego and revenge, and then likely start a second war when she dies childless (as far as she knows at least).

          I’m not saying I think what happened in the show happens in the book, or that Dany is full Mad Queen in the books. I tend to agree that she does still burn down King’s Landing but it has more to do with the wildfire, more of an accident than intentional. But I question those who see her as a heroic figure for wanting to take the Seven Kingdoms (freeing the slaves is a totally different story; had she stayed in Mereen and ruled, then great!). This has always been about her wanting revenge because they killed Daddy and the rest of her non Viserys family (as told to her by Viserys, she didn’t even know any of them except him) and the throne is “hers”. Her main influence her entire life is her psycho brother who insisted the throne needed to be his because it’s his by right, and those evil Baratheons stole it from him. Is it any wonder she bought into that and, with him dead, sees it as hers now?

      • I would feel angry but Im worn out largely on anger with GOT, especially as Brexit and its odious Party is gaining much of my ire now. Now Im feeling more apathetic and bored and nihilistic with GOT.

    • Jim B says:

      Agreed, especially those that don’t distinguish between people objecting to the broad strokes and themes, and those objecting to how it was executed.

      In many instances, I think the faulty execution undermined the themes, and not just in the general sense that bad art always tends to undermine whatever it’s trying to say. Specifically: if you want to depict that war is always ugly and vicious and not glorious, even when it is necessary, then have your bloody destructive battle be the inevitable result of people doing supposedly the right thing. Don’t have it be more bloody and destructive than was necessary because one of your characters decided to commit war crimes. As it stands, the takeaway for a lot of viewers is going to be, “this would have been a great and glorious victory if only Jon Snow was in charge and not crazy evil Dany,” which is exactly the opposite of what I agree is one of GRRM’s themes.

      • medrawt says:

        Over at Deadspin they’ve ginned up what seems like a better version that still hinged on Dany losing it.

        If the show wanted to, at the last moment, take a hard turn into teaching the lesson that war is always ugly and vicious and not glorious, they did a bad job with how they framed the effective violence of the heroic characters for the past seven seasons, including the iconic images of Dany taking over at Astapor, including the repeated convolutions of plot to get Jon Snow into the position of a conventional action hero, including the way it translated Brienne’s PTSD horror trip through Riverlands into just Brienne being a violent badass whenever required. But the show has been about manufacturing moments rather than establishing a coherent through-line, and I think that’s a big part of what people who were still mostly on board for the show are rejecting now in the end … all those moments had significance only within themselves, they weren’t all leading up to and preparing us for whatever is happening now.

        • Jim B says:

          Right, and then there was the utter hash they made of the storyline where Sandor temporarily hangs out with the pacifist holy man, who then dies brutally just so the producers can make him look like a fool.

          • Tom says:

            If the show hadn’t already established its moral bankruptcy at that point (the rapefest of S4/5 absolutely did) that was the moment where it was truly hammered home without any attempt at further justification.

  5. godot123 says:

    Way to make the only living (non-Salladhor Saan) character brutal massacre unarmed soldiers and civilians. This will totally make everyone who criticized Missandei’s death happy.

    • Yep, noted that. Especially the way that “Dothraki” got turned into a synonym for “war criminal.” The only saving grace is that we did see some white guys committing war crimes.

      • godot123 says:

        Hurrah for equality

      • Alice says:

        The Dothraki are a built around a culture of war crimes. Why are you defending them now when in the past you’ve pointed out how twisted they are with their nonstop rape and misogyny?

      • Kyle Litke says:

        I fully see your point, but haven’t they always been the raping and pillaging culture? I know the show has “simplified” them much more than in the books, but even in the books, they’re still a culture that actively rapes innocents because they “earned it” through “conquest” or whatever.

  6. clay says:

    Turning Grey Worm and the other non-white fighting forces into the ones who go for atrocities first

    I don’t think that’s quite right. Dany went for the atrocities first. Once she started burning everything, the KL forces were starting to realize that if surrendering won’t save their lives, they should keep fighting, and they started to pick up their weapons. Grey Worm then attacked before the KL forces had a chance to regroup, and then the Dany forces — Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northerners alike — all went into a free-for-all. But they were obviously just following the example set by Dany.

    • Grey Worm throws a spear into someone’s back before the free-for-all starts, it’s pretty blatant.

      • clay says:

        I realize that Grey Worm threw the first spear, but it was after Dany refused to accept the city’s surrender. And then the rest of Dany’s forces jumped in.

        My point is that once Dany committed the war crime of refusing to accept surrender, then her forces were (somewhat) justified in killing the KL soldiers. Was Grey Worm a little too eager to continue the battle? Sure, but he was just following Dany’s lead. It was her fault, not his.

        Now, the slaughter of civilians is another issue, but that happened later — and again, Dany took the lead in that.

      • Alice says:

        Why does Grey Worm’s race matter more than his motivations for wanting to kill Lannisters?

      • Tytos Reyne says:

        I thought Grey Worm threw that spear into the chest/abdomen of the commander of the group of Lannister soldiers. The commander had turned around and looked at Jon (?) with a ‘what are you doing?’ look.

  7. David White says:

    1). One more prophesy the show built up, and it didn’t matter. Why backstory Maggie the Frog to bring in the Valonquar prophesy, only to kill Cersei by rubble? It’s like the writers didn’t bother to read any of their past season’s scripts first.
    2). Dany: I didn’t come here to be queen of ashes. (Season 7). Meh, nevermind.
    3). Hey, Arya finished off her list! The Hound, The Mountain, Queen Cersei. Check, check, check.
    4). I realized from the opening credits how much the writers telegraphed this season. The opening credits start with the wall breached (last season finale), and proceed to show ice progress to Last Hearth (episode 1). Then they show ice progress to Winterfell (episode 2), followed by loving shots of the Heart Tree in the Godswood and the Winterfell Crypts (episode 3). Fast forward to Kings Landing, where you see the Red Keep. What’s that, a giant crossbow? –epidode 4. Focus on a Dragon Skull in a basement. Episode 5. Now pan up, and we see the iron throne in glory. Episode 6. I notice there is a Lannister symbol behind the throne! I originally thought it was to signify all season long that a Lannister is sitting on the throne. Maybe it means the eventual ruler of Westeros will be the only person that seems to be making an effort to help the smallfolk (no pun intended). Will Tyrion take the throne?
    5). The episode title was “The Last of the Starks”. That title makes no sense to me.
    6). I’ve seen comparisons to Arya’s horse-exit to the Book of Revelations, about riding a pale horse with hell and death behind them. I don’t know if that was intentional. Very Pompeii in the ash-people. I swear when Arya was looking at the mother/daughter, there was a closeup of something ash that to me looked like the pomel of Longclaw. I wondered if they were trying to say Jon got killed.
    7). I hated Littlefinger’s Scooby-Doo trial, but he at least seemed to get a moment. Varys was dispatched as an afterthought. Let’s see, I’m off to destroy King’s Landing, I need to pack extra socks, turn off the water, halt the mail, kill Varys, and make sure the staff waters the plants.
    8). How is it that the Dragons have grown immensely in size this season, but Cersei’s belly hasn’t?
    9). Ironic, Ser Gregor looked like Darth Vader, and he killed his creator too.
    10). It’s tragic when a show written so badly that it makes you lose your suspension of disbelief. The dragon fire was bad – true “magic missile” bad. Things shouldn’t blow up as if a Tomahawk cruise missile just impacted the front gates, and the dragon breath should cut up the Red Keep like a laser beam or the “Independence Day” alien death-ray.
    11). I hated the city stand-in for KL. I assume somewhere in Spain, but the city looked so different from S2 or the books. Every building is made of stone? The city has 3 high hills, to the Red Keep was OK, but the whole city isn’t built on a mesa. You shouldn’t have to scale a cliff to get to the city walls, and it’s not a giant desert outside of the city (were they back in Qarth?). I was about to complain about all the Lannister insignia built in to all the stone work (was that Cersei’s first order of business – decorate with lions?), but then I decided it might be OK if they were standing outside the Lion Gate.
    12). I don’t understand why the show made a point of having wildfire go off (quite pointlessly too), unless it was to signify that her crazy dad was helping her burn the city. I could see the books having wildfire go off too, as Dany accidentally burns KL to the ground by trying surgical strikes with the dragon, only to have wildfire make it burn uncontrollably.
    13). Then again, I think the entire burning of KL is all Jon’s fault. He’s such a bad kisser that Dany believed no one would love her and she had to operate based on fear.

    • David White says:

      14). And where did all the Dothraki come from? How did they survive the charge in e3? Did Ghost rescue them?

    • gbajithedeceiver says:

      Littlefinger’s Scooby-Doo trial


    • Sean C. says:

      The show specifically omitted the valonqar stuff, which at the time I thought was meant to make it a surprise, but instead it seems they just omitted it.

    • 1. Yeah, that was a total waste of time
      2. Yup.
      3. Without doing anything…it’s almost like her character won’t be there when this happens.
      4. Doubt it.
      5. Shrug emoji.
      6. Yeah, that horse was not a good choice.
      7. One of the few things they didn’t stretch out forever.
      8. Heh. Yeah, they never really committed to that.
      9. Well, that’s tropes for you.
      10. Yeah, the buildings exploding rather than burning was a bit OTT.
      11. Yes, the outsides of the city have changed in bonkers ways.
      12. Definitely more of an accident in the book.
      13. Hah.

      • David White says:

        10). Welcome the “Inside the Episode”. Let’s look back to how this episode was created:
        [production meeting, 2017].
        1st Producer: Hey did we get our budget yet?
        2nd Producer: Yeah, but I think we have a problem.
        1st: What?
        2nd: Explosives procurement accidentally typed an extra 0 when ordering all the dynamite.
        1st: What? We have 10x as much explosives as we need? What are we going to do?
        2nd: Well, first we had to fire all the writers. We can get some cheap non-union hacks.
        1st: That’s only part of it. What else?
        2nd: I guess we’ll just have to use it all. I know! Let’s have Qyburn invent some crossbow-thing that can blow holes in ships. We can blow some stuff up there!
        1st: I like where you’re going with this! Oooo! And the dragon can blow stuff up. Dragon fire can make the buildings explode!
        2nd: Well, we changed our filming location. All the buildings are stone now.
        1st: We’ll make it work….

    • Steven Xue says:

      Also what about that HOTU prophecy in season 2 where Dany saw the Iron Throne being abandoned and the Red Keep in a state of disrepair with its roof completely removed and snowing. What the hell was that all about?

    • One Brow says:

      1) In the show, maggie the Frog does not predict Cersei’s death by the valonqar, just that she will be queen and her three children will die.
      5) Episode 4 was “The Last of the Starks”. This one was “The Bells”.

      I agree with the rest of your points.

    • Eziro says:

      I’m surprised Ser Davos didn’t reel from the first wildfire explosion. He would be getting major PTSD from seeing the thing that took his son’s life and nearly his own.

    • Kate says:

      For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure “the Last of the Starks” refers to episode 4, and was more or less a reference to Jon Snow being believed to be the last male heir in the Stark family. Episode 5 was titled “The Bells.”

  8. Tywin of the Hill says:

    1. I think the monster didn’t kill Victor Frankestein in the original novel. You might be talking about one of the movies, though (I haven’t seen many of them).
    2. Yeah, the 360º they pulled with Daenerys doesn’t make much sense character-wise. Most astonishingly of all, they could have had her simply attack the Red Keep directly, and then have the fire spread through the wildfire caches (who didn’t amount much to anything in the end).
    3. I’m curious, how do you expect the Golden Company to take the Iron Throne AND Jaime being in King’s Landing when Dany arrives? I can see Jaime killing Cersei to prevent her from using the wildfire on KL when they’re under siege by Aegon, but I don’t think Aegon’s loyalists will keep him alive for very long afterwards.
    4. “Turning Grey Worm and the other non-white fighting forces into the ones who go for atrocities first, while Jon tries to prevent the slaughter.”
    Give them credit, at least they made a Northman the attempted rapist, instead of a Dothraki or something like that.

    • gbajithedeceiver says:

      4. Jon’s executed Janos Slynt and hung his own murderers, but he still hesitates a second before gutting a Northerner rapist caught in the act.

    • 1. I was more talking about the broader pop cultural tropes, not the original novel. So movies and parodies and the like.
      2. Yeah, that was weird. Even given a desire to keep getitng revenge vs. stopping, she didn’t go straight after Cersei but kept detouring.
      3. Aegon has to win to fulfill the prophey of the mummer’s dragon. Think Jaime pulling Cersei out of the bunker as in this episode, but her intent is to destroy both Aegon and Dany and scrabble back to power that way.
      4. They did that, although I noticed the Hound shorthanding murder/rape as Dothraki later on.

  9. Trevor says:

    For a show that prided itself for so long on “breaking the wheel,” we’ve gone all the way back around to a fire-mad Targaryen going to be replaced by an honorable but not particularly bright guy whose mantra is that he doesn’t want, has never wanted the throne.

    • I don’t think they ever had a single idea what breaking the wheel would actually mean, and have thus tried their level best to avoid having to say anything about it.

      • medrawt says:

        It’s part of the long line of baffling creative decisions they’ve made. Dany has no revolutionary agenda for Westeros, in books or show, only a belief in the righteousness of her own cause because of her inheritance. Martin, so far, hasn’t tried to paper over that except by virtue of only letting us have Dany’s perspective on herself. The show could’ve helped set up where they wanted to go by framing that much more clearly, but instead they put empty revolutionary rhetoric in her mouth and framed it as inspiring, rather than something for Tyrion and Varys to be skeptical of (back when she first started talking like that).

    • Brett says:

      It would be the culmination of Jon Snow’s storyline over the past 3 seasons, of a guy who just keeps on failing upwards since his resurrection. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets showered with praise for his command next episode despite losing all control of his forces in the sack.

  10. thatrabidpotato says:

    Dany going Mad Queen in the books is one of maybe two things that would utterly and permanently ruin the series for me. I pray Steven’s right that it won’t happen, or if it does it won’t be permanent, but Martin has explicitly taken ownership of the main characters fates so many times that I’m going to have a sick feeling of dread until Dream of Spring comes out, if it ever does.

    I just can’t accept the fact that Martin would essentially negate everything Daenerys ever stood for like this.

    • dakiri says:

      Reread her ADWD chapters and/or the Meereenese Blot. Dany will do horrible things en route to Westeros and when she first arrives, it’s been heavily foreshadowed. She will choose to negate many of her good acts and good intentions. The question is what happens next – as Steven says here, that all will happen before the Long Night, not after it, which provides a chance for redemption.

      • Well, I distinguish between violence done in the process of abolishing slavery and violence consciously done for its own sake.

        But yes, I think the key thing is that Dany will have a moment of reflection then a moment of redemption.

  11. jazz says:

    have you watched the after the episode thing? just like they did with Stannis, claiming his flaw was being ambitious and thus confirming they never undestood the character, the reasoning they gave for Dany’s actions confirms to me that Mad Queen is their take on the story.
    if it was a plot point from Gurm himself they could have justified it properly, but they were simply not making any sense.
    some people argue it’s rushed but it’s not that. it’s character assassination, plain and simple. i feel bad for Emilia Clarke.

  12. artihcus022 says:

    To me Dany can do nothing wrong. Even after this episode. If their endgame is to make Jon and House Stark look good by making other people look worse, then they can just go to hell. From my perspective, Daenerys killed a bunch of white people to revenge the death of her black POC friend. I don’t really give a damn about the rest.

    To me the issue with the bell signalling surrender feels moot. Because the bells rung after the deadline and right after they breached the walls. To me this was a case of quarter being suspended during a siege by the besieging force after the breach as a result of radicalization over the unnecessary deaths that could have been averted had these idiots surrendered from the very start.

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      …. wait what?

      I mean, Dany’s been absolutely shafted in the show, but did you legitimately just say it’s okay to murder a bunch of innocent whites because your black friend was killed by a third party? What?

      • artihcus022 says:

        If the shoe fits. I mean if the show is going to say a militant abolitionist like Daenerys is a worse person than some pansy feudal lord like Jon Snow, if they give Cersei Lannister a “beautiful death” in the hands of her beloved after taunting Missandei about her past as a slave before gratuitously executing her, and if they are gonna get us to shed tears about a city of white people while pornifying the Martells and writing out Chataya and others…I say burn them all. #AerysWasRight #StannisWasRighter #DanyIsRightestOfThemAll

        • artihcus022 says:

          I apologize for the use of the word “pansy” that wasn’t intended to be any kind of denigration anyway. I wish there was an edit feature. Perhaps milquetoast is more appropriate and has fewer connotations.

        • godot123 says:

          Counterpoint: Why didn’t Cersei just rush the Red Keep with Drogon and kill Cersei, instead of going out of her way to torch every innocent woman and child she could find instead of taking out the actual wrongdoer who killed her friend and held the city hostage?

        • Murc says:

          If the shoe fits. I mean if the show is going to say a militant abolitionist like Daenerys is a worse person than some pansy feudal lord like Jon Snow,

          Daenerys is also a feudal lord.

          • Summer says:

            Don’t you need, like, knights swearing feudal oaths to you and stuff to count? I’m not sure she has that, specifically.

    • Murc says:

      From my perspective, Daenerys killed a bunch of white people to revenge the death of her black POC friend.

      If you actually think this represents sound morality or ethics, you are a bad person.

      To me this was a case of quarter being suspended during a siege by the besieging force

      “Suspending quarter” is a war crime. It’s one of the very worst war crimes.

      • Summer says:

        They’re not real people. Thinking about fictional characters in terms of “I’m sick of the show killing everyone who isn’t white” is fine.

    • Not sure if serious or Poe’s Law.

      • artihcus022 says:

        Bit of both. I mean in either case the emotion didn’t land or feel remotely true or earned. And I am just arguing against the show out of spite.

  13. bookworm1398 says:

    My background – I’ve read all the books, only seen season 8 of the show.
    One of the things about the books was the surprises – Stannis is about to take KL when the Tarlys show up; Theon thinks Ramsay’s army is coming to rescue him but not much. The show this season at least has lacked that. There are a little of that when Arya killed the Night King. But in this episode especially, they told you in the previous episode exactly what everyone was going to do and then they did it. I don’t know if the show has always been this way but the predictability made this episode really boring.

  14. lluewhyn says:

    I wonder what Disney is thinking right now about hiring these two guys to direct some of the upcoming Star Wars films.

    “Uh oh”?

    • Brett says:

      Nothing like that. For all our complaints, the show is still enormously popular, and they’re really good producers (the writing is another matter, but I suspect Disney will keep them under a really tight leash on overall plotting).

    • Murc says:

      That almost certainly won’t happen. Disney is pausing and taking stock of the Star Wars franchise; the people running it have mishandled the movies badly enough (one stellar movie, one horrible movie, and two “that was okays” out of four is a bad ratio) and have abandoned plans to kick a new one out the door every year for the forseeable future; they only plan to make three more movies over the next decade currently, and I can’t see them handing those over to D&D.

      Especially since the last time a director told them “hey guys, I know you had a plan, but I’d just like to do my own thing instead, is that cool” and they said “okay!” it bit them in the ass.

      • medrawt says:

        Was the one you think is stellar TFA or Rogue One? My experience of New New Star Wars is watching TFA in theaters having appropriately Pavlovian reactions, walking home, feeling empty, and then realizing I was free, I was free, I didn’t care about Star Wars anymore I was free!

        • Murc says:

          Rogue One for sure is the stellar one.

          • Veronica Diall says:

            I walked out on Rogue One. I loved the Last Jedi. I would like to think that Disney is doing a serious re-think about bringing those two clowns on board. But then again they re-hired James Gunn-a director who makes fun about sexually abusing kids. High school cliquishness trumps professionalism.

      • There’s definitely going to be a rethink on Star Wars, I imagine happening at the same time that the MCU folks have their summit to plan out Phases 5-9.

        As to whether Benioff and Weiss will be part of that, dunno. Disney’s certainly not going to give them the leeway they’ve had at HBO.

        • Murc says:

          Yeah, especially since a big problem with Johnson is that they gave him way too much leeway.

          (The scuttlebutt on this is that the story group and Lucasfilm actually DID have a plan, a road map, for the new trilogy. J.J Abrams was involved in crafting it, as the director of the first one out of the gate, but he wasn’t the only one. They actually had thought ahead… and then, bafflingly, when Rian Johnson said “hey, can I do my own thing?” they all said “sure, go crazy Rian.” And pitched their plans into the ocean.)

          I was talking with Abigail Nussbaum about this over on tumblr… I am generally leery of attributing creative or commercial success or failure to the visionary agenda of One Great Man. These things are team efforts… but having said that, I don’t think at this point there can be any doubt that the MCU’s stunning level of cohesiveness and quality control is due to the hand of Kevin Feige on the tiller.

          Star Wars needs its own Feige.

          • Sly says:

            The scuttlebutt for the last year and a half is that Kathleen Kennedy is going to be fired any day now for disappointing overstuffed nerds who think story comes third to spectacle and second to lore.

            Not buying it. It was not only announced at celebration that Johnson is still getting his project, but that D&D will be working on it, too. Will it be good? Who knows. At this stage I dint really care if it is, so long as the whiners keep whining.

      • clay says:

        By “bit them in the ass”, I assume you mean “generated the best critical reviews that the franchise has ever seen while becoming the #6 top domestic* and #9 worldwide* box office draw of all time”. We could all use such an ass-bite.

        Even if your formulation — one stellar movie, one horrible movie, and two “that was okays” out of four is a bad ratio — was correct**… that’s still a better ratio than the Lucas-involved Star Wars films.

        *Those are contemporary numbers; the movie has dropped a couple of places since then.

        **It is not correct

        • Murc says:

          By “bit them in the ass”, I assume you mean “generated the best critical reviews that the franchise has ever seen while becoming the #6 top domestic* and #9 worldwide* box office draw of all time”. We could all use such an ass-bite.

          Box office numbers mean jack shit over whether or not something is a creative success or failure.

          But more to the point… Disney, themselves, are in fact not happy with the way the Star Wars movies are being received. They were disappointed by Solo’s reception and box office, AND they were disappointed by TLJ’s reception. I firmly believe the entire reason they brought TCW out of retirement with an eleventh-hour announcement followed by an IMMENSELY rushed production schedule and a short season to have it ready for when Disney+ launches is because they desperately were looking for a quick win.

          So Disney isn’t actually happy, and in fact they’ve cancelled a bunch of projects BECAUSE they’re not happy. Rian Johnson isn’t getting his trilogy anymore, for example.

          “Critical reviews” is also doing a lot of work here. TLJ had great critical reviews, but it turns out a non-trivial number of actual moviegoers rightly regard it as hot garbage.

          Even if your formulation — one stellar movie, one horrible movie, and two “that was okays” out of four is a bad ratio — was correct**… that’s still a better ratio than the Lucas-involved Star Wars films.

          No, it isn’t. Lucas produced three amazing movies, one okay movie, and two steaming turds. That’s a much better ratio.

          • Haplo-6 says:

            Pretty solid take. The Last Jedi might be the worst movie ever made, considering the amount of material available to pull ideas from and the presence of a framework to work within.

      • Tom says:

        Lol. As a non-SW fan TLJ was the stellar movie for me, TFW was fun but clearly fan service and the rest was eh. Rogue One was the worst of them.

        • Sly says:

          Rogue One was pretty good 1/3rd of a movie and a pretty mediocre 2/3rds of a movie, but it’s big problem is that the pretty good 1/3rd is the last 1/3rd.

  15. Brett says:

    It feels like Martin told D&D that Dany and Jon would both be dead by the end of the series, but because of the re-ordering of the plot they had to find another way there that is much bleaker and pessimistic. Don’t be surprised if some type of tragedy occurs with Arya trying to kill the Queen and killing Jon as well by accident (that ending imagery – “Death rides a pale horse” – was not subtle).

    Jaime will not fight nor kill Euron, nor will he die protecting Cersei. He will die killing Cersei and then either kill himself or be killed by her, albeit in similar circumstances vis-a-vis all being lost.

    He’ll probably kill her to stop her from setting the city aflame with wildfire before Aegon VI’s forces can take. Which makes the whole “I’ve never cared for the people of the city – innocent or otherwise” rather galling in this episode.

    The sheer numbing amount of the Horror of War footage. If the intent was to awaken our moral sensibilities, the numbing effect of one scene after another undercut that.

    It’s the same issue with the Battle of Winterfell – they’re both 15-20 minutes too long.

    • Brett says:

      Hmm. I got annoyed at looked at some possible finale leaked spoilers, and I’m probably going to be wrong on some of that.

      • Brett says:

        I am just going to love it if Jon Snow completes the end of 3 seasons of failing upwards by becoming de facto King at the end, with D&D then saying in the post-episode stuff that “Jon became King by merit, not by blood or destruction blah blah blah”.

    • Steven Xue says:

      Hang on both Dany and Jon? I always assumed it will just be Dany. That she will die to save the realm and Jon will live to lead humanity from the ashes of the Long Night.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        I went into the season assuming that Jon would die fighting the Others, as would Arya, and Dany would die giving birth to his child/children, who would then be raised by Aunt Sansa at Winterfell.

        Even if it turns out that’s not what’s happening, I still think it’d be a way better ending.

        • Steven Xue says:

          Agreed. Although seeing how Jon has already died once, I just feel he deserves to get a second lease on life.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Like Beric and Catelyn did? He’s been brought back for a specific purpose, and once it’s completed has no more reason to remain in the realm of the living.

      • Brett says:

        I think Jon will survive in the show (although maybe he’ll kill Dany and then himself), but die in the books. As thatrabidpotato says, he was brought back for a reason, and he’ll sacrifice himself for this reason.

    • I could see that. But I don’t see the tragedy happening.

      Yes, that I’m sure of. It’ll be an existential victory sort of thing.


  16. jedimaesteryoda says:

    1a. I think it more likely that Cersei lights the wildfire, especially given the numerous associations of wildfire with her. It is akin to having Ser Ilyn take her head if she lost the BoBW so she wouldn’t be taken alive, and taking Sansa’s as well so the Starks wouldn’t have any joy in her fall. Basically, taking into account her vindictiveness, she would be taking all of King’s Landing with her, hollowing out her enemies’ victory by leaving a destroyed capital.

    1b. It fits better with Jaime’s story: he killed Aerys to stop the wildfire plot only to inadvertently have it happen through his actions, ie supporting his sister. He kills the Targaryen monarch with the Lannisters attacking the city, and now kills the Lannister monarch with the Targaryen forces outside the city. He makes a clear break from his family, and Cersei deciding to light the wildfire is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    2. If Jaime dies, I think it will be because Cersei kills him. She always mentions him getting a sword on their birthday, and thinking she should have been given it. I think if he kills her, his one hand would be occupied. He wouldn’t be able to stop her from grabbing his sword, and mortally wounding him akin to Sers Erryk and Arryk.

    3. If Robert Strong does kill Qyburn, I think it will be on Cersei’s orders when her paranoia becomes more pronounced.

    4. The ballistae point is bad. They aren’t new to Westerosi as they likely had been used for centuries by that point. No one ever thought of using them against Aegon and his sisters? Or do they expect us to believe that ballistae had just been invented centuries after they started using catapults and trebuchets, for which the ballistae was the historical precursor? No guy ever thought of using a giant version of a crossbow?

    5. Agreed that Dany would be leery after Aegon regarding male claimants claiming to be Rhaegar’s lost sons. Jon would need a pulling-the-sword-from-the-stone moment.

    5a. I would be more interested in Cersei’s reaction to R+L=J. I think she would hate the Starks more than ever after it. The way she would see it, Lyanna was originally meant to be Robert’s wife, and Cersei (in her mind) was meant for Rhaegar. Lyanna “stole” Rhaegar, and landed Cersei with Robert. She would blame Lyanna for ruining her life.

    • Ogier The Dane says:

      I think Cersei will light the wildfire (or possibly Qyburn on her orders), but it’ll be blamed on Dany and her dragons since most folks won’t know about the wildfire, but will know dragons breathe it.

      And I think the irony of Jamie being put in the same position will be there, and he’ll likely be too late to stop it.

    • 1. I think she’ll try at the very least.
      1b. Yes, I think Jaime will try to stop her.
      2. Yeah, I was talking about this with @goodqueenaly and saying I could see either a blade or poison working.
      3. Eh, I like the Frankenstein running wild.
      5. Yep. Hence why Rhaegal is actually important.
      5a. Don’t think she’ll ever find out.

    • Tytos Reyne says:

      4. They were used against Aegon and his sisters. The Dornish shot down and killed Meraxes with one.

  17. Matt says:

    What are your thoughts on this quote

    “When I asked Benioff and Weiss if it was possible to infer any overall intentionality to the upcoming 10 episodes, they sneered. “Themes are for eighth-grade book reports,” Benioff told me.”

    • Brett says:

      There was a good bit in his essay about Stannis’ endgame that criticized them for this kind of thinking:

      Moreover, throughout the series, Benioff and Weiss have shown a lack of interest in themes versus results, especially when it comes to “what matters.” There’s a strong emphasis on outcomes above all else – Tyrion has to kill Shae and Tywin, but it doesn’t matter why; Jon Snow has to be assassinated by the Night’s Watch but it doesn’t matter why it happens; Myrcella has to die, but it doesn’t matter how or why this happens, nor does the AFFC Dorne storyline’s ruminations on the futility of vengeance. So I think what they concluded is that Stannis’ failure to summon a dragon, the fact that he’s not really Azor Ahai, means that nothing that happens along the way really matters. Stannis can die a defeated and broken man, ignoring the basic story structure of tragedy, and the defeat of the Boltons can be handed off to some weird combination of Northmen and possibly Littlefinger. That approach loses is the richness of George R.R Martin’s world, the depth and complexity of character he insists on giving not just to the main protagonists like Jon, Dany, and Tyrion, but also secondary characters like Stannis and Melisandre.

      • Sly says:

        Its suddenly dawned on me that X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which Benioff wrote, was basically a reteoactive plot device, wreathed in cheap spectacle are poor characterization, for why Logan had amnesia in the first X-Men movie. Like that’s what drives the whole thing; it all proceeds from “This guy needs to forget everything that happens to him in this movie” and they wrote a story that the audience wanted to forget, too.

        • Brett says:

          Yep. Although I’ll always have a tiny bit of affection for that movie, because of that brief scene where he and his brother are fighting in the American Civil War (apparently a number of Canadians actually did go south and volunteer for the Union Army).

    • I mean, I’ve been pretty vocally scornful of that attitude for a while.

      • Matt says:

        Thanks for the quote, I’ve known how you’ve been great on that. After seeing that quote for first time while going through last night’s reactions I guess I was looking for some more catharsis by proxy. It just came of as such a weird comment from someone who wrote the 25th hour. Does he think The Sopranos was only about people getting “whacked”? Because GoT seems like it’s written by the kind of fan David Chase had on open contempt for.

  18. lluewhyn says:

    Random thought, based upon their treatment of how they handled GoT, it seems like it would have been more appropriate for them to have ran a show based upon The Dance of the Dragons. That historical plot seems to be closer to their taste for nihilism, wanton brutality, lack of them (except wanton brutality), near 100% morally dark characters, and shocking swerves changing everyone’s fortunes on a dime left and right.

    • lluewhyn says:

      *lack of theme

    • clay says:

      There is a prequel show in the works. Naomi Watts is in it, I believe. Exec Produced by Benioff and Weiss, but different showrunner.

      • There’s more than one.

      • Brett says:

        The “Long Night” prequel, which I think they should totally go for a “magical Bronze age” vibe, with Children of the Forest, Garth Greenhand making stuff bloom and demanding human sacrifices, fishy Ironborn, etc. Coolest of all would be if they had parallel storylines in Asshai/Yi Ti and Westeros, culminating in the construction of the Wall and the creation of the dragons after the Long Night, but that seems unlikely.

        They also might be doing the “Empire of Ash” Valyria prequel, set in Valyria and a city in Sothoryos.

        I kind of wish Martin would let them make Dunk & Egg stories with show-only material. They could easily do a bunch of one-off episodes where Dunk & Egg have an adventure of the day or week, mixed in with mini-arcs.

        • lluewhyn says:

          D&D would be absolutely horrible for Dunk & Egg stories, due to their more idealistic and philosophical nature. They would probably be bad for The Long Night as well, due to its focus on the magical aspects of the series. I was suggesting the Dance of the Dragons, because it’s mostly about people being absolutely horrible to other people, which seems like more their wheelhouse.

        • That would be cool.

  19. I’d be fine with ending the show with a story about how “wars of liberation” historically involve a lot of civilian deaths and are usually seen as occupation and not welcomed by the local population. But then don’t hang the war around the neck of a woman. It’s pretty unfair and came off as extremely sexist.

    • And also don’t hang it around the neck of a woman after the civilians have attempted to surrender the city.

    • Jim B says:

      I’m not sure what’s unfair about it in a gendered sense.

      GoT has given us plenty of examples of the ravages of wars caused by men, too. Robert’s Rebellion, regardless of whether you accept Tyrion’s characterization of it as “Robert started a war because he couldn’t get the woman he loved” or the IMO more reasonable one of “Rhaegar was an idiot, Robert was a little hot-headed, and Aerys was a nutjob,” is entirely a male-created war. And it ends with a completely unnecessary sack of King’s Landing.

      Cersei perhaps gets a fraction of the credit for kicking off the War of Five Kings, but Renly’s egomania and Balon Greyjoy’s machismo deserve at least as much blame.

      Even in the realm of war crimes, you’ve got Aerys’s attempt to burn King’s Landing down around him, the Red Wedding, the sack of Winterfell, and all sorts of disgusting stuff by Ramsay Bolton.

      And on the other side of the ledger, it’s not like we don’t see examples of good female rulers. Sansa has turned into a savvy yet principled ruler. Margaery and Oleanna Tyrell were effective. Even Lyanna Mormont commanded respect beyond her years. So it’s not like Cersei and Dany are the only women we see in charge.

      I think on this front, at least, GoT is fairly non-sexist. I hated the episode for other reasons.

      • In episode, they offer two explanations for Dany’s actions: the coin flip went badly (plus isolation and a feeling of abandonment) or it’s a necessary component of wiping out the current and future tyrants, which is an act of mercy to the future.

        I’m in the camp that thinks D&D did fine laying the groundwork for the former over the course of the series, but since they haven’t left themselves enough time for her to have a subsequent arc, at the end of the episode, it appears that the final judgment on Dany is that she’s just a mad queen, which is troperific. You could try to defend it by saying that D&D are using her as a critique of the failures of the feudal system. But then they’re essentially laying that at the feet of a woman, which again, is unfair. Yes, there have been other characters over the course of the show who have also served as ways to critique the system, but Dany is one of the main characters and this is the end of the show. So structurally, what the writers do with her in particular matters. Using any woman for a final argument against feudalism seems unfair to me. And also, if that’s the point of her story, then what’s the point of both Cersei and Dany? Two ways to critique feudalism, both in female form?

        If the explanation of what Dany does is the latter of the two options, then the writers are giving her the argument for liberatory military action. If they wanted to critique that use of force (as critique of empire or neoconservatism, etc.), that would also be an acceptable thing to use the show to do. But I think making a woman the face of that argument–again a main character at the end of the show without time for a further arc–is historically unfair. There have been some prominent women who have been advocates of that approach, but very very few of them have been the ones to start wars of any type, let alone that type. If they want to make one of the final points of the show a critique of that use of military force, they should make a man its face.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        “Sansa has turned into a savvy yet principled ruler”.

        Book!Sansa probably will. Show!Sansa is a sadistic, scheming, dishonorable bitch best described as Female Littlefinger and who bears a large responsibility for what happened to Dany.

        • Tytos Reyne says:

          Now that we see how things ended up, the original evaluation of Sansa stands. She got what she wanted – and independent North. And a friendly South.

          Sansa is not sadistic. No more so than any other aristocrat in Westeros, with the exception of Sam.

          Dany bears the responsibility of what happened to Dany. Not Sansa.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Sansa’s actions only make sense if she read the script ahead of time. She undercut Dany at every turn, drove wedges between Dany and everyone that she possibly could, and generally treated her like shit. And when Dany lost everything and went over the Despair Event Horizon from isolation, grief, and abandonment, Sansa was jumping up and down saying “Ha, see I told you it was always going to happen!!!”. No, no it wasn’t.

      • teageegeepea says:

        Robert’s actions during the rebellion aren’t actually that hotheaded. It’s actually Brandon Stark who was the hothead on (what would be) the rebel’s side. Robert did nothing until Jon Arryn called his banners and refused to hand over his wards to be killed like Rickard & Brandon.

  20. […] thoughts are here. I’ll have many spoilery observations in the comments, but for now I’ll say that I […]

  21. Kandrax says:

    Twist in the books. fAegon takes control of one of dragons and decides to punish city for not rebelling against killer of his father.

  22. Jim B says:

    One thing I liked about the episode: Jaime uttering the real Lannister family motto, “Nothing else matters. Only us.”

  23. John says:

    Hi Steven,

    I think it is interesting to read your thoughts on what parts from the show will make it to the books and so on. Also your essays about Stannis endgame and the Others motives were good.

    I was thinking if you, now that the show is over, could write an outline of what you think will happen in the coming books. I have seen your thoughts and theories here, on tumblr, in your chapter essays and elsewhere but it would be amazing if you could sum them all up in one coherent post! Is this something you would be willing to do? I would love that!

  24. Tom says:

    I know I’ll be the minority but I thoroughly enjoyed 80% of this episode. They did not do the leg work to get us there, Jaime/Cersei ending was shit (and felt like the writers changing an inevitable end in order to surprise, which does not make for good writing), they seem to have paid no attention to critical theory (racism, sexism) but then never have and yeah…prolly could have done with ten minutes less war atrocity footage. But as an episode devoid of context I thought it was largely a bang up job and thats become the main way I can enjoy the show now – a bit of a cop out but clear eyed about it.

    And, though I respect your opinion and kinda hope you’re right about Dany in the books, I’ve definitely been predicting this turn of events for years. I just don’t see Jon being painted as the classic patriarchal alternative the way these fuckers have done.

  25. Kiki says:

    Beyond the pointlessly lazy turn of Dany’s arc, what saddened me the most was seeing Cersei tossed aside with so little thought given to her character. It would have been immensely more satisfying (for both characters) to see Dany lean hard into the idea of mercy (by sparing Varys, if only to see her prove his doubts incorrect), and only going after the Iron Fleet and the ballistae…only to set off a big KABOOM of wildfire, hidden around the city by Cersei. It’s Cersei, not Dany, who has the long narrative arc of viewing the smallfolk as grist for the king’s mill; who suffered the humiliation of being paraded, naked and powerless, through the street’s of King’s Landing while the people mocked and jeered her. It’s Cersei who has the violent history with King’s Landing, from Tywin’s sack to Tyrion’s use of wildfire, to her own destruction of the sept of Baelor. And it’s Cersei, not Dany, who has lived her life in mortal fear of the younger, more beautiful queen, and would do anything to prevent that from happening–even burning down the whole city.

    How much more interesting would it have been to see Cersei scheming for Dany to take all the blame of burning King’s Landing, making it impossible for Dany to ever be accepted as anything but a mass-murdering despot? To have Jaime find her enjoying one last sight of all those green flames before she slipped out of the city, calmly planning her next move to have Dany declared the greatest threat to win support for a Lannister restoration? Telling Jaime how much she always hated the Red Keep, that she has long dreamed of building a beautiful new city across the river, or ruling from Casterly Rock–and having Jaime, in his horror and revulsion, kill her.

    Then you’ve got the moral quandary for the last episode of what will Dany do when the throne is in her grasp, but everyone outside of her army believes her to be the Mad Queen? Is it more important to take the throne, or to heal the Seven Kingdoms by leaving?

    • Kiki says:

      Also, in the theme of mercy, had the writers chosen to have Dany grant Sansa’s request of having the Northmen rest for a fortnight before heading to KL, the episode could have ended with them arriving to see smoldering ruins and assuming incorrectly that Dany went Mad Queen.

      • Kiki says:

        Final thought: that is how you can have Dany go Mad Queen in a way that really makes sense, not through the pain and horror of losing Missandei, Rhaegal, and Jorah, but by having her destiny ripped away from her. And then to realize, while still reeling in shock and horror, that Jon Snow could not be more perfectly placed to take the Iron Throne: not because he IS a Targaryen, but because no one KNOWS that he is. That despite doing everything right–defending the North, saving the world, trying to take King’s Landing with as little violence as possible–her destiny has been stolen from her, only to be placed before Jon. THAT is how you go Mad Queen–by taking away not just the people that Dany values, but the destiny that has defined her life.

        Apologies for not putting this into one post, I’m making jambalaya for an awfully late dinner and have been going back and forth adding ingredients to the pot and thoughts to this string!

    • Yeah, Cersei got hit hard with the mommy stick.

  26. Adam Feldman says:

    “The Long Night will be GRRM’s climax” and (relatedly) “Dany will go dark but be redeemed in defeating the Others” have been two very long-running assumptions held by a lot of folks that have… not been borne out by this season. IMO it’s time to reevaluate them.

    Once the Others are beaten there’s a “now what?” problem that’s gotten shockingly little attention in the fandom but certainly seems to me like it would be of interest to George. I suspect Dany’s downfall next week will also take place in a very George way and would not fit with a redeemed Dany. Third treason, anyone?

    • Sean C. says:

      Yeah, I don’t think you can assume that GRRM is going to offer all of his leads a redemptive ending. When you’ve got a large ensemble, bleakness is likely for some of them.

  27. artihcus022 says:

    On tvtropes, someone made this cool point. The reason Dany and her army, as well as Jon Snow’s Northern contigent participate wholeheartedly in the punitive campaign on King’s Landing is that all of them have been radicalized by the Long Night. After putting your life, limb, family, and closest friends on the line to defend the world in most freezing and hellish conditions imaginable while facing the literal Apocalypse, only to find out that the goddamn capital lounged in sun drenched splendor the whole time, its hard for soldiers to not get angry at the perceived ingratitude, unearned good living, and absence of sacrifices for the sake of the realm. Jaime Lannister himself pointed out to Cersei in Season 7 that the lack of any contribution by King’s Landing for the cause of the North would be met with vengeance in the aftermath. (In Paranthesis)Historically, it isn’t far from the behavior of the Red Army in Berlin after the conquest of the city. After years of horrible war crimes and massacres by the Nazis, the Red Army were appalled by the better living conditions of the city and apathy and loyalty by the citizens to Hitler’s regime, and as such a good chunk of them went postal on the city’s population.(End Paranthesis)

    Psychologically if that was presented on-screen that would have made it more tragic horrific although doing so would involve being emotionally invested in the Long Night to some extent.

    • Tom says:

      Yeah…that’s a great take, one I genuinely love. But also ridiculously generous given what we were actually shown. Death of the Author is one thing, raising up of the idiots quite another.

  28. Haplo-6 says:

    My assumption about Dany’s brutality in this episode is that she is deploying her version of the Tarkin Doctrine. She has possession of a weapon (Death Star/Drogon) so devastating that all must cower and submit. Taking the city wouldn’t accomplish her end goal which is now total submission through fear. She needed to have her own Alderaan; to utterly destroy a city as a demonstration of both her weapon’s capability, but also her willingness to use it against anyone.

    It’s a bummer Dany took this path, but I still find her behavior less egregious than Tywin, who many think acted cruelly yet pragmatic and rationally to further his aims.

  29. […] being said, I do think the reaction to the penultimate episode was as strong as it was because it felt like the summation of a huge number of plotlines that […]

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