Since this is the final season for Game of Thrones, we thought we should give this a proper send-off. Each week as the episodes premiere, we'll post a run-down and analysis until the season's end, so keep checking this page for that. Again, a trigger warning: there will be spoilers so proceed at your own risk.
Episode 6: The Iron Throne
aka where Jon Snow finally chooses, an unlikely ruler rises and, we reckon, many will not be pleased at the outcome.
What a long strange trip that was. I mean, it got stranger near the end but this is it—the capstone to eight years of backstabbing, political intrigue and murder.
We deal with the aftermath of Daenerys (played by Emilia Clarke) razing King's Landing. If you thought that Arya's (Maisie Williams) shellshocked expression was heartwrenching, how about Tyrion's (Peter Dinklage) crestfallen countenance when he walks through the ash-ridden city and realises that all faith and confidence he had in Daenerys was misplaced.
Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) faith in his Queen wavers but, even in the face of the devastation, even during Daenerys speech to her army on continuing freeing the rest of the world (she vows to break the wheel, not noticing that she’s dropping an atom bomb to do so), even when Tyrion quit his role as Hand of the Queen, Jon still stands by his Queen. I mean… ugh, come on dude.
(If you're still a fan of Jon Snow at this point, I don't know how else to convince you.)
It's only through a conversation with Tyrion that pushes him towards the path of betraying Daenerys. "What about your sisters?" Tyrion evokes the only other thing near to Jon's heart: his family. Only when his family faces the threat of death, only does Jon makes a decision.
And it was through a heartbreaking moment as well: in a liplock with Jon, Daenerys is stabbed in the heart. This woman, who has freed cities, reclaimed the Iron Throne, she is felled by… what, love? There is something very unfair about her end, that who she finally becomes in spite of her actions in her past and how she was finally done in, by the person that she loved.
There were a lot of talk about Arya adding Daenerys' name to her kill list but fan theories and a loosely-interpreted prophecy be damned—that honour of regicide should belong to Jon. This was the moment where he could redeem himself from this milquetoast station but I wonder if it's too little, too late when he finally snuffs out Daenerys’ light.
People can make fun of Drogon melting the Iron Throne because it thinks it killed Daenerys but I like to believe that that fire-breathing beast is doing away the symbol of the monarchy. Carrying Daenerys' body, Drogon flies away, probably leaving behind all these stupidities that these mortals have wrought.
Given how the story has taken a turn for the unexpected, the rest of the episode mostly ends on a better note. In the wake of Daenerys' death, a council made up of the prominent houses in Westeros, is formed. They have inexplicably adopted a democratic process in voting in the person most suited to rule over the Seven Kingdoms: Bran. (If someone out there had won the office pool for who will take the Iron Throne, congratulations.)
He has expected this, Bran. "Why do you think I came all this way?” He says. This is the person who sees all and we have to wonder if he had orchestrated all this—the wars and deaths—that all these terrible things had to happen so that he could sit on the throne.
Bran is an unexpected choice but this is an outcome that makes sense (kinda). And it also made sense that Tyrion is reinstated as Bran's Hand to the King. Even with all the fuck-ups, Tyrion will now spend the rest of his life to make up for it. The only person whom I feel really deserved their ending was Sansa (Sophie Turner). She is now queen of a free North and her position is something that felt truly earned.
Like Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Jon has taken on the unwanted reputation, this time as ‘Queenkiller’. While noble, his action does not paint him as a hero. Under rule and law, Jon has to answer for his treason. To ensure peace between the Seven Kingdoms and the Unsullied, an agreement is brokered to exile Jon. But while others see this as a fitting punishment, this is a fitting reward for him. Jon has never really fitted in with the rest of the Westerosi. He felt the happiest when he was with the Wildings. In the closing moments of the episode, it is his just dessert as he leads the Free Folk back to the Northern Beyond.
Tyrion gathers with his small council: Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) as Grand Maester; Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) as Master of Ships; Ser Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) as Lady Commander of the Kingsguard and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) as Master of Coin. It's a ragtag crew that forms out of necessity but you can't really think of anybody else who is better than them.
There's a recurring theme, one about choice: Jon refused the call of the Iron Throne, except power, is best granted to those who do not seek it. To right the wrongs of her forebears, Daenerys needed to reclaim the Iron Throne but she can't truly be queen if she's not accepted by the people. It's out of her hands. So, she chose the next best thing—to rule by fear.
It is also telling that we, as an audience, do not have a say in how the story plays out. While petitions are filed for the season to be rewritten, it feels so… pointless. Just as our players in the world of Game of Thrones are dealt with the hand they are given. Under the circumstances that had unfolded, this is the best of all possible outcomes for the Game of Thrones chapter to conclude. The finale leaves possibilities of sequels: Arya travels further west of Westeros, Tyrion and the small council deals with governance, Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) travels to his lover's homeland of Naath, Jon becomes a de facto leader for the Free Folk, and so on.
Not many people will get the ending that they wanted but, for the rest of us, the stories will continue.
- The Azor Ahai prophecy didn’t come to pass. It was suspected that Stannis Baratheon was Azor Ahai, then Daenerys, then Jon. But given this prophecy’s track record, it doesn’t mean that it’s bunk, it just means that it has yet to be fulfilled.
- There's something poetic about Jaime and Cersei's ends: that they left the world exactly as they had entered it, as twins, side-by-side.
- Sansa just shutting down her uncle's own candidacy for the throne is just *kisses fingertips* perfect.
- "Bran the Broken"? Not "Bran the Three-Eyed Raven"? Not "Bran the Keeper of Stories"? You're gonna go with "Bran the Broken"? Okay.
- Finally, Ghost gets the appropriate affection from Jon. About damn time.
- When it comes to the rebuilding of the brothels, Bronn has his priorities in check.
- Ser Brienne writes of Jaime Lannister's exploits in the White Book. It's a callback to season four where Jaime, in response to his brief Kingsguard entry, said that 'it is the duty of the Lord Commander to fill those pages'. It's not the total truth but it is true enough.
Episode 5: The Bells
aka where it toll for pointless deaths, a Cain and Abel reckoning and Varys is proven right.
Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) has always been someone who survived on his cunning. Unlike Little Finger (Aidan Gillen), Varys' plotting isn't purely about self-preservation, all of Varys' scheming is for the good of Westeros. He knows that Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) taking of the Iron Throne won't be good for the kingdom. He saw her loneliness and paranoia during a celebration; he witnessed how she reacted to Missandei's (Nathalie Emmanuel) death. Varys is well aware of the path that Daenerys has taken and where it would lead. After all, he had served under many Westerosi fu Aerys II Targaryen. Daenerys' father. The Mad King.
So in his desperation, he resorts to poisoning Daenerys' food, he urges Jon (Kit Harington) to reconsider taking the Iron Throne ("They say every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath… I still don't know how her coin has landed. But I'm quite certain about yours.") His conspiracy never came to pass when he's betrayed by a close friend, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and is executed on the spot—death by dragon fire.
Varys' end is a long time coming—prophesied by Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and promised by Daenerys should Varys ever betrayed her, Varys tried to turn the tide but is swallowed up instead.
But his execution is justified, right? Daenerys did what she needed to do and she will demonstrate that resolve to kill Cersei (Lena Heady) even if it means razing King's Landing to the ground. But that's not the entire truth: with Jon's true lineage on track to becoming public knowledge, Daenerys' claim to the kingdom becomes tenuous. Even if Jon refuses the crown, the people won't accept her. If the public won't welcome her, Daenerys will have to rule by fear.
But Tyrion cautions her against overkill. He pleads with her to hold off the onslaught when King's Landing surrenders and ring the bells as a sign. This appears to be another chance for Daenerys to redeem herself.
After she decimates the Iron Fleet and the Golden Company with Drogon, Daenerys' army, led by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) march through the city and come to a standstill with Cersei's army. It's a tense moment; both sides not giving any quarter as they have their weapons at the ready. Daenerys, perched on Drogon, waits for the moment before she rains fire and destruction.
Then Cersei's army dropped their weapons and the clanging of the bells echo throughout the city.
Satisfied by their surrender, Daenerys climbed off Drogon and, along with her Unsullied army enter the gates and she's greeted by cheers of the inhabitants of King's Landing…
Nah, that's not what happened.
What happened was that even with the city surrendering, Daenerys and her army laid waste to King's Landing. Daenerys committed a war crime. When she stared at the Red Keep, where Cersei is holed up, Daenerys decided to make it personal. She'd rather annihilate than liberate.
I understand why many people are so mad at this heel turn. You've invested in Daenerys. You want her to escape the shadow of her past and, through her own efforts redeem her family name and take back the throne that's rightly hers. You want to see a woman be successful in a patriarchal world. You ship Daenerys and Jon Snow so hard that you forgot about them being aunt and nephew.
Daenerys becoming the 'Mad Queen' belittles her achievements.
But creators David Benioff and DB Weiss, are telling a story and trying to subvert expectations. They want to keep you guessing. And in doing so, the narrative will ruffle feathers.
I'm not trying to say whether this is a bad or good thing. This isn't a review, it's an analysis into why certain things are the way they are in Game of Thrones. With the lateness of George RR Martin's next instalment, Benioff and Weiss have to continue the story on their own terms (though Martin did reveal to them major plot points of his books though we don't know how much of them Benioff and Weiss took into account).
On one hand, Daenerys' turn as the antagonist is a cautionary tale, something that won't be out of place in a world that's not a binary of good and evil but of people who make choices. But on the other hand, seeing Daenerys with a satisfactory end might seem predictable, but it is what her narrative arc is supposed to lead up to. It is the proper return for the audience's investment into her character.
This is the direction that Benioff and Weiss decided to go with Daenerys. This is a coin flip that Benioff and Weiss have to contend with.
- You know about how there are theories that we might see Drogon give birth to more dragons or that it would be revealed that Tyrion is a secret Targaryen? Well, don't believe the hype. We have one more episode and there's little to no set-up to most of the theories, I doubt that they would pull a deus ex machina shit on us.
- That fight between Euron (Pilou Asbæk) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is weird, no? Like it's not needed. I felt that Yara (Gemma Whelan) would be a fitting closure/foe to Euron.
- Also, Yara didn't join in the fray with her own Iron Fleet? What gives? Yara captured the Iron Islands but didn't sail to King's Landing for the battle?
- I think they dropped the ball with Jaime's redemption. He was supposed to be a changed man but instead of staying with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Jaime just beelines to Cersei in the hopes of saving her?
- The Valonqar prophecy was fulfilled: A "… younger, more beautiful" cast Cersei down. It was always assumed to be the younger Jaime or Tyrion but Daenerys took the honour for this one.
- This episode's battle was rather nicely shot. It should be—Miguel Sapochnik, who directed 'The Long Night', also directed this episode.
- In the midst of massacre, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sandor 'the Hound' Clegane (Rory McCann) entered the Red Keep and just before the two of them set off on their own personal path of revenge (the former gunning for Cersei and the latter, his brother, Gregor 'the Mountain' Clegane [Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson]). Just before they proceeded, the Hound convinces Arya to move past her need for vengeance. It's a touching scene but I don't buy that Arya would easily give up on her kill list. I understand that this is the Hound's last kind gesture for Arya but it felt rushed. It'd help if there was an episode that builds to it but, alas, budget restraints.
- We finally have our Clegane-bowl. Brother versus brother and it was everything. The Hound went at the Mountain and like his namesake, remains immovable. We even have a callback to Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), when the Mountain sunk his thumbs into the Hound's eyes. It was a poetic end to the Hound, who, along with his brother, perished in the flames; the fires that started him on a journey of revenge.
- I wondered whatever happened to Martha, the serving girl that Varys assigned to serve poison food to Daenerys.
- One more episode to go. Given what has transpired thus far, I don't think it would end on a satisfying note. I predict that Jon kills Daenerys, Tyrion melts down the Iron Throne, does away with the monarchy and introduces the concept of democracy to King's Landing… but we'll see. See you next week.
Episode 4: The Last of the Starks
aka where a drinking game reveals truths; a queen’s slowly descending into madness and there are seditious whispers in the dark.
The Night King is dead. And after last rites for those slain in battle, the living does the only thing they can, they celebrate life—Gendry (Joe Dempsie) becomes Lord of Storm’s End at the behest of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke); Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Sir Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) engage in a drinking game (“You’re a virgin.”); Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) regales to others about Jon (Kit Harington) riding the dragon and being an utter mensch. But very quickly, we see the joy flit from Daenerys’ eyes. She espies her confidantes—Tyrion and Davos (Liam Cunningham)—buddying it up with the Northerners, the Lannister, the Wildings and realises how alone she is, in the midst of her enemies.
There is cause for her concerns. Already, there are disgruntled murmurings about the Mother of Dragons. In a meeting among the remaining Starks, Arya (Maisie Williams) tells Jon point-blank that she doesn’t trust the queen, Sansa (Sophie Turner) maintains the stink eye she had cast at Daenerys any chance she got. Later, Tyrion and Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) conspires on whether Daenerys or Jon is deserving to rule over the Seven Kingdoms.
It’s as though after the threat of human extinction is chased away, Game of Thrones returns to its power politics roots.
Wasn’t it heartbreaking though to see Daenerys plea for Jon to keep his lineage a secret? We had almost forgotten that the Mother of Dragons is still a woman. Does that diminish her standing as a queen? Does it make her more vulnerable? I thought her imploring reeks of desperation. Perhaps it is these paranoid thoughts that erode at her reason. Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Daenerys will show everyone that she is truly her father’s daughter.
If you think that Arya is a sneaky fuck when she crept up on the Night King, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) takes lead on this. Bronn manages to slink his way past the defences at Winterfell to catch the Lannister brothers in mid-conversation. Brandishing the crossbow like a motherfucker, Bronn manages to cut a deal with Tyrion for a place at Highgarden. Let’s hope he lives long enough to sign the paperwork.
There are two takeaways with the war room scene. First, the propaganda situation in Game of Thrones. Here, Cersei (Lean Headey) is at the seat of power, King’s Landing, so it’d make sense that whatever news the people are getting are under her control. Jon, Daenerys and company can kill the Night King and save humanity a million times over but the citizens of King’s Landing will not hear a peep of it.
Thanks to Daenerys’ quandary, we can reason that an ascension to the throne is not a true ascension if you don’t have the people’s support. When you think about it, from the viewpoint of inhabitants of King’s Landing, Daenerys’ army is the interloper coming to invade them. Kind, benevolent Cersei is the only person who gives a damn by gathering all her subjects to
act as a human shield protect them from the bad, old daughter of the Mad King.
Second, we discover the victory in the battle with the White Walkers were pyrrhical. Already the Alliance is at half its manpower; morale is low and the Golden Company has already reached King’s Landing. But even with the number of soldiers and supporters for Daeneyrs, our heroes feel that the best option is to turn the people of King’s Landing onto Cersei by starving them—they will cut off the food supply.
Sounds like a great plan. I’m sure nothing will go wrong-
Aaand Rhaegal is dead.
It’s quite a turn of events. The last time we saw the scorpion, it was used in the Battle of the Goldenroad, where Drogon swiftly reduces it to cinders. We thought we saw the last of the weapon but if you fail the first time, try again with more than one scorpions—let’s see a dragon dodge that.
The killing of Missandei is a declaration of war. Daenerys will rain dragon fire and Cersei will meet her demise but once she is removed, what then? With what we know about human nature, we return to whom we are, just as our remaining players return to the status quo.
It conjures up what Tyrion said during the celebrations, “we may have defeated [the Night Walkers] but we still have us to contend with”—our own worst enemy is ourselves.
- That moment in the banquet hall, when Daenerys realised that her claim to the Iron Throne won’t be smooth sailing, the camera pans to reveal Lord Varys watching her. It’s a moment that reveals to us that it is not the schemings of kings and queens but rather the secret machinations of advisors behind the crown that pull the strings.
- C’mon Jon. You hardly showed any affections for Ghost throughout the season and now you’re just giving him away? No pat on the head, no scratching behind the ear? Nothing? Cold, bro. Real cold.
- Arya and the Hound (Rory McCann) riding off together into the sunset. I’m sure there are Internet memes already sprouting out about that.
- The death of Missandei feels… unnecessary. I get it. Cersei needed to force Daenerys’ hand so that she'll go all out on some scorched earth scenario on King’s Landing but Missandei's end just seems like a plot contrivance. It feels like lazy writing.
- This is the best free advertising for Starbucks.
- I suspect that rescue will come in the form of Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) when she sails her ships to engage Euron’s fleet. Two more episodes to go, we'll see you for the next one!
Episode 3: The Long Night
aka where hope is quickly dashed and every player has a role to play in a night that’s dark and full of terrors.
So, survival horror video games.
Whether it be your Resident Evil or The Evil Within, whenever you begin a game anew, there will an option on whether you want to brighten your screen or keep it as it is to maintain the suspense in gameplay.
There are complaints about "how dark the entire episode was" but we suggest watching 'The Long Night' on a calibrated set. In keeping with this fog of war, you’re placed in the heart of the fray like the characters on the show. The darkness obscures your senses. You can’t see shit. You’re unaware whether you’re swinging your sword at a friendly or a foe. It is the confusion that adds another 'oh-what-the-fuck-is-happening' to the battle at Winterfell.
We mentioned that being in the dark heightens the suspense. Its humans versus zombies, very typical of the horror genre, with the armies of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harington), at the ready as they stare into the dark nothing.
Suddenly, a figure on a horse comes approaches them. It’s Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the Red Priestess. Where did she come from? (We’ll get to that later.) What does she want? She tells Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) that she expects to die by morning. She asks for the Dothraki to raise their arakhs and with a muttered incantation, their weapons are set ablaze.
It’s a much-needed power-up. It's a fantastic spectacle with the flames lighting up the frontlines, chasing away the darkness. Hope is ignited. With new-found confidence, the frontline of Dothrakis charge forth and—this is where the camera direction comes into play—from afar, we see the flames slowly blinker out; the entire Dothraki army snuffed out in the vastness of the dark.
The director, Miguel Sapochnik (who also directed big battle-centric episodes, 'Hardhome' and 'Battle of the Bastards') knows how to release and pull taut the tension because an entire episode simply about a battle, albeit, an 82-minutes run, the longest in Game of Thrones, can get tired pretty quick. So, this episode swings from the tumult of war to a musing on whether one would be better suited in the battlefield than being sequestered in the crypt to an almost-silent scene of trying to manoeuvre past White Walkers.
Basic Horror 101: here be the tension; stretch and release. Repeat.
The death toll is staggering. The dead unfolds onto Winterfell and all their best-laid plans are put asunder: fires aren't lit; dragons are waylaid by a sudden chilly fog; the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) is impervious to fire.
It's FUBAR. It's chaos, shit happens.
But we recall this call-and-response between Melisandre and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson):
Melisandre: "Valar morghulis." ("All men must die.")
Grey Worm: "Valar dohaeris." ("All men must serve.")
This exchange is usually associated with the Faceless Men but it seems that it's often quoted by other people. "All men must die". Yes, that is the inevitability that comes with all living creatures. But what about "all men must serve"? Is it servitude to their god? Or is it something more?
We get a clue during the passing of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer). Beric, as you know, is the dude who keeps respawning but now he finally ran out of 1-Ups after protecting Arya (Maisie Williams) from the Wights. Melisandre tells Arya that Beric is not coming back to life because 'he had served his purpose': to save Arya for something bigger.
Game of Thrones is called Game of Thrones because it's about power plays, Machiavellian moves; all these characters are mere pawns in Westeros' political board game. But there's a deeper context to this: that these players are part of something bigger and grander: a story.
Whether you believe in the ataxia of life, the world of Game of Thrones posits that there is a time and place for all things. Thus, the presence of prophecies; these are storylines that have yet to happen. David Benioff, DB Weiss and George RR Martin are the true masterminds behind Game of Thrones. Whatever happens, happens on their watch and by their hand. What matters is that our players serve their purpose so that the narrative plays out.
Thus, it is the groundwork that led to the climax of the episode: where the army of the undead now doubled with the addition of your recently-deceased mates and hope dims as the Night King is mere feet from Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), keeper of the history of man.
Everything led to Arya plunging the Valyrian dagger—that damnable weapon that was used to assassinate Bran in season one to executing its original owner Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish—into the Night King's chest.
(We’ve actually seen a variation of that knife switching trick before, during Arya’s fight with Brienne of Tarth.)
Arya killing the Night King is unexpected. It’s incredible how your attention is pulled from her and for the next 20 minutes, you’re focused on the fates of Jon or Danaerys or the rest of the characters we know and love.
To think that after her tussle with the Wights in the library, Arya's fire was reignited when Melisandre reminded her of the prophecy that she told her back in season three—that "in the darkness are eyes that Arya would shut forever: brown eyes, green eyes… blue eyes."
Throughout Game of Thrones, there are triumphs and defeats; there are births and numerous deaths but they are—as far as I can tell—not random occurrences. For those who have survived this battle at Winterfell ("not today, Death"), they still have their parts to play in the next few episodes; they still have to contend with the Reaper at a later appointment.
Only the lucky few get to choose the timing of their exit: Melisandre, having served her purpose, removes her enchanted necklace, leaving her true ancient form to the mercies of the elements, dying before the rising of the sun.
- 'The Long Night' hearkens back to the winter (before the Targaryen Conquest and eventual uniting of the six of the seven kingdoms) that lasted 'a generation'.
- We thought many of our favourites characters will do the Mortal Coil Shuffle but, overall, there were five notable deaths (six, if you count the Night King as a favourite).
- So, I guess, House Mormont has gone the way of the dodo. Lord Lyanna may be missed but she didn't go out like a little bitch.
- I get that the Night King was one of the first inhabitants of Westeros, who was turned into a White Walker by the Children of the Forest to protect them from the First Men who were encroaching into their lands (hey, save the planet and all that). Maybe I'm the only one but it would have been nice to, at least, glimpse into his life before he became the Night King.
- Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is infuriating. Gone is the witty drunkard who is quick with the retort and quicker with the ladies. Tyrion has fucked up in his appointment as Hand of the Queen with that situation in Meereen; advised Daenerys to take Casterly Rock; trusted Cersei (Lena Headey) that she'd send them aid against the White Walkers… these oversights can get one dismissed, hell, executed but no, Daenerys continues to retain his services. Then, the moment of irony: Tyrion moans about wanting to fight alongside the others in battle rather than being cooped up in the crypts. He tells Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) that he could have seen something, something that could turn the tide of the war but Tyrion continues his losing streak by FAILING TO NOTICE THAT THE NIGHT KING CAN RAISE THE DEAD AND THEY ARE IN A FUCKING CRYPT AND WHOOPS THE DEAD HAS RISEN AND NOW THEY ARE ATTACKING THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN ANDOKWSAD AJSFKASKFDJAKSDL DFDS PPPOKMN
Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
aka where a woman is knighted, hatchets are buried and Arya finally gets it on.
There’s this moment in Saving Private Ryan.
By the banks of the Merderet River, the 2nd Ranger Battalion waits at the small town of Ramelle. They need to hold the bridge until reinforcements arrive. While preparing for the enemies’ arrival, a phonograph plays Edit Pilaf’s 'Tu Es Partout'. As it plays overhead, some of them talk about home, while others sat in rapt silence—this is the held breath before the sigh, the calm before the Sturm und Drang of battle.
That is what the second episode of the final season of Game of Thrones is about—a moment where our characters reconnect, come to terms with their pasts and make their peace before the war with the Night King.
We start with a very awkward trial with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at the stand, only Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) comes to his defence. Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and gang also realise that not only did Cersei (Lena Headey)—who didn’t make an appearance in the entire episode—renege on sending aid against the White Walkers, she’d also employed the Golden Company to finish off any survivors after the battle.
But first, we reconnect with several characters.
Here we have Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) come to some sort of accord. Well, almost. It started out with some promise but in the end, Sansa tells her, without fabrications, that even if Daenerys takes the Iron Throne, the people of the North will not bow their knees to her. Daenerys has to contend that this fight with the White Walkers will bring her closer to the crown but it will not win the hearts of the people.
Here we have Theon (Alfie Allen) returning. And instead of being reviled for his betrayal to the Stark family, he is embraced—literally—by Sansa.
Here we have Eddison (Ben Crompton), Samwell (John Bradley) and Jon stand and reminisce at the battlements. It's a bittersweet moment as these brothers-in-arms stare out into that cold night as they once did back at the Wall during their Night’s Watch days.
Here we have Daenerys smarting from Cersei’s betrayal taking out her ire on Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and then Jorah (Iain Glen) speaking up for him.
Here we have Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) annoyingly able to give a reason as to why the Night King is targeting him specifically and yet still leaves us with more questions. Saying, “he wants to erase this world and I am its memory,” doesn’t really explains it, right? Or does it?
“All men must die,” goes the quote. Death comes to all but true death is the forgetting of them. Some of these characters’ interactions may be brief but it provided just enough that if any of their ends should come, at least, their stories will get the closure that they need. But it is through these interplays that they remain living in the memories of the audience.
The episode also touches on gender politics in Westeros—Daenerys calls the shots; Arya (Maisie Williams) takes lead in her coitus with Gendry (Joe Dempsie); Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsay) waves off Jorah’s concerns about fighting at the frontlines. In a world that's supposedly built on the patriarchy, the tide has turned. “Fuck tradition”, an apt response by Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) when he hears that Brienne can’t be a knight because of established practice. Again, the issue of memory comes to the fore here: if we can’t learn from our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat it. And perhaps, that’s what made Brienne’s knighting such a standout moment. Who cares for the whims of kings on whether she should be knighted or not? All she needed was the approval of her peers, her fellow knights to forge their own future.
But the episode title, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” can also refer to Jaime Lannister aka the Kingslayer aka the Oathbreaker aka Yung Lyon. This former Lord Commander of Baratheon’s Kingsguard is better known as a knight-errant; he’s off to right his past wrongs. Jaime is a changed man and he wants to fight for the living, which includes even the ones that sent him to his death (read: Cersei). It is a tale of personal redemption; each character has, in his or her own way, come to terms with their past, only to face a future that could possibly be their end.
- Daenerys has suffered humiliations, gone through betrayals, fought her way through an uprising, conquered cities and now her claim to the Iron Throne is thwarted because Jon happened to be the last surviving male Targaryen, which makes him heir to the throne. If that isn't privilege, I don't know what is.
- Hey, look! It's Ghost!
- It's fun to read viewers' comments that they can't deal with Arya having sex. I guess, it's understandable since we've been with her since she was a child in season one. But I'd also point to how sexless Arya has portrayed herself to be throughout the seasons that it's hard to even fathom her character with any sexual yearning.
- It’s so sweet that Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) are making plans to settle somewhere after the war and grow old together. It’s also inevitable that this will not happen as well. Which reminds me…
- Given the episode's tone, it's not out of the question that many of these people are going to die in the next episode. Let's hope one of them is the Night King…
- Tormund is such a pleasure in this episode. He bear hugs Jon upon returning to Winterfell; tries to impress Brienne with his origin story; chugs like a muthafucka and eschewing all societal conventions gives a standing ovation at Brienne’s knighting. Which is why, BY THE SEVEN, I WILL HURT SOMETHING IF BELOVED TORMUND MEETS HIS END IN NEXT WEEK’S BATTLE.
Episode 1: Winterfell
aka where all the Starks (or what's left of them) are reunited
Hot damn. The premiere episode for the eight season doesn't waste any time as it starts with the Unsullied marching into Winterfell to prepare for the Night King's arrival. The people of Winterfell are distrustful of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) but wartime makes for strange bedfellows.
It's about time that the Starks got back together. Not only is this their reconciliation but the Greyjoys also get to have their own assembly, however brief it is. Theon (Alfie Allen) pulled through by killing a whole lot of Euron's men and rescuing Yara (Gemma Whelan). Remember, these are the same people that Euron (Pilou Asbækas) rendered mute (ie, removed their tongues) so as to keep his secrets safe. Well, now they can't even call for back-up so… great plan!
Also, Euron is a grade-A asshole, no? All swagger and pomp, Euron is impertinent towards Cersei (Lena Headey) and yet he still manages to keep his head; either Cersei has plans for him or Euron is smarter than we think he is.
Everybody wants something and for Cersei, she needs someone to do her bidding. But for Euron, is gaining a wife his sole objective or is he after something more? Like, say, the iron throne?
I'm amazed by the dude who has to keep tabs on everybody in The Known World. We're so intimate with their journeys that we sometimes forget that for some of them, their paths never crossed with another, or may never intersect at all. But when a meeting takes place, there are repercussions. Take Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). He's thanked by Daenerys for curing Jorah (Iain Glen) of Greyscale but then his sense of being appreciated turns to sadness when in that same breath, discovers that she killed his father and brother for not pledging allegiance to her.
As mentioned before, this episode wastes no time in getting to the meat of things: here Samwell tells Jon about his heritage, about who he is. Jon is, of course, shook by the revelation that he's the rightful ruler to the Iron Throne. But is he also shook that he is in a relationship with his aunt?
There was a small joy when we found out that there's another child ruler other than the Head of House Mormont, Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey).
This is Ned Umber (Harry Grasby). He's the Head of House Umber. Maybe Ned and Lyanna will be best friends, fighting against the Night King. Maybe, as they grow up, surrounded by all the chaos and blood, their affections for each other will grow. Maybe, they will be wed to each other; their houses united and strong, their alliance will dwarf all other houses in strength and power. This will all happen when Ned goes to the Last Hearth to get more horses for the battle against the Night Ki… oh, and now he's dead.
It's a hell of an ending, with the Night King leaving a message reminiscent of a serial killer's calling card. You've to admire the effort that goes into nailing severed limbs into a spiral.
- Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is tasked into killing Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). There's talk about Tyrion dying this season; is this the beginning of Tyrion's end?
- For the love of God, let Cleganebowl happen this season.
- I want to emulate Bran's (Isaac Hempstead Wright) bitchy smug look when he finally meets Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
- Is Cersei pregnant or not? This is the only pregnancy that matters and not Meghan Markle's.
- Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) is alive!
All the deaths in Game of Thrones: Who, when and by whom