Alright, GOT. That was a lot.
This is what I’ve been waiting for. Daenerys has been the scariest character for several seasons now, and here it comes to full bloom. It was an immensely tough episode to take, but it hit all the right buttons.
A few minor criticisms are warranted. Some of the special effects, particularly as they rode down the Golden Company, were less than stellar. Also, much of the falling debris was at least digitally enhanced, and looked so.
More importantly, some of the dialogue was really forced. Two moments stick out: Arya and the Hound, and Jaime and Cersei. With Arya and the Hound, it really is something that books do better than tv shows. Her switch from focused revenge monster to would-be hero trying to save people and failing was too fast. It didn’t feel earned. He just basically says, “Don’t do it!” And she doesn’t? Lazy writing.
With Cersei and Jaime, how did the baddest bitch on the planet turn into a whimpering, fearful little bird in need of saving by her man? It would have seemed much more in keeping if she had ordered him to start clawing through the bricks while she watched. In a sense, Jaime did lead her to her death, which confirms her prophecy that her brother would kill her. So at least there’s that. But her collapse didn’t start there in the basement. She really just took no action at all in that episode, and it was kind of disappointing.
And why the hell did Euron fight Jaime? That added literally nothing to the story. Plot, character, mood and theme would all have been the same had that scene simply not happened.
Much of the rest was quite good. Tyrion’s scene in her private chambers was really interesting. She looked very much like Viserys to my eyes, and we knew that he was mad before Khal Drogo gave him his golden crown. And she told Tyrion, essentially, that Jon is a traitor in her eyes. She meets with Jon in a last-ditch effort to bring him around, but he refuses to be romantic with his aunt. She responds, “It’s to be fear then.” That is her willingly letting go of her last thread of decency, temperance, and humanity. She is now the monster she has always tried not to be.
OK. Now to the big moment. The titular moment for this episode. The Bells.
I had been waiting for Daenerys to start burning innocents since the episode began, but it was pretty well-executed. The look on her face when the bells rang suggested that she was not satisfied. That the surrender happened too soon. Should she do what is right and keep her promise to her Hand, or do what she wants, waste a bunch of innocents and rule through fear? But then, she had already made that choice. She could deny it no longer, and the carnage began.
Here’s my thought: Tyrion is done. Once the Unsullied report that he went in to meet with his brother, who then was gone, he will be dragon fodder. Jon could very well burn as well, for rejecting her love, for being her nephew, and for telling Sansa. And that’s before she hears that Jon was hesitant to attack men who had surrendered, which Grey Worm clearly saw and stared him down for. Sansa is in grave danger. I’m only 50/50 on her making it out of the series alive.
Now Daenerys has fulfilled her destiny. She saw this vision in season two in the Houses of the Undying, the throne room covered in ash with no ceiling. This has always been her future. And she has always burned her enemies without mercy. In her mind, the real person at fault here was Cersei for holding these people hostage. She had to kill them so that no one would think of using innocents to stop her again. Which makes her mad. As mad as her father.
And Arya survives. She didn’t get to kill Cersei, it’s true. But, perhaps she takes out the Night King AND the Targaryen Queen.
It’s worth noting that Martin based his novels very loosely on the War of the Roses. There, neither the Lancasters nor the Yorks ended up on the throne, but the Tudors did. If that model holds, then the person who takes the throne will not be a Lannister OR a Stark, but a relatively minor house, perhaps from the west, and this will eventually lead to a more unified, more powerful kingdom. In other words, predicting the end here may be a fool’s errand. But it should be fun to watch!