I could save both you and myself a lot of time by summing this entire Game of Thrones recap up in one statement: what the actual f*ck. To anyone who complained about the lack of gratuitous violence and death in the Battle of Winterfell, this is your fault. I hope you’re happy.
To say “The Bells” was a disappointing lead up to the series finale would be an understatement. While many characters, both beloved and despised, died in last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, the most important death was the character assassination of just about everyone involved.
Daenerys? Spends seven seasons preaching about rescuing the innocent, only to torch an entire city of them even after their leaders had surrendered.
Jon? A wide-eyed idiot whose only real skill is managing to underestimate every single situation he’s ever found himself in.
Arya? Suddenly someone who runs from a fight that she’s spent the last 10 years working toward.
Cersei? Don’t even get me started. That woman has been Villain Number One since day one and she deserved a death that reflected that. Getting torched by Drogon as she stares unwaveringly into Dany’s eyes? That would have worked. Chugging a glass of wine before throwing herself off the keep à la Tommen? Fine. But cowering in the arms of her brother-lover after a failed escape attempt? An insult. Cersei Lannister deserved better.
The entirety of the siege of King’s Landing could have been communicated with a black screen and just scrolling captions that said “She’s the Mad Queen! Dany is bad! Remember how we foreshadowed this?? Also does anyone know where George went?? He’s stopped returning our calls!” It was 45 minutes of gratuitous death and gore, a purposeful move that’s meant to turn the audience against Daenerys so that her death next week will feel like vindication.
But anyway, let’s dive into this mess.
We open back in Dragonstone on Varys, who is writing a letter to an unidentified person about Jon being the true heir to the Iron Throne. He’s interrupted by a young servant girl who reports that Dany isn’t taking meals.
The next morning, Tyrion watches as Varys greets Jon on the shore. The guy doesn’t even manage ten seconds of small talk before diving right into his pitch for Aegon Targaryen, King of Westeros. Jon is not entertained, but to be fair he’s never been entertained by anything so it’s hard to tell at this point.
Jon: I don’t want the throne. Never have.
Varys: Why do people keep saying that like it matters or something?
Varys might have made an impression if he just stuck to logic, but the second he insults Dany’s sanity he loses Jon entirely. Jon drops a steely “she is my queen” before stalking off into the castle.
Tyrion goes straight to Dany and we’re going to address the elephant in the room right off the bat here by saying that our girl does not look good. In fact, she looks downright bad. Not just “I lost my dragon and best friend/hairstylist in one fell swoop” bad. We’re talking “I’ve taken to glaring at the horizon and mumbling about my enemies” bad. They might as well just have hung a plaque around her neck that read “Mad Queen.”
She knows that Jon told Sansa about his lineage, who proceeded to tell the whole world, Tyrion included, who then told Varys, who is now actively campaigning against her. It’s worth nothing that not once during this argument, or any of the ones that follow, does Dany raise her voice. Everything is just a quiet, urgent whisper, which is honestly more disarming than her trademark temper. It’s clear that Varys’ fate is sealed here, only further confirmed by the arrival of Grey Worm at his room later that night. Varys manages to finish burning his letter before he’s escorted out to the cliffs where Dany, Jon, Tyrion, and Drogon are waiting. It’s safe to say that nothing good is about to happen when you’re dragged out of your room to face a dragon in the middle of the night.
Tyrion steps forward in a truly honorable moment to tell Varys that he was the one to rat him out. Varys isn’t shocked—he’s been in the game long enough to know how this goes.
Varys: I hope I’m wrong about all this.
Varys: But I’m not.
Varys: See you all in hell, bitch.
I’m surprised Dany is allowing even the slightest showing of remorse on Tyrion’s part. Empathizing with her enemies feels like something she’d be against even on her best day, and this certainly isn’t anywhere close to that. Instead, she just sentences Varys to die, with no charges or justification to offer.
After torching Varys, Dany heads to the war room with Grey Worm, where she gives him Missandei’s only possession—the shackle she used to wear around her neck. He tosses it into the fire, clearly on Team No Mercy alongside his queen.
Jon shows up and Grey Worm makes a hasty retreat, leaving these two estranged relatives/lovers to sort out some sh*t.
Dany: Sansa basically killed Varys.
Jon: Flawed logic but sure.
Dany goes on a short tirade about the people of Westeros fearing and not loving her, before pivoting and trying to seduce Jon in a way that truly made my skin crawl. He swerves, which confirms for her that she’ll have to rule by fear from here on out, having been slighted by the last person alive who claims to love her.
Later in the throne room, Tyrion is pleading with Dany to not destroy King’s Landing and all the innocent people in it. This argument, which he’ll make many times this episode, falls on deaf ears. Dany is beyond reason and speaking like a true tyrant, claiming that she’ll be saving future generations by cleansing the city now. Tyrion makes a last ditch effort and asks that she at least call off the attack if the city surrenders. She agrees, before sending Grey Worm off to prepare the Unsullied to sail out.
Tyrion: Please tell me you aren’t going to slaughter all the innocent people in King’s Landing who have done nothing to wrong you.
As Tyrion makes his way out, clearly aware of what he’s now dealing with, Dany drops a bomb: Jaime was captured trying to make his way into King’s Landing. This is the second time that Tyrion has been wrong about his siblings’ intentions, and Daenerys makes it clear that it will also be the last time.
Next we cut to King’s Landing where Jon, Tyrion, and the troops are all arriving for battle. Morale is low at best. They’re greeted on the shore by Davos, who Tyrion pulls aside to ask for a smuggling favor. Safe to say that one doesn’t pan out.
Arya and the Hound arrive at the camp at night, looking like they’re ready to singlehandedly take on this battle. If only that were the case.
Arya: I’m Arya Stark and I’m here to kill Cersei.
The Hound: She is the light of my life.
Tyrion sneaks into the tent where Jaime is being kept prisoner, hellbent on saving at least one person in this entire episode.
Tyrion: How did they find you?
Jaime: Turns out not a lot of men have a solid gold hand.
It becomes clear that Jaime has no intention of asking Cersei to surrender, thereby busting the theory I’ve been lecturing people about all week in which Jaime returns only to kill Cersei and then himself. Instead, Tyrion switches tactics and begs Jaime to escape with Cersei so that they can start fresh elsewhere. Not sure where the world-reviled Lannister twins could escape to, but it’s a nice thought. Against all odds, Jaime agrees and the two say goodbye for the final time. It was the closest I came to feeling anything this entire episode.
Tyrion: You were the best family I’ve ever had.
Jaime: Low bar there but I appreciate the sentiment.
At last, the day of the battle has arrived and both sides are prepping across King’s Landing. Euron is arming his many scorpions on his fleet in Blackwater Bay. John, Greyworm, Tyrion, and Davos, followed by the Northerners, the Unsullied, and the five remaining Dothraki are lined up against the Golden Company outside the walls of the city. Inside, soldiers are taking their places as the civilians race to the Red Keep for protection. The gates close before many of them can get in, Jaime included. He spends the next thirty minutes trying to find his way inside a crumbling city. Cersei looks out over King’s Landing, calm as a cucumber. God grant me the serenity of Cersei Lannister when faced with any kind of adversity.
Things kick off swiftly with Dany flying down from the clouds to torch Euron’s entire fleet of ships. The scorpions, which seemed last week to be the end of all dragons, are entirely ineffective. Drogon is out here, pirouetting across the sky, raining fire down on these giant crossbows as if it’s no big thing. Rhaegal is quaking at the bottom of the ocean.
Dany makes quick work of the bay and then turns her attention to the city itself. She blasts through the wall behind the Golden Company, effectively toppling all of them in seconds. Jon, Grey Worm, Davos, and their armies run through the gaping gates while we’re offered expansive shots of the opposing side lying screaming and burning on the ground. There’s a lot of that kind of behavior over the next forty or so minutes.
It becomes quickly apparent that Cersei does not stand a chance. Like, if Dany had rolled in with all three dragons, this episode could have been five minutes long. While she torches the Lannister army from above, the Unsullied wreak havoc below in the streets. It’s not even a contest, which seems weird considering the fact that Team Dany was looking worse for wear not ten minutes earlier.
Cersei is watching from her balcony, slowly realizing that this won’t be the cake walk she anticipated. Qyburn informs her that the scorpions have all been destroyed, that the Golden Company are charred, lifeless husks, and that everything is rapidly going to sh*t.
Dany parks Drogon on a tower just as Jon and company come face to face with the Lannister army. It’s a standoff of sorts, everyone clearly in over their heads. The Lannister forces drop their swords seconds before the bell signaling surrender rings through the city. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “thank God that was quick. Now we can spend the rest of the episode effectively setting up a plot for next week.” Just call me Jon Snow, I guess.
Up on the tower, Dany watches as the city surrenders. For one second you think things are going to be chill before she suffers a clear mental break, lets out a single sob, and then takes off in the direction of the keep.
“Oh, well, she’s just going to kill Cersei,” I thought, “this plan still checks out.” But guess what? She doesn’t do that. She doesn’t even attempt to do that. Cersei is hanging out, entirely unprotected on a very visible balcony on top of the biggest building in the city, and instead of heading for that very viable target Dany flies down to the streets and begins torching civilians and soldiers alike.
This move is clearly a shock to Jon, Davos, Tyrion, the millions of people in King’s Landing, me at home on my couch, and anyone capable of understanding logic, but you know who’s not fazed at all? Grey Worm, who takes it as a signal to keep on keeping on. He charges full force into a crowd of unarmed Lannister soldiers, and the battle is back on.
What follows is forty straight minutes of carnage. It was clearly meant to shock the audience into submission, but I actually just found myself to be bored by the over-the-top gore of it all. I had more of a visceral reaction to Tyrion outing Brienne as a virgin than I did to the people of King’s Landing being incinerated in HD. So instead of attempting to describe the mayhem, let’s just cover the important plot points that took place while the King’s Landing was being dismantled brick by brick.
Jaime & Euron
Jaime finds his way to the outlet Tyrion directed him to, down on the shores of Blackwater Bay, only to be intercepted by Euron, who immediately challenges him to a duel. This entire scene was the most unnecessary sequence of events in an episode made up solely of unnecessary sequences of events. Euron, whose character arc was already weak at best, has been reduced to a man who operates on chaos alone. He managed to survive Drogon’s attack on the water, and instead of making a break for it he just…goads Jaime Lannister into a fight? To what end?
Euron: I had sex with a queen which makes me a king so now if you kill me everyone will be like “Wow Jaime Lannister killed TWO KINGS” wouldn’t that be crazy?
Jaime: …Sir this is an Arby’s.
Jaime gets stabbed twice in the torso before managing to get a killing blow into Euron’s chest. Dark Pacey Witter, the chaotic Jack Sparrow of Winterfell, dies alone on the shores of King’s Landing. His last words are “I am the man who killed Jaime Lannister.” None of it made sense, but it’s so low on the totem pole of things to be mad about that I guess we’ll just move on.
Jon spends the entire siege running around the city, being shocked that Dany is doing exactly what Varys said she would do. He tries to save a few people and stop a few fights, but is ultimately useless.
Dany: * goes insane, burns King’s Landing to the ground, basically follows up on her promise to rule the people of Westeros by fear*
The Hound & Arya
Pre-Mad Queen, the Hound and Arya were strolling through King’s Landing looking like the best pair of assassins you’ve ever seen. But once the city starts crumbling around them, they lose some of their bravado. The two of them make it all the way to the Keep only for the Hound to turn around and urge Arya to escape. You expect her to laugh in his face but then, against all odds and in opposition to everything we know to be true about her, she just…does it?
The girl who killed the Night King makes it to the doorstep of Cersei, the woman she’s vowed to kill since day one, and then goes “Eh, not feeling it anymore.” At this rate, why didn’t she just stay back and marry Gendry? She could be in Winterfell, eating ice cream and watching rom coms with Brienne and Sansa, having sex with her hot, newly-noble fiancé, not having a care in the world. But sure, this route makes sense, too.
Arya thanks the Hound for I don’t know what, then high tails it out onto the streets of King’s Landing, which appear to be just as dangerous as the Keep. The Hound continues up the stairs and comes across Cersei, Qyburn, and the Mountain, making their escape. The brothers lock eyes, and it’s clear that we’re about to get the fight everyone has been asking for. Cersei commands Ser Gregor to stay by her side, and he answers by picking Qyburn up and busting his skull against a rock. Good riddance. She sneaks past them and leaves the two to battle it out.
Jaime & Cersei
In case my rant above wasn’t enough, let me drive my point home by saying that the death of the Lannister twins was the single most disappointing death scene in this entire show. Qyburn went out more heroically than these two incestuous idiots.
After leaving the Cleganes behind, Cersei comes across Jaime in the Keep. She starts sobbing upon seeing him and they stand there and hold each other for far longer than you would expect, given the fact that the ceiling could come down on them at any moment.
They make their way to the dragon dungeon Tyrion once escaped from, only to find that their route has been blocked by a pile of debris. Instead of doing, I don’t know, anything about this situation, Cersei starts sobbing about not wanting their baby to die. Jaime grabs her by the face, tells her that nothing matters but the two of them, and then they died clutching each other as the entire Keep collapses down onto them.
Their death feels like such a throwaway that I am now retroactively Team Cersei. Dying together? Check, we’re all on board for that. Dying cowering and sobbing in each other’s arms? Not my Lannisters.
What happened to Cersei, whose natural response to any danger is gulping wine and arching her eyebrow? Or Jaime, the brave and honorable knight who would rather go down fighting than surrender? Did everyone just forget the last nine years of character development? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
It shouldn’t be surprising by this point when I tell you that Clegane Bowl was entirely underwhelming. The Hound repeatedly stabs his giant zombie of a brother to no avail while the building collapses around them. Once it becomes clear that nothing will stop the Mountain, not even a dagger through the skull, the Hound tackles him and together they crash through what’s left of the wall and they both tumble hundreds of feet to the fiery city below. I would say it’s safe to assume both of them are dead, but it’s not safe to assume anything about this show anymore.
Arya & The Horse
Out on the streets of the city, Arya is not faring well. Despite the fact that she’s clearly won, Dany is still flying around and roasting people while toppling whole city blocks. Everything is debris and ash and fire and death and it’s honestly awful. Arya almost dies a handful of times, only to be saved by a kind woman who later dies by fire for her efforts.
Arya is knocked unconscious and wakes up covered in debris an undetermined amount of time later. While you can still hear screams in the distance, everything is quieter now. There isn’t a living soul in sight except for one immaculate, entirely unharmed white horse. I thought maybe this was a metaphor or a hallucination on Arya’s part, but It was actually just a whole-ass horse. Arya hops on and gallops away as the screen fades to black and for some reason “Old Town Road” isn’t playing in the background. Yet another disappointment to add to the list.
That’s it, folks. That’s the episode.
It seems like the only possible route now is for what’s left of Westeros (aka the Starks) to rise up against Dany. Now that she’s not even feigning sanity anymore, there’s nothing stopping Dany from riding north and torching her last standing opposer: Sansa. If we don’t get a Stark reunion followed by a Baelish-style surprise execution, I will riot.
Sansa up North, sipping a daiquiri and not being burned alive in a battle she didn’t support, carefully crafting her “I told you so” speech for Jon:
MVB: That stupid horse
Pickings were so slim this week that we’re bestowing the coveted title of Most Valuable Betch to the horse that managed to survive the melee on the streets of King’s Landing. With those kind of instincts, it’s probably smarter than Jon—someone please let the horse develop the game plan for next week.
Images: HBO; Giphy (5)
Welcome back, my friends.
The day has finally come. After two long years, we’ve made it to the final season of Game of Thrones. Who’s ready for six straight weeks of anxiety and general despair, followed by a life-long hole in your heart where this show used to belong? Just me? Cool, cool.
There will be a lot of emotional introspection as this final season plays out, but I’d like to start by saying it’s been both an honor and a privilege to spend the last four years watching and recapping this show alongside you all, butchering the names of the characters and pushing my pro-Daario Naharis agenda alike. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and for only mildly berating me for not having read the books. It’s much appreciated.
Before diving in, I’d like to make one thing very clear from the onset here: in this house, we love and respect Sansa Stark. Any other opinion will not be tolerated. Thank you for your time and patience, can’t wait to see you in the comment section.
Our episode opens in Winterfell, on a young child who, for the shortest of seconds, I thought was Rickon. My heart nearly stopped, and we’re not even into the important stuff yet. Could you imagine wasting resurrection on such a useless character?
But no, the small child is a nameless citizen of the North, who has gathered, like the rest of Winterfell, to watch the arrival of Jon and Dany, looking like the most regal incestuous couple to roll in since season one, episode one, with the arrival of the Lannisters. You thought this would start slow? Fools.
The Hound and Gendry are in tow, and literally all of them ride by Arya without noticing her. Seems rude, but sure. Our two favorite queens, Tyrion and Varys, are sharing a carriage into Winterfell, like the incredibly high maintenance icons they are. The Unsullied follow, led by Greyworm and Missandei, who are just one of the four couples that I am hopelessly devoted to this season. I’m sure they’ll all make it through and live happily ever after and I won’t cry once. Let me have this.
All the Northerners in the crowd look skeptical to say the least because, as Jon reminds Dany, they aren’t big fans of outsiders. But that vague skepticism turns to outright fear once the dragons roll in, dramatic as ever.
Jon is way too excited to see Brann, not yet knowing that the kid who used to be his little brother now only speaks in riddles and has some truly tragic information to share with him in the near future. Dany comes in hot with the compliments for Sansa, which I would think are genuine if I was a naïve idiot who’d never been to high school.
Dany and Sansa: *attempting vague pleasantries despite openly disliking each othe*
Brann: WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SH*T
Brann informs everyone that the Night King has Viserion, he’s a full on wight-dragon, the wall has fallen, and that the army of dead are marching south literally as they speak. I get the urgency but, like, could the kid attempt social etiquette for ONE second.
There’s an immediate gathering of the Lords and Ladies of the North to establish a game plan, and we get about six seconds of cute from the mini Lord Umber before Lady Mormont starts calling Jon on his sh*t. Honestly, just throw her in the ring with the Night King and save everyone some trouble.
Lady Mormont: You left Winterfell a King and came back a…
Jon: …a man in love? With an army behind him?
Lady: a BITCH.
Jon, never one to pass up an opportunity for a Friday Night Lights-inspired speech, lets everyone know that he may have surrendered his crown, but he only did it protect the North. In doing so, he got them an army, two dragons, and a hot girlfriend/aunt for himself. What’s a guy to do?
Tyrion jumps in to defend him, which may have worked until he mentioned that the Lannister army was en route. While almost no one in the Seven Kingdoms are fans of the Lannisters, the North are especially not so. It makes sense, given literally everything that’s happened since the last time the Lannisters rode into Winterfell.
Tyrion and Sansa’s reunion after the mildly successful town hall isn’t as uncomfortable as it could be, all things considered. They touch on their last encounter at Joffrey’s wedding, and the almost unbelievable fact that both of them are still alive.
Tyrion: Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.
Me, crying on my couch:
Tyrion, against all odds, truly still believes Cersei and the Lannister army is coming to their aid, and Sansa is like “… are you for real? You? The smart one?”
Jon and Arya have a much kinder reunion at the Weirwood, which ranks in one of the most touching moments of the entire episode. In fact, the whole episode was fairly heartwarming, which leads me to believe that we’re all about to get absolutely wrecked next week.
Arya: How do you survive a knife through the heart?
Jon: I didn’t.
Arya: That’s that sh*t I do like
Jon asking Arya if she’s ever used Needle is kind of similar to the time my Dad asked me during college if I’d ever tried alcohol. There was some bad lying followed by a blanket understanding that we were all going to blindly accept the lie because it’s just better that way.
What none of us, including Jon, were prepared for was Arya standing by Sansa. My girls, finally coming together. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Jon: Sansa hates my girlfriend and thinks she’s smarter than everyone
Me and Arya, in unison: SHE IS.
Arya reminds Jon that Sansa is merely defending the Starks, or what’s left of them. It’s clear from this interaction, and many that follow, that while the Starks trust Jon, they’re not psyched about this newfound Queen. Surviving the White Walkers isn’t as exciting a prospect if it’s just going to be followed by another war for the Iron Throne.
Back in King’s Landing, we see Qyburn and Cersei, who are watching the approaching fleet from the Golden Company, led by the Dark Pacey Witter.
Qyburn: Hey, so, uh, the army of the dead have broken through the Wall.
Euron still has Yara prisoner aboard his ship, who he appears not only be beating but also using as a therapist. Men are really out here demanding emotional support no matter the circumstance aren’t they?
Euron: Yeah I’m gonna f*ck, Cersei.
Wow, I nearly forgot about the gratuitous sex scenes in this show until I had to watch Bronn have a disappointing threesome with three prostitutes who are clearly just trying to get in some good gossip. They’re interrupted by Qyburn, who’s come on Cersei’s behalf with a mission for Bronn: kill Jaime and Tyrion, with a crossbow no less, assuming they manage to survive the zombie war. It’s “poetic justice.”
Cersei commits her greatest crime since blowing up the sept by having the audacity to utter the phrase “You want a whore? Buy one. You want a queen? Earn her.” If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of thousands of white girls sprinting to their nearest tattoo parlor as we speak. Then she goes on to have sex with Euron, because if you’re going to f*ck up, you might as well go all in.
I constantly vacillate between despising this guy and being almost shocked into respecting him. He’s out here, carrying some chaotic Jack Sparrow of Westeros energy, asking a woman who’s been known to murder men on a whim if he’s better at sex than her twin brother. I won’t be sad when he dies, but I will enjoy watching him interact with people up until that point.
Cersei: You’re arrogant, insolent, you look like a dirty pirate….and I’m into it.
Euron: Nice let’s have a kid.
In a twist that none of us were dumb enough to actually believe would happen, Theon successfully, and discreetly, rescues Yara from Euron’s ship. She thanks him the only way this family knows how: by punching him in the face. Yara plans to re-take the Iron Islands, giving Dany somewhere to retreat to if they can’t hold the North. I have a feeling the first spot that she’s offering up is her bed, but I digress. However, she lets Theon return to Winterfell, knowing that he wants to fight alongside the Starks.
Back in Winterfell, Davos, Varys and Tyrion have a small pow wow to discuss the very real issue of the Northerners loyalty. Davos brings up, yet again, the fact that the North won’t trust Dany…unless she were to be married to Jon. Get you a friend like Davos–brings you back from the dead and secures you a hot and powerful dragon wife. Wingman of the century.
Meanwhile, Dany and Jon are discussing the loyalty of one Northerner in particular: Sansa.
Dany: Sansa hates me.
Jon: Okay, yeah, but she hated me for a while, too.
Dany: …no, you were supposed to say that she doesn’t hate me.
God forbid Sansa be wary of strange blond queen riding into her home, pretending to be her friend, and then taking advantage of her family. Not like that’s ever happened before or anything.
Dany lets Jon know that, much like every mean girl on every season of The Bachelor, she is not here to make friends. There’s a slight allusion to the fact that if Sansa can’t learn to respect her, something may have to happen, but they’re interrupted by the Dothraki before that horrible train of conversation can continue. Turns out the dragons hate the cold and are barely eating in protest. If only we all reacted to cold weather in the same way.
Watching Jon and Daenerys flirt while he learns how to ride a dragon is truly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. This is the only rom com I’ve ever needed. I can’t believe I’m twenty-seven years old and openly rooting for incest. What a time to be alive.
They arrive at a desolate waterfall, and proceed to make out as if the world isn’t ending in a week. Ah, young, familial love. The dragons are not as into this PDA as I am, reacting in a similar way as my coworkers did last Friday when we tried explaining the dynamics of this relationship to them.
My boss: So…they’re related. And you’re…into that.
Me: Yes but they’re in LOVE.
Arya, The Hound, and Gendry all reunite in the forges below Winterfell, where Gendry is busy making dragonglass weapons for an entire army.
The Hound: You left me for dead
Arya: And I also robbed you.
The Hound, visibly trying not to cry: That’s my girl.
After some flirting that melts both mine and Arya’s cold, dead hearts, she asks Gendry to make her a special weapon out of dragonglass. Winterfell is currently the set of a romance novel and I am LIVING for it.
Gendry, with literal hearts in his eyes: I always knew you were just a rich girl.
Arya: You don’t know any other rich girls.
Jon returns from his date only for Sansa to tell him that the Glovers have abandoned them, opting to stay in their castle and take on a zombie army alone rather than fight beside a Targaryen. An overreaction? Sure, but you have to respect their flair for the dramatic.
Lord Glover’s note doesn’t necessarily say that it’s because of the presence of Daenerys, but it doesn’t have to. Jon and Sansa finally have it out, her being upset that Jon relinquished his crown and Jon making the argument he’s been make for upwards of five years now: that none of this matters because literal zombies are coming.
Jon: Do you have any faith in me at all?
Sansa: …you know I do.
Jon: That was a lengthy pause but I’ll take it.
Jorah brings Daenerys down to the library to make his move introduce her to Sam, the man who saved him from grayscale. He’s also the man who knows she’s currently having sex with her nephew, but that’s a conversation for another time, I’m sure.
Dany wants to give Sam something for his service, and he asks for a pardon for stealing from both the Citadel and his father. This brings them to the awkward moment when Dany has to tell Sam that she roasted his father for refusing to bend the knee.
Sam: I’m a Tarly.
This is probably the first time that Dany has ever been confronted with the results of her…less than diplomatic methods. Sure, burning people alive who don’t agree with you seems like a good move in the moment. But having to tell their sons later, the ones who are actively fighting for you? Less awe-inspiring.
Sam, true to his brand, starts blubbering in front of Dany once he finds out that his brother was also part of the Tarly barbecue. He escapes outside only to find Brann, possible the least comforting person in the entire world.
Sam: Whatcha doing out here buddy?
Brann: Waiting for an old friend.
Sam: But…you don’t have any friends.
Brann decides that this is the moment that Sam must tell Jon about his true lineage. The guy just got some mildly traumatic news, but sure, why not go ruin his best friend’s life real quick. He finds Jon in the crypts below Winterfell, and honestly seeing Sam is the happiest Jon has ever looked. Even when he was banging his aunt. He truly loves him.
Sam goes with the tried and true method of bad news, immediately followed by even more bad news. He starts with the fact that Dany executed his father and brother and then railroads directly into “oh, by the way, you’re the King of the Seven Kingdoms.” He breaks down R+L=J in a matter of ten seconds, which seems kind of messed up considering it took all of us two years to come to terms with that news.
Jon: But my honorable father, Ned Stark, does not lie.
Sam: Jesus Christ, not this again.
Further North, Tormund, Beric, Edd, and what’s left of the Night’s watch find each other in the desolate and empty halls of the Umbers’ castle. It’s been ransacked by the Night King and his army, who left little Lord Umber staked to a wall as a message. Has the Night Kind developed a flair for the dramatic since last season? I don’t remember him leaving cryptic and ominous messages before, but adopting a dragon changes a zombie I guess.
The episode closes with a momentous arrival at Winterfell: our boy Jaime Lannister. I REPEAT. JAIME LANNISTER HAS ARRIVED AT WINTERFELL. Last time he was there he pushed a child out a window, so here’s hoping he follows it up with something even better.
I was hoping he’d immediately fall into the arms of Brienne, bringing all of my favorite couples into one very cold castle, but his welcome is, uh, far less romantic. Jaime hops off his horse and immediately comes face to face with Brann, who is in the same exact spot he’s been since Sam left. Turns out he was was waiting for an old friend.
Brann: *KILL BILL SIRENS*
Season one, episode one ended with this blonde asshole throwing this sweet child out a window, and here we are, seven seasons later, ending season eight, episode one with the two of them coming face to face for the first time since. Who would have thought we’d all be on Jaime’s side after all this time? In these moments I am reminded that beyond the gore and glory and generally terrible events that take place, this show can be poetic.
To Brann’s credit, he treats the guy who crippled him and effectively started his entire journey to becoming the Three Eyed Raven the way he treated his beloved siblings and every single other person he’s come into contact with this episode: with a weird vacant stare.
And that’s it, folks. Week one, complete. Our main characters are basically all together, our zombie army is uncomfortably close, and Cersei is thousands of miles away, continuing her lifelong trend of having sex with people she shouldn’t be having sex with.
What will next week bring? Despair, most likely. Can’t wait. See you all then.
Images: HBO; Giphy (4); Tumblr (2)