We made it, friends.
After ten years, eight seasons, seventy-one episodes, hundreds of deaths, and countless tears, we’ve made it to the series finale of Game of Thrones. It’s a weird feeling, one I haven’t really come to terms with yet but will undoubtedly read a thousand think pieces about over the coming days. The battle for the Iron Throne has come to a close, and we’re left to sit and analyze every single second of it until the next show comes around that dominates our collective psyche for years at a time.
I like to think I’ve researched my fair share of fan theories and Reddit threads and general hysteria around this show, and yet I was still unprepared for Bran the Broken to end up King of the Six Kingdoms. That shady, psychic bird-loving bitch knew what was coming all along, but he let them all think otherwise. I can’t help but respect it.
There will be many complaints and gripes to come over the next couple days and all of them pale in comparison to mine which is this: where the hell was Daario Naharis? The man just never thought to show up? Too busy f*cking around in his haunted Hill house to come see Dany burn the world down? I demand closure.
Anyways, let’s dive in.
The episode opens on Tyrion, Jon, and Davos walking through the ash-covered remains of King’s Landing. In case you managed to forget last week—it doesn’t look good. While none of the three of them seem especially happy with the way things played out, Tyrion is taking it the hardest. I would imagine his inner monologue at this moment is just an endless loop for Varys saying “I f*cking told you so.”
Tyrion makes his way to the Red Keep alone, denying Jon’s offer of men to accompany him. He’s searching for confirmation of his worst fears and finds it almost immediately—Jaime and Cersei dead amongst the rubble in the underground cavern they tried to escape from. The internet almost tricked me into believing that Jaime Lannister was still alive, and like a fool I fell for it.
Out on the streets, Greyworm is rounding up and executing Lannister prisoners in the “name of the one true queen.” When Jon tries to intervene, the Unsullied react in a way that makes it clear that no dissent will be tolerated, even from the Queen’s nephew/boyfriend. Jon and Davos head off to try and talk some sense into Dany, a truly lost cause.
They come across the square in front of the Sept, where the Dothraki and the Unsullied have gathered for a post-siege pep talk from their Khaleesi. She wasted literally zero time in redecorating, evident by the twenty foot Targaryen banner hanging from the blown-out walls of the Sept. Where has that been stored this entire time? When did she have it made? What poor solider had the job of carrying around the giant team flag just in case they needed to make a statement? I need answers.
Arya is amongst the Dothraki watching this scene unfold, no mystical white horse in sight. No explanation there? Cool. Also worth noting that there’s about 100% more Dothraki present than you would expect after watching them fly face first into a black wall of zombies.
Jon makes his way up the many stairs of the sept as Drogon and Dany fly over. There’s a really great shot of her walking forward while Drogon’s wings unfurl behind her, a nice visual cue for anyone who maybe hadn’t picked up on the fact that Dany is in fact the Dragon now.
After naming Greyworm Master of War, she steps forward and delivers a speech to her troops that can effectively be summed up in a single statement: we’re not done yet, mofos.
Dany: My Unsullied, you have freed the people of King’s Landing from the grip of a tyrant.
Tyrion: More like freed them from life in general, but sure.
To the obvious surprise of Jon and Tyrion, Dany announces that their battle is far from done, because there are still people to “liberate” in the rest of the world. King’s Landing was merely a starting point, and Winterfell is named as being one of the next stops. The look on Arya’s face at the mention of anyone traveling North in the name of “liberation” can be found in the dictionary next to the word “murder.”
Tyrion steps forward at this point and delivers his resignation by taking off his hand pin and tossing it down the steps in front of them. He was going to be roasted for treason anyway, but it was a nice statement. The guy is nothing if not prone to dramatics. He’s carried away by guards under Dany’s orders but manages one last look at Jon on his way out that says “fix this.”
Dany marches past Jon next, looking at him with nothing but disdain on her face. Good to know that’s where they stand. Arya appears next to Jon, really making the most out of her super assassin sleuthing skills to warn him that he’s 100% next on the list of executions now that his aunt/girlfriend knows who he really is.
Arya: I came here to kill Cersei but your queen got there first.
Jon: She’s everyone’s queen, actually.
Arya: Sansa isn’t here but she’d want me to tell you to pull your head out of your ass.
Jon heads to see Tyrion in captivity, and they have a long, tense conversation about the fact that Dany is now certifiably insane. Tyrion is 100% on team Varys, but Jon is still in total denial.
Jon: I can’t justify what just happened, but at least the war is over now.
Tyrion: Wow I suddenly understand why you got murdered the first time around.
Listening to Jon defend Dany is giving me war flashbacks to having to watch half of Twitter defend do the same thing all week. Yes—she’s been through some sh*t. No one is arguing that point. But you know who else has been through some sh*t? Literally every single person on this show. Most of Sansa’s family was murdered and she spent her entire adolescence being mentally and physically tortured, but she has yet to murder a million innocent people because of it. It’s almost like experiencing trauma isn’t a justification for inciting a bunch more trauma.
Jon: She saw her friend beheaded!
When it becomes clear that subtleties and allusion aren’t getting them anywhere, Tyrion pretty much asks Jon to murder Dany in order to save the rest of Westeros, echoing Arya’s earlier sentiment that the true heir to the Iron Throne is likely next to be killed in the new regime. But Tyrion should have known better; the only thing Jon loves more than doing the wrong thing under the guise of being honorable is risking his life in the process.
In a last-ditch attempt at swaying him, Tyrion plays the family card. Even an idiot like Jon can predict what happens when Dany flies North: Sansa refuses to bend the knee, Winterfell is reduced to rubble, no white horse arrives to save Arya this time. Jon still doesn’t waver and instead apologizes to Tyrion before storming out to find Dany. He is surprised by an ash-covered Drogon who is guarding the door to the throne room and ultimately lets Jon pass. Big mistake, bud.
At this point I truly think Jon was hellbent on following Dany at all costs. He had yet to be confronted by her madness face to face and was still under the mistaken impression that we could talk her off the ledge. But when he finds Dany in standing in front of the Iron Throne, looking truly happy for the first time in months, ranting about building a new world together, the realization slowly starts to creep in. She’s past the point of no return.
Dany: When I was a little girl I heard stories about the throne and how it was made of 1,000—
Jon: Cute anecdote, but there are dead children littering the streets.
Jon begs Dany to forgive Tyrion, to forgive everyone and maybe not take her death tour any further than King’s Landing, and it’s a testament to how much she must love him that she actually looks conflicted for a second. But then Dany starts in on her speech about how the two of them were born for this—destined to build a new world together, deciders of what is Right and what is Wrong—and Jon knows. You can actually see him realize that Tyrion was right, that Dany truly believes she is saving the world and will burn it down to see it happen. Nothing can stop her, except him.
He tells her that she is his queen, now and always, and then stabs her in the chest during their last incestuous impassioned make out. She dies quickly and Jon proceeds to weep over her body while Drogon, who has clearly sensed some mischief in the atmosphere, starts screeching and arrives at the scene of the crime. He proceeds to nudge Dany’s lifeless body like a sad puppy in a Pixar movie and then, upon realizing that his mother is dead, turns and rains fire right past Jon and onto the Iron Throne, melting it down to nothing.
I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that Drogon understands the magnitude of this gesture. I am willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief for this ridiculous show, but this has gone too far. You’re trying to come in at the series finale and tell me that the dragon can grasp metaphors? Did Drogon take his season-long hiatus to pick up a poli-sci degree with an emphasis on democratic power structures? Nah. Absolutely not. We all blindly accepted the fact that Arya murdered a 1,000-year-old zombie king with some cheeky knife play, but this is where I draw the line.
After singlehandedly dismantling the bourgeois, Drogon picks up Dany’s corpse and flies away with her over the ocean and into the horizon, which means there’s now a roaming, mourning, vindictive dragon on the loose. I’d be worried but he’s probably just going to post up somewhere and start his master’s thesis on Nietzsche.
Flash forward an undisclosed amount of time later, Tyrion is summoned from his cell by Greyworm, and marched outside to stand before a council of the great houses of Westeros made up of the Stark siblings, Brienne of Tarth, Davos, Sam, Gendry, Yara Greyjoy, Edmure Tully, the unnamed Prince of Dorne and a few others. This entire scene was important for a few major reasons, but first and foremost, because we got the greatest reveal in this show’s history: a suddenly hot Robyn Arryn. I’m not happy about it either, but lying about it doesn’t get us anywhere. Perhaps we should all reconsider our stance on late-adolescence breast feeding. But, I digress.
It appears that a few weeks have passed since Jon assassinated Daenerys. In that time the Unsullied have taken control of King’s Landing, and the noble families of Westeros have come together for peace negotiations. Considering the fact that Drogon literally flew into the sunset with the evidence of any crime, this means that Jon confessed to murdering his Queen/aunt/girlfriend. It’s almost impressive how obstinately dumb he remains after all this time.
The Starks demand Jon’s safe release, and Sansa has rallied an army of 1,000 Northmen outside the walls of King’s Landing who are prepared to fight if need be. The Unsullied want Jon to pay for what he did, and Yara agrees with them. Davos, ever the great mediator, offers Greyworm all of the Reach for the Unsullied to take as their own to build their house. The offer falls on deaf ears.
Tyrion has been brought forth for reasons unknown, but he suggests that only a King or Queen of Westeros can decide how to move forward, and that the families gathered should elect a new one. Edmure Tully, the most useless man in this entire show, steps forward to nominate himself before being owned by Sansa in front of all his peers. Just give her the throne already.
Sam: Hey what if we let the common people vote?
Everyone else: Poor people?? Having opinions?? What’s next, dragons grappling with complex physical metaphors??
Once it becomes clear that no one is going to make a decision, Tyrion steps forward and nominates truly the last person I expected him to: Bran. He goes on to explain that the only thing that can truly unite people after all this are stories, and that Bran has the best story of them all. Arya, who spent her entire childhood on the run and lying about her identity while training beside assassins, only to save all their lives by murdering the greatest villain Westeros has ever known, does a really good job of not choking at that statement.
Bran the Broken is potentially the worst name in a show made up almost exclusively of bad names. Like, remember that traumatic childhood event that shaped your entire life? It’s going to define you in the annals of history, you weird bird child. As if that wasn’t insulting enough, Sansa stands up and reminds everyone that Bran’s dick doesn’t even work. Like wow, maybe the kid deserves to be king after suffering all this indignity.
But Bran’s inability to produce an heir is his greatest draw, because from this moment forward the nobles of Westeros are going to start electing their leader. Can you believe that? After all this, democracy wins the Iron Throne. Somewhere in the sky, Drogon lets loose a single tear.
Tyrion: So you down or what?
Bran: Why do you think I rolled my ass all the way down here?
The council votes to make Bran king, all except for Sansa who abstains and declares that the North has dealt with enough Southern nonsense and will remain an independent state. I think the fact that Bran is king now is the only reason the rest of the houses let this fly, knowing that Sansa and Bran wouldn’t war against each other. Or the people have finally recognized that Sansa is the only person on this show who knows what she’s doing. Either way, we love it.
Bran names Tyrion his hand, who immediately attempts to refuse because the man hasn’t exactly had a successful run at it in the past.
Greyworm: Not sure if you forgot but the guy is a war criminal and needs to be punished.
Bran: His punishment will be a lifetime of trying to fix the mistakes he’s made.
Greyworm: Yeah that sounds cool but not exactly what we had in mind.
So just to summarize, Tyrion convinced someone else to assassinate the queen on his behalf, installed a half-sentient bird boy as King, is now the second most powerful man in the kingdom, and will live out a comfortable life, full of wine, without the abuse of his family constantly following him. Not sure about you guys, but I think I know who won this show.
All that’s left is to decide Jon’s fate, and it’s truly the most tragic thing to happen all episode. Tyrion visits Jon in his own captivity to tell him that council came to a compromise. After all of that—constantly risking his life to convince the world of the danger of the White Walkers, fighting countless battles and actually getting assassinated in the process, all in the name of saving Westeros—Jon is being sent back to the Night’s Watch. He will live out his days without the one thing he’s wanted his entire life: a family.
Tyrion: If it makes you feel better, no one is very happy about it.
Jon: That’s the theme of my whole life, so it checks out.
Jon is released and heads to the docks to say goodbye to his family before being shipped North. Sansa asks for his forgiveness for not being able to negotiate his freedom. Arya tells him that she’ll be leaving Westeros to sail west and discover new lands. Gendry is RIGHT THERE in his new fancy leather suits, but sure. Jon cries. Sansa cries. Arya cries. Bran does what he does best: offers up a cryptic farewell.
Jon: I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.
Bran: You were exactly where you needed to be.
Jon: …. Goodbye to you too, I guess?
The rest of the episode wraps up all of our characters while giving us a preview into life in this new Westeros. Brienne stops by the library to finish Jaime’s entry in the book of Knights. She writes his story—their story, really—and ends it very generously by not mentioning that he spent his whole life banging his sister. She’s a better scorned woman than I could ever hope to be.
Tyrion leads the first meeting of Bran’s new small council. He’s joined by Davos; Master of Ships, Sam; Archmaester, Brienne; Captain of the Kingsguard; and Bronn, Master of Coin. Bronn is also Lord of the Reach and Highgarden, which means Tyrion came through on his promise to reward him for not assassinating them. Sam arrives with A Song of Ice and Fire, the written history of the wars after King Robert’s death. I see what you all did there. The camera pans out as the new council bickers about rebuilding the city, and the priority of brothels vs. actual infrastructure. It’s a glimpse into a hopeful future, even if Bronn is somehow meant to keep them from going bankrupt.
The episode ends with parallel shots of Jon, Sansa, and Arya embarking on their new lives set to a choral reprise of the theme song. It’s beautiful and sad and poetic and the only part of the episode that truly felt like a finale.
Arya sets sail aboard a ship under the Stark banner, because apparently the only way to come down from saving humanity is a semester abroad. Here’s hoping she spends the next six months drunk on a beach.
Sansa is crowned Queen in the North, which is all the she deserves a more. Our girl fought her way back home, fought for her people, fought for independence, and now gets to live a long happy life of peace amongst the people who adore her. I love her more than anything.
Jon arrives at the wall to be greeted by none other than Tormund and Ghost, who he actually deigns to recognize this time around. The three of them turn and immediately make their way North of the wall, leading the wildlings back to their now zombie-free homes. I’m really hoping that Jon decides to completely ignore the council’s ruling and just settles down with a nice Wildling wife in the wilderness. Or with Tormund. I’m happy either way.
And that’s it. That’s the end of Game of Thrones.
We’ve had our ups. We’ve had our downs. But through it all there’s no denying the indelible mark this show left on culture. It captivated us all, week after week, year over year, to the point that we’re now circulating unnecessary petitions about the way it’s ended. Hundreds of recaps have been written, thousands of comments have been left, and memes have truly never been stronger than during the course of Game of Thrones. For better or worse, it’s been a wild ride, and I’ve had the time of my life embarking on it with all of you.
All Time MVB: Sansa Stark
She kept her head down, suffered in silence, learned the game, stayed alive, and then came for what was rightfully hers in the end. She is the undisputed winner of this show and also my heart. Sansa Stark forever.
Until next time.
Images: Giphy (4)
I commend each and every one of you for making it back after the utter desolation that was the Battle of Winterfell. We’re all gluttons for punishment, but at least we’re in it together.
While not as traumatic, this week’s episode still saw its share of death. Let’s pour one out for all that we lost last night: one dragon, three ships (the romantic kind), many ships (the boat kind), a good chunk of our collective lingering hope, and saddest of all, Missandei.
This week started off strong with a recap from The Long Night that sparked a severe bout of PTSD and sent me sprinting to the kitchen for the wine that I told myself I’d save for at least halfway through the episode. Like, yeah, throw in that cute supercut of everyone dying last week just in case we somehow forgot, you absolute sadists.
We open on a nice solemn scene of the survivors from the battle saying goodbye to the fallen.
HBO reminds us that they are not here to play games by kicking things off with a nice, slow pan of Jorah’s dead body. Dany drops the world’s longest kiss on his forehead and honestly I’m surprised it didn’t wake him from his eternal slumber.
Next we cut to Sansa, weeping over Theon. Again, I hate it, but I respect Theon and thus will allow it. She attaches her Stark pin to his chest before stepping back to join Jon, Arya, and the rest of those gathered to watch. Amongst them is Ghost, in the first of his two appearances tonight. His agent must have stepped in to secure an additional 30 seconds of screen time in his contract.
Jon, of course, must make a speech before they burn all the bodies. It’s wild that the guy who constantly reminds everyone that he doesn’t want to be a leader is also the one who refuses to turn down an opportunity to yell inspirational things at a crowd of people.
Jon: All these people died at the hands of zombies for us, so it’d be cool if we could all stop being petty and maybe get along from here on out.
Dany and Sansa: Read 7:32AM
Everyone takes a nice lingering look at the person who effectively saved their life before they’re all set ablaze, giving us a last glance at Beric, Edd, and Lyanna Mormont.
Like, I’m sorry, I know it’s a time to be respectful, but why isn’t Arya sitting on Tormund’s shoulders and chugging ale or something? Our girl killed the NIGHT KING. Where is her recognition? Why is Gendry still wearing pants? What is going on?
Afterwards, everyone heads inside to enjoy an incredibly uncomfortable meal and is not making eye contact with each other. It’s understandable—feels like it’d be rough to make small talk after watching half of your people get slaughtered by a dead army.
Gendry: So uh…. Where’s Arya? Asking for a friend.
The Hound: My dude, people are still burning outside, please keep it in your pants for 30 seconds.
Gendry heads off in search of Arya before being called out by Dany, who casually announces to the entire hall that he’s Robert Baratheon’s son. Could she calm down for one second?
Dany: Hey remember that time your dad slaughtered my entire family?
Gendry: No, but I do remember the time that he abandoned me at birth.
But the conversation takes a turn for the better when Dany instates Gendry’s status as the lawful son of Robert Baratheon, the Lord of Storm’s End. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that no one saw that coming. Mercy? In my Khaleesi? Sounds fake.
Except it makes total sense when you realize it was an entirely self-serving move on her part, solidifying Gendry’s life-long loyalty and cutting down a potential competing claim to the Iron Throne at the same time. Tyrion picks up on it, as does Sansa. Their reactions are opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of being impressed.
This proclamation changes the tides of the night, kicking off the celebration in full. What follows is about 25 minutes of nonstop revelry and drunken hookups. It’s equal parts heartwarming and anxiety-inducing to watch, because we all know that happiness does not last long in this show.
Tormund cements his status as Jon Snow’s number-one fan by going on an alcohol-fueled tirade about all the things his little crow has accomplished, all while plying the guy with more wine. In a not-at-all-shocking turn of events, Jon is a lightweight and Tormund believes in puking and rallying.
Tormund: MY TINY DRAGON RIDER CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD Y’ALL REMEMBER THAT.
Tormund: HE SHOULD BE KING.
Tormund: WOW IF ONLY JON COULD BE KING.
Tormund: WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF JON WAS KING.
It looked for a second there like alcohol had cured the awkward tension between Dany and Jon, but it slowly starts creeping in as she takes in her surroundings. Around the room she sees him being celebrated by the Northerners in a way she knows she never will be. She watches the Lannister brothers, once her greatest foes, laughing together as if they’ve never been on opposing sides of the same war. It’s becoming abundantly clear that her road to the Iron Throne isn’t as clear as she once thought it was.
Over at the Lannister table, the drinks are flowing, the romance is brewing, and everything is looking super chummy in the midst of this drinking game where people try and guess things that have occurred in other people’s pasts. 10/10 would destroy relationships if you tried this with your own friends, but I say we do it anyway.
Brienne: You’ve been married before.
Tyrion:Jaime: * chokes on his wine *
Brienne makes a hasty exit from the game and the room just as a drunk-ass Tormund approaches the table. He starts to follow her before being blocked by Jaime, who runs out after her instead, at which point Tormund turns into every drunk girl you’ve ever met in a bathroom at a bar and starts crying over Brienne. I have truly never loved him more.
There’s one person who is distinctly not enjoying the festivities, and that’s the Hound. He is spurning the advances of women, drinking wine like it’s his last day on Earth, and growling any time anyone mentions that Arya saved all their lives.
Dany: To Arya Stark, true hero of Winterfell!
The Hound: I taught her everything she knows, but WHATEVER.
Sansa approaches his table and the energy here is…weird. Someone recently brought to my attention that they think these two should be together, and in unrelated news I recently started punching people who offer up bad opinions.
The Hound: So what happened to Ramsey?
Sansa: I fed him to his dogs.
The Hound: Wow, okay, so the two Stark girls are the only things I’ve ever loved.
These two start strolling down memory lane, which is a sad road littered with trauma. The Hound tells Sansa that she could have avoided every terrible thing that happened to her—Baelish, Ramsey—if she’d only left King’s Landing with him when she had the chance. But all that sh*t is what made Sansa who she is today, and she tells him as much. The last time they saw each other she was still a Little Bird, and now she’s the stone cold Lady of Winterfell. For better or for worse, Ramsey and Baelish played a role in that transformation.
Upon becoming a full-fledged Lord, Gendry immediately bails on the party to track down Arya. Her finds her practicing archery alone, of course. No rest for the wicked and/or murderers of ice zombies.
Gendry: I can’t even use a fork but I would like to marry you.
Arya: You didn’t have to mention that first part.
Gendry drops to his knee and throws out the sweetest, most heartfelt proposal that has probably ever existed in the history of Westeros. We cried. We rewound it and cried again. We hoped and we prayed and we wished, but deep down we all knew what would come next.
Gendry: Marry me and be the Lady of Storm’s End.
Arya: Lol I’ll make you the Lady of Storm’s End.
Arya comes through with the swerve of the century, kissing Gendry and then turning down his proposal. She tells him that she’s not a lady—never has been and never will be—and while she’s right, it didn’t make it any less heartbreaking to watch.
But where one love dies, another flourishes, which is something I whispered to myself as Jaime arrives in Brienne’s room. You know this man has had a lot of sex in his life, sister or not, which makes the fact that he’s so incredibly nervous possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Is the bar low? Yes. Yes it is.
Jaime: Wow it’s so hot in here would be a shame if all my clothes just started falling off.
Brienne accuses Jaime of being jealous of Tormund, and he proves her right by immediately undressing both himself and her. They’re bickering, all the way up to the moment where they just leap at each other. Was truly hoping we’d get a shot of Jaime being the little spoon, but we just can’t have nice things I guess.
Jaime: I’ve never slept with a knight before.
Things are slightly less romantic over in Jon’s room, where Dany has arrived for a drunk confrontation. She starts out by telling him that she loves him before immediately segueing into the whole “true heir to the iron throne” bit. Sure, there’s a hefty makeout session somewhere in there, but who among us hasn’t gotten drunk and then kissed our nephew someone we shouldn’t have?
In a rare moment of vulnerability, Dany confesses that she’s jealous of the support that the Northerners so obviously have for him. Jon tells her he doesn’t want the throne, but that’s not enough for Dany. She wants Jon to keep his secret buried, because she knows that everyone will rally behind him once they find out who he is.
Jon: I have to tell Sansa though.
Dany: No that’s literally the last person I want you to tell.
The next day, we’re back in the strategy room, the time for celebrating clearly over. We learn that we’ve lost half the Unsullied, half the Northmen, and an undisclosed amount of Dothraki. Considering the whole wall of torches disappearing into the solid wall of deadly night, we can probably assume it was most of them. On top of all that, Varys announces that the Golden Company has arrived in King’s Landing, and suddenly this isn’t an even playing field anymore.
Dany: We’re going to destroy Cersei.
Tyrion: But not destroy King’s Landing in the process.
Dany, with barely concealed rage: Yes….that too.
Jon and Tyrion’s plan is to starve the city and force the people to revolt against Cersei. It is far too diplomatic for Dany’s liking, but she acquiesces. At least, until Sansa starts talking.
Sansa: Hey what if we let everyone recover from the great zombie fight that happened last night before we march them to another war.
Dany: Yeah what if we also shut the f*ck up, Sansa? Hm?
Dany thinks that Sansa is trying to renege on their deal when in reality she’s just trying to make sure everyone doesn’t die of exhaustion. Jon steps in and sides with Dany, effectively pissing off everyone in the room. Sansa and Arya share the universal look that women recognize as “men making terrible decisions” that will doom us all.
The game plan they land on is this: Jon and Davos will ride down the Kingsroad with the bulk of the remaining Northmen, Unsullied and handful of Dothraki. Dany and Tyrion, with the dragons, will lead a smaller group to White Harbor, from which point they’ll sail to Dragonstone and then onto King’s Landing. Jaime will stay at Winterfell, as a “guest of Sansa’s” aka Ser Brienne’s boyfriend. Sansa is out here giving Davos a run for the Wingman of Westeros title.
Afterwards, Jon is immediately summoned to the Godswood for a Stark family meeting. Sansa and Arya are, understandably, pissed. Bran, predictably, is silent.
Arya admits that Jon did the right thing by initially bending the knee to Dany and recruiting her support, but that doesn’t mean they’re ever going to trust her. Her and Sansa’s argument is effectively the North’s equivalent of “Locals Only.”
Jon: That’s not a great way to make allies
Arya, standing mere feet from where she killed the Night King: Bold of you to assume I am in need of allies.
Sansa and Arya veer into territory that, ironically, Jon has wanted to hear all his life: you’re a true Stark, son of Ned, our brother who was definitely never resented, blah blah blah. It’s comical watching them both wax poetic about this while Bran stares in the background, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Sansa: You’re a Stark.
Arya: You’re my brother
And then he does it. He tells them the truth. Or at least, he has Bran tell them after swearing them both to secrecy. They cut away before we can watch that conversation unfold, which is a real bummer because I would have loved to see the look on Sansa’s face.
Elsewhere, Jaime and Tyrion are catching up over the only topic that matters anymore: Braime. Or Jienne. I haven’t worked out the details yet but you catch my drift. However, they are interrupted by Bronn, who casually strolls into a tavern in the North wielding a crossbow as if this is a normal thing to do.
Bronn: Is f*cking Brienne, like, looking in a mirror?
Jaime: Considering I used to have sex with my literal twin, not really.
In what may be one of the best interactions all season, Bronn opens negotiations with the Lannister brothers for his loyalty and in turn, their lives. He lets them know what Cersei sent him there to do, but also admits that he doesn’t think she’s on the winning side of this war. As we know well by this point, Bronn is loyal only to victory.
Tyrion brings back his original deal with Bronn, doubling the price anyone offers to kill him for, by throwing Highgarden on the table. Jaime is aghast, but Bronn takes them up on the offer. He leaves as quickly as he arrived, letting them know he’ll be back to collect his debt when all the fighting is said and done.
The next day, the Hound is making his getaway when he comes across Arya on the road outside Winterfell. She is clearly also sneaking out without saying goodbye to anyone. This is a trend that I am beginning to hate. They commiserate over their shared distaste for people, their unfinished business in King’s Landing, and the fact that they won’t be returning to Winterfell. It looks like our favorite buddy cop duo is back.
The Hound: Will you leave me to die again if I get hurt?
The Hound, softly: Love that.
Up on the ramparts of the castle, Tyrion finds Sansa watching as Dany and the dragons fly into the distance. What follows is an almost entirely fruitless conversation in which Tyrion tries to get Sansa to drink some of that Targaryen Kool-Aid. She’s not budging.
Tyrion: You don’t have to be her friend but you could try not being an asshole.
Sansa: Yeah… I’m good.
It’s obvious that Sansa is distressed about the idea of Jon leaving, and she has her reasons. She points out two facts that everyone knows to be true: Dany rules by fear and Stark men don’t do well in the South. The combination of those two things make for a precarious situation for Jon. Tyrion counters with the fact that he’s not actually a Stark, at which point Sansa almost loses it. She sees something in Dany that Tyrion is steadfastly ignoring, and honestly I trust her here. If Sansa has learned anything over the years, it’s how to recognize psychopaths. So if she’s wary, there’s likely a good reason.
Down in the yard, Jon faces a series of rapid goodbyes. First is Tormund, who comes to tell him that he’s heading home with the Free Folk, finally having conceded in the battle for Brienne’s heart. As a parting gift, Jon gives Tormund Ghost, who appears to have lost an ear in battle? Or they’re just running low on that CGI budget, who’s to say?
Jon: A direwolf has no place in the South.
Narrator: That was a metaphor.
The next farewell is with Sam and Gilly, who are apparently pregnant. There’s not a lot to do at the Citadel other than have sex and read about your friend’s true lineage, I guess.
Sam: You’re the best friend I ever had.
Jon: You too.
Me: There wasn’t a lot of competition there but okay.
But the saddest parting of them all comes in the form of Jon and Ghost, because this asshole just walks right by his loyal wolf without so much as a goodbye pet? A coward. That direwolf did not battle wights and live to tell the tale only to suffer this blatant disrespect.
Aboard the Targaryen fleet, Tyrion and Varys start the first of their many conversations this episode about who should really be sitting on the Iron Throne. Tyrion is still in fierce support of Daenerys, although it appears to be wavering by the second, while Varys has slowly shifted over to Team Jon.
Tyrion: He doesn’t want the throne though.
Varys: When in the last nine years has anything that Jon wanted actually mattered.
Tyrion attempts to compromise by floating the two getting married and ruling side by side, but Varys comes out staunchly anti-incest. What a novel idea. More than anything, he’s starting to have some legitimate concerns about Dany’s temperament as a ruler.
Tyrion: Look on the bright side, maybe Cersei will kill us all and we won’t have to ever worry about it.
Varys: Fingers crossed.
And just like that, we’re already back at Dragonstone. I love how fast time flies when there are only three weeks left to wrap up the entire show. All in all, this episode has been smooth. Too smooth. People are hooking up. Marriage is being thrown around willy nilly. Missandei and Greyworm are holding hands AND smiling. Which means we should have all expected what came next: the death of a dragon.
Euron and his fleet lay waiting to ambush Dany and Co, and they brought some giant dragon slaying crossbows with them. They shoot Rhaegal out of the sky no problem, and he plummets to the ocean below. Is this a metaphor? It feels like a metaphor.
Dany flies off into the distance to protect Drogon, her last dragon, leaving Euron to turn his attention towards her ships. He starts skewering them left and right with giant harpoons, and Tyrion is forced to jump overboard to escape. Cut to the shore, where Varys, Tyrion and Greyworm have dragged themselves to dry land, followed by a handful of their soldiers. Missandei is nowhere to be found, at which point the panic starts to set in.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is gathering the people inside the walls of the Red Keep in preparation for Dany’s attack. For a second you think she’s doing it to be a kind and benevolent ruler, until you realize that she’s actually just going to use them as a human shield between herself and the oncoming army. It’s nice that she’s not even pretending to have a soul anymore.
Euron is by her side, and she celebrates his victory at sea by telling him that she’s pregnant with his child. Remember when I was like “wow are we really worried about whatever Cersei is going to pull after all that White Walker nonsense?” Well the answer is yes, we are, because we pan out to see that she’s taken Missandei prisoner. Apparently this woman truly is scarier than an army of zombies.
In the war room at Dragonstone, Varys gets real with Dany. He thinks their plan is a mistake; innocent lives are on the line, and slaughtering them all to get to Cersei is bad optics, not to mention just bad for like, humanity. Dany reminds Varys that she’s going to rid the world of tyrants, no matter the cost. Apparently even if the cost is…becoming a tyrant. Irony is fun.
Tyrion takes a softer stance than Varys, but one that is still prioritizes negotiations over all-out bloodshed. Against all odds it works, and Dany agrees that people should see that she tried to avoid slaughtering an entire city full of bystanders and that it was actually Cersei who forced her hand. Not sure if that’s how it will be received, but it’s a nice thought.
Varys and Tyrion gather for their second discussion RE: Dany might be the Mad King. Varys may have been skeptical before, but he’s now fully in favor of Jon, who he believes should be on the Iron Throne precisely for the reasons that Tyrion thinks he shouldn’t: because he doesn’t want it. Putting a man who does not seek power in charge, and a Targaryen/Stark at that, is their best bet at peace in Westeros.
Varys lays down the facts – Jon is the true heir, better suited to rule, and is in possession of a penis, something that they’ll need to sway the Lords of Westeros. Wait, are they talking about the 2020 election? Sounds familiar.
Tyrion: I believe in our queen.
Tyrion: No doubts here.
Also Tyrion: Chugs a gallon of wine.
The conversation ends at an impasse. Varys brings back his tried and true line: that his only alliance is to the realm and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe. We stan a true chaotic neutral.
News of Cersei’s attack has reached Winterfell, and if Sansa wasn’t anti-Dany before, she sure is now. The news rocks Jaime, who sneaks out of his room in the middle of the night to make his way to King’s Landing, leaving a sleeping Brienne in his bed. She follows him out to the yard, tells him he’s a good man, and then goes full Meredith Grey on him, throwing down a “pick me, choose me, love me.” It works out about as well as her as it did for Meredith.
Jaime may love Brienne, but he hates himself more. He goes on to list all the horrible things he’s done for Cersei which are, to be fair, numerous. It seems like Brienne takes this as confirmation that he’s going back to be with her, but I read it differently. Jaime knows that he’s the only one who can stop Cersei, and he’s going to go do it. He also knows that he’ll probably die in the process. Is this the last time they see each other alive? Probably. Am I okay? Absolutely not.
Outside the gates of King’s Landing, Dany, Tyrion, Varys, Greyworm, and a handful of Unsullied are lined up, ready to begin negotiations. Cersei, Euron, the Mountain, and Missandei watch from the ramparts, giant crossbows at the ready. Qyburn exits the gate to deliberate with Tyrion, and the both lay out their terms: unconditional surrender on both sides, with Missandei’s life on the line. Tyrion tries to reason with his sister’s Hand, hoping to avoid all out warfare. It is, as was expected, ineffective.
Tyrion: I really don’t want to hear the sounds of children burning alive.
Qyburn: Funny because that’s literally my ringtone.
Tyrion quickly tires of speaking to the mouthpiece and moves forward to address his sister directly. She doesn’t have him immediately shot down, which seems like a step in the right direction, but it’s short-lived.
You know things are going downhill when Tyrion opens with “I know you’re not a monster.” If there’s one thing Cersei loves more than being a monster, it’s proving Tyrion wrong. She listens in a manner that almost appears thoughtful while Tyrion appeals to her more tender nature: being a mother. It’s a cute attempt, but one that ultimately fails. And what do his efforts get him? A dead Missandei.
Cersei allows Missandei some last words, which is a shouted “Dracarys” across the open space between her and her friends. For one fleeting, hopeful second, I thought it might spur Drogon to action, but then remembered the crossbows. The dragon is no Jon Snow, and stays a safe distance back.
The Mountain steps forward to decapitate Missandei, and in that moment you can see Dany’s resolve to burn King’s Landing to the ground solidify, innocents be damned. Remember that time Greyworm was happy? That one time? No more. We’ve been set up for a bloodbath next week, and I, for one, am not ready.
We all need a friend who’s ready to tell the hard truths, and that’s Varys. He’s out here fighting for the people of Westeros and campaigning against incest, probably the first person in this entire show to accomplish both tasks. He’ll likely die by fire for his efforts, but at least he’s trying.
Images: HBO; Giphy (5)