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Raven On Recap: GoT S8E5 "The Bells"

Posted May 15 into Raven On by girlclumsy

Throners.

Beloved Throners.

I have said many things about Game of Thrones.

This is the one thing I never thought I would say.

It goes against every fibre of my being.

Bear witness to this moment.

*Draws a deep breath*

FOR F***’S SAKE JON SNOW, YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST HAD THE GODDAMNED SEX WITH YOUR GODDAMNED AUNTIE.

Seriously, dude, tens of thousands of people had to BURN because Jon Snow couldn’t get his Jon Thomas to rise to the occasion? Because he couldn’t lie back and think of Westeros?

You even SAID “She shouldn’t be alone” and then you TURNED HER DOWN when she NEEDED SOME LOVIN’ because of your PRINCIPLES and seven hells just DO THE INCEST and MAYBE WE WOULDN’T BE IN THIS MESS.

There’s one episode to go, Jon, and quite frankly - I’m starting to think you make some dumb decisions.

And also, while I’m at it, WHAT THE F*** JAIME LANNISTER?!

I backed you last week. I said you left Brienne because your self-esteem had crashed and you had to go kill Cersei, or at least stop her path of destruction. I SUPPORTED YOU when others were saying you were TRASH because you ROOTED & SCOOTED. I had your back, Kingslayer, and you repay me with the most mystifying change of mind since Bran became the Three-Eyed Raven.

I mean SURE, it kind of fulfils the Valonqar prophecy in that he is Cersei’s younger brother by several minutes, and he did wrap his hands around her throat as the life was squeezed out of them both by falling rocks. And SURE, it was bleakly poetic that these two moral vacuums should find each other again in time for the world to literally cave in on them.

But all that self-betterment Jaime did! All those self-help books and personal improvement courses and mantras on cassette! Awaken the Giant Within? Only if by “giant” you mean “Gormless Incest Addict with Neutered Testicles”.

I’m so disappointed in you, Jaime. You had a chance to let Cersei suffer for her crimes, turn a new leaf, and do good with Ser Brienne for the rest of your days. Instead you let yourself slip back into that freaky weird folie à deux with your sister.

Congratulations. You’re basically Fred & Rose Westeros.

These all-too-familial relationships - one concluded, one further complicated - brought me to mind of another power couple, also distantly related.

American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt described the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour as “a day that will live in infamy”, and for certain, Daenerys Targaryen created one of those in this episode.

But he’s even more famous for his 1933 inaugural speech in which he declared that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. In this episode, Dany turned her own fear of being alone into fear itself, expelling her pain outwards in a blaze of annihilation.

Was the Targaryen coin flipped by madness, by genetic inheritance?

Perhaps more insight can be gained from FDR’s rather more clever wife (and cousin!), Eleanor, who had lots of wise words about personal development, including:

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

I’ve been blaming Jon for not giving Daenerys a right royal seeing to as the reason behind her flip into the most vicious roaster since Don Rickles. But that’s not entirely fair.

Queen Daenerys had been f***ed over. And she chose to f*** back.

That’s on her.

Jaime saw another way to live, free from his sister’s grip. He chose to grip her back.

That’s on him.

In terms of characters acting, well, out of character - those were stories we wrote in our own heads, narratives we created. Ultimately we want redemption arcs, we want people we like to turn to the light, we want there to be satisfying paybacks and victories.

We want a lot of things in life we don't get.

There is much to discuss, Throners, so let’s fire up the… oh, yikes, too soon.

S8E5: “The Bells”

The drama was present from the first frame of the episode, but the real fury was unleashed in the second half, so let’s establish where all of our key players were before hell literally broke loose.

Varys can be seen penning letters revealing the truth about Jon Snow’s heritage. I felt a little flash of something when I saw the name “Eddard Stark” glint in the candlelight. How long ago that feels. Back then, Varys’ motivations confused me. He was a spymaster and chief conspirer; when he visited Ned Stark in the Black Cells, I could never quite believe him when he said he served the realm. Now, he seems to be the only true champion of the people’s interests.

A servant girl updates him on Daenerys’ physical state - she won’t see anyone, she’s not eating, probably not bathing, eyebags for days, a real hot mess. Varys tells her they will try again tomorrow, and reminds her that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Does that point to him attempting to quietly assassinate her on Dragonstone, before she can carry out her assault on King’s Landing?

Jon Snow arrives to report on the progress on the Northern forces, but Varys isn’t wasting time with troop movements. He springs the idea of ruling on Jon, who realises his secret has got out. Varys is confident Jon’s coin has flipped on the side of “good guy”, but Jon isn’t having it. “She is my Queen,” he says, shutting down discussion. Jon keeps saying he doesn’t want the Throne, but my sad beloved is already wearing a very heavy invisible crown.

Tyrion goes in to see Dany in the tabletop gaming room, where she appears to be calculating a version of Cards Against Humanity in her head.

She knows someone has betrayed her, but Tyrion is surprised when she says it was Jon. He counters with Varys, but she says he’s at the back end of a human centipede of whispers that began with the former King in the North.

Tyrion says it was right for he and Varys to know that information to protect Dany. However, Dany says they’ve just played into Sansa’s hands - she trusted Tyrion wouldn’t keep his trap shut and Dany will pay the price for it. Tyrion knows he’s screwed up, but uses the phrase “Our intentions were good”. We all know what road good intentions pave.

Grey Worm and two Unsullied guards come for Varys that night, as he writes more letters by candlelight. He burns the most recent one, but one wonders whether he got any out. And who would he send them to? There are big power gaps all around the seven kingdoms.

I liked the touch of Varys taking off his two rings, leaving them behind in a bowl. I have no idea of the rings’ significance - as far as my memory goes, they’ve never been a particular focus of his character. But as a gesture of “the end is nigh, no point letting these be wasted”, it was well-placed.

Tyrion confesses to Varys it was he who outed him to Dany. Varys is not upset; he rolled his dice and got snake eyes. After so many successful outings at the craps table that is Westerosi politics, he had to bust out eventually.

“I hope I’m wrong. I hope I deserve this,” he tells Tyrion with a tone of voice that suggests he doesn’t think he’s wrong at all. Tyrion looks genuinely miserable as he gives his friend and long-time intellectual sparring partner a pat goodbye.

“Power resides where men believe it resides,” was perhaps Varys’ most famous rejoinder - indeed, he said it to Jon Snow earlier that day.

Dany believes the power lies with her, and with Drogon looming out of the blackness, it seems this time she is right. “Dracarys,” she orders coldly, and the Spider is no more.

Vale Varys, technically not a Lord, but worthy of the title nonetheless.

There’s a moment where Jon Snow looks at his Queen, and for the first time, a flash of fear runs across his beautiful face. Oh Jon, I would never make you scared. I mean, as long as you don’t count the now eight years of constant stalking and inappropriate references to what I would do to you should I get you alone.


"Hmm, maybe the Mother of Kittens is a better option."

Dany gives Grey Worm Missandei’s slave collar, the only possession she kept with her when Team Targaryen crossed the Narrow Sea. But Grey Worm tosses it on the fire. He doesn’t want a reminder of his loss; Missandei was his “weakness”, remember? Now she’s gone, he needs to resume peak humano-droid-killer-bot status.

Jon Snow rocks up, and there’s an interesting moment in the subtitles where “Grey Worm” is not translated from Valyrian, but rather spelled out as “Torgo Nudho”. It doesn’t feel like a coffee-cup-esque mistake, so is it reinforcing his return to a more Essosian state?

Torgo Nudho leaves Dany alone with Jon Snow, who once again vehemently denies he wants anything to do with the Iron Throne. Dany says his sister Sansa killed Varys just as much as she did by breaking her oath to Jon; and now the Lady of Winterfell knows what happens to people who try to act on the truth about Dany.

Dany’s eyes are in raw blinkless crazy mode as she declares there is no love for her in Westeros, only fear. “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat Grey Worm” - which is frankly inappropriate so soon after Missandei’s death and also physically impossible.

“I love you. You’ll always be my Queen,” declares Jon, slightly avoiding eye contact. Dany rises from her chair, and asks if that’s all she is to him, his Queen. She goes in for another snog, but Jon once again pulls away.

“All right then,” she says. “Let it be fear.”

Frustratingly, the camera cuts away from the conversation we should have seen, which was Jon telling Dany he’s just a bit weirded out because she’s his aunt and everything, and while he very much WANTS to ride the dragon again, he needs some time to work around the ethical quandaries in his head, having grown up in the non-incestuous North and all that. And then Dany might have said, oh, OK, well it’s super normie for us Targaryens, so I’m ready to bust your nuts as soon as you realise I’m a cool aunt, like, a punk rock aunt, not some fuddy duddy who used to make you cookies as a kid or whatever, and also, I’m feeling particularly isolated right now, and you’re in a prime position to help a gal out, with all due consent of course, I’m not a monster.

In the Dragonstone throne room, Tyrion begs Dany on behalf of the thousands of innocent residents of King’s Landing who will die if she burns the city. He compares them to the slaves of Meereen, but Dany says they rose up against their tyrant overlords, so is it her fault that the people of King’s Landing are too dopey to do the same? Tyrion’s like, bitch please, they’re scared and Dany’s like I know you are, but what am I.

Dany then launches into a worryingly Bond villain-esque speech about how Cersei thinks her mercy is weakness, but it’s actually strength, because Dany is showing sympathy for future generations by wiping out the possibility of future tyrants.

And to be fair, you can’t be held hostage by a tyrant if you don’t actually exist. That’s just basic maths.

As Dany tells Grey Worm to sail the Unsullied to King’s Landing to join the Northern forces for battle, Tyrion panics. He pleads with his Queen to call off the attack should the people turn on Cersei, ring the bells and open the gates. “Give them that chance,” he begs. Dany considers, and eventually nods her consent.

As he leaves, Dany surprises Tyrion with the news that Jaime has been caught trying to cross Targaryen lines to get back to Cersei. “The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me,” she warns him. Tyrion is in divided loyalty territory now.

The next morning, Tyrion and Jon take a tender back to their forces’ encampment at the base of the cliffs outside the capital. There they are, two little men in a boat, neither able to find their Queen’s sweet spot.

Ser Davos tells them on landing that the rearguard will arrive by daybreak. Tyrion says the Queen wants to attack now, but Jon shows some backbone and declares daybreak at the earliest.

Tyrion asks Ser Davos Seaworth for a favour, something that will call on his smuggling skills. The Onion Knight knows he’s not going to like whatever it is.

That night, Tyrion goes to see Jaime, and there’s a brief moment of levity as he tries to speak Valyrian to the Unsullied soldiers guarding his brother. “We speak the common tongue,” one eventually says with perfect deadpan timing. Clearly the Unsullied are also trained in the speaking style of comedian Steven Wright along with the baby-killing and nads-removing.

Jaime and Tyrion’s final scene together was heartbreakingly good, full of the idiosyncrasies that made us love both of these characters. Tyrion is clever, Jaime is arrogant, both of them love with full hearts - even if it’s somewhat misplaced (particularly in Jaime’s case). In the end, Tyrion accepts that Jaime has resolved to be with Cersei, whether it’s in life or death. He pleads with his brother to make it life, and will help him escape as long as he convinces Cersei to leave with him by boat and sail away to a new life.


"You can sail, you can sail, with the Orinoco flow..."

It’s another insurance policy for Tyrion - he feels he can trust Jaime to order the Lannister troops to stand down, and to ring the bells and save a bloodbath. “Your Queen will execute you for this,” Jaime responds, but Tyrion thinks the life of tens of thousands of innocents is a fair trade for one not-so-innocent dwarf. He may be small, but in this moment Tyrion towers over everyone else in the land.

The pair embrace for what they seem to know will be the final time, with Tyrion breaking down in tears. He credits Jaime with being his only friend, for helping him survive a childhood his father and sister would rather he didn’t. The impending loss of that brotherly connection is more than Tyrion can bear. We talk a lot about Daenerys’ increasing isolation, but Tyrion is also losing friends faster than James Charles post Tati Westbrook call-out.


Unless you also spend your internet time in the black hole of beauty YouTube.

The morning in King’s Landing opens with a shot of the bell tower, the one Tyrion hopes will sound out the news of Dany’s victory in time to save the city a fate worse than death. The last time we saw a bell on Game of Thrones, it was the one from the Sept of Baelor, exploding out onto the street in a cloud of wildfire, crushing several peasants below. One can’t help wonder whether this bell will ring for liberation, or also be unexpectedly complicit in disaster.

We’ve already seen some short establishing shots of the city getting ready for invasion, with smallfolk flooding into the gates, including a mother and her daughter, holding onto a white horse toy for security.

The Hound and Arya, who rode confidently past the Lannister forces to get into King’s Landing, now join the human tide flowing towards the Red Keep, the ultimate stronghold. A newly escaped Jaime is there too, covering his face and hand in an effort to stave off further unwanted questions. But it turns out this time, nobody will care.

The cinematography in this episode is superlative, and not just in the battle sequences we are about to witness; but here, capturing the movement of soldiers into defensive positions, as well as the mad panic of civilians unprepared for what’s about to happen. The last time the city was sacked properly (Stannis having failed at the Battle of Blackwater Bay) was when Tywin Lannister marched his army in during the fall of Dany’s father, Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King. That was nearly a generation ago, so for many people they will be new to the sheer terror of a city-wide freak out, making it all the more intense.

Plus this time there’s a dragon - which makes all that closing of wooden shutters and doors somewhat pathetic.

The Golden Company march out to form the first line of defence at the northern gate, Harry Strickland sitting confidently atop a white horse out front, not even bothering with a helmet. They face the northern forces, the Stark rearguard forming in place, as Tyrion, Jon and Davos keep watch.

Tyrion reminds Jon that the sound of bells means a surrender, and to call off his men. Jon nods. Ever the reluctant conqueror, he would wish to avoid as much bloodspill as possible.

At the Red Keep, The Hound and Arya just make it inside before the gates close, pushing aside that mother and daughter the show has chosen to be our point of view inside the civilian population. They escape to the side before the crowd surges in against the doors, bringing to mind horrible images from the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.

Jaime tries revealing his hand, but luck is not on his side, and no Lannister soldiers recognise him. He flees the crowd to find a back way into the Red Keep.

Out on the Bay, the Iron Fleet watches the sky, Scorpions at the ready. It’s quiet.

A little too quiet.

Something stirs in the clouds high above. Euron tries to shield his eyes from the sun, but this time conditions are batting for Dany. Both she and Drogon have learned from the mistakes that saw Rhaegal taken out, and they are not inclined to repeat them.

Taking her cues from early airborne dogfighters, Dany dive bombs with the sun at her back, making it difficult for the Iron Fleet to get clear shots with their ballistas. Euron orders them to reload, turn and fire again, but it’s no use, the dragon is too close, and Dany is able to dodge. Drogon lets loose the first of what will be many streams of terror breath, then repeats and repeats.

From the aerial shot, there looked like dozens of Iron Fleet ships in the Bay; despite the Iron Islands famous lack of trees. Drogon burns them all.

Dany’s usual triumphant burning music underscores the scene, but in a different key; it is discordant, darker, building a more menacing tone as she heads towards the Lannister defences on the seaside of the Red Keep. Dany keeps Drogon close to the water, long enough for the Scorpions to be pointed low; she then breaks upwards as they fire. The Lannisters don’t have enough time to reload. Drogon burns them all.

All is quiet on the northern front; the Golden Company and Stark/Unsullied/Dothraki forces staring out at each other, waiting for some sort of sign.

Dany told Grey Worm to wait for her signal to attack; he would know when it was time. He steps forward; sensing it isn’t long now.

And something changes in the air.

The Golden Company soldiers feel it, and start to look around. Fear creeps over Harry Strickland’s face.

The gates blow out behind them, shattering stone all over the fancy mercenary army. Strickland’s horse is blown out from under him, landing twisted on the ground.

Grey Worm and the Unsullied charge forward; knowing the nightmarish inferno is probably the sign they were waiting for. Harry Strickland manages to get up as his soldiers burn, but turns to run back towards the blaze as a horde of Dothraki screamers bears down upon him. But it’s Grey Worm who ultimately dispatches Strickland with a spear through the back. Vale, Harry Strickland, you had about three lines in your minor appearances so late in the game.

Sidebar: seeing so many Dothraki was something of a shock, was it not? I thought they had all been taken out in the first charge against the White Walkers during the Battle of Winterfell. Nevertheless, there’s enough here to make a terrifying push into the streets of King’s Landing, their arakhs sweeping Great Grass Sea-style justice through the capital.

The Stark men follow suit, while Dany and Drogon burn the remaining Golden Company members outside the gate, and take out all the Scorpions stationed on the battlements, as well as most of the battlements themselves. We can see Tyrion picking a trail through mounds of bodies.

Watching over all of this from the top of the Red Keep is Cersei, resplendent in red velvet and golden armour. She’s a picture of ill-placed confidence, determined this is not her day to die.

Cersei: We just need one good shot.
Qyburn: Ummm, so yeah, about that. The Scorpions have all been burned.
Cersei: Well, Euron took down Rhaegal, he can do that again.
Qyburn: Hooo boy, so the thing is, the Iron Fleet is f***ed. And like, the Golden Company is mega-f***ed.
Cersei: Pffft, they were just dodgy sellswords and I wasn’t even gonna pay them anyway. Glad they’re dead. Now our fine fighting Lannister boys can get the job done!
Qyburn:

Grey Worm leads Jon Snow, Davos Seaworth and a phalanx of troops towards the Lannister army, and soon the two sides are facing off against each other across an intersection in front of the bell tower.

The leadership group move to the front, and the two sides stare each other down. It’s a callback to season one, to that moment Jaime confronted Ned about Catelyn capturing Tyrion outside Littlefinger’s brothel, when the wolves and lions brawled in the streets. Here they are again, Starks and Lannisters, but this time it’s on a macro scale.

Dany lands Drogon atop a turret on the northern wall of the city, the dragon seemingly inexhaustible despite pumping more napalm into the atmosphere than Richard Nixon.

For a moment, there is silence, the score ceases. The Lannister men throw down their swords; a surrender.

Tyrion can see the bell tower in front of him, and Dany on Drogon up to his right on the city walls.

“Ring the bells!” comes the distant cry, as someone, somewhere, tries to get through to the ropes of the bells and bring the invasion to a relatively peaceful conclusion.

Tyrion waits.

Jon waits.

Cersei waits.

Daenerys waits.

BONG.

The bells start to ring.

Cersei closes her eyes.

Dany’s eyes burn with tears, rage, fear and resolve.

This is the moment.

Eight seasons of build up have led us to this one moment, this one decision for Daenarys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.

She stood by as her brother was crowned with gold for insolence.

She burned Mirri Maz Duur for effectively killing Khal Drogo.

She locked Xaro Xhoan Doxos in his own vault for arranging to steal her dragons.

She burned the slave masters of Astapor to free and recruit the Unsullied.

She crucified the slave masters of Meereen as punishment for their own crucifixion of slaves.

She burned the Masters’ fleet in the Bay of Dragons for failing to bend the knee.

She burned the Dothraki leaders at Vaes Dothrak for being weak and insulting her status.

She burned the Lannister forces in the Loot Train Battle after her allies from Dorne, Highgarden and the Iron Islands were betrayed.

She burned Randall and Dickon Tarly for failing to bend the knee.

She burned Varys for betraying her trust.

Yes, most of those she punished had blood on their hands as well. But while our girl Daenerys has always had high ideals, her execution of them is as grey as the beard on beautiful Ser Davos Seaworth’s face.

In her final march to the Iron Throne, she has lost two of her dragons, her close advisers Ser Jorah and Missandei of Narth, and half of her hard-won armies. She has lived her life with the one truth - that she was the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms. Now she has discovered that the one person she found love with turns out to have a better claim that her - not only by blood, but by the acclamation and love of the people.

Perhaps her fear of failing made her remember that her ancestor, Aegon the Conqueror, did not have a claim to Westeros when he arrived 300 years earlier.

He took it - by fire and blood.

As she pulled Drogon into the sky once more, heading for the Red Keep, I cried out “No, Dany, no! Stop it right now!”

But while Game of Thrones may have had supernatural elements, it was never about superheroes.

Missandei’s last words were “Dracarys”, and that rings in Dany’s ears louder than any bells.

Daenerys Stormborn has made many good choices, many decent choices, and they still happened. But the closer she got to the Iron Throne, the more tenuous her grip on why she wanted it became. Now it is simply about possession, and destruction. She is breaking the wheel; but the people of King’s Landing are the spokes that will go in the process.

From this moment, we never see Daenerys Targaryen’s face again. She is removed from us as a human; we see only the fire made flesh, and the consequences of her terrible choice.

Sidebar: It would have been nice for Bran "Three-Eyed Raven" Stark to give somebody, anybody, a heads-up about that vision he had over a dragon flying over King's Landing. Around season 4 or 5 the shot of a dragon shadow over the capital flashed through one of his visions; we finally saw how it happened in this episode. Damnit, Bran, what's the use of you if you can't give Jon or Arya or even Dany herself a clue? But then, he wouldn't have felt scared by that shot as we did. Bran doesn't feel anything, least of all fear.

Cersei still can, though. She stares out as Drogon approaches the Red Keep, and the truth begins to sink in.

The people begin running again in the streets as the monster lets loose on the civilian population and their homes.

Tyrion is horrified. His victory is turning into a massacre.

The dragon’s movement breaks the spell over the soldiers below, and Grey Worm makes the same choice as his queen - he flips his spear up and kills the Lannister captain.

A frenzy of bloodlust ensues, with the northmen and Unsullied running wild with pent-up fear, anger, and revenge.

Jon Snow experiences the turmoil in a dreamlike state of shock. His breathing slows, his eyes bulge, he tries to turn his men back but can’t. Grey Worm doesn’t care - if he dies today, fine, it’s just a question of how many Lannisters he can take with him as he goes.

Bodies are destroyed, carved up, shattered. At one point a bloke has both hands cut off.

Ser Davos, ever kind-hearted, tries to help civilians escape, but it’s mayhem in the streets.

Jon’s own men begin slaughtering women and children; mothers and daughters.

Jon himself is forced to kill one of his own men who doesn’t take kindly to being pulled off a woman he plans to rape.

This is the reality of ground fighting; you may be on the “good” side, but you are not exempt from the terrors men do when they have no need to think of consequences.

But Jon is processing consequences - he has the brutal realisation that he leads a conquering invasion force, that the Lannister soldiers still standing and helping civilians where possible are trying to protect their home, just as Jon and the gang stood to defend Winterfell against the White Walkers, the great evil.

Jon has always seen himself as a man of honour, Ned Stark’s son. Now he is grappling with his new identity - is this what it means to be a Targaryen?

Jaime Lannister finds his way to the secret entrance to the Red Keep, and finds the dinghy there, as promised.

But he also finds Euron MacGregor, who managed to survive being blown off his vessel only to swim to this exact point of the shore at this exact time. It’s a little too convenient, but we’ll overlook that for the dramatic effect.

As far as he’s concerned, Euron’s f***ed the queen, which makes him a king (his status as King of the Iron Islands being somewhat in flux given his niece Yara has apparently taken them back). Jaime only wants to get to Cersei, but Euron wants to fight the man who f***ed the queen first, saying they’ll talk about Jaime forever if he kills ANOTHER king.

The two have a brutal hand-to-hand fight to the death, with Jaime taking multiple stab wounds before managing to get the sword he picked up somewhere in the city through Euron’s gut. The Kingslayer (x2) manages to stumble off to climb his way into the Red Keep, while Euron dies ecstatic that he killed the Kingslayer. Vale Euron, you crazy bastard.


"What do you mean, nobody ever really liked me as a character?"

With Drogon blasting down the Red Keep’s towers one at a time, and almost the entire city burning below her, Cersei can no longer ignore reality.

She cries as Qyburn tells her it isn’t safe anymore and they should head to Maegor’s Holdfast. She puts her hand in his, literally handing over her authority to him as to what happens next.

Down below, the Hound and Arya have made it to an old Season Seven favourite - Cersei’s GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP! How great to see it one last time.

Arya has been intent on finishing her list and killing Cersei this whole time, but with the keep under attack, the Hound decides it’s time to lay down the law. He tells her Cersei is dead, no matter what happens, and Arya should go home. He even grabs her and makes her look at him, to see what life is for someone wholly motivated by revenge. You want to be like me? In that moment, Arya is not the stone-cold assassin, but a little girl again.

For almost two seasons, the Hound was her twisted father figure, and it’s fitting in this moment he gives her the greatest gift of all - a mission other than death. He puts his giant hand around the back of her head, easily encasing her skull. “You come with me… and you die today,” he declares, then pats her on the shoulder and walks off.

What do we say to the God of Death? Not today. It’s been a ruling mantra for Arya since her dancing lessons with Syrio Forel, another father figure who made her leave to avoid death.

“Sandor,” she says, using the Hound’s real name for the first time. “Thank you.”

It’s a bittersweet parting, as we know what’s about to happen.

~~~ CLEGANE BOWL ~~~

The Hound greets his brother, the Queen and Qyburn on the stairs, and easily dispatches the rest of Cersei’s Queen’s Guard.

“Hello, big brother,” he deadpans, as Cersei demands the Zombie Mountain stay by her side. Ser Gregor’s red eyes turn on her, and why Qyburn steps in to insist he protect her, he squishes the Hand’s head with one hand, and tosses him down the staircase where he splatters all over the stone work (lucky the keep is about to fall to pieces, that would be hell to scrub out). Vale Qyburn, you creepy bastard.

Cersei does a polite “Well, you two obviously have a thing here, so I’m just going to, yep, I’ll just get out of your way, bye then” move out of the way, allowing the brothers to face up against each other for the first time since the dragon pits. With all the annoying diplomacy of that occasion not here to stop their baser instincts, the pair begin their ultimate annihilation of each other.

Sandor knocks Gregor’s helmet off, revealing his Darth Vader-esque “face”. “That’s what you’ve always been,” the Hound growls, continuing his attack. The writers are no doubt reminding us that while the Zombie Mountain is a terrifying flesh machine with no soul or ability to feel pain, there is a remnant of Gregor still inside, a remnant still motivated to finish what he started when he thrust his younger brother’s head on the fire all those years ago.

Their fight scene lives up to the Clegane Bowl hype, and exceptionally well-choreographed and shot. The Hound delivers blow after blow upon the Mountain, and his plaintive cry of “F***ing die!” will go down as one of the best lines of the season. We all felt you in that moment, Sandor.

Zombie Mountain goes for his finishing move, the one he pulled on Oberyn Martell pre-zombification - the double eye crusher. The Hound screams in pain, but manages to grab his dagger feel his brother’s face, and stab him through the head.

He can barely see, but enough to know the Mountain is just calmly pulling the dagger out of his face, ready to recommence his assault once more. It’s in this moment the Hound knows there is only one option left. After a lifetime of being deathly afraid of fire, he pushes himself forward, and crash tackles his brother through the weakening wall behind them, and the two plummet out and down, into the flames, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty going over the Reichenbach Falls in the style of a WWE Hell in The Cell match.

Cersei finds her way to the GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP, just in time for it to poetically, ironically and spectacularly crack right through the continent.

It’s then, with everyone left to her lost, that she sees Jaime, stumbling out of the dust.

They embrace, and no words need to be said between these hopelessly co-dependent twincestors. That is, until Cersei realises she literally has Jaime’s blood on her hands. “You’re hurt,” she says. “It doesn’t matter,” replies her brother.

Jaime leads her all the way down to the caverns under the keep, where the skulls of dragons past are kept. They were once the conquering forces, particularly Balerion the Dread, Aegon Targaryen’s own dragon.

The city built on the site of their conquest is now being destroyed by their descendants.

Jaime leads Cersei to the tunnel out of the cavern, only to find it blocked by debris. He tries to find another way out, but they are stuck. They can’t go forward and they can’t go back.

It’s at this point of realising she has no way out that Cersei breaks down. “I want our baby to live,” she repeats, over and over. “I don’t want to die, not like this, not like this.”

There’s an old tale that Jaime Lannister came into the world holding onto his sister’s foot. If Cersei led them both towards life, it’s Jaime now who leads Cersei towards death.

“All that matters is us," he tells her.

Cersei is calmed, and lets Jaime comfort her, as the world falls in on them.

With apologies to Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson, I present a final song for the Twins Lannister:

It’s a fiery afternoon
In King’s Landing
The big city
Geez, it’s been forty years
Cersei, you were so fine

Beautiful, beautiful girl from the south
I kissed your ass whenever you kissed my mouth
I had Brienne, but she wasn’t for me
You gave me kids, all three

Cersei, Cersei, Cersei, I can’t let you go
All my life, you’re haunting me, I loved you so
Cersei, Cersei, Cersei, I can’t let you go
You’re so crazy
Cersei, baby

Yeah, well it hurt me real bad when you left
But now, I’m too scared of death
To be pissed with you

I’ve had a bun in my tum for so long
I tried to fake it, said it was Euron’s
Outside the Keep
The dragon roars and flames
There goes my Throne
of Games
of Games

Jaime, Jaime, Jaime I can’t let you go
Help me leave this shithole or else it’ll blow
Jaime, Jaime, Jaime Edgar Allen Poe
Was not as crazy
As us two, baby

Cersei Cersei Cersei, look at me and know
All that matters now is how we leave this show
Jaime Jaime Jaime, here come tumbling bricks
Hate mail’s pending
With this ending

When it comes to Cersei and Jaime’s end, we do have to address Cersei’s elephant-NOT-in-the-room: why didn't she suffer more?

Would it have been great to see Cersei stabbed by Arya? Maybe - but then Arya scolded the Freys for killing Talisa, a woman with a babe in her belly, before she murdered them all. Could she have brought herself to do the same thing to Cersei? Isn’t it better for Arya’s future that she reconsider her life of 100% pure vengeance as per the Hound’s entreaty?

So who else was there to do it? Would it have been satisfying to have Euron kill her? For Qyburn or The Mountain to turn on her? For the mob to tear her to pieces in the street? Where would the emotional satisfaction be in that?

And what of Daenarys? She’s ultimately responsible for Cersei’s death with her assault on the Red Keep. Conceivably, a stand off between the two could have been great television. But we know how it would have ended - with Cersei being burned alive. We’ve already seen Varys die that way this episode, so wouldn’t that have been slightly anti-climactic?

Cersei has ALWAYS skated close to the edge of oblivion and somehow got away: Robert Baratheon died before Ned Stark could tell him her children were all Jaime’s; King’s Landing survived the Battle of Blackwater Bay just when she was about to poison herself and Tommen; her father tried to marry her off to Loras Tyrell but she snaked out of it thanks to his death; the Faith Militant threw her in jail but her walk of shame punishment only gave her more justification for their murder; she lied to Jon, Dany and Tyrion about sending her army north to fight the White Walkers to bolster her own position in the south.

With this conclusion, Cersei doesn’t escape punishment, but she gets to face it in the arms of the only adult she’s ever loved, the only family she has left. I felt sorry for her in the same way I felt sorry for Joffrey when he died, despite four seasons of relishing in my hate for the little prick.

These characters were terrible, they did dreadful things, they had golden looks but rotten cores. But to those that would say Jaime’s redemption arc crashed out, perhaps consider instead the good he was able to do before this moment, thanks to his experience in captivity, and with Brienne, and fighting against Dany, then with Dany against death itself. He showed himself to be a man of honour; but still a man with a fatal flaw. If there is a figure worthy of Shakespearean tragedy in all this, surely it is Jaime Lannister.

The final moments of the Hound’s struggle against the Mountain are juxstaposed with Arya making her way through the crumbling city.

There are some incredible tracking shots of Arya scrambling through passages, courtyards and side streets trying to find some way out. Eventually she is knocked down, but the mother and daughter with the white horse toy help her back up, only for Arya to be immediately swept away from them again by the torrential sweep of terrified citizens.

As for Jon Snow, my beloved, still in the centre of the fighting, still in shock, sees caches of wildfire going up all around the city. These were no doubt leftovers Cersei had the pyromancers hang on to after she blew up the Sept of Baelor, you know, just in case. Although perhaps not - you’d think if Cersei knew she still had wildfire she would have tried to better weaponise it to fight dragons.

It’s also a horrible callback to Mad King Aerys wanting to blow up King’s Landing with wildfire back when Dany was being born. Turns out he was just twenty-something years too early.

Jon sees Davos, and understands what’s happening. The Queen he loved, the Queen he bent the knee to, the Queen he insisted others would come to know and love, has gone rogue. He always knew it was a possibility; he said as much to Varys at the beginning of the episode - "It is her choice." But now he sees the full cost of Dany making a terrible decision - and orders his troops to fall back, and get out of the city, lest they be sitting ducks for her barbeque.

Arya wakes, covered in ash and shoot, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the September 11 terror attacks in New York. She coughs up half of Fleabottom realising the bell tower is about to fall on her. She manages to escape its plummet to earth, finding herself in an as-yet-untouched house, facing the same mother and daughter with the white horse.

Arya insists they leave in order to survive. It’s entirely possible she was right to do so, as the house could have been flambed at any moment. But by taking the mother and daughter into the street, she unfortunately guaranteed their doom. In the mad rush, the mother is run over by Dothraki horses, the bloodriders cutting down anyone they see, their tradition for generations before Dany told them to behave better.

Arya tries to help her up, the girl’s cries of “Mama! Mama! Mama!” hard to hear. But Drogon is bearing down on them all, and she can’t move fast enough. “Take her, take her!” she begs, and Arya tries to get the girl away from the direct path of danger. But the girl snaps back, screams at Arya and runs back to her mother - as any scared child would. Arya dives behind a wall just in time to avoid the blow from Dragon that roasts the mother and daughter alive.

When she wakes, Arya is the only survivor. The hero of Winterfell, the girl who slayed the Night King - beaten and bloodied by the collapse of a city under dragonfire.

She sees the mother and daughter’s bodies, entwined in death, the white horse toy still in the girl’s small hand. Arya, not known for her emotions, cannot stop tears sliding down her ashen face. For the first time in a long time, she had put other people's safety over her own single-minded pursuit of her own murder-y goals. And when she failed them, she couldn't just be an expressionless killer. The Hound gave her back some of her humanity.

And then, amidst the smoking and burning ruins, she hears a sound, and turns to find the white horse writ large. Like a miracle, the horse appears in the middle of the street, riderless, saddle-less, with blood on its body and burns on its legs.

Arya approaches the horse gently, and soothes the anxious beast. She mounts the horse and takes off, a lone figure, galloping out of the city, on her way to who knows what.

White horses have all sorts of mythic properties, connected to both life and death in many cultures. Perhaps the most famous quote about them for our purpose comes from the Book of Revelations: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

Death is the theme that has followed Arya Stark through eight seasons of Game of Thrones, and while she’s promised the Hound she won’t lead a life like his, there’s still a good chance of her saddling up for a vengeance ride at least one more time.

What might Jon say to Dany if he sees his little sister (actually cousin) so badly beaten up from the sack of the city? And what might Dany say to the God of Death, if it comes in the form of a tiny assassin on horseback?

So with apologies to Daryl Braithwaite, Arya gets a song as well:

She survived, way up high
Where Cleganes trade blows
But in the ash, falling thick and fast
With all the innocents she goes
And this whole situation will get her aggravated
She’ll watch the whole world fall apart
She will see the beautiful horse
That manifests her heart
Can’t you hear her?
The girl has a name
Stark of Winterfell, and from there she came

That's the way it's gonna be, little Arya
You’ll go riding on white horses, yeah yeah
Choose whom you want to die, little Arya
But if Jon falls, go pick him up, pick him up

She will go, and you just know
She will get really steely-eyed
And even then, she won’t give in
To Dany’s journey to the dark side
I hear all the people of the north
In one girl’s gutteral cry
You’ll see her try every way she knows how
To make the bad one fly
Can’t you see her?
She’s not on the ground
She’s atop a steed, it’s all quite profound

That's the way it's gonna be, little Arya
You’ll bring death on those white horses, yeah
You will make ‘em cry, little Arya
But if Jon falls please pick him up, pick him up

That's the way it's gonna be, little Arya
Keep on riding those white horses, yeah yeah
Your bro should be the guy, little Arya
Jon may be dumb but pick him up, pick him up

Yay! Best Moments

In terms of emotional punch, Jaime and Tyrion’s final scene was so touching I nearly cried.

In terms of spectacle, Dany torching all of King’s Landing was ferocious, terrifying and incredibly well produced.

Zing! Best Lines

Arya telling a confused Lannister soldier that "I'm Arya Stark. I'm going to kill Queen Cersei" was badass, but just pipped by another Tyrion/Jaime classic exchange:

Tyrion: How did they find you?
Jaime: shows golden hand
Tyrion: Did you ever consider taking it off?
Jaime: Cersei once said I was the stupidest Lannister.

Ew, gross

The gore factor this episode rocketed up on the Battle of Winterfell, which to be fair was a lot darker. Here the blood glistened wet and red in the sunlight, as swords cut through torsos, heads were speared, and did I mention the dude who had both hands cut off? Crazy.

Boo, sucks

Once again, I’ve been sensing there’s a lot of anger about this episode. Yes, there are issues of pacing, and disappointment that character development we have grown to cherish felt abandoned. There’s a valid argument to be made that this season could have done with a few more episodes to build tension (although I would counter that had that been the case, we’d all be reading backlash takes on how slow the action was moving).

But this is the story the way the writers and producers have chosen to tell it, and they are still doing shocking things to upturn our expectations. All of the heroes we built inside our minds were just that - our own creations, not theirs.

I also get the sense some will be angry that the victory of women against their oppressors and tyrants in earlier seasons may have been undermined by the fall of Cersei and Dany into super villain territory. But why do men get a monopoly on power corrupting? To suggest women aren’t capable of making terrible choices as much as any man undercuts the very plea that we be considered on the same intellectual playing field, and susceptible to the same human vices. Women aren’t the problem; untethered power is.

Dany did much that was right in her career as a conqueror. As mentioned, many of her brutal decisions were justified or at least understandable for this kind of world. But tyrants are sometimes good guys first.

Daenerys has committed an unthinkable war crime, and it remains to be seen if she will escape any retribution - or if Arya or Jon or anyone else will deliver justice to her.

There is one episode left.

May we have good fortune in the wars to come.

Goodness me, kittens. I could be completely wrong on all of this. There has probably been a million recaps and reviews and critical think pieces released already that make better arguments than me. I don't even know how funny this recap is, and god knows if I don't bring the funny, what's the use of me?!

It's very late as I finally get this posted, so I want to say a special thank you to all readers for your patience, and a particular thank you to all of my Patreon subscribers for still paying me. This week's Patreon champions are: Anna, Bernadette M, Eoin N, Jan D, Anthony B, Chris L, Patrick C, MTE, Tony L, Jarrah G, Kostas S, Michael C, Sean J-W, Robert L, Jake F, Eric L, Dominic H, Kynan N, Michelle B, and Katie B.

I'm slightly stunned that there is only one more episode of Game of Thrones ever. What am I going to do without you all!?!? The time is upon me to work out some other recap options - but first, let us dance with dragons one final time. Valar Morghulis!

3 Responses to ‘Raven On Recap: GoT S8E5 "The Bells"’

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted May 16
I haven't watched this season yet, waiting till all are down to binge and reading other pieces on this episode I was feeling like I was going to skip the season entirely as it seems to boil down Dany's rage as 'Bitches be crazy', your recap gives a depth to her choice I hadn't read and while problematic with all the reasons you outline above I am feeling more like I want to watch it thanks to your take.

It's a shame I was hoping Urine Greyjoy would escape and flee to the Iron Islands only to find Yara sitting on the Salt Throne when he got there.

Also possible another editing mistake https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/14/entertainment/game-of-thrones-jaime-hand-trnd/index.html

And for those of us who watched the Neverending story as children the scene with Arya and the horse was a joy since it looks like Artax escaped the swamp. I assume Natalie has never seen The Neverending Story, the Stu that was promised can bring up to speed on this topical reference.

Someone on twitter did make the observation the scene with Jamie and Cersei was foreshadowed in series one when Jamie pushed Bran out of the window, much as they threw Jamie's characterization out the window this series.

The last episode of Game of Thrones ever airs next week, and the finale will be 1 hour and 20 minutes long.

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted May 16
Look this is not your funniest recap, but I think it's possibly the best one you've done, out of the many many many amazing recaps you've written. I'm in the minority that thought this was a great episode, and I'm so on board with your argument about the issue being unchecked power, not "wimmen" being betrayed by Dany and Cersei becoming supervillains.

I had a long discussion with a work colleague about all this, and our discussion boiled down to "no one is a villain in their own story." Dany's switch to supervillain has been foreshadowed for EIGHT SEASONS as you pointed out; the difference was that her story was told from her POV, and she's the last person to think that she's evil. If her story had been told from the POV of the people she's been conquering all this time, then our take on her would be different. I think the switch from Dany's perspective to the perspective of the thousands of innocents trying to escape their Sept 11/Pompeii was a key storytelling feature - suddenly she's not the merciful conqueror, but a supervillain on a dragon.

People seem to be angry because Dany's switch to supervillain seems too sudden, but they've been building up to this all season. She was raised to believe that she would be welcomed as a liberator by the people of Westeros, but she was smacked in the face by reality when she finally turned up and literally no one cared. And THEN she discovers that her lifelong personal narrative has been a lie, when she finds out Jon has a better claim to the throne than she does. Now that I've had several days to ruminate on this episode, I think it would have been less realistic and out of character for her to NOT burn Kings Landing to the ground, especially after the loss of Jorah and Missandei, and in particular the way Missandei died.

Tyrants, when they realise their grip on power is slipping, their advisors are having second thoughts and the people are maybe not on board with their policies, NEVER say "oops, my bad, I'll just go retire to the Caymans somewhere." No, they double, triple down, and if they have to kill every one of their citizens to make the point that things could be worse if they weren't in charge then they will do so and not think twice about it. And Dany proved she is a tyrant several seasons ago :(

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Oldy would have you know...

Posted May 16
Fun fact: I have a box of hammers in my shed that are individually and collectively 100x smarter than Jon Snow.

Good grief, have we ever met a dumber character? He's handy in a fight, but imagine him on the throne, being manipulated by, frankly, anyone, all of whom can outmaneuver him intellectually. He makes Ned look positively sophisticated.

A lot of good in that episode, but the twins' resolution was meh. And quite possibly it's the most GRRM thing in it, the whole 'you thought this was a redemption arc, bwah-ha-ha suffer' thing. As a surprise twist on the valonqar prophecy it was, sorry George, pissweak.

Ah well, only one more to go. Will Tyrion make it to the credits?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1URvDyzh8uI

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GoT Raven On Recap: S8E4 "The Last of the Starks"

Posted May 8 into Raven On by girlclumsy

Death! Sex! Dogs! Dragons!

Being so f***ing stressed out you need to call for a double shot caramel macchiato just to get through dinner!

Yes, somebody brought a sip cup to a quaff party, and although it was quickly photoshopped out, the anachronistic gaffe went around the world faster than dragons can fly across Westeros.

Rather than focus on the misplaced coffee cup as an embarrassing blunder, let’s reframe it as a metaphor for a key theme of this episode.

Clearly, a ton of Very Important Choices were made. After the sturm and drang of last week’s Battle of Winterfell, we returned to the simmering tension of what I call Game of Thrones Classic, or “Grande Flat White” if you’re still talking coffee, in which characters we know and love or know and hate take decisions totally in keeping with or radically against what we expect; and we analyse the fallout.

But I’ve done “choices” and “choosing paths” as themes before, probably loads of times. The whole bloody show is about choices. So this week I wanted to go a bit further, and dive deeper into a scribbled phrase I found in my watch notes:

“What is real?”

I wrote it as Varys told Tyrion he was standing up for the realm, for the millions of people our grand lords and ladies never see but who are just as real and deserve to have their interests considered.

Now it may have just been the rambling scrawls of a mad woman on half a can of Red Bull, but bear with me as I try to explain what I *think* I was thinking when I posed that question to future recappespondent Natalie.

The coffee cup was real, in that it existed in the universe of Game of Thrones. It was there, on the bench. Physically in that world. And yet it wasn’t real, because only we outside the universe observed it. Nobody in the universe did.

Now I’m not a scientist. I always thought “Max Planck” was a gym exercise.

But the somewhat Schrödinger nature of that coffee cup got me thinking - when does information/suspicion/rumour/a state of mind become real?

Was the truth about Jon’s birth real from the moment he discovered it, or the moment Dany discovered it, or the moment he told his family? Did it become real when Sansa broke an oath to tell Tyrion, a man who is in a prime position to potentially do something with the information?

Did Dany’s worrying trend towards madness become real because there was a slight against her in the North, or because she perceived a slight against her?

Was Cersei’s pregnancy real when she told Tyrion about it last season, or when she told Euron about it this episode?

Of course, Jon’s origins were always there. Dany’s rage was always there. Cersei’s pregnancy has been there for a little while, we think. The coffee cup, unfortunately for some poor set dresser, was always there.

But when do they become… REAL?

Based on this concept alone, I’ve come up with a WILD theory about Ghost, but I’ll get to that later.

For now, let us raise our horns and drink to the dead, the living, and the soon-to-be razed from the face of the earth.

S8E4: “The Last of the Starks”

It’s a sombre mood outside Winterfell, where dozens of funeral pyres have been built to cremate the thousands of bodies that fell in the victorious fight against the White Walkers.

Daenerys weeps over the corpse of Ser Jorah Mormont, her first and most loyal adviser and protector. Jorah knew her best; his loss cuts a tie between Dany and clarity of purpose, like the twang of a broken guitar string. She even goes all Lost in Translation and whispers something inaudible to him - whether it was “I’m sorry I friendzoned you” or “I feel like burning all of them instead of you”, it’s hard to say.

Sansa honours Theon’s body by pinning her direwolf brooch onto his chest. It’s a symbol of thanks, but also a recognition that he died a Stark.

Both women rejoin their squads; standing further apart than what you might expect after a battle that should by rights have brought them together. Ghost is also there, looking a tad forlorn with a ripped right ear.

Jon Snow steps forward to deliver a rousing speech, complete with a noticeably deeper timbre to his voice. It’s his Churchill moment; saluting the dead and reminding the living that they can never repay their sacrifice. He says it’s important to remember they put aside their differences to fight and die together, and it’s the survivors’ duty to keep that memory alive, which I’m sure they’ll do and not immediately revert back to hating on each other’s differences.

All of our key characters take torches to light the pyres - seeing the faces of the lost one last time: Sam and last Lord Commander Dolorous Edd; Arya and warrior of light Beric; Jon and the little bear, Lyanna Mormont.

It’s a bleak moment, made even more so by the plumes of thick black smoke that soon cover the castle and surrounds. It’s grief itself, smothering the living and making it hard to think of anything else.

There’s only one thing to do to escape such pungency of mind and nostril...




PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999!

Crank up the stereo, it’s time to let a formal group dinner get MESSY.

There’s a hilarious initial shot of the head table, with Sansa and Dany both staring in different directions and giving off chilly vibes, while Jon in the middle awkwardly tries to get a sneaky glance back from the Dragon Queen.

It sets the tone between Sansa and Dany for the whole episode. It’s easy to label this a “fightin’ females” trope, but to give them credit, they’re intelligent women who have simply developed a distrust and dislike of each other.

Women are allowed to not like other women too, while still advocating for women’s advancement overall. I may have an irrational distaste for Keira Knightley, but that doesn’t mean I want to scrag fight everybody with an annoying underbite.

Gendry has cheery conversation with the Hound, who basically accuses him of having a post-battle boner despite the stench of death hanging over everything. The Hound seems to prefer comfort eating, and look, I can dig it. I too have often turned to a bucket of the Colonel’s finest to soothe my soul in troubled times. And frankly I prefer living with the cranky chicken-chewing Hound, rather than finding out if he does indeed do it doggy-style.

Gendry gets up to try to find Arya, but before he can get very far, Dany up and legitimises him, creating Gendry Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End. Gendry is floored, but accepts the honour - a clever bit of buying loyalty as Dany and Tyrion confirm.

Gendry of course is mad with panic about moving from smithing to lording, so he does the only thing he can think of - runs through a debauched crowd of carousers to find Arya and propose. It’s a sweet, stumbling declaration of love, which only makes Arya’s inevitable rejection all the more painful.

“You’ll be a wonderful lord. Any lady would be lucky to have you. But I’m not a lady. That’s not me,” she says, and like the Simpsons episode in which Lisa dumps Ralph Wiggum on TV, you can pinpoint the moment Gendry’s heart breaks.

Arya of course is not at the celebrations, because she’s a mysterious loner who plays by her own rules.

Tyrion, however, is a people person who likes nothing more than showing off his wit and genius to fellow partygoers, so it’s no surprise seeing him mingling about.

He compliments Bran on the design of his wheelchair; only to have Bran in true creepy style tell him that it’s vintage, a 120-year-old design by a former Targaryen.

Tyrion says Bran’s knowledge will be an asset as Lord of Winterfell, but realises Bran doesn’t want the title. “I don’t want at all anymore,” says Bran, his personality chip now thoroughly replaced by that of a vending machine. “Don’t envy me,” he tells Tyrion. “I live mostly in the past.” Poor Bran. He can’t live a whole life in the present; instead he spends most of his time finding memories that aren’t his own, like digging up a forgotten photo album of your Mum on a Club Med package holiday in the 70s and discovering she sure drank a lot of blue curacao. Like, there’s photographic evidence, but it still doesn’t seem real.

Ser Davos ponders the realness of the Lord of Light, and Melisandre’s role as his acolyte. Given she helped win the war against the Night King, then died, he wonders if R’hllor could be real given he just f***ed off. Tyrion advises against analysis paralysis, but the Onion Knight retorts that he’s not that concerned with being happy.

“Then you’re in luck,” Tyrion drawls, nodding towards the awkward head table. “We may have defeated them, but we still have us to contend with.” Oh, you sweet summer child, how you know nothing.

Tyrion winds up playing his old Never Ever drinking game with Brienne, Jaime and Pod. We first saw him play with Shae and Bronn back in season one during the War of Five Kings, and if I recall correctly, he attempted to get Grey Worm and Missandei to play it with him in Meereen but they were too square. Here though, Jaime gets past Brienne’s no-drinking policy by citing the fairly reasonable excuse that if you can’t get pissed after surviving the end of the world, when can you?

Jon sits easily among people, lords and soldiers and wildlings alike. He perches on the head table swilling wine. He doesn’t mind Tormund Giantsbane grabbing him in a headlock and calling him “little”. He probably wouldn’t mind if I gave him a little buttock squeeze, nothing seedy you understand, just a gesture of “job well done, m’lord”.

Dany is awkwardly stiff and formal, wanting to preserve a level of authority and distance with her new northern people, but also turning green with envy at the way everyone adores Jon.

You couldn’t get more efffusive praise than that heaped on Jon by Tormund Giantsbane. Jon befriended wildlings! He got murdered and came back! He got on the back of a dragon and rode it into battle! What a guy!

You just know Dany is just thinking “You motherf***ers, I’ve been riding dragons for years, they’re MY dragons, I just LET him ride one, and by the way, I lost the other bloody dragon saving YOUR LIFE Tormund you worthless ginger giant-f***er.”

Dany looks around the room and sees her hand Tyrion all warm and brotherly with Jaime - the man who killed her father - and the wildlings all feting Jon, the man with the better claim to the Iron Throne than she. And Sansa’s been doing nothing but death-staring her all evening.

Even when Tormund toasts her victory, it’s hollow, because her counter toast to Arya Stark gets an even louder roar. Dany is still the outsider.

And of a sudden Dany recognises where she is. She’s back in that tent in Vaes Dothrak, back when she ate the horses’ heart and all the Dothraki hailed her and her unborn child. But this time, she’s her brother Viserys, furious that he’s the rightful King and nobody cares.

There are kings and queens on paper of course; but their actions make them real. Viserys was a waste of space; Dany was a true dragon. She freed slaves and stopped oppressors - that was real. But this is the North. They became suspicious of dragons a long time ago, back when Ned Stark’s father and brother were being burned alive. So for the first time in Dany’s life she’s not in the glory spotlight.

It’s no wonder she stalks out of the room, barely noticed by anyone except an ever-watchful Varys. The alternative was to start bawling or screaming, neither of which befits a dragon.

Never-Ever is all fun and games, with the flirting escalating between Jaime and Brienne. Our girl could be GETTING SOME TONIGHT.

But then Tyrion, quite tipsy by this stage, looks deeply into Brienne’s eyes and declares she’s a virgin. If you missed it, Pod took a quiet swig, which was half “oh, awkward” and half “Yeah, I’m totally not a virgin”.

All of that, what would you call it, “fun” that Brienne’s been having, hanging out, being a knight, celebrating being alive, vanishes. Jaime tries to shush Tyrion but he’s insistent. Oh it’s so awkward.

I totally feel you, Brienne. I remember being 12 years old and not knowing the meaning of a phrase some of the more… ahem, “mature” girls in Year 7 were using in an effort to seem adult and worldly. I thought I was getting away with pretending like I knew until Tanya Packer, who famously carved her boyfriend’s initials into her left thigh with a compass, told me I was an idiot and blurted out the definition of this particular intimate act. Well, readers, I blustered and pretended like I *did* know but had been pretending *not* to know, you know, for comedy. Or something. Let’s just say it boggled my mind as I wasn’t aware that, ahem, contact could be made by such means.

Speaking of big mouths, Tyrion’s opened his way too much, and Brienne is embarrassed. She tries to leaves the table, saying she has to relieve herself. Tormund intervenes and makes sexy eyes in her face. She seizes the opportunity to leave, and Tormund watches Jaime take after her. Tyrion tops up Tormund’s horn with a look of “Sorry bro, Tormienne is no more.”

With Jaime following Brienne out of the room, Tormund bemoans his broken heart to the Hound, who just wants to drink in peace. Thankfully Tormund’s attention is captured by a local girl who says she’s not afraid of wildlings. Tormund’s on it like giant’s milk, and away he goes.

But the Hound isn’t interested in local girls - except when Sansa rocks up for a chat. There’s no doubt she impresses him, especially considering she used to cower in fear at the sight of his face. But Sansa’s seen much more of the world; and there’s a moment of shared dark humour when she tells him she had Boo Hiss Ramsay Bolton eaten alive by dogs.

The Hound’s way of dealing with the horror that happened to Sansa is to hold it at arm’s length, saying it wouldn’t have happened if she had left King’s Landing with him during the Battle of the Blackwater. But Sansa has to make it real for him - literally placing her hand on his, she says if it wasn’t for Littlefinger, Ramsay and her other abusers, she would still be his “little bird”.

It’s a brutal yet somehow beautiful reality. Sansa’s girlish nature was naive and idealised; she was “broken” by Joffrey and Ramsay and Littlefinger, but has reformed. She brings to mind kintsugi - the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics by filling the cracks with lacquer and metal. Sansa has mended herself, poured iron into her veins. She’s no little bird anymore; she’ll keep her feet firmly on the ground. Sansa’s a motherf***ing cassowary.


"Hello, I'm the Lady of Winterfell."

Brienne’s back in her room, but her night is only just beginning. Jaime knocks on the door and demands they continue their drinking game, which Brienne rightly corrects him is now just drinking. He questions her a bit about Tormund Giantsbane, and whether he’s grown on her. She gives him a withering look that makes me feel a bit sorry for Tormund, until I remember he’s probably happily moved on. Jaime admits that he sounds somewhat jealous of the wildling leader - and why wouldn’t you be?

Jaime then pulls a classic 1980s teen movie move - “Oh hey, it’s really hot in here, I’ve got to take my coat off”, and look, I’m not hating it. But he can’t untie his shirtlaces properly so Brienne steps in. He then tries to manoeuvre his fleshy hand to undo Brienne’s own shirt, but she stops him and does it herself. Then she takes his shirt off and they face each other, two tall blond knights, hearts bare to each other.

GET. IT. GURRRRL.

I’m not going to lie, I was very into the way Jaime smash-kissed Brienne’s face. Nothing like the release of some long term pent-up sexual tension, phwoar.

Brienne is a virgin no more - but congrats must also go to Jaime Lannister for popping his “finally sleeping with someone who isn’t his sister” cherry.

Later that night, we find Jon nursing a slight headache in his chambers. Or rather, Dany finds him, asking if he’s drunk. He’s fine though. Totally fine.

OK, maybe he’s a little wasted.

Things start to get hot and heavy between the two when Dany tells Jon that Jorah loved her, but she couldn’t love him back the same way. Not the way she loves Jon.

Cue smooshy-facing and NO STOP IT STOP IT RIGHT NOW.

Jon’s into it, because he’s a bit drunk, but then he remembers that she’s his auntie and pulls away. See? Jon’s not that dumb, haters. He can recognise a complicated problem while intoxicated. That’s classy. Shut up.

Dany is so forlorn when she says she wishes Jon hadn’t told her the truth, because then she’d be happy right now. Awww, poor Dany. Jon tries to reassure her that he doesn’t want the throne and she’s his Queen, but she rightly points out that if he tells Sansa and Arya, he will lose control over what happens to the information. Jon’s scrupulously honest; he believes his sisters are too. Dany is more circumspect.

Then she does something she’s never done before. She begs. Begs Jon to stay silent, begs him to keep Bran and Sam quiet, begs him to let her have what she has always believed is hers by right. Jon says they can all live together even if he tells Sansa and Arya - but the room turns cold. Dany says that can only happen if Jon does what she says, and stalks out.

Yes, she’s unravelling a bit, but I think that’s understandable. The whole rug has been pulled out from under her feet, I’d be cranky and depressed too, particularly when you see the real heir apparent being feted like you thought you would be when you came “home”.

But you can’t open half a can of worms, or in this case, half a 23 and Me DNA kit.

A quick aside to cover Bronn’s surprise visit up north - he busts in on Jaime and Tyrion in what appears to be a local pub. Tyrion’s been demanding Jaime give him the goss about Brienne, including a rather crude demand for a description of her, ahem, “Sapphire Isle”. But Jaime’s become a gentleman.

Bronn though, is most definitely not. He’s been offered gold and Riverrun by Cersei to murder her brothers, but ever the opportunist, he wants to see what they can offer in return. To Jaime’s surprise, Tyrion promises Highgarden, also sitting empty since the Tyrell line ended. Jaime insists a cutthroat will never be lord there, but Bronn points out all the great houses owe their fortunes to cutthroats. Not even in the distant past either, he was highborn but there was no throat-cuttier than Tywin Lannister.

This scene alone really should score Jerome Flynn some sort of acting gong. He was flawless; truly the Bronn we grew to love in season one. However it was somewhat anti-climactical as it puts Bronn out of action for whatever happens next: his fighting days are over, he says, just his killing ones left. He’ll find them if and when they win to claim his prize. I hope we see him again.

At the next session of Risk: Westeros, Jon, Grey Worm and Varys move their pieces off and around the board, reflecting the losses taken in last week’s battle, and Cersei’s reinforcements from the Golden Company.

Sansa wants to keep the northern forces at Winterfell for a time, to allow them to rest and get ready for the next fight. Dany is not impressed; but Jon insists the North will honour its pledge and follow her south. It’s a tense moment, and poor Jon is once again in the middle of his sister and his auntie-lover-whatever.

When the meeting is done, Jon is bailed up by Arya, who tells him the family need a word. Cut to the Godswood, the only place the Starks can confer in total privacy; and also the scene where Arya and Bran triumphed over the Night King. It’s their symbolic reminder to Jon of who he is, a Stark, a Stark, forever a Stark, A STARK, JON.

Awkies.

Jon tries in vain to defend Daenarys, and even Arya agrees he did the right thing by bending the knee to bring her army north. But that war is over now, and they don’t trust the outsider.

They’re really closing ranks; it’s either from the trauma inflicted on their family by outside forces, or they’re just getting a little too paranoid about anyone who doesn’t look like them, and as we know from our own histories, that path is never great. Check yourselves, ladies.

Jon has become more of a global thinker, and knows the value of alliances. Arya seems to be calling for a northern exit, a “Nexit” if you will. Last season was all about the lone wolf dying but the pack surviving - now Sansa and Arya seem to have established that the pack only extends to Starks and northerners. “And you Jon, you’re a STARK, you’re our BROTHER, a STARK”, and all the while the awkwardness intensifies.

Jon, being unfailingly honest, knows he’s going to spill the beans, particularly when Bran says “It’s your choice.” There was no choice really, Jon was always going to tell them, and he’s naive enough to think that making his sisters (actually cousins) pinky swear to not pass it on is enough.

I was sad to not see the girls’ reactions - this is a huge moment for them in terms of family identity as well, and it would have been great to see their response.

I understand from a technical perspective we’ve already seen Jon’s reaction, and Dany’s reaction, and there’s probably only so many ways you can play “shocked and trying to process”. Besides it’s not like the girls would have cast Jon aside. The truth doesn’t render their history with him unreal.

Of course what does Sansa do? As she watches Daenarys take Rhaegal and Drogon to the skies, she blabs the whole thing to Tyrion.

Their scene on the battlements was really engaging to watch, particularly Tyrion picking up on the bristling vibes Sansa was giving off, asking her if she was all right. Yes, she broke her oath almost immediately after making it, but she knows the consequences of doing so will be heavy. Keeping oaths is an important thing in Westeros - Brienne named her sword after it.

Yes, Sansa is playing politics hard, but she’s broken her oath not just because she’s a cold bitch who hates Dany, but because she does believe it’s right. It’s telling she chose to pass the information to Tyrion, once a former hated husband, now the only person who can really do something productive with the information.

At least we get to see Tyrion’s reaction, or part of it, as he bemoans the situation to Varys on the boat back to Dragonstone. Twenty-odd years of murder all because Robert Baratheon loved Lyanna Stark, but she didn’t love him back. We as viewers have known this for a couple of seasons, but seeing Tyrion grapple with it gave the sheer tragedy of it a new weight and texture, like an extra-large chilli-flavoured Chupa Chup shoved in your gob.

Varys, ever the pragmatist, doesn’t have an emotional reaction. Eight people now know about this truth, which makes it very much real. The question now is how to proceed once the information gets out there.

Tyrion repeats what Jon told Dany - that he doesn’t want the Iron Throne. Varys repeats what Dany told Jon - that it doesn’t matter what he wants. The North and the Vale will rally behind Jon; his better claim to the throne and charismatic nature might see the whole realm rally to him.

Tyrion suggests they marry and rule together, and Varys finally says aloud what nobody has said yet except for me, loudly and often: SHE’S. HIS. AUNTIE.

Tyrion half-heartedly tries the old “Targaryens married each other” line, but Varys points out that’s not the way things go down up north. He also asks Tyrion whether the Queen would want to share the throne, and we see on Tyrion’s face that it’s about as likely as me attending a 6am gym class.

The boats approach the island, and Daenarys flies overhead, enjoying a rare carefree moment as her giant scaly airborne babies soar through the blue skies.

Then BANG!

Rhaegal is speared through the heart.

BANG!

Another spear, through his left wing.

BANG!

A final spear, skewering his neck, sending cascades of blood through the air.

The dragon is done for, and with Dany watching in horror, crashes into the sea near Varys & Tyrion’s ship. They run to deck to see what’s going on; Grey Worm tells Missandei to get in a skiff

Surprise! It’s Euron and the Bad Greyjoy Fleet, hiding very conveniently being a rocky outcrop. The ships are all stocked with ballistas, and one by one they fire off at Dany and Drogon.

Dany turns her remaining child onto Euron’s ships and begins a divebomb the Dam Busters would be proud of. Euron has the decency to look slightly freaked out before readying his ballista again (ooer). But Dany pulls out of the dive, and flies Drogon out of harm’s way.

See! This is progress! She had an understand emotional reaction and let her rage take control, but then she grabbed it back! All is not yet lost for our Mother of Dragons… um, Mother of Dragon.

Euron then turns his guns on the fleet itself, pounding it harder than he pounded Cersei - oh that’s a bit unnecessary, Natalie.

There’s some Star Trek acting from Grey Worm as spears through his ship off kilter; and I loved how Tyrion saw the writing on the wall, and decided to take his chances by jumping overboard. He seemed in danger when a mast fell on his head; but no, they went to black then cut to Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm and a bunch of other soldiers washing up on a Dragonstone beach.

There’s no clue given as to how Varys got out alive, but more importantly, Grey Worm cannot find Missandei. She had run to a lifeboat, but it turns out Euron’s forces grabbed it. She might have been better off finding a piece of a wooden door and using that to keep buoyant.

Before we move into Ultimate Girl Boss Battle mode, a few Winterfell things to tie up.

First was Arya joining the Hound to ride south to King’s Landing. Two lone wolves, forming a pack. We saw no goodbye between Arya and Sansa or Bran; just her agreeing with Sandor Clegane that she had no intention of returning. Both Arya and the Hound have been chasing death for years now; staying alive just to deliver it upon their enemies. She doesn’t want to be the Hero of Winterfell, or a great Lady.

Arya had the chance to reject ta life of death and go with Gendry; but it’s the only reality she knows, and she’s comfortable in it. She may have reclaimed her name, but she is still a Faceless Man. The downside may be once her list is completely checked off it might all be over. But at least Arya will have accomplished what she promised to do in the moment her father’s head was parted from his body.

As for the Hound - Clegane Bowl 2019, baby.

Then we saw a progression of goodbyes for Jon Snow, as he saddled up to ride south with Davos and the rest of the forces to support Daenerys.

Sam and Gilly bid a fond farewell - they seem fairly settled at Winterfell. Jon embraces Gilly and realises she’s sporting a tell-tale baby bump. It turns out the nights were long and boring at the Citadel, so Sam and Gilly got busy. Gilly declares they want to name the child Jon if it’s a boy; and Jon counters that he hopes it’s a girl. Nawwww. How can people hate on my beloved when he says charming things like that?

It feels very final as he hugs Sam goodbye and Sam tells him Jon was his very best friend. I hope we see Sam again and Gilly again, but if this is it, well I’m happy enough. They’re alive, they love each other, they have a family. They represent real hope for the next summer, and that’s a nice reminder to Jon what he’s fighting for.

Tormund declares he plans to take the Free Folk back up to the north once the winter snows clear, because they’ve all had enough of the south - and besides, the women here mysteriously don’t seem to like giant ginger milk-swilling bruisers.

Jon then asks Tormund to take Ghost with him because he belongs in the true north - and only gives him a nod goodbye.

Given this weirdness, and in the context of asking “What is real?”, I have an alternative and slightly wild theory about Ghost.

I put it to you that Ghost…

...WAS NEVER THERE.

That’s right, I’m Sixth Sensing this bitch.

My theory runs that Ghost died just after Jon Snow came back to life at the start of Season 6. Jon apparently kept him out of the Battle of the Bastards for his safety because of what happened to Shaggy Dog. But nobody really asked him to put Ghost in; perhaps it was a flight of fancy and a way of justifying to himself why Ghost wasn’t there.

If that’s too far-fetched, then perhaps Ghost died during the charge of the Dothraki in last week’s battle.

Think about it. Nobody really noticed Ghost lately; in the opening scene of this episode where they burned the dead he was just standing there.

Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost with him back to the real North because as a direwolf he’ll be happier up there. But Tormund doesn’t say yes, he just says “So would you”. What if Tormund (and by extension, everyone else) was just humouring Jon? Saying “Yes of course Jon, your imaginary dog friend is lovely”?

Perhaps the reason Jon didn’t give Ghost a goodbye pat was because in his heart he knew that Ghost was already gone, and he was finally making peace with it. After all, why wouldn’t Ghost have run after his master? I’d run after Jon Snow no matter where he tried to send me, despite all of his questionable decisions. Sigh.

The reason I have had to concoct this elaborate story is that I CANNOT believe my beloved Jon Snow, noble, kind-hearted Jon Snow, would leave Winterfell, possibly forever, without at least giving his faithful doggo a scritch. That CANNOT be real.

Sure, you might say they’re writing Ghost out because it’s difficult and expensive CGI, and it would take more work for Jon to actually make contact with him, but I say BOLLOCKS. The doggie deserved PATS.

But At least now we can create a new dream for ourselves - a spin-off series called “Tormund & Ghost”!

Does anybody remember that fantastic 1990s dramedy Due South, which featured an upright, do-gooder and somewhat hot Canadian mountie and his white wolf who move to Chicago to fight crime?

I envisage that, but with more drinking and f***ing.

Let’s head to King’s Landing. Cersei has opened the gates of the Red Keep, letting her people flood into the stronghold for safety from the impending invasion of the Dragon Queen. Qyburn’s obviously had his Himmler hat on, because the propaganda war is raging and Cersei is coming across as... nice.

There’s another big time jump here; Euron is already back by Cersei’s side, bragging about killing Rhaegal. Cersei finds it way more of a turn-on than Euron himself, particularly when he tries to touch her. Sooooo fishy.

Cersei tells Euron that the lion will rule the land and the kraken the sea, and OUR CHILD will one day rule them all. Euron’s impressed his swimmers hit their target so quickly, and a nod from Qyburn confirms diagnosis: tuna bun in oven. He warns her Daenarys is coming for her, but Cersei already knows, and she’s grateful for her bargaining chip - a re-chained Missandei. “So much for the Breaker of Chains,” she sasses as she flounces out of the room.

Back on Dragonstone, Dany is pissed. Grey Worm is too, and suggests they run in and burn the whole bally lot of King’s Landing.

But Varys fulfils a promise he made to Daenerys when he first entered her service - that he would look her in the face and tell her if he thought she was making a mistake. He tells her that thousands of innocents will die if she directly attacks King’s Landing.

Dany is indignant: her child died, Missandei was taken, can Varys not understand the need for urgent action?

He begs her: “Do not destroy the city you came to save. Do not become what you have always struggled to defeat.”

That last line has a double meaning. It refers in the first instance to not becoming a tyrant like Cersei. But it’s also a plea for Dany not to give in to the rage and madness that she knows stirs within her, as it did in her brother and her father before her.

Dany responds with a speech about fulfilling her destiny to free the world from tyrants - and by gum, if she has to burn down every city and lock up every remaining person on Westeros until they understand how she’s freeing them, so be it. Just call her the Great Emancipator.

At least she agrees to Tyrion’s suggestion that while they wait for Jon and Davos to arrive with reinforcements that she offer Cersei the chance to surrender. She won’t, of course, but at least the people will know whom to blame when the sky falls in on them.

This prompts another Tyrion/Varys chat, in which Tyrion expressed concern they’re talking treason, and yet they don’t make an effort to leave the throne room in which they’ve gathered. Maybe the best place to have your quiet rebellious talks is in plain sight.

Tyrion is so weary and yet Varys’ mind is crystal clear. When he says “Who do you think would be better?”, Tyrion pauses and then answers “He doesn’t want it”. Tyrion KNOWS Jon is a better idea, but he’s thrown his lot in with his queen, she really does seem to be destined for greatness

But Varys is becoming more insistent that Dany is a risk to the realm. He’s not keen on Tyrion’s repeated suggestion of a marriage, saying Dany is too strong for Jon. It’d be like a Hyacinth Bucket situation.

Varys is clear - he will act to protect the realm, protect the people, the ones who are just as real as he and Tyrion and deserve food and safety. He finishes off by going a little bit 900-year-old knight from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

“We both have choices ahead of us. I pray we choose… wisely.”


Varys hopes, at any rate.

They’re both at Daenerys’ side when she and her worryingly small company of Unsullied soldiers turn up outside the gates of King’s Landing. It’s somewhat confusing geographically as they would have had to sail to Blackwater Bay and then march around the walls to the land gate… but once again the beauty of TV means never having to show the awkward transition bits.

It’s a stand-off worthy of a Western, as Cersei holds Missandei hostage on the battlements, a dozen or more ballistas ready to strike should Drogon move. The dragon himself is hiding up the back, just out of firing range.

The gates open and Qyburn walks out to parly with Tyrion. Two Hands of two Queens coming together - but no shaking to be had.

Both demand the other side’s immediate surrender; that much was expected. Both have reasons why the other should be fearful; Dany’s forces are weakened, while Cersei has innocent lies to protect. There’s a brilliant moment when Tyrion says he doesn’t want to hear children burning alive, and Qyburn’s like “Yeah, it’s not a pleasant sound,” and Tyrion’s like “DUDE what did I JUST SAY? I don’t want to hear it, bro” because you just know Qyburn’s been Mengeling his way through creepy experiments ever since seeing that dead hand burn in the dragon pits.

Anyway, Tyrion eventually thinks blow this, and marches up to address Cersei directly. Her archers nock their bows, and it’s within Cersei’s power to rain death down on her hated little ‘bro once and for all.

But once again, she squibs it. She cannot resist Tyrion’s big sad puppy eyes. Those two really have a weakness for each other, despite their mutual blinding hatred. Tyrion tries to reason with Cersei, saying her reign is over but her life doesn’t have to be. He then totally snookers her by declaring she should give up to save her child. Tyrion doesn’t know it of course, but she’s only just told Euron she’s up the duff and it’s his. He’s standing right there - surely he must wonder how this enemy knows about Cersei’s pregnancy when it’s still just a rumour on the front of the King's Landing tabloids?

I think this is part of the reason behind Cersei’s next move. She and Tyrion have always had this thing about destroying people the other loves. Sure, Missandei’s Grey Worm’s girl, but she’s also Dany’s dearest companion, and Cersei would hazard a guess on how hurting her will inflame the Dragon Queen’s temper. She knows that won’t be good for Tyrion as her adviser.

Of course the other reason Cersei chooses to have Missandei killed is that she’s just a sadistic psychopath who takes pleasure in murder.

Missandei does, however, bring it when it comes to final words. “Dracarys,” she shouts, her voice ringing out over the plain. We may not be the linguist Missandei was, but we all understood that was the biggest “F*** You” she could have given. That was her cutting the ribbon on Dany’s path of retribution.



Missandei’s death at the sword of Gregor Clegane is not just devastating because of her character, but because of the symbolic way in which she died - in chains. Missandei was the very first slave Dany freed, back in Astapor, just before her hero moment freeing the Unsullied. For her to die in chains represents an attack on Dany’s basic ideals of freedom for all.

And hoooooooo boy, Dany is pissed. Grey Worm is devastated, of course, and I’m sure will unleash the power of a fully operational, junkless, bereaved lover next week.

But more importantly is what hangs in the balance: Dany’s self-control. She has lost another cool-headed restraint, and she already seemed less and less interested in Tyrion and Varys’ advice. As he turns away from Missandei's decapitated corpse, Tyrion knows Daenerys is at a point of no return

Her tendency to madness has been drip-fed for many seasons now, intensifying as her goal of taking the Iron Throne got closer and closer. The one person who may be calming now - Jon Snow - is technically part of her problem, AND he’s still on the King’s Road, nowhere near.

So a theoretical quandary pondered over by Varys and Tyrion all episode has become critically real. Their Queen is unhinged, and we don’t know whether she still has that ability, as she did with Drogon, to pull herself back.

And so with apologies to Tears for Fears, or perhaps more accurately, Gary Jules’ Donnie Darko version, let’s delve deep into a mad world:

All around me are these Northern faces
Fireplaces and big embraces
I would think that in such joyful cases
They would love me, but they don’t love me
Cheap wine is filling up their glasses
My impression? Passive-aggression
Bite my tongue, I feel like bro Viserys
But I’m Daenarys, Queen Daenarys

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The nephew sex with Jon Snow was the best I’ve ever had
But now he wants to tell them
The secret of his birth
You won’t like me when I’m angry
‘Cause I could become a… Mad Queen
Mad Queen

Jon kept peace between me and his sisters
As we were planning, to take King’s Landing
But Euron ambushed me with his ballistas
Shot my Rhaegal, it was fatal
Turned up to demand Cersei surrender
She looks smarmy, at my small army
Doesn’t listen to Tyrion’s pleading
Sucky plan, hey
Bye Missandei

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
I thought my Iron Throne claim pretty f***ing ironclad
I know there will be victims
But I’m out of f***s to give
So I might just burn the city
If I do become a… Mad Queen
Mad Queen
It’s in the genes
Mad Queen

Yay! Best Moments

I’m going to court controversy here and say I loved Jaime’s leaving of Winterfell. I’ve seen some people angry that Jaime’s “ditching” Brienne to go be with Cersei, his real love, but I didn’t take that from it at all.

There was Jaime, staying in the north to help Brienne protect Sansa, almost having a happy families moment for the first time in his life. But then came the news that Cersei had ambushed Daenarys and killed Rhaegal. Suddenly Jaime’s past caught right back up with him. Remember, he travelled north to fulfil an oath, to fight with the living against the dead. He did that - but it hasn’t erased the sins of his past.

It prompts a personal reckoning that was just beautifully played. Jaime goes to leave in the middle of the night, but Brienne catches him. She pleads with him to stay, that he’s not the same as his sister, that he’s a good man. But how can he be? Jaime lists his litany of crimes, all done for Cersei. “She’s hateful… and so am I.” This was not a declaration of love for Cersei, but a self-esteem imploding. Jaime realises he has yet to atone for his own crimes, not to mention his sister’s.

He rides off, once again to the fight. Brienne is left in tears. She has always been a vulnerable character; there’s always been hurt just behind her eyes. The beauty of her character has been in the way she suppresses that vulnerability, that deep desire to be accepted for who she is. Finally she let herself be real with someone, but it could not last. I thought it was a terrific moment, and leaves us with many options in coming episodes - Jaime dies killing Cersei, Brienne going after him, they both die, they both survive. I am more invested in them now than ever before.

Also - Pod totally got picked up by two sexy girls for sexy times. The legend grows...

Zing! Best Lines

Tormund keeping it real:

Jon: Vomiting isn’t celebrating.
Tormund: Yes it is.

...and Varys and Tyrion bringing home some political realness:

Varys: She doesn’t like to have her authority questioned.
Tyrion: Something she has in common with every monarch who ever lived.
Varys: I worry about her state of mind.
Tyrion: We are her advisers. Worrying about her state of mind is our job.


Ewww, gross

Missandei’s death was brutal and shocking, if not unexpected. That Zombie Mountain has it coming BAD.


Boo, sucks

A final bit of pondering for this week.

I normally try to avoid social media chatter about each episode because I want to keep my reactions genuinely honest, and I would hate for any readers to think I was copying or was influenced by any of the multitude of other recaps/reviews/opinion pieces/hot takes out there.

However this week it’s been somewhat difficult to avoid a lot of feedback describing this as a terrible episode, one of the worst, an insult to George R.R. Martin’s world, all that sort of stuff.

For those critical of the episode, my coffee cup metaphor becomes a small f***-up symbolically representing a larger one.

Winding up a popular TV show like this was never going to attract universal praise.

In terms of my recaps, I try to come at it from an inside-the-story perspective.

I am disappointed in the treatment of Ghost, and I wish we’d seen the Stark girls’ reaction to Jon’s true status.

I don’t *really* care if the death of Rhaegal was slightly ham-fisted: frankly I was expecting a second dragon to die in the Battle of Winterfell, so if anything this upended that expectation for me.

But I write first and foremost as a tragic fangirl, and I do believe most of what we saw happen had justification from earlier seasons and generally makes logical sense within the world.

This is how the producers are working towards their ending; this is what I’m experiencing and recapping.

I’m very happy to turn a more critical eye on proceedings, but I will probably wait to do that until the season is over. We are right in the middle of it, we know not what is coming our way in the final two episodes. I believe I shall hold any full, harsh judgement until then - that's just my way of keeping it real.

Thank you once again for reading, my beloved Throners!

As always, this recap wouldn't be possible without the generosity and kindness and all around sexiness of my Patreon subscribers. I cannot stress enough how much your support means to me - you have been the shield that guard the realms of me (ooer).

This week I'd like to give special thanks to: Andrew; Barney J; Chi H; David R; Emma C; Holly G; Ian W; Jac; Kathryn A; Leanne McK; Lizzie M; Mark M; Naomi M; Rachel G; Pam M; Sally H; Tash R; Valerie C; Trent S-J; sugarwookie and Tracey W.

Don't forget you can catch me on episodes 1, 3 and 4 of Foxtel's Thrones360 Live, a companion show to Game of Thrones. I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be going back on next Monday 13 May for the penultimate episode!

14 Responses to ‘GoT Raven On Recap: S8E4 "The Last of the Starks"’

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted May 9
Another corker of a re-cap, if Thrones360 is having you back for the 2nd last one surely they MUST have you back fro the final. You have been fantastic on the show, and now knowing what's coming you can decide what stance to pull when you do the promo on the Iron Throne.

As you mentioned above you try not to read others recaps. Over on Tor publishing, Tyler Dean's piece 'Rewriting History Can’t Change the Past as Game of Thrones Reaches Its Endgame' "Bronn articulates the ease with which histories can be rewritten, saying: “all the great houses started […] with a hard bastard who was good at killing people. Kill a few hundred, they make you a lord. Kill a few thousand, they make you king.” Rewriting history proves to be frighteningly easy" and yet "But if capital “H” History—the force that Bran embodies and that Westeros’ traditions and conventions are built upon—is rendered mutable and without agency, the insidious personal histories of individual characters prove impossible to shake".

Did you know there are only TWO more episodes?

girlclumsy mutters...

Posted May 9
Only two! My heart will break!

Yeah, Bronn's insight into rewriting history was pretty sharp. And that whole idea of personal histories being less changeable really comes through in Jaime's arc this episode, I think!

Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted May 9
Bronn’s Theory in action: The Kennedy family in the US.

The embodiment of Will to Power.

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Sparty puts forth...

Posted May 9
In awe at the Mad World song, Westeros Women Weekly is laugh out loud funny -and absolutely agree - everything which happens has previous justification - but.... Hilarys emails....I mean but Ghost....that was wrong...and in exactly the same way Chewie not getting a hug from Leia after Han died....

girlclumsy mumbles...

Posted May 9
Awww, thank you! I have a lot of fun with the songs. I was on the plane leaving Sydney and Mad World just popped into my head, that dinky-dinky piano melody. Then it's just a matter of getting it to make sense in context!

And I suspect that Westeros women's mag might make a comeback before the season ends. That was too much fun to do. :)

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted May 9
Great recap as always MoK, I really loved your theory about Ghost, because the goodest doggo DESERVED PATS and your theory is the only way it is acceptable that the good boi did not get his pats.

I applauded Varys when he pointed out the screamingly obvious in that Dany is Jon's aunt; like the tweet referenced on 360 said, he's the only one that's consistently made sense on this show.

God poor Brienne. My initial reaction to Jamie's leaving was that she should have picked Tormund (Tormienne LIVES) but I was really swayed by your analysis of their coupling and Jamie's collapse of self esteem, and I too find myself even more invested in their story.

Poor Gendry though, I was in agonies of "oh boy, wrong way to read the room!" when he proposed to Arya, but I think she let him down as gently as she was able to, although it wasn't nice to watch the poor guy's heart break in real time. *sniff*.

I am in agonies of anticipation over the next two episodes; I can't believe we're down to the final two! But great choice on the part of the producers of Thrones360 by having you back on again, they've clearly recognised the immense talent and GoT nerddom that you bring to the table, and if they don't have you on for the finale then there's going to be strongly worded words in my household.

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girlclumsy asserts...

Posted May 9
Thanks Elana! I too had a moment of regret for Brienne choosing Tormund, but really, she was never going to do that. :)

It's been so exciting being on Thrones360 Live - I've been so fortunate to be asked back so many times! Really thrilled, and hope I add something positive to the show! <3

she_jedi asserts...

Posted May 9
You do an amazing job on the show, I've really enjoyed your insights on each episode :)

I know Brienne was never going to pick Tormund, but it was nice to dream haha!

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Goann_38 mumbles...

Posted May 9
After the 1st episode of season 8 I wrote a rough treatment of how I'd end the series If I was writing the last season. Most of this is more miss than hit, but I stand by the final paragraph as the only way to finish it in style.

Imaginary spoiler alert ahead.

Jon Snow (A.K.A Aegon Targaryen 6th of his name) and Auntie Daenerys take their whole host, including the Lannister army (which consists of Jaime), North to do battle with the King of Cool (No, not Jean Reno) and after quite a lot of having at it, claim a glorious victory.
Jean Reno (Ok, it should be him) is destroyed, as is his entire army of white walkers, after his recently acquired fire breathing white flyer caught sight of mummy (She’s not called The Mother of Dragons for nothing) and turned away from the dark side, but the price was heavy. Many are dead including Tyrion Lannister, who seriously misread the depth of a puddle and froze to death, and Beric Dondarrion.
Not having time to mourn their dead, the former King of the North and auntie Sweetheart turn their host to face the threat (Cersei’s recently hired Golden army and the rest of The Casterley Rock Crew) that is now approaching them from Kings Landing.
After much planning, battle is joined and after a lot of firebreathing from the two remaining Dragons, victory on this second battlefield is reached and the host continues to march on Kings Landing to either get Cersei to bend the knee or part her from her head. Either option is deemed acceptable.
They arrive at Kings Landing and the last battle is fought inside The Red Keep. It is ultimately quashed but this time the price is devastating.
Jon Snow is despatched in single combat by the Zombie Mountain, who in turn is killed by his brother, the non zombie Hound.
Daenery Targaryen is killed when one of her dragons is shot out from underneath her and falls out of the sky, crushing her to death rather messily.
Jaime Lannister is trying to talk his sister into bending the knee, and as soon as he drops his guard she pulls a knife of Valyrian steel and she steels herself to stab him to death. As she is about to make her move the non zombie Hound leaps out from behind a pillar and batters her to death with the still impressively solid corpse of Tyrion Lannister.
Jaime Lannister, sick with grief at the untimely end of his sister/love kills the Hound and storms outside to have a big cry.
As he emerges into the daylight one of the dragons , into which Bran has warged, turns him into a pillar of flame. Apparently Bran is still harbouring a small amount of resentment for being thrown out of a window.
After the final victory the people of the seven kingdoms gather for the coronation of their new regent.
Given the heavy toll the battles took the pickings were exceedingly thin. Made thinner by Sansa meeting a grizzly end in Winterfell at the hands of an unknown assassin and Bran disappearing, doubtless moving into a tree root lined cave to live out the rest of his days as a three eyed raven.
The only candidate left is Arya Stark, so it’s she who is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and much celebrating is done.
After a full day of drinking and partying the new queen excuses herself to make her way to her new chambers, passing Brienne of Tarth and Tormund Giantsbane walking hand in hand towards the nearest empty room, giggling like giddy teenagers.
She ascends the stairs and finally, once inside allows herself to relax, sitting for several minutes rubbing her eyes.
Finally, as the closing music is just starting to play she scratches at her cheek before pulling off her face to reveal Jaqen H'ghar the faceless man, who looks knowingly at the camera with just the hint of a cheeky grin on his face as it fades to black and the credits roll.

girlclumsy is gonna tell you...

Posted May 10
This is most excellent. Tyrion's frozen corpse used as a weapon was a highlight - and I actually would love to see Jaqen H'ghar again!

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Oldy asserts...

Posted May 9
Tidy.

I think Jon will be reunited with Ghost at the end, when he makes like Frodo and goes into the West, erm, North, to turn his back on the lands of men. I think Samwise, erm, Samwell, talking about naming their son after Jon (hope it's a girl) is a clue to that.

girlclumsy asserts...

Posted May 10
Yeah, that was really interesting, Tormund telling Jon he has the real north in him, and Jon saying he wishes he was going up there. I know Jon came to "enjoy" his time with the wildlings as much as one could when one is spying on them - but I fancy that was more because of Ygritte being there.

I've always seen Jon as a northman; Winterfell & Castle Black. Hence why I could see him becoming the true King, but not being super happy about it. Much like Ned as the Hand in the south.

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted May 9
Damn, I look forward to these each week!

I need one of you blokes or Sheila’s to share a foxtel login so that I can see the glorious MoK on the teevee box.

girlclumsy asserts...

Posted May 10
I have to work out what my password is, then I'll happily send to you. Mine's saved on the computer and I can never remember! :P

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Respond to 'GoT Raven On Recap: S8E4 "The Last of the Starks"'

GoT Raven On Recap: S8E3 "The Long Night"

Posted May 1 into Raven On by girlclumsy

What do we say to the God of Death?

NOT TODAY.

To be fair, for thousands of people it actually *was* today, given the catastrophic death count from the Battle of Winterfell. For the Dothraki, the Unsullied, the Knights of the Vale and other ragtag members of the Winterfell Massive, it wasn’t quite a perky occasion.

But still.

THE KING IS DEAD.

LONG LIVE…. THE QUEEEEEEEEEN!

Yes, in a metaphor for what Swedish teen Greta Thunberg is trying to do in real life, our own murder baby stuck the pointy end into Captain Climate Change himself.

Sure, the Night King was more a baby doomer than a baby boomer, but I’m sure he’s still the kind of guy who would bitch about young Westerosi people and their smashed avo toast while driving a 4WD he never even takes off-roading.



After all this time, he’s gone, and along with him the entire White Walker threat. The world, it seems, has been saved from never-ending winter. Memory and truth have been protected. Humanity has lived to see the light of dawn.

And yet, I HAVE A LOT OF F***ING QUESTIONS.

Why did the Dothraki charge the walking dead? Surely somebody could have worked out that was a terrible use of resources?

How did the resurrection in the crypt not claim more lives? Confined spaces and all that?

Where the hell was Bran when he was warging? We saw him disappear into ravens and/or crows - but then what?

What did the Night King really want anyway? Was there *any* deeper purpose beyond “f*** shit up just ‘cause”?

And most importantly...

HOW IN SEVEN FLIPPING FLAMES OF F*** DID SO MANY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS SURVIVE THAT NIGHTMARE?

Let us look to the sky, Hunger Games-style, to pay tribute to our valiant dead: Dolorous Edd (bittersweet tears); Lyanna Mormont (F*** YEAH BUT NOOOO); Ser Beric Dondarrion (service rendered, salute); Theon Greyjoy (weeps openly), Ser Jorah Mormont (timely, apt, totally in character, but still - NOOOOOO) and Melisandre (hey girl, where you been? Oh nope, never mind, save the day then collapse, keep the mystery).

But also…mark the survivors, many of whom were in real danger yet made it through: Grey Worm; Brienne; Jaime; Pod; Gendry; Sam Tarly; TORMUND GIANTSBANE?!?!

We were LUCKY, people. LUCKY.

Which means it’s either all over in terms of character stakes, or there are going to be some QUICK and CHEAP deaths in the final three episodes to shock us.

Now if super-tragic-show-fan-Mother-of-Kittens-me is reflecting on these questions, and the possibilities versus realities, I suspect there are going to be hundreds of book wonks and deep dive theorists upset that some of their more elaborate conspiracies didn’t pan out.

Or at least, didn’t pan out YET. Who knows, maybe Bran really WAS the Night King, and that final stare-off between them was Bran saying “It’s OK to die, I will carry on your work” and Bran will warg into Cersei and make her throw herself off the roof of the Red Keep...

My point is I understand if there is some frustration with this episode, particularly in the immediate aftermath, before we see what happens next.

The Big Bad has been conquered; surely that was all we were building towards?

I posit that yes, it was - but primarily for the North. For Jon Snow, the Night’s Watch, the Free Folk and Bran storylines were always intertwined with The Great War. Other plots/characters were folded in along the way - Melisandre, Daenarys, Tyrion, Jaime, and to a lesser degree Sansa and Arya (being Starks, they were always going to end up there, but had detours).

For the North, the war against the White Walkers was the alpha and omega.

For Cersei, bitch don’t give a shit. She ain’t never given a shit.


"And this is my sincere face."

While Jon was getting acquainted with shuffling undead zombies at Hardhome, she was getting in too deep with the mindless zealot zombies of the Faith Militant. Cersei’s focus has always been on the meat sack side of history. In fact the only bit of supernatural interference in Cersei’s life has been that damn Maggy the Frog prophecy about her kids all dying and being eventually offed by a younger brother.

And who even knows if Maggy the Frog was real; or just making stuff up like that dodgy tarot card reader I once got a free sitting with (I wouldn’t have done it if I’d had to pay, believe me), who made me draw three cards and told me “Looks like there are good things ahead for you” and hello, buddy, tell me something very specific about lottery numbers or winning horse names or what’s the point of you?

So for Cersei, and her related plotlines: the War of Five Kings; the internal bitchiness with the Tyrells; the Faith Militant; dealing with foolish allies like the Freys and Euron Greyjoy; making false promises to the Jon/Dany alliance; losing Jaime; her loosening grip on motherhood and subsequently her own humanity - all of that is very much of this earth.

Yes, the book series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, a more poetically fantastical title.

But the TV show is called Game of Thrones. And it looks like now The Great Game, NOT The Great War, was always what counted most.

Now this is all just a thought bubble I’ve blown out of the bucket of detergent that is my brain. I understand if some want to rant about the White Walker storyline not culminating in something… more. Indeed, as I said above, there’s a frustrating mystery to Night King and his goals that has me grinding my teeth like I’d grind Jon’s… nevermind.

Prussian military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz’s famous philosophy holds that war is the continuation of policy by other means. In the case of this show, perhaps it’s the other way around - that politics is the continuation of the war by other means.

Also, maybe we could just be happy that a sprawling battle meant there was absolutely no time for funny business between Jon and Dany, and you know I am always onboard them not getting onboard.

All right, let’s get on with the horrorshow.

S8E3: “The Long Night”

A long night indeed, with a running time of 82 minutes, making this the longest episode of Game of Thrones yet, and the longest battle sequence ever filmed. Pretty impressive stuff, and I want to start by acknowledging the crazy talents of the production team to make it happen. There have been complaints about the darkness of the fight scenes; again I can appreciate that, but there is no doubt this was a ballet of grim spectacle and a technical achievement that should win ALL the Emmys.

The highlight of course was Arya’s victorious ninja attack, which makes it hard to work out how to recap such a rapacious, rampaging battle when its final result was so remarkable.

I think, because of the breakneck speed of action, what follows is going to be part play-by-play commentary, part stream of consciousness, and part narration for the visually impaired. It may help to read it aloud in the voice of some frenetic meth-fuelled sportscaster.

Wish me good fortune in the battle recap to come.

~~~~~

Welcome to Winterfell and what looks like a perfect foggy, moonless night in which to launch a last-ditch defence of humanity.

In the pre-dawn, the Winterfell forces are readying their positions. Tyrion Lannister picks up a swag and heads to the crypts; Theon and the Ironborn push Bran to the Godswood past the courtyard caltrops.

Ser Davos Seaworth stalks the battlements, Sansa and Arya wait and watch. The air is quiet; even those dragons are keeping schtum.

The Unsullied stand as one, a world away from their origins as slave warriors in Essos, about to fight an enemy so different to what they would have expected from their training. Grey Worm is at the head; after fond talks of beach holidays with his best girl Missandei, he’s a big risk of falling on the field tonight.

The line-up for Team Winterfell continues to impress: Pod, commander Brienne, and new recruit Jaime Lannister on the left flank; the Hound joining Tormund and Beric on the front line; Sam Tarly squeezing his way forward to join Gendry and Dolorous Ed, who welcomes him with the episode’s apt first spoken words, “For f***’s sake.”

Ser Jorah sits astride a horse out front with the Dothraki vanguard, a seemingly-much-bigger-than-last-week Ghost alongside him.

There’s a shot of an awkward Jon and Dany before they mount Drogon and Rhaegal (thankfully not each other, no time for love, Dr Jones) and fly off silently to a nearby bluff to watch the action below.

All are readying for the coin toss and kick-off.

But what’s this? Out of the gloom, a lone rider approaches the defensive position.

It’s KATE BUSH! The reclusive singer-songwriter hasn’t been seen since the beginning of season seven, working her contacts to bring Jon Snow and Daenarys Targaryen together as part of a Lord of Light brand merger initiative.

It’s unknown when the Red Woman transferred to Winterfell. It’s possible she’s a recent arrival; perhaps she’s been there for the pre-season, just camped out creepily in the snow drifts waiting for the right moment to sneak back into the team.

That right moment has now become a LIGHT moment, am I right listeners, as she’s had Ser Jorah instruct the Dothraki to raise their arakhs, over which she casts a spell and sets them all ablaze.

Ser Jorah of course is playing this match with Heartsbane, the Tarly family’s Valyrian steel sword, so even though his weapon doesn’t light up (saddening some fans of the long odds Ser Jorah-is-Azor-Ahai bet), he doesn’t need it to play ball here tonight.

It’s a beautiful sight as the flames travel across the Dothraki horde, giving us a moment of sparkling visibility into what is otherwise going to be an exercise in squinting through the darkness to follow the action.

Melisandre approaches the gates; taking particular note of Arya Stark on the battlements. The Red Priestess’ record with young women is not great; we all remember that unnecessary and frankly dispiriting play she pulled on Shireen Baratheon before Stannis’ campaign for the Iron Throne collapsed more heavily than the Australian cricket team’s batting order against Pakistan.

Ser Davos Seaworth is not happy to see Melisandre, but she assures him he will not need to silence her beautiful soprano voice tonight as she’ll be dead in just a matter of hours. Now generally you want to take a positive mental approach into a battle, but clearly Kate Bush is walking to the beat of her own 80s-style synthesiser.

It’s time for the Dothraki to begin play, and in a mighty show of power, the entire mass of Screamers pushes forward in tight formation into the darkness. Ser Jorah is up there, along with Ghost, but it’s not long before we start seeing those flaming arakhs extinguished. It’s like the crowd waving lighters at the Rolling Stones at Altamont in ‘69, with the wights playing the part of the Hell’s Angels.

Now one would think a team captain such as Daenarys Targaryen might have anticipated her loyal bloodriders would be wiped out by the zombies, but as stragglers and horses and Ser Jorah Mormont return to the main army, she gets angry and decides to bring forward her showstopper move.

“The Night King is coming,” Jon Snow tells her. “The dead are already here,” she fires back, before firing up Drogon into attack mode. Not to be left behind, the greenhorn dragonrider Jon mounts Rhaegal, and it’s all a bit Daddy issues considering that dragon was named after Jon’s real Dad, and he’s switched from his typical on-foot, front-of-the-action Stark combat style to an airborn Targaryen assault.

Back on the ground, consistent performer Grey Worm is at the head of the Unsullied as they face a sweeping tsunami of the undead opposition that truly is a sight to be seen - if in fact you can see it due to everyone wearing black uniforms for heritage round.

Tormund “Flame-haired Angel Man” Giantsbane only gets a glimpse of the wave before it slams into him; something he no doubt wishes Brienne would do, if she wasn’t busy calling on her forces to stand their ground against the wight-wing attack.

Ser Beric Dondarrion is in there with his own flaming sword; and despite his hand-icap, Jaime Lannister manages an impressive early rescue of his commander Brienne.

Annnnnd here comes Drogon!

That familiar stirring music swells and Dany has Drogon strafe the front lines, with Jon following behind on Rhaegal in a beautiful sweeping double strike.

Jon spies the White Walker generals at the back of the Wight army and drops Rhaegal into a quick descent, but is caught up by a sudden roll in of a mist more disorientating than Lynx body spray.

Up on the battlements, Arya and Sansa are much impressed by seeing the dragons’ mouth-iwork for the first time. Arya knows her call-up is coming, so she orders Sansa to the dugout (aka the crypts), hands her a dragonglass dagger, and advises her sister to “stick ‘em with the pointy end”. It’s a classic callback, perfectly timed, another hallmark of this great series.

Let’s take a look at the battle cam: as Dany’s fire eases off temporarily, we can see Brienne, Jaime, Tormund, Pod, Gendry, the Hound and Ser Jorah still in the game, albeit covered by a fine sheen of falling ash.

To everyone’s surprise, rookie reserve Sam Tarly is still standing, managing a few points here and there. Longtime teammate Dolorous Edd saves him from a forward strike and makes him get back on his feet; only to be stabbed through the heart and crash out of contention.

VALE, DOLOROUS EDD.

Jon is struggling to get Rhaegal out of the mist, but is almost taken out by Dany herself, as the two dragons slam into each other over a forest. On a personal note, friends, I for one am glad it was just the dragons banging into each other, but back to the action.

Tormund is first to call for the home side to fall back; he’s backed up by Brienne, and Lyanna Mormont orders the gates opened.

Grey Worm orders the Unsullied to protect the retreat, and columns of fighters with no need for jockstraps form up block by block in a strong rearguard action.

The scrappers flood back into the castle as the wights continue to fling themselves onto the Unsullied’s spears. Brienne, Jaime, Tormund, Pod, Gendry, Beric and Sam are still in play; and Arya Stark puts her dog in the fight, firing a flaming arrow into a wight threatening the Hound.

The Unsullied also begin to retreat, but after reaching the gates Grey Worm can see there’s only so much his men will be able to achieve against the onslaught of the undead. He calls for the trench dug in around the castle walls to be lit.

This is it: Ser Davos’ one job. Becoming Winterfell’s air traffic controller, he waves flaming torches to indicate to Dany that now would be a great time for Drogon to give them all a light.

But oh no! Dany can’t see! Her head is too far in the clouds!

Jon is no use; he’s already landed Rhaegal on the walls of the Godswood after losing Dany in the literal fog of war.

Archers and foot soldiers are deployed to light the trench, but it’s either too cold for the wood to burn, or they get tackled by wights before getting their torch over the line.

Enter once more Melisandre, helped by Grey Worm and the Unsullied, who form a scrum to protect her. She repeats her earlier incantation to create another in-FLAME-mation, am I right friends, setting the caltrops alight in the nick of time before the wight buzzers blow. You’ve got to have a lot of faith to be an elite acolyte, but you’ve also got to have a lot of faith… in yourself.

The trenches are blazing like college kids on April 20, which is good news for everyone except the Hound, whose lifelong fear of fire sees him quit the field, much to Ser Beric’s chagrin.

~~~CRYPT CAM~~~

It’s hard to be on the sidelines during a championship game, and being stuck in a subterranean gravesite with a crying baby has got to hurt. Tyrion may be a Most Valuable Thinker, but he’s convinced he would be of assistance as a battle commander. To be fair, he may be right - so far the tactics used on ground level would make Sun Tzu blush.

Varys gives him a verbal slap down, saying he was lucky at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, that’s all. It’s Sansa who delivers the truth bomb - they’re all useless. The most heroic thing all those out-of-condition “normal people” can do is accept their fundamental inability to contribute to their side’s prospects of victory and wait for death looking tense but dignified.

Where Tyrion does have a win is in Sansa’s declaration that he was the best of the men she was either married or betrothed to. Being better than Joffrey or Ramsay? A low bar, but still an important one to have jumped.

Sansa tells Tyrion it wouldn’t have worked between them; Tyrion seems disappointed by her certainty. “The Dragon Queen,” is her explanation. An alliance with Sansa would divide Tyrion’s loyalties and become a problem for Dany. Interesting that Sansa should mention such a thing at such a time - she’s indicating their teamwork is purely for this match, and she will be pursuing an independent Norths home ground should the odds be ever in their favour.

Missandei gets her one slam dunk of the evening when she claps back at Sansa dissing her girl boss Dany, saying without the Dragon Queen, none of you useless also-rans would even be alive to bitch about divided loyalties. After two episodes of being stared at like some sort of terrifying alien, no wonder she was ready to give some white people a Narth Maul.

To the Godswood.

Theon Greyjoy and Team Kraken have been keeping a close ear on the action. Theon knows with the trench lit, the game will come to them before long. He takes a quick time out to let Bran know how sorry he is about his earlier defection from Team Stark; but Bran is magnanimous in creepiness, and tells him everything he did led him back to his home stadium, so it’s all good. The message here is that they’re a team, they’ll stick together, they’ll have each other’s backs.

Annnnnnnd Bran is OUTTA THERE.

“I’m going to go now,” he says, and wargs for the first time in what seems like a long time. He takes over control of a bunch of ravens and/or crows, who flap up and over the battle scene and castle, flying south until they find...yes, it’s the Night King on Viserion!

Here he is, Captain of the Undead, Chief White Walker, The Icy General, Mr Freeze - finally off the bench and into the sky.

Despite his relatively long distance from the action, NK flexes his frigid fingers (watch out, fellas, there are kids listening!) to inflict his first intervention of the match.

The wights have come to a standstill in front of the burning caltrops, a massed pile of unthinking, unfeeling menaces to society, sounds much like the current government, am I right, friends?

One by one they start throwing themselves onto the fire, slowly building a body pile to extinguish part of the fire. It’s kind of like that M. Night Shyamalan film “The Happening”, where trees go mad and make people kill themselves, except this isn’t completely shit.

So after some setbacks in the form of being savaged by dragonfire, the wights have literally built a bridge and got over it, ha ha, can you believe it, Winterfell’s not the only thing on fire here tonight, friends.

Ser Davos gives the signal to man the walls, as the game moves into its second phase - attacking and breaching the castle walls.

Jaime, Brienne, Pod, Tormund, Gendry, Grey Worm and Jorah all make for the battlements as archers ready their bows.

A World War Z-style zombie pyramid begins forming against the stone walls, with wights proving themselves pretty well adept at climbing for creatures with not much muscle tone left. One wonders how they’ve been working out enough, but clearly the NK has access to a bunch of ‘roids. That kind of drug abuse is normally frowned upon in the world of high sports, but we all know Mr Freeze is the Lance Armstrong of the fantasy world.

Speaking of which, Mr Diestrong is spotted by Jon Snow, who nudges Rhaegal back into the air.

There’s much effusion of blood as our A-Team slam their swords, spears and axes into the climbing vine of zombastardry.

If we take in the wide shots, that is only absolutely f***ing terrifying image there of the onslaught.

Clearly it’s too much for our home side, and the opposition start penetrating gaps in the defences, spilling into the castle proper.

There’s some beautiful paired fighting between Brienne and Jaime, both saving each other from wights in quick succession. Sam Tarly is clearly wearing a magic wightproof vest as he is plucked once more to safety by veteran forward Ser Jorah Mormont.

The dragonglass caltrops work well as the wights spread into Winterfell like that STD I picked up after last year’s Mad Monday, but it’s a sheer numbers game at this point and those wights have a real advantage in being able to throw themselves several metres to the ground and just get back up again like Ben Cousins pre-rehab. And post-rehab, come to think of it.

Now you might be asking, where in all of this is valuable running back The Hound? Well, as is so often the case in these major events, panic has got the best of him, and he’s quietly freaking out in a corner.

Nevermind that now though because HERE COMES ARYA STARK!

Yes, the Diminuitive Despoiler has fired new energy into the game, using her recently-acquired new bit of kit to slice and dice her way through the wights on the wall.

The Hound is still freaking out like Cougar at the start of Top Gun, unable to get back in the game due to anxiety. Beric tries to coach him out, saying they need him, but the Hound is fairly confident they’re all just f***ed at this stage.

“Tell her that!” Beric roars, pointing at Arya who has just barrel-rolled down a staircase full of bodies then thrown herself onto a canopy to escape the undead.

ENGAGE HOUND PROTECTIVE MODE! Nicely done, Beric, just the right amount of pressure at the right time, and Hound is back in the game, dashing off to help Arya.

It’s sad to see former Team Life hero Stampy the Giant, aka Wan Wan, burst into Winterfell as a zombified nightmare tower. The last time he did that was to help finish off Ramsay Bolton at the Battle of the Bastards, before dying heroically. You would have thought somebody would have burned his body, but apparently not.

It’s up to little Lyanna Mormont to stand and face this walking Eiffel Tower of Ewww, and boy, can the girl scream a battle cry more fiercely than Mel Gibson in Braveheart. The Not Friendly Giant picks her up, squeezing her tiny body, and makes to bite her head off like she was a stick of kebab.

AND SHE HAS GOT THE BLADE OUT! With one last elemental scream, the Little Bear thrusts her dagger right in the giant’s eye, totally Cyclopsing him to death.

VALE, LYANNA MORMONT.

Let’s check in on our airborne battalion. Jon and Dany are trying to flush out the Night King, but the stealth creeper jumps them first, chasing Dany down with Viserion’s hot blue fire. Just as quickly, he’s gone again, leaving Jon and Dany to nosedive to try to catch him.

Arya Stark is inside the castle now, bleeding from the face, making her way into the library for a quick break and perhaps a Gatorade bath. But there’s no time, as somehow a bunch of wights have found themselves in there, possibly looking for self-care and wellness tips now their flesh has rotted away.

It’s interesting to note the use of sound, particularly the lack of sound, in this sequence. It highlights in case we’d forgotten that Arya, like the worst kind of flatulence, is both silent and deadly.

Only the sound of blood dripping from her forehead onto the stone floor alerts a wight, but before it can grab her, she’s gone again. She does the old dropped-book-switcheroo, before silently dispatching a lady wight through the jaw on her way out.

It’s looking like a clean escape, until a nearby door breaks under a wight onslaught, followed swiftly by a similar action out of the room behind her. We leave Arya for the moment running through the corridors for her life.

~~~CRYPT CAM~~~

Bored and scared. Tyrion drinks. Loud noises and a battle outside the doors. Silence.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Hound and Beric search the corridors for Arya; she eventually appears through a door with a wight bearing down. Beric throws his flaming sword into the wight, and the Hound grabs Arya and runs. The pair smack down wights as they go, with Beric under siege behind them, but ordering them to keep going.

And BERIC IS DOWN! Stabbed multiple times by a group of zombies, he still manages to stumble into a hall behind the Hound and Arya. With no Thoros of Myr around, Beric is done for. Arya, who once put him on her kill list, is now saddened by his loss.

VALE LORD BERIC DONDARRION.

But there’s no time for black armbands right now, as Arya has someone to meet.

That’s right, Kate Bush has returned for the reunion she once told Arya they would have. “Here we are, at the end of the world”.

With the Hound watching on carefully (one might even call him “The Man with the Child in His Eyes”), Arya informs Melisandre that she was right when predicted Arya would close many eyes forever.

With an encouraging nod, Melisandre repeats “brown eyes, green eyes...and blue eyes”, and Arya’s own peepers show a glimmer of recognition. As the wights start to bash down the door, Melisandre whispers to her a maxim she learned long ago.

“What do we say to the God of Death?”

“Not today.”

ARYA IS ON THE MOVE. REPEAT, ARYA IS ON THE MOVE.

In the Godswood, Theon orders his Ironborn to “make every shot count” as the wights approach.

Overhead, the Night King fangs it towards the North Gate, letting Viserion rip through the stone with his mouth fireworks.

Then BANG! Jon Snow on Rhaegal sideswipes Viserion, obviously having learned a lesson on timing from Tormund’s hug last episode.

The two get locked in a midair dogfight not unlike Maverick and Goose and those MiGs in the aforementioned Top Gun.


"The G-forces, the G-forces!"

Jon is having a hard time hanging on, and it’s a real shame he didn’t think to invent some sort of rope harness to help him stay onboard Rhaegal. Thankfully, Dany barges in and forces the Night King off Viserion. He falls, every so gracefully backwards, into the cloud below, his icy spear besides him.

But the damage has been done to Rhaegal, and the big lad crash lands into the snow outside the castle walls. He doesn’t seem to be dead; perhaps just concussed. The team doctor will be called for a full evaluation.

Annnnnnnd it’s on - Dany spies the Night King alive (a-dead?) and well, standing on the ground below her. She issues a firm “Dracarys” to Drogon, who proceeds to roast the frosted miscreant like single origin coffee beans.

Turns out the Night King is 85 per cent asbestos, and the flames have no effect on him, answering everyone’s question last week at the battle planning session as to whether dragonfire can kill White Walkers.

The dude is more smug than Donald Trump post-Mueller-report, and reaches for his javelin to throw at Drogon. Dany manages to weave to the side and retreat; but the Night King doesn’t seem to care. He sets off towards the castle, likely in search of Bran, his intended target.

Over to Jon Snow, who’s drawn his Longclaw, ooer, am I right friends, and begun running down Napoleon Chill-to-the-Bonaparte.

Now I don’t like to say that Jon Snow sometimes acts impetuously, without a full contemplation of likely outcomes against enemies he’s met before on the field of battle.

Perhaps he suffered a slight brain injury in the fall off Rhaegal, and that has elevated his heart rate and resulted in a somewhat rash decision to go charging into a field of bodies near a creature well regarded for bringing bodies back into operation. Perhaps he felt this was his best chance of engaging with the NK one-on-one, his Valyrian steel sword now key to victory.

Even when he sees the Night King turn and begin his trademark “Come at me bro” Evil Jesus manoeuvre, he doubles down, breaking into a sprint to try to close the gap between him and the goal posts.

But it’s no use, with wights - including many freshly killed Unsullied, Stark and Arryn knights - surrounding him about ten metres from the scoreline. One of them is in fact Dolorous Edd, who was most insistent his body be burned if he bought it. Sadly there was no time.

Inside the castle walls too, there is a great sense of “Ohhhhh, get FARRRRRRRRKED” as the small advantage the A-Team had started to build was kicked into kingdom come by the resurrection of everyone just dead, including sweet Lyanna Mormont, and the march through the gates of the White Walker generals.

~~~CRYPT CAM~~~

It was a big question ahead of this game - would the Night King recruit more dead from the Winterfell crypts? Surely there had been too many comments about it being “the safest place” in the castle for it to be any more secure than a rugby league player’s pants after two drinks.

Gilly’s the first to find out, turning around to see, oh yes, a bony hand burst through a sarcophagus. Now once again, it’s not entirely clear how a long dead collection of bones has the strength to punch through a stone coffin, but magic is once again happening on the field and off here tonight.

Everyone seems to react far too slowly, which I guess makes sense if you were new to the phenomenon of The Walking Dead, which is fair as this is HBO and that show’s on rival network AMC.

Eventually Tyrion calls on the crypt crew to run, but not before a victim is claimed and dragged out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the Godswood, Theon is gradually losing all of his Ironborn to wights, while Bran is who the f*** knows where.

Jon is saved from certain death by Daenarys, who clears a path through the opposition with fire, and orders him to go to Bran.

Now if Dany were so inclined, she totally could have let Jon buy the farm at that moment, slyly getting rid of a rival to the Iron Throne in such a way that no one would call the umpire over.

But for all her faults, Dany is not a cold-blooded killer like Cersei, and I do believe she loves Jon and would hopefully try to work things out in a way that would be favourable to her, but not hurt him too much. If nothing else, she’s smart enough to realise at this moment they’re on the same side, and Jon Snow alive is still more valuable than Jon Snow dead.

Sadly, she’s not watching her tail, and wights start piling on to Drogon’s back and sides like flies on a sheep’s dag. He manages to shake a few off, but in the confusion Dany slips off and falls onto the ground. Drogon takes to the skies in pain, yelping as he attempts to flick the wights off, giving the impression of a very large dog after an unwanted bath.

Jon’s inside the castle now, with bodies and balconies falling around him. Tormund is there, slashing away, seemingly untroubled by the never-ending mass of death coming for him. All that giant’s milk has done wonders for his stamina, and no doubt there’s a team sponsorship deal waiting to happen.

Jon also has to walk past Sam Tarly in a seriously dangerous position - you can see Jon wants to help his friend, but has got his radar set on Bran and cannot diverge from the plan.

Grey Worm is still in the game; Brienne is still in the game.

Theon is still in the Godswood game, but rapidly running out of Ironborn and flaming arrows.

Bran “Three-Eyed Raven” Stark is still who the f*** knows where.

Outside, Jorah and Dany are still in the game, Dany picking up a dragonglass sword in an attempt to help her main man out.

~~~CRYPT CAM~~~

It’s chaos down here, with God knows how many long-dead Starks coming back for another bite at life.

Tyrion and Sansa are hiding behind a sepulchre, trading deep and meaningful looks as their peers are brutally slaughtered behind them. Tyrion even kisses Sansa’s hand in a gesture of affection and protection. Facing imminent death is always a good time to put past enmity aside. Perhaps that's what The Don and Douglas Jardine needed after Bodyline. Topical sporting reference.


"It's the end of the world as we know it... and I feel fine."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Viserion lands on the battlements and proceeds to make like Jim Morrison and trash Winterfell like a hotel room.

Dany and Jorah are still holding off the hordes outside, barely. Theon stands by Bran, fighting by hand now.

Brienne, Jaime, Pod and Gendry struggle to stay upright. Sam weeps on the ground.

It’s unmitigated chaos; no direction, no group plan, just sheer fight or be killed adrenaline.

The music’s turned all somber and muted, the screams muffled and echo-y, always a good sign we’re reaching peak despair in a match. All that has to happen now is a move to slow-motion and we know we’re at the endgame.

Annnnnnnd here comes the slow motion.

The Night King strides into the Godswood like a villain in a western; this town ain’t big enough for the both of them.

Theon brings down wight after wight, until eventually they all stop moving in on him, and the circle opens to let the Night King and Entourage approach.

Bran returns to the present to give Theon a message, an absolution, knowing what Theon is about to do:

“You are a good man. Thank you.”


Once, Theon saved Bran from a wildling by shooting him down with his bow. Now, he takes up a spear to try to defend the little lord once more. He charges at the Night King, hollering in pain and anger and grief and regret and a small measure of peace that this is him done, that he can be both a Stark and a Greyjoy, and that he has proven it now.

The Night King seizes his spear, snaps it, and drives half of it through Theon’s middle. The last son of Balon Greyjoy, famous rebel against the Starks, dies on Stark soil.

VALE, THEON GREYJOY.

Jon’s way to the Godswood is still blocked by Viserion, and the one-time King in the North is almost on the verge of losing hope, as every attempt to push forward sees him take cover amidst piles of bodies.

Jorah is taking hit after hit for Dany, and still getting back up, each and every time. There is nothing to do but get back up, and back up, and back up, for his Khaleesi. Long has his personal love for Dany transformed into something higher, more pure - an intense desire to protect her life beyond the boundaries of normal ability.

The Night King stands over Bran, and finally Bran has met his match in terms of intense staring capability. There’s some sort of non-verbal communication between them - the NK tilts his head at one point. Is he gloating? Or recognising something in Bran? Either way, he reaches back for his sword - just as a wisp of air catches one of his general’s hair.

Jon tries one last time to get past Viserion; summoning all his strength, all he can do is let out a primordial scream.

The Night King’s arm is lifting his sword.

Behind him, out of the gloom, from nowhere, comes ARYA STARK.

He flips, grabs her by the throat. In pain, she releases her left hand, her dominant hand, in which she’s holding Catspaw, her Valyrian steel dagger. There’s a song of steel on the wind as it drops into her free right hand, a bait and switch move similar to one we saw her pull on Brienne when they sparred together.

Arya takes a breath and uses her last remaining strength to plunge Catspaw into the Night King’s gut.

He shatters, he shatters!

What a finishing move by Arya Stark.

The dagger once used to attempt to kill Bran, has now been used to save him.

A dagger that Bran handed Arya when they reunited, as it was of no use to him. Now we know why.

The White Walker generals follow suit in an explosion of ice shards.

The wights begin collapsing all around the castle.

Viserion roars one final time and falls.

The wave of wight death spreads out of the castle into the battle scene.

They fall in front of Ser Jorah, no more bad guys to shield Daenarys from.

Immediately, he hits his knees, overcome.

Dany cradles him as the last Bear takes his last breaths. He struggles to say something, but fails. All energy is gone now, only love remains, and that is eternal.

Dany cries, and Drogon lands behind her, wrapping his wings around her in protection and sorrow as she marks the death of her longest-serving, most loyal and most brave adviser.

VALE SER JORAH MORMONT.

In the courtyard, Grey Worm, Tormund, Gendry, Pod, Jaime and Brienne are still alive.

In the crypts, Tyrion, Sansa, Varys, Missandei, Gilly and Baby Sam are still alive.

Out of the corridors, the Hound, Davos and Melisandre are still alive.

As dawn breaks on the horizon, the Red Woman strides out amidst mountains of bodies, pulling the red stone necklace from around her neck. It falls to the ground, and the light in the stone fades.

She walks out to where there is no more death, shrugging off her rich robes to reveal her true self, aged, broken with white hair. It is time to die.

The sequence is Arthurian in its majesty - Morgan La Fey taking herself out to Avalon.

Game over.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, I’m exhausted, and I didn’t even fight in that thing.

Some key conclusions:

We probably should have lost a few more of the A-Team: Jaime, Brienne, Tormund, Gendry, Grey Worm, Pod, Missandei all survived. Surely not all of them will make it through the final three episodes alive?

I’m keen to see if anything further develops between Sansa and Tyrion after their sweet moments together in the crypts.

My expectation/longtime personal fantasy scenario that Jon Snow would face down the Night King in an epic sword battle was flipped totally on its head. Jon was essentially neutered in the fight by the sheer weight of enemies blocking his way to the Godswood. I was thrilled to have my predictions pulled out from under me. Oh, if only I could pull Jon Snow from out under me…

For those pondering how Arya made it past all those White Walkers and wights to get to the Night King, remember her key stealth skills were brilliantly set up in the library sequence. She was trained by Syrio Forel to chase cats, and learned how they moved without noise. Don’t think it wasn’t poetic justice too that she used Catspaw to kill the Night King. As the Mother of Kittens, this is a brilliant victory for all cat lovers.

The Azor Ahai prophecy is either all fancy bullshit fairy stories - or at least doesn’t apply to Arya. Arya is a highly trained assassin protecting her brother and home. That’s what gave her strength; not some mystical “princess who was promised” narrative. If Azor Ahai is still something to be dealt with in the show, it’s entirely related to Jon, Daenarys, and their relationship to each other and the Iron Throne.

Follow-up point - the fall out from Jon’s true origin story hasn’t even begin to hit yet.

I'm keen to find out what the hell Bran was doing while warging, and whether there's any further backstory to the Night King, the White Walkers, the spirals, the dismemberments... surely there is stuff he can tell us?

And most of all…

The Night King may have been an unknowable supernatural force of evil with the ability to raise the dead and cause untold destruction… but the real villain is still Cersei F***ing Lannister. And I could not be more delighted.


"It's a nice day for murder. But then, that's all days."

Yay! Best Moments

Arya Stark, obvs

Zing! Best Lines

For an episode very light on humour, Varys came through with some existential drollery:

"At least we're already in a crypt."


Eww, gross

Everything was horrific and full on about this battle, but nothing super gross, you know? More just intense violence, not creepiness. This category was dominated by Littlefinger, and since his demise we’ve been bereft of truly skin-crawling moments.

Boo, sucks

Losing some dear favourites was always going to hurt, but there was a certain triumph to all of them. They all got a moment, and we farewell them with pride, not the horror we did with Ned Stark or Robb Stark or Oberyn Martell, whose journeys were cut short.

To finish this recap, let’s have a celebratory song, to honour the memory of one in particular: Ser Jorah Mormont.

With apologies to The Kinks:

I met him at my wedding back in old Pentos
Where he gave me some books and told me that his name was Jorah
J-o-r-a-h Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

He helped me to learn about Dothraki life
‘Cause I had to get used to being Khal Drogo’s wife oh my Jorah
J-o-r-a-h Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

Well I’m not the world’s most sensible Queen
But I’m certain I don’t really want his peen oh my Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

Well I’m not bad, I’m just chasing a throne
So for now and likely always he’ll be Ser Friendzone oh my Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

Well, when Drogo died all tragically
This Mormont man was valiantly
The one who fell right down on his knees
And said “Khaleesi I will do what you please”

Well, I’m not the world’s most rational Queen
‘Cause eventually I kicked him out of Meereen oh my Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

His skin turned all grey, I showed him the door
I said “fix the flaw”, he got cured of disease
Then I looked at Jon, and Jon at me

Well that’s the way I now want it to stay
With my Jon Snow bae and my trusty sidekick Ser Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

He has a little cousin called Lyanna
She’s a bad-ass boss-bitch hot-shit star, ain’t she Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah

Well we’re now fighting wights at Winterfell
My knight’s out front giving zombies hell
He saves my life in a final stand
Jon may be my boy, but Jorah’s my man

Well I am the world’s most passionate Queen
and in death nothing can come between me and Jorah

Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah
Jor-Jor-Jor-Jor-Jorah
[repeat]

Beloved readers, thank you so much for your patience as I got this epic blow-by-blow recap done - I will have to check numbers but I believe this is my longest one yet. I probably need to learn how to edit.

Once again, thank you to my amazing Patreon subscribers. I honestly couldn't do this without your support. This week, my particular kisses to Mark F, Lisa B, Heather H, Peter B, Phillipa S, Damien M, Pam M, Alison G, Barbara C, Nan H, Ed D, Cathryn, Monica K, Elle W, Karen J, Heidi Anne M, Irene K, Keith C and Heather F. Bless you sweet hearts.

If you'd like to join my Patreon, you can click here to sign up. There are some tiers you can join, but honestly, I am just grateful that people read and enjoy my recaps. Throwing me cash is the cherry on top.

Until next week, when Cersei re-enters the fray!

6 Responses to ‘GoT Raven On Recap: S8E3 "The Long Night"’

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted May 1
Holy hell that was an epic recap for an epic episode, well done MoK, this kitten salutes you!

I am very upset about Lyanna Mormont but damn she went out like the absolute badass that we all knew her to be, and I can’t help but respect the writers for that.

Am I the only person suddenly shipping Sansa and Tyrion? Their interactions in the crypts were a highlight, especially the moment when Sansa pulls her dagger out and you don’t know if they’re contemplating a suicide pact or getting ready to defend themselves. Some top acting from Sophie Turner and Peter Dinklage there.

I honestly spent most of the battle going “WHERE IS TORMUND, IS HE OK?” Then sighing in relief when he popped up in the next shot, then panicking again when I lost him. I still can’t believe how Greyworm, Pod and Sam survived, I was convinced he was a goner when Jon had to choose between saving him or getting to Bran, and chose Bran. I’m very grateful that Jaime, Brienne and Tormund survived, I was prepared for deep seated trauma watching favourites die this week and almost feel cheated that it didn’t happen (not complaining mind you, but now I feel like I have to brace myself all over again in the coming weeks).

And YAAAS QUEEN to our girl Arya, I can add nothing to her ninja badassery but my everlasting love and admiration.

Respond to this comment

jl reckons...

Posted May 1
Arya has always been my favorite. Awesome recap!

Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted May 3
Me too - in print and on screen! As usual though one of the best bits of the episode is the recap!

Respond to this thread

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted May 2
Brilliant work as you requested I wished you good fortune as you requested but you didn't need it, your recap is amazing. As someone who saves up the series to binge watch I find your recaps the best for making me feel like I am watching it, though I think I am laughing more than I will when I watch the episodes.

bay boomer, baby doomer is worth the cost of admission.

What I am most looking forward to is when the rebel alliance kicks Darth Cersei's arse and urine Greyjoy has to flee back to the Iron Islands to find Yara Greyjoy siting on the Salt Throne waiting for him. The look on her face is what I am waiting to see.

Respond to this comment

Sparty mumbles...

Posted May 2
This was probably really funny but I think the contrast on my laptop is dodgy cause I couldn't read any of it.....

Sorry in joke there... Its great - between this, Gay of Thrones and the actual making of vids HBO put up, which usually show how much effort they put into a practical effect where as Marvel would have completely CGI'd it - like Barns I really feel my viewing experience is enhanced.

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 3
re. the dark. I watched this in a hotel room in Sydney, with the lights off and curtains drawn and it was pretty much perfect.

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'GoT Raven On Recap: S8E3 "The Long Night"'

GoT S8E2: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"

Posted April 23 into Raven On by girlclumsy

MY BEAUTIFUL CREATURES!

PUNCH THE SKY!

TORMUND IS A FEMINIST HERO, GENDRY IS NEKKID AND #BOATSEX IS NO MORE!

Sure, the imminent demise of the entire North is upon us, Bran “Three-Eyed Raven” Stark is about to play Captain Catfish in the Tinderfell Godswood and forget Mance Rayder, Arya Stark just lit THE BIGGEST FIRE THE NORTH HAS EVER SEEN, but wowsers, that in-the-nick-o-time confession from Jon Snow that threw Dany almost to The Wall itself made for buttock-clenching viewing.

I mean, sure, Jon could have just LIED and held off telling the truth until AFTER the carnage. He had been slightly avoiding Dany for most of the episode anyway, and why not just see how the ultimate boss battle plays out first? No need to distract Dany’s focus when we all need her and her dragons at Peak Barbeque Readiness.

But as we know from the Dragon Pits last season, Jon Snow is the Al Gore of Westeros - full of inconvenient truths. It’s never been My Beloved’s style to be backwards in coming honorably forwards, even when, let’s face it, his timing could be better. Except for me, who thinks it’s perfect, because there’s nothing less of a turn-on than finding out not only your bed-buddy is your nephew but has a better claim to Your Iron Throne than you do.


"I have chosen... poorly."

Did you notice? Yes, that’s right. I said it. MY BELOVED. Welcome back.

NOW, YOU STAY ALIVE. NO MATTER WHAT OCCURS, I WILL FIND YOU.

Sorry, I just came over all Last of the Mohicans there, which was sort of the Taken of the early 90s with longer hairdos.

Gosh, imagine if you’d never read a Raven On recap before. You’d think I was entirely mad.

Imagine if you HAD read a Raven On recap before. You’d think I was entirely mad.

But mad is as mad does, and we’re going to start this week’s rocking Raven On recap with some MAD DANCE TUNES.

All hail the Homecoming, for it is Queen Bey we bow to, as we praise our favourite Men of Westeros.

All the Jon Snow ladies (All the Jon Snow ladies)
All the Tormund ladies (All the Tormund ladies)
All the Gendry ladies (All the Gendry ladies)
All the thirsty ladies
Now put your hands up

Up in the crypt, feeling whipped
From trying to save Winterfell
Well, I got the blues, but you gonna bruise
'Cause another brother broke the spell
Lyanna Stark, her story arc
Breaks with normal convention
She cried her tears, but faced her fears
You can’t be mad at me

'Cause Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it
Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it
Don’t be mad ‘cause your face has got Aegon it
Westeros, well I should be the king of it
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
'Cause Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it
Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it
Don’t be mad ‘cause your face has got Aegon it
Westeros, well I should be the king of it

I got milk on my lips, an axe on my hips
There’s a giant running through my genes
Kissed by fire, my one desire
The Big Woman to notice me
Jaime’s decision, did I mention?
Don’t give me apprehension
’Cause I applauded
When she got lauded
And I really think she loves me beardy

'Cause if you like it, then get Pod to sing on it
If you like it, then get Pod to sing on it
We’re gonna live so she’ll have my offspring on it
Come on Pod, why don’t you just sing on it
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
'Cause if you like it, then get Pod to sing on it
If you like it, then get Pod to sing on it
We’re gonna live so she’ll have my offspring on it
Come on Pod, why don’t you just sing on it
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Don't treat me like I’m wearing skirts that twirl
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, as much as murder
Before death comes to take you, I shall shake you
And deliver you to your destiny, thanks for my new magic wand
Petite mort we now dance
Say, you’re still wearing pants
I swear I’ll use no leeches
If you just ditch your breeches

All the Jon Snow ladies (All the Jon Snow ladies)
All the Tormund ladies (All the Tormund ladies)
All the Gendry ladies (All the Gendry ladies)
All the thirsty ladies
Now put your hands up
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh

'Cause Rhaegar liked her and he really put a ring on it
‘Cause my origin has got quite a sting on it
Dany’s mad ‘cause her face has got Aegon it
But Westeros, well, I should be the king of it
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
‘Cause Jaime knights her and her smile’s all bling on it
Fight’s a-coming and Pod will sing on it
The God of Death says might as well fling on it
Gendry made a weapon now go swing on it
Whoa, oh, oh


And that’s all without mentioning Señor Narrativa de Redención himself, Jaime Lannister, who demands a few thirst-quenchers in his own right.

S8E2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

I know I began with a fair bit of fan fanfare, but this episode could also be called “All Quiet on the Winterfell Front”. It’s a pre-war war movie, in which people made up for quarrels that seem so remote now, talk about hopes for a future they will (gulp) likely not have, and say their farewells to loved ones without ever actually using the phrase “goodbye”.

So yeah, Cersei’s non-existent elephant in the room is... not *that* much happened.

But dammmmmnnnnn, we are going to get slammmmmmmmed with death next week. I hate the thought of it, but they prepped us good and hard. Tyrion, Tormund, Beric, The Hound and Arya were just some of our favourites to ruminate about impending doom. So for gods’ sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings, at least until The Hound threatens to throw us off the f***ing battlements. Next week we’ll get plenty of action.

Oh wait…

All in good time, all in good red-hot-Gendrya-hook-up time.

For now, let us muse on the line that Tyrion says to Jaime midway through the episode: “The perils of self-betterment”. This for me carries through for all of our characters; from often murky, self-serving and/or treacherous beginnings, they forged alliances, learned from mistakes and now stand at the edge of the world ready to die. Becoming a better person might give you a moral salve, but as Tyrion further remarks, you might end up being torn apart by dead men for your troubles.

Someone who may be in need of rapid personal growth is Daenarys Targaryen.

She begins this episode as she ends it: PISSED. OFF.

Jaime Lannister is responsible for the death of her father and numerous other crimes Daenarys would consider treason. Now he’s brought the news his one-time lover/close genetic relative Darth Cersei has given them a bigger royal brush-off than Megan Markle’s Dad. There ain’t no Lannister forces coming to help fight the army of the dead; just one man with one hand.


He's not even this useful.

Tyrion pleads on his brother’s behalf, but given Jaime’s history with the Starks, it’s no surprise Sansa is onboard with Dany’s plan to hobble the Kingslayer permanently. It’s only when the GLORIOUS WONDER that is Brienne of Tarth gets up to defend him, that Dany finds herself on the outer.

Brienne describes Jaime as a “man of honour” - a touching callback to the time in the Harrenhal bathtub when she called him out as a “man without honour” before he explained the tragic events leading up to his king-slaying moment, and their whole relationship began to change.

Sansa trusts Brienne, and so if she vouches for Jaime, that’s good enough for her. Jon Snow, ever practical, only cares about the body count that can help reduce the body count.

(Sidebar: it’s interesting that Jon and Sansa seem to have reconciled titles for the moment; he is the Warden of the North and she is the Lady of Winterfell. Every kid gets a prize!)

Jaime looks rather adoringly at Brienne, and with good reason. He later says he used to be Tyrion’s only friend; in fact, Jaime didn’t really have a non-related friend either, until Brienne. Brienne though, keeps her gaze firmly on Dany and Sansa; if she were to look at Jaime who knows what OUTPOURINGS OF LOVE might spill forth. Actually, there probably wouldn’t be anything, just more repression. Brienne is at such Jane Austen levels of broody we may as well dub her Mr Tarthy.

There’s a moment when Bran chirps up with the old “The things we do for love” rejoinder, which floors Jaime, but which everyone else seems to treat like Bran’s attempt to start a 10cc karaoke singalong and ignores.

Dany is forced to accept Jaime’s heartfelt apology and pledge to fight on the side of the living. Tyrion breathes a sigh of relief, and with not much of a word, Jon nopes out of there.

Dany stalks out, with Tyrion readying himself for the oncoming tongue-lashing, a very different type to those received earlier in his career.

Predictably, Dany is so cheesed off it’s almost too much to camembert. Tyrion decries himself as a fool not a traitor, but Dany says his recent run of foolish decisions means she might be in the market for a new Hand of the Queen. Jorah and Varys have some visible sympathy for Tyrion, whose voice near trembles when he says one of them might be wearing the badge soon enough.

Jaime begins his Winterfell Apology tour, making the rounds to atone for some of his sins. He interrupts Bran interfacing with the weirwood tree to say soz for the pushing and the paralysing. But, as I predicted (sorry to brag, but if you can’t give yourself the odd pat on the back, what’s the point), Bran’s nonchalant about his Lannister-inflicted loss of limb function. “I’m not angry at anyone,” he deadbrans, proving he’s on some sort of supernatural sedative (Diaze-bran?)

Branadol tells Jaime he needed him to fight the White Walkers, not be murdered, which is why he didn’t dob him in. Jaime’s interested in what might follow the battle. “How do you know there’ll be an ‘afterwards’?” Bran responds, confirming to Jaime that he really isn’t Bran anymore, because sure, Bran may have spied on Jaime rooting in the tower back in the day, but that wasn’t nearly as creepy as now.

Jaime wanders back into the courtyard to meet his lil’ bro, still smarting from his dressing down from Dany. He tries to convince Tyrion that Cersei pulled the wool over his eyes, but Tyrion says Jaime let Cersei get the leg over him.

Tyrion’s cranky he underestimated Cersei; but Jaime confirms that she is, in fact, preggers, a question that’s been doing the rounds since last week’s episode intensified theories that she might just be making the whole baby thing up.

There’s a lovely moment when Tyrion calls back to when he was trying to convince the Hill Tribes of The Vale not to murder him, saying he always pictured dying in his own bed, with a belly full of wine and a women’s mouth wrapped around his, well, downstairs chicken. Jaime joins in on the quote halfway through; clearly an old joke between the pair long before the events of the show began.

Tyrion gets a bit ironically bleak, picturing himself being ripped apart by dead men to deprive Cersei of that honour, then marching on King’s Landing to do the same to her. But Jaime has eyes for someone else… the MIGHTY PRINCESS, FORGED IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE, SHE WAS XENA… no, wait, sorry, my other favourite ass-kicking hero, Brienne of Tarth.

Things have gotten quite… tender… between these two, in a way that only YouTube mash-up fanfic can capture.

As the trenches are dug outside the castle walls, Brienne is watching Pod help train other fighters, and quick sidebar to say HELLO, PODRICK PAYNE, I’M STARTING TO SEE WHAT ALL THOSE GIRLS WERE KEEN ON. Seriously, Brienne’s specialised form of H.I.I.T training is paying off.

Jaime tries to be respectful, but Brienne can’t believe the old sarcastic Jaime will burst out with another insult like all the other boys. The Kingslayer is genuinely trying to be a bettter dude, and is not joking when he steps down in status to simply be a soldier at her command. Brienne is touched, although not quite as golden-hands-on as I would like.

Goodness, why am I SO onboard the Jaime traime? He was SUCH an INCESTUOUS GIT early on, but he’s turning more noble than Don Quixote, and I can totally understand why Brienne might want to tilt at his windmills.

We’ll get back to those two and their fireside moment later, because it’s a KNIGHT TO REMEMBER.


"Congratulations on your 659th Terrible Pun."

Ser Jorah Mormont now seems to be in the pinnacle position of his career, and one he would have thought impossible a few seasons ago: being the only person who can make Daenarys smile.

It’s Jorah, using his many years of very personal experience, who suggests that as Dany forgave him, perhaps she needs to forgive Tyrion for his muck-ups. Jorah says his heart was broken when he found out Dany had appointed Tyrion Hand of the Queen over him, even though he was off in the Citadel being de-scaled by Sam Tarly. But he now thinks she made the right call, and even though Tyrion’s a motor mouth he often wished he could throw into the sea, he is the right dude to be by Dany’s side, because he learns from his mistakes. AND LEARNING FROM MISTAKES IS GOOD, DANY.

He has another suggestion too: Girl Talk with Sansa Stark.

This scene was a beautifully played chamber drama, with the stakes tipping back and forth and back again - and not in Dany’s favour.

Sansa reiterates her trust in Brienne re: Jaime, and backs Tyrion as a good man. Dany’s still a little bit peeved, wanting Tyrion to have been ruthless not good, but Sansa points out nobody should have trusted Cersei, even Dany.

Sidebar: Can I just reiterate again how much I love that Game of Thrones has these big, momentous events - that sometimes turn out to be giant mistakes? We were all so excited for the Dragon Pit sequence at the end of season seven, and sure, it was a great spectacle, but really, had Jon sent a raven to Sansa after capturing the wight up north, she would have told him straight away that Cersei wouldn’t give a shit, and to hightail it to Winterfell without buggerising around down south. Arya is right: Sansa really is the smartest person in the room.

As I grow older, it’s the one thing that becomes clearer to me - that the world is just full of people either learning or not learning from previous mistakes. And because it’s impossible to soak up all possible mistakes made by all sorts of people, it’s no wonder we repeat them. Throw in different types of personality conflicts and it’s a small miracle that humans have things like wheels and hospitals and sprawling multi-arc fantasy television series.

Sansa softens towards Dany a little when the Dragon Queen highlights their shared victories - being leaders, being women leaders, and being damn good women leaders. But what could POSSIBLY be cock-blocking their friendship?


"Who has two thumbs and is THIS GUY?"

Sansa doesn’t hold back telling Dany she thinks men in love can be easily manipulated. But Dany fires back, Targaryen eyes flashing, that all she has wanted is the Iron Throne, and yet here she is in the godforsaken north about to risk everything she’s worked for to potentially die at the hands of some crypto-fascist zombie climate polluters. “Who’s manipulated whom here, Sansa? Huh?”


"Men, am I right?"

Sansa concedes the point and the glacier between them seems to thaw again. But then Sansa queries what will happen to the North if the battle against the dead is won and Dany takes the Iron Throne. “WHAT ABOUT THE NORTH, DANY? WHAT ABOUT IT?”

Dany’s face, so smiling and warm a moment before, turns icy again. The Wall goes back up between them.

Luckily an attendant enters just before the WWE-style scrag fight can begin.

THEON’S ARRIVED.

Dany takes his return quite calmly, even though technically he abandoned the fleet he and Yara had pledged to serve her when Euron attacked. But hey, at least he rescued Yara, who’s on her way to claim back the Iron Islands.

Sansa is a quiet presence in this exchange until Theon declares he wants to fight for Winterfell. I must admit I wasn’t expecting as much emotion from Sansa, as she flings herself into his arms, tears in her eyes.

Theon ruined life for the Starks for a few seasons there, but he saved Sansa’s life from BOO HISS Ramsay Bolton. It’s an example to Dany of what gaps Sansa has had to bridge to forgive; gaps wider than, say, Tyrion under-estimating Cersei.

Ser Davos Seaworth’s Soup Kitchen is open for business, serving the finest bowls of brown in the North. The Onion Knight’s job is to tell reluctant refugees that they’re going to have to fight, as may as well head to the forge to get suited up.

There’s a sweet moment with a young girl with a scarred face, bringing to mind lost little Shireen Baratheon. She wants to fight the zombies, but Gilly asks her to come to the crypts to protect her and Baby Sam. The girl accepts this proposal, and hurries off with her food, just as a horn sounds.

TIME FOR A HAPPY REUNION!

Jon rushes over to embrace Dolorous Ed from the Night’s Watch, but before he can get there, is crash-tackled by everybody’s favourite everything, TORMUND GIANTSBANE.



"Charge!"

There are hugs all around, and it’s genuinely charming to see Jon Snow smiling. Like with his face. You can see his teeth. The gang’s all back together - at least until dawn the next day, which is when the Night King is bringing his Endless Rave to the gates of Winterfell. Of course, Tormund has his priorities right - is The Big Woman still here?

It’s time for Everybody We Love in The Known Universe (Except Bronn) to gather for a Giant War Room Tabletop Strategy Meeting.

I actually got goose flesh seeing so many of these dearly loved people all standing together preparing for what could be a final stand.

Jon thinks their best chance is taking out the Night King, which should cause all the others to cark it, but it’s Bran who realises he will be the key to victory, as the Night King will be coming for him.

We’ve been trying to figure out what the Night King actually wants for about four seasons, but it appears to be nothing more complex than deleting Bran’s internal hard drive. I once fried a motherboard by tripping and accidentally throwing a full glass of Pepsi Max over my Mac, but I’m not sure if the Night King’s thought of that cunning plan, or if Bran is susceptible to attack by cola products.


Oh, that is in very poor taste, shame on you.

Sam says it’s more than just erasing memory; it’s about erasing the humanity that memory creates. Bran’s plan is to park himself in the Godswood and dangle his big juicy all-knowing humanity-inspiring brain out as bait.

Sansa and Arya aren’t up for that idea, but Theon quickly shows you don’t need testicles to have balls. He volunteers to be Bran’s bodyguard, explaining “I took this castle from you. Let me defend it now.” Again, another flawed Thrones character who it’s just become too hard to hate. There’s a moment while everyone accepts that Theon is going to die, a few quiet coughs, then planning continues.

Tyrion says he and Davos will be on the walls to give a signal for Jon to light the trench (ooooh, foreshadowing!), but Dany’s having none of it. Tyrion may be keen to fight alongside everyone else, but he’s also the smartest adviser she’s got. With Jorah listening, Dany indirectly apologises to Tyrion for ranting at him, and says he must stay in the crypts so at least one brain survives to help post-battle. Well done, Dany, that seems to be a decent bit of tempering your temper.

The group hopes dragon fire will assist, but the dragons can’t be too far away from Bran. Arya questions whether dragon fire will defeat the Night King, but Bran’s like “Dunno, mate, no bastard’s ever tried, but first time for everything, ay?”

“We’re all going to die at Winterfell,” chirrups Tormund. “But at least we die together!”

He’s ever the optimist our Tormund, hoping this last ditch pitch might sway Brienne to climb aboard his ginger love beard for the evening. But as always, she’s just mildly disturbed by his penetrating gaze.

Jon urges everyone to get some rest, but nopes out on Dany once again, refusing to meet her eyes as she clearly was hoping for a late night snuggle post battle-planning. It’s a moment Tyrion notices and notes, before pulling up a chair and asking Bran to spin him a yarn about his bizarre career change.

It’s then that the goodbyes begin.

Grey Worm tells Missandei he’s loyal to Dany, but once she’s won the battle and the Iron Throne, he’s keen to pack up and just take a vacation. Missandei is not averse to the idea of a Contiki tour to her homeland of Narth, and Grey Worm is confident his men will bring the muscle. It’s a benign, couple-y type of conversation, the sort of other plans you make while life is busy happening.

Jon and Sam keep watch on the battlements, something they would have done time and time again at Castle Black. They’re joined by a white dog which surely, SURELY, can’t be Ghost?!?! He looked too small to be Ghost. The last time we saw Ghost was in season six, and he was much bigger. I know Ghost was the runt of the litter, but he was still a direwolf. What’s going on?


Don't tell me this is a Milo & Otis situation.

Sam ribs Jon about not yet dropping his origin story bombshell on Daenarys, but Jon is not here for his “biding your time” jokes. Dolorous Ed joins them, and Jon suggests Sam join Gilly and Baby Sam in the crypts. Sam’s ego is dented by this slight on his physical ability - after all, he was the first dude to dust a White Walker in the current era. He also stole a bunch of library books, he’ll have you know, and he’s capable of zinging Ed about his lack of boning action.

“Sam Tarly, Slayer of White Walkers, Lover of Ladies. If we needed any more proof the world was ending.” Ed Tollett really is the driest son of a bitch this side of the Narrow Sea.

The trio remark on how they’re the only ones left from the Night’s Watch, and pledge that any survivors burn the corpses of the others.

We travel now, ladies and gentlemen, to the Great Hall, where the Brothers Lannister are enjoying an aperitif or seven before the final fight. After all, who can sleep? Tyrion would like to see the look on their father’s face, to see both of his sons facing impending death defending Winterfell. They reminisce about the good old days, which weren’t that good, really, what with all the sister-shagging. But they’ve come a long way, with Tyrion also giving up his shagging habits. So here they are, two celibate bros, about to die for a woman from a rival house. Now that’s progress.

Brienne and Pod show up, looking for somewhere warm to “contemplate their impending deaths”. Brienne allows Pod half a cup of wine, but Tyrion of course fills it up for his one-time squire. Davos rushes in to embrace the fire; and I love the fact that he stood immediately with his back to it, which is EXACTLY what I do if I’m somewhere cold and want to warm up. The butt must come first.

Tormund prowls in next, with eyes just for Brienne. This moment with Tormund is one of the greatest virtuoso comic performances I’ve ever seen, and this is a character rich with them. His story about the origins of his Giantsbane name are hilarious, and the way he caps it by downing a full horn of Farmers’ Union Iced Coffee is spectacular.


Once again, thank you, Reddit geniuses.

The rest of the cast watch on in the most delightful confusion, until Davos relents and says maybe he will have a drink after all.

Tyrion remarks that most people in the room have fought against the Starks at some point, but here they are now, all together, fighting for them. He also lets a glimmer of hope in, and starts to think they might live. After all, they have each survived many battles - I loved Jaime pointing out he was the “fabled loser” of the Battle of Whispering Wood. Tyrion misnames Brienne as Ser Brienne, and she has to explain to Tormund that women can’t be knights.

Why not? Tradition. “F*** tradition!” declares Tormund, instantly rocketing to the top of the Feminist Hero charts. Brienne’s like “I don’t even WANT to be a knight”, and Pod shoots her the best “Bullshit!” look in the show. Tormund, ever out to impress Brienne, says he would knight her ten times over if he were a king, and one imagines there’s some subtext to that offer.

It’s Jaime who brings the conversation back on track. “I’m a knight, I can make another knight,” he says, bringing up a rule I wasn’t really aware of, but maybe it’s a special Westerosi tradition.

Brienne doesn’t move at first, and it’s not hard to see her processing whether this is yet another bad joke at her expense. But Jaime is serious, and she kneels before him. Citing the Warrior, the Father and the Mother, he charges her to be brave, just and defend the innocent (Well Ser Gregor Clegane never took that oath to heart). “Arise, Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms!”

Applause breaks out, and no one is more enthusiastic than Tormund, clapping his great paws together like the bear he allegedly once copulated with.

But Brienne’s eyes shine with love at Jaime, and he recognises that light. He sees in her the kind of knight he wished he could have been, the kind of knight who would fill the pages of those dusty biography books back in King’s Landing that had his major achievement of note as being the “Kingslayer”. His father Tywin once told him a lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of sheep; but in this moment Jaime realises that is totally wrong. Brienne has given him the standard of knighthood he should have had all along; it is her gift to him. His knighting her is but a small recognition in return.


"This is the first time I have ever smiled in my life and it HURTS my FACE."

Down in the courtyard, we FINALLY see Ser Jorah Mormont talking to Lady Lyanna Mormont, his cousin and BETTER. He’s gently urging her against fighting in order to protect the future of their house, but Lyanna is like “Sorry, cous, duty calls, and I’ve got some zombie ass to kick.”

Lyanna wishes him well and stalks off, leaving Sam to fill the conversational gap. He’s brought along the Tarly Family Sword he stole from Dad Randall before the old grouch got roasted more savagely than Barnaby Joyce at a summertime outdoor Family Values conference with happy hour rum cocktail specials.

Sam wants Jorah to have Heartsbane (Heartsbae, remember?!), because he basically can’t even lift it, and it would make sense to have a kick ass fighter be armed with Valyrian steel in this take-no-prisoners battle royale. Sam also has Jorah’s dad Jeor for helping him in the Night’s Watch, and Jorah says he will wield it in the old Bear’s honour.

Now this, I think, marks a full circle for Jorah. He’s given up any claim on Dany’s affection, told her she’s right to trust others, and now has had his honour restored. He betrayed his father and was not entitled to Longclaw, but now Sam, a protege of Ser Jeor, has closed the gap.

Which means Ser Jorah is likely to be No More-ah next week. I know, I know, he’s stuck around this far! But if I had to bet on one character carking it in the battle, I would throw those golden dragons on Ser Jorah. I’M SORRY, JORAH THE ANDAL. I have loved your gravelly voice and devotion beyond measure and that yellow shirt you don’t wear anymore because it got too sweaty. I will remember you, I promise.


"Look at the stars, look how they shine for you"

Let’s talk GENDRYA, which was the hook-up we all wanted, and yet were strangely uncomfortable with.

The foreplay starts with forge-play, as Arya visits Gendry all sweaty at work, demanding he hurry up and finish her specialty weapon (ooer). She wants to know what the White Walkers and wights are like, and the best Gendry can come up with is that they’re like Death, coming at you. Arya casually describes how she knows Death, and how it has many faces, and she’s super chill to meet this one, all while flinging dragon glass knives at the wall like she just escaped a circus. Gendry is like “Cool, well I’ll get right on that weapon, then, you strangely flirty nutbag.”


"It is hot in here, and I'm not talking about the forge."

Later Arya chills for a bit with the Hound on the battlements. He’s confused by her newfound stoic silence, which replaced the non-stop nattering she used to do when travelling with him. Beric Dondarrion soon joins them, having returned with Tormund. He’s still a believer in the Lord of Light, even if the Hound reminds him that Thoros of Myr is dead and the Lord of Light will be pretty pissed to have brought Beric back 19 times only to see him be flung over the castle walls by the Hound for trying to pray.

All this is nice, and all, but Arya isn’t keen to spend her final few hours on earth with these miserable old bastards. What, and miss out on that sparkling Hound banter? Yes, because she’s got a better idea about how to employ her mouth.

Obviously knowing he would magically locate her, Arya practises with bow and arrow in what seems to be a grain storage room, judging by all those sacks piled around the room. Gendry shows up with the new weapon, which Arya judges as being good enough. She then subjects Gendry to a series of emotionless questions about The Red Woman, better known as reclusive singer-songwriter Kate Bush. Gendry gets all flustered as she pumps him for information on what she wanted with him; and to her credit Arya is actually surprised when Gendry confesses he is Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. But then, Robert had a son, Ned had a daughter. It seems this is the real way they’ll join their houses.

“We may both die tomorrow; I ought to know what it’s like,” Arya declares, before jumping Gendry. “I’m not the Red Woman,” she says as she disrobes. “Take your own bloody pants off.”

Yes, Arya is a grown woman, but she’s still a LITTLE GIRL! We’ve watched her since she was 12, and NOW LOOK THERE’S SOME SIDEBOOB. It’s awesome and empowering for the character, but awkward for us as viewers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who blushed and did some mental arithmetic around their ages.

For a cherry-popping scene, it was intimate and cosy, but hey, I guess it was a nice time to show the joy of sacks.

Back at the big fire party, Tyrion’s keen for a song, which you know is the sign when everyone should pack up their eskies and head home. Nobody’s stepping up until Pod opens his mouth and starts warbling a tune about a girl named Jenny dancing with ghosts (or possibly goats, who knows). The man has a golden tongue, after all, I shouldn’t be surprised he has a golden voice.

The maudlin melody prompts more introspection from our late night partygoers, and opens up to a montage of where everyone else is: Sam and Gilly deep in shared thought as Baby Sam sleeps between them; Sansa and Theon having a last meal as friends; Arya pondering her first sack race while Gendry sleeps; Grey Worm kissing Missandei before leading a column of Unsullied out to prepare; Ser Jorah checking the defences on horseback. The final refrain of the song is “never wanted to leave” repeated over and over, a reminder that all these people are making sacrifices they’d rather not, but do out of duty.

Finally.

The crypts.

Dany ventures down to find Jon Snow standing in front of the statue of Lyanna Stark. She reaches for him, but he makes no move to embrace her. She’s awkward as she tries to understand how her brother Rhaegar, famed for being kind and artistic, could also have raped Lyanna.


"I swear to the old gods I did not get this from InfoWars."

“He didn’t,” Jon says, the first blow struck at the lie that has held the Seven Kingdoms in its grip for more than 20 years.

“He loved her. They were married in secret. After Rhaegar fell at the Trident, she had a son.”

In an echo of Sam telling Jon the truth last week, the camera stays on Dany’s face as she takes it in - the threat to the child, Ned’s promise to Lyanna, Jon’s real name of Aegon Targaryen.

Dany is disbelieving. A secret nobody knows - except Jon’s brother and best friend? But it is true, Jon says, the acceptance in his voice. It must feel right to him, despite last week’s shock upon hearing it. All this time, his whole motherless life - his mother was underneath him at Winterfell all along. Suddenly his inside-but-outside life made sense. Not that he necessarily wants to be the King, of course, but in true Jon Snow-style, the truth is always his best path.

“You would have a claim to the Iron Throne,” is the last statement Dany utters before the horns herald the approaching army of the dead. Jon turns at the sound, but Dany’s gaze is still on him, steely. In just a few moments, her whole identity has changed; and she doesn’t have the luxury of a day or two to get used to the concept before charging into war.

The pair join Tyrion on the battlements, and once again he notices the emotional space between them. But they rush off to get in position, leaving Tyrion still on the wall, staring down the massed army of doom.

Out in the snow, the White Walkers on horseback line up side by side, at the head of their mighty army. There is no sign of the Night King; waiting further back on Ice Viserion, perhaps?

Either way, everything’s changed, and nothing will be the same again. Let’s hope the work our characters have done to survive stands them in good stead at this moment.

Valar Morghulis.


Yay! Best Moments

Tormund crash-cuddling Jon as he’s trying to hug Dolorous Ed is a memory I will retreat to whenever I need a happy place.

I’m not sure if he really is a bear-f***ker, but there’s no doubt he’s a bear-hugger.

He also claims the title of Most Disconcerting Milk Drinker since Robin Arryn, and that whole sad drinking and knighting scene was glorious.

Zing! Best Lines

So much of the Arya/Hound/Beric banter was great, but I think I have to go with the girls:

Dany: I’m here because I love your brother, and I trust him. I know he is true to his word. He’s only the second man in my life I can say that about.
Sansa: Who was the first?
Dany: Someone taller.

Eww, gross

With no Cersei or Euron this episode, there really wasn’t that much to get grossed out by this episode. A brief reprieve, perhaps, before the inevitable.

Boo, sucks

SO MUCH DEATH TO COME OUR WAY MY BODY IS NOT READY.

----

Finally, a random thought that occurred to me, and gave me a certain degree of strength facing down next week’s likely bloodbath. A metaphorical stiff dram, if you will.

I’ve never known the origins of the name “Winterfell”, and I’m certainly not going to look into it now, lest it ruin my sense of self-satisfaction at finally coming up with a potentially possibly plausible theory.

But what if the location of the Winterfell fortress was chosen because it’s literally the place where winter… fell? Perhaps this is the location of the defeat of the White Walkers the last time round, more than one thousand years ago? I know Bran the Builder, one of the early Stark kings, built both The Wall and Winterfell. Perhaps the name has been giving us the answer the whole time - that this is the place where winter - aka, the Night King - falls?

Again, there are probably 549 YouTube channels with deep dives already on this theory, but I’m terrible at foreshadowing, so dang it, I’m proud of myself.

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19 Responses to ‘GoT S8E2: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"’

jl would have you know...

Posted April 23
As always, an awesome recap!

girlclumsy mumbles...

Posted April 24
Thank you so much, JL! Thanks for reading. :)

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted April 23
I loved this episode. Nothing like impending doom to focus the mind on what is important.

Next week is going to be brutal.

My list of doomed:
1. Jorah
2. Gendry
3. Brienne
4. At least one more dragon.
5. Theon.
6. Jamie... nope. Saved by Bronn with that crossbow.

I totally thought Bronn was going to walk in on the Lannister boys while they were sitting by the fire. Big disappoint.

As an aside, when I saw where the Arya\Gendry scene was going, I paused it, checked the internet to confirm Arya’s age, then, with a sigh of relief, resumed the episode. The side boob and booty shot were worth the faint feeling of ick.

Great job, Nat.

girlclumsy is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24
Gendrya was a challenge for a lot of us, I think - I've seen some people suggest we're not accepting Arya's empowered sexuality, but I don't think it's as misogynistic as all that... I honestly think we all see Arya as some sort of murderous assassin baby sister. We've known her since she was little, so of course we are awkward when we see her blossom into a sexual person.

You've got a good list of impending deaths there, I think a fair few will be on the money - and I sure hope Bronn turns up with his crossbow!

Rhino reckons...

Posted April 25
I’ll even venture a guess that the crossbow will be key to Cersei’s demise.

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struds swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23
Lol "Branadol", love it.

Totally agree on the faint feeling of ick, Rhino, haha.

It was suggested in a youtube thingy I looked at that the Night King isn't at Winterfell after all, and has in fact raced down to Kings Landing on his dragon-mobile, looking to turn Cersei's whole crowd into walkers for a two-pronged attack on the North. Fingers crossed that giant spear machine makes good on an already dead dragon, rather than the lovely living ones.

girlclumsy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24
That is a really interesting theory. So the idea is the Ice Viserion would burn everyone, then the Night King would raise them?

I'm just intrigued as to the timing... I know these things are malleable in Westeros, but could it simply take days/hours for the Night King to do this and get another army ready to attack from the south? They are shufflers, after all. :)

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Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted April 23
So good. Mrs GB came in to see what I was laughing at.
Yep, wouldn't be surprised if the Night King was heading south but I'd be a bit disappointed if we get Zombie Cersei. I'd hoped for Arya to finish her off. Also, looking forward to a Hound vs Mountain rematch. Will the Mountain be only slightly undead or fully frozen?

girlclumsy ducks in to say...

Posted April 24
It's a very good point - The Hound has a get-out-of-battle-with-the-dead-alive card because he's got to be at Clegane Bowl 2019!

spankee has opinions thus...

Posted April 24
I agree, Clegane Bowl is the Main Event.

The Under Card features:
The 2nd Sons Vs. The Golden Company.
Ser Friend Zone (Jorah) vs. Lord Flash Heart (Euron).

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 25
Please stop encouraging him.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23
Been looking forward to this recap and it doesn't disappoint, so happy to see you have your song groove back for this season. I do fear for your health as you seem to be burning the candle at both ends and the middle to get these recaps out, live broadcast, and record your podcast. I really enjoy it all but worried you will collapse in a heap at the end.But until then please keep up the amazing work.

Also the song pod sang may have significance.

girlclumsy puts forth...

Posted April 24
It's going to be a tiring season, that's for sure! But it's the least I can do to give it the appraisal and mad fangirl treatment it deserves! :)

Also Patreons are paying me, so it's my job to get it all done.

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23
“Mr Tarthy.” OMG stick a fork in me i’m done, I can’t take this punny genius anymore. Well done Nat. Also well done on another amazing recap!

girlclumsy would have you know...

Posted April 24
Ha! I was quite proud of "Mr Tarthy". :P

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Dave ducks in to say...

Posted April 24
Once again a brilliant recap. What has amused me is that this show has shown the following:
1) Incest - Yeah ok
2) Rape - Yeah ok
3) Nether regions cut off - Yeah Ok
4) mass Murder - yeah ok
5) Torture - yeah ok
6) Graphic sex in brothels - Yeah ho hum


But Ayra having sex - OMG this can't happen, how old is she? Everyone googling to see how old Maisie is.

I have to admit Myself and the wife and Daughter were cheering her on. Daughter was shouting out, "Yes".

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted April 25
Because my means of GoT access are, um, unorthodox, I watch on an elderly iPad. I know this is petty & to some extent 'youse get what youse pay for,' but FFS turn the damned lights on.
Several of the scenes were so dark I couldn't see bupkiss.
Dog / dire wolf? Didn't even see it.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted April 26
I realise Mother of Kittens doesn't read other sources, blogs, twitter etc so as to leave her creative juices unsullied but someone on twitter posted this I can never again hear the Night King without using the Potteresque title

COLDERMORT.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted April 29
COLDEMORT! Genius!

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Respond to 'GoT S8E2: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"'

Raven On Recap: GoT S8E1 "Winterfell"

Posted April 17 into Raven On by girlclumsy

Why hello, sexy Throners. You look so lovely and nubile in the candlelight. Let’s all disrobe and enjoy some cosy naked time here on this surprisingly plush bed.

What’s that, you say? You just want to talk about Game of Thrones? About how it’s back, after 595 days of waiting in agony? About how all our favourites reconvened, reunited, reacted to or rode each other? Are you seriously going to chitter chatter over me, trading minute details and emotional responses while I attempt to have my wicked way with all of you?

Well, a woman simply can’t CONCENTRATE on getting her beginning away (it’s hardly an end, thank you very much) with all of this TALK. Honestly, you’d think the WORLD was about to END listening to your gory obsession with dragons and fire and missing eyelids and things that are in no way compliments about my sexual prowess. What do you think this is, a true crime podcast?

Bah. I see there’s no use trying to convince you. Sexy times will have to wait. For now, there is only time to RECAP GAME OF THRONES.

Here we are, back together after so long, dear readers!

Much has happened. They took pictures of a black hole that wasn’t the gaping heart of Australian politics. Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire in Paris while I was writing late into the night, a heart-breaking sight that made me think immediately of Cersei blowing the Sept of Baelor, because that’s what happens when your brain moors itself near-completely in Westeros.

Much has stayed the same. I still have three foster kittens, maintaining my “Mother of Kittens” title. I am still unchallenged as “The World’s Foremost Game of Thrones Recappespondent”, mostly because I made that term up and am still the only person on Planet Earth to use it.

I’m sure we are all a little older, a little wearier, a little ground down by the relentless task of Existing In This World.

Thank heavens then, that Existence has been improved for six final, glorious weeks with the return of The Greatest Television Show That Ever Was Or Will Be.

Let’s just ignore the Impending End, and focus on the Now. For the Night is Dark and Full of Terrors, Winter is Coming, What is Dead May Never Die and in the end we will all be cleansed by Fire and Blood.

The Raven On recaps have returned. I wish us all good fortune in the words to come.

S8E1: Winterfell

As usual for a Game of Thrones season-opener, this episode was very much about blowing cobwebs off dusty chess pieces, moving them into position, and setting up what’s to come.

It was always going to be dominated by the arrival of Daenarys Targaryen, Jon Snow (sigh) and a mighty army descending on Winterfell. But the throughline for me this episode was the nature of allegiances. How are they formed? What bends them, what breaks them? Is trust a necessary ingredient, or can you ally in bad faith? How does the blowing away of assumed knowledge affect your allegiances?

And what kind of deal do you make with a dragon that’s staring you down as you play tonsil hockey with his Mum?

Let’s begin then, as the episode does, with the march into Winterfell of Dany, her massed army of Unsullied, Dothraki and dragons, and her *seemingly* equal partner, Jon Snow.

Our first glimpses of the huge host are from the eyes of young Lord Ned Umber, which interestingly enough will feature again later in this episode (gulp). As predicted, their entry mirrors the very first episode, when King Robert Baratheon’s travelling party marched into Winterfell - they even played a twist on King Robert’s theme music.

It was no surprise to see the point of view pass from Ned Umber to Arya Stark, not waiting in the castle with the official party, but taking in the sights from the parade route through Winter Town, not dissimilar to how she watched that first arrival years ago.

Daenarys and Jon ride side by side in the middle of the Unsullied, all regal and serious, but with the odd look of delight from Dany. This is her first official reception as Queen on the Westerosi mainland; it’s understandable she’s looking forward to it.

I was actually quite cross with Jon when he didn’t even notice Arya, but then, why would he have cause to look? He’s Mr Serious Lord Ally to Hot Lady Dragon Queen now, and he’s expecting everyone to be up at Winterfell.

Arya has further Emotions when she spies the Hound plodding along, dour as ever, and Gendry, looking quite rugged atop his mount (ooer). Can we expect a “Genrya” coupling this season? Does Arya even have space in her life for romance, given she seems to derive the most personal satisfaction from beautifully executed executions?

There’s a rather uncomfortable moment when Grey Worm and Missandei, along with a bunch of Dothraki, pass by town folk throwing them narrow-eyed suspicious looks. Their skin is dark, not something you normally see ‘round these here parts, pardners. Come on, Winter Town, please don’t call the cops on them for no reason. There will be excessive force deployed, but it ain’t gonna be by the white people.

The first lines of the season are fittingly given to Tyrion and Varys, riding in a carriage, and fittingly for me, they’re jokes about testicles. This show just KNOWS me. I feel SEEN.

Drogon and Rhaegal arrive in a blaze of sound and fury, soaring over the snow in a display of wonder not seen since the end of the Official Winterfell Summer Box Kite Competition.

Everyone’s a bit scared, except Arya, whose eyes light up, and Sansa on the castle battlements, who’s more “OK, cool, this is a thing, I can deal.”

The main party roll into the castle, and we get our first moment of real emotion from Jon, when he spies Bran, all calm, all knowing, staring at him from his wheelchair.

We’ll get more into Bran’s preternatural gazing, but for now, let’s follow Jon as he bolts down from his horse, runs to his little bro, and smooches him on the head. “You’re a man!” he exclaims. “Almost,” deadpans Bran (deadbran?)


"I'm still All Bran. Which is incidentally why I look this creepy all the time."

Now you may have noticed I have yet to refer to Jon Snow with any of his usual epithets - My Beloved, Lord of #Junkmound, Possessor of #Abs, King in My Pants.

Because, kittens, I’ve got to admit - I feel a little distant from him. Disconnected.

Like...it’s possible that...I might be losing him.

That this whole *thing* with Daenarys might not have simply been a one-off abhorrent aberration, but an ongoing - *gulp* - genuine affection.

I’m sure everything will be sorted out once the truth of what Donald Trump might describe as Jon’s “oranges” is revealed. But I’m just being a bit tender with my heart right now. Just bubble wrapping it for a moment, to perhaps prevent the damage of a full smash later this season.

Sansa gave Jon an efficient but affectionate hug; she was then introduced to her new Queen, Daenarys. Sansa was polite, gracious even, but we all saw the guardedness in her countenance when it came to the Mother of Dragons.

Bran, though, ain’t got no time for this polite bullshit. He abruptly informs Dany that the Night King has turned Viserion, an excellent way to quickly impart that piece of knowledge in less than three seconds of screentime.

The tension deepens when the northern lords and ladies gather in the Great Hall to discuss preparations for the Oncoming Storm. Little Lord Umber pops up again, requesting more wagons to properly evacuate his home, The Last Hearth. And then, YEAAAAAHHHHHHH, it’s our one true Queen, Lyanna Mormont, asking some Very. Pointed. Questions about what in seven hells Jon Snow has been doing.

Lyanna, remember, was the one who first hailed Jon Snow as King in the North at the end of Season Six, and so it’s only right that she be the Enola Gay dropping nuclear truth bombs onto the Hiroshima that is the North.

Yeah, that was possibly not the ideal metaphor.

Anyways, Jon does have the stones (and the pillar, but I’m trying not to think about that, remember) to defend his actions. “We needed allies, I chose the North over my crown” is his base line argument.

He’s noble and such, and he is doing the right thing as he sees it, but he is being a bit selfish to think that Sansa, Lyanna and others wouldn’t interrogate his choices. He was ACCLAIMED as a king, remember, he didn’t take the crown and inform everyone it was now Jon’s World, and You’re Just Living In It. That was an allegiance forged by the people who voted for their King in the North, with or without a democracy sausage. Jon accepted it reluctantly, sure, but it was not necessarily 100 per cent his to give up.

Dany is all cock of the walk - as far as she’s concerned, she’s Queen, she’s the bizzzzzznezzzzz, Jon’s only doing what’s right and proper. She even gives Sansa some SERIOUS SIDE-EYE when the Lady of Winterfell questions how they’re going to feed not only the greatest army ever assembled, but two dragons.

There’s something of an elemental reversal here as it’s Sansa who fires up with the question “What do dragons even EAT?” and Dany who brings the CHILL with “Whatever they want.”

It’s once again left to Tyrion to be the voice of reason. He’s insistent that they must all fight together - even the Lannisters. Yes, Tyrion reveals to the Northmen that his hated family’s forces are heading north to join the fight. They are NOT. HAPPY. LAN.

But Tyrion is convinced. He even bails up Sansa a bit later to explain just why he thinks Darth Cersei is going to come through for the Rebellion, even if he has absolutely no proof she has withdrawn the fully operational Death Star option from the table.

It’s a great reunion between the one-time husband and wife (or ARE they still married? The internet is ablaze with deep dives), particularly Sansa’s rejoinder that the last time they saw each other, Joffrey’s wedding/murder, “had its moments”.

Tyrion thinks Cersei has something to live for - aka, bubba onboard - but Sansa is blown away he could be convinced. “I once thought you were the smartest man alive,” she quips, then stalking off, shaking her head in disbelief at her younger self.

I love this because Sansa and Tyrion are both acutely aware of Cersei’s treachery, but they come at it from different angles. Sansa was but a girl when she was brought under Cersei’s control after her Dad’s head was nipped off. She grew up being intimately acquainted with Cersei’s cruel and inhuman nature. She also spent a fair bit of time with Chief Creep Littlefinger, and not to mention the pure evil of Ramsay Bolton. The girl has a First Class Honours in the University of Terrible Awful People, How to Spot Them and Why To Treat Everything They Say as a Lie at Best and a Deliberate, Manipulative and Likely Painful Trap at Worst.

Tyrion, though, was a grown man when the events of season one rammed into his cosy world of tits and wine. Despite having the surface knowledge that his sister and father hated him, then achieving a more in-depth understanding after numerous attempts to bump him off, somehow he has a vague sense of being bulletproof when it comes to Cersei’s murderous intent.

He once said Cersei’s only two redeeming features were her cheekbones and the love she bore her children. He is banking on that maternal instinct to come good in the great war against the army of the dead. That’s his weakness.

Sansa knows better. Sansa knows Cersei would sooner give up day drinking than help not one, but now two brothers who are putting a literal life or death fight before her. No wonder she’s disappointed in Tyrion’s supposed intelligence.


"I was so out of that guy's league."

Ser Davos Seaworth (kill him and answer to me, HBO) is not from the North himself, but he knows a thing or two about forging and managing useful alliances. Let’s not forget he had to tone down his initial outright hostility to Red Priestess/80s Chanteuse Kate Bush to a general wariness, in order to maintain his friendship with his former King, Stannis Baratheon. Their wobbly detente was destroyed when Melisandre burned Shireen at the stake, but you know, fair cop. That’s not a frenemy you need anymore.

He’s since been a key adviser to Jon Snow, both as he negotiated with the free folk to join forces, and subsequently as a sort of quasi-hand-of-the-king-in-the-north, helping him with Dragonstone negotiations with Dany.

The Onion Knight knows enough to understand Northerners distrust foreigners, outsiders. And how best to make an alliance? Remove the “D” from “dalliance” it seems.

“A proposal is my proposal,” he says, checking out Jon and Dany’s annoyingly convincing body language as they inspect the campsite outside the castle walls below.

Oh Davos, you old romantic. “Old” being the operative word; Tyrion takes offence at being lumped in with Davos and Varys as the “elder statesmen” of the Targaryen/Stark political machine.

Dany, meanwhile, is concerned that her attempts to get on Sansa’s good side early with all those lovely compliments about her beauty have not worked as she hoped.

She doesn’t think my girl Sansa likes her, but Jon, ever the peacemaker, says it’s just because Sansa doesn’t know Dany yet. Dany’s like, sure, but even if she doesn’t like me, she must respect mah authoritah (is South Park still a reasonable relevant cultural touchstone?)

The pair is interrupted by Dothraki horsemen bringing news that the dragons have only eaten 18 goats and 11 sheep, indicating they may be starving themselves in protest at being flown up to the cold, damp wasteland of the north. They are reptiles after all (one assumes).

It’s like the time I started a hunger strike to protest not being allowed to go to Schoolies at the end of Year 12. Although that lasted approximately 23 minutes before I remembered I didn’t drink, I really didn’t care about the beach, and that no teenage rite-of-passage could ever be as good as food.

So.

Let’s talk about the dragon-riding.

I must admit to having mixed feelings about this sequence. On the one hand, of course I loved it, because it was joyous and funny and it gave the opportunity for Jon Snow to practice dragon-riding before an emergency situation where it might be needed. Dany’s quips to Jon about holding onto “whatever you can” and that should Rhaegal not want him to ride, then “I will miss your company, Jon Snow” were pretty ace.

On the other hand, I was surprised they would choose to burn the dragons’ limited calorific intake on a joy flight; and I really wasn’t expecting the first time Jon Snow rode a dragon that it would be an almost shot-for-shot remake of Neville Longbottom’s first attempt to ride a broomstick in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

As a quick sidebar, given JK Rowling seems to love throwing out new revelations about the Potterverse from 10 years post-Deathly Hallows, has she clarified at all about how painful broomstick riding must be? Think about it - you have a wooden stick clamped between your crotch for potentially hours at a time. Are those wizard robes padded like weekend biking dudes’ lycra pants? Or do they cast anti-chafing spells before they take-off? You never saw that explained in Harry Potter. Nobody ever complained of wang splinters. If anything, side-saddle should be the default riding position in the wizarding world, but no, it was always proper cowboy-style. I’m surprised it was just the Slytherins who were irritable.

Back to Jon. I did somewhat anticipate his first dragon ride would be at a Rather More Dramatic Moment; having to hop on to help out in a battle or something like that. I guess points again to HBO for flipping my expectations on that, making it about the sheer joy of flying rather than the grave necessity of mounting a living scaly missile to deliver maximum payload.

Dany’s never let anybody else attempt a dragon-ride; never set up a little $2 a ride charity stall like they do with Shetland ponies at school fairs. Clearly she trusts Jon enough.

But do the dragons trust him? When they get off to look at waterfalls and… well, get off, Jon has to be reassured that Drogon in particular is OK with his Mommy pashing on with a new boyfriend.


Drogon and I share a similar point of view.

Sigh. Again, the distance, the bubble wrap. I’m just trying to work through the Jon/Dany Boning Reality as best I can, lest I descend into madness, 19th century gothic fiction anti-heroine style.

That’s probably a wise move, because back at Rancho Winterfell, it’s Sansa who explains more clearly to Jon the danger he’s placed them in by resigning his kingship, and asks the key question - did you bend the knee for duty… or love?

Let’s head to King’s Landing, where Qyburn has terrible news for Darth Cersei - the White Walkers have breached The Wall. “Good,” the Queen replies, with one of her trademark smug grins. She’s watching as Euron MacGregor’s Iron Fleet sails back into town, complete with 20,000-odd Golden Company mercenary soldiers, and it’s giving her life.

Cersei sees little threat from an army of the dead: if anything, she considers them more of an ally-from-afar, a convenient way to dispatch her enemies to the North while not risking her own troops.

In the Throne Room, we’re introduced to Golden Company Captain Harry Strickland, a striking-looking blond chap with a throaty Teutonic accent I find highly jarring for a character named “Harry Strickland”. To my mind, “Harry Strickland” should be some sort of Cockney geezer, referring to everyone as “Guv’Nor” and saying things like “Cor blimey, Runner Bean, I felt a bit Moby Dick coming over on the old Nanny Goat” before breaking into a musical number from My Fair Lady.

Someone with the poise, and dare I say it, ethnic features deemed very popular in both Nazi Germany and several James Bond films, should have a name like Reinhold Von Wolfgang Dieter-Meyer Hammerschlag. Not “Harry Strickland”, for Friar Tuck’s sake.

Cersei is Not Impressed by the fact that Harry Me ‘Ol Steiner didn’t make like Hannibal and bring his Battle Elephants from Essos (incidentally my new urban hip hop band name) because they would be too long in quarantine or something.


Harry’s dismissed, but Euron Greyjoy’s keen to sniff out a reward for his work bringing the ships and soldiers to Cersei.

Initially, Cersei’s not taking any of his crap, telling him only that he’s a loyal servant to the Iron Throne and they would marry when the war was over. She even delivers the cold line “You want a whore, buy one. You want a Queen…EARN HER.”

And that, my friends, has inspired…THE FIRST RAVEN ON SONG PARODY OF SEASON EIGHT!

I didn’t know if these song ideas would return to me in 2019, but clearly the muse is hovering about, at least this week. Cersei’s declaration put me immediately in mind of the ultimate Queen of Pop, Madonna, and on the 30th anniversary of its release, I am proud to present:

EXPRESS EUR-SELF

Come on girls
Do you believe in love?
‘Cause I do for political reasons
And they go something like this

Just try out second best baby
Put Euron to the test
You know, you know, you've got to
Let him express how he feels
And maybe then you’ll know his word is real

You don't need elephants
But you’re pissed they didn’t show
Golden Co. they came very fast
You were really aghast, oh, oh
Your request didn’t go to plan
There’s no way you’ll get a pachyderm
And you’re already queen on a throne
But this jerk wants you to take his sperm
(So much gross sperm)

Just try out second best, baby
Even if it’s in jest
You know, you know, you’ve got to
Let Euron loose his large eel
And maybe then you know the bitch will heel

Your twin brother has deserted your keep
And there’s nary a peep from your kids
Prophecies left you sad and alone, so
You might as well bone crazy squids
You deserve to keep the crown
But what if people see your belly has grown?
Euron wants you right up the duff
Might as well have him think the babe’s his own
(The seed he’s sown)

Just bounce with second best, baby
Count yourself mighty blessed
You know, you know, you’ve got to
Let him undress his winged keel
And baby, you won’t be the one to kneel

Express Eur-self
You’ve got to make him
Impress himself
Hey hey hey hey
So if you want a new toy, make love to Greyjoy
He may be a snot but he’s more ready than knot

He’s got his niece tied up below deck
But Theon’s proved he’s still her comrade
Now the yoke has gone from around Yara’s neck
He’ll need all your mercies
The sleaze

Just settle second best, baby
Tell him he beats the rest
You know, you know, you’ve got to
Make him forget Jaime’s zeal
And baby just talk up his sex appeal

Express Eur-self
So you can de-stress yourself
Hey, hey, hey, hey
So if you are feeling torn, just bed a nut Ironborn
Finesse what he's got, oh baby ready or not

But onboard ship, Euron MacGregor had been very insistent to his captive, niece Yara Greyjoy, that he was going to, ahem, get to know Cersei better, and starts playing the manipulative, “hey you owe me” crap that shows he’s clearly learned nothing from the #MeToo movement.

Cersei makes to leave, but then she changes her mind. She flips her head back suddenly to Euron, giving him some sort of nod of approval, and he snakes past The Zombie Mountain (oh hi there, you appalling monstrosity), and follows her.

Next time we see them, Euron’s buckling his grotty, fishy pants back up and patting himself on the back for a job well done. Cersei, clad in a soft lavender nightgown which is the first colour we’ve seen her in since she blew up the Sept of Baelor, is already trying to drink away the memory.



Euron wants to know if he’s better than Robert Baratheon (remember him?), and Jaime Lannister. Cersei says he enjoys risking his head - but that she likes his arrogance.

Was that it then? Was that why she let him get his Casterly Rocks off? Surely she finds him revolting? Or is his kind of self-confidence really a turn-on for a Queen who gets off on power? After all, she would often bed Jaime after making life hell for somebody else - maybe she really does have a bitch itch to scratch and she may as well test out Euron’s clammy fingers.

The alternative of course is that she quickly worked out a way of potentially covering up her Jaime Lannister legacy pregnancy with a quick tumble or two with Euron. Given he touched her stomach and said he was going to put a prince in her belly, it’s a live theory - but did Cersei think of it before he did? Is that what prompted her to change her mind?

Meanwhile Bronn’s attempts to drown his sorrows in sex are not going well. His three sexy girls are more interested in gossiping about the latest victims of war than satisfying the dictums of whore.

“Can we stop talking about the f***ing dragons?” he pleads, before Qyburn interrupts from the end of the bed. I assume this was a brothel; the settings looked similar to Littlefinger’s old whorehouse (RIP, but don’t, you creep), but emptier, and more bundled up, like there’s not a lot of disposal income around for ladies of the night. It’s sad when impending continental doom hurts the economy, isn’t it, climate change deniers?

Anyway, there’s clearly no privacy policy in place because Qyburn just appears like a coldsore after using a tester lipstick. There’s no knock, just a “Sir Bronn of the Blackwater?” Ugh, why aren’t these people more pathologically awkward about sex like normal human beings?


What, you don't all have sex like this?

Qyburn has an offer to Bronn, direct from Cersei. She wants him to go after both Jaime and Tyrion, and dispatch them with the crossbow that was made for Joffrey, and later used by Tyrion to kill Tywin.

“That f***ing family,” Bronn says, echoing the sentiments of EVERY VIEWER EVER.

Qyburn waggles his eyebrows as he tells Bronn that if Darth Cersei raised him up to be her Hand, despite being expelled from the Citadel, imagine what she would do for the man who took out her treasonous brothers?

Now as Ned Flanders might say, this is a dilly of a pickle. Could Bronn actually go through with the assassination of the Lannister Bros? He’s a sellsword, through and through - but he’s been close to both of them, put his life on the line to save them. Does that mean anything to him?

I recall, in the deep dark of foggy memory, a famous declaration Tyrion made to Bronn on their first bromantic walk together through The Vale: “If the day ever comes when you’re tempted to sell me out, remember - whatever their price, I’ll beat it.”

I hope Bronn hasn’t forgotten that, and will turn up at Winterfell in time seeking only a bigger wagon full of gold to join the real fight. And don’t think I didn’t notice that Bronn-belly he was sporting as he put his shirt back on. Could Bronn have lost his edge after losing Jaime to the North? Maybe he's just looking for a good excuse to get out of the capital.

Out on the Blackwater, the quiet sleep of Euron’s ship is disturbed by the pffffthhht of arrows, fired at the eyes of Ironborn guarding his prisoner Yara.

Her main guard falls through the door with an axe in his forehead, before Theon Motherf***ing Greyjoy walks in with his baby blond curls all grown back.

He frees Yara, and she does the only thing appropriate for an Ironborn Queen to do - she gives him a Pyke Kiss right in his stupid cowardly noggin and he hits the deck. But then, heartwarmingly, she offers him her hand and pulls him back up. T’was the most beautiful metaphor for their relationship.

Later, we see the pair at sea, heading for the Iron Islands. Yara reasons that with Euron and his fleet in King’s Landing, he cannot hold his home territory - and Queen Daenarys may need somewhere to fall back to should those pesky Death Zombie Nightmare Shufflers overrun her forces.

Theon half-heartedly says he will follow where she leads, but Yara’s picking up what Theon’s putting down. He wants to go to Winterfell to fight the White Walkers alongside Jon Snow, who gave him such sweet absolution at the end of Season Seven. “You can be a Greyjoy and a Stark” - and having rescued his sister, this move would fulfil both. Theon is a fairly certain candidate for fairly certain death, and it makes a poetic point that he die in the service of Winterfell, the castle he grew up in, but then sacked and burned. Despite his physical injuries, he’s got the figurative balls to honour all of his allegiances.


"Let's mark this moment with a trademark warm Greyjoy embrace."

Can we get a big F***ING HUZZAH for the return of Tormund Giantsbane? He and Beric Dondarrion and a few other escapees from Viserion’s attack on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea turn up at The Last Hearth, which is looking more like the “before” shot in a home renovation TV show than a typical stronghold. There’s snow everywhere, the furniture’s been ruined, and unless they can do something quick with plywood and Dulux Wash & Wear Semi-Gloss the damn thing is never going to sell at auction.

The posse hear noises coming from below the great hall, and head down to scope it out. It’s all very tense until the two separate groups jump out at each other like the world’s worst-organised surprise party. The other group is, of course, a group of Night’s Watchmen led by Acting Lord Commander Dolorous Ed.


Beric's flaming sword is the handy medieval fantasy world version of the torch app.

Again, another sight for sore eyes - this show just has a way of making you adore minor characters enough you’d be quite happy to see them have a spin off procedural drama called “Tormund & Tollett: The Cold Hands of Justice”.

Tormund asks if they’ve found anything, and Ed gives them an ominous look and leads them down to a chamber. Skewered on the wall is poor young Ned Umber, the centre of a spiral of leg and arm segments stretched out across the stone.

As our favourite bearded warriors discuss the meaning of this message, we see the Umber boy’s eyes flick open behind Tormund’s head. The eyes, so incredulous at the sight of Jon and Dany just days earlier, are now terrifyingly dead blue. He mouth opens into brain-shattering scream, and he lunges for Giantsbane.

Thankfully Beric Dondarrion has that very handy flaming sword, which he seems to be able to control as easily as the torch app on your smartphone. Very convenient for finding your way; and a hundred times more effective at snuffing out the screaming undead.

Beric stabs the creature, and the flames spread outwards around the limbs, making a bloody, fiery feature wall.


"I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."

The spiral of body parts is a recurring image through the season: from the very first pre-credit sequence of dead Wildling bodies; to the Night’s Watch slaughtered at the Fist of the First Men; to the rocks around the Tree of Knowledge; to the symbols carved into the caves of Dragonstone. Is it a symbol that all the evil of the White Walkers stems back to one central point, aka The Night King? Could it be that it’s a signpost to a way to undo the curse, to reverse the magic of the world? Or are the White Walkers just a little bit f***ing extra?

Whatever the meaning, they have to get to Winterfell to warn everyone the Army of the Dead is on the march. Thankfully Dolorous Ed and the Night’s Watch brigade brought horses with them; but as Tormund says, they’ll have to last if they can beat the Night King & Co there. Gods speed, my glorious ginger bastard. You, Beric and Ed may just be my secret favourite alliance of all.

Let’s head back to Winterfell for the show’s final one-two revelatory punches.

We start with Sam Tarly going from a blushing servant of Ser Jorah “No More Greyscale” Mormont and asking Dany for a pardon for nicking off with some Citadel books and his father’s Valyrian steel sword, to getting quite startlingly upset at the revelation that Randall and his brother Dickon were flambéd for insolence after the Loot Train Battle.

To control his feelings, he steps out for a breath of oh-so-fresh air, to find Bran waiting patiently in the courtyard, apparently for “an old friend”. Bran then hassles Sam to tell Jon about his true parentage, because it’s best coming from his bestie.

I’m a little circumspect about Sam’s anger here about his family; his Dad treated him woefully, and while he loved his brother, he surely would have understood the rules of war. But it works well for what happens next.

Jon is lighting candles for dead Starks in the crypts when Sam stumbles in. I had forgotten that Sam hadn’t been in the initial reunion greeting party; it makes sense now, he was avoiding Jon lest he inadvertently yells “SHE’S YOUR AUNTIE!” in front of everyone.

It’s Sam who really hits home the theme of allegiances here. He probes Jon about his decision to give up the crown, and how he’s had to make decisions about whom to put to death and whom to spare. Jon says he’s no longer king; Sam says he always bloody has been.

And then, the revelation: Your Mum was Lyanna Stark. Your Dad was Rhaegar Targaryen. You are Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name, ALL OF IT. Jon stumbles back, his face more shocked by this news than by anything the Night King has ever thrown at him.


"Actually, I'm not sure I CAN handle the truth."

Jon cannot believe the Right Honourable Ned Stark could have lied to him his whole life; Sam insists it was to protect him.

Then the key question of alliance.

“You’ve given up your crown for her...would she do the same for you?” Sam asks, righteously, about Danaerys.

Jon has no answer. The rest of the planet does though - OH HELL NO.

As much as Jon has clung to his bastard identity, she has clung to her Queenhood. Jon has never wanted crowns; Dany has. She is similar to someone in this regard… who would that be… oh yes. Cersei.


Man, I wish I could take credit for this meme, but this is all Reddit wizardry.

This is going to make for some interesting discussions next week.

Finally, in a beautifully paced piece of comic comeuppance, Jaime Lannister arrives at Winterfell, shaking snow out of his less-and-less blond hair after a long ride north. He’s fulfilling his promise to fight for the living; but had not paid much thought to whether ghosts from his past might show up.

And then there he is, Bran Stark, stoic, calm, and in full precision laser-beam creep mode. Hello, old friend.

Jaime’s face at this moment can now forever replace the phrase “Ohhhh…. Shiiiiit” in the dictionary.


Last time he saw Bran was a split second before he shoved him out of a tower window where he’d caught Jaime and Cersei in flagrante incesto.

I love that Bran has been carrying this secret around for who knows how long since he got his spooky powers. This is his personal reckoning, he doesn’t need anyone else to take it fom him.

Jaime will face trial of course; but weirdly enough I think Bran will emerge as his best hope for salvation. Bran’s accepted his lot; if Jaime HADN’T have pushed him out of that window, he never would have become the Three-Eyed Raven, and have access to the entire world’s browser history. Worth it? We’ll find out.

And look, I’ve got to say I’m weirdly on the “Save Jaime” train. I need to see he and Brienne have a heart to heart. And given Tormund will no doubt return to Winterfell next week, there are some delicious allegiances just waiting to be made or broken.

Yay! Best Moments

Arya’s reunions with Jon, The Hound and Gendry were my favourite parts of this episode. How glorious was she, stalking Jon Snow into the Godswood, sneaking up behind him, having a brief “how did you survive?”-off, then jumping into his arms EXACTLY the way she did the last time she saw him, as they were both about to leave Winterfell in season one?


"And I've... had... the time of my life."

This was an important moment too, for we saw Jon expressing his frustration with Sansa, and how he wished Arya could have helped him with that. Arya tartly replies Sansa is the smartest person she’s ever met - and let’s not forget that girl has a list that includes Tywin Lannister, Jaqen H’ghar and Hot Pie. She reminds him that Sansa is only acting to protect the Stark family - and Jon should remember that’s his family too. It’s her own message to him to take his newfound alliance to Queen Daenarys carefully - that he’s a Stark first.

Arya’s surprising of Gendry and the Hound in the forge was almost as satisfying - when the Hound sauntered up to stare at her, I had this compulsion to yell “HUG! JUST HUG!” at the screen. There was so much tension and for some reason I just wanted these one-time bitter enemies to just hug it out.

But the Hound, true to form, did the next best thing - he called her a cold little bitch. “I suppose that’s why you’re still alive,” he huffed, zipping out of there before she could mock his grudging respect for her.

Gendry, however, was much more obviously happy to see his old friend from the Kingsroad, Harrenhal, and the Brotherhood Without Banners, and Arya threw him a few almost-flirty looks.

She even asked him to create a new weapon for her, which looked something like a cross between a sword, a spear and a bow. Oh, she has plans, my deadly little delight. Please murder many zombastards, and soon.

Zing! Best Lines

Lots of contenders here - given not a huge amount of action/death was taking place, the writers really punched up the comedy moments. But my favourites were:

Dolorous Ed: Careful, he’s got blue eyes!
Tormund Giantsbane: I’ve always had blue eyes!

and...

Qyburn: Poor girl. The pox will take her within the year.
Bronn: (coughing up wine) Which girl?!?!

Eww, Gross

When Euron MacGregor put his hand on Cersei’s stomach and said he’s going to put a prince in her belly, I threw up a little in my mouth.

Boo, sucks

I was reliably informed we would see Ghost return this season, and I did not see Ghost return this episode. I want to see Ghost return this episode. Yes, Dany’s dragons are cool, but isn’t it time Jon gets a moment to introduce her to his amazingly cool fantasy beast? And a lot of dog-owners talk about how their pets sometimes creepily watch them while the humans try to make the beast with two backs. Maybe Ghost could rival Drogon in the intense stare stakes?

Also - how the HELL did Jorah Mormont arrive at Winterfell, where Lyanna Mormont had a vocal role and WE DID NOT GET A MEETING?!?! DENIED!

Thank you all once again for your patience, dear readers!

As many of you know, I was asked to be a guest on the first live episode of Foxtel's Game of Thrones companion show, Thrones 360. I also did my show "Raven On" in Sydney the night before filming, so it was a PACKED few days.

Make sure you follow my Facebook page to get updates, recap notifications and other fun content.

Most of all, I have to thank the dedicated readers who subscribe to my Patreon page. Your support is life-affirming; I owe every last one of you. Here are a just a smattering of names I owe big time:

Amanda G, Andrew T, Brent L, Brittany W, Caroline M, Catherine F, David C, Elana M, Gemma L, Greg R, Hazel F, Jessica WW, Joe R, Judy C, Kyla K, Kylie F, Leanne, Liam B, Mark W, Michael N, Michelle, and MJK. Thank you, marvellous people!

7 Responses to ‘Raven On Recap: GoT S8E1 "Winterfell"’

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted April 17
"Qyburn just appears like a coldsore after using a tester lipstick." Oh man, I laughed so hard at this line, your GoT recapping skills have only sharpened after their long hiatus.

If HBO kills off Tormund before Tormienne becomes a thing they will answer to me. Also I suddenly find myself shipping Arya and Gendry quite intensely. So much to look forward to!

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jl is gonna tell you...

Posted April 17
I have missed these recaps, amazing stuff. Keep writing, I'll keep reading.

Respond to this comment

yoranje reckons...

Posted April 17
Welcome back MoK,
I have been looking forward to your recaps almost as much as seeing the show (yes, almost - sorry about that). And well done on your performance on the 360 recap.
A couple of notes:
1. You might be right that Bran will be Jaimie's saviour but I think it will be Sam. "You killed my Father because you had to, well he (Jaimie) did the same with yours. And my Father still had all his marbles!" (maybe not that last bit).
2. The dragons know that Jon is a Targeryan which may be why Drogon is so disapproving of the snogging. They know where to draw the family line. Or maybe Drogon is just getting turned on in which case Raygun (or whatever) better keep his tail to the ground.
3. I think the young Arryn lad will now return as a warrior. The soldiers he went off with weaned him and he will now be a force.
OK not notes as much as predictions ... so ... all kittens, discuss!

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted April 17
Huzzah! welcome back MOK, and it's wonderful to be reading your recaps, watching you on throners360 and I only wish I could see/hear the live broadcast with the silver-tongued Stu at the Powerhouse.

Last week I rewatched season one, someone involved in the show recommended a rewatch because it sets up a lot of stuff for the final season.

You have already alluded to the way the army arrived in town the way it did in season one, but also the return of sexposition where stuff is explained while naked women draped themselves around possible the same brothel than Littlefinger owned.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted April 18
Is the Onion Knight "a sort of quasi-hand-of-the-king-in-the-north" or a hemi-semi-demi-hand-of-the-King-in-the-north."

Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 18
If I were the King, I think that one addition to the staff would be a Hand Job of the King position.

Oh, wait, Robert had those.

Respond to this thread

Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted April 23
Conan was wrong.
"What is best in life?"
"More Got and more MoK recaps."
(Barbarian mutterings of approval, messy drinking.)

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Respond to 'Raven On Recap: GoT S8E1 "Winterfell"'

GoT S7E7 Raven On Recap: The Dragon and the Wolf

Posted August 28, 2017 into Raven On by girlclumsy

Dear Beloved Throners,

I hereby tender my resignation as your recappespondent.

After witnessing the Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7 finale, and in particular THAT SCENE, I am simply too heartbroken to continue.

There is nothing left for me now. I may be writing this from New York City, having just confirmed Hamilton tickets, but it all tastes like ash in my mouth. For me, right now, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony and Pulitzer-prize winning hip-hop musical may as well be… Cats.

Yes, it really is that bad.

(Cats the abomination of a musical, of course, not my foster kittens, who despite being mute jerks with no rhythm could vomit up a better show than Cats.)

Throners, I just can’t go on. I can’t even say his name. WHICHEVER NAME THAT IS.

How… could he? I have been faithful, ever so faithful. I bent the knee a long time ago, I pledged my allegiance, I believed that death was not the end, I supported all the nutty ideas, all the wild plans. I lived my life in service of abs, I created the hashtag #junkmound - I EVEN SUPPORTED THE MAN BUN.

But no, no, apparently all that honour and nobility and goodness and inner strength was all just kept in reserve for his true purpose in life: TO HAVE BOAT SEX WITH HIS AUNTIE.

He just dropped anchor on my heart. He went below decks and deep-sixed my dreams. She gave him permission to come aboard. He answered her siren’s call and shivered her timbers. They went hard over astern. He showed her his winged keel. She harried him amidships. He put the cox in her swain. They put the sex into sextant. Trawler? You bet he did.

But all the boat puns in the world cannot make up for my devastation, and so I must resign. You, my Beloved Throners, deserve someone who can examine this 79 minutes of epic fantasy without falling into a Marianas trench of anger, sadness, fear and nausea.

I mean, I guess there were good things about this episode.

The Dragon Pit parly was more tense than an Alfred Hitchcock movie waiting for medical results.

The Hound gave the strongest signal yet that Clegane Bowl will happen...and it will be glorious.

Tyrion and Cersei’s meeting was astonishing in its emotional brutality.

Theon Greyjoy got kneed so hard he found his balls again.

Jaime did the unthinkable and broke up with Cersei.

The Night King rode the f***ing Ice Dragon and its fire-ice breath tore through The Wall like a hot knife through cold butter. Or a cold knife through hot butter, whichever best utilises the fire-ice metaphor.

And Sansa, Arya and Bran teamed up for THE MOST EPIC F***ING TAKEDOWN IN THE UNIVERSE.

DING DONG THE FINGER’S DEAD.

Ok you know what? F*** IT. Recappespondent resignation rescinded.

I’m a 36-year-old woman who’s blundered her way through life with minimal skills, laughable talent and a creepy obsession with abs. But godsdamnit, there is one thing I do know how to do, and that is RECAP GAME OF THRONES. And I will stand here and take all the blows Jon Snow can deliver, and I will eat it up and call it ice-cream and I will fight for a world in which incestuous auntie/nephew boat sex is still gross but I guess we’ll have to go with it for plot’s sake and anyway everything else about this show is still f***ing awesome.

So for one final time this year my Beloveds, let’s hoist the mainsail, splice the mainbrace, and have a final Raven On recap, the Game of Thrones analysis that lets you plunge through its propellers every time.

S7E7: The Dragon and the Wolf or “The One Where the Aunt/Nephew Bone But The Twincestors Break Up So I Guess That’s Something”.

In all the emotional tumult and jet lag, it’s been difficult coming up with a theme, although Tyrion’s apt summation of “We’re f***ed” is the most succinct. With Cersei’s treachery and the Night King’s sorcery, things are going to get a whole lot worse for Westeros before they get better. Jon even repeats the phrase “We’re f***ed” to Dany before proceeding to actually physically manifest it, but more on that ARRRGGGHHH WHY moment later.

If I was to pick a sub-theme, it would be along the lines of “You get what you deserve”. Putting aside THE INCIDENT there was a lot of justice meted out this episode and it was wholly and utterly delightful and slightly erotic.

Let’s start with the assembly of the two remaining “sides” in King’s Landing.

Grey Worm and the Unsullied have turned up at the city walls, with the Dothraki not far behind. The chaotic exuberance of the Dothraki is in complete opposition to the discipline and focus of the Unsullied, who Bronn dubs “men without cocks".

"They're like the Men Without Hats, but their Safety Dance is REALLY safe."

Bronn’s whole world view is governed by his baser desires, so he cannot understand what a group of castrated men could possibly fight for. They will have no families and they can’t enjoy the spoils of war in the form of gold and women, so what’s the point? It’s here where he diverges from both his Lannister compadres, as Jaime fights for honour (a crucial sticking point later) and Tyrion fights because he genuinely believes in the Dragon Queen. Jaime points out his brother has always been a champion of the downtrodden, but looking at the Dothraki, Bronn thinks it’s their side that’s about to become hillbillies. No wonder he ordered an extra 500 barrels of bubbling crude - oil that is. Black gold, Texas tea.

Bronn meets the visiting party of Jon, Davos, Tyrion etc and surprises them with the appearance of Brienne and Pod. They’re fresh from Winterfell, but Brienne and Jon don’t make any small talk at all about the reappearance of Arya and Bran. You’d think you’d want to check in about that Jon, but oh no, you’ve only got thoughts of Daenarys and the Night King and the impending apocalyptic war with the living dead on your mind, OK, whatevs, bro.

Sorry, sorry, I shouldn’t let CERTAIN EVENTS colour my complete view of Jon from this episode. He was broodingly sexy of course in his big furry cape, but it was the others who provided the banter. Brienne tells The Hound about Arya instead, after a cursory “I thought you were dead” to the resurrected Sandor Clegane. He says he only wanted to protect Arya, and Brienne replies the only people who need protection are ones who get in her way. The Hound smiles at this; he is delighted she has become the warrior he knew she could be. Last week he called all gods c***s, but maybe one of them had Arya’s back after all.

Meanwhile the “Heroes of Blackwater Bay” have reunited - Tyrion, Bronn and Pod. Tyrion calls back to a famous moment in Season 1 when, having hired Bronn with the promise of flipping great wodges of cash, advises him not to undermine him or sell him out: “Whatever they’re offering, I’ll double it”. He’s genuinely concerned for Bronn’s safety with his sister in charge - and after Cersei’s pledge to torture him two weeks back, we are too.

But Bronn is convinced he’s the McCain Healthy Choice microwave meal in this situation and that he is, he IS looking after himself. He’s got the potential to deliver two traitors right into Cersei’s hands in exchange for a large bag of gold - but his pragmatic self-interest blinds him to the reality that Cersei does not care if he lives or dies, and that he is just as much at risk of being strung up with traitors as Tyrion or Jon. But Bronn’s mercenary consistency is strangely comforting to Tyrion, and he remarks how good it is to see Bronn again. NAWWWW.

As they walk to the Dragon Pit, a location we’ve never previously seen, we learn that it was here the great Targaryen beasts were locked up to stop them randomly attacking the city and its people. It’s stood empty for generations, but was once the most dangerous place in the kingdom. “Maybe it still is,” Davos intones.

The Hound sets down his FedEx box containing one steaming hot raging Wight and tells everybody listening that if anybody touches it, he’ll kill THEM first, not the Wight. He’s very sensitive about his package.

As they stride into the arena, there are so many LOOKS between key pairings: Brienne and Jaime; Euron and Theon; Cersei and Tyrion; and of course the Hound and the Mountain, with Sandor labelling Gregor uglier than him, and declaring “You know who’s coming for you.” The tension is palpable - it’s like one of those current affair shows where some bloke dies and his family finds out he had another, secret family and the program decides to introduce them, and nobody lives happily ever after.

The line up in the Dragon Pit is like the Mayweather/McGregor bout except, you know, good.

In the red corner: Darth Cersei, Jaime Lannister, Qyburn, Euron Greyjoy, and The Mountain.

In the blue corner: Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Ser Davos Seaworth, Ser Jorah Mormont, Varys, Missandei, Brienne of Tarth, Theon Greyjoy, The Hound and oh yeah, when she shows up - Daenarys Targaryen.

I mean, props to the lady for Making An Entrance. If you’re going to intimidate, a dragon-sticks-the-landing-10-from-the Russian judge is the way to do it. “You’re late,” growls Cersei through gritted teeth. “Soz not soz,” Dany flips back. Oh, it’s ON. I mean, I’m a feminist, and I think women work best when they work together, but the sight of TWO EPIC QUEENS lining up against each other is also kinda my jam.

Tyrion tries to start the discussion on a calm note but is quickly overrun by Euron MacGregor having a go at Theon, who very kindly showed up for this showdown after two episodes of being who the f*** knows where on Dragonstone. When Tyrion tries to draw their attention to larger concerns than Yara Greyjoy, Euron cracks a dwarf joke at Tyrion, who zings him back with Theon’s help. “You’re not even FUNNY, you asshole, you’re not supposed to explain the joke.” I generally don’t explain my jokes, which is why I’m really hoping people will remember the 1990s McCain’s Healthy Choice ads that I just referenced because otherwise, wow, obscure.

When talk finally turns serious, there’s a lot of Big Words and Strong Tones and Brooding Looks from Jon Snow. “The Army of the Dead is coming, and will turn the million people in King’s Landing into zombie soldiers,” he says. Cersei’s reply? “For most it will be an improvement.” Oh bitch, YOU COLD.

Tyrion eventually calls for the proof, and the Hound brings out the FedEx box by himself, like one of those removalist guys who pride themselves on being able to single-handedly lift your baby grand piano down seven flights of stairs because they’ve been doing extra hard leg days this week.

The Hound had rapped on the box during transit via sea to make sure the Wight was still mindlessly raging, but there was an awkward moment when he opened the box in the Dragon Pit and nothing happened. Cersei, who’d already outdone herself in the “Zero F***s Given” stakes, looked on the verge of sneering laughter when BANG! The Hound knocked the box over and out spilled the nightmarish zombie critter.

Finally, Cersei had the grace to look frightened as the creature bore down upon her at speed. Only the snap of restraints stopped it from gnawing at her smug face. The Hound sliced the wight in half, but like an extra from The Walking Dead, it kept going. Jon used the opportunity to conduct a brief science demonstration, showing that only burning and dragonglass were effective weapons against them. The More You Know! Everyone seems suitably scared of the demon undead - except for Qyburn of course, who’s had a slick haircut but lost none of his ghoulish interest in reanimating things. Fo’ sho’ he was making monkey paw wishes on those zombie fingers.

One person who ISN’T interested in finding out more is Euron MacGregor, who frankly has more important things to do than wait around for Trainspotting 3 to get the green light, or for a zombie horde to invade from the north. “I’ve been everywhere man, and this is the only thing that scares, man” he tells the crowd, before sauntering off to wait out the apocalypse on the Iron Islands. To be frank, that “kingdom” is such a scrotum of despair that I’m not sure you could tell if and when the apocalypse happens, but Euron do Euron.

Cersei ultimately agrees to a truce, but on one condition: Jon Snow returns to the north, and doesn’t pick a side.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who had the following thought run through their brain: Annnnnnd let’s watch this beautiful idiot f*** this up in three, two, one…..

“I can’t serve two queens, and I’ve already pledged to Daenarys Targaryen.”

Cue a MASSIVE FACEPALM from THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.


When Tyrion said “I wish you could lie, just a little bit,” he spoke for us all. Yes, yes, Jon is right when he goes on to say everybody’s been lying too much and nothing means anything anymore. There IS too much fake news in Westeros, which is diluting the true threat to the Kingdom. But Jon, darling, when even your new girl Daenarys is saying “Thanks, but my dragon died so you could have this chat and that was a dick move to pull”, you might want to rethink your tactics.

The upshot of that drama was that Tyrion had to go and confront Cersei personally, and never has “walking into the lions’ den” been a more appropriate phase. Tyrion himself describes his sister as “the most murderous woman in the world” and a large part of him really does expect to die. But he’s come this far and he says he simply must try. Besides, if Jon went instead, Cersei would definitely kill him (having not much love for dark-haired men, historically speaking).

Even Jaime wishes him well as they greet outside Cersei’s chambers, but Tyrion must venture in alone. Their conversation here is one of the highlights of this season, with Tyrion defending his murder of their father passionately, and denying he took joy in the deaths of Myrcella and Tommen. For me though, Cersei was the winner. The way she rationalised her behaviour actually made me think “Yeah, I get that”. She’s still a monster of course, but the way she internalised the wight as being a threat to her and her family only, not the wider kingdom, was rooted in her rage at the outside world for exploiting and shaming her.

It makes no sense and yet perfect sense that she should not care if anyone else is affected by the march of impending doom. THEY deserve it. As she said, becoming a marching zombie would be an improvement for most of them. She’s mad to think she can keep her near and dear away from it, but that’s the thing about mad people - their thinking patterns are working on a differing sewing machine.

Tyrion’s realisation “You’re pregnant!” as she holds the royal belly was loaded and wonderful, and gives him insight into where she’s at in her head. And the chat seems to do the trick, with Cersei re-emerging with her crew into the Dragon Pit to pledge that her armies will not stand down; but rather venture north to help fight the White Walkers.

The Stormborn crew all venture back to Dragonstone to start laying plans on how to move their armies to Winterfell. Jorah suggests Dany fly up, given the hostility towards her in areas they’ll be travelling through. One lone hero with an arrow could see her silver hair and end it all. But Jon thinks he and Dany should sail together for White Harbour, to send a better message of unity. Dany agrees: “We will sail together.”

Once again, Jorah is the Ralph Wiggum of Game of Thrones, and you can pinpoint the moment his heart breaks a little more. All that talk last week about Longclaw going to Jon’s children after him was a tacit bit of foreshadowing that maybe Dany wasn’t going to come around to a Jorah hook-up, even if he blasted his best Peter Gabriel from a boombox outside the throne room. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

“Then what are you doing still talking to me?” Jon asks. Meanwhile Theon Greyjoy has a few things to get off his chest to Jon. He wants to explain why he couldn’t do the right thing as Jon has always done, because he was torn between his Greyjoy heritage and Stark education. Jon tells him he doesn’t have to choose: he can in fact be both. It’s an absolution of sorts for the tortured Theon, who now only wants to save his sister Yara, the only one who had cared enough to try to rescue him when he was Ramsay’s captive.

Theon heads to the remaining members of his fleet and says he wants to go back and save Yara from Euron MacGregor. The main captain, Australian actor Brendan Cowell, says Yara is dead and they’re better off finding a nice island where they can kill the men, take their wives and wait out the Long Night.

“Nope, never gonna happen,” Theon replies, forcing things to get physical with Cowell. The big guys starts to lay in on Theon, but the smaller guy keeps getting back up. He takes hammering after hammering but gets back up. Eventually, Cowell tries to finish him with a knee right to the meat and two veg. Except as we know Theon has been a full vegan since his time with Ramsay, so the blows did not hurt him. In fact, there was a beautiful moment when Theon discovered that perhaps, like Daredevil, a disability like #nojunkmound may in fact be a superpower. He pommels Cowall to death and secures the loyalty of his crew, as well as a feel-good self-discovery film, “How Theon Got His Balls Back.”

"Call me Teflon Theon."


Let us detour to Winterfell, because it’s where my bestest and most favourite sequence of this episode took place, and I just want to revel in it with you all.

I speak, of course, of the Most Timely and Justified Downfall of Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish.

For starters, a hearty congratulations and “I’ve never been so happy to be wrong” to all of you who were convinced Sansa and Arya were playing Littlefinger. Too many scenes between the pair of them last episode seemed to take place away from his prying eyes, and the sisterly tension appeared real. Even this week, when Sansa sought Littlefinger’s counsel on what might be motivating Arya to dig up evidence of her disloyalty to House Stark, I was worried. Playing the game of “Assume the worst” seemed to strike a nerve with the elder sister, particularly as she ruminated on Arya’s skills as a Faceless Man.

In my defence, it wasn’t that I underestimated the intelligence and cunning of the Stark sisters. But Bran had been nowhere to be seen last episode, he didn’t seem to be putting his spooky greensight powers to good use, and of course, Littlefinger always was the master manipulator. I think that my concerns were justified in context.

And besides, it made the eventual reveal SO much more satisfying. Sansa called for Arya to be brought before her in the Great Hall. There she sat, with Bran at her side (finally!), the northern houses gathered around the room, and Littlefinger off in his usual sneaky corner.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Arya. Oh no! I thought.

“You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer the charges…. Lord Baelish?”

In the same moment, all the oxygen was sucked out of the room, and rushed back into it. Every line on Baelish’s smug stupid face changed, and Sansa and Arya, if it was even possible, got ten thousand per cent more badass.

“My sister asked you a question,” Arya purred, like a cat about to pounce on a ripe mouse.

As Sansa hurled accusation after accusation at him, about Ned and Catelyn and Lysa and Tyrion and BOO HISS Ramsay Bolton, Baelish seemed to experience the stages of grief in lightning quick succession. Shock and denial was quickly followed by crocodile tears of anguish and some “Wait, but what about all the nice things I’ve done for your family?” and “Take me back to the Vale!” bargaining.

Bran played his part to perfection as well, stating with the matter of factness only a supernatural know-it-all can muster, that Baelish had betrayed Ned Stark and held a knife to his throat.

It was a relevant detail, and Arya, with a quick flash of Catspaw, returned the favour, slicing his neck wide open and letting his stupid smug creepy gross cowardly body collapse to the floor.

Beloved Throners, this was glorious. I know that for many, Littlefinger was a good villain, unscrupulous and duplicitous, shifty and sly, and a whole bunch of other words I looked up on Thesaurus.com. But you cannot deny the motherf***er got what he deserved right here. And Sansa and Arya? They were damn proud of themselves. It wasn’t quite a karaoke version of “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” but their subsequent chat on the battlements was beautiful, and symbolised a new closeness in their relationship to each other, and a reinforcement of the strength of House Stark. “When the winds come and the snows fall, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

It’s a lesson in family teamwork that one Cersei Lannister could really do with learning. For while Cersei has railed on and on about maintaining her House, her family name and her line, she has been actively doing her absolute best to sabotage every bloody bit of it.

The final straw that broke the camel Jaime’s back comes when she tells his fightin’ generals to skedaddle out of her GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP, where they’d been busy making plans to go north and fight White Walkers.

“Yeah, nah,” Cersei tells Jaime. “It was all a f***ing ruse, mate.”

“You’re shitting me,” Jaime replies.

“I shit you not, cobber,” Cersei fires back. “Let all those northern yobbos f**k themselves up, we’ll kick back here with a coldie and some smashed avo and make sure this little bun in the oven gets his or her arse on the Iron Throne.”

I don’t know why the Lannister twins have turned into ocka Strayans, but I guess I’m in New York and miss the accent? Who knows. The point is, Cersei has played everyone again, even Jaime. She confesses that Euron’s big tanty and storm off at the Dragon Pit parly was staged, a product of secret discussions that Jaime was precluded from. Euron still wants to marry Cersei - gods know if he is aware of the baby situation - and to win her favour he will sail to Essos and ferry back the Golden Company, 20 000 mercenary soldiers, horses and a few elephants thrown in for good measure. And besides, Dany only showed up with two dragons to the parly, so there’s clearly something going on with that.

The Kingslayer is floored. All of a sudden a light bulb seems to switch on in his brain, the very same brain Cersei derided as “stupid” for not appreciating the value of money and for having “honour” and shit. But Jaime has lived his life under the shadow of his assault of the Mad King. He has always been seen as dishonourable, and it has grated at him, even when he was still entranced by his sister-lover. Now, when he thinks they’re finally doing something honourable - stopping a petty war to combat a terrifying all-encompassing one - Cersei hits the stop button.

Jaime is furious, and he cannot make Cersei see sense. “I’m all you have left! Why the f*** are you still fighting like this?” Jaime tells her he intends to keep his promise, and she accuses him of treason. He asks if she’ll have the Mountain kill him, and after an intense silence, he says he doesn’t believe her and walks away, saying “You’re dropped, you moll” (in feeling, if not actual words).

Oh Cersei, you most certainly deserved that. Despite her insistence nobody walks away from her, just like that Jaime did, and like every cool guy in a movie, he didn't look back.

We later see Jaime, clad for the first time in his life in black, atop a black horse, pull a black glove over his golden hand and ride north - just as snow starts to fall on the capital. It's literally a black and white moment - Jaime is done. Where to now? Off to join the campaign at Winterfell? Apologise to Bran and have some bro time with Tyrion? Gods forbid... hook back up with Brienne?

Guess what Jaime Lannister? You’re back in the good books! To be fair, we’ve loved you since you lost your hand and gained a bit of sense during your time with Brienne, but since you’ve been back with Cersei we’ve wavered a bit. The incest thing is kinda gross. And hey, look, you’ve schtupped your sister for 25 years, pushed Bran out the window to hide it, and done all manner of other bad stuff, BUT IT’S OK JAIME. People make mistakes and can LEARN from them. I’m sure even Bran would accept now he had to go through that experience to become the Three-Eyed Raven. That’s not too desperate and probably quite offensive justification on my part, is it?

Besides, perhaps the show has a quota for how many incestuous couples it can feature at any given time. BECAUSE IT TURNED OUT A NEW ONE HAS JUST STEPPED UP.

THE INCIDENT begins when Samwell Tarly turns back up at Winterfell to help in the fight to come. He pops in to see Bran, who remembers him well.

"I see dead people."

They get to chatting about Jon, and Bran says it’s time for Jon to learn the truth about who he is; a Targaryen bastard to Lyanna Stark with the surname Sand, because he was born in Dorne.

But wait! Sam then reveals that in fact Rhaegar annulled his first marriage and subsequently lawfully married another woman. Way to go, Sam, you want to give Gilly some credit for making that discovery? The one you initially ignored? Flipping heck, why don’t you just go work in Silicon Valley, dude.

Anyway, hearing this sends Bran off on a greensight expedition to confirm that yes, in fact, Rhaegar and Lyanna tied the knot under a tree, it was very romantic, they did a wreck the dress photoshoot afterwards and the reception was at a golf club, very nice.

He then fasts forward to Jon’s birth at the Tower of Joy and hears Lyanna tell Ned “His name is Aegon Targaryen”. Well, f***, it’s just all been confirmed now, hasn’t it? What are the internet conspiracy theorists going to do now? Their lives will be so empty. Hopefully they won’t turn to trolling or Neo-Nazism, that’d be great. At least “Aegon” is better than that stupid rumour his name would be “Jaeharys” because f*** off.

Couldn't they just have a quiet, fully clothed chat?


Anyway, as all of this flashback is happening, we see a cut of Jon entering Dany’s cabin onboard her flagship, before a subsequent cut of him entering ...well, Dany herself.

I’m SORRY to be CRUDE but I was NOT expecting THAT LEVEL OF NUDITY from GAME OF THRONES.

The voiceover is literally going “Oh wow, he’s a Targaryen” at the exact moment we see him having BOAT SEX with the ONLY OTHER TARGARYEN ON THE SHOW.

Maybe they’re setting up a conflict in which Jon discovers this heritage and feels a little squeamish about it all. Dany might not be so concerned. But even if Jon doesn’t touch her again with a 30 foot barge pole (or any of his other poles, thank you very much), the damage may very well be done.

For Jon and Dany had had a nice little conversation in the Dragon Pit about the legacy of the Targaryens, and how the dragons’ demise and de-evolution into tiny creatures before dying out altogether was a risk in the now given Dany’s inability to have children.

“Who told you that?” Jon asks.
“The witch who killed my husband,” Dany replies.
“Did you ever think she may not be a reliable source?”

We’re through the looking glass here, people. Not only has the Jon/Dany Boning Potential (JDBP) reached 100% likelihood, it is very likely Jon has sent his own little Targaryen/Stark hybrid swimmers upstream. It’s a TARBABYEN.

And so to deal with this shock and betrayal, I must turn to the one person in this world who understands how to throw shade in song more than any other. I speak of course, of the newly resurgent Taylor Swift. HIT IT.

I don’t like this throne of games
I feel such jilted rage
You were my precious bae
I’m a fool, no I don’t like you
I know chaos is a climb
This will graph my decline
You should have been just mine
You are cruel, no I don’t like you

But you regard her, diss my ardor like I’m just some slime
I know you rose up from the dead, you were so damn sublime
Your sister’s list of names you should be on it underlined
I hate you both, screw this fire and ice

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do

I don’t like you bent the knee
It may have broken me
I invested in your story deep
Knocked me out, my emotions fleeced
The Night King comes, another day another dragon, dragon
But not for me, not for me, all I think about is shaggin’
The Night King gathers, but it’ll be a bit rough
When you might get, your aunt up the duff

You were my starter, holy martyr, loved you for all time
I know you rose up from the dead, just like Optimus Prime
I stole your sister’s list and in my blood I counter-signed
Can’t even watch, let me roll the dice

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do

I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I am the watcher looking at your dark scenes
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
The tears are running down my face in wet streams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I am the person filming all my reax screams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I know the internet will flood with f***ing dank memes

I’m sorry, the old Natalie likes Season One better
Why?
Oh, BRING BACK NED!

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do

You know I thought that would be the end. Certainly this recap feels like it’s taken several days to complete, given the jet lag, and the early morning writing, and the strange lights floating in my peripheral vision.

BUT IT WASN’T, WAS IT?

Because we could just have the hurt end there. We had to see the true beginning of the end, a literal cliffhanger, in that the eastern part of The Wall was converted into a cliff, and last I saw Tormund and Beric were hanging off it.

For movement came to Eastwatch, and Tormund and Beric were there to see Birnham Wood come to Dunsinane. Hundreds of thousands of wights stepped up to the Wall, waiting for something. Even a White Walker lieutenant came forth, spear in hand, but no sign of the Night King.

Because he had other means of transport.

Whoosh, zoom, screech - out of the sky came Viserion, in the full throes of a terrible ice addiction, roaring and sending scorching firey-ice breath across the breadth of The Wall.

The Ice Dragon Cometh.

“Run!” Tormund screamed to his fellow wildlings and crows. Mad panic descended on Eastwatch as the ice dragon belched its terrible payload, and like Berlin in ‘89, the wall came crumbling down. There was no David Hasselhoff to sing it to its rest, but that may have added insult to injury.

As the wall fell, the wight army began to move in, with the Night King riding Viserion in triumph up above. I felt sick to my stomach to see that grade-A icehole sitting smugly where Dany should be.

What made it worse is that we saw Tormund and Beric clinging to a still-standing piece of infrastructure, but what fate does this mean for them? Can they escape the wights, grab a ship and get word south, to the north? For the army of the dead has arrived. And how!

Yay! Best Moments

There were so many in this glorious episode, which really was a cracker from beginning to end.

However for me, the moment when Sansa says “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer the charges…. Lord Baelish?” and turned towards Littlefinger off in his usual corner was SHEER JOY.

It was topped off by that charming moment afterwards when Sansa called Arya “the strongest person I know”, Arya replied that it was the nicest thing she’d ever said to her, and Sansa replied, “Don’t get used to it, you’re still annoying and weird”. BLESS THESE GIRLS.

Zing! Best Lines

The Hound was again in fine form, Tyrion was awesome, and Bronn's gag about Bronn's magic member was gold. But line of the night has to go to Samwell Tarly in conversation with Bran:

Sam: What happened to you beyond the wall?
Bran: I became the Three-Eyed Raven.
Sam: Ohhhhhhh……. I don’t know what that means.

Honourable mention also to Bran for responding to Sam's query "Did you see that in a vision?" by holding up a raven's scroll.

Eww, gross

I think you know.

Boo, sucks

I THINK YOU KNOW.

Precious beloved Throners, thank you so much for reading this finale recap, which is a bit special. I am currently in New York, and was able to watch the episode "live" as it went to air on HBO at 9pm Sunday night local time. We watched in the bar of our hotel as the rooms didn't have HBO! It was a great experience as there were a fair few people who had been tipped off - and I was probably the loudest among them!

I have subsequently recapped through the night and it is 6.30am as I file this. This has been an epic season, and this episode particularly so. A massive thank you to Steph who has helped me with some screenshots, more of which will be uploaded later after I've had some sleep. And a huge thank you to all of my Patreon supporters, without whom I would not have the spirit to recap this mighty finale!

6 Responses to ‘GoT S7E7 Raven On Recap: The Dragon and the Wolf’

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted August 29, 2017
Some of your finest work, Natalie. I almost had a seazure!
Thanks for all your marvellous recaps.

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Rob mumbles...

Posted August 29, 2017
Love the recaps. But alas I think I've gone off GOT. (it might be the dragons) Is there any chance you might consider a Rick and Morty recap?

she_jedi asserts...

Posted August 29, 2017
Are there abs in Rick and Morty? Otherwise you may be in trouble :P

she_jedi mutters...

Posted August 29, 2017
Are there abs in Rick and Morty? Otherwise you may be in trouble :P

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted August 30, 2017
i'm sure i've seen abs in Rick and Morty. Maybe not in the Cronenberg version of them but still shirts off somewhere along the line.
I've appreciated the GOT recaps - i got waylaid back at season 3 then gave up. Read the books so was kept up to speed in the alternate GOT story thread by reading these recaps. Almost makes me want to track down the last few seasons just to watch to appreciate the in jokes a bit more. I figure may as well get some kind of closure on the story cause the chances of the written word being completed are pretty much zip now the live action version has almost finished.

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Oldy has opinions thus...

Posted August 30, 2017
"Way to go, Sam, you want to give Gilly some credit for making that discovery? The one you initially ignored? Flipping heck, why don’t you just go work in Silicon Valley, dude."

I'm seeing this all over the place. In the scene we saw Sam dismissed Gilly before she could get to that detail. If all there was, was what we saw, then he wouldn't know the rest of the story.

I'm wondering whether she was reading a text he'd already transcribed, hence he had the detail of it already. I suspect the audience was set up with a bit of directorial misdirection to think 'Oe noes, so close!' so Benioff and Weiss could say 'Ha! Gotcha!' later.

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