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Got Raven On Recap: S8E6 "The Iron Throne"

Posted May 30 into Raven On by girlclumsy

Beloved Throners,

Some years back, a creative company I was at one time heavily involved with went through a brutal annual general meeting. A key board member had a suspiciously large number of member proxy votes; others were in open rebellion against them. Attempts at diplomacy soon turned to outright hostility - there were tears, recriminations, and the pungent smell of bitterness throughout the room.

The members all agreed on the company’s ideals, but felt very differently about how they could or should be achieved. The system as it was, at that point in time, could not survive the personality clashes of that one breaking point, an otherwise pleasant afternoon in a community hall.

I recall this memory not to hurt the feelings of anyone involved in said company, but to reflect that said meeting contained, in microcosm, all of the heavy concepts and world-shattering turns of events that wrapped up the final episode of Game of Thrones.

On that afternoon, amidst the instant coffee and Arnott's assorted creams, the company underwent an irrevocable change.

The wheel was broken, and the nascent replacement (what else spins like a wheel?) is still taking time to metamorphisise. We are left with hope it will be better.

No doubt many of you would have experienced such machinations; perhaps you have been responsible for some. Maybe it’s at work. Maybe it’s in your family. Maybe the head of the P&C is a psychopathic bake sale advocate with no care for your movie night fundraising ideas, but you can’t say “Just f*** off, Cheryl-Lynn,” because then you’ll end up taking on more tuckshop shifts out of guilt.

Whatever it is, we go through life putting out a series of bushfires - it’s just in this case they were not so much bushfires as “flaming dragon-fire blazing flames of firey dragon burny” fires.

For us, the stakes are always high. That’s the embarrassment, and sweet luxury, of living in relatively rich and prosperous times in relatively rich and prosperous countries. The fight for the vision of what the aforementioned creative company should be was as deadly serious as the fight for the best world vision of Westeros. We just had the single transferable vote proportional representation system instead of, you know, a dragon.

So in writing about the final episode of Game of Thrones, I recognise two conflicting yet equally valid “visions”, or at least trains of thought on the stakes:

“I LOVE this TV show, and the ending gave me a sense of narrative satisfaction.”

“I LOVE this TV show, and the ending failed to live up to the promise of its beginnings.”

(There’s also the “I never watched Game of Thrones so don’t care how it ends dragon shows are stupid” camp, and we all know they can eat our collective #junkmounds).

Those stakes are very real for people - many of whom, like me, probably cared more about the outcome of this power-chasing fantasy costume drama with tits than the realpolitik of the Australian election in the days beforehand.

Me? I fall mostly in the first vision. I leave the world of Ice and Fire mostly contented, if slightly miffed we didn’t see #abs one last time.

But I do see ways in which some fans (especially the deep-diving, prophecy-loving, YouTube-video-creating, film-school-graduating, hot-takes-in-established-media-having ones) would be disappointed, and that’s cool too.

Does this read like I’m been trying to be thoughtful and considered in my final ever Game of Thrones Raven On episode recap?

Because the real story is I’m terrified of writing this.

How do I make this mean something to you, precious readers, many of whom have followed me for years? How do I make this final effort count? I must reign in my infantile jokes and inappropriately bawdy fixations and attempt to provide, for once in my miserable recappespondent’s life, a proper, mature, discerning rationale behind my feelings for “The Iron Throne”. A way to bring all of our conflicting views together.

As Tyrion tells Jon of the Great Council’s ultimate position: “No one is particularly happy, which means it must be a good compromise.”

Gahhhhhhh, I can’t hold it in any longer.

I WISH I COULD GET JON SNOW IN THE ULTIMATE COMPROMISING POSITION.

Oh man, that feels better.

Have I mentioned I am 100 per cent HOT for Jon Snow, all over again? Sure, he put an end to his auntie-boning (albeit in a far more final way than I was expecting), but it was the symbolic release of his BOUNCING BEAUTIFUL CURLS that made me want to hire both a pantomime horse costume and a friend and set out north to find him.

All right then, let’s pretend this is just an ordinary regular episode, and not the finale of the most epic television show in history, and get cracking and recapping.

GoT S8E6: “The Iron Throne”

Tyrion walks through the destruction of King’s Landing, his expression darker than the smoking ruins of bricks and bodies.

A man walks past him in a blur, the skin on his torso half gone, his expression blank. Another grown man sits on a step and sobs, showing not even the toughest of toxic Westerosi masculinity can withstand an Apocalypse Frau.

Jon Snow and Ser Davos Seaworth follow along, equally as grim. Tyrion spies the mother and daughter from last week’s episode, entwined and blackened, frozen in time by fire.

Tyrion heads off towards the Red Keep, dismissing Jon’s concern that it’s unsafe and he should take guards with him. This is a mission Tyrion must complete alone.

Despite the pounding it took from Drogon, parts of the fortress seem relatively intact. Tyrion passes the cracked GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP, and seeing no movement, grabs a torch and makes for the basement.

If he’d watched ANY serial killer movies, Tyrion would know you never find anything good in the basement.

Somehow, the little lion spots his brother’s golden hand glinting in a shaft of sunlight amidst the rubble. One by one, Tyrion removes the bricks, uncovering the inevitable - the bodies of Cersei and Jaime, dead in each others’ arms.

Given the amount of masonry that collapsed on them, I was rather surprised to see their angelic faces intact and serene in death, as opposed to the bloody pulp I’d been expecting. Still, that’s their Lannister luck, isn’t it. Messed up on the inside, but shiny AF on the outside.

Tyrion’s distress at finding his dead siblings’ bodies is palpable. Sure, Cersei may have been an ambitious, self-serving, megalomaniac, and Jaime was a misguided fanboi, but they were still family. Tyrion later tells Jon “Love is more powerful than reason... look at my brother”, but that aphorism applies just as much to him.

It’s interesting too, that the pair was crushed near the skull of Balerion the Dread, King Aegon the Conqueror’s mighty dragon. Its great bones remain intact despite the rockfall; the Targaryens have once again laid waste to its enemies. A particularly mournful version of The Rains of Castamere underscores the scene; the song was composed to celebrate the destruction of a house, but this time it’s the Lannisters who are (almost all) gone.

Down in the streets, Jon and Davos find Grey Worm summarily executing Lannister soldiers, despite their wholesale surrender.

Jon tries to intervene on the prisoners’ behalf, prompting a brief stand-off between the Unsullied and the northern soldiers, like the spear fight at the Not OK Corral.

Ser Davos, ever the diplomat, suggests Jon talk to the Queen, and he reluctantly lets go of Grey Worm’s neck-slicing arm. This conveniently allows Grey Worm to get on with his neck-slicing.

For someone with no *ahem*, Grey Worm sure has one post-battle murder boner.

Remember this moment of Jon’s mercy; it becomes important again in just a little while.

Arya must have dropped her white horse off at the stable as she’s back on foot approaching the base of the stairs to the Red Keep. At least, I think that’s where they are - the whole city has been so Godzilla’d it’s hard to tell. Either way, there’s a large public square with space enough for the unified and disciplined Unsullied forces up front, and a throng of excited Dothraki horse lords up the back.

Now clearly a lot more Dothraki survived the vanguard charge into those wights than it appeared. There were far more of them than I expected here at King’s Landing; but as we will see, this signifies the extent to which the Dothraki side of Daenerys’ identity has triumphed.

Jon half-limps his way across the square, finding the base of the stairs just as Grey Worm makes it to the top. Jon clearly took the long way around trying to find Dany; Grey Worm’s obviously finished his wet work for the moment.

The woman of the hour arrives, flying in on regal Drogon-back. Thankfully the creatures appears to be out of Redheads Firestarters for the moment. Someone has managed to string up a Targaryen banner on a half-ruined wall, a visual symbol of her dominion over the capital.

Mind you, she didn’t need it. The first appearance of Daenerys Stormborn on screen is a champion cinematographic and CGI moment. Seen from Jon’s point-of-view near the top of the stairs, she emerges like an avenging angel, Drogon’s wingspan stretching out behind her.


Wings go up, wings go down.

The Targaryen/dragon symbolism here is pretty obvious, but it’s also subtly imbued in her choice of battle outfit - the black leather of her coat, melded tight to her form, is delicately patterned in dragon scale. You might think she’s become the dragon because of the wings, but it’s actually her skin - scaly, fire-resistant and probably in need of a bottle of Jergens.

Despite all this, her hair, almost fully braided now, harks back to her Khaleesi roots. Dothraki add braids to signify victory in battle, and Dany has about as much on her plait as anyone could handle.

It’s telling, then, that Daenarys chooses to address the yelping and jostling Dothraki screamers first. She thanks them for keeping their promises to her: killing the men in their iron suits; tearing down their stone houses; and giving her the Seven Kingdoms.

Drogon roars, and Jon notes the number “Seven”.

Dany switches to High Valyrian to thank Grey Worm for his efforts and declare him her Master of War. The Unsullied stomp their approval, and she turns to address them directly.

And this is where it all gets a bit Nuremberg 1935, except Dany must have better vocal projection than Hitler, as even the Fuhrer used amplified sound. I realise I just compared a fictional character I have loved for years to Hitler, and now I feel kinda dirty, but Godwin’s Law states that on the internet every discussion eventually references Hitler, so I guess I should count myself lucky it took this long.

“You are liberators!” she tells the Unsullied, to their rhythmic stomps of approval. “But the war is not over. We will not lay down our spears until we have liberated all the people of the world!”

Errrr, Dany? Perhaps a little intense? You’ve won the trophy you’ve always wanted, but now you’re shifting the goal posts?

The Unsullied and Dothraki are deliriously excited, of course - well, as visibly excited as emotionless, highly-disciplined mercenary soldiers with their faces obscured by helmets can get.

Jon, Tyrion and Arya, however, are… less so.

Dany includes both Winterfell and Lannisport in her speech about far-ranging liberation; they may not be fluent in Valyrian but it doesn’t sound like she’s promoting reconciliation and healing.

It’s Tyrion who approaches the victorious Queen, knowing he must renounce her actions, and accept the punishment for setting Jaime free to attempt to save Cersei and King’s Landing.

Dany tells him he committed treason; he concurs, but adds that his crime was freeing one man (who went on to die); Dany meanwhile slaughtered the city. He stares at Dany and tears the Hand of the Queen badge from his doublet, tossing it down the steps: another golden hand sacrificed on Daenerys’s altar.

Dany has the decency to look somewhat shocked, in a sort of primary schoolyard “Nah, Sharon, you can’t dump me because I already dumped you, ya mole” sort of way, and she has Grey Worm take him into custody.

Tyrion gives Jon a LoooooooooooK as he is marched off; Jon in turn exchanges a LoooooooooooooooooooK with Dany. How interesting that the score underneath them is the same mournful cello that accompanied the infamous boat sex scene, because the last time they Loooooooooooooooooked at each other like that, they proceeded to F**********************k. But there’s no stirring of the #junkmound on this occasion, because Jon is an honourable man who is appropriately flaccid in these sorts of situations.

He stares after Dany as she stalks away, only to be punked by Arya who turns up, cat-like, by his side. We *should* have seen Jon jump a metre in the air and scream “Holy SHIT, what are you DOING here, you scared the LIFE out of me!” but see above description re: current flaccidity.

“I came to kill Cersei, but your Queen got there first,” is Arya’s deadpan response.

“She’s everyone’s Queen now,” sighs Jon, still running the official party line because he LOVES her, damnit.

“Try telling Sansa,” retorts Arya, three words which ring out a clear truth to Jon: his sisters will clash with his auntie-lover-cum-queen (wow, that bit of Latin just never feels right, does it?)

She tells Jon that Dany knows his true origin story, and therefore will always see him as a threat. “And I know a killer when I see one,” she says. I know there has been some disappointment we haven’t seen Arya unleash her mad cool Faceless Men assassin skills this season, but perhaps the greatest talent she developed was her ability to understand a murderous mind. Jon should know, of course, but he does have that whole “But I love her, she’ll come around!” niggle clouding his judgement.

He’s clearly conflicted about it all - why else would he visit Tyrion in his prison cell? A blindly devoted Jon Snow would happily let Tyrion be marched off and summarily executed without the need for a final chinwag. Perhaps Tyrion can be the little putsch he needs.

The ensuing scene is pure, old school, dynamite Game of Thrones conversation porn. In the deepest of shit, Tyrion is in full prosaic flight, reflecting on his own fate and choices, before challenging Jon’s perception of Dany and whether he really thinks she will stop and be happy now.

My beloved tries to defend his Queen, saying if “fire and blood” was all a Targaryen could be, he would be that too.

But Tyrion has drawn his line in the sand. His counsel and advice stopped once Dany had massacred more people in a single day than his evil father and sister had managed their in their whole lives.

Jon gets defensive, saying Dany had seen her dragons and friends slaughtered, and besides, it’s hard in battle, things are heavy and confusing, and sometimes things just happen, and -

“Would YOU have done it?”

Watch and learn, inquisitive alien visitors, because THAT’S what you call a PROBE.

Tyrion tells Jon he’s lying to himself because he doesn’t want to betray Dany, but he knows the truth - that he’s a squidgy love puddle who should be tucked away in my kingsize wearing only his fur cloak, not clanking about King’s Landing protecting some flamin’ sheila.



Negotiating through the stages of grief, Jon then tries denial. “It doesn’t matter what I’d do,” he says. “It matters more than anything,” Tyrion urges.

For Dany, life has been a series of impressive victories over a series of villains: the slavers of Astapor; the nobles of Meereen; the revolting Dothraki khals. Dany triumphed over all of them, she was not only the hero in her own story, but Tyrion’s, Varys’, Jorah’s, Grey Worm’s, Missandei’s, countless Unsullied and Dothraki and eventually Jon’s.

Tyrion says her belief in her destiny to create a utopian world has only grown stronger with every bad guy she has crushed into the dirt - and why wouldn’t you kill anyone who stops you trying to achieve it?

Interestingly, Dany’s most impressive victory - at least on a supernatural front - is ending the march of the White Walkers at the Battle of Winterfell, but that is not mentioned in this scene between Jon and Tyrion.

Obviously Dany wasn’t solely responsible for that one, but even the Night King-killer herself Arya said that the Fighting Direwolves would not have won without Dany’s dragons. She should have seen it as a collective win for humanity; but it turns out Dany has gotten used to hogging the glory.

Her disappointment at not being more feted was there in episode four, but perhaps more of it could have been made in the subsequent episodes. It might have helped assuage some of the post-show disappointment in Dany’s “surprising” heel turn.

That aside, it’s all getting a bit much for Jon, and he collapses into a seat.

There’s a touching moment when Tyrion seems to acknowledge that he saw Dany as more than an inspiring leader, when he tells Jon “I loved her too, not as successfully as you, but I believed in her with my whole heart.” He reflects that love blinded him to reality, in the same way it overcame his brother Jaime’s aversion to Cersei’s nature.

“Love is the death of duty,” Jon muses, almost impressing Tyrion with his pithiness. But no, it’s not a brilliant piece of improvised wisdom from Jon, but a sad truth once imparted to him by Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch (and indeed, some sort of great-great uncle to Jon).

Tyrion ruefully discovers an equally useful spoonerism - that sometimes duty is the death of love. He says he’s asking a terrible thing of Jon, but it’s the right thing, and Jon always tries to do the right thing, and be the shield that guards the realms of men.

Jon is really struggling now. Tyrion suggests that he won’t be the last person Dany executes, and as the true heir to the Iron Throne, Jon himself would be a ripe candidate for a charring.

But Jon seems to make up his mind, saying that’s Daenerys’ decision, as she is the Queen. It almost seems at this point like Jon might welcome execution - at least it would get him out of this mess.

Tyrion is like… dude, wot?

As Jon goes to leave, he tries one last gambit: the Sisters Stark. Tyrion asks if they will bend the knee, and Jon says they will obey the Queen HA HA HA bro have you even met my girl Sansa don’t even START with me. Tyrion says Sansa told him the truth about Jon’s heritage because she doesn’t want Daenerys on the throne.

“She doesn’t get to choose,” Jon says. “No, but you do, and you must choose now,” pleads Tyrion. It’s his parting shot, his last desperate bid for Jon to act, but he has no idea if his arrow has hit its mark.

This episode really has a peak amount of Jon Snow striding about, and he does it again here, heading to the throne room to find Dany, and getting past Drogon, who had been sleeping covered in debris and ash and snow and goodness knows what else.

Drogon sniffs Jon, recognising him as - well, maybe as a Targaryen, but at least as not posing a threat. That’s on you, Drogon.

Upstairs, Dany appears in the gloom of the now destroyed great hall, her eyes fixed on the spiky swordy chair that has been her alpha and omega since her brother was crowned with gold at Vaes Dothrak; when she realised that it was she, not Viserys, who was the true dragon.

A haunting vocalised version of the show’s theme plays as Dany, snow or ash or perhaps both falling softly all around her, slowly approaches the Iron Throne. Her vision in the House of the Undying at the end of season two is now playing out in real time (albeit with the throne room way more wrecked than in the hallucination).

Emilia Clarke does brilliant face acting here: Dany’s eyes express triumph, desire, righteousness and an appropriately slight hint of being overwhelmed in this moment of achievement.

Unlike the vision though, Dany actually reaches out and touches one arm of the throne, one sword pommel twisted and shaped into position 300 years before.

Then Jon Snow turns up.

Dany’s clearly been watching some Roger Moore 007 flicks because she knows this is the appropriate moment for the “bad guy who sees themselves as the good guy” to dive into a monologue about how their world view was shaped and how through their actions they will create a better one. It’s a very Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me or Drax in Moonraker thing to do.

She starts by opining on how much bigger the Throne seemed in her childhood imagination, an almost wistful reflection on how reality can never quite live up to expectations. But before she goes any further, Jon angrily cuts her off by confronting her with the reality of her actions: Lannister prisoners being murdered in the streets; the burned bodies of children; Tyrion locked up awaiting execution.

Jon begs her to forgive Tyrion, to forgive all of them, to show mercy after this brutal display of might. But Dany cannot. Her vision does not allow for mercy until her “good” world is complete; any deviating from the path must be dealt with. She has a single-minded focus and it does not allow for moderation along the way.

It’ll all be good eventually, she tries to assure Jon. It’ll be perfect, you’ll see. Once I’ve killed every bastard that opposes my very correct view, there will finally be peace.

Dany has lost any will to negotiate or compromise. She knows what’s best. And the thing is - she does. She has had advisers and counsellors and their advice and plans have often gone pear-shaped. When she has done what Olenna Tyrell told her to do in season seven - “Be the dragon” - things have gone her way. If that happens often enough, you’re going to start believing your own bullshit.

Dany promises Jon that she will build the better world, because she knows what is good, and Jon does too, despite his self-doubt.

But what about everyone else? Jon asks. What about what they consider “good”?

“They don’t get to choose,” Dany replies serenely, and her fate is sealed.

Dany makes her final pitch, that Jon should be with her, break the wheel with her, fulfil the destinies that they both came into the world

I’m intrigued as to how much of this Dany is saying to Jon Snow, the man she loves, versus Aegon Targaryen, a newly-revealed potential rival whom it would be best to have on side. My gut goes with the man she loves, because their relationship and particularly this moment is a tragic romance.

But still, in the back of Jon’s mind at least, her proposal must mean more than just undying devotion to a life together, but a political union in which he would most definitely be the junior partner. And that’s not saying Jon’s pride would be hurt by being 2IC to a woman; rather that it would never be the partnership Dany is promising.

“They don’t get to choose.” Those were the words Dany used, but equally as importantly, they were the words Jon just said to Tyrion, when asked whether his sisters would bend the knee.

I believe that in this moment Jon realised what he had said - that he had been willing to give up the autonomy of the North and his own sisters for Dany, and that perhaps that wasn’t his to decision to make.

Jon loves Dany, loves her desperately, but has realised while she is brave and loyal and clever and inspiring, she has been warped by her quest for power.

And so he tells her, truthfully, that she is his Queen, now and always. Daenerys is visibly lifted by this confirmation of success: she has the crown, and the man. They embrace to confirm their love.

Everything’s coming up Targary------

STAB.

Yes, Jon takes the lesson he was dealt by traitorous crows at the Night’s Watch, and uses the moment when Dany’s defences are down to carefully draw his dagger...and stab her in the heart mid-snog.

He weeps as she realises what has happened; but she has no more words to say.

Dany collapses, and once again Jon is left cradling the love of his life as her life ebbs away. The reign of the Dragon Queen is over before it could begin.

It’s intense, and poetic, and sadly beautiful in all that snow. Jon places Dany on the floor, and blood seeps out from her back, echoing Jon’s own death scene at the end of season five.

Then Drogon shows up.

Dany and her dragons were deeply connected, and so of course her last remaining child shows up immediately upon sensing something terrible has happened.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to get teary when this immense, terrifying creature nudged Daenerys’ body, trying to rouse her.

Realising his mother isn’t coming back, Drogon unleashes a furious, screeching, heart-rending howl.

Jon’s reaction indicates he thinks he’s a goner; possibly for the best too, as this was not a decision he wanted to make, nor an action he’s proud of. But Drogon instead turns his fiery breath on the wrecked walls of the Keep.

He pauses to recharge up his throaty burn tunnel, then unleashes hell on the very object of Dany’s desire - the Iron Throne itself.

Was this a deliberate choice by the dragon, creatures considered intelligent? Did it understand that the pointy sticky shiny chair was the symbolic cause of his Mum’s demise, even if the man who actually did is standing right there? Or did Drogon’s lizard brain articulate the thought that “if my Mum can’t have the throne, no one will”?

These are both narratively satisfying options, but I’ve been rewatching the scene over and over, and I’m still not entirely certain. Drogon certainly kept the heat on long enough to melt the Iron Throne from the face of the world, but he may have just chosen to catastrophically blast it because his mother was lying dead at its feet, or because it was the last object she touched.

And why didn’t he burn Jon? Simply because he’s a Targaryen and he passes the sniff test? Jon still stuck his Mum with the pointy end - why does Drogon let that fly?

I am, of course, generally pleased that the Iron Throne was reduced to a special effect from Terminator 2. I had long been thinking that had Daenerys become the conquering queen of Westeros - in a good way - she might tear down this relic of her ancestors, representative of the old world, and rebuild it or replace it with something more reflective of her new one.

Given I failed that trip through the Choose Your Own Adventure book, I’m content with a thorough meltdown, and hope something a lot more comfortable and modest takes its place.

But of everything in this episode, Drogon’s burning choices remains the most puzzling element to me in a way I’ll probably never be able to fully articulate.

Drogon scoops up Daenerys body, as tenderly as his massive back claw will allow, and takes flight, soaring out over the Blackwater, onward to places unknown. I suspect he will take her body to what’s left of Old Valyria, the ancient home of the Targaryens. As for Drogon, who knows? We find out later he’s been spotted flying east

As for Daenerys herself, I think back on that vision she had in the House of the Undying. Once she left the Throne Room, she found herself crossing under The Wall - which could be a reference to going north to fight White Walkers in season seven - but then walks into her old Dothraki yurt, to find Khal Drogo and their baby son waiting for her. Perhaps now her spirit, or soul, or whatever you believe in, has returned to the Night Lands to ride with them forever - or at least it will if Drogon burns her body.

This once again leaves me thinking of how important Dany’s Dothraki connection was to her identity. Where she once tried to tame some of their wilder raping and pillaging ways, she wound up delivering a victory the great Khals could only imagine. Dany never seemed particularly religious, she never mentioned allegiance to the Faith of the Seven, and it was Tyrion and Varys who got followers of Rh’llor the Lord of Light to help convince Slavers’ Bay cities that Dany was the real deal. So perhaps in death, as in her triumphant final victory, she was more Dothraki than anything else.

Or, as Jon indicated to Tyrion earlier, there’s nothing after death, and she’s just gone. But where’s the romance in that?


Then some time passes.

A heavily bearded and dishevelled Tyrion is roused from slumber and taken in chains by Grey Worm to the dragon pits of King’s Landing.

It’s fine, sunny day, with blue skies belying the winter season, and it turns out, the gang’s all here: the Starks from the North; Edmure Tully from the Riverlands; Sam Tarly representing either the Reach, or the Citadel, or the Night’s Watch, who knows; Yara Greyjoy from the Iron Islands; the sexy new Prince of Dorne; Brienne of Tarth; Ser Davos Seaworth, Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm’s End, woo-hoo; Yoan Royce from The Vale and HOLY SHIT IS THAT ROBIN ARRYN? OTT breastfeeding kid got HOT.


This is perhaps the most ridiculous GIF I've ever made.

But someone isn’t there - Jon. Sansa demands to know why he was not brought before the Great Council like Tyrion, and Grey Worm spits back that Jon is a prisoner of the Unsullied and they’ll decide what to do with him. Sansa replies that she has an army of Northmen outside the city ready to defend their one-time king.

Arya pulls a classic Arya move after Yara Greyjoy says the Ironborn pledged fealty to Daenerys, and would be happy for the Unsullied to give him what he deserves (oh BOY fill in your own Natalie-ism here).

“Say another word about killing my brother and I’ll cut your throat.” Good, clean threats from a good, clean assassin.

It’s Ser Davos - beautiful, lovely, cuddly Ser Davos - who prevents tensions boiling over by insisting they’ve been cuttin’ throats long enough and it’s time to find a better way. He tells Grey Worm that Westeros owes the Unsullied a debt for helping defeat the Night King, and suggests they take up residency in the Reach and start a dynasty. Somebody obviously failed to tell the Onion Knight that the Unsullied have no onions at all, not even a pair of shallots.

Besides, Grey Worm wants justice, not payment, for the brutal murder of their Queen.

Tyrion risks Grey Worm’s wrath by saying as Jon Snow committed his crime in King’s Landing, it’s up to the King or Queen of Westeros to decide his fate.

But there is no King or Queen, says the always helpful Yoan Royce, one of the noble lords who’s managed to skate through the series without any major incident (aside from losing a son in the first five minutes of the first ever episode, but whatevs).

Tyrion suggests the great lords and ladies assembled choose a monarch, and Grey Worm gruffly consents.

There’s a lot of blank stares and awkward silence as those gathered ponder their options. Eventually Edmure Tully breaks the tension with an inspired bit of comedy - putting his own name forward. The fact that it was Edmure was so, so perfect. We haven’t seen him in two seasons, he was a prisoner for most of the two seasons before that, and here he is, pitching himself as king.

He’s always been a buffoon, just a bit of a loser, really. Frankly he should be thankful he still has Riverrun. Remember when Homer Simpson stopped a nuclear meltdown by using “eeny, meeny, miny, mo” to press a button? In this world, to succeed despite idiocy is called “pulling an Edmure”.

When Sansa interrupts his flow to say “Uncle… please sit”, Edmure looks around the gathered nobles to find no one making eye contact.

He moves clunkily back to his seat, banging his sword on the chair in the process.

“We have to choose someone,” huffs Lord Royce.

“BUT DO WE?!?!”

Up steps Sam Tarly, to pitch a radical new idea - representative democracy.

“Since the decision we make will affect everyone, maybe it should be made by everyone?”

It’s a beautiful dream, Tarly, but you’re so far ahead of your time you’re practically H.G. Samwells.

There’s a pause of introspection as the lords and ladies consider Sam’s suggestion.

Then…. laughter. Laughter all around. Guffaws and giggles, and Sam looking a bit embarrassed through it all.

I loved this. It’s long been a joke that Westeros should ditch this Iron Throne palaver, and move towards one person, one vote. But it’s not that world, not yet. The concept of low-born people having a say in government remains is literally laughable to them, giving the whole moment a lovely touch of Monty Python about it.

When the chuckles die down, Edmure Tully challenges Tyrion about his desire for the Throne, but Tyrion is like no way, bro, ain’t nobody gonna pimp for this imp.

However everyone seems to be looking to Tyrion for an answer, so he starts talking about all the time he’s had to think since being locked up on the day of Dany’s death.

He says what unites people is not gold, nor armies, nor flags, but stories. No enemy can defeat a good story, and with his disability, his adventures beyond the Wall, and deep Three-Eyed Raven knowledge of history, who has a better one than Bran the Broken?

Sansa raises the objection that Bran cannot father children, but Tyrion sees that as nothing but a positive. Sansa knows what douchebags entitled sons can be as much as Tyrion; both were subjected to Joffrey’s violent delights.

He tells Grey Worm that was the wheel Daenerys wanted to break, the wheel of the unquestioned transfer of power. He tells the assembled lords and ladies that from now on, they shall choose the rulers of Westeros, making it at the very least, a meritocracy. Which is perhaps the best Westeros can expect.

He then entreats Bran to take the title, despite knowing he does not want it. There’s a pause before Bran declares “Why do you think I came all this way?”

It’s CHEESY and I LOVE IT and I DON’T CARE.

Bran is a great option for king. He’s entwined through all the major story events, but not so close to be irrevocably tainted by them. For instance, it could never be Jon Snow; he’s a Queenslayer now. Yes, he’s the rightful heir, but “rightful” only by blood, and we’ve just seen the lords and ladies accept a new system in which blood rights aren’t as important. And yes, Jon is rightful by nature too (and by sheer good looks alone, let’s be real), but this is all about going in a new direction.

Yes, there are a bunch of questions that crop up, such as, if Bran knew how this would all play out, did he act in ways to ensure it? Does that speak to a certain ambition? Why was it so important for Jon to learn his true heritage, if it wasn’t about putting him on the throne? Did Bran engineer the situation so Jon would have to kill Dany? Isn’t that a bit douchey? And what about letting Dany go nuts and kill tens of thousands of King’s Landing residents? Isn’t that a bit mega-douchey?

I honestly believe Bran doesn’t have wants or desires anymore, just a sense of how things should be, and a passive will for making that happen. Clearly a dragon massacre and Jon Snow’s eternal guilt was the price Westeros had to pay for peace.

At least now they’ll all have a king whom it won’t be worth trying to fight. You won’t be able to convince him your neighbour stole your cows when he can clearly eyeroll back to when they fell into quicksand and you thought you’d try to make a quick buck by blaming Creepy Joe McBeefeater instead.

Tyrion says he votes “aye” to Bran the Broken (really not mincing words with that epithet), and the rest of the gang echo him. “I’m not sure I get a vote, but aye”, says Ser Davos, once again being simply adorable.

It’s Sansa who stops proceedings, telling her brother she loves him and he’ll be a good king, but she has to put the North first. Tens of thousands of Northmen died protecting the rest of the country; the rest won’t ever want to bend the knee again. “The North will remain an independent kingdom,” she declares, and Bran nods his assent.

“All hail Bran the Broken, [all other titles and honours], Ruler of the SIX Kingdoms,” Tyrion intones, and the rest stand to affirm it.

Thinking his work is done, Tyrion makes to head back to his cell, to await the judgement of the new king. But Bran already knows just how perfectly to punish Tyrion - to make him his Hand.

Oh Gods, no, please, no, Tyrion begs, I don’t deserve it, I don’t want it, make it anybody but me.

Grey Worm is also perturbed. He believes Tyrion needs punishment, but Bran knows just how much of a punishment he’s getting.

“He’s made many terrible mistakes. He’s going to spend his life fixing them.”

Sucked in, Tyrion, but also, hooray. It really is the best possible use of him, the master politician, who by convincing the lords and ladies to elect Bran king enacted his old friend Varys’ favourite aphorism: that power resides where men believe it resides. Now, Bran has returned the favour, making him serve the Realm as Varys once did. And Tyrion must wear his position like a hair shirt; he must never assume he’s right again.

But Grey Worm still isn’t happy; the Unsullied require more justice.

Cut to a small, dank prison cell, in which Jon Snow has been locked for long enough to finally shed the restrictive man bun that had been preventing his luscious curls from flowing freely.

Tyrion tells him since the Unsullied wanted him dead, and the Starks wanted him free, they have compromised and agreed to send him to the Night’s Watch. Jon’s somewhat taken aback that there still is a Night’s Watch, given the few remaining members seemed to get wiped out at the Battle of Winterfell.

“The world will always need a place for bastards and broken men,” Tyrion says. Charming, little lion, charming. Can’t you see Jon is both right now? He needs soothing, perhaps a sensual massage, to get over his self-hatred. “Was it right, what I did?” he asks. “What WE did,” Tyrion corrects him. “It doesn’t feel right,” Jon says, all furrowed brow and unkempt sexyface.


Don't mind me creeping.

“Ask me in ten years,” says Tyrion. It’s to Tyrion’s credit that while he believes what he did was right, he doesn’t yet have proof that it was actually was. Together, he and Jon Snow took down a tyrant. But has the wheel really been broken? Only time can tell on that one.

So as Tyrion leaves, he places a reassuring hand on Jon’s shoulder, the same way Jon had grabbed his shoulder in the prison cell after Tyrion quit as Hand of the King. It’s a gesture of brotherhood, of having Been Through Some Shit and Somehow Come Out The Other Side.

Jon says flatly they probably won’t see each other again; but in true Tyrion style, he quips that a few years as Hand would many anyone want to piss off the edge of the world.

Later, Jon is released from custody, and thankfully his hair retains its freedom too.

Now I’m not suggesting that Jon Snow is merely a mop of delicious black curls atop some ravishing #abs and seductive #junkmound.

But that did not stop me from creating this ridiculously silly video tribute to Jon Snow’s alpha-keratin protein filaments:

On his way to say his goodbyes, Jon passes Grey Worm, who’s still giving him the stink-eye over killing Daenerys, and look, fair enough. That scar is going to take longer to heal than the one I got from a jellyfish sting while swimming in Ha Long Bay ten years ago. Tell you what, that was some fiery pain. I thought for a moment I might die, but when the young Australian doctor who was also on our tour shrugged, said “She’ll be fine” and f***ed off below deck to read a book without even looking at the ugly stain on my forearm, I figured I’d be OK.

Despite Grey Worm telling the Great Council that King’s Landing was “our city now”, the Unsullied appear to be packing ship and getting the hell out. Grey Worm tells his second-in-command their destination is Naath, and we all go “Nawwwww, he’s keeping his promise to Missandei” and going to see her home island.

That’s a sweet and neat wrap-up for Grey Worm - perhaps his Unsullied will return; perhaps they’ll stay on Naath; perhaps they’ll hire themselves out as mercenaries acros Essos - who knows. Either way they’ll cease to exist as a concept eventually; given Dany stopped the slave trade that created them, and they won’t be creating any more people the traditional way.

Jon takes the long way around to the jetty, allowing us plenty of time to really absorb the majesty of his midnight-coloured mane.

Sansa asks for his forgiveness for not finding a way to free him; Jon replies she secured the North’s freedom, and that’s more important. Sansa says they lost their king; he says Ned Stark’s daughter is more than up to the task. Jon is essentially apologising to Sansa for the lack of trust he had with her at times; not to mention the hostility he showed her when it came to Daenerys. Sansa knows it too; at the end of the day he is truly her brother.

Arya started getting in touch with her emotions at the very end of “The Bells”, when she realised she was the only survivor of a dragon blast, and let a single tear slip from her eyes in shock and grief.

She does the same here as she tells Jon she won’t be visiting him at Castle Black, because she’s not going North, because she has to find out what’s west of Westeros. Years ago, he gave her a wry smile as he gave her Needle; he does the same again when asking if she still has it.

They embrace tightly, and Jon seems reluctant to let go of his crazy, independent, definitely non-ladylike little sis. But he knows she knows her own mind; she always was the most like her adventurous aunt Lyanna Stark, Jon’s own mother. If anyone can survive a trip into the unknown it’s Arya - gods know she’s done it before.

Jon kneels before Bran, and offers his apologies to the new king for not being there when he needed him. Who knows what occasions this could refer to: when Theon attacked Winterfell; when Bran headed north; when Bran lost Hodor to the wights; when Bran was alone in the Godswood with the Night King; when Bran was finding out about Jon being Dany’s nephew right at the moment of boatsex.

“You were exactly where you needed to be,” Bran smiles back at Jon. Really? He needed to be butt-nekkid on a boat with his auntie? I suppose I should stop banging on about this now, given that the banging on in question has stopped forever.

Jon gives another rueful smile, and turns to take the tender out to his vessel, which will whisk him away forever.

Sigh. I wish Jon Snow would whisk at my tender vessel.

This scene has a touch of The Return of the King about it, you know the one where Frodo has about 18 goodbyes? Confession - I’ve never read the books myself, but I feel like Peter Jackson could’ve snipped a few farewells out of that sucker. Although at least this episode’s goodbyes didn’t seem to be in super slow motion, even though I’ve experimented with a number of filters and Jon Snow looks good at any speed.


Please understand the madness that was involved in this recap process.

We cut to perhaps the most touching moment of this whole episode - Ser Brienne completing Jaime’s entry in the Who’s Who of the Kingsguard. Sure, there’s fun to be had with the idea of Brienne scrawling THIS GUY PASHED & DASHED, but Brienne is a woman of honour. She has always loved Jaime selflessly, and despite her despair at his leaving her, she would have understood his twisted reasons why. She may never forget the sting of it, but she clearly can forgive. That’s what love lets you do.

Also, the fact that she’s even writing in the book shows she’s head of the Kingsguard now, something that didn’t even occur to me on my first watch of the episode. I just thought she did it because she’s awesome. But yes, the reason she’s in armour, decorated with raven motifs, is because she has now fulfilled her dream of becoming a Kingsguard (albeit to a different king).

We see her in elegant commander mode when she brings Bran in to a Small Council meeting, a scene that played with a delightful amount of humour and whimsy for me.

Tyrion begins alone, at the old table they always used to sit at, in a Red Keep which is already suspiciously rebuilt. Clearly the King’s Landing masons need to unionise because that clearly indicates rushed construction deadlines. Maybe it’s two, three months after the burning of King’s Landing, how could repairs be done so quickly without cranes?

In a callback to that wonderful moment in season three when Tyrion deliberately messes with Tywin’s seating arrangements, he now tries to restore order around the table, shifting the messy seats into alignment with each other. Is he just doing something with his hands to combat nerves, or getting an insight into why his father appreciated order? And this is his chance not just to impress, but to actually do some good. The reformed messy drunken whoremonger has Marie Kondo’d himself.

Of course, the new Small Council charge and immediately wreck Tyrion’s work, dragging the chairs out and plonking their buttocks roughly down at all angles. Sam Tarly, now the Grandmaester (big promotion!) presents Tyrion with Archmaester Ebrose’s completed work detailing the wars following the death of King Robert Baratheon - newly retitled “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

This wink to the audience was somewhat cringeworthy, but it was Sam doing it, and he’s got the charming chops to make it not totally awful. The fact that Tyrion is not even mentioned in the chronicle is absolutely perfect. Just like he got no credit for saving King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, there’s no reference to his even greater role as adviser to the Dragon Queen Daenerys, and not even an acknowledgement of his status as a Lannister. It reflects the fact that sometimes history skips over important contributions for… what else...but the sake of the story. Tyrion can’t be too unhappy with that.

Ser Brienne and Ser Podrick Payne - also now in the Kingsguard! - bring in Bran, who seems to be taking being king in his stride… er, wrong metaphor. Let’s say he’s rolling with it, asking about the positions of Master of War and Master of Whisperers, and offering to go have a scout about to see if he can locate Drogon.

I love the touch of disorganisation as Bran leaves, the messy and out of sync hail of “Long may he reign!” and Tyrion’s apologetic “That will improve!” as Pod wheels Bran out.

The team then get on to issues of the day, including the need for an overhaul of the sewers, the rebuilding of ships under new Master of Ships Ser Davos Seaworth (nominative determinism strikes again!), and the small matter of the Crown’s debt.

This is where Bronn comes in, the new Lord of Highgarden, Warden of the East, and Master of Coin. His elevation to lordship over the richest part of the Six Kingdoms means he’s quite happy to clear the Crown’s debts and allow them to run up a new one. However he wants to ensure the money is spent wisely, on such important social services like brothels, as opposed to the country’s navy.

I know it’s fairly unlikely that a character like Bronn would truly triumph in these sorts of situations; but then, these aren’t the regular sorts of situations. And I love that Bronn’s scoundrel nature has stayed on point the whole series. He hasn’t had a change in morals or ideals - he’s still only interested in his own game. Bless you, Bronn. You will keep life interesting in the capital while no doubt making a lot of interest.

The little arguments and spats the group has as the camera pans back filled me with glee. The scene only cut away when Tyrion once again began his famous joke: “I once took a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel…” People have tried to create the punchline, but I’m OK never knowing. It’s like the suitcase in Pulp Fiction - it doesn’t matter what’s actually in it, only that it’s worth it.

Up north, Jon makes it to Castle Black to find the one, the only, TORMUND GIANTSBANE waiting for him like a loyal orang utan. The sight of his old friend makes Jon think maybe this life isn’t going to be so bad after all. How COULD it be, with Tormund around?

The show ends with a stunning montage of shots of the Stark/Snow siblings setting off on the next chapters of their lives. Jon is reunited with Ghost, who FINALLY gets the pats he deserves (although really should get that torn ear seen to), as well as the remaining Free Folk.

Arya rolls up her maps and telescopes and begins tracking west onboard a sturdy ships flying the Stark banners. She never speaks, but I’d bet money she was thinking “Bring me that horizon.”

Sansa is formally dressed in steel grey, with a motif of the blood red leaves of the weirwood tree stitched into her sleeves. She is crowned Queen in the North with her hair down, no hairstyles left to famously copy. I’ve long drawn parallels between Sansa and one of my favourite women of history, Elizabeth I, and here it is most obvious. At her coronation, Elizabeth wore her hair loose and long, the symbol of virginity. Sansa had her virginity brutally taken from her, but what she is showing here is still her purity. She is the right woman for the job, the right STARK for the job, and her flowing hair shows she has no airs and graces about it.

But also -

The sides of her throne are carved direwolf sigils of House Stark! It’s a tiny detail, but a lovely one. The Northern throne is not flashy or threatening; just strong, solid and no-nonsense, like the people who live there.

To see Sansa crowned Queen filled my with mixed emotions. I am so proud of the woman she is, for navigating her way through messed-up teenage years in which her agency and dignity was often stripped from her. She has held firm to her identity and created duty and purpose where she once had dreams and fantasies. She always wanted to be a Queen, and now she is a proper one, not a decorative ornament on some king’s arm.

And yet, she has become harder, more brittle. It is a consequence of the lessons she’s learned, and how she’s had to act to survive. As much as we all hated snobby little Sansa, she was still an innocent girl. She lost that innocence and it left a mark. I think she has a wise head on her shoulders; I pray to the Old Gods she always uses it.

Finally, my beloved Jon Snow.

Perceptive readers may have picked up on subtle hints over the past eight years or so that I have always rather fancied Jon. Go back, re-read, you might spot them. Sure, he’s made some rash decisions, and sure, his choice of lady friends leaves a lot to be desired, but he is still my scrumptious coal-haired love duvet.

So while he did not end up on the Iron Throne - and indeed, his true identity as Aegon Targaryen seemed to barely matter - I was deeply contented with Jon’s cyclical story conclusion.

He had wanted to become a Ranger in the Night’s Watch, to be the shield that guards the realms of men. Events conspired to keep him away from Ranger status, but bumped up to Lord Commander, and to do something no other Lord Commander managed - make peace with the Free Folk. And now, to the Night’s Watch he returns, to help get the Free Folk established back in their home lands, having helped them leave when the White Walkers threatened.

Jon’s look back at the closing gate of the tunnel under The Wall was vague enough to suggest that he himself might be turning away from life in the south, as Tormund always reminds him, and heading out into the real North. Perhaps the Night’s Watch still exists, perhaps it’s being rebuilt, perhaps it doesn’t need Jon.

Either way, he’s a free man. Not a reluctant king, nor a tortured bastard, nor a devotee to a misguided homicidal queen. The corners of his mouth lift ever slightly upwards as he turns back to face the Haunted Forest, the place where so many years ago the White Walkers made their first big attack for thousands of years.

Now he returns there with Free Folk, including many children, Ghost alongside him once more. There’s even a green shoot of a plant in the ground, indicating that perhaps spring is on its way. But even if winter comes again, Jon will be there to guard the realms of men.


Yay! Best Moments

Epic moments such as Dany’s death and Drogon’s rage sat beautifully alongside the quiet and contemplative, such as Brienne finishing Jaime’s story.

Zing! Best Lines

“Did you bring any wine?” Tyrion has his priorities in place when facing death.

Eww, gross

The only thing I can think of is that the *real* ending for all of the characters who were at King’s Landing the day Daenerys burned it is that they all wind up in hospital with mesothelioma because by the gods they all would have inhaled a lot of ash and debris. That can’t be good for the lungs.

Booo, sucks

IT’S *deep breath* OVER.

I have loved this show, loved the characters, and loved the story, whatever was thrown at me, even when it was a bit undercooked (like the Dornish storyline in season five), or slightly rushed (arguably like portions of both seasons seven and eight).

But I don’t know if I’m right anymore. I have tried to avoid commentary while finishing this utter bastard of a recap, but you’d have to hermit yourself in a cave (please, Jon, let’s do this) to avoid all discourse on the final season.

Many have issues, and it’s not my place to dismiss the hurt feelings of others. We all have ideas in our heads about things that don’t wind up happening. Look at the cognitive dissonance many Australian voters felt after the May 18 election, which was won by the party widely tipped to lose badly.

The fact that George R.R. Martin’s books weren’t complete meant that the showrunners and writers had to create their own final journey, one that would work for television. That meant certain changes narratively, no doubt. But it also meant we ALL got to experience something for the first time, the book readers and the TV watchers. We weren’t just watching a story you knew unfold beautifully onscreen, like The Lord of the Rings. We were all invested in the unknown ending. We all had passion.

When I think back to that meeting in that community hall, what I remember is everybody being invested in a pathway, but with radically different ideas on how to walk that path - or where it should end up. What we picture in our heads can sometimes be the only version of truth as we expect it, the only way things would be “good”. But to paraphrase Jon’s final question to Dany, what about everyone else? What about what they think is good?

I was asked after Game of Thrones concluded what lesson I had taken from the series, and my answer was instant:: life is shades of grey. Not the 50 dodgy fake-porno BDSM ones, but real, maddening, complicated shades of light and dark. Bad people can do good things. Good people can do bad things. We are shaped by events we cannot control, and yet we all have immense potential to both create and destroy.

No ending to Game of Thrones was ever going to be perfect. But what we got were some perfectly painted shades of grey.

And look, I’m biased, I always have been a rabid one-eyed fan who has loved and hated these characters and stories since the beginning. So you shouldn’t make up your mind based on what I say. Because I simply can’t hate a show that makes me feel this much emotion at its end.

Thank you, beloved Throners, for your patience and your support.

Our watch has ended... but we will never be over, you and I.

6 Responses to ‘Got Raven On Recap: S8E6 "The Iron Throne"’

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30
"Perhaps Tyrion can be the little putsch he needs." I see what you did there you WWII punning genius you!

Wow, just wow. Your recap was amazing. I said that last week's was probably your best recap yet, but I was wrong, THIS recap is your best work, and I loved every bit of it. Congratulations on coming to the end of your long watch, and for ending it with such a thorough, loving and thoughtful analysis. You thoroughly deserve to go sleep for a week now.

Our watch has ended, but you will always be my Mother of Kittens. Valar morghulis. Until the next show to be granted the gift of your recapping genius!

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted May 30
You. Are. Amazing!

Thank you, Natalie, for sharing your passion, wit, and love with us.

It has been an honor.

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Oldy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30
It's been very instructive to me to realise, in the week and a half since the final episode, that it's the characters I'll miss the most.

It was a long and winding tale that ventured, often, into places I'd rather it didn't, but it's Arya and Sandor and Brienne and Jaime (yeah, really) and Tyrion and on and on that I'll miss.

Good job, George, David and Dan.

And cheers for your terrific recaps :)

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted May 30
What a magnificent achievement, not just this recap but your passionate toil on this whole series. Well done. I am sadder the show has ended more because it means no more for you to recap rather than the end of the show itself.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted May 31
Could not agree more. The only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that our MoK will find another show to recap (no pressure Nat!)

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jl puts forth...

Posted June 2
That was lovely. I have so enjoyed these recaps over the years. -J

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Respond to 'Got Raven On Recap: S8E6 "The Iron Throne"'

GoT S8E6: "The Iron Throne" Hot Take Pre-Recap

Posted May 21 into Raven On by girlclumsy

I GASPED. I CRIED. I UGLY CRIED. I LAUGHED.

AND I LOVED EVERY MOMENT.

Beloved Throners, I am so, so pleased with that final episode. There was no perfectly happy ending for everyone (because this is Game of Thrones, you were never going to get that). There were, in fact, mostly new beginnings and challenges.

But it was soothing, and I left the world contented. I did not feel like I had been messed with.

I believe this recap, like the previous ones this season, will take me some time, so I wanted to provide an initial set of thoughts and reactions to help fill the gap.

So here ‘tis, a Not-Necessarily-in-Numerical-Order-of-Occurrence-or-Preference, Just-A-Top-Ten-Hot-Take-of-Amazing-Things-That-Happened-Pre-Recap-Recap.


1. TYRION FINDS THE BODIES

This was an acting masterclass from the impeccable Peter Dinklage. Determined to go alone to the Red Keep to see if his brother managed to smuggle his sister out safely, he ends up deep beneath it, where the plummeting structure hit hardest.

Yes, it’s somewhat convenient that in all that mess he can spot his brother’s golden hand - but it still made my heart ache for him. Anguish and tears follow when he digs in enough to reveal their beautiful and miraculously-not-too-busted-up faces. He loathed his sister, but she was still family, and of course Jaime was his best friend and ally. His grief is palpable and real.

2. EVERYONE GETS SCARED

Daenerys’ speech to her all-conquering Dothraki and Unsullied armies is fierce and frightening. She thanks the Dothraki for keeping their promises to kill men in iron suits and burn stone houses; she calls the Unsullied liberators and vows they will not put down their spears until they repeat this “liberation” all over the world.

Ummm, hey, that’s new Dany, what is this rejigged plan, lady? The Dothraki and Unsullied seem pleased - as does her new Master of War Grey Worm - but Arya and Jon watch on with mounting horror, and Tyrion manages to rip off his Hand of the Queen badge in disgust before being seized for committing treason.

Later, Jon visits Tyrion to have the awful conversation about what Dany has become. Tyrion’s statement that she had a series of victories over evil men - and that “we cheered her on” - which resulted in her believing she was ultimately good, was a key summation of the problem with Daenerys’ journey. At some point she crossed a line, but when was it? After which surprising and triumphant display of power? It was also a nod to us as the audience - we ALL cheered Dany along the way. We agreed with the accepted wisdom that she was destined for not just “greatness”, but “goodness”. We were like Tyrion; thinking we were right, but ultimately misdirected.

It’s Tyrion’s unfortunate duty to tell an overwrought Jon all of this - although I would point out here that if Jon had NOT been having doubts, he would not have visited Tyrion at all. If he was committed to all the Queen’s wishes, he would have let sleeping lions lie.

Jon is not convinced Dany is the monster Tyrion accuses her of being; he still hopes for a different path. He hopes with every fibre of his sexy, rugged, being. He keeps hoping and he keeps hoping and he’s straining right at the crotch…. Sorry, what was I saying?

3. JON SNOW KILLS DAENERYS TARGARYEN

Full of passion, lament, despair and proper tragedy, Jon made the ultimate big call - killing his once and always Queen. Daenerys had touched the Iron Throne, but in a moment of self-reflection, chose to ponder her childhood focus on its size and alluded to it not being as imposing as her imagination had constructed it, particularly with the debris of the Red Keep around it.

So Dany never sat in it, never felt the discomfort of its shape and feel. Instead, she tried to convince Jon to join her in her quest to free all the enslaved peoples of the world, following a series of rules she laid out, because she knew what was right and good.

Jon gave her numerous chances to prove his loyalty wrong, to show that she was capable of change and compromise after this horrific unjustified slaughter. “What about all the other people, who think they know what’s good?” he asks. “They don’t get to choose,” comes the reply, and Dany’s fate is sealed. With a deep kiss, he plunges his dagger into her heart, the most awkward incestuous kiss since Princess Leia laid the smackers on Luke Skywalker.

Dany dies in disbelief, the same way Jon himself went at the end of Season 5. He too was tricked and stabbed in the heart, and like Jon, Dany’s corpse weeps blood over a white ground, only this time it was ash instead of snow.

Vale Daenerys Targaryen. You’ll always be my mighty Khaleesi turned Khal-EEEEEK-si.

4. DROGON MOURNS AND BURNS

What utter heartbreak I suffered when Drogon, sensing the loss of his mother, nudged her body with his nose, trying to rouse her. His reaction to roar in anger was understandable, but why did he choose the Iron Throne as his target for revenge burning? We take it that he can sniff out Jon’s blood as Targaryen, thus preventing him from sending Jon out of this world, Varys-style. But although dragons are intelligent, is Drogon capable of understanding what the Iron Throne is, or means, or how it is in a fairly direct way responsible for Mumma going night-night?

I’m more inclined to think he could detect the scent Daenerys left by touching the throne, the last thing she ever touched, and turned his fury on it.

The way he scooped up her body tenderly in one giant claw was also heart-breaking. He flew off, destination unknown, with his mother. In my mind, he’s returned to Valyria, the original city of the Targaryens. He knows how to get there; Tyrion and Jorah saw him flying over it in Season 5. I think he has taken Dany back to her ancestral home; the home of the blood of the dragons.


5. KING BRAN THE BROKEN

A twist that some may have seen coming (especially Bran himself, the clever clogs), but one that I admit I was delighted to have thrust upon me (now if only Jon Snow would thrust himself etc etc), happened in the extraordinarily calm blue daylight some weeks post-Destructathon.

Tyrion is brought before a meeting of The Great Council of Fine High Lords and Ladies and Fancy People and Wait Isn’t That the Way-Too-Old-To-Be Breastfed Kid from The Vale and WTF Was He Off Getting Queer-Eyed or Something This Whole Time Because Damn?


That slap Sansa gave him sure worked a treat.

Grey Worm wants to execute both Tyrion and Jon Snow; Tyrion, as always, uses his words. With no King or Queen, he suggests Bran, the 2TB Hard Drive of Westeros, accept the Crown under a new system in which rulers are elected by the council, rather than inherit the title. Bran’s “Why do you think I came all this way?” response to Tyrion’s entreaty was super cheesy but I LOVED IT and I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK.

Let’s not forget the hilarious moment in which Sam Tarly - present one imagines as the heir to Horn Hill, but also possibly because of his connections to the Citadel - suggests that perhaps everyone should have a say in choosing the ruler because, I dunno, it ends up affecting everyone eventually.

There’s a solemn silence and some serious looks, before everyone bursts out laughing.

Given Australia had an election just two days before this episode which left a number of people fairly dirty at democracy in general, I found this moment quite cathartic.

You don’t jump from absolute monarchy to democracy in half a day in the dragon pits. The compromise agreed to here was much more achievable in this medieval-esque world.

I know some people may be unhappy it wasn’t Jon who wound up on the Throne - what was the point of all that Targaryen/Stark lineage if not to see him take his rightful place? But by what right? He killed a queen; perhaps he no longer has a right. The good he did in taking out Dany does not wipe clean the stain of her blood on his hands.

Besides, it’s not unprecedented. Maester Aemon of Castle Black gave up the throne to become a Maester and serve the Night’s Watch. It was no accident that Maester Aemon was the fellow who told Jon “Love is the death of duty”, the very line Jon quoted to Tyrion in that earlier scene.

6. EDMURE TULLY’S TIGHT FIVE

As a brief aside, I have to mention this, for it brought me much mirth.

Step forth, Edmure Tully, Lord of Riverrun, veteran of two wars and a lengthy imprisonment, groom at the Red Wedding, general toff, man of no real consequence and Westeros’ newest stand-up comedian.

Faced with general silence at the Great Council about whom should be the next king, good old Edmure shakes off two years of irrelevance and delivers the funniest pitch for selection since ex-rugby league player Mal Meninga announced in 2001 he was running for office - only to quit 28 seconds later.

“Sit down, Uncle,” came the polite but firm directive from his supremely serene niece, Sansa. Edmure even stumbled backwards into his chair, his nascent ambition neatly thwarted.

His appearance though did beg the question - where WERE you when Winterfell was under attack by the White Walkers, Eddy? Why did you not send your troops to your nieces’ aid? There has never been a wetter blanket than poor Edmure Tully, but at least he had a shining moment as a brilliant court jester.


7. JON REUNITES WITH TORMUND AND GHOST

Reader, I lost it.

Ned Stark was almost exiled to the Night’s Watch way back in Season 1; it’s where he would have gone for committing treason had Joffrey not been a right little shit and decided to snick off his head. There’s a bittersweet logic to Jon being sent back there, despite having already given his life to it, and despite the very real issue that the Night’s Watch has effectively ceased to exist despite Tyrion’s insistence that there must always be a place for bastards and broken men.

But still, Castle Black is where Tormund Giantsbane and Ghost are, where the rest of the Free Folk are, waiting for the worst of the winter snows to pass before moving back north. It’s a joy to see them again - and for Ghost to finally get his well-deserved pats. Good doggo, Ghost. Good doggo.

We last see Jon accompanying Tormund the Free Folk out beyond the Wall, the place where the whole story began. Is he leaving the Night’s Watch behind, and becoming a true northerner? Is he simply doing his duty and protecting them? Either way, one thing is certain - he’s fully Jon Snow now. He’s part Stark, part Targaryen, but none of that really matters, perhaps it never did. He’s Jon Snow - good man, one-time Jesus impersonator, regretful Auntie-shagger-and-dagger, but his own person, wearing what he is like armour, so it can never be used to hurt him.

How do we know?

BECAUSE HE IS NO LONGER HOSTAGE TO THE MAN BUN.

BEHOLD THE GLORY OF THE RETURNED LUSTROUS FULL HEAD OF HAIR.


Glorious. Glorious. And Jon's also beautiful.


8. STARK SISTERS REPRESENT

Queen in the North!

Arya the Explorya!

Sansa firmly negotiates with her brother - and new king - to keep the north as an independent state. It’s convenient for her, sure, because as Jon Snow has been banished, she will be the head of this renewed state.

But she’s doing it for the right reasons - for her people - and also, DAMMMMNNNN MY GIRL DESERVES IT. She always wanted to be a Queen, but a Queen from fairy tales, who wore pretty frocks and served lemon cakes and stood proudly but dumbly next to a King.

Everything Sansa has experienced and learned has put her in the best position to be the best ruler the North could ever hope for.

And hopefully with her bro on the ? Throne (no more Iron, remember), there will be good relations between the North and the new Six Kingdoms, and the North won’t just huddle itself away and get more insular.

Sansa’s changing hairstyles have always been a talking point in the show, which is why I loved seeing her go full Elizabeth I for her coronation: magnificent, free-flowing red hair:

Arya also got a new ‘do, but she opted for a tightly braided bun, very practical for seafaring.

Arya once told Lady Crane, the actor who played Cersei in that Braavosi theatre troupe, that she would like to see what’s west of Westeros, beyond where the maps end.

And so she does; flying a Stark sigil on her sails, she heads into the unknown once more. She has grown used to a life on the move, and she isn’t about to stop now.

9. BRIENNE GRABS A PEN

In the musical Hamilton, George Washington sings to the petulant Alexander Hamilton that “You have no control/who lives who dies who tells your story”.

Lucky then for Jaime that he had Brienne still watching his back, despite his midnight bolt from their cosy bed at Winterfell.

She takes it upon herself to fill in all the blank pages of Jaime’s entry in the Kingsguard history book - and doesn’t even cast a little bit of shade. She paints him as the man of honour she knew, even when it comes to his death. “Protecting his Queen” is true, sure, but so is “Slipping Back Into Toxic Twincest”. Brienne is nothing if not tactful. I love that she becomes head of Bran’s Kingsguard - once again, she’s the best and most deserving person for the job.


10. THE SMALL COUNCIL NEEDS A SPIN-OFF

The final scene of the new Small Council is GLORIOUS COMEDY and I will not hear a word against it.

From the members wrecking Tyrion’s carefully straightened chairs, to Sam’s pride in his
A Song of Ice and Fire book title, Tyrion’s disbelief at not being mentioned (typical), and the clunky “Long May He Reign” (which will get better, we promise) farewell to Bran, it was a delight.

Sure, Bronn got his Highgarden position a little too easily, but he’s the Master of Coin now! And he wants to rebuild brothels instead of ships! And Ser Davos survived, and is brilliant, and even calls back to Stannis when he corrects Bronn’s grammar. And Podrick Payne has been KNIGHTED!

Bran’s special abilities mean he probably doesn’t need to attend small council meetings - he can just read the mental minutes anytime. But it’s a good sign that he’s there, even for a little while, before deciding he’d like to try to find Drogon. A good move? Who knows. It’s probably worth having a bit of an idea what the world’s remaining nuclear weapon is doing.

Finally Tyrion gets to have another crack at telling his favourite joke:

“I once took a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel…”

But the action cuts away before he can deliver the punchline. Does anyone have one? My attempt is thus:

“The madam said ‘What do you plan to do with those?’ and I said ‘Hind your own beeswax’!”

Look, it’s not great. But the best and shortest I could come up with.

------

I hope you've enjoyed reading this Hot Take Pre-Recap Recap - I'll be back with a full recap as soon as I possibly can! Don't forget this is your last chance to get onboard my Patreon if you want to support my writing. Thank you so much.

8 Responses to ‘GoT S8E6: "The Iron Throne" Hot Take Pre-Recap’

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted May 21
I did enjoy this pre-recap.

But "waiting for the worst of the winter snows to pass before moving back north". Isn't Westeros about to enter a 'long winter' in that case shouldn't they be waiting a long time?

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted May 21
I loved it too, I found it a satisfying conclusion to the story.

I'm so glad that you brought Drogon up, because that whole scene made me wonder how sentient the dragons are? When he first nudged her body it was like Simba trying to wake his dad up (there's a meme doing the rounds on this which is oddly heartbreaking), but choosing to destroy the throne and not the man who actually murdered his mother was super fascinating. Did Drogon understand that it was her pursuit of that chair that destroyed Dany, or did he just not want to kill the only other human he liked, and so destroyed something randomly, which happened to be the throne? But then, if he was just a dumb animal, why pick up her body and fly away with it?

The question of dragon sentience really got me wondering about the scene where Drogon went to the trouble of getting up out of his mound of ash when Jon walked past him to say "hey cuz, 'sup?" Was Drogon one of the many beings who loved Dany who was worried about her state of mind? I NEED ANSWERS!

Also GOOD DOGGO GHOST!! PATS FOR GHOST!!

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Oldy mutters...

Posted May 21
I loved the conclusion. And that small council reminded me of the Vicar of Dibley (which of course is where The Greatjon came from).

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Oldy mumbles...

Posted May 21
Also - Tyrion's joke:

Tyrion walks into a brothel with a honeycomb and a jackass.
Madame: What can we do for you?

Tyrion: I need a woman to lay with, for mine has left me.
Madame: Whatever for? And what's with the honeycomb and the mule?

Tyrion: My woman found a genie in a bottle, and he granted her three wishes. The first was for a house fit for a queen, so he gave her this damn honeycomb. The second wish was that she have the nicest ass in all the land, so he gave her this damn donkey...

Madame: And what about the third wish?
Tyrion: Well... she asked the genie to make my cock hang down past my knee.

Madame: Well that one's not so bad eh?
Tyrion: Not so bad!? I used to be six foot three!

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girlclumsy puts forth...

Posted May 21
I've seen that version of the joke doing the rounds on the internet - Lehmo actually a version of it too on Thrones 360 Live.

I didn't want to use somebody else's created joke in my recap without credit, so I invented my own punchline.

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Sparty puts forth...

Posted May 21
Just a shout out to all the burgers - based on various recommendations here many winters ago (2008?) - (quite a few years before the TV series) - got into the books - so felt so much "ownership" since the first pilot!
Doubt i would have got into it quite the same way without that early "burger" driven start...

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Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted May 22
I dunno what I'm going to miss more - the show or the recaps!

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted May 23
Recaps

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Respond to 'GoT S8E6: "The Iron Throne" Hot Take Pre-Recap'

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 asserts...

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 has opinions thus...

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 asserts...

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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Respond to 'Raven On Recap: GoT S8E5 "The Bells"'

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 is gonna tell you...

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 ducks in to say...

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 would have you know...

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 would have you know...

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 asserts...

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 reckons...

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 puts forth...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 asserts...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 mutters...

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 mutters...

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 ducks in to say...

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 would have you know...

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

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 puts forth...

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 has opinions thus...

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.

Thank you to everyone for reading, but in particular my gorgeous Patreon subscibers, including:

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

jl puts forth...

Posted April 23
As always, an awesome recap!

girlclumsy asserts...

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

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Rhino puts forth...

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 mutters...

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

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struds is gonna tell you...

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 mutters...

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 ducks in to say...

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 puts forth...

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 would have you know...

Posted April 25
Please stop encouraging him.

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Barnesm puts forth...

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 reckons...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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

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Dave puts forth...

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 ducks in to say...

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 is gonna tell you...

Posted April 29
COLDEMORT! Genius!

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