Daenerys might have won King’s Landing, but will Jon Snow take it from her?The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones was a cinematic joy, laden with artistic and foreboding shots, but frustrating and heart-breaking all the same. The writers don’t take long to slaughter the only true man of the people, Lord Varys, for working in the public's interest. Daenerys finds out he’s sharing Jon Snow’s true lineage, and with a quick ‘dracarys’ she incinerates the dear eunuch. Luckily, he sent a revelatory note to someone through one of his little birds, but where it went no one knows.
[Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers. Read on at your own risk.]
Daenerys’ madness is infectious. She got it from her father and she’s passing it on to her fans.
The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones was a cinematic joy, laden with artistic and foreboding shots, but frustrating and heart-breaking all the same. The writers don’t take long to slaughter the only true man of the people, Lord Varys, for working in the public's interest. Daenerys finds out he’s sharing Jon Snow’s true lineage, and with a quick ‘dracarys’ she incinerates the dear eunuch. Luckily, he sent a revelatory note to someone through one of his little birds, but where it went no one knows.
Daenerys then Tom Cruised her way through Euron Greyjoy’s fleet, dive-bombing and destroying his ships with Top Gun accuracy, before incinerating the rest of the Golden Company in front of King’s Landing. This gave Jon Snow, Grey Worm and Davos Seaworth an exceptionally easy trip to the Red Keep, with the Lannister army dropping their swords in surrender when they arrived. Because Jon’s proven himself, time and again, to be an absolute idiot, he’s surprised that aunt queenie is an absolute psychopath in the coming scenes.
Drogon, perched on the city as the bells of surrender ring, looks like he might calm down. But Daenerys makes Drogon spew fire all over the city, in spite of the fact that the battle is already won. Many a fan predicted the arrival of angsty teenage dragons, who would burn King’s Landing to the ground — which Drogon apparently had during a bizarre season five vacation. But Drogon’s holiday might have just been misdirection, because the dragon proved to have enough firepower to do the job alone.
A single shot of Daenerys groaning with tears doesn’t give enough of a reason for the madness that overwhelmed her. Even though Cersei’s bells rang in forfeit, Daenerys’ decision to rain fire upon innocents means she has to be dealt with. It’s going to happen in the last episode, without a doubt — whether it will be the fulfilment of the lover-killing Azor Ahai prophecy, which means Jon Snow might kill her; or the execution of Melisandre’s eye-shutting omen, which would see Arya pin her needle into Daenerys, sewing her green eyes shut for good. Could she also do the deed with Jon’s face in lieu of her own? For anything else to happen at this point is unlikely — George RR Martin’s flair has been absent for a long time and the show’s current writers lack his ability to throw curveballs — but if Daenerys were to remain on the throne, it would be a wonderfully unjust reign.
The potential murder of the white-haired queen leaves a few more questions to be answered — who will kill faithful Grey Worm first? What will Drogon do? Will the Unsullied and Dothraki switch allegiances?
Those beautiful green eyes have played an obvious role in the lead-up to this episode, fixated on Jon Snow in jealousy. Her envy of his loyal following, the decapitation of her polyglot confidant and the death of two of her flying lizards have all plunged her into trauma. The realisation she’s screwing her nephew and is not the true heir, that’s just incestuous icing on the cake. She was supposed to follow in her father’s genocidal footsteps. This season has led up to all of this, but it still felt undercooked.
Her fire-spitting prompts Grey Worm to spear a Lannister soldier, unleashing a unified massacre on the enemy forces, and so goes the rest of the episode. Jon kills one of his own for attempting to rape a woman, and forces the north to retreat, Daenerys continues scribbling a fiery picture over the map of King’s Landing.
Arya’s story, especially with the added eye-closing prophecy, is proving to be among the best in the series. The final scenes with both her and The Hound are a nice throw-back to the seasons of old, when everyone liked the show much more, as they strut into the castle to kill the queen. The Hound and assassin’s final scene together is as emotional as they can muster, with Arya referring to him by his real name Sandor, as he tells her to leave because revenge makes people vile. What followed was perhaps the most triumphant scene of the episode, the long-anticipated Cleganebowl — the final fight between the dastardly Clegane brothers.
There are many parallels drawn between the brotherly brawl and Arya’s struggles amongst the rabble below the Red Keep. Each move, darting between The Hound and Arya, mirrors each other in expert cinematography. Thrown to the ground and struggling to get up, one is at the hand of terrified innocents while the other is at the hand of The Mountain. The fear in Arya’s eyes is palpable, while the determination and fear in The Hound’s is one of pure revenge. Brother Gregor, as a zombie, is proven incapable of death by skewering. Considering he was facing a head-popping death a la Oberyn Martell, The Hound’s decision to tackle his diabolical brother into the barbecue below the keep is somewhat of a nice ending, considering it was fire his brother scarred him with as children.
While Hand of the Queen Qyburn was killed by his own monster prior to the brawl, Cersei got away in time to find her brother. With the help of Tyrion, they planned to get out of town before it was reduced to rubble. The goodbye between Tyrion and his brother was touching, because Jaime’s only real goodness was his affection for his dwarf brother.
But Jaime is met by a soaking Euron, who’s escaped Drogon’s wrath and now vows to kill him. Jaime manages to slaughter the glorified pirate, despite sporting a couple of dagger holes in his sides, but Euron dies happy, thinking he’s dispatched the Kingslayer.
The original mad queen, Cersei, didn’t anticipate anyone would trump her psychopathy. Her cockiness kept her in the keep, thinking stores of wild fire would hold off the allied armies. She stayed for far too long in the end, rendering Tyrion’s bizarre sibling-saving plan unsuccessful. Their escape was blocked, and it was a pile of bricks that ended up as Jaime’s executioner — sorry, Euron. The emotional ending between Cersei and Jaime was almost enough to make one feel sorry for them — thanks to fantastic work from the actors. She was, as Maggy the Frog foretold, inadvertently killed by little brother Tyrion through his support of Daenerys.
While many floated the idea of Daenerys’ season two premonition of a snow-covered throne room as symbolising Jon’s eventual ascension to the throne, we can now confirm it’s not snow. It’s ash, and the queen has arrived. Whether she has checkmate with her incendiary actions will be answered next week, but anyone would be stupid to think she’ll remain.