There are conflicting thoughts on this episode of Game of Thrones. The Great Battle has been won, and the dead have been mourned. The game is not over yet though, especially with enemies in the south. There is a reminiscence glitter of earlier seasons, but even that cannot prepare viewers for what happens next.
Be warned, there are spoilers beyond this point.
The time to strike is now.
Well deserved festivities give our battle-worn heroes a glimpse at some sort of normality when life has been anything but. There is ever-growing respect for Jon (Kit Harington), which doesn’t bode well for Dany (Emilia Clarke). Without her, they never would’ve had a chance against The Night King and his vast armies, they seem to forget too soon. The loss has been immense, and the celebrations cannot last forever, there is important business to attend to.
There is something about the flow of alcohol that unlocks people’s inhibitions. In Gendry’s (Joe Dempsie) haste and excitement at his new position of power, bestowed upon him by Dany, he asks for Arya’s (Maisie Williams) hand in marriage. It goes just as well as one can think, she is not built for that world. She has other plans and people to kill. On the other hand, an innocent drinking game reveals Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is a virgin, good thing for her Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldu) is there to take care of that for her. They’ve built up towards that for seasons now, but a big part of me was still rooting for Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) to get the girl in the end.
The real fight begins
Things can never go back to the way they were, and secrets cannot be buried. There haven’t been many moments where we have seen the dragon queen plead for something, it seemed so wrong for her to do so with Jon. In his own, misguided way, he always wants to do the right thing, even if it could lead to a disastrous outcome. Not all truths need to be set free, yet he is bound to family honour and must release his burden. It trickles down to other ears, of course, and the whispers begin.
The pace of the episode seems a bit disjointed in parts, but the length of the episode helps to offset that fact a bit. With one war done, another one looms, and there is no time to take a breath. Sansa (Sophie Turner), even though she is in a constant struggle against Dany, has her moments in the wisdom department. It’s better to wait, and let the injured soldiers heal before they take on Kings Landing. There is no reasoning with Dany though, and Jon makes sure she knows he is in her corner. The balance is becoming harder to maintain.
Did I mention it’s also an episode of goodbyes? The journey has been long, and many will not be there for the final blow. Tormund and the free folk are going back North, this isn’t home to them, and they have been gone for so long. If only Jon could join them, instead, Ghost is released from his duties, it was a sad farewell. This is where the journey ends for Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) as well, she is newly pregnant and they have waged their battles, now is time for rest.
Onward, to the end
With Winterfell at their backs, Dany’s fleet sails towards Kings Landing, while Jon leads the ground troops. If only they would’ve waited, an ambush was imminent, especially with the likes of Euron (Pilou Asbæk) at the helm. Rhaegal didn’t even have a chance, he survived the great battle, but was plucked from the sky by the deranged pirate. All is not well, as the fleet succumbs to the violent onslaught. The only prisoner of war? Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
With all the doubt, treason and conspiring, loyalties to Dany are beginning to falter. Jon is being viewed as the better choice to sit on the throne, even if he doesn’t want that “honour”. Varys (Conleth Hill) is up to his old tricks and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) seems to be on the fence, even if she is the one who has gotten them that far. In this game, it doesn’t seem to matter. How quickly her sacrifices are forgotten, she will never be viewed as more than her fathers, daughter. Even extending olive branches, time after time, she is the tyrant.
Cersei (Lena Headey) is vile and destructive, just like Jaime, who drops everything to ride off to be with her once more. The Lannisters have been in power for far too long, and Cersei’s reign is coming to a close. Yet she still holds the power, and will not surrender. Even with Tyrion playing on her “emotions”, she will not be moved. Instead, Missandei pays the ultimate price. Her last words say it all. “Dracarys”.
Now it’s time to be the dragon. It’s time to watch the world burn. Daenerys is not her father, she is not the mad queen, she is a woman scorned and betrayed. She is angry, and there is only one way out now.
Death is coming.