So, how about that episode? Last week's episode was divisive, but this week was in a category all its own. A lot of people didn't like it, like, a LOT of people. Some fans were so angry that half a million people have signed a petition to have Season 8 redone with, and this is the quote, these are not my words, "competent writers." I won't lie, I think seasons 7 and 8 have felt rushed and both should have had 10 episodes each. That's only 7 more episodes in the long run, but it could have made all the difference. Because everything is happening at such a breakneck pace, time has lost its meaning. That said, while I will agree that last week's episode was bad, apparently, I'm in the minority because I thought this episode was a return to form. In short, I thought it was great, and if it wasn't for episode 2 being one of the single greatest pieces of television ever filmed, this would be my bet for best episode.
Now the reason people are mad is because Daenerys went full villain, destroying the city of King's Landing and killing thousands, while her armies killed even more innocent civilians. How could Daenerys do this?! It's out of character, she's a hero, the internet cries. But that's the thing, she's not a hero. Daenerys was NEVER a hero. She is what she's always been, a conqueror, just like her ancestor Aegon I. I have a minor in history, I have taught history, and I can tell you right now, there is a not a single conqueror in history who didn't put thousands, if not millions, of people to death. Daenerys has always been upfront with her intentions. "I will take what is mine with Fire and Blood!" Just what were people expecting to happen?
Daenerys' turn is something that has been set up as far back as season 1. As others have pointed out, she's rather callous about her brother's death when Khal Drogo kills him, and she burns a witch alive. In season 2 she promises to return to Qarth one day and burn it to the ground. In fact, throughout the entire show she has met disobedience with violence. She crucified 163 people, some of whom were innocent, she burned an entire fleet, she burned the Lannister Army, executed the Tarlys, etc. I could go on and on. "But those were all bad guys!" You say. And that's the brilliance of this episode. Daenerys actions have become worse and worse as the story has gone on, but as an audience we've always justified them because we like Daenerys and are rooting for her. Until now, when she has finally crossed a moral event horizon so blatant that we can no longer pretend it's justifiable. George RR Martin had us rooting for the villain the entire time and no one noticed, and that is flipping brilliant. Daenerys going full Targaryen is a Martinesque twist, I don't believe for a second this is something Benioff and Weis came up with. Martin gave them an outline for the ending, and something this huge had to part of his plot. It's also possibly the single cruelest knife twist in the entire series, again, something Martin is infamous for. George RR Martin, Benioff and Weis, and pretty much the ENTIRE cast has said, verbatim, that the series finale would upset people. So, I have to ask, why are people shocked at this? Game of Thrones was NEVER going to have a happy ending, we've known this from day one.
"But Daenerys actions…" I'm going to stop you right there. Yes, Daenerys can be kind and gentle and caring. And Hitler was kind to his secretary, loved his dog and loved children. Stalin genuinely loved his daughter. Even the most horrific people are capable of being kind. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. And think about where Daenerys is right now. Her initial instinct was to burn King's Landing to the ground, but she didn't do so because of her advisers. And because of listening to her advisers, she's lost two of her three dragons, half her army, her constant protector and her best friend; the North which she saved has shown no gratitude, and Sansa is just being an outright bitch for no reason. The only thing she had left was Jon's love and her claim to the Iron Throne, and now she doesn't even have either of those. Everything she has fought and sacrificed for is gone. She has nothing left, and so she finally gave in to the rage she's been holding back all this time. I knew she was about to burn King's Landing down about three seconds before she did so because of the look on her face. It's an incredibly good bit of acting on Emilia Clarke's face. Cersei pushed Daenerys too far, and the real tragedy is that if just one thing had gone right, I don't think Daenerys would have snapped. Jon should have kept his mouth shut, but even when he didn't, it still wasn't too late until he rebuffed her advances, denying Daenerys the intimacy she desperately needs right now. Jon, your father Ned allowed his own honor to be stained to keep you alive and the realm at peace. For the love of the old gods, the Seven and the Lord of Light, take one for the team and bang your Aunt.
I loved this episode, and I can't wait to see how this finally plays out. Before I go, a couple more thoughts about different things in this episode, and some predictions about the finale.
Cleganebowl: This was only ever going to end with both Clegane's dying. Apparently, some folks are mad that it ended in a "tie." But Sandor was never going to survive this final battle, and anyone who thought he was I have to say hasn't been paying attention. And he took his undead brother out by throwing them both off a tower and into the flames below. The Hound died like a badass.
Greyworm: I've seen complaints about Greyworm giving into slaughter because he isn't sadistic. Rewatch the episode and pay attention to Greyworm's face. That wasn't sadism, it was rage. Pure, unadulterated despair and hate-filled rage.
Arya Surviving like 10 building collapses: I grant you this was kind of dumb, but I'm just happy she lived.
Predictions for the finale: I'm going to say it goes down like this. Daenerys kills Tyrion, Arya kills Daenerys, Jon kills Drogon, duels Greyworm and wins, has no choice but to take the throne. Ser Davos becomes Jon's hand. Sansa becomes Warden of the North. Arya, having realized that she does in fact want to live and have a happy life, accepts Gendry's proposal and becomes Lady of the Stormlands. Bran fucks off to become a magic tree. So, the only people to get happy endings will be Arya/Gendry and Samwell/Gilly. And finally, no matter what, a bunch of people are going to be pissed, George is going to make a lot of money, and HBO is going to have to scramble to find a way to keep its subscribers. Those are my thoughts, see you guys next week.