Season 8, Episode 3 “The Long Night”
It was the best of shows. It was the worst of shows. Game of Thrones built much of its reputation and fan base with thoughtful character development and plot building. The scintillating action was a byproduct of the buildup, like the whistle of a tea kettle after there’s too much pressure in the pot. If there’s a valid criticism of the show it’s that as we’ve gotten closer to the end, over the last two seasons in particular, we’ve gotten more microwave plots than the Crock Pot storytelling we are used to.
Season 8, Episode 3 is the perfect mash up of old Thrones and more recent Thrones. It’s an amazing episode in and of itself. The first viewing will have you holding your breath for what feels like the entire 82 minutes but there are issues with the storytelling that make you wonder why HBO and the show runners didn’t just opt for another season or 2 to let some of these stories stretch their legs.
I’m an optimist so let’s just talk about everything wonderful about this episode first. And there is a lot to be in awe of. It was tremendously well crafted and executed. The problems are almost all in how it fits into the larger story arc.
The episode begins with last minute preparations and everyone getting into place around Winterfell. Bran is being wheeled to the Godswood by Theon and his men. Tyrion looks angry as he has to go to the crypts. Sam looks scared shitless as he prepares to join one of the flanks outside of the castle walls. Sansa and Arya are atop the battlements. The dragons screech overhead.
We see Jorah outside ready to lead the Dothraki infantry. We hear horse steps and lookie here Melisandre has joined the dance. The Red Woman helps to set it off by casting a spell that lights all of the Dothraki arakhs aflame. It’s like several thousand Dothraki Beric Dondarions now. This new advantage is a psychological lift to everyone. Melisandre exits into the castle as Ser Davos orders the gates open for her. Arya and Melisandre lock eyes for a moment as she enters the gates. Davos meets the Red Woman on a staircase ready to question her for returning to Winterfell. He told her if she ever returned he’d execute her himself but she cuts him off before he begins. “There’s no need to execute me, Ser Davos. I’ll be dead before the dawn.”
The problems are almost all in how it fits into the larger story arc.
The problems are almost all in how it fits into the larger story arc.
We see Dany and Jon sitting sentinel atop a nearby hill where they have flown with the two dragons. Their plan is to protect Bran without being close enough to scare the Night King away. From the two leaders’ point of view we see Ser Jorah and Dothraki charge off into the night with their flaming arakhs. The dead are waiting at the far end of the field on the edge of the forest and as is the Dothraki way they will bring the fight, not wait for it to come to them. Thousands of screaming warriors take off on horseback. It looks like a wave of embers moving in unison from Jon and Dany’s perspective. Behind the riders, the castle launches flaming balls from trebuchets into the darkness beyond. Ghost is running with the Dothraki. As they get to the far edge of the field we see one Dothraki fighter’s shocked expression as he runs into an undead giant. We can’t see much else. We do see the flames from the fireballs extinguish and the lights from all of the Dothraki arakhs start to go out. There is no forward momentum from the thousands of Dothraki once they hit the far edge of the field. From the perspective of Winterfell behind them you start to see the embers at the far edge of the field extinguished until there is nothing but darkness again on the horizon and no more warriors screaming. It’s a chilling moment. Think back to King Robert in season 1 saying that nobody could defeat the Dothraki in open field combat and the scene from season 7 when the Dothraki, alongside Dany and Drogon, routed the Lannister army. Now the Army of The Dead has massacred them all in just minutes. Ser Jorah manages to retreat back to the castle on his horse.
From the hilltop, Dany is ready to join the action. Jon cautions her to wait for the Night King. She snatches her arm away from him. “The dead are already here.” Imagine how she felt in this moment knowing the Dothraki followed her across the Narrow Sea only to be slaughtered in one fell swoop.
Dragon fire rains down on the dead
Dragon fire rains down on the dead
Back on the field you can hear the dead screeching in the distance and hear the rumble of their approach as we see the faces of some of our favorites; Grey Worm, Gendry, Brienne, Jaime, Tormund, Sam, The Hound, Beric, and Podrick along with unnamed northmen, Unsullied and Knights of the Vale. In seconds the soldiers are overrun by a tidal wave of undead soldiers and you see unnamed hero soldiers getting hacked and sliced and driven off of their feet. Brienne is gang tackled and we hear her screams but Jaime makes the save. A beat later, dragon fire rains down on the dead as Jon and Dany change their plan and help the ground forces as best they can. They make several laps around the battlefield frying up undead soldiers. They fly off to the far edge of the battlefield and see the Night King’s lieutenants at the edge of the forest and start to fly closer for an attack when a wintry storm cloud comes out of the forest. The Night King brings the cold, we’ve been told, but now he’s manipulating the wind and snow creating another layer of darkness to confuse the army of the living. We can see Jon and Dany covering their eyes as they fly with the dragons. Arya sees the battle getting thicker and tells Sansa to go down to the crypts. Sansa is reluctant to leave but Arya hands her a dragonglass dagger and when Sansa says she doesn’t know how to use it Arya tells her to “stick them with the pointy end.”
On the ground we get shots of many of our heroes fighting. Nobody is dead yet from that initial surge although Sam almost dies before Edd saves him. Then Edd takes a knife through the back of his head. He’s our first name brand casualty of the night.
In the air we see Jon flying through zero-visibility skies and crashing Rhaegal into treetops and finally into Dany and Drogon. They all recover.
On the ground the Unsullied are doing an amazing job of fighting their united defensive style, moving as one, guarding the castle and letting the other groups of northern fighters move around them to get into position. They are badly outnumbered but you see their value here when they fight the way they have been trained.
We see Arya save the Hound by shooting a flaming arrow into a dead man who was chasing him.
We see Grey Worm break off from his group of Unsullied and run back into the castle. He made the determination that he would have been trapped outside of the castle if he didn’t retreat. The Unsullied are all that was protecting the retreating northerners from being overrun by the Army of the Dead. Basically at this point it’s the castle walls, the trench filled with wooden spikes and on the other side of the trench it’s the Unsullied. What is about to happen will trap the Unsullied on the opposite side of the trench and keep them from having a way to retreat.
Davos reads the situation and gives the order to light the trench and an Unsullied soldier destroys the only bridge over the trench. There’s now no means of retreat for the Unsullied. We see Grey Worm looking back at the point where he just was in the front of his group of Unsullied soldiers and he sees the dead ripping them apart. Grey Worm sees what would have been his own fate if he had not retreated and that would have mean he never gets to see Missandei again.
Because of the storm Dany cannot see Davos atop the battlements trying to signal her to light the trenches. We see Melisandre though, and the few Unsullied who are inside the castle create a shield of soldiers for her so that she can walk up to the inside edge of the trench and try to light the wooden spikes with her magic. She is praying to the Lord of Light trying to create a flame. The line must be busy because nothing is happening. She repeats her chant over and over and you can see her sensing that time is running out around her. The Army of the Dead are flinging themselves into the trench and navigating their way around the spikes getting closer and closer to the other side. Finally the spell works; the spikes go up in a huge fire and we see the reflection of the blaze in her eyes as it roars around the trench and surrounds the castle creating a pit of fire between the enemy and the walls of Winterfell.
Of course the fire has The Hound all in his feelings and he’s unable to fight so he cowers around a corner atop the battlements.
In the crypts, Tyrion is still angry that he isn’t a part of the battle. He believes he may see something that could make a difference. Sansa tells him that he would have died outside and the most heroic thing they can do now is to “look the truth in the face.” They share a warm moment where she tells him he was the best of her husbands. Oh you mean he was cooler than the inbred psycho and the rapist psycho? High five, Tyrion!
We see Theon guarding Bran in the Godswood. Theon apologizes for his terrible past and Bran tells him his mistakes have brought him to where he is now, which is home. Of course for Bran there is nothing to forgive. There’s a wisdom in his non-reactions. The burden of having so much knowledge leaves little room in his mind for old squabbles. Bran wargs into a murder of crows that serve as his eyes for what’s going on around the castle. Bran, as the crows, spots the Night King riding on the back of Viserion in the skies not far away from Winterfell. The Night King is commanding the dead to lay down on the flames at different points around the trench. They are sacrificing themselves making themselves into bridges across the flames. There are so many of them that it doesn’t matter if a few dozen turn into area rugs.
Jon spies the Night King and takes flight after him.
The Army of the Dead are on the castle walls in a moment having used their corpse bridges to get over the fiery trench. We see Brienne, Jaime, Gendry, Beric, Jorah, Gendry, and Sam all still alive and all atop the battlements fighting their hearts out. Everyone except the Hound who is having a Theon moment because of all the fire and monsters. Next we see Arya comes on the scene with her new custom made sex spear and she starts ripping every undead person she comes across a new asshole. The dead spill over the walls, past our heroes and into the Winterfell courtyard where we see little Lyanna Mormont just as a dead giant crashes through the gate. He swipes her aside with one hand and rampages on.
Beric tried to snap the Hound out of it but the Hound curses him and tells him you can’t beat death. But then Beric spots Arya being a ninja and says “tell her that!” That snaps the Hound to attention and he starts to fight on.
Little Lyanna has survived getting slapped by the giant and she picks up a dragon glass sword to charge the undead Giant. For some reason she screams first instead of just doing it quietly. This will become a recurring theme. He picks her up and starts crushing her body in his hand. We hear her bones cracking but in a dying effort she stabs the Giant through the eye with the dragonglass sword, killing him as he kills her. Not Lyanna Mormont!
In the skies we see Jon and Dany both tussling with the Night King in a dragon fight but they lose him in the clouds.
Inside the castle; Arya is on the run from the dead. She’s inside a library playing hide and seek with a few of them and her stealthiness is what saves her. She escapes out of a door while they chase after a distraction she’s made inside. She’s only safe for a moment until they are charging after her and we see her running down a twisting hallway to escape.
Beric and The Hound are inside the castle now, intent on finding Arya. They find her with an undead soldier on top of her trying to murder her. Beric tosses his flaming sword at the wight knocking him off of Arya and then picks Arya up so they can escape. He gets stabbed in his ankle for his troubles and then gets stabbed several more times in his torso as the three of them try to navigate the halls to safety. Beric is able to use his body to block the hallway for a moment and allow Arya and the Hound to get a headstart and then after getting stabbed several more times a clearly wounded Beric still outruns the dead to catch up with Arya and The Hound just as they are going through a door and locking themselves into a safe room before any of the dead can follow. Kind of hard to believe but okay.
Beric dies on the floor of the safe room with Arya holding his head. Over Arya’s shoulder we see Melisandre. “The Lord brought him back for a purpose. And now that purpose is served.”
“I know you.” Arya says.
Duh. You were literally talking about this chick to your boyfriend yesterday, Arya.
Arya: “You said we’d meet again.”
Melisandre: “And here we are at the end of the world.”
Arya: “You also said I’d shut many eyes forever. You were right about that too.”
Melisandre: “Brown eyes. Green eyes… and blue eyes.”
Melisandre: “What do we say to the God of death?”
Arya: “Not today.”
Arya runs off.
The Army of the Dead have reached the Godswood and Theon and his team are sniping them away with arrows. Bran is still warging.
Jon gets into another dragon wrestling match with the Night King up in the clouds. The Night King tries to get an angle so that he can stab Jon with a spear while their dragons are entangled but the dragons are snapping at each other and the ride is too bumpy. Both dragons get pretty beat up during this exchange. Rhaegal has Viserion’s neck in his jaws poking even more holes in the undead dragon and Viserion has his claws in Rhaegal, bloodying him. Finally Dany swoops in on Drogon and claws the ice dragon and the Night King gets tossed off and falls from the sky. Rhaegal manages to make it to the ground but it’s a rough landing and Jon falls off. Dany is now the lone person riding a dragon and she spots the Night King on the ground. He survived that long fall. He doesn’t even look like anything has happened. He’s standing on his feet like he fell off a tire swing.
Dany swoops Drogon down for a closer look and the Night King is standing there empty-handed. Dany sees the opportunity to end it and says the magic word to Drogon. “Dracarys!” And it’s flame on. Jon is a couple of hundred feet back on the ground watching the scene. The flames are intense and the leader of the Army of the Dead is now a puddle. Show is over time for a new episode of “Insecure.”
Wait, what?! By gawd that’s the Night King’s music! He didn’t feel a thing. His clothes aren’t even burnt. He’s not even sweating. He smiled at Dany as if to say “nice try, sis.” Then he tossed his ice spear at her trying to repossess her 2011 Lexus Drogon. Dany managed to duck the spear and fly away.
The Night King starts walking towards the Godswood. He’s just outside of the castle gates. Jon sees the Night King has survived so he draws his sword and takes off running after him. The Night King stops and turns towards Jon. Jon wisely decided to stop and assess the situation. Now the Night King sees a mass of newly dead bodies all around him and he slowly stars to raise his arms. Jon has seen this movie before. The eyes of all of the dead start to open and they start to rise. We cut back to the battlements and the courtyard inside the castle and we see those newly dead starting to stir as well… including newly dead Edd and Lyanna Mormont.
Inside the castle; we go back to the perfectly safe crypts and the dead there have started to stir as well. They poke their way out of their tombs and begin attacking the people who are being kept safe from the fighting. Don’t worry, nobody we know died.
Back outside Jon is fighting off the newly undead soldiers but he is badly outnumbered. He’s saved by Dany and Drogon who have now landed and blast him a path to the castle and incinerate everyone in his way. Jon takes off running and Dany spends a little too much time looking at Winterfell’s ass. Behind her Drogon is being swamped by the undead who always wanted to ride a dragon and never got a chance while they are alive. Drogon is trying to shake them off and fight them off as they climb, grab and stab him. In the commotion Dany gets knocked to the ground where she’s almost killed by an undead Thenn but Jorah runs up just in time to chops off his head. Dany picks up a discarded dragonglass sword and she and Jorah fight side by side.
The music changes to a slow dramatic beat and we get a medley of shots showing the current predicament of everyone:
-Back inside the crypts the undead Starks are doing a lot of damage. Tyrion and Sansa are hiding behind a tomb and share a tender moment where it looks like one of them won’t make it. They have to make a run for it. They find safety… elsewhere in the tomb?
-We get a shot of Podrick, Jaime, Brienne and Sam all fighting their hearts out. Everyone still alive. Jon’s in the courtyard but Viserion has landed in the courtyard is blowing his blue fire everywhere and Jon cannot get around him.
Dany and Jorah fighting their hearts out. Jorah is really beaten up and is being hacked almost as often as he makes a killing blow. Theon is out of arrows but he’s still killing dead men with his bow.
-The Night King enters the Godswood with his white Walker lieutenants. A wide shot shows Theon to be the only surviving Ironborn that is there with Bran and there are a lot of undead soldiers standing on the periphery.
-Bran comes back from the warging state and opens his eyes.
“Theon.” He says. “You’re a good man. Thank you.” Well, that’s a wrap for you, Theon.
-He charges off towards the Night King with a spear in hand and gives a guttural scream. The scream probably doesn’t help if your potential victim will be even slightly more off guard if you just keep your mouth shut. The Night King snaps Theon’s spear in half like a twig and stabs him through the gut with it. Theon lays dying. Maybe just stand there next to Bran and wait until reinforcements show up Theon. Maybe don’t run up on the King of The Dead with a spear and maybe don’t announce yourself doing it. The Theon experience was not my favorite part of Game of Thrones.
In the courtyard we see Jon is still pinned down by Viserion. Every time he tries to get out he winds up having to duck for cover.
The Night King is approaching Bran now with nobody in his way…
Jorah and Dany fight on. Jorah moves Dany out of the way of an attack and takes a sword strike to his chest. It’s been nice knowing you Ser Friendzone.
The Night King walks right up to Bran. Bran raises his gaze to meet the face of death. The Night King reaches back over his shoulder to unsheathe his sword. The camera is in front of him looking over his shoulder…
… Outside; Jon knows time is running out and he gets desperate. The ice dragon has sniffed out where Jon is trying to hide for cover and Jon stands up and faces him… and yells! Viserion opens his mouth to smoke this fool. Do dead dragons eat? Because he should eat this idiot…
… In the Godswood; The Night King is still reaching and over his shoulder we see Arya jumping into the picture, Catspaw dagger in her left hand to sneak attack the Night King. Until she screams for some fucking reason as she is about to land and he catches her by the throat and her left arm. He starts to squeeze the life out of her should’ve been quiet ass. But Arya drops the dagger from her trapped left hand into her free right hand and drives it into his chest at the same point where the Children of the Forest put the dragon glass in his heart to create him. It’s the same move she did when she sparred with Brienne. It’s reminiscent of Jon asking how she snuck up on him in the Godswood in the season opener.
And as she does it the Night King explodes into shaved ice. He’s not smiling anymore. Half a beat later his lieutenants all explode as well and the entire dead army they have created fall dead where they stand all over the castle. Viserion collapses into bones in front of Jon. Dany and Jorah get to stop fighting and Jorah collapses. We see Jaime, Brienne and Podrick in the courtyard, Tyrion, Sansa, Missandei, Varys, Gilly and Little Sam in the crypts. all of them are safe.
Outside the castle; Dany is crying over Jorah who dies in her arms. Drogon lands behind her and uses his body to shield her and it looks like a big dragon hug. The Hound and Melisandre exit the castle. Davos is right behind her ready to draw his sword but she exits the gate and walks into the field. Melisandre discards her magic necklace and immediately turns into her true older self and dies.
RIP Dothraki army, Edd, Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarion, Jorah Mormont, Melisandre, Night King and my expectations.
You can’t build up the army of the dead as this unstoppable behemoth, double down on that by allowing them to make shredded cheese out of the Dothraki but then for the rest of the episode have them only kill 1.5 important characters. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to see any of the main characters killed but the storyline dictated more than just some supporting players getting offed.
What made Game of Thrones great initially was the life or death stakes of the game. Cersei told us “when you play the game of Thrones you either win or you die.” The whole story of the White Walkers and the Night King was suppose to amplify that. Political squabbles are nothing when you are facing death itself, or so we were told. But what happens when you face death and the casualties are almost all casual? This episode was amazing in and of itself but in the framework of the series it seems like the writers are starting to get sentimental. That’s not bad, but it’s not what what we were introduced to.
We saw Sam fighting his way of the ground against multiple dead men. Sam? We saw Brienne get gang tackled by a crew of untiring, unrelenting dead men, just after we saw them kill thousands of Dothraki, but she’s just fine. We saw one handed Jaime Lannister make it out just fine. I can suspend my reality every Sunday night but let’s agree on what I’m supposed to think is realistic.
Also we spent the last seven plus seasons being told that Jon is the Prince that Was Promised but now Arya is the one who kills the Night King. Okay, that doesn’t make a ton of sense but at least we can ask Melisandre about it next week. Oh wait…
Next week we get back to the war for the Iron Throne. I’m still on board but it feels like a different show than the one I met in season 1.
Post Epilogue Notes:
The episode description on HBO is “Arya looks to prove her worth as a fighter.”
Good one HBO! Let me try.
Avengers: Infinity War – “Thanos looks to do some spring cleaning.”
Or how about:
Batman – “Young Bruce Wayne has issues coping with parental loss.”
THE BEST PLAYER IN BASEBALL
It’s a Friday night and i’m finishing up some work waiting for a friend. So I click over to the Angels Seattle game and the first thing I see is the entire Angels team adorning the number 45, the number worn by their fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs who died of unknown circumstances. However there was something else that I came to realize while watching. Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
The man delivers something productive practically every time I see him play. Whether i’m watching at the stadium, in an airport or at home. He’ll surely be diving in centerfield to rob a hit, stealing a base to get in scoring position or driving himself in with a 400 foot home run. His impact is beyond REAL!
If you haven’t seen him play, I suggest you catch it while you can. This level of excellence doesn’t come too often and you wouldn’t want to regret missing it. Let’s put it this way, Mike Trout signed a 12 year contract for…wait for it….$426.5 Million dollars plus a 20 million dollar bonus. And guess what? He’s not overpaid! The dude is really that good.
Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
If you don’t believe me, just peep the stats. Coming into his 9th year in the league, the former rookie of the year, 2 time MVP (finished second 4 times) and 8 time all-star has been averaging 38 home runs, 101 rbi’s and a batting average of .306 per season. This is a Lebron in a lifetime type of talent with a lot more in the tank to go.
It may come as a surprise to the casual sports fan since Mike isn’t in every other commercial like most superstar athletes. But to baseball aficionados out there, this isn’t really a revelation at all. They’re just praying the Angels get some more talent around him to showcase those skills to the world or just trade him to the Yankees. I’m pretty sure New York can find a way to make some room for him.
WHEN THEY SEE US
When They See Us could have easily been called When They Hate Us. The reenactment of the level of vitriol and disdain towards the lives of these children of color served as a harsh reminder of the reality we still reside in. This series is grueling, alarming and absolutely necessary for every truth seeker to watch. The ability to share our stories and provide our perspectives is a powerful tool that hasn’t always been readily available to us. But times have changed and Ava DuVernay masterfully utilizes her platform to highlight the humanity behind these victims turned heroes.
The performance of the entire cast will garner a considerable amount of attention during award season. From the dynamics of Antron McCray’s (Caleel Harris/Jovan Adepo) relationship with his father (Michael Kenneth Willams) to the strength of faith illustrated by Yusuf Salaam (Ethan Herisse/Chris Chalk) and his mother (Aunjanue Ellis), the brilliance of acting is in heavy abundance. In particular Jharrel Jerome’s heart wrenching transformation into Korey Wise has audiences around the globe streaming much more than video.
Growing up as a 14 year old child in New York City during 1989, it was nearly impossible not to be affected by the pageantry of this case. Meeting up with groups of friends, parental concerns and police interactions were brought to the forefront in daily life. This could have happened to anyone including myself. The thought of being presumed innocent before proven guilty was never a concept my peers and I ever thought applied to us. The only goal was survival and to accomplish it as best as you can.
Unfortunately these kids were caught in the malicious plan of destroying black lives before they had the chance to begin. The true animals at large dealt them a fixed hand and discarded them with the expectation of never to be heard from again.
However they stayed true to themselves with the ideology of survival and persevered to expose the evil that men do. Thank you exonerated 5!
Game of Thrones Recap S8-E6
Season 8, Episode 6 “The Iron Throne”
It’s been a long twisting road to get here but here we are. Most of us would have liked to see a slower pace the last two seasons as the series wrapped things up. The speed at which characters moved around the map mirrored the pace at which storylines were tied up. In early seasons it took weeks to get anywhere and on those trips we got to know everyone and became invested in their stories. Think Arya and The Hound going North or Robb Stark going south or Daenerys going from east to west. With everything now having wrapped up we see that the best part of the ride was the trip itself. The last season will leave a lot of people wanting, but as far as the final episode goes I thought it was well done.
We start from the perspective of Tyrion walking through the ash and rubble of King’s Landing. He passes charred corpses everywhere, and a badly burned man aimlessly walking down the street. You’re left to wonder the man’s story and think about how far Daenerys has gone. Over Tyrion’s shoulder we see Jon and Davos. The three men stop and Tyrion says he needs to speak to Daenerys. He goes forward alone. Jon and Davos encounter Grey Worm and a group of Unsullied getting ready to execute Lannister soldiers. Jon and Davos try to stop him but Grey Worm is undeterred. His orders from Queen Daenerys were that all who follow Cersei Lannister must die. There’s a confrontation between Jon’s Northern soldiers and Grey Worm’s Unsullied but Davos staves off any violence between the two groups by telling Jon they must find the queen. They leave Grey Worm to his work and he begins executing the Lannister soldiers.
Tyrion has gone ahead to the Red Keep, alone. He finds a torch to light and finds his way down to the bowels of the half-destroyed castle. He sees the rubble blocking the pathways beneath the Keep and already senses that his plan for Jaime and Cersei to escape did not work. He presses ahead and spots Jaime’s gold hand under a pile of bricks. As he inspects the pile he finds Jaime and Cersei’s lifeless bodies. Tyrion breaks down weeping for his family and slams a brick against the pile in frustration.
On ground level we see the Dothraki and Unsullied waiting as Drogon arrives with Dany on his back. She somehow has had time to change her clothes into a sleek all black outfit and get her hair done even though this seems like the immediate aftermath of last week’s episode. Drogon lands inside the Red Keep with Dany and all of the soldiers are outside in the courtyard. Notable that Northmen aren’t among the soldiers but we do see Jon making his way to the Red Keep and Arya lurking in the crowd.
When Dany lands there’s an incredible shot of her walking out of the castle while Drogon takes off behind her. As he spread his wings in the background you see her body walking towards us in the foreground and it looks they could be her wings. She is the dragon now she’s no longer our tender hearted khaleesi.
From atop an elevated platform in the courtyard Dany addresses the Dothraki and Unsullied soldiers and thanks them for following her across the sea and giving her the Seven Kingdoms. She singles out Grey Worm to make him her new Master of War, Commander of all of her forces. Dany fires up her forces with a rousing speech. She entreaties them to keep fighting for her to liberate to the whole continent. “From Winterfell to Dorne, from Lannister to Qarth from the Summer Isles to the Jade Sea.” It feels like we’re getting a rundown on where Varys sent all of his letters last week telling of Jon’s true parentage. Dany’s message while directed at the armies is really a note to Tyrion that any lord or lady who opposes Dany will be prosecuted and we’ve just seen how she deals with any and everyone who she believes supports another ruler.
Tyrion and Jon are behind Dany as she exhorts the soldiers on. Tyrion steps forward at the end of her speech. She turns to him and says, “you freed your brother. You committed treason.” Tyrion admits it but rebuts with, “you slaughtered a city.” The real traitor is Dany is what he’s indicating. She betrayed their cause. He takes off his Hand of the Queen pin and tosses it down the steps. The Unsullied who have been banging their spears on the ground saluting Their queen stop when they see Tyrion’s action. It’s so quiet you can hear the pin drop.
Dany commands her guards to seize Tyrion. They escort him away and she follows them back into the castle. Tyrion and Jon lock eyes as he is led away. Dany and Jon lock eyes as well as if she’s expecting his betrayal as well. Jon says nothing. He watches silently as they walk off. Arya, ninja style, appears by Jon’s side as this happens. She startled him and he’s startled more by how she looks. She’s obviously been in the city the whole time. What is she doing in King’s Landing? Arya tells Jon she came to kill Cersei but Dany got to her first. Jon tells Arya to wait outside the city gates. He fears for her safety and she fears for his. Arya warns Jon again that Dany is a killer who won’t allow Jon to live because she knows who he really is.
Jon goes to see Tyrion where he is being held prisoner. It’s the type of scene we have missed the last two seasons, two characters having a long, meaningful conversation where the words have room to breathe. Tyrion laments betraying Varys but know what he will be joining him soon. He asks Jon about life after death since Jon has some experience. Jon tells him he doesn’t think there’s anything after you die. Tyrion talks about all of his sins that would keep him out of paradise, treason amongst them and thinks oblivion was his best hope anyway. Jon objects to that but Tyrion will have none of it. It was treason and he’d do it again. Tyrion says he chose his fate but the people of kings Landing did not. Jon cannot defend what Dany has done but says it was in the heat of battle and now it’s over. Tyrion says it’s not pointing out that the enemy had surrendered and pointing out that Dany did not sound like she is done liberating the Seven Kingdoms. Jon is defensive of his queen as he fights within himself to stay loyal to Dany. Dany saw her friend beheaded, he reasons. She saw her dragon fall from the sky, he explains. He tells Tyrion that it’s easy to judge when you’re not on the battlefield. Tyrion asks Jon if he would have done it? Jon has ridden a dragon. He’s had the power to scorch enemies. Would he have destroyed the city after the fight was over? Jon says he doesn’t know. Jon does know he just won’t answer because he doesn’t want to betray Daenerys and Tyrion knows it. Tyrion tells Jon that Dany’s single mindedness will make her go further down this path because she believes it is her destiny and as she piles up more victories and more bodies there will be no stopping her. Tyrion says that it was vanity to think he could guide her as her Hand. Her nature is fire and blood, after all. Jon spits back at him “do you think our house words are stamped on our bodies when we’re born and that’s who we are? I’d be fire and blood too. She’s not her father no more than you’re Tywin Lannister.”
This conversation is more powerful when viewed through the lens that Tyrion may be a Targaryen. Tyrion responds “my father was an evil man. My sister was an evil woman.” He is ostensibly talking about Tywin and Cersei but he could just as well be talking about the Mad King and Daenerys. This theory was never confirmed on the show but it seemed like a wink to the audience from the writers.
Tyrion tells Jon, “I know you love her and I love her too. Not as successfully as you but I believed in her with all my heart. Love is more powerful than reason. Look at my brother.”
“Love is the death of duty” Jon responds. He’s echoing Maester Aemon’s words to him when Jon wanted to ride south and fight alongside his brother Robb to avenge Ned Stark’s death. That scene was powerful on its own but later we realize the man offering the advice was actually Jon’s uncle unbeknownst to either of them. Jon repeating the words of a good Targaryen man who refused the throne is powerful when presented against the backdrop of the choice he must make. In itself, it supports Jon’s statement about choice. Maester Aemon was a kind soul even though he was a Targaryen. His life wasn’t fire and blood even though that was his house’s words.
Tyrion responds, “sometimes duty is the death of love.” The two statements bookend Jon’s character arc. With Aemon’s words he threw himself into being a member of The Night’s Watch and accepted his responsibility at the time. Now wise counsel from a different (possibly) Targaryen uncle is shaping Jon’s destiny again. In a show that loves symmetry from different seasons this doesn’t feel coincidental. No, the show never confirmed that Tyrion was half Targaryen but it gave us a lot of evidence to support the theory from Tyrion’s rapport with the dragons to his mother dying giving birth to Tywin flat out telling him, “you’re no son of mine.” The writers are teasing us here and this is the kind of moment that we missed the last two seasons. You can enjoy it on a surface level as moving conversation between two compelling characters or you can dive down the rabbit hole like it made me do. Ultimately, what made the show so interesting is the layers of relationships between characters and the questions about destiny versus choice.
Jon gets up to leave Tyrion. The conversation has moved him but not enough to betray Dany. She may be wrong she is the queen and she has the right to be wrong and Jon must be true to his word. As Jon gets to the door Tyrion asks, “but what about your sisters? Do you think they will bend the knee?” Tyrion asks, “why do you think Sansa told me in the first place? She doesn’t want Dany to be queen.” Jon says, “they don’t get to choose.“ Tyrion says, “no, but you do. And you have to choose now,” as a guard comes and lets Jon out.
At the Red Keep we see a scene that looks like Dany’s vision from the House of the Undying. She approaches the Iron Throne with snow falling all around her because the roof and walls of the throne room have been destroyed. In her vision she approached the throne but never touched it. This time she lightly grabs one of the arms of the throne and holds it for moment. Outside, Jon is approaching the Red Keep and a large figure stirs in front of him. Drogon has been covered by falling snow as he naps in front of the Red Keep. He raises up and takes measure of Jon by means of a taking a deep whiff of that Targaryen musk. Sixty percent of the time, it works every time. Drogon lets him pass.
As Jon enters the ventilated throne room she starts to tell him about what she imagined the Iron Throne looked like as a girl who couldn’t yet count to 20. When she imagined a throne made of a thousand swords it was so large in her mind’s eye that you could only see the soles of the king’s feet as he sat on it. Jon interrupts her and berates her with what he has seen in the streets: prisoners executed in the street and little children burned. Dany says she tried to make peace with Cersei who tried to use the innocence of civilians as a weapon against her. He shakes his head. Jon asks about Tyrion. Dany says Tyrion betrayed her. Jon asks her to forgive him. She says she cannot. Jon says they need a world of mercy. Dany says she will be merciful to the next generation but not to the people in this world who are loyal to the past. She says the new world will be good. Jon asks how does she know? She says that she knows what’s good and Jon does too because it is their destiny. Jon says he doesn’t. In this moment, especially, he isn’t sure what is right. He knows everyone needs to heed counsel sometimes though. Jon asks “what about everyone else who think they know what is good? Dany answers, “they don’t get to choose.” It’s the same line he just said to Tyrion back to haunt him. Where Jon used to to justify what a leader has earned by making sound choices Dany uses it to justify destiny. Jon knows in this world you get what you have earned, not what you think you deserve. Another uncle, Benjen told him that.
Dany exhorts Jon to build the new world with her. “This has been our reason since you were a little boy with a bastard’s name and I was a little girl who couldn’t count to 20. We do it together. We break the wheel together.” She goes in closer and they embrace.
Jon kisses her deeply and tells her. “You are my queen, now and always” his words signifying that doesn’t want to rule but he cannot let her do it either, not when she is making terrible choices. He stabs her in the heart with a knife. He catches her body as she falls dying. Jon cries as he holds her lifeless body in front of the iron throne. We hear Drogon roar but do not see him yet as he stirs outside of the Red Keep.
As Jon holds Dany’s lifeless body Drogon flies past in the background of the destroyed throne room.
Jon is crying and putting her body down as Drogon circles back and lands in the throne room. Jon steps away from her as Drogon, huge and terrifying, gets closer to see what has taken place. He sniffs her body, knife still in her chest and then nudges her with his snout. Her limp body doesn’t react. Drogon raises up and roars fiercely, mourning his mother’s death. He locks eye on Jon Snow and you see the fire build within his throat. Drogon then he lets fly a flame but not at Jon. He destroys the Iron Throne melting it down to nothing. Jon looks amazed, at not being incinerated by the dragon and also at what Drogon has done.
They talked about breaking the wheel and what Drogon has done was symbolic of that. The Iron Throne is no more. When you call back the earlier scene when Dany and Drogon appear to be one entity this furthers that. She did destroy the mechanisms controlling the old hands of power but her madness made her become what she hated. Jon killing her dismantles the wheel for the future. All of a Cersei’s forces are gone. Jon will not take the throne. “We break the wheel together” were among Dany’s last words.
Drogon reacting to her death without seeing or hearing her die shows there was a spiritual connection between the queen and her dragon. Did death free her from the madness that took her down the wrong path? In her vision at the House of the Undying the next thing she saw after the Iron Throne was Khal Drogo and her dead son. Perhaps being reunited with her lost loves put her at peace and her spiritual connection to her dragon led to Drogon destroying the iron throne. Jon should be toast right there but instead Drogon completed Dany’s work, the work she told us she wanted to do for most of the series.
Drogon gently picks her body up in his claw and flies off with her body. He’s last seen flying east.
We flash forward a few weeks and this is where the episode got goofy. Tyrion is still a prisoner and we see him escorted from his cell to a meeting in the dragon pits with all of the high lords of Westeros. Sansa is there along with Arya, Bran, Gendry, Robin Arryn, Yara Greyjoy, the new prince of Dorne, Edmure Tully, Samwell Tarly, Lord Hugh of the Vale, Ser Brienne, Ser Davos and a few other people.
Jon Snow is being held prisoner by the Unsullied after killing the new queen and there are 20,000 northmen outside of King’s Landing ready to take Jon back. Everyone is there to discuss making peace. Tyrion somehow leads a conversation about how to choose a new king or queen even though he’s:
- been locked up for weeks and shouldn’t know many details about any of this as it is happening.
- not Lord of anything at the moment because he was wanted by one queen the renounced his only title to the next one and there’s currently nobody to pardon him.
- Grey Worm told him to shut up because his words have led to entirely too many terrible choices. Great point, Grey Worm.
Tyrion says that nothing is more powerful than a good story in uniting power, not gold, not flags. He nominates “Bran the Broken” who has as interesting a story as anyone and definitely has the wisdom to do the job. The nickname sounds harsh when it’s first said but Tyrion said in a conversation with Jon Snow early in series, “never forget what you are. Others will not let you forget so wear it as armor and it will never hurt you.” Bran hasn’t responded yet but Sansa says Bran has no desire to rule and can’t father children. Tyrion says that is a good thing because sons of kings are often tyrants. From now on the high lords and ladies will meet at this spot to choose a new ruler, it will no longer be about succession but rulers will be chosen based on merit. It’s another choice versus destiny moment.
The lords and ladies vote “aye” on the nomination of King Bran the Broken. When it comes to Sansa she abstains from voting saying that the North has suffered too much to be a part of this mess anymore. She declares the North to be an independent kingdom. Brandon agrees. Nobody voices any disagreement. Not sure why Yara doesn’t bring up independence for The Iron Islands since she insisted on it with Daenerys but she votes “aye.” The North is now a free country and Bran is now officially Bran the Broken, first of his name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of The Six Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. As his first act Bran names Tyrion his Hand. Tyrion doesn’t want it. He points out that he has made many awful mistakes. Grey Worm says no but Bran says he is king so the answer is yes. Grey Worm says that this isn’t justice. Bran says that Tyrion has made many mistakes and he will spend the rest of his life fixing them. Grey Worm says that this is not enough. It seems like he’s still talking about Tyrion but instead we flash over to Jon in his cell.
Bran has negotiated that Jon will go to The Wall and join the Night’s Watch. Tyrion tells Jon he will hold no castles, father no children… the whole nine. It is a solution that ends the standoff. The lords are unhappy with this solution and so is Grey Worm so it must be a good compromise.
Jon is freed and as he departs King’s Landing Grey Worm and the Unsullied are departing for Naath, Missandei’s home island.
Bran, Sansa and Arya meet Jon at the docks before he ships off. Sansa asks Jon’s forgiveness for not being able to stop him from being sent to The Wall. Jon notes that she freed the North. Jon loves the North more than his own freedom. Arya and Jon say goodbye as she says she isn’t going North again. She will sail west to discover what is west of Westeros. Jon kneels before King Bran and apologizes for not being there for him (presumably when The Night King was about to kill him but) Bran assures him that he was where he was supposed to be. This lends credence to the idea that Jon really did draw away the dragon’s attention so that Arya could sprint over and shiv the Night King. That’s as close to resolution as we’ll get on that question, I guess.
Inside King’s Landing, Lady Brienne writes some more of Jaime Lannister’s history in the Book of Cool Knight Stuff, ensuring that he won’t be remembered for only being the Kingslayer. She doesn’t mention him being taker of V cards.
At the first Small Council meeting we see Lord Hand Tyrion, Master of Ships Davos, Master of Coin Ser Bronn of the Blackwater (Bronn!) and Grand Maester Samwell Tarly. Sam presents Tyrion with a Song of Ice and Fire which is the archmaester’s history is the wars following the death of King Robert. Tyrion is surprised to know that he has been left unmentioned. Curious, because in the book about knights that Brienne is updating it says that “Tyrion Lannister killed King Joffrey Baratheon” so you’d think Tyrion would be mentioned in a thorough history book in some way.
King Bran enters escorted by the new head of of his Kingsguard Ser Brienne. We learn that Bronn has become Lord of Highgarden, Davos has been granted a lordship and Podrick has been knighted.
We see Arya sailing west on a ship with a Stark sail with, Needle and the Cats Paw dagger on her waist. We see Sansa crowned and hailed as Queen in The North at Winterfell by enthusiastic bannermen.
Lastly, we see Jon enter Castle Black. Tormund is there waiting for him. Jon greets Ghost and this time gives him a proper nuzzling. Together they escort the Free Folk north of the wall where we now know that it is safe. Jon looks back as the gates close at Castle Black. There’s a realization that comes over his face as he sees everyone through the gate. I wonder if this is what it was:
He is home and he’s still a king even if he doesn’t have a crown. Bran rules all of Westeros, Sansa rules the North and Jon is ostensibly the King beyond the wall. Who would deny Jon if he wanted to go south? It’s bittersweet on the surface but he’s somewhere that made him happy and the most powerful people in the country are in his debt and his enemies have gone back to Essos. There’s a look on his face as the gates close behind him. I hope that it was a look of peace.
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