Season 8, Episode 5 “The Bells”
The director of this episode, Miguel Sapochnik, is the Mariano Rivera of the show. When he directs an episode, he saves everyone from sloppy pacing and questionable storylines with the beauty of the images and by making everything look epic. We open at Dragonstone with Varys furiously writing letters to be sent out that tell of Jon Snow’s true identity. You can’t see everything but you can see “Rhaegar and Lyanna” “Ned Stark, “last Targaryen” on the scroll. He’s interrupted by a knock on his door. It’s a little bird who works in the kitchen who Varys has been trying to use to poison Daenerys, making good on the loaded look that he gave Tyrion in last week’s episode when Tyrion asked, “what will you do?” They’ve been unsuccessful because the queen will not eat. She hasn’t left her chambers or seen any visitors Varys tells her they will try again at suppertime.
Next, we see Varys greet Jon Snow as he arrives on the beach of Dragonstone. Varys basically makes his plea here for Jon to take his place as the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms questioning Dany’s temperament and mindstate and praising Jon’s. Jon refuses him and repeats his loyalty to Queen Daenerys. Tyrion is watching all of this from the distance.
Inside, Tyrion goes to see Daenerys who looks a hot mess. He approaches carefully and she already knows what he will report, someone has betrayed her. But her guess as to who it is– Jon Snow, catches Tyrion off guard. No, it was Varys he tells her. But Dany does the math that Jon told Sansa of his true identity who told Tyrion who told Varys and gets back to the same conclusion. Her deductive skills are impressive but also underneath what she is saying is her questioning the loyalty of everyone who knows this news. Why would Sansa calculate that Tyrion would share this information unless she knew he was ready to go behind Dany’s back? Tyrion says it’s his job to know the threats that make her vulnerable but Daenerys rightfully asks why he shared the information with others first?
Later that night Grey Worm and some of The Unsullied come and seize Varys from his chambers. He knows it is coming and takes off his rings and burns the last scroll he was writing. We’re left to wonder how many of those he sent and who they went to via Raven Express.
Tyrion admits to Varys that Tyrion is the one who snitched on him. Varys is executed on the beach by Drogon, Tarly style. His last words to Tyrion are that he hopes that he deserves it and that he is wrong about Daenerys. You’re not wrong, homie and that makes it worse.
Jon goes to visit Dany in her chambers where she is meeting with Grey Worm. Grey Worm is with the shits now, there’s no more warmth in him. He’s lost the love of his life. He exits the room when Dany says she wants to speak to Jon, subtle shade, because this layer of formality and security between Jon and Dany shouldn’t exist. Dany asks immediately “what did I say would happen if you told your sister?” Jon responds, “I don’t want it and that’s what I told him.” Dany’s right though, this information has taken on a life of its own now that he shared it. Sansa is a politician and she will use any advantage she has in the game now. Dany is upset that all she has in Westeros is fear and not the love she was receiving in the cities she ruled in Essos. Jon again declares his loyalty to Dany and his love but when she starts to get romantic he is not enthused at the thought of getting it in with his aunt. After feeling Jon pull away from kissing her you see the last bit of warmth leave her face. She says, “alright then, let it be fear.”
That same night in the Dragonstone throne room Dany, Tyrion and Grey Worm make final preparations for the attack on King’s Landing which will begin tomorrow. Tyrion believes that they will win easily and is intent on keeping Dany from burning the city to the ground unnecessarily. Dany believes that Cersei senses weakness in her and will use civilians as shield to stop her attack is insulting. Challenge accepted, she seems to indicate. Tyrion is alarmed by her seeming nonchalance about thousands of civilian lives and pushes Dany to relent and say she will accept a surrender without destroying the city if the Lannister army surrenders quickly. “Just listen for the bells, that will signal their surrender” he tells her. As Tyrion exits Dany stops him and informs him that his brother Jaime was stopped trying to get past their lines. It seems Jaime hasn’t forsaken Cersei after all. Another miscalculation by Tyrion. Dany warns him “the next time you fail me will be the last time.”
Tyrion meets with Jaime where he is being held prisoner. He has made plans for Davos to smuggle a small boat to the beach under the Red Keep. Tyrion frees Jaime and tells him to find his way to the lower levels of the Red Keep to the beach where he will find the boat. He tells Jaime to sail with Cersei to Pentos and start over. Jaime doesn’t think the plan will work but Tyrion tells him with certainty that Cersei cannot win and their only choice is to escape. Tyrion tells Jaime he wouldn’t have survived childhood if not for his older brother. We get a tearful embrace from the Lannister brothers as they say goodbye.
Finally, day breaks and we see a shot of a bell in King’s Landing again reminding us of Tyrion’s message about surrender and mercy. The camera finds Euron’s navy docked and his men notching scorpion bolts. All the ships have scorpions on their bows. Inside the walls, archers are readying themselves and civilians are scrambling for shelter and safety. We’re being reminded of the real cost of this war. Jaime is hooded and making his way towards the gate of the Red Keep but it is closed before he gets through. The Golden Company is outside the city walls. Across the field from them are the united Northern army, Unsullied and Dothraki forces. The tension is thick. Tyrion reminds Jon Snow that if he hears the bells that means surrender and that the Starkgaryen forces should stand down. Okay, we get it. The bells are the crypts of this episode.
We flash back to Euron who looks up in the sky and sees a shadow in the clouds. Drogon is flying down like a bat out of hell with Dany on his back and he attacks Euron’s navy with a fury. The scorpion bolts can’t catch him in what starts the ridiculousness of this episode. There are dozens of scorpions mounted on the ships who are anchored at sea, ostensibly waiting for this very moment and more scorpions on top of the walls of King’s Landing. For some reason nobody can hit Drogon. It’s like they were surprised to see him. Drogon’s fire cuts through the ships and the castle mounted scorpions like a hot knife through butter and he kills many soldiers while at it. This action is all at the back end, port side of the city which would make you think it’s near the Red Keep where Cersei is. Couldn’t Dany have just gone right to the Red Keep at this point? Instead she flies back to the front entrance of the city. Moments later Drogon blows a fiery hole through the front wall from the inside knocking out many of the Golden Company soldiers who are on the other side of that wall waiting for the attack to come from the soldiers in front of them. They didn’t expect the castle to be taken from inside. That signals the Northern Army to attack and they easily run through what’s left of the Golden Company. We see Grey Worm take out Captain Strickland of the Golden Company as he runs from the entire northern army in a scene that is supposed to evoke Jon standing up against the Bolton forces in the Battle of The Bastards. The CGI in that moment was awkward. The soldiers chasing Harry Strickland looks to be in an entirely different place in terms of lighting than Strickland. The Northern army are making mincemeat out of whoever they encounter and soon we see a standoff between Lannister soldiers and our hero forces. The Lannister soldiers all drop their swords and we hear people in the streets screaming “ring the bells.” We hear the refrain echo through the streets all the way back to Cersei who is in the window looking over the city, much the way she did when she blew up the Sept of Balor but this time she is not smiling. She looks to be in shock. She’s still thinking they have a chance although Qyburn tells her that shit isn’t looking good at all. Dany has landed Drogon on a rooftop not far from where Jon, Tyrion and Grey Worm are standing with their forces. Dany’s face is a little blackened from the smoke because she clearly wanted all the smoke today.
Finally, we hear the bells ring and Cersei closes her eyes. She knows she has lost.
Tyrion is relieved. This has been a quick victory as he hoped. Beers back at his place after everyone gets cleaned up? We look to Dany who is going all Winter Soldier on us as the bells ring. She’s gasping, crying, recalling all that she has lost as she eyes the Red Keep in the distance. She has officially lost it, it’s all in her face. She flies off towards the Red Keep. In that moment we’re all thinking if she’s going to fry Cersei it will be unnecessary, but satisfying. That’s not what she does. She starts raining fire down on the city streets on soldiers and civilians alike. No, Khaleesi! Tyrion’s face is a mask of horror and Jon’s is as well. Upon seeing Dany set it off, Grey Worm throws a spear into the chest of one of the Lannister soldiers who has surrendered. This signals the other soldiers to keep attacking. Jon is commanding his forces to stop but many of them are caught up in the bloodlust ripping through Lannister men and civilians alike. We see Grey Worm take notice of Jon telling his men to stop fighting and he seems like he wants to confront Jon. No time to settle the beef now though, as Grey Worm is too busy murdering his way through his grief to stop and square up with Jon. Look for that to be settled next week.
Qyburn convinces Cersei that it’s time to abandon the Red Keep and that Maegor’s Holdfast would be safer. He takes her hand and the two of them, guarded by The Mountain, leave the Red Keep.
Jon kills one of his own soldiers who is attempting to rape a woman in the streets.
Jaime has finally made his way to the Red Keep finding his way down by the beach. He’s met by Euron who was blown from his ship by the dragon but has survived, this shows how close Dany was to the Red Keep in her initial attack and makes everything just a tad bit sillier. Why didn’t she just chop off the head of the snake right after she destroyed all the scorpions? Cersei was right where she was! Anyway, Jaime tells Euron they must save the queen but Euron laughs at that and for some reason wants to fight instead of escaping. Jaime and Euron go at it on the rocky shore with Euron seeming to get the best of Jaime, stabbing him deep in the side twice with a short sword. Jaime survives and stabs Euron in the gut. Euron lays on a rock seemingly dying but he’s happy. “I got you. I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister.” But Jaime is walking off under his own power as Euron is saying this and nobody will know because nobody else is there. Weird dialogue.
Arya and the Hound have arrived at the Red Keep. The castle is starting to crumble but Arya wants to forge her way ahead and find Cersei. The Hound stops her and tells her she should go home. She ignores him but he grabs her arm. “Do you want to end up like me?” he asks. We’ve seen his character do quite a few noble things starting with defending Ser Loras against The Mountain during the joust in season 1, saving Sansa from being raped by the men during the riot in King’s Landing and all the times he defended Arya during their time traveling North. But we’ve also seen him do hateful vicious things like killing the butcher’s boy, and attacking and stealing from the man who fed Arya and The Hound who he decided were too weak to live. The Hound is a character who we might have seen become a noble night but he’s fueled by his demons and the hatred stems from The Mountain burning his face as a boy. He’s never been able to shrug off that cruelty despite the good he has seen and the good he has done. We saw how uncomfortable the merriment made him at Winterfell after they survived the battle with the dead. The character’s struggles are one of the most fascinating parts of the series. The bitterness inside him ultimately led him back to King’s Landing to face off with The Mountain. Characters being true to their nature is a big part of this episode which makes the ending that much more frustrating.
We finally got the highly anticipated Clegane Bowl. It was beautifully set up. The Hound is heading up a spiral staircase as Queen Cersei and her Kingsguard head down. Some of them are wiped out by falling bricks as Daenerys has Drogon destroying everything in sight and the remainder are easily dispatched by The Hound until all we have left are Cersei, Qyburn and The Mountain. “Hello big brother” The Hound says and The Mountain stares a hole through him. Cersei, still in danger as the building is coming down all around them, demands that The Mountain get her to safety. He gives her a chilling glare through those dead bloody eyes and starts toward The Hound. Qyburn makes the mistake of thinking he can control the monster he created and order Ser Gregor to obey his queen and The Mountain crushes his skull crushed against some rocks for his trouble. So long Qyburn, you were highly entertaining as Cersei’s mad scientist for the last several seasons. Cersei walks right past the The Hound, who is laser focused on The Mountain, and descends further into the lower levels of the Red Keep. She winds up in the room with the painted map of Westeros on the floor where she sees Jaime. Cersei is scared shitless by this point. We’re setting up for a nice death here. Is Jaime going to kill that ass?
We flash back to Arya in the streets of King’s Landing who is seeing all the damage that Daenerys and her rabid soldiers are doing and all of the civilians being massacred. There was a beautiful edit of The Hound getting tossed around by The Mountain and Arya getting tossed around by the crumbling city. Miguel Sapochnik is amazing at weaving images. Arya is trying to get people to safety and the city is not letting her and The Hound is trying to take down the Mountain with the same lack of success. The Mountain at various points in the fight:
- grabs and holds the blade of The Hound’s sword while The Hound is snatching it away without as much as blinking even though his hand is being shredded.
- has a sword shoved all the way through his torso and out his back without any reaction.
- is stabbed by a knife in the neck multiple times and doesn’t seem to notice.
- gets stabbed in the eye with the blade going through the back of his skull and pauses to remove the knife like one would do with a splinter.
I get that he was brought back from the dead by Qyburn but he was still a sentient creature. He wasn’t just wandering around aimlessly unable to think. How does one get stabbed in the brain and treat it as a mild inconvenience? Seeing him get impaled through the chest and then the brain without any real reaction took away from the moment. Something should have slowed him down. We were told he was a monster but I didn’t realize he was a walking corpse with a brain. After getting his ass kicked by this zombie The Hound stays alive long enough to drive The Mountain through a wall where they both fall to their deaths in the fiery hell outside the castle. Salute Sandor Clegane. We wouldn’t be here without you taking care of Arya on the road. You may have been more bad than good, but your good was really important.
Jaime and Cersei hug as Cersei fully realizes her plans were maybe not that well thought out. Maybe you should have killed everyone when you killed Missandei and they were all just standing around. The castle is crumbling around them. Jaime tries to take her out of the Red Keep via the passageway that Tyrion told him about but it’s blocked by rubble. Cersei cries that she doesn’t want to die. Jaime is true to his nature. He loves Cersei and he snaps her out of it with his patented “nothing else matters, only us” line that we’ve heard before after their kids died and we see them embracing as they are consumed by the rubble and… wait a minute is that it? That’s how Cersei dies?!! No the fuck it isn’t! We spent 8 seasons building up an intense hatred for this sadistic, selfish, hateful, incestuous, Joffre birthing, city bombing bitch and we don’t get to see someone slit her throat or see her get burned alive by a dragon? I don’t know if the writers fell in love with Lena Headey and couldn’t bear to watch her suffer but the show owed everyone a much grander death than that for arguably the chief antagonist of the series. Joffrey got gruesomely poisoned, Ramsay was fed to the same hounds that he terrorized people with, The Night King was stabbed by in the heart by a ninja, Littlefinger had his throat slit with the same dagger he used to sow chaos, Tywin Lannister was killed by his despised “son” while he was on the shitter… but Cersei goes quietly under a pile of rubble in the arms of the man who loves her? Where’s the poetry? Of all the poor storytelling choices that have been made this season that’s perhaps the most egregious one. Cersei deserved to be executed. George RR Martin is rolling over in his grave. Wait, he’s still alive and almost definitely writing a much more reasonable ending than this tripe? Okay, okay… (deep breaths.)
The Hound has reminded Arya who she is. She is a fighter for justice, not just vengeance. She is trying to save a woman and her daughter who are our avatars for civilians in the city The mother saves Arya from being trampled. It’s the same mother and daughter we see earlier not make it through the gates of the Red Keep before they close. Arya barely escapes as the mother and daughter who refuse to leave each other are turned into piles of ash by Drogon. Arya is knocked out in the chaos but when she comes to she sees their bodies and the body of a Northern soldier who has also been reduced to ash. Arya is bloodied and bruised but she sees a white horse all alone who has managed to survive while everything else is dead around them. Arya comforts the horse as she approaches it. Then she mounts it and rides off down the street and out of the chaos. The white horse was supposed to embody death “behold a pale horse and his name who sat on him was death” is a quote from Revelation and it seems to signify what Dany’s fate will be next week.
Back to Danykin Skywalker… this episode was ultimately about Dany embracing the dark side, inhaling all the betrayal, loss and hurt that she’s experienced and exhaling fire. I just can’t buy it. We’ve spent 8 seasons building her up as the main heroine of the show, she was juxtaposed as the southern version of Jon Snow. We’ve seen her free slaves and promise that slavery would never return to Mereen, even though her ultimate goals had nothing to do with Mereen. We saw her allow a son to bury his father after hearing him plead that his father wasn’t a cruel master to his slaves, because she was merciful to people even when she hated the crimes they were attached to. She paid a poor farmer for the loss of his child when the child was killed by one of her dragons because even though a dragon is wild you must protect the people they can hurt. She locked the dragons, her children, away beneath a pyramid rather than see them hurt more innocent people. She asked another Khaleesi to trust her rather than allow Daario or Jorah to kill the girl when she was held with the other widows of the khals at Dosh Khaleen. She forgave Jorah for betraying her to King Robert. She outlawed the fighting pits in Yunkai because she thought it was too savage and that life was too precious to risk so arbitrarily. She later reinstated the fighting pits because she was thoughtful enough to listen to counsel. She was not unhinged and she was not callous, until suddenly, she was. She lost a dragon saving the North from The Night King and another dragon because she didn’t face the threat of the Lannister army quickly enough. Both dragons were ultimately lost in service to the needs of others. Daenerys wasn’t the Mad Queen and I don’t think they sowed enough seeds to have us believe this was going to come out of her when she was on the doorstep of power. Even last season she was going to let the Iron Islands be free if they promised to stop raping and reeving, but now that’s what she is allowing from her own soldiers? The character has been through trying times before but has maintained her sanity. She was hot tempered but not insane.
Had she been double-crossed by a fake surrender– which is what I thought we were building to in this episode- I could see that causing her to break from who she was. A bold-faced betrayal by Tyrion to have the Lannisters attack the Northern and Unsullied forces after getting everyone to believe that they had surrendered would have been a shock to viewers and something that understandably pushed Daenerys past her breaking point. Or one last hidden scorpion inside the Red Keep that fired at Drogon after all was quiet because Tyrion had made another mistake and I would have believed that she snapped… but that’s not where we went. Her chief complaint since she arrived at Winterfell in the first episode of this season was that she wasn’t loved. Now when presented with a choice between:
a) winning over the hearts and minds of the people who would have seen her be merciful or
b) destroying a city and killing a bunch of innocent people—innocent spokes in the wheel she wanted to break
She chose carnage?
When we first hear the bells Dany and Drogon take flight and they’re seemingly headed straight towards Cersei in the Red Keep ready to send her to seven hells. It would have been a vicious statement, considering the Lannister army had surrendered, but a fitting one because Cersei deserved to die a nasty death and Dany needed to obliterate an enemy who deserved it. It would have been a dragon move. From the point that Dany decides in mid-flight to make a detour and burn the city the character arcs for Daenerys and Cersei detour from what we had been taught they earned.
Only one more week to see where everyone ends up. Who will sit on the Iron Throne? It seems that Danykin Skywalker has won even though she’s no longer the Dany we rooted for. Will she take out everyone who knows Jon’s secret now that she has gone over to the dark side? Jon will not be able look her in the eye knowing how much he hated everything he saw her do. What will that mean for him? Does Tyrion have one more clever moment left in him? We still have things to settle and we have an assassin who can wear other people’s faces who will be lurking in the crowds.
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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