Look, we have to talk and I have to process, so I apologize in advance for what will surely be a ten-thousand word, one-part rambling/two-part rage post about the latest Game of Thrones episode — called The Last of The Starks — which I’ve aptly retitled: So What The Fuck Was That??
So like, what the fuck was that? As I’ve grown with this series — a good ten years of my life — there have been times that I’ve said to other women, “No, I get it, girl. I get it. Rape scenes: bad. Incest: everywhere. Problematic everything plus a Byzantine cast and plot that could be overwhelming in the wrong hands. BUT HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP GOING….” and I became one of Those People, pleading my case in a court of Starbucks, explaining why they should keep watching something so triggering and imbalanced and sometimes devastating. The writing. The cinematography. Jon Snow. Dragons. That George R. R. Martin rule of “Kill whoever!” Arya motherfucking Stark.
Once Season 5 rolled around, I felt like we were finally getting somewhere re: balance and seeing some ladies finally kick some ass. Most of the major storylines were about women, take-no-shit women who weren’t just vehicles for assault or enraging plot points for men to further their own agendas; women who overcame incredible obstacles (mostly men) to claim their own power in this game of thrones. They seemed to lighten up on the MEN ROOL BECUZ MEN and I’ve really enjoyed the series since then. I don’t know if I felt more “seen” – I’m just the mother of one Virgo and zero dragons, after all – but it didn’t feel like some Dudes-Only Adventure anymore where women just existed to have wispy hair tendrils and look good in firelight (sorry, Shireen).
So after all that, why did this episode take us to
Arya = gets a moonie-eyed love proposal that comes out of nowhere
Dany = *crazy lady music* “She’s too strong” *crazy lady camera angles*
Brienne = weeping and pleading in the dark over a man
Sansa = “Sexual assault was good for me!”
Cersei = Euron looks to Qyburn to confirm pregnancy lol
Missandei = the sole woman of color on the show gets captured under dubious circumstances, is then shackled and paraded around, then publicly beheaded
Four men are responsible for writing the entirety of Season 8, and I’m sorry, but it really fucking shows. While the majority of the storylines are about women, the women in this show are still getting surface-level treatment on-screen, while the men get long conversations and witty dialogue about how and why dongs make much better rulers. If the showrunners are trying to show a shitty parallel between Westeros and America: well done, guys.
I had a problem with so many plot points from this episode. The whole coffee cup fiasco felt indicative of a bigger problem this season has presented us: Are the wheels coming off? Was this episode just a miss for me? Or is all of this somewhat lazy storytelling and trope-leaning supposed to teach us something down the road? I was not a big fan of the previous battle episode, but it still had real heart moments and some surprises. This episode felt like 87 minutes of filler and boring cliches that just-barely moved the story forward and sacrificed a lot in the process. As Game of Thrones has picked up the pace, the writers and showrunners have thrown out all the second acts, and it’s really suffered from that. Problems are set up and then immediately resolved bam-boom and there’s no middle part to even out the pacing or to let anything unfold. The storytelling standards have been lowered this season, which truly bums me out. Everything in this episode felt so forced and abrupt. That could just be my experience, though, so if you loved this episode, I would skip reading the rest of this post. It does not get better.
We start at a funeral. The funeral was for the folks who had died in Winterfell Battle, but also Mother Earth because that smoke pollution probably choked her to death. I felt like this episode, more than others, the plot devices were so obvious — CRY HERE, MAD HERE, GASP HERE — instead of the story unfolding in an organic, interesting way. I could hear the story boards being changed out each scene, which really bothered me. I also didn’t like how so many characters went against their nature, their better judgment, and their instincts in this episode.
Jongon: *plays Taps*
Dany: *lights pyres*
Everyone: *dies of smoke inhalation*
Party time! I get that everyone is supposed to be in good spirits, drowning in spirits, and getting their spirits laid, but there were parts that still felt off to me. I loved the camaraderie and that people finally relaxed for a hot minute, but there were 200 pounds of stories stuffed into a 10-pound bag. We navigated through them quickly — Gendry gets a title! Arya is a hero! Jon should be King! Dany’s going mad! The Hound wants to drink! Sansa’s not a bird! Tormund, sad! Brienne, virgin! Check, check, check. Got it.
Okay: Jaime, Brienne, Tyrion, and Podrick playing the old timey version of “I Never” was funny, but ended so weirdly with “You’re a VIRGIN!” like… are we in fucking middle school? Even a really drunk Tyrion usually has more tact than that. And then she and Jaime just wandered off to bicker in front of a fire and then get it on, double knight-style? I mean, okay. I was hoping for this moment but the set-up was a little weird. “It’s hot in here.” *strains of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” play in the background* Go Brienne.
Gendry had temporary amnesia and we were apparently also supposed to forget that he actually knows Arya. He knows she won’t be some wifely Storm’s End lady; she would never be won over by basic declarations of love and beauty. They let him really see her in this series, multiple times — her hardness, her vengeance, her independence — but then threw all that shit out the window. They have sex once which turns into a moonie-eyed lovestruck marriage proposal?! Gendry of the Hot Arms Action isn’t dumb.
Here’s how I wanted that to go:
Gendry: I know you have shit to do. And I know you’re not a lady. But maybe you can make your way to Storm’s End after you kill everyone in the world.
Arya: Cool, maybe.
Jongon Snowgaryen and his braided Aunt Lover have a chat that was made for a medium-popular daytime television show. The direction was just… what is happening, y’all? I know I’m complaining a lot about this TV show being, well, a TV show. But I always thought it was better than this. Dany is unraveling, Jon is ignorant. Their chemistry is waning, but I don’t think it’s because they’re related. I think it’s the poor direction.
Jon, Sansa, Bran and Arya have a weirwood tree chat, and you know how fun those are.
Sansa: DANY SUX
Arya: DANY SUX
Jon: SHE’S FINE
Sansa: WE’RE FAMILY
Arya: WE’RE STARKS
Jon: ABOUT THAT…
And then Jon makes them swear on a stack of weirwood trees they won’t tell anyone that he’s actually a Targaryen. Here’s what was supremely stupid about this scene: 1) Obviously the whole SWEAR IT thing was setting us up for someone to break that promise, 2) Jon chickens out and has BRAN tell them, and then 3) they don’t even show us the scene. Cut to a conversation between men about Brienne’s vagina in 3…2…1….
Bronn shows up to the Lannister frat party. He gives a lovely speech about cutthroats and nobility while Tyrion bleeds out the nose and Jaime puffs up his chest. Such a normal conversation between brothers. Remember the last time you asked your sibling to describe their partner’s genitals because you hadn’t had sex in a while? No?
The Hound and Arya meet up so they can go a-killing together and leave this mortal coil having avenged their families or, in the case of The Hound, killed them. I am still hoping for Cleganebowl. I will riot if we don’t get a sibling rivalry fight, I will take to the STREETS.
Tyrion: What’s new
Sansa: DANY SUX
Tyrion: I said what’s new
Sansa: DANY SUX
Tyrion: *sticks to political talking points*
Sansa: *keeps promise to Jon for exactly four minutes*
Jon says some weird goodbyes.
Gilly: Life grows within me! Feast your eyes upon the would-be child who may bear your name someday!
Sam: We did it. *stares knowingly at Jon*
Tormund: Boo-hoo, the ladies don’t like me down here so I’m going home. (Bitch, you got some LAST NIGHT.)
Jon: Take my dog because I’m a fucking MONSTER who doesn’t deserve the love and loyal companionship and bravery this direwolf has shown me for eight fucking seasons.
Seriously, I’m not a dog person, but what kind of HEARTLESS MORON leaves their dog like that? Not even a hug? Or acknowledgment of some kind? Ghost runs courageously into battle with the Dothraki, survives an epic battle, but you’re like “fuck off” anyway?
Jon: Instead of saying goodbye, let’s just lock eyes for a really long time with Ghost so he knows I had the time but decided not to.
Ghost: *sad dog emoji*
Varys and Tyrion Discuss Treason, Pt. 1
And now, Euron Greyjoy saves or kills the day, depending on whose side you’re on. I’m getting tired of this whole He Saves The Day trope — I felt the same about Melisandre — and will be happy when he’s at the bottom of the ocean or a dragon’s stomach. Isn’t anyone going to be eaten alive by dragons on this goddamn show? Sorry, dragon. Pour one out for Rhaegal, the easiest, quickest kill ever.
It’s odd to me that Euron is just wherever, whenever and people… forget he’s a thing? Until he’s on your doorstep with blood on his teeth and some dragon-sized arrows. I thought dragons were supposed to be, like, hard to kill?
EUR-SEI (I love this name) rejoice over the baby her brother put in her — Euron looking at Qyburn for confirmation made me laugh, like yes, Old Doctor Creepy can confirm that you are NOT the father — and they show Missandei bound up and crying. Uh, this is the badass right-hand woman of Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of One Dragon. She used to be a fucking slave, okay? She would not be shaking and whimpering in King’s Landing, she wouldn’t show any fear at all. She’s PROUD, not weak. Ugh, the way they did Missandei made me want to dragonblast everyone in that dong-filled writer’s room.
Varys & Tyrion Discuss Treason, Pt. 2
Jaime: “Maybe it is all cocks in the end.” My bad, that quote is from a previous season. But still relevant since the following conversation was basically “Maybe it is all cocks in the end” and made me think of the American election cycle, which didn’t lead to the happiest of thoughts.
Varys: He’s a man!
Varys: People love wangs!
Varys: WANGS ARE APPEALING
Varys: WANGS ARE IMPORTANT
Tyrion: They could rule together?
Varys: She’s too strong for him.
Gross. Is this the U.S. democratic primary or is it still Game of Thrones?
Jaime is a wild-eyed dickwad who literally says “Cersei is hateful, and so am I” before leaving Brienne to her weepy ass Winterfell solitude. Okay, dude. Cool story arc, which apparently was just a fucking circle.
I did not like the optics on the last scene with Missandei’s beheading. It was just tone deaf and drawn out too long and Tyrion showed us ONCE AGAIN how spectacularly wrong he is about his sister. The minute he said “You’re not a monster,” I knew Missandei was a dead woman. Did he really think he could go to King’s Landing and demand Cersei be someone other than Cersei, and she would hand over the keys to the city? Is that all this supposedly brilliant mind could come up with on the fly? This all seems so contrived, and of course Missandei died. It’s just another obvious cog in the Let’s Make Dany Extra Crazy storyline, which they’ve been heavy-handed with to the point of exhaustion.
Lots of fake-outs lately but no one is really dying. I guess they killed Brienne’s spirit, which really, fuck you guys for reducing her to some helpless ladytrope — so out of character for her, so over-the-top. Representation matters, y’all, not just on screen but in the writer’s room and the director’s chair. Word count is currently at 2200 so I have to wrap up this hate parade and say this: I hope they redeem themselves in the last two episodes. I’m just disappointed, and worried this last season will sour all the greatness that made me love this show in the first place.