“What is dead may never die” and yet I’m ready to pull the plug on Game of Thrones. Better that than watch this sloppy, predictable, dementia-riddled death at the hands of writers who ultimately chose to serve themselves over the actual story.
As someone who loves television, I’ve always been fascinated by writer’s rooms and the creative process by which these complicated stories get made. And I imagined so many scenarios around the Game of Thrones writer’s room; how they potentially built on each other’s strengths and mapped out George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy tale together. Was it an austere writer’s room, was it messy, was it thoughtful? I envisioned spirited debates over plot points, and late nights where crafting an incredible fantasy series was worth missing out on dinner with the kids or having a girlfriend. I imagined being part of something greater than yourself, writing your name in the annals of television history, and building worlds for people of all backgrounds to dive into, even if just for an hour. The responsibility seemed great, but so did the honor. “Those writers are so lucky,” I thought. “They must be at the top of their game.”
Now it’s clear that the process for writing this show is furiously masturbating onto a pile of old TV tropes, lighting the pile with misogynistic wildfire, feeding the ashes to a woman suffering in silence who wasn’t given any lines, watching her HORK the flaccid remains onto a typewriter from 1984, then naming her vomit “Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 5.”
FINE, it had some moments but if I’m being honest, I probably would have rewritten them all. AND WHO ARE YOU? I know you’re asking. Well for one, I’m someone who would care about the feelings of my audience. Would I fuck with people? OF COURSE. This a white people telenovela. It needs twists, turns, surprises, double-crossing double agents, and a lot of windswept moors. Would I fuck up? MOST DEFINITELY. But I would always want to serve the story, something that’s been sorely lacking this season, and reward my audience for being loyal through ten years of male privilege, child murder, problematic storylines, so much incest you’ll never look at your family members directly again, Ed Sheeran, and wangs always ruining the world they’re trying to save. It feels like the writers decided this season would be their sagging farewell tour to prove their virility but to me it seems like a yogurt ad for the elderly.
There are some basic tenets of storytelling that the writers, for whatever reason, chose to abandon completely this season. Do the showrunners think we aren’t paying attention? At what point did they decide the audience wouldn’t care about story arcs, character development, dialogue, the last seven seasons, most of the relationships, or how the characters we love and hate will be remembered in the end? Which BRAD said “Fuck it, let’s blow the lid off of Season 8, motherfuckers!” which would’ve been partially cool if they had been in Die Hard the movie or wrote for a TV show centered around incest, hey wait
Surely the penultimate episode of A Song of Ice & Fire would start with something spectacular, something to remember in this tale of dragons and queens and Hot Pie and zombies.
We open with Varys doing paperwork and managing underage employees.
Cut to Jongon and Varys, discussing The Problem With Daenerys – I guess she hasn’t been eating or drinking or breathing in a way befitting a sane woman mourning her child – and Jon reiterating like a broken Westerosi record that Dany is his Queen. Varys is all WEINERS WEINERS WEINERS — Lord of Light, this eunuch is obsessed with weiners — and repeats the saying about Targaryens being crazy people because the foreshadowing on that has only been a constant punch in the face this season. Tyrion observes this from afar, then runs off to tattle like a good little Hand.
Tyrion finds Dany staring morosely out a window. Here’s what I learned about women from this scene:
-When women have no makeup on, they can’t be trusted.
-When women have messy hair, they are clearly going crazy.
-When women are ugly and have given up on looking shiny for the world, it’s a sign that worse things are to come.
Tyrion is like “VARYS! TREASON!” and Dany sentences Varys to die by dragonfire with all his secrets and revealing nothing worthwhile about his story arc or motivations or history. STORY ARC: DENIED.
Tyrion: It was me.
Varys: I hope I’m wrong.
After your pro-penis lectures and light treason, you do not get redemption, Varys… or an interesting storyline, apparently. His shit just fizzled out. What did he do besides cockadoodle-doo his preferences to anyone within earshot and then throw Dany under the bus? Pour one out for Varys. Drogon took his sweet ass time, which was gratuitous for nothings’ sake but still, I do love a dragon moment. The whole scene still felt abrupt and unnecessary, much like a lot of this episode. Tyrion and Varys still get a nice goodbye, because what people really want are the men to have closure and storylines that go somewhere and for women to just lose their fucking minds.
Dany and Greyworm have an awkward fireside chat that consists of giving Missandei’s slave collar to Greyworm as a gift — would love to see the chapter addressing this kind of regifting in Emily Post’s etiquette book — and Greyworm tossing that shitty reminder of his true love into the fire.
Jon and Dany also have an awkward fireside chat. I guess that’s kind of her thing now, sitting by the fire, getting crazier and wondering if she has too many braids or just the right amount.
Dany: SANSA SUX
Jon: UR MA KWEEN
Dany: YOU’LL BE VOTED HOMECOMING KWEEN OVER ME!!!!1!!
Jon: UR MA AUNT
Dany: LET IT BE FEAR
Jaime is caught trying to leave the city. Tyrion is shocked — shocked! — by this betrayal and begs Dany to think of the children of King’s Landing. Has Tyrion… ever met his siblings before? I’m stunned by how hapless they’re writing him this season.
Tyrion: I GIVE BAD ADVICE AND APPARENTLY CARE ABOUT CHILDREN NOW.
Dany: The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.
Uh, Dany, do you mean every time before this time because he has done nothing BUT fail you since the beginning of your collaboration, full stop. Remember the brilliant mind, the clever Imp two steps ahead of everyone? Where the fuck did that guy go? Now he just stans his sister and yells “I’m useful!” in battle and is patently bad at his job.
Tyrion and Jaime get more fun dialogue about Cersei, proving they don’t know Cersei for the billionth time. They get a nice goodbye with a tearful hug, which was kind of extra but still bittersweet. I just don’t know if it needed to be said — show, don’t tell — but Jaime was his only familial ally, so the emotional parting made sense.
AND NOW MY FAVORITE: PREPARING FOR WAR MONTAGE
I wonder how someone feels when putting together a war montage. Is it one of those ragingbonerinthedarkatwork kind of scenarios? Do you go out and buy a semi-automatic weapon after it’s done? Do you paint World War II figurines in your basement to John Philip Sousa marches?
Cersei takes to her murder perch in a terrible wig for the last time. Arya and The Hound get in the gates while Jaime is left outside with the peasants. We join Captain Jack Jagger on The Silence and his fleet, preparing in King’s Landing for WATER WAR. Captain Jack turns, squints into the sky, and then with grommeted leather eyeliner blowing in the wind: He acts.
DRAGONBLASTED! A sharp-toothed, fire-breathing birdmonster drops from the sky like a heat-seeking missile with Braided Dragon Barbie at the helm. Drogon basically wipes out every ballista and ship in the space of four seconds. It should have been a satisfying scene but it went by so fast and there was little to no resistance. Didn’t really feel like part of the battle since it was happening far from the other action but… yay, team?
Dragonfire literally ejaculates through the front gates of the city so a bunch of HERO MENS in the form of Hunter, Warrior, King, Slave, and A Guy Just Tryna Get To Work can storm the city with their death weapons and good intentions. Even Drogon the Man-Dragon got his bombastic hero-blasting on by killing huge swaths of everyone, everywhere, with impunity. This is the fantasy of a billion online trolls come to life: destruction, a show of over-the-top strength, and John Wu explosions with a side of toxic masculinity.
Tyrion surveys the wreckage while Jaime runs the town maze. Drogon intimidates, making the much-revered Golden Company of Essos throw down their swords after three seconds of screen time. STORY ARC: DENIED.
AND NOW: HOT QUEEN THUNDERDOME
Dany goes loco for no reason. She had the surrender of the city, she had the upper hand, she was winning. While I thought she would go straight for Cersei and burn The Red Keep down — that’s easy enough to rebuild — she instead takes out the whole town instead while Cersei watches. Like… the whole fucking city. Because “madness.” Because “Targaryen.” Because “someone was too lazy to write anything else.”
At the same time, Greyworm also goes bonkerstown and starts killing dudes left and right. One could view this as misdirected yet much-needed therapy for losing his ladylove, or maybe he just gets caught up in the MURDERVIBES, but I can’t get behind murder for the sake of murder. Murder for the sake of sensationalist, balls-out, last-season hubris. Jon tries and fails to stop the whole world from imploding. But then everyone goes YEET and it’s citywide murder porn time.
Me: I fucking hate this.
Friend: I’m getting “Lost” vibes.
Me: That Lost ending was a pile of island horseshit.
Friend: Mark my words, it’s gonna be Lost of Fucking Thrones.
So apparently no one in King’s Landing, from the mailman to the toddler down the street, got vaccinated for MURDER FLU. Everyone goes ham on each other. People dying in the streets. Children burned alive by their benevolent new ladyqueen. It was so egregiously over-the-top, I actually laughed in between the flinching and angry exclamation points.
Captain Jack Jagger and Jaime “The Hateful” Lannister fight like man-men in a cave. At no point did a smoke monster from previous seasons of Game of Thrones or Lost show up. The fight porn is strong in these two.
Euron: You fought well for a cripple.
AAAAAAND WE’RE BACK to the fight that I thought was over between Euron and Jaime. My notes from this part of the show just say “Jesus Christ, just fucking die already.” After much grunting and man-stabbing, Euron bleeds out while yelling, “I got you! I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister!” Nothing illustrated to me where the writer’s heads are at more than that line. “I got you!” This pointless game of Tag brought to you by two privileged toddlers fighting over a lady in a bad wig on the loser’s team. Also: how you gonna to make Euron’s story end on a fairly GOOD NOTE? I love that actor but goddamn, the bloody teeth, manic-eyed crazy person trope was taken to new, ridiculous heights. Even his mustache was hilariously eeee-vil.
Arya and The Hound have their goodbye moment. He, of course, gets all the dialogue about her ending up like him, etc etc yeah yeah cool, and then she does a full-180 and says “Sandor. Thank you.” Deciding in literally the 12th hour that she’s in the wrong fucking place, and should go smell the flowers while ye may or something. I guess even Arya needed the guidance of a man in the end to know her true self.
The Hound fights three preliminary dudes before getting to the big boss. “Hello, big brother.” Gregor kills Qyburn (byeee) and now it’s time for CLEGANEBOWL.
Justin: I hope they hug it out.
Cleganebowl is on. Finally two family members go to town on each other in a way I approve of on this show. Only had to wait for *checks notes* ten years. I didn’t love how Sandor sacrificed himself to kill The Mountain — whose storyline and character stayed at one note (“blueberry zombie rapist,” mostly) for the whole show — but it was kind of poetic, dying in a fire like that. Pour one out for The Hound. I really love Rory McGann, and I’m glad he was allowed to grow The Hound in small ways across the series. That chicken scene. Fucking legendary.
Arya is of course alive after running the shittiest 10K through a dying town ever. She Pied Pipers two people who don’t matter down the street to their doom. She goes through some Extreme Jostling, and War Time Stuff, and Dragon Blasting, and The Deaths of Many Faceless Folks. It’s exhausting to watch this girl get shit on, it really is. I hope she is fondly remembering that weak ass toast the people of Winterfell gave her for saving all of humanity last week.
Jaime and Cersei wander through the Red Keep storage space together, finding only dead ends. The daytime soap opera direction kicks in and I was like, waitno. Surely they can’t just…perish in a dingy storage area with no one around?
Cersei: I want our baby to live. Please don’t let me die.
Jaime: Nothing else matters, only us.
The Red Keep collapses on Jaime and Cersei. Not my favorite way to watch an evil pregnant character die, to be honest. I was so fucking confused. THIS is how the MAIN VILLAIN on GAME OF FUCKING THRONES ends up dying? Enfolded in her loving brother’s arms and crying for their baby? Where’s the confrontation between queens? The public beheading? The gruesome end she so truly deserves?
We join Arya, who is clearly traumatized by the second giant battle in the space of what feels like a week. She don’t look good. She eventually finds a horse and makes meaningful, Artex-like eye contact with it, and then rides that horse… just away. Probably to find Gendry, put on a pink dress, learn how to bake, and get on with her new life as a female host body.
Dany obliterates everyone and Jon Snow looks mildly concerned. Now Dany has like ten people in the city left to govern.
Friend: That should make governing much easier.
This is the longest recap yet — thanks for hanging in there, y’all.
In conclusion: Yes, of course I think Jongon Snowgaryen would make a good leader. Yes, of course I understand you can’t please everyone when it comes to who will sit on the throne. But I’d rather have Jon and Dany rule together with some long-necked, blood rage babies than this trite, easy, blame-it-on-the-crazy direction we are going. Will the writers give anyone dignity in the end? Will they answer any questions from storylines that just plain fizzled out? Is this a lesson about impermanence and acceptance? So many excellent actors have been reduced to one-note, one-dimensional characters after seven seasons of build-up.
It seems like the showrunners decided to blow their wads on two big battles and no nuance or insight into the people on this show. If they were aiming for the lowest common denominator with this episode, they certainly succeeded. Now that the magic part of Game of Thrones has been summarily killed, and the whispery whisperers are all dead or silenced, this is largely a game of RISK now. And I don’t know if you’ve ever played RISK, but it is boring as fuck.
*Ready for this to be over and for either the books to take over (I know, LOTS OF LOLS) or some brilliant fan-fic to reveal a much better ending.*