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This article was published 14/5/2019 (321 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If the fourth episode of the eighth season of HBO's Game of Thrones had fans somewhat perplexed and intrigued, the fifth and penultimate episode, which aired Sunday, May 12, was nothing short of incendiary, bringing many a storyline crashing to the ground in a heap of rubble. (Note: plenty of spoilers follow.)
Yes, Daenerys Targaryen wreaked complete havoc on King's Landing atop her lone remaining dragon, Drogon, burning nearly everything and everyone to a crisp. As a result, many of the show's biggest characters didn't make it out of this episode, entitled The Bells, alive.
But it was on social media where some of the most heated and incendiary attacks took place following the episodes, with many longtime fans feeling betrayed by the direction taken by the show's writers and producers.
Here, the Free Press panel of Game of Thrones fans picks through the rubble to see what (and who) is left in Westeros leading up to Sunday's series finale.
OK, so that episode was a little bananas on many fronts. I don’t feel as though I have completely digested it, but I’d like to start with the obvious and discuss Dany’s fall into madness.
This seemed so over the top to me; even though there have undoubtedly been hints all along that she has a piece of her soul that is very vindictive and very cruel, the snap was too jarring for me.
I mean, I get why it happened that way — there isn’t much time left and her character needs to shift dramatically to keep the story moving forward — and I’m not particularly emotionally tied to her character, but man, watching her burn all those women and children and innocent civilians when she could have easily just taken out Cersei was really hard to watch.
It would have helped if we got to see a closeup or two of Dany during her assault on King’s Landing, to show us the mental state she’s in. Instead, it’s all explosions and wreckage from a ground-level point of view.
Yeah, when she said she would take what's hers "with fire and blood" she wasn't kidding — both were in ample supply this week. When they rang the bell in King’s Landing to signal surrender, and then they cut to Daenarys’ face... hoo boy, you knew bad things were coming.
I’m still not sure what I think about her "snapping," if you will, but one thing’s for certain — this episode was extremely divisive, with those who disliked it getting incredibly noisy on social media.
The episode was just an orgy of destruction, but as for drama, it was one of the least dramatic episodes in the entire eight seasons of Game of Thrones. It got sadder and sadder with every fiery breath.
I totally agree, I was really heartbroken. And I have to say, even though I knew exactly how Jamie and Cersei would meet their demise, I was very disappointed by that as well.
Jamie has had such a wonderful character arc in the past couple of seasons and I had a tiny glimmer of hope he would be the one to kill Cersei, or that he would get the cinematic death of a hero, but nope, just a pile of rocks on the head.
Again, I understand them dying in a loving embrace was kind of the way it had to be, but it still felt a bit underwhelming.
I am very glad Jamie killed Euron before he died though, that guy was the worst.
It ended up being a pathetic ending to Cersei’s reign of errors. She wound up in the arms of the only person in Westeros who could stand her.
I thought Arya would stumble upon her in the castle while she was wandering aimlessly and get to strike the top name from her list.
As for Euron, the less said the better. His single-minded madness reminded me of a campy Batman villain during the Adam West years.
Nailed it on the head with that one, Al.
I think the introduction of a smarmy cretin like Euron needs more time than he was afforded in these last few episodes (I’ve not read the books, so I don’t know whether he’s fleshed out a bit more on the page), so that we can really develop some solid loathing for him (a la Ramsay Bolton... ew).
Of course the showdown between him and Jaime was inevitable, but I was hoping for some chatter about who was the father of Cersei’s child. Oh well.
It seems odd that conversation never came up between them. And more family drama with the Mountain and the Hound — a fight now hilariously dubbed CleganeBowl. Now that was a showdown eight seasons in the making.
I’m not entirely sure what the Mountain’s deal is; do they ever discuss that in the show? Is he a zombie or a monster or something? I can’t recall.
Regardless, that was an excellent and very satisfying fight, my favourite part being when the Hound was stabbing the Mountain while yelling, "Why won’t you die!" or something along those lines.
It’s not often characters in Game of Thrones verbalize their frustrations so literally, and it made me laugh. Also when Cersei just sort of excused herself and got out of the way. Super sad to see the Hound go, but again, it was an inevitable ending.
That battle was so epic; I think they played that part of the episode quite well. I feel like the Mountain was a bit more terrifying with his helmet on, but when he pulled the Hound’s knife out of his own face… oh man, so creepy.
I'll miss the Hound. On the other hand, one character whose demise I highly enjoyed was Qyburn, Cersei’s smarmy hand. The Mountain just picked him up, casually bashed him against the wall and tossed him down the stairs in a flash. I laughed (and cheered) out loud.
His work no longer continues, I guess.
I feel like Jon Snow really needs to get his head in the game here. This northern naivety act is really wearing thin for me; like, dude, c’mon, you can’t be that stupid, you knew Dany was unravelling and you did nothing, so don’t look so shocked when she dragon-fires all of King’s Landing. I pray he is not the one who ends up on the throne, he annoys me so much.
Perhaps Jon Snow really and truly knows nothing.
Everything he learned was at the knee of Ned Stark, who thought so much of honour and duty in a land that has no honour and duty usually comes with chains.
What about Arya? Do we think she will take out Dany in the next (and final) episode? Or has her moment come and gone with the Night King?
According to Melisandre (R.I.P.!), there are "brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes" that Arya is going to "shut forever." People seem to think the brown eyes were Walder Frey's and the blue eyes the Night King, and going into this episode many thought the green eyes were Cersei's.
Well, she's out of the picture — and guess what colour Dany's eyes are?
I hope they give Arya something to do in the final episode, so that she’s more than being a witness to all the misery that Dany’s attack on King’s Landing created. But there’s a possibility that she has rode off into the dusty sunset on that white horse.
And what about Tyrion? After his diplomatic skills went unheeded, I can see him wallowing in a jug of wine and wondering why he walked all the way to Meereen for this.
Especially now that Tyrion has one less pal to connive with — Varys. Blame-wise, Tyrion sold Varys out to Daenarys — not surprising, I guess, given his desire to, you know, stay alive.
And Varys’ final words before being roasted for treason — ‘I hope I deserve this, truly I do. I hope I’m wrong.’ While I was sad to see Varys go, that was a great scene — and he was definitely not wrong.
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.
Arts and Life Editor
Alan Small was named the editor of the Free Press Arts and Life section in January 2013 after almost 15 years at the paper in a variety of editing roles.
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Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.