How does Game of Thrones do it? These season has been perhaps the most underwhelming in the entire series. The Night King was done in a second in the third episode, and every couple we rooted for were suddenly a thing by mid-season. I actually said to my friends “Game of Thrones turned into Dawson’s Creek” and “this isn’t what I paid for, I want betrayals and death.” And just like that, this episode made me wish I had never said that. Yet I love the show for it.
Many of us fans correctly predicted some of the events but we couldn’t quite believe it when they actually happened. Also, some of our best-informed predictions suddenly turned into ashes, making me lose a bet and look like a total idiot (damn you, Golden Company).
Anyways, let’s get right to it. Varys seems to plot to poison Daenerys but gets caught and almost immediately gets burnt alive. Right there I was like “oh, gods, here we go. That’s it. Enter Mad Queen.”
When she plans to do the same to the entire capital, Tyrion begs Daenerys to give Cersei a chance to surrender, with bells ringing as the signal that King’s Landing is hers. Daenerys agrees before Tyrion secretly helps Jaime escape (who had gotten caught somewhere in the middle of last week’s episode and this week’s episode) with the sole mission of running away with Cersei in exchange for convincing her to surrender. Realizing this really is the last time they see each other, Tyrion shares a beautiful moment with Jaime where he thanks him for being the only person who didn’t treat him like a monster when they were growing up.
We also see the Hound and Arya reach King’s Landing. Then the battle starts without further ado and hell breaks loose.
Next thing you know: Drogon is burning the entire Iron Fleet. The Northern army stands before the gates of King’s Landing, guarded by the Golden Company. But then Drogon also burns the Dracarys out of all of the scorpions on the towers and, before you know it, the Golden Company is being burnt alive without so much as 10 seconds of screen time for Harry Strickland. Seriously, Golden Company? Damn, and we thought Jon Snow had been useless during the “Last Night”.
Jaime gets just in time to ring the bells, signaling Cersei’s surrender. Jon Snow and Grey Worm breach the gates unchallenged until they reach a small group of Lannister men. These men hear the dragon and the bells and almost immediately drop their weapons. But Dany is riding Drogon while looking straight at the Red Keep, where Cersei stands alongside Qyburn and the Mountain. And what does Dany do? She starts burning the place to the ground: women, children, all. Suddenly, our worst fears have been confirmed when, just as predicted, she fulfills her father’s wishes when, back in the day, he uttered “Burn them all” to Jaime (Jaime then stabbed him in the back and sealed his fate as the Kingslayer, in case you had forgotten).
Realizing the battle is not over, a dehumanized Grey Worm charges against the unarmed Lannisters and the rest of his army follow suit in slaughtering every living soul that can find while Jon and Tyrion stand shocked at what they are witnessing.
Arya and the Hound make it to the Red Keep, but as the entire city is in chaos, the castle begins to fall apart. The Hound urges her to leave, telling her vengeance has consumed him. The Hound continues on his quest until he finds the Mountain, who, upon looking at his brother, breaks the spell he is under, kills Qyburn and allows Cersei to leave.
In short: the Hound fights the Mountain but he doesn’t die, no matter how many times he gets stabbed. A wounded Hound begins to understand the only way to kill his brother: pushing him out of the window even if it means dying, too. RIP the Hound.
Jaime, who was unable to pass through the gates, reaches a hideout at the beach, where Euron waits to kill him. After a bitter fight, Jaime manages to stab Euron and find Cersei. Together they go back to the dungeons of the Red Keep but all of the exits have been sealed by rubble. Cersei begins to have a nervous breakdown, but Jaime hugs her and goes Metallica on her by saying “Nothing else matters” until they get buried by the Red Keep’s destruction.
Yet nobody embodies shock like Arya, who gets caught between people running for their lives; Dothraki warriors charging on innocent people and buildings that keep falling off as she tries to dodge Drogon’s fire. Perhaps what makes Arya’s perspective so agonizing and cruel is that this need not be a fantasy world. Other than the dragons, cities have indeed been sacked, bombed, and burnt; innocents have been slaughtered, women have been raped. Arya gives us a glimpse into what it could have been to witness some of history’s most bloody battles and bombings firsthand. Arya wakes up completely covered in ash, having just survived the destruction of King’s Landing. She stared at a burnt corpse and looks into a toy it’s carrying. No doubt she’s looking at a child. At the same time, a white horse stands in the middle of the street. She mounts it and rides off. The rest is silence.
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