Summary: Dany takes control of King's Landing and plans to conquer the world. Tyrion quits as Hand and is apprehended. Jon talks with Tyrion who encourages him to kill Dany. Jon eventually kills Dany. Drogon goes into a rage and urns down the iron throne. Drogon leaves with Dany's body. Jon is taken as a prisoner. The lords of the realm and Tyrion meet to appoint a new king. Tyrion suggests Bran and the others all agree. Bran takes over as king and creates a new small council. Tyrion is taken as Hand. Bran sentences Jon to the Night's Watch. Sansa is allowed independence in the North. Arya sails west on a new adventure.
The Good: The episode started off on the right foot. The opening scenes did a brilliant job of establishing a melancholy and desolate atmosphere, creating a near-perfect tone for Dany's new world that she so violently created. Tyrion and Jon walking through the death on the streets was powerful and nicely set up both characters to oppose Dany later.
There were a number of great scenes early in the episode. I thought Dany's break the wheel speech was fantastic and nicely showed us how fractured her mind and goals had become (even if the process to get here wasn't very good at all). Tyrion resigning from his position was a good moment too. Tyrion actually had the best scene of the episode prior to this when he finds the dead bodies of his siblings. It was a sad and tragic end for the Lannisters with Tyrion facing the death of his family.
Tyrion and Jon's conversation was quite good too. It was lengthy and I think it was the closest we have gotten to the classic conversations of seasons 1-4 in a long while. Both characters' motives were clear and they had some very good lines. Tyrion finally did something smart for the first time in many seasons, while Jon has finally been given a proper conflict to deal with in this season. There were some good references to the past as well which the show has done well in the last 2 seasons, if a bit too often.
Brienne's story ended up being the only one I was actually satisfied with. Her character's arc this season was the only one that felt earned and emotional with great (though not perfect) closure on her character. Having her finish off Jaime's account in The White Book was a great, and fittingly somber conclusion for her relationship with Jaime.
Jon actually interacted with Ghost! Yay!
The Bad: This ending was underwhelming in a lot of ways and I don't think it captured the essence of the show very much at all. D&D decided to take inspiration from "The Lord of the Rings" for this ending with its many layers and its epic length. I liked it for "Lord of the Rings" because it nicely closed out the characters while offering a very emotional farewell. Yet it failed horribly here because the path to these final scenes was so poor. The scenes dragged on and were more confusing and rushed than anything else. Somehow after years and years of investment, I felt nothing at the end of what used to be one of my favourite TV shows. How has it come to this?
Well I believe I've explained why the show isn't as good as it used to be in my more recent reviews (mostly because of writing) and that is a big reason as to why this finale flopped. My immersion and investment had slowly been chipped away since season 5. The writing of the show had hit such a low that I was falling out of love with the story and its characters. Now after this episode, I think I finally hit that moment where I stopped caring after the many stupidities I had to watch in this episode. The fond farewells did nothing for me and I found myself just eager to get this disappointment over with. Rather than relishing my final moments in this world, I just wanted it to be over. And unlike TV shows like "Lost" or "Breaking Bad" which left me feeling sad at its conclusion due to the need to say goodbye to these characters, "Game of Thrones" just left me feeling sad that the show wasn't better than it was.
The first half of this episode should have been outstanding and emotional. Dany has gone evil and has killed a ton of people. Now our heroes need to come to terms with themselves and murder her. It's a great story idea yet it doesn't work. Why? Once more it fails because of the writing. The way the show got to this position was so contrived that I found it actually difficult to buy into the story being told. It kept my immersion minimal so I wasn't into the emotions that Jon and Tyrion were feeling as they conspired against Dany. That, coupled with a ridiculously rushed pacing, caused my emotional investment to be low and that prevented the episode from impacting me the way that it should have.
Even the Jon/Tyrion scene had issues with it that I immediately noticed. Jon says he won't defend what Dany did, and yet he immediately starts defending her. Why? I can't buy into him still standing beside Dany after this happened. Their romance isn't strong enough of a storyline for this to work. I was upset by Tyrion adding some depth to his decision to kill Varys after the fact. Wouldn't that have been such a great story to watch develop for a few episodes? Instead the show is so rushed that nothing interesting happened when it could have been great. These big problems made me reflect on how disappointing the show has been these past few seasons, rather than reflect on how great the show was. This occurred many more times throughout the episode.
Then we get to Jon killing Dany, and it was... disappointing. The scene was so generic with Jon kissing and killing Dany in such a dull and predictable way. It felt so easy and shockingly anticlimactic. I feel like I should have felt so much more here, but with the lame writing and rushed nature of Jon and Dany's relationship, the scene fell flat for me with little emotion. Drogon burning the iron throne and not killing Jon afterwards felt odd and I was left with more questions than answers. It was yet another case of the writers wanting to go for spectacle rather than actual substance.
So with Dany dead, you would expect absolute chaos to result. I was much more excited to see what happened following her death than anything else in the episode. But the writers made the boneheaded mistake of ignoring the fallout and doing a lazy timeskip. Well what happened? How did the public react? Did the Dothraki go crazy and kill more? Did Jon's men rise up? Did Dany's death cause riots? What happened to everyone after she died? Did King's Landing get rebuilt? Were there enough people to do this? These questions were all skipped over because the writers were too lazy. It's unbelievable. Continuing on the writers' laziness, I thought it was remarkable that we didn't get proper follow-up on the events of last episode. Nobody tries to make sure that Cersei is actually dead. We don't see if any survivors were found and what was done with them. We don't see what everyone thinks about Dany. We don't even get a scene where people confront Dany for killing everyone after the surrender. Hell, Jon doesn't even bring this up when he talks with her! These are important details, and the lack of these details completely killed my immersion. I was too distracted to care about what was happening in the show.
Then we get to the god-awful scene where the lords of Westeros gather to select a new king. First of all, how did this get organized? What was everyone told? Why did they all gather? Was nobody busy? Did nobody care to bring any of their own men with them? Who sent the messages? Whose side are they on? Are there any threats to be worried about? How many men do each of them have? The "Game of Thrones" of old would never have glossed over these details. I've said before how the world of Westeros feels so empty now, and this is one of the reasons why. None of the details are explored.
The scene itself is horribly written. It's implied that Grey Worm has power over the city. So did he invite everyone here? They are all meeting in the dragonpit after all. There is literally not a single line of dialogue addressing how this was all organized. Grey Worm is so hostile and seems to want to resolve things himself. So why didn't he care to participate in this discussion? Was Tyrion his representative? No way that's right. Why was Tyrion even allowed to attend anyways? None of these details were touched on and it adds to how poorly the scene is written. There is so much more too that I hated. Edmure is openly humiliated again in an unnecessary scene. I hate that the writers chose to give time to this scene rather than focusing on the details of the world. The comedy in this scene was weak and not needed. I did get a kick out of Yara laughing at Sam for suggesting a vote from the people. Did she forget that the ironborn select their next king in the same way?
The decision to make Bran the king was so, so, so stupid. Why would everyone listen to Tyrion, the prisoner, anyways? And why does Tyrion think Bran is a good choice? They have hardly ever talked! Furthermore, Bran's reactions are so bad. Bran has made it clear he doesn't want anymore, yet in this scene he implies that he only came down to King's Landing because he wanted to be king. What awful, awful writing. Plus, why does literally everyone vote for him? Do the others not have their own interests? Plus, half of them have no idea who the hell Bran even is, so why would they vote for him?! It's so dumb. Then Sansa asks for independence, which makes sense. But why didn't anybody else try for independence. How about Yara, who was promised independence back in "The Winds of Winter"? Does she not want it anymore? Or Dorne, who were never ruled by the king to being with? So much for unbowed, unbent, unbroken. Hell, the prince of Dorne didn't say a single word, so clearly he doesn't matter. Also, why is Gendry the official lord of the Stormlands now? Did it only take Dany's word at Winterfell to make it official? Did the people of the Stormlands just accept him without any kind of fight? It's all so unrealistic. The more I think about it, the more holes I am able to poke into the logic of this scene. It's simply pathetic.
I hated how the episode treated Jon after he killed Dany. He had little to no focus on his character after this. Nobody vouched for him to be a king even though he is a Targaryen. Why, I will never know. What's worse is that when you look back at it, Jon's lineage had zero impact on the story. All it did was make Dany mad. That's literally it. Such a big twist with limitless possibilities can't possibly have no ramifications whatsoever. That's just poor storytelling. Furthermore, the decision on what to do with him should surely have been given more time. It's a genuine conflict for Bran. But alas, the writers don't care about Bran and Jon's simply banished in one scene. Why is he banished anyways? The only people who want him dead just went away to Naath. So can't they just free him now?
Plus, why is the Night's Watch even a thing now? What are they defending against? The White Walkers are dead and the wildlings are allies now. Are they hunting for grumpkins and snarks? Also, what about that gaping hole in The Wall? Is anyone going to be able to fix that?
I have several other quibbles. The small council scene was pathetic and just served to remind me of how good the small council scenes were earlier in the series. The patheticness of this scene was just painful for me to experience and it made me crave for the old "Game of Thrones" more than anything. How could it have come to this?
Arya's extended screentime in the last episode was quite pointless. She did nothing whatsoever. Hell, she didn't even have a story arc this season even though she killed the Night King. She was painfully bland. The same can be said for many of the characters this season. They were misused and/or given nothing to do. The best examples are Jon, Dany, Jaime, Cersei and Davos, though many other characters had downright bad storylines this season. I'm honing in on Arya specifically because she had so much time on screen. Yet she did next to nothing the entire time. How hard is it to give her a character arc instead of just making her an unkillable assassin? Furthermore, that convenient horse from last episode didn't even get any pay-off. It wasn't symbolism, it was just a way to make Arya survive King's Landing. And damn it, it doesn't even appear in this episode!
The presence of winter has been so inconsistent. The scenes flash from summer to winter sporadically and it fails to establish a consistent setting. After hyping up that winter will be coming from the first episode, it hardly even came at all. Even the writers don't know if it's winter or not.
Had Jaime or Cersei stood a few feet away from where they were, they would have lived. That's just poor storytelling.
The Unknown: Did King's Landing get rebuilt? Or is it still rubble? How many survivors were there? Is Bran actually ruling anything?
Why does Bran need a master of whisperers when he knows everything? That's kind of pointless, and besides, who would even be up to the task?
Who will be Bran's kingsguard? Will he have any? You would think that the cripple king would need guards more than anyone else.
Where has Drogon gone with Dany's body? Valyria?
Did Jon join up with the wildlings rather than the Night's Watch? That's a neat development.
What ever happened with the Lord of Light? Does he no logner exist? Why did he bring Jon back to life anyways? I find it tough to believe it was just to kill Ramsay and Dany.
Best Moment: Tyrion crying over his dead siblings.
Character of the Episode: Brienne for having the best character conclusion.
Conclusion: This was so disappointing, and I don't think disappointing is a strong enough word to describe what happened here. The finale is enjoyable enough at parts but the writing is so lazy it's absurd. D&D really phoned it in this season and it shows. This is an absolute trainwreck and will go down as one of the worst finales ever. The more I think about this episode, the more painful it gets. At this point I'm not even mad anymore, just in pain. How did such a great story end this way?
Season 8 ended up as a pretty looking, well-acted disaster. Outside of episode 2, no storytelling stood out whatsoever and it was nearly impossible to care about anything that happened in the show. The characters were all handled badly, many questions were left unanswered and the ending proved to be absolutely awful. At this point I really don't want to talk about this season any more than I already have. I've written thousands of words on it, and that will be enough to give you an idea of how weak this was. In retrospect, every episode I rated this season was rated too high and should have been much lower, particularly the battle episodes which are fun on the first watch, but disappointingly stale on rewatch. Even "The Bells" feels so much worse after watching how meaningless it all was following this episode. It's amazing how much stink a bad ending will leave on the rest of the show. "Game of Thrones" didn't deserve to go out this way, and I've already rejected this as a canonical ending. I'll just have to wait until GRRM releases the final two books to get the ending we deserve.
Summary: Varys attempts to have Dany poisoned but Tyrion discovers his treason. Dany executes Varys. Jaime is captured in Dany's camp. Tyrion meets with him and ultimately frees him. Arya and The Hound infiltrate King's Landing. Jaime isn't able to get into the Red Keep and has to sneak around. Dany's army arrives outside. Dany arrives on Drogon and burns all of the scorpions as well as the Iron Fleet. Dany destroys the Golden Company and lets her army inside. The Lannister troops surrender but Dany burns them all anyways. The battle continues and Dany slaughters thousands of innocents in the city. The Hound has a final send-off with Arya who chooses to try to escape. The Hound finds Cersei, Qyburn and Gregor. Gregor kills Qyburn so Cersei leaves quietly. The Hound fights his brother. They both die in a fire. Jaime finds Cersei alone. They share a moment together and both of them die in the ruin of King's Landing.
The Good: Like the last episode, this was really strong on the surface, even outstanding at times. The massacre in King's Landing seems to be the ending GRRM had in mind, and it works really well. On paper, everything we see here is powerful and dramatic, and it seems like an ideal final act for the show.
I like the idea of Dany going mad. The execution leaves a lot to be desired (see: The Bad), but the idea of having her slaughter all of these innocents after spending so much time freeing innocents in Essos is a tragic conclusion for her character. It's vicious and frightening, and makes me feel uncomfortable for rooting for Dany all this time if this is what she was going to do as a queen.
Similarly, I like the idea of Jaime dying with Cersei in the end. Sometimes, characters aren't able to fulfill their redemption, and leaving Cersei behind ended up being too much for Jaime to bear. Having him throw his life away to be with her one last time is a heartbreaking end for a character who was so close to becoming a good man. The final scene between the two of them was well acted and well written, and could have been the episode's finest moment had the build-up been better.
I thought the best scene of the episode came early in the episode. It was Tyrion and Jaime's final moments together. They have always had great conversations and they got to add one last one before the series ends. There was genuine emotion here as well with both Lannisters expecting to lose their lives, and Tyrion thanking Jaime for being a good brother to him.
Varys' death early on in the episode was good. I like that the show has kept his character consistent as he chose to act against Dany and did so in the deceitful manner he is best known for. His plot to poison Dany using one of his little birds was clever and it made sense that the discovery of this plot would result in his death.
Most of this episode centered on the big battle, and it was splendid to watch. The action was good, the editing was great, and the cinematography was even better. The episode looked fantastic and could pass for a movie due to the epic scale, brilliant effects and lovely make-up. The scenes were shot really nicely too, with the despairing tone presented nicely. I loved the way that the editing framed Dany deciding to burn everyone. The bells ringing in her head, mixed with some terrific acting added to the moment, and Cersei's horrified face when Dany took flight once again was an outstanding pay-off. But then the episode became so somber as we see tons and tons of innocents burning, and dying, and running for their lives. It's a horrible scene to behold and it really drives home one of the series' biggest themes: war is awful. Since season 1, we had all rooted for Dany to come in with dragons and burn the evil in Westeros. Well, here our wishes were granted, and in a classic "Game of Thrones" twist, we find ourselves horrified seeing exactly what we had been craving for 7 and a half seasons.
The scenes with The Hound and Arya were strong. I enjoyed their final send-off. Cleganebowl was epic, brutal and spectacular in all the right ways, while Arya's escape was horrific, intense and violent. Centering the battle around these two characters ended up being a really good idea and gave the final parts of the episode the necessary focus to succeed in hitting our emotions. I thought that showing Arya's struggle so in-depth was a smart idea. She has never been pressed quite like this, and the ending with her leaving King's Landing on a white horse symbolizing death seems to suggest that she is going to do something about the horrors she had to experience. The Hound's scenes with The Mountain were simpler but still effective. Qyburn's sudden death was delectably ironic and set up the intensity of this fight from the get-go. I loved the callback to The Mountain crushing Oberyn too. The fight itself was very consistent with the revenge speech The Hound gave Arya. The Hound's whole life has been destroyed by revenge, and here he is at his most pathetic state: fighting a ghost of his brother who isn't even alive. It's a pretty depressing place for his character to be, but at least he gets a more positive send-off as he sends himself and The Mountain down to a fiery end, the perfect result of their relationship.
The Bad: But like the last episode, the writing let this down. I'll start with the most egregious fault of this episode: Dany slaughtering all of the innocents. Now, I don't have a problem with this being the final act of the story. Having Dany go mad and kill everyone is a strong idea and would have a lot of emotion to it. But it isn't earned. Dany has always gone out of her way to save innocents, only punishing those who deserve to be punished. Hell, it's what she does in this episode when she kills Varys. Yet for some reason, it's framed that she is going mad because of this. Why? Because she executes people? Every ruler executes people, so why is this bad? I'm sure Tywin Lannister would do the same thing and he was a great leader. Hell, even Jon executed people! Are we just going to forget that he ordered the death of a young boy? Does that make him mad too? The portrayal of Dany going mad is too inconsistent.
Furthermore, I'm not sure why everyone thinks that Dany grieving her friends is equal to her being mad. After all, I'm sure Jon would have the same reaction and desire for vengeance over Cersei. I'm unsure why everyone thinks Jon would be so much better than her. And why hasn't their been more discussion on a marriage? It was casually dismissed last episode and never brought up since.
The actual moment where Dany went mad is absolutely ridiculous. The show treated going mad like flipping a switch. That doesn't happen. There needs to be build-up and troubling signs that lead to going mad. The writers failed to do this for Dany. There were no signs that led to her committing mass genocide. Plus, she had no motivation to do so. I could understand her going straight to Cersei and murdering her in the Red Keep, but also the innocents in the city? There is literally nothing that leads me to believe that Dany would do this, especially since we spent so much time in Essos getting to know that Dany loves the innocents. It's a sudden turn that doesn't feel earned in the slightest.
I thought that Varys' death was disappointing as well. His dialogue this season hasn't been good. I've noticed that the show has failed to produce any good new lines for Varys in the past few seasons. He just recycles lines from previous seasons with no creative input being put in for his character. And then he just dies. His death didn't feel anywhere near as significant as it should have been. The show rushed to the moment and failed to examine any repercussions from his death. Killing Varys came off more like the writers checking a character death off the list instead of an actual plot point. Furthermore, I was disappointed that Dany didn't even refer to a prior conversation she had with Varys about betrayal. It should have been brought up and that could have been a good moment. But I guess the writers thought it wouldn't make Dany seem mad so they avoided it. It just goes to show how forced Dany's madness has been int he past few episodes.
The battle scenes had issues too. After being the single most useful weapon ever created, the scorpions became absolutely useless in this episode. The inconsistency is ridiculous and gives the universe zero consistency. Also, Euron's fleet was taken out ridiculously easily. All of those boats had scorpions, so how did Dany dodge all of them? The scorpions have magically become completely inaccurate. Then we get to the Golden Company who were a complete waste of time. Why was there so much build-up to these losers who all died in seconds? The biggest fault for me was the size of Dany's army. There should have been far fewer men in her army because so many of them died fighting the Night King. Plus, how the hell does Dany still have more Dothraki? Didn't they all die in that initial charge back in "The Long Night"?
Euron's fight with Jaime was a waste of time. Euron was the most pointless villain ever who did very little of note, and his death was suitably lame and disappointing. Then we have Jaime just taking two significant stab wounds and just walking away from it easily. It was like the direct sequel to when Arya got stabbed and just shrugged it off back in "No One".
Jaime returning to Cersei felt like character regression. The issue is that the show spent so much time working on his redemption arc, and then spontaneously undid all of the hard work without reason. There was no logical reason for Jaime to decide to return to Cersei and it really hurt his character arc. This was nearly as poor as Dany choosing to kill everyone.
The Unknown: So will we never know about the voice Varys heard when he was castrated? I'm glad to see that the show provided a terrific pay-off for all of the time spent building up magic. That was sarcasm.
Is Jon going to kill Dany next episode? One terrible ruler replaces another.
Who did Varys send those letters to? Will we see reinforcements coming to ally behind Jon? Perhaps Edmure will return? Or Yara?
Dany going crazy spells bad things for Tyrion. When Dany finds out that Tyrion let Jaime go, I think it could be likely that she attempts to have him executed. I really hope for Tyrion's sake that he can somehow get out of that situation.
The wildfire explosions were intriguing. Were those simply leftover bits of wildfire from Aerys? Or had Cersei placed them there?
Best Moment: Tyrion and Jaime's scene was poignant.
Character of the Episode: Tyrion.
Conclusion: This was a great spectacle as expected and the story that was being told is a very good one. If this is GRRM's ending, it's hard to imagine anybody being disappointed with the route the story went. What is disappointing is how we got to this climax. Had there been better set-up to the massacre we witnessed here, this would have been one of the show's best episodes ever. Instead, this is merely good.
Summary: A funeral is held for those who died. Jon is hailed by his men and Dany si notably worried about this. She begs Jon not to reveal his heritage. Jon tells Sansa and Arya anyways. Sansa tells Tyrion who tells Varys. Varys, concerned about Dany's deteriorating mental state, plots to turn on her. Dany marches against Cersei and sends some of her army in a small fleet with the two dragons. They encounter Euron who kills Rhaegal and sinks the fleet. Missandei is captured. Dany meets with Cersei outside King's Landing and tries to negotiate a surrender. Cersei refuses and kills Missandei.
The Good: The episode started off on the right track with the funeral sequence. It was a sweet farewell to all of the characters who died, and all of the main characters portrayed their sadness nicely. It was clear how badly they were affected by the battle against the dead. I also enjoyed the celebrations afterwards. After all, why wouldn't everyone celebrate surviving certain death? Tormund was a joy to watch and he made me laugh quite a bit.
Dany was very good in this episode and Emilia Clarke did a really good job. She portrayed Dany's sadness and anger really well. The few shots of Dany quietly listening as Jon's men all praised him was wonderful. Her sadness, loneliness and jealousy was portrayed so well, and it made her feel a little more relatable as she gets next to no love or glory for pretty much saving the entire world. I get the sense that the show is definitely going the Mad Queen route with Dany, and I like that because it's a good story to tell that opens the door for more interesting conflict in these last few episodes.
I enjoyed the episode throughout. There were some other nice moments throughout the episode, even if they didn't stand out too much. Jaime and Brienne getting together was awesome since they have the best and most complex relationship in the show. Arya and The Hound had nice scenes together one again, as did Arya and Gendry. Gendry becoming lord of Storm's End was a nice moment for him too. I also liked Jon's emotional farewells with Tormund, Ghost, Sam and Gilly. I wonder if they all just got written out of the show with these scenes. I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing Tormund and Ghost again, but Sam and Gilly may still return. Tyrion and Varys had some fascinating conversation scenes as usual and I was intrigued by their discussions about Dany.
The death of Missandei was good. It gives Dany even more reason to absolutely destroy Cersei at whatever cost and makes us support Dany even more. This should allow for some interesting emotions to be explored during the battle next episode. I expect myself to be conflicted on whether or not to support Dany's vengeance at the cost of so many innocents.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the fun nature of this episode was completely ruined by some garbage writing. There is so much here that I took issue with, and it detracted from my experience by a lot. After getting used to the tight writing of seasons 1-4, it's disappointing that the past few seasons have such sloppy writing at times.
Where to begin? I'll start with Gendry. Dany hasn't started ruling yet, but she still decides to tackle the issue of the next lord of Storm's End. Why is this a problem? Well, because Dorne and the Reach don't have any successors that we are aware of and Dany doesn't spare a single thought for them. So why did she make Gendry a lord now? Because the writers wanted that Gendry/Arya scene to happen. The writers fingerprints are all over this moment. It's not a huge problem, but in an episode filled with other bigger issues that I'm about to delve into, it's just another disappointing example of the writers thoughtlessness. One final thing about Gendry is that his bastard surname was given as Rivers, even though it should be Waters since he was born in King's Landing. Another sloppy moment.
Another small moment that pissed me off was Sansa talking with The Hound. She addresses how without Ramsay and Littlefinger, she wouldn't be the person she is now. What? Do the writers seriously fail to understand her character that badly? So what they are saying is that Sansa shouldn't be credited for her own development and it's the manipulator and rapist in her life that should be thanked instead. What a slap in the face to the character of Sansa.
I'm annoyed that everyone is still angry at Dany for some unknown reason. Honestly, why is Sansa still so hateful towards her? It makes no sense and feels so forced. Dany sacrificed so many men and literally saved the North by using her men in the battle. Yet she gets no credit whatsoever, and Sansa even has the gall to suggest that Dany was useless since Arya was the one who killed the Night King. Why should I like this character who is a total prick for no apparent reason? Furthermore, Sansa and Arya claiming that they can only trust family is nonsensical. Are they the Lannisters now? I mean come on, they literally just trusted Theon, a Greyjoy, to protect Bran and mourned his death. How the hell are they too shortsighted to realize that and only trust their family? They will never make any good alliances if this is the case, and the two of them come off as needlessly selfish with a childlike perspective on ruling.
What's worse is Jon, who continues to be the biggest idiot in the Seven Kingdoms. Sansa and arya make it clear that they don't trust Dany and believe Jon is doing the wrong thing. Jon should be worried about trusting them since they could easily go against his own plans. So what does he do? He tells them a secret that could completely ruin Dany and expects them to keep the secret. I mean, what the hell Jon? Especially after the shady conversation they just had, how the hell is Jon stupid enough to think that telling them is a good idea? Jon is a terrible leader that makes crap decisions. Honestly, I would rather have Sansa rule the Seven Kingdoms over both Jon and Dany.
Then we have that Bronn scene which was god awful. I mean, what the hell was the point of this story? We got no interesting conflict whatsoever from Bronn and the whole story seems like a waste of time since it went absolutely nowhere and was rushed as hell. Plus, why the hell did Bronn go North anyways? I expected him to stay in King's Landing, but instead he goes to Winterfell which could possibly have been swarming with wights had the Night King won. Is Bronn suicidal? Anyways, my prediction from "Winterfell" came true as Bronn could not be trusted with the job Cersei gave him since he caved to Tyrion and Jaime's side instantly. Lastly, the existence of the scene is absurd. How did Bronn get into Winterfell so easily? How did he reload the crossbow so quickly? How did he manage to find the exact room in a massive castle where both Tyrion and Jaime just happen to be sitting alone? Why did Bronn just leave immediately to go back to King's Landing? That's a long, long hike, surely he would want to rest for a bit.
That's another big complaint I have about both this episode and the last few seasons as a whole. The world of Westeros feels so much more compact in these last two seasons and it fails to have that expansive fantasy feeling that the first 4 seasons had. When was the last time we saw just a normal person walking down the street? It's just main characters, and main characters everywhere. The world doesn't feel lived in anymore. Additionally, I hate that there are no houses outside King's Landing. It's just a wall and then nothing outside at all. When you combine this lack of world-building with the decreased scope of the show, the world just isn't engaging anymore.
Jaime choosing to leave Winterfell was really poor. Did he never realize that Cersei might die in battle before that one moment? Come on, Jaime isn't that shortsighted. His decision to leave is perplexing, mainly because I don't understand why he didn't leave earlier. I can't see why he chose to stay in Winterfell instead of marching to King's Landing. It's just contrived so that we can get the scene where Brienne begs him to stay. That scene is bad too. Brienne openly cries, which is so out of character for her, and the scene is so generic and tropic with the girl crying when the guy leaves.
The strategies in this episode were abysmal. Splitting up her already depleted forces is nonsensical. I have no idea why Dany decided that a fleet would be necessary anyways. She has no chance against Euron's fleet, so why would she put her useful men on boats that could easily be sunk by Euron. Furthermore, she makes the same mistake yet again by not scouting ahead to see if there are any threats nearby. She knows Euron is lurking in the waters, yet she makes no attempt to ensure safe passage. It's such bad strategy and shows that she learned nothing from when her last fleet got sunk by Euron.
The actual encounter was absolutely ridiculous. How on Earth did Dany not see Euron's army from above? Did she just not bother looking down? Rhaegal's death was extremely dumb. If you can kill a dragon so easily with scorpions, then why are they a threat to begin with? Furthermore, Euron being able to shoot Rhaegal with pinpoint accuracy was absurd. Scorpions aren't that easy to aim, especially with moving targets. Also, what about reloading? Scorpions take a really long time to reload and that is there main weakness. But they are just on rapid fire mode in this episode, and they become the most overpowered weapons in the show, even stronger than dragons. Plus, how did they build so many scorpions so quickly? They only had one in season 7, yet they have like 100s in this season. Is it really that easy to make scorpions? Why didn't they just make more before in season 7 then? Back to Euron, how the hell did he know that Dany would be making a fleet? He isn't Varys, he doesn't know everything. Also, convenient rock to hide an entire fleet behind is convenient. Plus, the accuracy of the scorpions is so inconsistent. They shoot Rhaegal so easily and yet when Dany is flying a much bigger target straight towards the fleet, they miss like 20 shots in a row. Just like the Night King, Euron is only accurate when the plot wants him to be. Terrible writing.
Euron himself is a big problem. I really liked his character last season when he was no more than a fun supporting character. But now he is one of the main villains of the show. This one-dimensional, uninteresting dirtbag is one of the main two villains of the series as a whole. Would it kill the writers to make him more interesting? Plus there is literally a much, much, much better villain written out right in front of these guys. I don't like bringing up the books in my TV reviews but I feel the need to about Euron. Book Euron is charismatic, scary, intimidating and mysterious with a crucial connection to the magical aspects of the show. He is a much better villain that is already ready-made for the show. Instead, the showrunners apparently decided that this 1D goofy villain is a much better candidate for one of the biggest villains of the show than book Euron.
The climactic scene isn't good either. Apparently Euron captured Missandei which doesn't make sense. He doesn't know who Missandei is, and why would he make the effort to go capture this one person when he was focused on just sinking the fleet in the previous scene. The actual confrontation is ridiculous. Dany is right in front of Cersei with like 12 men and a dragon that appears to be in range of the scorpions. Cersei wants to win the war, right. So just kill them all! It's not hard, just kill them! Cersei comes off as a total idiot for not killing any of them, not even Tyrion who literally made himself a target for no apparent reason. About that point, why the hell does Tyrion believe that Cersei will surrender. Remember when Jorah said Tyrion is smart because he learns from his mistakes? Well here is Tyrion once again being fooled by Cersei, proving that he is as dumb as Jon when the writing is as incompetent as this.
Lastly, the show totally dropped the ball on the connection between the Starks and their direwolves. Did Jon seriously send Ghost away like that after so many years of loyalty? And without petting him? This is how to make everyone watching the show despise Jon, by having him throw away a loyal servant with little to no kindness or affection and for no reason.
The Unknown: What does Bran mean when he says he lives in the past mostly? Will this go somewhere? I remember the 3EC saying to Bran that spending too much time in the past is dangerous.
Are Tormund, Ghost, Gilly and Jon just gone now?
Will Dany kill all of the innocents to get back at Cersei for killing Missandei and Rhaegal? She seems ont he verge of going insane.
Will Varys turn on Dany? Will he try to kill her?
Best Moment: Probably the opening bit for its emotional resonance.
Character of the Episode: Dany.
Conclusion: This was a fun episode on the surface. But when you go even a little bit deeper, this episode is very poor with very few redeeming qualities. Good writing is essential for TV shows. If there are too many plot holes and inconsistencies within characters, my immersion in the world is ruined, and I believe that good immersion is one of the two essential qualities of good television (emotion being the other). This episode had awful immersion and that hurts it a lot. This episode was a disappointment.
Summary: Melisandre arrives and lights the Dothraki arakhs on fire. The Dothraki charge the wights but all of them die. The White Walkers attack and the battle starts. A blizzard arrives. Dany and Jon go out to fight on dragons. Edd is killed. Eventually the main forces retreat into Winterfell and light the trench on fire. The wights still pass through by piling their bodies over the fire and the battle starts in Winterfell. Many people die, including all of the Unsullied and Lyanna. The Night King arrives and battles Jon in a dragon fight. Jon falls off Rhaegal and Dany knocks the Night King off Viserion. Dany breathes fire on the Night King but it doesn't work. The Night King revives all of the dead. The dead Starks in the crypts come to life and start massacring everyone. Arya escapes from wights in Winterfell and is saved by Beric and The Hound. Beric dies. Dany saves Jon outside Winterfell and Jon goes into the castle. Dany is separated from Drogon and is saved by Jorah. During the fight, Jorah takes serious injuries and eventually dies. Wights start attacking Bran but Theon and his men kill them. The Night King arrives and Theon dies fighting him. The Night King advances to kill Bran but Arya comes out of nowhere and kills him. The wights are defeated. Melisandre goes outside and takes off her necklace. She dies.
The Good: This was probably the single most dazzling piece of television I have ever seen. The camera work was lovely, featuring some creative cinematography, the effects looked absolutely fantastic, and the lighting and direction were perfectly done. And I can't forget about the outstanding music. Everything came together to make a stylistically perfect episode of television which was somehow way better than some of the other beautiful episodes of this show. There was almost always something visually impressive to enjoy in every scene. I've heard a lot of complaints about the episode being too dark, but I never had an issue with it. I was able to see everything just fine, so I'm not sure what caused this issue.
The episode built up tension remarkably well. I was on edge for practically the entire time throughout the episode. The threat of the White Walkers feels so real, and the episode smartly used this threat in a genuinely frightening way, making me fear for the lives of the characters. The build-up to the battle itself was so atmospheric. The brief opening sequence of the characters silently prepping for battle was really well done and had me sick with tension.
The battle itself was damn impressive. It started off perfectly with the execution of the Dothraki. While there were some logistic problems with this (see: The Bad), it started the battle on a perfect note. Seeing all of the fires going out was pretty scary and opened up the battle in a foreboding way. Then the action came forth and it was fittingly messy and chaotic, pitting all of the character in a shockingly intense and fast-paced battle. It was consistent with the way the wights fought back in Hardhome which I certainly appreciated.
It would be a monumental task to pace a battle across 80 minutes but somehow this episode successfully did it. In such a fast-paced battle, it would be easy for everything to become monotonous and dull. The episode prevented that by providing some much-appreciated breaks in between the action and some really nice character moments. Tyrion and Sansa had a couple of nice scenes down in the crypts to break away from the action. I really liked the survival horror sequence of Arya trying to stay hidden from the wights since it was completely different from anything else in the episode and it was directed really nicely. It managed to derive fear without the use of jumpscares which makes it immediately better than most horror movies being created nowadays.
The scenes with Melisandre were really strong too. I thought that her character was used well and there were a number of lovely scenes of her finally reaching her full potential and regaining confidence in her abilities. I especially liked her lighting the wood on fire in the blizzard. The scene was wonderfully tense as well because I thought she may die performing this feat. Her actual death was fitting for her character even if it was slightly confusing (see: The Unknown).
The deaths were all pretty impactful and I enjoyed all of them. Edd suddenly dying was a perfect first death for the episode as it gave us the full realization that people are going to die a lot in the next hour. This first death had no emotion or grandeur to it; it just happened, and that fits in perfectly with what a battle death would be like. Lyanna's death was a little more impactful as she went out killing the giant wight. It was a brutal and heroic death. Beric's death was great too as he got to die as an honourable hero, giving his life to ensure that Arya escapes alive, also fulfilling the purpose that he had been kept alive for.
The other two deaths were much more emotional and were probably the best moments of the episode. Theon's death was perfect for his character. I really liked Bran forgiving him and acknowledging that he is a good man even after everything he did. It was a cathartic moment for Theon and a perfect swan song for him as he charges forwards to his death, having finally atoned for his many sins. It was a beautiful moment. Jorah's death was even more emotional since his relationship with Dany has developed since the very first episode of the show. After 7 seasons, I care a lot about them and their relationship. Jorah dying for Dany was always going to happen but that didn't make it any less sad. Dany's tears over his dying body was really sad and delivered a fittingly emotional conclusion to their story.
The ending montage was one of the coolest moments of the episode. After so many battles, this show has mastered the ability to show desperation and fear in the battlefield. This expertise was showcased in the montage which elegantly built up the feeling of total despair. Plus we got another epic musical piece to accompany it which I really loved.
The Bad: Even though I loved so much of this episode, I'm left conflicted because there was a lot I didn't like as well, especially in the final parts of the episode. But I'll address my other problems first because there is a lot to cover.
Melisandre's sudden return didn't feel earned to me. Where has she been? What did she accomplish? Not learning any of this was pretty disappointing. It also left me confused as to how she was able to master her powers offscreen. I would have liked to learn more about how she practices her powers and exactly how they work. Instead, it has all been glossed over, likely due to the rushed nature of the last two seasons.
I thought that the logistics of the battle didn't make very much sense. We weren't told much about the strategy in the last few episodes which is a bit disappointing, but it wouldn't have mattered much if the strategy made sense. Unfortunately, it didn't. The Dothraki and Unsullied were sacrificed for some reasons, which was really nonsensical. Surely they are well aware that every dead body means another extra foe to deal with, so surely lives should be valued much more than this. Both massacres were cool moments, but they make no sense logically.
The battle tactics disappointed me as well. The Dothraki charge was a ridiculous strategy in every way. Who thought that it would be smart to send all of your cavalry at the enemy head-on when the enemy has 100 times more men? That's a terrible strategy. The flaming trenches ended up being pointless because for whatever reason there were no men stationed behind the fire. Had there been people out there, the body piling trick wouldn't have been so effective. Why were there no men at the crypts to protect the helpless in case wights find their way down there? It's not like the place was guarded at all. Lastly, why on earth would they go through the trouble of using valuable resources to build trebuchets only to station them in front of the infantry line?! That's such a painful waste of a valuable asset.
I was also very confused by Dany and Jon riding their dragons to hunt down the Night King. Would they not be more useful killing large numbers of wights outside of Winterfell? Dragons are their biggest asset, yet they were hardly used against the wights. Furthermore, the idea of them to hunt down the Night King contradicted their plan for Bran. I had thought Bran was being used to lure out the Night King. So why didn't Dany and Jon just wait for the Night King to arrive? It makes no sense, even from a writing standpoint. We could have still gotten to the cool dragon fight had the two of them simply waited for the Night King.
Speaking of which, I did have a bit of an issue with the dragon fight too. It was really cool to see and used some astounding effects, but I had trouble following exactly what was happening. The many cuts and the similar colours of the dragons made it a little difficult to understand who was who. It's a small nitpick though since I did understand the scene enough to enjoy it.
The crypt massacre was a questionable inclusion. There weren't enough scenes there to make the sequence noteworthy. Nobody of note died and outside of one great scene between Sansa and Tyrion, there didn't seem to be anything of significance from that storyline.
My biggest issues with the episode are still to come though. First and foremost, I was disturbed by the severe lack of consequences in this episode. Characters would make mistakes yet they were still able to survive because the plot demands it. It was tough enough to buy that so many characters like Sam, Gendry, Brienne and Jaime survived for so long battling the wights. Yet the show took it a step further and made both Jon and Dany somehow survive certain death. Both of them went all in to kill the Night King and failed. The fact that they failed should have meant extreme consequences for both of them yet they somehow got lucky. Drogon should have died after the dragonfire didn't work since he was a completely stationary target right in front of the Night King. Jon should have died when he charged the Night Kign and got surrounded by the wights. There is no conceivable way that both of them could have gotten out of the situation, but plot armour was activated to save them. And don't get me started on how dumb it is that Dany was able to burn all the wights and somehow not kill Jon.
The biggest problem I have with the episode is the conclusion. The White Walkers were actually defeated here. That was the biggest surprise for me, since I had expected the White Walkers to win this battle and be a part of whatever happens at King's Landing with Cersei. But instead they died. In one episode. It's taken me a while to gather my thoughts about how I feel about this, and the more time I spend thinking, the worse it gets. We were first introduced to White Walkers in the very first scene of the show. These villains were the endgame since the beginning and they were always the part of the story that mattered, not the eternal squabble over who gets the Iron Throne. To be told here that the White Walkers were just a diversion and Cersei is the main villain is nothing short of disappointing. After 7 seasons of build, this great threat is defeated and the main conflict is human vs human after all. It's a step down and I'm unsure about how invested I will be in this final conflict now. Our protagonists survived the Great War, so why should we fear for their lives against Cersei? I think the writers have chosen the wrong final villain.
Furthermore, the decision to kill off the White Walkers so easily is completely against the theme of the show. Even though the show is called "Game of Thrones", the books are called "A Song of Ice and Fire". The point of this show is that the politicking for the Iron Throne is unimportant and that if everyone doesn't band together, they will be demolished by the real threat which nobody is paying attention to. The Iron Throne stuff is all superficial and doesn't really matter. The show has completely failed to acknowledge this theme by centering the final conflict around Cersei and the Iron Throne. Additionally, I have another point which ties in to the lack of consequences I was mentioning earlier. The show seems to be suggesting that Cersei's decision to ignore the dead was actually correct since everything went exactly as she was hoping for. She comes off as smart for what she has done, and faces no consequences for refusing to join up with Dany and Jon. That's just bad storytelling and it fails to stick with the spirit of "Game of Thrones".
The Night King himself fell into every villain cliche ever. He becomes suddenly incapable when the plot demands it when fighting Jon and Dany and he is nothing special. Furthermore, he makes the classic blunder of going to kill Bran personally and taking so long to actually kill him, giving the heroes a chance to kill him (also how the hell did Arya sneak up on the Night King, didn't he have like 3 other White Walkers with him that Arya would need to get past as well). Also, the Night King failed as an actual character. In the end there was no extra motive for the White Walkers, they were literally just a bunch of killing machines with none of the hidden depth that had been suggested. With this being the case, the Night King just feels like a convenient way for the writers to kill of the White Walkers easily. If that is the case, then the Night King is literally the sole weakness of the White Walkers, and that makes him stupid for exposing himself so needlessly.
The Unknown: What did Bran do when he warged into the ravens?
Why did Melisandre die? How did she just kill herself like that? We have seen her take off her necklace before and live.
Did Ghost die as well? I don't think we saw him again after he charged with the Dothraki. I hope not because he deserves a much better death than this.
Also, did Rhaegal die? I don't think so since there was no reaction and I think he got back up, but I'm not sure.
Best Moment: There were so many spectacular scenes but I'll go with Dany crying over Jorah's dead body.
Character of the Episode: Arya. It was a pleasant surprise to have her kill the Night King.
Conclusion: I have no idea what to make of this episode. On one hand, I loved it. This was the most beautiful episode ever made and it served as a fantastic climax for the White Walkers in terms of providing an exciting and memorable finish. Yet on the other hand, it was flawed and there could have (and should have) been so much more to the White Walkers than what we got. It's so hard to gauge this episode because of my conflicting emotions. After a few rewatches, I eventually settled on a 68. There were too many flaws to give this a well-earned 70. I can see this being possibly the most polarizing episode of the show.
Summary: Jaime is taken to Dany, Jon and Sansa to be judged but Brienne stands up for him. Sansa and Jona re willing to give him a chance, so Dany agrees as well. Tyrion and Jaime speak again and reminisce on the past. Jaime asks to serve under Brienne when the battle starts. Dany goes to Sansa to relieve tensions without success. Theon arrives and reunites with Sansa. Beric, Tormund and Edd arrive and warn that the White Walkers are almost there. Everyone enjoys some time to relax before the great battle. Arya and Gendry have sex. Jaime makes Brienne a knight. Sam gives Heartsbane to Jorah. Jon tells Dany who he really is. The White Walkers arrive at Winterfell.
The Good: I loved this. It's like the episode writers read my review and decided to correct all of the issues I had with the season premiere. The dialogue was back up to the show's lofty standards, the scenes were given time to breathe and develop that spark, and the threat of the White Walkers loomed over every single scene, giving this episode the atmosphere and urgency that I was expecting from the last episode. Each of these improvements made this episode substantially more enjoyable than the first.
Jaime is one of the show's best characters and he shone here. It was refreshing to separate him from Cersei and he ended up being terrific in this episode. I really liked the scenes early in the episode where Jaime is forced to confront everything he has done and face up to it as a better person. I liked him standing up to Sansa accusing him of attacking the Starks, and even more than that, I liked him apologizing to Bran for the one truly terrible thing he actually did.
Jaime and Brienne's relationship was developed heavily throughout the episode which was great. They have had one of the best relationships in the show, so it isn't a surprise that an episode centered around them is so successful. They had a number of great scenes outside of Brienne standing up for Jaime. Jaime wanting to serve under her in the battle was a wonderful moment, showing how much respect the both of them have for each other. Better yet was Jaime knighting Brienne, finally giving her the recognition that she has been craving for so long. It was fantastic to see her so happy afterwards, providing a sweet culmination to her story. It's a shame that certain death is looming over everyone right now.
The threat of the White Walkers is what makes this episode so powerful. This episode works so well because it serves as a reminder of how much I care about these characters. Seeing them interacting, resolving storylines and joking around is a perfect way to get the maximum emotion out of reflecting on the show. It's so much sadder when you realize that a whole ton of these characters won't be making it out of the series alive. Knowing that makes me appreciate these scenes a whole lot more and makes the episode stand out in an emotional way.
Arya and Gendry's scenes were really strong in this episode. Their moment in the last episode felt a little strange and only offered some callback lines which made the scene feel a little shallow to me. The dialogue was much better here and it felt like organic talk from two old friends, while also incorporating the threat of the White Walkers. I like the idea of them hooking up but I have some nitpicks about the pacing of this development (see: The Bad).
Sansa and Dany's relationship advanced nicely in this episode. I liked Jorah advising Dany to calm the waters between them and I liked the way that the two of them engaged with clearly forced pleasantries to kick of their conversation. I thought the theme of manipulation throughout their conversation was terrific and it nicely echoed where this conversation was ultimately going. Dany was trying to manipulate Sansa into joining her cause, but Sansa, ever so smart now, refused to give in, exposing the fundamental problem with the Jon/Dany alliance.
I really liked the scenes of everyone waiting out the night, expecting the battle to start any second. Arya sitting briefly with The Hound and Beric was a nice moment. Jon, Edd and Sam reflecting on their time in the Night's Watch was spectacular, and it even allowed a chance for Edd to show some personality (he is allowed much more time to shine in the books, and I'm glad to see that personality coming out in this scene). Plus we saw Ghost for the first time in ages, which I was really glad about. The scenes with Tyrion, Pod, Jaime, Brienne, Davos and Tormund were all excellent. The interactions were fantastic, the jokes were all hilarious and it all culminated wonderfully in Brienne becoming a knight. As a plus, we also got a hilarious backstory from Tormund and a brand new Westerosi song sang by Pod.
I thought that Jon telling the truth to Dany lived up to my expectations of how the scene would go. Dany's surprise made sense and I thought her response fit her character. Even though she loves Jon, she feels immediately threatened and tensions instantly arise. Dany is obsessed with getting the throne now, so the presence of a competitor with a better claim than her makes her feel uneasy and sets up some tensions between Jon and Dany. The timing of the reveal was excellent, since they were interrupted by the White Walkers and it seems that they will have to resolve this after the great battle.
There were a few other smaller scenes that were just as great. Tyrion and Jaime had a few really great moments of reflection together, similar to their great scenes back in season 4. I liked the callback to how Tyrion wants to die. Sam giving Heartsbane to Jorah was another nice scene, paying off of Sam's gratitude towards how Jeor made him a proper man. Davos' scene with the little girl was a sweet reminder of his time with Shireen which I thought was nice. I also loved Theon and Sansa's reunion which was a good way to bring Theon full circle by having him choose the right family this time around. Tormund's jokes were as funny as ever.
The Bad: Bran's reveal that the Night King was coming for him felt really tacked on. He finally got some motives, and it feels so out of left field. This should have been established earlier, perhaps back in season 6 when all of this information was being given out. Furthermore, the development that the Night King can always track Bran makes me question why he didn't kill Bran when he was being pulled by Meera all alone in season 6. If he knows where Bran is, killing him back then should have been easy.
How did Tormund, Edd and Beric get to Winterfell before the White Walkers? These guys are slow as hell, since they take forever to get everywhere for some reason.
Arya and Gendry having sex feels strange for me because they still seem like strangers. Gendry still seems to view Arya as a little girl, and we haven't really seen much about what Arya wants. That makes them hooking up seem a little strange, and I wish that they had reunited a little earlier so that they would have more time to understand each other before this scene.
The Unknown: I'm interested in where Tyrion goes from here after all of his mistakes. The story could just have him redeem himself, but that would seem very anticlimactic since this story has been in the works since season 6. He has had more of a presence this season, so perhaps there is more to his story.
Apparently Cersei's baby is real. So why does she not tell Euron about it?
How will Dany deal with Jon's reveal? Will she turn on him at some point?
What happened to Melisandre? Will we see her again before the end of the series?
Who is going to die in the coming battle? I suspect that a lot of characters will die here. I'm betting that Gendry, Beric, Grey Worm, Jorah, Pod and Edd will die, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of them make it out and other characters end up dying instead. This battle is so exciting because it feels like anybody could die.
Best Moment: Jaime knighting Brienne was a fantastic moment.
Character of the Episode: Brienne.
Conclusion: This was an awesome episode which focused on all of my favourite aspects of the show. The episode had several emotional moments while setting up the upcoming battle in terrific fashion. I'm very excited to see how this whole thing wraps up.
Summary: Jon and Dany return to Winterfell where Sansa takes an immediate dislike towards Dany, unhappy with Jon abandoning his crown. The others in Winterfell are similarly skeptical. Arya reunites with Jon, Gendry and The Hound, while Tyrion speaks with Sansa. Dany and Jon go dragon riding and enjoy each other's company. Dany tells Sam the fate of his family. Sam tells Jon about his heritage. In King's Landing, the Golden Company arrive and ally with Cersei. Cersei follows up on her end of the bargain with Euron, allowing Theon an opportunity to rescue Yara. Bronn is sent to kill Jaime and Tyrion. Jaime arrives in Winterfell and is immediately greeted by Bran. The White Walkers have gone through Last Hearth, killing everyone there.
The Good: Season 8 had been hyped up as being move-quality for all six episodes, so my expectations were quite high for the presentation of the show. Impressively, the show met and ultimately exceeded my expectations with some astonishingly nice visuals. The episode started on the right foot with the lovely new credits sequence. It was a refreshing change that immediately established the impressive scope of the season. The rest of the episode follows up on this terrifically, with some really impressive details. There were more extras than usual, wider shots of Winterfell, making the castle feel more alive, and some genuinely epic shots while Dany and Jon rode dragons. That last sequence was really nicely shot and would have fit in seamlessly in a "Harry Potter" movie. It was that well done.
Like much of season 7, this episode had plenty of character reunions. There was a nice sequence early on where Arya got to see a bunch of familiar faces arriving in Winterfell before enjoying some reunions later. Her scene with Jon was sweet and well-acted with some nice subtext from both characters. The scene with The Hound was short but sweet, and probably the best-written of the bunch. The scene with Gendry was filled with nice callbacks and continued their dynamic nicely. There were a few other interesting reunions too which had a little bit more story relevance, so I'll get into those later.
There were other callbacks outside of the reunions. The episode opened with a lovely sequence of a boy climbing the walls to see the king arrive. The scene paralleled Bran watching King Robert arrive from back in "Winter is Coming", even going as far as to play the same exact music. Though with the show's wildly increased budget, this arrival felt so much more grand and impressive.
Sam had most of the episode's finest moments. John Bradley gave a great performance and his emotions were very clear throughout the episode. I really loved the scene where Dany told Sam the fate of his family (see: Best Moment), and John Bradley did a great job of portraying how a character like Sam would react to this news. It was a tough episode for Sam who had to go tell Jon about his lineage immediately afterwards in another great scene. Sam brought up some great points to Jon, who now has a very exciting conflict to deal with.
There were a number of intriguing scenes between other characters that caught my attention. Sansa and Tyrion got to see each other for the first time since Joffrey's death, and the scene was great. Their interactions were as awkward as ever and did great things for each character. It continued to show us how Tyrion has fallen from being one of the smarter men in Westeros which is very interesting (see: The Unknown). But more importantly, it brilliantly showed us how much Sansa has matured and how intelligent she has become. She dismisses Tyrion's opinions on Cersei immediately, relying on her own experience with Cersei, and she also sees through Jon's facade, exposing his real feelings about Dany.
The end of the episode was really good. It's nice to see Jaime arriving in Winterfell as well, and seeing Bran actively waiting for his return was a really cool moment and Jaime's reaction was perfect. This reunion was one I never really thought about, so I was pleasantly surprised by it. This should lead into a great arc for Jaime.
The scenes in King's Landing were pretty good. Cersei's disappointment in the Golden Company was consistent with who she is, and I liked her zeroing in on the lack of elephants. I enjoyed all the scenes with Euron. He is still a fun and interesting character in his scenes with Yara and Cersei. I particularly liked him inquiring about how he was compared to Robert and Jaime, it was a nice little bit of character for him. I also liked Bronn being given an interesting conflict this season, even if I have some issues with it (see: The Bad). Also, did we just get an update on the fate of Ed Sheeran's character (the ginger Eddie)? If so, that's a nice bit of continuity.
The scenes at Last Hearth were pretty good. Tormund's eyes always being blue was funny, and I liked that he, Beric and Edd got more scenes. I liked how frightening the scene was, and Ned Umber's scream was pretty scary. This was a fantastic way to establish the wrath that the White Walkers were leaving behind, building up the fear for what is coming later in the season.
There were some nice moments of dialogue. It seems that Varys and Davos exist to provide us with some great dialogue.
The Bad: I loved the presentation, but was disappointed by the writing. Not all of the dialogue in the episode was as great as the scenes which I enjoyed. This show has always been carried by dialogue and most of the best scenes of the show comes from two characters simply talking. There were many opportunities to cover similar scenes here, but the writing failed to accomplish that. At times the dialogue felt clunky, and there was never more dialogue given to scenes than what was needed. While this is efficient to accomplish a lot of different things, it also means that each individual scene doesn't really stand out much. In an episode which is entirely built on scenes of characters talking, this is a problem.
The other issue with the dialogue came from how the episode handled its exposition. A lot of scenes were rushed to get to plot details, such as Sam's reunion with Jon which was rushed through so that Jon could learn about his heritage in a moment that didn't feel as important as I was expecting. It wasn't the content of the scene, but rather the execution that gave me this feeling.
My biggest problem with the episode was its pace. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for slower episodes and I respect the decision to start the season out slowly, but this did not feel like an appropriate time to do this. The White Walkers have broken through the Wall and death is literally incoming. Yet we are sitting around to watch characters talk and ride dragons. Really? The destruction of the Wall should be a much bigger moment than this, and there should be a real sense of urgency in this episode as everyone prepares for battle. But we don't get that, and I was left confused as to why nobody was doing anything. To add salt to the wound, everyone knew the Wall was destroyed and they simply treated it as just another thing that happened. Seriously? This should be an earth-shattering moment, yet it is treated like no big deal. Furthermore, why gather everyone at Winterfell? Surely the Wall should be incorporated into their plans as it is an important asset.
Speaking of making plans, why was nobody doing anything to prepare for battle here? Instead the main source of conflict was that people of the North didn't like Dany and they don't want to fight with Lannisters. Seriously? With certain death marching in, why does anyone even care about this? I don't buy that people would ignore the White walker threat to worry about bending the knee to Dany, especially since the Wall has fallen. Furthermore, this led to one of the dumbest scenes in the show. Sansa brings up a huge problem: food. There is a massive new army to feed and there are no ways to feed them. So how does everyone react to this? They never bring it up again and Dany dismisses it with a crappy one-liner about dragons. Yikes. Who would trust Dany as a queen after this?
The dragon riding scene was a spectacle, but it was really unnecessary. Why the hell would Jon risk riding a dragon when he didn't know he was a Targaryen? Dany doesn't have total control over them and it's foolish of him to try. What if he died? Everybody would freak out and nobody would trust Dany! That would ruin everything and it seems like a ridiculous risk to take. Furthermore, Jon flies right next to Winterfell. What kind of a message is he sending to his people by doing this? Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if his people decide to assassinate him again with how stupid he is being.
Once more the show has fixated around a shouting fest between Sansa and Jon. Are we seriously still on this storyline? It's been going on forever and has been resolved so many times. I really don't care to see it yet again this season. Also, Sansa's distaste for Dany feels so forced. They talk for like one brief 20 second scene and then all that everyone talks about is how Sansa doesn't like her. What? Did I miss a scene or something? Show me that she doesn't like Dany, don't just make people claim that she doesn't like her.
Bronn's scene had some problems. First of all, it was a pretty forced way to get some boobs in this season. Do we really need this nudity? Secondly, why is Cersei trusting him to kill Jaime and Tyrion? Of all the people she could send, I would never send Bronn who knows them well. What if he decides not to do it because of his attachment to them? It would be so much easier to just send some other sellsword/assassin.
Theon getting Yara back was rushed and ridiculous. It's crazy how easy it was for Theon to infiltrate and escape Euron's fleet. The quick and flippant way that Theon rescued her was an unsatisfying end to that storyline. All of that build up for the story, and this is the climax.
Why is Bran not more freaked out that everyone is going to die? Surely he would try harder to get everyone to focus on the main threat.
The Unknown: Will Sansa's distaste for Dany lead somewhere? I definitely think so. Is it possible that she can drive a wedge between Jon and Dany this season?
What will Jon do now that he knows who he is? I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't do anything with the information for now, considering his character and love for Dany. Who will he reveal his lineage to?
Will Bronn go through with killing Tyrion and Jaime or will he ally with them instead?
I'm interested by Tyrion continually being looked over as an intelligent man this past few seasons. Could the popular theory of him betraying Dany have some merit to it?
What about Cersei's pregnancy? She doesn't seem to say anything about it to Euron? Is she pretending not to be pregnant? Or was she never pregnant to begin with and just lied to Tyrion?
What is the weapon that Arya asked Gendry to forge? What does she need it for?
Best Moment: Dany comes to Sam to thank him personally for saving Jorah. She wishes to reward him, yet her good intentions end up bringing Sam nothing but pain as she reveals what happened to his father and brother. It's a heartbreaking scene and John Bradley's acting was damn good.
Character of the Episode: Sam.
Conclusion: A bit of a mixed bag of a premiere. I enjoyed a lot of the individual scenes and I thought there was a lot to like about this. Unfortunately, the lack of urgency, rushed writing and fan service detracted from the episode.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.