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.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.