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‘Game Of Thrones’ Penultimate Episode’s Fatal Battle Royale Reveals It Ain’t Eve

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« on: May 12, 2019, 11:47:35 pm »

‘Game Of Thrones’ Penultimate Episode’s Fatal Battle Royale Reveals It Ain’t Ever Over Until It’s Over
May 12, 2019 7:46pm
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  https://deadline.com/2019/05/game-of-thrones-spoilers-recap-review-penultimate-episode-final-season-lena-headey-emilia-clarke-hbo-1202613276/

Coffee cup scandals, shived Night Kings & dragons down, the final season of the HBO series trod its own path in tonight's extended penultimate episode HBO

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details of tonight’s penultimate episode of Game of Thrones’ eighth & final season.

If you thought the swords on Game of Thrones were being fundamentally sheathed after the long and dark battle of Winterfell a few weeks ago, tonight’s expanded second-to-last “The Bells” episode of the HBO blockbuster burned down the house or at least the armada of the Iron Fleet.

Harking to the best of World War II films, the long near silence of the carnage to come is broken about halfway through tonight’s 82-minute finale when, like a Spitfire mixed with a flying fortress over the English Channel, a fully armored Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) and her remaining dragon Drogan come screaming through the clouds like angels of death to obliterate the pirate fleet of Cersei Lannister’s (Lena Headey) latest lover and main line of offense, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) and almost everything else that gets in the Mother of Dragon’s way.

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'Game Of Thrones' Series Finale Trailer Shows a Ruined King’s Landing

Reminiscent of the great clash and scope of Season 7’s “The Spoils of War” and explosive in its own way, both on and off the battle field, it is sufficed to say that the beautifully shot swarming of King’s Landing and pitiful death of Cersei may stand as the pivotal and most recalled episode of Game of Thrones ever – no matter how thing shake down next week.

Melding Daenerys’ fatal and anticipated crazed rage on the metropolis, the attack of the forces of Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) on civilians and Cersei’s near collapse in every way imaginable,”The Bells” was a true battle royale literally and figuratively.

Despite a scene or two that were a little too close to Monty Python’s Black Knight and the hurried hand-to-hand combat between Cersei’s brother and father of her children Jamie ((Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Euron in a cave, the castle collapsing prolonged battle between The Hound (Rory McCann) and his brother the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) who has been Cersei’s hulking personal secret service over the seasons, will also stand as the true heart of the David Benioff and D.B. Weiss executive produced series.

Penned by the EPs and directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who helmed April 28’s Night King killing ‘The Long Night’, the fifth episode of GoT’s last season picked up in the armed stand-off aftermath of the beheading of Daenerys’ confidante Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) on the orders of the fighting-to-survive Cersei.

Which, to put it as gently as possible in the brutal and incestuous small screen adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s writings, is not a good place to be.

Especially with Daenery’s already potentially treasonous aide Varys (Conleth Hill) jotting down secrets of succession and declarations of the “greater the risk, the greater the reward” by his spying kitchen staff.

“She shouldn’t be alone,” says Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to the obviously duplicitous Varys as the former King of the North comes ashore to bring more soldiers down south to support his Queen, lover and now we know Aunt, the mourning Mother of Dragons in her final thrust to take back the throne of the Seven Kingdoms for her family and herself.

“All I’ve ever wanted, the right ruler on the Iron Throne,” the once spymaster tells Snow when asked “what do you want?”

In acknowledgement of the once assumed Ned Stark bastard’s now true claim to the monarchy, Snow states his loyalty to the Targaryen and asserts “I don’t want it” of becoming King himself in his own right. “She is my Queen,” the Harington portrayed warrior prince spits out, shutting down the conspiratorial conversation of the beach curtly.

As the bid to stop the Night King and his Army of the Dead from taking all of Westeros has consumed GoT though most of its elongated and Emmy winning run, the quest for the throne has moved into first place for the last three episodes of the series.

A shift that lingers like a bad odor from the Earth in the best way as we watch to see which way the wind is going to blow.

Of course, this being GoT, Daenery’s first response to word of Jon’s true bloodline as the son of her brother is to assume that her beloved Snow has “betrayed me,” when confronted by her semi-disgraced hand Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) that there are plotters. the hand of the once Dothraki bride. Told by Queen Cersei’s hated brother that it is Varys, the once Dothraki bride bristles. Soon afterwards, in a usually plodding GoT introduction, the Breaker of Chains has Varys killed by the fire wrath of her remaining dragon.

That’s when the penultimate episode of the eighth and final season of GoT truly lights up with another fireside argument over their respective right to sit on the Iron Throne.

“I don’t have live here, I only have fear,” says Daenerys of the south and specifically the capitol of King’s Landing. “I love you, you will always be my Queen,” replies Snow, but rebuffs a kiss and the promise of intimacy from the daughter of the Mad King.

That cold cheek and shoulder enrages Daenery’s desire to raze King’s Landing to destroy Cersei. “Next time you fail me, will be the last time you fail me,” she threatens Tyrion as his pleas to spare the capital fall on vengeful ears and the youngest Lannister learns his multi-faced brother Jaime tried to sneak through her army’s lines to get to the Queen and sister he loves and perhaps still deceptively serves.

As the vast army of the Unsullied moves into place to cut down everything in sight and Cersei prepares her defense expectantly at everyone else’s expense, Night King slayer and facing changing Arya Stark (Maisse Williams) and the Hound show up promising to kill the ruthless monarch.

Over the same hours, Tyrion’s search for a détente to spare the innocent finds Dinklage’s character scuttling to provide an escape to his captured brother and advocating to Snow to “call off your men” – which the latter ignores and walks away. As a melee begins in King’s Landing, Jaime emerges in the crowd struggling to get to Cersei, who is looking out from the Red Keep with her troops and armada in position.

Uniquely positioned itself to become a bona fide cultural event that transcends television, Game of Thrones is now in the make-it or break-it payoff zone with “The Bells” and the body count close to the narrative bone. Which, as fans of so many beloved dramas know, is where things can really go south in the finale or linger over the years as the fade to black of the end of The Sopranos did.

Sharp as any David Chase script, Benioff and Weiss have the additional challenge of having long since eclipsed Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series as primary source material. Yes, the author and former TV writer has provided insight into his delayed The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring books.

In what has clearly become one of the defining aspects of the final season week after week, Sunday’s near record length “The Bells” episode was leaked, at least in part, across the span of the internet in forums and more.

So, with that likely to occur next Sunday and Arya’s gallop away from the burnt husk of King’s Landing, time to put your final bets in – who will end up on the Iron Throne in next week’s Benioff and Weiss directed series finale? Barely a presence in tonight’s GoT, I still say it’s Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark.
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2019, 11:47:52 pm »

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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2019, 11:49:53 pm »

‘Game of Thrones’ Review: Why Daenerys’ Fiery Rampage Is Utterly In-Character
By Daniel D'Addario   
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“Game of Thrones’s” penultimate episode built towards a moment in which Daenerys Targaryen, the would-be queen whose will to power has animated the series from its first episode, acted perfectly in character.

That may require some explaining, as Daenerys, a believer in a radical, self-designed theology of liberation and justice, had historically worked to free the prisoners of unjust regimes. And on Sunday night’s episode, she destroyed King’s Landing, incinerating in the process not merely an opposing army that had already surrendered but also untold numbers of civilians. But Daenerys’s tactics have always been more deeply rooted in dominance than in empathy (she spent an entire season insisting a peer united in the struggle with her “bend the knee”), and she has for seasons framed her politics as a generational struggle, rather than an evolutionary process that necessarily includes the freely-given consent of the governed. And, most notably of all, her case for herself as queen, and the actions she’s taken to get there, pivot around the idea of revenge. (Her story begins with her having been placed in exile from a birthright she takes increasingly baroque steps to regain.) If a city has to be wiped out in order to ensure no vestige of the old world remained, it’s a deal Daenerys would have taken at earlier points in the series.

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Which is not to say that this episode was perfect. But its story was well in line with the character we’ve known for some time. She is one within whom a grand-scale vision is braided with the need to control the conversation around her (see: the execution of Varys, a nicely-drawn moment in which Daenerys is acting out of sorrowful obeisance to the demands of her view of progress) and to be at the center of the narrative, through love or fear. Clarke sold, well, the moment at which Daenerys has come so very close to achieving what she’s desired her entire life, and the throbbing cross-currents of loathing, pain, and mistrust that burned within her as an easily granted peace sat before her but the gratifications of destruction were but a dragon ride away. (The loathing has been a series-long story; the pain of losing Missandei and the mistrust as rumors about Jon’s rightful claim on the throne were, to my eye, completely credible motivations to send Daenerys on her rampage.) If the episode were missing one specific thing, it would be more close-up shots of Daenerys after she’s decided to burn King’s Landing, in order to allow us into the mentality of a character whose life has built to a decision made rashly and from a place of desperation.

But it makes sense, perhaps, that human-scale photography of Daenerys fell out of the show once she committed to the path of fire over King’s Landing — she was, for the civilians she burned, not a knowable figure but simply a dot in the sky portending doom. And there’s only so much an actor can do to communicate that their decision to commit war crimes is reasonable to them: It’s a journey many simply won’t be willing to go on. This is a specific case where, knowing nothing about what the final two novels of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series are to contain, I’d speculate that their failure to materialize before the series hurts the show (and may help the book series’ reputation, too). We’re meaningfully excluded from Daenerys’ thought process after she starts incinerating the people of King’s Landing in a way that a literary take on the same event, were it included in a Martin novel, would seem to preclude. That the final novels have not existed as source material for years has been problematic at times for the show, never more so than at a moment in which Daenerys fell out of the story she was instigating.

Daenerys’s decision doesn’t need to be sympathetic, however — just legible to the viewer, which this viewer ultimately found it to be and which others, I suspect, will not, given the tenor of discussion of “Thrones’s” final season in reviews and on social media. (While I’ve found this set of episodes to run a bit hot and cold, I admit I’ve been struck by this, given the creative rebound the show has seemed to experience since a meandering season seven.) There’s another problem of adaptation at play here, too. Thanks to the flattening power of the screen and the show’s tendency to frame Daenerys as a conquering hero with only an occasional, just short of subliminal, touch of irony (as when she frees, and is then carried by, the slaves of Yunkai at the end of season 3, a remarkable moment of simultaneous benevolence and delusional hubris), the character is understood to be a symbol of good. (Clarke, appearing at the Oscars this year, remarked onstage that she wanted to lend Daenerys’ dragons to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in keeping with the general equation of the character’s firepower with powerful, righteous womanhood.) Drawing out aspects of the character which have been there in more than just her gene pool but hidden in the gestalt complicates a picture that is much more fun to leave a little less novelistic.

Pending a major twist, there are two likely options ahead for the Daenerys we left at episode’s end, the figure in the sky who will, now, come back to ground. She may be killed by someone putatively on her side — the only characters left, really — in an echo of her father’s fate. Or she may govern as a crueler monarch than Westeros had previously seen, keeping her promise to introduce a new politics and “break the wheel” in the most perverse, monkey’s-paw sense. I believe in Clarke’s ability to sell either. And yet I don’t relish a conversation that will likely suggest that Daenerys was betrayed by where she ends up. A path that tacks, hard, in a direction it was always headed isn’t a broken one; the girl sold into marriage has finally gotten what she always wanted, and paid as little attention to the means of getting there as we knew she might.

https://variety.com/2019/tv/columns/game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-5-daenerys-dany-emilia-clarke-1203212428/
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'Game of Thrones' Season 8, Episode 5 recap: Just one long 80-minute 'AAAAHHH!!!'

By AJ Willingham, CNN

Updated 9:13 AM ET, Mon May 13, 2019

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(CNN)If someone asks you about what happened this week on that little dragon show you watch, you are more than allowed to just scream at full volume for an hour and 20 minutes. Because that's what this episode was. Just one, long 80-minute "AAAAHHH!!!"

Jon Snow went from outsider to king. Is the Iron Throne next?

Jon Snow went from outsider to king. Is the Iron Throne next? 02:14
Things start off quietly enough. Without Missandei around to braid her hair or apply her undereye concealer, Daenerys is leaning into the "foreshadowing fiery genocide" aesthetic while moping around Dragonstone. She's mad at Jon, mad at Tyrion and especially mad at Varys for going around blabbing about Jon's true lineage. It appears the "Master of Whispers" has become the "Master of Discussing Deadly Secrets at Full Volume," and before you can even get emotionally prepared for this week's carnage, everyone's standing on the beach looking stoic and Dany is sentencing Varys to death and Drogon is bearing his 3,000 teeth and wow, we're off to the races.
One major character death down, a shocking amount left to go.
Tyrion, full of doubt and fear and definitely not used to either, finds Jaime who has been captured and imprisoned at Dragonstone. The two brothers share a good hug and Tyrion outlines a plan for Jaime to escape with Cersei and start life anew in Essos, where ostensibly they are more forgiving of murderous incest.

But first, it's time for war. The mood is tense in Kings Landing, where throngs of common folk are being herded inside the Red Keep, and the Golden Fleet and the Iron Company are assuming their positions as unwitting dragon appetizers. If Dany's general haggard appearance wasn't foreshadowing enough, we get lots of good, salt-of-the-earth shots of the innocent citizens of Kings Landing with their doe-eyed children in tow. By the laws of television, you only get affectionate close-ups of the unwashed if something really, really terrible is about to happen to them.
How to speak like a true Targaryen from 'Game of Thrones'

How to speak like a true Targaryen from 'Game of Thrones' 01:17
And, happen it does. Drogon drops out of the sky like a 10-ton seagull, and within minutes the Iron Fleet, the Golden Company and all of the Lannisters' fancy dragon-killing equipment is flambeed to oblivion. Grey Worm, who is so deep in his feelings he completely forgets his helmet, dispatches the leader of the Golden Company, and with that, the Unsullied and the smattering of remaining Dothraki set about sacking the city.
It's a laughably easy win for Daenerys and company. Even Cersei sees it, perched atop the Red Keep with a concerned Qyburn. Side note: Ol' Cers must be about 500 months pregnant now, so why does she have the belly of someone who had, like, five bites of a burrito for lunch?
Anyway, she's hemmed in and she knows it. As the city's fortifications burn to ash and enemy forces close in, the bells of surrender begin to sound. A single tear rolls down Cersei's proud face. Drogon and Daenerys let up, the Unsullied and the Lannister forces exchange a hearty round of handshakes and the two sides proceed with a peaceful transfer of power.
Just kidding! Dany goes full-on Mad Queen and burns the living hell out of EVERYTHING. Innocent children? You get a Dracarys! Entire city blocks? You get a Dracarys! Everyone gets a Dracarys! Jon and Tyrion's faces say it all. This is definitely not how it was supposed to go. Daenerys Targaryen has gone rogue.

However, don't think that just because thousands of people are being burned alive and King's Landing is literally crumbling to the ground that there isn't time to have a slapfight about who gets to be Cersei's boyfriend. Somehow, among everything going on, Euron, the drunk cockroach of Westeros, finds Jaime and they have an extremely athletic tussle on the banks of Blackwater Bay. It's not all bad though: Jaime kills Euron, which we can agree is a personal favor to us all.
Oh, right! By the way, Arya and the Hound must have ditched their horses for high speed rail, because they're also here in Kings Landing. The Hound urges Arya to get out while she can, and they part with as much tenderness as two soft murder beings can muster. There's nothing like apocalyptic dragon fire to make a girl forget all about her kill list, and before long Arya is running terrified through the streets like everyone else.

Meanwhile, The Hound has revenge on his mind. He runs into Cersei, Qyburn and The Mountain as they're fleeing the Red Keep, and after The Mountain ragdolls Qyburn into the afterlife, CLEGANEBOWL IS ON. (Again, gentle reminder: Everything is burning! Is now the best time to be settling personal scores?)
Actually, the answer is yes. The Hound finally unmasks The Mountain, revealing a swole moldy Darth Vader where his brother used to be. They fight. It's glorious and gory. Goryious? Apparently, The Mountain is impervious to literally everything, up to and including daggers through the brain, so The Hound does the only thing left he can do: Trucks him through a crumbling wall and off the side of the Red Keep to a fiery, mutual death.
(By the way, people are still burning.)
Jaime and Cersei finally find each other, and if they weren't both deeply horrible people who have committed unspeakable sins and backtracked on seasons worth of character development, their reunion would almost be sweet. You would almost, for one second, be forgiven for hoping they could escape and be weird with each other in Pentos for the rest of their days. But you only get one second! Remember Brienne! And Missandei! And Margaery and everyone else who has ever suffered and died at these people's three collective hands! Jaime and Cersei deserve the poetic, meaningful deaths that are inevitably coming their way!
Hmm? What's that? Oh, they get crushed under some rubble while trying to escape? Two of the main antagonists, who have driven the show's id since the very first episode of the very first season, just kinda get squished?
That's disappointing. Alexa, play "The Rains of Castamere."

Eventually, Daenerys lets up on her scorched earth campaign, leaving a horrified Jon to deal with what has become of his queen. With a million questions hanging in the air, we close with Arya escaping on a white horse that just happens to be prancing around the charred bodies of Kings Landing. Where is she going? Hopefully to Storm's End, because a girl deserves to relax with a blacksmith lord and forget about this smoldering mess. Yeah, Valar Morghulis and everything but... come on.
Burning questions
If we're supposed to buy Dany turning Mad Queen after seasons of building her up as a hero and a revolutionary, why did she get about 3.5 seconds of screen time once she started burning everything down?
Bran was pretty insistent that Jaime had something important to do when he came to Winterfell, but other than breaking Brienne's heart and going out like roadkill that... didn't seem to manifest?
Was the wildfire interspersed throughout the inferno significant?
Why was no one wearing HELMETS?!
What is Jon going to do now that his aunt queen is completely off the rails?
How much self control will it take Sansa to not laugh in Jon's face and say "I told you so?"
Has anyone outside of the North or Kings Landing been affected by anything that's happened this season or are they just browning their butter and tossing back ale as usual?
Speaking of, is Hot Pie okay? He wasn't in this episode but just, in general. Can we get a welfare check?
Best line
Nothing matters. -- Jaime Lannister
Yeah. Same, Jaime.
Best scene
You either found this episode thrilling or horrible, but we can all agree after all they've been through together, Arya calling Sandor Clegane by name and thanking him is top-shelf emotional content.
Death count
1 Varys +
1 Euron +
1 Qyburn +
1 Hound +
1 Mountain +
1 Jaime Lannister +
1 Cersei Lannister +
1 Leader of the Golden Company who never knew what was coming +
The better part of several armies +
The better part of a million Kings Landing residents =
———
1,000,000 people, probably. A MILLION! Yikes.
Stray observations
Why does Dragonstone turn everyone gaunt and make them want to burn things? Don't forget that Stannis spent many years broodin' and human sacrificin' in that exact same spot.
"I didn't come here to be queen of the ashes." -- Daenerys in Season 7. How's that working out?
Lots of people are pointing out that Arya's last-minute Uber horse has some biblical parallels:
I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. -- Revelation, 6:8
One bold prediction
Daenerys somehow doesn't end up the villain in the end


https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/13/entertainment/game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-5-recap-trnd/index.html
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2019, 01:12:16 pm »


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AUTHOR: LAURA HUDSONLAURA HUDSON
CULTURE
05.13.1901:11 PM
GAME OF THRONES RECAP: HOW TO RUIN EVERY BELOVED CHARACTER

Daenerys' recent actions on Game of Thrones ring false because she's not just abandoning her moral principles, she's abandoning her goals and the entire point of her journey.HBO
Like the famous Robert Frost poem about the end of the world, the apocalyptic themes of Game of Thrones raise an elemental question: Will the world end in ice or in fire? If the smoking ruins of King's Landing are any indication, the answer is fire—specifically, fire wielded by a mentally unstable, vengeful woman laying waste to the world out of jealousy and misdirected rage.

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We were warned about "Targaryen madness" early and often, this idea that "every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin." Daenerys' father, Aerys II—aka the Mad King—came out on the wrong end of that flip, spiraling into paranoia and a fondness for burning his enemies alive that led directly to the end of the Targaryen dynasty and, very nearly, the destruction of King's Landing by wildfire.

This psychological deterioration took place over the course of many years, while Dany's transformation from ruthless but compassionate wheel-breaker to videogame supervillain took place over the course of maybe two episodes. In the absence of enough runway to demonstrate a gradual descent into mental illness, Dany has to simply snap—to experience a break so traumatic that it explains a heel turn into mass slaughter.

The justifications for her rampage, however, are so flimsy they feel like excuses—as do the rationales for almost every character's actions in Game of Thrones' penultimate episode. Sure, Missandei's death was very sad, but let's not lie: The relationship between Dany and Missandei has never been particularly well developed beyond Missandei's abject gratitude at being saved from slavery; even in death Dany insists that her most treasured keepsake was her slave cuff(!?). The other pretext for burning them all is outrageously petty in ways that feel juvenile and inevitably gendered: She isn't as popular as she wants to be and feels rejected by her boyfriend.


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It doesn't help that Daenerys describes her grievances to Jon like some sort of group text debacle where her boyfriend told his sister who told her ex who told his buddy the big secret. It also doesn't help that she then tries to gin up a bunch of drama about how this means he doesn't love her—even though he tells her, and has told her many times, that he does. When he isn't in the mood to kiss after watching her burn one of his colleagues alive, she willfully interprets this as a sexual rejection so profound that it justifies becoming Dark Phoenix.

Her petty jealousy then spirals from Jon Snow to an entire continent, and how pissed she is that Westeros is not kissing her ass to her satisfaction. "Far more people in Westeros love you than love me," she says. "I don't have love here." In other words, she didn't get elected prom queen and her boyfriend doesn't want to make out so it's time to die, King's Landing!

Deciding to burn the world because you feel lonely and can't get laid is a real incel move, but here it also gestures at so many pernicious stereotypes about women as overemotional and petty, prone to inventing slights and overreacting to them, full of unpredictable anger without origin. The corollary, of course, is that they can't be trusted with power lest their unstable behavior lead the world to ruin. Dany dousing the streets of King's Landing in the pseudo-nuclear fire is the narrative embodiment of every joke made by an insecure dude about how we can't elect a female president, because who wants someone on the rag holding the launch codes, amirite?

It rings false because this isn't just Dany abandoning her moral principles; it's Dany abandoning her goals and the entire point of her journey. Her family built the Red Keep, and ruled King's Landing and its people only a generation ago. Even if her goal is naked political power, why would she destroy the precise things she came to reclaim? When her ancestors burned Harrenhal, they did it to make a point, to get the rest of King's Landing to bend the knee. Here, the knee is already bent; destroying King's Landing at this point is basically destroying her own economy, infrastructure, and political capital.

Sure, she can rule over the ashes as Queen of Bones, but as much as the show wants us to think that she's gone Lawful Evil, this is some Chaotic Evil **** for sure. She's not a good guy gone bad, doing terrible things because the ends justify the means; she's the Joker, robbing a bank and then setting all the money on fire just to watch it burn.

Daenerys is not a good guy gone bad, doing terrible things because the ends justify the means; she's the Joker, robbing a bank and then setting all the money on fire just to watch it burn.

If that feels like a nonsensical and unsatisfying conclusion to the narrative arc of a beloved character, wait till you get a load of Arya! When she and the Hound rode out together once again from Winterfell last episode, they were walking parallel paths in their respective quests for vengeance, and they were pretty clear on what that meant: They had no intention of coming back. Where she had once traveled with him as a hostage, they now traveled as equals.

When Arya arrives at the Red Keep just as Cersei decides to flee, it feels like we've finally come full circle: The little girl who once played here with wooden swords is back with steel; the little girl who was once naive and powerless returns as a seasoned warrior, tutored in the world's cruelties and hard realities but ready to embrace the destiny she claimed for herself, no matter what the cost.

And yet when they finally reach the Keep and are both feet away from their respective targets, the Hound stops in his tracks to give Arya a Very Special Episode lecture about the dangers of revenge, as though she were still a little girl chasing cats, playing at violence and death with wooden swords. A few platitudes about not becoming your enemy later, he dismisses Arya and the epic personal quest she has relentlessly pursued for eight seasons with a "go home, girl."

In any world where Arya is still Arya, the person who days ago shivved the Night King, this sort of insulting bulls**t would earn either a snarky but affectionate kiss-off or a firm reminder that she's not a child anymore—and that just like him, she has places to be and people to kill. Instead, she looks up at him with wide eyes as though she had never before considered that vengeance might be bad, and actually goes home.


Are we truly to believe that Arya, a woman who has spent years contemplating revenge, repeating the names of her enemies, honing her skills and successfully crossing names off her hit list simply hasn't given the concept enough thought? This is someone who trained as an assassin with the Faceless Men, a guild devoted to the idea that life pays for death, that vengeance always has a terrible cost. It's not that she doesn't know the cost, as the Hound suggests; she is simply willing to pay it.

"You want to be like me?" he asks. That's the wrong question, of course, because she already is like him, and has been for a long time. The show doesn't understand that anymore, or doesn't care, and so it negates all the power and character development she has earned for eight seasons without a second thought.

Could you imagine any other warrior—Jaime, Brienne, Ned, Jorah, Jon—getting turned away from the climactic battle with their sworn foe by a condescending "vengeance is bad tho" PSA? Even Sansa got to set the hounds loose on Ramsay without some moralistic Kool-Aid Man jumping in to derail her quest with "um actually"s. But when Arya steps up to the plate, the Hound denies her experience, her suffering, her growth, and her agency, like a murder daddy who refuses to acknowledge that his little murder girl is now a murder woman. It's a pivotal moment for Arya, and instead of letting her move forward, it makes her regress. When she flees into the panicked throngs of King's Landing, she moves backward into childhood, back to the precise place she started out so many years ago when she watched her father die: a powerless girl trapped in the crush of a crowd, running from death rather than offering its gift to those who deserve it most.

Then, for some reason, there's a horse. It appears, gleaming and white in the wreckage, near the charred corpse of a child holding a horse toy, and Arya mounts it and rides away. I can't tell if we've taken a turn for The Sopranos and this is a dream sequence, or if this is just a totally sweet horse chilling in the middle of a fiery cataclysm. I'm sure there are plenty of theories about what the horse represents: hope, innocence, rebirth, etc., but it's hard to muster any enthusiasm for figuring it out, or taking it seriously on any level.

Perhaps the only interpretation left us by the carelessness and nihilism of the episode is what Tyrion says to Daenerys before Varys dies, that Jaime says to Cersei before they both die, that so many viewers are finally saying to themselves as the show finally comes to a close: It doesn't matter.

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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 01:15:10 pm »

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