Game of Thrones
We open on Varys pressing forward with his support of Aegon at the expense of Daenerys, a doomed gambit taken up only by a man who truly believes in doing the best for the people of Westeros. This gambit, would of course, cost Varys his life as news spread to Daenerys of the betrayal (and attempts on her life). Slowly, all alliances strain, with Tyrion begging for the lives of the people of King's Landing, Aegon rejecting his queen auntie's advances, and Daeny's proclamations of replacing the love she so desperately craves with fear.
As the final battle draws near, Tyrion attempts one final plot to stop this war with as little bloodshed as possible by freeing the recently captured Jaime and sending him on a mission to try to convince the obstinate Cersei to surrender and flee. While the armies gather on the battlefields, Daenerys takes to the skies, torching the Iron Fleet and the Scorpions on the walls, finally bursting through the gate to decimate the Golden Company and give her armies access to the city within.
The battle for King's Landing is decidedly one-sided-- a mostly unimpeded march to the Red Keep for the Dragon Queen's armies-- until finally they come face to face with the remaining Lannister forces, who proceed to lay down arms. The battle is won. The bells are rung.
Daenerys is faced with a choice: accept surrender or... don't. She chooses the latter, reigniting the battle as tens of thousands burn. King's Landing becomes a cataclysmic horrorscape as Queen Daenerys Stormborn, First of Her Name, secures her legacy.
Realizing for the first time that the power she has so carefully and brazenly amassed pales in comparison to her adversary at hand, Cersei begins to flee the Red Keep. Along the way, she encounters Sandor Clegane, The Hound, fresh from sending Arya away from vengeance, waiting to finally face his fears and exact his revenge on Gregor. Here, Gregor kills Qyburn and allows Cersei to descend as his battle to the death with his brother commences.
Cersei's descent leads her to Jaime, fresh from killing Euron in single combat, and the two attempt to flee through the beach access beneath the Red Keep. With all exits blocked, however, the two share a tender moment of resignation as the Red Keep, for the first time in history, falls around them, presumably ending their tales.
This episode was the epic piece of storytelling that we’ve been waiting for all season. This battle lays out the final fates for many of the most crucial characters in the series’ eight years tenure. The score sparkles from start to finish, hitting many crucial highs and lows as hopes ebb and flow throughout the episode. The editing in the sequence during which Arya attempts to flee the city but is caught amidst the fleeing mob while The Hound and The Mountain have their final dance is astounding in the matching of Arya and Sandor’s movements. The episode is filled with dread as we see characters make decisions that could seal their fates but we are never comfortable enough to know if they will be found out.
Lena Heady’s performance as Cersei, charting her journey from arrogance to defeat, is breathtaking, her every action calculated, each facial tick measured. Likewise to the performance of Emilia Clarke as Daenerys’ descent into madness can be felt throughout the entirety of the episode.
The internet continues its tirades and tantrums, not all entirely unjustified, but most seemingly petty and insubstantial. There are legitimate problems with pacing this season, although said pacing had to be accelerated. Should there be more time given to traveling from place to place as we saw in earlier seasons? Probably. Travel in Westeros is far too quick these days given what we’ve seen before, but do we really want the show to dwell on that at this point in the narrative? Concerns regarding actor availability certainly played a role, as we slowly learn more about Emilia Clarke’s aneurysms. I will happily concede the issues of pacing.
The issues people take with character actions, particularly Daenerys, Cersei, and Aegon, however, I reject outright. Daenerys in particular has long had a pattern of excessive brutality and ignoring the pleas of her advisers. The markers for her to lose out in the battle of madness versus sanity have existed for a long while, and while, yes, the acceleration in pacing to full on madness is noticeable here, it is not unprecedented. Nor are the actions of poor addicted Jaime or the reluctance of Aegon to assume a leadership role. These could have been teased out better over more time but this series does have to end eventually, as unfortunate as that is, and with Martin’s failure to deliver source material, it has fallen to others to take up the standards and race to the finish line.
One final episode exists to pick up the pieces and chart a course for Westeros moving forward. Game of Thrones Ep805 reminds the viewers that this story was never going to have a fairy tale ending.
Game of Thrones Ep805: London’s Burning
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 10/1010/10
- Music - 10/1010/10
- Production - 10/1010/10