We’re all getting a bit concerned about Dany, right? I mean, what’s happening to the Mother of Dragons? The Breaker of Chains? The woman who’s talked such a big game about justice and overthrowing tyranny and setting people free? Yes, she’s done some shockingly brutal things, but typically those on the receiving end could have kind of seemed to deserve it, if you just tilted your head and squinted a bit and talked yourself around. The slave owners in Meereen? Who doesn’t hate slave owners? Sam’s dad and brother? Well, it’s war, and they were enemies…
But the chilling way she talks about killing all those civilians pouring into the Red Keep? Eh… The show seems to be working pretty hard to suddenly turn the audience against her.
But then, if we decide Dany’s too much like her father to sit safely on the throne, who else would it be? Jon? Please, no. He seems like a nice guy and all, but not king material, despite what everyone seems to think. And he doesn’t want the throne anyway, as he keeps saying. Not that that necessarily matters, as Dany rightly points out. Enough people shove you onto that throne, you’re sitting on it, whether you like it or not.
It seems like the fandom is really starting to push Sansa as a possible queen, and I’m not sure what I think about that. I’ve no doubt she’d be capable, especially with Tyrion and Arya by her side, advising her (what a team that would be!), but she has zero claim, as far as I know. And she’s never seemed particularly interested in the throne either, so… I don’t know.
Ok, the episode. We begin with the funerals following the battle. There are massive pyres set up all around Winterfell, and even though there are a lot of them, it still doesn’t look like enough to handle what must have been thousands and thousands of dead, considering the enemy army was literally made up of reanimated corpses. I know some of them exploded into ice shards when the Night King was killed, but not all of them, right? Because the Winterfell dead who were resurrected are still here to be burned. I’m overthinking this, I know.
Everyone is very sad. The women weep over some of the fallen (Dany over Jorah, Sansa over Theon) while the men do not weep but look sad in a masculine way.
Afterwards, everyone gathers for a subdued feast. Some way through, Dany decides it’s time to change the mood, so she calls Gendry forward and names him Lord of Storm’s End. Everyone cheers and toasts, and now it’s time to party. Because yes, they’ve suffered many losses, but they also won a battle against death itself.
And Gendry, on quite the natural high (and also probably a bit drunk), rushes off to propose marriage to Arya. She’s like, ‘You’re sweet, but no.’ Obviously. Because being lady of the manor is not and never was for her.
Back in the great hall, praise is heaped on Jon (even though he didn’t do much) and Dany starts to look uncomfortable. Tyrion, Pod, Brienne, and Jaime start to play a drinking game that seems to be a sort of variation of Never Have I Ever. It ends with Tyrion correctly guessing that Brienne is a virgin. Embarrassed, she retreats to her room. Jaime follows her there, and they end up having sex. It’s a bit weird, to be honest. Even the characters seem to think this is a bit weird, so I don’t feel odd for feeling that way too. Anyway, that’s a thing that happened.
Sansa and the Hound have a little chat, and this is honestly the first time in a while that I remembered that he was her bodyguard during the Joffrey years in King’s Landing, and that they have quite a history together. It’s nice to see them reconnecting here. It’s also another way of seeing how far Sansa’s come since then. No frightened little girl here.
Jon and Dany head to his room to have a chat. She says she loves him, but this whole revelation about him having a better claim to the throne than she has kind of thrown her for a loop. She begs him not to tell anyone else. Jon thinks this is NBD, because he doesn’t want the throne at all. He wants to at least tell Sansa and Arya. Dany asks him not to do that, because Sansa especially will want to pursue the throne for him. Also, it’s not necessarily up to him whether he’s put forward as the rightful heir, because these things tend to take on a life of their own.
So what does Jon do? Gathers Arya and Sansa and tells them the truth about his background. He swears them to secrecy first, because he’s apparently eight years old. And what does Sansa do? Totally goes and spills the beans to Tyrion, who also tells Varys, who goes, ‘Yeah, well, this isn’t a secret anymore, is it?’ So, basically, what Dany said would happen? Definitely happened. Because Sansa told Tyrion about this in a bid to push Jon forward as a better candidate for the throne.
Tyrion and Varys seem to kind of be considering it, because as I mentioned earlier, they’re starting to be a little concerned about Dany. Cersei is packing the Red Keep with civilians, because apparently she read the third Hunger Games book but didn’t necessarily read to the end to find out how that plan worked out. Which doesn’t surprise me, because Cersei doesn’t strike me as much of a reader. When Varys brings this up, Dany’s pretty much, ‘Well, they can flee and join my side or burn to death and thank Cersei for that.’
Tyrion’s trying to talk himself into following this, because I guess he figures he’s thrown his lot in with this woman and has no choice. Varys, on the other hand, is appalled because his primary concern is for the people of Westros. He doesn’t want another crazed tyrant on the throne.
Dany’s just making some terrible choices. At a meeting the day following the funerals, she announces a plan to head right down to King’s Landing. Sansa points out that their much-depleted army is exhausted and wounded and would do much better if they could just rest up and recover a bit. And don’t forget, Rhaegal’s wounded too, so it might be best to have two good dragons on hand? But Dany, for reasons that I don’t think are very well explained, is determined. To King’s Landing they go.
Seriously, why not wait a bit? She seems to be concerned that Cersei will muster more supporters, but where the hell would those supporters be coming from? Yara’s retaken the Iron Islands, so not from there. The Golden Company has arrived (sans elephants, sadly), so it’s not as if they’re on their way and Dany needs to move to end this thing before they arrive. What’s the rush? Wait a bit, let Cersei bleed money to the Golden Company, let the people in the Red Keep get restless and start leaving, rest and heal your men and then strike.
Immediately after the meeting, Sansa and Arya corner Jon and are both basically, ‘This is a terrible idea. Seriously, tell us you can see that?’ And Jon essentially shrugs, like, ‘What am I supposed to do? She’s the queen.’ Jon’s f’ing useless.
Yeah, so they’re going. Most of them. Tormund decides to take the Wildlings back North, now the Night King’s gone and it’s safer. So they’re out of the picture and I’m going to miss Tormund. Sam and Ghillie are hitting the road. Also, Ghillie’s pregnant and they plan to name the baby Jon if it’s a boy. ‘I hope it’s a girl,’ is Jon’s really churlish response to this honour and compliment. Arya and the Hound decide to slip away and head south together, separate from the army, because they have things to do on their own.
And Jaime, well, he originally planned to stay in Winterfell with Brienne, who’s staying behind to protect Sansa, but then has a change of heart and decides he needs to go and take care of Cersei. Which leads to a scene of Brienne blubbering over him leaving in a way that makes me want to line up all the writers and slap the hell out of them. How dare you turn her into some adolescent mess crying over her boyfriend?
But before he goes, he and Tyrion are found by Bronn, and what follows is probably my favourite scene this entire episode. Bronn waves the crossbow he’s been provided with for Lannister brother-killing purposes (the same crossbow Tyrion used to kill their father, because Cersei does have a sense for the dramatic) and tells them he’s been sent north to kill them both. They’re both like, ‘Uh, please don’t?’ and Tyrion offers him Highgarden if he doesn’t go through with the assassination. This, of course, is all subject to them actually winning this war. Bronn accepts the deal and warns them both not to screw him over.
The army packs up and heads out, but on the way their fleet is surprised by Euron, who uses a massive crossbow affixed to his ship to take out the wounded Rhaegal.
Really? Euron took out a dragon? That feels like… I don’t know, like Stiffler being declared the winner in a debate against William Jennings Bryan. It just doesn’t feel right. It leaves you saying,
So, Rhaegal’s down and Dany. Is. MAD. I mean, charging the fleet on Drogon while screaming in rage mad. But Euron’s getting that crossbow reloaded and she, wisely, turns away.
But her fleet gets decimated by Euron’s ships, and Missandei is captured by Cersei.
The two sides meet at the gates of King’s Landing, Cersei and Euron up on the wall with Missandei and the Mountain. Qyburn and Tyrion are sent out to lay out each side’s terms. Tyrion demands Cersei’s immediate surrender and abdication, and Qyburn demands the same, adding that if they don’t disband and leave immediately, Missandei will die.
Tyrion, not being insane, tries to appeal to Qyburn’s reason and points out that neither of them want to see all these people slaughtered. Qyburn’s apparently just a Cersei bot now and his response is along the lines of, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying. I only say what my queen wants.’
So, Tyrion just ditches him and walks closer to the walls to appeal directly to her sister. He tries the, ‘think of your baby’ tactic, since he knows that Cersei’s always loved her children. But it’s no good this time. She’s not surrendering. Neither is Dany. And so, Missandei is asked if she has any last words. She does: ‘Dracarys.’
Ok, well, you heard the lady, folks. Looks like we’re in for quite the conflagration.