From day one, it’s always been about the Throne.
Despite Jon Snow’s pleading since Season 5 that defeating the Night King was all that mattered, the Iron Throne is still primarily what the show is about.
And “The Last of the Starks”, the fourth episode in Game of Thrones final season, made crystal clear why the Iron Throne is the central conflict.
Sure, it had it’s flaws. But Sunday night’s episode overall set the table quite nicely for what the show has always been heading towards: the fight to see who will sit the Iron Throne.
And of the three candidates, Cersei struck the first blows Sunday Night. No one likes her, but she’s there. And sometime status quo is better than the dragon queen you don’t know.
There’s Jon Snow, who’s true parentage worked its way quickly through the grapevine. People are drawn to him, and the throne may suit an honest man who doesn’t want it.
And then there’s Daenarys. She’s picked up quickly that the people of Westeros just aren’t taking to her. She’s down to one dragon and her allies from the other side of the Narrow Sea are dwindling. And with each loss, the Dragon Queen moves closer and closer to embracing her Anakin like dark side.
These are the contenders as we enter the final two episodes of the series. We’ll see if the battle for King’s Landing is imminent next week, or if another week of stalling is in order.
As for this week, we kick things off in Winterfell as the survivors of “The Battle of Winterfell” mourn their dead.
“Everyone in This World Owes Them a Debt They Can Never Repay.”
Daenarys mourns over Jorah. Sansa cries over Theon and places a Stark pen in his coat. Sam says goodbye to the Dolores Edd. Arya looks over Beric Dondarrion’s body, the man whose sacrifice enabled her heroic act. And Jon pays tribute to Lady Llyana Mormont.
All the bodies of the dead are set aflame as all those who survived the Battle of Winterfell pay tribute to so many who died protecting not just the North, but all of Westeros.
Jon says some words as all the many cliques stand together paying their respects. And while his words are moving and a fitting tribute, they also hint that the unity this eclectic group shares over tragedy will be short lived.
“We May Have Defeated Them, But We Still Have Us to Contend With.”
A solemn feast follows with no one really talking to each other. That is no one except Gendry, who goes to the Hound asking where Arya is (the Hound’s lack of help in this matter was very predictable, but still hilarious).
It’s Daenarys that breaks the ice. She sees Gendry walking around and calls out to him, asking if he would be the lord of Storm’s End. This (and the alcohol) moves everyone from a somber to a celebratory mood.
Tormund toasts “the Dragon Queen,” and Sansa leaves the room in response. But Dany would have her time to storm off as well when Tormund and many of the other men praise Jon for rising from the dead, riding a dragon, and being a king. Daenarys notices all of this as she sits alone, understanding that no one here adores her like they adore Jon.
“We Can. I Just Told You How.”
Dany later finds Jon in his room. Jon is obviously a little tipsy as Dany moves in for a kiss. But Jon, knowing that’s his aunt, pushes her away.
For the first time, the two address the dragon in the room and how they must address Jon’s parentage. Dany is adamant Jon not tell anyone else and swear both Bran (don’t think you have to worry about him) and Sam to secrecy.
Her reasoning is correct here. If Jon tells anyone else his claim to the Throne, it will create a huge rift in the Jon/Dany alliance.
But Jon wants to be all Jon Snow like and be honest to his family. But Dany says the only way to keep the peace between her and his family is to keep this secret from them. Jon will heed those words for less than half a day.
“You’ve Changed Little Bird.”
Meanwhile, everyone keeps going to the Hound for some reason. I mean, I’ve never personally confused the Hound with Dr. Phil, but I guess if I were drunk and just defeated an army of zombies, I’d start experiencing delusional thoughts as well.
But one touching conversation occurs between Sansa and the Hound. Through no fault of his own, the Hound really influenced the lives of both Stark girls. And Sansa credits her rough journey with producing this change, to which we see the first smile from the Hound in this entire feast that’s he not real found off.
“But I’m Not a Lady. Never Have Been. That’s Not Me.”
The newly appointed Lord of Storm’s End finds Arya and decides he needs a lady: someone who’s experienced in the customs of leading a house.
So he goes to the most obvious choice for this honor: Arya Stark. Because nothing would suit the faceless assassin better than running a noble house.
But unlike the rest of us, Gendry doesn’t realize that. He goes down on one knee and proposes, but Arya rejects his proposal. She’s not a lady. She’s made that clear from episode 1. And later, she will journey off with the Hound where both claim to have some unfinished business.
“I’ve Never Slept with A Night Before.”
We see a callback to Tyrion’s drinking game with Bronn and Shae from season 1, but this one involves Brienne, Pod, and Jamie.
Brienne is drinking for the first time (I believe, one of many firsts on this night) and everyone seems to know everything about each other, which really makes the game just a slightly more creative means of getting drunk.
But count on drunk Tyrion to make it awkward and not even care that he did. “You’re a virgin” is the statement he sends Brienne’s way. Clearly not a topic Sir Brienne wants to discuss, so she gets up and walks off.
Jamie follows her to her room and, after some banter between the pair, the two sleep together.
“What If There’s Someone Else, Someone Better.”
Morning comes and so do plans for a new battle. Pawns are removed from the map to show just how many men have been lost. And with the Golden Company fighting for Cersei, troop numbers are about even.
Dany wants to press her advantage now while there is still some momentum, but Sansa thinks the troops need rest. Jon backs Dany, which is a big problem for the Stark sisters.
All the Starks meet in front of the Weirwood tree (where all major Stark conversation, by law, must happen apparently) and confront Jon about his trust of Dany.
Now, I’m not really understanding of Jon’s logic here. I guess he was trying to push back all the “We are Starks, and Starks stick together!!!!” stuff coming from Arya and Sansa. But Jon gives permission to Bran to tell them who he really is. He swears them to secrecy as well, but we all know that’s not going to last.
It only takes one conversation with Tyrion for Sansa to spill the beans (though not by accident) about who Jon really is. And Tyrion will tell Varys as the two will spend the rest of the episode deciding if Jon or Dany can marry. And if they can’t marry, which one would be more suitable for the throne.
“Maybe Cersei Will Kill Us All. That Will Solve All our Problems”
The battle plan set forth in Winterfell marches Jon and Davos with troops going down the King’s Road. Dany and the remaining Unsullied will set up on Dragonstone. The goal is to turn the people of King’s Landing against Cersei with blockades. Make the people of King’s Landing hungry so the will turn against Cersei instead of going in and burning everyone alive.
That plan lasts all of a few scenes as a dragon spear knocks Rhaegal out of the sky. Seriously, that’s all it took to kill the 2nd dragon? We’re down to one dragon now?
Euron and his ships take out a dragon and ambush the fleet of Unsullied. Scared for the last of her children, Dany pulls Drogon out of the fight.
All the surviving Unsullied, Grey Worm, Tyrion, and Varys, all swim to the shores of Dragonstone. But Missandei is missing.
She’s been captured by Euron and is now in King’s Landing, where Cersei informs Euron that his baby is inside her now (you know, Jamie’s baby).
“Each Of Us Has A Choice to Make. I Pray We Choose Wisely.”
The loss of Rhaegal has Dany on the brink of tyranny. She really doesn’t seem to care anymore about who she hurts in the name of “ending tyranny.” If sitting on the Iron Throne means ruling over an entire city of burnt corpses, then so be it.
Tyrion is able to get her to agree to one final concession: offer terms of peace to Cersei so all the people of the city aren’t burned alive. Dany agrees only so the people of the city will think it’s Cersei’s fault their city is fried (I don’t think that logic is airtight, but whatever).
Cersei has opened the gates of the Red Keep offering protection from the coming invasion. But much like Dany, Cersei merely views the subjects of King’s Landing as pawns. They will either keep Dany from burning down the city or show her to be a tyrant hell bent on destruction (which right now, we don’t need a lot of convincing to believe this about Daenarys).
Varys changes his support every two season or so, and he is about on the brink of pushing for Jon instead of Dany. Tyrion is failing in keeping the Dragon Queen from embracing her dark side and Varys sees potential danger in a kingdom ruled by Daenarys. But Tryion is not ready to give up on her yet. He still believes in her from all he saw of her in Slaver’s Bay. Though his faith in her is shaky at best.
“She’s Hateful, and So Am I.”
Word of the dead dragon makes it back to Sansa, and Jamie hears of it.
Now, the reaction here from Jamie is very confusing. Cersei just killed a dragon, so does that mean Daenarys will plot her revenge and the queen is dead for sure, so he must go defend her? Or does Jamie see Cersei winning now and is going back to be by her side? Or does the prospect of Cersei winning scare Jamie and so is he going to try and stop it?
Either way, his original plan of staying with Brienne in Winterfell is now kaput. Jamie tells Brienne all the horrible things he’s done, including pushing Bran out of a window, and rides off to Cersei.
Dany approaches the walls of Kings Landing with a small band of Unsullied and Drogon. Tyrion is there to present terms for peace. But Qyburn has his own terms from Cersei. I guess we have to go through with this, but we all know no one is surrendering at this point.
Tyrion walks right past Qyburn and talks directly to his sister. He pleads with her for the sake of her children, the children that used to keep Cersei grounded.
But that child in her belly won’t stop her from doing whatever it takes to hold on to the Iron Throne. And it’s unlikely she’d live if she did surrender, so Cersei only has one choice here.
Missandei is standing above the Wall looking over the field in front of the Red Keep. And Cersei tells her to say her last words. “Dracarys” had me hoping that maybe, somehow, Drogon would here those words and breath fire on the proceedings. But no, he only listens to his mother, and Robert the Strong (the undead Mountain) steps forward and beheads Missandei.
And the look on Dany’s face tells me some people will regret killing one of her most loyal followers.
-Bronn completed his journey with the crossbow in the only way Bronn could: seeking a better deal.
The queen has promised Bronn Riverrun (that’s the seat of House Tully, where Catelyn Stark is from). But to save him and his brother’s life, Tyrion offers Bronn Highgarden (the former seat of House Tyrell).
-A couple of other issues with this scene:
- So where exactly does Bronn wait around for Tyrion to deliver? We now know both Tyrion and Jamie are going to King’s Landing. But at the time of the negotiation, there was no guarantee they would both be in the same location. How would he have delivered his promise to kill both Lannister brothers if they were both in different locations?
- With Tyrion now talking to his sister in King’s Landing, Cersei knows Bronn did not do his job. So if he waits until after Cersei wins to kill Jamie and Tyrion, does she still reward him even though he clearly waited to see who wins the war before delivering on the job?
-Speaking of other parts of the seven kingdoms, here’s a breakdown of who leads where:
- Riverrun: Edmure Tully (so I guess Cersei was just going to dispose of him with Bronn?)
- Storm’s End: Gendry Baratheon if Daenarys wins.
- Dorne: a random prince who’s also pledged allegiance to Daenarys.
- The Iron Islands: Yara Greyjoy who’s also pledged to Daenarys.
We’ll see if any troops from any of these places emerges to assist in the battle in King’s Landing.
-I got the feeling that Jon might be saying goodbye to the North. Tormund says goodbye before taking the Wildlings back to their homes. Sam and Gilly (who are pregnant!!!!) say goodbye as well. And Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost (who is bloody and missing part of an ear after fighting we never saw last week with him).
-One of the best comments of what is to come came from Davos last night. When he watched Melisandre drift away, Davos saw that the Lord of Light, a being who’s allegiance he fought with for so long, has now left us, and everyone must fight among themselves to figure things out from here.
-“The men in my family don’t do well in the capital.” Sansa with words we hope aren’t prophetic.
-“It’s not a secret anymore. It’s information.” Lord Varys as he starts to consider his allegiances yet again.
-Euron is clearly terrified of Drogon. We’ll see how he handles that in the coming weeks.
-Some speculative spoilers coming, so stop reading if you don’t want to even consider what will happen in the next two weeks:
So just what are Jamie, the Hound, and Arya’s journeys entailing?
- We discussed Jamie already. We know he’s going to see Cersei, but will she accept him back? And is he even looking to join her? Could he be returning to kill her? And what will his knowledge of who Cersei’s baby daddy really is play any part in the end game with Euron?
- Arya would also seem to have the most interest in taking out Cersei. She is the only one left on her kill list, but did she use up her big kill with the Night King?
- I think the Hound’s mission is clear: Clegane Bowl!!!!! The Hound’s brother stands as the zombiefied protector of Cersei. Now does the Hound take revenge for a life filled with pain and suffering on the Mountain?
Only two episodes left. That is really hard to believe. But plenty of pieces are in place now for the final round in the fight for the throne. See you next week.