Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 6: The Iron Throne Recap

I thought I had it all figured out.

Daenarys’s ancestors built King’s Landing over three hundred years ago to unify the seven kingdoms. Now, Dany shows up and burns the city down before the seven kingdoms break apart and return to being seven kingdoms again.

And things were looking good for my pick. Daeanarys died, Drogon burned the throne, and the leaders of each of the “7 kingdoms” arrived in King’s Landing to decide what to do about it all.

Every thing was perfectly in place. Then, they chose Bran for the throne.

BRAN!!!!

The Three-Eyed Raven rules the 7 kingdoms for no reason other than, well, who else were they going to choose?

When I thought about it more, I understand why Bran was the choice. That doesn’t make it a good choice, but I get why. And I will break down my reasoning later in the recap.

But I will also discuss all the flaws with that decision and everything that should have been done if that was the decision the producers intended to make.

Now as for the finale overall, I was happy with most of it. Sansa as Queen of the North was great. Tyrion had his best episode in two seasons (well other than picking Bran for the throne), and more characters had satisfying endings to their arcs than didn’t. Also, Jon reunited with Ghost, which I don’t really know if he deserves.

But did Game of Thrones stick the finale? The obvious answer to that question is no. That doesn’t mean the series will go the way of Lost, a show we’ve largely disregard now thanks to its bad ending (this ending was better than that). But since they didn’t stick the landing, only time will determine if the ending ages better than it appeared in real time.

Now for the sentimental part: my last GOT recap. I’ve been recapping this show since Season 4, and now I type my thoughts on the final episode of the series. And we’ll start with everyone coming to grips with the ashes and burned bodies in King’s Landing.

“I’m Going Alone”

A loud season 8 gave way to silence in the finale’s opening stanza.

Tyrion, Jon, and Davos walk around taking in the death and destruction left behind by the Mother of Dragons. Tyrion eyes the Red Keep. He wants to check on his sister.

Tyrion as he walks through the wreckage of King’s Landing

When he gets there, Tyrion notices the blocked passageway. He sees a gold hand sticking up out the rubble. As he pulls debris from the pile, he sees the dead bodies of his brother and sister and weeps.

“Kill All Who Follow Cersei Lannister.”

As they are assessing, Jon and Davos see Grey Worm and the Unsullied ready to execute Lannister troops. Jon tries to stop them, but they are under orders from the queen to kill anybody who fought for Cersei. The execution continues as Jon and Davos move closer to the Mother of Dragons.

“Will you Break the Wheel With Me?”

A Targaryen banner already hangs from what’s left of the Red Keep (got that printed quickly. must’ve had same day delivery).

The Targaryen banner hangs over the Red Keep

Dany addresses a large number of Dothraki and Unsullied. Now, I thought these troop numbers were greatly decimated by the fight with the Night King? Guess not.

Daenarys praises her forces, both Dothraki and Unsullied, for fighting to take King’s Landing and “freeing people from tyranny (Irony!!!).”

But she’s not done “freeing” people yet. Daenarys means to travel the whole of the 7 kingdoms and her soldiers are ready to join her and “break the wheel.”

“And You Slaughtered a City.”

Finally, Tyrion has had enough. The last two seasons he’s spent telling Daenarys she didn’t need to be queen of the ashes. And here she stands, ruling over King’s Landing, the Ash City.

“You’ve freed your brother, you committed treason,” says Daenarys.

“And you slaughtered a city,” says Tyrion, who sharp tongue returned for the finale after a two season hiatus.

Tyrion throws away the Hand’s pin he wears in defiance to his now former queen and is taken into custody for his troubles.

Daenarys scolds her former hand as she throws Tyrion into custody.

“It’s a Terrible Thing I’m Asking. It’s the Right Thing.”

Now that Tyrion has taken his stand, the scene shifts to Jon and how he will respond.

His first conversation is with Arya. Jon is surprised to find her there (and as it turns out, it’s debatable whether she actually needed to be there, but more on that later). Arya is the first to try and persuade Jon to move against his Queen.

Jon later goes into to address Tyrion in prison in what is a philosophical conversation that makes up for two seasons that have been greatly lacking in that kind of talk.

Love kills duty, but only when duty doesn’t kill love and back and forth the two men go.

But the most notable part of the conversation is when Tyrion points out all the horrible things Daenarys had already done. I mentioned last week how the Dany heel turn did not come out of nowhere. It’s just that most of the horrible things she’s done, she did to really horrible people.

“Everywhere she goes, evil men die, and we cheer her for it. And she grows more powerful believing she is right and good,” says Tyrion fulling accepting the role he’s played in creating the Mad Queen.

But Jon still insists, Dany is the queen now. That is until Tyrion asks about Jon’s sisters/cousins. Will they bend the knee, Tyrion asks? That is what is on Jon’s mind as he goes to talk with Daenarys.

“It’s Not Easy to See Something That’s Not Been Built Before.”

Daenarys sees her destiny standing in front of her. All that crumbled rock around the Red Keep didn’t take out the Iron Throne.

She stares at it, nothing standing between her and the throne, a look of satisfaction in her eyes as Jon stands behind her. It’s very symbolic that she never actually sat in the chair.

Jon talks with Daenarys

Dany backs up everything Tyrion said about her. She believes what she did was necessary. And that tyranny can only be defeated if everyone standing in her way is taken out. So Dany plans on ruling over a continent of ash, not just a city.

Jon tries to convince Dany to forgive those who’ve fought against her. That is what happens after most battles in Westeros end. But Dany came to break the wheel, and part of that wheel is the appeasing of enemies who hold bitterness against her.

Now, I don’t know what Jon’s original intentions here were when he came in. Was he going to kill Daenarys no matter what she said? Would he really have stuck by her had she said, “Yes, let’s forgive them?” “Ok, cool with me,” says Jon. Guess we can forget all these peasants you’ve burned.”

I guess the reason for it doesn’t matter now. After another embrace and a kiss, Jon stabs Daenarys and kills her.

Jon holds Dany after he kills her.

Drogon, using his dragon sense, I guess, flies up after his mother dies. Now Drogon has three choices here: 1. Light Jon up 2. Take Jon as his new rider (Jon is a Targaryen after all) 3. Light up the Iron Throne.

Drogon takes up choice 3, which is really cool symbolism if you can get around the whole “How the hell does a dragon know to burn that thing up?” complication. Another example of that cool, unexplored dragon sense.

The Iron Throne is no more as Drogon flies off with Daenarys’s body. And now the leaders of the 7 kingdoms must clean up the mess.

“There’s Nothing in the World More Powerful Than a Good Story.”

Tyrion is escorted out of prison by Grey Worm. He’s greeted in the dragon pit by the most prominent nobles in the 7 kingdoms. Here’s a breakdown of who’s there:

  • All living Starks
  • Yara Greyjoy of the Iron Borne
  • Gendry representing Storm’s End
  • Davos
  • The very tall Robin Arryn (the kid who sucked his mom’s boob back in season 1) with Bronze Yohn from the Vale.
  • Sam (for House Tarly, I guess)
  • Edmure Tully (Catelyn Stark’s brother from the Riverlands)
  • A random guy from Dorne

Everyone argues back and forth. Jon is sitting in prison, and both Grey Worm and Yara want him punished for killing their queen. Davos wants all the violence to end. Edmure wants to talk (to which Sansa says, “Hey Uncle, no one remembers you. Sit down and shut up!!!”), and Sam wants democracy (to which everyone there lets out a hardy chuckle).

Now, up to this point, I was cool with most everything that had happened. I figured we’d get to this point with no one of notable name to claim the throne. And the damn thing’s burned up anyway, so the sensible course would seem to be to let everyone rule themselves and be done with it.

Then Tyrion talks about a story, and how no one has a story like Bran. Yes, that’s right, Bran the Broken. Nothing about Bran’s journey says “He’ll be King one day,” but that’s where we are now, I guess.

Everyone votes to approve Bran has king. Everyone except Sansa, who moves to have the North succeed from Westeros. Bran, now the king of the six kingdoms, agrees, and we have our unsatisfactory answer to who would be king (can’t say Iron Throne anymore) at the end of the show.

All Hail Bran the Broken, First of his Name

“He’s Going to Spend the Rest of His Life Fixing Them.”

Everything else from this point forward is just tying up loose ends. Not all those loose ends were tied very tightly, but they were tied the way they were tied.

Grey Worm still wants justice for Jon killing Dany. So Bran sends Jon to the Night’s Watch. And the viewing audience said, “That’s still around.” I guess he’s going to build it back up?

He says his final goodbyes (well probably not, but at least it’s final for all of us) to Bran, Sansa, and Arya. And Arya reveals her plan to explore whatever is “West of Westeros.” The show cut all these scenes of Arya minoring in “exploration” with the Faceless Men, which is why this didn’t really make any sense for her.

The Starks part for the final time on the show

Grey Worm, the Unsullied, and the Dothraki board ships. Grey Worm means to take the Unsullied to Naath, Missandei’s island home.

Now adorning the armor of the King’s Guard, Brienne opens the “Book of Brothers” and finishes the entry for Jamie before attending her first meeting with Tyrion and the rest of the King’s Council.

I think this group has the makings of a great spin-off sitcom. “With the king sitting in corners warging into animals, the men and women of the king’s council rule the seven, I mean six kingdoms. And hilarity ensues!!!”

Sam is Archmaeaster, Bronn is Master of Coin, Davos is Master of Ships, and Brienne is Lord Commander of the King’s Guard. Now, for all of the finale’s flaws, I don’t think this crew could have been composed any better.

Queen of the North

We end with the non-Bran Starks preparing for their final journeys on the show. Personally, I think way more time should have been given to Sansa here. She’s the queen of the North!!!!

Game of Thrones ends with Sansa ruling the North.

But Arya is now boarding a ship, and Jon is heading North with the Wildlings, which sparked much confusion in the Merrick household.

So is Jon just taking them back, or is he going with them for good?

At least we did get this cool Ghost/Jon Snow reunion.

Jon pets Ghost as the two are reunited when the show ends

Of Note

-The choice of Bran as King at the end seemed like a situation where the producers had wrote themselves into a corner. Dany is dead, Cersei is dead, Jon killed Dany, so the Unsullied will not leave Westeros alone until he’s given some form of justice, and Sansa wants the Northern throne, not the Iron Throne.

So if someone had to be king (can’t say sit the Iron Throne anymore because the damn thing was burned up), there really were no good choices. This is why I thought we were moving towards 7 independent kingdoms.

-I haven’t been one to complain about the length of these last two seasons hurting the final product. But the short length played a part in why Bran being king in the end was so disappointing.

Most of Bran’s journey was spent away from the Game of Thrones. Nowhere is it even mentioned that he’s even being considered by anybody for this should worse come to worse. Could there not have been a vision or at least discussion among nobles bringing up the possibility at some point?

Having two final seasons with a full ten episodes could have at least attempted to deliver on setting up Bran for the throne.

-So Jon being a Targaryen? What did that ultimately mean? Pretty much all the big reveal did was prove to be one more step in moving Dany to madness. Very poor use of that great reveal.

-I know there was speculation why Jon had to be punished at all. The war was over, Dany is dead, so why could Jon not just sit the throne when it was over?

Because of Grey Worm, that’s why. The Unsullied are still there. And the Dothraki would fight with them. Any peace in Westeros meant appeasing Grey Worm. So Jon being sent to rebuild the Night’s Watch was the bone thrown Grey Worm’s way.

-Did the notes Varys sent out have any purpose? Did he get any notes out or was the one he burned the only one he wrote? Maybe those notes are the reason everyone made it to King’s Landing so fast. Not that the show has needed a reason for everyone to travel at warp speed the last two seasons, but maybe that can substitute as a decent one.

-Arya was completely wasted in the finale.Was there not more for Arya to do than talk with Jon? I figured her being there would be because her faceless man skills could be of use. But all we get is one conversation and an “I’m going West” declaration from one of the show’s best characters.

-I did like the change Tyrion indicated that the King or Queen will no longer be based on lineage. When a king dies, the nobles of Westeros will come together to choose the next one.

-Brienne completed Jamie’s entry in what is known as “The Book of Brothers,” the official record of the deeds and accomplishments of the men who served in the King’s Guard.

Brienne finishing Jamie’s entry in the Book of Brothers

-Speaking of books, Tyrion received an advanced copy of the completed “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Ironically, he was not in it.

-A couple of minor characters saw pleasing endings to their arcs: Bronn is Master of Coin and Lord of Highgarden and Pod is a member of the Kings Guard. You see, producers, that is believable because we’ve watched Brienne train him the last four seasons for such a position.

-I thought Dany’s turn last week was a classic Martin move, one I firmly believe will be in the books. I am not so certain about Bran becoming king being there.

The move reeked of “Well if we don’t put somebody on the throne in the end, it will be seen as a cop out. So let’s throw Bran up there.”

When the books are (finally) out and finished, we’ll see if my speculation is correct.

So ends a labor of love I’ve enjoyed for the last five years. My first project as a writer was typing these Game of Thrones recaps, and I want to thank the guys here at 4LN for bringing me on board and giving me the opportunity to do this.

And I thank everyone who took the time to read them, whether you read every week, read every once in awhile, or are just reading this entry, thank you.

Be civil in your discussions as Game of Thrones enters the annals of past shows whose merits (and flaws) will be debated for years to come.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5: The Bell Recap

“Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin.”

It’s a familiar quote, one that’s been said about the Targaryens going back hundreds of years back in Westerosi lore.

And Varys was the one who said it Sunday night in the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones’s final season.

The Master of Whisperers spent his final moments in the series desperate to see Daenarys Stormborn replaced as the one sitting the Iron Throne with Jon Snow. And right before he’s burned by Dany for treason, he tells Tyrion, Jon, and all the crew sticking by her that he hopes they were all right.

Well, they were wrong, Varys. They were all wrong. In Dany, they saw a just and fair ruler who’d care for the common people as much as she did the nobles. But that was nowhere to be seen as Dany turned King’s Landing to ashes.

Now, it’s not like this Targaryen madness has come out of nowhere. In the first season, Daenarys watched emotionless as her brother had melted bronze poured on his head. Sure, Viserys was a horrible brother. But the lack of emotion was truly chilling.

She adorned the cities of Slaver’s Bay with the hanging bodies of slave holders as a sign that slavery was ending in the slave cities. Daenarys burned alive every Khal in season six so she could take charge of the Dothraki. And there was last season, when Daenarys burned Sam’s father and brother for not bending the knee to her.

Sure, all of these were moves in the game that helped the mother of Dragons increase her power. And most were forgiven because we didn’t know or like the victims.

But all those episodes set a trend that Daenarys brought to complete fruition Sunday night: the only way the Mother of Dragons gets what she wants is fear.

While the Dothraki joined her because they recognized her power, all the other events brought people to their knees because Daenarys scared them. They don’t love her like Jon. People fight for Jon because he inspires them. People kneel before the Mother of Dragons because of fear.

Combine that with the isolation (think of all her advisers and friends who’ve either abandoned her or died this season) Dany’s felt ever since she arrived in Westeros, and the Breaker of Chains finally broke.

Now, I’m really struggling with what I think of the direction Daenarys has taken this season. I respect the technical brilliance in how her madness was showcased Sunday night. And I also respect Game of Thrones for keeping us guessing until the very end. Who out there is truly confident in what they think will happen in the final episode next week?

But did we really cheer on Daenarys’s rise to power only to see her give way to the tyranny she was desperately trying to end? Should those of us who cheered Dany and her dragons feel like Jon and Tyrion did throughout the burning of King’s Landing? That feeling of “How could I unleash this monster on Westeros?”

Ultimately, we should give credit to Game of Thrones for keeping things unpredictable until the very end. But that uncertainty also has me wrestling with exactly what would even be a satisfying ending as King’s Landing sits destroyed before the finale.

Now before everyone starts theorizing about the finale (who am I kidding, you’ve been doing that since the final 30 minutes of the episode), let’s go back through another traumatic episode in Game of Thrones’s final season.

“I’m Not Certain Where Her Coin Has Landed, But I’m Certain About Yours.”

Varys efforts to supplant Dany as the rightful heir to the throne are short lived. He’s writing a letter when one of his little birds comes in to report on Dany’s soldiers. They don’t trust Varys anymore and are keeping a close eye on him.

Varys is there when Jon Snow makes it to the shores of Dragonstone. He tries to convince Jon to step up and be the man. But Jon will have none of it.

Varys greets Jon as he makes shore at Dragonstone.

In fact, Varys is all alone in his latest (and last) attempt to pull strings to get someone on the Iron Throne. Tyrion reports him to Daenarys, to which she repeats the name of everyone who’s betrayed her in spreading this secret. That’s not a good sign for anyone.

Varys is sentenced to death. He burns the note he was writing before Drogon burns him alive. I’m curious if Varys was able to get any of those notes out before his execution.

Lord Varys stands before his execution.

“This is What Happens When People Hear the Truth About You.”

Dany later confronts Jon about his loose lips. Yes, those loose lips give her another kiss. But once again, Jon is not exactly thrilled to be kissing his aunt.

Dany points out Varys as an example of what people are going to do when word gets around that Jon is, indeed, a Targaryen. She also notices the fear in Jon’s eyes when he talks to her. He loved her once. But now, she knows his presence by her side has as much to do with fear as it does loyalty.

Dany and Jon speak the night before the massacre.

“The Next Time You Fail Me Will Be the Last Time You Fail Me.”

The night before the battle in King’s Landing, Tyrion pleaded with Dany one more time.

There’s a bell in King’s Landing that is supposed to signal surrender (or at least “open the gates and come on in” when there’s not a siege under way). He pleads with her to call off her forces if she hears that bell. Dany reluctantly agrees, but then tells Tyrion that he will not be allowed to fail her again.

And Tyrion’s plan for ringing that bell? Free his recently captured brother and send him to go do it. I’m sure the Mother of Dragons will be cool with that, Half-man.

The brothers share what turns out to be their final moment as Tyrion gets Jamie to help Cersei flee King’s Landing. Tyrion believes her baby will be enough to convince her to leave. It wasn’t enough to save Missandei, but Tyrion is all in with this thinking.

Jamie and Tyrion share one final moment together.

“Dracarys.”

We’re all set for another classic battle. The Golden Company stands in front of the walls of King’s Landing as Dany’s forces stare them down. Euron’s ships surround the capital. And the people crowd into the gates of the Red Keep because we all know the Mother of Dragons would never burn civilians, right?

None of that matters when Dany shows up with Drogon. Her first move is to burn Euron’s fleet (a move that would have been really helpful about 10 episodes ago). Those giant scorpions prove useless as Dany gives no time for them to be loaded, burning the ships and the men on the ships before they can get the cumbersome spears into position.

Euron looks on as Dany lights up his fleet.

As Dany takes down the outer defenses, Arya and the Hound are marching through King’s Landing. Jamie is frantically seeking out that bell. And a young mother and her child are highlighted as peasants seeking safety from the coming attack.

“All We Need is One Good Shot.”

The Golden Company was hired to fight for Cersei. They have a sterling reputation coming into the battle.

Well, they sure didn’t live up to it.

Dany takes Drogon to the other side of the wall and burns it down. The flames consume most of the Golden Company and open the way for the Dothraki, the Unsullied, and the men from the North to enter the city. The captain of the Golden Company, Harry Strickland, takes a spear to the gut from Grey Worm, the Unsullied captain now hell bent on revenge.

Qyburn delivers all this bad news to the queen. Cersei’s response: this is fine, everything is fine.

Cersei observing the battle from the Red Keep.

“That’s the Sound of a City Dying.”

Dany’s troops fight their way to the gates of the Red Keep. Lannister troops stare them down, but seem ready to give in as they throw their swords to the ground.

Jamie successfully rang the bell, indicating “surrender” and “open the gates.” For the first time since season 6, a Tyrion plan is working.

But Cersei will not surrender, and Daenarys has grown impatient.

To put some perspective here (this is not to defend what Dany does next, which was horrible in so many ways), I understand what is going through Dany’s mind at this moment.

Every plan her advisers have presented to her since arriving in King’s Landing has failed. She lost her top Westerosi allies, lost two dragons, and lost of her most loyal supporters based on things told to her by Tyrion and others.

And throw in a complete lack of trust in Cersei, who said she’d bring troops to fight the Night King before she didn’t and who burned down the entire Holy Sept to stay in power, and there is reason to see why Dany snapped.

Daenarys the moment before she made her fiery bee line to the Red Keep.

The Mother of Dragons ignores the bell and flies Drogon to the Red Keep. I don’t understand why she had to blaze a path of fire that included all those civilians running around. Why couldn’t she just fly to the Red Keep and light up Cersei?

Her troops take the cue and attack the Lannister troops, who’ve already turned their backs. Jon tries to stop the north men from fighting (something Grey Worm makes note of) , but his efforts are futile.

“Do You Want to End Up Like Me?”

Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound have found their way to the Red Keep. Arya means to kill Cersei, while the Hound plans to take out his brother.

But as the Red Keep starts to crumble, the Hound realizes quickly this is a suicide mission. Hee sends Arya away, encouraging her to avoid the type of grudge that’s plagued his whole life.

All of Dany’s soldiers, including men from the North, start killing civilians. One north man tries to rape a woman, but Jon kills him before he can. Eventually, Jon’s struggle turns from taking the capital for his queen to getting as many people to safety as he can.

“I’m the Man Who Killed Jamie Lannister.”

Two side battles emerge while Daenarys is lighting everyone on fire.

One of those battles was long anticipated, epic, and awesome.

The other was, well, meh

The silly grudge none of us wanted between Jamie and Euron finally comes to an end.

Mostly because I’ve never liked Euron, I really didn’t care who came out on top here. And Jamie takes some pretty intense cuts from Euron. But Jamie kills him and heads into the Red Keep to rescue Cersei.

Clegane Bowl!!!!

Finally, something Game of Thrones fans have been waiting for arrived in the form of the Hound vs the Mountain. Clegane Bowl is on!!!!

Whatever spell Cersei and Qyburn had on the Mountain was broken the moment he saw his brother. Qyburn tries to order the Mountain around, but gets a death by brutal toss against the stairs for his trouble.

The two big men battle it out, and we finally get to see what the Mountain looks like underneath his armor.

Clegane Bowl!!!

The Hound puts a sword through the heart of the Mountain. But that’s worthless against whatever Qyburn did to him. The Mountains prepares to give the Hound the Oberyn Martell treatment and squash his head. But the Hound gets a knife out and shoves it through the Mountain’s skull.

But why would that kill whatever undead monster the Mountain has become? So the Hound charges his brother and the two fall to their deaths in the blazing inferno at the foot of the Red Keep.

“I Want Our Baby to Live!!!”

Jamie finds Cersei in the Red Keep and the two try to escape using the tunnels under ground. But the way is blocked by all the falling rubble, and their is no way out for Queen Cersei and Jamie.

Finally, Cersei proves Tyrion right. She cries knowing her baby will not survive. Would have been nice if you would have thought about that last week, Cersei!!! Might have saved a lot of people from burning!!!

Jamie and Cersei embrace one final time as the structure of the Red Keep falls on top of them.

Jamie and Cersei in one of their final moments together.

King’s Landing Turns to Ash.

With all the side plots taken care of, let’s focus on the final result of Dany’s massacre. I appreciated putting these final moments in Arya’s perspective. Putting a character we care about in peril gave us all a vested interest and provided a real scope of the damage Dany rained down on the city.

Arya frantically tries to escape the city and take as many people with her as she can. She runs into the mother and her child from earlier and tries to lead them to safety. But they are separated fleeing Dothraki on horses, and Arya falls behind dragon fire.

Arya during the struggle to flee King’s Landing.

The dragon fire does not kill her, however. Arya stands up, covered in ash. She sees the burned body of her mother and the child she was so desperate to protect holding each other before finding a lone white horse waiting for her. She rides out of the city, streets covered in ash and buildings destroyed.

Daenarys has taken King’s Landing, a city that no longer exists.

Of Note:

-A really nice touch on the intro, combining all the things that have been said about Dany and Targaryens throughout the show. All said together, they gave a really strong sense of the madness going through her mind.

-Daenarys considered her work “…mercy for future generations who will never again deal with tyranny.” Yes, the people you burned alive will never know tyranny again, that is for sure.

Drogon lights up King’s Landing.

-I assume the mission Tyrion had for Davos involved sneaking Jamie into the city. We’ll see how the Mad Queen addresses Tyrion and Davos’s actions with Jamie next week.

-“You’re the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster.” Tyrion expressing his gratitude to Jamie in their final conversation.

-Just what factory existed in King’s Landing that could mass produce that many scorpions?

-The song that played in the background as the Red Keep fell in on Jamie and Cersei was “The Rains of Castamere. House Reyne tried to rebel against House Lannister before Tywin Lannister had the entire house executed. Some of them were flooded inside underground tunnels. The song memorializing that event was a nice touch to play in the background as two of the three remaining Lannisters died in a similar fashion to members of House Reyne.

-Another reason to despise Cersei: the Undead Mountain could have been a lot of help against the Night King’s army. Of course, being that close to the Night King might have turned him to fight for the dead, so maybe we should be thanking Cersei for keeping him out of that conflict.

-Remember when all those peasants cheered on Joffrey as he beheaded Ned Stark? Bet you guys wish you had good ole honest Ned now, don’t you?

I have some speculative spoilers coming. If you want to avoid those entirely, stop reading here. And I hope to see you for the finale next week.

Speculative Spoilers

-I know Varys burned the final note he was writing before Grey Worm came to take him to his execution. But how many notes did he get sent out before dying? And who were those notes sent to?

-Arya’s ark has taken an interesting turn these last three episodes. She’s been all about her kill list and revenge for most of the series. But then she killed the Night King, a killing that was about the survival of the human race, not revenge.

The Hound continued this change in ark by sending Arya way before she could kill Cersei, the top name on her kill list.

But she’s still has the skills of a faceless assassin. So will Arya using her skills for good instead of revenge play a part in next week’s finale?

-King’s Landing was built by Aegon Targaryen, the first Targaryen king, as a seat to rule all of Westeros. Now, the city has been destroyed by a Targaryen. Was Dany’s rampage symbolic of the end of rule in Westeros as we know it?

Can’t believe there is only one more episode left. Come back next week as I recap Game of Thrones for the final time.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4: The Last of the Starks

The Throne.

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.

The leaders of each of the major factions in Winterfell light the funeral pyres and pay their respects.

“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 proposes a toast, and the celebration begins.

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.

Dany implores Jon to keep his parentage a secret.

“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.

Arya rejects Gendry’s proposal before she goes off on her own.

“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.

Jamie and Brienne before they have sex.

“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.

The Starks meet and discuss Jon’s allegiance to Dany.

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).

Euron and Cersei after their successful ambush on Dany’s troops.

“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).

The people of King’s Landing gather inside the walls of the Red Keep for “protection.”

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.

Brienne begs Jamie to stay before he rushes off to see Cersei.

“Dracarys”

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.

Daenarys after Missandei was beheaded.

Of Note

-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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3: The Long Night Recap

I have no words.

Seriously, I tried to come up with some catchy set of phrases that convey properly my initial thoughts on the long anticipated battle with the Night King on last night’s Game of Thrones.

And I just couldn’t think of anything. I’m just trying to catch my breath like the rest of you as we process the absolute horror of the Night King’s army, the total hopelessness we all felt as everyone fought for their lives, and the improbable celebration when Arya appeared out of nowhere to stab the Night King and destroy his army.

And “improbable” was not the word I thought I would use to describe the ultimate victory of the Night King. I mean, we all knew he wasn’t going to win. Could the show really pull off “The Night King vs Cersei” and expect to keep all its viewers?

The obvious answer to that last question is yes, of course we’d still watch. But we all knew Cersei would be squaring off with actual humans, not an undead army.

Yet, somehow, as the brilliant score played in the background in the final minutes of “The Long Night,” a part of me thought “They’re not going to win this.” Jon was too far away, the bodies of dead Starks were wrecking havoc in the crypts, and the numbers were just too great for everyone to overcome.

That is a great credit to the show to have us believing the worst even when we know victory is inevitable.

Now, is it too soon to relieve last night’s horrific battle? Well, just consider this therapy as we try and talk through what we just witnessed.

“Tell Them to Lift Their Swords.”

Tension. Everyone feels the moment as they scatter to their positions, and the near silence hear compliments that feeling perfectly.

Sam said he wanted to fight, but he’s clearly terrified as he takes hold of two dragon glass blades. Tyrion takes his things to the crypts. Theon is leading Bran to the Weirwood Tree. The dragons fly overhead going wherever they want to go.

The Unsullied and the Dothraki stand on the front lines. Brienne heads her regiment with Jamie and Pod on either side of her. Tormund and Dolores Edd lead a crew of Wildlings and Night’s Watch. Arya and Sansa stand atop the wall. Jorah and Ghost (Ghost!!!) stand ahead of the Dothraki. And Jon and Dany are off in the distance keeping an eye out for the Night King and his ice dragon.

Everyone is in position as a lone rider rides up on horse.

This was a big risk Melisandre took here. Everyone is really tightly wound, and the reason sits in the direction she chose to approach from. It would not have surprised me if a flaming arrow had gone piercing through her eye at that moment.

But she brings the night’s first sign of encouragement: she lights up the Arakhs for the Dothraki.

The Dothraki, led by Jorah, and their flaming Arakhs as they prepare for battle.

“Stick Em With the Pointy End”

That hope was snuffed out (literally) very quickly. Jorah led the Dothraki as the first line to fight the army of the dead. Now, we all knew this was not going to end well. It was 15 minutes into and 80 minute episode, and it couldn’t be that easy.

Everyone at Winterfell looks on as all those flaming Arakhs eventually burn out.

A number of horses, a few men, and Jorah (no Ghost??) all retreat back as the next lines of defense prepare for the onslaught.

Jamie and Brienne prepare for the oncoming surge of zombies.

The dead charge forward, and they are horrifying!!! Brienne comes under attack from multiple sides until Jamie comes over and saves her. Dany was going to wait until the Night King arrived. But watching the Dothraki slaughtered convinces her she needs to go into battle. Sam is overrun with zombies, but is saved by Dolores Edd.

If you had Edd as first to die in your “Long Night” death pool, congratulations. The Lord Commander of what’s left of the Night’s Watch is stabbed from behind while talking to Sam.

Arya encourages Sansa to join everyone in the Crypts. Sansa is reluctant. She wants to stand with her people, but Arya sees no point in her doing that. Arya gives her “the blade” (the one used in an assassination attempt on Bran back in season one and has since been passed around among all the Starks). “Stick em with the pointy end” is Arya’s advice in another season 1 callback.

Arya tells Sansa to join everyone in the crypts.

“Protect the Retreat!!! Stand Your Ground!!!”

It becomes evident really quickly that, despite the constant dragon flame Dany and Jon’s dragons breath down onto the zombies that the living will not stay living long if they stay outside the castle walls.

The retreat begins in earnest to get everyone behind the walls and, more importantly, behind a flaming trench.

Grey Worm commands the Unsullied to heroically “Guard the retreat!!! Stand your ground!!!” as everyone makes their way inside the walls of Winterfell.

The Hound is being pursued until Arya takes down his attacker with a flaming arrow. They pull up the bridge and Davos is frantically waving flags calling for Dany or Jon to light the trench up.

But the coming of the Night King means an extreme polar vortex bearing down on Winterfell, so the two dragon riders can’t really see anything.

If only there was some mystical priestess who could light things on fire with a few words.

Melisandre steps forward and commits the 2nd of her three major acts during the battle. Her prayers light a trench surrounding Winterfell on fire, briefly halting the army of the dead.

“At Least We’re Already in the Crypt.”

Meanwhile, in the Crypts of Winterfell, Tyrion is chomping at the bit to be of use. He’s tasted combat before and feels completely useless being left down here while everyone else fights.

Sansa points out correctly that everyone down here is down here because “We can’t do anything.” And the viewing audience agrees, saying “Hey Half-man, we can see what is going on out there, and you do not want to be a part of it.”

The subject of Sansa and Tyrion’s marriage comes up again, and this time Sansa goes so far as to say it could never work now because of Tyrion’s loyalty to Daenarys. Melisandre is close by, and she storms off (though I’m not exactly sure where) in a hissy, saying without the Dragon Queen, everyone would be dead tonight.

She’s not wrong about that, but all this reminds us that, indeed, a victory at the Long Night will not the end the simmering feud between Dany and Sansa. And her and Tyrion will draw closer to each other tonight as well.

Sansa and Tyrion talk beneath the Hall of Winterfell.

“Everything you did brought you here to where you are now.”

Time to check in on Theon and Team Sacrificial Lamb. They stand ready with arrows and fire to fight off any charge in a position we all know guarantees death.

He asks for atonement from Bran, who tells him it’s not necessary. He’s here now, and he wouldn’t be here if not for the decisions he’s made.

Since somewhere in season 5, Theon’s story as all been about atonement, and he will atone for plenty before this episode ends.

“We’re Fighting Death!!! You Can’t Beat Death!!!”

To get over the flaming the trench, the dead start throwing themselves onto it (because of course they would do that). The dead start climbing the walls of Winterfell. Our heroes fight frantically to hold them back, but the damn breaks eventually. Everyone must now fight multiple zombies at once to stay alive.

A giant finds his way inside Winterfell, and Llyana Mormont makes her last stand. She charges a giant, and that giant picks her up and practically crushes her. We can here the bones crack as the giant prepares to eat her (I think???). But Llyana stabs the monster in the eye, sacrificing herself to take out a huge threat in the battle.

Meanwhile, Arya is making great work of that weapon Gendry made her, taking out zombies left and right. But the onslaught eventually knocks her into a wall, making her woosy.

The Hound is cowering, afraid of both the fire and the undead army. Beric tries a pep talk that falls on death ears until he points out Arya’s plight. That gets the Hound back into action.

“What do We Say to the God of Death?”

Arya finds herself in the library sneaking around when she runs into a number of zombies looking for interesting reading material as they destroy the race of men.

This scene was a nice break from the constant onslaught of action in the heart of the battle. Arya appears to have escaped using her skills as “No one” to get out.

But these damn things always find you. They eventually break through, forcing Arya to run. The Hound and Beric follow her down here. They find her with a zombie on top of her. Beric fights them off and the Hound gets her out of the situation. Beric gets away, but with mortal wounds.

Of course, Melisandre somehow found her way into the room the Hound and Arya end up in. Here, Melisandre gives her last pep talk. Back in season three, Melisandre predicted Arya would kill a lot of people. Well, here they are. And our favorite not so little anymore assassin gets the words she needs to rejoin the fight.

Melisandre, Arya, and the Hound right before Arya sets off.

“Dracarys”

Meanwhile, a fight between dragons ensues. Working together, Drogon and Rhaegal (Jon and Dany’s dragons) unseat the Night King from the Ice Dragon. Rhaegal unseats Jon (conveniently) as the Night King starts walking towards Winterfell.

Daenarys has the Night King in her sights and commands Drogon to light him up.

But we all know it’s not going to work. That seed of doubt was planted last week. Also, we saw a Whitewalker (one of the supreme leaders, not the zombies) walk through fire all the way back in season 5. And it would have just been way too easy. The Night King smirks back up at the Dragon Queen and marches on his merry way.

The Night King smiles back and Daenarys, then resumes his march towards Bran.

Jon is now in pursuit of the Night King. But the leader of the undead picks up on that and raises all the dead bodies that had been fighting for the living earlier. That includes Unsullied, Dothraki, Dolores Edd, and Llyana.

All the dead bodies within the walls of Winterfell rise as well. “Oh great,” says everyone still living as fresh troops appear in the Night King’s army.

And now, the entire Whitewalker Supreme Council has arrived. And with everyone occupied, they make a slow walk towards the Weirwood Tree where Bran is waiting.

“Theon, You’re a Good Man. Thank You”

Jon fights off all the newly awakened dead when Dany shows up with dragon fire. Jon takes this moment to chase towards Bran, the long anticipated battle with the Night King awaiting him.

The zombies start climbing onto Drogon. Drogon fights to knock them off. And in the course of doing so, knocks off Daenarys as well. That leaves Dany alone with a host of zombies before Jorah shows up to save her.

Sam, Grey Worm, Brienne, Jamie, and everyone else inside the walls are fighting with everything they have.

A flaw in the plan is exposed when the bodies inside the Crypts of Winterfell start to awake. Many die in the crypts as Tyrion and Sansa have a moment before they fight their way to safety.

Theon and his crew had been fighting off all the undead with flaming arrows. When the arrows are out, Theon fights them off with his bow.

The score playing in the background rivals the opening of the season 6 finale (Cersei blows everyone up in the Great Sept of Baelor) in effectiveness as a tone of hopelessness falls over the proceedings.

Bran thanks Theon for all he’s done (Meera deserved something that like from you, Bran!!!!) as the Night King and his council appear. Theon charges with all his got before the Night King stabs him and kills him.

Theon fought to the end to keep Bran safe.

Jon is fighting desperately to get to Bran when he runs into the Ice Dragon. Jorah and Dany are fighting off zombies in the field, a battle where Jorah would eventually take a stab to the heart and die protecting his queen.

The Night King is ready to deliver the final blow to Bran, erasing all of man’s history when one of his council notices a disturbance.

We all were looking for Jon to get there, but it was Arya out of nowhere who shows up with a dragonglass blade. The Night King catches her by the throat with his hand, but she drops the blade into her other hand, which is right by his heart.

Arya stabs the Night King, and his army disintegrates. The council breaks like glass. All the zombies fall and are back to their original lifeless state.

Arya the moment before she kills the Night King

Dany cries over Jorah, the knight who’s been with her from day one. Drogon flies back, now free of zombies, to comfort her.

Melisandre walks out to the middle of the snow covered field and drops her fountain of youth necklace. And with Davos looking on, Melisandre falls apart and dies, her purpose now complete.

Of Note

-It made sense for Arya, a stealth assassin no one (including the Night King) saw coming, to be the one who pulled off the kill tonight.

-It was in season 3, episode 6, that Melisandre made this prophecy about Ayra: “I see darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me: brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.” Melisandre referred back to that quote, particularly the part about “blue eyes” last night.

-I appreciate the way this episode really classified bravery not as some strong hero using his or her skills and physical attributes to defeat the enemy.

What we saw from bravery last night were terrified people fighting anyway. Yes, Sam needed to be saved a couple of times. But he fought to the bitter end. The Hound showed fear and resistance, only to find courage in reserve when he saw Arya needed his help.

-For the third straight week, the title of the episode was not released until after the episode. “The Long Night” was this week’s title. And each week, as I’ve looked at the revealed episode titles, I ask why they are being withheld.

I mean, seriously, what would seeing “The Long Night” have spoiled for us?Maybe there’s some concern about hacking that knowing the episode title would allow people with more knowledge than me to get access to an episode and leak it online. But nothing about any of the titles so far in my eyes would have revealed much of anything.

-So is that it for Ghost? Surely, he has a better end than just disappearing into the night at the start of this battle.

-I am a little disappointed we didn’t get to see an undead Llyana Mormont in action. I would love to have seen her start bossing around the other undead, admonishing them for “refusing the coll” of the Night King.

-So what does this mean for Cersei and her chance at holding the throne? On one hand, her army is fresh and in tact, while Dany’s are forces are a bit decimated and warn out.

But on the other hand, not being there during the fight gives the North a reason to unify around Dany in the fight against Cersei.

-And, based on the previews, it doesn’t appear the ice between Dany and Sansa is thawing anytime soon. And what action will Sansa take if she discovers Jon has a better claim to the throne than Dany does?

Now, how do you follow up that??? Well, I would imagine with a series of twists even more gut wrenching than what we just witnessed. And I doubt we will see these twists coming.

See you next week.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2: A Knight for the Seven Kingdoms Recap

I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to feel about the arrival of the Night King’s army at the end of “The Rightful Queen,” the 2nd episode of Game of Throne’s final season.

From episode one, the show has hammered home a central theme of how there really is only one battle that matters: the battle against the Night King and the army of the dead marching not only to defeat every man, woman, and child in Westeros, but to erase the memory that man ever existed.

Yet here it is, that epic battle that means more than everything appearing next week with three more episodes to follow.

So I guess defeating the Night King really isn’t the most important battle?

Now, on the other hand, the fight for the Iron Throne is more compelling than defeating the Night King. I mean, sure, he’s bad ass and all, but he’s fairly one dimensional.

Compare that to the Iron Throne, where Cersei sits and waits with a 20,000 strong sellsword company to take on Dany and/or Jon (together or separate, I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks). And then there’s the whole Sansa being all “You don’t get the North blonde bitch” curveball thrown in during tonight’s episode.

So we’ll see if saving the Iron Throne for last turns out to be the best decision.

As for tonight’s episode, it was a series of truly beautiful moments as everyone makes peace with the fact that in a matter of hours, they all could be fighting for the Army of the Dead.

“The Things We Do For Love”

Before we get to all those tender scenes, Jamie Lannister must first deal with the many people he’s wronged throughout his life.

And to be honest, he got off really easy. Dany calls him to task first for killing her father (hence the name “Kingslayer” for those who may have forgotten).

In a rare moment of agreement, Sansa says that, indeed, Jamie Lannister cannot be trusted. And further proof of that is the fact that Cersei’s troops are not with him.

Another Tyrion blunder, a fact Dany points out as Tyrion tries to speak up for his brother. But one witness does testify to Jamie’s character, and she gets Lady Sansa’s attention.

Jamie stands before those he’s wronged.

“He Saved Me, and He Saved You.”

Brienne of Tarth speaks up for Jamie, and Sansa takes notice. It’s interesting how the events here are recalled in order, illustrating the change in character Jamie underwent over the course of the show.

And Sansa was not aware of the things Jamie did to save Brienne and to save her. Knowing how honorable Brienne is, Sansa takes her at her word. And to Dany’s surprise, she accepts Jamie into Winterfell. Jon agrees as well, but he’s clearly got “I slept with my Aunt” thoughts on his mind.

“How Do You Know There is an Afterwards?”

One person who did not call Jamie out in front of everyone was Bran. Bran quoted Jamie from that very first episode during the meeting, but only three people know what Jamie said to end the pilot episode (and amazingly, all three of them are still living). So the rest of Westeros has no idea what Jamie did.

Bran has about as good an attitude as you can have when presented with the man who crippled you. Bran knew Jamie would be killed if that bit of gossip made its way around Winterfell. By not talking, Bran ensures Jamie can fight in the battle to come.

After a brief conversation with his brother, Jamie asks to be included in the left flank, the troops Brienne is commanding. This Jamie is one not even Brienne recognizes.

What About the North?

The next set of conversations involved the “Mother of Dragons.” First, Queen Daenerys discusses her struggling hand. Tyrion made another blunder claiming his sister was sending troops. And Dany is considering replacing him.

But one potential replacement, Jorah, defends the half-man he traveled with throughout season 5.

“He makes mistakes,” says Dany. To which Jorah responded with “He owns his, and he learns from them.”

Jorah also recommends meeting with Sansa, another person Dany has not exactly warmed herself up to.

And for the first time, the two women seem to be in agreement. Daenerys convinces Sansa it was Jon who changed her actions, not the other way around. And she’s right. Without Jon’s convincing, Daenerys would be taking on the Golden Company for the Iron Throne while the Army of the Dead makes a beeline for King’s Landing after blowing over the North.

Sansa and Dany discuss Jon and the future.

Then, Sansa brings up the subject that sours Dany the entire night: Dany’s claim to the Iron Throne. Sansa reasserts the North’s desire for independence. And she wants to know, “What about the North?” What are things going to be like once Dany takes the Throne? Will she allow the North to be independent from Westeros or does she intend to force the North into submission?

“I Want to Fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa.”

The two women are interrupted as Theon arrives in Winterfell. The queen addresses him first, where he reveals where Yara is and why he is not with her.

Then, he addresses Sansa. She and the Starks appear to be where his true allegiance lies as he asks if he can serve defending the Starks.

Sansa gives him a warm embrace, and Dany looks dismayed for the third time this episode.

Sansa embraces Theon as he pledges his help to the cause.


“He Wants to Erase This World.”

Before Daenerys can spew at everyone’s lack of reverence for her again, Tormund and company arrive and give the bad news: the Night King will be here before sunrise tomorrow.

Preparations go into overdrive and a war council convenes to discuss strategy. And it’s a fairly simple strategy: kill the Night King. He is the one they all follow. Kill him and they all die.

Of course, we don’t know how the Night King actually dies. Would dragon fire kill him? Dragon glass? But since the numbers advantage is clearly with the army of the dead, the best shot for Jon and crew is to take out the head of the snake.

The Starks discuss strategy at the war council.

And just how do you get to the Night King? By using Bran as bait. The Night King has shown a great interest in Bran over the last two seasons. And Bran revealed the reason at the council. The Night King doesn’t want to just destroy the race of men. He wants to erase any memory of man’s existence in this world.

And that means taking the one who remembers literally everything man has ever done.

So in conclusion: Bran will serve as bait with protection from Theon to draw the Night King in so he can be killed. In the meantime, everyone else will just have to hold off the army of the dead until that happens.

“We’re All Going to Die, at Least We’ll Die Together.”

Not much else to do now but share a series of humorous, touching, sensual moments with the race of men before the battle begins.

-Grey Worm and Missandei discuss plans for the future.

-Jon, Sam, and Dolores Edd reminisce about their time as member’s of the Night’s Watch and insult each other.

-An eclectic group including Tyrion, Jamie, Davos, Brienne, Pod, and Tormund all talk and drink inside the halls of Winterfell.

-Arya and the Hound talk atop the main wall when Beric walks up with the instruction to give “No Sermons” from the Hound.

-Jon and Dany talk in the crypts of Winterfell.

“We’re going to die soon. I want to know what it’s like before that happens.”

Well, it’s official: Arya has grown up.

Gendry delivers the weapon Arya asked for earlier and gets more than he bargained for as Arya starts questioning his sexual history.

So those looks between the two last week were not some little flirtation to throw away.

Arya kisses Gendry as the two strip down and knock boots before the world comes to end.

Arya and Gendry spend the night together before the Night King arrives.

“Most Everyone Here’s Fought the Starks at One Time or Another.”

After Tyrion reviews the battle experience of everyone in the room, the subject of Brienne’s knight hood (or lack thereof) comes up.

Brienne says she’s not a knight because she’s a woman and women can’t be knights. Everyone in the room and the television audience agree that’s garbage. But what can you do? There’s no king here (another small slight to Dany?), so who could knight her?

Turns out “Sir” Jamie Lannister can. Knights can knight other knights so let’s get on with the knighting before the Night King comes in middle of the night.

In the night’s best moment, Jamie knights Brienne, declares her “Sir Brienne of Tarth” as Tormund and the rest of the room applauds.

Jamie knights Brienne in a touching ceremony.

“My Real Name is Aegon Targaryen.”

We get one last look at everyone contemplating their final moments before the Army of the Dead arrives to the song “Jenny of Oldstones,” as sung by Pod.

But before the Night King appears, Dany needs to hear one more “Your not wanted here” conversation (at least that is what I’m imagining her hearing).

In front of Llyana’s tomb, Jon reveals his true name and identity: Aegon Targaryen, 6th of his name. The realization hits Dany that his claim to the throne is greater than hers (though thinking about getting boned by her nephew might be there as well).

But once again, before we can hash all this out, a horn blows to signal the Army of the Dead is here.

Of Note

-I don’t think Dany has come to grips yet with the fact that Westeros is not Slaver’s Bay. Yes, slaves who you’ve freed will show undying loyalty to you. But free people in the North who’ve clawed to get their land back after years of war and famine only to have you show up and proclaim yourself queen are going to be much harder to convince.

-Tyrion really needs a win. But victories might be hard to come by with him hanging out in the Crypts while everyone else is fighting. Something tells me the half-man won’t be staying down in the crypts for the whole fight next week.

-When Tormund brags, he brags about things no one should be bragging about. Back in season 4, he bragged about having sex with a bear. And tonight, he bragged about how after killing a giant, he jumped into bed with the giant’s wife who started nursing him. He claims that milk is why he is so strong today. Great job by everyone in that scene clearly showing the discomfort we were all feeling as Tormund drank down a horn of milk from something.

-Davos was reminded of Shireen when he saw a little girl with grey scale asking for food.

-Missandei and Grey Worm make plans to go back to Naath (Missandei’s home island). And Grey Worm seems to indicate he will be taking the Unsullied with them. How willing is Dany to let them go?

-The stubborn Lyanna Mormont would not heel when Jorah requested she not fight. Not surprised by that at all. I think Lyanna’s glare might be enough to bring the Night King down on its own.

Lyanna Mormont says she will fight.

-And that is not an uncommon thing for the women of Bear Island, who are known for their female warriors.

-Jorah does receive better news from Sam, who gives him Heartsbaine: the sword of House Tarly.

-The final note deals with the song Pod was singing at the end of the episode, “Jenny of Oldstones.”

That song is about a girl that a Targaryen abdicated the throne to be with. Because of that, Aerys Targaryen (Dany’s father, the “Mad King”) became king.

It was also a favorite of the Witch of High Heart, a prophetess who in the book prophesied that Azor Ahai (the savior who was promised) would come from the line of Aerys.

And as we know now, that could be Jon or Dany.

We have a battle-centric episode next week as the fight with the Night King as finally arrived. See you then.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1 Recap

Awkward encounters. That is what comes to mind as I recall what we all witnessed in Game of Thrones premiere episode for its final season Sunday night. In fact, I will go on record and recommend it as the episode’s title since the show decided not to release an episode title before the episode started (The show’s official title is actually “Winterfell,” which was released after the episode).

That’s what happens when every still living character (with the exception of a handful in King’s Landing) converges on Winterfell, where skeptical northmen and northwomen scowl at the appearance of some foreign queen with a savior complex marching through their streets like she owns the place.

Some characters were once married only to leave each other when a king ended up dead. One character literally left anther for dead (and robbed him before she did). There were characters who traveled in secret as peasants when they were younger, but are now old enough to be attracted to each other (looking at you Gendry and Arya!!!). One particular character even ordered another’s family burned to death.

Yes, a giant army of the dead is marching south with a flying ice dragon leading the way. But how can the living stand up to that threat with all those elephants (and no, not the ones Cersei weirdly hoped to see) lurking in the room?

Before characters can fight together, they had to, at the very least, acknowledge everything that’s happened before moving forward. And based on the the preview for next weeks episode, things will be moving forward very quickly.

Now, normally, I break the story down by location or character. But that doesn’t make sense now that we are down to two basic locations. So I will mostly be recapping the episode in the order as it happened. Also, there will be lots of background info in the “Of Note” section this week.

“I Warned You: Northerners Don’t Much Trust Outsiders”

A procession of sights the people of the North have never seen: Unsullied, Dothraki, a Targaryen. But don’t expect the North to be impressed (Well, except when they see dragons. Everyone is impressed by the dragons).

Jon told Dany it would be difficult winning over the North, and that was evident from the glares of the Winterfell welcoming party and the discontent inside the city’s halls.

Llyana Mormont (who appears to have grown about 3 feet from the time we first saw here) expresses her displeasure with Jon for bending the knee to Daenarys. And Tyrion tried to comfort everyone with the promise of Lannister troops (because everyone in the North loves the name Lannister).

Also of note is the appearance of Ned Umber, the boy Jon Snow sends home to rally his banners in the Umber seat of Last Hearth. He might as well have been wearing a red shirt (am I right Star Trek fans?)

Sansa, Jon, and Dany oversee a tense meeting in Winterfell

“You Want a Whore, Buy One. You Want a Queen, Earn Her.”

In the season 7 finale, Cersei told Jamie she had sent Euron to ferry the 20,000 strong Golden Company, a famous sellsword company from the free cities on the other side of the Narrow Sea (more on them in the notes).

The Golden Company arrives to fight for Cersei.

They fight for Cersei now, and Euron wants what he defines as a proper thank you for his troubles. And though she is reluctant at first, Euron convinces her.

But while Euron is fornicating with the queen, Theon is boarding Euron’s ship and rescuing Yara.

Yara smacks him with a headbutt as a greeting for all the horrible crap he’s put her through (and I think we can all agree that was well deserved). Then she helps her brother up and thanks him for coming to her aide.

As the three Greyjoy ships led by Theon set off, Yara recommends taking back the Iron Islands, a very smart suggestion for two reasons:

  1. The Iron Islands are vulnerable with Euron not guarding them.
  2. They could be a safe haven should the army of the living near the wall need a place to retreat (those undead can’t handle water after all).

But Theon wants to fight with the Starks, and Yara gives him permission to go while she reclaims the Iron Islands.

Theon and Yara discuss future plans and they flee Euron.

“You’ve Completely Ruined Horses For Me.”

Now for the “We need a reminder that Jon loves Dany before everything goes to poo” portion of the episode.

And that portion uncoincidentally is introduced by Davos proposing to Tyrion that Jon and Dany get married. Davos makes a great point here of the need for the Mother of Dragons having to earn the respect of people in the North. She walks around like she’s entitled to the lands here, but she hasn’t been here while the North has endured constant hardship over the previous seven seasons.

As their advisers discuss how to manage their relationship, Jon and Dany wonder off to check on the dragons who aren’t eating enough (well that sounds like a not so minor problem).

But instead of ensuring the starved monsters who will eat “whatever they want” when they are hungry have proper sustenance, the mother of dragons decides to take Drogon for a spin. And Rhaegal takes a liking to Jon, so Jon hopes on and rides a dragon for the first time.

The two share a kiss by a beautiful waterfall as Dany’s children look on, making the whole thing awkward. I mean, I know many marry people with children and must deal with the transition of entering into the lives of their step children. But imagine if, when those children throw a fit, they could consume you with fire?

Jon and Dany all googly eyed while the dragons look on.

“Did You Bend the Knee Because You Love Her, or Did you Bend the Knee to Save the North?”

What comes next is a series of reunions that just had to take place before everyone can move on to fighting zombies and sellsword companies.

Gendry is leading to charge of turning all that dragon glass into weapons. He makes a warhammer for the Hound, who of course has some issues with Gendry’s methods. In swoops Arya with some clever dialogue for the man she robbed and left for dead at the end of Season 4.

Then, Gendry reminds us that Arya is no longer the little girl pretending to be a boy that he traveled with all the way back in seasons 2 and 3. “You look (insert long drawn out pause as Gendry comes to grips with what he thinks of Arya now) good,” Gendry tells Arya as she gives him a design for a new weapon. A few flirtatious glances and comments follow and now everyone wonders if we should start preparing for the Arendry. Or should their couple name be Gendrya?

Gendry and Arya reunite for the first time since Season 3

Jon and Sansa are not exactly a reunion from seasons long ago (they last talked in season 7), but they do have an important conversation as the tension Dany has brought between the two continues.

Sansa believes Jon’s decision to give up his crown hurts their chances of holding the North, while Jon says all the titles don’t matter with the threat that is approaching.

But no conversation could end up turning events as much as Dany meeting Sam for the first time.

“You Gave up Your Crown to Protect Your People. Would She Do the Same?”

Initially, Daenarys wants to meet the man who saved Jorah’s live and thank him for it. And the usual pleasantries are given with Sam jokingly asking for a pardon once Dany takes the throne for documents he stole from the Citadel and the sword he stole from his father.

And Dany learns who Sam’s father is: Randall Tarly, the man she burned alive for his unwillingness to bend the knee to her.

She tells Sam she had his father killed. It’s a tough blow, but Sam never cared for his father and justifies it pretty quickly. Then, he finds out Dany ordered his brother killed as well.

Daenarys tells Sam about the execution of his father and brother

Sam needs some time to grief. But there’s no time to grief when a cripple who sees everything that happens is waiting in the courtyard of Winterfell.

Bran tells Sam it’s time to tell Jon who he really is. And Sam, though reluctant at first, seems impassioned when he pleas with Jon down in the Crypts of Winterfell to claim the throne for himself.

Sam informs Jon who he really is: Aegon Targaryen, 6th of his name, his mother was Llyana Stark, and his father was Rhaegar Targaryen.

Jon’s first reaction is disbelief that Ned Stark, the man he thought was his father, lied to him. But then Sam leaves Jon thinking if he wouldn’t be a better ruler than the woman who burns all men alive who don’t follow her.

“His Army’s Between Us and Winterfell.”

Tormund, Beric, and the men who were guarding East Watch when the ice dragon opened a hole in the Wall have moved a little farther south and arrived in Last Hearth (the place Jon sent that poor Umber boy). And as expected, no one is left living at Last Hearth.

Well, at least not anyone who normally lives there. Tormund and crew run into the remaining members of the Night’s Watch led by Dolores Edd. And the only report they have is the death of the Umber boy who was left as a message spiked up on the Wall.

But unlike before the Night King crossed the Wall, the Umber boy can wake up after he dies. And he does, blue eyes lighting up the room and piercing screams straight out of a horror movie as we all feared Tormund would be a goner.

If only there was a guy who could light a sword with fire to remedy this situation. And that’s what Beric does as he strikes the boy with his blazing sword.

Everyone in the room knows they must race to Winterfell before the Night King arrives to prepare the living for battle.

“I’m Waiting for Someone.”

But not until we have one last awkward encounter: Jamie Lannister has arrived in Winterfell, a place where everyone there has something to call him to account for. And the first person to greet him is Bran in the wheelchair Jamie put him in all the way back in Season 1.

Of Note

-A really impressive redone intro opened the episode. Notable other than the likely only appearance of “Last Hearth” was the time spent inside the remaining two locations of the show.

-The producers in the “Behind the Episode” feature after the show made note of the parallels between the season 1 premiere and tonight. It was in season 1 that little girl Arya was doing everything she could to see the royal procession approaching Winterfell. Tonight, Arya stepped aside to let another child do the same thing.

-Speaking of Arya, a very touching reunion with Jon. While the two characters have been in, now, a combined two scenes together, the show has made clear the special relationship the two shared as outcasts in the Stark family before the events in the show.

-Another reunion featured Tyrion and Sansa. The formally married couple first must address how awkward it was for Tyrion to be left without his wife while facing charges of Joffrey’s death. Then, Sansa smirks wondering how the usually clever Tyrion could genuinely believe Cersei is sending troops.

-A new character this season is Captain Harry Strickland. He makes a brief appearance tonight giving account to the number of troops and horses he’s brought as captain of the Golden Company.

Harry Strickland before Cersei as Captain of the Golden Company.

-The Golden Company is a sellsword company from across the Narrow Sea. They are considered the most successful of crews, having never broken a contract. They were found by Aegor Rivers, a bastard with Targaryen blood who went by the name “Bittersteel.”

-Cersei was able to secure their services thanks to a loan from the Iron Bank. The Lannisters had significant debts owed to the Iron Bank, but the taking of the Tyrells home of Highgarden (and all the gold that was there) allowed Cersei to pay the debt in full. The Iron Bank was so impressed that they pledged her their full support.

-A quick breakdown of Stark bannerman:

  1. The Karstarks, led by Alys Karstark, arrived in Winterfell with troops.
  2. The Glovers, who did not help Jon in his battle with Ramsey at the end of Season six, are also refusing to help now.
  3. The Umbers are either dead or a part of the undead army.

-Qyburn presented an offer to Bronn: Cersei has lots of gold for him if he will kill Jamie and Tyrion. So Bronn must choose between gold (his primary motivator for all the show so far) or the bond he’s built with Tyrion and Jamie. And the weapon he will use: a crossbow, the weapon Tyrion used to kill Tywin back in Season 4.

-“What exactly do dragons eat?” Dany’s respone: “Whatever they want.” Maybe not the best thing to say to people whose trust you’re trying to earn.

-“I was told the Golden Company had elephants.” What exactly is Cersei’s obsession with elephants?”

-I propose a spin off series when GOT ends: Bran and Sam getting into hilarious hijinks when Bran learns awkward secrets about residents of Westeros, then convinces Sam to go and tell them.

A fantastic start to what should be a fast paced, emotional final season. And could the battle with the Night King really be two episodes away? See you next week.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Trailer Analysis

The Season 8 trailer for Game of Throne is out!!!! First, here’s a look at the trailer:

Now here are are a couple of observations:

(Of Note:  Speculative spoilers are coming. So if you don’t want any speculation ruining potential plotlines for you, stop reading now.)

  1. Who is Arya running from?

When the trailer starts, Arya is in a series of tunnels running from someone. Her face shows that she’s been fighting already. Who was she fighting and what has her running and looking fearful for first time since season 5?

The other shots of Arya have her in her black coat confident as she prepares for battle and as she is fighting (more on that clip later). What’s changed? And are those tunnels in Winterfell? Or in the Red Keep

  1. Two Distinct Battles

There are two distinct fronts for battle portrayed in the trailer:

  1. Soldiers, including the Unsullied, Jorah, Brienne, and Gendry, preparing to fight in the cold somewhere in the North.
  2. A battle on top of a Wall (Winterfell, Castle Black?) with Jamie, Arya, and skilled swordfighter that looks like Brienne (she’s in both scenes?) and a significant amount of smoke (dragonfire?).

Are these two different battles taking place at different times? Are they two fronts in the same fight? Are the two battle fronts taking place against different enemies?

 

  1. What is Cersei smirking about?

This works back to my number 2 observation: could Cersei be smirking because she has an army heading up to the North to take advantage of weakened side no matter who wins at the Wall?

Or does some other development have her smirking alone in front of the Iron Throne? And is that a tear I see on her right cheek? What event would make Cersei cry?

 

  1. Who is missing and why?

I saw no Dothraki. No Greyjoys (other than Euron’s ships) appear. There was no Gilly. And Tyrion, The Hound, Bran, and Sam make brief appearances. Is there anything we need to read into that?

 

  1. Dragons over Winterfell

This likely happens in the premiere. And it never gets old seeing people in Westeros in awe as they see dragons for the first time. We know Sansa sees them, and I assume when Arya looks at the sky and smiles, that is what she sees as well.

So unlike previous trailers, there really are no major events to unpack. We all know a major battle is happening in the North, we all know Cersei is waiting to pounce on whoever wins, and we didn’t need a trailer to tell us lots of our favorite characters will die.

But I did find Arya’s clips the most intriguing. How did she get from confident assassin to frantically running through the halls under a castle somewhere? And about those skills as an assassin? Will they be any benefit in the battle with the Whitewalkers. From the trailer, it looks like she will be doing just fine in open combat, but taking on that “No One” persona has to come into play at some point.

We’ll know the answer to that soon enough. Season 8 is almost here!!!!

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 10: Winner Recap

Throughout Better Call Saul’s four season run, Kim and the audience were the only one’s left who were always in on Jimmy’s schemes(Chuck was too, but he dead, so….).

Well, now we’ve all been duped at some point after BCS’s season four finale, “Winner.”

And don’t even try to lie and tell me you were on to Jimmy as he made that final plea with the appeal committee to get back his law license. If Kim Wexler thought Jimmy was telling the truth, you did as well.

Jimmy put on his best performance and the transformation (in name at least) from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman is now complete.

And judging by her face, Kim was absolutely horrified at who she helped to create.

But Jimmy’s change to Saul was not the most tragic part of the episode. Mike finally did away with the “half-measures,” pulling the trigger and killing Werner, taking a major step into a world he can now never walk away from.

And that is where we will start the recap as Mike and one other interested party pursue the doomed Werner.

“This is on me. I can fix it.”

The first step in Mike’s search for the fleeing architect was finding where he received a money transfer. At the branch, Mike is able to convince the employee behind the counter to show him security footage by saying Werner had dementia. Unfortunately, the footage only shows Werner got in a cab off screen.

When Mike breaks the bad news to Gus, he learns that (of course) Gus already knows Werner’s wife is on a plane to Denver. Gus’s men will track her from the airport to Werner’s location. And though he never says it directly, Gus’s silence (which speaks oh so clearly) implies both Werner and his wife will be killed.

Mike convinces Gus to hold off and let him track down the German architect, but they are not the only ones looking to find Werner.

“Michael, is that you?”

Lalo used the location to follow Mike from Gus’s factory to the money transfer branch.

But Mike discovered he was being followed and used a slick gum in the parking meter trick to escape.

So Lalo goes back to the money transfer branch and, using nefarious means we’ll discuss later, gets a hold off all the information he needs to find where Werner is.

Lalo wants to find out what Gus is up to in that chicken warehouse. And if he would have been on the phone a little longer, the gullible Werner would have likely spilled all the beans. But Mike showed up before any thing of consequence could have been repeated.

Lalo on his mission to discover what Gus is up to.

“There are so many stars visible in New Mexico.”

But Mike got his man and took him out to the desert at night. Of course, Werner still seems to think that, somehow, he’s going to survive all this. And Mike tried to convince Gus to let Werner finish his work. But it was all to no avail.

Mike wants to be the one to pull the trigger, and he convinces Werner to call his wife and convince her to turn around so she will learn nothing and survive.

Werner walks peacefully out into the desert, turns his back to Mike, and stares up the stars while Mike pulls the trigger and kills him.

Mike and Werner in one of their final conversations.

“I can’t believe I wrote a $23,000 check for this.”

Kim was right about the reason Jimmy was denied the reinstatement of his law license. And they went all in showing Jimmy’s “grief” for his brother.

First, Jimmy stands at Chuck’s grave on the one year anniversary of his brother’s death. And he stood there throughout the day greeting various mourners so they could see him “crying” over his brother.

Second, Jimmy writes a $23,000 check for the dedication of the “Charles L. McGill Reading Room” at the University of New Mexico (I think). And he has the three film students he works with all the time spread the rumors all over the party that Jimmy was the one who made the donation.

Jimmy at Chuck’s grave on the one year anniversary of Chuck’s death.

“Esposito, that’s the shoplifter.”

The third action Jimmy takes is serving on the scholarship committee for the HHM sponsored scholarship named in Chuck’s honor. Three lucky high school students will be chosen, but Jimmy votes for the candidate he relates to the most.

The girl’s name is Christy Esposito. She has a shoplifting conviction on her record and has worked hard to put that behind her. But despite Jimmy’s plea, the committee only sees her as “the shoplifter.”

Jimmy has some, well I don’t really know how to describe the words he used. They aren’t really encouraging, and I guess they could be inspiring depending on how Christy uses them. But Jimmy tells her the truth: they didn’t pick you, they were never going to pick  you, and you must find your own way because committees like this will never ultimately pick you.

It is through Christy that Jimmy sees himself and becomes convinced that his words will mean nothing. It is the words of his brother that must convince his appeal committee to give him his law license back.

“I’m not going to be practicing under the name McGill.”

Jimmy pulls out the letter, the one Chuck wrote him to be given to him as part of Chuck’s will, and takes it to the committee hearing.

And it is hear that Jimmy “bares his soul” about Chuck. He starts reading the letter, but stops. He claims he’ll never be as good as Chuck. But if given the chance, he’ll “do everything in (his) power to earn the name McGill.”

The performance works, except we didn’t know it was a performance and neither did Kim. She really thought Jimmy had been harboring feelings for his brother all season. But it’s not just that Jimmy truly felt nothing for his brother’s lost. Kim never thought Jimmy would stoop so low as to fake those feelings to get his law license back.

Kim is shocked to learn it was all an act. And not only was it an act, but Jimmy will not be practicing under the name “Jimmy McGill.”

The look on Kim’s face as Jimmy walks away says she knows she’s helped create a monster. And from that moment forward, Jimmy McGill is no more. From now on, Jimmy McGill  (except of course when we see him as Gene) will be Saul Goodman.

Kim listens as Jimmy describes the act he just put on for the appeals committee.

Of Note: 

-There was strong symbolism (as usual) in this episode:

There was the use of the song “Winner Takes it All” with Chuck and Jimmy singing it in karaoke. You could say Jimmy was the “winner” of the brotherly rivalry there.

Lalo sang the Spanish version of the song as he spied on Gus’s factory in a battle we know Gus is in the process of “taking it all.”

And Jimmy quotes the song when giving his speech to Christy Esposito.

-Also, Jimmy telling the committee he’ll work hard to live up to the name, then announcing he will not be practicing under the name McGill could not have been accidental. Clearly, Jimmy doesn’t think he can live up to the name “McGill” and now just won’t try to.

-It was clear Werner did not spend enough time with Gus or take seriously just how much danger he was in when he left on his own.

-So will the rest of Werner’s crew finish the lab without him? It seemed like Mike was telling Werner the crew will be sent home immediately with the work not done.

-Gus does show Gale the lab despite its unfinished state.

-The finale set up the showdown for season five with Mike and Lalo, but I do wish the show would have found a more creative to get Lalo into the back of the money transfer branch instead of Lalo pulling out his Spidey Sense to get up into the roof.

-No Nacho in the finale, which means Nacho has survived to Season 5!!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the recaps for this season. I know we will get at least one more season, so whenever that is, I look forward to seeing you again for season five.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 9: Wiedersehen Recap

Sincerity. The theme of the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul’s fourth season was the word Jimmy heard from his reinstatement committee that got him all up in a tizzy.

But why was Jimmy so upset over the reasoning? I mean, of course he is angry that he will have to wait another year before practicing law again. But can he really be upset that Jimmy, a man who’s lacked sincerity more times than not on BCS, came off as “insincere?”

Was it Jimmy’s pride that was hurt by this, a man who convinces most people he’s sincere when he’s not? Was he upset his performance failed to convince the committee? Or was it because the committee brought back shades of the man who always saw through Jimmy’s “sincere” act: Chuck?

Jimmy has shoved any remorse he might have for the loss of his brother down deep all season. But now, with Kim correctly pointing out that Jimmy’s unwillingness to bring up Chuck at the hearing was the reason he is was rejected, the soon to be Saul Goodman will finally have to come to grips with the feelings he’s been repressing all season.

And it wasn’t just Jimmy who struggled with sincerity last night. Lalo (an amazing addition to the show for one introduced so late in the run) opens every conversation with a smile and compliments for the person he is talking to. But we all know he’s seeking another angle his insincere smile can’t hide.

And then there’s Werner: the surprising thorn in the side of Mike’s need to keep Gus’s operation quiet. Werner only emerged as the main threat last week. And while the love for his wife was clearly sincere, his unwillingness to stay away for her any longer to see the job finished was not.

The season finale next week should be a roller coaster of emotion as Mike searches for Werner (and I don’t think the end result is going to be pretty), Jimmy and Kim (likely) fight to appeal his reinstatement ruling, and Lalo does something (we don’t know what it will be, but the character is incredible, so you know it will be fantastic).

And speaking of Lalo (who was introduced as Eduardo last week), let’s start with him and Nacho (a man who is finding himself farther and farther away from the center of cartel operations).

“Same ole Hector, always wanting to kill everyone.”

Hector is now out of his hospital bed (thank to Gus) and in a retirement/rehab home when Lalo and Nacho come to visit. I don’t think Nacho says a word all night, showing just how far he’s fallen in the cartel food chain in a short amount of time.

Lalo recalls a story with Hector of a time when the Don dealt with someone who disrespected him by burning the place down. Lalo then pulls out a gift: Hector’s iconic bell from Breaking Bad. It turns out, Lalo (at least this is what he says) Lalo retrieved the bell from that burning building as a souvenir.

Hector then sends Nacho away so he can talk alone with Lalo about Gus (ouch, Nacho!!!)

Hector receivers the bell that turns him into “Ding Ding” Salamanca.

“You’d be crazy to go up against Eladio.”

The next stop for Lalo and Nacho is to see Gus at his restaurant. And it is time for a little seed planting mission.

If you recall from Breaking Bad, Eladio ordered the murder of Gus’s business partner. So Gus has every reason to despise Don Eladio (the man who always sits by the pool and orders Gus and Hector around). Lalo uses this, encouraging Gus to distrust and possibly overtake Eladio. While you would think Gus would be smarter than that, we all know he will eventually move against and kill Eladio in the fourth season of Breaking Bad. Well, I believe those seeds were planted with this very conversation.

Lalo meets with Gus, discussing the manipulations of Don Eladio.

“Let’s make this official.”

It’s time for another scam from Viktor (with a K) and Giselle. Of course, those aren’t the roles they are playing here, but I just like to call the dynamic duo that when they scam.

The scam this time is to get the change in building plans Kevin from Mesa Verde wanted last week without having to restart the approval process. Kim comes in on crutches into the City Hall of Lubbock, Texas. She says she thinks she submitted the wrong plans, and she wants to check to ensure she doesn’t have to resubmit.

The receptionist pulls out the plans on file and compares them with the ones Kim brought in. Turns out, they are identical, so no need to refile.

Kim going over the plans with the receptionist at Lubbock City Hall.

In casual conversation, Kim mentions her 8 month old child when Jimmy (who is going by the name of Iggy) approaches to ask a question. But Iggy  left the baby in the car!!! How could you Iggy??? They both run out to take care of the “child,” but Jimmy left a bottle of milk on top of the plans that were on file with the city.

Oh but what luck that Kim has the set of identical building plans she brought in to check. And since they just checked to make sure they were the same, the receptionist agrees to go ahead and stamp them. But the plans she stamps are different set, the ones with the alterations Kevin wanted to make last minute.

“It was a question of sincerity.”

And now it’s time for Jimmy to get back to practicing law. Or at least, that is what he thought would happen.

Jimmy goes before the reinstatement committee and has all the prepared answers he needs: where’s he been working, letters of exemplary performance on the job, obscure legal precedence that’s been established while he’s been suspended, and an apology showing regret for the actions that got him suspended.

Jimmy before the reinstatement committee.

“Jimmy, you are always down.”

But then, Jimmy gets thrown a curveball in the form of a question: “What does the law mean to you?”

Now, Kim correctly points out later that all of this was to try and get Jimmy to say something about Chuck. The committee knows the crime Jimmy committed was because of bad blood with his brother. And they also know Chuck has passed recently. And they might know Jimmy got into the law profession because of a mail room job at HHM set up by his brother.

But Jimmy never utters Chuck’s name. When talking about the mail room job, Jimmy simply states he “ended up” there, not that Chuck got him the opportunity. And when asked about what (or who) his legal influences are (a question that screamed, “The answer is your brother Chuck”), Jimmy says “The University of American Samoa.”

When he finds out he’s been rejected, Jimmy calls Kim. They go on top of a parking garage and have it out because Jimmy thinks Kim denies his sincerity.

And once again, Kim is in the right when she points out all the times she dropped everything to help out Jimmy, a man who is constantly in need of rescuing.

But later on, after the two have cooled down and are sitting in their apartment, Kim makes clear that she will still help Jimmy become a lawyer again.

“If you want to see your wife, then finish the job.”

We wrap up with Mike, who’s inevitable major issue with the Germans finally emerged this week. And just like I speculated last week, it wasn’t Kai, Casper, or any other member of Werner’s crew. It was Werner himself.

I have to give one last bit of respect to the German man before the beginning of his likely demise. When the explosives weren’t working, he didn’t send a crew member to check on the problem. He took the risk himself.

But unlike the rest of his crew, which was really excited about the successful explosion, Werner was down. And the reason was understandable. The project has gone on longer than expected, and Werner is really missing his wife of 26 years. He asks Mike if he can visit her while Kai leads in his place. Mike refuses, but does give Werner the chance to call her.

That call may not have been the best thing. Later, Mike notices spots on the cameras in the security room. He goes into the house to search Werner’s room and finds a letter and instructions for how to finish the project. Werner has run away, and he used a device that temporarily shut down the cameras to do it.

Mike when he sees what Werner used to escape.

Of Note:

-Kai offering Mike a beer makes me think those two are about to bury the hatchet so Kai can finish the work Werner’s started.

-Everyone watching knows that when Lalo compliments Gus’s chicken that it is all a big game of flattery before Lalo gets to what he really wants. Which makes how effective Lalo is at it even more amazing.

-I wonder what the cartel suspects of Nacho. With all the time he spends with Gus, they clearly don’t trust him. But have they any clue of the role Nacho played in Don Hector’s current state? And do they know Nacho is actively working as a mole for Gus?

-“Of course, they all know me as Saul Goodman.” And very subtlety, Jimmy mentions the reason why his name change will happen.

It is already time for the season 4 finale, folks. And it promises to be quite the ride. See you next week.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 8: Coushatta Recap

After last week’s episode, I thought I had this season figured out. Jimmy and Kim were going to do one last scheme to keep Huell out of jail before parting ways permanently, eliminating the final encumbrance to Jimmy’s inevitable track to Saul Goodman.

I also figured Mike would, at some point this season, have a major issue to handle with one of the members of Werner’s crew. Kai would be obvious, but Casper (the guy who knocked over the pole last week) might be a candidate as well.

Well, it turns out I know nothing. That affection between Kim and Jimmy isn’t gone, it just needed a spark in the form of Kim and Jimmy running a scam together. Now, of course, that is not sustainable. Kim will not end up with Jimmy pulling scams in Breaking Bad, but her renewed affections for the future Saul Goodman mean their parting is unlikely to be the quiet separation I was envisioning last week.

And did anybody see Werner as the biggest threat to Gus’s lab-building operation? Turns out, no one handles their alcohol worse than Werner. Because while Kai gets kicked out of strip clubs when he’s drunk, Werner turns on the “Let me show you all the top secret meth labs I’m building” part of his brain.

We also checked in with Nacho for the first time in awhile as he received some unwelcome oversight. But we’ll start with Mike as he takes Werner and his crew for some much needed R and R.

“Nothing like this will happen again.”

A strip club is where Mike takes Werner’s crew to blow off steam. And all the guys seem to be having a good time when Mike and Werner decide they can leave and talk alone at another bar.

The two men have always had an understanding of each other, as close to a deep bond anyone that is not Mike’s granddaughter can have with Mike. But Werner put that relationship and more in jeopardy after having a few too many drinks while Mike checked in on the crew at the strip club.

Mike had a Kai issue to take care of as the troublesome crew member got kicked out of the strip club. The bouncer was going to call the police on Kai. But Mike pays the bouncer off to keep Kai’s presence in America off police records.

But even worse, when Mike gets back to the bar to pick up Werner, the German architect has drawn the plans of the lab he’s building on a napkin and is going into great detail with a couple of guys at the bar about the building process.

Turns out, Werner is a man who gets chatty when he drinks.

When Mike confronts Werner about his indiscretions, Werner promises Mike it will never happen again. But Mike does not look convinced. Later, when Gus asks for an update, Mike doubles down in trusting Werner. But once again, he doesn’t look convinced.

“It’s gonna be like I’m not even here.”

It’s good to see Nacho is healthy and active as the man now running the show at the restaurant while dealers come in and deliver the Salamanca’s their cut from the streets.

It’s a seat Tuco sat in early in the show. Then Don Hector took that spot temporarily after Tuco went to prison. But it’s Nacho looking on as a dealer comes in and doesn’t have the expected amount of money. Crazy 8 let’s him off with a warning to bring it next week. But Nacho learned his lesson last season as he calls the dealer over and rips an earring out of his ear, demanding the money be brought back with interest. Nacho also admonishes Crazy 8 for not doing it himself.

Later in the restaurant, Nacho walks in to find a visitor. The man’s name is Eduardo (he also goes by Lalo), and Nacho knows the man is here to check up on him. Considering Nacho is working undercover for Gus, this is bad news. Do the Salamancas know Nacho’s been compromised? Or do they simply think he can’t do the job? Or maybe they suspect (and correctly as it turns out) that he needs watching because he might be ready to escape.

Eduardo, also known as Lalo, makes his first appearance.

“I think we might be past that.”

Meanwhile, Kim and Jimmy still aren’t talking, at least not in a way lovers do. They discuss the execution of the scam to keep Huell out of jail, but that is it.

And what a scam it was!!! All those office supplies turn out to be for Jimmy to write fake letters of people in Huell’s home town of Coushatta, Louisiana, begging the judge to free Huell. Jimmy writes all the letters on a bus taking him to Coushatta, pays passengers to write letters so different types of handwriting are included, and places phone numbers on a handful of the letters.

The letters are sent from Coushatta to Albuquerque, and Judge Munsinger (the man whose courtroom Kim sat in several episodes ago) is the one receiving all of them. The letters encourage the judge to free Huell with several of them by people threatening to come to Albuquerque during the trial if a resolution is not reached.

Judge Munsinger tells ADA Ericsen and Kim he doesn’t want a circus.

Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Ericsen wants to know who these people are, so she starts reading the letters. She calls the phone numbers listed on the letters, which are all Jimmy and his film crew talking in Cajun accents defending Huell. Jimmy plays the role of pastor at a church Huell attended and says the big man once pulled a bunch of elderly church members in a bible study out of a burning building.

“Let’s do it again.”

After Jimmy threatens to bring a large bus of church members to Albuquerque, the ADA finally caves. Kim gets the deal she was asking for and delivers the news to Jimmy by making out with him in the stairwell. So turns out, the passion is not entirely gone just yet.

Kim and Jimmy kissing in the stairwell after a successful scam frees Huell.

Later, Kim is losing focus in a meeting with Kevin and Paige when she is awoken from her daydreaming by another crazy scheme of Kevin’s. Kevin wants to change the building designs of one of the branches that’s already been approved and already under construction to be more like the one with the large cowboy statue (I think). That’s the one doing the best business, so he wants more branches just like it. But Kim agrees with Paige that doing the permit process all over again for an already approved branch just can’t be done.

Clearly, Kim is still bored with her work at Mesa Verde. When she gets back to the office, she pulls the top to the Tequila bottle she and Jimmy claimed after scamming Ken back in season 2. She meets Jimmy at another law office he’s scouting out for when he returns to practicing and tells him she wants to do it again.

Of Note:

-It appears each week the office buildings Jimmy views are going to get worse and worse.

-It also appears Kim was paying for Huell’s defense. She tells ADA Ericsen the legal team Kim put together for Huell’s defense is not pro bono, so someone has to be paying that bill.

-I also liked the touch of the website promoting Huell’s cause.

-I also think that if Jimmy tried the scam today, he would need a slight tweak. That story with Huell pulling people out of the fire would have popped up in any google search today. So Jimmy would have to create a fake news site with an article about Huell’s “heroics.”

-Mike updates Gus on the progress of the lab. He says the work is solid, but it is well behind schedule. That doesn’t seem to bother Gus at all. He’s ruthless and calculating, but also realistic.

Gus and Mike discussing the progress of the lab.

-So Crazy 8 is one step closer to the place he will hold in Breaking Bad just before Walt chokes him down in Walt’s garage.

-Nacho also has fake ID’s prepared so both he and his father can flee to the Manitoba province of Canada.

-Who were those girls hanging out at Nacho’s house? I didn’t Nacho to be the kind of drug dealer who had random junkies hanging out where he lives.

-Lalo (Eduardo) was referred to in Breaking Bad when a masked Walt and Jessie took Saul out in the desert with plans to shoot him. Under duress, Saul mentioned both Lalo and Nacho’s name in that conversation.

Saul Goodman mentions the name “Lalo” back in Breaking Bad.”

Only two episodes left!!! See you next week.