Honestly, I barely even feel like putting this together. With one episode left to go, nearly every Game of Thrones character is either dead, or barely recognizable from their original self. Gone is the good-hearted but cynically sharp-witted mastermind Tyrion Lannister. In his place is a gullible optimist, who puts his head down and mopes every time his (obviously bad) plan backfires. The selfless, honorable and occasionally cocky Jon Snow has become a lovesick fool- emphasis on fool. Daenerys Targarean, someone I took issue with early on, was nevertheless the most recognizable face of the franchise, sold to us as a champion of the downtrodden, and a force to be reckoned with. Now, she’s a crazy, murderous ex-girlfriend. The whole thing is depressing- and not the “good” kind of depressing, like Ned Stark’s death or the Red Wedding.
Watching Daenerys’s dragon burn King’s Landing to the ground was a good metaphor, as it felt like what the writers were doing to the entire series. Also with the perfect metaphor, Cersei Lannister, realizing she was going to die by way of the roof caving in, desperately cried, “Not like this! Not like this!” She spoke for millions of fans everywhere.
Before continuing to rant about all the things that went wrong with one of the greatest television shows ever created, let’s pause for some positivity. The production, the music, the acting, and the overall “feel” of the second-to-last episode was first rate. None of that has ever been a problem for Game of Thrones. And if there was only one storyline that had a remotely satisfying conclusion- and there was, in fact, only one storyline that had a remotely satisfying conclusion- it was Sandor Clegane, emphatically pleading with Arya to not follow down his dark path of endless revenge seeking. Even this plotline had holes, as we have been cheering on Arya for YEARS to be getting revenge on those who have wronged her family, her friends, and herself. But personally, I can at least buy into the idea that she needs to know when to say when, and that “The Hound” is the perfect person to teach her this, given he was the one who taught her to have no mercy in the first place. (In turn, she was the one who taught him kindness, which somehow we suspected always existed, deep down inside.) Given all the two of them had been through together, it was enjoyable to watch them have this moment together, right before Sandor plunged to his death, along with his literal monster of a brother, Gregor.
Okay, now back to the griping…For the increasingly problematic direction(s) of the show in recent years, since the novels ended (or so I’ve heard- admittedly I haven’t read a single page), there were always interesting trails to explore. In recent seasons, the writers have opted for killing off many of those trails- literally- by executing some of the most mercurial plot-churning characters in the series, most notably the Tyrells, Littlefinger, and now, Varys and the Lannister twins. (THE LANNISTER TWINS!!!) Seeing how there’s no one left to despise, the writers decided to turn Daenerys into the latest- and, in all likelihood, final- bloodthirsty villain. I mean…what??? Ok, I get it- this show breaks all the rules. Killing off someone who we all thought was the protagonist in season 1 was a brilliant stroke of genius. But that was early on- early enough that the rules of the show were still being established, but late enough for us to be deceived, to the point where it felt like WE were the ones getting the axe. For as long as nearly a decade (for those who watched the show when it first aired), we were convinced that Daenerys was on “our” side. And yes, it was annoying at times, especially prior to integrating her with the rest of the Westeros mainland. But there was no question that much of the whole thing revolved around her getting to the Iron Throne…eventually.
Things started off quite well with this late-inning plot, in terms of storytelling. Finally, our young heroine ran into some actual adversity, and it took a toll on her patience, while stoking her more violent tendencies. Very subtlety, her hunger for power started to become an alarming issue for some of the more astute characters, most notably Varys. When Daenerys marched to Winterfell with Jon Snow by her side, we were cleverly reminded of the first episode, when we were first introduced to the frosty (no pun intended) relationship between the Starks and Lannisters. The passive aggression between Sansa and Dani, with Jon caught in the middle, had the potential to be one of the most intriguing power struggles throughout the series.
So much for all that. Jon was reduced to a monosyllabic sycophant, repeatedly assuring Dani, “You are my queen!” while adding nothing else of use- neither to the characters, nor to the viewers. In a scene that marked the highpoint of Emilia Clarke’s acting and lowpoint of Daenerys Stormborn’s character, she looked over King’s Landing, knowing that it was all hers, and inexplicably decided that it wasn’t enough by mercilessly burning it to the ground, without any warning or explanation. Out of the rubble, we are left with a dumbfounded Jon and Tyrion, a traumatized Arya, and Sansa, having second thoughts about when she helped Jon defeat Ramsey (probably).
Anyway, this is more than enough from a guy who sincerely claimed having almost no interest in putting together a recap. Imagine how long this thing would be if I WAS interested! So next week, we find out who sits on the Throne, but at this point, I really don’t care, because no one left is worthy. They might crown Samwell “Teflon” Tarly as the Protector Of The Realm, as the writers seem to care most about his character. (I suspect many in the writer’s room can identify with his character far more closely than any other.) Or, maybe Ned Stark wakes up, and realizes the whole thing was just a dream. It’s probably as good an explanation as any for what we’ve been watching lately.
(Don’t just take my word for it- enjoy this compilation of the GOT actors and actresses thinly-veiled contempt for the ultimate direction of the show- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA7UQOYskas&app=desktop)
(I’ll end this on a high note, as the silver lining of this tranwreck has produced some very clever memes, which is a lot more than we can say about the writing-