The third episode of the eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones was even more epic than anyone could have imagined, ending with a truly shocking twist. The Night King was mere seconds away from killing Bran when none other than Arya Stark jumped him from behind. The Night King anticipated this, and grabbed the young Stark by the throat. But she distracted him by dropping the dagger, catching it in her other hand, and shoving it into his ribs, defeating not only him, but his entire army with a single blow.
It was a moment of relief, but that feeling was quickly replaced by the weight of heavy loss. As the sun rose, the amount of bodies that were piled in and outside of the castle seemed endless. And this is where Episode 4 begins. With the aftermath of all that death. There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so sit back, relax, and let’s recap!
The episode begins just before the funeral pyres are lit, and the number of fallen is nothing short of gut-wrenching. And while there certainly isn’t enough time in the episode to mourn each individually, there are a few characters we see one last time. Before the pyres are lit, Daenerys says a final goodbye to her most trusted adviser, Ser Jorah Mormont, who took more wounds than can be counted in order to save her life. Tears fall from her cheeks as she kisses his forehead for the last time. This farewell is tear-jerking, unquestionably, but what follows is even more heartbreaking.
Sansa is openly weeping, more so than we’ve ever seen, as she looks down in horror and sadness at Theon’s body. She places her hand on his chest, looking at his face, as if trying to will him to come back. But Theon Greyjoy, the man who helped her escape Ramsey, the man who became her family, is gone. And there is only one thing left to do. Before she lights the pyre, she secures a direwolf pin, the sigil of House Stark, to his chest. He died not only protecting the Starks, but as one of them. And she will make sure that is never forgotten. And that if there is an afterlife, he will bear the mark of their house.
As Arya looks over Beric Dondarrion’s corpse, as Sam looks over Edd’s body, and as Jon looks over Lyanna’s, the former King In The North says what final words he can. Words reminiscent of the Night’s Watch.
“We’re here to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters. To our fathers and mothers. To our friends. Our fellow men and women who set aside their differences to fight together, and die together, so that others might live. Everyone in this world owes them a debt that can never be repaid. It is our duty and our honor to keep them alive in memory. For those who come after us, and those who come after them, for as long as men draw breath. They were the shields that guarded the realms of men. And we shall never see their like again.-Jon Snow
Almost every main character picks up a torch, to burn their people. Tormund to burn the Wildlings, the Khal to burn the Dothraki, Daenerys to burn her soldiers, Grey Worm to burn the Unsullied, Sam to burn the brothers of the Night’s Watch, and Jon, Arya, and Sansa to burn their fellow Northerners and friends. As the bodies burn and the weight of the deaths fall on the survivors’ shoulders, the smoke covers Winterfell. The sky cannot be seen through it. It is, in a way, even more painful than the battle itself.
The feast that follows should be a joyous occasion, but it’s hard to celebrate when the bodies of their friends are still burning just outside the walls. Not much chatter can be heard, let alone celebration. But still, everyone is gathered in the hall. Everyone but Arya, the hero who killed the Night King. And unsurprisingly, Gendry is the first to notice. He asks the Hound, trying to appear casual, but he sees right through the act. And in true Sandor Clegane fashion, he antagonizes him for it, at first. But then he grins, saying it’s only natural. The dead are dead, but Gendry’s still alive. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate that. Gendry isn’t entirely sure how to feel about this, but either way, he’s determined to find Arya. He stands, about to leave the hall, when Daenerys calls his name. And the hall falls silent.
You could hear a pin drop as Gendry approaches his Queen, growing more and more nervous as she reveals that she knows he’s the son of Robert Baratheon, the man who stole her throne and her land. The man who tried to have her murdered when she was just a baby. Gendry insists he didn’t know that Robert was his father until after he had died, but despite this, the tension in the room could still be cut with a knife. Daenerys doesn’t like anyone with a claim to her throne, even a questionable one. But instead of ordering his execution, she asks who the Lord of Storm’s End is, what with Robert and his brothers all dead. No one answers, whether out of fear or uncertainty, we don’t know. But even Sam looks confused, so we’d guess there is no Lord of Storm’s End! Which is why Daenerys decides to legitimize Gendry. He is no longer a bastard, but the true born son of Robert Baratheon and the Lord of Storm’s End.
A bold and surprising move, considering how our Queen has been acting this season. But perhaps something good came from the death of her closest friend. Perhaps she will now make her decisions based on what Jorah would do. If she does, she’ll make an incredible Queen.
Everyone raises a glass to Gendry, and the true celebration commences. The long silences are gone, and so begins the drinking, the cheering, and finally, a chance for our favourite characters to take a breath and enjoy themselves. They’ve earned it!
One of the few who doesn’t seem to be enjoying themselves is Ser Davos, which is understandable when you consider what he’s been through! Watching Melisandre kill herself was a confusing thing. Even though he wanted her dead, he still couldn’t help feel a twinge of sadness. Not to mention the fact that he has infinite questions about the Lord Of Light. Ever since their great victory, they haven’t heard a word from him. No omens, no signs, nothing. Tyrion advises him against thinking too much about it, as no possible answer could make him happy. But Davos isn’t searching for happiness, just answers. So, Tyrion comforts him with the uncomfortable reminder that though the dead are defeated, they still have the living to contend with. And for now, for Davos, at least, that’s enough.
Tyrion, ever the working man, makes his way over to Bran, noting that he’ll make an excellent Lord of Winterfell, as he knows so much about the past. But Bran tells him he doesn’t want it, he doesn’t want anything anymore, and that the title isn’t his. Tyrion’s a smart man. With Jon by Dany’s side, Sansa will be the acting Lady of Winterfell more often than not, which could prove to be the best thing for the North, but not necessarily the best for Daenerys.
Back at the head table, Tormund tries to convince Jon to chug his drink, but Jon isn’t having it, despite Sansa egging him on.
Jon: “Vomiting isn’t celebrating.”
Tormund: “Yes it is.”
Tormund toasts the Dragon Queen, and in return, Daenerys toasts Arya, the hero of Winterfell. Nearly everyone in the hall, almost all of them drunk and happy, cheer and drink, while Tormund chugs his entire horn, smiling and spilling the whole time. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, even Sansa, until she sees Jon and Dany looking lovingly at each other. She still does not trust the Mother of Dragons, and honestly, we can’t entirely blame her.
Tormund is still shocked that Jon rode a dragon, telling tales of his courage with admiration and a little embelishment. Jon is no ordinary man, and he may be small, but he’s tough. He died not only for his friends, but his enemies! And he came back and kept fighting for them! Even Daenerys is smiling at the tales, until Tormund says the thing that made every viewer cringe.
“He climbed on a fucking dragon and fought! What kind of person climbs on a fucking dragon!? A madman, or a King!”-Tormund Giantsbane
Even Jon looks worriedly over at Dany, but she just smiles, reassuring him that she doesn’t take it personally. But as soon as he looks away, her face falls. She looks at her subjects, everyone laughing and enjoying themselves, but she is alone. Friendless. A stranger. She leaves the hall, and only Varys watches her, a concerned look on his face. Daenerys may not have the sound mind she used to, and he may be the first to truly admit that.
Meanwhile, Brienne, Jaime, Pod, and Tyrion play one of the latter’s favourite drinking games. If you guess something true about the other person, they drink. If it’s wrong, you drink. And everyone is surprisingly good at this game! Even Brienne is laughing and drinking, and for a moment, each of them forget their woes. And we can’t help but notice the amount of flirting happening between Brienne and Jaime. It’s as clear as day! But the game turns sour when Tyrion cruelly guesses that Brienne is a virgin. The table grows silent as she stands. And of course, who should come over, but Tormund, the man with the worst possible timing. Smiling and flirting with Brienne, he laughs as he asks who “shit in his pants”, to use his words. But Brienne is too shaken up from the game, and simply pardons herself and walks outside, not even looking at Tormund. The Wildling goes to follow her when Jaime stands, pats him on the shoulder, and hurries after Brienne. And the look of heartbreak on Tormund’s face actually looks genuine.
“And after all that, this fucker comes North and takes her from me. Just takes her like that. I mean it, Clegane, my heart is broken.”-Tormund Giantsbane
Clegane basically ignores him, and as Tormund is about to continue, two girls come over, eyeing the two men. Tormund takes the one up to his chambers, the girl who claims she isn’t afraid of Wildlings, but Clegane wants nothing to do with the other girl. He’s interested in drinking, and that’s it. He growls at her, scaring away. And finally, he’s left alone. But not for long.
Sansa comes over and joins him, telling him that the girl he scared off would have made him happy for the night. But only one thing will make the Hound happy. Of course, that’s his business, as he so bluntly informs Sansa. But she doesn’t flinch. He points out that she never used to be able to look at him, and now she doesn’t so much as bat an eye. He’s nothing compared to the men she’s known. And he throws that knowledge at her like venom, telling her that he heard how she “was broken in rough”. But again, she doesn’t flinch. Instead, she tells him how she had Ramsay torn apart by his own hounds. Clegane smiles and laughs at that.
The Hound: “You’ve changed, little bird. ..none of it would have happened if you left King’s Landing with me. No Littlefinger…no Ramsay…none of it.”
Sansa Stark: “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.”
This line sparked a massive debate between fans. Was the show saying that the horrors Sansa endured were necessary? Were they using rape as a plot device? We here at Fiction’s Mistress don’t think so. We think that Sansa was saying that by learning from Littlefinger, by learning about Ramsay, all the terrible men in her life, she was able to learn how they think. She was able to become smarter than all of them. She was able to outlive all of them. If she had left with the Hound all those years ago, she would never have gotten her home back, she never would’ve gotten her family back. And she would be reliant on a man, on the Hound. Now, she only relies on herself.
Outside the castle walls, Gendry searches for Arya. He succeeds, almost getting shot by one of her arrows in the process! But then again, if she intended to hit him, she would have. He asks why she isn’t celebrating with the others, but she confesses that training away from everyone else is her way of celebrating. But that doesn’t stop her from being excited upon hearing the news of his legitimization, and of his Lordship. But when he passionately and frantically kisses her, her face falls. He gets on one knee and says that while he knows nothing about being a Lord, he knows he wants Arya by his side. That being a Lord would mean nothing if she’s not his Lady.
Arya kisses him and helps him to his feet, smiling sympathetically. She knows he’ll make a wonderful Lord, and she tells him as much. But she’s never been a Lady, and never could be. It’s what she told her father all those years ago, and it’s the same thing she’s telling Gendry now. He’ll make a Lady very happy, but it can never be her, even if she wanted it to be.
While these two lovers part ways, in another part of the castle, a relationship could be forming! As Brienne tosses another log into her chamber’s hearth, there comes a knock at the door. And yes, it’s Jaime, with two goblets and a bottle of Dornish wine. He insists they have more drinking to do, and while she’s hesitant at first, she eventually joins him. As she drinks, he takes off his jacket, commenting on how warm the room is. But you have to keep the rooms warm in the North, which is another thing Jaime hates about it. She tells him that the North grows on you, the longer you stay. But that’s not what he wants, things growing on him.
He then asks if Tormund has grown on her, and reveals that he was terribly sad when she left the hall. Brienne looks Jaime in the eye and tells him that he sounds jealous, to which he once again comments on the warmth of the room. He tries to undo his shirt, but with one hand, fails miserably. And as she helps him along, he starts to undo hers. She saves them both the trouble and coolly undoes her own top, and then helps slide his over his head, leaving both of them bare chested.
Jaime: “I’ve never slept with a Knight before.”
Brienne: “I’ve never slept with anyone before.”
And in this moment, these two lost souls who were once enemies, who were then friends, became lovers. He kisses her passionately, deeply, frantically, as if there isn’t a second to spare. And she kisses him back with the same fervor. Tonight, if only for tonight, they can lose themselves in each other.
Meanwhile, Daenerys pays Jon a visit, asking if he’s drunk. He swears he’s not, but when he stands and stumbles, he jokes that he might be a bit. But she’s okay with that. If being a little tipsy is what they both need to be able to do what they both crave, she’s alright with it. Because she’s never loved anyone like she loves Jon, whether it’s wrong or not. She asks him if that’s alright, and he responds by draping his arm around her waist, pulling her close, and kissing her deeply. She starts to undo his clothes when he pulls away, his secret eating at the both of them.
Both of them wished they had never found out. But it hit Daenerys hard tonight, the truth of it all. Whether he wants the throne or not, she’s seen the way his people look at him. They’d follow him anywhere, and given the choice, they’d want him as their King. Not her as their Queen. Jon gets on his knees, swearing he doesn’t want the Iron Throne, swearing that he’ll stay loyal no matter what. But she knows it doesn’t matter. The only chance she has now to take the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms is if Jon’s secret stays a secret. He can’t tell anyone. But he confesses that he has to tell Sansa and Arya. They’re his sisters, his family, and they deserve to know. Whether Daenerys trusts Sansa or not, he has faith that his sisters will keep his secret. But Daenerys knows better. If anyone else knows this secret, it will destroy any hope of a relationship between them. Jon should’ve listened to his Queen, but we’ll get to that later.
While Jon and Dany fight, we cut back to Brienne’s room, where she’s sleeping soundly. But next to her, Jaime is wide awake, and seems more uncertain than ever. Perhaps he’s not ready to let go of his past quite yet.
The next morning, the leaders gather to make battle plans. They survived the army of the dead, but at great cost. Half the Unsullied, Northerners, and Dothraki armies are depleted. But Daenerys is determined to make her move against Cersei immediately. And she doesn’t seem to care that thousands of innocents in the Capital could die because of it. Luckily, her advisers convince her to play the waiting game. Let the city starve, just enough for the people to turn against Cersei. Cut off food supplies, and then arrive as the hero to save them. Defeat the Golden Company in the field, if they march out to meet them. It’s not a bad plan, but as Sansa points out, their armies are exhausted. They would fight better if they had time to recover from their wounds and trauma. And as you can imagine, Daenerys doesn’t like the sounds of this.
She accuses Sansa of breaking the North’s vows. She came and fought for them, but they aren’t willing to do the same? Sansa says that isn’t the case at all, that it’s Dany’s men she’s also defending. If they go to war now, they won’t be ready or strong enough to face what comes. And she’s right. They just defeated the army of the dead, they should have more than two days to rest. But Jon isn’t hearing any more of it. He interrupts Sansa and swears to Daenerys that the Northerners will serve their rightful Queen, and help her destroy her enemies when she commands it. Arya and Sansa exchange glances as Daenerys smiles at Jon’s support. The Stark sisters do not trust the Dragon Queen. And Gods know what happens to anyone who messes with them.
As the others file out of the room, Arya stops Jon from leaving, and they head out to the Godswood with Bran and Sansa to discuss why exactly he trusts Daenerys so much. Sansa will never forget Dany’s army, and the lives sacrificed to defeat the army of the dead. But that doesn’t mean she’s ready to bend the knee. As for Arya? She understands why he bent the knee to her. They needed her army and her dragons, and she respects his decision. But that doesn’t mean she trusts her. Jon says that’s simply because she doesn’t know Daenerys, and Arya retorts that she’ll never know her because she isn’t one of them. That may not be how you make allies, as Jon says, but Arya doesn’t need any more allies than the ones she already has.
“We’re family. The four of us. The last of the Starks.”-Arya Stark
Jon lowers his head, admitting he was never a Stark. Sansa and Arya jump to defend him, saying it doesn’t matter that he’s a bastard, and Jon simply looks at Bran. Bran tells him it’s his choice. He gets to decide whether to tell them or not. And so, he swears both of his sisters to complete secrecy, and then nods at Bran to tell them the truth. All of it. And that could prove to be either the wisest or most foolish decision of his life. Only time will tell for certain.
In a deserted tavern near Winterfell, the Lannister brothers sit alone and drink, and Tyrion, despite making his jokes, is genuinely happy to see Jaime happy. Especially with someone other than Cersei. And just as he asks what Brienne is like underneath all of her clothes, someone interrupts their conversation. And not just anyone. Bronn.
In case you forgot, Cersei offered Bronn a large sum of gold along with Riverrun if he killed both Tyrion and Jaime. So, here he is, loaded crossbow in hand. But he’s not quite ready to kill the Lannister brothers yet. See, Bronn is, as he puts it, a betting man. And despite her armies being depleted, he’d still bet on Daenerys winning the war. She has dragons, after all. And Cersei can’t make good on her promises if she’s dead. So, Bronn is willing to spare their lives if Tyrion, as the Queen’s hand, can promise something better than Riverrun. Tyrion offers him Highgarden.
Jaime nearly laughs at this. A cutthroat could never be Lord of Highgarden, and besides, if Bronn wanted to kill them, he wouldn’t be talking. That’s when Bronn shoots an arrow that lands inches away from Jaime’s head. Bronn isn’t messing about, and Tyrion can’t deal with this all right now. He promises him Highgarden, and that promise is enough to get Bronn to leave. He’ll return once the war is done, and if they don’t make good on their promise, he’ll kill them both. But that’s a problem for another time.
The next morning, before the Daenerys and her army marches South, the Hound heads to King’s Landing on his own. And, unsurprisingly, Arya joins him. Neither of them are fans of crowds, and the fact that she’s being called a hero makes her even more prone to avoid them. Both of them have business in King’s Landing, Clegane with his brother and Arya with Cersei. And neither intend on returning from their quests. We might see both of them die in the next episode, but as long as they get their revenge, we’d guess they’ll both be okay with that.
As her army prepares to leave, Daenerys visits her dragons. She’ll be riding Drogon on the way to Dragonstone, but Rhaegal was wounded by Viserion during the Battle Of Winterfell. Luckily, despite his injuries, he can still fly. It’ll take some healing, but he can make the journey. And he seems as happy as ever.
As the dragons fly over Winterfell for the last time, Sansa looks on with tears in her eyes. Tyrion joins her on the battlements, not only to say goodbye but to try to persuade her to trust Daenerys, at least a little. After all, with Jon by Dany’s side, she would be the true power in the North. She would not only be the Lady of Winterfell, but she would be the acting Warden of the North in Jon’s absence. Tyrion pleads with Sansa to have some faith, to be at least a little civil towards their Queen. His tone of voice catches her attention, and she realizes that he’s afraid of her. He tries to brush it off, but it’s too late. She can see past his lies.
She admits to him that she’s scared for Jon. After all, the men in her family who march South never come back. Tyrion tries to comfort her, reminding her Jon’s not really a Stark. He is, of course, referring to the fact that Jon’s a bastard. But Sansa knows the truth, and she nearly weeps at the reminder. He sees the tears, and while he’s confused, he still tries to comfort her. He insists that Daenerys will be a good Queen, that she’ll rule fairly and that she wants to make the world a better place. When Sansa doesn’t respond, Tyrion backs away, about to leave when she calls out to him at the last second. She has to tell him. There’s someone better suited to rule.
Meanwhile, down in the courtyard, Jon says a heartfelt goodbye to Tormund. Jon’s heading South, and Tormund’s heading back to the North, the real North, with the rest of the Wildlings. That is, as soon as the winter snows pass. They’ll wait out the worst of it at Castle Black, and then return to their home. Jon tells him they’re all welcome to stay, but Tormund and his people don’t belong there. And it gets Jon thinking. Ghost doesn’t belong there either. He survived so much horror on this side of the wall. He lost an ear in the Battle Of Winterfell. He belongs in the real North, and Tormund swears to take him with them.
Jon and Tormund tightly embrace each other, and Tormund tells him that it may not be the last time they see each other. The heartfelt goodbye should have been followed with an even more heartbreaking one, the goodbye between Jon and Ghost. But Jon barely even looks at his loyal direwolf. While we know it was to make it less painful for Ghost, and, of course, easier for Jon, it was still agonizing to watch. Ghost deserved better. Hopefully, Tormund and the North can give it to him.
Before Jon leaves Winterfell, he has two more people he has to say goodbye to. Sam and Gilly meet him by the gate, and Gilly is positively beaming. Jon looks down at her stomach and back to her smiling face. And they confirm it. She’s pregnant again, and this time, Sam is the biological father. The three smile and embrace, enjoying a moment of true happiness. And Jon tears up when Gilly reveals that if it’s a boy, they want to name it after him. Jon jokingly says that he hopes it’s a girl.
Gilly and Jon hug one last time before he and Sam say their final farewells. They’ve been friends since Season 1. There for each other through the highest highs and lowest lows, and they truly are each other’s best friends. This goodbye is not an easy one. And if Jon never comes back, we don’t know who it’ll be harder for. Us, or Sam.
Jon, Daenerys, her dragons, and her army are all on their way to Dragonstone. Dany and her dragons accompany her ships, which carry a small portion of her army, including Grey Worm, Missandei, Varys, and Tyrion. And it seems to be nothing but smooth sailing. Missandei and Grey Worm look on at the sights as they hold hands, very much in love. Meanwhile, below deck, Tyrion shares Sansa’s big reveal with Varys.
Tyrion reveals that 8 people know, including them, and Varys knows what that means. This is no longer a secret, but information that soon hundreds will know. And then thousands. The North will follow Jon Snow, and if they discover he has the better claim, there won’t be a contest. Daenerys will lose the North and the Vale. And that’s when Varys says what we all have been fearing. He questions her state of mind, admitting he fears for it. And while Tyrion tries to brush it off, his face says it all. But the rest of this conversation will have to wait. They’ve arrived.
As the ships drop anchor, Dany’s dragons fly around the island in utter contentedness. Dany sits atop Drogon, smiling as her children look so happy. And then, it happens. What we never saw coming. What Thrones is known for doing: the horrific thing we fear most. Three giant arrows pierce Rhaegal. One in the chest, a second in the wing, and a third right through his throat. Dany watches in horror and Drogon shrieks as Rhaegal falls to his death, landing in the ocean and bleeding out. As he does, Euron’s Iron Fleet appear from behind the island, with Euron smiling from behind one of the weapons that shot the arrows. They were waiting for her. And they’re ready to take down Drogon, too.
Daenerys directs Drogon to fly directly at the ships, and as they close in on the fleet, she lets out a scream of anger and determination, something that sounds like a battle cry. And as they all shoot the giant arrows at her and Drogon, they evade them all. She’s seen their faces now. She knows the men who killed her child. And they’ll pay.
But it isn’t over yet. As Daenerys flies away, the Iron Fleet changes their aim from the dragon to Dany’s ships. And they waste no time in firing. Everyone frantically hurries about the ships, trying to avoid the arrows. But they’re flying too fast, destroying everything they hit. Tyrion nearly gets killed more times than we can count in the span of 30 seconds, so he does the only thing he can do. He jumps into the water.
Whether he swam to shore or was dragged there, somehow, he made it, along with Varys, Grey Worm, and quite a few Unsullied. But Missandei is nowhere to be seen. Grey Worm calls out for her, pain and desperation in his cries. He dives back into the water, but to no avail. She cannot be found.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Cersei celebrates her victory. Another dragon is dead, increasing the odds that she’ll win. But Cersei isn’t taking any chances. She’s opening the gates to the Red Keep, inviting everyone to stay within the palace until Daenerys is defeated. A genius move on her part. We often forget how clever Cersei can be. If Dany wants to kill her, she’ll have to also kill thousands of innocents. And if she does, her rule will not be an easy one. Cersei seems to be getting everything she wants, as is Euron. It is in this moment that she reveals she’s pregnant, and she passes it off as his child. Of course, he actually believes her. The two rejoice, and Cersei almost laughs at the thought of defeating Daenerys, and what Daenerys will have to do to try and defeat her.
“So much for the breaker of chains.”-Cersei Lannister
And as she says this, the camera pans to a shaking Missandei, who has chains around her wrists. Cersei is actually winning. Hopefully not for long.
Back at Dragonstone, Daenerys is more bloodthirsty than ever before. Varys reminds her that he once promised to look her in the eye if he ever thought she was making a mistake. He looks her in the eye now, and pleads with her to not fall into Cersei’s trap. If she is to take King’s Landing now, she’ll kill tens of thousands of innocent people.
“I beg you, Your Grace. Do not destroy the city you came to save. Do not become what you have always struggled to defeat.”-Varys
We know he’s right. But Dany is blind. And she’s starting to sound, dare we say it, a little mad. She replies to Varys by saying that it is her destiny to rid the land of tyrants. She doesn’t care what the cost is, she will fulfill that destiny. She doesn’t realize that by doing so, she’d become a tyrant herself.
Tyrion begs her to at least meet with Cersei, offering her life in exchange for her surrender. Dany may as well have scoffed at the idea. Cersei will never surrender. But she agrees to meet her with terms.
“But perhaps it’s good the people see that Daenerys Stormborn made every effort to avoid bloodshed, and Cersei Lannister refused. They should know whom to blame when the sky falls down upon them.”-Daenerys Targaryen
Later, Tyrion and Varys meet in private, to discuss the many problems they face. Varys has served many rulers, many of them tyrants, and all of them spoke of destiny. But as Tyrion points out, she brought dragons back into the world. How couldn’t she believe in destiny? But killing thousands upon thousands of innocents is not the mark of a good ruler, on that, they can both agree. Varys believes strongly that Jon would make the better ruler, while Tyrion believes they could rule together, side by side. But Daenerys will not share the throne. And her worst impulses are growing too strong.
Tyrion can’t believe they’re having this conversation, and neither can the viewers. We’ve all rooted for Daenerys since the beginning, and now she’s turning evil? Going mad? And if this conversation proves anything, it’s that Varys may be the one person alive who actually cares about the people of Westeros. His allegiance is not to a single person. It’s to whoever will best rule, and that changes as time goes on.
Varys: “You know where my loyalty stands. You know I will never betray the realm.”
Tyrion: “What is the realm? A vast continent home to millions of people, most of whom don’t care who sits on the Iron Throne.”
Varys: “Millions of people, many of whom will die if the wrong person sits on that throne. We don’t know their names, but they’re just as real as you and I. They deserve to live, they deserve food for their children. I will act in their interest, no matter the personal cost.”
Lord Varys, the Spider, may be the one person who can best serve the realm. He sees the truth, ugly though it may be. He isn’t a hero. But maybe he can save millions.
Back at Winterfell, Brienne and Sansa receive word of Rhaegal’s death. And they share it with Jaime. It’s only a matter of time before Daenerys retaliates in full force.
“I always wanted to be there when they execute your sister. Seems I won’t get the chance.”-Sansa Stark
That night, as Brienne sleeps soundly, Jaime packs his things. Yes, it’s the middle of the night. And yes, he’s doing what we prayed he wouldn’t. He’s turning away from his redemption arc, and heading for King’s Landing.
Brienne wakes at the sound of the door closing, and hurries after him, meeting him in the courtyard before he gets on his horse. She tells him what he already knows, that this is a fight he can’t win. She takes his face in her hands as she tells him that he isn’t like Cersei, that he’s a good man who could lead a good life. He doesn’t need to die with his sister, he could stay in Winterfell with her. There’s fear in his eyes as she says all of this, as she begins to cry and pleads him to stay. Fear that she’s right, we wonder, or fear that she’s wrong.
“You think I’m a good man? I pushed a boy out a tower window, crippled him for life. For Cersei. I strangled my cousin with my own hands just to get back to Cersei. I would have murdered every man, woman, and child, for Cersei. She’s hateful. And so am I.”-Jaime Lannister
Jaime saddles his horse and rides into the night, leaving Brienne alone in the cold, dark courtyard. And everything about this feels wrong. Jaime came so far, both physically and emotionally. He went to the North to fight alongside Cersei’s enemies. He’s saved Brienne more times than we can count. He nearly completed his redemption arc, only to abandon it now? With only 2 episodes left? If we had to guess, we’d say there’s a twist coming. Who knows, maybe Jaime will be the one to kill Cersei, after all.
As Jaime rides South, Daenerys meets Cersei outside the gates of King’s Landing. She stands alongside Grey Worm, Varys, and Tyrion, with her remaining Unsullied behind her and Drogon in the distance. Cersei looks as calm as ever, with a vaguely satisfied smile playing at her lips, but Daenerys can’t look anything but furious. She’s been pushed too far.
The gates open, and Qyburn walks out to meet Tyrion, both of whom are ready to discuss their Queens’ unyielding terms. Daenerys is offering Cersei her life in exchange for the immediate release of Missandei, and her total surrender. Cersei, on the other hand, plays a card her son was so fond of. Daenerys will surrender now, or watch Missandei be executed. Immediately.
Tyrion’s seen this play out before, and he knows what happens if Daenerys watches the execution. It will drive her into madness, and thousands of innocents will die because of it. Tyrion only says the latter, of course, trying to reason with Qyburn. But he is as firm in his convictions as Cersei herself. They believe they have the upperhand, and quite honestly, we can’t help but feel the same. Even if they lose, they’ve made it impossible for Daenerys to have a victory without immense bloodshed. Well, perhaps not impossible, but highly improbable. Patience is not one of Dany’s virtues, as everyone seems to have gathered.
Realizing that he’ll get nowhere with Qyburn, Tyrion walks past him and stands before the gate, looking up at Cersei imploringly. Her soldiers raise their bows, ready to let the arrows fly on her command. She raises her hand, but at the last second, calls off her archers. She’s curious to see what her little brother has to say.
Tyrion knows this is his last chance, not only for peace, but to see if there is any reason left in Cersei. He knows she doesn’t care about her people, and he doesn’t fault her for that. But her biggest redeeming quality, as he’s said before, is her love for her children. She’d do anything for them, no matter the cost to anyone else, including herself. If she doesn’t surrender, her people will die, yes. And it’s true, she will die. But so will her unborn child. Her baby doesn’t have to die, she doesn’t have to die. She could surrender and end all of it.
His words impact her more than she’d like to let on. She looks away, tears in her eyes. But she’s come too far. We’re not even sure Cersei wants to win. She must know that Dany will burn her alive rather than see her sit on the Iron Throne. No, this is not a lust for power. It’s stubbornness. Stubbornness and a will to see her enemy become even worse than her.
Cersei steps up to Missandei, gripping her arm tightly. But she hesitates. Will she throw her to her death? Could she actually release her? We have mere moments to theorize before Cersei tells Missandei that this is her chance to say any last words she may have.
Missandei shakes, fear in her eyes, but she steadies herself, refusing to show how afraid she is in her final moment. She utters but a single word, and she says it with a deep hatred.
Dragonfire. She says it loud enough for Dany to hear, for everyone to hear. It is Missandei’s last request of her Queen. And it could signal the end for the Mother of Dragons, if she’s destined to become like her father, the Mad King. Burn them all, that’s all he could say at the end. Is she destined to meet the same fate?
With one single swing, the Mountain takes Missandei’s head off, and her body and head land at Tyrion’s feet. Grey Worm turns away, trembling, twitching, looking like he might puke. But Daenerys refuses to look away. She looks deep into Cersei’s eyes with a burning hatred, and a terrifying thirst for revenge. This will all end in fire and blood. Cersei made sure of that.
With Jon as the rightful heir and Daenerys slipping into madness, the answer seems obvious. But we still have 2 episodes left, and Thrones is nothing if not surprising. There are still a few twists to come, if we had to guess, and when all is said and done, perhaps there will be no Iron Throne to sit upon.
For more on Game Of Thrones, including recaps and theories, visit our official Game Of Thrones page.
The Final Season Of Game Of Thrones airs Sundays At 9 On HBO.