We always love the chance to say “antepenultimate” and this was the antepenultimate episode of Game of Thrones. And, well, there were some very good things and some very soap opera things. And yes, there was a Starbucks cup. And Jon didn’t pet Ghost. We’ve all got our grievances. We’re here to talk about it all and try to figure out how a fleet sneaks up on somebody who’s airborne.
The episode opens with a memorial for the dead and a mass burning of the corpses. It’s not clear whether this is because there’s no room to bury the thousands of if they want to be extra sure that nobody resurrects them. There’s a feast in which Gendry gets a lordship, Pod and Tormund hook up (separately), and Brienne and Jaime end up together. Also, Gendry proposes to Arya and you can guess how well that went. Know who would never read a bridal magazine? Arya.
Sansa and Arya learn about Jon’s real parentage (and Sana passes it on to Tyrion). Tyrion and Varys discuss who they should really be backing for the Throne and Varys seems to have lost all faith in Dany. Jaime leaves Winterfell to go be with his sister, breaking Brienne’s heart. (It’s a ridiculous thing to do to the character but Gwendoline Christie sells it.) Later, Euron’s fleet sneaks up on Dany and her dragons (I know, right?), killing Rhaegal with the Scorpions mounted on every ship. Then they turn their crossbows on Dany’s fleet and sink just about every boat and take Missandei captive.
And when what’s left of Dany’s army arrives at King’s Landing, even an impassioned plea from Tyrion isn’t enough, and the Mountain executes Missandei. Oh, he’s going to have to die extra hard now.
EJ: Well, this episode had some highs and lows. And a Starbucks cup, which I think is really funny. You know that bit in the Wet Hot American Summer prequel where a character uses a smartphone in the Eighties and then one of the campers sees him and screams “What IS that????” Anyway, this episode gave us something that I know you were really rooting for and then it wrapped up in a way that was not… good. I mean, of course, Brienne and Jaime, and I have been dying to know your thoughts on that.
MYNDI: OK, so I really didn’t think they would go there, and I sure as hell didn’t think it would be that quick.I was a little shocked that Jaime was such a bumbler, even with only one hand, because he just seems like he’d be, like, suave. Then you remember that the only person he seems to have ever slept with is his twin sister, and it all makes sense. I have no idea what it’s like to fight in a war–let alone one against the Undead–and actually win, so I think it’s a natural assumption that the reaction to such a momentous victory is to want to eat, drink and screw. Therefore, all the hookups (Go Pod!) fit the situation perfectly. But the way this relationship ended within the same episode in which we saw it begin? That was terrible, despite the fact that Gwendoline Christie acted her damn face off.
EJ: I was trying to remember if there’d ever been any indication that Jaime had slept with anybody other than Cersei, and I don’t think we’ve seen any indication of that. He only went to brothels to find Tyrion. So, we’ve seen Brienne just break like that before, but I hated seeing it because her boyfriend left. I actually think that scene plays better if they hadn’t started the relationship. Because then Jaime leaving is about something else. She vouched for him, she genuinely believed he had changed, and he’s the guy who knighted her. That’s a giant emotional investment right there. And then to have him announce that he’s still a bad guy and he’s going to put himself on the opposite side of the next war, I feel like the exact same reaction on her part plays better that way because it’s about something bigger – she’s grieving a friend she may well have to kill. But this just made it feel like she was sad her boyfriend was going to college in another state, and Brienne deserves better. Also, the fact that it all started with a game of Never Have I Ever is either dumb or hilarious and I may never be able to decide which.
MYNDI: Yeah, that was some clunky writing to be sure. The writers know they’re up against it, so they’re not bothering with things like pacing or plausibility. Another example of that would be good ol’ Bronn just showing up wherever it was Jamie and Tyrion were bro-ing down and threatening to kill them if they didn’t beat Cersei’s promise of payment. Then the guy just takes off all casual, “See you after the war’s over!” which seems…unlikely? Just strange. One situation that other bloggers seemed to hate but I totally bought: Arya saying no to Gendry’s very sudden proposal. She’s never been a Lady, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. She is nothing if not true to herself. Another thing that people on Twitter were losing their minds over that I think needs to be kept in context: Sansa basically telling The Hound that being raped made her the strong woman she is today. I saw a lot of reactions saying this was inexcusable by the writers. But, I think the circumstances and setting of this show need to be kept in mind. This world is not kind to or respectful of women as a general rule, even if they are of a higher social caste. Chances are, while some men might be sympathetic to what Sansa’s been through, they still might not show it much. I mean, this is a time and place where beheadings are accepted, for Pete’s sake. I don’t know, maybe I’m glossing over it too much.
EJ: I tend to agree on both points. I mean, Arya accepting a proposal would be the most out of character thing she could do. My viewing group all laughed out loud when poor old Gendry proposed because that was such a bad move. As for Sansa, and I wouldn’t have brought it up on my own because I feel like being a man means I probably watched it wrong, but the first possibility is that Sansa believes that. I mean, how many people do you know who deal with hardship with “everything happens for a reason”? And even with all the growth we’ve seen in Sansa, I still think she doesn’t give herself enough credit. I mean, she should be telling people that, hey, maybe she should be the Queen but she’s still backing Jon Snow and only one of them can remember that armies need to eat. But also, she’s talking to a drunk Hound who blamed her for not leaving with him and thus avoiding everything bad. She’s shutting down a guy who’s trying to make himself her hero. I think there are different ways to look at it, but I definitely think accusing the writers of saying it was a good thing for her character development that she was raped is a bad faith reading. And I’ll admit that I could be wrong, but I think it’s something to discuss rather than condemn. So, to change topics, let me bounce something off you. Dany has lost two of her three dragons now, or as she calls them, her children. Do you think they’re trying to parallel her with Cersei, and is that maybe a way of making Cersei more sympathetic? Hey, that character you liked from day one went through what Cersei did and now she’s making similar disturbing choices. Maybe?
MYNDI: Well, you know, she’s lost two of her children and one of her very best friends, MIssandei. She’s starting to look like Charles Bronson in those old Death Wish movies…this woman has nothing to lose, and she is PISSED OFF. And that makes her exactly like Cersei, yes. Good parallel! On that whole thing with Missandei, by the way, how did they know instantly that she’d been captured, and why did Cersei only want her? Between that issue and the logistics of the battle with Euron that we didn’t really see much of, the logistics of this whole sequence were killing me. Plus, why did Dany fly Drogon directly toward the arrows? That seems like sheer insanity to me. Oh, and couldn’t she see the FLEET OF SHIPS as she FLEW OVER THEM? Honestly, the entire thing seems like it was pretty avoidable, and she can’t blame Tyrion for this one.
EJ: I sort of understand flying at the ships, since ultimately the one direction they can’t shoot is straight up, but still. Also, did she forget dragons breathe fire? That would have been useful. I would also accept that they used up all their fire last week, but then somebody needs to say it. The whole thing felt like a video game with the fleet appearing out of nowhere. As for Missandei, I think they managed to get her specifically because Grey Worm sent her to the skiff as soon as they started angling the Scorpions. She would have just been floating there in a life raft and easy to grab. I don’t know how they communicated the ransom, though. You’re right about the pacing this season – I feel like they could have used a normal length season and not committed to big events in every episode. Take your time, guys! We like you and we’re willing to give you some breathing room. I feel like I should mention some things I liked at this point. Arya and the Hound riding off together made me very happy. And the scene with Varys and Tyrion talking about Daenerys was fantastic – both of those actors are great and I loved hearing those two just talk it out and not come to the same conclusions. I’m a sucker for Tyrion and Varys in general, I’ll admit.
MYNDI: That was an interesting exchange…another bit of sexism in one way, but in another way they were just being pragmatic. As you said earlier, I’m getting to the point where I’d love if Sansa got to sit on the Throne more and more. Dany’s reaction to Jon’s lineage has made her less likeable and Jon doesn’t want the job. And I don’t think there’s anyone who’s rooting for Cersei to win. Did you like Sansa telling Tyrion the truth about Jon? I wish we’d seen her reaction to getting the news, along with Arya. It doesn’t seem to have phased either of them much, but maybe making Bran tell them sucked all the drama and energy out of it or something.
EJ: They should have called Sam in to do it right. I really did like that she told Tyrion – not only because I really enjoy their scenes together, but that was Sansa playing the game and I love it. I think it’s interesting the way Dany is losing her entire support team. Two dragons, Ser Jorah, Missandei… Varys seems to have changed sides, too. Tyrion still seems to be firmly in her camp, but he’s the one she dismisses the most easily. It’s kind of a bummer that what we’re seeing is that Dany maybe has more in common with past rulers than we would have thought, but maybe the point is that anyone who wants the Throne shouldn’t have it. Varys said something similar, and he and I are alike in so many ways. For all this, I have to say that Peter Dinklage was so good in that last scene where he tried to appeal to Cersei. He’s a guy who really still believes that if he finds the right words, he can fix any problem.
MYNDI: Speaking of that scene…did he inadvertently (or purposely, even) mention something that could really set things off? He tried to appeal to Cersei by talking about her children, particularly the one she is expecting, and here’s the thing…if it really was Euron’s , how would Tyrion know about it? He’s been in The North since Euron has been in King’s Landing. If Captain Jack Sparrow can put two and two together, he might figure out that Cersei’s been playing him just like everybody else.
EJ: Hee! Captain Jack Sparrow! I’m of two minds on this – I think there’s a chance that Tyrion is still playing along with the pregnancy story she told him last season or maybe he even still believes it himself (despite Sansa calling him out). I’m not sure Euron figured into this thinking at all, and he’s putting on a show of taking Cersei at her word. And by the way, I’m not convinced she’s pregnant this time either. I talk about this a lot in my day to day life, but the prophecy is that she would have three children and bury them all. So, in a world where prophecies work, she can’t have another child. If she’s pregnant, her life has a nine month countdown clock. It is entirely possible that I’m being too literal, but I think Cersei would do anything to not get pregnant at this point. But you know how seriously I take prophecies.
MYNDI: Right…prophecies are your life! Phew, it’s really hard to see where all this is going, but with the speed at which people seem to traverse the whole of Westeros these days, I’m guessing Arya and The Hound will be there in a day or two and start the process of exacting revenge on The Mountain and Cersei herself. The question is where will Jaime figure into this and what big game changer is afoot? Emilia Clarke was on Kimmel last week and said Episode 5 was the real mind scrambler. I guess the series finale will just be picking up the pieces. Maybe some more soap operatic flourishes? Sam and Gilly deliver their child in an elevator with Zack and Slater from Saved by the Bell...wait, I clearly mixed some stuff up there. I think I’m tired.
EJ: Oh no! Jon Snow made two dates for the same night! I think Jaime is going to be a key character because, well, he’s turning his back on all his character growth to head back to his sister lover who has previously sent a friend of his to murder him with the crossbow that killed their father. You know, that old story. Jaime has made himself a man without a country and I’m really interested to see what happens when he gets to King’s Landing. Also, is Varys going to do something to act on his epiphany? There are so many things that I’m just dying to see. Hopefully they’ve got the soap opera stuff out of their system. I have faith, misplaced as it may be.
MYNDI: I really do, too. I think the internets really got to me this week. And, I was just peeved that Starbucks got all that free publicity. Like those people need free advertising! I’m sure this next episode will set us up for an insane but perfect finale, right? RIGHT?