OK….the real name of the episode is “The Bells.” And I tell you, It’s rare that show writers really piss me off. I personally think writers, directors, and showrunners, in general, should be given a great deal of latitude. After all, it’s their creation, their vision. It’s not really the viewers place to get angry with a character decision or a story arc that went in a different direction than expected… when it’s done right. Of course, when that story has been excellently written for eight years, with characters that learn and develop in ways that move the plot along and allow you to become emotionally invested, and then said characters suddenly begin to act in ways that make no sense, simply because the writers want the story to go in a certain direction, then viewers can get mad. This is what happened in the penultimate episode of The Greatest Show in the History of the World. Because make no mistake, what happened tonight was very, very bad. And if you haven’t figured out there will be spoilers by now, well…
…did I mention I was pissed?
She had the war won. That’s really all I have to say. Dany had won, the Lannister army had laid down their arms, the bells were ringing. And I’m sorry, there is nothing in Daenerys Targaryen’s prior storyline, NOTHING, that indicates she would unleash a dragon on fleeing civilians, destroy the entire city that she wished to rule, and basically be the very thing she swore she would never become: her father. There hasn’t been a faster and less-believable heel turn in a story since Anakin Skywalker went from a confused, desperate teenager to a baby-killing Sith lord in about five minutes of plot. I’m surprised they didn’t make Dany’s eyes turn yellow as she strafed the city.
Perhaps the worst thing was, we knew this was coming like a slowly approaching trainful of unstoppable bullshit. The writers have been so obvious about setting this up. I was hoping they were planning to surprise us the opposite way. But there were ways they could have done it that weren’t so incredibly lazy and rushed, things they would have chosen to develop over an entire season as the weight of rule and the potential of her destiny being stolen from her start to take over. But, much like the shortened travel-times and supersonic dragons required you to suspend your disbelief in Season 7, the compressed season gives you a few minutes of Dany pouting over the people’s love for Jon (and his decision to not commit incest with his aunt) before she decides to rain hellfire over a city of a million people. Maybe I’m overstating it, maybe I’m being too emotional, but I fear the travesty the writers foisted upon the viewers tonight, might actually taint that legacy of a great show.
Other Bad Stuff
The whole Jaime capture and release thing. It was completely unnecessary. Sure, it was nice to get the call back to Jaime freeing Tyrion from the Red Keep, and a reminder of Davos smuggling prowess. But Jaime’s capture, and Tyrion’s plan was as dumb as the ‘Wight-Fetching’ storyline from season seven. In that case, the writers needed the Night King to get a dragon. In this one, they needed to set up on more betrayal from Tyrion to force a confrontation between Tyrion and Dany in the last episode.
And of course, you had to have the battle between Jaime and Euron (or, “bargain basement Jack Sparrow,” as my bride calls him). The shame of it is, those scenes with Cersei should have made us feel something. Yes, it was icky. Yes, she’s evil. But, she was the love of his life, so those final scenes together – her relief at seeing him, their final moment in the basement – were robbed of any emotional resonance. You really just left waiting for them to die so the episode could end.
Dany had one dragon and half her army and managed to win the battle (at least until she went full Anakin) without heavy civilian casualties. Drogon didn’t even get a scratch. It was way too easy. After all, if she could do that now, what stopped her from doing the same last year when she was at full strength? Hell, making it tougher, perhaps injuring Drogon as the bells were ringing, might have been all you needed to make her turn bad.
Finally, so much for the importance of all the prophesies. No Prince Who was Promised or Azor Ahai to kill the Night King? And now, no valonqar to off Cersei. I guess after establishing that prophecy was real in the first seven seasons, the writers decided to leave any resolution of that on the cutting room floor.
And yes, there was some good
The Hound’s successful effort to save Arya’s soul, and her heartfelt thank you, were a nice touch. Unexpected, but in a way that makes sense. We know the Hound cares for the deadly little moppet, and was somewhat relieved that maybe there is a little bit of soul remaining to be saved. I really thought the woman who saved the world was going to meet an ignoble and anonymous end in the alleys of Kings Landing, and I was prepared to be pissed at that, but I guess the writers want to keep her around to off a different mad queen next week.
And of course, we got Clegane Bowl, which was probably the best part of the entire episode. The Hound’s final battle went pretty much as you would expect, with Franken-Mountain nearly as unstoppable as a dragon. The Hound was never going to survive this fight. That hundred-foot drop into the flames was really the best way to end it, as the younger Clegane essentially confronted the two things he feared the most.
So, next week is IT…the End Game, the final curtain…, and with the writers making the decisions they’ve made, I’m not sure if the series can end in a satisfactory way. Unless, of course, Jon Snow finds Ygritte in the shower and discovers the last six seasons were all a dream, or the camera pulls back from a snowfall outside Winterfell and reveals little Sam Tarley playing with a snow globe.
Now that the writers have been so kind as to begin painting by the numbers, I feel comfortable making a few predictions:
- Tyrion will announce Jon Snow’s parentage to the world and die by dragon fire
- Arya Stark will attempt to kill Cersei, and probably die trying as well
- Grey Worm and Jon Snow will fight a battle
- Dany will order Drogon to dracarys Snow. to one of two outcomes. Drogon won’t, or he will and Jon will prove resistant to dragonfire, both of which reveal he is a Targaryean and the true heir to the throne.
Let’s see how I do with these….See you next week. I’m sure I’ll still be pissed.