After the great war, it is time for the last war.
And if you thought the great war cost the ‘realm of men’ too many lives, wait till you hear what is at stake here: an entire capitol full of innocent people left at the mercy of two bloodthirsty women, who refuse to back down. It’s all or nothing for them.
The latest episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 set us up for the ultimate battle: the one for the Iron Throne.
HBO had made it very clear what the finale would be about, with their #ForTheThrone campaign.
And the Night King’s demise in the previous episode only accentuates that.
While the latest episode was the customary ‘build-up’ episode, after a high-production battle sequence, it was in no way a slow one. A lot went down in ‘The Last of The Starks’, including a few more valuable lives.
The Dead Don’t Answer Questions
Was that the end of the Night King and his army of dead?
Who was the Night King and what was his agenda?
Is winter no longer coming?
If you were looking for answers to the questions left to us in the last episode, you might as well search for them in the heap of dead bodies that were set on fire in front of Winterfell, for the dead don’t answer.
So we just have to swallow our burning questions, and move on with the ‘game’, as our characters have done. After a fiery and emotional tribute to those who laid their lives protecting the Kingdom from the army of the dead, Jon Snow, Daenerys and the Starks bid their farewells to the fallen.
Point to note here is that the fiery speech is delivered by Jon, and not Daenerys. In this sombre, emotional scene, the only thing to make your heart leap with joy is Ghost, injured but very much alive!
A Moment of Relief
Amid mourning for the dead, there is celebration: titles are conferred, drinking games and jokes ensue, and few slip away and get themselves a room, in classic Game of Thrones style. Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth finally get it on (there you go shippers, your fan service was served).
Oddly enough, our power couple, Jon and Daenerys, do not get it on, in spite of Daenarys’ efforts. They finally address the elephant in the room: Jon Snow’s Targaryen blood and his true claim to the throne.
Who Deserves the Iron Throne?
The conflict that the showmakers were building us up to from the very first episode of this season is finally upon us: does Daenerys Targaryen make a better ruler than Jon Snow AKA Aegon Targaryen?
Does willingness to rule override claim or birthright? Do people’s sentiments not matter at all in this choice? Can a monarch truly rule without the support of their people? Cersei is doing it, what difference will Daenerys make? Questions that we as viewers wanted to ask, Varys asks them for us.
This, after Jon Snow shares the secret of his lineage with his family, and the secret – or rather ‘information’, as Varys puts it – finds its way to Daenerys’ advisors.
Once again, Sansa emerges as a shrewd tactician in this episode, almost challenging Varys. Upon learning of Jon’s secret, when her effort to keep him in Winterfell fails, her immediate response is to put him up as more credible option for the throne. It does two things – the North practically remains autonomous if Jon Snow sits on the Iron Throne (after all, they proclaimed him the King in the North) and it secures her position as Warden of the North.
It is obvious that she hates taking orders from Queen Daenerys.
Nothing Is Invincible, Not Even Dragons
As much as she hates her, Sansa had a point when she advises Daenerys not to charge down south to confront Cersei with a half-depleted, tired and injured army.
Daenerys didn't pay heed, of course. The result was an unexpected and strong offence from Euron Greyjoy’s fleet as soon as Daenerys closed in on King’s Landing by sea.
We are, once again, one dragon down. The moment when the spears hit Rhaegal – as he writhes in pain and crashes into the sea – you are once again reminded of the recurring theme in this show: Nothing is permanent, nothing is immortal; nothing is invincible.
After almost seven seasons of Dany winning battles with ‘Dracarys’, for the first time, you are made fearful for the dragons’ lives – while the Night King did claim one for himself, at the end of season 7, it only went on to show how powerful the White Walkers were.
But Euron Greyjoy – a mere mortal from the Seven Kingdoms – shooting down Rheagal truly opens your eyes. Daenerys can’t win this battle with just dragons. Or is it just a dragon, now?
This theme of mortality also claims another victim in the latest episode, and in the most cruel way possible. Even if you didn’t shed a tear when heroes fell in the Battle of Winterfell, your heart is bound to sink into your stomach when Missandei is beheaded right in front of Daenerys and her army. And right in front of her lover, Greyworm. The mostly emotionless and ruthless Unsullied leader couldn’t bear to look, and turned away as her body fell with a thud just a few feet away from Tyrion.
That is it. Negotiation has failed. Daenerys has lost both Rhaegal and Missandei, and her target, Cersei, is in front of her.
Will she charge right in and ‘burn them all’, even the men, women and children of King’s Landing taking refuge in the Red Keep? Even if she charges in, how will her last remaining dragon survive flying past the city walls now fortified with crossbows? Or will she swallow her anger, listen to her advisers and come up with a better plan?
With just two more episodes left to conclude this epic saga, the stage is set for the inevitable war.
Read Episode 3 Review Here:
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