The Battle, err...Slaughter...of King's Landing (yeah, there's spoilers!)
Norman Bates once said, “We all go a little mad sometimes.”
It’s Mother’s Day and MOTHERFUCKER!! Daenerys Targaryen had a barbecue to celebrate all the mothers not named The Mother of Dragons. Granted, she has one seriously warped way of celebrating, but to those of you griping about throwing away 8 seasons of character arc I have a piece of advice. You ready? Here goes: this has been her character arc the entire time.
What did Lord Varys tell Jon Snow shortly before he had the honor of kicking off the BBQ without the courtesy of bringing any weenies? “King Jaehaerys once told me that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.” Dany’s coin landed exactly how it was supposed to. She is her father’s daughter. Always has been. Viserys was a punk-ass, imitation, three-dollar bill bitch. She’s the real deal.
Also, it’s the only way for the reluctant leader to take the throne. Jon Snow knows what he has to do now. The question is will someone else (ahem, super-ninja Arya…) beat him to it. Maybe no one will be able to take her out. That wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
This is, unequivocally, the strongest episode of this season. The penultimate episode of the TV version of Game of Thrones delivered in spades, and I will soundly defend that statement. Sure, opinions are just that and this one is mine, but if you can honestly try and argue the cinematography and scope I’d love to hear it. I really would. I’d call you a damn fool. What a thoroughly gorgeous, harrowing, dense, and death-blackened thing of beauty we were gifted with here. There are so many perfectly framed shots that take your breath away:
The Hound and The Mountain on the crumbling stairs as Drogon lit the sky
Tyrion walking in defeated diminution through the burning outer wall of King’s Landing
Arya and the horse
Cersei standing in the tower as her resolve crumbles and realization kicks in
Practically every street level shot of the destruction of the city
The gore of the hand-to-hand carnage as The Unsullied flex their nonexistent cock muscles
Cersei and Jaime’s final embrace as the world literally comes down on them
Drogon appearing behind Daenerys out of the darkness for Varys’ execution
I’m a big fan of the shot telling a story, and this episode delivered a perfect ten in that regard. I can’t immediately think of anything in visual medium that’s ever slammed so stout a home run. It’s the antidote for those of you who hated the darkness of the Battle of Winterfell. See, doesn’t that soothing balm feel good?
On the whole, the season does feel rushed. I also feel a bit cheated with only six episodes, and I simply don’t see the reason we couldn’t have more. I’m sure it has something to do with shooting time, production costs, and the like. I guess I figured that we’d get a little more for how long it took to film the finale season.
Still, quality trumps quantity any day. I haven’t been that disappointed.
Cersei and Jaime finished off a love story that is equal parts sleazy, disturbing, unorthodox, heartbreaking, and supremely beautiful. It’s another case of two characters who finished their particular arcs exactly as they should. Gross or not, it’s true love. That was a touching end for one of TV’s unforgettable couples. I don’t know if Lena Headey has been better during the course of the show. I greatly appreciated seeing her go out in achingly human, vulnerable fashion.
I do feel bad for Brienne, though. It was a total one-knight stand…or is that a two-knight stand on one night? Did they get it on more than once? Seeing Jaime complete the story with a truly heroic arc would’ve been great as well, but face it- Cersei was the only one for him since friggin’ childhood. Brienne of Tarth’s giant booty doesn’t trump that.
There’s not enough praise for the final exchange between The Hound and Arya Stark. He loved the kid in his own ugly way and didn’t want her to go out like he knew he was about to. Their chemistry was the definition of the odd couple, and that scene brought a damn tear to my eye. It also prepared me for the superfight of the series.
When you wait so long for a confrontation you’re almost always let down. It gets built up too much, ya’ know? That’s just how it happens, but not this time. Thank the Gods!! From the stone crushing power of The Mountain’s thunderous blows to The Hound’s multiple death blows and trademark cursing, it was what we needed. The brother fight is universal, but when you inject it with steroids straight from the veins of Jason Vorhees you get some really special stuff. The makeup work on Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson was subtly nasty. When he obliterates Qyburn I cheered like a giddy kid. When he ignores Cersei’s command and she slithers away I can say without a hint of shame that I popped a damn chubby. You knew that shit was about to be on in epic fashion. And it ends in fire. Of course.
How was the death of Euron Greyjoy? A hero in his own mind, that dude personified scum and slime. I hated to see him go, but that was exactly how he was supposed to die. Kudos!
I’m a softie, though, and it’s the real emotional stuff that always gets me. You could feel the palpable emotion in Tyrion and Jaime’s final scene. No character has better depth than Tyrion, and Peter Dinklage deserves hardware for his work this season. Plenty of fans have complained about the lack of nuance in favor of fan service and plot point highlighting, but no one has personified nuance, human anguish, and growth like the character of Tyrion Lannister. That was my unashamed “cry like a bitch moment”. Those two have always had the best interactions across the emotional spectrum during all eight seasons, and that scene is a keeper. As a fan who just wants to be transported and feel the story, I appreciated that scene maybe more than any other.
Well, folks…we’re here. There’s a decision to be made by Jon Snow. You know there are at least a couple of surprises still in store. Gods be praised, we finally get to see who will sit on the Iron Throne. I sure hope it survived the carnage.
Now THAT would be one hell of a twist- “The throne is gone. Let’s go home!”