This is a Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 review written live as the episode airs. So this post will be showing live reactions to plot twists and events. This post will have major spoilers for Season 8 Episode 5.
I’ve been nervous about tonight ever since Episode 4 ended with the devastating death of Missandei (poor Grey Worm!) and the heartwrenching death of Rhaegal. There was no good reason for Euron’s sneak attack (and I’m not buying the “Dany forgot” explanation from the behind-the-scenes interview.) In addition, I just can’t see Daenerys going down the Mad King path. Her father wanted to destroy his own people so no one else, good or bad, could rule them. Dany’s just not like that. And I’m still really sad about Ghost. :( [UPDATE: This intro didn’t age well, but I’m not changing it.]
But it’s time to move on from last week’s heartbreak and face this week bravely. What was it that Sansa said? “None of us can do anything. That’s the truth. That’s the most heroic thing we can do now: look the truth in the face.” It’s a nice reflection of how I feel as a fan watching the final season. So here we go.
The episode begins with Varys writing a letter about Jon’s lineage and being the true heir to the Iron Throne. One of his “little birds” tells him that Daenerys isn’t eating (she doesn’t name her, but that’s the assumption.)
Jon Snow arrives at Dragonstone and Varys greets him. Varys tells him Dany hasn’t seen anyone or accepted any food. “She shouldn’t be alone,” Jon says. Varys says he’s worried for everyone because she’s a Targaryen. Jon’s not impressed with Varys’ riddles. But Jon is clear that he does NOT want the throne.
Varys just won’t take no for an answer. “You will rule wisely and well while she…”
“She is my queen,” Jon corrects Varys. Good for Jon. I get so mad at everyone who doesn’t trust Dany after all this time.
Tyrion approaches Dany. She guesses someone has betrayed her and thinks it’s Jon. Umm, no. It’s Varys, Tyrion says. But Dany says the fact that Varys knows the truth about Jon’s lineage is a bad sign because it means that Jon told Sansa.
“He betrayed me,” Dany says. But Tyrion says that as her hand he needed to know.
Dany’s mad that Tyrion spoke to Varys first, but Tyrion says it was a mistake. She also points out that Sansa trusted Tyrion to spread secrets that could destroy Dany. Dany’s not wrong. Tyrion apologizes. “Our intentions were good.”
Honestly, Tyrion’s defense of Varys and Sansa is bugging me. Jon didn’t betray Dany because he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, but Varys and Sansa are being ridiculous in my opinion…
Dany is grieving. People need to realize that and act accordingly. She lost her child AND her best friends.
Grey Worm arrives to arrest Varys. It has to be done. Varys is espousing treason at this point. Tyrion is there, watching, as they take him outside late at night. Dany is there with Jon by her side. She’s still painstakingly heartbroken, you can see it on her face.
“It was me,” Tyrion tells Varys. “I hope I deserve this,” Varys says. “I hope I’m wrong.” We all do Varys.
Dany lists her titles to Varys, with Drogon menacingly behind her, and sentences Varys to die. “Dracarys,” she says quietly. Drogon rises up, terrifyingly, and burns Varys. He’s dead. WOW. For some reason that is the most scared I’ve been of Drogon. And Varys didn’t even scream as he was burned alive. It had to be done, but I hate seeing Varys’ story end this way.
In the next scene, Dany gives Grey Worm Missandei’s last possession, which he throws in the fire.
Jon and Dany are now alone. Jon reaffirms that he doesn’t want the throne. “She (Sansa) killed Varys as much as I did,” Dany says. “This is victory for her.” And Dany is right, not mad or crazy.
“I love you,” Jon says. “You will always be my queen.”
Dany wants to know if that is all she is to him. Obviously it’s not. They kiss. I’m still rooting for these two. But he pulls back. I’m honestly not sure why and he’s not saying.
Next we’re in the Dragonstone throne room. Tyrion tells her the people of King’s Landing are slaves themselves and thousands will burn. But Dany tells him that Cersei believes mercy is weakness. Dany believes the important thing is being merciful to FUTURE generations by freeing them of the tyrant, not being overly concerned now.
Tyrion asks her to not attack if she hears bells in King’s Landing, which will indicate surrender. She agrees, but that might not be so smart if you know about the Battle of the Bells, which happened in the past. Tyrion is giving bad advice again. Or is he trying to set her up? Seems unlikely because of his move with Varys, but his advice is odd considering King’s Landing’s history.
“Next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me,” Dany says.
In the next scene, Arya and the Hound are traveling together. Arya is planning to kill Queen Cersei and is pretty open about the whole thing. The Hound says Arya could stop the whole war, and that’s a good point that Dany and Jon should have included in their plans. (“Dany and Jon kind of forgot about Arya’s assassination skills, but the Hound didn’t…” to paraphrase Benioff probably.)
Next we find out that Jaime’s been captured. Tyrion visits Jaime where he’s being held prisoner by the Unsullied. Tyrion wants Jaime to convince Cersei to change her mind, which is just blind dumb hope because no one can do that. Jaime says he never really cared for the people of King’s Landing. But Tyrion insists he cares about their unborn baby. (Whom I’m doubting even really exists. Not to mention, Cersei didn’t care about Tommen’s welfare one bit at the end.)
“Swear to me,” Tyrion asks Jaime. He wants Jaime to agree to try to change Cersei’s mind and then ring the bells. Tyrion hopes Dany will show mercy if this all works. Honestly, Tyrion’s faith in Cersei is really not warranted. He says that the life of one not-so-innocent dwarf for the thousands of innocent lives is a fair trade. (But let’s not forget that if Dany had attacked Cersei in the beginning like she planned, thousands of lives wouldn’t be at risk. They’re at risk because Cersei invited them into the capital to protect her.)
Jaime and Tyrion have a heartwrenching goodbye.
Everyone is turning on Dany.
Next we’re at King’s Landing and Euron is readying the ballistas. The soldiers are all preparing for battle. The people of King’s Landing hide in their homes. And The Hound and Arya arrive in the gates, safely in King’s Landing to attempt to enact their plans. Things have come full circle for these two. Jaime is there too when the gates close.
And the Golden Company is here, on the ready. AMAZING.
They stand before King’s Landing, intimidating.
Across the desert wasteland (why is King’s Landing a desert again?) are the Dothraki and Unsullied army. I guess more Dothraki survived than I realized.
And many, many citizens are locked out of King’s Landing. Jaime is among them, as it turns out. The citizens are terrified. Tyrion tries to convince Jon to call off his army, which is ridiculous.
Euron is on the water, looking into the sky. The moment is here. Dany flies in on Drogon from directly above Euron. (I was hoping that scene would show Drogon with armor or a second dragon.) But still, it’s amazing to see Drogon setting fire to many of Euron’s fleet. Unfortunately, they have barristas, but it’s no match for a prepared Drogon and Dany. Many in Euron’s fleet are dying from Drogon’s flames and fury.
AND THEN IT HAPPENS. A huge explosion rips through King’s Landing, exploding the gates in fury and killing a horse and many in the Golden Company. That explosion was Drogon.
And Harry Strickland, head of the Golden Company, dies speared by a Dothraki.
Everything is on fire Just one dragon alone does immense damage, backed up by the Dothraki and Unsullied. So many soldiers are dying in the flames and the battle, along with some innocents too I’m sure.
Qyburn wants Cersei to surrender. “The Iron Fleet is burning. The gates are burning. The Golden Company…”
But Cersei insists the Red Keep has never fallen and it won’t. Just one good shot on Drogon, she says. But it’s hopeless.
Jon, Grey Worm, and others march into King’s Landing. This is war; war is ugly. But Dany believes it’s for the greater good, to stop future tyranny that will take more lives.
Tyrion, somehow still alive, walks through the fiery ruins of King’s Landing, remembering how it once was and seeing what has happened.
Drogon is amazing and terrifying.
Dany flies over King’s Landing, and lands with Drogon releasing a giant roar. The citizens are running. And Cersei’s army surrenders to Jon and Grey Worm. Facing imminent death, they drop their swords, one by one. It’s over.
But the bells haven’t rung yet. Citizens are screaming: “Ring the bells!”
And then the bells ring. Cersei has surrendered.
Dany hears the bells. She knows what it means. She has won.
She flies off with Drogon, over King’s Landing, toward the red keep. But instead of stopping, she breathes fire again, killing more soldiers and citizens. (This decision makes no sense to me. Why would she snap like that?)
Now Dany’s army is fighting and killing again. I’d guess thousands are dying, including many innocents. Jon sees the destruction. He has to kill one of his own men, who is trying to rape a woman.
I’m not really sure if I’m buying what’s happening. I don’t know if I believe this character change in Dany.
Euron somehow survived and runs into Jaime. He brags about sleeping with Cersei.
Dany flies Drogon around more buildings, burning down towers and reaping destruction.
Euron and Jaime find each other somehow and a fight ensues. Euron and Jaime fight and Jaime is winning, despite only having one hand. It’s a tough battle, but Euron succeeds in stabbing Jaime in the side. Jaime collapses.
Qyburn convinces Cersei that the safest place now is Maegar’s Holdfast. (At this point I was hoping he was Arya with Qyburn’s face.)
We’re back at the fight between Jaime and Euron. Jaime stabs Euron and this one is much deeper than Jaime’s stab. As Jaime walks away Euron says, “I’m the one who killed Jaime Lannister.”
Next we see the Hound and Arya, so my guess that Arya was pretending to be Qyburn and had his face was wrong. “You come with me, you die here,” the Hound tells her. “Sandor,” Arya says. “Thank you.”
I like the Arya and Hound exchanges. I still don’t buy this change that Daenerys had. She wouldn’t kill innocents, would she? I mean, she is. But I’m not sure how authentic I find her change. Her rage was always her power but this…?
The Hound and the Mountain come face-to-face. Cersei orders the Mountain (Gregor) to come with her, but Gregor doesn’t care. Gregor (aka The Mountain) kills Qyburn in a really epic moment.
And now Cleganebowl is happening.
We finally see The Mountain’s face. All those theories about his face belonging to someone else aren’t true. It IS his face, he’s just undead. (And looking a lot like Varys, tbh.)
Cersei and Jaime hug. The prophecy is that the Valonqar’s golden hand will wrap around Cersei’s neck and choke the life out of her. And…it’s not happening. Cersei comments that Jaime is hurt.
The Cleganebowl fight is epic. Two brute forces in hand-to-hand combat.
Next we see Arya walking through a destroyed King’s Landing, as people scream and cry around her. Is this worse than the Battle of Winterfell? Is Dany’s destruction worse than the Night King’s?
The Mountain is destroying the Hound. Someone helps Arya to her feet, and Arya is pushed along with the crowd.
Gregor is strangling the Hound. But the Hound has a knife and stabs the Mountain over and over. “F****ing die,” he yells. And the Mountain uses the same move he used on Oberyn to try to gouge the Hound’s eyes out. The Hound runs a knife through the Mountain’s head, while his eyes are pretty much destroyed. He pushes the Mountain off a tower and they both tumble into the flames. The Mountain and the Hound are dead, it appears. But the Hound died facing his greatest fear. An epic tale.
The intense fire is setting off all the Wildfire in the city. If they don’t escape, everyone in the city will die. There are caches of wildfire beneath the city, put there by Mad King Aerys.
Dany and Drogon are still setting the city on fire.
Next we see everything covered in ash. Arya is covered in ash too, but not dead at 1 hour and 11 minutes in. Arya almost dies again as a building collapses, but she’s still alive.
This is horrific.
Arya goes to the terrified people and tells them that they have to keep moving. “If you stay here you’ll die,” she tells them. Drogon is still flying in the sky, destroying everything. We see Drogon nearing where Arya is trying to save a group of people. She has to abandon them to survive herself.
Jaime and Cersei are still trying to escape, but the walls have collapsed and their exit is blocked. I feel happy about Cersei but sad about Jaime.
“I wanted our baby to live,” Cersei says. “I want our baby to live…”
I guess she really is pregnant. :(
“I don’t want to die,” she says. “Not like this.” Her acting here is phenomenal. I never thought I could feel bad for Cersei and somehow, I do.
“Nothing else matters, only us,” Jaime says, trying to calm her down. And the walls collapse around them. Jaime and Cersei die together with their unborn child. The Valonqar prophecy, much like the Azor Ahai prophecy, appears to have meant nothing.
Somehow Arya has survived. She’s like a god. Alone in the destruction of King’s Landing, as ash falls like snow, Arya walks. She’s devastated. Destroyed. But alive. She just had a resounding victory against the Night King, and now this happens.
She’s staring at the burned body of a mother and child that she convinced to follow her for safety. Now they’re dead.
She comes face-to-face with a white horse. It’s the horse that Harry Strickland, leader of the Golden Company, was riding I think. (UPDATE: I’m wrong about that! They showed Harry’s horse killed in the battle.)
And that is the end.
Winter wasn’t the greatest enemy, it appears.