Oh Dany, poor Dany.
Sunday night’s “Game of Thrones” saw the entire world push her further into a corner. And nobody puts the Mother of Dragons — make that the Mother of Dragon, since Rhaegal was shot out of the sky — in a corner. She fiercely maintained her mission, telling Varys, “I’m here to free the world from tyrants,” even while she was looking more and more like a tyrant herself. Her will to rule appears to be crossing over from determined to — dare I say it and refer to her as her father’s daughter? — mad?
In a way, the episode was shaped around Daenerys’s misery, opening with her deep mourning at the body of Jorah and closing with her breakdown at the sight of the beheading of Missandei. The writers feebly tried to toy with us, making us wonder if Cersei might back down while standing high above a pleading Tyrion, and set Dany’s friend and confidante free; but of course Cersei ultimately couldn’t be budged, even after Tyrion made mention of her lost children and her current (real?) pregnancy. In between the two human deaths, Dany also lost a dragon, control of a very big secret, and, possibly, her lover.
I admit, I was moved by Dany’s woes, as she witnessed the locals celebrate Jon Snow at the funeral-slash-memorial-slash-blowout. She fully realized that, no matter how many people she has saved on her journey, no matter how many fires she has walked through, Jon will always have a higher Q Score — not least of all because he is a man. He is beloved by his people, and more so because he has no desire to lead, and she will never be able to match that kind of esteem.
Dany tried to endear herself to the crowd by making a few noble gestures at the party, giving Gendry a high position and making a toast to Arya for her fatal blow to the Night King. But still, she can feel her power draining with each new twist of fate, her cleverness not powerful enough to sway the hearts of the people.
Her relationship with Jon is falling apart simultaneously. Along with a Twitter-load of fans, I can’t feel the chemistry between the two — and so the fracturing of their bond doesn’t much register emotionally. But the political ramifications are huge. She begged him to keep his birthright a secret, but, in a loaded scene with Arya, Sansa, and Bran-bot, during which Arya tells him, “We don’t trust your queen,” he can’t resist. He is stuck between his sisters and his girlfriend — that sounds a little sitcomy, doesn’t it? — and he caves. He tells them about his true parentage, swearing them to a secrecy that they very quickly fail to keep. (Poor Jon, too; let’s not forget that he is undergoing a heavy-duty identity crisis.)
Tyrion remains Dany’s defender, but his loyalty is not spreading to others, most notably Varys. After Dany exclaimed that it was her destiny to lead, Varys told Tyrion, “I have served tyrants most of my life; they all talk about destiny.” Bingo.
Fortunately, the writers made it clear that Arya would indeed have character continuity, as she turned down Gendry’s proposal. She is not and never will be the lady he wants; she’s a fighter who spent the long party shooting arrows and finished the episode on her way to Cersei.
I was far less enamored of the writers for their treatment of Brienne and Jaime. Their relationship was one of the more interesting on the show, as it seemed to be more about mutual regard and friendship — and not romantic love. The scene when Jaime spontaneously made her a Knight was among the season’s most genuine. I’d almost rather see her with Tormund than Jaime sexually; bonds between friends seem to have more durability in the world of the show, where sex rarely leads to anything good.
Jaime left her to return to Cersei, but to kill her? Will the Kingslayer also slay a queen? Will his arc of change across the series continue, or is he reverting? Two more episodes, people. Two.
I didn’t think the episode, called “The Last of the Starks,” was particularly smooth overall. The pacing was abrupt, as Jon’s secret went semi-public awfully fast, as Euron’s attack was faintly shoulder-shrugging, as a dragon seemed to crash into the sea rather easily. It was one of those nights when I found myself wishing the final season was a bit longer, so that each of these steps, each of these transformations and betrayals, could be portrayed with more detail and in more depth.