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In ‘Game of Thrones,’ the mother of all meltdowns

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Drogon rained fire on King’s Landing in the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones.” Helen Sloan/HBO/HBO

Warning: Spoilers are coming . . .

Dany had a hissy fit, and it turned King’s Landing into a charred and dead-main-character-filled mess. She even managed to make Cersei cry real tears — no easy feat — as the pregnant monarch saw her dreams come down to smoke and ash before her very eyes.

Girl, you lost it — your temper, your dignity, and your humanity. Put a messianic wannabe on the back of a presumably grieving dragon, and the result was an episode that doubled as a kind of apocalyptic battle of the queens, as Daenerys and Cersei faced off — one atop her only winged child, the other atop her tower — without ever facing each other, a pair of fierce rulers who’ve chosen fear over love.


The minute we first saw Dany, her hair disheveled and her expression demented, we knew she was about to explode. Jon could have surgery to keep his knee bent forever, but it wouldn’t have been enough for the Mother of Dragon, who’d lost her hope after learning that Jon had shared the secret of his parentage with Sansa, who had basically shared it with, like, everyone, in scenes the “Game of Thrones” writers failed to give us. (I missed Sansa this episode; I want her to wind up on the throne with Tyrion as her hand and her husband.)

There were “touching” moments everywhere in this well-lit battle episode — and I put quotes around that word because, with the final season’s hasty pace and sudden personality shifts, only a few of them truly landed. There were pairings from beginning to end, one-on-one confrontations and farewells that had been brewing for much if not all of the series. That’s right folks, we finally got our Cleganebowl, as bothers Sandor and Gregor went head to head, with Sandor ultimately hurling himself and Gregor down into the fire after a long evenly matched struggle. The Hound knew that only burning would kill the zombified Mountain once and for all.


The series of pairings began with Tyrion saying “Goodbye old friend” to Varys before the shrewd court politician was incinerated by Drogon for treason. It was a sweet farewell, and it was given added poignancy at the end of the episode, when Varys was proven entirely correct about Dany. He told Tyrion, “I hope I’m wrong,” but he knew he wasn’t.

And the pairings ended with a major one — Jaime and Cersei sharing their final moments together before the roof came crashing down on them. They died in each other’s arms, as far as possible from the popular fan predictions that Jaime would be the one to take out his sister-lover. Jaime’s series-long character arc, it seems, was all just a dream; in the end, he failed to change, despite his recent and earnest deflowering of Brienne, and he succumbed to the lure of his evil sister-lover. “Nothing else matters, only us,” Jaime told Cersei in the end. For me, it was hard to feel the fatefulness of their love in that moment, given where they were as a couple only an episode ago.

“I’m the man that killed Jaime Lannister,” a still-alive Euron brags to the heavens as the blood drains out of him. Sorry, Mr. Evil, but you didn’t, just as you didn’t impregnate his sister. It was the architecture that took down the Kingslayer at long last — the architecture and some narrative hoo-doo that had Jaime getting captured, then escaping, and, at the very end, actually getting to Cersei.


In between, Arya had a bittersweet moment thanking the Hound. Tyrion and Jaime also shared their final feelings, with Tyrion thanking his brother for his decency: “You are the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster,” he said. Ah, Peter Dinklage, you still know how to bring the feels, even if your character has lost his once acute mind for strategy. Tyrion’s obsession with saving 10,000 innocent lives was so wise and noble, but his continued trust of Dany, his belief that she would honor the ringing bells despite her crazy eyes and pouty face, was not.

There were some spectacular shots in the battle, as Drogon strafed the city. And the human toll of the attack was made loud and clear, with injured innocents everywhere. Will Dany pay for her crimes, or will she take the Iron Throne (which, presumably, still exists) by force? Cut to: Arya riding out of King’s Landing with none other than Dany in her sharp sights.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.