Each week I will set out with a foolishness and a sense of purpose that would make Jon Snow proud by power ranking all of the plot lines in the most recent episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’
Well, congratulations to those folks who followed Vegas’ lead and put money down on Bran ending up winning it all. Please spend your money wisely. Invest in infrastructure, but make sure it’s the right kind of infrastructure (i.e. ships and not brothels.)
And thus concludes Game of Thrones, a show that was at times about the White Walkers and at times about Daenerys and at times about Lannisters.
However, in the end, it was all about the Starks and that makes sense. We essentially started with the Starks, so ending with the Starks was only right.
With that being said, here’s our song of the week.
To the rankings!
Actually, we’ll do some light housekeeping first.
The Second Thoughts Club
Tyrion admitted Varys was right. A lot of good it does our favorite Master of Whispers now, but oh well. I suppose it’s the thought that counts.
Keeping Up With The Lannisters: Jaime
Yup, definitely dead.
On the bright side, his gal Brienne has taken the time to give him his proper due in the Kingsguard Media Guide. Before that, Jaime’s bio was looking a little thin and not super positive, seeing as how the last entry was that he killed the king. Kudos to Brienne for taking the high ground and not including anything about Jaime sneaking out on her in the middle of the night.
Keeping Up With The Lannisters: Cersei
Also definitely dead.
In related news, there’s so much extra wine for everyone else now.
Onto the rankings!
6. Who Runs the World? Sansa
What would it take to get Sansa back to King’s Landing? I didn’t think she’d ever return and who could blame her? Not the best of memories for our girl.
It turns out throwing her brother/cousin in jail will do it.
What a ride for Sansa. If you really take stock of her journey throughout the show’s eight seasons, it’s pretty amazing. She didn’t end up on the Iron Throne as some had hoped, but I kind of think she did one better. She ensured that the North would remain independent. That’s all she cared about.
She also clowned her little brother right as he was being elected king, letting everyone know that his one-eyed raven shoots blanks.
Sansa Stark: stone cold through and through.
5. A Revenge Driven Life
When we last saw Arya, she was riding off on a white horse and the scuttlebutt around the water coolers was YO, ARYA IS TOTALLY GOING TO KILL DAENERYS NOW!
Kids, the scuttlebutt is for suckers.
Arya lost the horse (it probably got stolen, King’s Landing is a rough town these days) but finds her way to the Team Dragon pep rally, where the Dothraki are fired up. I’m assuming the Unsullied are too, but those dudes aren’t much for expressing emotions beyond pounding a spear on the ground to express excitement.
If you were of the opinion that Arya was going to kill Daenerys at this point, you’d be feeling pretty good about yourself. She had the look—maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline, but either way, girl has that fire in her eyes.
Arya slides up next to Jon once the pep rally is over and is the first person to tell him to watch his back because Daenerys is going to see him as a threat due to the fact that you know, he is! Of course, Jon doesn’t think so.
It was a rough start for Jon in this episode.
Fast forward a few weeks later and Daenerys is dead, Jon is a prisoner, and Arya is part of the Council to Decide Things, which is meeting in the Dragon Pit to decide Tyrion and Jon’s fate. Fast forward again and Arya is heading west.
What’s west? Who the hell knows, but that’s where she’s going.
Customs is going to have at least a couple questions about those faces in her bag, that’s for damn sure.
4. Stop Dragon My Heart Around
There were so many think pieces and articles and blog posts and Twitter threads last week about Daenerys and how she broke bad, and in the process, how the show biffed it. I’m going to be honest: I felt it was a bit much. Was her turn flawless? No. But it was close and I think that’s good enough.
The show had been laying the groundwork for Daenerys to go bad for a while and if not for the shortened seventh and eighth seasons, they would have really been able to drive that point home. Unfortunately, they went with abbreviated seasons, and as a result, didn’t quite stick the landing.
However, this isn’t about Daenerys or feminism or anything like that. When it comes to criticism of this final season of Game of Thrones, all roads lead back to David Benioff’s and D.B. Weiss’ decision to shorten their runway. This is on them.
The final two seasons were fine, but they didn’t do themselves any favors by changing their gameplan in the fourth quarter. They had the lead and decided to get cute. Not a good look for them.
With that being said, Daenerys is queen now. She took King’s Landing just like she said she would. Promises made, promises kept.
She enters the pep rally via Drogon and is giving off some pretty serious dictator vibes. She’s still on message while talking about breaking the wheel but is also saying the war isn’t over. She’s pivoting, focusing on liberating everyone now (and not just those in Kings Landing). She’s going to Winterfell and Dorne and Casterly Rock and the Riverlands and cue Howard Dean yell because this party isn’t even close to being over.
Speaking of over though…
Tyrion’s time as Hand of the Queen is over, effective immediately. You knew she was going to find out about him letting Jaime go. He was so not lowkey about that. He might as well have done it in broad daylight.
His “act of treason” gets him thrown in jail and Dany is good. She’s feeling good, looking good. Everything is coming up Daenerys.
And then Jon killed her.
Yeah, not Arya.
It happened really quickly too. Jon was all like, “You’ll always be my queen” then a knife to the belly sound and that was that. Oddly enough, I had always been curious about why Jon always carried two blades. He had Long Claw and then a little guy on the other side.
It was the little guy that got Daenerys (not to be confused with Jon’s other little guy that got her earlier).
Thanks, I’ll be here all week.
And that’s it for Daenerys. Drogon roasted the Iron Throne, scooped her up, and flew away, presumably back east to Valyria.
I can’t wait for the think pieces.
3. The Bran Abides
I guess it makes sense. I’m not sure how I feel about it though, but that could be due in large part to me not knowing how I’ve felt about Bran for a while now.
Truth be told, I felt his northern adventures were kind of boring. They always felt a little too “fantasy” for a show that was never all in on the fantasy elements of it. When he came back, he was cryptic in the worst possible way. Everyone appreciates someone who prefers brevity but Bran took it to extremes.
I’m the Three-Eyed Raven now.
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, BRAN?
I can see everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen.
OKAY. BUT WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
It means I’m kind of a bummer to be around.
Cool, thank you. All we wanted was some effin’ clarification.
But hey, homeboy is King of Westeros now. If you’re curious, he totes knew it was going to happen because he’s the Three-Eyed Raven, silly. I bet he’ll be a great leader and…what’s that, you’re dipping out on your first small council meeting early?
Oh, okay. Never mind. I’m sure someone will fill you in later. It’s cool.
This won’t end well. But I’m sure Bran already knows that too.
2. Keeping Up With The Lannisters: Tyrion
Tyrion was a dead man walking the moment he let Jaime go and it was then fitting that he was a man walking through the dead as the show started. All of this, all of what Daenerys had done, wasn’t entirely his fault, but he wasn’t without blame either.
He fed the beast. He hyped her up and made sure she saw all the press clippings. He didn’t make The Dragon Queen but he helped create The Dragon Queen and The Dragon Queen just killed thousands and thousands of people, most of whom were completely innocent.
I appreciated Tyrion owning this when Jon came to visit him. A lesser man would have cast blame elsewhere, anywhere. But not Tyrion.
It should be noted that when Jon confronts Daenerys about what she’s done, she blames Cersei. For what specifically? I guess not giving up sooner?
After touring the devastating aftermath of Daenerys’ attack, Tyrion finds the bodies of his siblings buried beneath some rubble (I told my sister they were dead and she didn’t believe me. Take that!).
The sight of Jaime and Cersei seemed to be the breaking point for Tyrion and leads to his resignation. He looks to have accepted his fate, knowing all too well that Daenerys isn’t much for keeping prisoners.
The Tyrion/Jon scene was probably the high-water mark for the episode. Tyrion admits that Varys was right all along and asks Jon what the afterlife is like, which I feel is a question Jon probably gets asked a lot. That’s probably why he wanted to keep the whole “being brought back to life” thing under wraps. Smart.
Finally a smart decision by Jon. Good for him.
But the scene was also maddening because of Jon’s reluctance to turn on Daenerys. Tyrion’s frustration was my frustration as we both looked at Jon with the same “Are you kidding me, bro?” look. Jon stays loyal through talk of Night’s Watch vows, the dangers of love, and the very real possibility that Sansa’s loyalty to the North and not to Daenerys will be a problem.
Tyrion plays every card he can, becoming the second person (after Arya) to tell Jon straight up that Daenerys will try and kill him.
A few weeks and some quality beard-growing later, Tyrion is brought before the Council to Decide Things. However, instead of spending his time begging for mercy or proclaiming his innocence, he somehow ends up in the driver’s seat of a conversation about who should be ruling Westeros now.
Talk about street cred and the flex of all flexes. Tyrion has been copping L’s for a while now, but when push comes to shove and people need answers or advice, he’s who they turn too.
So he suggests Bran the Broken. This was, of course, after Sam (Sam!!!) suggested a democracy and was laughed off the stage.
“Maybe we should give the dogs a vote,” Edmure Tully jokes.
Oh yeah, Edmure Tully?
Shut the hell up!
Anyway, Tyrion suggests Bran, a guy who literally knows everything, saying people dig stories. I suppose this is true. However, if we’re comparing stories, are we sure Bran has the best one or more specifically, even the best story of the Starks?
Sansa: Engaged to the monster Joffrey, watches her father’s head get chopped off, becomes a prisoner/hostage of the Lannisters, is forced to marry Tyrion, gets caught up in the Joffrey assassination, is forced to spend time with her wack job aunt in the Vale, is forced to marry the psycho Ramsey, and is raped and mentally and emotionally tortured until Theon escapes and they just barely make it to Jon alive.
Arya: Sees her father’s head get chopped off, goes on the run, witnesses all kinds of crazy shit, does a year abroad in Braavos and becomes an assassin, takes out the entire Fray family for killing her brother and mother, kills Littlefinger for general acts of sneakiness, and then kills the Night King.
Jon: Raised a bastard, joins the Night’s Watch, survives a deep, deep cover mission beyond the Wall, becomes Lord Commander, saves thousands of Wildlings, is murdered for his troubles, gets brought back to life, is named King of the North, unites the North to fight the Night King and then kills Daenerys days after she massacred thousands.
Bran, though? His story is interesting but I’m not sure it’s the best. Also, can’t we think of a better name than Bran the Broken?
The Council to Decide Things votes and there we have it: King Bran.
As punishment for his crimes, Bran names Tyrion his Hand in kind of a sneaky Jedi parenting move.
He broke a lot of shit, it’s now his job to fix it. As a father, I respect the hell out of that call, Bran. I definitely might steal that soon.
1. Homecoming: The Jon Snow Story
As was previously mentioned, it was a rough first half-hour or so for Jon Snow. If you felt disgusted by his actions at least once, drink!
But they rope-a-doped us (or at the very least, strung us along). If your friend at work was convinced Arya was going to kill Daenerys, you most likely responded by saying there was no way she would—not after taking out the Night King—and Jon was going to kill her. Given how Jon reacted to Daenerys’ massacre last week and definitely based on how completely shook he looked early on, he seemed like a heavy betting favorite to be the one to kill the Dragon Queen.
It just took a while to get there.
It took him seeing Crazy Eyes Grey Worm killing Lannisters, men who had surrendered and should be taken prisoner, not murdered. It took him hearing Daenerys mention Winterfell as one of the places she looked to liberate. It took Arya telling him to watch his back. It took Tyrion telling him to watch his back. It took enough ash drifting through the sky to such an extent that it looked like snow.
And finally, it took Daenerys, calmly pitching him on the idea of liberating the world together, to make him finally see the light and do what had to be done.
So maybe it wasn’t a rope-a-dope but they definitely strung us along.
At the Council to Decide Things summit, we learn Jon was taken prisoner by the Unsullied, who are PISSED at him. Grey Worm especially wants him dead. Understandable, but take it down a notch, Grey Worm. Let’s talk about this like adults.
But wait a second.
There weren’t any witnesses when Jon killed Daenerys, nor was there a body. So that can only mean that Jon, in the ultimate Jon move, confessed to killing her.
Jon, I know you hate lying and believe in codes and honor, but just once this would have been a good time to shut the hell up.
To appease the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and the Iron Born, who are still loyal to Daenerys, the council decides that Jon will live, but will do so in exile at The Wall as a member of the Night’s Watch, who I’m assuming are construction workers now because a big chunk of that thing was blown up by the Night King.
It’s a compromise that “no one is happy about,” Tyrion tells Jon, meaning that it must be a good compromise. Tyrion apparently failed to mention to anyone that he actually helped talk Jon into killing Daenerys. Where’s that accountability now, Tyrion?
Jon getting shipped off to The Wall felt like a raw deal at first, especially when combined with the idea of Bran being king. Effectively punishing Jon and rewarding Bran felt backward and a betrayal of the show we had been watching. Jon had been built up as the hero, whereas Bran had been built up as a weirdo.
But it’s Game of Thrones. They had one last trick to pull before leaving.
Was it a trick, though?
Jon always wanted to be a member of the Night’s Watch. Always. He didn’t want to be a savior or a king. He wanted to wear all black and freeze his ass off and stare out into the vast nothingness that was north of the wall from the very top of it.
He became a hero, but not intentionally. He stumbled into the position he found himself in, and through circumstances, was able to end up where he started, which is where he wanted to be all along. I would have preferred him having a say in the matter, especially given the talk of choices that was dominant in his conversation with Tyrion
Either way, not a bad deal when you think of it.
Plus, he gets to hang out with Tormund and Ghost again and Castle Black isn’t that bad and…oh wait, Jon is going AWOL.
Jon came out a winner.
Tormund told him that he belongs in the north in episode four and it was a line that resonated and stuck with us as we went about our lives. It just didn’t seem like a throwaway line and that non-goodbye to Ghost felt raw and cheap, but after a few days, didn’t feel nearly as definitive.
Jon ends up where he belongs, Arya ends up where she belongs, Sansa ends up where she belongs and (I guess) Bran ends up where he belongs.
The show beat the living shit out of the Starks throughout its run, but in the end, it’s the Starks that survived.
See you next week.
[Realizes Game of Thrones is over]