The Game of Thrones Death Watch is a weekly roundup of who died and who looks like they might be headed for death, written by me, a person who has not read the books and will go a long, long way to make a very stupid joke. This is what we’re doing here. This is not science. Please do not yell at me.
Season 8, Episode 5 – “The Bells‘
WHO DIED THIS WEEK?
Tens of thousands of innocent people
Well, that happened. It wasn’t great! Dany heard the bells signaling surrender and saw the Lannister forces lay down their swords and then still took to the skies and torched the city’s occupants, women and children and all. It wasn’t just Dany, either. Her forces on the ground, the Unsullied and Grey Worm and the rest of the coalition, committed their own fair share of atrocities, too. Call it the fog of war, call it a failure of leadership, call it mass murder. All are correct and fair. Dany has been through a lot lately, between the deaths of Jorah and Missandei and the revelation that her boyfriend is actually a nephew who has a better claim to the throne than she does. That’s a lot to deal with, especially for someone who has been so singularly focused on becoming queen. None of that makes it okay, though.
When did you realize things were going to break this way? Did you think, even just for a second, that she would accept the surrender? Because, let me tell you what, I was pretty sure things were going sideways the second I saw her and Jon in front of that fire. It wasn’t even the thing where she said she’d choose being feared over being loved. It was when I looked at her hair and saw it was frazzled. There’s no clearer sign that a female character in a television show or movie is about to have a breakdown. Everyone was doomed the second she chose not to brush her hair that morning, the same way Missandei was doomed when Grey Worm started talking about retiring to the beach.
I still think the show is not doing right by Dany as we approach a conclusion. Her descent into madness is happening so fast that it’s playing out more like “women are too emotional to rule,” which is a bummer. It’s not going to end well for her. We’ll touch on that shortly.
Cersei and Jaime Lannister
Hmm. Also weird!
I’m not sure what to make of any of Jaime’s recent arc. Or his arc, in general. He was bad, then very bad, then good, then sweet, then a bad scoundrel who broke Brienne’s heart, then he died holding Cersei while she cried. I wasn’t particularly sad when he died, which would have been fine if the show didn’t apparently want us to be sad? I don’t know. R.I.P. Jaime, I guess?
The Cersei thing was even weirder. It feels odd and gross that years of watching this show has put me in a position to say this but… shouldn’t her death have been more satisfying? Cersei has been awful for years. It’s been a fun awful some of the time, all smirking and wine-sipping and double-crossing, but that’s what made her potential comeuppance so delicious. I wanted Arya to get her. I kind of wanted Jaime to get her. Instead, her death played out as collateral damage. Sure, there’s something a little poetic about her being killed by the crumbling castle she did horrible things to occupy, but still. It would have been fine with me if someone loaded her into a crossbow and launched her into the sun. It’s not that I hated her, it’s that the show made her so evil sometimes that she deserved a death befitting of a villain of her stature.
Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet
- Nope, Euron!
- The Iron Fleet’s crossbow accuracy sure took a dive between episodes. They hit a flying dragon with multiple consecutive arrows last week. This week it was like an army of Blake Bortles’ out there. Miss, miss, miss, torched. I did find it funny that they kept yelling “Fire,” though. Kind of ironic that the command to shoot at the dragon was also the thing the dragon killed them with.
- I’ve been joking for two seasons that Euron looks and behave like a guy who plays bass in a crappy band and it is just now dawning on me that “Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet” is a perfect band name. This is shameful on my part. I apologize.
Good night, my sweet unshowered prince.
A bunch of Cleganes
Ayyyyy Cleganebowl! The long-rumored and long-desired battle between Sandor and Gregor Clegane finally happened and it was… a letdown?
This one might be on me more than the show, though. I think I read the word “Cleganebowl” so many times that I built it up into something it was never supposed to be. Like, I was picturing Summerslam, with whooping crowds and announcers and entrance music, even though the more rational part of my brain knows that was never a possibility. The way it played out made more sense. They battled on a crumbling staircase and The Mountain tried his patented eye-squishing finishing move and then the Hound threw them both to their fiery deaths after stabbing his brother straight in the face. That was all it was ever going be. I should be thankful the show at least gave us that.
I’m not, though. Someone should’ve hit someone else with a steel chair while another character shouted “MY GOD.” I’m not a hard man to please, but come on.
The Golden Company
Ah yes, the Golden Company, the famous sellswords that people have been babbling about as a potential game-changer for well over a season now. Let’s see how things worked out for them.
You hate to see it.
Poor Varys. Killed for doing what proved to be the right thing (backing Jon over Dany before anyone really knew what would happen), and killed so early in a death-filled pivotal episode that I almost forgot about it entirely. Think about everything that happened between his death and the end of the episode. I bet people on the show — characters who have known him for decades! — forgot he died, too. Not an ideal way to go out.
Speaking of less than ideal ways to die, heeeyyy Qyburn. Let’s be honest, this was a little hilarious. Dude spent seasons sneaking around in the shadows to do dark magic and whisper secrets and then thwap he just died in the most anticlimactic way possible, with The Mountain — the killing machine he resurrected — shoving his head into a wall.
If it wasn’t the funniest death on the show, it was at least a close second, just behind the nameless soldier Jon dispassionately gutted while he was stumbling through King’s Landing in slow motion. That cracked me up. The guy was charging Jon with all the fire he could summon from his soul and Jon just killed him with maybe 10 percent effort as he pondered his girlfriend’s/aunt’s war crimes. It would be like if a pitcher reared back and threw his best fastball and the batter hit a home run while cradling his cell phone between his head and his shoulder to schedule a dentist appointment.
WHO MIGHT DIE?
Yeah, I don’t think I see a way out of this for Dany. Not after the events of this episode. It would be one thing if the show had a full season left and could go about slowly rehabilitating her and explaining her mindset. Maybe George R.R. Martin will be able to do that in the books, should he ever get close enough to the end to discuss it in detail. But now, with one episode left and a fiery killing spree just barely into the rearview, not so much. Dany’s gotta go. It’s a strange and rushed and upsetting ending for a character whose destiny seemed to pop up suddenly and bonk her right on the brain, but there’s not much that can be done about it now.
The bigger question then is not if but who. There are two really good candidates: Jon and Arya. Both of them spent a lot of time staring at the destruction Dany caused. Both of them would do so for valid reasons. Arya would be getting revenge for the actions of this episode, taking out Dany as retribution for killing the women and children she watched die in the streets. Jon would be doing it out of a sense of, I don’t know, honor? To prevent Dany from ruling after she’s proven herself unfit to rule? You could go a few ways here. Jon doing it feels better, I think, because he probably should have done something way earlier. He’s such a stupid and naive man.
Westeros is doomed either way.
This one is tied to the first one. Dany will find out Tyrion freed Jaime and demand his execution, based on everything we know about her and also the specific thing she said about him not failing her again. The question is whether she goes down before he does and if that saves him. Part of me hopes that’s the case. I can’t help it. I love the guy, even as he’s become dumb and useless. I don’t want him to die. I’m mad about him snitching on Varys, sure. I’ll be mad for a while. But I don’t want him to go out like that.