There are, once again, no books to work from on Game of Thrones this season (the final season!) and things could get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, two resident Thrones experts/dragon enthusiasts, Josh Kurp and Ryan Harkness, will answer your eight most pressing questions.
1. Who was the horniest pairing this episode?
Before we get to the stupid rulers acting stupidly and death and questionable dialogue, let’s have some fun. The first half of this episode was very horny. Maybe the horniest episode of Game of Thrones to date, which is saying something considering we’re only two weeks removed from Arya and Gendry getting it on in the bowels (uh, phrasing) of Winterfell. Speaking of: Gendry — make that Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm’s End — professed his love of Arya and asked her to be his wife. Her response: thank u, next, basically. She is no one’s (not No One’s) wife. While I respect Arya’s decision (more on her later), let’s also take a moment to empathize with Gendry, who went from kissing and proposing to the love of his wife, er, life to never seeing her again in record time. Ah well. He’s not the only contestant in the Game of Horniness, though: there’s also Jaime and Brienne (again, for a time), Jon and Daenerys (but only when the booze is flowing), Tormund and literally everyone. Really, everyone in the post-battle celebration was feeling it, but the winner is, of course, Podrick.
While everyone else is fighting, Podrick is loving. My man. — Josh Kurp
2. In an episode full of dumb decisions made by supposedly smart people, who made the dumbest mistake?
This is one of those questions where there is no single right answer. Every person reading this probably has their own choice for who did the dumbest dumb in episode four, and I’m sure your argument is as compelling as mine. At this point it’s okay to admit a lot of us are feeling a bit angry with how this final season of Game of Thrones is rolling out. Things aren’t wrapping up the way we expected, and characters aren’t doing what we expected them to do. Which obviously makes what they are doing seem pretty darn stupid.
Daenerys getting ambushed by Euron Greyjoy’s fleet seems pretty stupid. Jon Snow thinking his sisters would keep his secret, too. Tyrion getting close enough to the walls of King’s Landing for Cersei to feather him with arrows? Not a smart move. And Jaime leaving Brienne and returning to his sister? Utterly stupid. But in this case, I’m handing the award to Sansa Stark, whose sole contribution to season eight seems centered around beefing with Dany.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to reclaim the north. But there is a right way to go about it, and Sansa has chosen the wrong way. Openly antagonizing the Queen in the middle of a war with a common enemy is the wrong way. If she carefully started orchestrating a plan to replace Dany with Jon after learning of his true parentage, that would be some Littlefinger-level game. But Sansa didn’t even approach Tyrion with that information, he was the one who came to her. About fixing her relationship with Daenerys, no less. Her sudden decision to reveal Aegon Targaryen in the most treasonous terms ever (“What if there’s someone better?”) could have ended with her head on a spike.
Sansa Stark has gotten a lot of heat from fans since season one, largely undeserved at that. Since becoming the Lady of Winterfell, there’s been an effort on the part of the writers to rebrand her as the smartest person left playing the game of thrones, but the case for that is pretty thin as well. She’s made no secret about her dislike of Daenerys or her desire for Northern independence. She just suggested a coup to Dany’s Hand, of all people. And she revealed Jon’s true parentage without him knowing it, leaving him a target should Daenerys wake up and realize how close she is to getting Ned Stark’d by Ned Stark’s daughter. (There’s also the issue of her conversation with the Hound and how everything she went through with Ramsay made her stronger, but that’s less a Sansa thing and more an issue with Benioff and Weiss.) Fortunately for Sansa, everyone else is too busy making their own questionable moves to notice her not-so-subtle machinations. — Ryan Harkness
3. What is the Hound’s unfinished business? And Arya’s?
SO many fan theories went straight out the window, Bran-style, during last week’s episode (we discussed this here). But don’t let the hype for one popular theory die down: the Cleganebowl is coming. As Sandor “The Hound” Clegane leaves Winterfell, he’s joined by Arya, who’s also riding to King’s Landing. They both have “unfinished” business to attend to. For the Hound, it’s the “one thing” that will make him happy: killing his brother, Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. the Mountain, a.k.a. the World’s Strongest Man. The battle between brothers is long in the making, ever since Gregor shoved his sibling’s face in fire, giving Sandor his distinctive facial scars (and phobia of fire). We almost got the Cleganebowl at the Dragonpit in the season seven finale, when the Hound tells the Mountain he’s “f*cking uglier than I am now” and that he’s coming for him, but no dice.
As for Arya, her business is also Daenerys’ business. And Jon’s business. And Sansa’s business. She doesn’t need a dragon or an army, though: she’s on a one-woman mission to kill Cersei, one of the few names left on her infamous list. A one-woman suicide mission, that is. Arya has no intention of returning to Winterfell, which would be a serious bummer because a) Arya is the best, and b) she should still be feeling the high of killing the freaking Night King, not going back to assassin work. Instead, she’s going from playing 2013-era LeBron James in the NBA Conference Finals, winning, then squaring up against the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls in the actual Finals. Which I guess makes Cersei the Michael Jordan of Game of Thrones? She needs to work on her crying face.
Anyway, best of luck, Arya. Cersei better watch her back. Literally. — JK
4. Why is Bronn suddenly so salty towards Jaime and Tyrion?
Don’t be fooled by the witty banter and genial attitude Bronn kept up when Tyrion and Jaime were actually paying him. He’s always been a chaotic neutral character at best; we’ve just never seen him have to choose between morality and gold before. Ruthless self-interest is the driving force behind all the best characters on Game of Thrones, and that’s what Bronn is exhibiting here. I may question his methods, but the motive makes sense.
Consider where we left him in the first episode of season eight: in a dingy whorehouse with a bunch of disinterested camp followers who weren’t being paid enough to care. A far cry from the days he spent at Littlefinger’s brothel with the best women gold could buy. The departures of Tyrion and then Jaime left Bronn without a patron to keep him in upper society.
As mentioned, he’s still a knight. But Bronn had lordly ambitions, ambitions that were almost realized when he was set to marry into House Stokeworth. Then Jaime broke all that up to take him on that terrible pointless Dornish adventure, and it was some time after this that the Lannisters forgot to pay their debts. Given everything Bronn has done and the number of times he’s stuck his neck out over seven seasons, you can understand why he’s a bit miffed. He never wanted to be a hero. Rewatch all those scenes where he risks his life for the Lannisters and think of it in the context of unpaid overtime. Then it will start making more sense as to why he’s no longer playing the nice guy. — RH
5. Is Varys right? Is Jon Snow the best possible leader for Westeros?
Considering Jon Snow can’t even seem to take care of his own pets, I don’t think he qualifies as the best candidate for king of the Seven Kingdoms. Sure, there’s a vague notion amongst some that he’d be more palatable to the people of Westeros than Daenerys, but his policies are generally unsound and his judgement has proved lacking time and time again. Yes, I know Jon is the star of the show and everyone loves him, but so did Ygritte and she got it 100 percent right when she declared “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Let’s face it: Jon is one of the biggest blunderers in Westeros, goofing it up from one disaster to another due to a combination of stubborn honor and ignorant optimism. This is a guy who was told point blank by Stannis to send Ser Alliser Thorne away from Castle Black for obvious reasons. Instead Jon took a chance and made Ser Alliser First Ranger. Several episodes later Ser Alliser led a mutiny and murdered him.
You’d think getting stabbed to death would have woken Jon up to the harsh realities of Westeros politics. At least maybe made him a bit more willing to listen to people more experienced than him? But no. Daenerys couldn’t be more explicit with Jon in this episode: telling Sansa about his true parentage was a terrible idea, one that could lead to another war. But he still told Sansa, and she told Tyrion, who told Varys, who might lead a mutiny and murder her.
So who wants a king that bad at reading people, one who can almost be relied on to make any dumb decision so long as it seems like the most honorable choice? Apparently Varys, who has drunk his own Kool-Aid when it comes to “serving the realm.” Sure, there may be some legitimate higher concern for the people of King’s Landing mixed in, but I’m not shocked he’s looking to replace Daenerys with someone more pliable now that she’s not listening to him. — RH
6. How did Tyrion know about Cersei being pregnant?
It’s been a good season for the brothers Lannister, full of shared wine flagons and heartfelt conversations. Sometime during all those talks, we assume Jaime told Tyrion about Cersei’s pregnancy. What was said exactly, we don’t know. It’s another one of those key moments that happened off screen. But Tyrion used that information to try and convince Cersei to surrender. A bit of an unconvincing argument: surrender to the Dragon Queen if you want your unborn baby to live. We’re not surprised Cersei shot it down.
The ramifications of Tyrion’s attempt could be felt in the final episodes of the series, though. It’s clear that Cersei is trying to present Jaime’s baby as Euron’s, the same way she presented all of Jaime’s children as Robert Baratheon’s. Unfortunately, Euron was standing up on the ramparts with her when Tyrion made his appeal. The camera never cut to his reaction, and who knows, maybe Euron is just a stupid horny pirate (more horniness!) that wants to f*ck the queen. But it’s just as likely that he was left wondering how Tyrion knew of Cersei’s pregnancy when he just found out himself.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that timelines can be a tricky thing to work out on Game of Thrones. That scene with Cersei revealing her pregnancy to Euron could have taken place weeks before Tyrion stood in front of the walls of King’s Landing. Cersei’s pregnancy could be common knowledge in Westeros by this point. But it just seems too perfect of a set up not to be used. While the whole Prince That Was Promised theory fizzled out big when Arya killed the Night’s King, there’s still a lot of people banking big on the Valonqar theory… even though it only appeared in the books and not the show.
After correctly prophesying the death of Cersei’s children, Maggie the Frog had this prediction for her: “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Valonqar means ‘little brother’ in Valyrian and like all of George R.R. Martin prophecies, it fits a whole bunch of people… Euron being one of them as the little brother of Balon Greyjoy. So did Game of Thrones just set Euron up to strangle Cersei after realizing he’s being played? Or is this just another red herring that will come and go without ever being mentioned again? — RH
7. What was the significance of Missandei’s final word?
When Daenerys freed Missandei, her interpreter-turned-advisor and friend from Kraznys mo Nakloz (the slave trader who looks like bargain bin Ben Kingsley), she did so using one word: “dracarys.” It’s also the final word Missandei speaks before Cersei has the Mountain cut her head off. The word means “dragonfire” in High Valyrian and that’s what Missandei hopes Daenerys reigns down on Cersei. “I think what’s probably echoing in Dany’s head in those final moments would be Missandei’s final words,” said co-showrunner David Benioff in the “Inside the Episode” segment. “‘Dracarys’ is clearly meant for Dany. Missandei knows that her life is over, and she is saying, you know, light them up.”
Or as Nathalie Emmanuel put it on Twitter, “Burn the bish.”
Of course, things are a little more complicated than that. Daenerys isn’t dealing with the low-level crumb bums of Astapor anymore; her enemy is someone who once made a church go kaboom because her son married WAY out of his league. To borrow the meme template from a former-Thrones star, one does not simply attack King’s Landing with a single dragon and expect to win, no matter how much “dracarys” is involved. She needs to be smart, calculated, and not solve all her problems by having her (now only) child set fire to her enemies.
Which brings us to…
8. Is Daenerys about to go full Mad Queen on us?
She lost Viserion last season, and the Dothraki, Jorah, Missandei, and Rhaegal so far this season. She expected to be hailed as a hero in the North, only to be greeted with distrust by everyone not named Jon Snow (who, she recently found out, is related to her, which, ew, but also, he has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne because he has a c*ck and she doesn’t). Things are not going well for Daenerys Targaryen, who’s looking a little mad. Like father, like daughter?
Even her advisors aren’t sure where her head is at. “I’ve served tyrants all my life,” Varys tells Tyrion. “They all talk about destiny.” But it’s unclear whether we’re supposed to still be rooting for Dany and see her as the ultimate underdog, or whether she’s Cersei with blonde hair. (I, for one, am NOT here for the notion that Jon should on the Throne just because he doesn’t want to be on the Throne. There’s an undercurrent of sexism in making the man who doesn’t desire something the ruler over the more qualified women who do.) At the same though, however, can you blame her for wanting to get a measure of revenge? Most of Daenerys’ closest friends and two dragons are gone, and she can feel her one true goal in life — to become ruler of the Seven Kingdoms — starting to slip away. Whether she can regain control without burning them all is the most important storyline for the rest of the season. — JK