Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode turned out to be even more cataclysmic than series loyalists could have imagined. Daenerys Targaryen intentionally unleashed “dracarys” upon thousands of innocents while storming King’s Landing on the way to taking out Cersei, and where the series concludes will depend upon how the remaining characters react to the apparently Mad Queen. We’ve all got our opinions about that, of course, but are you ready to defend yours in a fiery trial by conversational combat? Uproxx’s Kimberly Ricci and Jason Tabrys are very ready to do exactly that before turning the discussion over to you in the comments.
Kimberly: We can’t ignore the elephant in this room. The subject on everyone’s mind right now is Dany’s heel turn after the surrender bells rang at King’s Landing. I still feel conflicted, but I’m tiptoeing toward some understanding on what happened with Drogon. I don’t mean that in the sense of condoning the slaughter of innocents — do you take me for a monster? — but I accept the Mother of Dragons’ descent into madness. What still bugs, though, is that this transition could’ve been handled in a far less jarring manner, and one that remained true to the richness of GRRM’s character development for Dany. Look, we’ve had an entire series to get used to Cersei’s barbarism, but while Dany’s shown a propensity for violence and ruthlessness, this streak has always been couched in a “savior” persona, so it feels very “off” to see her acting out of vengeance. It’s a disservice, and I do worry about whether any further brutality from Dany will translate as two-dimensional in the finale.
Jason: I think that it’s time for me to retire the elephant references. There are no elephants coming to save us. And after what happened Sunday night, I’m glad to see that there were no elephants in King’s Landing, lest they be a part of the massacre. Now, onto matters of slightly larger import: I agree with most of what you said about Dany, though I honestly would have been fine with the heel turn had it not been so indiscriminate. If Dany goes after the tower and Cersei, taking it down and raining down brick and fire on the people, starting off a panic and maybe also setting off Cersei’s hidden supply of wildfire, then Dany’s journey would have had more nuance and it would have allowed characters like Tyrion and Jon a chance to make a choice about her. Now, there is no choice: she’s a full-on monster. Maybe that’s the difference between making 6 episodes and having 8 or 9 to play with. I don’t know. But I think a lot of people would feel better about an accidental massacre than what transpired Sunday (as visually stunning as it was, by the way). As for further acts of brutality from Dany, I guess I’m wondering who is left? Dany is the Queen of the Ash now. The likely unrepentant Queen of the Ash. I think we’ve seen the last epic fight on Game Of Thrones. Whatever comes next is going to be up close and personal.
Kimberly: Right, and one can’t get more up-close-and-personal than a full-on clash between Jon and Dany. Yet he’s not confrontational with her and never has been, so I don’t see him as willing or capable to act against her on his own, even after his shock over her genocidal madness. I could be wrong! But it would be a true shift in character for him, and I don’t think it’s one that’s earned without some form of personal provocation. It would be more believable for Jon to strongly react, say, if Dany moved to take out Sansa or Arya. The question remains, though, whether Sansa can make her next strategic move first, whatever that might be.
Jason: Not that we’ve been shy about making big predictions this season (with a not great batting average!) but this one might be the biggest: I 100% expect Dany to kill Jon Snow when he comes at her over her actions, signaling another break of loyalty from someone that, in her mind, she doesn’t need anymore now that she’s got the throne (assuming it didn’t melt). Dany kills Jon and Arya retreats from her sudden change of heart about revenge killings and kills Dany? I can see that.
Kimberly: I would be down for that to happen because I refuse to even enlighten the possibility that Arya had a true change of heart. Is that stubborn and wrong? I don’t care. However, what I’m actually curious about is whether or not Tyrion takes matters into his own hands with an assist from Sansa. Or vice versa. These two weren’t together long (days!) as a married couple, but they shared an important bond from the very beginning. They were two pawns thrust into a larger scheme and made the best of some terrible situations. They’ve now reconnected with some intimate mind-melding during a few scenes this season, and I think if there’s any way to stop Dany from killing every power player, then they’re the only ones who could do it from a strategic standpoint. Remember how Sansa told him (during the season premiere), “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive”? That was no throwaway line, and I know “foreshadowing” has become a maligned word in some circles with this series (because of the Dany transformation), but I think that line will come back to us. Hell, I’d like to see Tyrion go back to being the master maneuverer we once knew and loved. However, there’s also the possibility that someone or something else is still in play that could shift the balance of the remaining chess board pieces? We can be pretty sure that the Clegane brothers are both out of the game, but I’m open to other possibilities.
Jason: I feel like whatever is going to happen in the ash heap of King’s Landing will be something sparked by the people that saw it fall first hand. Which isn’t to say Sansa (and Brienne) won’t factor in later. As for the Clegane Brothers, Cersei, Jaime, Rhaegal (the dragon), Euron, etc. We’re assuming they’re all dead despite having not seen their bodies, right? I feel like one distracting gasp-inducer should be expected, but I don’t know if any of those can be counted as likely for one last return. I’m pretty good with the shape of all those deaths, also. Granted, Cersei deserved something worse, but not all TV deaths can be cathartic and this show has really given us far too rich a bounty during its run for that to be something worth complaining about. We should all still be fat and happy from Walder Frey’s end or the purpling of Joffrey.
Kimberly: If Game of Thrones truly parted ways with Brienne of Tarth by having her weep in the street after Jaime took her virginity and left her for Cersei, I’ll never forgive this move. People already talk about how messy the series has been with female characters, including Sansa and most recently with the Mad Queen, but man, the writers have already done the first knighted woman in Westeros dirty. Letting that be her last scene would be awful. As for who could possibly “rise” from the dead, I’m pretty sure that Cersei is a goner, even if her death was unsatisfying, but I could see Euron return with more nefarious shenanigans. Maybe he can take out Jon Snow with a scorpion? Like if he flies in on a resurrected Rhaegal, but the dragon shouldn’t die again. We’ve had enough mythical creature doom, and I’d honestly be cool with seeing that fan theory about Drogon hatching some baby dragons come true because this season couldn’t possibly slide further off the rails. With that said, we definitely didn’t see some major players in “The Bells” that we need to gain some closure upon. Like Bran. Does he still “warg out”? Has that ability become useless after the Night King’s death? Does anyone even remember the Night King anymore? Maybe he can come back and knock some humanity back into Dany before the humans set about killing her. Or Bran can warg into a dragon and do the job.
Jason: To be brutally honest, I am, above all other things, rooting for outright f*cking chaos and an all-consuming WTF. My neck’s broke from whiplash because of this show: from what’s gone down on-screen to the maximum velocity transformation from adoration to abhorrence with the fanbase. This season started as a celebration and the return of an unrivaled pop culture unifier and now it feels like the last days of a loveless marriage yearning to be put out of its misery. I haven’t hated what’s come. Not to the extent that others have, but I hate where things are now with the overall entity that is Game Of Thrones. It’s just another thing to piss people off so let’s burn the motherf*cker down with a Sopranos style, cut-to-black, ending. Social media, as it is presently known, wasn’t around when The Sopranos left it all to the imagination. Can you even imagine Twitter if almost nothing is settled after all of this lead up? I honestly wonder if it’d be better or worse than if it ends with Jon Snow atop the pile or some other weird twist:
– It’s Tyrion and then Bronn kills him and then, I guess, it’s Bronn?
– Arya becomes the Night Queen and turns everyone to ice.
– The Iron Throne becomes sentient and takes itself.
– The last dragon turns on Dany and declares (with the voice of Sean Connery) that it is the true ruler of the seven kingdoms and everyone is too tired to fight it.
If we’re all going to be angry and miserable, then let’s at least get there in a wild and interesting way, ya know?
Anyway, if you’re shocked by my turn toward villainy, maybe you should have been paying more attention to this column.
Kimberly: A fade-to-black ending might almost be preferable to more fan disappointment related to actual developments, but people would complain about that as well. Really though, I’m disappointed in what’s transpired this season but not too surprised. It’s saddening, in a similar way to how I felt about the final Mad Men episodes. That series certainly doesn’t approach Thrones audience levels, but I’m starting to feel the same way I did about Don Draper’s self-loathing. Especially toward the end, I was ready for him to hurl himself down an elevator shaft and end it all. I don’t know if that means that I’m secretly hoping for a Coca-Cola commercial to absurdly appear and end Thrones, but yeah, I’m feeling a little subversive as well. No matter what the showrunners have hatched, they can’t end the series at this point without making a huge chunk of people angry. My only wish at this point is that they’ll keep Arya’s spirit intact. That’s what I’m clinging to, and I’ll shout “Dracarys” if they screw that up. Am I rooting for outrage? Maybe. Yes, I am. You want chaos, and I want outrage after that chaos. May the final hour of this game begin!