Hooboy, where to begin. It hasn't been a great week for Game of Thrones. Many people were unhappy with the final battle with the Night King and the White Walkers. I liked it, but I'll concede that the lighting was an issue, and then last week's episode hit a myriad of criticism for many reasons. Chief among them being the Starbucks cup that somehow no one caught, it went memetic almost immediately. Starbucks got a bunch of free publicity out of it, so I'm sure they're not complaining.
Editing mistakes aside, this episode did have some serious issues when it came to the writing, with many characters making outright stupid decisions and others doing a complete 180 in characterization. Jon may have just doomed himself and the continent to another civil war all because he can't keep his damn mouth shut; Daenerys is on the edge of becoming a villain; Jaime got right to the finish line of his redemption arc and inexplicably fucked right off before crossing it; and someone has apparently unlocked fast travel for the continent of Westeros.
First Jon and Daenerys: everyone in the north is celebrating how great Jon is and how he'd make a great King, right in front of Daenerys, and hailing him as the savior of the North. Arya, who actually killed the Night King, got one toast. Boo. Daenerys begged Jon to keep his heritage a secret, and for a good reason. It might seem kind of selfish simply because he has the better claim to the throne, but it's a revelation so huge that once it's out it will take on a life of its own. Even though Jon doesn't want the Iron Throne, he may not have a choice. It's like at the end of Dune, Paul Atreides has accomplished what he'd set out to do, avenge his father and take his house back, but he's also unleashed a jihad that has grown beyond his control and he can't stop it. The same thing applies here, all because Jon can't keep his damn mouth shut. He doesn't even have to lie, just not say anything. Ned kept quiet for eighteen bloody years at the cost of his reputation, but that's too much for the current Warden of the North. To quote a wise woman, you know nothing Jon Snow.
Daenerys is becoming increasingly isolated. The death of Jorah left her without her oldest friend, protector and advisor. Sansa is being unnecessarily adversarial to the woman who arguably just saved the entire North. Or, do you really think you'd have survived the Long Night without those dragons while your ass was hiding in the crypt Sansa? No? Then STFU. And to compound matters, Daenerys lost another dragon and her best friend in a single afternoon in an utterly contrived piece of writing that really doesn't make much sense. For starters, Rhaegal is killed by a couple of Scorpion bolts fired by Euron Greyjoy, because apparently the entire Iron Fleet was somehow able to sneak up on her and her navy IN BROAD DAYLIGHT ON OPEN WATERS WITH LITERALLY NOTHING HIDING THEM. Was Daenerys looking in the wrong direction the entire time or something? How does a fleet sneak up on you? Especially since Daenerys is in the air, which brings me to my next point. The Scorpion bolts, just what speed would they have to be travelling at in order to punch right through Rhaegal the way they did? According to the lore, a grown dragon is nearly invulnerable. Only one in history was taken down by a shot from the ground, and even then, its acknowledged as a million-to-one shot that was almost pure dumb luck. And now Euron takes one down on the first try? I can buy that Qyburn has been improving the design since last season. What I have trouble buying is that he was able to do so and then outfit the entire Iron Fleet, plus the walls of Kings Landing, with the things.
Almost immediately Euron is able to destroy Daenerys' fleet, capture Missandei off camera and bring her to Cersei. How come Euron could capture her and not Grey Worm or Tyrion? And why did he? How does he know her importance? Euron and Cersei have met Missandei ONCE, last season where they learn about the White Walkers. And Missandei doesn't say anything, she's just part of Daenerys' Court, but Cersei somehow knows that Missandei is not only Daenerys' best friend, but also a former slave? The audience knows that, but there's no reason Cersei or Euron should know this. This of course leads to what really angered people, Missandei's death. This in itself didn't bother me as much as the circumstances leading up to it. Now some people are angry that a woman of color was placed in chains before being murdered, because it's cruel and insensitive. Here's the thing though, that's the point. Cersei is a villain with literally no redeeming qualities at this point, and I never understand when audiences get mad that an evil character does something evil. Yes, Missandei's death was needlessly cruel, because that's who Cersei is. She enjoys cruelty. Now I will agree that Missandei's death seems to be an excuse to set up Daenerys as going full villain, and that annoys me. For starters, it's out of character. She's had her moments of bad decision making, but her going full "Mad Queen" feels out of place. Even more jarring is Varys sudden betrayal. I agree that Daenerys has made some questionable decisions this season, but nothing bad enough to kill and replace her with Jon, which seems to be Varys plan. I personally think they're setting up Varys to be burned alive, as Daenerys said she'd do if he ever betrayed her. If I was made King, I'd have Varys killed immediately just on principle.
Jaime finally, FINALLY hooks up with Brienne after seven seasons of unresolved sexual tension, and he's finally happy and in-love with someone who isn't a monster. Then he leaves to go back to Cersei because… reasons? His motivation wasn't really clear to me. He lists off why he isn't a good man and then rides back to King's Landing after earning the Stark's trust. I'm hoping they're setting him up to kill Cersei.
Bronn, what the hell was that? He shows up super angry, threatens Jaime and Tyrion, and goes on about how he's always hated them, a complete 180 from his characterization up until this point. He built a friendship up with both those characters over the whole show, especially Tyrion, and having him reveal he's hated them both the whole time just feels completely out-of-whack. Especially with Tyrion, whom he was legitimately happy to see again last season. WTF?
Lastly, the fast travel, how the hell is everyone getting around so quickly? Arya and the Hound wandered around for two seasons, and previously it's taken characters a long time to get to places. Now Daenerys army is at Kings Landing the day after the fight with the Night King. All sense of time has been lost. The writing took a real nose-dive this episode, which is especially disappointing when episode 2 of this season is probably one of the best episodes of television ever. Personally, I think this is for two main reasons. One, the speed at which they're racing towards the end. I don't know if it's just because they want to be done with the show after nearly ten years, but the pace of this season has really hurt them in my opinion. It leaves certain details out of the narrative, and the show has suffered for it. Seasons 7 and 8 should both have been ten episodes, and if making longer episodes is too much, then go up to Season 9 or 10. Two, and I discussed this with a friend last night, the creators of the show, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, aren't good writers. They're good ADAPTERS, but adapting a script from an existing property and creating your own thing is very different. The show has always been the best the closer its adhered to the books. The best example is Season 5's Dorne plotline, which ended up being pointless and completely botched. Almost everyone agrees that it's been the worst part of the show. The Sand Snakes in particular I found to be disappointing. The thing is, the story is completely different in the books. Jaime and Bronn don't go to Dorne, and the Sand Snakes are interesting characters. But what was the worst about it, at least for me, is that it completely neutered Doran Martell's character. In the books, Doran is arguably one of the most dangerous characters in the entire series, possibly even more so than his brother Oberyn. Doran never acts impulsively, and he thinks through every possible outcome. See, everyone on the board is playing Risk and thinks they're playing Chess. Doran is playing five games of 3D chess at once and winning at all of them. His wishy-washy personality is a complete act, and the truth is he's been undermining Houses Lannister and Baratheon ever since he learned about what happened to his sister, Elia. For Doran, it's not good enough for House Lannister to simply fall, he wants it sandblasted from history.
Being a good adapter instead of a writer isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's actually a very good skill to have, but it is different than creative writing. I don't think it's a coincidence that the show is best when it's closer to the books, and I don't think it's a coincidence that episode two of this season was not written by Benioff and Weiss, but by Bryan Cogman. I'm still going to see the show to its end, I'm too invested not to, and I'm REALLY hoping they stick the landing. Fingers crossed.
Final thoughts. Sandor is heading back to King's Landing, CLEGANE BOWL! Gendry being made legitimate and declared Lord of Storm's End, called it. During the party at the front of the episode, there's a scene where in the background Podrick walks off arm-in-arm with two women. Go Podrick. See you next week everyone.