As Jon Snow’s secret comes out, he và Tyrion are caught between Sansa & Daenerys. Meanwhile, Rhaegal và Missandei find trouble in King’s Landing.

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After last week’s episode, it was tempting to think that Game of Thrones was going khổng lồ glide lớn an easier finish than many of us had expected và feared (or is it craved?). Yes, some big characters died last week—Theon, Ser Jorah, the dang Night King—but most of the marquee players survived the battle with the dead, even when that seemed to lớn require us to lớn suspend more than the usual level of disbelief. (No shade but did anyone really think Samwell Tarly had it in him khổng lồ fend off a few thousand wights over the course of however many hours that battle was supposed lớn last?) to give you a sense of the mood, I happened lớn be at a restaurant bar arguing to a friend that some of last week’s fatalities were genuinely important characters when a guy interrupted us và declared, “No one important died! No one!” The implication was that the show runners were chickening out a little. Now that they didn’t have George R.R. Martin’s ruthlessly misanthropic books to lớn constrain them, they were going Hollywood.

Well, it remains lớn be seen if any of our true faves—your Tyrions, Daeneryses, Jon Snows, Jaimes, Aryas, and Sansas—are headed for extinction, but tonight’s episode definitely made it clear that the toàn thân count is far from final. For starters, we are down to lớn one dragon, folks—though I think that, for historical accuracy’s sake, we can still điện thoại tư vấn Daenerys the Mother of Dragons, plural. Và the show’s only notable woman of màu sắc is gone—in a fashion that seems bound lớn cause all kinds of mạng internet controversy. Euron, Cersei, và the Mountain are clearly adversaries khổng lồ be reckoned with, certainly moreso than the “ZZ đứng đầu White Walkers,” as one Twitter wag described the Night King’s weirdly inactive entourage.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? There was a lot khổng lồ process in this episode, including some important love developments between Arya & Gendry, Brienne and Jaime, and—we hardly knew ye—Grey Worm and Missandei. There’s also a sharp shift in the winds for Daenerys, whose ability to lớn roast her enemies in rồng fire was hugely valued in the war against the dead but feels less helpful when Cersei is using the citizens of King’s Landing as human shields.

The episode begins with the requisite mourning of last week’s victims, whose bodies burn in tank-shaped pyres—not that anyone’s worried about them turning into zombies or anything but … better safe than sorry, I always say. Then comes the booze và the sex. Daenerys puts everyone on edge by calling out Gendry for being the son of Robert Baratheon—singling people out for their involvement in killing her relatives is one of her least fun tiệc ngọt tricks—but then she brings the vibes back by making him a lord & giving him custody of the family castle. Hooray! Gendry had already been on the hunt for Arya, but that sends him her way with renewed confidence. When he finally does find her, she’s “celebrating” with a little crossbow target practice, as one does. He kisses her, then gets down on one knee, all proper-like, & asks for her hand. Thing is, a girl doesn’t want khổng lồ be a lady, & she sure doesn’t want to be Mrs. Gendry. Sad! But probably for the best. Arya would be so bored by that life that she might start assassinating the neighbors one by one, just khổng lồ feel alive.

Jaime, meanwhile, is deploying an old fraternity trick against poor, defenseless (in this context) Brienne. Let’s play a drinking game! It’s just a gaaaaame—not a cheap ruse lớn create a false sense of intimacy while plying you with alcohol lớn lower your defenses or anything! Not that Brienne needs much cajoling khổng lồ get it on with the Kingslayer—if anything, it seems like he’s the one battling his own reservations. Either way, it has the expected effect, even after Tyrion’s very buzz-killing (but conveniently conversation-opening) virginity question. Even Tormund can tell from a glance where this scenario is headed, và he’s momentarily heartbroken, until he comes across one of the Winterfell groupies who magically appear after I guess surviving the battle in the crypt? The Hound declines his groupie’s offer, và instead has a quick catchup with Sansa, who makes it clear that, like Bran, she doesn’t regret her misfortunes because they made her the forbiddingly intelligent và relentlessly skeptical hitter she is today.

And man, is she skeptical of Daenerys! Sophie Turner’s side-eye alone deserves an Emmy và has several submission-worthy episodes to back it up. This is one of them. It actually makes me feel for Daenerys. It’s hard to vày your thing when there’s someone questioning every single move this blatantly, and the căng thẳng is starting to make the Mother of Dragons paranoid. Which is not good for anyone.

It takes a minute but, after an awkwardly abridged make-out session, she và Jon finally address the elephant in the room: what are they going to do about the fact that Jon is her nephew and the rightful (according lớn these bullshit patriarchal rules but still) heir khổng lồ the throne. Jon’s answer, not surprisingly, is that he has khổng lồ be honest with his siblings (sad trombone). Daenerys’s counter-suggestion, also not surprising, is that he should swear Bran & Sam to lớn secrecy and never speak of it again. Lớn be fair, she’s completely right that Jon’s delusional if he thinks he can control the narrative once this highly explosive piece of information becomes known. But I think that, in addition to being in denial và generally not that wise lớn the ways of the world, Jon is also a bit creeped out by her angry desperation. He’s not going to keep this secret to placate her paranoia, even if it is entirely justified.

Then there’s a war council, where Jon very theatrically takes Daenerys’s side against Sansa, even though Sansa is pretty obviously right that everyone needs a minute to recover from the Great War before they go fight the Last War. When it breaks up, Arya blocks Jon’s path: “We need a word.” Ya think? So the Stark siblings have a little confab in the snow in which Arya & Sansa—and maybe Bran? it’s hard khổng lồ know if he agrees with them or is just lurking for plot-advancing purposes—come right out and say that they don’t trust Daenerys. Và Jon is all: you don’t know her! và they’re like: yeah, we do, and anyway we’re family. & Jon is all: not really, and they’re like, yes, really. And that’s when, at the worst possible time if his goal was to lớn actually make them lượt thích Daenerys more rather than less, Jon decides to lớn have Bran explain the whole backstory. But first he makes them pinky swear, because he actually is enough of a do-right dope khổng lồ keep a promise like that, even if no one else is.

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Next thing you know, Tyrion is sidling up to lớn Sansa as she watches the dragons perform yet another irritating training exercise in the skies above Winterfell. I actually had the same question for Sansa that Tyrion did: What’s your khuyễn mãi giảm giá with Daenerys? Why can’t you just bend the damn knee and be glad that you’re the most powerful person in the north? But Sansa has seen a lot, & she knows a power-tripping nut when she sees one. And she also nails Tyrion when she says, “You’re afraid of her.” and once she sees her opening, her oath khổng lồ keep Jon’s ancestral secret lasts about five seconds before she’s spilling it into the ear of the biggest information-trader in the Seven Kingdoms.

Make that the second biggest. Varys is the first biggest, and Tyrion tells him before their fleet hits Blackwater Bay. (Which takes about five seconds now, apparently, distances having collapsed by about 1,000X since season one.) So now it’s not a secret—it’s “information.” One of the things I love about this episode is watching Tyrion try lớn suppress the thoughts that we know are occurring khổng lồ him as he processes this information, coupled with Daenerys’s reckless behavior. Tyrion made a big bet on Daenerys, and he has no desire lớn change horses—or should I say dragons—midstream. Thankfully, we have Varys lớn articulate those thoughts without the emotional baggage. Varys is at his worst when he echoes the truyền thông gasbags who say that male leaders are an easier sell than women, but he’s right that Jon’s aversion lớn the throne is part of what makes him less likely lớn act like a tyrant. (Or bởi I sound like a Beto apologist now?) & he’s also right that he’s only saying things that Tyrion has been thinking. In their second conversation, Tyrion scares him off by calling their conversation “treason,” but it’s clear that Varys is not going to wait for permission to begin putting wheels into motion.

But back to lớn Blackwater Bay! The good guys are feeling fine, Grey Worm flashes a rare smile as he holds Missandei’s hand, and Daenerys & her dragons are flapping around King’s Landing without a care in the world when suddenly a gigantic arrow lands right in Rhaegal’s heart. Then another hits him, and another—this one piercing his throat. Và just like that … he goes down. Under the waves. Dead. Daenerys wheels toward the origin of the attack & finds Euron Greyjoy manning a gigantic crossbow aboard his ship. Riding Drogon, she bears down with the very obvious purpose of incinerating his shit-eating mug & the boat he rode in on, but she has to turn back as another fusillade comes her way.

And then the Iron Fleet comes into view, and there are a ton of these crossbows, which I guess are the kind of weaponry you can afford when you join forces with the Golden Company? & now they’re taking aim at Daenerys’s fleet, và the ships are breaking into splinters. Tyrion dashes around the deck before diving into the water, then gets hit on the head with the mast, and next thing you know our heroes are washing up on a beach somewhere.

The Mother of Dragons is incandescent with rage at losing her baby, and to make matters worse Cersei has captured Missandei. Daenerys’s plan is khổng lồ take her remaining dragon, the Dothraki, & the Unsullied and lay waste lớn King’s Landing, kill Cersei, rescue Missandei, & seize the Iron Throne. Tyrion & Varys, who have both spent much of their lives suffering under ultra-violent tyrants in King’s Landing, very much want her khổng lồ reconsider. They finally persuade her that it would be prudent to give Cersei the opportunity to surrender, knowing she won’t, because then the people will blame her for the carnage that follows. That buys the advisors a little time, if nothing else.

Back in Winterfell, Jaime hears the news of all this và reconsiders his decision to spend the rest of his days sleeping in Brienne’s room while she keeps watch over Sansa và Arya (the latter of which is an impossible task, as we quickly see when she takes off down the road alongside The Hound). Jaime sneaks out lớn saddle up his horse, và when Brienne comes out to lớn stop him, he makes it clear to her that the real Jaime is the one who does one awful thing after another in the service of his evil sister. We’ll see if that winds up being the case entirely but … well, we’re running out of episodes here, so it may well be. Poor Brienne. But also: he doesn’t deserve her. (I skipped the scene with Bronn, but suffice it to lớn say that I never for one second thought that Bronn was going lớn kill Tyrion or Jaime. I love it when I’m right—it happens rarely enough!)

So now we’re in front of the gate at King’s Landing. Daenerys’s army is … not large. The decision to rush off instead of resting and regrouping appears lớn have been not so prudent. Cersei is at the đứng đầu of the wall with her haircut và her eternal scowl that is truly one of the finest things on television in this or any era. Missandei is there too, as is The Mountain và more of those gigantic crossbows. The gate opens and out comes Qyburn to rendezvous with Tyrion. Tyrion explains that Daenerys demands Cersei’s unconditional surrender. Qyburn counters that Cersei demands Daenerys’s unconditional surrender. Tyrion tries khổng lồ reason with him, but the sad fact is: reason isn’t really on Tyrion’s side here. When Qyburn points out that Dany’s forces are depleted and she’s down to one dragon, he’s not wrong. So Tyrion is reduced to making his case directly to Cersei, which he had khổng lồ know would not work. He still seems lớn think this pregnancy is somehow going khổng lồ cause her lớn act lượt thích another person, and he is still wrong. After crying a little and cycling through a whole bunch of other facial expressions that, again, prove that Lena Headey is a dang international treasure, Cersei tells Missandei it’s time for her last words. “Dracarys!” she shouts. Which, yeah, is High Valyrian for “Burn these bastards to the ground with long fire.” and then the Mountain comes forward, swings his sword, & Missandei’s head and body fall from the wall khổng lồ the earth below.

Grey Worm looks away in horror, but Daenerys watches. God, the look on Emilia Clarke’s face. So much good acting in this episode. & then her sadness morphs into something closer to lớn satisfaction: “Thank you,” the expression says, “for giving me every reason to vày what I wanted to vị in the first place.” and then she turns và stalks off, & the episode ends.

So what are we lớn make of Daenerys now? It would be disappointing, khổng lồ say the least, if we’d spent all this time watching her rise, just to lớn see her conveniently shunted aside for a male who’s an easier sell to some swing-voting lords in the midwest. I don’t think that’s quite what we’re seeing, though. I hope not. I think Daenerys’s flaws have been there from almost the beginning—she’s a visionary & a bit of a fanatic. We’ve always known that. She’s also been willing to vị the things you have to bởi vì to gain và keep power, whether that’s been khổng lồ project fearful power or khổng lồ make sacrifices lớn prove her good will. The ancestry twist has thrown her off her game, as has the loss of two of her dragons and this very complicated relationship snafu. I see Sansa và Varys’s side, but I also lượt thích that Tyrion is still saying he believes in her & believes she will make the right decision. & even if she doesn’t, I want lớn believe this will kết thúc in something other than defeat & humiliation for her.

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Well, that’s all for now. Everyone seems to be converging on King’s Landing. (Everyone, that is, except Sam, Gilly, their growing brood, Tormund, và Ghost—is that really how their Game of Thrones arcs end?!) Presumably the rest of the gang will arrive next Sunday & we’ll have another big blowout. Until then … Vacarys?!

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