Thursday, February 22, 2024

Character Arcs are Jettisoned and Women are ‘On Top’ on Game of Thrones

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Only two episodes left of Game of Thrones and the closer they get to ending it, the worse it seems to become. Partially, this crash and burn ending is fun to watch knowing it’ll all be over soon. And we’re long past the point of genuinely enjoying the writing on this show. However, just when you think you can enjoy the fun bad D&D come in with dangerously bad insinuations and frustrating reversals of what little character arcs are left. Basically, whenever they decide to throw a middle finger at the books they claim to love, I don’t find it enjoyable anymore.

The episode opens with the north burning the dead from last weeks anti-climactic battle for the living and Jon delivers a speech about remembering those who died for them to keep living. It’s a small moment that at least acknowledged the heaviness of what they had all gone through, but it’s hard to feel when so many redshirt lives were haphazardly taken last week and so many primary characters were guarded with the most ridiculous plot armor.

Everyone feasts and drinks in celebration and reflection. It had some fun moments, including the overall jovial yet somber mood of surviving death, but also contained one of my lowlights for sure. Dany, Jon, and Sansa awkwardly sit at the head of the hall, not talking to one another, when Gendry gets up to look for Arya. Dany stops him, reminds him of all the horrible things his family did to hers, and then asks in the most meta moment of the season if he knows who is Lord of Storm’s End. She then asks the rest of the hall if anyone knows, a play-by-play of when this question was asked in the writer’s room. She legitimizes Gendry and names him Lord of Storm’s End, much to his shock. Not without a comment to Tyrion telling him how clever she is for giving a loyal ally lands in repayment for all he’s done. No one else would ever think of that.

Gendry eventually finds Arya, after she almost shoots him with an arrow (I guess this is how they foreplay?) and he proposes to her, asking her to be Lady of Storm’s End. She turns him down, calling back to season one (yes, again) saying that’s not me. I actually like this moment so much better than with Nymeria where it felt so out of context. In this case, it was actually pertaining to her be a lady of a house and her being so far gone from that. Gendry’s silly proposal was hilarious, and I think deep down there is some really nice character work still there in her turning it down, even if it was just an accident to get her to King’s Landing for future killing.

Everyone is commending Jon for all he’s done…I guess for yelling at a dragon? And Dany has her jealousy face on. They talk about how crazy he is for riding on a dragon and how that’s the kind of person who you can call ‘king’. It’s so badly written, and if Dany had not also had such a lack of action last episode, would actually make me intently sympathetic for her. Hearing a man be lauded for the things you have done first as everyone ignores you is a shitty feeling I think we all know, but Dany did next to nothing last week so all I can think of is why Arya is not the only one being celebrated at this feast and named Queen.

Tyrion, Jaime, Pod, and Brienne play a drinking game. It’s all fun and games until Brienne guesses that Tyrion was married before Sansa, and Jaime jokes about the entire Tysha situation. I thought I had gotten over the Tysha Drop but this just reinvigorated the anger. It’s that middle finger I was talking about. Having Tyrion and Jaime jovially joking about one of the most devastating reveals over some drinks just feels like laughing at the source material rather than referencing it for fun. The lightness and brevity also stop short when Tyrion randomly guesses Brienne is a virgin and forces her to admit it. Not mentioning that is the lead up for her and Jaime having sex in the next scene. It just all felt very fan-fiction-y in the worst ways.

While our favorites get together, so do a lot of other people. This is the night for sex. Pod walks away with two random women who threw themselves at him and Tormund finds one as well. Meanwhile, Sansa finally talks to the Hound, after several reunion episodes. It started off nice, there was a felt history between the two actors and yet a growing distance that only time can bring. However, it quickly nosedives when they have Sansa say that she’s glad she didn’t go with the Hound because her rape and abuse made her the stronger person she is today, no longer the “little bird”. The number of gross insinuations with this was beyond frustrating, not to mention a clear pat on the back for themselves thinking they made Sansa into a better and stronger character for doing what they did to her.

Dany finds Jon in his chamber, also possibly looking for sex, and they start to kiss but he pulls away, conflicted. She tells him she wishes she could forget what he told her and the two finally discuss what it means for their future. Jon insists to her that he is loyal to her, he bent the knee and doesn’t want the crown, but that’s not good enough. Dany tells Jon that the secret cannot get out or it will become bigger than him and not be his choice anymore. Clearly, Honest Jon’s not happy about keeping it a secret but wants to appease Dany. Cue me asking “why can’t they just get married?” for the first time this episode.

After regrouping in the morning, they decide their next plan of attack. Sansa tries to ask for some rest for their people who have just lost so much, but common folk and lives no longer matter to Dany or Jon and they vow to fight on. With Tyrion’s suggestion, they decide to starve out King’s Landing.

After the meeting, Sansa, Arya, and Bran confront Jon about Dany. They tell him that they don’t think she’s making the right decisions and struck by his siblings’ confidence in him, he tells them the truth about his identity, making them swear not to tell anyone. Or rather, he has Bran tell them. Off-screen.

Somewhere else randomly in the castle, Bronn finds Jaime and Tyrion drinking together. Yes, Bronn just randomly walks into a room they are both in out of nowhere. He tells them that Cersei hired him to kill them but he’s willing to wait out the fight, see where it’s swaying, and take the side of whoever is paying the highest price and alive. Let’s be real Bronn, you just love the Lannister boys too much to kill them. That’s what this arc really is.

They all leave for King’s Landing, sans Jaime, Brienne, and Sansa who stay to rule Winterfell. Arya leaves with the Hound, making their way to the capital together. Before Tyrion leaves, Sansa talks to him about her worries regarding Jon going south and the Dragon Queen. Tyrion tries to assuage her but she immediately breaks her promise to Jon and tells Tyrion about his true identity (all off-screen of course). According to D&D, this is a prime “Littlefinger move” from Sansa, knowing Tyrion would go to Varys and how Varys would react.

As Jon is leaving, he finds out Gilly is pregnant—I guess Sam’s lucky everyone forgot about Night’s Watch vows, and Jon also chooses to abandon Ghost forever. He literally tells Tormund to take him north with him, that he belongs there, and then doesn’t even say goodbye. Not only does this make Jon an asshole, but it is lazy beyond belief. It just seems like Jon ditched Ghost for a better pet. How much regret does he have now after this episode?

Tyrion and Varys discuss Dany on the boat ride over and Tyrion brings up the point we all have made a million times, the two should just marry. Varys says that would never be. One, a small thing called incest, but more importantly because Dany is apparently too strong and hotheaded for Jon…and thus the beginning of the Mad Dany seeding and the utter bullshit that is the erratic female who can’t handle ruling.

Their ships are attacked by Euron, who has a ton of scorpions (I guess that’s what Qyburn has been doing while they waited out the Night King battle). He immediately hits Rhaegal with his A+ aim and Dany mourns the loss of another dragon. She directs Drogon at him but pulls away last second as they all aim their scorpions towards her, proceeding to miss because apparently, it’s harder to hit a much closer target flying right at them.

The rest of the crew wash up on Dragonstone, recovering, and they find out that Cersei has Missandei. Yes, it happens that fast and abrupt. They grabbed her during their escape from the ships, but it begs the question again why everyone else was fine and didn’t see this happening at all. Also, why see her perspective in all of this, especially in an episode where she’s about to die? It’s not like we can give her a character arc or anything. She’s literally just there to spur Dany’s anger. In celebration, Cersei tells Euron about “their baby” and starts letting the common folk into the gates of the Red Keep for“protection”. Rather, a shield, hoping Dany won’t attack innocents.

Dany wants to go in with her dragons to take our Cersei but her menz talk down her unreasonableness and she decides to show the people she has at least the intention of mercy before burning down their city, showing them the real enemy. Varys and Tyrion have a conversation about Dany’s newfound Mad Queen tendencies and it’s another absolutely infuriating moment. The fact that they are so haphazardly building her up to be this unreasonable mad queen who needs to be advised and talked down by men is just a continuation of the absolutely false bullshit of their “women on top”.

Back in Winterfell, Jaime hears of what is going on in King’s Landing and decides to leave Brienne for Cersei and Benioff and Weiss confirm it. It’s an “addiction” for him, or at least that’s what they say in the Inside the Episode. The worst part is they had a reason enough without that, and without him necessarily going against his precocious Cersei: Dany is ready to burn down King’s Landing. The very act her father tried to do that earned Jaime his Kingslaying title, but no. For all those people that loved that knighting scene two episodes ago, it’s a massive fuck you. It’s almost hilarious how resistant they are of giving Jaime a proper character arc and actually letting him break away from Cersei.

Dany goes to treat with Cersei, but as Tyrion is trying to convince Cersei to stand down, somehow believing she will after ALL of this, she has Missandei executed. Before the Mountain carries out the sentence, Missandei says “Dracarys”, thus probably imploring Dany to go full Mad Queen and burn down the city for the death of her friend. I feel like I don’t even have to mention it because it’s so obvious, but to so lazily kill of your only female character of color to spur on your white female protagonist and male protagonist of color’s anger and the storyline is beyond gross. They didn’t even give Missandei a storyline, arc, or perspective in the episode that killed her.

Only two more weeks to go folks! Next week is sure to be a battle, so maybe that will be fun? Since it’ll be daylight?

Images courtesy of HBO


  • Jess

    Currently a film major with a focus in directing and a passion for all things writing, film, television and theater, oh my!

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