The Kingsguard is a prestigious order that has been on going for hundreds of years. Their service is invaluable and has undeniably changed the course of history in Westeros. Here are fifteen facts about them that you may or may not know, but will certainly enjoy.
Who Formed The Kingsguard?
The Kingsguard was formed during the reign of Aegon ‘The Conqueror’ Targaryen, the first Targaryen king to sit upon the Iron Throne. It was the suggestion of Visenya Targaryen, his sister and wife, that a group of royal bodyguards were formed after a Dornish assassin made an attempt on her and Aegon’s lives whilst they walked the streets of Kings Landing in 10 AC. She consciously modelled the vows of the Kingsguard on those of the Nights Watch, an ancient order hat was formed during the Age of Heroes.
The Seat of The Kingsguard
The White Sword Tower of the Red Keep, in Kings Landing, that sits upon Aegon’s Hill is where the Kingsguard resides. It is made up of four stories and is a slender building that overlooks the bay. The undercroft holds their armour ad their weapons. It has a meeting room for the Kingsguard in which a large table, carved from a weirwood tree into the shape of a shield, and seven chairs. The Lord commander has his apartments on the top floor and the other Kingsguard members have small living chambers on the second and third floors.
A Oath For Life
To become a member of the Kingsguard, the man must kneel or bend the knee before the king and swear his vows. Once they have been spoken, either the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard or the Hand of the King present him with his white cloak.
The Kingsguard are sworn for life, despite physical and mental injuries and illnesses or age, which is why the vows are not made so lightly. As their vows dictate, the Kingsguard members have to give up their lands, claims and titles – if they have them or are to inherit them. They can no longer have any rights to them, unless they are discharged from the service of the king.
The Various Roles Of The Kingsguard
As their vows state, the Kingsguard are not allowed to marry, father children or hold land. They are, however, allowed to retain and hold certain titles. The Lords Commander Criston Cole and Ryam Redwyne acted as Hand of the King to their respective kings, while Lewyn Martell Aemon Targaryen still used the style of ‘prince.’
Protect The Royal Family
The Kingsguard have to prioritize the royal family above anyone else. The wives, children, family – and sometimes even mistresses and bastard children – of the king have the protection of the Kingsguard.
This is why Arthur Dayne and the other Kingsguard members were at the Tower of Joy, protecting Lyanna Stark – the wife of Rhaegar Targaryen – and her newly born son Aegon Targaryen – whom we all know better as the norther bastard, Jon Snow.
Dismissal Of A Kingsguard
Only a king can dismiss a member of the Kingsguard; when Joffrey was king, he dismissed Ser Barristan Selmy because he was too ‘old’ and when Tommen was king he dismissed his biological father, believed to be uncle, Jaime Lannister in order to lead his army and regain Riverrun.
Transfer Of Tasks And Duties
If a member of the Kingsguard cannot perform any of their tasks or duties because of age or mental or physical health reasons, the other members of the Kingsguard take them up.
Sometimes the Kingsguard have to rely on other people in order to protect the king and royal family. Prince Joffrey has Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane as his sworn shield, Queen Cersei Lannister has Vylarr and his Red Cloaks to protect her.
The Lord Commander Of The Kingsguard
The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard has a seat on the Small Council by virtue of his office. It is his role on the council to give the king military advice concerning warfare. Other members of the Kingsguard must guard the Small Council, one must stand outside the door whilst the council is in session and another at the end of the bridge on Maegor’s Holdfast.
The Kingsguard’s Cloak And Sigil
Only a member of the Kingsguard can use an unblazoned, pure white shield. No one else in the Seven Kingdoms can. The Kingsguard have their own standard; it is a golden grown, encircled by seven silver swords on a white background.
The White Book
Created during the reign of Aegon I Targaryen, the White Book is an uninterrupted history of all of the members of the Kingsguard. Each member has a page which dictates who they are and what deeds they have done in service to their respective kings. It is keep in the White Tower and it is up to the Lord Commander to update the book.
In the entire history of the Kingsguard order, only one member of the prestigious order has ever turned on their king and killed him; Jaime Lannister. Though he had good reason to, as Aerys ‘The Mad King’ Targaryen was planning to burn the entire city of Kings Landing and its residents to the ground.
Dragons, white hair, fire, and blood. If House Targaryen doesn’t come to mind when you read those words, you’re not a true fan of one of the biggest Houses to almost disappear in Westeros.
House Targaryen has been diminished to nobody but just Daenerys (and now Jon Snow) and her two dragons at this point of the Game of Thrones universe (or at least in the TV series), but they were once a great force in Westeros and Essos. From fleeing their original home in Essos, to all the conquering, and to the almost-extinctions of their House and dragons, there’s a lot more to their history than the 7 seasons of the show has shown, and all of it comes from the books and a small series, The Tales of Dunk and Egg.
So grab some wine, huddle over near the fireplace, and read over a few facts that most fans don’t know about the Targaryen. As usual, huge spoiler warning for those who aren’t caught up at this point. There’s even a small theory for your consideration at the end.
The Targaryens were one of the many dragonlord families that lived in Old Valyria, the most dominant country in Essos. A place filled with many treasures like Valyrian Steel and magic items, its population was known for its silver-gold or platinum hair and purplish eyes.
This great civilization was completely destroyed by the Doom – a ginormous cataclysm caused by the eruption of a group of mountains named the Fourteen Flames that brought Earth-shattering earthquakes, multiple strong volcanic eruptions, lakes boiled and turned to acid, and dragonglass rained down from red clouds.
The air was filled with ashes and smoke, and it even killed dragons. This cataclysm broke the Valyrian peninsula into multiple tiny islands, creating the Smoking Sea, and the islands of Velos and Ghozai were completely destroyed by a tsunami.
While some septons fantasize that the cataclysm was punishment for the Valyrians “delving too deep into the seven hells”, it’s commonly believed to be just a series of natural eruptions that wiped everyone but a few of the Targaryens out. When Daenys Targaryen told her father, Lord Aenar Targaryen, about her prophetic dream of the destruction of Valyria, he wasted no time – he moved his family, five dragons, and all of their belongings to Dragonstone in Westeros.
When Valyria was destroyed twelve years later, the Targaryens were the only of the dragonrider families to survive.
Though the Targaryens are currently the only House to have dragons, they weren’t always the only ones. In Valyria, the Velaryon, Celtigar, and the Belaerys were some of the other noble houses who also had dragons.
The Valyrians were excellent dragon trainers and were able to rule for years due to their loyal pet-monsters. The dragons of Valyria had a really long life expectancy, with Balerion the Black Dread living for about 200 years.
It’s said that no dragonrider may ride two different dragons, but that doesn’t mean a single dragon can bond with multiple riders in its long lifetime.
There are only two dragons left (I mean, Viserion is still around but just on the wrong side of the fight now), and the majority of the ancient dragons died in battle and against each other. It’ll be very sad when the day comes and Drogon and Rhaegal both perish, before or after Daenerys. Here’s hope that there will be some more dragon eggs found throughout Westeros before that – maybe even in Winterfell’s crypts.
3) The Split of House Targaryen
House Targaryen had its own civil war, named the Dance of Dragons, when the successor of the throne could not be properly established after King Viserys I died.
Though the king had officially claimed Rhaenyra as his successor, his son Aegon II was outraged and, with the help of Viserys’ wife, betrayed his father’s wishes and crowned himself King. Once Rhaenyra found out her father had died and Aegon II had crowned himself king, she and her half-brother raged war on each other and split the Targaryens into two sides – those who supported Rhaenyra and those who supported Aegon.
Brother fought brother, dragons killed each other and their riders, and thousands died. It was a tragedy that spread itself in the Targaryen House, and claimed so many lives that the Targaryens never fully recovered from it.
It was a huge contributing factor to the decline of the dragons and the thinning out of the Targaryen line. In the end, Rhaenyra lost and Aegon fed her to his dragon while her son watched. Aegon II became seriously wounded and died a few months later, and Rhaenyra’s son, Aegon III, became king.
4) The Blackfyres
Blackfyre is the name of the Valyrian Steel sword that stays in the Targaryen family line. As with all ancestral items or family heirlooms, the sword was passed down from king to king, until King Aegon IV the Unworthy gave Blackfyre to his bastard son Daemon instead of lawful son, Daeron II.
Daemon then took the name Blackfyre and founded his own cadet branch of the House Targaryen – House Blackfyre – and became known as Daemon Blackfyre.
As King Aegon IV was dying, he decided it’d be a great idea to legitimize all of his bastard children. Daeron II Targaryen succeeded him in becoming King, and Daemon Blackfyre rose up a civil war in a rebellious move to take the throne from him.
Daemon was completely unsuccessful in getting folks to join his cause, though, because he did not have Blackfyre with him at that time – it was in the possession of Aegon “Bittersteel” Rivers, the creator of the Golden Company, far away.
No one knows what happened to the sword Blackfyre after his death, but legend says it was lost. Great going, guys.
5) King’s Landing
We all know King’s Landing as the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, where the King or Queen sits in the Iron Throne and rules and either goes mad or tries to appease the population. However, few of us know that it was actually founded by Aegon I Targaryen, when he departed Dragonstone and conquered kingdom after kingdom.
While many expected him to rule from Dragonstone, he kept an eye on the then-smaller town where he had first landed with his dragons and army. Appropriately named King’s Landing, Aegon made a fort for himself on the tallest hill there and named it Aegonfort, ruling in his seat and supervising the town’s growth.
It was a very strategic place for ruling – he could initiate trade and oversee who entered his kingdom through Blackwater Bay and the Narrow Sea, and King’s Landing flourished and overtook some of the then major cities in Westeros.
6) The Red Keep
The Red keep has an air of secrecy surrounding it, much like the Crypts of Winterfell. Aegon I Targaryen had built the Red keep in order to keep it as a reminder of the fires he had roasted his enemies in, so whenever King’s Landing looked up, they’d see what defiance could result in.
Aegon lived by a simple rule – fear and punishment keep people in line, and it was a lesson he taught his son Maegor “The Cruel”.
Maegor was so cruel and the Red Keep was such a prized possession of the Targaryens that when the builders finally finished building the Red Keep, Maegor had them all executed to keep it’s secrets safe. It’s also said that miles of hidden passageways run behind the walls and under the floors of the Red Keep.
Many like to fantasize that the Red Keep is red because of it’s soaked with the blood of Aegor and Maegor’s enemies. If you think that’s a little mysterious and weird, think back to when Varys said he knows the ways of the Red Keep that only the Targaryen know…
Dragonstone is the Ancestral home of House Targaryen, after Lord Aenar Targaryen took off from Valyria with his family and five dragons and arrived in Westeros, escaping the Doom of Valyria and ultimately the destruction of House Targaryen.
It’s a volcanic island a few hundred miles north east of King’s Landing, and where Aegon I Targaryen was expected by many to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Since Aegon decided to build up King’s Landing instead, Dragonstone was kept as the home of the King’s Heir, namely the Prince of Dragonstone.
Dragonstone is one of the strongest castles in the Seven Kingdoms, thank to to its advanced Valyrian design consisting of strong stonemasonry techniques now lost to the world. Its isolated island location only makes it harder for enemies to break through – a fleet of ships would be required just to transport troops and large siege weapons to its location, and even then they would be forced to make a risky attempt to bring their ships in while under fire from the castle’s own catapults.
Though in the books the castle is eventually taken at a huge cost, it’s a completely different story in the TV show – they even changed the look of it a little.
8) Aegon the Unlikely
Aegon V Targaryen, or either Aegon “The Unlikely” or Egg informally, was the fourth son of a fourth son. He was a long-shot for the throne, but everything that needed to happen happened in the most unlikely, luck-of-the-draw, and amazing sub-plot in the Game of Thrones universe.
The series, A Tale of Dunk and Egg, is excellently written by George R. R. Martin, detailing how a young boy and a hedge knight become King of the Seven Kingdoms and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
There are quite a few references to these two iconic figures in the world, as Aegon was the younger brother of Aemon Targaryen of the Night’s Watch. We also see Jamie thumbing through the White Book and reading the accolades of Sir Duncan “The Tall.”
Aegon had become the squire of hedge knight Sir Duncan “The Tall” when he was very young, and the two of them go on adventures together,. Aegon, while incognito and not revealing who he really is, experiences the kingdom and hears complaints and sees struggles of the ordinary folk who don’t live in a castle or have riches to their names.
It’s a bittersweet knowledge that plays a part on how he tries to rule when he does become King. The series are currently unfinished, but are an amazing read.
Young Griff is only mentioned in the books, so this is a special spoiler alert for those who haven’t caught up with the books or wish to read them to find out. Before Tyrion is captured by Jorah Mormont, he is on a ship bound for Volantis with Illyrio Mopatis, a sellsword named Griff and his son, Young Griff. Tyrion, in his naturally intelligent way, sees that Young Griff is extremely educated.
He matches this fact with Young Griff’s violet eyes and realizes a very important truth – Young Griff is Aegon Targaryen, the very same Aegon Targaryen who was supposedly killed by The Mountain during Robert’s Rebellion.
As it turns out, Varys switched Aegon with a commoner’s child and smuggled him away to Essos where he lived with Illyrio until Jon Connington (Rhaegar Targaryen’s good friend) adopted him under the sellsword identity, Griff. They dyed Aegon’s hair blue and taught him the way to rule a kingdom as a true Targaryen.
In the books, when we last see Aegon, he is heading to meet his aunt Daenerys to marry her and take back their kingdom. Since this will in no way happen in the TV shows, it makes us wonder just how ridiculously different the outcome of the TV show’s plot and the real book’s plot will be. *cues the shame bells*
10) Targaryen Blood in House Baratheon
Fun fact – did you know Robert Baratheon actually had a legit claim to the Iron Throne, and wasn’t an “usurper”? This isn’t really talked about in the show but, in the books, the origin of House Baratheon is told as is the reason why Robert had the right to be crowned King.
When Ned Stark refuses the Iron Throne, he says that the Baratheon house has an ancient relation to House Targaryen. Confused?
Orys Baratheon, the founder of House Baratheon, was one of Aegon I Targaryen’s greatest generals and his bastard brother. On top of that, Robert’s grandmother on his father’s side was Rhaelle Targaryen.
This does make his claim to the throne true, but does it also have anything to do with Melisandre’s mistake in thinking his brother, Stannis Baratheon, was The Prince That Was Promised? She could’ve just had the wrong strand of Targaryen after all…
11) Relationship with Dorne
When the word Dorne is mentioned, we automatically think one of two things – how beautiful Oberyn was and how annoyingly disappointed we all were with the screen adaptation of the Sand Snakes. But did you know Dorne was like the untamable step-child to the Targaryen?
Though Ellaria Sand showed an undisputed devotion to Daenerys’ cause (even if the fact she wanted revenge against Cersei played a part in it), Dorne wasn’t always standing behind the Targaryen for their trust fall. Dorne was impossible to conquer for about 200 years, fighting wars against the Targaryen and killing those put there to keep the peace.
Dorne finally joined the realm, began to have some influence that was not very liked by the other noble houses, and made marriage pacts with other houses, and finally became the youngest nation of the Seven Kingdoms and the most recent ally to the Targaryen. Dorne: home of the feisty.
In the books, the traditional look of a Targaryen is silver hair and blue eyes. We see that Daenerys does have the silver hair, but her eyes are very blue. Same with her annoying older brother, Viserys, silver hair but no blue eyes. It’s a little weird that the show abandoned the traditional look when they do include that Ned Stark only found out about Cersei and Jaime’s incest through how their three children looked – all blonde like the Lannisters, and none of them looked like Robert Baratheon.
With Jon Snow actually being Aegon Targaryen and not having any of the key looks of anyone in Houe Targaryen, maybe the show decided to dumb down the traditional looks and features so his identity could stay secret?
Another misconception is that all Targaryen aren’t supposed to be harmed by fire. That isn’t true and it’s also busted in the books. Jon Snow, now a confirmed Targaryen, was burned while slaying White Walkers. Viserys Targaryen, Deanerys’ brother, was killed by having melted gold dumped on his head.
In the books, there are tons of cases of Targaryens being burned to death by dragons or fire, and Daenerys’ hair burns away with her clothe when she births her dragons. The fact Daenerys survived that (and the burning down of the Dosh Khaleesi Temple in the books) is a miracle, or just luck. Or maybe she’s the ultimate Targaryen.
While his conquests and burning down of people (some innocent, some not so much) did attract attention, it also attracted enemies and backstabbers. Aegon created the Kingsguard, an elite group of military men sworn to protect him from anyone with their lives.
As we see Daenerys prepping to build her own Queensguard, we see the parallels between her and Aegon I – they were both almost assassinated by a merchant, and they both saw the need to have a constant batch of knights to protect them as their enemies began to move against them.
As the Throne passed down to other houses, the need for a Kingsguard remained, with Jaime serving as the head of the Kingsguard in the first season of the show. It seems that constant protection and insulation is a real need in Westeros if you want to sit on that damn Iron Throne.
14) Incest is… Best?
No, it clearly isn’t. Unless you’re a Targaryen.
For generations, uncles have been marrying their nieces, cousins have been marrying each other, fathers have been marrying daughters, and siblings have been marrying each other in House Targaryen. This was said to be needed to preserve their pure bloodline and the “magic” they have over dragons.
While this did preserve their traditional looks and kept the dragonrider lineage going, it also played a part in their reputation for being insane. It was said in the books that “when a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin”. This refers to their temperament due to their ongoing incest – they could go absolutely bonkers like about half of them did, or they could be normal.
With Jon Sow being confirmed as Aegon Targaryen and his romance blooming with his now-confirmed aunt, Daenerys, we can only wonder how they’ll react to the news of their accidental incest. In one hand, it’s normal for a Targaryen. In the other hand, that’s a little weird. Maybe not looking the same will help them ignore the fact they’re related? Maybe it’ll drive them apart? Or, maybe, we could see House Targaryen being built up again, their lineage restarting…
That is, if they both survive Cersei and the Night King.
15) The Theory of Tyrion
Tyrion Lannister, our favorite dwarf (after Gimli, of course), was hated by his father, Tyrion. He’s currently hated by his sister and he carried the weight of being the cause of their mother’s death while birthing him. But, what if there was more to this hate?
Tywin Lannister was good friends with Aerys II Targaryen, the “Mad King”, long before he became mad. They were such good pals that Aerys made him Hand of the King during his rule. Aerys had long been lustful towards Tywin’s wife, Joanna Lannister, and that bothered Tywin. It’s been documented by some characters that Aerys either raped Joanna or had an affair with her at Joanna and Tywin’s wedding, even pointed out by the fact Her Grace Rhaella Targayren abruptly released Joanna from her services once she found out about it.
There’s also a lot of evidence, both in the show and the books, that Aerys II had a falling out with Tywin during a Tourney when Cersei and Jaime were only 6 years old, and Tywin’s resignation request was declined by the King. Once they returned to King’s Landing, there are some more suggestions that the King was still after Joana, and it all seemed somewhat consensual.
However, if the rumors were true, if they had gotten together more than once, and if they did produce a child… It would mean that Tyrion could be a Targaryen, and the uncertainty of that could be the source of most of Tywin’s hate towards him. Tyrion is very different than his family, and he’s currently sided with Daenerys Targaryen against his own House. Not only that – the fact Aerys had problems conceiving children with his wife and mistresses could also point to him having a dwarf son with Joanna.
Tyrion has said it himself that his own father doesn’t know if he’s his own son, and Tywin Lannister claims he’s no son of his before Tyrion kills him. In the books, specifically in Tyrion I, he is described as having hair so blond is was almost white, one eye green and the other black – much like another known Targaryen bastard, Shiera Seastar. Tyrion was also very interested in dragons from an early age, as the books point out.
There are a lot of good evidences and subtle suggestions that this could very well be true, and it could be a part of how House Targaryen will (hopefully) rise from the ashes.
Ser Jorah Mormont got kicked out of Daenerys’ team of advisors, banished from her sight twice, brought Tyrion Lannister to her – who is now her most cherished advisor and Hand of the Queen, and cured himself of Greyscale after she commanded him to, and he is still not lucky in love. Don’t lie, your heart hurt for him when he realized Daenerys and Jon Snow had something brewing in between them. But Jorah is not a perfect man – he got himself exiled from Bear Island and brought dishonor to his House, and then broke Daenerys’ trust when she learned he was a spy for King Robert Baratheon, telling him of her every move until he fell in love with her. That’s a little creepy, especially since she’s 14 years old in the books, but he is no Littlefinger and he remains as one of the best fighters and an avid member of the Friendzone Club in the show. In his honor, here are some memes that are guaranteed to make you giggle.
Spoilers ahead, as per usual!
Captain Jorah of the boat Friendship, along with his Second in Command, Tyrion. Which failing love journey will they adventure to next?
Apply Milk Of The Poppy To The Burn Area…
Can Jorah have that Aloe Vera back? A new burn has appeared, and it’ll sting until season 8 comes out and we see what happens with this love triangle thing (or square, because Daario?).
Ride the Dragon
Eat your words, Daario. He rode that dragon, indeed.
We’ve all been there – chatrooms. Doesn’t seem like Jorah will have any luck in attracting a girl who is 35 years younger than him when she can have any gorgeous man she wants (ahem, Jon and Daario).
Here we have a Jorah Mormont in his natural habitat and pose, always on the lookout for Daenerys, and always hopeful that she will love him.
Be Strong, J Bear
Jorah, also known as J Bear, has an inner dialogue with himself. Stay strong, J Bear. You shall prevail!
… Get out of our sight, Jorah.
Look At Me
In today’s episode of “I Should Have Said Something”, we see Jorah struggling with his inability to state the obvious and tell Daenerys he loves her. It’s ok, J Bear. We’re pretty sure she knows.
Released From Friendzone (with a Twist)
Oops. I believe this is not the kind of release he wanted from the friendzone…
“Milady” – Hipster Jorah
Dear Milady, respect the Fedora. He’s clearly a sweet man who has much respect for you and has made his wrongs right. Don’t friendzone J Bear!
Fun fact – The Proclaimers had a huge hit back in Westeros. Jorah made sure to memorize the lyrics and do exactly what they say – walk (and saild) about a thousand miles back and forth to her.
Senpai Noticed Me
Remember that time in high school where your crush actually acknowledged your existence? Remember how special you felt? Love lifts us high where we belong, indeed.
This… is just brutal. Poor Jorah has to be reminded that the love of his life has slept with men after men, but never him. Don’t cry, J Bear.
The Burn Book
How cute, J Bear has a Burn Book. What a Mean Boy. This is seriously reminding me of high school.
Why Books When You Can Have a Horse?
Daenerys clearly accepted the wrong presents here – books are much better presents than a horse… if you live in a castle or somewhere where things are close by. Also, look at Drogo’s muscles. He could give her a banana peel and she’s still take it over anything Jorah gave her.
Get It Together, Jorah
Jorah has all the right intentions yet none of the right vocabulary for love. Get it together, J Bear!
Being sexy and a stoic killing machine definitely wins over having someone risk their life for you, right? I mean, Jorah did betray her trust in the beginning, but that was a long time ago! Give him a chance, Khaleesi!
Dany’s FB Moments
Oof. Does anyone have some Aloe Vera Jorah can borrow? Forget Greyscale, this burn will scar forever.
Although we have already composed a list of fifteen of the most satisfying moments in Game of Thrones, there are still so many more to talk about. With the passing of seven years, many satisfying moments have happened, so here are fifteen more moments that went and tingled down our spine in Game of Thrones.
Brienne’s Rescue Of Sansa & Being Knighted
Having just missed Sansa Stark’s signal, Brienne of the Tarth and her squire – Podrick Payne – went in search of her after she escaped her abusive husband, Ramsay Bolton.
Just as the Bolton men found Sansa and Theon Greyjoy – whom helped her escape from Winterfell in the last episode of season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones – and were about to take them back to Ramsay – who would surely punish them severally – Brienne charged in on horseback and took them out with Oathkeeper – the Valyrian steel sword that Jaime Lannister gave her to rescue the Stark girls with.
Sansa knighted Brienne, with the help of Theon Greyjoy, like her mother did before her and took her into her service as her sworn sword and shield.
Jeor Mormont Offers Longclaw To Jon Snow
Having saved Jeor Mormont from one of the undead, Jon Snow was gifted with Longclaw – the ancestral Valyrian steel sword of House Mormont. He reveals that he had a new pommel made in the form of a wolf rather than a bear, to honour House Stark – the House of Jon’s believed to be father, Ned Stark.
Jeor explained the history behind the sword and who it belonged to, and who is was meant for, before offering it to Jon. He tries to refuse, but Jeor tells him that he has earnt it by saving his life.
It emphasises the respect and gratitude that Jon earnt for his heroic act, and emphasises that he is a hero – possibly the overall hero of the entire series.
The Nights Watch Drops The Scythe
As the Wildlings were climbing the Wall, Ed gave the order for the Scythe to be dropped in order to prevent them from crossing the Wall and venturing south to raid and kill people.
The Nights Watch Brother followed his command and dropped it. The large, anchor looking metal weapon was dropped from the top of the Wall and left to swing across the side.
The large, metal weapon scraped into the Wall as it did so and took out all of the Wildlings. They screamed and cried out as it crushed them and knocked them from the Wall.
Daenerys Getting Laid On Her Own Terms
Having not had a romantic or sexual partner since season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen gave into her desires in season 4 when Daario Naharis – whom she had chemistry and tension with since meeting – came to her chambers.
After pouring herself a glass of red wine and sitting in her chair in a seductive manner, she told Daario to take off his clothes since that was what he did best.
Jon Snow & Sam Tarly Losing Their Virginity
Both of the brothers of the Nights Watch, were inexperienced with the opposite sex when they came to Castle Black and thought that their vows would prevent them from ever knowing the intimacies between men and women however they both met and fell in love with wilding woman from beyond the Wall.
Jon fell in love with Ygritte, a wildling warrior woman who was at first his prisoner and then captor. Having ran off into a cave, Ygritte began to strip off her clothes before Jon Snow and asked him to break his vows. Although at first reluctant, Jon Snow soon gave into his desires and lost his virginity to Ygritte.
Sam fell in love with Gilly, a wilding woman who was forced to bear the children of her father – Craster – who gave the male children to the White Walkers. He rescued her from that life and took her back to Castle Black. After saving her from two brothers who wanted to rape her, Sam lost his virginity to Gilly.
Grey Worm & Missandei Get It On
Grey Worm and Missandei have one of the most gentle and sweet relationships on the show. They consummated their tender relationship on the night before Grey Worm was set to take Casterly Rock from the Lannisters.
She goes to say goodbye to him and he explains how he feels for her, that she is his weakness because he is frightened of losing her and not seeing her again. She admits she feels the same and he, passionately yet gently, kisses her.
Following the romantic gesture, she begins to undress herself and then proceeds to undress Grey Worm but he is reluctant to let her see his naked form until she tells him she wants to see him. He allows her to and she smiles at him lovingly and begins to kiss him tenderly.
They – nervously and sweetly -consummated their relationship on what they believe could be their last night together.
Jorah Is Greeted Back By Daenerys
After having had an emotional goodbye with Jorah in which he confesses his love for her, Jorah returned to Daenerys after getting rid of the Greyscale that he contracted while sailing through old Valyria.
She and Jon Snow were standing atop the cliffs of Dragonstone when the Dothraki told her that a man claiming to be her friend was there. She turned to see Jorah behind them.
Daenerys looks ready to cry at the sight of her longest and most trusted friend. She informs Jon Snow of who he is and he tells Jorah that his father was a great man.
Jorah offers Daenerys his service, if she will have him. She then tells him it will be her honour and then embraces him warmly and affectionately.
Daario Kills The Champion Of Mereen
As Daenerys and her army approaches the gate of Meeren, the lords send out a single ride who Jorah explains is their champion. He further explains that they want her to put forth her own champion to fight him.
The champion of Meeren then proceeds to urinate over the floor and spouts out insults to Daenerys and her army. She and her closest allies discuss who to put forward as her champion. She struggles to choose because many of them mean a lot to her and are important to her cause.
Daario offers himself as the champion, saying he was the last to join her cause and wants to prove himself to her.
While the champion is charging towards Daario, he stands there facing him seemingly unperturbed. He draws his dagger and throws it at the horse, killing it instantly. The horses fall makes the dust swell up and the champion rises to kill Daario but he withdraws his sword and kills the champion.
The Meeren archers shot arrows at him but they all miss and he – to return the favour – urinates on them.
In the books however, it was Strong Belwas, a Book Character we’ll never see in the show, that kills the champion and defecates in his corpse rather than take a leak the way Daario did…
Daenerys Sails For Westeros
Having accumulated three dragons, an army of unsullied soldiers, a hoard of Dothraki, and the alliances of Houses Greyjoy, Martell and Tyrell – Daenerys Targaryen finally sailed for Westeros to conquer and claim the Iron Throne in the final episode of season six.
The scene began with the Greyjoy theme swelling in the background while Theon looked at the flickering Golden Kraken sail, he looks at his sister and Queen, and the pair look ahead. The camera then pans to Grey Worm on another ship with some of the unsullied. Then there is an overhead shot to emphasize the sheer amount of followers Daenerys has.
The Dothraki are shown on another ship, and then the dragons are shown gliding over the water. The camera turns – as the Targaryen theme takes over and swells – on the leading ship to reveal Daenerys and her small council; Tyrion Lannister, Missandei and Varys. Daenerys and Tyrion share a look before the three dragons fly over the ship and towards Westeros.
Bran & Rickon Were Never Killed By Theon
When Theon Greyjoy revealed the two burnt, hanging corpses in the courtyard of Winterfell, it was believed that Bran and Rickon Stark were dead. Maester Luwin wept, having loved the two youngest Starks deeply, and would have fallen to his knees had the Ironborn not held him up. The episode ended with Theon looking at the blacked bodies.
The next episode, while Maester Luwin is looking at the still hanging corpses solemnly, he sees Osha – the Wildling looking after the Stark boys – sneaking into the crypts of Winterfell with food. He follows her and she explains how they escaped and doubled back to Winterfell – where they would be least expected to be.
Jon Snow’s Parentage Is (FINALLY) Revealed
After years of speculation, and people trying to prove different theories true, it was finally revealed in the final episode of season six of HBO’s Game of Thrones that Jon Snow was the son of Lyanna Stark, the she wolf of Winterfell, and Rhaegar Targaryen, the dragon blooded prince.
The show used Bran’s visions as a way to flashback to Jon’s birth at the Tower of Joy, in the Red Mountains of Dorne. The younger Ned Stark knelt by his dying sister, who was weak and covered in her own blood in the birthing bed, while she begged him to protect her infant son from the wrath of Robert Baratheon.
Ned was then handed the infant from the Dornish maid and he looks down at the small bundle. The camera closed in on the dark eyed infant and then transitioned to a close up shot of the adult Jon Snow.
Littlefinger Gets Executed
Littlefinger spent the majority of season seven trying to turn the sisters, Sansa and Arya Stark, against each other the same way he once did with their mother – Catlyn Stark – and her own sister – Lysa Arryn.
At first, it was seemingly working in his favour, with Arya accusing Sansa of treachery against her family – which she believes is punishable by death – and Sansa telling Arya that she could not have endured all that she herself did.
In the final episode of season seven, Sansa called a meeting in the Great Hall of Winterfell and called Arya forward. They discussed the matters of loyalty, family and what one should do to someone who betrayed their family. The exchange seemed as though Sansa was accusing Arya of treachery, as Littlefinger had put it in her head that Arya wanted to kill her, but after Sansa stated what the accused was being trailed for – she turned to Littlefinger and asked him how he answered to the crimes he was accused of.
Shocked at being outsmarted, he denies the crimes but Bran and Arya prove that they know he is guilty. Having been denied protection from the knights of the Vale, he pleads with Sansa for his life. She makes it clear he is going to die and Arya slits his throat with the same dagger that he had given an assassin to kill Bran with many years prior.
Jon Snow & Sam Tarly Killing White Walkers
The two Nights Watch brothers – Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly – are two of the only known people who have managed to actually kill a White Walker.
Jon Snow, while trying to rescue the wildlings from Hardhome, faced the onslaught of the army of the dead as they began to savage the folk beyond the Wall. When he ran into the tent to retrieved the valuable dragonglass – that was known to kill the undead – he came face to face with one of the White Walkers. Their battled and it appeared that the Walker had the upper hand but Jon managed to slay it with Longclaw, his Valyrian steel sword that Jeor Mormont gifted him many years prior.
Sam Tarly, while trying to get Gilly and her newborn son back to safety, was forced to face a White Walker. Although terrified, he shouted at the Walker to stay back but it proceeded to attack and shattered Sam’s sword. While Sam was knocked on the ground, the White Walker to attack Gilly and her baby but Sam stabbed it in the back with a piece of dragonglass and it died on impact.
Jon Snow Kills Olly & His Murderers
When Olly was introduced, we felt bad for the poor kid: he had just witnessed his village and family get slaughtered by Wildlings. The Magnar of Thenns even taunted him about eating his parents when the slaughter would end.
Olly killing Ygritte during the Battle of Castle Black in the same manner she had killed his parents brought a conflicting sense of justice. He had avenged his parents’ death, but Jon also lost his first love; a sad moment in Game of Thrones.
But when Olly took part in the conspiracy to assassinate the Lord Commander over a difference in opinion, that’s when everything changed. Giving Jon the last Stab ala Brutus to Ceasar was the tipping point where Olly was now a hated character, even spawning an infamous sub reddit called “F***Olly”
After Jon’s ressurection, it made sense for him to execute Olly, Thorne and all the other conspirators, as is law in the Nights Watch. Olly didn’t even have the decency to explain to Jon, nor give any last words. Just when we thought Jon would reconsider executing them, as brothers of the Nights Watch are needed for the Great War ahead, that swing of the sword brought Justice and Punishment! That closeup of Dead Olly was weird as well….
Notable Entry: Robb Is Named King In The North
While we already had covered Jon Snow’s Coronation as King In The North in Part 1 of this article, nevertheless, we figured this one should be there as well.
The northern lords gathered together to decide which king they should declare for. Despite wanting to declare for Renly, Robb Stark reminded them that just as Bran could not surface him in the succession of Winterfell, Renly could not surpass Stannis.
They argued that he could not mean to join Joffrey for he executed Ned Stark – Robbs father – but Robb repeated that Renly could not surpass Stannis. Greatjon Umber tells them all that none of the southern kings mean anything to him for they do not know anything about the north. He points his sword to Robb and declares him King in the North.
The other northern lords and Theon Greyjoy follow suit, all declaring him King in the North in unison as Catelyn Stark looked up at her son while the House Stark theme swelled in the background.
The Resurrection Of Jon Snow
Having been murdered by his own men in a mutiny in the last episode of season 5, it was unknown for a year as to whether – the White Wolf – Jon Snow would return to HBO’s Game of Thrones.
After finding his dead body, Davos, Ed and several other loyal brothers carried his body inside and brought Melisandre to him. She washed his body, cut his hair and uttered a spell while gliding her hands over him. Thinking her magic had left her, she believed that she would be able to bring him back.
Melisandre left, followed by the brothers of the Nights Watch and eventually Davos. Ghost – Jon’s albino direwolf – however, perked up and looked at his owner’s body. Jon’s face came into view and in the last moment of the episode, he gasped and opened his eyes.
While we already looked into a Disney Version Of Game Of Thrones, we here have an excellent adaptation of our favorite women in Game of Thrones specifically re-imagined as Disney Princesses this time.
Artist Sam Tsui also known as DjeDjehuti on DeviantArt made those stunning looking renditions of Game of Thrones Characters as Classic Disney Princesses.
Someone needs to pitch this idea to Disney Studios with a complex change in violence, language, and sex scenes. Totally doable, right?
Ariel as Melisandre
Seeing our favorite Disney redhead (I still love you, Merida) dressed as The Red Witch has me singing “wish I could be part of your world”. What a great mashup.
Aurora as Cersei
Aurora is a much sweeter and pleasant princess than Cersei ever was, but you can’t deny how much she looks like her in this.
Belle and Margeary
Belle is a perfect Margaery – kind, sweet, beautiful, and graceful. Even though she gets her happily-ever-after with her handsome prince, we can all pretend Margaery lives on through her because of this picture.
Cinderella as Catelyn Stark
Our favorite mother is portrayed by our favorite step-daughter. Hard working, honest, and loyal, Catelyn and Cinderella do have somethings in common – except the hair color.
Elsa as Daeneys
The Mother of Dragons takes a cold turn in this picture as Elsa. Their elemental differences aside, they do look like they could be sisters from different misters. …Wait. Can we confirm that they are not related at all?! Come on, Disney…
Grandma Fa as Olenna Tyrell
My two favorite grandmas mashed up into one. My day, month, and year has been made. Their personalities are very similar and they’re both highly loveable. Oh, Lady Olenna… You are missed.
Jasmine as Ellaria Sand
Gorgeous, exotic, and partnered with beautiful men – Jasmine and Ellaria might as well be the same person, with one tiny exception – Jasmine is much less petty and vengeful than Ellaria was.
Lilo as Arya Stark
Lilo and Arya are both spunky, morbid, and dark little girls. One of Disney’s only young girl protagonists, these two are an excellent mashup as well.
Merida as Ygritte
Wild red curls, badass attitude, awesome accent, excellent aiming with a bow and arrow… Ygritte is Merida, and Merida is Ygritte.
Mulan as Brienne
Yes. Even though we don’t witness Brienne’s early years and struggles, she did go through a lot to become the respected knight that she is. She didn’t have to lie about being a woman like Mulan did, but these ladies show the world that women can do the same (if not more) as any man can. So much yes.
Rapunzel as Sansa Stark
Who better to portray Sansa, who’s been locked up in a tower time after time, oppressed by abusers and had a pretty tough life, than Rapunzel? She also knows how that feels, and has magnificent hair as well.
Snow White as Shae
The illustration is beautiful, but there’s a reason why I’m giggling a little at the artist’s choice. These two have nothing in common, except they both seem to really like having dwarves around… Ha.
Tiana as Meera Reed
You may be scratching your head at this one, but here’s what the artist himself had to say:”Meera is of course the spunky girl helping Bran and crew reach the three-eyed raven north of the wall — The Reeds are the rulers of the Cranogmen, who live in the swamps and marshes and are sometimes called ‘frog-eaters’ — so I figured this Tiana, a bayou beauty herself, would be a perfect fit!”
It’s no secret that George R. R. Martin is not only one to believe the good guys should always win because they’re “good”, but he is also a genius when it comes to circumstance and situations. Nothing in his stories ever happen for no reason, and both the show and the books are full of symbolism. While some moments go unnoticed, if you look back at some character deaths and choices, there’s a very pronounced connection between what they did and how they kick they bucket.
Some of these instances are shown only in the books, others in the deleted scenes feature of the Game of Thrones DVDs, and some are in plain sight – just waiting to be connected by the audience.
Here’s a few of those instances that jumped at us, in no special order. These are full of spoilers, so don’t read these until you’re all caught up!
The Perpetrators Of The Red Wedding Meet Identical Fates
The Red Wedding still haunts us to this day. How could it not? Nobody expects their guest right to be infringed upon and be murdered by those who posed as allies. We’re not the only ones haunted by that gruesome wedding, though, and it did curse its perpetrators – they each died in the ways they killed the Starks.
Take Roose Bolton, for example. He stabbed Robb Stark in the stomach, saying the Lannisters send their remarks. When his turn to die came around, his own bastard son Ramsay stabbed him in the stomach after Roose told him his little brother had been just born.
Walder Frey, head of House Frey and the host of this wedding, has Catelyn Stark’s throat sliced. In turn, Arya Stark avenged her mother and brother by slicing Walder’s throat.
Tywin Lannister was personally not present at the Red Wedding, but it had been the Lannisters who set in motion for the violence that took place. On his orders, Robb Stark is ultimately killed by being shot by a crossbow. Tywin also met his end by a crossbow, shot by his own son Tyrion. There’s a little more to that one, and we’ll come back to it in a bit.
Stannis, Renly Baratheon & Their Female Assistants
This one is a little harder to catch, but very satisfying when you do. Stannis Baratheon got his “assistant”, Melisandre, pregnant with a demon who then infiltrated his younger brother Renly’s encampment and killed him.
Long after Renly’s death, it was Brienne of Tarth, Renly’s own “assistant”, who kills Stannis off after confronting him about what he had done. The lesson here is to never send out your female assistant to do your dirty job. Looking at you, Stannis.
Ygritte, Olly & Some Arrows
Ygritte’s unfortunate and heartbreaking (not just for Jon, but to us too) death mirrors how she killed the father of little Olly, a farm boy from a village in The Gift (land controlled by the Night’s Watch). She shot him through the chest with an arrow during a Wildling attack on their village.
On the night the Wildlings attack Castle Black and fight the men of the Night’s Watch, Olly shoots an arrow straight through her chest, avenging his father and thinking he had protected Jon Snow from her. Poor misunderstood kid.
The Sand Snakes Each Die With Their Own Weapon Of Choice
Though this is one of the most obvious instances, we can’t help but point it out. The three Sand Snakes we see on the show, Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters, were killed in the same fashion as their preferred methods of combat and weapon choices.
Obara Sand, who used a spear to fight, was impaled by Euron Greyjoy with her own spear when he attacked their ship.
Nymeria Sand, who took to the whip, was strangled by Euron Greyoy in the same attack on their ship and with her own whip.
Tyene Sand, who shared her father’s knowledge on poisons, was taken by Euron Greyjoy and handed to Queen Cersei, along with her mother Ellaria Sand. She’s then poisoned by Cersei with the same poison she once used against Bronn in Dorne, the Long Farewell. It’s also the same poison her mother, Ellaria, used to kill Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella. How ironic.
Ned’s Ice Cold Head Rolling Irony
Our beloved Ned Stark was first introduced to us carrying out a beheading for a man accused of deserting the Night’s Watch, with his sword Ice in hand. Nine episodes later, his very last sighting is on the chopping block, beheaded by his own sword under orders of King Joffrey Baratheon.
It would’ve been even more ironic if his sentence had been carried out by the King himself, as per Ned’s own quote “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” But, we are talking about King Joffrey, and we all know he’s not an honorable man whatsoever. Rest easy, Ned.
Fall Of House Stark & Baratheon Foreshadowed In The Pilot
In season 1, we see this happening right in the beginning. In the first episode, when Ned is on his way back from beheading the Night’s Watch deserter, they come across a dead stag and a dead Direwolf. The stag killed the Direwolf, which symbolizes two things: King Robert inevitably lead Ned Stark to his death by summoning him to King’s Landing, and the fact that King Joffrey Baratheon is the one who orders Ned beheaded.
We do know Joffrey is really not a Baratheon (but an incest-produced child by Cersei and Jaime Lannister), but he still has the House name under his belt. What’s even more chilling is that the stag that killed the direwolf was killed by a mountain lion, once again foreshadowing the end of House Baratheon by the Lannister infiltration in their family and their takeover of he Seven Kingdoms.
It’s even weirder to think that, on the episode where Ned Stark find the direwolf pups, Theon Greyjoy holds a knife to the throat of one of the pups, symbolizing his sudden yet inevitable betrayal (if you get the non-Game of Thrones reference, high-five).
Arya, Polliver & Needle
Ever since Jon Snow gave Arya her thin, small blade which she adorably named Needle, she and her trusty sword have had many adventures in Westeros. One of the most memorable and ironic deaths delivered by Needle has been Polliver.
Polliver had murdered Lommy, an orphan from King’s Landing who had been captured with Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie by Lannister men. Polliver stole Needle from Arya, hence gaining a spot on her kill list, and taunted poor Lommy, who had injured his leg, before using Needle to stab him in the throat.
Arya eventually gets Needle back and stabs Polliver in the throat in the same way, but not before using the same taunting lines he used on Lommy: “Something wrong with your leg, boy? Can you walk? I’ve got to carry you. Funny little blade. Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.” Arya is such a badass.
“People die at their own dinner tables, they die in their beds, they die squatting over their chamberpots. Everyone dies, sooner or later.”
Littlefinger said this in season 4, and it has predicted 3 big deaths in the show: Walder Frey, Shae, and Tywin Lannister.
Sure, the “at their dinner table” could apply to Joffrey as well, but this was said after he was poisoned at his own wedding.
However, we do see Walder Frey die at his dinner table, while eating a pie made out of his sons and drinking wine. We see Shae the whore betray Tyrion at his trial and then be found and strangled by him on his own father’s bed. We then see Tywin Lannister sitting on the toilet, only to be fatally shot and killed by Tyrion.
While Littlefinger had nothing to do with those three deaths, it’s absolutely insane how accurate he was in his seemingly innocent predictions. Let’s never forget the look in his face when he realized he was on trial in Winterfell – he never predicted that one.
Lysa Arryn & The Moon Door
Lysa Arryn, Catelyn Stark’s crazy sister, lived in the Eyrie with her son Robin. Her favorite method of execution was to throw her victims through the Moon Door, an hatch in the High Hall which opens up and provides a hefty fall down to the floor of the Vale. Ironically enough, she is thrown door the Moon Door herself by her lover-turned-momentary-husband Petyr Baelish, or Littlefinger.
Tywin Lannister Foreshadows The Demise Of Houses Baratheon & Tully
This one is full of symbolism from Seasons 1 & 3. Specifically, we’re talking about Tywin Lannister skinning a stag while talking to Jaime Lannister in their encampment as they get ready to invade the Riverlands. That is huge symbolism for the fall of House Baratheon, even though the Lannisters don’t actually kill the Baratheons off with weapons. But they do in a way: the Lannisters take over the Seven Kingdoms, which was ruled by King Robert Baratheon. Though it’s not known to the public at first, Cersei Lannister’s children are not Robert’s children – they’re a product of incest between her and her twin brother Jaime. So, in a way, Tywin did kill the Baratheon House by marrying off his daughter to Robert and her disgusting acts of incest.
Also, in a deleted scene from Season 3, Tywin Lannister is seen fishing and then smashing the fish against a rock, then gutting them. The Sigil for House Tully, which Catelyn Stark came from before marrying Ned Stark, is a fish. What about it?
Remember the Red Wedding? She, her son Robb, and the majority of the attendees from both House Stark and Tully were murdered that night. Who was the mastermind behind this attack? Yep, good ol’ Tywin Lannister.
The King Eats, The Hand Takes The Shit
Jaime Lannister once said “The King eats, the Hand takes the shit”, regarding the relationship between Kings and Hand of the Kings. Isn’t it ironic that his son, King Joffrey Baratheon, literally died eating at his wedding after drinking poisoned wine and then his own father, Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King, died while taking a shit?
Couldn’t be more accurate in the literal and figurative meanings of this saying.
Jamie’s Guilt – “Cousincide”
The irony here is pretty grand. Jamie Lannister killed his own cousin, Alton Lannister, in order to escape his captivity by the Northern armies. Alton had been Jamie’s squire before, and they had what seemed like a nice little chat while being in the same cell. Alton asks Jamie if he ever thought of escaping, and Jamie says he has a plan.
Alton offers help and scoots closer in order to hear what he needs to do. Jamie tells him that the one thing he needs to do is to die, and so Jamie beats him to death, attracting the attention on the guards. Jamie then kills the guard and escapes.
Fast forward to season 4, when Jamie visits Tyrion in his cell right before the trial by combat fought by The Mountain and Oberyn Martell. Tyrion is running down the list of names for different kinds of familial killings and declares there’s a word for every kind. Jamie displays some guilt, unseen by Tyrion, and says “cousins”, to which Tyrion replies that he’s right – there’s no word for cousin-killing. Let’s call it cousincise in honor of Alton, poor kid.
Oberyn Martell Poisoned Tywin Lannister
This one is a mind-blowing theory that caters more to the books then the show: what if I told you that Oberyn Martell, the handsome Prince of Dorne, master of poisons actually poisoned Tywin Lannister prior to both their deaths?
In Tyrion’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey, Grand Maester Pycell shares that one of his poison vials was missing. It was “Widow’s blood, this one is called, for the color. A cruel poison. It shuts down a man’s bladder and bowels, until he drowns himself in his own poisons.” That wasn’t the poison that killed Joffrey, but someone other than Tyrion took it. Who did? Oberyn.
Go back to when Mace Tyrell, Tywin Lannister, and Oberyn are breaking bread at the solar. This was the perfect opportunity for Oberyn to poison Tywin with such an awful chemical.
This goes deeper in the book, with Oberyn stating he was thankful for Cersei blaming Tyrion for the poisoning, because he’d probable be the one accused if Tyrion wasn’t immediately blamed. “Who knows more of poisons than the Red Viper of Dorne, after all?” He then follows that with a very seemingly random line. “Your father may not live forever.”
Sure, nobody lives forever, but why would he bring Tywin’s death into this conversation?
The description of Tyrion’s thoughts after shooting his father in the toilet also point that something was foul – and not just the magnificent crap he was taking. “But the stink that filled the privy gave ample evidence that the oft-repeated jape about his father was just another lie. Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.”
In the books, the details regarding Tywin’s funeral after Tyrion shot him in the toilet only point more to this theory, with Tywin rotting visibly, his face greenish, eyes sunken, and a “foul white fluid was seeping through the joints of his splendid gold-and-crimson armor to pool beneath his body.”
With the Widow’s Blood vial missing, Oberyn present in King’s Landing and breaking bread with Tywin Lannister before Tyrion’s trial, and the descriptions of both Tywin’s death stinks and his deterioration at his funeral, there’s very little left to the imagination – though Tyrion ultimately delivered the blow that killed Tywin, Oberyn absolutely dealt him a slow and painful death ahead of time. Depending on how you look at it, Tyrion basically did his father a favor.
Karl Tanner, The Dirty Mouth Stabber
Karl Tanner, the murderous mutineer ringleader of the Night’s Watch, gets the same deathblow he dealt to Craster – a lovely stab through the mouth. His style of combat also includes fighting dirty, which he also gets dealt before his death.
Jon Snow and a handful of men from the Night’s Watch interrupt Karl, who is at this point despicably attempting to rape Meera after taking her, Jojen, and Bran captive, and a fight ensues. Karl fights dirty – spits in Jon’s face to distract him among other tactics – until one of Craster’s daughter-wives stabs him in the shoulder before he gets to finish Jon off.
Forgetting that you should never turn your back to your opponent in battle, he does just that to try and kill the girl, and Jon stabs him through the back of the head and out his mouth. Good riddance, creep.
Maester Aemon: The ONLY Character To Die Of Old Age In Game Of Thrones
This, ladies and gents, is the only man to have died on natural causes in this show (at least that we have seen). Yep. Our beloved Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch – Aemon Targaryen, great-uncle to Daenerys Targayen, unknowingly great-great-uncle of Jon Snow (ahem Aegon Targaryen) – dies at the lovely age of 102, being the longest living person in Westeros at the time, of natural causes and old age.
Though it was beyond sad to see him go, it also gives us hope that any one of our current favorite characters can also die of natural causes and the George R. R. Martin doesn’t just kill everyone off in gruesome ways. Unlikely, but hey, we can hope.
While the casting for the Game of Thrones show is nothing short of absolute perfection, it’s normal to sometimes wonder what our beloved characters would look and act like if they had been cast with different celebrities and actors. Whether you love these celebrities and or characters or hate them, whether they’re actors or politicians, whether they would’ve been perfect for the role or not, you can’t deny it’s fun imagining what could have been. We should also take this moment to thank our lucky stars that none of these were actually cast for our favorite roles, and give a round of applause for the HBO show’s casting team. Without any further ado, here are 17 funny instances where some of our favorite characters get a makeover, sometimes a sex change, and possibly a change in behaviors. There could be some spoilers ahead, as always, because the internet is dark and full of spoilers.
Jack Nicholson as Tyrion Lannister
Everyone’s favorite jokester. Am I talking about Tyrion or Jack Nicholson? Both! Though Peter Dinklage is superb at portraying Tyrion, one can only imagine the way Jack would carry the character to where he is by the end of season 7.
Rowan Atkinson as Daario Naharis
Daario would be a completely different person if Rowan Atkinson had been playing him. Imagine a Mr. Bean type character, complete with awkward moments and funny noises.
Nicolas Cage as Ned Stark
The internet’s favorite actor to poke fun at – Nicolas Cage. I can almost see him saying “Winter is Coming” National Treasure style.
Donald Trump as Tyrion Lannister
Whatever your political stance is or how much you may dislike or like Donald Trump, him as Tyrion has to make you giggle. He’d be a perfect candidate for playing him in the earlier seasons, before Tyrion became a more mature character.
Albert Einstein as The Mountain
Brains…. Both the now-undead Mountain and Albert Einstein love brains! The Mountain loves to smash them, and Einstein uses his for science. I don’t think he’d be great at being a bodyguard, though…
Hillary Clinton as Daenerys Targaryen
Love her or hate her, Hillary as Daenerys would have been an awesome performance. They both make incredibly unforgettable expressions and they’re both bossy, rule-worthy women.
Nicolas Cage as Sansa Stark, Laurence Fishburne Morpheus Sitting on the Iron Throne
Though Nicolas Cage would make an excellent Lady of the North, especially during her whiny years, I don’t think that’d be a good fit. However, I’d love to see Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) sitting on the Iron Throne, offering blue or red pills to Westeros. Surprise: you live in a made-up reality and you’re actually trying not to get killed by machines! What a twist.
Christopher Walken as the Night King
If Christopher Walken dances as the Night King in the same way he did for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice”, while brandishing his weapon of choice (icy spear for the win), I believe Westeros would bow down to him.
Scarlett Johansson and Jude Law as Daenerys Targaryen and Jorah Mormont
The beautiful Scarlett Johansson would probably smile more often than Daenerys does, and Jude Law would make an absolutely charming Jorah. Who knows, Dany and Jorah might have been a thing if he had been cast for it…
Meryl Streep and Woody Allen as Selyse and Stannis Baratheon
The Devil Wears…. Fiery guilt and braids? Meryl Streep probably wouldn’t have let Stannis burn their daughter alive. But, then again, Woody Allen’s Stannis would’ve probably married his own daughter. Or at least have adopted another one and then married her.
Sharon Stone on the Iron Throne
Ah. Here we have the famous Sharon Stone scene from Basic Instinct where she does her cop interrogation without wearing any undies. I can only imagine that if Cersei didn’t get things her way as she normally does, she’d probably resort to the same kind of… attention-grabbing efforts to get her point across.
Donald Trump as Daenerys Targaryen
Now, this… Would have been interesting to see. We know that Emilia Clarke has the best eyebrow expressions in the show, but Trump Daenerys would definitely have the best fishy lips, and the best army. Huge Unsullied army.
Clint Eastwood as Daenerys Targaryen
Badass Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino style, asking people “where are my dragons?!” would have been priceless. The amount of ass-kicking would also double what it currently is from Daenerys.
Will Smith and Hillary Clinton as Jon Snow
Two very different approaches to Jon Snow – Will Smith and Hillary Clinton. One is too cheery, while the other might go Prince of Belair on everyone.
Nicolas Cage as Jon Snow
Even if Nicolas Cage played Jon Snow, he’d still know nothing. Still better than envisioning Cage as Sansa Stark, though.
Rowan Atkinson as Daenerys Targaryen
Definitely not beautiful or graceful or fierce. Just funny sounds, faces, and disaster.
Donald Trump as Joffrey Baratheon
Joffrey Baratheon – the most hated King in the Seven Kingdoms. Fans hated him. Characters hated him. Nothing else needs to be said about having Trump play him instead of Jack Gleeson.
In a fantasy world, the appearance of characters is rather different to that of the modern, real world. Wigs, prosthetics, coloured contacts and more are used to transform the actors and actresses of HBO’s Game of Thrones into their onscreen counterparts. Here is a list of twenty actors and actresses who look completely different in real life to how their look on the silverscreen.
20 – Varys
Conleth Hill – the Irish actor who portrays the Spider, Varys – unlike a lot of actors on HBO’s Game of Thrones does not wear any facial prosthetics or a wig, but he does however don a bald head. Hill has thick grey hair and a moustache, whereas Varys is bald headed and clean shaven.
19 – The Hound
The Scottish actor Rory McCann who portrays The Hound – one of the most dangerous fighters in Westeros – wears a shoulder length wig, facial hair prosthetics and special effects facial make up in HBO’s Game of Thrones. The Hound’s onscreen appearance creates a stark contrast to McCann’s balding head, light stubble and unburnt face.
18 – Septa Unella
The English actress, Hannah Waddingham, who portrays Septa Unella – the woman who marched Cersei Lannister, naked, through the streets of Kings Landing while crying out ‘shame’ –
Starkly contrasts her onscreen character on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Waddingham had well styled, honey blonde hair, a made up face and is well dressed in figure fitting clothing whereas her on screen counterpart has her hair hidden beneath her headdress, is plain faced and wears loose fitting, conservative grey clothing.
17 – Leaf (Children of the Forest)
Kae Alexander, the Japanese actress who portrayed Leaf – the leader of the Children of the Forest – wore yellow contacts, full body prosthetics and a greyish green wig on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Alexander endured a process that latest between nine and ten hours to be transformed into Leaf. Her off screen appearance contrasts sharply with that of Leaf’s because she has long, black hair, tanned skin and wide dark eyes.
16 – Wun Wun
Welsh actor Ian Whyte, who portrayed Wun Wun – the wildling giant – wore a large foam body suit and silicone rubber prosthetic makeup on his head on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Whyte – while being extremely tall off screen at the height of seven foot, eleven inches – is slenderly built, has short dark brown hair and a slim face.
15 – Osha
Although the English actress, Natalie Tena, who portrays Osha – the wildling woman who cares and protects Bran and Rickon Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones – does not wear any facial prosthetics or even a wig, she does look entirely different from her on screen character. Tena often has well styled hair, a made-up face and a fun style of clothing whereas Osha has wild hair, a dirty face and ragged clothes.
14 – Yara Greyjoy
Unlike the actresses who portray the other queens in Westeros, Gemma Whelan – the English actress who portrays Yara Greyjoy, the believed to be rightful Queen of the Iron Islands – does not wear a wig on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Whelan has a lightly made up face, neatly styled hair and femininely cut clothing whereas Yara has a plain face, windswept hair and masculine style clothing
13 – The Waif
Faye Marsay – the English actress who portrays the Waif, an acolyte of the Faceless Man – wears her bobbed hair in a braided style, has a plain and sometimes dirty face, and wears loose fitting, plain coloured clothing. Marsay wears her hair sleeked back stylishly, her face well made up and wears modern, fitted clothing that suits her frame.
12 – The Night King
Richard Brake – the Welsh actor who portrays the Night King (In Season 5 before he was recast), the leader and creator of the undead army that has now entered Westeros – dons full bodied prospects and coloured contacts on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Brake has medium length, honey blonde hair, fair skin and a well defined face whereas his onscreen counterpart has icy, blue skin, hauntingly electric blue eyes and ice horns upon his bald head.
11 – Karsi
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen – the Danish actress who portrayed Karsi, a wildling woman who fought with Jon Snow at the Battle of Hardhome – dyed her hair and had a plain, dirty looking face on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Hjort Sørensen has honey blonde hair that is styled elegantly, a well made-up face and wears stylish clothes that suit her tall but slime frame unlike her on screen counterpart who has ragged, dark hair and wears animal pelts.
10 – Jaqen H’ghar
Tom Wlaschiha – the German actor who portrays Jaqen H’ghar, a Faceless Man who trains Arya Stark – wears a wig and unfitting, plain clothing on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Wlaschiha has short, blonde hair and wears fitted, very stylish clothing unlike his on-screen counterpart whom has shoulder length red hair with silvery white strips and wears poorly made, almost ragged looking clothes.
09 – Brienne Of Tarth
Gwendoline Christie – the English actress who portrays Brienne of Tarth, one of the greatest warrior in Westeros – wears her hair in an unkempt, messy style, has a plain face and dons the intricately designed armour that Jaime Lannister had made for her on screen character on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Christie styles her short blonde hair elegantly, has a well made-up face and wears sophisticated and well-fitting clothes that suit her tall frame.
08 – Hodor
Kristian Nairn – the Irish actor who portrays Hodor, the largely built, simpleminded servant of House Stark who cares for and protects Bran Stark – dons a beard and has his hair cut significantly short, a dyed pale blonde. Nairn has longer hair that’s often spiked up, has tattoos and wears simple, casual clothing. He also dons a facial star tattoo that was removed via makeup on set.
07 – Pyat Pree
Ian Hanmore – the Scottish actor who portrayed Pyat Pree, a warlock from Qarth and one of the Thirteen – wore dark blue facial makeup on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Hanmore has some light white hair, though is mostly bald, and dons a plain face whereas his on screen counterpart has sunken in eyes with thick black bags and blue lips.
06 – Shireen Baratheon
Kerry Ingram – the English actress who portrayed Shireen Baratheon, the Stag Princess – wore facial prosthetics and dyed her hair darker on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Ingram has honey blonde hair and wears a made-up face that makes her look older whereas Shireen has Greyscale covering one half of her face and has limp, dark brown hair.
05 – Gilly
Hannah Murray – the English actress who portrays Gilly, the wildling lover of Sam Tarly – like her fellow wildling women actresses dons a dirty, plain face and wild, unkempt hair that she dyed for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Murray has lighter hair that is styled in neat waves, an elegantly made up face and wears tightly fitted clothing whereas her onscreen counterpart wears animal pelts and then plain dresses.
04 – Viserys Targaryen
Much like Emilia Clarke, the English actress who portrays his on-screen sister, English actor Harry Lloyd wore a lace front wig for his short stint on HBO’s Game of Thrones as Viserys Targaryen, the exiled heir to the Iron Throne. Lloyd endured a two hour process every morning in order to transform into the unhinged prince whose shoulder length, silvery curls and pale eyebrows were the complete opposite to his own short styled, black hair and dark eyebrows.
03 – Robert Baratheon
Mark Addy – the English actor who portrayed Robert Baratheon, the Stag King – wore a wig and donned a wiry beard on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Addy has extremely short hair and is clean shaven, and is slightly slimmer in build that his onscreen counterpart.
02 – Euron Greyjoy
Pilou Asabaek – the Danish actor who portrays Euron Greyjoy, the captain of the Silence and king of the Iron Islands – wears facial prosthetics, a beard and black lined eyes on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Asabaek has a face lightly lined with stubble and does not have a scar beneath his left eye.
01 – Daenerys Targaryen
Emilia Clarke, the English actress who portrays the ‘Dragon Queen’ – Daenerys Targaryen – wears a waist length, lace front wig on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Clarke’s off-screen appearance – which consists of shoulder length, dark brown hair and dark brows – contrasts with the silvery hair and pale eyebrows of the Mother of Dragons
Have you ever wondered what the Game of Thrones gorgeous world and characters would look like if they had been reimagined by Walt Disney studios? I mean, they’d have to do some real adapting for it to be accepted by Disney and its audience in the first place, but that’s beside the point. The Dornish men and women, the Northeners and Southeners, Wildings, wights, dragons… How would they look in the cartoonish, perfect world of Disney? Fret not, my sweet summer child – artists Fernando Mendonça and Anderson Mahanski not only answered that question, they took us to the world of Westeros in the most innocent, playful, and beautiful way imaginable. Below you’ll find their art as well as other artists, so get your inner bubbly, innocent child ready for some amazing new Disney character we will probably never see on the big screen or Walt Disney World.
Melisandre & Her (Goofy) Shadow
Here we see a beautiful Melisandre (who reminds me of Megara in Hercules) walking her shadow baby, who had killed Renly Baratheon on the fateful night she gave birth to a demon. Totally not Disney appropriate, but you can’t deny she’d make an awesome villain in their universe.
Oberyn & The Mountain
This scene could play out as a silly game of “guess who’s behind you”, but we all know better.
Jon Snow & Ghost
A completely innocent moment between Jon Snow and his pet direwolf. One can only imagine what adventures they’d get themselves into. Also, poor squirrel.
Our favorite Spider and Spymaster (screw you, Littlefinger) looks up to something as he listens to one of his little birds. I wonder if they’ve been lying to him ever since Cersei took over and cleaned house in King’s Landing…
The Hound & Arya Stark
I can see this as the poster for the movie “F*ck the King – The Adventures of A Girl and The Hound”. Coming to an end in 2018, rater R for mature language, gory images, and lewd content. I’m actually sad it’s not a real thing.
Jaime Lannister & Brienne Of Tarth
Tale as old as time… Beauty and the Beast. Though Brienne is both beautiful and very muscly, calling her the Beast seems a little unfair. But let’s be honest, the early version of Jaime absolutely fits as a diva. Maybe he should’ve been drawn as Gaston instead?
Cersei would be a perfect Disney villain. Beautiful, smart, and gutsy, she puts the majority of witches and evil queens to shame with her evil plans and dirty work.
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to drink wine I go. He’d be the Disney character all children would love – funny, a little unlucky, intelligent, and cute. As long as they don’t include his sex addiction from earlier seasons, he’d be Disney appropriate.
Hodor & Bran Stark
Here we have what should have happened with these two. Hodor and his happy-go-lucky soul and demeanor, and Bran Stark as a curious, innocent child. Rest in peace, sweet giant.
The (Frozen) Night King
Let it go, let it go… The Night King is very Elsa-like in this picture. But it’s a good thing he doesn’t smile in the show, that’s a little creepy.
Daenerys, Drogon, Jon, & Ghost
This is not drawn by Fernando Mendonca, Anderson Mahanski, or Sam Tsui, but it’s a great illustration nonetheless. I do wonder who that little dragon is, and why Dany is giving Jon the side eye.
Daenerys & Drogon
Very Jasmine and Rajah-like, this illustration makes me want a Daenerys Disney movie right now. From her expression to the details on her clothes – they nailed it. Drogon, however, has eaten too many lambs.
Daenerys & Her 3 Dragons
Viserion, Rheagal, and Drogon remind us of the dragon the evil witch Milicent turns into in Sleeping Beauty. Daeneys is channeling her inner Elsa in this picture as well, and this could make for a more serious Disney movie.
The dust is still settling on the final season but new content for fans is coming, with the premiere of Game of Thrones: The Last Watch set for this coming Sunday. Directed by Jeanie Finlay, the documentary special chronicles the behind-the-scenes creation of GoT‘s final season, through the lens of the show creators, cast, and crew. Airing on Sunday, May 26 at 9pm EST, we can expect even more tears and laughs. Here’s a peek!
Welp. It’s over. Game of Thrones has come to an end, paving the way for whatever comes next. The perpetually monumental TV event in pop culture at last has come to a close, and all was well in the world, and everyone was happy with everything! The end. Thanks for reading….But seriously, you’ve already read what your cousins and friends thought on Facebook. You’ve already seen what your favorite celebrities have said on Twitter. But you came here to get to the bottom of what’s been bugging you all day: What did the critics think of Bronn’s new castle?
Here at Watchers on the Wall, we encourage you to ‘Always Support the Bottom.’ This extends to your support of our editor-in-chief Sue the Fury, in which her background knowledge of the books informs her perspective on the episode, so please go check it out when you get a chance! Once you’ve done that, you would do well to support our peerless Oz of Thrones’srecap in which his fearless determination to avoid reading the books has outlasted all others, continuing on for 8 full seasons. After this, you can check out what these Internet critics thought of “The Iron Throne”:
Alex McLevy, The A. V. Club – In which the lurid storytelling and expensive-looking action can’t compensate for what seems to be missing—namely, that elaborate narrative connective tissue lending emotional firmament to the strength of the separate installments.
Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post– In which Benioff and Weiss’s decision to make two truncated final seasons of the show may go down as one of the worst in recent television history.
Daniel D’Addario, Variety– In which the symmetry of Bran falling out of a window in the first episode and ascending to rule in the last picked up whatever poetry Peter Dinklage could lend it through narration, but falls flat given how meager a presence Bran has been for seasons now, delivering gnomic provocations but almost no plot action.
Hillary Kelly, Vulture– In which the show gave up on the magic of the books because its writers didn’t have the puzzle skills to really work through them.
Ian Thomas Malone, Personal Blog – In which the conclusion needed to honor GRRM’s original vision while still providing a sense of narrative closure for all the book’s deviations, and sort of succeeds on both fronts.
Kelly Lawler, USA Today – In which it didn’t gracefully swerve into another lane, it careened off a cliff, and looking back, the series will never be the same.
Laura Hudson, WIRED– In which it will always be replete with alternative interpretations and theories, debates about what it meant and revisionist histories that imagine it through the lens of whatever people want to see, through which it has truly come to embody stories—and histories—in all their slippery glory and their power to remake the past and shape the future.
Melanie McFarland, Salon – In which it is is an entirely predictable end to a season marred by rushed narratives and uncharacteristic U-turns in behavior that David Benioff and Dan Weiss explain away in their post-episode behind-the-scenes features.
Mike Bloom, Parade – In which the future of Westeros is reported in the Westeros World News.
Myles McNutt, The A.V. Club – In which we shouldn’t be surprised that the final season has been divisive, or that some people have gone so far as to risk the public embarrassment of signing an online petition to force HBO to change the show’s ending.
Ron Hogan, Den of Geek – In which rushed though the finale is, it is ultimately very satisfying, because everyone involved brought everything they had to every scene within the episode.
Sarah Hughes, The Guardian– In which it was a fantastic conclusion, melancholy and stirring in all the right places, to a show that has had to wrestle with the often unwieldy but always addictive nature of the story being told.
Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone – In which one of the series’ most unique and underrated performances reaches its zenith as Isaac Hempstead Wright accepts the crown.
David Benioff, George R. R. Martin and D.B Weiss at Season 8 NYC Premiere. Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO.
On his latest Not a Blog post, George R. R. Martin speaks out about his feelings for the final Game of Thrones episode, as well as what projects are in store for him and the showrunners now that it’s all over! How much will his written work differ from the version we’ve now seen on screen? Let’s find out!
On his blog, titled An Ending, GRRM reminisces about his initial meeting with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss over a decade ago. He remarks on how quickly that time has gone by and how little idea he had at the start that the show would become one of the most popular television series of all time.
He takes the time to thank some of the people involved in what he terms, “a wild ride, to say the least,” including the cast and crew, David and Dan, the team at HBO, headed up by Richard Plepler, and the wonderful Bryan Cogman, referring to him once again as “the third head of the dragon.”
GRRM goes on to discuss what future projects lie ahead for him and the showrunners. This of course includes Star Wars for David and Dan, as well as what appears to be confirmation by GRRM of Bryan Cogman working on Amazon’s new Tolkien series as a consultang. As well as finishing off the ASoIaF books, GRRM himself has eight(!) TV shows in development – five with HBO, two with Hulu, and one with the History Channel – numerous feature adaptations, and other new projects to keep him busy!
He also touches on what has been one of the most hotly contested topics of the final season: does the show have the same ending as the books? All he gives us is…“Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.”
Thanks for clearing that up George! Of course the books and the show are very different mediums, and GRRM does promise that in his novels we’ll find out what happens to book only characters and plot lines, as well as featuring “unicorns of a sort.” He finishes with his favourite reference to the number of children Scarlett O’Hara had (famously she has three in the novel Gone with the Wind and only one in the film adaptation) and suggests that once he’s written it, “Everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.” Sage advice!
One of Game of Thrones‘ greatest assets has always been its music. Luckily this year we don’t have to wait to hear it all over again, as WaterTower Music has released Game of Thrones (Music from the HBO Series) Season 8, the soundtrack from the final season, as of midnight last night. The album features music by the show’s Emmy Award-winning composer Ramin Djawadi and is available for sale digitally and for streaming today, with a Double CD scheduled for release scheduled for July 19 and a vinyl release later this year.
The release is loaded with 32 tracks, including the 9-minute opus “The Night King” featured in “The Long Night.” The album also includes an instrumental version of “Jenny of Oldstones”, the Westeros classic that tugged our heartstrings in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
In case you were hankering for yet another cover of “The Rains of Castamere”, you’re in luck! This one is from Djawadi and Serj Tankian, the lead vocalist of System of a Down.
“The music for season eight concludes the story arc of Game of Thrones,” explained Djawadi in a press release from HBO. “Though it’s tough to say goodbye to the series, I hope this soundtrack transports the listener back to the world of Westeros. It’s been such an honor to be a part of this incredible show for the past eight years.”
The track listing:
The Rains of Castamere performed by Ramin Djawadi & Serj Tankian
Arrival at Winterfell
Flight of Dragons
Heir to the Throne
Jenny of Oldstones
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
The Battle of Winterfell
The Dead are Already Here
Battle for the Skies
The Long Night Pt. 1
The Long Night Pt. 2
The Night King
Dead Before the Dawn
Outside the Gates
The Last War
Into the Fire
Stay a Thousand Years
Nothing Else Matters
Master of War
Be with Me
The Iron Throne
Break the Wheel
You Have a Choice
The White Book
The Last of the Starks
A Song of Ice and Fire
Announced a couple weeks ago, the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience returns this fall for a 20-city amphitheater tour, bringing the music of Ramin Djawadi (who will conducting and performing at select shows) to life at outdoor theaters across North America. Fans can relive the greatest musical pieces and footage from all eight seasons in an immersive outdoor concert experience. For a full list of tour dates and tickets, visit HERE!
Spoiler note:The discussion in this post is primarily for non-book readers (book fans can discuss the show-only here). We ask that all Sullied book-readers refrain from posting any mentions/references to the books in the comments here, veiled or otherwise. No spoilers, at all! This show is best viewed without knowing all the surprises beforehand or afterwards, so please be respectful of your fellow fans. Thank you!
Can you believe the final “Unsullied Recap of Epic Proportions” is here??
A man is weary from doing his best impression of a drunk twenty year-old at a music festival, hence the lateness of this recap. My apologies, kind ladies and sers. But a man has survived and is here now to melt your dreams, steal one of you kingdoms, and make you cry. And this is why I don’t get invited to parties…
Let’s jump right in and discuss as we go. A man has thoughts as I’m sure you do, so let us quickly discuss the outcomes as I’m sure it will be analyzed and over-analyzed and reanalyzed after this for years to come.
We open up with Tyrion and the crew surveying the damage in the wake of Drogon’s incredibly hot acid reflux (think burritos with ghost peppers hidden inside). Needless to say, it ain’t pretty… dead women and children; buildings turned to ash; all the Harrenhal damage shit we witnessed in Season 2, but in the capital and thousands more deceased.
Tyrion heads off alone to look for his fallen family (possibly searching for Cersei’s wig, but more likely Jaime’s hand). OK… that was uncalled for. Moving on, when he does finally find them, Tyrion’s heartache is gut-wrenching and Dinklage probably earns another Emmy nod in the process.
And the carnage isn’t over. It seems the only humane thing to do now is to kill more people. Jon walks up on the temperamental Worm about to execute more Lannister soldiers and voices his displeasure. But Worm DGAF.
At that point, I was about ready for the Worm to get hooked. Up until the last episode, I really liked his character. And yes, I recognize that he lost the love of his life to a tyrant. But still, killing doesn’t necessarily justify killing.
Where the hell did all of these soldiers come from?? Damn.
Dany arrives on Drogon while Jon watches and Arya the Assassin lurks in the Unsullied’s shadows. Would she take out the Night King AND the Dragon Queen?
Dany cheers on her thousands of soldiers and exclaims that they won’t be stopping with Westeros, but will go on to liberate the world. The image of Dany with dragon wings post-dismount was phenomenal.
After finding his dead brother and sister and upon hearing Dany’s plans for the rest of humanity, Tyrion tosses the Hand pin and admits to freeing his brother. And once again, he is off to the dungeon.
Jon doesn’t seem too keen on the idea of world domination either but is caught off-guard when Arya shows up. Arya explains that she was there to kill Cersei and reminds him that Dany will always see him as a threat.
Tyrion gets a visit from Jon in his dungeon-room-area and tries to convince Jon that Dany won’t change and that Varys was right all along. He tells Jon about all of the other executions in the past (khals, slavers, etc). At first, Jon isn’t quite buying it (lover denial I suppose). But slowly, the things that Tyrion says to him make sense and as torn as he is, he knows something must be done to avoid further disasters.
Finally, Dany enters what is left of the throne room and touches it as the ashes fall. Shout out again to Djawadi.. that was some beautiful haunting music as Dany approached. What an incredible journey it has been. Jon enters as she stands seemingly in awe of everything she has accomplished.
Jon embraces Dany as she continues to say the wrong things and confirming what Tyrion had told him earlier. They exchange “I Love You”s and passionately kiss and GOD this is CHEESY. The love music plays in the background. Is this Days of Our Knives? Guiding Flight? As the Westeros Turns? The Young and the Headless?
And then, the cheese gets cut. But who cut the cheese?
Jon did. And Dany was done.
I never once believed that Drogon was going to burn Jon’s cheese. After all, he had just let Jon enter and knows he is one of them. However, it was climactic nonetheless as the fire comes incredibly close to Jon but was destined for the throne itself. After all the death and destruction and chaos the throne had caused throughout history, it was time for it to be melted down.
Following the grilled cheese throne, Drogon scoops up Dany and flies away. Could Jon have just gotten away with not telling anyone he did it? Just run, dude. Go! Zig-zag dammit! But he couldn’t… because he is Jon. I don’t know why the Unsullied didn’t just kill him as soon as they found out, but they didn’t.
Regardless, what a great freaking scene.
Meeting of the Mind(less)
A few weeks later (verified by Tyrion), a meeting at the Dragon Pit takes place with all the remaining heavy hitters… Edmure (he IS alive!), Robin, Sam, Brienne, Yara, Gendry, Yohn Royce, Arya, Bran, Sansa, a rando from Dorne, and a few randos from elsewhere discussing the fate of Tyrion and what the hell to do next.
Why they gotta pick on Edmure? Poor Tobias has been brought in to be made fun of for years. After Sam suggests democracy (oh God, LOL hahaha… we know how well that turns out) Tyrion states the obvious… that the seven kingdoms need a king and recommends someone new: Bran the Broken.
Bran wasn’t surprised at all yet surprisingly accepts it with no reservations, other than he wants Tyrion as his hand.
Everyone is on board, right? Right. Everyone except his own damn sister. WHA???
No, because Sansa wants the North to be independent. Or is it because she wants to be a queen? How do you do that when your brother just got chosen to be King of the Seven Kingdoms? The only holdout is the place the new King himself is from? What if this choice had led to the rest of the Kingdoms saying, “well, if you don’t trust your own blood to rule, then why should we?”
If they had given the throne to Yara or Gendry or someone not related to her, I would be a lot more accepting of this. But they gave it to a Stark!
So… six kingdoms. Whatever. The good news is that the nobles will now select a new king instead of it coming by inheritance. That is called progress.
In the only option short of execution that wouldn’t start another war, Bran sends Jon back to the Wall which is where he wanted to be in the first place before all this shit storm started. You’ve got to think Bran had this planned knowing that Jon would likely be the happiest in the North anyway. Thanks, Brotha!
On his way to tell his family goodbye, the Volatile Worm gives Jon a final “eat shit” look and I’m praying for one last duel before the show ends. But nope… off to Naath for the Worm. For what reason, I have no idea.
Jon bids farewell to his family letting Sansa know that he doesn’t hold anything against her. Arya tells Jon that she is off to see the world! Bon voyage, MF’s! And Jon apologizes to Bran to which Bran replies, “you were exactly where you were supposed to be.”
Brienne is shown flipping through the Book of Brothers to fill up Jaime’s empty pages and remembering him for all the good that he did, ending it with, “Died protecting his Queen.”
The most current version of the small council meet for brothel talk and an armada rebuild, without the threat of war for once. Go to your nearest city council meeting and it was very similar to what you will hear there: “We need to work on infrastructure.” “Yes, and also adult gift stores.” “What? We don’t need those. Roads are more important.” “Yes… roads to get to the adult gift stores. Liquor stores as well. If you don’t build those, what’s the use of roads?”
Ozzette didn’t really think it fit into the episode. I kind of found it amusing.
Jon gets back to the Wall and finds Big Red waiting on him with Ghost! You better pet that good boy.
Arya sails off with a bad-ass wolf carved in the front of her boat. I’d like to formally petition for a spin-off entitled, Into the Starkness: The Adventures of Arya Stark and Whatever’s West of Westeros
And finally, Sansa is crowned Queen in the North. Long may she reign. I sincerely hope it makes her happy. But I still don’t fully get it.
Jon ventures beyond the Wall with his free folk (in what looked like a callback to the first episode) and seems at ease. In the end, at least for him, I guess that’s all we could have asked for. The rest of it? I guess that’s up for you as an individual to decide. Even though I haven’t looked, I’m sure the opinions are all over the board. But that’s what you get when so many are emotionally invested in something. And if you as a show runner or a writer or an author can accomplish that, that’s called success.
“And…. End Scene.”
Episode 806 Personal Awards
Favorite Action Sequence: Burning Down the Throne (Talking Heads version)
“I freed my brother. And you slaughtered a city.” -Tyrion
“You’ll always be a threat to her. And I know a killer when I see one.” -Arya
“Love is the death of duty.” Jon quoting Aemon
“Sometimes duty is the death of love.” -Tyrion
“You have to choose now.” -Tyrion
“We can’t hide behind small mercies.” -Dany
“They don’t get to choose.” -Dany
“There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story.” -Tyrion
“Ask me again in ten years.” -Tyrion speaking during the show but secretly referring to the sequel that HBO will greenlight in nine years.
The “Ow, That Shit Hurts Award” goes to: Dany’s stabbing, and probably her heartbreak.
Overall Thoughts: This season has been a little like going to an inconsistent restaurant that you really enjoy. Sometimes the food is phenomenal. Sometimes it’s still good but not AS good as the last time you came. If you found out that the restaurant was closing, you would want to go one more time and hope that the food was going to be just as good as the best meal you ever had there. However, it’s an unrealistic expectation. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be closing.
In this case, the Game of Thrones Cafe is closing for unspecified reasons although we can safely assume that proprietors were tired of the headache and the hired help were getting expensive. To expect that I was going to get the best meal ever served on the final evening when the chefs rushed the process of the recipe just because they were ready to go open another restaurant was setting myself up for a letdown. So I didn’t. I took what was served and I enjoyed it for what it was.
That said, I loved most of it, even if the meat was slightly undercooked. The season just needed more time to marinate. We all knew Sansa wanted to be Queen. But her decision after Bran was chosen just threw me for a loop. This is nitpicky. You most likely have an issue with something else. My appetizer was good. Yours was cold. My chicken was dry. Yours was juicy. We’re not going to all see it the same way. We’re not going to have the same experience even if we order the same dish. Everyone’s tastes are their own, and neither is right or wrong. They’re just yours.
Discussing those differences is what makes the world an interesting place and this episode and the season and the series will promote compelling conversation for years to come. Don’t go away. This show is over. But Watchers is just getting started.
A man’s Fandom Road will be up later this week, so tune in and see how this joint got started! Thank you all, sincerely, for coming here and supporting and being a part of this community. I love you all for it.
Please bookmark us and visit often, and may there always be peace in your realm. –Oz
**SPOILER NOTE: The Management of this fine site would like to remind you that book discussion is not allowed in Unsullied posts. This includes comments covered by code or otherwise. Personally, I appreciate feedback from Sullied and Unsullied alike, so long as they do not include any type of hinting or conversation related to the written verse. However, spoiler-coded comments do tend to lead to further Sullied conversation and for that reason, we ask that you please refrain from posting any book content whatsoever in Unsullied posts. Thank you for the coop. -Oz
Game of Thrones is over. As I write those words, I can’t quite believe it myself. The world of George R.R. Martin is very much ongoing, not only in his own books but in currently developing HBO projects. And yet, the hard truth remains: Game of Thrones is over.
This incredible show made TV history throughout its run, and of course it couldn’t be any other way for the finale, with these truly astounding viewership figures…
Game of Thrones went out with a bang, breaking the record yet again with 13.6 million viewers during HBO’s first US airing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With its astounding 13.6 million figure, “The Iron Throne” dethrones, or melts the throne of (if you want to get cheeky), the preceding episode “The Bells,” whose 12.48 million had in turn just narrowly beaten the 12.07 million of season seven finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf”. Just as it should, the series finale towers over both, as you can clearly see:
Accounting for overnight airings on HBO and streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now, it should go without saying that, with a mind-numbing 19.3 million viewers, “The Iron Throne” also breaks the 18.4 million record earned and lost in one week by “The Bells.” Five of the six episodes this season make up the top five most-watched episodes in Game of Thrones history, going by this expanded overnight and streaming metric.
In comparison with other HBO shows, none other has maintained this constant upwards trajectory, let alone reached its heights, as shown by this first airings chart helpfully provided by my esteemed predecessor as the “Watchers ratings guy”, Hear Marko Roar:
That’s it, folks. The end of an era not only of storytelling but of appointment television. Unfortunately for HBO, I can’t see any of their shows doing these numbers again any time soon. Nevertheless, rest assured we’ll be back with our usual ratings analyses when and if Jane Goldman’s Game of Thrones prequel pilot gets picked up to series.
So this isn’t, in fact, goodbye. I think I’ll go out with this instead: See ya!
Let’s take a break from Game of Thrones series finale madness for some very welcome Con of Thrones news! The con announced today that GoT star Joe Dempsie (Gendry Baratheon) will appear at Con of Thrones 2019 on Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14. This year the con is taking place in Nashville, Tenn., at the Music City Center July 12–14. Tickets are available for purchase at ConOfThrones.net/register.
Autograph and photograph experiences with Dempsie are available for purchase now!
Autographs are $65 and photographs are $85. Previously announced special guests for CoT 2019 include Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), HannahMurray (Gilly), Game of Thrones Concept Artist Kieran Belshaw (Season 5-8), fan favorite podcasts Binge Mode, History of Westeros and A Storm of Spoilers, and wolf ambassadors from Wildefell Wolves. More guests will be announced at a later date!
Watchers on the Wall is thrilled to once again be the programming partner for Con of Thrones. This year the con features over 150 hours of original programming, with in-depth discussions about the series, Special Guest Spotlight interviews, live recordings of your favorite podcasts, and so much more. We recently announced the complete panel schedule for your previewing pleasure- you can check it out at ConOfThrones.net/schedule.
Joe was an amazing guest last year. I’m so stoked to have him back this summer in Nashville, and I hope we see you all there too!
After eight seasons, Game of Thrones has finally come to an end. We may never see its like again. The series finale “The Iron Throne” showed us the corrupting influence of power and the hard choices that are sometimes necessary to protect the realm and the ones you love. Daenerys won, but lost everything. The Iron Throne is no more, and out of the ashes a new order arises. Let’s take one last deep dive together with our final round of episode interviews.
Entertainment Weekly brings us several interviews, starting with Emilia Clarke. She understandably has much to say about Daenerys’ fate, admitting she “completely flipped out” upon reading the final script because “it comes out of f—king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.”
Despite her shock at her character’s turn, Clarke does have sympathy for Daenerys and believes there was a reason for it. “She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn’t going to be something scuttling her greatest plans…There’s so much she’s taken on in her duty in life to rectify, so much she’s seen and witnessed and been through and lost and suffered and hurt. Suddenly these people are turning around and saying, ‘We don’t accept you.’” She adds, “One by one, you see all these strings being cut. And there’s just this last thread she’s holding onto: There’s this boy. And she thinks, ‘He loves me, and I think that’s enough.’ But is it enough? Is it? And it’s just that hope and wishing that finally there is someone who accepts her for everything she is and … he f—king doesn’t.”
Co-executive producer Bryan Cogman has mixed feelings as well.“I still don’t know how I feel about a lot of what happens this season and I helped write it. It’s emotionally very challenging. It’s designed to not feel good. That said, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.” He also contends Daenerys isn’t really a villain, but “a tragic figure in a very Shakespearean and Greek sense. When Jon asks Tyrion [in the finale] if they were wrong and Tyrion says, ‘Ask me again in 10 years,’ I think that’s valid.”
Kit Harington has a harsher view on Daenerys, saying that “if you track her story all the way back, she does some terrible things. She crucifies people. She burns people alive. This has been building. So, we have to say to the audience: ‘You’re in denial about this woman as well. You knew something was wrong. You’re culpable, you cheered her on.” He adds, “One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall. The justification is: Just because they’re women, why should they be the goodies?…It’s going to open up discussion but there’s nothing done in this show that isn’t truthful to the characters.”
Clarke also spoke to The New Yorker about Dany’s end, and confesses that as much as she might want her to triumph, “I’m not sure it could [end that way]. Even for a part that I’ve given so much to and I’ve felt so much for, and for a character that’s seen and lived through so much, I don’t know that there was any other way.” For her final moments, Clarke “wanted to show that softer side of Daenerys—or more textured…I wanted to show her as we saw her in the beginning: young, naïve, childlike, open, and full of love and hope. I wanted so much for that to be the last memory of her.”
For more from Clarke and other cast members on the dark Daenerys storyline, check out both articles here and here.
The surprise winner (I suppose) of the episode was Bran, who was elected King of Westeros – except for the once again independent North. Isaac Hempstead Wright tells EW, “When I got to the [Dragonpit scene] in the last episode and they’re like, ‘What about Bran?’ I had to get up and pace around the room. I genuinely thought it was a joke script and that [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] sent to everyone a script with their own character ends up on the Iron Throne. ‘Yeah, good one guys. Oh s—, it’s actually real?’” He adds, “I’m happy, though I kind of did want to die and get in one good death scene with an exploding head or something.”
Does Hempstead Wright believe Bran is up to the task of ruling? “I think he’ll be a really good king actually. Perhaps there will be something missing in having real emotive leader, which is a useful quality in a king or queen as well. At the same time, you can’t really argue with Bran. He’s like, ‘No, I know everything.’” All hail King Brandon Stark!
Hempstead Wright also wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter reflecting on the years he has spent on Game of Thrones. He recalls his last week on set, which was the council in the Dragonpit scene. “When it came to the very final shot, it all dawned on me. This was to be the death of my character; it would be the last time I would ever breathe life into him, the last time I would sit in my costume on a Game of Thrones set and think about what it feels like to be Bran…The camera was so far away you could hardly see it and we had a rare chance to act directly across from one another with no machinery or lighting in the way, as if we were on stage. It was a very special goodbye to my character.”
As for the end of the story, he is “thrilled with the way the show ends. At the beginning of the show, Bran is a disabled 10-year-old with slim chances of surviving in this harsh universe. He will never be the warrior who comes in on horseback and saves the day, but he is resilient…I find it an extraordinary character arc to see him go from a vulnerable character totally dependent on others to the one person who holds all the keys to understanding the world.” He adds, “I think Bran presents a valuable reminder to us all in this day and age where sensationalism is rife and anybody can voice an opinion to millions, to sit and consider things a little more carefully.”
The entire piece is a lovely look at Hempstead Wright’s Thrones journey – be sure to read it here.
Bran may be King of Westeros, but Sansa is now Queen in the North. Would she have preferred Sansa over Bran to rule it all? Sophie Turner tells EWthat she “wasn’t bummed at all” at the way it ended. “Because ever since the end of season 1, Sansa has not been about the capital or being queen. She doesn’t believe she could rule and doesn’t want to.” I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment given her proven ability to lead during the past two seasons, but I can’t blame her for wanting to stay away from King’s Landing.
Turner continues, “She knows her place is in the North and she can rule the people of the North and rule Winterfell. She’d probably be capable [of being queen of the Seven Kingdoms] with the help of her family and advisors like Tyrion. But she has no desire to be ruler of all of the Seven Kingdoms.” Given how tragically it has worked out for every monarch since Mad King Aerys, that’s probably the smarter option! Hopefully it will go better for Bran…
There are no “Inside the Episode” or “The Game Revealed” videos this week, but there is a video of the cast saying their farewells.
The Iron Throne is no more. Like, literally. Did you see that one coming? Suddenly those $30K replicas just became a lot more valuable. Oh, and the Game of Thrones finale? I have thoughts on that too!
Spoiler Note, one last time, just for the memories: This is our book reader’s recap, intended for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section may contain spoilers from the novels, whether or not that material has appeared on the show yet. Because no, we are not all Unsullied now. If you have not read the books yet, we encourage you to check out our non-book-reader recap, by Oz of Thrones, which will be posted tomorrow!
Everything Tyrion, Davos, Jon and the late Varys were afraid of, has come to pass. The Queen’s Hand surveys the wreckage of King’s Landing and it’s not pretty. Dead kids, hollow silence, and scorched survivors wandering in a daze that reminds me (probably purposefully) of images of the aftermath of nuclear bombings. This is what their queen has done, and now they have to reckon with their role in this regime.
Tyrion heads off to the Red Keep to hunt for his siblings, while Jon runs into Grey Worm cleaning out more Lannister survivors. Which brings up an interesting question, one that comes up time and time again on Game of Thrones: can we judge Westeros (and Essos) by our moral code? Can we call it a war crime to execute the Lannister prisoners? Jon Snow certainly views it as such but Grey Worm sees no issue with following orders when these “free men” made terrible choices, as soldiers. It’s punishment for their personal actions, choices made- but then Grey Worm may be using all of this as justification for his grief and rage.
In the cellars of the devastated Red Keep, Tyrion finds the remains of Jaime and Cersei buried under stone and embracing even in death. He weeps for them.
Dany’s banner makes her presence known; she has staked her claim on the city, though we’re all left wondering where she found the cloth for that giant sigil and was she just carrying that around this whole time? Probably- she’s extra like that.
Arya stalks Jon on his way to see Dany. Maybe she’s adding another queen to her list since she was cheated out of Cersei?
Jon approaches, and we find Dany with Drogon rising up behind her, giving her the illusion of dragonwings- an incredible shot. Teeming with confidence, and surrounded by her legions of riders and Unsullied, Daenerys cheers on her men in Dothraki and Valyrian. Love or hate the dark!Dany turn, you have to admire the power of Emilia Clarke’s performance in this scene.
But Tyrion isn’t quite feeling Dany’s speech about liberating the world, because freeing the world by removing choice and bringing people fire and blood doesn’t work out very well. Tyrion admits to freeing Jaime, but counters with an accusation of his own: Daenerys slaughtered a city. He quits the Hand gig. She doesn’t have much of a retort for that other than “Take him.” Once again Tyrion is out of work and headed for the slammer.
Jon does not approve, but is distracted by realizing his little sister has shown up. I appreciate how relatively unfazed he is by Arya saying she’s there to kill Cersei. She reminds him that Dany will always see Jon as a threat, knowing his secret heritage.
Imprisoned, Tyrion has found a situation he finally can’t talk his way out of. Or can he? Guilty Jon visits him in his cell. Tyrion lays out his own sins, before eventually getting around to discussing Dany’s- her habits of annihilating anyone in her path. Tyrion’s powerful skills of persuasion get inside Jon’s head slowly over a long conversation. He knows what has to be done; he’s convincing himself as much as he is convincing Jon.
It’s interesting that Tyrion touches upon points that have come up in fandom discussion often in the past week since the battle of King’s Landing- the burning of the khals, the burning of the slavers of Astapor, the crucifixion of Meereenese nobles-and how people can accept and even embrace these acts as good, so long as the violence is aimed at a target one approves of. It’s an uncomfortable moral issue. Daenerys feels completely justified, and so when she reaches King’s Landing, she feels secure enough to blast it into oblivion for the greater good. As Tyrion explains it, it doesn’t seem mad- it’s a chosen behavior, but still a destructive one.
Tyrion works his magic well though; in the end it comes back to Jon being a man of the Watch. He shields the realms of men, and right now Daenerys is making frightening plans. He still hesitates though because Jon is a good person, as Tyrion demonstrates with his moral exercise, with the firepower example in the scene. Although whether a good person could do what Jon does later? That’s another thought. It will probably haunt Jon for the rest of his life.
Daenerys discovers the throne room in the Red Keep, and it’s exactly as it was in her vision in the House of the Undying, with snow falling on the Iron Throne. Yes it was a literal vision, not a metaphor. She touches it, and it’s a lovely moment. She’s finally there!
But Jon’s arrived. She reminisces about Viserys and his weirdo stories, but Jon interrupts cute story time to discuss the war crimes. Buzzkill. Dany debates the point, and Jon asks her to forgive Tyrion, but she won’t relent.
Jon softens and is in her arms. Here’s where Daenerys really stumbles; Jon wants a reason to accept her vision, and forget all the bad things. But she says all the wrong things, fails to read the room and makes it clear she has no intention of letting anyone but her decide what is right and good. She’s decided she’ll be the judge, jury and executioner, essentially, to put it in our terms.
As they embrace, Jon slides a knife into her. It’s over quickly.
Jon holds her, crying. Drogon flies in- sensing the loss of her? He’s like a dog who has lost his human, nudging her, trying to wake her, and it breaks even my heart. Rearing back, Drogon revs up his flamers, and Jon stands still, accepting his fate.
But the fire isn’t for him. Drogon turns it toward the throne. Blast after blast hits the Iron Throne until it’s no more. After all this fuss- the chair is melted away. Good.
Finished with the throne, Drogon scoops up Dany’s body and flies away with it, over the sea, until they’re gone.
And now for something completely different: time has passed. Tyrion is brought into the Dragonpit by Grey Worm for a trial, and we learn Jon is imprisoned as well for the killing of Dany. Yara, Edmure Tully (yassss floppy trout!), Sansa, Arya, Bran, Samwell, Brienne, Gendry, Yohn Royce, Robin Arryn, and others represent the new leadership of Westeros.
They argue for a bit before Tyrion points out they need a king because duh, no one is in charge. This leads to a bit of funniness with Edmure (bless Tobias Menzies), then everyone laughing at the notion of democracy, and Tyrion taking on a new role: kingmaker. He presents a surprising candidate with a compelling speech: Bran the Broken.
Naturally Bran isn’t shocked, and it takes only a small amount of convincing to get everyone on board. Except for Sansa, because the North will not kneel. They’ll remain independent, thank you very much.
The group accepts a new notion of government: the nobles with gather to select their kings from now on, rather than following inheritance. That is how they’ll break the wheel. They’ll exercise choice. (Among the nobles, obviously the poor don’t get that).
All hail, Bran the Broken.
Oh, and Tyrion has to be the Hand of the King. He’ll never be free of this shit. HA HA.
Prison!Jon is looking mighty shaggy himself as he learns of his fate. King Bran has sentenced him to the Wall, so we’ve come full circle. They don’t exactly need a Night’s Watch anymore so this seems like a half-assed punishment but I can’t blame Bran for it.
Jon is still struggling with his actions, as he should be. Did he do the right thing? He doesn’t know. But he’s going to live, so he’ll have time to think about it. Heading to the docks, he comes across Grey Worm who gives him one last glower. We learn that that GW and his Unsullied are headed for the isle of Naath after all (I hear that Missandei/GW love theme playing, dammit. Quit playing games with my heart.)
Jon shares a goodbye with his family on the docks. Jon doesn’t begrudge Sansa for her choices. We learn that Arya isn’t going home; she’s headed west of Westeros, to learn what’s there. He apologizes to Bran for not being there, but the Three Eyed Raven knows Jon was exactly where he was supposed to be.
In the tower, clad in new Kingsguard armor, Brienne sits with the White Book. Flipping to the page for Jaime Lannister, she begins to thoroughly fill in the pages with all his brave deeds. Everything we’ve seen throughout the seasons. As she reaches the end, she pauses, and with tears in her eyes, notes, “Died protecting his Queen.”
Brienne closes the book on Jaime.
The new Small Council meets, and a new game begins. Tyrion straightens the chairs, juuuuuust right. Soon he’s joined by Bronn, Master of Coin and Lord of Highgarden. Davos, Master of Ships. Samwell, in maester’s robes, presents a book- Archmaester Ebrose (the fellow played by Jim Broadbent) has written A Song of Ice and Fire, with Sam’s help of course. “I don’t believe you’re mentioned,” Sam admits. Tyrion is not thrilled.
The players set to bickering over funds, brothels, ships and nonsense. It’s another day in Westeros. That is to say: life goes on.
Jon arrives at the Wall to find Tormund, a host of wildlings- and Ghost! (Yes, he gives him a patting. Are y’all happy now?)
Arya sets sail for her journey, as Sansa dresses for her big day. The final sequence is beautifully done, with the three of them- Jon, Sansa, and Arya- moving forward into their lives, accepting their destinies, at peace.
Arya sails with direwolf sails on her ship- her family goes with her wherever she goes. She will always be Arya of House Stark, she will never be No One.
Sansa is proclaimed Queen in the North, on a direwolf throne. She was born to wear a crown.
Jon ventures beyond the Wall, a wilding at heart, with his people.
The final sequence: A play on the opening sequence of the series, with the rangers venturing out beyond the Wall, we now have Jon doing so, with a much happier ending, I think. The music, the editing, the interplay of the three Starks’ endings- it all worked very well for me.
Drogon: It’s been a long time since Drogon showed this much personality and I wish they’d done it ages ago! I loved the bit with him sleeping in the snow, and his reaction to Dany’s death. He was a character, not just a weapon.
It’s over…. It’s going to take me a while to process it all. It was extremely intense, and I appreciate that they acknowledged the gravity of the actions for Tyrion and Jon but it also lent a heaviness to the episode.
A Song of Ice and Fire: We were expecting a book shout-out and there it was. I’m glad it wasn’t too hokey and sentimental, actually.
Costumes! They’re always great but golly darnit, the costumes were extra beautiful this week, with Sansa’s dresses, Gendry’s new duds, even the random lords at the Dragonpit looking so well dressed. I love the attention paid to detail.
The Iron Throne: I always thought they should get rid of the throne and embrace democracy but I didn’t know they’d literally torch the thing. DAMN!
Book reader verdict: Yes the book version will probably be better and more filled out. I doubt Grey Worm will be this present since he’s barely a character at all in the books, and that’s the tip of the iceberg. But I think Queen in the North, West of Westeros Explorer, and Back to the Wildlings Ways are pretty solid conclusions for the Stark kids, along with being King of the Whole Dang Enchilada.
Not bad for the kid who fell out the window. Congrats on the taking the prize, Bran. Not sure anyone would want it but it’s going to be a helluva ride. He can use “I’m going to go now” every time the Small Council meetings get boring.
And that’s a wrap, babes. Our watch has ended. Never fear- the Watchers on the Wall will continue as we always have, with the prequel series! But there will be another Long Night before that day arrives, and some of you may decide to step away.
It’s been a pleasure sharing this journey with you all, standing guard on the Wall.
Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Directors: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Runtime: 1 hr 19 minutes Content Warnings: TV-MA: Adult Content, Adult Language, Violence Video Preview:Season 8 Finale Trailer
What began over eight years ago ends tonight with the season and series finale. Join us now for live discussion, filled with hopes, predictions, and memories, in advance of tonight’s episode, with the Night’s Cast:
For those new to Watchers on the Wall or needing a refresher on the guidelines, here is our spoiler policy for open chat:
Please use spoiler coding when discussing ASOIAF/book or light filming spoilers- anymaterial that has not aired or been discussed on Game of Thrones, and no major spoilers. Instructions on coding/showing/hiding spoilers are found at the top of the Comments section. Please do not post ANY leak spoilers in this Chat post before it airs on HBO- the comment will be deleted. Leak discussion is only permitted in our Quarantine forum.
Spoiler coding is required in the Open Chat post prior to the episode official airing (9PM EDT tonight!). After the episode has aired, you don’t have to cover spoilers from the episode anymore! Thank you for being considerate.
There is this Game of Thrones theory floating around out there, and it goes a little something like this: “it’s easy for viewers to tell the demarcation point between where the HBO series stopped adapting the five published novels it’s based on and where it started to tell the remaining, unpublished story all by itself, left to the devices of its two showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss.” This transition is an easily identifiable one, the argument maintains, because the narrative has changed in some pretty dramatic and obvious ways, becoming a lot safer and, thus, more predictable, with the various shocks and twists of author George R.R. Martin’s portion largely falling by the wayside.
Interestingly enough, a close examination of this critique reveals something pretty extraordinary: it’s both spot-on and completely without merit in equal measure. And explaining why this is so may help to calm some viewers’ apparent anxiousness heading into the series finale while also demystifying Martin’s writing process —and, just maybe, help explain why it’s now been taking him nearly a decade per book.
The fake-out factor
Let’s start with a very basic premise: A Song of Ice and Fire, George Martin’s sprawling, several-thousand-page saga, has always been, at its very foundation, a traditional story. From its very beginnings, for example, it established a core of just a few central characters – who even go on to survive that inconvenient state of affairs called death – who have very closely hewed to the traditional narrative progression that Joseph Campbell famously dubbed the Hero’s Journey; Jon Snow’s arc, in particular, seems to have sprung directly from that roadmap, but it just as equally applies to the likes of Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and, perhaps most controversially now, Daenerys Targaryen.
What obscures this basic structure – besides the fact that Ice and Fire has yet to complete its planned seven-volume run, of course – is Martin’s exceptional ability to obscure it; a famous adage says that writing is like a giant magic trick, redirecting the audience’s attention over here while the set-up goes on over there – and George’s magic act is, in many ways, one of the most elaborate productions around. While Jon Snow rides off to join the Night’s Watch and begin a master course in leadership and self-sacrifice, for instance, Lord Eddard Stark is contending with the governing incompetence of King Robert Baratheon down south and the rising threat of Khal Drogo across the narrow sea; by the end of the first book, all three of these seemingly-major players are dead, and readers (and viewers!) are left with the feeling that the narrative groundwork underneath them has just buckled. In retrospect, the real character development is obvious and predictable, yet almost entirely hidden.
And this perfectly illustrates the first layer of this storytelling smokescreen: a pretty consistent level of fake-outs. Ned Stark’s beheading, the massacre that was the Red Wedding, the arrival of a prophesied savior in the form of King Stannis Baratheon, even the shifting identities of the man called Reek (in the books, first he was Ramsay’s indentured servant, then Ramsay himself in disguise, and then he was the forced identity of the former Theon Greyjoy) – they all are trotted out in a constant parade of reveals and revelations, keeping the reader guessing in the foreground while all the major work was going on in the background. In this way, audiences could be lulled into a false sense of shock and awe, that anyone could be killed off at any time for any reason (and in any manner) while, in reality, Jon could acquire so much “plot armor” that he could even be resurrected from death itself. It’s both simple and complex, pedestrian and poetic.
A peculiar narrative structure
Compounding all the fake-outs was another, more systemic wrinkle to George R.R. Martin’s storytelling modus operandi: each chapter would be told exclusively from the perspective of just one particular character. While this may sound straightforward on paper, it actually is employed to intricate dramatic effect – since the entire narrative playing field is severely restricted to a protagonist’s field of knowledge, there are many major plot developments or character beats that get lost in the cracks and which can only be surmised after the fact, like a detective trying to reconstruct a crime scene. The shifting loyalties of Roose Bolton, for example, fall squarely in this realm, meaning that an unobservant reader may find the northern lord’s infamous betrayal at the Red Wedding a whole book later somewhat abrupt; the disappearance of three Freys on the way to Ramsay Bolton’s wedding to a false Arya Stark (see? The fake-outs keep landing, even if readers happen to know this one while all the rest of the characters may not) and Wyman Manderly’s jubilant serving of three large meat pies at the reception are otherwise two completely unconnected events.
A corollary to this device is the introduction of previously-established “background” characters as POV protagonists in subsequent novels, a practice which helps to hide the importance of such figures as Jaime and Cersei Lannister to the overarching story (they aren’t added to the main roster until the third and fourth installments, respectively.) In this way, most readers of the first volume would never have jumped to the conclusion that Ser Jaime of the Kingsguard would be a pivotal mover and shaker in the saga’s endgame, never mind the fact that he’s actually one of the most nuanced and dynamic characters in the text.
Muddying the narrative waters even further is Martin’s regular deployment of the unreliable narrator, the fancy literary term for a protagonist who is either lying to the reader or who is mistaken in his conclusions or convictions. Thanks to this particular vein of obfuscation, entire historical developments are misunderstood and, therefore, extended to the wrong conclusions – the entirety of Robert’s Rebellion against the Targaryen Iron Throne was based on the lie that Lyanna Stark was forcibly taken from Robert Baratheon and then raped by Prince Rhaegar, which would ultimately unleash such further throes of misinformation as the War of the Five Kings, which saw the public operate under the false belief that Joffrey (and then Tommen) were Baratheon heirs.
It is this reading-between-the-lines approach to storytelling that has not only encouraged but probably necessitated the existence of companion ebooks and analytical websites to help audiences pick out overlooked throughlines and half-hidden thematic motifs – what may be the majestic hallmark of prose, but which had to be all but abandoned for the medium of television (all three of the Lannister progeny, for example, carry their own scenes and begin shuffling through their own character arcs right from the very first episode).
Bringing it all home to Game of Thrones
Given all this, when executive producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff sat down to do the impossible and adapt the seven-book Song of Ice and Fire to just 73 episodes of Game of Thrones, a number of key decisions had to be made on where to abridge and how to fill in the gaps – an obvious observation, admittedly, when it deals with a certain chapter being omitted or a certain sub-plot being condensed, but one that may not be quite as noticeable when it comes to such matters as fundamental story structure and narrative sleight of hand.
And no choice has been as consequential as limiting the size of the television series’s cast. Whereas the lineup of POV protagonists in books four and five explodes to something double or nearly triple what it was across the first three volumes, Benioff and Weiss made the decision to hold firm to just the two dozen or so characters that were largely introduced in the first two seasons of the show (a wise move, as Game of Thrones would otherwise be some five seasons longer); in this way, when a particular development befell a newly-inserted player in the novels, that plot beat had to be appropriated by a pre-existing television character, like when Lord Jon Connington secretly contracted greyscale and Ser Jorah Mormont became his HBO stand-in, or how Arya took over Lady Stoneheart’s vindictive crusade to execute all of House Frey.
This may have been born out of concerns of narrative efficiency, but it has also resulted in an unintended side effect: a number of the misdirections that George Martin continues to employ on the page in his (proposed) final two books are no longer available on the screen. As such, just as Jon Snow is being brought back from beyond the grave and Daenerys Targaryen is exerting control over nearly the entirety of the Dothraki horde, some of the final steps that begin to prepare both characters for the story’s endgame, there is no suddenly-revealed-to-still-be-alive Jon Connington and Aegon Targaryen landing their sellsword forces on Westeros – marking a Targaryen invasion several months, if not longer, before Dany would be able to do so. This, in turn, forestalls a number of military clashes and political cage-rattling for King Tommen and his royal mother, Cersei Lannister, and it doesn’t have the same effect on Lord Varys and Magister Illyrio Mopatis’s secret conspiracy to reinstate the Targaryen dynasty (which becomes terribly disrupted by the Dragon Queen’s sudden emergence as, perhaps, a worthier candidate for the Iron Throne). And, finally, all of this doesn’t even touch the possibility that little Aegon isn’t, perhaps, the real deal in the first place – meaning that even the fake-outs could themselves be the result of other fake-outs.
In terms of Game of Thrones, then, this necessarily results in an open, distraction-free field for Queen Dany to arrive in the Seven Kingdoms, fall in love with King Jon, and face off against Queen Cersei for control of the throne – a scenario which suddenly seems a lot more straightforward and, thus, predictable than anything that landed in the show’s first five seasons. But make no mistake about it: given the plethora of interviews that Martin, Benioff, and Weiss have all given over the course of the past several months, this fundamental state of affairs playing out in the source material seems to be all but guaranteed, meaning that Mhysa Dany’s controversial transformation —from aspirational monarch to someone the people may remember as the true daughter of the Mad King in spirit as well as blood— is just as inevitable on the page as it has been on the screen.
We just need to see how many more thousands of pages George R.R. Martin needs in order to ultimately get there.
Marc N. Kleinhenz is the editor-in-chief of Orlando Informer. He’s also written for 31 other sites (including Screen Rant, IGN, and Tower of the Hand, where he serves as consulting editor), has appeared on radio and television news as a pop-culture specialist, served as a consultant on the theming industry, and has even taught English in Japan.
My journey down the fandom road to the end of Game of Thrones is one that I can’t believe sometimes. Despite my focus on A Song of Ice and Fire, I first got into the TV show. At the time, I was working a terrible job and struggled daily for mental stimulation. Sometimes I would listen to podcasts or music, or browse the warcraftlore board on Reddit. For a lot of my twenties, I was a heavy World of Warcraft player and really enjoyed reading the lore behind the game and trying to guess where it was going next. Sometimes I enjoyed that even more than the game.
I struggled with loneliness and depression after flunking out of college and had become isolated. I took that terrible job to keep up with my student loans (on a degree I didn’t have, for the extra sting). I’d sit day in, day out, with headphones on passing the minutes until I could go home. One day in my boredom, I came across this hot new TV show being advertised on HBO: Game of Thrones. It looked to be a medieval-ish fantasy story. Sounded interesting, although I rarely enjoy live-action fantasy; too often the magic and fantasy aspects come off as corny or unbelievable, or trying way too hard to be Lord of the Rings.
I watched one episode, and something odd happened. Normally when I watch television, even new things, I can predict with fairly good accuracy what’s going to happen next. It’s basically ruined all mystery and detective shows for me all my life. Yet with that one episode, everything that happened surprised me. I struggled to understand what the point of the episode even was. It made me think, and wonder, and try mentally in a way I hadn’t in a long time. I was challenged by what I saw.
And so I went looking for more information. Reading wiki articles, watching YouTube videos explaining the basics, and watching a few more episodes. One night I started on one wiki article and then it was 3 AM; I had spent the whole night starting from Ned Stark, and ending up reading about House Dayne and their most famous son Arthur Dayne. It was like waking up out of a stupor. Eventually I found my way onto the asoiaf board on reddit and began reading these long essays and theories about the show. And wait, books? There were books too?
And what were these essays about? Characters I had never heard of, plots that went over my head, and endless pages of analysis and reading. It was a mental paradise compared to where I was previously. And it all snowballed from there. I began contributing my own essays, talking with fellow fans, learning more and more and discovering there was almost no end to what new information could be had. I was invited to become a moderator of that same asoiaf board, and found myself in an absolutely wonderful group of people who were all much smarter than me and eventually close friends.
My big break, if you can call it that, was like most things in life a stroke of luck. My cousin (a big ASOIAF and Game of Thrones fan with a memory that makes mine look shabby) and I were at his lake house up in Maine talking about theories that would one day become my essays, drinking beer and looking over the lake. On Twitter, I noticed that someone else in my timeline was also posting about being in Maine. That was our beloved editor-in-chief, Sue the Fury. Normally I’m very shy, even through social media, but the beer was talking for me and I started up a conversation with her about Maine and how great it was, and somehow I ended up writing an article for Watchers about Bran Stark’s issues with becoming a demi-god.
If I’ve learned anything though, I know nothing and we all should listen to Sue. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be posting long essays about direwolf magic powers on a WordPress somewhere no one was reading. I’ve been a big fan of YouTube for a long time, and wondered about how I could make my own, but wrote it off as a pipe dream. Sue told me to believe in myself, that people love my writing, and to give YouTube a try. So I started a YouTube channel.
Manu, Bookshelfstud, and JoeMagician at Con of Thrones 2018
And going to Con of Thrones- public speaking is terrifying, and nobody was going to know who I was. I’d just be some guy up on a panel or two trying not to freak out about everyone watching him stammer through obscure ASOIAF lore locked somewhere inside my head. Sue encouraged me to go, told me I’d have a wonderful time, and then put me on panels. And she was right- it was one of the best weekends of my life. I met so many friends that had previously only been usernames and Twitter pictures, discovered that not only did I like speaking about Game of Thrones, I was pretty good at it, and felt like I belonged somewhere. People even recognized me from Maester Monthly and my own YouTube videos. They were nodding along as I spoke up on the stages, and I got to see in person what it is like when you reach someone with a theory or analysis. One guy even asked to take a picture with me to show his wife that he had met me, which was maybe the most surreal thing in the world to me. So when Sue the Fury comes knocking for you to do things, say YES.
Through Game of Thrones, I found what my life had been missing: passion. For literature and analysis, finding myself in the stories of Aemon, Dunk, Brienne and Jon, connecting with other fans and discovering it doesn’t just have to be me on my own, reading articles late into the night. Trying new things, learning how to write and make my own YouTube videos and podcasts- I’ve found through this fandom and the wonderful fictional world of Westeros a thing that I can give back to others with, a hobby that actually makes my parents proud. Game of Thrones is ending, as all things must, but I don’t feel down or morose. There will be another new challenge after this, more skills and information to learn, and people to meet.
And The Winds of Winter is around the corner, right? Right?!
Three great men- a king, a priest, and a rich man. Between them stands a common sellsword. Each great man bids the sellsword kill the other two. Who lives? Who dies? Power resides where men believe it resides.
Seven years ago, after the release of the season 2 “Shadow” teaser featuring Varys and his infamous sellsword riddle, I shared this gut reaction on my personal blog: “FUCKING CONLETH HILL IS THE FUCKING MAN. GOD BLESS NORTHERN IRELAND FOR PRODUCING SUCH STELLAR ACTORS AND FUCKING BEAUTIFUL SCENERY.”
It’s crude and simple, but after seven years and the end of a beautiful run on Game of Thrones, I’m not sure I’d put it any other way: Conleth Hill is in fact the fucking man. And it’s time to pay tribute to the actor who brought one of my absolute favorite characters to life, doing him justice in a way I’d feared would never be possible.
Varys is an enigma in the books, which is why he’s so often at the center of ASOIAF fan theories, from origin speculation (secret Blackfyre!) to totally bonkerballs theories (Varys is a merman!). Game of Thrones offered an opportunity for an actor of Hill’s caliber to step up and flesh out a role that could’ve slid into an obnoxious caricature in the wrong hands. A eunuch spymaster who prefers silks and the occasional campy touch is an easy role to go over the top with, but that never happened here. Varys was hilarious without being ridiculous; he was the wit, not the joke. We can credit so much of that to Conleth Hill’s gifts, and the darkness he slips in at just the right time, to remind people of who they’re dealing with.
That particular gift was often on display in his scenes with Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister). The “big fish” scene (shown above) shows how the actor dips into menace and out again easily, as slippery as a fish. I think those scenes also convey that he’s a tremendously generous actor; you always get the sense that he’s sharing a scene, not hogging it, even when he’s brilliant.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite small things about Hill as well- his reactions. The Small Council scenes throughout the first four seasons were filled with them. And his reaction that time Ros tried to cop a feel and found nothing to cop? Perfection. It’s the little things, you know.
His good humor extended to real life as well, by all accounts. Cast members often cite Conleth Hill as the funniest Game of Thrones actor and he’s generally delightful in every interview he does, whether it’s hanging with Leslie Jones or weeping over shaving his head for the role while imitating Rory McCann.
But all good things must come to an end. Varys proved time and time and time again you don’t need balls to be brave, and Dany and Drogon delivered a fiery death to our Spider. He almost made it to the very end, so we’ll only have one episode without Varys and his snarky- or very frank- take on matters. I’ll greatly miss having Conleth Hill on my screen.
Then again, there’s always the prequel series! All Hill needs to do is grow back his hair and few would recognize him, apparently. I would have no problem with this. I told you- he’s the fucking man.
It is known: this season of Game of Thrones has been highly divisive, with Twitter ablaze, critics critical and YouTube comment threads unpleasant. The actions by Daenerys Targaryen in Sunday’s episode only added more fuel, ahem, to the fire.
But evidence shows that viewers already had mixed, even lukewarm, views about Dany. And the ongoing online argument, full as it is of heartfelt reactions, involves a fraction of the viewing audience. What does everyone else think? There’s no easy way to know for sure, but there’s a good chance they’re enjoying this final season more than highly engaged viewers.
Entering Season 8, Mixed Feelings on Dany
To go forward in analyzing perceptions of Dany, we must go back: one’s reaction to her torching King’s Landing depends partly on what one thought of her going in. You may recall last spring’s survey of 2,500-plus fans, discussed here and at Con of Thrones. In it, 73 percent of respondents saw Dany as “good,” as opposed to neutral or evil. That’s a good number, albeit lower than most other surviving characters that happened to be measured: Good-ness aside, respondents were split on liking Dany: She ranked as both the fourth-favorite AND fourth least-favorite character. Respondents were also increasingly viewing her violent actions as not justified, especially executing Mossador and the Tarlys.
The Dragon Queen also fell into the middle of the pack in a list of 29 characters for whom respondents wanted a “happy ending.” She was on par with the late Jaime (64 percent) and ahead of Theon (46 percent – sorry, Petra) and Cersei (5 percent). But she was well behind most of the 16 alive for the final episode:
Arguments about foreshadowing, abruptness and show quality aside, then, even if viewers largely didn’t expect Dany to incinerate half a city, they also don’t place her on the same plane as most of the show’s other lead characters. Which means that for many, Sunday’s episode may have been horrifying, but the arguable character assassination less of an issue.
Viewer Engagement and Dany’s Actions
Level of engagement or investment in GoT/ASOIAF appears to play a role in perceptions of Dany, but in an unusual way. For comparison, I sliced off the two ends of the “viewer engagement” spectrum:
-“Immersed” respondents, or those who read at least one ASOIAF book before seeing the show and spend a lot of time reading about or discussing GOT/ASOIAF (About 120 people)
– “Isolated” respondents, who haven’t touched the books and spend little to no time discussing the show. (About 185 people)
These are subsets of the “book first” and “show only” groups analyzed last year. The vast majority of respondents fall between Immersed and Isolated; those 2,200 people generally were skewed toward online activity, given the survey was distributed online. The same is almost certainly the case for most “snap poll” type surveys taken after episodes air.
We can break down the above “Percent Seeing Character as Good” chart into Isolated vs. Immersed respondents. Five of the surviving 11 characters had notable differences, Dany among them:
The fact that the Isolated respondents had Dany further up in the “good” rankings could mean her actions in “The Bells” were more stunning to Isolated viewers. But they also named her their favorite character less often than Immersed respondents (8% of the time vs. 13% of the time), so her destruction of King’s Landing may not have otherwise overly affected them.
Viewer Engagement and Opinion of Season 8
There’s an obvious larger question at play here: How do the views of those isolated from Thrones-talk online compare with those immersed in it?
I’d posit that the Isolated folks are more positive toward this season, being less engaged and less apt to spot apparent plot holes and the like. It’s a corollary of Oz’s recent speculation that it may be easier “for viewers-only to take and accept the show as-is” than book-readers.
Many aspects of Dany’s attack have been criticized online, as have other events in Season 8, such as how Rhaegal died and the Winterfell battle plan.
Of course, a number of plots in other seasons were also lambasted in reviews and on social media, for instance the “wight hunt” beyond the Wall. But last year’s survey found that Isolated fans had a far more positive opinion of those denigrated plotlines:
Yes, you’re reading that right: There’s a seemingly absurd 40-point difference regarding how Isolated vs. Immersed survey respondents felt about last season’s Littlefinger/Arya/Sansa plotline. Of the five plots listed, only Stannis/Shireen had equal footing across the groups — but Immersed respondents found it the most effective listed, while Isolated folks placed it fourth.
A similar, if less extreme pattern, holds with how Immersed and Isolated respondents ranked the first seven seasons from top to bottom.
Season 1 and Season 5 were best and worst for both groups, but the others are jumbled. The Isolated rankings are more tightly bunched, meaning their opinions were more all over the map while Immersed folks marched mostly in lockstep.
While those of us highly immersed in the show’s final season virtually (and literally) shout and debate after each episode (Full disclosure: I was initially appalled by much of “The Bells” but have since warmed to it), there’s millions of others who tune in Sunday night or later, maybe text a friend and then forget about Westeros for another week, or year – or after Sunday, even forever.
Evidence suggests the two groups have long had differing experiences with Game of Thrones. There’s little reason to think it’s any different with Season 8.
James, aka Chris Wright, is an occasional WOTW contributor who particularly likes analyzing how people consume media. He once wrote a book about this regarding Survivor. He works as an editor in Washington, D.C.
I’m here to tell you all a beautiful tale—the story of a wonderful man.
It’s about a man we all know, a man we admire and respect. This one’s not so much about the legendary Kingslayer, Ser Jaime Lannister, as it is the man who inhabited him.
This one’s for Nik.
First and foremost: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau isn’t just a great actor, he’s a great human being. He is kind, generous, and patient to a fault, especially when dealing with overzealous fanbois (trust me). He uses his influence to champion a number of great causes, including being a goodwill ambassador for the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), spearheading action towards combating climate change, and is rigorously active in many other charities, particularly ones located in his native Denmark and his wife’s native Greenland, though recently he traveled to Rwanda, assisting the U.N. there, and lending a hand with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
He is a vocal and demonstrative supporter of that aforementioned wife, the gorgeous and talented Sascha Nukâka Motzfeldt, and is an encouraging and empowering father to two energetic and lovely teenage daughters.
He is the sort of person we should all aspire to be. And that comes first, before I even attempt to encompass what he means to the Game of Thrones fandom.
When Nikolaj’s casting news broke, a flurry of investigation ensued. Who was this Danish actor? Was he good with a sword? Could he play someone with an English accent? Our second “gate” (following the infamous “Chairgate”) was “Nosegate,” in which various dubious fans declared that Nikolaj’s nose was either “too big” or “too broken” to ever play the dashing Ser Jaime. It seems absolutely insane now, right?
We scoured the internet for clips of Nik in other roles. We needed to know! Some people knew about him following his short-lived role in Blackhawk Down, but we also found some early stuff, like his role as Martin in Nightwatch, and his role as Martin (always Martin!) in Shadow of the Sword (The Headsman). We were quickly impressed.
Once the show began, any doubting fans quickly came around. As Ser Jaime Lannister, Nikolaj was absolutely singular, arguably the best person cast in one of the show’s most pivotal and controversial roles. Nikolaj inhabited the Kingslayer like a second skin, often wearing Jaime on his sleeve in interviews. He cared about this character, and it was obvious. As a self-described “romantic,” Nikolaj was of course conflicted by Jaime’s end. He wanted Jaime to be with Brienne as much as any fan, if not more.
But… we’ll get to that later. First, let me tell you about the times I got to interview him.
You see, as part of the team that brought you the first Game of Thrones fansite, founded by Phil “Winter” Bicking (Oz and Sue begat this site once its predecessor was sold away), I remember back when this fandom were the only people who believed this thing could last longer than a season, so we were given access and interviews that, these days, are only really gifted to the likes of Entertainment Weekly or Hollywood Reporter.
One of the very first interviews I conducted was an e-mail interview with Nikolaj. He was engaging, witty, and enthusiastically answered follow-up questions. Then, just before season three, I got to do a large-scale interview with the cast, of which Nik was the stand-out. Paired with Gwendoline, his on-and-off screen foil, the interview became a saucy game of cat-and-mouse, where myself and other ASoIaF fan-journalists (ASoIaFanalists?) attempted to try and discern whether or not Jaime loses a hand, and whether or not Jaime and Brienne share their notorious bathing scene onscreen.
Nik and Gwen played us like fiddles, giving just enough to make us hopeful but always stopping short of actually confirming anything. I can still remember Nikolaj leaning back in his chair, that Jaime Lannister half-smile playing at the edge of his lips, eyes twinkling with barely-suppressed mirth, while Gwendoline roared her Gwendoline laugh. They enjoyed the questions as much as we enjoyed being in the same room with them. Myself and IGN’s Terri Schwartz (a dyed-in-the-wool Braime) were writhing in our seats in overt displays of nerd agony, so purposefully torturous were the hints.
Later, as most of the journalists filtered out and the cast were treated to a catered lunch, I hung around, quite unwilling to leave short of them dragging me out bodily. Nik came up to me, wholly unprovoked, and engaged me in further conversation. He wanted to know how the book fans were receiving the series in contrast to non-book fans. I told him the truth: Non-book fans loved Game of Thrones for its own merits; book fans, however, could have varied responses, depending on what they felt was important… but most still loved it. He seemed quietly enthused by the reaction of the “Braime” factions, and I reiterated to him that I loved Jaime and Brienne’s complicated relationship, and (lowkey) pressed him for any small hint as to how that might play out.
Of course, onscreen he gave us everything we wanted. From “The things we do for love” to “Nothing else matters, only us.” His wrenching speech to Brienne in that stone bath is now the stuff of legend. “By what right does the wolf judge the lion?” And many, and more. His knighting of Brienne might have been his crowning achievement; leaving her likely his greatest shame. Her heartbroken cry ripped my soul.
And then came Jaime’s end—as controversial as anything he’d ever done. Did returning to Cersei’s side lessen his story? Had Jaime been cheated of a redemptive arc that both character and actor had earned? If you believe so, I urge you to reconsider, as I did.
Watch it again, and understand: Jaime Lannister was already redeemed. He did what he did to Brienne to protect her, else she might have followed him to King’s Landing. And he still loved her, you can’t tell me he didn’t; Jaime embraced Cersei with his arms, but Brienne was the last woman he kissed. When he returned to Cersei’s side, there in her moment of need, he returned as her protector—her brother, her twin. Jaime and Cersei went out of this world as they came into it: together. He did it knowing how the rest of the world might view him, because even he knew how it would appear. I can live with that. Westeros won’t likely know Jaime’s heroism. But we will.
And we will never see his like again.
Jaime’s road was long; Nikolaj was involved in this project for nearly ten years, and it will likely impact his career (and complicate his ability to have privacy outside his home) for a long time to come.
But what a ride, eh? And that’s the best anyone can ask of a television show. Jaime’s end was as controversial as his sister-screwing or Bran-shoving beginning, but would we have it any other way? If you’re sad, don’t be! This was a legendary character arc. I think it ended well.
If you must cry, cry for Jaime, not for his actor. Nik will be fine. Wonderful man, wonderful family, wonderful life!
The Kingslayer’s days may be ended (at least in television form), but Nikolaj is still busy. He’ll be starring in Domino with (of all people!) Carice van Houten, Suicide Tourist with Robert Aramayo, the Danish film Notat, and The Silencing with Annabelle Wallis. Not only that, but he’ll be starring in that Scottish play here in Los Angeles over the summer. Busy guy. Hear Him Roar!
This man is fedt. Thank you for everything, Nik!
You have our thanks—and our love. And I can’t wait to see you again in July at Con of Thrones!
(Not to turn this into an ad at the last second, but tickets for that event are HERE! I recommend the Kingslayer Pass.)
We teamed up with CafePressagain to celebrate (or is it mourn?) the end of the show this coming Sunday, with the latest in their Game of Thrones merchandise—T-Shirts, blankets, mugs, and even merch personalized by you based on official Game of Thrones designs. Below the cut, check out all the featured items and a Watchers on the Wall exclusive code to take 25% off of your CafePress Game of Thrones order!
As the first official fan-design partner for Game of Thrones, CafePress offers a huge assortment of fan-designed Game of Thrones merch including apparel, drinkware, bags, home goods, and more. Let us remind you of some highlights:
As a continuation of our previous Watchers on the Wall discount, you may yet again take 25% offyour CafePress order by entering our new code at checkout: GOTFINALE. This promotion ends on May 31, at 23:59 PST, so get your gear as soon as possible!
What is it about bad guys? I just love ’em, ya know? I waxed poetic about Ramsay for years, and have been on board with Euron the past couple, but all the while, there’s been a more silent baddie chewing his way through the scenery: [Formerly Maester] Qyburn. Often quiet, but ever deadly, Qyburn has been a lingering presence on Game of Thrones since season 3, and ever since he showed up, he has made his presence known. This of course would not be possible without the pitch perfect performance of the Maestro himself, Anton Lesser.
Through thick and thin, Qyburn has always been there to lend our characters a hand – quite literally, if you recall that he fitted Jaime with his golden hand.
Qyburn’s helpfulness is shown through Anton’s dedication to the craft of acting. He meticulously molded Qyburn into that quirky little side character who was always intriguing to watch. And I think one of the reasons he was so fun is that Anton took as much pleasure in Qyburn’s fascination with weird stuff as the character did. Remember how mirthful he was when he told Cersei that his dark magic would keep The Mountain strong, whatever else happens?
Qyburn: “You should know the process may change him…somewhat.” Cersei: “Will it weaken him?” Qyburn: “Oh no.”
Two words. “Oh no.” That’s all it takes. The gleeful way in which he says this is so memorable because Anton makes it so.
Through thick and thin, Qyburn was there for our main characters. After Cersei’s devastating walk of atonement shame, Qyburn was the first to put a cloak on her, showcasing that he was not without empathy. In doing so, the softer side of Qyburn was able to come to the forefront. I honestly believe that he truly loved his queen and that is all due to Anton’s softly spoken, but carefully crafted work.
And of course we can’t forget the comedy bits. Who remembers where they were during the summit at the dragonpit? *raises own hand* – I still remember the reaction from our viewing party when Qyburn went to pick up the wight’s hand and examine it – so much laughter. It was a truly meme-able moment:
Qyburn ultimately got killed by his own creation towards the end of 805’s ‘The Bells,’ in a death scene has gotta be a top 5 of all time, for me. It was quick, out of nowhere, and just perfectly fitting for the moment. He may be gone, but with Anton Lesser’s deft approach, the legacy of Qyburn will live on. RIP to Qyburn, and Bon Voyage to Anton Lesser. I wish him well in his next endeavors.
In the fictional history of Game of Thrones, King’s Landing has seen some rough times. During Robert’s Rebellion, the dynasty-breaking conflict that sowed seeds of the now-blooming discord, the capital city of the Targaryens was sacked by the troops of Tywin Lannister. Tywin had come to King’s Landing as a promised ally to King Aerys II and once in the walls, treacherously began to put the city to the torch and sword. During the War of the Five Kings, Stannis Baratheon threatened to bring similar bloodshed and violence into the city, as he pressed his claim against the illegitimate king Joffrey Baratheon. King’s Landing was spared that sacking by the timely arrival of Tywin Lannister and his allies- this time the rescuer and not the reaver.
In the recent episode “The Bells,” King’s Landing fared far worse than during The War of the Five Kings or Robert’s Rebellion. After the precise destruction of the city’s scorpion-artillery and the annihilation of Queen Cersei’s expensive sellsword armed forces, the Lannister soldiers within the walls threw down their swords in the face of northern and Unsullied infantry and Dothraki cavalry. And a dragon. Daenerys Targaryen chose to not honor the surrender of the city. And began to burn the capital.
The question at hand is why. Why not accept victory, rather than bring death to thousands of civilians?
One possible answer seems to be rooted in the madness of the Targaryens. Daenerys’s father was known as the Mad King, and had a history of at least planning city-wide destruction. That Dany, after betrayals and defiance by Cersei and the loss of her close associates, had reached some breaking point that broke during the battle.
This answer seems unsatisfying at best. Targaryen madness has certainly been talked about in the context of the show, and while Dany has taken extreme actions in the past, her seemingly embracing a consuming bloodlust to destroy seems unsupported.
Unless that’s not what happened. Daenerys might have been driven to attack the citizenry not from some emergent madness, but as a choice to achieve her goals.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to talk about madness; what it is, what it isn’t. Daenerys burning thousands of people isn’t something sane. It’s an atrocity. Much like Tywin’s sacking of King’s Landing was an atrocity, and if Stannis had gotten inside the city, the atrocity that could have happened.
Both Tywin and Stannis were rational, ruthless men. Their actions were not driven by madness, but by their ambition. Stannis desired the Throne; Tywin desired to maintain his power by committing to the victorious rebels at the very end of the rebellion.
That is the mindset that Daenerys might possess. And the show has set up supporting moments for that model of behavior from Dany more than the simple explanation that she has slipped into a murderous mania.
SEASON SEVEN – SHALL WE BEGIN
Although proponents of the Mad Queen explanation can find instances to support Dany’s perceived predisposition for madness throughout the series, going back to season one and Viserys’s erratic behavior, followed by Dany threatening to burn cities if she didn’t get her way in season two, and onwards as Daenerys dealt with increasingly difficult challenges, it’s only necessary to start early in season seven and see the groundwork for Dany making a “rational” choice to commit war crimes.
Yara Greyjoy: If you want the Iron Throne, take it. We have an army, a fleet, and three dragons. We should hit King’s Landing hard, now. With everything we’ve got. The city will fall within a day. Tyrion: If we turn the dragons loose, tens of thousands will die in the firestorms. Ellaria Sand: It’s called war. If you don’t have the stomach for it, scurry back into hiding.
After a brief digression involving Myrcella’s death and there not being any innocent Lannisters…
Daenerys: I am not here to be queen of the ashes. Olenna Tyrell: That’s very nice to hear. Of course I can’t remember a queen who was better loved than my granddaughter. The common people loved her. The nobles loved her. And what is left of her now? Ashes. Commoners, nobles; they’re just children really. They won’t obey you unless they fear you.
A plan to lay siege (but not assault) King’s Landing was laid out, to isolate Cersei and to capture Casterly Rock, to symbolically cut Cersei off from her House’s traditional seat of power. Once that was settled, Daenerys wished to reassure Olenna of their mutual goals.
Daenerys: I realize you are here out of hatred for Cersei, not love for me, but I swear to you: she will pay for what she has done. And we will bring peace back to Westeros. Olenna: Peace? Do you think that’s what we had under your father? Or his father? Or his? Peace never lasts, my dear. Will you take a bit of advice from an old woman? He’s a clever man, your Hand. I’ve known a great many clever men. I’ve outlived them all. You know why? I ignore them. The lords of Westeros are sheep – are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.
Love versus Fear is an element that reoccurs in “The Bells”, bringing the conversation with Olenna back into consideration.
QUEEN OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS
It’s important to recognize that Daenerys has ambition. When she met Tyrion, she made it clear that she wanted to sit the Iron Throne. Upon arriving at Dragonstone and meeting with King in the North Jon Snow, she asserted that she intended to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, with an emphasis on the North being one of those kingdoms.
On coming to the North to fight the threat of the White Walkers, who threatened all of the Seven Kingdoms – her perceived birthright – she encountered friction from Lady of Winterfell Sansa Stark, and the unresolved question of what arrangement would be made after the White Walkers were defeated. Now that the North had seceded, the northern lords were not content to bend the knee again to a southern ruler.
Daenerys has stated motivations other than simply ruling the Seven Kingdoms. She’s proud of freeing slaves in Essos (there are no slaves in Westeros for her to free) and she seemed to criticize the political system of Westeros in which she was currently out of favor. Although it’s possible that Daenerys entertained some idea of political reform, it seems clear with her focus on taking the Throne that any reforms would be initiated from the top, with her being able to control the process.
There was a problem with her plan to achieve her dream of being Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The lords of Westeros, except for allies who had specific grudges with the Lannister regime, were not receptive to restoring the Targaryen dynasty to power with foreign-raised, foreign-supported Dany as candidate. Randyll Tarly would rather burn alive than yield to Daenerys, preferring Cersei Lannister: the devil he knew versus the devil he didn’t know.
On choosing to head North and fight the White Walkers (and contend with Sansa) Daenerys found the northmen somewhat unwelcoming, despite her joining forces in their mutual defense. After the battle, she noticed that Jon was getting attention and credit. Tormund the Wildling was happy to toast her, but he was invested in bragging about Jon, highlighting things that Jon had done (which also applied to the under-heralded Dany.)
Which brings up the second problem with her dream of becoming Queen of Westeros. Jon Snow had the better claim.
Daenerys begged Jon not to tell anyone about his being the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen. Because she would lose her legitimacy. The lords of Westeros might be sheep, but they would prefer Jon as their shepherd over Dany.
It doesn’t matter if that was true or not (it does matter and it is true) – it matters that Daenerys believed it to be true. Jon’s true birth was a threat to her ambition, and she was invested in keeping that threat minimized.
IT’S NOT A SECRET – IT’S INFORMATION
If Varys did succeed in sending any ravens from Dragonstone reporting on the details of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s marriage and offspring, presumably to influential Houses that could spread the information, he may have killed Dany’s hopes to keep Jon’s superior claim a secret. As surely as Gregor Clegane killed Missandei.
With the northern host having marched into the Crownlands to join with Dany’s Unsullied and Dothraki, Daenerys had to consider the possibility of two battles. First, the military battle against Cersei – against her Iron Fleet and sellsword army. And should her coalition prevail, she’d have to consider the possibility of a political battle, if the lords of the land opted to choose between Aegon Targaryen’s solid claim, or her own.
In the history of Great Councils, where the claimants were ostensibly bound to the decision offered by lordly debate, males of lesser claims came out on top. Jon does not have the lesser claim.
Tyrion and Varys had already discussed a possible solution (before Varys decided to go all-in on telephone-tag treason and get roasted.) Tyrion suggested that Jon and Daenerys marry, which would solve the problem of competing claims, and the situation would go from being a potential civil war to a domestic dispute.
Varys didn’t seem keen on the idea, but Varys’s opinion was less important than Jon and Dany’s. Dany seemed game to continue a romantic relationship with Jon, but Jon was not.
It was never expressed explicitly by Jon, but he clearly was reluctant to have sex with his aunt. No amount of fan assertions that Ned Stark’s parents were cousins, or that Tywin Lannister married his cousin Joanna matter. Cousins marrying isn’t the same as an aunt and nephew marrying, and it matters what Jon Snow thinks about it. He’s just not into it, auntie.
So, without a clear pathway to marriage to bring her into the halls of power directly, Daenerys was looking to have her claim set aside. Even if Jon refused any offered crown, her claim would be considered illegitimate. Unless she had support. Unless they loved her.
Daenerys: Far more people in Westeros love you than love me. I don’t have love here. I only have fear. Jon: I love you. You will always be my queen.
Daenerys: Is that all I am to you? Your queen? Jon: Daenerys: Alright then. Let it be fear.
ASK NOT FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL. IT TOLLS FOR THEE
Daenerys had her battle plan set. She’d destroy the Iron Fleet, sweep the defenses on the Walls and open a breach for the coalition army (and rout the Golden Company and their lack of elephants.)
Tyrion hammered home that the city might turn away from Cersei and surrender. That the citizens would ring bells to signal their capitulation. Daenerys knew those details, but did not seem too invested in them. She agreed to Tyrion’s plan only reluctantly, after making it clear her preferred method of attack involved fire and blood.
As plans go, ones that are articulated usually go awry. But the Stark/Targaryen assault worked like a charm. And to Tyrion’s relief, the city surrendered. The bells rang and rang.
And for some long seconds, that seemed to be that. The day was won. A tremendous victory. And then it began to rain fire. And the victory became an atrocity.
As said before, Dany might have snapped, or went mad, or some other simple and uninteresting explanation. Or, the slaughter of innocents and commission of an unfathomable record-breaking atrocity served her ambitious goals.
The city surrendering would certainly get her revenge on Cersei, but it would not get Daenerys the Iron Throne. Not when heroic Aegon Targaryen had captured the city from the grip of the sept-bombing Queen Cersei. Jon Snow would be credited with this victory when the lords conspired against her to insure that their preferred claimant got the throne. The heroic Rhaegar’s son would be honored, instead of the Mad King’s daughter.
Marillion: My lord of Lannister! Might I entertain you while you eat? I can sing of the Lost Son of Rhaegar’s victory at King’s Landing. Tyrion Lannister: Have a care. I might provide some fact-checking notes.
She did not have their love. She likely would not get their love. She could only have their fear. And so she embraced fear entirely.
STANNIS AND RENLY
In the second season of Game of Thrones, two Baratheon brothers were in competition for which one of them would be able to take King’s Landing, depose Joffrey, and be recognized as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, King of the Andals and the First Men. Stannis was older than Renly and therefore should succeed the dead Robert by the usual rules of succession.
Renly did not come with a legal document supporting his bogus claim to a crown. He came instead with most of the Stormlands armies and with the chivalry of the Reach. The powerful Tyrell family had decided to play kingmaker and make a king out of Renly.
Stannis had the better claim, but Renly had the larger army.
To make up for her inferior claim, Daenerys would have to rely on a similar framing.
Jon/Aegon has the better claim, but Daenerys has the Only Dragon.
And when Cersei loses King’s Landing, it wouldn’t be to Jon and the ground troops claiming a victory. It would a dragon bringing ruin that men would remember for generations.
When the builders of the Wall made that massive structure, they made it so large that even when the memories of men passed they’d still understand its purpose. That big wall of ice was built to keep something out.
And after the destruction Dany deliberately wrought on King’s Landing, just like the melted towers at Harrenhal reminded people for generations, people would remember to fear dragons.
Did Daenerys go into battle with full awareness that she was going to destroy King’s Landing? Was it something she chose to do, entirely in the moments that the bells tolled? Was she weighing her options when Tyrion was explaining the bell-ringing surrender option? Since we’re not privy to Daenerys’s thoughts (before anyone brings up what Benioff and Weiss say, Death of the Author is my go-to response,) we can speculate, but unless Dany explicity talks about her thought process in the finale, we won’t know. And I don’t think it even matters. Certainly not to the dead of King’s Landing. Or the horrified living.
AND DANY MAKES THREE
Could Dany have not done this? Of course. She was not mentally well, obviously, but it’s not like she was mad, in the literal sense of the word. (If in next Sunday’s episode Daenerys is suddenly a cackling “psychotic” villain, that will refute this entire feature, but somehow I don’t think that’ll be the case.)
She could have accepted the surrender of the city; she could have just targeted the Red Keep to kill Cersei. Both could then be credited as massive victories to the heroic son of Rhaegar and his pretty aunt, the one the dragon carries around.
She could have killed less fewer people in Drogon’s extended strafing of the city to prove her point, but when you’ve killed five thousand people, does it matter if you kill five thousand more? (Well, it does matter, depending.) It’s all bad. But if Dany’s goal is to really make a mark, to create an atrocity of legend so that it would be toxic to consider this a victory, then more death and destruction is the way to go as insurance.
None of this is good for Daenerys as a person. It’s understandable that people who have named their children Daenerys because they’ve been enchanted by the story of the little blond girl and her dragons, just trying to come home and be a queen, would be upset. People who have gotten Daenerys tattoos might have instead just gotten a tattoo that said “I regret this.” Some people are still mad that Ned Stark was killed.
Some people might prefer that Dany had actually gone properly “mad,” and fallen victim to some dangerous recessive genetic situation. That way they can feel that it’s not Dany’s fault. But that’s not nearly as interesting a story.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule in storytelling, but the Rule of Three does have weight. Martin often talks about having a three-fold reveal to his stories, which isn’t the same as a Rule of Three in a story, but feels similar. With Daenerys choosing to do evil, she completes a trinity of antagonist characters on the show, particularly during this season.
The Night King, who was unknowable and abstractly evil; Cersei Lannister, who we knew and was mundanely evil; and now we can possibly add Daenerys Targaryen to the list. Who we knew and rooted for. And tragically chose to become a villain.
The end of Game of Thrones is upon us. The global pop culture phenomenon bows out with its series finale this upcoming Sunday, after delivering a truly shocking episode in “The Bells.” Here’s the only short, mysterious preview HBO released…
Ash is raining down upon King’s Landing, as Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) look on in horror. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arrives from the ruins of the Red Keep to the outer courtyard, where her remaining army awaits, triumphant. She has obtained the Iron Throne, or whatever is left of it, at great cost. Arya (Maisie Williams) stares at her intently. Now what will happen? Who will make it to the end credits? And most importantly, how many incredible Ramin Djawadi musical moments will we receive?
This is a Curtain Call I have been expecting for quite some time. It is nevertheless an odd experience to be sitting down and writing it at last.
If you’ve read my previous pieces in The Writing on the Wall series or heard me on The Night’s Cast podcast, you may know that I love the character of Cersei Lannister and what Lena Headey brought to the role.
Lena could have easily played a stereotypical Evil Queen, cackling as she devours her enemies or what have you, but she didn’t. She looked behind the veneer of Cersei and found the broken, isolated, and insecure being underneath. Lena’s performance never excused Cersei’s abhorrent behavior but she also never allowed the audience to ignore that there was a human being underneath the sharp callousness. To consistently embody that complexity for a decade is incredibly difficult and the tapestry of television and certain women in television has been made richer for it.
That humanizing of a villain was incredibly powerful for it complicated the picture of who Cersei is – and a villain whose humanity is consistently visible is far more potent than one who’s humanity is obscured, opaque. Lena embodied and played each element of Cersei beautifully, never losing sight of who she was, even if she was becoming someone else entirely in those moments. Her performance in “No One” after Tommen (Dean Charles-Chapman) outlaws trials by combat is perhaps my favorite. You see grief, shock, terror, despair, and anger all come together to form a shield of misguided strength and resolve as Cersei infamously makes the infamous decision to blow up the Sept of Baelor.
Lena’s filmography is vast, with more than eighty credits to her name. Her first breakout role arguably was her performance as Queen Guinevere in the 1982 NBC miniseries Merlin. She became known to a wider audience as Queen Gorgo in the war fest 300 and its sequel. She gained further notoriety as Sarah Connor in the excellent The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
You can catch Lena in the upcoming Gunpowder Milkshake alongside Karen Gillian, Michelle Yeoh, and Paul Giamatti. You can also see her teaming up in the television drama The Flood with her Thrones co-star Iain Glen and Mandip Gill of Doctor Who fame. And if you don’t follow her lovely Instagram, you’re missing out! Follow her on @iamlenaheadey.
A hero. A villain. A chicken-craver, potty-mouthed one-line spouter and, finally, Mountain-destroyer. It’s time to say our final farewells to Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane. When we first meet the Hound, all the way back in Season One, it’s easy to dismiss him as just another villain. After all, this scarred, hulking figure is Prince Joffrey’s personal bodyguard and his fearsome dog-head armour and initial actions (remember when he ran down poor Mycah?) do little to endear us to him. But, thanks to Rory McCann’s sensitive, layered portrayal, a tragic, anti-heroic figure begins to emerge.
Our first hints that there might be more to this brutish warrior occur during the tourney, in which Littlefinger relays Sandor’s fearsome past to Sansa. When Sandor intervenes and saves Loras Tyrell from being beaten to death by the Mountain, we realise that unlike his brother, Sandor has a moral code and a sense of chivalry, even if he is, by his own admission, ‘no true knight.’
McCann’s scenes with Sophie Turner across Seasons One and Two are delicately balanced and a joy to watch; when Sandor offers to take his ‘Little Bird’ away from King’s Landing, viewers are left begging that she’ll take him up on his offer. Sandor is a dangerous man, but McCann’s portrayal leaves us in no doubt that he’s got Sansa’s best interests at heart. Sansa declines, The Hound leaves without her, and the dreams of a thousand SanSan shippers go with him.
Art by http://bubug.deviantart.com/
It’s in McCann’s scenes withMaisie Williams,however, that the character really took off. McCann, who claimed to feel ‘nervous’ with the character for the first few years, found his feet in this bizarre pairing. Equal parts grumpy captor and reluctant protector, Williams and McCann share great screen chemistry as the disparate parts of Sandor’s personality begin to unravel. He’s by turns compassionate, dishonorable, aggressive, humorous and affectionate, and, when Arya leaves him for dead, even proud of his unlikely ward.
There was much rejoicing when the Hound returned to our screens in Season 6, seemingly a little more mellow thanks to his time with Ian McShane’sBrother Ray. His briefly peaceful stint was not to last however, after a village massacre prompts Sandor to team up with the Brotherhood Without Banners and eventually working for Jon Snow. If someone told you in Season One that the Hound would end up working for the opposite side, you might not think it was very likely, but McCann always let Sandor’s shifts in allegiance feel very natural, keeping the character grounded within himself, always grumpy, always sweary and always quick to his axe.
It would have been easy to let Sandor’s fear of fire slip away as a passing reference, but McCann plays it totally straight, as a survivor with such severe PTSD that at times he is completely paralysed by his phobia and unable to act. When he’s turning tail on King’s Landing or is frozen in place in Winterfell, we see the Hound as a man plagued by past fears rather than one dogged by cowardice.
It’s his hatred for his brother Gregor that forms one of the backbones of Sandor’s faceted character. The long-awaited CleganeBowl was just as violently gripping and brutal as many fans had hoped. This wasn’t an elegant joust, but a grappling brawl between two brothers long locked together by hatred. McCann’s crazed laughing towards the end of the fight is pitched perfectly as both he and the viewers realise there is only one way to kill off the resurrected Mountain. Sandor falls to his fiery demise, taking his brother along with him. It was a fitting, if tragic end, to a man whose life had been hounded (pun intended) by flames.
McCann’s acting career began with a role as an extra on the film Willow, from which he was fired for laughing too much on set! Since then, he’s appeared in films including Alexander, Solomon Kane and Hot Fuzz, as well as various TV shows, including a Scottish BAFTA winning turn in The Book Group. Of course, in my homeland he’ll always be fondly remembered as the ‘Scott’s Porage Oats Guy’ thanks to this stunning advert.
Con of Thrones has announced the programming schedule for Con of Thrones 2019, featuring three days packed with events curated for the biggest fans of Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the epic worlds of fantasy author George R.R. Martin.
Also, we’re excited to announce that Game of Thrones Concept Artist Kieran Belshaw, whose work we’ve higlighted at Watchers on the Wall, is joining the guest lineup!
Con of Thrones will take place in Nashville, Tenn., at the Music City Center July 12–14, 2019. Tickets are available for purchase here, at ConOfThrones.net/register.
Curated in partnership between Mischief Management and this fan community of ours, and featuring over 150 hours of original programming with more to come, Con of Thrones will host in-depth discussions about the series, Special Guest Spotlight interviews, live recordings of fan-favorite podcasts, and much more. Con of Thrones also provides opportunities for autographs and photographs with some of the most familiar faces from Game of Thrones, whose appearances we have announced before.
Special guests include but are not limited to Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), and Hannah Murray (Gilly); Kieran Belshaw, concept artist for seasons five to eight; fan-favorite podcasts Binge Mode, History of Westeros and A Storm of Spoilers, and wolf ambassadors from Wildefell Wolves. Additional guests will be announced at a later date.
Among many, many others, schedule highlights include, starting on Friday, July 12:
Endgame: Breaking Down the Big Finish
Let’s break it down, the finale of the biggest show in the world! Is the conclusion what we were hoping for and how could it have been improved?
Fit To Sit: The Best & Worst Rulers of Westeros
With Fire & Blood, we know more about the past kings and queens of the Seven Kingdoms than ever before. This calls for an in-depth discussion of the best, worst, luckiest, and most unfortunate people ever to sit on the Iron Throne (with all due consideration to influential Hands and movers and shakers behind the scenes).
Spotlight: John Bradley and Hannah Murray
Spotlight Sessions let you hear unique perspectives and behind the scenes stories from the show’s cast and crew. John Bradley debuted in season one as everyone’s favorite maester wannabe and wight slayer, Samwell Tarly. Hannah Murray joined in season two as Gilly, the persistent and kind wildling woman.
Then, on Saturday, July 13:
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous: Villains We Love
Why do we love the worst of the worst? Join your fellow fans for appreciation and analysis of the bad men and women of Westeros who steal our hearts, like it or not!
You Win or You Die: The Sequel – A Song of Ice and Fire Spelling Bee
Join us for another clash of words as we once again challenge you to spell the hardest words in Martin’s world in our single elimination round spelling bee. Come to fight your way to the top prize and bragging rights, or just to watch and yell ‘shame’ when spellers fail. You spell or you die, there is no middle ground!
Con of Thrones Cosplay Contest 2019
We’re kicking off the evening with the Con of Thrones Cosplay Parade and Contest! Take a look at the amazing costumes made by Con of Thrones attendees and be there as we crown this year’s winners.
Finally, on Sunday, July 14:
The Great Debates: Best Fight
Welcome to the Great Debates: the Con of Thrones epic battle of wits where anyone can be a contender! How does it work? Attend this weekend’s debates, step up to the mic and make your case in two minutes or less and wait for the audience to choose the winner. No sign-up necessary, just show up ready to battle!
Spotlight: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Our Spotlight Sessions let you hear unique perspectives and behind the scenes stories from the Game of Thrones cast and crew. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been a part of Game of Thrones since the very first episode. He’s the one and only Kingslayer, gold of hair and hand, Jaime Lannister.
The Game of Thrones Effect: How GOT Changed TV Forever
The end of event television was also the beginning of a new strategy of storytelling and broadcasting. Sex, violence, epic fantasy, main characters being killed off – shows had done this before but none have had all of this come together in such confluence. Let’s talk about how the Game of Thrones show changed how we now talk about serialized television.
Game of Thrones’ most recent episode might just have been the most controversial one yet! But do your favourite video reviewers share your thoughts on The Bells? Find out with our handy Video Recap Roundup!
First up, Westeros History’s Show Only Review (their Book to Show Review is here)
The inevitable has materialized quickly. Six weeks passes hastily when you’re counting down episodes. And now we all stand at the precipice of hell staring down at the reality of our lives void of Game of Thrones. Yes, we will persevere. Yes, we will move on to other forms of entertainment that enhance our existence. Will there ever be another cultural phenom that has brought us together like this? A man doesn’t know.
But the real question is… what the hell are we going to do with this website?!
We built the Wall. You made it a community.
Let’s be up front here… without you, our loyal readers, we’re not even having this conversation. Our labor of love that we threw out on the interwebs in 2014 caught fire. And we didn’t even know if it would catch a cold.
But at the time, we literally had nothing to lose. If it took off, great. If not, we were out a couple hundred hours building and coding the joint, decorating it with some fancy buttons, making it user and spoiler friendly (the spoiler coding almost killed me), making contacts, lining up potential contributors, and trying to cost-effectively get the ship sailing.
We didn’t know if it would work. We didn’t know if anyone would Take the Black with us.
What we did know was that corporate media was jumping on board the Game of Thrones Loot Train in astonishing numbers. They saw revenue. And we recognized a need in protecting a fandom.
You don’t need me to tell you how much hate and vitriol there is on the internet. If you get online, it’s almost unavoidable now. In creating the Wall, we sought to protect at least one sacred place where you could come and discuss and exchange ideas free from judgement, or trolls, or bullshit regardless of your age, race, gender, orientation, or any other discriminating factor. Our oath has been the same all along:
Weshall wear no crowns and win no glory. We shall live and die at our posts. We are the sword in the advertising darkness. We are the watchers on the wall. We are the shield that guards the realms of women and men of the fandom. We pledge our life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
Game of Thrones may be coming to an end. But the ideals on which the foundation of this Wall were built still stand.
Watchers on the Wall panel at Con of Thrones 2018, with Oz of Thrones, Patrick Sponaugle, Bex, Vanessa Cole, Petra Halbur, JoeMagician, Sam Wallace, David Rosenblatt, Luka Nieto, and Sue the Fury.
And we can continue, whether that be covering the prequel, or the release of a book (insert joke here), or possibly even other programming we all share an interest in. Whether or not we can is up to you.
Here is how you can help. And before I even suggest this, let me make one thing abundantly clear: we never built this website in the interest of money and we’re not proposing these ideas for the sake of profits. Anyone that tells you otherwise doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about.
This is about keeping WotW up and running. You lovely people have been nice enough to crash our server on multiple occasions and our expenses are not necessarily extensive, but Sue and I don’t have the luxury of disposable income to keep it going at a loss. We also made a vow to never inundate you with clickbait and video ads, a decision that costs us hundreds of dollars if not more per month. If the Wall stays up, we will uphold that vow until our last day.
So here we go:
Many of you are already make monthly donations and WE THANK YOU! Your donations have made a huge difference in making sure our little corner of the internet survives.
If half of our other readers pledged the cost of one drink at Starkbucks™ per month, we would be able to keep the Wall maintained and provide much more for our writers, the fandom, and for you, the reader.
Here’s what you can do:
Pick an option below and click the “subscribe” button or go to our Support the Wall page, find the “subscribe” button and pick an option. Anything is appreciated.
If you’d like to make a one-time donation, use the subscribe button to proceed and then “Cancel” after the first donation.
In order to make this community ideal last, we need your help. If you’ve ever considered giving to a cause that stood for your values as a fan and that stood up for a fandom, then consider us. There is power in numbers, and together we can establish and maintain anything we feel passionate about.
Assuming we can keep this boat afloat, what would you like to see us cover? Sound off! And with all sincerity, thank you all you crazy-ass nerds. It’s been a wild f’ing ride!
Michele Clapton has never shied away from giving us heavy symbolism during important moments for the characters. Sometimes it’s visually very obvious like Sansa’s “Eyrie” dress, Margaery’s wedding gown, or Cersei’s “Tywin” homage when she takes her crown. Sometimes it’s subtler like a dagger woven into a textile, or the deeper meaning of a particular color. Clapton, in my opinion, really shines in those subtleties. They are more like a secret for the character as well as the actor, more personal, more meaningful. So often in the series, we see very surface adornments of allegiances to great houses, kings, queens, and so on, but once we really take a deeper look at the fabrics and embroidery, we can see the secrets that tell the stories of so many of the leading characters.
Take Daenerys’ riding coat that she wears this episode. At first glance, it looks like a black leather version of the red coat she wore to last episode’s feast. That enough would be impactful, as it can be argued that smoothed, black leather has often signified a call to action (Cersei taking the Iron Throne, Sansa’s Winterfell armor, the uniforms of the Unsullied, and just about everything Tywin wore,) and this was absolutely a call to action for Dany. It’s also the most aerodynamic riding coat she’s had yet.
When you look closer, however, the leather is embossed with large dragon scales that look as if they are beginning to close in around her body. Dany has often implemented a scaled motif into her outfits by way of embroidery and embellishment. This is meaningful to her, and extremely beautiful, but beading is delicate and merely a decoration. It’s not integral to the overall structure of a garment. Having the scales embossed into the actual fabric shows what Dany has been all along: a Targaryen, a dragon, capable of terrible destruction. The scales are part of the DNA of the coat, and by extension, a part of her own DNA. It’s no coincidence that she’d be wearing something like this when she tragically falls victim to her bloodline.
But again, it’s something that only Dany knows. It’s for her, and not anyone else. Contrast it to the white fur coat that she wears upon arriving in Winterfell back in the season premiere. The garment is declarative and sends a message (whether you subscribe to the “savior” idea behind the color, or the “Queen of Meereen” symbolism), but it isn’t her, especially in the fabrication. She’s never had to pile on fur for warmth because she’s never needed to keep warm, and her trying to dress for the North in her own way has only furthered her isolation from the people of Westeros. Her hair is also being worn in a less crown-like way than she used to, and has been slowly evolving into a more reptilian style, really tying her visually and emotionally to Drogon and her two fallen children. This whole look is a walking embodiment of her and her ancestors: leathered dragon scales flying through the air, raining fire over the lands below.
It can also be noted that the textile of red cape she wears ties her directly to Cersei. It has a very velvet-like quality to it (though I believe it’s sueded leather), which looks like it could have been cut from the same fabric as Cersei’s dress this episode.
This coat, of course, is preceded by the red ensemble she also wore last week. Once again, she’s making a case to Jon and testing his loyalty and his love. She also wears it in the Dragonstone throne room addressing Tyrion. It’s become her formal, authoritative outfit and this time the deep red alludes to the fact that she’s out for blood.
Cersei also becomes another version of herself by the time she meets her end. Yes, it’s the same red velvet dress that she wore in the last episode, but with a few key, meaningful differences: she isn’t wearing any of the armored elements and, most notably, she is without her crown for the entire episode.
Her metal epaulettes and extra chains are removed, leaving only her gold Lannister necklace, which makes her an embodiment of her house: red and gold. No silver crown or full-body black, which is almost visually marked as an end to that era of her life the minute she leaves the Mountain (who is in his silver and black armor) and flees for her life. The shape of the dress and elements in the detail are tied with her rule over the past two seasons, but in the end, she’s no longer the cold, calculated queen that she fought so hard and so ruthlessly to be. While velvet is a weighty, royal fabric, it’s also soft to the touch, and will carry any marks and bruises it’s subjected to forever.
Cersei’s clinging to the only two things she has left: Jaime and their unborn child, their love and legacy, golden lions on a cloth of red. As the walls of “everything she holds dear” come crashing down around her, Cersei is seen stripped of her power, literally and figuratively, leaving her crushed and buried by the very symbol of that power.
The Golden Company definitely has some interesting armor to discuss, but I’m going to save that for the mass armor article I’m planning once the series has concluded…but feel free to sound off in the comments!
We’re here, everyone. We’ve arrived at the far side of the epic tale we began eight seasons and nearly 10 years ago. I hope I’m not sounding too emotional, but knowing that this is the last-ever “official photos post” I’ll put together for Game of Thrones is making me a bit teary-eyed on this bright Wednesday morning.
Anyway, let’s dive in: the official photos for the series finale are here!
Not that there’s much to speculate on — they are being particularly secretive about this one, folks. Aside from the Daenerys screen capture above, HBO has only shared this Tyrion photo taken by official Game of Thrones photographer Helen Sloan:
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
So what do these images say to you? What will the final episode of our beloved Thrones entail? Let us know in the comments below!
The discussion around the writing of Game of Thrones has been fraught for a while, whether those fractions are divided along the lines of books versus show or other metrics. As the story approaches its conclusion and numerous theories that have been built, fortified, and championed fall by the wayside, there is going to be a natural amount of chagrin amongst respective viewers’ that their respective ideas are no longer in the realm of what the series is trying to achieve with its narrative. To a certain degree, I have also been impacted by that, even as much I have tried to focus on the writing at hand for what it is, and not for what I want it to be. That has been my guide with these pieces and I will do my best to follow it for this penultimate episode.
What immediately comes to mind about the episode’s title, “The Bells”, is Lord Varys’s (Conleth Hill) assertion that he truly hated the bells of King’s Landing for they rang whenever anything terrible had happened. This ultimately proved to be apt yet again, even if he was no longer around to witness exactly why that would be the case.
Game of Thrones has never been even remotely shy about being brutally honest when it comes to the cost of violence and war. It may not always have written those moments subtly and with the nuance they require, but largely if anyone has any remote fantasies about the glory of war, the series has done enough work to dispel those fantasies as easily as the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) swiped away dear old Qyburn (Anton Lesser). The dragonfire, the smoke, the ashes, the bodies, the blood; none of it was remotely illustrative of a series that does not understand the inherent cost of war.
On that level, the third act works beautifully.
There is an oft-repeated adage that the third act of a narrative is always the most difficult to pull off. People will often point towards the mystery genre as an example: the third is where the mystery unspools and, if the mystery is good, you will feel rewarded for being on the journey and satisfied with the answer. Many mysteries tend to crumble apart in that critical third act because something falls apart and the mystery is thus rendered unsatisfying. The same applies to a character-focused drama.
In regards to the characters, it feels to me like the final acts for some of them stumble. And it is within those arcs that the overall level of satisfaction is going to land. There is the question of whether or not the turn of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) from a person who was a bit too into hard justice into a war criminal has sufficient foundations. Did Jaime’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) actions when he, as it turned out, died with Cersei (Lena Headey) in the destruction of the Red Keep hold with his character? And what of Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann)? Did the delivery of the much hyped Cleganebowl rob him of the character development established in the previous two seasons?
The most salient element in display from a writing perspective is the distillation of these characters down to who they are at their core, as the series accomplished with more finesse in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” For some characters, just as in the Battle of Winterfell, the destruction of King’s Landing brings them to the forefront of who they are, rather than simply who they want to be. Arya (Maisie Williams) at her heart is not a mindless assassin without humanity; Sandor, whom she touchingly calls by his first name for the first time here, knows that he has an unfinished arc with his brother to complete, but is self-aware about what a lifetime of revenge has done to him.
Similarly for Cersei, there is the underlying current about who she has always been. She has always searched for a degree of belonging and satisfaction, whether it’s via hatred for Tyrion, her relationship with Jaime, or more often than not through sheer violence. Before Daenerys lays waste to King’s Landing, it was Cersei who blew the Sept of Baelor to smithereens and the surrounding civilians along with it. She nevertheless found that sense of belonging when Jaime, in spite of everything, came back for her. Alas, it was a bit too late for that belonging to outlive the destruction around them.
Jaime has always been tied to Cersei, for better and more often for worse. The destruction of the Sept of Baelor evoked the first serious reconsideration of their relationship, evoked by the anger and confusion on his face when Cersei takes the Iron Throne. He falls back into his addiction to their toxic relationship as he fights Daenerys’s invading forces, conflicted as he does so. Cersei’s decision to turn her back to the North is the straw that broke the camel’s back, but only temporarily, for Jaime did not return to King’s Landing, as many had expected, to end Cersei. Jaime’s addiction or love for Cersei, a categorization that depends on the individual viewer to a certain degree, has been layered throughout the series but his return in this fashion raises the question of what the writing ultimately wanted to say about the arc of his character.
Daenerys’s third act turn will no doubt inspire the most debate, a debate that is likely to continue well past the series finale. Her decision to raise all hell on King’s Landing as she breaks down atop Drogon is arguably the standout moment (for better and for worse) in what has been a true pop culture phenomenon. The overall character arc for her, while under judgment until the series finale, works on a thematic level because it conveys a dark reality about the pursuit of power and how dark the thematic concept of justice can go. It is perhaps on the side of potentially being too bitter but it can work, but only if the character beats have felt as weighted and fitting for you as the themes they were ultimately building towards. At the moment, it feels to me a bit like the writing revealed the murderer but the steps they took to commit their crime are opaque.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Share them below!
The King of the Iron Islands is no more, succumbing to injuries after a brutal knock-down fight with Ser Jaime Lannister.
Danish actor Pilou Asbæk brought a certain swaggering confidence to his performance of Euron Greyjoy. Arrogant and with a constant provocative attitude, it underscored Euron’s deadly nature. Someone so obnoxious would have to be able to back up the attitude with dangerous ability.
According to a recent interview with Kim Renfro of Insider, Asbæk came to be on Game of Thrones in the sixth season as a fan. He forced himself to stop watching for professional reasons, but the presentation of the existing ironborn characters must have influenced his choices for Euron. Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy was similarly arrogant (before Ramsay) and Asbæk played a type of devil-may-care rake that Theon seemed to be romanticizing in the early seasons.
Asbæk, formerly known for playing spin-doctor Kasper Juul in the political drama Borgen, enjoyed a hands-on approach to Iron Island politics by tossing his royal brother off a rope bridge at the castle of Pyke, and then stole, like a pirate, his niece Yara’s near-certain election victory as Ironborn monarch.
With the Iron Islands under his control and a rapidly replenished Iron Fleet, Euron went on to provide Cersei Lannister with much needed strategic victories against the scrappy newcomer Daenerys Targaryen. His successes in the seventh season took a turn downwards in the eighth. After joining the Night King in having dragonslaying boasting rights, the Iron Fleet was ill-prepared to defeat the fast-moving and destructive Drogon during a rematch.
Encountering Jaime Lannister in a popular smuggling landing after escaping from his exploding vessel Silence, Asbæk played Euron as a man totalling enjoying a private joke and not a man who’d just lost his armada. He was delighted in running across something he could kill, his queen’s former lover.
When Euron and Jaime first met, when the pirate swaggered into an audience with Cersei to negotiate arms for favors, Euron and Jaime reminisced about the defeat of the Ironborn at Pyke. Asbæk’s interactions with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau seemed to indicate a touch of hero worship for Jaime’s efficient combat abilities – masked by insufferable negging. This reminiscence no doubt set up the final doomed encounter wit Ser Jaime. As Jory Cassell and Alton Lannister can attest, sharing stories with Jaime eventually ends with him killing you.
These two men, connected by their romantic attraction to Cersei, both kinslayers and kingslayers, dealt each other mortal wounds. Or so it seemed to Euron Greyjoy as evidenced by his final words.
“But I got you. I got you! I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister.”
Jaime managed to stagger away gamely after skewering Euron, to meet up with first his sister and then his demise minutes later, buried in the collapsing Red Keep. But the Ironborn king didn’t seem to be the type of person to let facts get in the way of some good bragging.
Blackwater Bay wasn’t the sea, but at least Euron died close to the tides, as an Ironborn should.
As reported in the Insider interview, the deadly duel between the pirate king and the not-so-shining knight took place on the last day of filming for Coster-Waldau (who, incidentally, coined the term “Danebowl” for this climactic fight between the two danish actors.) When their battle was done, so too was Ser Jaime.
Maybe Euron wasn’t just idly boasting when he said “I got you!”
That’s a murderous glint in the eye if I’ve ever seen one.
A torched city, a dead queen, utter madness — there’s an AWFUL lot we could discuss about Season 8, Episode 5 of Game of Thrones on the Night’s Cast, the official podcast of Watchers on the Wall. So we will!
This week, Axey, Lady Geoffrey and Samantha discuss some of the major happenings in the penultimate episode of Season 8 (and the series!!), appropriately titled “The Bells.”
“The Bells” wasn’t just a big battle episode. It was the second-to-last episode of the season, which has traditionally been a big one (the so-called “episode nine”, though the term obviously doesn’t apply these last few shortened seasons.) It’s also the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones ever. With those stakes, one would expect the viewership numbers to go through the roof. If they were ever going to, this was the time.
Oh, boy, did they!
As per The Wrap’s report, “The Bells” earned a record-breaking viewership of 12.48 million during HBO’s first airing on the United States. Here’s a pretty chart about it:
At 12.5 million viewers, “The Bells” is, as we predicted, the most-watched Game of Thrones episode on its first US broadcast, finally dethroning the season seven finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf”, which stood at 12.07 million viewers, followed closely by the other battle episode of season eight, “The Long Night”, at 12.02 million.
By breaking the show’s own viewership record, “The Bells” is now also the most-watched episode of any and all HBO TV shows. If anything could surpass all these records, it’ll have to be the only episode of Game of Thrones left: the series finale this coming Sunday. As momentous as a series finale is, it’s not been advertised to be as eventful or explosive as “The Bells”, which was controversial to boot, so a decrease doesn’t seem unlikely.
Though “The Dragon and the Wolf” held fiercely to its first airing record as long as it possibly could, if we account for all the modern ways we watch TV, such as multiple airings overnight and streaming services, season eight broke the season seven finale’s record from the very beginning: first it was the premiere, “Winterfell”, with 17.4 million viewers; then “The Long Night”, at 17.8 million. So, as one would expect, when accounting for overnight airings on HBO and streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now, “The Bells” also breaks the show’s record, drawing a massive 18.4 million viewers!
Feeling down about Sunday’s episode? Are you sad that Game of Thrones is coming to an end? We have some news that may lift your spirits! We’ve been reporting the pre-production work in progress on the Jane Goldman prequel, set during the first Long Night, and now it appears filming for its pilot is underway!
According to our sources here at Watchers on the Wall, prequel filming has been taking place at Glenariff, near Cushendall in Northern Ireland. Glenariff has been a location on Game of Thrones for part of the Vale of Arryn, most notably during Robin Arryn’s swordsmanship training in season five.
Although it’s admittedly not the best outlet for information, we have received further confirmation by The Sun, which reports that filming began in Belfast two weeks ago. Their source is quoted as saying, “Thrones fans will be delighted to hear things have started with the prequel. Those working on the set in Belfast are referring to the series as Bloodmoon. Producers have put together a stellar cast and it will be must-watch telly for anyone who loves Game Of Thrones.”
The prequel has been informally called The Long Night – which has never been an official name. If the working title is indeed Bloodmoon at least we have something to call it for now; it remains to be seen whether that title sticks or it’s just a production codename, not unlike, say, Return of the Jedi’s famous working title of “Blue Harvest.” We shall see!
Just when you thought last week’s episode of Game of Thrones was contentious, along comes “The Bells”, to barrel down your door (see picture above), divide your friends, and perhaps even align you with some of your enemies. Every Facebook and Twitter this side of the Narrow Sea has thoughts and opinions about our favorite show’s penultimate episode. But I’m not here to talk about your cousin Peter who thought the episode was “cool because the dragon lady burned stuff.” I’m not here to talk about your friend Sarah who thinks it was terrible because “it was too long and violent.” I’m also not here to talk about your Great Aunt Sally, who wants to know if you DVRed that great Hallmark movie that aired last night. No, friends, I’m here to gather up the critics’ thoughts and see what they thought about the decimation of King’s Landing. And whoa boy, did they have some THOUGHTS. And FEELINGS.
Here at Watchers on the Wall, we encourage you to ‘Always Support the Bottom.’ This extends to your support of our editor-in-chief Sue the Fury, in which her background knowledge of the books informs her perspective on the episode, so please go check it out when you get a chance! Once you’ve done that, you would do well to support our peerless Oz of Thrones’s ‘Unsullied recap,’ in which his fearless determination to avoid reading the books has outlasted all others, continuing on for 8 full seasons. After this, you can check out what these Internet critics thought of “The Bells”:
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone – In which the script races through Dany’s transition, piling one personality-altering event on top of the next so that none of them gets to breathe.
Alex McLevy, The A. V. Club – In which this episode was a refreshing tonic to the sometimes conservative mode of traditional heroics Benioff and Weiss have been dishing up this season.
Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post– In which Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire novels have always been about family, and such, the final season, and this episode in particular, are hitting many, many high marks.
Amanda Marcotte, Salon – In which the fans simply aren’t paying attention because the show has spent 8 seasons signaling the ways that war makes monsters out of people and that Daenerys in particular has a deep capacity for cruelty that is only checked when her ego is being sufficiently fed.
Daniel D’Addario, Variety– In which Daenerys’s decision doesn’t need to be sympathetic, however — just legible to the viewer, which this viewer ultimately found it to be and which others, he suspects, will not.
Dave Gonzales, Thrillist– In which Arya’s arc makes sense as a way to anchor point-of-view, but doesn’t add anything to last week’s lingering questions of what Arya’s ultimate motivations are, other than killing Cersei, which she doesn’t get to do.
David Rosenblatt, Squinty Overanalyzes Things – In which I (yes, me of me, fame) explain why my expectations have long been tempered, and people should have been this angry years ago as opposed to now, because this is more or less always how it was going to be given those long ago decisions.
Hillary Kelly, Vulture– In which it stands out as massively uneven, brilliant in moments, but often abysmally fan service-y.
Ian Thomas Malone, Personal Blog – In which the best scenes involve the random soldiers trying to stop Arya, The Hound, and Tyrion because as as larger than life the show feels in so many ways, it also tends to only focus on a handful of people in this big world, making it quite easy to forget that there’s all these other people in the realm, just trying to get by.
James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly – In which if pushed to nitpick, then he’d say that he wished season 8 had more episodes to play Dany’s arc out a bit longer, but also knows the production gave the final season everything they had given the level of production required to pull off its battle sequences.
Jeremy Egner, New York Times – In which it was a thrilling, horrifying, and ultimately frustrating episode, which feels weird to say because it was often amazing to behold and reflected some of the show’s most central themes, but ultimately hinged on a turn that rang hollow — specifically the heel turn mentioned above.
Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair – In which it would have been nice to have seen Daenerys talk with Missandei about, say, the death of her dragons, or the loneliness and isolation she was feeling in Westeros instead of being told, rather than shown, that Jorah and Missandei mattered to Daenerys.
Julia Alexander, The Verge– In which it fell into the category of “dumb entertainment,” and that’s not a bad thing — but it’s a lot to unpack.
Kathryn VanArendonk, Vulture – In which GOT may have gotten the “right” answer — that Daenerys would go mad, that this was always her destiny — but without a richer exploration of Dany’s internal life, the series failed to show us the work that got it there.
Kelly Lawler, USA Today – In which maybe some fans can hold out hope that the finale can wrap things up in a way that makes emotional and logical sense, but betting on GOT to fix itself is really just doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.
Laura Hudson, WIRED– In which Dany’s transformation from ruthless but compassionate wheel-breaker to videogame supervillain took place over the course of maybe two episodes, because in the absence of enough runway to demonstrate a gradual descent into mental illness, Dany has to simply snap—to experience a break so traumatic that it explains a heel turn into mass slaughter.
Laura Stone, Hey Don’t Judge Me – In which Euron isn’t worthy of this battle, he’s a piece of shit walking dick pic, a usurper and a bit of human trash, and it isn’t clear who won, dammit.
Michael Schick, Hypable – In which as the culmination of eight seasons of so many emotional journeys — the story of Jaime and Cersei, the story of Sandor Clegane, the story of Daenerys Targaryen and her sanity — the episode crumples, feeling almost divorced from much of the work that came before it, or as though the audience is expected to write in crucial information that has been either forgotten or ignored.
Michael Rogeau, Gamespot – In which the fight between Sandor and Gregor actually lived up to the hype, was perfect and much-needed, considering where several other character arcs wound up in the end.
Mike Bloom, Parade – In which the Battle of King’s Landing is reported in the Westeros World News.
Myles McNutt, The A.V. Club – In which it’s not that the final season is failing to live up to his specific expectations of what was supposed to happen, it’s that the final season is failing to live up to what he believes a final season should do: enriching the show that came before it.
Rob Bricken, io9 – In which Cersei’s final moments should have been bigger—not with a grander or more exciting death, but something more emotionally powerful as she realized that her destruction was of her own doing.
Ron Hogan, Den of Geek – In which it’s fair to blame (showrunners) David Benioff and Dan Weiss for the change in the show’s tone, but it’s unfair to blame them at the same point.
Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone – In which it’s the Red Wedding writ large, a masterpiece that murders all hope of neat closure, and reduces any lingering belief in the redemptive power of violence to ashes in our mouths.
Tori Preston, Pajiba– In which the decision to continuously cut to Cersei, standing in her tower and watching her city get sacked, worked because Lena Headey sold the hell out of it, changing her expression slowly from cool, detached wariness to abject fear.
Verne Gay, Newsday – In which Cersei may have deserved her fate, but also made this series better — and indisputably richer — by her presence.
Thanks for joining this week. Whose reviews did you love/hate, with all due respect of course, and as always?