For a show that was once praised for its high-quality narrative and sublime character development, Game Of Thrones has truly become a shadow of its former self. Much of the final season has been disappointing, to say the least —with plot conveniences galore and character inconsistencies left, right and centre — but you’d think the series would’ve at least been able to nail the Last War — aka the war for the throne. You know… the war that the entire series has been building towards. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as the penultimate episode is even more disappointing than its predecessor, as Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) — aka the most good-hearted character in the show — decides to wreak havoc on King’s Landing as she burns all the citizens — even though they’d surrendered — for literally no reason whatsoever. Yeah… that happens.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have come under a lot of fire (if you’ll excuse the pun) for the standard of the writing this season, and much of the criticism has surrounded their characterisation of Daenerys — something which has been problematic since the narrative of the HBO series moved past the books. Turning Daenerys into her father is an interesting notion, and one that could’ve worked had the necessary groundwork been laid early on, but this just isn’t the case. Dany has only ever been portrayed as a gentle ruler who loves her people. While in Essos, she won the hearts of many by liberating the slave cities and ruling over the citizens with a gentle heart. She was devastated when Drogon killed the farmer’s child in the fourth season — so much so that she locked up her beloved dragons to ensure no harm came to anyone else.
Dany’s good nature was established early on, so making her the radical villain of the piece at the final hour is nothing short of contrived. Whereas if you take Breaking Bad protagonist Walter White, for example, who — as a direct result of the decisions he made throughout the series — evolved from a kind-hearted individual into a drug-dealing kingpin who loved what he did, you’d realise that a character transitioning from hero to villain is something that requires plotting and foreshadowing — neither of which GoT accomplished here.
Benioff and Weiss’ attempted to subvert people’s expectations with what they did to Daenerys, but what they fail to realise is that in doing so they singlehandedly destroyed eight years-worth of sensational character development for the sake of a cheap thrill. Daenerys has always been impulsive, yes, but she was never evil. People came above all else for her, which is why this sudden personality change makes zero sense. So much for breaking the wheel, eh?
Also, after the fiasco last week in which Rhaegal was shot down by one of Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) scorpions,
Drogon is all of a sudden gifted with the magical ability of being able to avoid EVERY scorpion in King’s Landing. A bit convenient, don’t you think? At the very least, the dragon could’ve had armour built for him. Something like this would’ve made the unbelievable a bit more plausible.
On a different note, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime’s (Nikolaj-Coster Waldau) deaths were rather subdued, as both mainstays died in each other’s arms as the Red Keep collapsed around them. The two characters deserved better deaths, but Headey’s sensational performance more than made up for the disappointing farewells — and she actually made us feel sorry for Cersei, which is a real testament to her ability as an actress.
The episode’s only real saving grace was the fight between The Hound (Rory McCann) and his brother Ser
Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). We’ve been waiting for this altercation for quite some time, and it didn’t disappoint. The animosity was sublime, and it made for the perfect conclusion to both characters’ arcs.
Aside from that, however, Game Of Thrones is ruined beyond repair. With only one more episode left to go, the show will undoubtedly position Dany as the new villain of the piece, and it’ll be up to Jon (Kit Harington) and Arya (Maisie Williams) to put a stop to her.
Man, when I think of what we could’ve had had the writers resisted the urge to try and be clever, I get goose-bumps. However, thinking about the final episode that we’re inevitably going to get, I couldn’t be less excited. All men likely still have to die, yes, but the sad truth is that Game Of Thrones is already dead. And apparently, it has been for quite some time now.
Contributed by Stephen Patterson
Game of Thrones continues Monday at 2am on Sky Atlantic with a more regular showing at 9pm.