GOT Review: The penultimate episode was fire!
This image released by HBO shows Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in a scene from "Game of Thrones". (Helen Sloan/HBO via AP)
With Claude Mills
We now know for whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for the thousands of denizens of Kings Landing and many beloved characters who were dispatched to meet their maker this week. It had appeared that the fate of the million souls in Kings Landing had been sealed from the moment that Missandei shouted the word “dracarys” to Dany at the end of the last episode. The word 'dracarys' is the command that Dany uses when directing her dragons to incinerate and lay waste to her enemies. And the writers did not disappoint as Dany laid waste to King's Landing, despite the tolling of the bells to suggest surrender.
Many of Dany's fans will be sad that the writers have used the fact she's betrayed by a loyal follower, Varys, and Missandei’s death to push her over the edge and into a destructive grief spiral. It was hard to watch this grim plot twist play out as Dany essentially turns into her father, the 'mad king' Aerys II Targaryen - a development that a lot of fans aren’t too happy about.
Still, the cinematography is brilliant as Drogon is unleashed in a fire-breathing rampage through the city, slaughtering soldiers and many innocent civilians alike. The look of utter dismay and disgust on Jon's face is perhaps designed to push him to become the 'Queen Killer' and end her murderous ways.
The episode also signalled the end of Tyrion's run as a Machiavellian mastermind as his transformation into a simpering fool who makes critical mistakes time and time again. His dramatic fall of grace is made complete when he apologises to Daenerys for having shared the revelation of Jon's true parentage - which makes Jon the rightful heir to the Iron Throne - with his favourite eunuch, the Master of Whisperers. How could he not have known that Varys, his old conspirator, would conspire against his Queen? It is the final insult to a character, and when Dany gave the final order to barbecue Varys, it is Tyrion's reputation which is razed to ashes as well.
Tyrion's brother, Jaime, also abandons his redemptive narrative arc, so that he can return to Kings Landing and die in the arms of his sister. It is disappointing that the villainous Cersei doesn't go out with a bang but merely stands there surveying the damage as Dany goes full throttle psychopath unleashing holy hell in the city. Cersei goes out with a whimper, as she dies clutching her incestuous brother as falling debris of the Red Keep appears to crush them both as they attempt to escape through an underground tunnel. Even Arya appears to lose her nerve, abandoning her kill-list mission at the last minute at the behest of The Hound, who persuades her to realise that there’s more to life than revenge.
It is a superb episode with a compelling score that amped up the tension scene by scene. The opening of the Iron Fleet sitting in Blackwater Bay as Drogon descended from the heavens was breathtaking, but the wanton destruction of the city as cannonballs of fire consumed soldiers, kids and women alike was a bit nauseating to watch. The best scene is the eventual face off between Sandor and his hellish brother, the Mountain. Both brothers perish together, falling to their death to be consumed by fire and ashes.
The final shot of Arya Stark riding away on a pale white mare, was brilliant, and almost Revelation-esque. Death rides a pale horse, "and Hades was following close behind him...", and like the good book said, more death is in the cards for next week's episode.
Claude Mills is an award-winning veteran journalist, publicist and record producer. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column represent the views of the writer and not necessarily that of Loop News.