The third episode of Game of Thrones left me with so many questions.
With the Night King dead, what did that mean for the story at large? Ever since the opening scene in the very first season, the threat of the White Walkers has loomed over the plot like a tidal wave you can’t ignore. After Arya annihilated the undead threat with a single stab of a dagger, I couldn’t help being a bit stupefied at the prospect of a show without them.
I mean, after facing the living dead, what sort of threat could our heroes possibly come up against that would pose a serious problem?
The answer? Themselves.
Let’s start at the beginning of Episode 4, “The Last of the Starks.”
The survivors of the Battle of Winterfell deal with their dead by burning them on great pyres they’ve built in front of Winterfell’s battlements. It’s heartbreaking to see Sansa give her final good-bye to Theon and to see Daenerys give hers to Jorah. We’re reminded that the death toll after last week’s episode was enormous because the smoke from these pyres clouds the entire skyline.
Afterwards, there’s a half-hearted feast in Winterfell’s Great Hall. Everyone is kind of morose after their losses. Who would have figured that Daenerys would be the one to lift everyone’s spirits?
Gendry, looking for Arya so that they can have some more alone time probably, is stopped by Dany in the middle of the feast. The whole room hushes as she speaks to him. She asks him if his father is Robert Baratheon, and at first you think she’s planning to berate him for past deeds that are not his fault. Instead, she names him Gendry Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End, lifting him up from his bastard-hood and into a lordship.
This thrills Gendry so much he decides he really needs to see Arya. He eventually finds her doing some target practice with a bow and arrow, and he asks her to be his lady when he is lord of Storm’s End. We all saw this coming, but the look on Gendry’s face when she turned him down still hurt. As Arya told him, she has not, and probably never will be, a lady.
Back at the party, things are tense as fuck for us poor viewers. Everyone is having a reasonably good time after Dany broke the somberness, except for Dany. She looks so alone in the Great Hall. Everyone else is talking and laughing in groups, except for her. Missandei, her only friend, is sitting with Grey Worm, and Dany sits alone, eyeing Jon Snow with…some troubled emotion in her eye.
Obviously, she has not forgotten her rushed convo with Jon about his heritage, and it is seriously bumming her out that not only does he have a stronger claim to the throne, he also has a greater rapport with “her” subjects.
She leaves the Hall alone, and I don’t know about you guys, but I felt a terrible sense of foreboding after that.
Brienne and Jaime, unlike Dany, have a great time at the feast, playing drinking games with Tyrion and Podrick. And afterwards, the moment we all thought about but never seriously considered would happen occurred.
Jaime and Brienne had a…romantic moment.
I won’t go into it too much, since I want to focus more on the endgame of the series. However, you should know their relationship begins and ends in this single episode. Jaime looks to start a life with Brienne at Winterfell, but he ends up leaving to return to Cersei for personal reasons. He told Brienne it’s because he loves Cersei. But something tells me it might be more complicated than that.
Anyways, back to Dany.
After the feast, she heads to Jon Snow’s room, looking to finally talk to him about the bombshell he dropped on their lives. However, the talk does not go according to anyone’s plans.
Dany clearly expects Jon to keep the fact that he is Aegon Targaryen to himself. She still loves him, so she initially pleads with him to keep this information a secret. We’ve been with Dany for a long time, so we should all know by now that she does not beg easily. She is clearly desperate to hold onto what she perceives as her destiny, her reason for living.
However, we’ve also been around Jon Snow long enough to know that he’s no liar. Telling the truth comes to Jon as naturally as a fish swims in water. Dany sees this, and you can tell it is driving her to despair. Jon is also unhappy because, for one thing, he doesn’t want the goddamned Iron Throne. For another, he hates causing Dany this kind of distress. But he can’t seem to understand how the truth of his birth imperils Dany’s claim. I think he cares more about how it is affecting their relationship.
After this gut-twisting conversation, Dany leaves the room and Jon unsatisfied.
So the plan to fight against Cersei continues after the Night King has been finished. Dany plans to return to Dragonstone with her forces by sea, while Jon Snow takes what is left of his Northmen south by land. Sansa isn’t happy about this, and she isn’t shy about letting it show. However, since Jon is King of the North and subservient to Dany, Sansa has to swallow her objections.
Well, she swallows her objections to Dany directly. Both she and Arya do not hesitate to pull Jon aside and say, “Dude-bro, what the fuck is your new queen’s problem, and why aren’t you siding with us?”
Side note: I’m paraphrasing.
This is the moment when Jon decides to tell them that he is not actually a Stark, but is instead a Stark-Targaryen hybrid. He makes them promise not to tell anyone, but Sansa breaks that promise almost instantly to tell Tyrion. I believe we’re meant to assume that she’s trying to cause strife in Daenerys’ home team.
And it fucking works. On the sea voyage back to Dragonstone, Varys and Tyrion have a godawful conversation (godawful because it hurts me to see Dany portrayed as a bad guy) about whether or not Jon would be better suited to the Iron Throne. Tyrion remains loyal to Dany, insisting she be given a chance. Varys seems to have lost all confidence in her though.
And this sea voyage only gets worse.
Tragedy strikes when, while flying in the sky, Rhaegal is struck down by scorpion bolts.
This moment sucked.
It always hurts me when the dragons get hurt, and it was particularly hard to see Rhaegal go down for several reasons. For one thing, he was wounded in the Battle of Winterfell, during his fight against undead Viserion. While flying back to Dragonstone, it was clear that Dany was keeping a special eye on him from the back of Drogon in order to make sure he was keeping up. To see him taken down when he was already hurting hurt me.
And the worst thing about it was that it came right out of the fucking blue. At least when Viserion died, you saw the Night King aiming his spear at him. You thus had a little warning.
We as viewers did not know that Euron had brought a fleet of ships up to Dragonstone to lie in wait for them. Well, we didn’t know until Rhaegal was bleeding from his scorpion wounds and falling from the sky.
Euron, the stupid-looking, hateful, wannabe pirate, doesn’t stop with murdering Dany’s green dragon. He fires his scorpions on Dany’s small fleet of ships and sends most of them to the bottom of the ocean. He is somehow able to capture Missandei, one of Dany’s closest friends, and deliver her to King’s Landing too.
Dany, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Varys head to King’s Landing to try one final time to get Cersei to surrender. Cersei answers with executing Missandei in front of them.
This episode was a major downer. I honestly would rather watch “The Long Night” again than watch Dany, one of my favorite characters, streak down into a pile of piping hot rage. Because that’s where she’s headed, and you can’t really blame her.
Her destiny, the one thing that has kept her going all these years, is threatened by the man she loves. Her children, the dragons, are now down to one. Her armies of loyal Dothraki and freed Unsullied have been decimated. Two of her most trusted advisers, Jorah Mormont and Missandei of Naath have been taken from her.
What else is left to her but fire and blood?