The final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has arrived along with an avalanche of recaps, reviews, and other coverage on the internet, so Vulture’s comedy section decided we’d join in too. We are proud to announce that comedian and former professional reviewer Andy Daly has agreed to cover all six episodes of Game of Thrones’ season eight for us in a column titled “Throning It In With Andy Daly.” Check back here every Monday to see Daly’s thoughts on the latest GOT episode.
Hello again, “Throning It In” readers. Come, let us process together all that we have seen. And oh Lord of Light, it was a lot. This episode didn’t fuck around. It tilted headlong into sweet, sweet death and destruction! And dust. So much dust. Fans of dust (I know you’re out there), this was your episode! But before we get to that, a quick word about what an eventful week this has been offscreen for America’s least-favorite favorite TV show. Poor Game of Thrones was forced to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing for the minor crime of a stray coffee cup as well as the apparently much more serious matter of an insufficiently heartfelt good-bye to a cartoon wolf. The HBO subscriber-base rabble is becoming increasingly hostile toward this show in its waning days. Heading into last night’s episode, there was the strong stench of revolution in the air, but I suspect the awful spectacle did much to jam the senses and pulverize even the most critical fan into submission and then … quite a bit farther. Let’s get to it!
The episode opens on Varys, whose penmanship is truly lovely. I mean, I guess important stuff is going on, but if you can’t take time to appreciate penmanship like this, well, I just don’t know. It’s spectacular. Anyway, Varys is stirring shit up Varys style, letting someone know who the real king is and so forth, and then a little girl comes in and informs him that Daenerys has not been eating. I’m going to cut right to the chase here and point out that this is the most important piece of news in the whole episode. The next time someone tells me they’re going on a “juice fast,” I’m going to remind them of the events of this episode of Game of Thrones. It is SO IMPORTANT to eat healthy meals throughout the day. Failing to do so can radically affect your state of mind and make you turn INSANE. But I’m getting too far ahead …
Next up, Jon Snow arrives at wherever this place is and is greeted by Varys, who pitches him on betraying Daenerys and taking his rightful place on the Iron Throne. Varys breaks it to Jon that there’s a 50 percent chance that Daenerys is an ultraviolent lunatic, and Jon responds by telling Varys that he’s not good with riddles. That isn’t a riddle, Jon. It’s a troubling statistic. But oh well. Jon’s done listening. He doesn’t want to be king. Next we have a very dark and foreboding scene between Tyrion and Daenerys, in which she seems (a) nuts, (b) right about everything, and (c) REALLY hungry. She knows that Varys has been trying to derail her throneward journey, and she’s very fixated on how much Sansa hates her. That has me worried for next week. I’m now predicting that Daenerys is going to swoop down on Winterfell in the series finale and burn it up, and then burn up every other single thing in the entire world after that. And my record of predicting things on this show is pret-ty solid. This scary scene ends with a close-up shot of Daenerys’s suddenly ashen face, and we have a good long time to contemplate the ravages of those skipped meals. Trouble ahead!
After that we see Varys again. He seems to have considered that perhaps bad-at-riddles Jon is too dumb to be king, and he’s burning his gorgeous letter. That’s when Grey Worm shows up with an unmistakable “You’re about to get burned alive by a dragon” look on his face. And sure enough, Varys gets marched out to the beach, where Tyrion and Jon stand by as Daenerys passes sentence on Westeros’s most notable professional gossip. Tyrion and Varys mark the occasion profoundly, and Varys’s final words are “Good-bye, old friend.” Those are perfectly fine final words, but they’re nothing compared to what Conleth Hill, the actor who plays Varys, said when asked about what he’d miss now that Game of Thrones is over. He said, “I’m going to miss some of the people and all of the money. That’s what I’ll miss.” Brother, I hear ya. Daenerys’s dragon lights Varys up as everyone looks on, and oddly, Varys doesn’t let out a peep. We don’t get to see him, but, by the sound of it, he is totally chill about burning alive. That sure made me feel better about it. If he doesn’t mind, why should I?
Then we see Daenerys and Grey Worm still thinking about Missandei. They don’t appear to have transitioned out of the anger phase of grief, which is problematic. Daenerys talks about when they crossed the Narrow Sea, and it suddenly occurs to me that she talks about that a lot. Crossing a narrow sea is really not that impressive an accomplishment, lady. You’ve done better stuff. Let that one go. Jon Snow pops in, and Daenerys talks about how unloved she is compared to him and about how she can only rule through fear. Then she puts the moves on Jon, who is not into it, and Daenerys takes that as proof that love is not an option for her. But I think she’s forgetting that the reason Jon doesn’t want to get it on with her is that they are brother and sister, not that she’s unlovable. By the way, a lot of Game of Thrones fans seem to disagree that Jon and Daenerys are brother and sister but I checked. They are.
Next up is a scene between Tyrion and Daenerys that I found very confusing, but I’m sure that’s my fault. I got bored and started thinking about something else. Is that too honest? Tyrion is begging Daenerys to, what, surround the city and wait until the people rise up against Cersei, but Daenerys wants to attack? And Tyrion is afraid that any such attack would incur massive civilian casualties and turn the people against their new queen? Is that what’s happening? At some point, though, Daenerys says “Mercy is our strength,” which makes it sound like she’s agreeing with Tyrion. Maybe I should go back and rewatch this scene. (Note: I didn’t.) Anyway, Tyrion tells Daenerys that when she hears the bells, it means the city is no longer being defended by those loyal to Cersei and the attack should be called off, and Daenerys tells Tyrion that Jaime is in their custody. That much I got.
Then we have a scene at an army encampment, where Tyrion says he’s going to ask Davos a favor and then reminds Davos what a great smuggler he is. The scene ends on a mystery! What is the favor? Well, we never find out. Right? Did I miss something? I do not know what this scene was about. Then Arya and the Hound show up and pass through camp on their way to commit some very important murders. Then we take a break for a little comedy as Tyrion tries to speak Unsullied language. Ha ha ha. What fun, now shut up and get to the death and destruction, thank you very much. Then Tyrion proposes a really terrific idea to his brother: Jaime should help Cersei escape and then make sure the bells ring when they leave the Red Keep. It’s a perfect way of ending the siege of King’s Landing without a single person even getting a scratch. All it requires is for Daenerys to attack later than she intends to and for Cersei to suddenly become reasonable and realistic and humble about her chances of winning the battle. It can’t fail!
Then we have a little table-setting: We see the Tongueless Navy, peasants streaming into the gates of King’s Landing, the Hound and Arya skulking in with them, and the Golden Company looking spiffy in their fighting suits. In the middle of all this, Tyrion mentions his precious bells to Jon, who looks at him like he’s nuts. Jon has some idea that pretty-sounding bells aren’t really going to play that big a role in the day’s events. Maybe he’s not so dumb after all. Then, shit starts happening.
The last remaining dragon swoops down on Euron’s navy, and all of a sudden, giant crossbows pose no danger to dragons at all. None whatsoever. How did these crossbows kill the other dragon so efficiently? Why couldn’t he dodge these giant arrows? Did he have poor eyesight? It’s possible. I guess nobody in Westeros is making eyeglasses for dragons. Am I working harder to make sense out of this discrepancy than the Game of Thrones writing staff did? Probably. I guess we’re meant to feel that the sheer power of anger renders giant crossbows ineffective. If those fuckers hadn’t killed Missandei, they could have shot this dragon out of the sky too, but now, the dragon is pissed and can fly real good. Deal with it!
Next up, we see the Golden Company make a classic military blunder by forgetting that things can also happen behind them. They did not imagine for one second that the dragon might obliterate the city wall from the inside and start roasting soldiers with abandon. The Dothraki horde then charges from the front, and I will say this for the Golden Company: Elephants would not have helped.
What follows is a perfectly delightful battle scene. Good guys romping all over bad guys with a charming level of gore. A total joy to behold! Cersei’s creepy Hand of the Queen shows up by her side and delights in telling her all the awful news about how the battle is going, and Cersei takes it in stride. She believes her people will fight to the bitter end to defend her. And then, right away, we see how incredibly wrong she is when her soldiers are surrounded and they get all mopey and sad and just give up. And then we hear the cries of “Ring the bell!” At that point, we’re left to consider just how silly Tyrion was to be so worried about this battle. This was the bloodbath that was supposed to annihilate so many civilians? It was over in a few minutes and only killed soldiers. This is a very good outcome. All that’s left to do is negotiate a surrender for Cersei and get on with the rest of our wonderful lives in the splendid swords-and-sorcery world of this neat-o television program.
But wait, what’s that? Daenerys looking crazed and panting atop her one sharp-eyed dragon? Don’t tell me she didn’t bring snacks along for the big battle! If she still hasn’t eaten, her blood sugar must be terribly low and there’s no telling what she’ll do!! Oh nooooo.
Yes, sadly, now comes what felt like, and probably was, an hourlong festival of mindless, pointless destruction and death. Everything must go! Because why not?
All sorts of other things happen while peasants were being raped and burned alive for no reason. Euron and Jaime have a chance encounter and fight it out over their love of Cersei. They both get killed, but Jaime’s killing doesn’t stick. I think he might have said “Time out” right before getting stabbed. Anyway, he charges off to save Cersei even though it’s way too late to pull off Tyrion’s awesome plan. The Hound and Arya arrive in the Red Keep, and the Hound cautions Arya against a life of vengeance-seeking. She thanks him and gives up on killing Cersei. Or does she? Read on for my theory on that!
And then we get the big, long-awaited showdown between the Hound and The Mountain, the highlight of which is the moment when Cersei scoots past the Hound like “I’ll leave you two boys to it” and gets the fuck out of there. The epic battle between these two brothers is shot like a CGI dream, with golden light streaming through dust clouds as the ground crumbles beneath their feet. Early in the battle, the Mountain’s helmet comes off. I will leave the Anakin Skywalker comparisons to everyone else and take the contrarian position that the Mountain is surprisingly handsome. They are as evenly matched as we always knew they would be, but at one point, the Hound gets the better of his big brother and sinks his sword deep into the Mountain’s chest. That’s it, huh? Nope. He must have called time out too, because this fatal stab doesn’t bother the Mountain in the slightest. To his credit, the Hound actually seems fairly amused by his inability to kill his brother after all these years. The poor guy had no idea his brother was an immortal Frankenstein. All you can really do is laugh at that point. Shortly after the Mountain pulls his signature move — the thumb-to-eye skull-crush maneuver that has basically not stopped playing across my mind since he pulled it on Inigo Montoya several seasons ago — the Hound decides they might as well both go down together, and off they plunge into the void, where it seems probable that the Hound dies, but there’s no reason to believe that the Mountain gets hurt at all. Oh well.
Then Cersei and Jaime reunite and head out to safety, Jon realizes his own troops are likely to be incinerated next and orders them out of the city, and Arya tragically botches a peasant rescue. We rejoin Jaime and Cersei under the Red Keep, where their escape route has been demolished. Cersei finally seems to get what Tyrion has been saying all along about her baby. But it’s a wee bit too late. The ceiling starts to cave in on them, and here is my big theory about this episode. Ready? Okay, all season long I have been waiting and waiting for Arya to do that trick where she can put on someone else’s face and then kill somebody. I boldly predicted a few recaps ago that she was going to kill the Mountain and then wear his face to kill Cersei. But it appears I was just a little bit off. What I think happened in this episode is that Arya wore the face of the ceiling of the basement of the Red Keep and then killed Cersei by falling down on her, just like she told Ed Sheeran she was going to do! If that theory sounds dumb to you, well, yeah, it sounds dumb to me too — just dumb enough to be true!
In the final moment of the show, Arya wakes up covered in dust, like you would if you had just impersonated a crumbling ceiling in order to murder someone, and she sees a beautiful white horse and rides off into the final episode, in which Winterfell and everything else will be destroyed by a dragon.
Okay, that’ll do it! Tonight, by the way, was also the series finale of Veep, which, as I have never failed to point out to you in these recaps, I was in this season! I do hope you’ve had a chance to check it out, because Veep was a very special and hilarious show, and I dare say they sent it off brilliantly. And that brings me to the one regular feature of this column. Which guest role should I have been cast in, in this episode of Game of Thrones? Once again, it’s slim pickin’s. There was one frantic peasant who had a nice moment with Arya. I think he cried out, “Where’s my wife?!” I would have given them some alts, other stuff he could have been looking for as the city was reduced to rubble all around him. “Where’s my class ring?!” “Where’s my top hat?!” “Where’s my dwarf cock?!” (deep-cut callback).
All right, friends. See you next week, unless HBO decides we don’t deserve the last episode because of all your complaining. Careful!