throning it in with andy daly

Andy Daly Will Miss Game of Thrones, But Not the Rat Buckets

Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture and Photos by HBO and Getty Images

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, reader. Today brings the upsetting news that Game of Thrones has been abruptly canceled only six episodes into its latest season. So ends HBO’s lavishly expensive tribute to the inherent superiority of people from well-established, land-owning families. It will be missed!

I assume most Game of Thrones fans will be infuriated and disgusted by what has turned out to be the final episode of the show because that seems to be the general reaction to this season. In fact, incredibly, this week brought the news that over 1 million dumbasses actually signed a petition to demand that HBO hire a new creative team to rewrite and then reshoot the entire eighth season of Game of Thrones. What?! These are 1 million people who literally have no idea how anything in the whole wide world works. Every single HBO subscriber plus every person who watches it with their ex-girlfriend’s HBO Go log-in could sign that petition, and HBO still wouldn’t do anything like that. What an idiotic idea! HOWEVER, I will say one thing in defense of these ridiculous petition signers: In my opinion, digitally removing that Starbucks cup from episode four opened the door to this petition. Fans saw that coffee cup removed and said, “Well, as long as you’re willing to change things …” I think HBO would have saved itself some aggravation if it had forcefully stood by the Starbucks cup as a creative choice and justified it by saying that there’s a portal between Game of Thrones World and Earth. Frankly, that would have explained a lot, like the fact that so many of these people speak English, for one thing. That’s weird, right? There are a bunch of made-up languages that don’t exist on Earth, but then most people speak English? Hard to imagine how that would come about. Unless there’s a portal. Maybe we should get a petition going to make HBO put the Starbucks cup back in and then add in a few references to the portal here and there. It could just be off-screen ADR lines, like a couple of soldiers in the deep background, and one says to the other, “I went through the portal last week and saw Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show. So great!” Just a few things like that. It’d be a hell of a lot easier than rewriting and reshooting the whole season, that’s for sure.

I’ve been sorry to see that so many people are disappointed with this season of Game of Thrones. There was no danger of that happening to me because I was never so wild about the show to begin with, to tell you the truth. After all, it was Game of Thrones that introduced me to the idea that a bucketful of rats will crawl through a person’s chest to get away from hot flames. Believe it or not, that had never occurred to me, let alone danced across my nightmares, before I saw it on this messed-up TV show. Game of Thrones and I have never really been friends since that night because Game of Thrones is mean to me. And if the rat-bucket thing hadn’t done it, the end of “The Mountain and the Viper” would have. I will simply. Never recover. From that. But I kept watching the show. Well, a lot of it anyway. Why? That’s a fair question. Maybe it’s because the performances were always perfect. Maybe it’s because the look and tone and feel of the show were always intriguing and inviting, or maybe it was just because so many elements of storycraft were so expertly employed that Game Of Thrones was actually chemically addictive to me. Suspense, cliffhangers, delicious villainy, and surprise twists compelled me to tune in every week no matter what garbage I was subjected to. Like, really, I didn’t have a choice.

Those are complicated feelings to have toward a television show, and I imagine all the people who wanted such different things from this season have similarly complex emotional involvements. Plus, I’ve never read the books by George Railroad Martin, so I was never comparing the show to some ideal version in my head. I’m sure that complicates things further. But look, this final episode was just fine with me. And I’m not just saying that because I’m so glad to be kicking an addiction. It was fine. It was perfectly fine. Of course, I’ve always been satisfied with the way Deadwood ended, so what do I know? Hearst up, Swearengen down, onward into a grim and profane future. Good enough. I guess I’m easy.

Well, with that, let’s get this motherfucker recapped!

The episode begins with Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Davos touring the destruction of King’s Landing: dead children, burned-up bodies, an extremely messed-up peasant walking around. This is an unpleasant stroll. Tyrion then heads up to the royal castle or whatever they call it, passing by his precious bell on the way. He walks on the destroyed map of the world and then down to the basement where, last week, Arya, disguised as the ceiling, murdered Cersei and Jaime by falling on them. Arya appears to have then covered her victims in bricks to prevent anyone suspecting her. Smart! Tyrion sees a little daylight at the top of the rubble, and for a moment it looks like this whole episode might just center around a frantic manhunt for Jaime and Cersei, but nope, they’re dead. Tyrion doesn’t seem as happy about it as I am, which I get. Kind of.

Meanwhile Jon and Grey Worm, who has always seemed so sweet but is now just a bloodthirsty jerk, have a disagreement about whether or not to commit war crimes. Davos councils Jon to let a few more war crimes slide for now in the name of peace, and Jon agrees and heads off to speak with his queen as throats get slit in the street. Then Arya and Jon make their way through the rowdy Dothraki horde and their unlikely pals in the Unsullied army. The weather here in King’s Landing has taken as abrupt and inexplicable a turn as Daenerys’s character did last week. Yesterday was a perfect summer day, and now it’s snowing and gray and somber. I guess this is that winter I kept hearing was coming?

The dragon swoops down with Daenerys on his back. She gets off and looks for a moment like she has dragon wings, which would have been interesting! But she doesn’t. Daenerys then proceeds to give a megalomaniacal speech, and man, she can really project to the back of the house too. Her soldiers hoot and holler at her every pronouncement, which are delivered in Unsullied language and very helpfully subtitled. Troublingly, she claims to have freed the people of King’s Landing. Yeah, freed them from their skin. And then she says, to great cheers from the troops, that they will now go on to free everyone the world over. I can only take that to mean that every single person is going to die. We’re right back where we started at the beginning of this season. More apocalypse. This is exhausting! Tyrion stands by her side, expresses displeasure with her for slaughtering an entire city, and then resigns. The sound of his little pin clattering onto the steps silences the entire military, who evidently can’t get enough of this kind of palace intrigue. Daenerys commands that Tyrion be imprisoned, and then Arya sneaks up on her brother again and implores him to do something about this crazy murder queen or else he’ll be next!

Jon then visits Tyrion in prison, which Daenerys’s guards probably should not have allowed. Clearly nothing good was going to come of this visit for the queen. Hey, remember that silly moment from last week’s episode when Tyrion spoke a little Unsullied language and you might have wondered why the show took time out of an important episode for that nonsense? Well, it kind of paid off here when Tyrion tells Jon all the scary things Daenerys said in her speech. He then claims that Daenerys is worse than any Lannister ever was, and then this becomes one of two scenes in this episode where somebody tries to make Daenerys’s evil turn in episode five seem less from out of nowhere. Tyrion reminds us that she murdered slavers, crucified nobles, and burned khals alive. He goes on to say that Daenerys believes she can make this world a paradise and that she must kill an enormous number of people in order to achieve that. Yeah? Huh. Okay. Is that what her character has been about all this time? Are you sure she didn’t just suddenly go bananas at the worst possible moment? Maybe something horrible happened to her when she was a child, there were bells ringing when it happened, and ever since, the sound of bells makes her completely lose her mind? I don’t know. I’m trying. The scene ends with Tyrion basically telling Jon he has to rise up against Daenerys because it’s his duty, because it’s the only way to defend himself, because the lives of his sisters are at stake. He throws the kitchen sink. But Jon seems content to die if his queen wishes him to. What a weird dude he turned out to be, huh?

Then Jon goes to have a private chat with Daenerys by the famous Iron Throne, which somehow survived the destruction of King’s Landing. I guess this throne is pretty tough and will be around forever, huh? Before Jon enters the room, Daenerys spends what felt like a half an hour of screen time checking out that chair. It’s almost as if the show’s producers were answering the biggest criticism people have been making of their show lately: “Oh, you think this season is rushed, do you? Well, how long do you think a TV show would make you watch a woman looking at a chair? Whatever it is, triple it! That’s how long we’re holding this shot. Whose season is rushed now, asshole?!”

Daenerys starts their chat off with some good-natured reminiscing, but her brother Jon is just not in the mood. He’s pretty disappointed about all those scorched children. Daenerys then explains her worldview just like Tyrion did, and it makes the same amount of sense to me as it did when he said it. But then she gets in close and sexily asks Jon to rule by her side. Incredibly, unbelievably, Jon then pledges his undying fealty to the Mad Queen, thus ensuring that millions of people all over the world, including his very own sisters, will be “liberated” by way of dragon fire. At this point in my note-taking, I wrote the word dipshit and then, in the very next instant, I became the dipshit as Jon Snow took the Godfather II kiss-of-death move to the next level and stabbed Daenerys in the heart while kissing her on the lips. Sex and death finally put their differences aside to work together in perfect harmony here. For poor, unloved Daenerys this was a pretty good way to go out — you have to admit. Jon cries over her corpse, and then the dragon seems to sense that something is not quite right. He pops in to sniff around and immediately gets what’s going on here. For the second time this season, Jon stares down a dragon that’s about to set him ablaze, and again he is saved by the most improbable of circumstances. This time, the surprisingly wise dragon realizes that his mother was killed not by the man wielding the sword but by the lust for power that drives all men to violence and depravity. Rather than aim his fire at Jon, he melts the Iron Throne! Jon Snow will live another day thanks to this giant roaring beast’s acute understanding of the power of symbols. Phew! Then the dragon swoops up Daenerys and takes off to wherever the last dragon in the world would go with his mother’s dead body. He seems to have a plan.

The episode then went to black for a longish beat in a possible reference to the Sopranos finale. I thought it was all over and pronounced it a pretty good ending to this show, and then suddenly Tyrion was lying down on my TV. This is another visual we really got to soak in for a loooong time. Would a rushed season make you watch a guy lie down this long? I think not.

Grey Worm then escorts Tyrion to a crumbling arena where we see some welcome faces arrayed in a kind of council of elders. All our favorites are there: Sam, Brienne, Gendry, Theon’s badass sister, Bran, Sansa, a guy who must be from Dorne because he dresses just like the poor, poor Viper dressed. It turns out Jon and Tyrion have been in prison quite a while, and the Seven Kingdoms have been under military rule all that time, with still-angry Grey Worm calling the shots. They all agree that it’s up to the king or queen to decide what will happen to Jon and Tyrion and therefore, they need to figure out who that person is going to be. Some dude who I guess I’m supposed to remember from previous episodes stands up and comically puts himself forward for the job before being told to sit down by Sansa. Then Sam sides with the dragon and suggests democracy, and for a moment, it felt like we were about to launch into a Schoolhouse Rock! song but then everybody, even our heroes, chortles at the silly idea of empowering the disgusting shit-covered peasants of this grim and horrid world.

Then Tyrion is, for some reason, asked to suggest a king, and he makes the worst possible suggestion. Appealing to humanity’s love of a good story, he insists that Bran should serve as king, and he helpfully nicknames him “Bran the Broken.” If the word broken doesn’t inspire confidence in a ruler, what will? But also, Bran’s story is so great? Is it? What even is Bran? What does it mean to be the Three-Eyed Raven? What exactly can he do? What are the rules of warging? If Bran’s story is such a great one, I sure wish someone had told it to me. I don’t get that guy at all. And Bran’s response to the question of whether he’ll serve as king is classic cryptic Bran: “Why do you think I came all this way?” What do you mean by that? You knew this was going to happen? How? Ugh. Everything this guy says is annoying. Well, I guess they’ve had a Mad King and now they’re going to find out what it’s like to have a Maddening King. Good luck! I don’t think it’s going to go so well. As his first kingly acts, he commands Tyrion to go find that pin he threw down on the stairs and be his Hand, and then he gives his big sister what she wants and allows the North to be independent. Was that one of the kingdoms? Is he now King of the Six Kingdoms? Who cares?

Next up, we find out Jon has been banished to the Night’s Watch for the crime of murdering a genocidal lunatic. This is exactly the sentence that was given to his father way back in season one, and if his head hadn’t been lobbed off by Joffrey before he could travel north, none of this seven seasons’ worth of crazy crap ever would have happened and we all could have done whatever we wanted with our Sunday nights. Hang onto that head, Jon!

On his way to the ship that will take him north, Jon runs into his siblings. Sansa gives him a big hug, which is pretty brave given that the last time a sister of Jon’s hugged him, she got stabbed in the heart. Arya announces that she’s going to go out to the lands beyond where the mapmakers have gone and will likely never return. That’s an odd choice but okay. Then Bran says one last weird Branny thing to Jon and off he goes.

We find Brienne in some stately library where, accompanied by soaring strings in the soundtrack, she updates Jaime Lannister’s Wikipedia page. Her handwriting is almost Varys-level, by the way. The Westeros public-school system had an excellent penmanship curriculum, I have to say. Good for them!

Then we see Tyrion readying for a small-council meeting, where he is soon joined by Bronn of Highgarden, Davos, and Sam, who looks like he might have fallen in with the Sparrows. Sam presents Tyrion with a giant book called — oh brother — A Song of Ice and Fire. I guess this is a variation on the old “the whole show has been someone’s dream” ending. I was waiting for Tyrion to flip through a few pages and say, “You mean we’ve been characters in a big dumb book this whole time?!” but Bran wheeled in before he could. Bran offers to find the dragon and then immediately leaves the meeting, whereupon it devolves into a crushingly dull conversation about financing and water management. The message seemed to be that peace and tranquility would be so dull to watch that it’s time to end Game of Thrones.

Jon arrives at the Night’s Watch where he’s reunited with Giantsbane and then, much more importantly, his wolf! The wolf that everyone was so pissed off about a few weeks ago is there waiting for him! See that? He’s back with his wolf. Can we call off the petition now, you bunch of big babies? Jesus. People were mad about that.

The episode ends with Arya looking pretty psyched about sailing to the end of the world and Jon riding off with all the Wildlings into a forest. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. He’s also going off the map into uncharted territory? Are we meant to be left with the idea that the universe of Game of Thrones is going to expand outward from here into new books, TV shows, movies, and theme parks? I have no idea, but for now, I am pleased that our nation’s unhealthy relationship with this show can, at the very least, pause.

Well, folks, that’s it for “Throning It in With Andy Daly.” Recapping Game of Thrones was a weird itch and I am very thankful to Vulture for letting me scratch it. I’ve sure had fun and I have enjoyed the feedback, including from all you poor deluded souls who can’t accept that Jon and Daenerys were brother and sister. Look it up. No, not there. Somewhere else. I always end these columns by reminding you to watch the much, much funnier Veep, which ended last week, but you can still find it probably. That show, by the way, ended perfectly. I also always tell you which guest role I should have played in each episode, and this week, I just would have wanted to be one of the Dothraki guys whooping it up on their horses. They seem so happy all the time. Just riding around swinging their swords and hollering. That’s all those guys want. Me too.

Okay that’s all thanks and bye!

Andy Daly Will Miss Game of Thrones, But Not the Rat Buckets