TV & Movies

Last Night’s GoT Made Me *Significantly* Less Excited about GoT

The show has long had an issue with female writers, so *I* will pick up the slack. You're welcome

Image: HBO/Joel Louzado

#Demthrones is back y’all, but I? Am over it.

The second-to-last episode of the series aired on May 12, and at this point all I have to say is, let’s take a cue from Daenerys and burn it all down. Though it was heralded by the actors as “Shakespearean” and straight up “ahhh” by Emilia Clarke, the penultimate episode of the series was *actually* an opportunity for show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to essentially trash all of the best characters on the show.

From Jon Snow showing us that he really does know *nothing*, to Dany’s descent into madness, to Jaime and Cersei Lannister’s final moments, the whole episode was a massive rewind on any and all character development, and it seriously has me questioning if I should just get out now. Especially when it comes to three characters in particular.

Cersei Lannister

What happened: After eight seasons of being the villain we love to hate, Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, didn’t go down fighting, but instead died in a sea of pebbles.

After watching from the castle as Dany more or less burnt King’s Landing to the ground, Cersei and her pixie cut shed some tears, sidled past “Cleganebowl” and reunited with her baby daddy/twin brother Jaime Lannister. The duo made their escape to the Red Keep, where they shared some passionate parting words and embraced… and then they died as the Keep—and castle–crumbled on top of them.

Why this is trash: For *a lot* of reasons. This entire season, Cersei has pretty much played the role of “she-who-shall-not-be-named,” the big bad monster watching from afar. And while we never expected the dictator queen of Westeros to pull a Dany and be down on the battlefield in the fight for the Seven Kingdoms, we didn’t expect her to literally do nothing. It was like Jon Snow at the Battle for Winterfell all over again.

Time and time again, Cersei has proven herself to be an independent and capable villain who uses her powers of manipulation and strategy to get what she wants. It’s been a steadfast character trait since season one, and is one thing that characters like Sansa Stark have admired her for, and even tried to emulate in their own lives. (Remember when Sansa straight up duped Littlefinger into thinking he’d manipulated *her,* before having her lil sis execute him? Cersei was def her inspo.)

So: Cersei has been a villain since day one–and she’s never apologized for it. But that really didn’t come through in the latest episode. Up until the very last moment of her life, the writers were trying hard AF to humanize her. Why else would they have Tyrion assume she wouldn’t support senseless death (um, what)? Or have Jaime proclaim that everything she’s done has been for her children? Then, in the final scenes of the episode, there was yet another clear attempt to humanize Cersei, particularly in comparison to Daenerys. The queen was shown crying at the window as she looked out over King’s Landing burning, then—moments before her death—pleading with Jaime to not let her die, “not like this.”

Okay, maybe this was a woman *finally* realizing that she was actually facing her end, but the writers spent so long building Cersei up as the “bad guy,” that (similar to Brienne’s 180 last episode), this vulnerability seems completely out of character for the stoic, do-anything-necessary, unapologetic woman we’ve come to know and revile.  And TBH, it felt *a lot* like the writers trying to balance the scales. Now that they’ve settled on Dany’s whole Mad Queen vibe, it’s like they decided that they can’t have two female villains (which FYI, you totally can), and did a rush job on Cersei’s PR.

And finally, her death. While it’s in some ways fitting that Cersei died in the arms of the man she’s always loved (who just so happens to be her bro), like Missandei’s death in the last episode, Cersei’s demise left much to be desired. It didn’t seem fitting for this character—it was so complacent and out of her control, and TBH just kind of boring. And Cersei agrees. Lena Heady, the actress who plays the queen, told EW that her initial reaction to Cersei’s death was “mixed,” saying, “I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody.” Which, same.

What *should* have happened: First of all, she should have 100% been killed by Jaime (or, ooh, Arya Stark *as* Jaime)—and that’s not just wishful thinking on my part. It’s literally a prophecy. The Valonqar Prophecy, which Cersei heard as child from fortune teller Maggy the Frog, has been a constant throughout the series. It said that she would die at the hands of  the Valonqar, which translates from high Valyrian to “little brother.” People thought it could be a reference to Tyrion, but it could have also been Jaime—the younger twin.

Or, there’s another option. As one Twitter user suggested, it would have been far more satisfying to have everyone wronged by Cersei take part in—or at least see—her ultimate demise (#JusticeforLady). Is it gruesome? Sure. But would it have been fitting for the baddest villain on the show? 100%.

So basically:

Danenerys Taergaryn

What happened: Our girl went straight up Mad Queen. After overtaking King’s Landing with relative ease, Dany heard the bells chime (a symbol of surrender) and decided to just go ahead and burn the whole place down.

Why this is trash: Ok, yes GoT *has* been building Dany up as the Mad Queen. And yes, there have been hints of Dany’s bloodthirstiness during the previous seven seasons (like when she literally killed Sam Tarley’s fam with very little hesitation or remorse).

But that doesn’t make this characterization any more satisfying. Like Cersei, who was built up over seven seasons as a villain, the Dragon Queen has been similarly positioned as our heroine. We watched our silver-haired fave go from abused girl to Khaleesi to liberator of slaves (which in itself is a *tad* problematic) to an autonomous and viable option for the Iron Throne.

That’s why this direction feels relatively new, seriously rushed—and like a clear attempt to serve their end goal, not the narrative we’ve been following all along. Basically, Khaleesi’s entire schtick up until legit this episode has been that she’s a saviour, and one who always tries her best to take the non-violent route. So, even with the catalyst of Missandei’s death in the previous episode, Daenerys’s burn it up mentality *still* seems out of nowhere. We just haven’t had enough time to believe Dany as the Mad Queen entirely, because we’ve spent so long seeing her as a character we should love.

What *should* have happened: Literally anything else. Or I don’t know—maybe a tad more forethought? The writers should have used more of these 1.5 hour eps, or more of the past two seasons, to organically set up Dany as the Mad Queen. But by now we know that the writers are most likely setting up a showdown between Dany and Jon Snow, so whatever, this serves that I guess.

So basically:

Jaime Lannister

What happened: After doing the deed with Ser Brienne of Tarth and knighting her in a seriously sweet moment, the Kingslayer decided to up and GTFO of Winterfell in the middle of the night, leaving Brienne and heading back South for Cersei. In his farewell to Brienne, he essentially said that he is and always has been trash, and now we have to agree.

Why this is trash: Because honestly, what is character development at this point?

Jaime has had arguably one of the greatest character arcs of the show, from a Kingslaying, incestuous jerk to a humbled knight who not only saved Brienne, but was seemingly working against his sister for the good of the realm. And then, in the eleventh hour, after literally *just* taking Brienne’s virginity (which is a big MF deal), he realized he has secretly always been trash and bounces to be with Cersei?

I was optimistic at first that his leaving was all a ruse to actually murder Cersei, but alas, no such luck. And his final words to his sister—”Nothing else matters, only us”—had me literally *screaming* at my TV screen. Really? Nothing else matters? It all seems so contrary to who Jaime has become and a slap in the face to his evolution as a character.

We’re going to go through all of *this* just to have him revert back to who he was in episode 1 of the series?

In a legitimately *superb* 30-tweet thread, University of Connecticut professor Daniel Silvermint broke down exactly why this season feels so different from the previous ones—and why characters that we’ve come to know, love and sometimes despise, are suddenly doing things that we would never expect them to do. Essentially: GoT and its vast number of plotlines have become so unwieldy that getting to the ending the showrunners—and audience—want requires sacrificing the journey and development of these characters.

This turns characters who used to have “incredible depth and agency” into literal pawns.

And you can seriously feel it with characters like Jaime. After seven seasons of building him up as a redeemed hero, they let him go down as just another incestuous f-ckboy, throwing out all of his progress and good deeds along the way (and TBH, making his consummation with Brienne an episode prior seem even more like unnecessary fan service).

What *should* have happened: He should have killed Cersei. Honestly, it may have been somewhat expected at this point (that whole prophecy thing, ya know?). But his involvement in her death—whether he was actually delivering the final blow or not—is honestly the only ending I would have considered a fitting conclusion to his arc. It would have been a symbolic severing of his ties to his seriously problematic sister, setting him up to fulfill his role as redeemed hero.

Maybe the Kingslayer would have stabbed Cersei and then succumbed to his own wounds from Euron Greyjoy, maybe he would have done a complete 360 and pushed Cersei out of the window à la Bran, or maybe he would have just watched as she was killed—locking eyes with his sister and once-love, but refusing to intervene. *That* would have been reason enough for Cersei to cry, and reason for us to rejoice.

So basically:

In conclusion, this is all trash.


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