Jerks of the Week: The Abomination That Was Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 5
Kenny Ortiz (from FantasyJabber.com) and I do a Game of Thrones recap podcast each week. Here's our most recent episode:
You may or may not have noticed that we didn't post an episode this week. Kenny's schedule has been hectic, so he just didn't have the time to record. Meanwhile, I've been on vacation and thus couldn't schedule a recording with someone else in the afternoon.
Instead, I've decided that the latest Jerks of the Week entry (posted Friday instead of May 20) will be about my rant regarding the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. My apologies if you're not a fan, but this once-great show has gone into the crapper, and I need to rant about it. This entry would not have been necessary had Kenny and I recorded, so here we are.
As I usually do with Kenny, I'll break down the episode, scene by scene, and then deliver my latest crackpot theory. I promise that this crackpot theory will be the best crackpot theory yet. You will not be disappointed.
Varys' decline, as with Littlefinger in Seasons 5-7, has been emblematic of the show's erosion. If you have time, re-watch the Littlefinger and Varys scenes from the first four seasons. They're absolutely brilliant. The way the two characters were scheming was my favorite part of the show. It was the ultimate chess match between a pair of masterminds. The cool part about the show was that we were able to see multiple interactions between the two. George R.R. Martin didn't give either of them a single point-of-view chapter in the books - a wise thing to do, as they know more than anyone else, so having them narrate would give the reader too much information - so the scenes where Littlefinger and Varys spoke to one another were unique to the show. I once told Kenny that I could watch Littlefinger and Varys talk to one another for an hour.
This, however, changed in Season 5, when Martin left the show. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are horrible writers, and thus it can't be a surprise that Littlefinger and Varys became imbeciles as collateral damage. In Season 7, Littlefinger, who orchestrated the entire war between the Lannisters and the Starks, was outsmarted by a pair of teenage girls. Varys, meanwhile, has been a bumbling fool the past two years. The eunuch, who once had the greatest spy network in the entire realm, didn't know what Cersei was doing at any point. He wasn't able to provide Daenerys Targaryen with any sort of knowledge that could help her defeat her enemies. He was so utterly useless that I thought Varys was surely betraying Daenerys in favor of Cersei.
As it turns out, Varys was dumber than Littlefinger. Martin's Varys never would've approached Jon Snow, in broad daylight, and talked openly about treason. He practically said, "Hey Jon Snow, how about some treason, hurr durr?"
Varys was executed at the 15:20 mark of the episode - counting the opening credits and the "previouslys" - and yet it was 15 minutes and 20 seconds that were absolutely wasted. The greatest schemer in all the land failed to poison Daenerys - I presume, given that he asked the little girl in the opening scene if Daenerys was eating or not - and then was caught red-handed because he spoke to Jon Snow openly about overthrowing the queen. How about, I don't know, getting the same girl to poison her water? Daenerys may not be hungry, but she has to drink at some point. Surely, this would've been a better strategy than pleading for Jon Snow to commit treason as soon as he got off his f***ing ship.
R.I.P. Varys. You, like Littlefinger, were once an amazing character, but were killed off because Benioff and Weiss care more about zombie polar bears and Arya side boob rather than good character development and logical storytelling. The Season 1-4 version of you will be missed.
Jon Snow Rejects Daenerys Scene:
Jon Snow could have prevented Daenerys completely losing it by kissing her passionately and then having sex with her. I don't completely blame him for acting as he did in this scene, given the confusing elements in regard to his relationship with the queen.
That said, I have two issues regarding this scene, as well as Jon Snow's actions:
First, Jon said "I love you. You're my queen." Daenerys responded, "Is that all I am to you? Your queen?" Umm... he just said, "I love you." Why did she ignore that? And why does Jon Snow love her anyway? He hasn't known her for very long. This whole thing seems ridiculous.
Second, and this is something I said on last week's podcast, I don't know why Jon Snow told his sisters about this situation. His decision to do so sparked Daenerys' fury in the second half of this episode, given that Sansa betrayed them both by sharing Jon's secret. I really don't like that Jon Snow told his sisters about his heritage. Ned Stark, whose honor Jon Snow respected, didn't inform a single soul about who Jon Snow really was. He didn't even share the secret with his wife! The only living person, besides Ned, who knew that Jon Snow was secretly a Targaryen was Howland Reed, and only because he was present at the Tower of Joy. It would've been nice to see Howland Reed on the show at some point, but Benioff and Weiss spent way too much effort trying to get a zombie polar bear to appear.
By the way, if you're wondering about my infatuation about Benioff and Weiss wanting a zombie polar bear on the show, there's an interview where one of those bozos - I think it was Weiss - spoke five minutes straight about working so hard to secure the budget for a zombie polar bear. It's not that the zombie polar bear wasn't neat; it was just proof that Benioff and Weiss prioritized the show being "cool" over making sure they stayed true to character development and great storytelling. They didn't care about those things. They just wanted their precious zombie polar bear.
Well, they got their zombie polar bear. Apparently, they used all of their CGI bucks on it, given that we couldn't get a freaking moment of Jon Snow giving Ghost a pat on the head.
Tyrion and Jaime Scene:
It's a shame that the brilliant acting between these two had to be spoiled by the ridiculousness surrounding the scene. Here's the rundown of all the blunders:
1. I love how Jaime was finally captured by Daenerys' troops. He somehow escaped following the crazy battle during the previous season despite 100,000 Dothraki looking for him, yet he was caught trying to sneak into King's Landing. Talk about a dichotomy of good and bad luck. Well, more like bad and worse writing.
2. It's unbelievable that Tyrion was able to easily convince Davos to smuggle Jaime into King's Landing. Tyrion was able to get Davos to do this by asking for a favor. Why in seven hells would Davos do Tyrion a favor? The two barely know each other. If I'm Davos, why would I make an enemy of the queen just to do Tyrion a favor? It makes zero sense.
3. Tyrion remarked that as Hand of the Queen, he outranks whoever imprisoned Jaime by a large margin. Who was this, exactly? Was Daenerys not made aware that Jaime f***ing Lannister was caught trying to break into King's Landing to potentially save his sister? I don't understand why she wouldn't be making the decisions behind Jaime's sudden imprisonment.
4. A guard tried to stop Arya Stark and the Hound from entering camp, as if he didn't know who they are. Yes, I'm sure he was unaware of a large man with a half-burnt face and the girl who single-handedly defeated the army of the undead.
My favorite part here was when Arya told the guard who they are, he replied, "I need to speak to my captain." What? Why would he do that? Does he really think he needs to get permission for Arya Stark, sister of the King in the North, to pass through? Furthermore, why didn't Jaime act this way? Couldn't he tell a guard that he was here to help defeat Cersei? Why did he allow them to imprison him?
It's simple writing blunders like this that would never have occurred under Martin's watch. Benioff and Weiss, well, you get it. Zombie polar bears and such.
Daenerys Destroys the Iron Fleet Scene:
Euron Greyjoy was able to kill Daenerys' other dragon very easily in the previous episode, successfully hitting Rhaegal with three ballista strikes. Here, he nearly connected with a shot to Drogon once, and that's it. Drogon torched Euron's fleet with ease in response.
Why didn't this happen in the previous episode? It took Euron's ships forever to turn around - hence him yelling, "turn around!" once Drogon flew by the first time - so why didn't Daenerys attack the ships from behind in Episode 4 like she did here? It would've been cool if Daenerys had Gendry smith some dragon armor for Drogon to render the ballistas useless, but absolutely nothing changed from the previous encounter.
The Golden Company Dies Scene:
Well, that was anticlimactic. Perhaps Harry Strickland's force would've had a chance if they had those elephants.
Speaking of which, I wonder if Benioff and Weiss were pushing for a zombie elephant. I'm willing to bet any sum of money that they at least had discussions of paying for zombie elephant CGI.
Cersei in Denial Scene:
Cersei talked about how the Red Keep has never fallen, and that all she needs is "one good shot."
Good lord, talk about a disappointing villain. I've said all along that they should've dealt with Cersei in Season 7. Arya should've gone south and killed Jaime once he decided to leave Cersei. Then, posing as Jaime using her Faceless Men skills, Arya could've choked Cersei to death, fulfilling the valonqar prophecy.
Disposing of Cersei in Season 7 would've allowed Game of Thrones to fully concentrate on the Night King this season. Imagine if they had the time to dedicate some time on a back story of the Night King. There should have been two Night King battles; one at Winterfell, and one near King's Landing, with perhaps some background on him in between. Then, we could've seen Jon Snow battle the Night King, and yet still preserved the "surprise" Arya assassination at the very end, if Benioff and Weiss still wanted to go in that direction.
I know there are some who hated that Arya killed the Night King. I did not. I was just very frustrated with how it happened. There needed to be more background on the Night King because the completely outmatched Cersei seemed way too futile by comparison.
Daenerys Loses It:
And here we have it. Daenerys snapped and killed everyone.
This was absolutely horrible. Throughout the show's history, we've seen Daenerys take vengeance on those who wronged her and innocents, from the warlocks in House of the Undying, to the slave masters in Astapor. Conversely, Daenerys has always shown mercy to victims. She prevented the witch from being raped in Season 1. She freed the Unsullied as well as the slaves in Slavers' Bay. She discussed freeing the people of King's Landing of Cersei's rule by "breaking the wheel." Her entire story arc was built on saving innocent people.
And yet, it all changed. All because six people - one of whom was a burnt eunuch - knew that Jon was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
I can understand Daenerys snapping and wanting to kill Jon Snow. I could buy that. But for her to burn everyone in King's Landing because she suddenly snapped is completely and utter nonsense. There are some who buy the "Mad Queen" narrative, but it took the Mad King 15 years to lose his mind. Here, it happened in three episodes.
It seems to me that Benioff and Weiss did this just based on shock value. They described Arya's assassination of the Night King in a similar fashion.
Shock value will surprise some, but to build a narrative based on it is terrible writing. There was nothing to warrant Daenerys' reaction toward innocent people. Absolutely nothing.
Jaime Versus Euron Scene:
Euron is the only person in the Iron Fleet who survived, thanks to plot armor. Then, he was able to battle Jaime in one of the least-interesting sword fights I have ever seen.
It was painfully obvious that Jaime would win, despite his inability to use his right hand, because he has stronger plot armor than Euron.
By the way, it sucks that the show completely ruined Euron. He's so much more interesting in the books. If you haven't read the books, check them out. They are so much better than this tripe.
Arya and the Hound Final Scene:
So, let me get this straight: Arya rode down all the way from Winterfell to King's Landing in order to take the final name off her list, only to turn back because the castle was crumbling?
I don't buy that at all. It seemed like everyone did something out of character in this episode, and Arya was the No. 2 offender (I'll get to who No. 1 was later.) She transformed into a ruthless assassin who killed off an entire family, and her main goal was to murder Cersei. Yet, when she was in the very next room, she turned around and left? Am I crazy, or was this absolutely horrible?
Clegane Bowl Scene:
For once, I'm not going to complain about anything. This was great, and it had me on the edge of my seat. Game of Thrones has had some of the worst writing on TV ever since Stannis murdered his daughter in Season 5, yet the action is still tremendous.
Jaime and Cersei Death Scene:
The theme of this episode, as mentioned, was that everyone did something out of character, or regressed to a much earlier state. Arya was the secondary offender, while Jaime was primarily guilty of this.
Jaime's story arc was completely ruined. He vindicated himself by leaving Cersei, apologizing to Bran and then helping to defeat the Night King. The story of Jaime's redemption was incredible, yet in his final moments, he reverted to being Cersei's lover. It was awful writing.
I have to say though, a reader pointed out to me that there was some brilliant foreshadowing of this, dating all the way back to the first episode of this series. Remember when Jaime pushed Bran out the window? That was some major foreshadowing of the writers throwing Jaime's story arc out the window in the final season.
Arya Running Around Scenes:
The writers and the directors "tricked" us into believing that Arya died several times while running around, attempting to escape and save others. No one was fooled.
This was painful to watch. I feel like Arya shouldn't have been so rattled, and it's silly that she was the only one to repeatedly survive. It just goes to show that you can have chain mail, or leather armor, or iron armor, or steel armor, or scale armor, or moonbeam armor, and yet none of it is as strong as plot armor.
Arya's Horse Scene:
Forgive me, but writing "Arya's horse scene" reminded me of those great "Hannah and Her Horse" commercials from 2015:
There's some debate over what this scene meant, but I was most upset that the horse - presumably Harry Strickland's - didn't have completely white eyes. This would mean that Bran warged into the horse and brought it to Arya to save his sister. This would've been a great touch, but God forbid the writers put Bran's warging powers to creative use.
At any rate, I assume Arya riding a pale horse means that she's now death. Perhaps she'll be the one to kill Daenerys in the final episode, though my money is still on Jon Snow. My wife believes that Daenerys will order Drogon to kill Jon, but Drogon won't listen.
I personally don't know anymore. The writing is so bad that the show is completely unpredictable. But I guess this is exactly what Benioff and Weiss wanted. Well, besides zombie polar bears.
Here it is. The best Game of Thrones crackpot theory you'll ever read.
At some point in the final episode, most likely toward the end, everyone will stop what they're doing. Daenerys will stop nonsensically murdering innocents. Tyrion will stop acting like an idiot. Jon Snow will stop hating his direwolf. Hot Pie will stop baking bread. Everyone will stop. There will be a freeze frame of sorts where no one moves.
And then, a large man will appear on screen. No, not Robert Baratheon. It'll be George R.R. Martin. And he'll say the following:
"Surprise! This is not how Game of Thrones will end. This season has been a ruse. I have helped David Benioff and D.B. Weiss write a proper end to this show, so stay tuned next year for the real Season 8 - with the sixth book to follow!"
That's it. That's the ultimate crackpot theory. I can't imagine a single person not wishing for this to come true.