Bring out your dead: the ‘Game of Thrones’ season finale
“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Were truer words ever spoken? First by the doomed Ygritte (Rose Leslie), then by the spurned Melisandre (Carice van Houten) to a man who stupidly thought they were speaking of love (or sex) when instead they were offering advice on policy.
In the face of near-universal rejection, Jon (Kit Harington) believed in across-the-Wall cooperation.
And like so many starry-eyed centrists before him, he died at the hands of his own party.
“For the Watch,” each fellow Crow cried as they stabbed poor Jon and left him to die in the final minutes of Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” finale, while even the most battle-hardened fans gasped their shock onto Twitter.
But Jon’s apparent death (that was a very long shot of blood on snow, and with Melisandre now in Castle Black, you never know) capped a season in which even a rape/infanticide controversy couldn’t disguise one hard truth: Some of these people have just got to go. For a few very simple reasons:
Even with Bran and company on Learning Tree hiatus, there were just too many plot lines.
If any more locations are added, the opening credits will last 15 minutes.
Any scene without Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams or a dragon is never quite as good as any scene with them (though Jonathan Pryce narrowed the gap considerably).
Writers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have said they are in the home stretch. Seven seasons have become conventional wisdom, but even should they stretch to eight, they need to at least start wrapping things up.
So is it any wonder that this year’s season finale left many of its main characters dead, probably dead, possibly dead, wishing for death and/or about to rain holy hell on her enemies?
Dead for sure: Myrcella Lannister (Nell Tiger Free), poison-kissed for purposes of revenge by Ellaria (Indira Varma); and Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) stabbed all over, starting with the eyes, for purposes of revenge by Arya (Williams).
Dead, if there is a god, many-faced or otherwise: Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), who killed his brother, his daughter and thousands of Westeros citizens to win the Iron Throne. Payback’s a red witch, Stannis.
Not dead, if (see above): Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Reek (Alfie Allen). Last seen jumping off the wall of Winterfell, into what we can only hope is a large and cushy snowdrift because that is no way for either of them to die.
Blinded, but maybe as metaphor: After killing Trant, Arya was apparently stricken blind for breaking some new House of Black and White rule. Her rheumy rolling eyes were strangely reminiscent of the far-sighted Bran, so best not draw conclusions.
Momentarily shamed almost to death but then just furious: Cersei (Lena Headey) was forced to confess to the High Sparrow (Pryce) and then walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing. Her despair was brief (and probably not so much about the nudity — she looked fabulous and we love the new pixie — as the spitting). When she realized that her new knight in shining armor was the revived Mountain, who could eat the High Sparrow for lunch, she perked right up.
Neither dead nor shamed but suddenly surrounded by Dothraki warriors: Whether Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is now imperiled or empowered, we must wait almost a year to discover.
During which time Weiss and Benioff will, no doubt, be plotting the next step of their “All Men Must Die” campaign, starting, one hopes, with the High Sparrow and his acolytes (did we ever think we’d be rooting for Cersei and the Mountain?).
But then zealots are such a bore, and an even bigger danger to themselves than centrists. Slowly the people of Westeros have risen, some from the dead, to influence their own fates, with wisdom and stupidity. In one of the best scenes of this season, Daenerys told Tyrion (and how great would it be if those two just got married?) that she didn’t want to stop the wheel of power, in which the great houses were spokes; she wanted to break it.
Certainly it’s halfway off the wagon already; this year’s focus on the rise of religious and patriotic zealotry in the gaps of war and title dispute proved that. But as interesting as all the various robed and murderous acolytes were, it was getting tough to keep track of them (wait, golden masks so it must be Meereen!), and, more important, they were taking too much valuable time away from already established characters like Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). (Seriously, how did Brienne miss the candle in the window?)
Bring back Bran and find Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer), tell us Sansa is alive, Arya isn’t blind and Brienne has fulfilled at least one of her oaths. Unleash the wrath of Cersei, and Dany’s dragons and spare Tyrion (Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) to the bitter end.
Perhaps all men must die, but no one’s said anything about women, children, dwarfs and eunuchs.
Who may just wind up ruling the world.
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