Ok, I know that title is a bit of a spoiler in and of itself. But if you’re looking at this review? You kind of knew it was coming. This episode was the penultimate episode of the series, and they were teasing this to be huge in its own way. And as my Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Review will show you, they lived up to just about every expectation possible, and threw in some twists that showed how dark this show can be.
I know it would be easy to start right with all the destruction and death. But honestly, the real way to start was the very somber and vivid opening. Varys starting to plot to overthrow the queen just like he told Tyrion he would do last episode. And then getting turned in by Tyrion and burned alive. This could’ve easily been very cheesy, but it was the character moments that made it worth it.
Tyrion telling Dany, then Dany not even being fazed by it, and putting together what Sansa and Jon had done. It was heartbreaking to see her like that (featured image above), and seeing Tyrion say that it was him, only for Varys to say goodbye and say “I hope I am wrong about her”, and then Dany burning him simply was very powerful. And the first of many deaths.
You could see then that the Dragon’s Madness was coming, and the “previously on” rolodex teased it too. But then, when Jon once again wouldn’t reciprocate her love for him, and she said, “fear it is”, you knew what was coming, even though all of you (even me) were praying it wouldn’t.
And for me, that’s the tragedy of Dany’s character this season. She came to the North to be seen as a savior, but all the North saw was the daughter (and granddaughter) of mad kings. She saved them, and she was still viewed as an outsider. Then she tries to finish what she started, to bring peace to the land, and people like Sansa resisted her. And then Cersei pulled a cheap shot and not only killed a dragon, but killed Missandei. All Dany wanted was to be loved like she was in Mareen and by those she freed from slavery. But all Westeros gave her was pain and loss. And I think we all know that this won’t end well for her now.
Ironically, and quite beautifully, they did show how Dany did learn her lesson from the ambush last week. She knew how to foil the Scorpions and their bolts. Which I bet was a bit of a way to make up for what happened last week when she could’ve done the same thing there, but oh well. Seeing her take out all of Euron’s fleet, and then all the Scorpion’s on the wall, and THEN taking out the Golden Company in one shot? That was poetry in motion!
And as Jon led the charge into the city, you were starting to get hopeful. Maybe this wouldn’t end in dragon fire. And then the Lannister army laid down their swords (something Cersei said would never happen), and you felt it…things were going to be ok. The people and soldiers screaming, “Ring the bells!”, which Tyrion said would signify surrender. It was happening, it was over! And they rang! And rang, and rang…
…and Dany didn’t care. The Dragon didn’t care. She didn’t listen to reason, she didn’t listen to logic, you could argue that she didn’t listen to her heart. She heard one word, the last word her best friend said.
Seeing King’s Landing start to be destroyed by Drogon was devastating. My heart truly sank as Dany took off and started to burn it all down. The beautiful shots of the civilians and soldiers trying to get away was breathtaking and horrifying. As was the shot of the North men and the Unsullied basically becoming unhinged as things spiraled.
Which of course brings me to Jon, he was relieved when the Lannister soldiers laid down their arms and the bells rang, and yet when Dany went off-script (pardon the pun), and his own men became barbarians? You could argue that it nearly broke him. He’s seen all sorts of horrors. Wildling attacks, the siege of The Wall, BOTB, and of course, the White Walkers. But this? This was human horror at its finest and worst. When one of his own men tried to take that girl, and he had to kill him to stop the madness? It was just another break in his heart.
But in contrast, Grey Worm was kind of digging it. He didn’t mind not fighting at first because that’s what Dany said to do if the bells rung. But once he got the initiative, he killed as many as he could. Because in his eyes, they were as much to blame as Cersei for the death of Missandei.
Moving on from the main foray, let’s talk about some of the best parts about the episode. Such as…Cleagane Bowl!!! We’ve been waiting for this for YEARS, and it finally came, and dear gosh it was a masterpiece. The brutality, the callbacks to the previous seasons. The Mountain overriding Kyburn’s “programming” of him, and then killing him! All the while Cersei is like, “Ok…I’m out…” was great.
This battle was intense from start to finish, and The Hound shouting “F**king DIE!!!!” was great, because you’re like, “What will it take to kill The Mountain?” And as the showrunners noted, the only thing The Hound hated more than fire, was his brother, and he knew he was going to make sure he didn’t live anymore. So for him to do the suicide dive with his brother was a great end to both characters. And easily a Top 5 GOT fight AND death scene.
Speaking of brothers, I nearly teared up during the Tyrion/Jaime scene. Yes, you could say that Tyrion was again showing his weakness for family by freeing Jaime and begging him to try one more time to get Cersei to surrender or to leave the city. But in this case, you knew he was doing it out of a place of love as well as desperation. He could see what Dany was becoming, and he truly felt that if the bells rung, that Dany would stand down, and Jaime he felt was his best chance for that. And watching Jaime struggle just to get to Cersei was powerful. From getting locked out of the gate, to trying to find a side way in, to fighting and kill Euron (YES!!!), and then finally finding her, it was wonderful.
And dang it, I almost sympathized with Cersei in this episode (almost). Mainly when she met Jamie. Lena Headey sold the heck out of that scene. Basically crying tears of joy as she saw her brother and lover and feeling that they could actually live through this. It’s the subtle moments of acting that gets you through scenes, and this was definitely that.
But, you knew it had to end, they couldn’t escape. And they didn’t, they died, together, in the catacombs of the Red Keep, in each others arms. A Shakespearean tragedy if there ever was one.
Before I get into the few down points of this episode. I want to praise the team behind the episode for its beautiful cinematography, camera work, and more. The focus on civilians as fire literally rained down from the sky was breathtaking. This was a fantasy-style horror film in many ways. The burning, the gore, the screams, it was tragic. The use of unnamed civilians to tell stories during this was great too.
As was Arya’s desperate attempt to get out of the city. Only to be trampled, saved by those unnamed civilians, then trying to save them, failing, and then basically being the last one standing at the end? That was great stuff.
You had to wonder how they would film this to be even better than the Battle of Winterfell, and they showed you how they could make it infinitely different. The use of music and anticipation was perfectly done. Especially during the beginning of the battle, the bell scene, and the Arya scene. It had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
That being said, while I will still give this episode a 5/5 (unlike last week where I thought it was a 5/5 but had my opinions swayed a bit, that didn’t happen here!), there were some things that did feel a little hollow.
First up, Cersei’s death. While it was Shakespearean in how it went down, and while it was a powerfully acted scene with the “Nothing Else Matters” bit…then dying via rock avalanche? It felt kind of weak. Everyone had their own version of Cersei dying, but I would bet a lot of money that none of them had her, let alone Jaime, going out like this. Plus, how can anyone confirm that she’s dead now? They can assume, but they won’t know unless they unbury it all, and I doubt they will.
Which brings me to Arya. The showrunners seem very determined to “break” the assassin that has been built up over seasons past. They did it rather fairly in the Battle of Winterfell when she hit her head and thus wasn’t able to focus and thus returned to fear. But after going ALL THIS WAY to King’s Landing, and getting probably a couple hundred feet away from Cersei…she decides to leave. Granted, The Hound was the reason, and it did make story sense for The Hound to try and ward her off like he did. But it felt too easy. And the showrunners noted afterwards that they basically did this so that Arya could have the “get out of Dodge” scene. Which was cool in terms of the scene…but not exactly powerful in terms of why she let Cersei “live”. Plus, now EVERYONE knows that Dany is going to be on Arya’s list after what she did. Which is cool in one way, but kind of sad in the other.
Those faults aside, I really did love this episode. It’s my favorite of the season, and will be in the best episodes list showed I ever make one for Game of Thrones. It was powerful storytelling, loads of tragedy, twists abound, and lots of death.
One episode left. How in the heck is this going to end?
Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Review
Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 may not be the resolution that many people wanted for certain storylines, but, it’s very hard to deny the results that were given. And the series finale will most certainly not go out without a bang.