Whatever you do, do NOT go online and read opinions or recaps of this week's episode of Game of Thrones, "The Last of the Starks." Even this recap! Get out of here! I already got your click. Things are a mess on the internet, and having tunneled through the bowels of the world wide web for "Dracarys!"-level hot takes, I simply do not know if I am supposed to like this week's episode or not.
People loved the episode and hated the episode at the same time, it seems, which is really all the proof you need that Game of Thrones is effectively high art. This show combines billion-dollar budgets with just enough emotion to create a spectacle that can't be missed, even if you don't like it. Everyone saying they didn't like the episode is already drooling for the next episode, I'll wager, because Game of Thrones is the best even when it's the worst. I loved this episode, except for the parts I hated. We all have a complicated relationship with Game of Thrones right now, and that is OK.
Let's recap: Things started off with corpse cleanup following the massive battle of Winterfell, which ended with a young girl poking the tummy of the greatest threat to humankind. It was rightfully a time to be sad and reflect on all the devastating losses the good guys took: Beric, Jorah, Edd, Lyanna... seeing their pale bodies resting on pyres was all very sad! But seeing Theon warmed my cold heart. Burn in heck, you traitor. Remember when Theon pledged loyalty to Robbt and then betrayed him and took Winterfell by force in the name of his tentacled cousins who didn't even like him? The North remembers! (But apparently, most viewers don't, as I keep seeing people loving his arc and redemption. Those people are softies and would last exactly 26 seconds in Westeros. I don't know what to do with myself with no more Theon to be mad at.)
Then, to celebrate the fallen, everyone got absolutely hammered and had lots of sex.
The liquid courage apparently went beyond the screen, because the Game of Thrones writers felt brave enough to dump lots of fan service on us in back-to-back scenes that left me perplexed and nauseous. The crimes started with Dany (Emilia Clarke) giving Gendry (Joe Dempsie) a healthy promotion from guy who makes rocks sharper to freakin' Lord of Storm's End, despite not even knowing him. The new gig left Gendry bloated with confidence and maybe a little horniness, so the lord went looking for his lady and PROPOSED MARRIAGE to Arya (Maisie Williams). It didn't go well.
After Tyrion's drinking game of "If I state an obvious fact about you, you drink" that exposed the obvious fact that Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) was a virgin, she hightailed it to her quarters with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) right behind her. Then they banged. Since Brienne was made a knight of the Seven Kingdoms two episodes ago, at least it wasn't a one-knight stand. Ba-dum-tishhh...
I know a lot of people out there have been hankering for some steamy Jaime-on-Brienne action, but not me. I love the threat of intimacy between them -- it deepens their relationship and gives us something to chew on -- but not the intimacy itself! Jaime and Brienne had respect for each other, but the hots? I ain't buying it. Women and men can be friends on TV! Shows should try that a little more often. This felt like D.B. Weiss and David Benioff making fanfic a reality.
Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) of House Trouser Snake also got in on the action, escorting two ladies off to a world of uncontrollable ecstasy and sore groins with his magical penis (or penises), which already earned him discounts in the brothels of King's Landing. Here's an interesting fact: As far as we know, Pod is averaging 2.5 sex partners per sex session, making him a legitimate threat to Wilt Chamberlain's pelvis-shattering personal record. Pod's house sigil is a train going into a tunnel. Davos may be the Onion Knight, but Pod is the Eggplant Knight. This guy f---s.
Things weren't quite as smooth for Dany and Jon (Kit Harington). After some erotic talk about Jorah dying that got them all hot, bothered, and making out, Jon pulled away from his aunt, and for the first time, it seemed that the awkwardness between them stemmed from the fact that they were nephew and aunt and in lurv with each other. See, incest is a no-no for Starks, but the Targaryens of the deep south have been dipping their quills into the same ink for centuries, which may account for some of the clan's mental illness.
Dany's proposed solution to their problems was to keep Jon's bloodline secret from everyone else so they could continue to bone and she could remain the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, while Jon's reaction to that was, "Yuck." Jon loves his family, but not in THAT way, so he felt obligated to tell them all his big secret, leading to a chain of broken promises and spilled secrets!
A scene later...
A scene later...
The sacred bond of secrecy between these characters has more holes in it than Meryn Trant! But if you think Sansa (Sophie Turner) told Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) the news for any reason other than to screw over Dany by letting the whole world know about Jon's secret, then you haven't been paying attention to what a weasel Sansa has become -- she's basically absorbed Littlefinger's cunning. Sansa is playing 4D VR FPS MMORPG chess while everyone else is playing Tiddlywinks, and she knew Tyrion would tell Varys (Conleth Hill) and one piping hot plate of treason would get cookin'.
Is it possible this is the same reason we didn't get to see Arya and Sansa react to Jon's secret? Did Arya and Sansa make one of their little plots to take down Dany, similar to how they secretly planned to kill Littlefinger together? Is the most interesting stuff on Game of Thrones happening off camera? Would we rather have seen Sansa and Arya react to the Earth-shattering news that their brother was part Targaryen, a legitimate Stark, and the heir to the Iron Throne than see Gilly (Hannah Murray) blabber on about what she's going to name her unborn son? Probably! Or was seeing Sam (John Bradley), Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), Jon, and Dany react to that same bit of news enough? Something's up here; Arya took off south without saying goodbye, and we never saw Arya and Sansa speak again after the news that shook their family and the entire kingdom to the core. But hey, at least we know Sam's kid will be named Jon if it's a boy.
Also, did you hear Sansa talk to The Hound (Rory McCann) about how she's not a "little bird" anymore because of the horrors she went through at the hands of Ramsay and Littlefinger? Yikes! We'd say, don't let the bad things that happened to you (or the bad men who committed them) define you, girl, but the show's writers are really the ones to blame for yet another bad take on sexual violence. Also, this kind of comes off as Benioff and Weiss defending all the controversy they created back in Season 5. Having Sansa say, "SEE? I'm stronger now!" probably isn't the defense I would have chosen!
The feast was also when Game of Thrones made its worst technical error ever! The show became a laughingstock online when an eagle-eyed viewer noticed that a takeout coffee cup was accidentally left in a shot, completely ruining the immersion of the series' incredible set design. Here is a totally undoctored screenshot of the criminally awful faux:
Someone needs to be fired.
With the dead turned to charcoal and everyone done with their walks of shame, Dany agreed to take her peeps down to Dragonstone on her way to liberate King's Landing while Jon would ride down with his boyz for the inevitable big battle with Cersei. Jon had to say some goodbyes first, and that's when he broke the internet by ghosting Ghost.
I hug my cat before I go to the bathroom because I will miss him so much, and Jon only gave Ghost a half head-nod before unloading him on Tormund to go live north of the Wall in the dead of a brutal decade-long winter and never see him again. I've seen some silly internet comments say that it was best for Ghost to go north because he's a direwolf and King's Landing would be too warm, but I've seen a polar bear at the San Diego Zoo and you know what? HE WAS HAVING A BLAST so f--- that bullsh--. Jon treated Ghost like dirt. This whole show treated the direwolves like dirt. In the finale, I fully expect to see a Craiglist ad from Tormund that reads "FREE DIREWOLF, chained to a stake outside Castle Black." We were all sad when Nymeria was shooed away in Season 1, but guess what? Nymeria has had the best life of all the direwolves. Until she tries to have a family reunion, and she's the only one who shows up. I don't want to talk about direwolves ever again. Let's pretend they were never in the show.
Speaking of cruelty to animals, Daenerys and her flying lizards were soaring through the gorgeous, clear skies, admiring the open and bare ocean from heights at which she and her dragons could see every single thing within miles, when Euron (Pilou Asbæk) and his squid squad of 12 massive, lumbering galleons appeared out of nowhere and killed Rhaegal before anyone had a chance to realize what was going on. Qyburn (Anton Lesser) built new versions of the anti-dragon artillery scorpions and outfitted Euron's ships with them, and Euron was nailing kill shots from hundreds of yards away from a moving boat on a moving target that was flying at incredible speeds in outdoor conditions with a contraption that fires giant toothpicks and requires five men working in perfect unison, despite not having anything close to appropriate training with the weapon. (What, are there practice dragons in King's Landing?) Then he and all his men missed every single shot on Drogon! And that's how Dany was left with just one dragon. At least Rhaegal had a sense of humor about it.
Euron obliterated Dany's fleet by using the Scorpions' giant toothpicks to turn the ships into smaller toothpicks, and in the commotion, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) was taken hostage by Team Tentacle, off-screen of course, while everyone else washed up on shore. (She was on an escape skiff by herself, OK nitpickers?)
Dany reluctantly agreed to have a chat with Cersei (Lena Headey) -- so good to see her again, to be honest -- before setting the whole town on fire, so she brought a dwarf, a eunuch, another eunuch, 84 other eunuchs (I counted), and a dragon to the front door of King's Landing, where Cersei waited with advantageous position, probably two dozen anti-dragon blasters, a master of death magik, an undead beast, a Joshua Jackson impersonator, an uncountable number of archers, and likely tens of thousands soldiers behind the city walls, probably all of them with their frank and beans intact. Point is, for a woman who has repeatedly talked about how she does not trust Cersei, Dany sure put a lot of trust in Cersei not to wipe her and her meager forces off the map right then and there.
Of course, this was all a formality as neither Dany or Cersei was going to say, "OK, since you asked, sure you can have the Iron Throne." Instead, all it got Dany was a chance to see her best friend die. It's not Eastern, it's not Pacific, it's not Central...
GOOD NEGOTIATIONS, EVERYONE!
So there you have it! Dany is a power-hungry psycho with no allies, hell-bent on revenge (!), Sansa is grateful to have been raped (!!), and Starbucks got free advertising on the biggest show in the world (!!!).
Next week: Euron gets roasted! Only two more episodes, people! It's going to be awesome! (Or massively disappointing, but I say great!)
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO but you knew that already.
More Photo Recaps:
Episode 1: Weird Bran Stole the Game of Thrones Premiere
Episode 2: Arya Gets It on Despite Having Zero Game
Episode 3: People Could Have Died Better, To Be Honest
Episode 5: Give Drogon a Spin-Off Already
Episode 6: Is This Really How We're Picking Kings Now?