-A recap and review of S08E05. SPOILERS!

The first words of this review are being written on a Tuesday with 48 hours and one repeat viewing to fully digest and come to terms with what happened on Sunday night’s brutal penultimate episode. Immediately after, I was incensed, enraged, and more than anything, heartbroken about what had happened to the point where I wondered whether even watching the last episode would be worth it.

I still feel all three of those things, but I feel them in a different way than I felt them on Sunday. So, throughout this review, I will unpack how I feel about this series in the big picture sense and slowly uncover where I think the problems really are.

Season Six was a triumph, and I’ve said that a few different times in these recaps because of the way it set up the final two seasons: Daenerys was coming West, the Starks had recaptured the North, Cersei finally became Queen instead of regent through her kids (and exploded her rival house The Tyrells in the process), and the various houses South of the Riverlands largely started throwing their support for Daenerys as the rising claimant to the Throne. Varys had done the leg work in bringing Olenna Tyrell and the Sand Snakes of Dorne to the table.

At that point, it seems pretty tough to expect that both the fight against the White Walkers and the claim for the Iron Throne could be resolved efficiently and effectively enough to still be at the same level of writing quality as the previous seasons with only 13 episodes to work with. Keep this in mind, Jon Snow and Daenerys only met like ten or eleven episodes ago. All that had to be forged in the “Great War” and the “Last War” had to come together in screen time less than two seasons. We started eliminating all of the travel episodes where characters and their mental states, opinions, and backgrounds were emphasized in conversation. Character motivations and political maneuvering took a back seat to action, spectacle, and a big incestual romantic bombshell that we all knew had to go off. Fast forward twelve episodes and one of our primary protagonists just brutally murdered around a million people in one day.

So…I’ll admit that I still think the Daenerys twist feels wrong as the show set it up. However, that doesn’t mean I think that the choice was wrong or that it was a character assassination as some have said.

Just for disclosure’s sake, Daenerys was and is my favorite character, and when I started watching the show, I backed her claim to the Throne from Season One. I have Targaryen coffee mugs (plural) at my house. I have a Daenerys pop toy that sits on my shelves of DVDs and Blu-Rays. I would venture to say that she was probably my favorite character, not just in the show, but in any entertainment medium I’ve subscribed to. I’m devastated that she has become the villain she sought to overthrow.

Taking feminism out of the conversation for now, one of the reasons I thought that she was so interesting was the idea that she represented more than just the fantasy trope of the reluctant hero. Game of Thrones made us believe that being the honest, reluctant leader was useful in the world, but it never leads to complete success because the realm is just too corrupt and too much about political maneuvering to be successful. One of the through-lines of the first few seasons are that soldiers don’t make good kings. Ned Stark was great as a military commander and the Warden of the North, but his days were numbered the second he stepped into the capital. To a certain extent, Jon Snow follows the same path. His rise to leadership was honorable and totally justified, but no one really was arguing that he’d make a good King. He literally is incapable of telling even the smallest lie or stretching the truth to placate others. He’s been consistently at odds with Sansa, a person better at playing ‘the game,’ because he doesn’t really capitulate her style.

Daenerys, instead, was a bit different. She was smart and could play the game. She could inspire coalitions, and she believed in making things better for the common people. She took pride in freeing the slaves and uniting the Dothraki. If there was a candidate who would run on Medicare for All and a $15.00 minimum wage, it’d be Daenerys. That isn’t to say Jon’s accomplishments aren’t equal or close to it, but Daenerys also inspired the kind of love from commoners and fear from the establishment that is necessary to make real change. That’s why I (we all) were not bothered by some of the tiny steps along the way that are now being used in retrospect to tell us that there were warning signs for her: crucifying the slave masters, allowing her husband to kill her brother, locking her handmaiden and champion in Qarth in a vault after a betrayal, burning the Khals alive, burning the Tarlys alive, and the occasional line about how she will use fire and blood was always believed to be slightly in jest. It’s as if she would tell Tyrion and Jon, “I will take what’s mine by any means necessary, including murder, what’re your more persuasive suggestions?” Yet, she always listened to them backing her off from violence and toward a more pacifist way of ruling. An argument can be made that if she didn’t listen to them and just took her three dragons to King’s Landing at the start of Season Seven and got the same exact type of surrender with the bells that she’d waltz right into the capital with no issue.

That’s why I feel that the people who feel that this twist was perfectly set up are kidding themselves and creating false equivalencies between her actions here in frying innocent civilians and the ruthless actions of her past. In each of those instances, there was a justifiable reason for the occasional bit of cruelty, and the people she executed were directly opposed to her rule and her vision for the world. From her brother, to the slavers, to the Khals, or to the Tarlys refusing to bend the knee, they were people who refused to submit to her or directly opposed her rise to power. She never had any sort of penchant for the kind of needless violence and cruelty that was demonstrated in this episode, and so the logical leap from burning the occasional opposing person alive and flaming a million innocents isn’t there for me. Remember, she took her armies North to save innocents in the North and risked her life fighting the Walkers just two episodes ago.

In a way, the show is having its cake and eating it too in regards to how this change came about. On one hand, they want to present a narrative that her isolation and lack of adoration from the people around her started her down this path of selfishness and dangerous resentment toward the people of Westeros. There are some really great scenes that support this, with her fireside chats with Jon Snow in the last two episodes really emphasizing it. In Episode 4, she begged him not to say anything, and has the lines about how she hasn’t gotten the adoration/dedication look from her subjects like she did in Essos. In this episode, they have the conversation about how she hasn’t known love since coming to Westeros, only fear. In a way, her decision is trying to be rationalized, slightly, by the showrunners in saying that all she has to go on to implement her government is making the citizens fear her. Burning King’s Landing ensures no one in the capital questions her rule, and basically this decision to become more of a conquering terrorist than an idealist is the fact that she prioritized ruling first, politics later, not politics first, ruling later.

I think that there are pieces of this that really fit, and can be reconciled with history. The moments in this episode seeing her soldiers respond directly to her bloodlust by raiding the streets and committing war crimes like rape makes sense, as Jorah said before, something evil in a man stirs when you put a sword in his hand. Daenerys’s first command as a Khaleesi was to stop her people from enjoying the spoils of war, and her first actions as Queen have allowed people to do what she previously outlawed. It’s a sad turn.

I just keep coming back to the leap in logic with her. I can’t quite create the equivalency necessary to state, with certainty, that the character they gave us for the last eight seasons is capable of something this heinous. The people she did inspire are unbelievably dedicated to her, and there’s a really telling scene after the Beyond the Wall mission goes poorly when she’s by Jon’s bedside as he wakes up from almost freezing to death. When he swears himself to her and gives up his official Kingship, she cries and says that she hopes she deserves it. The increased isolation and paranoia may have cut against the Jorah quote that she “has a gentle heart,” but for her to be a savior in Episode 3 to a psychopath in Episode 5 just really didn’t work for me.

But, the show also throws in this whole bit about the Targaryen madness being determined by a metaphorical coin flip. So, they partially rationalize this behavior by her past, by history, and by her lack of love and adoration since coming to Westeros, and I guess rely heavily on the “she’s just mad” aspect to correct the leaps of logic in turning her into a villain so quickly. They know that they can’t completely rationalize this choice of violence so quickly, so they put in all the lines in the intro to the episode about how Targaryen madness is 50/50. Varys says that he’s not sure “how her coin has landed.” This really, really bugged me.

All of the lines about how losing her best friends, not having loyalty, experiencing some paranoia, etc. felt realistic but stretched slightly, this whole “turning full Mad Queen” thing and that her coin must’ve landed on the wrong side is completely, completely unearned. It’s a sloppy way for the writers to bridge the gap in their story-telling where Daenerys was experiencing a lot of tragedy and was becoming more and more hardened and they needed to get her to the point where she becomes a genocidal maniac. Rather than give additional, crueler examples as time went on, the pacing and lack of time for the story to breathe instead had them just say: “all of this is happening, and her coin landed wrong, she’s crazy.” This is a person who has showed empathy and love toward her followers, who was intelligent and had consistent foresight, and who wanted people to love her and wanted to earn the respect and adoration of her supporters. It’s tough to get rid of all of that in two to three episodes, so the writers can write themselves out of the heel turn by painting her as “mad.” There just is no evidence of this. If this was the route they wanted, show her occasionally hallucinate. Show her break down from anxiety and paranoia on screen. They have to do more than have one character say “I worry about her state of mind.”

So, that’s my issue with it. I’m upset that they went this way with her character, but you have to be able to objectively isolate your personal feelings from viewing the show in terms of how things are properly set up and written. The more I sit with this choice, the more I absolutely love the idea that the two final lead characters in Jon and Daenerys end up pitted against each other because of her decision to become more of a brutal dictator to effectuate her regime than a thoughtful ruler. The entire series could be viewed as a tragedy, an idealist who begins taking questionable and eventually unforgivable shortcuts as a means to an end, becoming the very kind of tyrant they wanted to upend. There’s The Dark Knight quote about how “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” That’s a really great mantra for how this could have gone.

In a way, that subversion of expectations and writing of a tragedy is really, really compelling as a story-telling device. She was the exiled princess from a powerful family, overcoming obstacle after obstacle with a belief in herself and the world she wanted to build. That character usually wins, right?: I see you Frozen, Moana, Cinderella, Brave, etc. The idea of watching a protagonist break bad to the point of burning an entire city alive is fucking captivating. It just wasn’t executed well. I’m more than willing to let Game of Thrones break my heart, but that’s not what really happened here. I’m just angry at the execution. And no, I’m not going to provide an alternate reality on how it should have been written, that’s not my job. The real problem is that they had to resolve three to four seasons of material in 13 episodes.

An additional concern I want to address briefly is the shitty message that the show has left for its female characters. I’m not an expert on all of this, as I said about the Sansa scene with The Hound last episode, but it seems a little difficult to have Mad Queen Cersei and Mad Queen Daenerys, both now famed for setting King’s Landing aflame, fighting in the South after we got several episodes of Daenerys and petty sister Sansa in-fighting about the strategy with the North. Sansa is the third character in the trio of how the writers failed these characters by showing less of her intelligent prowess and more of the “I told you so” dynamic toward scolding her siblings. Sansa should be more than Megan from Drake&Josh. I also feel bad for all of the parents who named their children Dany or Khaleesi, or for the teenagers who dressed up as Daenerys for Halloween. That sucks, and I’m sorry! It’s just that for years the show thrived on how good its female characters were. They’ve all become a lot less multi-dimensional recently, and the Daenerys heel-turn only exacerbates it.

In sum, without the proper build-up, there’s a certain amount of this that just feels like subversion of expectations just for the sake of subverting them. And yet, is it really a subversion? Isn’t the final episode going to be the reluctant hero taking on the evil, magical queen? We’ve seen that before.

One final big picture thing before I go to more specifics about the episode that I actually commend. I don’t think this is all bad, actually…

If this goes the way it seems to be headed, with Jon Snow taking down Daenerys, I don’t believe he will sit in the capital and be King. He has repeatedly said how he doesn’t want it. So, I imagine Jon goes North and re-establishes the Night’s Watch. I’m sure there will be something of a symbol showing the White Walker threat isn’t entirely dead. I’m also fairly certain that Drogon doesn’t die, because all magic in the world would die with him. Maybe Drogon flies away and we see him land in a nest he created with Rhaegal before his untimely death, some dragon eggs stashed somewhere to be hatched in the future, demonstrating that the Jon-Dany romance was never for us or for the future, but maybe to prompt the dragons to mate. The government could be ruled by some combination of Bran, Sansa, and Tyrion, where Bran can only rely on the past to make decisions, Sansa is influenced entirely by people like Littlefinger and Cersei, and Tyrion is Tyrion, a relic from the past. Basically, what this end may tell us is that nothing matters. No visionary really can break the wheel because the past informs the present and repeats itself. The people in government only look to the past to influence their decisions, the White Walkers are reborn while an exiled Targaryen sits at Castle Black (like Aemon), and the dragons remain on the down low but unhatched after the latest Targaryen ruler killed the future of their house by trying to burn the city alive. Where have we seen all of this before? George R.R. Martin likes the idea of cyclical story-telling. He says as much. It’s pretty damn disappointing if the end of the show is that nothing matters and that nature governs before nurture. Daenerys wanted to make the world a better place, but her madness coin landed on the wrong side and she became genocidal. It’s a cynical view, and one that I’m not sure we need in 2019, even though the show has been the occasional beacon for progressive and inventive story-telling.

I, of course, don’t know for sure that it ends this way. Maybe Jon Snow does rule justly and carry out the vision of the future properly. I just find it more likely that the end is one of those cyclical restarts, and that will be tough to swallow.


As for specifics in the episode, I’ll divide it essentially by character pairing and location, because I’ve talked enough about Daenerys already. She takes down the Iron Fleet and the scorpions and the Golden Company in the time it took for me to brew a pot of coffee. That was with one dragon. We get her landing right before the bells of surrender echo in her head, and we get a quick snippet of (as usual) great Emilia Clarke acting where she just gives into a mixture of despair, anger, and resentment before burning the city to the ground. My man Drogon was just out there like a push mower, getting every nook and cranny he could get.

The rest of the episode takes place on the ground or in the buildings and Dany/Drogon completely flame the city. It’s like trying to escape a natural disaster or a nuclear bombing. She becomes just a force of nature for the second half of this episode, and we never see her face again as all of this happens. I actually loved this choice, and thought it was great visual story-telling. As soon as Daenerys loses her empathy for the commoners and becomes a terrorist, her humanity is extinguished. She’s not a “villain” in the sense that a villain actively schemes to defeat the hero. She is now more of a force of nature, akin to the Night King. Her humanity has been destroyed and eroded by loss, grief, and rage, and she becomes one with the dragon as she destroys these people. I thought that this emphasizes an interesting through-line of the show, actually, where it was said that she is unable to have children after the stillbirth of a horrific, winged and scaled creature in Season One. We all assumed that this was a curse or a fib placed upon her by the witch-doctor Mirri Maz Duur who left Khal Drogo in a vegetative state, but perhaps this was the first clue that something inside Daenerys isn’t human. That she is closer to a real dragon than a human being, and her being the unburnt and untouched by fire is not as heroic as we thought, but rather something more sinister about the lack of human compassion under her skin. They play with this idea again when she starts up with Jon Snow, and he jokes about how the witch might not be a reliable source of information as to why she couldn’t have children. We took this to be an eventual pregnancy foreshadowing, but I think in retrospect we can look at it as a way to reintroduce the fact that she lacks certain human qualities that define human existence. Not showing her face, and then not showing her face again in the trailer, seems a conscious choice to make her one with nature and destruction. Whatever human being used to be in this character was vanquished with her decision this episode. If that all seems like a stretch, it may be, but give me a better reason as to why they spent so much time on her infertility last season!

So, onto the rest:



Our episode starts with the fallout of Dany’s losing Missandei and Rhaegal as well as the fallout of Varys and Tyrion discussing treason and defecting to Jon Snow last episode. Varys appears to be attempting to poison Dany, who is too smart to eat the food the servants give her, and Tyrion reveals that Varys had betrayed her. Dany, all of her braids undone (like how the Dothraki lose their braids after defeat in battle), looks like someone who hasn’t slept in days. She rightfully points out that she warned Jon not to tell about his parentage, and seems to be zeroing in on that being the main issue. Varys’s betrayal seems inconsequential to her.

And so, we start getting the feeling that his days are numbered, especially when Jon totally isn’t interested in taking the Throne for himself. The world has shrunk with Varys, and his two potential people to turn to: Tyrion and Jon, are too loyal to Dany to hedge against the risk that she may go bonkers. He might have been be good friends with Sansa, but it’s too late for the connection to be made. That night, Daenerys, seemingly after a shower and some hairstyling, calls Varys out to the beaches, who before ironically being put in shackles by former-slave Grey Worm, takes off his rings as symbols of wealth and status. He dies in a poor state, just as he was when he was brutalized by a fire worshipper as a youth. Varys has a disdain for magic and what it represents, and he leaves this world in a pretty vulnerable state. Tyrion’s touch on the arm and clear regret at having to give up his friend for attempted treason weighs pretty heavily. Dany burns him alive on the same beaches Stannis crucified people, and Jon stares at Dany as she watches the flames, clearly concerned that she is enjoying herself a little bit.

After Dany and Grey Worm mourn Missandei and Grey Worm opts to burn her slave collar in a fitting bit of destructive symbolism, Jon Snow walks in and we get the second-in-two-episodes fireside chat between the characters. This is the closest thing we get to Daenerys’s mental state, essentially stating that she knows that she needs a mix of love and fear, but has no love in Westeros, only fear. When Jon tells her he has love for her, and reaffirms that she’ll always be his Queen, she tries one more time to get him to be intimate, saying “is that all I am to you? Your Queen?” and gives the lip hover to get him to initiate, but he doesn’t. She takes this rejection somewhat in stride, essentially thinking that she’s right in saying she has no love, and decides to embrace fear. This is meant to influence the decision to burn the city later, and look, I get the through-line, but as I said above, it’s just all too rushed. I find it interesting that she doesn’t really accept Jon’s platonic love and adoration for her. The incest bombshell has definitely affected his sexual desire for her, but he hasn’t been any less dedicated to her cause and claim for the throne. If anything, he bends over backwards more because he knows the problem of his parentage on the succession to the Throne. When she executes Varys, she notably doesn’t say “rightful Queen of the …..” She’s just breaker of chains and mother of dragons now, the rest, as she says to Tyrion, “doesn’t matter now.”

As Daenerys eventually does turn King’s Landing into a literal hell, Tyrion’s shock is obvious, but Jon holds his soldiers back, finally realizing where his dedication got him. He doesn’t believe in the spoils of war, and even murders one of his own soldiers when he tries to corner a defenseless woman in an alleyway. He retreats out of the city with his forces and Ser Davos. I also thought it was pretty interesting that we start seeing green wildfire pop up as Dany burns the city, effectuating the Mad King’s vision.

The Lannisters:

After Tyrion begs Daenerys to spare the city, she tells him that Jaime was caught trying to get to King’s Landing behind their lines. So, naturally, Tyrion goes to repay the favor for freeing him at the end of Season Four. He has a strategic reason, try to get Jaime to buy into the ‘ring the bells’ plan, but he also hopes that the future of his family can be spared if Jaime, with the help of Davos’s conveniently placed canoe, can smuggle Cersei out of the castle. The end of the scene is touching, a true homage to their brotherly love and mutual respect for each other. In an episode of horrors, this moment felt real and exceedingly human.

Jaime does end up sneaking into King’s Landing and eventually the Red Keep, but encounters a washed-ashore Euron Greyjoy, rising from the sea like someone of his house would. Show Euron is pretty hit and miss for me, but my assumption is that we’re supposed to believe he has a slight obsession with Jaime. He wants to take the Queen, he wants to kill him and embarrass him, and he does go ahead and tell Jaime that he enjoyed watching Jaime beautifully cut down Greyjoy soldiers during the Siege at Pyke. Euron wants to fight him because, if he loses, he dies in a losing effort to Jaime Lannister, if he wins, he proves his worth as a king-in-waiting. The fight mortally wounds Jaime and takes out Euron. This whole scene felt really unnecessary and out of nowhere. The idea of these two characters fighting was meant to be a juxtaposition to Clegane-bowl, but I didn’t care nearly enough about this.

Speaking of Jaime, many believe that this episode erased his character arc and I mostly agree with that sentiment. I like the idea of Cersei being his addiction, and no matter how hard he tries to be a better person or deserve a future with Brienne, he can’t have it because he’s hateful and has too much regret about his past actions. The turn back to Cersei and seeing this through does end up seeming right in the moment, but it felt like a sudden ditching of Brienne, who we all know he has love and respect for. This seems again like a sacrifice of the pacing and timing, where this doubt and eventual desertion of Brienne could’ve bubbled for some time first, rather than making their sex scene feel like fan service, only to be erased a few scenes later.

Cersei spends the episode watching Daenerys slowly take over the city and eventually slowly start to lay waste to it. Cersei, at the end, becomes a helpless figure, guided downstairs and escaping below-ground as she is displaced by a younger, more ruthless Queen. She realizes her failure in her famous saying “in the game of thrones, you win or you die,” and she does die. She dies in the arms of Jaime as the palace that they worked to uphold for the series’ runtime crumbles around them. In a way, Dany did break the wheel. She rid the world of the Lannister influence and she destroyed all of the infrastructure that Tywin and Cersei built over the eight seasons of the show. I don’t get why people were unsatisfied with this death. Cersei is destroyed by the very thing she arguably gave her kids’ lives for, and she dies in the arms of Jaime who repeats his famous mantra of “nothing else matters.” The baby, and the desire to escape Dany’s wrath in a fit of tears as Jaime bleeds out trying to save her ended up being pretty emotional. And in this moment, where my favorite character in TV history breaks full bad and becomes a terrorist, the consensus most evil character in the show is humanized and shares emotional moments with her family as she dies. That is fabulous symmetry. The episode which stripped Dany of her humanity and didn’t show her face showed Cersei in a full tear-filled meltdown fearing for her baby and for her safety. This totally made Jaime’s quick turn worth it in the long run, because this aspect and symmetry was among my favorite parts of this episode.


Arya and the Hound:

As Arya and The Hound sneak into King’s Landing, their purpose in this episode really starts after the Dany destruction starts. Once the buildings start crumbling, Sandor says to Arya that she should go home, and that being motivated entirely by hate and revenge is a poison, that she shouldn’t want to end up like him. Arya, in an episode of regaining more feeling and innocence, thanks him for this realization. Arya, the sadistic killer who wears dead people’s faces, realizes that revenge is not her path and turns away, turning away from the hateful future which has dominated The Hound.

The Hound, like Jaime, is motivated partially by good. Like every character (except Jon) in Game of Thrones, there is an aspect of grey to who they are. The Hound does want to do good, but those feelings of protection are dwarfed by his #1 concern, which is revenge on his brother, The Mountain, who made him who he is. The same goes for Jaime, who does want to do good, but it all takes a back seat to his addiction to Cersei.

The Hound’s arc is finally resolved as he takes down the Mountain in a brutal fight that involves stabbings, eye socket crushings, and a huge tumble down a fire-plagued building exterior. It was a good action scene, and seemed like a good send-off for the Hound, but I wasn’t as crazy about this scene as others, mainly because it did feel a little like a distraction. The way they cut The Hound fighting The Mountain with Arya stumbling around King’s Landing as Dany exploded the city didn’t really work for me. Obviously, the characters have a parallel, but it was a little much.

Arya, after turning away, starts trying to escape the city. She happens upon a mother and daughter, who protect her and she protects them over a few scenes, only to see them burned alive. Arya takes a physical beating, her face is cut up and she clearly suffers concussions, but as she coughs her way through ash at the end, she sees a white horse ready to be mounted and ridden out of the city, basically the final two alive in the set as ash falls like snow from the sky. This is an incredible grouping of shots.

So, what does it all mean? I have two explanations:

One is biblical, where an embodiment of death rides a pale mare into battle with Hell behind him. One obvious prediction is that Arya kills Dany and banishes her to hell while on the back of this horse, taking the final name off of her list (I would assume Dany joined the list this week).

I just struggle with the idea of Arya killing Dany when she already killed the Night King, and also because her entire arc this episode was about her ability to forego revenge and move on. I’m not sure how it will resolve, and I think Dany’s biggest threats are Jon and Arya, basically 50/50 on who gets to kill her. The idea of Arya growing to represent death makes some sense in her character arc, remember: “winter came for House Frey,” but I also thought that they’ve done a good job over the last few episodes in humanizing her and making her motivations more inner-personal than queen-killing.

So, although I see Arya’s attempted assassination of Dany, maybe with aid from the many-faced magic, as possible, I actually view this white horse at the end to be more symbolic of what happened to Daenerys. When Daenerys took her place as Khaleesi and gained her purpose for the first time as a leader of a people, Drogo gifted her a gorgeous white mare. That white mare served Dany as she discovered her ruling voice. That white mare also reinforced the idea of the “princess” of the story, who would rise in the ranks. My interpretation may be that Arya is the embodiment of death, but I think it’s equally likely that Arya has a newfound innocence and feeling towards everyday people that makes her the new carrier of the princess trope. We’ll see next episode how her and Jon’s eventual reconvening will go.


Overall, as I said, I’m emotionally heartbroken by Dany’s turn toward darkness, but I also could see it coming. I think that it was a problematic choice socially, and I think it was done without proper build-up, where the character decisions in this season feel more like subversion for the sake of subversion, rather than playing into the true nature of these characters. Yet, while I have numerous issues with how these developments have been portrayed, I do really respect the decision to make Daenerys into more of a villainous character, and I also respect the willingness to plunge into the fire on how that will end up.

As always, the acting in this episode was terrific, especially Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey specifically. The shot of Emilia as Dany going full Mad Queen has become iconic, and I’m not sure how she portrayed so many emotions at once.

And for Lena Headey to get us to feel legitimate sympathy towards Cersei of all people…Kudos.

Also, the technical aspects of this episode were incredible. They showed the destruction of a city that’s home to more than a million people so convincingly that I had to get up and walk around my house upon first viewing because I was too horrified to continue watching. The effects were incredible. This demonstrates my point that even if we’re upset with the writing and the lack of build-up, Game of Thrones still finds a way to be profoundly competent from a technical perspective.