The penultimate episodes of every season thus far have managed to serve up either a large scope battle or a complete game changing bombshell. Episode 5 of the final season is no different. **BEWARE SPOILERS BELOW**

Oh how wrong were our Season 8 predictions! Podcast link below for that but getting back to this Episode.

I for one have felt a little under whelmed by the final season of GOT, so far, as the series seemed to be petering out somewhat with the Night King ultimately proving to be a fairly unformidable foe. I still maintain that the Night King made some questionable decision purely to get quickly to the ending however Episode 5 seems to be course correcting somewhat and getting back into the Game of Thrones we’ve come to love.

The episode begins with Varys continuing down the path of treason as he attempts to spread the truth about Jon Snow. He ominously has one of his many spies repeat what he always tells her “The greater the risk, the greater the reward.” Soon afterwards unsurprisingly Daenerys burns him alive. His fate has been foreshadowed in the previous season from Daenerys threatening him to Melisandre telling him that his death would be in Westeros. What was surprising however is how Dani came about the news of Varys betrayal through, non other than, Tyrion his long time companion, a man who was also responsible (along with Jamie) for his salvation from being executed (back in Season 4).

Tyrion faces Varys when he is about to be executed and admits he is responsible for his life ending but Varys, ever the gentleman and one of the few good people left in Westeros, admits that he hopes he deserves this fate and he hopes that he is wrong about Dani becoming the Mad Queen.

Dani’s army surrounds Kings Landing and Tyrion pleads with the Queen that she not attack with her full force as to minimise any innocent casualties. She reluctantly agrees that should the surrender bells be rung the forces would cease the assault.

Dani also informs Tyrion that his brother has been captured trying to make his way back into Kings Landing. Tyrion worried that many lives will be lost frees Jamie and helps him get into Kings Landing to hopefully escape with Cersei thus ending the war. The scene is quite heart felt and obvious that both brothers believe they will most likely never meet again and it is evident in the strong performances by both Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Jamie makes it all the way to the doors of the Red Keep but unfortunately they are closed, just before he is able to enter, so he makes alternative plans to sneak in via another entrance. Arya and Sandor are also making their way into Kings Landing and manage to get inside the Red Keep before the gates are shut.  Both have ‘business’ with Cersei and The Mountain.

Outside the walls of Kings Landing the remaining Unsullied, Northerners and Dothraki armies circle as the Golden Company exit the gates to stare them down in the open field.

Off the shores of Kings Landing Euron Greyjoy stands on the deck of one of his many ships. A moment later we hear the sound of flapping in the distance. Using the sun at her back Dani rides Drogon directly into the Iron Fleet with a surprise attack from the sky. She makes quick kindling of the fleet and Euron manages to escape by diving overboard before his ship is engulfed in flames.

Not satisfied with destroying the fleet Dani turns on Kings Landing dispatching of the wall guards swiftly and then flies across to wipe out a large portion of the Golden Company and blow a hole in the walls of Kings Landing for Jon Snow, Greyworm, Davos and their forces to be able to attack.

Knowing that they have lost the Lannister army surrender quickly ringing the bells to signal their surrender. This is where things get interesting. In any other show this would be the final scene, the good guys would have won and the evil queen defeated, but that’s not Game of Thrones and that’s the benefit of this show with the subversion of expectations. Sure we knew the Mad Queen might show up but in our hearts I think we hoped Dani wouldn’t follow the path of her father.  It is, however, gloriously devastating to watch Drogon unleashed on Kings Landing almost destroying the entire city.

Meanwhile Cersei stays safe, for the moment, in the Red Keep. Jamie travelling across the shore line runs into Euron who has been swept a shore (a very big convenience for the story but unlike the last few episodes this exception kind of works). For those thinking that Yara was going to kill Euron you probably weren’t alone but having Jamie fight him works well as their rivalry has been out in the open since Episode 1 Season 6. Euron is killed by the King Slayer but not before mortally wounding him. Jamie pushes through his injuries to continue on to his sister.

As the city crumbles Sandor Clegane and Arya continue on but in a touching ”Goodbye” The Hound convinces her to retreat from certain death. She thanks him before turning back.

Sandor finds Cersei, Ser Gregor Clegane and Qyburn escaping the collapsing towers. Sandor quickly kills a few guards before Gregor steps forward to let the Cleganebowl commence. Cersei orders Gregor to “stay by her side” but he refuses causing Qyburn to step in and, in a sense of poetic justice for the character, he is swiftly killed by The Mountain. Cersei excuses herself from the family feud and continues on to the cellars below the Red Keep.

Meanwhile Arya is stuck behind enemy lines with a dragon unleashed on the city. At various points it didn’t look like she was going to make it and the amount of exploding debris that cover the screen and send Arya flying seems very excessive. Intercut with this scene we see The Hound and The Mountain fighting and with the use of a few match cuts Arya and Sandor’s fates seem interwind. Ultimately The Mountain seemingly gets the better of Sandor by trying to repeat the manoeuvre he successfully accomplished on poor Oberyn Martell.

Sandor’s eyes are almost gouged out and head almost crushed but he manages to stick a dagger through Gregor’s face just in time. The zombie like man stumbles backwards and begins to pull the dagger out. In a last ditch attempt to defeat his brother Sandor tackles him off the edge of the building falling into the fire below. This is an unfortunate end for The Hound but it was fairly predictable as many had speculated.

What was surprising this episode, however, was how Cersei died. Cersei’s death has been long foreshadowed in the books and a prophecy had been said that she would die at the hands of her younger brother (which is why she always hated Tyrion). Many, myself included, theorised that Jamie would eventually be the one to kill his older sibling but in a nice twist for the show he loved her till the end and in a tragic turn of events dies trying to save her. Cersei does die in the hands of her brother but not in the way that the prophecy had foretold.

This touching scene almost helps you forget all the horrible things the twins have accomplished in their lives. With Cersei finally breaking her cold facade and bursting into tears lamenting that she doesn’t want to die before the walls finally crash down on the two incestuous lovers. Jamie finally gets the death he had hoped for, as he told Bronn a few seasons ago, in the arms of the woman he loved.

The episode ends with Arya emerging from the ashes of Kings Landing with a firm realisation that the war is not over. There is one evil queen yet to defeat.

What an episode! This episode single handedly restored my faith in GOT.

For the season up until now it seemed characters were merely making choices to advance the plot, often times in very conflict to the nature of the character that had been developed. The season had also had a lot of lapses in logic as characters transported from place to place in an un natural way to service the plot.

This episode however was strongly focused on characters and works well in setting up the final conflict of the show. Plot contrivances aside this was a great watch and I can’t wait to see what happens in the final episode.

4 out 5 birds from me – Jason

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