The Mad Queen | GOT Season 8 Episode 5 Roundup

Since the very moment Cersei decided to sit on the Iron Throne, her fate was sealed. It was only a matter of time when she would face Dany in battle that would decide the ultimate victor, the winner of the prize everyone had been clamoring for since Season 1 – the Throne. This is when the titular ‘Game’ would cease to be and most arcs would find closure. Despite being rivals of destiny, both Cersei and Dany have had a similar journey. While Cersei had been forcefully married to Robert Baratheon, Dany had been married to Khal Drogo as a military exchange. After the deaths of their husbands, both Cersei and Dany struggled for power. While Cersei found herself diminished by the Queens of her sons, Dany became an outcast within the Dothraki, a wife that had “eaten her husband and given him a monster for a son”. It was only through brute force and a sheer show of power that both women established their dominion over their respective territories. While Cersei took the road of deceit and political manipulation, Dany used her dragons to good use. The only difference between them was their respective ideologies. Cersei saw nothing but the Iron Throne and had the least interest in the well-being of her people. Dany was also fixated on the throne but had a benevolent side to her. Their descent into madness was also identical. Cersei became cruel and cold-hearted after she lost all of her children, while Dany suffered a similar loss with the deaths of Viserion, Rhaegal and Missandei.

With that, here are the most important events that happened in this episode:

Varys’s Execution: In the last episode, we had gotten the last ever glimpse of the closest thing to a strategic discussion that GOT was known for. After learning about Jon’s truth, he had clearly expressed his inclination towards projecting him as the King instead of Dany who was becoming unpredictable by the day. Proving him true, Dany comes to know of his treasonous thoughts and sentences him to die in the most uncharacteristic and undeserving manner possible – by simply saying ‘Dracarys’. After Petyr Baelish, the show-runners have sacrificed yet another towering character in the laziest manner possible. We see Jon and Tyrion standing by her side, hunched and helpless. In the opening scene we watch Varys writing a note to someone revealing Jon’s truth. In the very next scene, he is called for his execution. While leaving the room, he is shown to be burning something before being put into chains. This raises a few questions. Did he ever get to send that message ? If not, why show that scene at all ? Dany was anyway going to execute him for treason. This sequence of events felt off. Let’s say he did send that note out with a raven, who would he send it to. To the Greyjoys who were conspicuous in their absence ? To the Iron Bank whose support Jon would need ? Or to someone else ? Going by how the show is progressing, I’d say he just burnt it.

Dany’s wrath: In the previous episodes there were a lot of hints that had been dropped that suggested that Dany would join the dark side. Yes, she is the new Doth Vader (see what I did there). If my tone seems off in this section, that’s because I’m trying to compensate for Dany’s rage which gave us the darkest episode that we have seen in the entire series yet. Right before the breach, Tyrion had emphasized to Dany that if the bells of the city start ringing, that means King’ Landing had surrendered and she did not have to kill innocent people. Dany single-handedly wipes out Euron’s fleet and destroys all the scorpions. As expected, the moment arrives when the people start calling to Cersei to ring the bells. The bell is rung and Cersei breathes a sigh of resignation. It seems as if the last war has ended. But then, something snaps and Dany goes berserk and starts burning the whole place down. This calls out to the last episode where we saw Dany’s hardened face right after Missandei’s execution. Her last words had been “Dracarys”. She had probably meant it only for Cersei and her forces. Dany took it a bit too far. Despite the uninspired writing we have seen in this show, I have to give it to them for subverting my empathy towards Dany completely. From “Let’s give her some space” to “Kill that crazy woman !” in a matter of minutes.

Clegane Bowl: This had been due for a long time now and I am glad that it happened. After the Battle of Winterfell, the Hound and Arya had taken to the road on their own just like old times. By the time they reach the Red Keep, all hell has broken loose and King’s Landing is falling to pieces under Dany’s brunt. The Hound asks Arya to save herself and not live her life with vengeance like him. She hesitantly agrees and leaves him. On the way to the Keep, the Hound confronts the Mountain and they are embroiled in an all-out tussle. Despite goring him multiple times with his sword, the Mountain refuses to die. In a desperate attempt to end this once and for all, the Hound lunges at his brother pushing them both from the tower to their deaths. One of the few satisfying ends to character arcs that I saw this season.

Death of the Lannister twins ? All thanks to the Valonqar prophecy, discussion had been rife about who would kill Cersei. Would it be Arya who had Cersei on her kill-list or Jaime who had fallen apart from her sister-cum-lover ? Jaime is captured while trying to cross Dany’s army. Tyrion uses his influence to free him and advises him to persuade Cersei to escape King’s Landing through a secret pathway under the Red Keep. As the Red Keep falls to pieces, Jaime tries to get to her. Cersei is also trying to escape at the same time, and they face each other under the Red Keep. By this point, Cersei has broken down and pleads for Jaime to save her and their baby. However, they don’t get too far before the roof falls over their heads. That is the last we see of them. One may argue that they may still have escaped and be alive, but then their character arcs don’t have a place in the story any more. Also, they died as they came into the world – together. It would have been so much more powerful had Jaime killed her but there was place for only one mad queen and Dany was it.

The concluding scene showed Arya in the middle of the harrowing scene – people burnt to a crisp, a city buried in ash. She had never trusted the new Queen but now she had seen what she could do. Dany’s wrath changed everything about her. Arya has a new target now, and based on her purposeful gait, she would be the one to execute her. Knowing Jon, who has also had a shocking realization about the person he had shared the bed with, he would still try to convince her to let the survivors live, not that there’s any reasoning to be done with her. Dany still blames Tyrion of letting Jon’s secret out and would want to see him punished. We are still waiting to see what Bran has hidden up his sleeve, if at all. There are still a few open questions – Who is Azor Ahai ? Who is Bran ? Who would sit on the Iron Throne. Jon seems like the fan-favourite choice but it is an obvious one. After the Night King’s abrupt dismissal, the show-runners may have kept one last piece of twist for last. Fingers crossed.

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