Let’s talk about Game of Thrones

Normally, I haven’t really posted much about Game of Thrones.  It’s one of those properties that I really love, and I often times don’t really write about the things that I really love until they’re over, be it being between books, seasons, or a definitive end of some sort.

But with the show winding down, and that we’re getting to the point where the remaining episodes presumably are all going to be epics in their own right if episode 3: The Long Night was any indication, I’m finding it difficult to contain all the things swirling around in my head about GoT, and by the time the next episode rolls around, I’ll probably lose my shit if I don’t take the time to do any writing about it.

Plus, speaking of writing, it’s pretty clear to me that George R.R. Martin isn’t actually ever going to finish the actual book series,* so as far as I’m concerned, the tv show is pretty much shaping the end of the series, definitively.

*Even if Martin finishes, I have little faith that the evolution of the show will mutate all of the thought processes that went into the original five books, to where he’ll deliberately alter and swing the story (and not in good ways) to keep book followers on their toes, and there’s no way he’s not going to be picturing Kit Harrington, Sophie Turner, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey or any other actor in his head when he’s writing key characters.  The books will DJ Tanner Wrestle tragically as a result, and it’s at this point where I’ll bust out the phrase “Dextering” again, named after the shitty way Jeff Lindsay steered the Dexter book series long after the television show started and ended.

SO, the Long Night – needless to say, this is where I write my disclaimer about how there will be spoilers, but also the fact that I’m still offline, and there’s no definitive timeline to when I’ll ever be back online, because I never have any time, and even if I did, by this point, I’ll have nearly four years’ worth of posts to back fill into the brog, which is a Sisyphus’ boulder in its own right.

SO, the Long Night – fucking incredible.  Kind of everything I had imagined the inevitable, eight-year build up to the battle between man and dead would be.  I can’t really think of anything that I was legitimately disappointed in, and despite the fact that a lot of my GoT death pool predictions did not come true, I still felt a sense of great satisfaction when it was all over.

Needless to say, it seemed pretty obvious to me that the entire battle would have to start and end in one episode, as giant as it ultimately was.  One, because there exists a CGI budget, and reality dictates that as much as people would love to watch a 30-minute dragon dog fight in the skies, making that shit happen would cost more than HBO was willing to spend.  And two, when the antagonist as absurdly OP as The Night King is, it goes without saying that the conflict with him was going to be as swift as he was powerful.

The real questions for me going into The Long Night really were which named character(s) were going to die, and who was going to kill the Night King?  Everything else to me seemed like somewhat of a foregone conclusion.  The battle was definitely going to start and end in Winterfell, and there were going to be many key survivors in the end, because we still got three more episodes to go, and somebody’s got to still be standing to go up against Cersei.

I predicted way more named character deaths were going to occur than actually happened, but among the ones that seemed like layups, we lost Jorah Mormont and Beric Dondarrion.  Of course they had to die, as both were basically on borrowed time as it already were, the latter way more so than the former.  Theon Greyjoy biting the dust seemed inevitable, since he a had a lot to atone for, and frankly I’m glad he died before the Sansa-Theon ship could even get boarded.  I absolutely thought Grey Worm was toast, but I almost feel like it was HBO trolling the viewers by having him make it out.  Tormund was a surprise survival for me, because frankly I couldn’t see any wildling having any substantial role anywhere south of Winterfell, but he remains among the living going into the second half of the season.

I thought there would be one major death in The Long Night, be it a surprise killing of Jon Snow or Daenerys, considering the big reveal, one of them isn’t necessarily necessary going into Kings Landing.  Or I thought there was a possibility that Brienne was going to eat it, because I could see her dying in order to rescue Jaime Lannister.

As for all the other players, it seemed obvious that they were going to survive; Jaime and Tyrion can only die in Kings Landing, likely at the behest of Cersei.  The Hound was absolutely going to survive the night, because he has a date with the zombie Mountain, and the fans will absolutely get the Cleganebowl we’ve all been anticipating.  Sansa lived because it was clear she was never going to be a part of the fight, and Bran survived because he’s basically on a god-tier being the Three-eyed Raven.

But in the end, it was all about Arya who not only survived the night, but was the one who put an end to it outright, taking the almighty title of Night Kingslayer.  Honestly, the thought had crossed my mind that she was going to die during the battle, because I thought her character was getting a little too big for her britches, and I could see her overconfidence getting her killed in battle against the unconventional dead.  But at the same time, I also figured she had a role to play in Kings Landing, since Cersei is still the key name still on her list.*

*as is Ilyn Payne, whom viewers haven’t seen in ages, but either he’ll be written out outright, or something’s going to happen between Arya and Podrick, whom many might have forgotten is his dad

Frankly, I thought the only person in the series that was destined to take down the Night King was the obvious choice in Jon Snow, and I’m pretty sure the showrunners were banking on fans to stick to that line of thinking, so they could pitch them a curveball with Arya.  But I definitely knew that it wasn’t going to be Daenerys, because she can’t fight with weapons, and there was no way that even dragon fire was going to stop someone as OP as the Night King.  In fact, her overconfidence that the dragons could destroy anything was what I thought might have gotten her killed, but the Night King chose to smile and not slay after no-selling the Dracarys command that had ruined hundreds before him.

One thing was absolutely sure though, the Night King would only go down to Valyrian steel.  There was no way fire was going to kill him, and as big of a deal it is for everyone to have armed themselves with all the dragonglass, it was hard to believe some hastily made weapons were going to slay the guy that was basically created, with dragonglass.  Going into the battle, I’d made sure to document all the Valyrian steel weapons in play, which were swords held by Jon Snow, and Brienne, and although I don’t remember it, supposedly Jaime still wielded Joffrey’s old Widow’s Wail.  There was also House Tarly’s Valyrian greatsword that Sam entrusted to Jorah.  And then there was Littlefinger’s dagger, held by none other than Arya.

Man, I loved the finish too.  So often, conflicts are built up for varying degrees of time, but then they turn into these convoluted shit shows of disappointment.  Either they try too hard, or they’re deliberately trying to piss people off by poor executions or some other reasons, but they just suck in the end.  I feel that GoT isn’t getting enough credit to how they finished the Long Night, whether it’s because people expected to see Jon Snow slay the Night King, or Daenerys melt him into oblivion or something.

I think the episode did a good job of deliberately focusing off of Arya going into the second half of the episode in order to build back up a little bit of a surprise that she was still in play.  I mean, I didn’t really think of her when the Night King stood over Bran, all I could think of was the fact that Jon was pinned down by zombie Viserion and wasn’t going to be able to get there, and Daenerys was pinned down with Jorah by a circle of dead.  So I’ll admit that I was definitely surprised when Arya flew into the fray, and then bust out the same knife-drop technique she demonstrated while sparring with Brienne, that made me almost react like basketball players when they see a monster dunk.

And then thinking back to everything, it seemed so obvious that it was going to be Arya in the end.  From the sheer irony of the dagger that was meant to kill Bran was now the weapon that was going to save him.  The spar session with Brienne demonstrating a slick move that they showed it, so piggybacking onto the Shakespearian notion that if you introduce a dagger (and a slick move) in act 1, it’s only a matter of time before (they) gets used.  And then there was the obvious conversation with Melisandre who basically told her that she was going to kill the Night King with her “and blue eyes” remark.

I loved that final scene.  I’ve rewatched it like ten times on YouTube.  I didn’t know I loved it this much until I kept wanting to watch it over and over again.  Arya isn’t even my favorite character, and not by a long shot.  But it was just so perfectly well done, that I just want to watch it again and again.  It’s a lot like the scene of Cersei blowing up Baelor’s Sept; I detest the character, but respected the execution, and it was just shot so well, with a perfect music score behind it all, that I love watching the scene again and again.

But now that the night is over, we all know what comes next: Kings Landing for the final showdown.  Cersei has the Golden Company’s 20,000 soldiers but no elephants, as well as her own forces.  Euron Greyjoy gives her more soldiers as well as an armada, but I don’t think an armada is going to come into play unless the show wants to give Asha Yara one last paycheck.  Additionally, Cersei has Qyburn and zombie Mountain at her side, and currently has Bronn on the payroll to kill Tyrion, although I suspect he will cash in on the suggestion to consult him before following through.

On the blue team, remains Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and her two dragons.  The Hound is coming to Kings Landing to fulfill destiny.  Tyrion and Jaime Lannister are coming, to likely meet their ends with Cersei.  If Jaime is going, then Brienne is going, and if Brienne is going, then Podrick is going; and if Tormund is committed to the chase, then I guess he does have a reason to go south of Winterfell after all.  Grey Worm is going because his queen is going, which means Missandei is coming, to which may as well bring Varys along too, because he’s inevitably going to appear out of thin air there anyway.  Sansa will likely remain in Winterfell, because a Stark must always be there, and Bran doesn’t really count, and Arya is definitely coming to make a play on Cersei herself, which means Gendry is coming, because frankly as of current time, he’s the true heir to the Iron Throne.

The thing is for me now though, is that what is absolute is that a bunch of these people are going to die.  I have my ideas of who I think will live and who will die, but prior to the battle of Winterfell, I had marked Arya as a survivor.  But now that the show has basically blown their entire wad with Arya, she now shifts into dangerous territory on my card that puts her in the line of fire to potentially die.  Which kind of sucks, because Arya reached immortality status by killing the Night King, but dying in Kings Landing kind of burns it all down.

But I can see her making a play at Cersei, using some of her Faceless Men training stealth, but I think she’ll get caught by zombie Mountain, because although she can fool ordinary people, zombie Mountain is no longer ordinary, and he’ll have some unnatural sense and sniff her out at a critical moment, and rips her head off or something, accelerating the start of Cleganebowl.

Or, she goes after Ilyn Payne first, to which Podrick wishes to save his dad, and one of them ends up dead, with there being a possibility of Brienne being forced to kill Arya.  Or, Podrick dies at some point, and Arya uses his face to sneak in and kill Ilyn Payne.

The thing is, after being given so much accolade for killing the Night King, I think it puts Arya at greater risk than ever, to be on the chopping block soon.  Granted, that’s just the nature of the show, but I think Arya’s death meter just went red now.

Although given how tame the show’s been with killings thus far, I could just as easily see a fairly cleanly wrapped up conclusion to the story with minimal deaths; just to troll fan expectations of a bloody battle royal.  All I really stand by is that the following deaths are still inevitable: Jaime and Cersei are guaranteed to die, at each other’s’ hands.  The Hound and the Mountain both die fighting each other.  And whether it is Jon Snow or Daenerys, one of them is going to die.

I do think Sansa lives, Bran lives, Varys lives, Sam Tarly lives and Podrick lives.  My death pool actually has Gendry taking the throne, although I do think that’s a long shot now, three episodes in.  Everyone else, is still kind of a jump ball, when it comes to their survival.

Three more episodes left!

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