Interlude: A Song of Ice and Fire

Day 44. 64 pages, 30,290 words.

The following blog post will not be spoilertexted. I’ll put one of these:

…but that’s it. The entire television show Game of Thrones, certainly the final two or three seasons, arguably constitute a single giant spoiler for the book series A Song of Ice and Fire. If you think the book series is going to continue and don’t want it to be spoiled, be aware that this is what this post is. If you have not yet watched the final season of Game of Thrones all the way through, you should be used to avoiding spoilers by now.

I hope that this disclaimer has been enough to prevent spoilers from appearing in the blog notification and flavour text, and that by this point you have stopped reading if you’re going to.

The following post will be structured like a CHOW.

So in the final episode of Game of Thrones we return to the remains of King’s Landing, which Daenerys destroyed in the penultimate episode[1]. Unsullied are rounding up enemy combatants and executing them in violation of whatever Westerosi laws Cersei hasn’t fucked ragged already[2].

Tyrion finds Jaime’s and Cersei’s bodies in the ruins of the Red Keep[3] and is then arrested for freeing Jaime in the hopes Jaime’s actions might be able to stop Daenerys from being Daenerys[4]. Tyrion failed. Jaime failed. Jon failed. The viewers failed. It was hilarious.

Daenerys declares that she is going to liberate the entire world the way she’s just liberated the Seven Kingdoms[5]. The Unsullied bang their spear butts three times on the ground in uncanny unison to show how much they’ve developed as feeling individuals[6]. Jon, realising that even though his Nedliness screams out against it he has to do something because Auntie Daenerys is definitely going to burn Sansa alive[7], goes and tries one last time to talk sense into a Targaryen[8]. He fails again, but at least he doesn’t go full Edtard, and so he stabs Daenerys to death[9]. She dies of being stabbed to death, and Drogon is angry but doesn’t kill Jon in retaliation[10].

Instead Drogon burns the Iron Throne to slag, picks up Daenerys and flies away into the sunset[11].

The Unsullied, represented by Grey Worm, are out for blood in the aftermath[12]. The scene cuts to some weeks later and they bring Tyrion before a summit meeting of Seven Kingdoms rulers[13]. The Unsullied hold onto Jon for the time being. Despite being told not to talk (and after a joyously hilarious scene where Edmure Tully gets deflated[14]), Tyrion ends up telling everyone how the empire should be divided up.

In short, Bran the Broken becomes King of the Six Kingdoms, with Sansa becoming Queen in the North and the Unsullied (and the Dothraki, and the Iron Islanders, and the whole Targaryen thing) just sort of going away[15]. Jon, Queenslayer, takes the black again and goes to the remains of the Wall[16].

Cut to later again, Tyrion is Hand of the King, leading a Small Council in Bran’s name with Brienne, Bronn, Archmaester Tarly and Davos on board. There’s some funny dialogue and it all seems fine[17]. Jon reunites with his true ginger beloved[18] and the wildlings and the Night’s Watch head out North of the Wall together[19]. I suspect this scene mirrors the opening scene of season one with the Night’s Watch men fleeing out of the forest to escape the wights. But I’m only guessing because I am lazy.

Arya goes away on an adventure[20].

Points for discussion

1. There’s a lot of complaining about how Daenerys was robbed of decency, virtue, agency, and a bunch of other stuff when she “went crazy” and decided to systematically burn King’s Landing and all its smallfolk to the ground instead of accepting their surrender. You rosy-goggled little pantywaists need to get with the fucking program. Daenerys took her crazy-as-all-get-out brother Viserys’s plan – to invade Westeros with a cavalry army of murder-rapist psychopaths – and she did nothing to that plan except add three napalm-breathing man-eating lizards the size of small aircraft, and a second army of deadass sociopaths who are drained of humanity by killing their own pets before graduation from killer school. After she finally got to Westeros, Daenerys was already well and truly sick of humans and their relentless shitfuckery, and this was given a final spit-polish by everybody except her army (hint: the socioeconomic construct with no other purpose but eradicating life in Westeros) turning against her, and her lover turning out to be her nephew who had a better claim to the throne than she did. If you thought she was going anywhere else but critical with this material, you are out of your tiny goddamn mind. But by all means, sign that petition.

2. There’s a standard at some point about what happens with prisoners. If they bend the knee, and especially if they’re noble, they get to go. Maybe to the Wall, but maybe just plain free. If they refuse to bend the knee, or if they’re not important enough or if the Bloody Mummers get them and decide to just mutilate them for fun instead, then yeah – they’re probably going to have a bad time. I think it’s valid that these Lannisters didn’t need to get executed and it made the Unsullied less sympathetic to the people who had for some unfathomable reason started to feel that they were sympathetic characters (and I admit, Grey Worm was a sympathetic character until he lost literally everything except his … nope, literally everything). But they did appear to be soldiers, not smallfolk, and I think that counts for something. The smallfolk had all been Pompei’d the fuck to death in the previous episode by the Mother Of All Dragons, and I think that counts for something too.

3. I agree that Cersei could have had a more elaborate and horrible death. I wouldn’t have minded that. I don’t agree that Jaime deserved any sort of closure, let alone redemption. I’ve always said that the best he can reasonably expect is to die, and most people to remember him as a huge golden turd who sometimes caught the light the right way and looked kind of like a huge golden Hershey’s Kiss. He reminded Brienne, and incidentally every starry-eyed numbnuts viewer and reader out there, just how much of a piece of shit he is before going off to die a true piece of shit’s death. As such, their final scene was flawless. They died as they lived: tearing civilisation down around their own heads with barely a nanosecond’s thought for anybody or indeed anything else except their own genitals.

4. I think I said it all in points 1 and 2 above, but just in case there is something to complain about here, I have to wonder what might have happened if Daenerys really had accepted the Lannister surrender. Jaime and Cersei would have been caught, maybe, and definitely executed. Tyrion too, probably, because he let Jaime escape and basically faked the surrender. Unless we rewrite history even more and stop a lot of that from happening and roll back Daenerys’s degeneration by a few seasons. How much rewriting do we want to do?

5. Cool And Normal™©®.

6a. I’m being more than a little facetious here, but I do agree with the idea that the Unsullied had been finding some sort of humanity and individuality since Daenerys freed them. That is the essence of freedom, after all. They were still utterly loyal to her, so their humanity would have been dependent on her orders so they absolutely would not have refused to execute the Lannister soldiers she told them to kill, and if she was incinerating civilians then they would have followed suit … but there was room for some shift in that monolith. It was locked down by Grey Worm, of course, and the tragedy of Missandei’s murder that hardened his heart and left him all too willing to play into Daenerys’s savagery. In order for that to be “improved”, his breach of the code of war would have had to be greater. Allowing him to be arrested or killed, which in turn would allow the Unsullied to go back over the sea and … I don’t know, have adventures. Daario is still over there waiting for Daenerys to come back and have sex with him, isn’t he? Poor Daario.

6b. All in all, perhaps better candidates for “freed slaves discovering their humanity” were available, since the Unsullied were pretty much designed to be murderous robots. Most of the freed slaves from Daenerys’s early campaigns fit the bill, but they mostly discovered their humanity by being giant shitburgers. Which I find hard to fault.

7. Sansa really did come out of nowhere to be a cold iron rod of sanity and strength in these latter seasons. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over my annoyance at her childhood stupidity, but I have to concede her throne and her reputation is earned by the end. Daenerys would definitely have killed her though, which was just what Jon needed to realise in order to stop being a giant moron.

8. Points for effort, he surpassed his uncle / adoptive father in the Thankless Undertaking No Sane Person Would Attempt stakes. All Ned Stark ever tried to do was talk Cersei into fleeing the kingdom with her incest babies. Even Ned wouldn’t have bothered trying to stop a Targaryen in full flame. He lost a father and brother that way.

9. Saw it coming, but it was still a gutsy narrative move and must have been difficult for Jon to reconcile. Of course in terms of his character arc, it was rushed at the end but did have a certain amount of justification and urgency. I have been accused of having an author’s perspective and forgiving narrative developments because “that’s the way they were written”, which now I write it out in words sounds like a pretty silly accusation. Of course if I like a narrative development I’ll find existing narrative justifications for it. If I don’t like it, you’d better believe “the way it was written” isn’t going to make fuck-all difference and doom on you if you think otherwise.

all-the-way(1)

10. Because he doesn’t get that it was Jon’s fault? Or because he knows Daenerys brought this on herself? Or because he recognises Jon’s claim of Targaryenity? Whatever. It was a cool scene and could only have been improved by Jon not stabbing Daenerys, but leaving her to sit on the Iron Throne … only to turn up on Drogon’s back a moment later and burn her and the Iron Throne to slag – a throne for a queen – thus mirroring her father’s and her brother’s deaths.

11. What’s he doing here? I suppose, like Cottoneye Joe, the question of where the dragons came from and where they went are destined to remain unanswered in this series.

12. What happens when the Unsullied lose their employer? It’s a moot point since Daenerys freed them, so … what happens when emancipated Unsullied lose their Queen-Goddess? Do they go back to the depot to await processing? Do they all kill themselves? Do they form an anarcho-syndicalist commune and wait for someone to throw a sword at them? Apparently what they do is nothing much for several weeks and then leave it all up to the Seven Kingdoms nobility for some reason. Because they’ve got just like tons of autonomy and ability to adjust to normal human life, oops there I go again with the facetiousness. But yeah, this was a bit weakly thought out if you ask me. It makes sense, sort of, if you buy into the fact that the Unsullied don’t have the ability to act independently of a hand that points and a mouth that says “kill”. So to me at least, it sort of makes sense.

13. I have nothing much to add here, I just find it extremely hard to believe Tyrion and Jon weren’t simply killed immediately. Grey Worm had lost everything except Daenerys, and Tyrion and Jon were the ultimate perpetrators of her death and the departure of the final dragon and all the things the Unsullied had been fighting for. Fuck everything. Missandei’s final words to Daenerys and Grey Worm were “burn it all”, and that’s what they did. And that makes perfect sense to me for those characters.

14. Not to mention an even funnier scene where Sam suggests democracy and everyone laughs at him, and deservedly so. Poor Sam, but LOL.

15. I mean, as they should. I can’t believe the Dothraki were even still around. But this was also a bit of a trail-off rather than a proper ending. Are we going to see more of this part of the story in spin-off series? Maybe. I hope not, but maybe.

16. It’s tragic, but seems perfectly in keeping with his character, again, that he accepts – even welcomes – this. He finally gets to go full Maester Aemon and wrap his angst up in a big black bearskin cloak and go back to the place he’s wanted to go since the very first season. It’s the only place he was ever happy, if you can use the h-word in connection to Jon Snow. Also he got to see Tormund again, which is nice. The only other way I can see this going was Daenerys stabbing Jon after the final kiss, and going on to rule the Six Kingdoms (after turning the North into a giant obsidian mine) and taking over the world with Jon’s baby on the way. But that didn’t happen. I might have preferred it because (and this will shock some of you) I never found Jon Snow particularly compelling and his Lost Prince of Destiny thing was boring as fuck. But, given what it was, I think everyone involved did a pretty good job with it.

17. Sam shows everyone There and Back Again with Compound Incest, the closest any of us are likely to get to a completed book series. It manages to fit inside a single hardover volume, mainly because Tyrion is left out altogether. I imagine this makes it pretty fucking dry reading.

18. He always did have a thing for redheads. That’s what was really standing between him and Daenerys. Fight me.

19. With the Night King gone, presumably solving the whole “Others” problem that the children of the forest started way back when, there would seem to be no further need for the Wall or the Night’s Watch. So what happens when the next set of murderers, rapists, thirdborn sons and other garbage of Westeros is sent there? Jon will stay because he’s dumb and noble. He was always one of the dumbest and most noble men of the Night’s Watch, bless him. But the institution can’t really work anymore, can it? Will they just all get to go off and live with the free folk? Seems like a terrible deterrent. Maybe Bran will be able to stop crimes before they occur and we’ll wind up with a Minority Report sort of situation in the Six Kingdoms.

20. Did they really just not go west before? Nobody? Not even Euron Greyjoy? I mean I can understand that Martin didn’t bother making a map, but what kind of a plan is that for Arya to have? What if the ocean west of Westeros just goes all the way around until you hit the eastern lands on the far side? Arya and her crew will die drinking their own piss and eating whoever drew the shortest straw. Look, if you want to start a spin-off show with Arya arriving at some distant western landmass with a ship’s-crew-worth of faces to wear, I’m all in. But that’s pretty cold.

I call this section “points for discussion” when it could probably more accurately be called “I’m back, bitches, and you’ve gotten weak while I was away.” But that title was neither consistent nor punchy.

Gore-o-meter

Some Lannister soldiers get killed, and the Dothraki are whooping at one point which probably means someone is being murder-raped off-screen. Daenerys gets killed. All in all it’s a pretty bloody one. Three and a half flesh gobbets out of a possible five. Keep in mind we’re competing in a pretty high-stakes game here.

Sex-o-meter

There’s no real sex going on here. Brothels are mentioned, and Jon and Tormund definitely kiss. But all in all I think this warrants a fleeting twitch of a single pair of pants out of a possible five large and proudly enduring erect penises.

Laff-o-meter

Had a few laughs. When Tyrion uncovered Jaime and Cersei and immediately began banging a piece of broken masonry on the rubble I pretended he was smashing Cersei’s face. Davos, Bronn, Sam, and even Bran get some amusing lines. The summit meeting where democracy is briefly mentioned is hilarious. But all in all there’s not much here. I will give this episode a man caught in the middle of a field fucking a pumpkin out of a possible exactly the same thing except the man looks down and says “holy shit, is it midnight already?”

Final verdict

Well, this is it for A Song of Ice and Fire, at least until such time as Martin resumes publishing books. Certainly this is it for Game of Thrones, until the spin-off serieses kick off. There was a lot of sniffling and crying about this season, and the final two episodes in particular, online including a petition to rewrite the season competently. It got in excess of a million signatures.

Don’t even get me started on wanting to rewrite annoying-arse badly-written shit properly, you whiny mewling little shitlordlings. And get the fuck off my lawn while you’re not doing it.

– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while guarding my goddamn lawn.

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11 Responses to Interlude: A Song of Ice and Fire

  1. stchucky says:

    I was amused, incidentally, to read an article during my vague search for pictures to spice up the blog post with (I ended up not bothering because the post was spicy enough): Who Run the World? Mediocre Men!

    https://www.tvguide.com/news/game-of-thrones-series-finale-small-council/

    Which, come on, give me a break. It might be nice if there were a couple more women on the Small Council, but there are still several places left to fill as of the finale. I imagine Asha Yara Greyjoy would be Master of Ships, possibly in absentia. Although Master of Ships may not be a thing anymore.

    Does ordering up a personal spy, lawmaker, and warmonger first thing sound like the prioritization of a peaceful ruler?

    Uh, yes, you idiot? Even if those weren’t the empty positions on the actual Small Council that probably want filling, they seem like a great place to start. And “warmonger” is a dumb interpretation of a military commander, but whatever. Better leave the command position empty.

    But otherwise? The King can see the future. The King’s Hand is Tyrion, who is brilliant. Bronn is a dubious choice but at least he’s smart. Davos is the most moral (and essentially non-faith-bound) character in the series. Sam is just a beautiful person. And Brienne is Brienne. Not, in point of fact, a man. It’s fine. Get the fuck over yourself, this article was a mess.

  2. dreameling says:

    Can you explain the CHOW format, because in addition to the specific structure, you’re clearly channeling a very specific voice and attitude? 🙂

    • stchucky says:

      It’s an old Usenet convention, for CHapter Of the Week reviews of book chapters. There was a list of them in the blog post linked, and that list connected to some of the lattermost CHOWs. Butterbumps and Janica was the nickname my CHOWs were posted under.

      We’d done the entire series, that link is just the latest book (or the book before?).

      And that’s how I review these books.

    • stchucky says:

      But the voice, specifically, was “this is the first day of thundery-feeling 28°C / 90% humidity weather of the year and I just remembered how much I hate it”. As well as channelling a bit of Usenet Ogre.

  3. Gonna bite the bullet and buy the series, probably on Amazon (buy vs get a Hulu membership or what not. Don’t want to mess around with free trials and these actors deserve their money…love them all.). So probably by this time next week I’ll be ready to discuss.

    Don’t “Engame” me, you fuckers! You better fucking not! Or I’ll just go watch all the Looper videos and ignore your asses!

  4. aaronthepatriot says:

    I agree with your points and not with the millions of crybaby fans. On many videos, they got THIS comment from ne:
    “Fucking babies, I swear. You crybabies ruin everything. Her madness is wholly explicable and telegraphed. All of this was clearly coming.”

    Cersei fucking told us she was going to do just this. The end of the show was always going to be after the Night King (NK), not him. He was a common foe, and Cersei was too. It wasn’t all that rushed, either. I found Episode 4 quite slow, honestly.

    And holy shit yes, the brick thing with Tyrion, I did EXACTLY the same thing. Kept quiet so as not to ruin the moment for my wife, but LOL

    So a few things, most of which I believe were also fan complains but I wanted to list them here in case they spark discussions.

    1. Arya sex scene was tacked on and disappointing, didn’t like it. Was that a body double or full sideal nudity? I think body double but Maisie’s comments about it made me wonder.

    2. The battle was too long, too dark, too misty, and too stupidly fought. Why did they run out there so far from the dragons and the walls? How was that the plan for the start of the battle. It should have been much closer in and when the undead charged, the dragon flaming should have immediately commenced.

    I like that the Wights had that extra power with the misty winds, took the double-dragon threat down to a manageable level but damn it made everything hard to see. Even just the dark scenes were hard to see, but there were WAY TOO MANY silly flying around in the mist scenes. The battle was annoying and too long.

    I probably wouldn’t feel that way if I could have fucking made anything out. And we have a good setup. You couldn’t see if any main characters were being killed, most of the time.

    Samwell was trapped beneath undead and screaming like 3 times, it’s totally a meme in my head now. Surely someone has slapped those scenes together by now with some appropriate music?

    3. Arya’s scene with the NK was cool and I’m glad the Azar Ahai (sp?) thing was totally abandoned. It wasn’t Jon, and it wasn’t her (I thought Melisandre was going to declare this). They were just people because there’s no savior, no champion of the lord of light. GOOD.

    4. Why the fuck didn’t they work on Mountainstein’s face more so he didn’t look like undead Varys? Even my wife said this, like immediately. Seeing that image on a Looper video made me think Varys went undead, LMAO. Surely the directors should have noticed the similarity?

    5. The dragonfire green explosions during the final battle…was Cersei planning to nuke it all if she lost? Damn. She’s such a cold bitch.

    6. Anyone who can’t understand why Dany lost her shit is not following her arc or empathizing with all that’s been happening to her. Emilia Clarke and the writers did a GREAT job, they fucking told you and showed you (Clarke’s acting) everything you needed to see this shit coming. It was telegraphed as much as possible to still have it be a surprise. The only way it could have made MORE sense is if she said it in words before she did it.

    I’m not going to list everything she lost that drove her there. Anyone who doesn’t get it is an idiot.

    Yes, they could have written a different storyline for the ending, I’m not saying you’re an idiot if you wanted or expected a different ending. I did.

    But this ending works, it makes sense. Life sucks, get a helmet. This has always been full of tragedy and disappointment. I fully believe Martin could have intended something like this.

    I lied I’ll provide one thing to ponder. What did people really think, DID they really think at all, when it turned out Jon was a Targaeryn? I mean, come on. Think about how much trouble that causes for Dany. AND SHE FUCKING TOLD YOU OVER AND OVER.

    Pay attention, people. Stop crying. Babies.

  5. JonathanBloom says:

    I liked it quite a bit. I hope that the books get finished one day, but if they don’t this is an ending that I’m more than happy with.

  6. Pingback: Saturday, time for another quick random weekender | Hatboy's Hatstand

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