I like what’s been happening the last couple of weeks. I like that we have to wait between episodes of Game of Thrones, even though we’ve already waited so f-cking long, like over a year and a half, between seasons. Because it’s probably not going to happen again, a show like this, this experience of all of us together wondering what will happen, all of us anxious over the fates of our favourite and not-so-favourite (I’m looking at you, Jorah) characters. When it’s a show as big as Game of Thrones, I feel like it’s making us appreciate it more. If we were able to binge all six final episodes at once, would we care about it as much? Or would it leave us quickly as it came, a temporary obsession easily replaced.
Also, for me personally, the last episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, was just so f-cking good, showcasing the best of what this series can do, I want the time to savour it. As I mentioned on the Game of Thrones episode of Show Your Work a few weeks ago, the “talky-talky”-ness of Game of Thrones is what made me a fan. A lot of people get hard over the scale of the show, most often illustrated in the action episodes, like Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards, but for me, none of that means sh-t without the conversations in between, what the characters say and don’t say, how they build tension in dialogue. So while everyone’s been blue-balling all week for the Battle of Winterfell on Sunday, the clash between living and dead that the show’s been building towards for years, for me, Season 8 Episode 3 might just be the appetiser to Season 8 Episode 4, when those who remain have to sort out the mess. When those who don’t die have to figure out how to live – and how to live together. As Washington says to Hamilton in Hamilton, “Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder”. (Duana must be so proud of me right now.)
So… who’s going to live? Probably not a lot of people in the crypts who happen to be the racist people of the North. HBO released several new photos from the next episode yesterday, you can see them all here, but this one is my favourite:
Is Sansa scared or is she amused? Did Arya just tell her big sister that Gendry made her a spear and gave her the spear? (I’m sorry! I had to!) I mean I would f-cking love it if that’s the spare bit of talky-talky that happens during the battle as they’re staring down death, that this is the moment Sansa finds out Arya’s not a virgin anymore. It’s not like we don’t see this in war movies among dudes – small moments of humanity when humanity is at stake. That was the entire purpose of the last episode. I hope they have some left for this episode.
And of course I hope Sansa and Arya survive. Sansa in particular. Because she is my favourite. Because she has always been my favourite. And because when Daenerys told Tyrion she needed him to survive for his mind, the Starks too need Sansa to survive for her mind. That scene between Sansa and Daenerys in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is probably in my top 5 scenes of all time on Game of Thrones. In that one conversation, Sansa demonstrates a skill she has that no one else may be able to match: negotiation. And it’s a process. Note her reaction when Daenerys reasons with her about who’s manipulating whom, that she put her ambitions on pause to support Jon in the war against the dead. Sansa leans in, and offers an apology, expressing regret that she didn’t thank Dany the moment she arrived. “That was a mistake.” Excellent leadership there. Good leaders admit when they’re wrong. But while good leaders concede where necessary, they also hold firm where necessary. “What happens afterwards?” Sansa may be sorry for not showing Daenerys the proper gratitude for her assistance in their battle to survive but survival means that there is the work that goes into living. And she’s right up in Dany’s face negotiating the terms of “afterwards”. After all, SOMEONE has to. And, let’s face it, Jon Snow isn’t smart enough.
So who’s sticking around for the REAL challenge – which is the confrontation between the living and the living? And whose journey ends at Winterfell?
Tormund? Done. With Brienne, the way he wants it. You might not want it but there’s nothing left for her. She was knighted by Jaime, the most romantic act between doomed lovers. Jaime will have to go on (for a little longer, but not forever) knowing that he wasted his love and loyalty on a woman who didn’t deserve it and didn’t have enough time to love a woman who taught him the true meaning of it.
See you later, Pod. Who else could he possibly squire for?
And goodbye, Theon. He’s made his goodbyes. Rescuing his sister Yara closed that loose end. His offer to defend Bran – and die for him – represents closure there too. And his emotional reunion with Sansa was a farewell blessing. The person who truly knows all that he has suffered – and deserved – embraced him with forgiveness and acceptance. There’s nothing else Theon needs.
Agree or disagree? Let me know. Let’s talk and unpack the sh-t out of this while we can, while we keep waiting, and enjoying the waiting. Let’s not rush to know what happens because as soon as we know what happens, that part of the fun will be gone.
Attached - Sophie Turner out for lunch with Joe Jonas in LA the other day.