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    • Ugh. This episode was hard to watch. Perhaps even harder than the previous episode (no, not a joke about how dark it was). Earlier, Kit Harrington warned that episode four would be "twisted and uncomfortable". He wasn't joking. Let's dive right in.

      Two major deaths

      I may be in the minority here, but the two deaths in episode four were harder to swallow than the deaths during the Battle of Winterfell. Presumably due to the nature of the deaths. In episode three, the deaths were all on the battlefield. They were honourable and noble deaths. Deaths in the name of the living, in the name of protecting loved ones. The two deaths in episode four were cheap shots by cowards who are only fighting for power and authority.

      Rhaegal's death was a shock, it came out of nowhere and was so sudden. It felt harsh since he was just recovering from fighting with zombie Viserion from the previous episode. But what's frustrating is how easily he was killed. Aren't dragons supposed to be like, super tough to kill? But a 100% shooting accuracy by Euron's fleet made it look like a walk in the park. And couldn't Drogon have obliterated the fleet after avoiding the first volley of shots? Seems like Daenerys quit too easily.

      Missandei's death was equally hard to swallow, though it was probably expected the moment we saw she was kidnapped by Euron. You could see the rage in Daenery as her best friend was murdered, but you have to feel sorry for Grey Worm. He was a slave all his life and after being freed by Daenerys he found love, only to have it cruelly taken away from him. Cersei was always one of the most hated characters on the show, and she just cemented her place at the top after this episode.

      Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm's End

      The episode may have ended on a very low note, but it began rather jovially. After an emotional farewell to those who lost their lives during the Battle of Winterfell, the North celebrated. Gendry was the first to celebrate as Daenerys made him the Lord of Storm's End, a big promotion from a mere blacksmith. Even if this was Daenerys merely rewarding him just to win his support, it was great to see him receive the honour regardless. Too bad he got friendzoned by Arya in the end.

      Jaime's redemption hits a snag

      Though we can feel sorry for Tormund, Brienne and Jaime was always going to happen. After such a long journey together they finally expressed their feelings for each other intimately, though I was always wary about Jaime returning to Cersei once the dead were defeated. I still have hope for him though. I know he's on a path of redemption, but I think many of us wouldn't mind if he added "Queen Slayer" to his list of titles. It could go well with his King Slayer title. If anything, just so poor old Brienne can get her man back. She was distraught when he left.

      Who will rule The Seven Kingdoms?

      Jon and Daenerys' situation is just a mess isn't it? John doesn't want the throne, Daenerys does, but she also wants Jon, which Jon feels uneasy about given their familial relationship. Jon wants to tell his family his true heritage thinking it won't affect anything (so naive), but Daenerys believes that will only hurt her claim to the throne. She is right of course, as Sansa couldn't keep Jon's secret a secret for very long. But not because she's some gossip girl. On the contrary. If Jon's journey taught him honour, loyalty, and courage, Sansa's journey has taught her that chaos is a ladder, and she knows that with Jon's secret out, the ensuing chaos will prevent Daenerys from claiming the throne. As she told Tyrian, she wants "someone better" to rule. She may want Jon to rule, but some believe she will ascend the Iron Throne. Only time will tell.

      Episodes one and two were generally quite well received, but episodes three and four have been met with mixed reactions. While I'm rather frustrated with some plot points in episode four (for example, Bronn's ease with which he just betrays Tyrion and Jaime after everything he's been through with both of them), there are others who are absolutely furious about the writing of the episode (not to mention the absolutely embarrassing error involving a Starbucks cup as you can see above).

      Even poor old Ghost has his fair share of supporters who were unimpressed with how the writers seem to be writing him off into insignificance.

      Now that we're approaching the penultimate episode, how do you feel the season has been? Some people feel like the writing has been poor as of late, possibly because the show has now overtaken the books, thus losing the source material and the author's original vision for the story. I'll have to admit, though I'm excited to see how it all ends, I'm not feeling the same feelings watching this final season as I did previous seasons.

    • Thank you for starting this much-needed discussion of the episode! I was on the edge of my seat last night.

      Euron is the worst! Poor Rhaegal.

      Although an astute reddit commenter pointed out that if he has any common sense at all, he would wonder why Tyrion was saying Cersei should think of the baby - how would Tyrion know about any baby?

      I also was struck by the sheer amount of crossbow imagery in the episode - from Bronn showing up to menace Tyrion and Jaime with a crossbow and essentially blackmail them until the conflict wraps...

      To the sheer amount of Ballistas (aka "scorpions) positioned around King's Landing (is it just me, or did they seem to reload them unrealistically quickly)?

      I am excited to see the Hound and Arya on the road again, though. Not to hard to guess where they're headed, but wonder what they'll do when they get there?

    • One thing which I dislike about this season is the world building. The continent has just been attacked/ravaged by the Night King, the greatest and treat to everyone living in westeros and really see what's happening at Winterfell.

      In previous seasons you would have more prospective outside of the small group of many characters.

      For events that are meant to be affecting a place as big as a continent, the eventspicier seem to be centred on one or two places and everyone else is just living like it ishould a normal Wednesday

    • I honestly have no idea what Jaime is planning to do. He said he's not one to run from a fight. Which side is he going to fight for? I assume he intends to protect his sister, but Bronn literally just said Cersei hired him to kill BOTH of her brothers. Hopefully he comes to his senses before she gets him killed.

      And Jon might not be Ned's son, but he definitely inherited the Stark family's trademark stubborn/naive commitment to doing the right thing. I think Dany was right. They could've been happy together. All he had to do was keep his mouth shut. But it wouldn't be GoT if it had a happy ending, would it?

    • this isn't nice, but the writing thus far feels more and more self-indulgent and unimaginitive. like @Victoria mentioned, there is a noticeable absence of common sense on display here, and i don't think there's enough time left in the final season for "gotcha" moments to makeup for it.

      but i do like that cersei is using king's landing citizens as human shields, since it is very cersei. i will only be satisfied if this plan blows up in her face, as most of her plans have in the past.

      between jon's reticence to pursue a throne he only just learned he has claim to, dany's completely understandable spiral as she watches her closest friends die, and cersei's desperation to keep the throne, i feel like no one will end up on the iron throne. perhaps only a fat dragon turd would be fit to rule the seven kingdoms.

    • What bothers me most about this season is how, as I see it, the story seems negatively impacted by budgetary decisions.

      Throwing the Dothraki and Ghost out into the night for a suicide attack against the walkers makes zero plot or strategic sense, and it makes me consider that they wanted to avoid the cost of another prolonged cavalry battle scene like the Battle of the Bastards. It did also serve to speed the plot along and get the walkers into Winterfell, but it rubbed me the wrong way that they were just removed from the episode because they were an expensive inconvenience.

      The darkness in E3 that everyone has been commenting on also serves the same purpose. The harder it is to see anything, the less background action there needs to be. So in this giant battle that has been building up for 10 years, I tend to agree with people who feel that we have been robbed of some good action.

      Similar to the darkness serving to limit the amount of action required, quickly moving the battle into the courtyards and hallways of Winterfell essentially bottle-necked the action, limiting the scope and complexity of the scenes. I'm not too critical of this aspect, since most of the scenes were well done and served to advance the plot, but the speed at which they forced the action into the confinement of Winterfell kind of reduced the feeling of imposing doom that the sight of the walkers crossing the wall at the end of S7 created. I had the same complaint about the final battle scene in Harry Potter, where they constricted the fighting into a small courtyard and the hallways of Hogwarts, when Rowling's original narrative, while much grander, would have been easily translated to film.

      Poor Ghost. The internet is rightly upset that Jon didn't even give him a proper goodbye when he has Tormund agree to take Ghost north with him. And again, I see it as a budgetary decision influencing the story. It would have put a much higher price tag on the scene for Jon to actually interact with the CGI-enhanced wolf, but it would have been a much better scene had he done so.

      And then we have Rhaegal's death. I mean, I understand that they want Cersei to feel like a huge threat, and having Dany lose the second of her dragons definitely tips the scales even farther in Cersei's favor. But oh, the cynic in me couldn't help but think that when Rhaegal fell into the ocean, they had effectively halved the most expensive part of their CGI budget.

      This mainly bothers me because, while there is always the inevitable degradation when translating a book into a show or movie, when you're dealing with such a massively popular, money-making title like Game of Thrones, the most important thing should be the sanctity of the story. Decisions like throwing away the Dothraki make it feel like they backed themselves into a corner and decided to take the easy way out, instead of moving forward in a consistent and plausible manner.

      According to Variety, each episode of S8 cost at least $15 million to make. That seems like, and in reality is, a mammoth budget for a show. But when compared to the earnings that GoT creates, which the New York Times says is just over $1 billion annually, it doesn't seem all that unrealistic to expect a fully developed product with no shortcuts, no plot holes, no Starbucks cups, lots of dragons, and a hug for a direwolf.

    • As a long time fan of the books, I've recently been thinking a lot about how and why the quality has downturned since the show outstripped the books. Also why shows based on books are so much better than their traditional TV as first in media counterparts.

      I think there are a few things that come into play:

      Budget - As @Kenny mentioned the showrunners are budget constrained, and have to make decisions based on that, not just on what best serves the story. Since at this point the story is not set in stone, they can adjust the story to match.

      Actor contracts and fan outrage - When you are the one rolling the story forward with characters that people like, it's very difficult to make a decision to kill off a character, especially a main character like one of the Starks or Lannisters. You have to consider that you are firing the actor and any supporting staff they might have, and it is hard to take that out of the equation. You also run the risk of fan outrage and bandwagoning against the show, people upset you killed off their main character. If the death is already written in the novels, it's much easier to deal with this. You set up the actor, like Sean Bean initially, and let them know that they are only going to be around for a few seasons. Imagine in the books hadn't been written first, Sean Bean would still at this point be having flashback scenes after 8 seasons.

      Time Constraints - These books have taken years each book for GRRM to figure out how to get people from one place to another, decide which characters are going to make what decision, and how how thousands of troops are getting fed at Winterfell. At the end of the day, all he is doing is moving words around a page and it takes that long. A big budget production like GoT has thousands of people and logistics involved, which means corners of the story need to be cut.

      All this together leaves me really hoping that GRRM finishes the books after the series is over. I'm curious how things will be different.

      By the way, if you like GoT you should check out The Expanse. It is another huge budget show which is very faithful to the source material, with the book series nearly finished already. To make a simplified comparison it is a bit like Game of Thrones: In Space.

    • I totally agree! You'd think the Iron Bank would have a stake in the future of their world.

      This season make's the world of GoT seem so much smaller.

    • Thanks for this write up, well done. I'm not one to write negative reviews but wow I hated that episode. It was so bad, it's painful.

      The death of the dragon was such a joke, they really made no attempt at hiding their lack of effort. A dragon that flies around the world is attacked by surprise when it makes a left turn and there is a fleet of boats coming around what is essentially a large boulder? Pretty sure the dragon and uh "pilot" Daenerys would have seen them coming from a very long distance.

      0/10 effort. This show is basically over in my opinion.

      I think we're left with the fact that Daenerys probably needs to die, along with Cersie, Jamie probably goes too and we're left with Jon Snow.

      Eventually the cream rises to the top even if Jon Snow is essentially a 6th round draft pick. Kind of like Tom Brady and the Patriots.

      P.S someone should probably write about the personality traits that make Jon Snow a good leader and why we need more politicians like him.

    • P.S someone should probably write about the personality traits that make Jon Snow a good leader and why we need more politicians like him.

      I believe Varys said it best.

      The best ruler might be someone who doesn't want to rule.

      Speaking of the bald guy, I think he'll play a huge role in the remaining two episodes. He's been in the backseat so far, but after his latest exchange with Tyrion, and his reaffirmation that he "serves the realm", he might yet have a say in who sits on the Iron Throne when the show is over.

    • That would be cool, I like those kinds of happier endings... my money is betting against the dragons and Daenerys, I don't think she sees the finish line and instead is a martyr for our boy Jon Snow.