Actually, Paul and I had a very entertainment-filled weekend, with a last-minute viewing of Captain Marvel on Saturday and then Avengers: Endgame on Sunday, right in time for the "official" spoiler ban being lifted. If I was not quite so completely stuck in GoT-mode I might actually have things to say about Endgame, though I really don't consider myself a full-on Marvel fan and I've only seen most of the films once (with the exception of Iron Man which I think I've seen twice), and some of the more recent ones not at all, so some elements of canon passed me by. That did not detract from my enjoyment of the film whatsoever, it should be said, and I'm honestly loving the fact that both of these franchises (Marvel, Avengers specifically, and GoT) are ending after 10 years. It feels like a big pop culture event; and if GoT can pull a finale out of the bag which is anywhere near as good as its third episode of this season, I'll be happy. As we all know, there is nothing worse than a good show being ruined by a bad ending (I'm looking at YOU, Voyager.)
Anyway, after that, as it was a bank holiday, I decided to record GoT at 2.00am (the US synchronised showing) and watch it earlier in the day in the hopes that I would have more time to process it. HAHAHAHA nope. Instead, what actually happened was I spent the next seven hours scrolling Tumblr and reading fanfic and plunged myself headlong into an irrevocable pain spiral, and started writing another fic because WHY NOT. I'm enjoying the sudden word-storm, believe me (16,000 words in two weeks, whaaaat??), but it's taken me completely by surprise. And I'm not as proficient as I used to be at this writing lark, so all these people bashing out perfectly-formed stories in a matter of HOURS are leaving me in awe.
As it stands, there are two episodes to go and I've booked the Tuesday off after the finale, because I am not going to be able to function otherwise. Last week's episode utterly broke me and this week's... well, it'll be below the cut.
Episode 8.04 - The Last of the Starks
In summary, this episode can be condensed into two categories:
- THANKS, JUST CRUSH MY HEART, IT'S NOT LIKE I WAS USING IT.
- Look at all these nice things we can't have because of Cersei fucking Lannister! *insert obligatory Maria von Trapp gif*
It was something of a rollercoaster, and I'm not just talking about the fact my ship sailed AND SANK in the same frigging episode (but I have a lot of words to say about that, so brace yourself).
I'll just go right ahead and split this into headings.
So, first off, I loved Jon's speech and the post-battle feast; this gave me some of what I wanted to see after the last episode, which was the Winterfell survivors healing, mourning and celebrating together. Bonus points for the Sansa/Hound scene (with this fanservice you are really spoiling us!) and of course for the Jaime/Brienne/Tyrion/Podrick scene with the drinking game (more on this later, OBVS). Double bonus points for the Jaime/Tormund silent stand-off because LOL.
I think Gendrya was handled well - bittersweet but acknowledging that Arya's path was never to be a Lady, and calling back to the time when Arya wanted to be Gendry's family and he said she would be his lady instead. However, this is also very frustrating because it shows that the writers CAN do call-backs and do them well, and they basically threw that all out of the window with Braime, who have a LOT of things they could have called back to which were all completely ignored.
Loved Arya and the Hound wandering off into the wilderness together. I always hoped those two would form a tentative friendship and they’ll make a formidable double-act when they finally get to the capital and go rogue.
I had a feeling that something was brewing with Sansa and I'm glad I was right; informing Tyrion of Jon's background is a genius move, quite honestly. Her distrust of Daenerys has been clear from the moment they met, and only worsened when Dany suggested there would be no separate rule in the North. What we have to remember is that Sansa has endured a lot. (Sidenote: the only thing I disliked about her conversation with Sandor was her suggestion that she would not be who she was without her experiences - whilst I'm sure that's true, I don't think it's a healthy attitude. "I am a better person for being abused" is really not the right message to be sending.) She suffered unspeakable emotional, physical and threatened sexual abuse in Kings Landing from both Cersei and Joffrey, but her time spent there cannot have been in vain; she must have picked up on how this dangerous political situation would pan out. She wants to see Cersei's downfall but she's not sure if Dany is the person to do it; I'd wager she can see the signs of impending madness a mile away, and Cersei and Dany are far more similar than they think.
And of course Tyrion does do the right thing with it, and it also can't be a coincidence that Varys is suddenly back in the picture after several episodes of having nothing to do. I think between these two they will try and bring Daenerys down safely, but I suspect it will end in tears. They’ve been tormenting us with near-misses for Tyrion for two whole episodes now so I really suspect his number is up. :(
MISSANDEI. :( Dying in CHAINS and basically telling Daenerys to burn those fuckers down. There is going to be bloodshed and a lot of collateral damage when Dany finally snaps – if she hasn’t already.
Surprise!Bronn turning up with the crossbow. I honestly thought both Jaime and Tyrion were dead at that point, but thank god Bronn has no principles, eh? I was right about one of them owing him a castle. I still want them to give him Casterly Rock and shun the Lannister name. (Also, Bronn, you do not get to be a canon Braime shipper and then point a bloody crossbow at his heart - UR DOIN IT WRONG.)
I also thought Tyrion was dead again when he started approaching the gates. He will never learn not to try and reason with his crazy sister. God, it just hurts my heart how much he tries; how much he wants to believe that there's a part of her which actually loves him; how much he clearly loves her despite knowing how futile that is. The fact that he invoked not only her children but Jaime in that little speech, desperately trying to get her to see reason - acknowledging that she cares nothing for her subjects and they don't care much for her either, so using the only thing she does care about to try get through to her. Tyrion, you are too good for this toxic family.
Qyburn is a worm and needs to die. He’s the most ineffectual Hand ever.
I thought Dany was going to burn the fleet after Rhaegal went down (that was a short-lived relief we had there) and I have no idea why she decided flying directly at a massive crossbow bolt was a good idea. She could easily have taken out a whole fleet just with Drogon. Also it makes no sense why they didn’t see that bloody fleet coming on a clear day. Like, really? I could accept the fact that the Battle of Winterfell was a strategical shitshow, because nobody’s ever fought the dead before, right? But Euron’s fleet sneaking up on them was bloody stupid.
I also can’t believe they’ve got Scorpions on boats because surely that creates a whole load of, like, ballast issues? The power you need behind something like that does not lend itself well to a vehicle which is floating. How on earth are they planning to use those things when it’s stormy?
And, as I quite evidently predicted, they decided not to use Jaime’s insider knowledge of the Lannister army before heading south, in which case they deserve to lose. :P
The Lannister Brothers
One of my absolute favourite parts of this episode was watching Tyrion and Jaime getting to be brothers again, without the toxic influence of Cersei and Tywin. Tyrion has such a big space in his heart for his family, and so does Jaime although his loyalties have often been iffy. He’s always been the only person to stick up for his little brother and I honestly just loved seeing them together, at ease and joking and drunkenly leaning on each other. My favourite bit was Tyrion's over-exaggerated sad little pout when Jaime guessed (sorry, "surmised") Brienne was an only child, like it was the worst fate ever.
This also lends a lot of weight to the concept of them no longer being Lannisters except in name; I pointed out to some fellow GoT-fan colleagues this morning that the further from Cersei they’ve gone, the darker their hair has grown. You could argue for Jaime that it’s just because he’s in the north (less sunlight), but that argument doesn’t work for Tyrion because he’s travelled to various exotic places with Dany, and in fact Jaime’s hair started turning a long time before leaving Kings Landing. It’s not just about geography and climate. They are literally shedding their golden lion-ness and become their true selves.
The thing is, there’s two episodes left and I literally cannot predict where this is going, particularly in light of Jaime’s redemption arc. It seems that this unLannistering is something which has been built into the canon, because it’s an editorial / directorial / cinematic decision to make them not blond and sustain that for at least three seasons, but with so many loose ends to tie up I have no idea what will happen. I just cannot see non-blond, northern-bearded Jaime getting back with Cersei because he’s literally a different person.
Actually, this brings me nicely onto the next thing I want to yell about.
Jaime and Brienne
Right. Okay. There’s gonna be a lot to deal with here.
So, I was accidentally spoilered on Sunday about the Bang That Was Promised because it had been leaked on Reddit and was all over Tumblr; naturally I then spent the next however-many hours helicoptering around the room in barely concealed excitement. The leak itself consisted just of a still of the kiss, and something about betrayal coming later. (As the episode progressed I thought that would refer to Tyrion and Varys plotting against Dany, because I’m naïve.)
I now need to extend my not-checking-social-media-for-fear-of-sp
Obviously, there were three major Braime elements to the episode: their interactions (along with Pod and Tyrion) at the feast; the ship setting sail; the ship sinking. I will deal with these things in that order.
As I said above, I loved loved LOVED the feast scenes and would happily have watched an entire episode of these four idiots drinking and giggling. First there was that lovely moment where Brienne didn’t want any more wine and Jaime just moved her hand away, totes cazh, but also totes NOT cazh considering the way his hand lingered. Him persuading her to actually enjoy herself was so cute, and the fact that she agreed speaks volumes for how much they’ve come to trust each other.
Then later was the drinking game from Tyrion (of course it’s from Tyrion), which essentially just seemed to be “truth or drink” from what I could gather, or some kind of reverse version of “Never Have I Ever” (Brienne, you don’t want to play that game, trust me). Just… Brienne, in all of that – so happy and open, smiling so naturally, joking with Jaime and Tyrion and Pod and actually enjoying herself. It was ADORABLE. All the eye contact with Jaime, Podrick as her wingman (and possibly Jaime’s too?), Jaime and Tyrion sharing knowing smiles all the way through. Jaime ramping the hearteyes up to eleventy because why WOULDN’T he? ISTG if he wasn’t already in love with her, that would have been the moment which cemented it.
Then Tyrion bringing it all down a level (I see what you did there, little man) and Jaime still rushing to defend Brienne’s honour even now, because YES, the reason she’s still a virgin is BECAUSE. OF. JAIME. He lost his hand defending it for her, FFS, and it’s so great that they’re still the only two people who know that. Podrick deciding that wine was the better part of valour at that point was so relatable, too.
Honestly, this whole section felt like a wedding reception; let’s take the gifting of matching swords as the engagement, the knighthood as the ceremony, and this post-battle feast as the wedding breakfast. That’s totally the vibe they were giving off. As I say, I could have watched an entire episode of nothing but that.
Jaime standing up to Tormund with no words was absolutely brilliant, as was both Tyrion and Pod backing him up. Podrick’s stupid knowing grin and Tyrion just filling up Tormund’s horn with wine and sending him away. Brilliantly acted by all involved. (Bonus lulz for Tormund moping at the Hound and his “Don’t touch me.”; they are totally besties.)
Then, of course, the scene then transitioned into the inaugural voyage of the SS Braime.
NGL, I was a little disappointed in this the first time around, but there are some very talented GIF-makers out there and Tumblr gave me a very different perspective after I’d spent several hours scrolling the Braime tag.
Like, at first I was really pissed off that they were drunk, because WHAT, REALLY? But it gave the scene some underlying humour and highlighted the snark which has always been at the root of their dynamic - his sarcastic compliment and her not-remotely-serious "piss off" in response. Jaime was significantly drunker when arriving at her door than he had been at the feast, which indicates that he was just trying to pluck up the courage to do WHAT HE CAME TO WINTERFELL TO DO, in essence. Because he obviously only went north for Brienne and then there happened to be an inconvenient battle to deal with first. I am finding it endlessly amusing that Brienne can hold her alcohol so well considering she mostly doesn’t drink at all. And then you’ve got Jaime "Handsomest Man in Westeros" but-apparently-terrible-at-flirting Lannister trying very very hard to be subtle and FAILING HORRIBLY, which is just adorkable.
I love that he just brought the drinking game with him (or the drink, at any rate, since the game didn’t really get anywhere), purely because it made Brienne laugh and he wanted to see that again. I also loved that all the easy comfort of the previous scene was only possible when there were other people around; that as soon as it was just the two of them everything became suddenly more serious. Like, “oh shit, this is actually happening and we’re both clueless” serious.
LBR, after however many months of reading fanfic between seasons 7 and 8, this was never going to live up to expectations. I wanted a lot more schmoop and tenderness, definitely some kind of golden hand reference or a callback to Harrenhall or SOMETHING, and what we ended up with was a clumsy release of 7.5 seasons’ worth of UST. Part of me is not complaining at all because THE SHIP IS NOW CANON (I mean, it always was but now they've literally said it louder for those in the back), and that’s such a great feeling no matter how it happens, but I really did want a bit MORE, somehow. That being said, it definitely had its moments, particularly Brienne’s impatient “move aside” and then him ACTUALLY STOPPING when she asked what he was doing (yes, thank you, that is the correct way to respond). Plus him referring to her as a knight was amazing (how long were you rehreasing that line, Jaime, you awkward lovesick idiot?)
There’s also been a lot of flail about the fact that he had to lean up to kiss her and then just relented to the height difference. I love a good height difference and theirs gives me LIFE.
The aftermath scene, Brienne sleeping and Jaime’s slightly unreadable expression… yep, didn’t like that the first time either, but in the context of what happens later I get that it’s intentionally ambiguous.
Okay, so this show SUCKS at time/location jumps and delineating how much time has passed, and the way it was edited made it look like he literally dumped her two nights later. That’s quite clearly not the case. The intervening scene with Tyrion suggests that Jaime will be staying at Winterfell as a “guest of Lady Stark” (which I’m guessing is at Brienne’s behest), possibly for a long time to come. By the time Jaime rides back to Kings Landing, Daenerys has already arrived and been defeated, so realistically the timeframe between the two events must be at least a month.
Which means that they were actually happily living together for all of that time and we didn’t even get to see it. MY HEART CANNOT.
The key word there is “happily”. We know this is the case because Tyrion as much as says it: “I’m happy you’re happy”. (I felt his comment about making tall jokes on a deeply spiritual level, BTW.) This again goes back to my flail about these two as brothers and how much they clearly mean to each other. I don’t want either of them to die because they would both be DEVASTATED and I don’t think I can cope with the look on either of their faces if that happens. :(
The length of time that’s passed is also obvious in Jaime and Brienne’s interactions with each other before he goes. I love that when she wakes up and finds him gone that she’s Not Having It and goes to find him; that he knows full well she will do that and tries to buy himself enough time to shut down emotionally, which is actually the key element of this scene and I’ll get back to it shortly. You can see the intimacy in the way she grasps his face to make him look at her, the fact that she knows that’s the only way to get through to him. The way he just… briefly clings to her hand and then gives up. There’s a moment when she starts crying where you can see the abject misery and PAIN on his face, before he locks it all away so he can break her heart to keep her safe. By the time she tells him he’s a good man he’s already stopped believing it.
He knows that if Cersei finds out about Brienne, she will die. He doesn’t even consider going south until he learns that Cersei might win, and then he makes it his personal mission to ensure that never happens. Jaime knows the stakes; he knows exactly what his sister is like and exactly how many lives will be at risk if he doesn’t act. And he knows that Brienne will follow, and if she follows, she dies. And it would be painful, both emotionally and physically, because Cersei Lannister is sadistic and will not hesitate to tear Brienne’s heart to pieces before she rips the rest of her in half.
He tells Brienne about all of the awful things he’s done “for Cersei”, and there’s no mention whatsoever about all the honourable things he’s done for Brienne, because of Brienne, because he’s locked all the good parts of him away so he can deal with Cersei ON HER LEVEL. Jaime is the grand master of self-loathing. I have no doubt whatsoever that he loves Brienne with every fibre of his being, but does not feel worthy of being loved in return, because he’s spent the first forty years of his life trapped in a toxic and abusive relationship with his sister and doesn’t know what love is supposed to look like.
I want to hug him almost as much as I want to throttle him.
The thing that worries me is this. I literally cannot tell, at this point, if the writers are intending to fix this UNHOLY MESS, or if they will go back to captaining the Twincest ship as they have repeatedly done every fucking season up til now. The reason I can’t tell is because I’m not sure if Nik’s acting in that scene (all the awards now, please) was a directorial choice or him trying valiantly to make shitty writing considerably less shitty by playing it in a way which is appropriate to the character.
It’s fairly common knowledge by now that most of the major players have filmed in Croatia, i.e. Kings Landing, so Brienne is obviously going south at some point, and I honestly think she’s not going to make it out alive. Or Jaime isn’t. Basically we will get a stupid heartfelt confession of feelings as one of them dies, and nothing to make up for the YEARS of emotional graft to get to this point. I have very little faith that Braime will happen to a satisfactory on-screen level. Confessions-whilst-dying may be the best we ever get. My worst case scenario is that Jaime walking away from her is going to be the last scene they ever have together, and I honestly can't even deal with that right now.
Oh, I should also mention: I’ve seen a lot of people really upset about Brienne breaking down and somehow thinking that makes her weak. No. Nope. Wrong. This is the culmination of Brienne’s twin character arcs: Brienne the knight and Brienne the woman, and her outfit in that scene is really important. There's no way that wasn't a deliberate costuming choice, to put her in the most feminine outfit we've ever seen on her (if we don't count the pink dress, which we DO NOT) - she's not Brienne the knight or Brienne the Brave, she's just Brienne, fighting for the man she loves. The fact that she’s allowed herself to become completely vulnerable, to open her heart to Jaime only for him to break it, shows just how far she’s come. It makes her the very opposite of weak. It’s the bravest fucking thing she’s ever done in her life. Let her CRY, for god’s sake, she's earned it. (Actually, no, please make her stop crying, I can’t cope with the feels.)
Yeah, hi, welcome to my ship spiral of AGONISING PAIN. *waves*
I think that was everything I wanted to say. I'm still dreading what's going to happen in the next two weeks, and I've booked the day off work after the finale because I know full well I will be an absolute MESS regardless of what happens. Not sure a day will be long enough to recover, TBQH, but it's better than nothing.
Tune in, same time next week, for more incoherent flail!