Game of Thrones – Season 8 Episode 5 Recap – WTF Just Happened?

Previously on Game of Thrones: Daenerys continued her inexorable slide into Colonel Kurtz-esque insanity, Jon felt torn between competing loyalties to his beloved sister-cousins and his smoking-hot aunt, Jaime had sex with Brienne and then ditched her to run back to his own insane-queen-sister-lover, and the latter, Cersei, made everything worse by chopping off Missandei’s head, causing total drama.

This week on Game of Thrones: the second-last episode, making the question “What the hell will we do without this show?” quite pressing.

Varys is writing a letter. At least it looks like a letter. And it looks like a letter revealing the truth about Jon Snow’s claim to the Iron Throne. He is interrupted by a small child who tells him that “she won’t eat”. Cryptic! The child goes on to say that “her soldiers” are watching her. Varys encourages her to continue risking her life for his own private agenda, and sends the child back to the kitchen.

On a beach, Varys greets Jon, and tells him that Dany has been shut away not eating. Jon is worried about Dany. Varys is worried about the thousands and thousands of people Dany is about to kill. He tells Jon that he should be king, because he’s such a nice guy. Jon says he doesn’t want to be king. Varys says that Jon would be an awesome king, much better than Daenerys. Jon is offended by Varys dissing his sexy aunt, and storms off in a huff.

Tyrion visits Dany, who is leaning on a pillar thinking about genocide. Dany guesses that Jon has betrayed her. Tyrion says actually, Varys is the one who betrayed her. Dany points out that Varys only knew about Jon because Tyrion told him, and Tyrion only knew because Sansa told him, and Sansa only knew because Jon told her, so actually, YES JON FUCKING BETRAYED ME THE GREASY LITTLE WEASEL.

Tyrion is getting a little tense because Dany is accusing him of treason and she has clearly not brushed her hair in days, a sure sign of madness. There is a good chance she is about to start serving dead pigeons to her wheelchair-bound sister. “It doesn’t matter now,” she says, seemingly meaning “time for everyone to die”.

In his office, Varys burns the letter he wrote, and Grey Worm arrives to arrest him for being a naughty eunuch. Varys is brought before Dany by the sea – in the middle of the night to fit Season 8’s theme of poor visibility. Tyrion admits he ratted on Varys, and Varys doesn’t really seem to mind that much. I guess there’s no use crying over spilt milk Or severely burnt milk: Dany gives the order and Drogon turns Varys into a testicularly-challenged cinder.

Ah, Varys. We loved you, sometimes, and other times less so. For long stretches of the show we forgot you were there, but then occasionally remembered you were one of the few sensible people in Westeros and felt bad because your bits had been cut off. You were witty, you were clever, you were bald, and you employed child labour. You did not deserve to be roasted like a common Tarly, but life isn’t fair. Goodbye, sweet eunuch.

Sitting by a less fatal fire, Dany reminisces about Missandei – clearly dwelling on the guy she just killed isn’t the kind of thing she goes in for. She gives Grey Worm Missandei’s only possession: a…handcuff? A neck chain thing? A shackle of some kind. I dunno, it’s still DARK. Anyway Grey Worm throws it in the fire, an act richly symbolic of something or other.

Jon arrives to give Dany a Look: the kind of look you give a woman who burns friendly eunuchs alive. Dany says that she warned him not to tell anyone that he’s the proper king. Jon says again that he doesn’t want to be the bloody king and he told Varys so. Dany thinks Sansa is loving herself sick right now, all hoity-toity. Jon tells Dany that he loves her. Dany pashes Jon, but Jon can’t bring himself to bang his aunt, so she decides that she is going to keep murdering people until they learn to do what they’re goddamn told.

Later, Tyrion advises Dany not to kill everyone in King’s Landing. Dany explains that killing everyone in King’s Landing is the kindest thing to do, since afterwards Cersei will be gone and people in the future won’t have a psycho bitch for a queen (debatable). Tyrion is concerned that all the dead people in the present might not appreciate just how kind killing them was. He begs her that if she hears the bells ringing – signifying an uprising in the city against Cersei – she will call off the attack. She reveals that she’s caught Jaime trying to sneak past into the city, and tells Tyrion that she’s sick of his bullshit and if there’s anymore she will burn his diminutive arse to the ground.

As quick a journey as that is.

As Dany’s troops ready for battle, Tyrion asks Davos a favour. Davos feels kind of depressed: nobody ever comes to him unless they want something. When will he find a friend who loves him for him? He feels used and lonely. But anyway, he better do what Tyrion asks because it will move the plot along.

Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound arrive and are stopped by a guard. Arya tells the guard she’s there to kill Cersei. The guard says he needs to check with his supervisor whether that’s allowed. Arya and the Hound don’t much care about that.

There is now a delightful bit of bad-translation comedy with Tyrion, who tries to get in to see Jaime but has trouble with the Unsullied language and accidentally asks to eat the skull keeper. It is hilarious and reminds us all that no matter how bad things get, it’s important to never lose your sense of humour especially when you and everyone you know is about to be massacred. Then the Unsullied guard says he speaks the Common Tongue (English, obvs) and it’s like whoa, Tyrion, casual racism much?

Anyway, Tyrion pulls rank on them and gets a minute alone with his brother.

Jaime is not living his best life. Tyrion produces a key: he’ll let Jaime go if he will try to convince Cersei not to get everyone killed. Jaime doesn’t like his chances. He thinks maybe Cersei will win. Tyrion tells him not to be a dickhead. Jaime can escape with Cersei, flee the city and start a new life as happy blonde incest twins. Jaime thinks that sounds pretty OK, and Tyrion unchains him.

This is not likely to please Daenerys, who was pretty clear on the whole “I’m sick of your bullshit, Tyrion” thing. But Tyrion, in a moment of tearjerking moral clarity, recognises that saving a million people’s lives is more important than saving his own. In an even more tearjerking moment, he thanks Jaime for being the only person who didn’t treat him like a monster when he was little – well, littler – and gives him a brotherly Lannister hug. It’s very emotional.

It’s daytime, and the Iron Fleet is preparing its giant dragon-killing arrows for the task of killing the dragon. Euron – pronounced “Urine” – Greyjoy surveys the scene. On the battlements of King’s Landing troops prepare to meet their fate. The common folk close their shutters, which is bound to serve them well when the dragon fire comes down.

In the streets, Arya and the Hound walk, having got into the city by means of irresistible confidence. Jaime, wearing an Assassin’s Creed hood, also walks the streets. Who will get to Cersei first: the man who wants to run off with her to a tropical island for sexy sibling times; or the woman who wants to stick a sword right through her dumb face? And will either succeed?

Before we find out, let us see the Golden Company, which stands outside the city walls, ready to defend Cersei with their lives, which makes them seem like real idiots. Dany’s armies face them. From her bedroom window, Cersei looks down on the scene with that weird smile she has where she looks like she just double-dipped a cracker in French Onion dip without anybody noticing.

The people of King’s Landing flock to the Red Keep, thinking it’ll be safer there. But the army shuts the gates, causing the people of King’s Landing to collectively yell, “What the fuck, man?” They ain’t getting in, and that includes Jaime, who will have to find another way to get to his sister and beg her to stop being such a freaking maniac.

Out on the bay, Urine Greyjoy spots something in the sky. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it’s a dragon. Dany is riding it, and dodging the first couple of arrows, she swoops on the fleet and sets a whole mess of ships ablaze. Now THIS is the awesome ship-burning we wanted LAST week, Dany. What’s with the hold-up? Urine desperately tries to get his fleet to retaliate, but Drogon is too nimble, and the fire keeps raining down on the ships. It rains down, too, on the men on land, who are also trying to shoot the dragon with giant arrows but find themselves coming down with a bit of a temperature as Drogon burns the buggery out of all of them.

Outside the gates, the invading army faces the Golden Company. For a moment there is silence, tension and drama hanging thick in the air, as both armies wait for the moment of truth, nobody sure what comes next. And then…

Then something really, totally SWEET happens.

As the Golden Company faces outward, ready to fight Jon’s troops, suddenly the gate behind them EXPLODES in a massive fireball. Men and horses go flying everywhere, and Dany and Drogon come looming up from the city-side, breathing hot death all over the fancy golden men with their fancy helmets and well-tended haircuts. In front of them, the army roars in triumph and comes down like a wolf on the fold, attacking the city as its defenders lie dead, dying, or just wondering what the hell just happened.

The commander of the Golden Company, looking around at flames and rubble and what used to be his company, gets up and starts running back towards King’s Landing: a sensible choice given the thousands of well-armed men currently heading straight for him, but nevertheless one that could only end one way: he gets about ten metres before Grey Worm’s spear goes straight through him, and it serves him right for being a smug beady-eyed bastard who barely even had any lines.

The Dothraki ride through the breach in the wall, joyously cutting down the hapless defenders. Behind them come the Unsullied and the Northmen, and the massacre begins. Above, Drogon continues to burn everyone stupid enough to have ever applied for a job with Cersei, while those who escape the fire cop a variety of swords in the guts.

From her window, Cersei watches the slaughter, possibly reflecting on the wisdom of her life choices up until this point, but also, from her facial expression, possibly a little bit turned on. Qyburn comes to tell her that the Iron Fleet is on fire and there are no more big crossbows. Cersei says Urine will kill the dragon like he killed the other one, even though Qyburn JUST TOLD HER that there were no more big crossbows because the dragon burnt them all, so what the cock is he supposed to kill it with? Honestly, Cersei, do you ever LISTEN? Cersei maintains that everything is fine. Qyburn seems to have some doubts on this point, but he’s not Tyrion, so he just says, “yes, your grace” like a snot-nosed crawly little worm.

Down on the ground, Jon and Grey Worm and all their men confront the Lannister army, who Cersei is pretty sure will keep fighting to the bitter end. At the current moment, they seem slightly conflicted as to whether they really want to do that. Meanwhile, Tyrion looks sadly at the devastation and wonders why he even bothers.

Jaime is rushing through the streets, trying to find a way to Cersei, while Drogon perches on a roof and roars, to let all the screaming running King’s Landingers know that, yes, he is a dragon and yes, he will burn the shit out of them.

And that’s all it takes. The Lannister soldiers throw down their swords. They are loyal to their queen, but not, like, “fight a dragon” loyal to their queen. Jon is quite relieved. Not that he doesn’t like stabbing people to death, but his arm was getting tired.

From her window, Cersei checks out the dragon. She looks less happy, but only slightly. She still looks slightly turned on if we’re honest. At the same time, on top of the dragon, Dany looks around at what she hath wrought and thinks, “Yeah boi…”

And then…

Ah, the bells! The bells! The bells ring out, signalling that King’s Landing has fallen. Dany begins to sob, perhaps in relief, perhaps in regret, perhaps because Drogon’s spines are sticking in her butt. Then she sets her jaw and urges Drogon forward, and I am sad to say, she goes full Mad Queen.

Drogon flies low over the streets, breathing fire and killing multitudes of innocent peasants who are just trying to get to safety. Tyrion can’t believe his eyes, although maybe he can given this is basically exactly what he knew would happen.

Seeing the flames set the peasants alight. Grey Worm turns to the surrendered Lannister soldiers and throws his spear through one, and then, lads, it is ON. Following his lead, his men surge forward and start slaughtering the Lannister men. Jon tries to hold them back, but the madness is upon them and he cannot: also, he has to kill a bunch of Lannisters himself because unsurprisingly, they start fighting back.

In the streets, the people of King’s Landing burn, and the invading soldiers get busy with some good old-fashioned rape and pillage. Jon kills one of his own men to stop him raping a woman, but that’s kind of a drop in the ocean, because this is now a full-on Stage Three Viking Onslaught. The city is burning and crumbling to the ground and Cersei’s weird smile has turned to a kind of quivery-chin thing.

Outside the city, Jaime remains remarkably optimistic considering…everything. He is planning to sneak in the back way and get Cersei out. He is interrupted by Urine Greyjoy, who staggers out of the sea like Ted Danson in that one episode of that show from ages ago, you remember? Anyway, Urine comes out and is all like, yo Jaime, and Jaime is all like, we have to get the queen out of there, and Urine is all like, game over man, game over. And then he starts to fight Jaime for reasons that are frankly a little opaque, but I guess he just really likes fighting people?

Jaime and Urine have a good old fight by the seaside, and Jaime uses his metal hand to good effect by smacking Urine in his stupid face with it, but then Urine uses a knife to good effect by sticking in Jaime’s ribs, a development that does not bode well for him.

Up in Cersei’s room, Qyburn tells her that the Unsullied have breached the gates and the call is coming from inside the house, so it might be time to get the hell out of there. She finally agrees to leave, and takes Qyburn’s hand in a scene that would be quite charming under different circumstances.

Back on the rocks, Urine is exhausted from the effort of stabbing Jaime and there’s blood all over him from the smack in the face. He compliments Jaime in a really patronising, ableist way, and Jaime, driven to rage by this bigotry of low expectations, crawls across the rocks to retrieve his sword.

Urine is all like, oh man, do I have to get up again? But he does, and stabs Jaime again. But Jaime has reached the sword, and he turns, stands and runs his sword straight through Urine Greyjoy. Urine makes a big thing about Jaime killing “another king”, but really this is hardly the same thing and Urine is not a real king let’s be honest. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, he’s only king of those pissy little islands that nobody ever wants to visit. Then as Jaime staggers off, bleeding quite a bit, he smiles and says, “I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister” and it’s like, dude. Get help. I mean, don’t get help because you’re about to die, but wow. Think what early intervention therapy could’ve done for him.

That aside though. YAY! Urine Greyjoy got his!

In the wreckage of King’s Landing, Arya searches for Cersei. The Hound tells her to go home, because Cersei is going to die anyway, and Arya will too if she hangs around. He tells her that if she keeps chasing revenge she’ll end up like him – not sure whether he means consumed by hatred, or with a gross burnt face. He walks away, and she thanks him, and she calls him “Sandor”, which is kind of sweet I guess.

Cersei and Qyburn and the Mountain and a few other idiotically loyal men are making their way out when the roof of the keep falls in and most of them are crushed. Not, though, Cersei or Qyburn or The Mountain, which is handy for narrative purposes. And then…the Hound shows up.

The Hound easily takes out the surviving guards, and The Mountain steps forward to meet him. Cersei tells him not to, and Qyburn tells him to do what Cersei says, but The Mountain picks Qyburn up and smashes him against the rubble as if he were a common frog, and that’s end of ol’ Qyburn. Can’t say he’ll be missed either.

It’s time for The Hound Versus The Mountain. The grudge match of the century. The State of Origin Game Three of Westeros. The giant zombie psychopath against the much smaller but still quite big foul-mouthed manic depressive whose face he shoved in the fire lo those many years ago. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, and it’s finally here.

Cersei, sensing this is a family affair, makes a tasteful exit. And then it’s ON. Swords clash. The Hound hacks at The Mountain. He knocks his helmet off, and underneath The Mountain is basically Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi.

As the Cleganes’ swords continue to clash, Cersei watches the building fall down around her and wonders whether she might’ve been a bit rash. Then Jaime shows up, dusty and bloody and with multiple stab wounds but still loving his awful, awful sister. They give each other a nice hug. “You’re hurt,” Cersei says. “It doesn’t matter,” Jaime says. They are both correct. He takes her away.

The Cleganes are still hacking at each other. The Hound has greater agility and skill, but The Mountain has the advantage of being a gigantic unstoppable zombie monster. The Hound sticks a sword in him but The Mountain just pulls it out like it ain’t no thing. The Mountain is ready to snuff The Hound out for good.

Then we cut to Arya, walking through hordes of panicked extra, dodging debris, and breathing heavily in slow motion. The stampeding peasants knock her to the ground, just as The Mountain knocks The Hound to the ground. We intercut between them, showing nicely the parallels between Arya getting the shit kicked out of her by the population of King’s Landing, and The Hound getting the shit kicked out of him by his brother.

Luckily a kind woman takes Arya’s hand and helps her up. Unluckily, no kind woman takes The Hound’s hand. The Mountain has him by the throat and is choking the life out of him. The Hound stabs him lots. The Mountain doesn’t care. The Hound tells him to fucking die. The Mountain doesn’t obey. The Mountain begins to squeeze the Hound’s eyes out, Oberyn Martell-style. The Hound stabs The Mountain through the eye, which doesn’t kill him but does give him something to think about. As the giant extracts the knife from his face, The Hound leaps forward and tackles him, sending them both crashing through the wall and out of the high tower to their deaths in the flaming city below.

And in that city, Jon Snow – remember him? – shouts to his men to fall back because if they hadn’t noticed, everything is on fire. A little later, Arya comes to, covered with dust. Everything is covered with dust. Daenerys has really made a mess here. Dunno why she even wanted King’s Landing if she was going to wreck the place. Like a homebuyer trying to get the vendor to lower their price by converting the whole house to asbestos.

Meanwhile, down in the bowels of the city, a couple of turds are working their way through. Jaime leads Cersei to the secret exit, which is now sealed off by rubble, so that was a great plan, wasn’t it Jaime? You loser. “I want our baby to live,” Cersei cries. People in hell want ice water, bitch. There’s no way out for the Lannister twins. “Nothing else matters, only us,” says Jaime, an objectively untrue statement as well as a real kick in the nuts for Brienne, who is still up in Winterfell crying over the selfish sod. Then everything collapses and that’s Jaime and Cersei done. It was an emotional end, mainly because of the editing and the soundtrack, but not the end Cersei deserved: that would’ve been Arya cutting her into little pieces and eating her face.

Speaking of Arya, she’s having a hell of a time. She’s covered in dust and blood and everything’s on fire and everyone’s dead. And she didn’t even get to kill Cersei, so why is she even there? She looks around at the charred corpses and has some deep thoughts about man’s inhumanity to man. She sees a white horse in the street, raising the possibility that Game of Thrones takes place in the same universe as Twin Peaks. She approaches the horse, and seems ready to give it a big wet kiss. But no, she just hops on it and rides away.

And that’s that. Quite the brouhaha I think you’ll agree. At the end of it, what is the final score?

  • Cersei dead, which is only right and proper, although it’d have been better if she’d been knocked off by Arya, or even directly by Dany, spitting in her face before Drogon bit her head off or something.
  • Jaime dead, which is sad because we liked him even though he was a pretty terrible person and probably deserved what he got.
  • Varys dead, which is sad because we liked him and he was a very well-meaning eunuch.
  • Urine Greyjoy dead, which is just unambiguously good.
  • The Hound dead, which is sad because he was a fun guy to be around though he’s probably happier this way.
  • The Mountain dead, which is a relief for everyone.
  • Qyburn dead, about which we have few feelings but generally seems like a good thing.
  • A lot of other people dead who didn’t have speaking roles so who cares.
  • Daenerys has won, achieved her great goal, but has also become a mass murderer and one of history’s greatest monsters, and done what her father the Mad King was prevented from doing.
  • Jon Snow probably having a few doubts about his sexy aunt now.
  • Arya definitely having a few doubts about the assassin’s lifestyle.
  • Tyrion needs a drink.

Tune in next week, for the LAST EPISODE EVER. I don’t know how to cope.

Read previous episodes:

Game of Thrones – Season 8 Episode 1 Recap – You got KHALEESIED!

Game of Thrones – Season 8 Episode 2 Recap – A Bit of a Chat

Game of Thrones – Season 8 Episode 3 Recap – The Battle Of Bad Lighting

Game of Thrones – Season 8 Episode 4 Recap – The Trouble With Targaryens