Monday, May 13, 2019

The Old Fashioned Dragon

Well, I hope we all learned a valuable lesson from last night's Game of Thrones, the penultimate episode of the series. I do appreciate audacity though it's nice when it makes sense. But there were some really impressive visuals that came along with the show finally putting some focus on the common people of King's Landing.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Last night was so close to brilliant. If it were just a little different, I'd have been willing to take back every bad thing I said about Benioff and Weiss. If you look back over the series, the signs that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) might not be the most stable leader are plentiful. Her crucifying all the people in Meereen, her preference for letting her dragons roam around poaching livestock until they inevitably killed some people. And then there's the fact that, despite all Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) says about how Cersei (Lena Headey) having public policies that abuse the people, we never actually see any of it.

The worst thing we actually saw Cersei do was blow up the temple that was full of her enemies, the people who forced her to march naked through the streets while people threw garbage at her. Cersei, who's also been forced to watch all her children die. And yet, after last night's episode, one of the main complaints I saw on Twitter was that Cersei didn't suffer enough. Why did people root for Daenerys and hate Cersei? This is why last night's episode was almost brilliant, because it was the culmination of a hypothetical exercise in propaganda, on just how easily people are convinced to place their loyalty in one faction over an other. Daenerys was younger, prettier, and the point of view was with her in her sufferings.

But it doesn't really make sense that she'd rampage throughout King's Landing after everyone had surrendered. Even if she snapped and let her rage take over, it seems obvious the first thing she'd do was fly straight for the Red Keep and go for Cersei. Just like last week's episode, part of the explanation would seem to be that Benioff and Weiss just don't know how to write dragons. Now Daenerys flies over and above the ballistae, easily burning all the weapons that suddenly weren't as capable of as rapid a fire rate. Why didn't she do that last week?

And this is why internal logic is so important to the story. Ideally, to-day people should be having conversations about how populations can be misled and manipulated, but you can't make a point about how human nature works by just randomly making things up.

Anyway, it was nice seeing all the ground level stuff, Arya (Maisie Williams) running around, suddenly not seeming as godlike. The relentlessly desperate situation was well conveyed by director Miguel Sapochnik; it was like a cross between Skyrim and Children of Men.

I didn't quite buy that Arya would give up her quest for vengeance so easily but it was still a sweet moment between her and the Hound (Rory McCann).

And I was really sad to see Cersei die, but there was a powerful bittersweetness in her final embrace with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). I suppose it was the best ending for her I could've expected. And she certainly won the moral victory, if nothing else.

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