Spoilers ahead, as always. Game of Thrones went into this week under a microscope of well deserved scrutiny for screwing up what had the potential to be the best show in television history. However tonight was not last week, the week before that, the week before that, or the week before that. Instead, while flawed The Last War was the best written episode since season four, which unfortunately doesn’t mean much. This episode was great because it was the climax of the series George RR Martin wrote and featured little of D&D’s bumbling to get there. Note: the show runners oversold the Night King. Little is known about the King of the Others in the books. But lets dive in to the critiques.
Verdict: Despite the unrealistic nature of the collateral damage within the Game of Thrones universe, the emergence of the Mad Queen made this perhaps the best episode since season 4.
There are a lot of dumb people who watch Game of Thrones. They are the same fans who continued watching Arrow was good after season 2. Or they have been watching for two years, never read the books and think they know how a Game of Thrones story is supposed to work. The main dumbass critique is the show throwing away ten years of character development. Now there is an argument to make that the show made Daenerys overly perfect when the books portray her as whimsically incompetent, as every decision she makes under pressure is a bad one. But to deny the existence of the Mad Queen foreshadow is ridiculous. It was there the entire time, her nature and the family words of Fire and Blood. The show has been building it up for seasons, thinking back to when Randyl Tartly was roasted alive.
The people who wanted Daenerys to be the hero fundamentally fail to understand how Game of Thrones works. She was just another version of Cersei the entire time. She resembles Caligula far more than Julius Caesar (Jon Snow). These people want a hero’s journey story arc, but that’s not how Game of Thrones work. The Dornish plot in the books, which blows what the show did with Dorne out of the water gardens, systematically destroys this notion a a hero setting out on an important quest and overcoming obstacles to accomplish it. Brienne of Tarth’s journey, in the books starts off on what the reader knows to be an impossible quest. Every character in Game of Thrones is gray. And to people who are disappointed Daenerys turned into a villain, I respectfully say piss off.
The Last War featured a Man of Steel level of collateral damage. While I am not making friends with this article, let me just say that was the best Superman movie ever made. Back to the collateral damage with the abundance of crumbling buildings under dragon fire. That is not how dragon fire in Game of Thrones works. Harrenhal, the largest castle, was attacked via dragon fire. Everything that could burn was burned, but the stone was melted. The towers still stand to this day and the tallest on is called the Kingspyre. Dragon fire does not demolish stone. When Theon put Winterfell to torch, much of Winterfell was still in tact because the castle is made out of granite. Now perhaps the show runners took it for granted when the Night King’s dragon, which was not an ice dragon, it just breathed blue fire, somehow didn’t burn Winterfell down, when Daenerys made destroying stone castle look like knocking down children’s blocks. Literally children’s foam blocks when Sandor pushed Gregor through the stone. Therefore these special effects were unrealistic in The Last War.
I thought the Sandor versus Gregor showdown was fan service. However, I can be satisfied with a draw as the city was falling apart. But, being realistic, Gregor is no longer human, which was made readily obvious, so Sandor winning would have sucked.
Jaime is another area of worthy criticism in The Last War. The show disserviced his character by having him abandon Cersei but still return to her. This character development critique was merited, especially as in the books, Jaime tosses Cersei’s letter for help into the fire and is slowly thinking less of his whorish sister due to the exchange he had with Tyrion that left both characters equally scarred. However that scene between Tyrion and Jaime in the episode was solid, best Tyrion scene in four seasons, easily.
King’s Landing wisely didn’t yield to a besieging army. The rules of warfare are that the city gets sacked for not yielding so that the next city yields. The city yielded, but the sacking that followed made Tywin Lannister look like Ned Stark. Daenerys snaps and the next villain in the situation was Grey Worm who tears down the thin veil of civility unleashing human nature. Jon Snow was too weak to stop it until the end when he was finally able to order a retreat, to Winterfell if he knows what’s best for him.
For three seasons, the characters, Tyrion and Daenerys specifically have believed that human nature is basically good and that they could build a better world. Varys wanted a better world but knew human nature was evil. But Tyrion and Daenerys believed they could build a better world and only made it worse. Meanwhile they thought little of Tywin Lannister (my man) who didn’t believe in the goodness of human nature and operated accordingly. The Last War was, probably inadvertently, similar to the buildup of World War 1. World War 1 was referred to as “the war to end all wars.” Except neither the Great War or the Destruction of King’s Landing went as flowery as planned, for mankind cannot escape its nature. This seems in the spirit of the source material which Game of Thrones is derived and the historical reference fits in perfectly with the naiveté of Daenerys and Tyrion. The Last War episode was a reminder that human nature is basically evil, an ode to the realism of Game of Thrones.