Game of Thrones is the last great unifying television series. Everyone watches it. Everyone talks about it Monday morning. And everyone tries to out-predict their friends and colleagues. Game of Thrones arrived at the perfect time – right at the forefront of streaming and piracy but well before our viewing options turned innumerable. Today, it seems that every week there’s a new Netflix or Amazon original series with a notable cast and impressive CGI. But in 2010, that wasn’t the case. Game of Thrones was original and refreshing. And most importantly, it was given the opportunity to grow up uncontested these past few years. With prior Sunday stalwarts like Mad Men and Breaking Bad long gone, Game of Thrones is the last remaining case of appointment television. While its popularity continues to rise astronomically and shows no signs of slowing, I can’t say the same thing about its level of writing.
So far, it seems like the writers had one goal for Season 7: fan service. With all of their focus being on showing fun things like Ed Sheeran and Arya play-fighting Brienne, they’ve lost the reigns of their most important horse – plot. We all knew that this season would have to move at a breakneck pace, but what I didn’t expect was for the show to rush itself into a standstill. I’m already tired of Jon and Daenerys. I think we all know that Arya thrives on being underestimated. I want to spend as much time with a Braavosi banker as I do with an actual banker. And I will seriously consider hiding some wildfire underneath HBO’s headquarters if we get another love scene between Grey Worm and Missandei.
But I was ready to forgive all of that the moment Drogon soared into battle. The ensuing 20 minutes typified everything we’ve come to love about Thrones: chaos, destruction, and big-budget visual effects. So when Jaime began his charge at Daenerys, I was on the edge of my seat. Odds were that he wouldn’t kill her, but everything else was in play, including his death. I wasn’t expecting Jaime to die then – I’m still a believer in the school of thought that he’ll eventually be the one to kill Cersei – but as he grew closer and closer to our plot-armored queen, I braced for it. Death by dragon seemed the only acceptable outcome. But I was wrong. I overestimated the writers. Of course, Daenerys wouldn’t kill Bronn or Jaime. Those are fan-favorite characters, and killing them might result in a little less YAAAS QUEEN and a little more Mad Queen.
[Onto the risers and fallers…]
Riser of the Week: Daenerys Targaryen
It’s a good thing Daenerys aims to be more than merely Queen of the Ashes because it wouldn’t take much for her to burn all of Westeros to the ground. My god is Drogon terrifying. What happens when she unleashes all three dragons at once? Hopefully, we don’t find out until after she heads north with Jon, because I don’t know how many more incinerated humans we can take before we start turning on Daenerys. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: dragons and peace cannot coexist. If Daenerys wants to rule peacefully, the dragons will have to go … but hopefully not before we get to see all three in action at once.
Honorable Mention: Jon, for finding some super convenient cave drawings that said everything he couldn’t.
Faller of the Week: Jaime Lannister
Jaime was outfitted in Lannister red,
While visions of incest danced in his head.
Bronn ambled along, all sarcasm and leather.
King’s Landing’s their destination; they’d travel together.
When out on the fields arose such a clatter.
We all craned our necks to see what was the matter.
It was then that things took a turn for the bleak,
As the Dothraki stampeded in with a shriek.
The ground trembled as they barreled along.
Their screams composing such a deadly song.
Then what to Jaime’s wandering eyes should appear,
But a giant dragon, so big and so near.
With a little blonde rider, so young and so lean,
Jaime knew that it must be the Targ queen.
“Shields up,” he screamed out. “Archers, aim.”
But before he knew it, his men were aflame.
All around him his army suffered and burned,
As the dragon queen continued unconcerned.
But things quickly changed when Bronn gave him a chance
To end this godforsaken dragon dance.
Spear in hand, he took aim and ran
Without time to question his plan.
But Drogon sprang to attention, gave Jaime a cry.
It’s over, he thought. I’m about to fry.
But then he laughed and remembered what he was wearing,
“Thank god for plot armor,” he said to the camera, staring.
Honorable Mention: Meera Reed, for not being given new clothes, let alone a thank you.
Backstory of the Week: The Field of Fire
You’ll undoubtedly hear many people refer to Daenerys’s victory last night as the Field of Fire, but this isn’t the first time that a Targaryen has burned an entire army alive in an open field of battle.
The original battle occurred during Aegon’s conquest of Westeros. After landing at what would become King’s Landing, Aegon and his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, mounted their dragons and killed more than 4,000 men just north of the soon-to-be capital city. The fallen armies consisted primarily of Lannister and Gardener men. Obviously, the Lannisters made it through the Field of Fire somewhat intact, thanks primarily to Loren Lannister who fled from the battle once he realized he couldn’t win. Loren was detained the following day, and he immediately bent the knee to Aegon and was given the title of Warden of the West.
The outcome wasn’t so rosy for House Gardener. You’ve probably never heard of their house, and for good reason – they were completely wiped out at the Field of Fire, but before that, they were one of the most powerful houses in Westeros. After the Gardeners were erased, Harlen Tyrell took the lead and bent the knee. He was rewarded and given rule over Highgarden and the Reach.
One more interesting note about the original Field of Fire. It marked the only time that all three Targaryen dragons took to the battlefield at the same time.
Item of Power: Littlefinger’s Valyrian Dagger
Now Littlefinger is just getting cocky. This dagger is the smoking gun, and he’s just handed it over the only person who can prove his guilt. As more and more Starks keep popping up, I’m afraid Littlefinger’s time among the living continues to run out. He’s not on Arya’s list yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
- We may as well call this the season of reunions. This week we got both the Arya-Bran-Sansa reunion and the Jon-Theon reunion, and we can expect to see the Jon-Arya, the Daenerys-Jorah, and the Tyrion-Bronn-Jaime reunions all in the coming weeks.
- I enjoyed the parallel between Jon Snow and Mance Rayder. Neither would bend the knee, and both were asked, “Isn’t your survival more important than your pride?”
- I wanted to hate Dickon, but I can’t bring myself to do it. His grim realization of the terrors and grayness of war resounded with me.
- Looks like Jaime is going to find himself a prisoner once more. Who will set him free this time?
- Tyrion’s look of horror as he watched Drogon eviscerate the Lannister army was beautifully sad. For his entire life, he’s thought about dragons with a childlike sense of wonderment, but the reality of dragons is much grimmer than he could have ever thought.
- Those cave drawings were eye-rollingly on the nose. I’d rather have seen Jon actually convince Daenerys rather than have him bailed out like this.
- I grow more and more fed up with Theon each week. Seriously, what is the point of his character now?
- I miss the Hound.
- And Gendry. Maybe he’ll row in and save Jaime.
Images via HBO.
Joe Brosnan works in marketing at St. Martin's Press and manages Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebrosnan_.
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