The Night King may be dead, but on Sunday night, the real war took place: The battle for King’s Landing, and the iron throne itself.
This week’s episode didn’t quite settle everything, but so many of the important pieces were removed from the board and so much of what will happen next was heavily foreshadowed that it feels like the show is effectively over.
But all that fighting still left us with some questions for next week.
[Ed. note: this post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5, “The Bells.”]
CAN ARYA BE KILLED? IS SHE AZOR AZHAI?
After infiltrating King’s Landing with an eye to kill Cersei, The Night Kingslayer just kept getting beaten up throughout the episode, to the point where it began to feel comical. At this point she likely has a concussion and is barely standing but, on the other hand, free horse.
Which makes it all worthwhile.
But this could also be more evidence that Arya is the legendary hero Azor Azhai, and I guess we’ll find out next week if she happens to wield a flaming sword. With Cersei dead, will her target shift to Daenerys?
FOR DANY, CAN THE WHEEL BE BROKEN?
“Breaking the wheel” was Daenerys’s stated goal. The Targaryen heir wanted to end the cycle of tyrannical rulers who crushed the people to suit their own ends. But tonight we saw that Daenerys is well, truly “mad” by Westerosi definition, even if that shift feels sudden and unearned. Jon saw it as well; his queen is not fit for the iron throne.
Jon may make a fine ruler, as Varys had suggested, but after King’s Landing went up in flames, it seems like the wheel may be unbreakable after this week’s episode. The cost of power is just too high; anyone who chases it above all else will have to give up too much to hold it, and it’s the powerless masses beneath them that will suffer for it.
This was a pretty bleak episode of the show.
WHAT WAS UP WITH THE GREEN FIRE IN KING’S LANDING?
We were treated to many wide angle shots of King’s Landing as Drogon strafed the city with fire, and one detail that kept popping up — literally and figuratively — were the green fireballs that dotted the city as it burned.
The good news is we can answer this one. In short, Cersei still had stores of wildfire, the incredibly flammable liquid that turned the tides at Blackwater and allowed her to blow up the Sept of Baelor, around King’s Landing. Drogon’s fire must have ignited it, causing green explosions in the distance. The potential mystery: was it intentional?
IS VARYS THE WORST SPY EVER?
Varys had been right about Daenerys all along, but he was burnt alive for his doubts after Tyrion told Daenerys that The Spider was planning on betraying her.
This was after Varys told basically every other major character he was thinking about committing what amounts to treason at that point, while also writing about it in a spy letter while chatting up one of his spy children.
I thought he was supposed to be good at this? Although that might be an unfair criticism, because he was certainly able to plant the seed of doubt in Jon’s head, and there’s always the chance that he was able to send at least one copy of the letter we saw him write before he was forced to burn the one he was currently working on. If we’re judging his last attempt to find a form of peace by the results, we may have to wait until next week before deciding whether his death was in vain.
WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH ARYA AND THAT HORSE?
It may be important next week, or it might have been some symbolism that fell a little flat, but this week’s episode sure spent a lot of time on those slow-motion shots of Arya reaching out to calm a skittish white horse.
If you have any thoughts, please put them in the comments, because I’m lost on this one. Was it Bran, all warged up? Was it an allusion to death, riding on a pale horse? Was it just a hail mary pass from the writers, and they hoped we’d make something up that gave it some meaning?
WHO FINALLY KILLED CERSEI?
One could argue it was hubris, but one could also argue it was the building that fell on her and Jaime. There were prophecies in play, fan theories swirling about, but in the end, the death came courtesy of a foiled plan and the arms around her neck where there for love. Arya never got to exact her revenge, but on the other hand Arya did get a new horse.
IS THERE ANY SIGNIFICANCE TO DATE ON WHICH CERSEI WAS KILLED?
Probably not, that would be too weird, right? There’s no way they could have planned to kill Cersei on, let me check my calendar here ...
Oh shit, it’s Mother’s Day. That has to be a coincidence, right? I doubt they could have done this sort of thing before.
IF CERSEI IS ALREADY DEAD, CAN ARYA FULFILL THE GREEN EYES PROPHECY?
“I see a darkness in you,” Melisandre told Arya in season 3. “And in that darkness, eyes staring at me: Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes — eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.”
Many fans assumed the prophecy referred to Cersei, but Cersei is already dead. So who else could it be?
IS THE INTERNET GOING TO BE SCREAMING ABOUT THIS WILDLY INCONSISTENT EPISODE FOR THE NEXT WEEK?
I’m going to go ahead and say yes. A lot of loose ends were wrapped up very quickly, and very little of it felt earned. Daenerys went from “I’m making some bad decisions” last week to “I am completely mad, I guess” this week, and the transition mostly happened off-camera, in a way that felt too minimized to be effective.
Jon Snow, a man who has never exactly been subtle, was beaten over the head by the fact that Daenerys is now evil, which means that he’ll likely kill her next week if Arya doesn’t beat him to it.