If anyone thought the barrage of twists were over after the last episode, the time to click away is now!
After the masterful battle sequence and ultimate defeat of the Night King depicted in ‘The Long Night’, there wasn’t really a whole lot of hope that this week would host anything comparable. However, in a classic Game of Thrones move, nothing was certain.
In a recent interview, Emilia Clarke (the actress portraying Daenerys Targaryen) revealed to Jimmy Kimmel that if fans of the show thought episode three was big, “episode five is bigger.” With that having been said, many fans thought ‘The Mountain and the Viper’ would merely be another build to battle like how the first two episodes built towards the Battle of Winterfell, but we are subtly met with the opposite and so much more than we anticipated.
The matter of who is deserving of the Iron Throne is made further complicated throughout this episode. After a short toast to the dead and defeated from the previous installment—one that unmistakably mirrors the same one made in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King— Gendry makes the mistake of crossing Daenerys’ path in search of the heroine and savior of the last episode, Arya Stark.
Or was it a mistake? Soon after grilling Gendry for the crimes of his parentage, Queen Daenerys actually ends up legitimizing Robert Baratheon’s bastard-son, Gendry, as a trueborn Baratheon descendent and awards him with lordship over the lands his house used to claim. However, this legitimation could just lead to another person gunning for the Iron Throne at the end of the series – an event I would personally really love to see come true. The odds of such a thing occurring are astronomically unlikely. But if the creators of the show aim for a Shakespeare-type of ending, we could see Gendry on the Iron Throne if every other important character dies.
Further on, we see a descent in Daenerys that may resemble ties to her own father’s into madness. After an ambushed attack on their way to Dragonstone, we see yet another dragon die before the final battle between Cersei and the rest. Game of Thrones solidifies its position yet again as it throws a final wave of twists just before the end.
The end to the series was said to contain events just as shocking as the Red Wedding back in the third season. I’m sure it will in the final two episodes. However, what happens here is already a close second to the events of the Red Wedding. The climax of this episode keeps you on the edge of your seat. Daenerys’ loss of her second to last dragon pokes a huge hole in her efforts to take King’s Landing and defeat Cersei. And after Cersei shows us she has no intention of backing down by her murdering of Missandei, we really don’t know how the last two episodes will end.
Loyalties also switch dramatically. Bronn comes all the way to Winterfell just to threaten Tyrion and Jaime—an arc we thought would’ve never been fathomable due to his closeness to the two throughout the series. And then, after hearing about Cersei’s upper hand in the killing of the dragon, Rhaegal, Jaime comes full circle with his original character arc and switches sides again to go back to King’s Landing to help Cersei win the Iron Throne. This utter betrayal was, of course, a shock. But it actually felt like more of a stab in the back to viewers. This is since we just saw Jaime realise his own good intentions by fighting alongside the living and building his relationship with Brienne of Tarth. Now he’s thrown that away again. That’s a betrayal to common sense as much as it was to the plot of the story.
However, we did see a change in loyalties that actually seemed to make sense. One that could be respected. A long-time advocate for being a “server of the realm,” Varys does just as he said he would when initially pledging loyalties to Queen Daenerys. He advocates and conspires to overthrow (behind closed doors with Tyrion) Queen Daenerys in favor of Jon Snow as the true heir to the Iron Throne. Varys clearly does this because Daenerys’ actions reflect the madness of her father. She wants to see King’s Landing (and all the innocents in it) burn to the ground if it results in her being on the Iron Throne. Luckily, Tyrion rejects the cause and remains loyal to Daenerys, but that still leaves room for Varys to possibly conspire to murder the queen so that Jon may take the throne just like his lineage entitles him to do.
I have no doubt in my mind that these last two episodes to come will contain those twists and turns (and a roller coaster of emotions) that Emilia Clarke promised in her interview. It’s going to be a stressful week just waiting for next Sunday. But if it yields anything as incredibly daunting as the Red Wedding, it will undoubtedly be an episode worth the wait.