This week it has proven very difficult to collect my thoughts, though I do feel that what I expressed on the live stream is more or less how I still feel, except for the fact that some things appear even more problematic after further consideration.
The show still manages occasional strong moments, like the opening funeral scene. Sansa’s farewell to Theon, where she gives him her direwolf pin, was very moving. I also thought Jon’s speech was well-delivered and well-written, the latter being a particular surprise given how much of the dialogue that just feels out of place these days.
Somewhat surprisingly, I also thought that Emilia Clarke did pretty well in this episode. I enjoyed her portrayal of Daenerys very much in the first season and for occasional moments after that, but in general I feel that she has struggled with Daenerys the Conqueror. Often she has simply come across as a bit smug rather than driven by destiny. Here, where she gets more of a range of emotions to play with, it worked better, though I would have liked to see more of a reaction to Rhaegal’s and Missandei’s deaths.
Speaking of Daenerys, there’s no avoiding what an enormous problem the show has with trying to sell the “mad queen” storyline. They are telling us rather than showing that Daenerys is supposed to be unstable, but what we actually see on screen is Sansa being incredibly paranoid and unfair and Daenerys’s own advisors acting as if any sign of emotion from her is a huge problem. Personally, I would have been far more concerned about Daenerys’s state of mind if she was not mad as in very, very angry at this point.
Beyond that, the logic of the episode is seriously lacking. Why is Arya not letting the war council know she plans to assassinate Cersei? Maybe that would have gotten Daenerys to agree to let the men have a rest? Or, if she still insisted, maybe that could have been used to press the point that she is being a bit unreasonable. How did Bronn get into Winterfell with a crossbow and tracked down the Lannister boys with no one questioning his presence? And let’s not even get started on the debacle that is Euron’s attack on Daenerys’s fleet, with his target-seeking missiles that have no problems hitting one flying dragon from some kind of hidden angle but cannot hit the other from straight on. Not to mention how they can rip through ships more effectively than cannons.
Character actions and motivations, plot logic and structure, it all suffers because the writers decide on certain outcomes and certain moments (usually spectacular ones) and then force those to happen without any organic growth towards them. They may have known more about the end point of the story than they did about the latter half as a whole, but it is now painfully clear that they had no idea how to reach that end point in a reasonable fashion.I gave this episode a 5, maybe a 5.5 on the stream, and judging by the average score on the forum that is not even particularly harsh.