Warning: Possible spoilers ahead
The latest episode of Game of Thrones (GoT)—no, not the English Premier League title race—leaves us with more questions than answers. The overture to the eighth season of the critically acclaimed HBO show released on Monday; it was tight-lipped, and surprisingly so, given there are only more four more episodes to the season finale. There was a disorienting stillness to it, a deceptive calm that precedes the first drumbeats to a march of destruction.
After a shambolic seventh season, there were great expectations in store for the final showdown, which the maker announced would be restricted to a mere six episodes. They were none too modest about it, making claims in the media that the final war would be the most visually elaborate one ever seen in modern television. But the opening 50 minutes resembled an Indian daytime soap more than it did a Tolkien-esque epic. There was the twice-widowed Sansa Stark staring daggers at Daenerys Targaryen—the blonde, beautiful lover of her half-brother Jon Snow. There was Bran Stark—the quintessential Indian grandmother in a wheelchair—who goes around broody and watchful, dropping truth bombs and one-liners whenever he saw fit. To top things up, the episode ends with Bran coming face-to-face with Jaime Lannister, the man who pushed him down a building and crippled him for life (ominous music).
On the plus side, Jon Snow is no longer the one who “knows nothing”. For now, he is up-to-date with all the palace intrigues and the skulduggery, at least as much as the average audience or most characters in the story. From the beginning, this poor “bastard” has been an outlet for the showrunner’s most sadistic instincts (and that is saying something), leaving him to face the most Kafkaesque situations known to man.
Snow was packed off, along with criminals, delinquents and fat men who couldn’t hold swords, to a gigantic ice wall stained with dwarves’ piss. He fell in love with a woman, a wildling. She died. He channelled his inner Caesar, as his erstwhile compadres took turns to stab him to death. He was re-animated to life, only to witness his half-brother die at the hands of Ramsey Bolton. He fell in love, again, but this time with his aunt (he finds out while he is still engulfed in the honeymoon glow of early romance). He was stabbed in the heart again when he finds out that Daenerys killed the father and brother of his best friend and bumbling sidekick, Samwell Tarly, who gets a mutedly fiendish revenge by breaking the ‘incest’ news to Snow. The merciful thing to do now is to just let the man die.
Euron Greyjoy, after delivering the Iron Fleet, finally got the ‘facetime’ he wanted with Queen Cersei Lannister. Judging by the life expectancy of Cersei’s former ‘partners’, I give Euron two or three episodes before his head is stuck on a pike. Lyanna Mormont—who was endearing at first for her fiery young girl act— is now foreboding dissension within Jon Snow’s ranks, at a time when unity is of paramount importance. She will, I predict, be the sole reason for Winterfell getting overrun by White Walkers (watch the episode!).
Tyrion Lannister’s fall has been the saddest of them all. From a tremendously cunning, emotionally closed-off dwarf who liked prostitutes, the man has become the naivest of them all. “My sister [Cersei] is coming with an army. She has something to fight for now,” he assures Sansa. Really dude? Isn’t it enough that your terrible judgment gifted the Night King a brand-new blue fire-breathing dragon? Get in the back of the line, you are an embarrassment. It will only be a matter of months before PETA comes out with a billboard featuring Tyrion with a bottle of wine in hand: “Drinking too much will destroy brain cells and make you lose dragons. So can eating meat. Go vegan.”
The hum-drum episode lasted 45 minutes. To put it in perspective, this leaves the makers with just about 300 minutes to close off ALL the loose threads in this grand epic. Just saying.