‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 5 Recap: Only Fear
In last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, we saw the fallout of the Battle of Winterfell and followed Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and company to King’s Landing to reason with Cersei (Lena Headey). True to Cersei’s character, she didn’t bend the knee to Dany, and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) lost her life. Now, the last war is brewing.
Who will win? Let’s find out.
We open on Varys (Conleth Hill) writing a letter to someone about how Jon Snow is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. A young girl comes in and tells Varys that Daenerys still won’t eat.
Then Jon arrives on Dragonstone and asks about Dany. According to Varys, she hasn’t left her chambers and she won’t speak to anyone. Mental health has always been troublesome for the Targaryens, so this isn’t anything new. But there’s still the question of the Iron Throne. Varys implores Jon to consider taking the Iron Throne. He would be the more just and stable ruler, after all, but he’s not interested. He tells Varys that Daenerys is his queen and that’s that.
Daenerys is overlooking the ocean in her quarters when Tyrion enters. She tells him Jon Snow betrayed her and stoically reprimands Tyrion for not telling her that Sansa told him about Jon’s real parents. She asks Tyrion why Sansa would try and use him as a puppet. She doesn’t look of sound mind and it’s a little worrisome. But, hey, her boyfriend is her nephew, so a lot of balls are in the air.
Later, Varys burns the letter he wrote earlier as he hears soldiers approaching. He removes his jewelry and prepares to meet his maker. He may not be at fault for people knowing Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne, but Daenerys wants someone to pay for the pain she’s experiencing. Before it happens, Tyrion admits it was him who betrayed Varys. They say goodbye and then Daenerys sentences him to die. Drogon breathes fire, and that’s the end of Varys. As the fire roars, Jon looks at Daenerys with concern.
Afterward Daenerys sits in front of a fire and reminisces about Missandei with Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). She gives him the only possession Missandei brought on their sea voyage and he throws it into the fire. Then, Jon approaches and she tells him Sansa killed Varys as much as she did and now at least she’ll know what happens if she tells anyone else about Jon’s true parentage. She’s eager to assert power in Westeros, especially because people love Jon so much. She says, “I don’t have love here. I only have fear.” He replies that he loves her and that she will always be his queen. But when she tries to kiss him, he’s not reciprocal. So, she reasons, she’ll have to lean into the whole “fear” thing.
Soon after, Daenerys meets with Tyrion and Grey Worm. She tells Tyrion she wants to strike on King’s Landing and although he tries to convince her otherwise, she tells Grey Worm to ready the Unsullied. Then, she drops the hammer and tells Tyrion that Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was caught trying to get back to King’s Landing because he clearly wasn’t that faithful to the North. She gives him an ultimatum: “The next time you fail me, will be the last time you fail me.” So, the army moves and prepares to attack King’s Landing by daybreak.
Tyrion takes the opportunity to visit Jaime before the war begins. He suggests that Jaime try and change Cersei’s mind and he retorts that it’s not Cersei’s M.O. to listen to anyone. Tyrion tries to argue that a million lives will be lost, but Jaime says he doesn’t really care for them anyway. Tyrion tries another tactic and tells him the city will fall and if Jaime doesn’t work with him he will die, too. He offers him an escape route and finally Jaime agrees to try and work with him. Then, a rare sweet moment between them: Tyrion says, “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have survived my childhood. You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster.” They hold each other and cry, then Tyrion leaves.
Come daybreak, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) and the Golden Company are at attention and ready for combat. Cersei’s soldiers order everyone inside the walls and, in the chaos, Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Hound (Rory McCann) walk in like it’s NBD. At the same time, Jaime, outfitted in a black cloak, heads to the gates. They close before he arrives, and a panic breaks out. Cersei watches from above.
On the ocean outside King’s Landing, Drogon flies in and completely torches Euron’s fleet. He flies toward King’s Landing, evading shots all the while, and knocks out the front lines, too. The footmen hear the ruckus from afar and then, all of a sudden, Drogon obliterates the gate to King’s Landing and a good chunk of Cersei’s soldiers. Daenerys’s army marches forth into King’s Landing (including the Dothraki, so it appears they didn’t all die in the Battle of Winterfell). Things aren’t looking good for Cersei.
Qyburn (Anton Lesser) arrives in her quarters and tells her the wall has been breached. She says Euron will be able to take Drogon out but, as we well know, he and his whole team have been scorched. Just then, a look of fear flashes on her face. She may not win this war.
Meanwhile, Jon and the gang come face-to-face with Cersei’s army. Cersei’s men drop their swords, knowing they can’t win. Then, Jaime rings the bells and Dany rides Drogon directly to Cersei’s tower (killing everyone in her path). When Cersei’s men are distracted by the siege of fire, Grey Worm throws a spear at a soldier and they begin to fight. Jon Snow tries to stop them, but Grey Worm is too angry over Missandei’s death. Like his queen, Grey Worm has lost it.
And then something interesting happens (not that all this carnage isn’t interesting). Jon turns against his own soldiers and kills a man for trying to assault a woman. Meanwhile, Drogon and Dany fly nearer to the Red Keep and Euron and Jaime run into each other. In a bout of machismo and trash talking, they break into a fight and stab each other a few times. As he lays dying, Euron muses, “I’m the man that killed Jaime Lannister.” Jaime escapes.
As the war plays out and King’s Landing is engulfed in flames, Cersei mourns the end of her reign. At the same time, Arya and the Hound disagree over who will get to kill Cersei. He begs her to leave and save her own life, and in an uncharacteristic move, Arya agrees to let him handle ending Cersei. Arya leaves and the Hound progresses to Cersei. He kills all of the soldiers she has with her then takes on the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), his big brother. Cersei quietly shuffles away.
While the Hound and the Mountain fight, Cersei and Jaime run into each other and embrace, crying. The ceiling is falling and they escape to safety. The Hound lands a sword in the Mountain’s belly, but it doesn’t affect him. Their epic fight continues, culminating in the Hound stabbing the Mountain in the head then sacrificing himself and his brother by throwing them both off the side of the castle and into pits of flames.
At the same time, Arya slinks through King’s Landing, seeing hordes of singed townspeople. There’s so much panic that she gets trampled and tries to crawl out from under people’s feet. Then, a woman pulls her up off the ground and the crowd pushes her forward. An explosion transpires, and she wakes, covered in ash and blood. She runs again, only to find herself face-to-face with the same woman who helped her earlier. Arya insists that they have to move if they want to stay alive, but the woman is injured as they push forward. Another explosion knocks Arya out and when she comes to again, she’s alone (without the woman and the child she was trying to save) and the city is in ruins. There are charred bodies clinging to one another à la Pompeii and a single white horse stained with blood standing amidst the flames. She rides the horse off into the distance like the hero she is.
Back in Jaime and Cersei land, they learn that all of their exits have been blocked off. There’s no way out. Cersei begins to cry that she wants their baby to live and that she doesn’t want to die like this. He tells her “nothing else matters, only us.” Then, they’re buried under rubble as the castle falls.
Welp, Emilia Clarke was right. That was more intense than the Battle of Winterfell. But where do we go from here? At least we know either Jon or Dany will take the throne. (Fingers crossed it’s Jon, because Dany is not of sound mind.)