By Roy Mathur, on 2019-05-13, at 21:26:28 to 22:11:32 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen
You know I said this wouldn't become a GoT podcast? Well, it still isn't, but there is only one episode of the final season left, and I'm caught up in the excitement and I don't want to not talk about it. So, I'm talking about it.
Today I'll do a recap of what brought us to this point and then talk about the latest, penultimate, episode. Then, next week (sob), I'll talk about the finale. And then I'm finished talking about GoT and we can all get on with our lives.
It won't be as detailed as other podcasts truly dedicated to GoT, but I don't want to be left out because I don't know that there's ever going to be another show that really unites both geekdom and non-geekdom alike
Some of this podcast episode uses source material from episode 258, so there will be a little repetition, a few things out of sequence, and many spoilers. Crack a cider (or a 7-Up in my case; dodgy stomach tonight), I'm going in!
GoT is a Home Box Office (HBO) fantasy TV show that started in 2011 and ends next week.
It is based on genre author George R. R. Martin's series of fantasy novels, starting with A Song of Ice and Fire. The show has, however, for a while now, overtaken the events in subsequent books.
According to Martin, it is based on the bloody War of the Roses fought for the crown of England by the ruling House of Lancaster and the challenging house of York, in medieval England between 1455 and 1485.
It was co-created by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who also do some of the writing and directing.
But this is a big project, so others, like writers Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill, and directors Miguel Sapochnik and David Nutter, were brought in too.
The incredible, ear-wormy title music, that I sometimes hum, is composed by Ramin Djawadi.
Each episode costs between USD 6 and 15 M (in the latest season) to make and earns about 1 billion per year through HBO subscriptions.
It is filmed globally, but mostly in Northern Ireland and, according the government there, brought USD 224M in, from an initial government investment of 18M.
Viewing figures have never fallen bellow 2 million per episode at the beginning, and has steadily risen to over 11 million this season. And that's not even taking into account piracy.
It's a monster and it's a lot larger audiences than other big shows like The Walking Dead.
The ensemble cast is huge, featuring some famous faces, but also many who are far less well known.
Some main cast members like Maisie Williams (Arya) and Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran) grew up on the show. Williams was fourteen when the show started.
The main cast have amazing salaries and will never have to work again, though I'm sure, given what the show has done for their careers, will choose to continue acting. Some of the main actors (e.g. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington and others) are the best paid and can earn about USD 500,000.00 per episode.
Game of Thrones is about the political intrigue and fight for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and Essos.
Along with the power struggle, we have the additional draw of sex, violence, and the occasional fantasy elements of dragons, magic, and general weirdness. E.g. Bran inheriting Professor X-like superpowers from Max Von Sydow, when he becomes a mystic seer known as the three-eyed raven, or as embodied in Arya; an assassin trained by a death god worshipping cult of ritual hitmen.
Daenerys Targaryen's huge army surrounds King's Landing in a massive show of power.
After demonstrating a White Walker, Daenerys and Jon Snow negotiate an alliance against the Night King and his undead army with Cersei.
Cersei Lannister's cooperation is only as a ruse and she has sent Euron Greyjoy on a secret mission to hire the elite Golden Company of mercenaries in Essos to double-cross the alliance.
Theon makes peace with Jon Snow, then sets off to rescues his sister Yara from Euron.
At Winterfell, Sansa and Arya kill Little Finger for his constant betrayals.
Samwell Tarly and Bran Stark work out that Jon is actually the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
The set piece season finale is Daenerys Targaryen's dragon Viserion, killed and reanimated by the Night King, is used to break through the wall.
Euron has returned with the Golden Company to King's Landing.
Qyburn tells Bron that Cersei has instructed him to go north and kill Tyrion and Jaime with Joffrey's crossbow, if the war with the Night King doesn't.
Theron rescues his sister Yara from Euron. Yara goes back the home to reclaim the Iron Isles, which, should Daenerys's suffer defeat in the war, will provide refuge. Theon returns to Winterfell to join the Starks.
North, near the wall, the Night King has left a horrifying circle of severed limbs.
At Winterfell, Tyrion looks disturbed when Sansa tells him that Cersei will betray them.
Samwell Tarly finds out that Daenerys incinerated his father and brother. At the end, Samwell Tarly reveals to Jon that Jon's real name is Egon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and heir to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingoms.
Jaime Lannister reveals Cersei's plot and joins the zombie fighters at Winterfell.
Tyrion is told off by Daenerys.
Theon arrives at Winterfell.
Bran wants to use himself as bait because he has been marked on the arm by the Night King. He plans to wait by the Godswood tree with Theon.
Gendry gives Arya the weapon she designed and he made, then they spend the night together.
Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, Podrick, Davos, and Tormund chat and spend the night in the company of their friends. Jaime knights Brienne
Sam gives Jorah the House Tarly Valyrian steel sword Heartsbane.
Jon tells Daenerys that he is a Targaryen with a prior claim to the Iron throne.
The zombies approach.
The Dothraki, then the Unsullied, are decimated in the zombie battle.
Melisandre uses the power of the Lord of Light to light the oil moat.
Jon and Daenerys attack with the dragons.
The zombies break through. We find out that the Night King is fireproof. Jorah dies defending Daenerys. The Night King attacks the Godswood and Theon dies defending Bran. Arya appears from nowhere and leaps on Night King, killing him with her Valyrian steel dagger. The Night King and his zombie army (okay, wights... whatever) fall to bits.
The fighters mourn and burn the dead.
Daenerys makes Gendry Lord of Storm's End, but later Arya turns down Gendry's marriage proposal.
Jaime and Brienne spend the night, but Jaime later leaves her for King's Landing.
Daenerys tells Jon to not reveal his heritage because it will lead to conflict for the Iron Throne, even if Jon doesn't want it.
Bronn appears, on his mission from Cersei to assassinate Jaime and Tyrion, but leaves them alive in exchange for Highgarden.
Jon tells Sansa and Arya his heritage.
Arya joins the Hound on the road to King's Landing.
The Wildlings return north with Ghost.
Daenery's fleet head for King's Landing.
Euron Greyjoy's fleet armed with Qyburn's ballista attack and kill Rhaegal.
In a final parley with Tyrion, Cersei has Missandei killed.
Varys is executed by Daenerys by dragon when Tyrion tells her that he approached Jon about assuming the crown.
Tyrion asks Daenerys to not massacre the city if they surrender.
Jaime is captured and Tyrion frees him, telling him to take Cersei, escape and start afresh somewhere.
The attack goes ahead. Daenerys destroys Euron's fleet by moving faster than the ballista can move, then breaks through the gates, incinerates the Golden Company of Essos and any other enemy troops she can see. The city signals surrender by ringing the bell tower, which Daenerys ignores as she goes on a murder rampage.
The hound and Arya head for the Red Keep, but at the last moment Sandor Glegane, the Hound, tells her that this is her last chance to give up vengeance on Cersei, unless she wants to join him in death as he takes on his own vengeance against his brother Gregor, the Mountain, Glegane. Arya leaves and we don't see her until the end. The Hound intercepts, Cersei, Qyburn, and the Mountain trying to escape. The Mountain disobeys Cersei and kills Qyburn in his eagerness to fight his brother. The two brothers fight and then the Hound pushes them both from the building into the fires burning below.
At the beach, Jaime confronts Euron and kills him, but suffers mortal wounds. He finds Cersei, but their escape is blocked and they are buried as the structures above collapse.
After several near misses, as Daenerys wrecks King's Landing, Arya escapes on a white horse.
Spectacular! Massive armies, massive battles, huge cast of extras, the scale, the dragons... I thought Euron's ballista equipped armada was impressive, well, until the end. The dragon is like the giant magnifying glass of the gods, the way it flash burns the enemy troops like ants.
There are sections that are dialogue heavy. While some people like this, I never have, as I'm an old school sword and sorcery aficionado. Sure Tolkien, but otherwise, I have a prediction for tight dialogue and fast-paced action.
Pathos: I'll allow the huge amount of hugging and sentimentality in 1 and 2, as people reunite with old friends, some of whom are on opposite sides now. And it works in a meta way too, because it feels like we, the audience, are also saying our farewells. This is especially the case, given with how sudden unexpected deaths are a feature of the show. I totally ship Gendry and Arya. It's a mistake if she doesn't return to him if she survives. I'm really too into this aren't I? Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) was awesome and heartbreaking in 3, like a character from one of the late great David Gemmell's bloody fantasy novels, and I'm still thinking about it a week later. Brienne's story arc in 4—heart-wrenching. I'm glad to see her character developing, and not stuck in the role of one a dimensional terminator lady. (Captain Phasma, anyone?)
Magic: there's more with dragons, later in the series, and now, especially towards the end, which is good, because this show sometimes feels like too much a purely historical drama; like a mashup of the War of the Roses and Borgia court intrigue. I would have liked more magic over the course of the series, and flaming swords annoyed me because--Tolkien--why aren't they glowing blue?
The characters: by the penultimate episode, I think Tyrion is a fool--one mistake after another and his belief that people are basically good--I've changed my mind about favouring him as the next ruler. I've also changed my mind about Jon Snow/Egon Targaryen, who is just plain stupid--loose lips sink ships Jon--you don't have the luxury of honesty as a politician; you just have to live with bottling things up. Daenerys is immature--she says she wants to be loved--boo hoo hoo, she is a leader and that job comes with loneliness. Expectations of audience? Subverted! Rug under feet? Pulled! At this stage, I'd put Arya on the throne--she listens to reason and actually has a kind heart, albeit, buried within the body of killer for the Faceless god.
Verdict: the final season is very exciting, despite the murkiness of 3. Again, as in 258, I seem to have written a lot about a show I said I would talk about much in this podcast. Personally speaking, this is unmissable TV. Appreciate it while it lasts. Only one episode left.