Game Of Thrones Continue To Give Women Disappointing Character Arcs While The Men Make Bad Decisions And Flourish

How many scenes were dedicated to Jon Snow's sad, conflicted face while Dany's sudden Mad Queen twist went unseen in the sky? (As you may have guessed, there are spoilers below...)

Emilia Clarke Game of Thrones

by Georgia Aspinall |

‘Men decide where power resides, whether or not they know it,’ Varys tells Jon Snow in Game of Thrones season eight, episode five. And with one line, writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed their own truth. The power to make or break our favourite female characters on Game of Thrones has always been in their hands, and just like last night’s episode, they are sure to disappoint us.

Whether you saw the now infamous final battle coming or not, Daenerys abandoning her entire life purpose by killing thousands of innocent men, women and children in pursuit of the Iron Thrones was not a satisfying character arc. To watch a woman slowly accomplish everything she’s wanted over the course of eight years of Game of Thrones, after living through horrific trauma and excelling in a world set against her very existence, only to become a savage monster intent on burning everyone alive in the penultimate episode of the final season is more than disappointing.

We’re not the only ones who think so, and apparently, we’re in for more dissatisfaction with the finale next Sunday - Kit Harrington himself described the episode as ‘disappointing’. In fact, many cast interviews are now coming to light that, while they may not say the exact words, reveal they too had the same reactions we are now having as we watch seven seasons of character-building turn, like Kings Landing, to ashes.

‘It fucked me up,’ Emilia Clarke told Vanity Fair of the way Dany’s character arc developed, ‘knowing that is going to be a lasting flavour in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is.’

It’s not just Dany of course, there are plenty of confusing plot jumps that went unexplained in the episode. Where did the new hordes of Dothraki come from when we saw them all but slaughtered by the Army of the Dead in episode three? How did Daenerys destroy all of the scorpion weapons with one dragon when she was so easily defeated by them with two dragons in episode four? When did Varys, a master-spy who has served more leaders than anyone living on the show, become so stupid so as to openly defy his Queen and stick around to see what happened next? What was literally the point in Jaime’s character this whole time if he was going to run back to Cersei and die in her arms?

Alas, just as episode four revealed, it’s the women that are truly paying the price of this seemingly haphazard writing and rushed end to a previously meticulous narrative. Not just Dany’s quick succession from her wish to save thousands of innocents and bring peace to the realm to burning everyone alive, but even Cersei fell victim to the six-episode speed-through.

We have despised this woman for almost eight seasons, seen her commit the vilest atrocities and attempt to kill our most beloved characters. Who in the writing room really thought giving her a Romeo and Juliet style ending with Jaime would be a satisfying death? Not only was she not killed by any of our favourite heroines whom felt destined to (you deserve better, Arya) but her crumbling to pieces in the face of death was also the furthest reaction from her personal brand. Cersei did not also survive tons of traumatic events, out manoeuvre countless powerful men and survive numerous attempts to her life to sob in the arms of her naïve, I’ll-just-stay-an-idiot-this-whole-time brother as she is crushed by her own home.

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The first target

As Bran attempts to draw his arrow and hit the target, Arya interrupts him with a sudden intervention and hits the target with her own arrow – to the surprise of Jon Snow and Rob Stark. It was one of the first times we saw Arya's skill with a weapon, and her surprise Bran with a secret attack.

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Even Brienne of Tarth is given a dissatisfying arc and she doesn’t actually appear in the episode. The fact that Jaime really was just going to Kings Landing to save Cersei adds even more insult to injury after her ridiculously off-brand emotional breakdown after having sex with him. Then there’s Arya’s character arc, with her years of training and impressive kill-roster that didn’t manage to come in handy at all in episode four. She was clearly put in Kings Landing to see this battle for a reason, so what, are we now meant to wish for her to kill the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms? Honestly, it would be an unexpected twist if the Queen she actually went to Kings Landing to kill was Dany, but frankly it’s not the one Game of Thrones viewers wanted or deserve.

When you compare the character arcs, and screen time, these women received in comparison with male characters on the show, the bias to build them up as powerful men controlling crazy women becomes very clear. How many close-ups were given to Jon Snow’s conflicted, sad face while we barely saw Daenerys as she rode a dragon that was burning a city to the ground? Similarly, the zooming in on Tyrion’s face as he underestimates the savagery of women for the 100th time this season seemed endless. Are we meant to feel sorry for a man that has attempted the same tactic, and basically delivered the same line, to defeat Cersei three times now? For a man that was once considered the smartest mind in Westeros, his current naivety is extremely illogical.

Then there’s the happy endings the men got. We saw more screen time dedicated to the Hound and The Mountain’s gruesome end, that at one point turned the show into an actual comedy as we saw Cersei scoot round the pair to escape almost certain death. We even saw Euron Greyjoy get his happy ending, dying believing he’d succeeded in his one true goal.

This is the thing, all of these narratives would have been welcomed were the same thought and time given to the character developments of our beloved and pedantically built-up favourites. Could they not give us a few more scenes that show Dany's emotional state while committing her ruthless execution of an entire city? Could we have seen Cersei do more than drink wine in a window for an hour? Could at least one of the prophecies or symbols that eight seasons have built up to actually be explained as we come to the final ever episode?

Honestly, the focal points of this entire episode, given how little time was given to some of the biggest twists, are just as illogical as Jaime seeming to grow his hand back in one scene where he hugs Cersei. Just as the Starbuck’s cup left in previous scenes symbolized a lack of thought episode four, Jaime’s hand seems to show us yet again that the writers of Game of Thrones are truly making a mockery of this once painstakingly plotted show.

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