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 |
Updated on

‘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.


All the clues you missed leading up to THAT Arya Stark moment...

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CREDIT: Twitter

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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CREDIT: Twitter

The first lesson

Her first lesson, Jon tells Arya 'stick him with the pointy end', advice she then gave to Sansa in Sunday night's episode. Considering many expected Jon to kill the Night King, the foreshadowing is quite chilling.

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Melisandre literally told us...

The most obvious clue came in season three - while still following the narrative of the books – when Melisandre, the red priestess, told Arya, 'I see a darkness in you, and in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever.' Of course, she's killed many brown-eyed men, including Walder Frey. Now the Night King with blue eyes, and who do we know with green eyes?!

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The 'not today' lesson

Then came her training with Syrio Forel from season one. 'What do we say to the God of death?' he asked her, 'Not today', he taught. The Night King largely represented death, and she sure proved it was NOT today. In service of the House of black and White in Braavos, Arya goes blind in her training with Jaqen H'ghar. As she struggles with her identity, she becomes 'no one', and able to wear the masks then will see her kill many men. When Bran explained the danger incoming, he stated 'no one can kill the Night King'. And 'no one' truly did.

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Then she became 'no one'...

In service of the House of Black and White in Braavos, Arya goes blind in her training with Jaqen H'ghar. As she struggles with her identity, she becomes 'no one', and able to wear the masks then will see her kill many men. When Bran explained the danger incoming, he stated 'no one can kill the Night King'. And 'no one' truly did.

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Arya could surprise Jon easier than he could her...

Of course, the clues came thick and fast in the most recent season. We saw Arya sneak up on Jon in episode one of season eight, to his surprise ('how did you sneak up on me?', he asked), in the exact same place she would sneak up on the Night King on Sunday night's episode.

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The all-knowing Bran knew to give her something special...

Then, when Arya is reunited with Bran for the first time in years, he returns the dagger that would later be used to kill the Night King in the exact place she would kill him.

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And we saw her signature move used right before...

And just before battle, as Arya trained with Brienne of Tarth (that's Ser Brienne of Tarth to you), she used the same move flipping her knife from one hand to the other to stop her in battle.

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So, what else have we missed?

Of course, will all of these clues, there are now tons of fan theories about what's happening next. The main clue comes from that Melisandre quote about green eyes, are we to expect Arya to kill Cersei next, or at least one of the green-eyed Lannister's? It almost seems too obvious at this point, given that we literally missed every tiny clue they gave us about Arya's fate for an entire eight seasons – would they make it that easy for us? We're betting not.

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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