Let's Discuss: Being An Absolute Wreck Over The Penultimate 'Game Of Thrones' Episode

Game of Thrones Tyrion Lannister Peter Dinklage HBO
The penultimate has always been the most defining episode in previous “Game of Thrones” seasons. It is a pattern the show did not break with its final season. Can you believe that after eight years, it came to these events? Did you ever expect that going into the finale, it would look and feel like this? It is time for a deep dive.

Spoilers for the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones” are discussed below.

Last week, “Game of Thrones” arrived at a point that it has seven other times before. The penultimate episode of Season 8 bares a significant distinction. It is the second to last “Game of Thrones” episode - ever.

That is already an immense emotional territory to tread. As the installment went on, character after character arrived at and responded to, a defining moment. Some rose to it, and others collapsed.

As my tweet following the episode hinted, I have never been as emotionally rocked by a single episode of television, as I was during the penultimate “Game of Thrones” chapter.

It was rough. The opus, this fan has semi-dreaded swept through like a tornado. It is hard to describe the emotional vacuum that will be left in this show's absence. There has been no other television journey exactly like “Game of Thrones.”

It is special, and that feeling came through loud and clear with its penultimate chapter. It is unlikely that there will ever be another primetime scripted show that grabs this viewer's emotions in quite the same way.

Part of the grief in watching "The Bells" was knowing that they were tolling for “Game of Thrones.” That the characters, fans have been avidly speculating about for nearly a decade had reached their crescendo. There is no more wondering. The answers are here.

The wave of emotions that ensued hit upon my shores for the first time when Tyrion freed Jaime. Tyrion touched on that time all those episodes ago when Jaime had done the same for him. It was a callback. In many ways, watching the episode of Tyrion’s escape simultaneously feels like another lifetime ago, and just yesterday.

A finality between the Lannister brothers sank in with aching gravity. It felt like their last scene. Their final goodbye after so many versions of “see you” later. That feeling came true.

That moment was tearful, but denial kept the stinging emotions at bay. Then “Game of Thrones” ramped it up. The Hound and Arya scenes happened. In contrast to the other events, theirs was about life. Choosing the path to walk from here on out. For Arya, most of the series’ run has been about her seeking vengeance.

Helen Sloan / HBO
Despite, wanting her to get it badly at times, it was never the road I wanted to see Arya travel forever. Hence, it was with great sadness that I heard Arya tell The Hound she would not be returning home again in the previous episode.

During all of these seasons; it has not been Arya’s quest for revenge that I have wanted most. It is her return to Winterfell. The reunion with the family that people and events have robbed her of being with.

What good is getting revenge if you sacrifice the time you have with the family that is still alive? Arya has been upset about those who have stolen members of her family, and yet she was planning on depriving herself of experiencing time with the ones she has left.

The Hound ended up being the one to help Arya see the light. He was the most unexpected and yet most perfect person to set her on the right path. Arya and The Hound’s storyline has always been a standout. So, to see their dynamic given the justice it deserved was marvelous. It was also incredibly emotional.

By the time The Hound was done with his speech, tears had flowed freely. Arya called him “Sandor,” and I was then a complete mess. It took days before I could talk or think about it without getting choked up.

The ensuing clash between the Cleganes gave rise to a tragic deathmatch. I did not want The Hound to go, but I cannot argue with the logic of how it happened. For him, this ending fit.

Likewise, Cersei and Jaime Lannister’s presumptive end proved intense. Cersei, long working in the pursuit of her and her family’s survival, realized it was all over. Her confrontation with mortality was a raw departure for her and Jaime's determination to go out with her was impactful.

Then came the countless deaths that Daenerys wrought. The murders she committed were atrocious. “Game of Thrones” made sure you felt that connection to those on the ground. Little Martha was introduced in the episode’s opening moments as one of Varys’ Little Birds. Arya tried desperately to save her and her mother to no avail.

Martha had been clutching a little carving, much like the one Davos had made for the late Princess Shireen. The connection between Martha’s horse and Shireen’s stag was impossible to miss. Two little girls a world apart would meet the same fate at fire’s hand.

It was a pandemonium of tragedy everywhere Arya looked and as the camera showed her not moving, it literally took my breath away. Only to have myself awash in relief at the sight of her moving again. You do not know how much a character has come to mean until you think they are gone.

So many characters, whether you always liked them or not, got caught in the wave of the Last War. Did they ride it the way many wished? No. To all of the critics, this is where Daenerys has been headed all along. Much like Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader, Daenerys became the villain she was always destined to be.

“Game of Thrones” has been laying the groundwork for that for eight seasons. In many ways, the Daenerys that many thought they knew died in this episode. Like many of the ones, who actually did, her end was fitting. It was not what many wanted her to become, but that does not change the veracity of its underpinnings.

If the emotion surrounding its penultimate chapter is any indication, the series finale should be another deluge. “Game of Thrones” is going out much the way it came in. Uncompromising of its truth, even if it is not a popular one.

[Featured Image by Helen Sloan / HBO]