Recap: Game of Thrones Spoilers Kicked Up Controversy Before Devastating Episode
The final season of Game of Thrones is a big deal for HBO, both because it is their most successful show and their most expensive. Yet, before every episode this season (save for last week’s) the episode leaked early. For the first two episodes, licensed providers released the episodes to their subscribers early. This meant the video was uploaded, because this is still one of the most-pirated shows. Yet, hours before this week’s episode, Game of Thrones spoilers hit social media, purportedly as a scheme from a group trying to sell the episode for money a few hours before it aired live. Hopefully, their dumb scheme didn’t work, but the clips that did make it online spoiled three of the biggest moments of the episode.
Game of Thrones spoilers are like deviled eggs at a party. Some people avoid them at all costs, while others can’t get enough, regardless of the consequences that await them. So, when this latest crop of spoilers broke, what they revealed sent fans into an online outrage. Some of this negative feeling boiled over from the last week’s episode and resentment some fans had for how things played out. These Game of Thrones spoilers were not as complete or certain as past seasons’ have been. Yet, some groups of fans remain convinced the writers are “ruining” the show they’ve invested so much time and passion into. Individually, the events of “The Last of the Starks” are very on-brand for the show. However, how these events unfold and what they portend for the final two episodes has fans very angry.
Game of Thrones spoilers ahead, be warned!
The Game of Thrones Spoilers Are Coming
The fight over Game of Thrones spoilers is so fierce that an entire Reddit community, r/Freefolk, sprung up so fans could talk about them freely. It was there that an image of Daenerys leaning close to Jorah’s unlit funeral pyre showed up. About three hours later, another Reddit user tracked down the source. “Thai Facebook groups” reportedly got a copy of the episode and were asking for money to release it. While it’s unclear if anyone took them up on the offer, screenshots, and details of the episode leaked. Still, it wasn’t the specific Game of Thrones spoilers that aggravated these fans, but rather what these developments suggest will be the direction for the rest of the series. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of fans believe David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are “ruining” the show. Let’s dive into why.
Death Returns to Game of Thrones
The biggest and most devastating of the Game of Thrones spoilers that circulated before the show was the death of another dragon. The first dragon, Vyserion, died in the last season, then the Night King added it to his Army of the Dead. Many fans thought that Rhaegal died in the Battle of Winterfell after he dumped Jon Snow on the battlefield and then vanished. However, he survived the battle, albeit with some holes in his wings. Yet, that victory didn’t last long. During the trip back to Dragonstone, Dany and her fleet were ambushed by Euron Greyjoy’s fleet. Each of Euron’s ships, however, were armed with larger versions of the dragon-killing weapon teased last season. This year? It worked. In one of the most gruesome deaths this season, Rhaegal took three shots and fell into the water.
After the hefty toll, the battle against the dead took on her forces, losing one of her two remaining dragons is a serious blow to Dany. Yes, she loves the dragons like her children, and her grief and rage are purely emotional. (More on that, later.) Yet, to the outside world of Westeros, what this looks like is that the great Targaryen dragon-queen is vulnerable and possibly in over-her-head. Along with her dragons, her closest adviser Missandei ended up Cersei’s prisoner. The two queens parlay, via their hands, before the battle. Yet, the discussion is cut short—quite literally—when Cersei orders Missandei beheaded in front of them. The episode ends on Dany’s face, twisted with rage and pain, seemingly ready to rain fire on King’s Landing.
#Oathsex – Jamie and Brienne Finally Hooking Up on GoT
Fandoms, especially genre fandoms, love spending their time figuring out which characters should be in a relationship with one another. Since they first paired up on-screen, fans clamored for a romantic relationship to develop between Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. So, their hookup in this episode was the only one of the Game of Thrones spoilers for today that didn’t send people into a rage. The episode opened with funerals, but then the action quickly moved to a feast. There, the living celebrated being alive, and for most folks that means hooking up. Tormund, Podrick, and others found themselves mates for the night. (Though, Tyrion remains strangely chaste since he killed Shae back in Season 3.) Yet, when asked during a drinking game if she was a virgin, Brienne exited the celebration.
Jamie follows Brienne to her room, and despite both of them being pretty drunk, they strip down and get it on. Fans who’ve been waiting for this moment, celebrated the pairing using the Twitter hashtag “#Oathsex.” However, the celebrations—both in the show and online—were short-lived. Jamie seems content to stay with Brienne, possibly settling down in Winterfell. Yet, when news of Cersei’s victory against Dany reaches the North, Jamie reverts to type. He leaves Brienne in the middle of the night to ride to King’s Landing (despite knowing his sister wants him dead). As he leaves, he hurts Brienne by saying he’s “hateful,” leaving her in tears. Again, fans were outraged, suggesting that the show-runners were having him run back to Cersei. Of course, it’s also possible that the reformed Jamie is traveling to King’s Landing to end his sister’s reign, not support it.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World on Game of Thrones
Believe it or not, the death of Rhaegal is just one of many problems facing Queen Daenerys. Before she even leaves Winterfell in this episode, she’s brought nearly to the brink by Jon Snow. While at the feast, she tries to be a warm and gracious queen. When she spys Gendry, she asks him about his father, Robert Baratheon whom she calls “the Usurper.” At first it appears to be tense, but she legitimizes Gendry, giving him both his father’s last name and his ancestral seat at Storm’s End. Gendry uses this good fortune as an opportunity to propose to Arya, who turns him down cold. Though, should she make it through the next few episodes, it’s very likely she shows up at his castle.
The main thing about the Game of Thrones spoilers that angered so many fans is how the show appears to be setting Dany up as a Mad Queen. “The Last of the Starks” shows Dany growing increasingly impatient, angry, and paranoid about her chances to take the Iron Throne. Rather than allowing the soldiers who just defeated Death itself to rest, she insists they march to King’s Landing. Tyrion and Varys both plead with her to show patience and mercy, specifically towards the people of the city who Cersei plans to use like human shields. If she wasn’t already planning to torch the whole city in revenge for the death of Rhaegal, she certainly is after Missandei’s execution. Her trusted advisor, freed from bondage but put back in chains by Cersei, uses her last words to send a message to Dany telling her to burn them all.
The Once and Future King in the North
Both Tyrion and Varys are genuinely concerned about Dany’s state of mind, and what it suggests about the type of ruler she’ll be. Varys reiterates to Tyrion that his loyalty is not to a particular monarch but rather to the people themselves. He tells Dany she’s making a mistake, but it’s thanks to Sansa that Varys realizes they might have another option. Earlier in the episode, Jon and Dany seem keen to continue their romance, despite being aunt and nephew. Jon believes he should tell his sisters and brother about his true heritage. Dany pleads with him not to do it, because she can tell that it will threaten her own claim to the throne. Still, Jon Snow may be a Targaryen’s son, but he was still raised by Ned Stark. He comes clean to his family. Sansa and Tyrion share am honest moment on the battlements of Winterfell.
She tells him Jon’s secret, and he shares it with Varys. Because eight people know already, Varys proclaims it no longer a “secret” but rather “information.” He all but promises to betray Dany in favor of Jon’s rule, because he believes that Jon would be a better ruler. It’s not that he’s a man, but rather despite a clear claim to the throne, Jon does not want the power. With Varys supporting Jon and Sansa, who learned to play the game of thrones from Littlefinger, Dany is right to be paranoid. Fans are upset because they feel the battle with the dead was a red herring, but the battle against Cersei may also be one as well. The true battle may come down to Jon Snow versus Dany, which neither camp likes. Tyrion’s suggestion that the two be married is the most sensible one, but no one else agrees.
What This All Means for the Future of Westeros
With two episodes left, the story will be wrapped up soon enough, one way or another. Yet fans are very upset that Benioff and Weiss are setting Dany up to go mad. Another set of Game of Thrones spoilers are going around that are supposed to reveal the true ending of the show. These leaks read like bad fanfiction, though this could be by design. With fans already angry that Arya, not Jon, killed the Night King, the “leaker” is likely trying to troll fans with a deliberately bad ending. The key thing that set people off, however, is that Jon ultimately betrays Dany. These fans, rightly, see the betrayal from Jon and Dany’s madness in general to be out-of-character for them. They claim it’s a “shocking twist” just for shock’s sake.
Of course, Game of Thrones has long killed off beloved characters, and every season Dany faces a problem she can’t possibly overcome. As mad as these fans are about the Game of Thrones spoilers, they may be just be reacting exactly the way the writers want them to. They want us worried that Jamie is returning to Cersei to ally with her, that Dany will turn evil, and that Jon will betray his principles and his heart. That’s the exact sort of tension that will have fans, angry or not, tuning in next Sunday.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.