How to “fix” Game of Thrones season 8

Image: HBO/Game of Thrones
Image: HBO/Game of Thrones /
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Not the ending fans desired for Missandei
Not the ending fans desired for Missandei /

Establish a relationship between Daenerys Targaryen and the people of King’s Landing

I think the final couple of seasons of Game of Thrones were underwritten. There seemed to be a lot of context missing, a lot of in-between scenes establishing how characters were feeling and why they made the choices they made. I think the showrunners leaned a lot on the performers to sell the story, but as talented as Emilia Clarke is, she can’t work miracles. She needed more script to work with.

I think the first step to “fixing” the final season is to put some of this interstitial stuff back in. Most immediately, we need scenes that explain why Daenerys made her fateful choice. Let’s start by filling out a storyline that has nothing to do with her directly: let’s focus on the people of King’s Landing.

The night before the attack on the city, Daenerys meets with Jon Snow. “I don’t have love here,” she tells him. “I only have fear.” Daenerys is feeling isolated in part because the people of Westeros have rejected her, and we do see a bit of that in action: Randyll Tarly refuses to bend the knee to her after the Loot Train Attack, and the Northerners act cautious and shifty around her.

But Daenerys doesn’t torch Winterfell; she torches King’s Landing and everyone who lives there, and I think the show would benefit from focusing on how the people of that city in particular feel about her.

My idea is this: starting in season 7, I think Cersei Lannister should mount a propaganda campaign against Daenerys, hiring singers and mummers to spread tales of her misdeeds among the people. One song could tell the horrific tale of the time she crucified 163 Meereenese leaders (leaving out that they themselves had crucified an equal number of children beforehand, obviously), another about the time her dragon ate a young child (leaving out that this horrified her so much she locked up her other dragons, of course). Maybe we could hear one of these songs when Davos fetches Gendry from King’s Landing, or perhaps they’ve spread out around the country.

By the time “The Last of the Starks” rolls around, Cersei will have gotten the people of King’s Landing completely on her side. Whatever problems they have with Cersei, they’re now officially more afraid of Daenerys than they are of her, and when people are afraid, they get angry and stupid. I think we should see Missandei’s execution from the other side of the city wall; on one end we have Dany and company watching with hearts in their throats, and on the other we have a throng of people eager to see the Dragon Queen get what’s coming to her. When Missandei is beheaded, the people cheer, a great rumbling roar audible over the wall.

I think that would be a pretty powerful way to sell us on the idea that Daenerys is angry with the people of this city. It wouldn’t be fair, of course — by Cersei’s design, they don’t have all the information — but that wouldn’t make it any less of a stab in the heart for Daenerys, who’s just lost her best friend.

I also like that this gives Cersei a bit more to do in the final couple seasons. I also have an idea for her and Missandei to have a one-on-one scene after Missandei’s capture, but that’s getting off track, so let’s move on.