Every week for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, three Atlantic staffers will be discussing new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners were made available to critics in advance this year, we’ll be posting our thoughts in installments.
David Sims: I don’t know where to begin with this one, so I suppose I’ll start with the last person I’ve ever wanted to talk about on Game of Thrones: Euron Greyjoy. For three seasons now, I’ve had to suffer through this goth pirate fool barging into scene after scene to inexplicably tie up some loose narrative thread that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss left dangling. He tossed his brother Balon off a bridge, built a fleet of a thousand ships in an instant, obliterated the entire Dornish royal family, and now has somehow managed to kill one of the show’s two remaining dragons in his continued campaign to impress Cersei Lannister. Morons online complained about Arya’s combat skills last week? Euron’s the one who keeps punching above his weight.
The continued existence of this character—utterly one-dimensional, introduced late in the game, whose only seeming purpose is to smash things up—really exemplifies the issues I’ve had with Thrones as it has moved beyond George R. R. Martin’s source material and tried to wrap things up as neatly as possible. In the first half of “The Last of the Starks,” it seemed viewers were in for another episode of conversation and resolving long-simmering romances, as Daenerys and Jon’s forces recovered from the big battle the night before. But then a bunch of things just happened, essentially out of nowhere—happened so quickly that it was hard to ponder their relative plausibility (yes, even a show this fantastic needs to feel plausible once in a while). By the end of the episode, the story was in the right plotting spot, previewing a big showdown between Cersei and Daenerys. But it got there by having irrelevant nincompoops like Euron magically crash through everything.