The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones is stirring a great deal of controversy amongst fans of the show. The series, which will conclude its eight-season run this Sunday, is being criticized for some of its creative decisions in recent episodes. Notably, fans have taken issue with the drastic changes in Daenerys Targaryen, played by English actress Emilia Clarke. As Daenerys and her army attacked King’s Landing in a bid for the Iron Throne, Daenerys massacred countless civilians with her dragon, Drogon. Fans were particularly upset because just before the massacre, the city rang its bells, signifying their intent to surrender and many of the Lannister defenders threw their weapons to the ground.
Fans argue that Daenerys’ decision to destroy King’s Landing was out of character for her. These fans point out that throughout the series, Daenerys has shown mercy to many individuals, freeing slaves and entire cities from the grasp of cruel dictators. Other fans argue that Daenerys has always had imperialist ambitions and would do anything to accomplish her goals. These fans use the notable example of Daenerys burning the lords of House of Tarly alive after they refused to pledge their loyalty to her. Fans in this group also argue that events of the current season have been particularly hard on Daenerys, with the would-be queen losing her chief friends and advisors, Jorah and Missandei, as well as her second dragon, Rhaegal.
Despite fan views, overall critical reception of the episode and the entire season has been less than stellar. Riley McAtee, a TV critic for The Ringer, gave the episode a poor review. Part and parcel of McAtee’s opinion lies in the fact that while Daenerys has always been ruthless in her quest for power, she has never been cruel. Other critics, notably Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair, place the blame for the shocking transformation on the show’s television medium. Robinson points out that those who have read the book series by George R.R. Martin would not be surprised by the way Daenerys behaved during her conquest of King’s Landing, saying that the books allow readers to better understand what goes on in the character’s head.
Though largely critical of Daenerys’ change in character, fans praised the fight scenes between Sandor Clegane and his brother Gregor. The rivalry between the two characters has been legendary throughout the series, and the final throwdown between the two was regarded as a highlight of the episode. Even more praise went to Sandor’s fatherly advice and interactions with Arya Stark. Just before the fight, Sandor urged Arya to leave, saying that his quest for vengeance had destroyed his life.