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‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: King’s Landing Is Burning and the Queen Is Lit

Ever since Game of Thrones kicked off its final season, we couldn’t help noticing that the show was spending a lot of time on lingering shots of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) making an extreme close-up crazy face — and now we know why! The Mother of Dragons went full Mad Queen in the show’s penultimate episode, making good on her promise to take what was hers with fire and blood, and then more fire, and more blood. Here are the biggest moments and huge deaths from the Sunday, May 12, episode.

Related: Everything We Know About 'Game of Thrones' Season 8

A Taste of the Madness to Come

Right off the bat, we can see that Daenerys’ paranoia has overtaken her in the wake of last episode’s losses. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) tattles to her about Varys (Conleth Hill) and his treasonous leanings, and Varys is taken out in chains and incinerated within, like, five minutes of the opening credits. But that’s just the beginning: Dany no longer trusts any of her advisors, including Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who remains loyal but does, indeed, have hang-ups about having sex with his aunt. So when it comes to attacking King’s Landing, like Sinatra said, she’ll do it her way.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Davos Seaworth Jon Snow
Davos Seaworth and Jon Snow Helen Sloan/HBO

Fire and Blood

After Cersei (Lena Headey) handed Daenerys a surprising and brutal series of losses last week, you might have imagined that the two were pretty evenly matched for the big Battle of Queens. And indeed, the Golden Army of Essos does look impressive, all assembled outside the city gates … right up to the moment when Dany and Drogon blast through the wall behind them and burn through their ranks in an instant. It’s over in a flash: Cersei’s men throw down their weapons, and the bells in the city ring out in surrender. There’s just one problem: Daenerys doesn’t care. King’s Landing is hers to do what she wants with — and she wants to burn it and all its citizens to ash.

Related: What the 'Game of Thrones' Cast Looks Like Off Screen


The Hound (Rory McCann) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) are inside King’s Landing as Dany rains carnage on the city and the Red Keep starts to collapse. The Hound urges Arya to leave and survive — and she does! That leaves Sandor (Rory McCann) free to confront his undead brother, who just happens to be coming down the stairs with Cersei and Qyburn (Anton Lesser) at exactly the right moment. (Sidenote: Qyburn dies first, here, in the most casual surprise head-crushing of the entire series.)

A passionate battle ensues, and roughly three hours of stabbing, beating and eye-gouging later, the Hound finally body-slams his zombie brother through a weakened wall, and the two of them plummet to their deaths together. We’re calling this one a win for Sandor, though — and would also like to note that at the time of their deaths, the Hound was definitely the more handsome of the two, whereas the Mountain looked like a helmetless Darth Vader with a lethal case of pink eye.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen HBO

A Crushing Defeat

Meanwhile, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is given a last chance by Tyrion to sneak into King’s Landing and make a getaway with Cersei in one of Game of Thrones’ many, many escape rowboats. Unfortunately, Jaime meets Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) first, and they have a swordfight that leaves both with lethal wounds. (Sidenote: Euron breaks the fourth wall to say his last words — “I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister!” — in what feels very much like a personal attack.)

Related: 'Game of Thrones' Transformations

Jaime still manages to find Cersei and tries to lead her out through the catacombs to safety, but all the exits are blocked. It’s over. And as the Lannister twins embrace, the castle collapses on top of them, in what is quite honestly a better end than either one of them deserves.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Davos Seaworth Jon Snow Tyrion Lannister
Davos Seaworth, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister HBO

Last Stark Standing

Amid a sea of burned, dead bodies, one figure stirs: Arya. She wakes up in a city that looks a lot like the one in Daenerys’ season 2 vision — only instead of snow, it’s ash that covers everything. Fleeing through the still-burning streets on the back of the city’s last surviving horse, Arya gallops away and survives … perhaps long enough to slay a Mad Queen in the season finale.

Game of Thrones airs on HBO Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

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