This was so, so long ago.
Quick takes: Arya peacing out on Gendry’s proposal, perfection. Fuck Ghost, it’s about time Jon 86’d him for blowing literally every opportunity to protect his one damn charge. DAVOS! I will accept no one on the Iron Throne if it isn’t Davos, First of Being Sick of This Bullshit. Sam impregnated Gilly again, wheee. Imagine how bored you’d have to be to keep fucking either one of those people. OATHSEX: I was spoiled for it but still screamed like a little girl. YARA RETOOK THE IRON ISLANDS and we didn’t get to see it because any screen time given to actual good warcraft makes the baby Night King cry or something. Did everyone forget Euron had a fleet or did they literally have no intelligence on where the enemy’s forces were? Military strategy on this show blows diregoats.
Oh, you thought I was going to talk about anything BUT the five seconds between Sansa and the Hound? HAHAHAHAHA are you new? I’ve been holding my breath for this reunion since Book Two, while everyone (MR. A) was telling me I was delusional and the Hound was dead. I was crying and cheering and hugging a pillow like a stuffed animal.
While it wasn’t EVERYTHING I wanted (him falling to his knees, swearing his sword to her service) it was pretty damned close.
First let’s talk about surrendering. About forgiveness. About how to have compassion for monsters, for people who hurt you, for people who betrayed you in every way that matters.
About what happens when you can’t.
Brienne offered Jaime a version of himself he could live with: A good man, who cared about her, who cared about others and stood up for them. He wore a white cloak, in the Kingsguard, long ago. She offered it back to him, clean, and he could barely look at her.
Tyrion offered Danaerys, and by association Jon, a way out. He offered one to Cersei, too: Just stand down, and let everyone live. Cersei saw Joffrey and Tommen and Myrcella, poisoned and shrouded. Dany saw Rhaegal fall from the sky. Burn it all, said Missandei, dying, and you tell me, what either one of them should have done.
None of them can surrender because none of them can stop. You can’t forgive if you don’t admit to failing. All that anger: Jaime’s, for himself. Cersei’s, for her awful marriage and her dead children and her abandonment. Tyrion’s, for his father and Tysha and Shae, for the things he should have achieved that were taken away from him through no fault of his own.
Varys’s tight-fisted grip on his secrets and his iron belief that he knows what is best. He’s feeling like he held the realm together with his own two hands, through all of this fire and blood. How is he supposed to unclench his fists now, and let go?
I talk a lot about the Hound in these posts because he’s a very real person to me, but of all the conflicts that are being resolved now we’re staring down the last few episodes, this was the only one in this ep that made surrender stick.
Remember, all those years ago, in King’s Landing? When she was a Little Bird and he was the King’s Dog, pillaging and killing as his king commanded? When all he could do for her was shout in her face, that she was weak and small and hopeless, a stupid dreaming girl?
It sounded cruel to her then. She couldn’t hear what he was saying. She couldn’t see him then, trying to save her the only way he knew how. He took the only tools he had — aggression, rage — and tried to fix her. He wasn’t saying you’re weak, and you’re stupid. He was saying, be better, be stronger, so you can live.
It’s so hard to have compassion for someone who knows you that intimately. Like a parent, like a lover, but somehow deeper than both: You are what I was. With all the knowledge and horror of his years, he was begging her to survive and he thought all these years that he’d failed.
He thought he’d left her to die in King’s Landing, a Little Bird forever. With all the horrible things he’d done, he carried that one with him through it all. He buried it in every grave he dug on the Quiet Isle, and it rose like a wight and dogged him through the Riverlands, through the battle of Winterfell as all the walls burned around him.
Everyone else, the night of the battle, settled accounts. Sandor Clegane had to wait until the next night fell, when the armies of the living were half their number, for Sansa Stark to stand in front of him. One of the many things that will stay with me when this show is long over is Rory McCann’s face when he first catches sight of her close. The catch of his breath in his throat. He’s a goddamned genius.
And oh, when he asked her how she gave back to the Boltons, and the smile on her face: “Hounds.”
She didn’t absolve him, by telling him she’d still be a Little Bird without all the terrible things that happened after he left. But she gave him permission to stop hating himself for what happened to her. To stop blaming himself for not saving her, to lay just that one particular burden down.