How to Slay Dragons and Conquer Cities

Some people think the writing on this last season of Games of Thrones is a bit rushed. Granted, they only have to finish one of the most popular TV series of all times in just six episodes. No pressure, right? For the record, I love this show and can’t wait for Sunday’s grand finale. That said, I’ve popped in to a few Game of Thrones online forums and read that some people are unhappy with the two most recent episodes, 71 and 72. The few naysayers out there seem to be struggling with two particular plot points:

  1. The slaying of Daenerys’s second dragon in episode 71, The Last of the Starks.
  2. Daenerys’s evil turn in the battle in King’s Landing in the following episode.

While I’ve enjoyed the wild ride this show is, I also understand that everyone’s a critic. As a writer myself, I couldn’t help but think of how I might have handled the issues of that second dragon and Daenerys’s dark twist. Here’s how I would’ve written these things in a perfect world where I’m be a high-paid member of the Game of Thrones writing team.

“You Broke Your Rule, Buckler!”

I knew we’d have to cover this so I might as well do it now. Yes, it might appear that I’ve broken my “no spoilers” rule for reviewing streaming series. I disagree. Look, Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows in streaming these days. I’m talking about the last two episodes, which aired last week and the week before that. Most if not all Thrones fans have seen these by now.

Now, if I were offering leaks on episode 73, the series finale, you could accuse me of spoiling. From what I can tell, two possible endings have been leaked online. Granted, both of them might be completely bogus, and I suspect that they are. Whether these endings are false or real, I didn’t read them. Why would I want to ruin the last episode of one of my favorite shows? That would be foolish.

“They Slayed the Dragon too Soon!”

The first issue that some fans have is with the slaying of Rhaegal, one of Daenerys’s dragons. A small group of viewers have said that the way this happened felt rushed and contrived. Some said that the whole thing just happened so quickly and conveniently that it didn’t make sense. It was almost as if the writers needed to kill off that dragon so they did so too quickly and without much explanation, or so they said. These folks also raised these issues:

  1. Since Daenerys was flying with her dragons at the time, wouldn’t she have seen the Iron Fleet?
  2. Was nobody left behind at Dragonstone who could have warned Daenerys of the incoming threat?

I didn’t have a problem with what went down in the waters outside of Dragonstone. That’s because it made perfect sense that Queen Cersei would want her armies to slay that second dragon. The beast gave Daenerys a huge advantage in the war, after all. From a writer’s standpoint, there’s another reason to slay that dragon: it sure added to the suspense of the 72nd episode. This gave Cersei’s forces a better chance during the final battle, which definitely amped up the suspense.

“I Didn’t See That Coming!”

That’s what some people have said after Daenerys and her dragon all but burned King’s Landing to the ground. (Something her father, the Mad King, tried to do.) After seasons seeing her as the altruistic “breaker of chains” and all-around humanitarian person, these few fans say that this turn of events was “too sudden,” and “came out of nowhere.” After reading many of the comments on various Game of Thrones forums, this seems to be the general consensus among that small group of hyper-critical fans.

I personally found all of this “Daenerys flipped” stuff ironic. The show’s writers had foreshadowed her dark side for quite some time. It slowly evolved with her character’s arc from the pathetic little royalty in exile to the brazen woman with the most powerful army in all of Westeros. Plus, she’s the daughter of the Mad King, for crying out loud! What else would you expect?

What I Would Have Done as a GoT Writer…

… Yeah, I know I’m not on the Game of Thrones but just go with me on this. So, let’s for one minute assume that the critics are right and that the dragon’s slaying was rushed and Daenerys’s transformation was too sudden. How would I solve these “issues” to make both of these plot points more believable to the few critics who have an issue with these things? I would address both of these plot points in episode 72, titled “Bells.”

Here’s how I would do it: Daenerys and her dragons would destroy the scorpion weapons on the Iron Fleet’s ships and the city’s walls. This would lead to Cersei’s army to throw its swords down and surrender. During that tense and silent moment, Rhaegal would circle past Cersei’s tower. As it does, she orders the last remaining scorpion in the tower to be fired. This slays the dragon and sends Daenerys into a rage, which leads to the destruction of King’s Landing.

Fortunately, I’m Not a GoT Writer

Look, I might think my take on episode 72 is awesome but that doesn’t mean much. I could put hours, days, or weeks into my version of the script only to have it flop with fans. Look at the ones who are criticizing the show now. Mrs. Buckler and I don’t agree with how they folks feel, so who’s to say that the fans would embrace my take on that episode? I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. Pretending I’m on the Game of Thrones writing team is about as close as I’ll ever get to writing “fantasy fiction.” Hey, it is what it is.

Sunday is Almost Here…

… And I can’t wait for the final episode of this amazing series, arguably HBO’s biggest and best. Now, after this weekend, Game of Thrones is never coming back with any new episodes. What will Mrs. Buckler and I do then? The answer to this is easy: we’ll watch more HBO shows. We enjoy Ballers and Insecure, for example, and we’re really hoping both of these original series will return in the spring. In the meantime, there’s the Deadwood movie later this month. We’re definitely stoked for that one, too!

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.