SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains plot information from episode five of season eight of Game of Thrones.
So it turns out there is an enemy more fearsome than the Night King for the long-suffering folk of Westeros after all. It's the woman who's come to save them.
In the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen finally reveals herself to be what we've long suspected: a despot in dragon's clothing.
Promising to free the land from tyrants, she tyrannises it instead with her flying flamethrower, Drogon, wreaks vengeance on an enemy she has never met, and lays waste to everyone and everything in her way. Oh, and she turns on her inner circle too.
Seriously, she's become the Josef Stalin of dungeons and dragons.
It all begins with Varys writing the truth of Jon Snow's lineage on a piece of parchment; what becomes of this is unclear, because later the eunuch sets fire to a piece of parchment that might be the same one or might just be a list of things he wants to treat himself to once he's back in King's Landing: a merkin, perhaps; a nice beanie for those chilly evenings ahead; maybe some silken underwear. Who knows.
Dany, meanwhile, has a strop on. She's in her room at Dragonstone and she's not coming out and she's not eating and she hates you all and she wishes she'd never been born! Harrumph.
No wonder Varys is trying to convince Jon that, er, maybe the Chosen One might not be such a great choice after all.
"What do you want," Jon asks him gruffly, and you have to wonder if maybe this stroppiness thing is a Targaryen family trait.
"All I've ever wanted," says Varys. "The right ruler on the Iron Throne."
"I don't want it," snarls Jon. "I never have ... She is my queen." So there.
Poor Varys. Having finally revealed his true colours - he's the ultimate democrat, a genuine believer in by-for-of the people - he's about to come a cropper, because here's Tyrion dobbing on him to Dany, for reasons that are not entirely clear.
OK, let me rephrase that: for reasons that make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE AT ALL.
He waltzes into Queen Sooky-Chops' chambers to reveal that she has been betrayed. She says "by Jon", and he looks startled. No, by Varys.
"He knows the truth about Jon," she says. Yup. "Because you told him." Whoops. "You learnt from Sansa, and she learnt from Jon, though I begged him not to tell her." Impeccable logic, Your Icy One. "As I said, he betrayed me."
Tyrion can see this isn't going terribly well, so he grovels. "If I have failed you, my queen, forgive me. Our intentions were good. We wanted what you want, a better world. All of us - Varys as much as anyone," he adds, a last futile bid to save his friend. "But it doesn't matter now."
"No," she agrees. "It doesn't matter now."
Oh, she's bitter, and she's not much for looking to the honourable intentions behind dubious actions. She has Varys arrested and brought to the cove and prepared for his sentence: death by dracarys.
"I hope I deserve this," says Varys, who might have been hoping for death by bobo. "I hope I was wrong." And to Tyrion, who has at least had the decency to confess to his own betrayal, "Goodbye old friend".
Whoompf. A burst of dragon flame and he's gone.
Jeez, it's like being in Stalin's inner circle. No one is safe from the purges of a paranoid and power-hungry ruler with a dragon.
Next, Dany turns her wrath on Jon. Nobody loves me, she complains, everybody hates me, think I'll go do burns.
"I don't have love here," she says. "I only have fear."
"I love you," he says. "You'll always be my queen."
"Is that all I am to you, your queen," she counters and goes in for the pash.
Yet again Jon is torn between fancying the pants off her and the totes awkward knowledge that he's on the brink of making out with his aunty. Awks wins over norks, and he draws away.
"All right then," she says, snittily deleting his number from her speed dial. "Let it be fear." Hell hath no fury and all that.
Fascinating as all this is, it is only the prelude to what's coming - the biggest battle in Game of Thrones since, well, the last one.
Tyrion has done his best to dissuade his queen from torching King's Landing but it's doubtful Danyef Stalgeryin is listening.
Pretty much everyone is here for the showdown: there's that smug bastard Euron Greyjoy (but let's call him Urine, 'cause he really p---es me off) on the deck of his ship, the Scorpions armed and ready to pluck Dany's dragon from the sky, just like they did so easily last week.
Jon is here with his northern army, Grey Worm is commanding the Unsullied, Jaime is trying to sneak into King's Landing to spirit his sister - and their unborn child - away to safety via the boat Tyrion has secretly arranged, and Arya and the Hound are on their way to their respective dates with destiny: Arya to kill Cersei, as she boldly claims, the Hound to settle things with his back-from-the-dead brother Ser Gregor Clegane (aka the Mountain) once and for all.
Briefly, all is calm as the armies face each other, and then Urine looks skywards and suddenly Drogon is dropping from on high. Urine orders the Scorpions to pivot but this time they're not fast enough and Dany and her dragon lay waste to the fleet in, oh, 30 seconds straight, which kind of makes a mockery of last week's scenes. Then it's on to the battlements, and the Scorpions there tilt downwards to track Drogon's flight, but just as they unleash their arrows he zooms upwards, then low again to lay waste to the artillery. Man, this is so easy.
Outside the castle wall, the dude in charge of the Golden Company is looking kind of smug as he surveys the ragtag ranks of the forces against him but then the wall behind him explodes and Drogon bursts through and now the Lannister army is in tatters. At this rate, it'll all be over before morning tea.
Drogon is making mincemeat - actually, it's more like shashlik, with all those Lannisters on the spit - of Cersei's army, but she's undeterred.
"All we need is one good shot," she tells Qyburn.
"The Scorpions have all been destroyed, Your Grace," he says. "The Iron Fleet is burning, the gates have been breached." I love how Qyburn always sounds like he's channelling Sir Humphrey on Yes, Prime Minister. Very brave, Your Grace.
Cersei is firm - let's face it, deluded - in her belief that her people will fight to the end for their queen, but out in the streets a terrified squad of Lannister soldiers throw their swords to the ground when they spot Jon and crew on one side and Drogon up above.
And then the bells ring out, sounding the surrender. Cersei in her Red Keep and Dany atop her dragon are frozen in time for a moment as they both contemplate what it means. King's Landing has fallen.
But it's not enough for Danyef Stalgaryin. She takes to the air again as terrified citizens run through the streets. She sets fire to all in her path, vengeance and fury the only things on her mind, and then Grey Worm and his soldiers take this as their cue and start hacking into the unarmed Lannister troops, and Jon is horrified and tries to stop it but the Lannisters are re-armed and upon him and he's hacking away and so is everyone else.
The war is won but it's raining fire all the same. Women and children are slaughtered. Any sense of moral superiority is gone. When Jon comes upon one of his own soldiers attempting to rape a woman in a back street, he kills him and tells her to find somewhere safe to hide. Good luck with that.
Down below the city, Jaime has found his way to the boat, but so has Euron.
A small point of order here: How is it that people can be dunked in deep water in GoT dressed in leather and armour, and weighed down by swords, only to casually stroll ashore moments later with a smirk on their faces and murder in their hearts? Hmm.
And back to the action. Euron and Jaime duel, and Euron gets a couple of stabs into Jaime, and lands the biggest blow of all when he tells him, "I f---ed your sister".
Jaime could say, "Me too", but instead he just runs Euron through with his sword. It's a killer blow but Urine still has that annoying smirk on his face. "I got him," he says as Jaime staggers away. "I'm the man who killed Jaime Lannister." Apparently he didn't get any scene pages beyond this point.
Inside what remains of the Red Keep, the Hound is trying to convince Arya to get the hell out while she still can. "Come with me," he says, "or you die here".
"Sandor," she says, thus becoming quite possibly the first person other than his mother to ever address him by his given name. "Thank you."
He wanders off as the dragon roars overhead and the keep begins to crumble. He's heading up the staircase as Cersei, Qyburn, and the Mountain are coming down. "Hello big brother."
The undead giant seems to recognise him, and starts to head towards him. "Ser Gregor, stay by my side," urges Cersei. He turns his terrifying red eyes upon her but continues down the stairs.
"Obey your queen," barks Qyburn and that's the last we'll be hearing from him; the Mountain picks him up by the throat and throws him to his death.
Cersei scurries past and then it's just the Clegane brothers trading sword blows until the Mountain's helmet comes off to reveal a monstrous head, deformed by Qyburn's necromancy. "Yeah, that's you," says the Hound. "It's always been you."
The Hound stabs the Mountain repeatedly, but it makes no difference, because you can't really kill something that's already dead, can you? Finally they crash through a crumbling wall and plummet a long, long way into flames, which surely is the end for both of them, unless it isn't. I mean, Beric and Tormund plummeted from The Wall at the end of last season and then didn't even bother to mention it as they strode into the beginning of this one, so who knows.
The biggest "who knows" of all, though, belongs to Jaime and Cersei, who finally find each other in that courtyard with the map of Westeros - of which Cersei once said it could all be theirs, they just had to take it (I think she meant Westeros, not the map, in case you're wondering) - and scurry down into the cellars, through which Jaime hopes to lead her to the waiting boat.
But the passage is blocked and all around them stones and bricks are tumbling down. Cersei is in tears. "I want our baby to live," she tells her brother-lover. "Please don't let me die. I don't want to die. Not like this."
"Look me in the eyes," Jaime says, holding her face between his hands. "Nothing else matters. Only us."
It's an echo of the words he spoke to her in The Red Woman, the first episode of season six.
"F--- prophecy, f--- fate, f--- everyone who isn't us," he said to her back then. "We're the only ones who matter, the only ones in this world. Everything they've taken back from us we're going to take back, and more. We're going to take everything there is."
They haven't, though, have they. Instead, barring the unlikeliest of miracles, it's they who are f-ed this time.
Above ground, Arya appears to be the only person left alive in King's Landing. All around her is death. A small girl she was trying to save lies beside her, a burnt husk. Ashes fall all around. It's like Hiroshima and it's horrendous.
But Arya's not quite alone. Bizarrely, a lone white horse appears, riderless, as dazed and confused as she is.
Arya climbs aboard and rides away - into the tattered remains of Daenerys Targaryen's promise of a better world.
Who we lost in the battle for King's Landing
You can never be sure if what looks like a death is really a death in Game of Thrones, unless there's a beheading involved. But from what we see in this episode, you'd have to conclude we're saying goodbye to the following:
Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
The brothers plummeted from a great height as the Red Keep collapsed, and fell into flames - precisely the sort of death The Hound had always feared.
Cersei's Hand and resident necromancer was tossed against a stone wall by Ser Gregor Clegane, whom he had once brought back from the dead through his dark arts.
Incinerated by Drogon on Dany's order for his perceived treason in daring to suggest Jon was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, just a week after revealing himself to be the true moral centre of the story.
Having delivered what ought to have been two killer blows to Jaime, Euron succumbed to a sword through the midriff and was left to die in a cave beneath King's Landing. With a smirk on his face, of course.
Cersei and Jaime Lannister
It's hard to imagine how they could possibly survive the collapse of the vaulted ceilings above them, but stranger things have happened in Game of Thrones so I'm keeping my mind ever so slightly open. But if that really was their end, at least they went together, Cersei showing she is human after all, and Jaime staying true to his one great love - his sister.
- SMH/The Age