The aftermath of the Battle of Winterfell demonstrated how history is spun, says Lili Loofbourow. "We’re seeing how the way things get packaged conflicts with what we actually saw happen," says Loofbourow. "According to the former, Jon is a winner. Per the latter, he didn’t really have a plan and wasn’t much help. But the story is going to get told a certain way regardless, and 'The Last of the Starks' was a fascinating lesson in how Westerosi official histories come about. No character could see much of what happened on that battlefield. That’s what those impossibly dark scenes were supposed to communicate. The stories that filtered out about the battle are partly spin, and Daenerys understands, better than most, how legends start and circulate." Loofbourow says showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were as much as Jon Snow's hype man as Tormund in Sunday's episode. "It finally used most of its significant speakers to come out and say what has long been implied: Jon would be a better ruler than Dany," she says. Loofbourow adds: "Dany can’t win. I say that as someone who doesn’t even particularly want her to and fully acknowledges her past cruelty. (I’d vote for Brienne, not that anyone’s asking.) But Dany has had to build her case because no one was going to recognize her humility. That’s not how it works (and the fact that no one knows she saved Jon on the battlefield is proof of that, if any were needed). She had to choreograph the spectacle of her own power because she’s a woman and no one would do it for her. Jon’s (sometimes literal!) unconsciousness codes him as innocent and honest by comparison: He’s appealing because he never intended to elevate himself. He’s been mostly reactivity and desperation. The fact that Daenerys deliberately produced the effects she did—and used them to persuade and inspire people to follow her—is cited now as proof of a hunger for power that’s disqualifying. Other people can believe in you, but you shouldn’t believe in yourself. Nor will Dany’s stagecraft save her this time, not in the grip of writers who are not on her side (and say, for example, that she just 'forgot' about the Iron Fleet to which she’d already lost thousands of men). This episode taught Daenerys something important about how Westerosi audiences will receive not just her support but her story."
Game of Thrones seems to be warping Daenerys’ character to engineer and prepare the audience for a certain outcome: "For starters, it’s the weakest form of storytelling to try to justify a reversal in plot/sympathy/behavior with 'She’s kraaaaaaaaazy now!'" says James Poniewozik. "It’s a subcategory of the sin, which GoT commits more and more often now, of changing the character to serve the plot rather than vice versa." He adds: "And that forced conversation between Tyrion and Varys--Jesus that was awful--seems transparently like the producers speaking to the audience, like: 'Just so you know, it’s not just because Jon’s a dude! Joffrey was a dude! Jon just happens to be the most qualified!' It’s the hackiest thing to map GoT onto our politics, I hate myself for doing it, but the writers are all but literally doing it for us by anticipating audience reaction: 'We know this looks problematic! We really would support a woman! Just not this woman! (Or the one before!)'"
Game of Thrones seems to be suggesting that leadership is a matter of fandom: "Game of Thrones’ eighth season airs into a fraught moment in America," says Megan Garber. "The show might not have been intending, with its latest twist, to wade into the choppy waters of the electability debate, but here it is, nonetheless, navigating the currents. The show, now, is asking questions about what people finally want in their leaders—and how those desires might be constrained by tradition, and assumption, and failures of imagination. Jon may not be a particularly astute military leader. He may not be a terribly astute leader in general. He may be alive at the moment only because he has been saved from certain death multiple times, often by women. And he may have already bent the knee to Daenerys. Those are all things, the show is now suggesting, that will be weighed against another, perhaps overarching fact: He’s so charismatic! He’s so inspiring! He is precisely the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with! (Or at the very least, some Dornish wine!)"
Game of Thrones has an air power problem: "Euron's dragon-busting firepower more convincingly resembles that achieved by modern air defense missiles, such as the Aegis air defense systems on modern U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers"
VFX supervisor Stefen Fangmeier explains the logistics of the fatal shot on Sunday's episode: "Obviously, it was meant to be a surprise. I did have my misgivings about necessarily how it could be an element of surprise if she’s up there on her dragon, and then out of nowhere comes this fleet of ships,” he said. “So how I actually tried to help that is I created this land mass that has a gap that was as narrow as possible to kind of have (the fleet) be revealed behind that. Of course, we never did an overhead shot to show that area.”
A closer look at Euron Greyjoy's big, big gun: "Like most things in Game of Thrones that aren’t dragons, the scorpion is based on an actual weapon, one that would have been easy and natural for members of pre-modern societies to grasp"
Tyrion Lannister hasn't lost an iota of his intelligence or competence: "Tyrion, in both the book series and the show, is brilliant in many ways," says Amanda Marcotte. "He's well-read and witty, observant and calculating. But his particular skill set is and always has been oriented more toward the art of ruling than toward conquest and war. Tyrion is, in other words, that most un-ballyhooed of people in a genre that tends to be more focused on the glories of warriors and kings: The really excellent bureaucrat."