Note: Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5.
Game of Thrones fans have had their issues with the final season, but we can’t help feeling there’s a problem that has largely gone unsaid.
Step forward Cersei Lannister. And look away, if you’re not fully up to date, as spoilers await.
Lena Headey has been one of the strongest performers on the show since the first season, if not the strongest.
However, one iconic line aside (“You want a whore, buy one; you want a Queen, earn her”), she’s barely been given anything to do in season eight except look menacingly down from the Red Keep.
And now she’s dead. Killed not by the valonqar, but by a ton of bricks that came down on her like a… like a… well, you get the idea.
If you think Daenerys has had it rough this season with some increasingly high-speed character development, then spare a thought for Cersei, who’s not even had the scenes to have any rapid character development.
She’s been disappointed by a lack of elephants, slept with Euron Greyjoy, lied to Euron about whose baby she’s carrying and ordered the execution of Missandei.
Cersei had a couple of scenes in the first episodes, was entirely absent throughout episodes two and three, popped up at the end of episode four for a line and some staring before making fleeting, largely dialogue-free, appearances throughout the penultimate episode up to her demise.
All told, you’re looking at fewer than 30 minutes of screen time in the final season for a character who was so pivotal throughout the first seven seasons. Indeed, with the Night King dispatched so swiftly, Cersei was the principal antagonist of the show. You’d have thought.
We get that there was a need for the third episode to be solely focused on the battle between the living and the dead. However, surely there could have been more King’s Landing scenes during the rest of the season.
Are we really to believe that Cersei was just sitting around, hanging out with Qyburn and The Mountain, doing nothing to prepare for whatever battle was to come, be it against the Night King or Dany?
It’s bad enough that Cersei didn’t just wipe out Dany’s tiny army at the end of episode four, but it appears that she had no plan at all. Yes, she was arrogant and complacent, and had Euron and his Iron Fleet and the Golden Company, but a cunning plotter like Cersei would have had a back-up plan.
She knew about the caches of wildfire all around King’s Landing, after all.
According to Headey, Cersei has started to “lose control of the situation” in season eight.
“She’s destroyed every good alliance, connection, love in her life—she was always destined to be alone. And until the very, very last minute, she is, as ever, in denial of what’s actually happening,” she told EW.
That’s all well and good, but we haven’t seen one iota of that this season. Even just a scene of her shutting down Qyburn as he tries to get her to plan for the worst would have been better than what we got, which was nothing.
And to cap it all off, Cersei’s final moments – barring a miraculous, Carrie-style comeback next week – reduced her to hoping that Jaime (AKA, a big strong man) could rescue her, and save their baby. She never needed him in that way before.
Maybe Cersei lost all hope when she didn’t get her elephants, but that disappointment doesn’t even compare to how the show let her down.