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It’s the season finale of Game of Thrones, and all we care about is whether Jon and Dany have sex

What White Walkers?

It’s the season finale of Game of Thrones, and we all have a lot of questions. Will Jon Snow have sex with Daenerys Targaryen? Will Dany and Jon bang? Will ice and fire finally meet (sexually)? Literally are they going to have sex or not for God’s sake who cares about the army of the dead this is all I care about somebody help me!

After last week’s idiot-fest, we open at King’s Landing, where Dany has sent her Unsullied, Dothraki, King Int’ North, and the rest of her loving advisors to meet with Cersei. Jaime and Bronn watch them arrive from the battlements and chat about their dicks, because the more things change, the more they stay the same

With so many of our favourite characters in one place, we get lots of fun snatches of conversation between old friends: Tyrion, Podrick and Bronn chat some more about dicks, Brienne and the Hound smile fondly at the memories of Arya’s unquenchable thirst for murder.

The meeting takes place in a bizarre former dragon prison for ultimate theatrics, because Cersei lives for drama. Dany arrives very late, swooping in on the back of a dragon, because she, too, absolutely lives for drama. And if that wasn’t melodramatic enough: now it’s time for the ceremonial releasing of the zombie into the midst of the pit. As the Hound hacks it to pieces, Jon strides forward to burn it to pieces.

Everyone is extremely shocked: Euron Greyjoy immediately runs away to the Iron Islands, Qyburn gets an enormous erection, Jaime does his trademark sad surprised eyes. Cersei simply uses the situation to her advantage: yep, I’ll agree to a truce, you kill the evil animated corpses, sure, sure: as long as Jon Snow bends the knee to me. Jon, like Harry Potter and every other boring, irritatingly noble fantasy protagonist before him, refuses to, you know, pretend to go along with it in order to secure the continuation of the human race because *whiny voice* words mean things. Read a book, Jon. Cersei is all like, cool, can’t help ya then, and exits the stage.

Tyrion goes after her, and we get the first proper scene between him and his sister since  Season 4. They argue viciously, but when challenged by Tyrion, Cersei fails to murder him: with all her emphasis on family, she seems unable to bring herself to actually kill immediate blood relatives. She reveals her pregnancy, and she seems to begin to agree with her brother.

Meanwhile, Jon and Dany are chatting about honour and dragons and war or something but I can’t hear them over my constant screaming chant of KISS, KISS, KISS!

Cersei sweeps back into the amphitheater dragon pit (what did I tell you about drama, bitches!) and suddenly seems to care about the war against the White Walkers, promising to pledge all her resources to fight the army of the dead. “We’ll face it together,” she says, emotionlessly. Everyone is, understandably, pretty damn shocked.

The door has barely shut on Cersei’s visiting guests before she reveals to Jaime that she has absolutely no intention of fighting the dead, that Euron Grejoy was only pretending to retreat and that she sees Jaime as guilty of treason for insisting he go and fight the White Walkers. Like with Tyrion, when challenged by Jaime, Cersei fails to murder him. Jaime rides off into the snow to honour his pledge to Jon and Dany. The ragtag bag o’ misfits gains another unlikely member!!! Truly, this is The Breakfast Club meets Dungeons and Dragons.

Team Dany reconvene at Dragonstone (yes, Game of Thrones is absolutely done with temporal consistency, people can travel the entire globe 12 times over by foot in the same amount of time it takes Cersei’s hair to grow less than an inch), where Jon bends over backwards to insist that, despite the risk to her personal safety, it is absolutely imperative that Daenerys travel to the North with him on a snuggly little boat. Cute! This is because its important for people to “see us as allies”. Hold my hand, Dany, so people will see us as allies! Come sleep in my bed Dany, so people will see us as allies! Wear this golden ring I bought you, Dany, so people will see us as allies!

We are so close to a sex scene I can almost smell it. But, as we all know, the one thing that could halt the Dany/Jon boning is if they find out that they are, in fact, aunt and nephew before they have done the deed. Disaster seems to strike, then, when back at Winterfell, Westeros’s very own Gossip Girl Brandon Stark insists that as soon as Jon return, he must reveal to him his true parentage, and starts blabbing about it to Sam. The suspense is killing me. But just as it seems that the Game of Bones is all over, we cut back to the boat, where a horny Jon is knocking on the bedroom door of his queen. She lets him in. They shut the door. I scream in frustration. We cut back to Jon’s bloody birth scene. Is that it? After all this build up?

NO! We cut back to Jon and Dany who are extremely naked and definitely doing something mildly approximating sex! Hooray! Jon Snow even reveals a truly excellent butt, which almost makes up for this very terrible missionary! Bran’s voiceover explains Jon’s royal lineage as we watch them bang, because you are guaranteed to make a sex scene between an aunt and a nephew less weird by getting the nephew’s younger brother/cousin to simultaneously chat the specifics of their blood and marital relation during the act. Truly I have never been more pleased by an average and also incestuous sex scene in my life, because I apparently have Stockholm Syndrome now.

In non-incest related plots: the terrible "Arya and Sansa hate each other" storyline continues. It’s been clunky, boring and out of character, but it finally seems to be reaching a climax. Littlefinger gives Sansa a long talk about the importance of always believing the worst of people (in order to encourage her to believe the worst of Arya). A look of slow comprehension blossoms on her face, and she orders her men to bring Arya before her throne. Surrounded by her army, and Littlefinger, Arya walks towards her seated sister. “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges... Lord Baelish.” 

It’s deliciously, ridiculously hammy. Add Sansa and Arya to the list of people living for drama. Littlefinger squirms. “My sister asked you a question,” Arya shoots at him, before Sansa humiliates him and Arya slits his throat. It’s a low-key exit for Littlefinger, who has been behind most of the biggest feuds in Westeros (the Lannister-Stark enmity, the death of Ned Stark, Joffrey’s murder, Sansa’s abuse at the hands of Ramsey), and we never really get to understand his long-term game plan. But it’s worth it to see Arya and Sansa on top of Winterfell together again, calling each other “strange and annoying” like normal sisters.

Meanwhile, Theon has a long talk with Jon about family and betrayal and his many personal failings, which spurs him into having a fight with an Iron Islander and leading his few remaining men to sail to Pyke to save Yara from Greyjoy (unbeknowst to him, they are actually sailing thousands of miles in the opposite direction).

But the White Walkers are still a thing. They finally approach the Wall at Eastwatch, where the Night King, atop his new blue-fire-breathing dragon, burns down the Wall like it’s made of, well, ice. Beric Dondarrion and our fire-haired angel Tormund are caught up in the blast: but we don’t see them die, and the army of the dead expresses little interest in surveying the wreckage. So it seems like we’ll have to wait till next season to know if they survive.

But now for the real question. Who WAS the baddest bitch of this week’s Game of Thrones?

Bad bitch points are awarded as follows:

  • Bronn, with a war on the horizon, still chatting happily about dicks. +7.
  • Podrick absolutely chilling amongst kings, queens and lords and sneaking off for a drink with Bronn. +9.
  • The Hound and Brienne laughing about the little girl who nearly defeated them both. +7 each.
  • The Hound striding up to his zombie brother and declaring him ugly. +18.
  • Jon Snow wearing a full on fur cape to the cooling but still mild climate of King’s Landing. +4.
  • Daenerys’ ridiculous late entrance on top of an enormous reptile. +11.
  • Cersei being the only person to not flinch when Drogon comes within ten feet of her. +9.
  • Cersei essentially directing a small performance art piece starring her, her brothers, The Mountain and Euron Greyjoy while everyone else worries about, you know, certain death. +11.
  • Cersei doing that thing musicians do where they pretend their set is over but return to the stage three minutes later to chants of “one more song”, only the stage is her dragon prison and the crowd is the entirety of humanity who wishes to survive the oncoming winter. +14
  • Jon making time to give Dany the eye amid truce negotiations. +6.
  • Jon managing to make “The hot queen should travel with me in my cosy boat” seem like a genuinely important political decision. +24.
  • Jon successfully boning Dany. +26
  • Dany successfully boning Jon. +11. (Come on, the uphill struggle is really Jon’s here).
  • Jon, purely for his butt. +21.
  • Sansa hiding her doubts about Littlefinger from absolutely everyone until the last possible second. +9.
  • Sansa’s theatrical “... Lord Baelish” switcheroo. +11.
  • Sansa’s emotionless face throughout Lord Baelish’s execution. +6.
  • Arya being a sassy little bitch at Baelish’s execution. +9.
  • Sansa calling Arya “strange and annoying”. +8.
  • Tormund, for his beard, and his potentially fatal stint at the wall. +29.

That means this week’s bad bitch is Jon! Yes, he may have failed to get Cersei on their side in the fight against death, he may have been tricked into believing she is on their side in the fight against death, he may have almost left his sisters alone to murder each other, he may have left the Wall almost defenseless, but most importantly, he succeeded in having sex with his aunt. Congrats, Jon, you really earned it.

Anna is hosting a Game of Thrones pub quiz on 12 September at The Book Club in Shoreditch, London - get your £3 ticket here

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's deputy culture editor.

Emma Moore as Ruth Ellis
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Rasping old cassettes bring new depth to a familiar true crime tale in BBC Four’s The Ruth Ellis Files

Plus, a BBC Two documentary about Brixton reggae producer Steve “Blacker Dread” Burnett-Martin.

I thought I knew the Ruth Ellis story inside out: when I was writing my book about women’s lives in the 1950s, her name came up so often – almost daily, it fell like a shadow over my desk – I finally had to give in and take a detour, reading everything about her that I could find, for all that she wasn’t part of my plan (if you’re interested too, and want a primer, I recommend A Fine Day for a Hanging by Carol Ann Lee). But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I didn’t really know anything at all, for I never once felt even half so haunted in the British Library as I did the other night in the moments after I finished watching Gillian Pachter’s three-part documentary series, The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime Story (13-15 March, 9pm).

It wasn’t that Pachter, an American filmmaker who specialises in true crime, had vast quantities of new information; the thrust of her investigation had to do with the part played by Ellis’s other lover, Desmond Cussen, in the murder of David Blakely, the crime for which she alone was hanged on the morning of 13 July, 1955, at Holloway Prison, north London. Pachter suggested, like others before her, that Cussen provided Ellis with the gun with which she shot her violent boyfriend, and that he should therefore have been tried as an accessory.

Nor were her long-winded films, so deeply in love with their own processes, without their irritations, from the tonally jarring film clips she insisted on using to illustrate situations for which she had no images, to her bizarre and utterly pointless desire to recreate the pathetic last bedsit of Ellis’s son, Andre Hornby, who committed suicide in 1982, aged 37. Faced with certain expert “witnesses”, among them a couple of retired coppers who couldn’t have been loving their moment in the sun more if they’d been slicked with Ambre Solaire, Pachter was never anything less than wide-eyed and credulous.

What she did have, though, were some rasping old cassettes, the complicated provenance of which would take far too long to describe here. And so it was that we heard the voices of Cussen and Ellis discussing Blakely; of Hornby gently interrogating Christmas Humphreys, the counsel for the prosecution at his mother’s trial, whom he tracked down in the months before his suicide; and even of Blakely, loudly toasting the company at a party. She made maximum use of these tapes, playing them repeatedly, and it wasn’t hard to see why; if the words sometimes meant relatively little (“he’s just a little drip… a cheapskate… a skunk…” Ellis said of Blakely, perhaps only telling Cussen what he wanted to hear), the voices nevertheless spoke volumes, whole worlds conjured up in their strangulated vowels, their urgent hesitations.

Here was Ellis, a working-class woman, speaking in a painful, put-on RP. Here was Hornby, his life utterly destroyed by his mother killing the man who was then the closest thing he had to a father, trying desperately hard not to sound mad (“she lived on the borderlines of insanity,” he said of Ellis, possibly unaware that it takes one to know one). And here was Blakely, so obliviously chipper, his voice all dry gin and privilege. Ellis’s story has always reeked of Raymond Chandler: the racing driver lover, his floppy-haired beauty destroyed by bullets; that blonde hair, which she determinedly bleached again in prison ahead of her trial. Hearing them, though, all that fell away. What messes and muddles people get into. What calamities hit them, head on, like meteorites.

After a ten-year absence, Molly Dineen has returned with a documentary about Steve “Blacker Dread” Burnett-Martin (12 March, 9pm), a Brixton reggae producer. Three years in the making, it included some remarkable events in the life of this local celebrity, among them his conviction for money laundering; Dread’s dreads, uncut since he was 14, now reach to his feet and deserve a film of their own. But though I admired its intimacy, the warm and effective way Dineen mined his universe, in the end there was something self-indulgent about it, too. Like Blacker’s barber, her editor was, alas, seemingly surplus to requirements. 

The Ruth Ellis Files (BBC Four)
Being Blacker (BBC Two)

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 13 March 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Putin’s spy game