I watch Game of Thrones. There, I said it. I watch that dumb, awful show every single stupid Sunday night because I’ve invested so many hours of my life that—at this point—I can’t very well back out now. I generally watch the first few minutes focused on my meal (I don’t take my first bite until the credits have finished), and spend the remaining 45 minutes staring at the TV with a look on my face that is somewhere between profound repulsion and indifferent confusion.
But even though David Benioff and D.B. Weiss haven’t quite figured out how to create a story I find satisfying on a weekly basis, every once in a while—perhaps twice a season—an episode reminds me of why I’m there in the first place. The opening of Sunday night’s season finale was a rapturous 20 minutes of television—an unnerving ballet of characters gliding into place until, with a blinding flash of unnatural green, Cersei calls, “Checkmate.”