And that’s it. After eight seasons of beheadings, burnings, and brutal massacres, Game of Thrones – arguably the biggest TV show of all time – has finally come to an end. But is the much-hyped ending worthy of such an iconic series?
Pretty much! The Iron Throne is not a mindblowing series finale, but it’s also not a complete disaster (see Lost, House of Cards, and How I Met Your Mother). It ties off a lot of loose ends and taps into the narrative’s emotional core: The Starks. As the family that started it all, watching them all head off in different directions is both bittersweet and satisfying. Their stories are not over, but there’s a hopeful sentiment to it all that leaves the show in a positive place.
It’s mind-boggling to me that Jon, Sansa, Arya and Bran all made it until the end. We haven’t lost a Stark who mattered (think Robb not Rickon) in a long time, so I was sure at least one of the four would be savagely murdered by the time the series finale came along. But alas they each get a promising ending: Arya heads off to discover uncharted worlds (with the Stark banner flying high above), Sansa becomes Queen of the North in a truly blood-pumping moment, and Jon leads the Wildlings back into their White Walker-free land. Oh, and then there’s Bran…
On one hand, Bran assuming the Iron Throne works because it’s a twist that comes completely out of left field. I never would have imagined that he was even an option so at least I was taken by surprise. On the other hand, we’re just not invested in his character because the show never bothered to develop him. If his becoming King was always the plan, why didn’t the writers give him more screen-time? Or you know… actual dialogue. It’s just puzzling.
Speaking of screen-time, it’s interesting to note how much attention Tyrion gets in the finale. He was such an integral part of the show for so long, but Game of Thrones has sidelined him over the course of the past few seasons. Peter Dinklage is predictably fantastic here, grounding the show and injecting a whole lot of reason into the chaos as he tries to help Westeros find a new ruler.
And now the controversial stuff. I have no doubt that Daenerys’ trajectory is one that will be debated for many years to come. Unfortunately, the writers did not earn her psychotic break in the show’s penultimate episode. I will always believe that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss shot themselves in the foot by requesting two shortened seasons to end the series when HBO would have gladly given them many more to bring the show to a slower and more logically-paced conclusion. I get what they were going for with Daenerys getting corrupted by power, but it works in theory not execution. The past two seasons have simply been far too rushed for her transformation to make sense. Nevertheless, Emilia Clarke made it work by imbuing the Mother of Dragons with as much complexity as she could despite the flawed writing.
Dany’s demise is also far too quick. It’s just disappointing to see her murdered so easily by Jon – the most boring hero of all time. There’s no room for the emotion to land, probably because the show never invested the proper amount of time into making Dany and Jon a believable couple in the first place (incest notwithstanding). The bright spot? Drogon’s epic reaction. Watching the poor dragon weep over his mother’s body is surprisingly heartbreaking, and that’s a real feat considering he’s a CGI creation. The creature’s subsequent decision to destroy the Iron Throne (instead of Jon) is also a very powerful moment. After all, the throne symbolizes the power that corrupted his mother (as well as the whole of Westeros), and its destruction makes for an unforgettable visual.
Lastly, it’s a pity we didn’t get answers to so many questions. Off the top of my head:
- What was the point of making Jon a Targaryen? It all amounted to nothing in the end; at least have Drogon try to barbecue him so his heritage can protect him and amount to something.
- What about The Night King? Were the White Walkers really that easy to defeat all the way back in episode three? So anticlimactic.
- Where did Melisandre go to before coming back for the big battle?
- What was the point of the Lord of Light?
- What ever happened to Daario?
- What was the point of Gendry being Robert Baratheon’s son?
- Who was The Prince who was Promised? Was that Arya?
- Why did Arya’s role completely diminish after taking out The Night King?
- If Bran could see the future, why didn’t he help our gang of heroes avoid all the chaos and destruction? His powers were never properly defined.
Bits & Beheadings
- In last week’s episode, Arya left King’s Landing on a white horse. Why is she back in the city at the beginning of this episode? Did she just ride down the street and ditch her ride? Evidently I’m giving this more thought than the writers did.
- Probably one of the single most beautiful shots this show has ever produced: Drogon’s wings flapping behind Daenerys. It seriously brings Olenna’s “be a dragon” line to life.
- Drogon rising out of the snow makes for a really nifty visual.
- Dany walking into the throne room is basically her vision from the season 2 finale brought to life. I guess it’s snow not ash.
- I would have liked a bigger death for Dany. Funnily enough, Cersei also went out with a whimper not a bang. That’s two queens with uneventful deaths.
- Such a haunting sight to see Drogon fly off into the night carrying Dany in his talons.
- Tyrion mentions pissing off the edge of the world. Remember that?
- A few weeks ago, the GOT production crew forgot a coffee cup in frame. This week, it’s a plastic water bottle behind Sam’s leg. Have they really gotten that lazy?
- LOL moment: Sansa’s hilarious “please sit” to her uncle Tully when he tries to offer himself up as King.
- Sam proposes democracy and everyone laughs hysterically. Yup, sounds about right.
- Yes that’s none other than Robin Arryn. Remember Lisa Arryn’s son who kept breastfeeding for an unhealthy amount of time? He’s all grown up.
- Joffrey callback! Did you catch it?
- The book that Brienne fills in is The White Book from Oathkeeper. Although Jaime left her for Cersei, Brienne still honors his legacy by listing all his accomplishments and even mentioning that he died protecting his queen. Talk about mature!
- So why does Tyrion obsessively rearrange those chairs? It’s a nod to a gem of a scene from the season 3 episode Walk of Punishment.
- “A Song of Ice and Fire” is actually the name of the Game of Thrones book series. It’s a nice tribute to the show. Not so nice that Tyrion isn’t mentioned.
- Sam tells Bran that Drogon was seen flying east, and Bran leaves with Podrick (who is now a knight) to search for him. Fly Dragon fly!
- The small council now consists of Bronn (Master of Coin), Brienne (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard), Davos (Master of Ships), and Sam (Grand Maester). It’s actually perfect because each of their posts fits their speciality.
- The joke that Tyrion starts saying at the end is the same one that he’s never finished.
- Davos corrects Bronn’s English, much like Stannis and Shireen used to do with him.
- Did anyone else feel like the episode would end with that slow pan away from the council bickering over the brothel?
- Grey Worm leads the Unsullied To Nath, Missandei’s homeland. She had mentioned that they are a peaceful people who can’t defend themselves. It’s a fitting end to his journey.
- How impressive is the editing that weaves together Jon, Sansa and Arya getting ready and going off their separate ways. What a sequence!
- The most satisfying moment: Jon finally getting his reunion with Ghost. Guess they could finally afford it!
- How did Ghost lose his ear? I don’t think I even want to know.
- Notice the greenery at the end? Winter is finally over people and Spring is coming.
- Game of Thrones began with the Night’s Watch leaving Castle Black and ends with the same. That’s some really nice symmetry.
- If nothing else, we can always be thankful for Ramin Djawadi and his incredible musical score. Seriously every single piece he composed for the show is a masterpiece.
Kings & Quips
Tyrion: When she murdered the slavers of Astapor, I’m sure no one but the slavers complained. After all, they were evil men. When she crucified hundreds of Meereenese nobles, who could argue? They were evil men. The Dothraki khals she burned alive? They would have done worse to her. Everywhere she goes, evil men die and we cheer her for it. And she grows more powerful and more sure that she is good and right.
Tyrion: (to Jon) I know you love her. I love her too. Not as successfully as you.
Sam: Maybe the decision about what’s best for everyone should be left to well, everyone.
Council member: Maybe we should give the dogs a vote as well.
Council member: I’ll ask my horse.
Tyrion: Will you lead the Seven Kingdoms to the best of your abilities from this day until your last day?
Bran: Why do you think I came all this way?
Bronn: The Master of Coin looks forward to helping the Master of Ships, but first he has to ensure we’re not wasting coin, or soon there won’t be no more coin.
Davos: “Any more.”.
Bronn: You Master of Grammar now too?
Bronn: Oh, speaking of builders, all the best brothels burned down. The Master of Coin is willing to fund reconstruction.
Sam: Uh the Archmaester is less than enthusiastic about the salutary effects of brothels.
Bronn: Well, I imagine he isn’t using them properly.
Brienne: I think we can all agree that ships take precedence over brothels. Bronn: I think that’s a very presumptuous statement.
It’s not particularly shocking or jaw-dropping, but the Game of Thrones series finale at least manages to bring the story to a close in a poignant manner. After such a messy and rushed season, that’s a miracle in itself. Farewell GOT, you lost a lot of goodwill in your last two seasons, but there’s no denying that when you were firing on all cylinders, no other show could compare.