I thought I had it all figured out.
Daenarys’s ancestors built King’s Landing over three hundred years ago to unify the seven kingdoms. Now, Dany shows up and burns the city down before the seven kingdoms break apart and return to being seven kingdoms again.
And things were looking good for my pick. Daeanarys died, Drogon burned the throne, and the leaders of each of the “7 kingdoms” arrived in King’s Landing to decide what to do about it all.
Every thing was perfectly in place. Then, they chose Bran for the throne.
The Three-Eyed Raven rules the 7 kingdoms for no reason other than, well, who else were they going to choose?
When I thought about it more, I understand why Bran was the choice. That doesn’t make it a good choice, but I get why. And I will break down my reasoning later in the recap.
But I will also discuss all the flaws with that decision and everything that should have been done if that was the decision the producers intended to make.
Now as for the finale overall, I was happy with most of it. Sansa as Queen of the North was great. Tyrion had his best episode in two seasons (well other than picking Bran for the throne), and more characters had satisfying endings to their arcs than didn’t. Also, Jon reunited with Ghost, which I don’t really know if he deserves.
But did Game of Thrones stick the finale? The obvious answer to that question is no. That doesn’t mean the series will go the way of Lost, a show we’ve largely disregard now thanks to its bad ending (this ending was better than that). But since they didn’t stick the landing, only time will determine if the ending ages better than it appeared in real time.
Now for the sentimental part: my last GOT recap. I’ve been recapping this show since Season 4, and now I type my thoughts on the final episode of the series. And we’ll start with everyone coming to grips with the ashes and burned bodies in King’s Landing.
“I’m Going Alone”
A loud season 8 gave way to silence in the finale’s opening stanza.
Tyrion, Jon, and Davos walk around taking in the death and destruction left behind by the Mother of Dragons. Tyrion eyes the Red Keep. He wants to check on his sister.
When he gets there, Tyrion notices the blocked passageway. He sees a gold hand sticking up out the rubble. As he pulls debris from the pile, he sees the dead bodies of his brother and sister and weeps.
“Kill All Who Follow Cersei Lannister.”
As they are assessing, Jon and Davos see Grey Worm and the Unsullied ready to execute Lannister troops. Jon tries to stop them, but they are under orders from the queen to kill anybody who fought for Cersei. The execution continues as Jon and Davos move closer to the Mother of Dragons.
“Will you Break the Wheel With Me?”
A Targaryen banner already hangs from what’s left of the Red Keep (got that printed quickly. must’ve had same day delivery).
Dany addresses a large number of Dothraki and Unsullied. Now, I thought these troop numbers were greatly decimated by the fight with the Night King? Guess not.
Daenarys praises her forces, both Dothraki and Unsullied, for fighting to take King’s Landing and “freeing people from tyranny (Irony!!!).”
But she’s not done “freeing” people yet. Daenarys means to travel the whole of the 7 kingdoms and her soldiers are ready to join her and “break the wheel.”
“And You Slaughtered a City.”
Finally, Tyrion has had enough. The last two seasons he’s spent telling Daenarys she didn’t need to be queen of the ashes. And here she stands, ruling over King’s Landing, the Ash City.
“You’ve freed your brother, you committed treason,” says Daenarys.
“And you slaughtered a city,” says Tyrion, who sharp tongue returned for the finale after a two season hiatus.
Tyrion throws away the Hand’s pin he wears in defiance to his now former queen and is taken into custody for his troubles.
“It’s a Terrible Thing I’m Asking. It’s the Right Thing.”
Now that Tyrion has taken his stand, the scene shifts to Jon and how he will respond.
His first conversation is with Arya. Jon is surprised to find her there (and as it turns out, it’s debatable whether she actually needed to be there, but more on that later). Arya is the first to try and persuade Jon to move against his Queen.
Jon later goes into to address Tyrion in prison in what is a philosophical conversation that makes up for two seasons that have been greatly lacking in that kind of talk.
Love kills duty, but only when duty doesn’t kill love and back and forth the two men go.
But the most notable part of the conversation is when Tyrion points out all the horrible things Daenarys had already done. I mentioned last week how the Dany heel turn did not come out of nowhere. It’s just that most of the horrible things she’s done, she did to really horrible people.
“Everywhere she goes, evil men die, and we cheer her for it. And she grows more powerful believing she is right and good,” says Tyrion fulling accepting the role he’s played in creating the Mad Queen.
But Jon still insists, Dany is the queen now. That is until Tyrion asks about Jon’s sisters/cousins. Will they bend the knee, Tyrion asks? That is what is on Jon’s mind as he goes to talk with Daenarys.
“It’s Not Easy to See Something That’s Not Been Built Before.”
Daenarys sees her destiny standing in front of her. All that crumbled rock around the Red Keep didn’t take out the Iron Throne.
She stares at it, nothing standing between her and the throne, a look of satisfaction in her eyes as Jon stands behind her. It’s very symbolic that she never actually sat in the chair.
Dany backs up everything Tyrion said about her. She believes what she did was necessary. And that tyranny can only be defeated if everyone standing in her way is taken out. So Dany plans on ruling over a continent of ash, not just a city.
Jon tries to convince Dany to forgive those who’ve fought against her. That is what happens after most battles in Westeros end. But Dany came to break the wheel, and part of that wheel is the appeasing of enemies who hold bitterness against her.
Now, I don’t know what Jon’s original intentions here were when he came in. Was he going to kill Daenarys no matter what she said? Would he really have stuck by her had she said, “Yes, let’s forgive them?” “Ok, cool with me,” says Jon. Guess we can forget all these peasants you’ve burned.”
I guess the reason for it doesn’t matter now. After another embrace and a kiss, Jon stabs Daenarys and kills her.
Drogon, using his dragon sense, I guess, flies up after his mother dies. Now Drogon has three choices here: 1. Light Jon up 2. Take Jon as his new rider (Jon is a Targaryen after all) 3. Light up the Iron Throne.
Drogon takes up choice 3, which is really cool symbolism if you can get around the whole “How the hell does a dragon know to burn that thing up?” complication. Another example of that cool, unexplored dragon sense.
The Iron Throne is no more as Drogon flies off with Daenarys’s body. And now the leaders of the 7 kingdoms must clean up the mess.
“There’s Nothing in the World More Powerful Than a Good Story.”
Tyrion is escorted out of prison by Grey Worm. He’s greeted in the dragon pit by the most prominent nobles in the 7 kingdoms. Here’s a breakdown of who’s there:
- All living Starks
- Yara Greyjoy of the Iron Borne
- Gendry representing Storm’s End
- The very tall Robin Arryn (the kid who sucked his mom’s boob back in season 1) with Bronze Yohn from the Vale.
- Sam (for House Tarly, I guess)
- Edmure Tully (Catelyn Stark’s brother from the Riverlands)
- A random guy from Dorne
Everyone argues back and forth. Jon is sitting in prison, and both Grey Worm and Yara want him punished for killing their queen. Davos wants all the violence to end. Edmure wants to talk (to which Sansa says, “Hey Uncle, no one remembers you. Sit down and shut up!!!”), and Sam wants democracy (to which everyone there lets out a hardy chuckle).
Now, up to this point, I was cool with most everything that had happened. I figured we’d get to this point with no one of notable name to claim the throne. And the damn thing’s burned up anyway, so the sensible course would seem to be to let everyone rule themselves and be done with it.
Then Tyrion talks about a story, and how no one has a story like Bran. Yes, that’s right, Bran the Broken. Nothing about Bran’s journey says “He’ll be King one day,” but that’s where we are now, I guess.
Everyone votes to approve Bran has king. Everyone except Sansa, who moves to have the North succeed from Westeros. Bran, now the king of the six kingdoms, agrees, and we have our unsatisfactory answer to who would be king (can’t say Iron Throne anymore) at the end of the show.
“He’s Going to Spend the Rest of His Life Fixing Them.”
Everything else from this point forward is just tying up loose ends. Not all those loose ends were tied very tightly, but they were tied the way they were tied.
Grey Worm still wants justice for Jon killing Dany. So Bran sends Jon to the Night’s Watch. And the viewing audience said, “That’s still around.” I guess he’s going to build it back up?
He says his final goodbyes (well probably not, but at least it’s final for all of us) to Bran, Sansa, and Arya. And Arya reveals her plan to explore whatever is “West of Westeros.” The show cut all these scenes of Arya minoring in “exploration” with the Faceless Men, which is why this didn’t really make any sense for her.
Grey Worm, the Unsullied, and the Dothraki board ships. Grey Worm means to take the Unsullied to Naath, Missandei’s island home.
Now adorning the armor of the King’s Guard, Brienne opens the “Book of Brothers” and finishes the entry for Jamie before attending her first meeting with Tyrion and the rest of the King’s Council.
I think this group has the makings of a great spin-off sitcom. “With the king sitting in corners warging into animals, the men and women of the king’s council rule the seven, I mean six kingdoms. And hilarity ensues!!!”
Sam is Archmaeaster, Bronn is Master of Coin, Davos is Master of Ships, and Brienne is Lord Commander of the King’s Guard. Now, for all of the finale’s flaws, I don’t think this crew could have been composed any better.
Queen of the North
We end with the non-Bran Starks preparing for their final journeys on the show. Personally, I think way more time should have been given to Sansa here. She’s the queen of the North!!!!
But Arya is now boarding a ship, and Jon is heading North with the Wildlings, which sparked much confusion in the Merrick household.
So is Jon just taking them back, or is he going with them for good?
At least we did get this cool Ghost/Jon Snow reunion.
-The choice of Bran as King at the end seemed like a situation where the producers had wrote themselves into a corner. Dany is dead, Cersei is dead, Jon killed Dany, so the Unsullied will not leave Westeros alone until he’s given some form of justice, and Sansa wants the Northern throne, not the Iron Throne.
So if someone had to be king (can’t say sit the Iron Throne anymore because the damn thing was burned up), there really were no good choices. This is why I thought we were moving towards 7 independent kingdoms.
-I haven’t been one to complain about the length of these last two seasons hurting the final product. But the short length played a part in why Bran being king in the end was so disappointing.
Most of Bran’s journey was spent away from the Game of Thrones. Nowhere is it even mentioned that he’s even being considered by anybody for this should worse come to worse. Could there not have been a vision or at least discussion among nobles bringing up the possibility at some point?
Having two final seasons with a full ten episodes could have at least attempted to deliver on setting up Bran for the throne.
-So Jon being a Targaryen? What did that ultimately mean? Pretty much all the big reveal did was prove to be one more step in moving Dany to madness. Very poor use of that great reveal.
-I know there was speculation why Jon had to be punished at all. The war was over, Dany is dead, so why could Jon not just sit the throne when it was over?
Because of Grey Worm, that’s why. The Unsullied are still there. And the Dothraki would fight with them. Any peace in Westeros meant appeasing Grey Worm. So Jon being sent to rebuild the Night’s Watch was the bone thrown Grey Worm’s way.
-Did the notes Varys sent out have any purpose? Did he get any notes out or was the one he burned the only one he wrote? Maybe those notes are the reason everyone made it to King’s Landing so fast. Not that the show has needed a reason for everyone to travel at warp speed the last two seasons, but maybe that can substitute as a decent one.
-Arya was completely wasted in the finale.Was there not more for Arya to do than talk with Jon? I figured her being there would be because her faceless man skills could be of use. But all we get is one conversation and an “I’m going West” declaration from one of the show’s best characters.
-I did like the change Tyrion indicated that the King or Queen will no longer be based on lineage. When a king dies, the nobles of Westeros will come together to choose the next one.
-Brienne completed Jamie’s entry in what is known as “The Book of Brothers,” the official record of the deeds and accomplishments of the men who served in the King’s Guard.
-Speaking of books, Tyrion received an advanced copy of the completed “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Ironically, he was not in it.
-A couple of minor characters saw pleasing endings to their arcs: Bronn is Master of Coin and Lord of Highgarden and Pod is a member of the Kings Guard. You see, producers, that is believable because we’ve watched Brienne train him the last four seasons for such a position.
-I thought Dany’s turn last week was a classic Martin move, one I firmly believe will be in the books. I am not so certain about Bran becoming king being there.
The move reeked of “Well if we don’t put somebody on the throne in the end, it will be seen as a cop out. So let’s throw Bran up there.”
When the books are (finally) out and finished, we’ll see if my speculation is correct.
So ends a labor of love I’ve enjoyed for the last five years. My first project as a writer was typing these Game of Thrones recaps, and I want to thank the guys here at 4LN for bringing me on board and giving me the opportunity to do this.
And I thank everyone who took the time to read them, whether you read every week, read every once in awhile, or are just reading this entry, thank you.
Be civil in your discussions as Game of Thrones enters the annals of past shows whose merits (and flaws) will be debated for years to come.