[Warning: Game Of Thrones Ep. 6 Review contains spoilers!]
This is the last time I’ll be doing a review of Game of Thrones. It’s over.
The television drama adapted from George RR Martin’s expansive fantasy world has closed its doors on the stories of the Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens; though those stories will go on behind closed doors. It’s all up to our imaginations.
Game of Thrones has evolved into such a storyline where different perspectives clash regarding the arcs of characters, the choices they make and the direction of narratives. And the Game of Thrones fandom is now more divided than ever. It isn’t as simple as it was 8 seasons ago, when it was newbies vs book fans.
Over the years, viewers have taken various ‘teams’. Whether it was Team Sansa, Team Jon, Team Dany, Team Tyrion and so on. And based on the lone perspectives of the characters, they tend to be VERY divisive over how it would end. I wasn’t surprised when I went through my Twitter feed to catch reactions to the last episode. You can’t please everyone.
So signing a petition because one section of fans didn’t get the ending they wanted is downright stupid. You can’t blame the show because the writers didn’t meet an exact, right-down-to-the-letter set of expectations. However, you can’t also give them the benefit of doubt for the choices they made in taking the show forward, especially in the last season. There were a lot of questionable decisions about the writing that deserved criticism from the fans.
Was it the finale we wanted? Depends on your perspective. Was it the perfect ending? Depends on your perspective. In a mostly disappointing, underwhelming last season, the writers managed to pick up some of the broken pieces and carve out a bittersweet, yet ambiguous ending.
There will always be debate between the books vs show, despite the different direction the show took after Season 5. I myself belong to the former category, as I’ve read the books as well. After all, the character’s choices from the very beginning shaped their destinies.
Due to the high standards GoT has set for itself, this drastic drop of standards would understandably cause viewers to go bonkers on the show’s narrative choices. But despite Season 8 not being the ending we all wanted, for reasons I’ve stated above, it is in no way the disaster people perceive it as. Having said that, let’s go through the talking points of this episode.
Daenerys Targaryen’s inspiring story of liberating Westeros from its tyrannical Queen took a drastic, rushed turn when she went berserk and decided to burn all of King’s Landing. The show’s decision to turn her into the Mad Queen was alright, but I’ve already stated that the writing was too lazy and too rushed to turn her Mad. So obviously it wouldn’t sit well with us fans.
Tyrion takes one look at the dead corpses of his siblings, Jaime and Cersei, and finally realises that his old pal Varys was right. He betrayed his closest friend when he decided to talk some sense, for fear of betraying the Dragon Queen. After dramatically throwing his Hand’s bade down the steps, he is taken in for conspiring to commit treason when he freed his brother Jaime.
After Tyrion’s conversation with Jon and a few more “She is my Queen” quips from him, Jon comes to terms with what he must do if things went too far. Dany was on the verge of vying for world domination. After trying to talk some sense into Daenerys over their different opinions of the meaning of the word ‘liberation’, Jon stabs her in the gut, taking the whole weight of the world upon his shoulders.
It was a heartbreaking callback to Aemon Targaryen’s words all those years ago. “Love is the death of Duty.”
But as Tyrion pointed out, “Duty is the death of Love.” It rang true. Just like Jaime Lannister killed Aerys for the good of the realm, Jon killed his love, epitomizing his entire life as a test of whether he would do his duty or not, as he struck the dagger in his love’s heart and became the Queenslayer.
In a way, Jon was probably the one who believed the most in Dany’s philosophy of liberating the oppressed. But after seeing how it transformed Dany, he understood that he needed to do his duty for the good of the realm. The weight of responsibility tore Jon to shreds. It made sense from Jon’s point of view. It wasn’t the arc we wanted after a life of hardships, but it was one that made sense.
What followed, however, was my favourite part of the episode. Drogon proved to have more sense than his mother. He understood the need to kill his mother, and decided to melt down the very symbol that turned her Mad: The Iron Throne. All the battles fought, all the Kings killed, innocent civilians burnt to the ground, all for that metal chair. That symbol of grief, oppression and bloodshed had to be destroyed.
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It’s also fitting. After years of debating on who would sit on the Iron Throne, we finally got our answer. No one. No, not Arya Stark, literally no one.
Scooping up his dead mother’s body, Drogon flies away, his fate uncertain.
Now that the deed was done, all that was left was picking up the pieces. With the remaining Lords and Ladies of the Great Houses watching as Tyrion is brought by Grey Worm to stand before them, as they try to decide the new King/Queen of Westeros.
There was a hint of comedy when Sansa asked Edmure Tully to sit down when he tried to make a claim to the throne. Or wherever the King/Queen sits now. But the best part of this exchange was when Sam Tarly was laughed back into his seat at the suggestion of a democratic government, where the people would choose their ruler.
At this point, Tyrion nominates, wait for it, Bran ‘the Broken’ Stark to be King. “What unites people?” Tyrion asks. “Stories.”
This is where the argument of Bran becoming king because of his life story becomes hard to defend yet sensible at the same time. With enough inspirational words about triumph in the face of adversity, the same could be applied to even Samwell Tarly due to the ordeals he faced.
But it does also make sense. And this is where Game of Thrones was lacking this season. The execution to provide a clear-cut road, one where fans would appreciate the journey as well as the end. Bran’s story isn’t just a story of overcoming adversity. It’s more like a Story-ception. The journey of a man who has literally the entire human history in his (Sherlock fans, please stand up) mind palace.
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He’s the living embodiment of the land of Westeros and the stories that made it great. Bran was the ideal choice because he represented the history of the land, and could represent those stories, as well as avoid mistakes made in the past that caused so much bloodshed and death.
The Lords and Ladies of the Great Houses would now have the power to choose their next ruler, instead of handing the crown to the child of the current ruler, and avoid a Joffrey-esque situation. Daenerys’ vision, to break that wheel, was realized. The North would go back to being an independant Kingdom, with Sansa crowned Queen in the North, bringing her character arc full circle.
From this point on is where I truly appreciate the ending of the show. “The world will always need a home for bastards and broken men,” Tyrion says to Jon when he is informed of the decision to send him back to the Night’s Watch. Again, won’t sit well with most of you, but hear me out. With Grey Worm demanding justice for his Queen’s death and the Starks demanding his release, the Houses eventually reached a compromise.
Jon had done his duty, and considered himself a traitor in doing so. Tyrion and Jon may never meet again, as Jon makes his way beyond the Wall, with Tormund and the Wildlings, with his faithful direwolf Ghost. Perhaps he thinks that there was no longer a place for him in Westeros, and he carries on with his duty, at the same time, trying to make a new life for himself.
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Tyrion serves as Bran the Broken’s Hand. As Samwell Tarly shows him the manuscript of the new book depicting the battles after Robert’s Rebellion, Tyrion finds out there is no mention of him anywhere. Which is good in a way. His deeds, his choices, his life up to that point wouldn’t even be a part of recorded history. He could start with a clean slate, and write his own story.
Brienne, the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, sees it fit to finish Jaime’s story, and write it as it should be written. A brave warrior who in the end, died protecting his Queen. A tragic but fitting end.
Perhaps the Unsullied’s storyline deserved more than just a tame end, where they willingly gave up King’s Landing after their Queen’s death. But Grey Worm’s decision to travel to Naath was a nice touch.
Sam, Bronn, Davos, and Brienne join Tyrion on the Small Council as they try to envision a better world than the one they lived in. Arya decides to travel past the maps, and explore new areas, finally able to live her life, without duties, without kill lists.
This is not the end. Game of Thrones hasn’t really ended after all. Instead of being a callback to the events that transpired and led us to this point, it simply looks to the future, where the journeys of the remaining characters are uncertain — unshackled by the narrative, free to make their own choices as the people they grew up to become after long, grueling 8 seasons.
In an ending where people expected the showrunners to portray the worst of humanity, it ends on a surprisingly positive note. With the strange direction the show took with Season 8, I’d say this was a way of picking up the pieces and giving us an ending we would live with (eventually).
And so we say goodbye to this crazy, incredible, awe-inspiring show that became an instant cultural phenomenon back in 2011. Good or bad, this is the end of an era (of sorts). I doubt there ever will be a show that captivates worldwide audiences week-in, week-out and have such an impact on our daily lives.
Say what you will about the last season, Game of Thrones will go down as one of the finest shows in TV history.
Episode Rating: 3/5
Season Rating: 2.5/5
Show Rating: 4.5/5