They say that the hardest thing to write is an ending, and it’s true. After all you’ve done, you have to deliver an ending that is satisfying, fun (to the extent of the genre), and yet is true to the characters you’ve built. For five episodes now, many people have said that Game of Thrones Season 8 isn’t what they were hoping it would be. That it wasn’t “true” to what the first 7 seasons were. I personally enjoyed the first five episodes. With the lowest one getting a rating of 4/5 (that was episode 2 of the season). But as you’ll see in this Game Of Thrones series finale review, I see why many people feel like they do. Because this was a very unsatisfying episode.
…no, I’m serious, NOTHING will be left out here! I’m breaking down EVERYTHING that happened in this episode. So if you want NOTHING spoiled, look away now!
I’m going to put the spoiler tag in again just to make sure you see it in this Game Of Thrones series finale review!
Still here? Good, let’s get started.
As I noted in my review of “The Bells”, we all knew that bad things were coming for Dany. She had done an unspeakable thing by burning down most of King’s Landing. And Tyrion knew what she had become, Jon knew what she had become, Arya was furious, and so on and so forth. So “Iron Throne” was meant to be the capper on everything while also dealing with Dany.
And oh boy…did they love to TALK about what should happen to Dany. Don’t get me wrong. That battle speech she gave about “breaking the wheel” of the world? That was cool. Tyrion tossing away his “Hand Of The Queen” pin in front of everyone? And everyone going silent? That was cool. Everything that followed? Not so much.
I understood why Jon had to go talk to Tyrion, I do, and for the most part, it made sense that it would be these two that would “decide her fate.” One was her closest advisor, and the other was her family. But they went on and on about Dany and the buildup was just getting too much when we all knew that they were going to kill her!
Then, for Jon to basically just walk up to her (anyone notice there was a lot of scenes of just WALKING to place?), confirm that she was “evil,” and stab her while kissing her? That was wrong for me on many levels. In fact, I was waiting for the swerve that maybe Dany had stabbed him! But no. It was a simple stab…to the gut? It wasn’t the heart, you can tell by the position. And yet, she died quickly, without a single word to him.
To be clear, I predicted BEFORE the season started that Dany would die. But not like this. Never like this. Not this…simply, this inelegantly. It felt wrong to my core that Dany died like this. And I’m not saying that the death of Ned or Robb or Caitlyn, or Oberyn didn’t jar me. But that was jarring in the sense that you didn’t see it coming, and it was cruel that they died like that. But this? This just felt wrong from a story and character sense. Her dying at the Battle of Winterfell would’ve been so much better than this. Plus, via the last scene of episode 5, they made it seem like Arya would be the one to do the deed to fulfill her “Green Eyes killer” prophecy. But what did Arya do this episode? Nothing. Nothing but leave.
The only benefit of that death was Drogon going and nudging her (which many likened to the Simba/Mufasa scene from The Lion King, which I approve of), and then going postal and destroying the Iron Throne. Except…why would Drogon want to destroy the Iron Throne? Yes, it’s symbolic, and many fans correctly predicted that the throne would be destroyed. But for Drogon to do it like this? That felt weird. As did him not killing Jon when it was CLEAR that he killed Dany. And…that wasn’t the only thing wrong with Jon not getting a “punishment” immediately thereafter…
…because after the death (and Drogon taking Dany away…literally…), we jump ahead three weeks! And yeah, I know many will say “they did an Avengers Endgame!” but the difference here is that we FELT the impact of those five years in the movie by showing how everyone moved on. Here? Not so much, and in very obvious and plot point ways.
First and foremost, as my friend and fellow writer Gwenda Bond pointed out, there’s no reason to think that Grey Worm wouldn’t have killed Jon because of what he did. Dany was all Grey Worm had left in this world. And they even show him and Jon in an argument at the beginning of the episode over killing surrendered soldiers on the Queen’s orders. So Grey Worm NOW decides to play politics and not kill Jon? That makes no sense. In the state he was in, he would’ve killed first and asked questions later.
Or how about the Dothraki? He just killed their Khaleesi in cold blood! They don’t give a dang about politics! They fought and died for her, so how in the heck is Jon still alive? And just as important, who contacted all the Lords and Ladies to come to King’s Landing? Grey Worm? Not likely, so who, and why? There is no answer, and that’s the tragedy here.
Because what follows is Tyrion (also still alive…somehow…) making ANOTHER speech (that should get him another Emmy, but it felt out of place) trying to decide who should be the next ruler. Edmure Tully (who somehow got free from the Twins…) was shot down. Sam offered democracy…and got laughed out of the building, and then Tyrion suggests Bran…ok…
Of all the “wrong” things that happened this episode (and there are more to come in this review), this was one of the least offensive, but also the most puzzling. I LIKED Tyrion’s logic about Bran being perfect because he is the “memory” and the “story” of the past. And, I LIKED his notion that the future rulers of Westeros would be convened by a council (which sounds like Democracy…). But…Bran? And Bran not only accepted, he basically admitted that he KNEW all along that he would be king by saying, “Why do you think I traveled all this way?”
And that brings up multiple issues. Bran said earlier this season that he didn’t want to rule. And last season he said he COULDN’T rule because he was the Three-Eyed Raven. Which by the show’s own admission, means that he knows ALL the future holds…which is a cop-out. Because it means that he “knows’ what’s coming and will be the perfect ruler because he can see it all before it happens. Also, as other fans have noted, Bran seemed very “Bran-like” in terms of his talking and such in this episode. When last season he said, “I’m not Bran, not really. I remember what it was like to be Bran…” So which is it? Is he Bran with the Three-Eyed Raven’s powers? Or, is he the Three-Eyed Raven who happens to be in Bran’s body? They can’t seem to make up their mind.
Oh, and Tyrion becomes Hand to the King…again…as a “punishment” for his crimes…ok…
What’s that? What about Jon? Well, he got assigned to the Night’s Watch. Except there isn’t a Night’s Watch because the Wall is gone and the White Walkers are dead and the Wildlings are our friends, right? Wrong! It’s still around, and you can still exile people there…not that this is what happened to Jon. Because the moment he arrives at Castle Black, Tormund is there, and he leads Tormund and the Wildlings beyond the Wall one last time. Showing that he is “free”…even though he’s supposed to be exiled.
Granted, we FINALLY got the Jon/Ghost scene we deserve…but as Grey Worm noted, “It Isn’t Enough.” Plus (again, as fans noted only), not one episode ago everyone was like, “Jon is the rightful ruler! He should be on the throne!” and now, they’re like, “Let’s just forget about that”. I will admit that they tried to explain that with Tyrion saying that it would “start a war”…but would it really? It seems really convenient.
Which sadly applies to how “neat and tidy” the rest of the ending was for “Iron Throne.” Every name character (for the most part) got a happy ending if they lived. Bronn, Brienne, Sam, Davos (who I was happy about in regards to his ending) all became the new Small Council. Podrick got to become a knight. Grey Worm led the Unsullied to Naath (to honor his love Missandei). Arya got a ship to sail wherever is “West of Westeros.” Sansa got to become Queen of the North, fulfilling her goal to get the North separate from the “Seven Kingdoms.” Ghost got to be back with Jon, as did Tormund. And…life went on, and that’s the problem.
I honestly was yelling at my screen during the Small Council “meeting” because they were setting it up to be the end of the episode until they cut back to Jon.
The thing that makes Game of Thrones so much fun to watch for most of the seasons (every season had a dud storyline or such, but that’s just television) was that it subverted expectation. You were always on the edge of your seat wondering what would happen next. With this ending though, outside of Dany’s death (which was the wrong kind of subversion as I noted above), there was nothing “shocking” about it all. Last episode was INFINITELY shocking because of how things played out in the battle and beyond. But this? This was safe. Too safe. And I’m not the only one who thinks that.
The biggest problem though, was that this ending felt rushed in many areas, and drawn out in others. The buildup to Dany’s death was drawn out to oblivion. Yet everything after that was truncated to fit the “time.”
Don’t believe me? Then answer me this. How was King’s Landing looking so good after three weeks? Most everything in the Red Keep was destroyed, yet the Small Council room was fixed not long after. Who rebuilt it? It certainly wasn’t the people, or the Unsullied, or the Dothraki. Where are the Dothraki now? They didn’t go with Grey Worm, that wouldn’t fit their character. Drogon is “out there,” and Bran said he would “find him,” but are you going to tell me that Drogon wouldn’t come back? Why in the world did the others agree to give Bronn the Reach? That was a deal between him and Tyrion, not the rest. How would Sansa know that Bran couldn’t have children? And most importantly, given everything, EVERYTHING, that happened in the last eight seasons, are we really expected to believe that no one would rise up to try and challenge Bran for the crown? After all, he has no army. The North is the North now. The Unsullied and Dothraki are gone. Who is protecting the Kingdom?
This season was rushed, even people who loved these episodes (like myself save for the finale as you’ll see in my score) admit that. Two more episodes could’ve help flesh out Dany’s “dark side” and given more justification to Jon killing her (yes, her burning King’s Landing was justification enough but in terms of how he did it, not enough. Not for him). It would’ve given everything more time to breathe. Instead? We got an ending that was too much, not enough, and will be one of the most divisive endings of all time.
To be fair, there were moments that I loved in this episode. Tyrion lamenting the loss of his family. Certain characters getting a good ending (like Davos and Sam). That shot of Dany having “dragon wings” and a few more. But that’s all they were. Moments. It didn’t lead to compelling narratives most of the time.
Right now, there is a petition going on by angry fans who feel that Game of Thrones Season 8 was so bad that it deserves to be remade. To be clear, I don’t support this. It will never happen, and it’s honestly a bit petty. But, unlike many petitions of this nature, there are a LOT of people backing it. At the time of this review posting, over 1.1 million people have signed it. And because of this series finale? I would bet it gets close to 2 million, if not more. To put that in context, over 17 million people watched episode 5 of this season, breaking the previous GOT record. 2/17’s of a fanbase? That’s not a small number. I’m just saying.
I think the best way to sum up, “Iron Throne” is to say what most have said about this season. It’s divisive. I’ve seen basic fans who grew up on this show not love the final season. I know award-winning writers of both novels/comics AND television say that they hated this season, and I’ve seen many who have been content with it. As in all viewings, you need to decide for yourself where you stand.
For me? This reminds me of another series finale that I waited a long time for, and wasn’t satisfied by. “Iron Throne” didn’t deliver. And that makes me very sad.
Game Of Thrones Series Finale Review
The Game Of Thrones Series Finale was supposed to be a landmark, a true capper on all that happened. Instead, we got a disappointing death, lots of plot holes, and an ending that decided everyone should be “happy” instead of showing how dark and grim the world is by its own admission.