Given the smelly trash hearth that the episodes main as much as it have been, there was by no means any actual likelihood of Game of Thrones’ finale, Season 8 Episode 6, “The Iron Throne,” being something aside from a disappointment. But at the least they tried.
There’s a parallel universe someplace the place this actual episode was preceded by two full seasons of the exceptional storytelling that Game of Thrones was as soon as able to, and in that brighter timeline, the present went out on the suitable observe. It nonetheless would have been bittersweet, however it might have additionally felt earned, which this positively didn’t. Too many plot factors have been swept below the rug and too many endings got here from seemingly out of nowhere for this to really feel satisfying.
Unlike the nonsensical Dothraki cost in Episode three or Euron’s magic scorpion bolts in Episode 4, there was nothing significantly horrible within the Season 8 finale; we received some surprises (Bran the Broken), whereas different plotlines concluded precisely as they wanted to (Arya crusing West, and Brienne ending Jaime’s web page within the Kingsguard ebook). It simply all felt somewhat tawdry due to the trail we took to get right here.
Look at the place the present’s greatest characters ended, in broad strokes: Jon by no means totally embraced his secret identification, which was disappointing, however becoming; he’ll die a Stark, within the North, as he lived. (I stored ready all season for one thing to make me begin considering of him as Aegon Targaryen as an alternative of Jon Snow, but it surely by no means occurred, seemingly by design.) Dany wound up being her father’s daughter in any case, which is miserable, however not unrealistic. Some mixture of Bran, Sam, and Tyrion–the characters who’re purported to be smart–rewrote the foundations of Westerosi politics, reworking the realm from the hereditary monarchy it has been for hundreds of years into, basically, one thing resembling a consultant democracy. Sansa is Queen within the North, Arya leaves for her personal journey, and the Six-Plus-One Kingdoms are left in considerably succesful fingers.
Let’s discuss King Bran the Broken, First of His Name (and here’s a good joke about that very bizarre title). On paper, sure, he makes an excellent king. And it isn’t utterly incomprehensible that he winds up on the throne, because the present established that everybody simply type of accepts his Magic Powers of Knowing Everything as reality for some motive. As with the remainder of this, I feel there is a model of this ending that lands better–one that follows a narrative by which Bran wasn’t written out of a whole season and did not return to the present as a soulless, dead-eyed husk of a personality who did nothing for a number of years.
There’s an alternate theory for why Bran winds up on the throne that entails issues just like the Three-Eyed Raven’s true identification, each characters’ skin-changing/warging skills, and cryptic Bran statements about how he is probably not Bran anymore. But because the present by no means actually dedicated to any of that (severely, when was the final time Bran truly warged into something or anybody and did one thing helpful?), we’ve to only take what we received at face worth. Whatever.
Jon killing Daenerys positively falls below the umbrella of “things that were inevitable but that doesn’t make them any less sad.” This episode had some insanely lovely and efficient photographs, from Dany strolling out to handle her troopers with Drogon’s wings spreading behind her to the pivotal scene within the throne room, as much as and together with the dragon flying away together with his useless mom clutched in a single claw. Where did he go? Maybe Bran will discover him, possibly he will not. Like so many different issues in Game of Thrones’ neutered last season, that is inappropriate.
This is the factor: An ending could make sense with out feeling satisfying. The explanation why Game of Thrones’ finale felt disappointing have much less to do with the methods issues truly wound up, and extra with how we received right here. If Bran had truly been current as a personality and never only a doorstop for the previous couple of seasons, followers may need cheered on the thought of him ruling over Westeros. If Dany’s full-on murderous madness had been correctly constructed up to–as opposed to easily foreshadowed after which flipped on straight away, which sadly is not the identical thing–her dying may have been one of the crucial emotional tv scenes ever, slightly than one thing that felt prefer it merely wanted to be performed for the Story to proceed its breakneck freefall towards a Conclusion.
The moments that labored greatest in “The Iron Throne” have been those that have been correctly arrange way back, like Brienne ending Jaime’s web page within the White Book of the Kingsguard. It’s the proper of bittersweet: The Jaime that we received to know over these eight seasons (and 5 books) needed nothing greater than to depart a legacy that might stand alongside these of previous Kingsguard greats like Ser Arthur Dayne. And who knew that aspect of the Kingslayer higher than Brienne?
But therein lies the quintessential distinction between web page and display screen: If you solely watch the present, do you know that aspect of Jaime? In George R.R. Martin’s books, occasions play out from particular characters’ views. When we’re seeing the world via Jaime Lannister’s eyes, we’re additionally aware of his inside monologue, ideas, emotions, goals, hopes, and fears. When the present was nonetheless based mostly on the books, it felt similar–in early seasons we often understood why the characters did the issues they did. The present did an awesome job letting us get to know them.
In newer seasons, it is felt just like the present stored us at arm’s size, intentionally leaving issues offscreen–like Bran, Arya, and Sansa plotting towards Littlefinger, or Dany studying to experience and management Drogon–in order to construct up surprises and cinematic climaxes. Those moments usually labored, however additionally they left us questioning precisely how the items fell into place behind the scenes. Maybe showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss orchestrated that shift intentionally, or possibly they simply did not have the solutions and so selected to not even attempt to give you some. R’hllor is aware of George R.R. Martin has a tough sufficient time–the story’s complexity is usually cited as one of many causes the books take him so lengthy to write down.
The level is: The broad strokes of this ending could also be what the writer has in thoughts, and, if he ever manages to complete his personal story, this can be the ending that we in the end get. But the best way we get there’ll doubtless be characterised not by the dangerous style of a botched rush job, however by the cautious plotting, infinite element, and practical, advanced characters that the story truly started with.
Here’s a silver lining: Even in case you needed Jon on the throne in the long run, it’s important to admit that lastly seeing him pet his direwolf once more is a fair higher conclusion to his story. At least they received there in the long run.
Photos: HBO/Helen Sloan