Did The Final Ever Episode Of ‘Game Of Thrones’ Do The Show Justice?
11 years, eight seasons, and countless plot twists all led to this.
Can you believe it’s all lead to this? Eight seasons, eleven years, 40,000 opinion pieces penned by me alone, all leading to the final ever episode of the biggest, most-discussed show on television: Game of Thrones. And boy, oh boy, did it happen! It certainly did.
It honestly feels insane that it’s all ended, that it’s over. This show has been a huge part of our lives for so long, and has dominated the cultural discussion.
Which all puts a lot of pressure on the final episode.
How do you wrap up a story this epic? A long and sometimes torrid high fantasy narrative, defined by signature twists and startling brutality. A huge and sprawling cast and geography, all leading to one final end. An (actually literally) incestuous mix of characters we love and loathe.
A show with a weirdly long-running one-note gag about a boy with a huge penis.
How do you do that all justice in a final episode?
I’m honestly not sure.
Drogon received best character development in this finale—exercising judgement when experiencing blinding anger and grief, destroying the symbol of power and the very source of evil, and choosing to mourn in solitude, now brotherless and motherless. #GameofThrones pic.twitter.com/DuQGopd273
— Isabel Guan (@isabelxguan) May 20, 2019
The Mad Queen
The episode essentially opens on the consequences of last week’s shocking queen snap, and that was good and right.
We needed to uncomfortably dwell in the blasted remnants of King’s Landing, trudge dolefully through the burnt remnants of Dany’s decision. Already I found myself wanting to justify Daenerys — we’ve all spent a long time rooting for her. But as the episode plays out, mournfully scattered with floating ash and literally no feeling of victory, the tension rises.
We know that a showdown has to happen with Dany and the people who think she shouldn’t have become a flying mass murderer. The age-old dichotomy!
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) May 20, 2019
We get a good ol’ fashioned rousing speech from Tyrion, which honestly reminds you why he’s one of the show’s best characters, after a season of being either non-important or an aggressive dum-dum. We get some casual brutality from Dany’s followers, including Grey Worm.
We get an extremely dictator-inspired speech from Daenerys, where she basically promises to keep the atrocity train rolling! Cool! She’s irredeemable.
And then Jon Snow stabs her.
It was pretty sad. But honestly, I was more sad when the big fire-dog was upset.
— hunter (@hunter_tyler16) May 20, 2019
Symbolism! We Have It! BIG SYMBOLISM.
I genuinely thought the beginning of this episode was very good. I could have happily let it end there, and leave the specifics of the fate of Westeros up to our imagination.
But instead, Drogon burned the Iron Throne out of grief, because that dragon is ACROSS the THEMES of this show. And from then on, we knew they were going to try their goddamn darndest to wrap up every loose end in this giant sodden tangle of blood-soaked wool.
Anytime a writer ends a story with a speech about how important stories are has fucking failed.
— Roy Scranton (@RoyScranton) May 20, 2019
I don’t think this is meant to be fan-service, which seems to be a bit of a dog-whistle at the moment for shit-ass fans who are sad when stories don’t end up how they want them to. I think this was a genuine attempt to provide closure on this story, as evidenced by Samwell Tarly literally pulling out a copy of A Song Of Ice And Fire, which is heinously ironic, considering the ACTUAL author of the books, George R.R. Martin has now been lapped and beaten by his own creation.
We see Brienne sitting down and finishing Jaime’s chapter in the Kingsguard’s burn book — and thats what this episode attempted to do for everyone, for better or worse.
They wanted to finish everything! Which is admirable, and gave us some gorgeous moments. But it also felt really fucking weird and long.
And as shown by a dragon melting the Iron Throne into slag, they weren’t SUBTLE about any of these moments. They were closing the book shut with unnecessary force.
guess it’s appropriate that the big emotional beat in the finale involved recapping pic.twitter.com/jbFNTGS43y
— PAPPADEMAS (@PAPPADEMAS) May 20, 2019
If You Loved The Final 45 Minutes Of Lord Of The Rings…
Remember the end of Lord of the Rings: Return of The King (Extended Edition), which is basically 45 minutes of the Hobbits returning to Hobbiton and hugging each other and then some of them getting on a boat and going to heaven, and then old friends turn up and say goodbye and they reminisce about the things that happened only 40 minutes earlier?
Well, anyway, it was like that. Except I LIVED for the Lord of the Rings extended edition, because it was a movie which had a huge climactic moment (ring/volcano/ battle), which we were all happy to slowly come down from.
But Game of Thrones didn’t follow that same formula past the defeat of the Night King. And it would have been insulting if they had.
Instead they gave us a kind of horrifying anti-climax in Dany’s sack of King’s Landing — no heroism, no duel with Cersei, no justice — just death. Which as I’ve said before, I LOVED. But it meant that we were going from depressing moment into post-depressing moment, which takes away a lot of the shine.
So, to have this big sugary yearbook of a montage for the second half of the episode felt strange. I laughed at a couple of points, because they were silly — which meant that it was HARD for me to lean in to the emotional catharsis they were earnestly trying to set up.
My only #GameofThrones take is it's weird that the other characters call Daenerys "Dany" I'm sorry that's an internet name
— ally mclean 🔮 (@allymcleangames) May 20, 2019
Bran The Broken Plotline
And there was absolutely nothing funnier than the sheer insanity of Bran Stark being elected the King of Westeros.
When they roasted Sam for floating democracy (which was genuinely funny, and also a raspberry at a lot of GoT theorists), it made me think they were equally going to laugh at Tyrion’s weird-ass suggestion for Bran.
“There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a story,” says Tyrion, which is always a yikes moment in any show. We get it! You love stories.
But instead they literally hire Bran, a weird magical psychopath who can use his brains to become crows. Tyrion’s all like “the people love his story” — but who the fuck knows about it? He spent much of the beginning of the show in a coma, got dragged around the north in a sled, and then sat in a chair and was mean to his sisters. He did not have a PR campaign!
I don’t get it. Bran is the worst! Literally every other Stark sibling is more decorated, more human, more suitable.
I mean… whatever. Whatever! It was weird.
TYRION: People love stories. And no one has a better story than Bran
ARYA, WHO LEARNED SHAPE-SHIFTING AND MURDERED THE INVINCIBLE ICE KING OF DEATH: Bran has what now
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) May 20, 2019
This idea of him “breaking the wheel” literally because his dick snapped off is nonsense.
However, I did like the other Starks fucking off on their own — and perhaps they would have been the only endings we needed. Jon trudging off to be sad in the snow is fine. Arya getting on a ship felt a little bit Narnia, but is fine.
Sansa being crowned queen in the North is perfect.
Also, I’m glad Ghost got a reunion. I’ve said it all along — Ghost is the only character I care about.
— Aatif Shaik (@justaatifways) May 20, 2019
“No One Is Very Happy”
Tyrion says this to Jon Snow, as he’s off to the Night’s Watch again (why is there a Night’s Watch? Who knows? But we never actually found out WHY the Night King… did anything, so it seems sensible to me).
And you know, that’s a decent way to end this show, a series of unhappy compromises. We were never going to get a fairytale ending, a huge awards ceremony — not in a show this dark. To be honest, I was expecting a darker ending, something where people were more actively distraught. An ending that leaves Westeros broken, perhaps.
Instead we got this weird Bran ending, and it’s fine I guess.
If there was one moral in this show, it’s that we can never expect justice. Our heroes are torn down, our favourites murdered, our expectations brutally subverted. An attempt to give everyone some kind of posthumous justice does make the ending feel awkward, a bit belaboured, slightly cheap. I dunno.
In the end, I’ll consider the real finale of Game of Thrones as the death of the Night King and the sack of King’s Landing, the moments where the grand narrative of this show lead to a huge and final decision.
After Dany’s death, everything is just epilogue — and this episode is a perfectly fine epilogue.
I'd just like to point out that the last spoken words of Game of Thrones were:
I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel.#GameOfThones
— Madeleine Roux (@Authoroux) May 20, 2019
19 YEARS LATER
"But, dad — what if I get put in house Lannister?"
Jon kneels before his son, puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Tyrion Eddard Night-King Snow – you were named after the bravest men I ever knew and a magic zombie…"
— Alexis Flower (@alexisflower) May 19, 2019
— The Kingmaker🦉 (@SmithVinci) May 20, 2019
Patrick Lenton is the Entertainment Editor at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.