Entertainment TV With one episode left, how to save Game of Thrones

With one episode left, how to save Game of Thrones

Daenerys Game of Thrones
Whoops ... how to rebuild? In a teaser image from the final episode, Daenerys surveys King's Landing and her troops after her fiery rampage. Photo: HBO
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In Woody Allen’s 1971 political satire Bananas, Allen’s character Fielding Mellish finds himself caught in a coup to overthrow a Central American dictator.

Having installed a Marxist revolutionary leader, Fielding realises his mistake when el presidente’s first decree is that underpants must now be worn on the outside.

Replace ‘external underpants’ with ‘dragonfire massacre’ and Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow faces a similar conundrum. The leader he swore to bring to power is actually a mad despot.

In satire this kind of character about-face is an accepted device to generate laughs. In an epic drama spun over eight seasons and coming to an end forever on Monday, it’s downright annoying.

Hordes of fans have taken to social media claiming the show is now ruined for them – they invested so much emotionally in Game of Thrones that an ending where Daenerys wins through going mad or Jon wins by killing Daenerys because she’s gone mad is the ultimate cop out.

Tyrion Game of Thrones
Tyrion in the wreckage his childhood home in the final episode. Photo: HBO

Daenerys’ character twist isn’t the only one raising hackles. The seemingly implacable Cersei sipped wine while staring over her balcony for the best part of a season before being engulfed in a building collapse sobbing into brother Jaime’s arms.

Jaime himself suffered a similarly undignified reversion. In episode one he pushed the child Bran from a tower when caught in flagrante delicto with his sister. From that moment the kingslayer has been on a redemption arc, due in part to his increasing love for the valiant, pure of heart Brienne.

But when the end is nigh, where does Jaime choose to go? Back into the arms of his sister. Sure, Tyrion delivered nice words about how Jaime defended him from childhood bullies, but in the end the total evolution for Jaime between the first and final seasons is being able to tell Bran he felt bad about crippling him.

Fans are already sharpening their Twitter fingers in anticipation of a disappointing finale, so what can the writers do to blunt their Valyrian barbs? Not much really: through the ‘Whatever Happened to Crazy Khaleesi?’ plotline they’ve painted themselves into a corner.

Given Jon’s horrified reaction to the razing of King’s Landing, he needs to act against his homicidal former flame (forgive me) for there to be any kind of satisfactory resolution.

Even if he can’t bring himself to kill Daenerys, Arya must. Sansa can look on with an enigmatic smile, perhaps while lifting a glass of Cersei’s leftover wine to her lips.

Arya Stark Game of Thrones
With Cersei buried, Arya (at King’s Landing) could have a new mission. Photo: HBO

GoT’s greatest strength has been its ability to surprise, but the finale runs the risk of turning the assassination of a warrior queen into a damp squib.

And is such a resolution even dramatically necessary? Perhaps the best way to address Jon’s disgust at Daenerys’ embrace of mass murder would be for the Khaleesi to put herself beyond his judgement.

Should the aftermath to The Bells’ carnage reflect the chilling climax of the Ancient Greek tragedy Medea by Euripides? The exiled princess Medea, abandoned by her faithless husband, Jason, seeks vengeance by murdering his lover, her father and – most appallingly –  their own children.

At the end, as the broken Jason curses her, Medea soars over him triumphantly in a dragon drawn chariot, torturing him with taunts before making her escape.

I’m not suggesting we would leave any more content if Daenerys commanded Drogon to incinerate Sansa and Arya (and Tyrion, Ser Davos, whomever) leaving Jon alive to grieve over the ashes. But a resolution that pulled the rug out from audiences would offer something at least.

HBO copped an initial lashing after The Sopranos finale in 2007. Was Tony murdered in the diner while listening to Don’t Stop Believing? We’ll never know for sure and that’s the point.

Maybe we will see a wildcard. We might have seen them disappear into dust, but we didn’t see Cersei and Jaime’s broken bodies. As fans suggested, Cersei deserved worse and maybe the terrible twins have one last gasp of treachery in them.

GoT’s conclusion will also end a remarkably active, opinionated and often hostile community of viewers. So perhaps denying us a definitive winner of the Game will keep the contest alive.

Or maybe, as expected, Jon will sit on the Iron Throne looking crestfallen about how he got there, Drogon will mourn over his mother’s body, and we’ll take to Twitter like an explosion of wildfire.

Game over.

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