Entertainment TV Frustrating, too neat but still satisfying: The verdict on the final ever Game of Thrones episode

Frustrating, too neat but still satisfying: The verdict on the final ever Game of Thrones episode

Game of Thrones Stark family
Arya, Bran and Sansa Stark help decide who will rule Westeros in the final episode of Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO
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To state not all are happy with Game of Thrones’ finale is an understatement akin to claiming King’s Landing experienced an unseasonal hot spell.

From the moment Jon, Tyrion and Ser Davos came across Grey Worm executing prisoners in the city’s smoking ruins things just got weirder. Again, it looked as if narrative boxes were being crossed off a list  to hurry things along.

If a small part of you hoped to see Cersei flounce into shot snarling, “Surprise, bitches! I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me”, sorry, no. Her unsatisfying death by rubble, Jaime by her side, really was her final exit.

That left one (newly-crowned) villain in King’s Landing, Daenerys, who still had the scent of blood in her nostrils, promising further “liberations” of the enslaved to her Dothraki and Unsullied enforcers.

This Nuremberg-style rally provided one of the most striking images of the series when Daenerys appeared before her legions, dragon Drogon’s wings spread behind her as if they were her own.

But the fanaticism of her message – paradise is ours no matter how many we need slaughter to get there – spelled her doom.

After finally laying eyes on the Iron Throne, Dany thought she had everything: her throne and a loyal Jon Snow.

Daenerys Game of Thrones
Daenerys thinks she’s won. Photo: HBO

But the man who always followed the noble path had been jolted by Tyrion reminding him that while he was in love with his Queen, his real duty – the underpinning of Jon’s life – lay with family and the North: “Sometimes duty is the death of love.”

In one way what he did next – fatally stabbing Daenerys while kissing her – was shocking, in another totally predictable. She chose power. He chose the right thing. It was the episode’s most bittersweet moment, killing Jon’s heart as surely as it did Daenerys’ .

Jon Snow Daenerys Game of Thrones
Jon Snow is devastated and liberated by Daenerys’ death. Photo: HBO

All this happened within the first 45 minutes, which left plenty of time to resolve the succession. Too much time, it seems.

Rejecting Samwell’s call for democratic reform, the council of nobles speedily agreed to Tyrion’s suggestion a kind of constitutional monarchy be put in place.

Just as speedily, they chose eldest Stark son “Bran the Broken” as ruler because … well, because he knows all human history and isn’t dead.

It was a bizarre scene, where famously bloodthirsty warriors glibly agreed to being ruled by someone with zero experience or desire.

Cleary it was supposed to be a device to spring a worthy dark horse on viewers, but many have seen Bran during the show as a pest rather than prophet. It felt both groan worthy and strangely logical.

The Starks Game of Thrones
The Starks weigh in on the fate of the kingdoms. Photo: HBO

Symbolically, there was no Iron Throne for him to sit on. Drogon melted it in a ‘No one gets it now’ gesture which simultaneously let the dragon punish something for Daenerys’ demise and writers show a whole new world with new horizons was happening.

And thus, all the ends were tied up.

To appease the Unsullied, Jon was sent back to the Night Watch. Tyrion remained the Hand of the King, Arya headed west for further adventures and Sansa was crowned Queen of the North.

There were rewarding moments. Brienne protecting Jaime’s legacy by whitewashing his final deeds in the official histories. Ghost and Tormund reunited with Jon. Tyrion, clearly the intellectual driving force of the episode, weeping over his lost brother and sister.

Lino Facioli
Lino Facioli in his unexpected comeback as Robin Arryn. Photo: HBO

And the creepy Robin Arryn, last seen breastfeeding at about age eight, had done a Neville Longbottom and transformed into a prospective boy band member.

Big question is, after eight Game of Thrones seasons what did we have to show for it?

Most of the Lannisters were dead, many of the Starks were alive and those advisers that remained were in a meeting over shipbuilding, water quality and brothels.

Tyrion told the Council there’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Yet here we are, a story about violence, love, incest and betrayal ending with Bran pulling a Steven Bradbury and crossing the line because others had fallen.

Throughout the finale, Grey Worm had an expression of distaste as if he were getting a constant whiff of burnt hair. As the credits rolled, he wasn’t alone.

No, it wasn’t perfect. But there was something satisfying about ending with Jon leading a snow patrol, Arya with the ocean wind in her face and the surviving lords bickering with good humour.

And hey, I was a teenager during the 1980s. An entire series of Dallas revealed itself as a dream in its finale. Anything’s up from there.

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