One final time: This review includes plot details of the series finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Stop reading now if you don’t want me to be the one who tells you what Edmure Tully volunteered for.
Next season on Game of Thrones, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) discovers the New World.
Oh, right. There isn’t going to be a next season.
Maybe we’ll never know what lies west of Westeros, where the maps end, but after eight seasons, and many, many battles and banquets, we do know who “won” the Iron Throne.
That would be Drogon, the story’s surviving dragon, who melted that uncomfortable-looking seat with its mighty breath after discovering Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), first of her name, etc., etc., lying dead on the floor of what used to be her father’s throne room, back when the place still had a roof, and walls.
And, yes, it was Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen (Kit Harington), in the throne room, with the pointy end of what looked like a knife. The only mystery about Dany’s death, which occurred a bit less than halfway through the finale, is why she had to die almost immediately, when Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) practically delivered a soliloquy last week after Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) ran him through with a sword.
Lots of things happened in the final 80 minutes of Game of Thrones, a saga that didn’t seem to want to be nearly as complicated at the end as it had seemed at the beginning.
If you like your finales tied up with a bow, well, this one was. I’m only surprised no one was strangled with it.
If you think now that this might not be quite the show you thought you were watching, it’s important to remember that the experience of series television is a cumulative one, and that the things that you liked before still occurred. (This also applies to the things you might not have liked so much.)
It probably doesn’t hurt to remember, too, that this is one version of the story, finished by writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who weren’t able to wait for George R.R. Martin to complete the books.
The new king of the six kingdoms of Westeros (more about that number in a bit) is, as you’ve probably heard by now, Bran the Broken (Isaac Hempstead Wright). Bran was the dark horse (dark bird?) candidate whom Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) persuaded a council of people who mostly weren’t present for the previous episode’s carnage to name ruler. (I should note that among those viewers foolhardy enough to be laying bets on a scripted piece of entertainment, Bran was reportedly favored to win.)
Tell the truth: You thought the writers had forgotten all about Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies), who was the first to volunteer to take on the thankless job of becoming king and rebuilding nearly everything. His niece Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) shut him down quickly, and the suggestion by Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) of free elections by the people was greeted with laughter.
Jon, a prisoner of Dany’s still-loyal Unsullied, was, despite the hereditary claim that the show’s been teasing seemingly forever, considered out of the running, having knocked off Dany. (Which isn’t how it worked for Robert Baratheon, but then, he wasn’t taken captive.) In a compromise that pleased no one, Jon was eventually sent back to whatever’s left of the Wall to be reunited with his faithful direwolf, Ghost, and assorted wildlings. (Maybe they’ll call him Queenslayer?)
Ghost looked very happy.
Tyrion’s romantic logic for choosing Bran, the artist formerly known as the Three-Eyed Raven, was that he had the best story — boy pushed from tower lives to tell the tale and also to learn all the tales — and that stories, not armies, or gold, or flags, unite people.
"He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories,” he said. “Who better to lead us into the future?”
Bran the Inscrutable claimed not to want it but also seemed to have known all along that he would accept. “Why do you think I came all this way?”
The fact that Bran supposedly can’t father children appeared to be a plus in Tyrion’s eyes. Rather than hereditary monarchy and the prospect of another monster like Joffrey, he envisioned future kings and queens being chosen by a similar council of the ruling classes.
I anticipate problems with this plan, but if so, that’s a sequel.
Sansa’s consolation prize for not even being seriously considered over her younger brother was the agreement that the North would reclaim its independence. When we last saw her at Winterfell, she was being proclaimed queen in the North, while her sister Arya headed off to conquer the unknown world.
A few other thoughts about the last Game of Thrones ever:
Was anyone else thinking, as Tyrion talked about Bran’s story and Sam presented “A Song of Ice and Fire,” about Hamilton and “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”? Dinklage’s character has always been the beating heart of this show, and his love of books, and of history, clearly meant something to the show’s writers.
Speaking of Dinklage, pity the actors who are up against him at the Emmys.
There was always a world where Bran’s ending up on the throne felt like fate, not a quick fix, but I think that might be the world of the books. What we’ve seen of the grown Bran (and the relatively little we’ve heard from him) didn’t sell this ending for me. Though I do think his council meetings are going to be great fun — once he leaves the room.
Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) — Torgo Nudho, if you prefer the High Valyrian — turned out to be a terrifying example of what loyalty carried too far looks like.
The presentation of Daenerys with dragon wings at her back was an impressive sight, even if the overall pageantry was a bit too on-the-nose Nazi for my taste. (Also, who was doing her hair in these trying times?)
Line of the night to Tyrion, whose response to Jon’s “I don’t expect we’ll ever see each other again,” was a characteristic callback to a happier time for the series: “I wouldn’t be so sure. A few years as Hand of the King would make anyone want to piss off the edge of the world.”