After a pretty disappointing season, the series finale and conclusion to the entire juggernaut of the TV series adaption to George R. R. Martin’s creations, leaves a lot to be desired. Unsatisfied would be the word I reckon best describes the vast majority of fans who were glued to their TV series each week, and as the days passed, hoped that the following episode would do a complete 180 and go in a direction that was somewhat interesting or ….. at the very least, thought out. Although I’ve got to admit the symbolism in this episode was undeniably bitchin’.
We’re shown pretty immediately that Tyrion Lannister knows he is not going to ever be able to justify what Daenerys did and therefore is resigning himself to death. Our introduction to the episode is Tyrion’s long walk through the grounds of King’s Landing, walking past the charred bodies of children and the handful of survivors who are critically injured and traumatized by what happened. Followed by Dany’s impressively ironic speech about having liberated the people of King’s Landing and freed them of a tyrant…. Cough*… This further inspires Tyrion to very publicly resign by throwing his Hand of the Queen pin down the steps.
The most unexpected and somewhat anticlimactic death goes to Daenerys Targaryen at the hands of Jon Snow. Although for those of you who’ve read the books then Jon Snow killing his love by plunging his sword through her heart must ring some bells … Azor Ahai – the coming of the ‘Prince/Princess that was promised’ [Worshippers of the Lord of Light believe is the reincarnation of an ancient hero, who will be reborn to save the world in the hour of its greatest need.] But again… this didn’t pan out, unless I’m missing some links to how the ending pans out.. I had spent the first half of the episode lamenting how weak Jon Snow was being, watching Dany enact all of these horrors that he would never in a million years even think of doing and yet was still blindly following her like the good soldier. Looking back now, he played it well. My main issue was once this took place thirty-seven minutes into the hour and twenty-minute episode, the rest just felt like tying up loose ends and giving somewhat heartwarming send off’s to certain characters. Everything past this moment felt.. ironically, anti-climactic. Though it was much more upsetting for me to see Drogon lose his mother when he realizes she’s not sleeping then it was to watch Dany die in the first place. (something worth mentioning: Drogon destroying the Iron Throne is another amongst the many many moments in which dragons intelligence is lauded. Recognizing what the Throne has symbolized and what in part his mother was killed for, he eliminates it, making quite a statement.)
Fast-forward an undetermined amount of time later, we can measure a good two extra inches onto Tyrion’s beard, the most powerful men and women in Westeros are left (after Tyrion’s suggestion) to choose a new ruler. Even though Tyrion is in chains and is technically still a prisoner of the Unsullied, Sir Davos asks him who he would recommend. His response (in its entirety not just the person he ends up choosing is something that quite intrigued me, as it is a commentary on the tv series as a whole, the books that said series spawned from, and the entire art of storytelling that has dated back to cave paintings on walls.)
“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it, no enemy can defeat it. – And who has a better story then Bran the Broken. The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the wall, a crippled boy, and became the Three-Eyed Raven. He is our memory. The keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines, our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?
Sansa: “Bran has no interest in ruling, and he can’t father children.”
Tyrion: “Good. Sons of kings can be cruel and stupid, as you well know. His will never torment us. That is the wheel our queen wanted to break. From now on rulers will not be born, they will be chosen.”
This I found particularly interesting as not only is there a large heaping of social commentary, but also a human note to it as well. Stories and tale’s are the things that can change a nations mind, through narration and induced empathy, stories can turn the tides on political and cultural issues, ignite a rising, shut down rebellions. The integration of a near-democracy – where at least rulers are no longer born, is a well-placed attack on the way Monarchies function (throughout history but also still to this day) How idiotic it is to assign someone power over a nation, state or country simply because he was birthed by ‘royalty’. Overall, plot and narrative wise, the series did disappoint, but like many things, there are a few redeemable moments and ideas knitted into it that are noteworthy and intriguing. And as Sophie Turner’s (Sansa Stark) tattoo declares… “The Pack Survives”.
My only guess as to the reason why this series was thoroughly underwhelming and so incredibly illogical is that this was the loose plot structure for what should have been two seasons, but due to cost or actor’s commitments they decided to shove it all into one six episode season, to the detriment of its integrity. Thoughts on the impact this had on fans reactions to the narrative this season:
- If fans had witnessed Daenerys go through enough to snap then there wouldn’t have been the amount of uproar that there was when over the course of two episodes she manages to forget and lose sight of everything she stands for – and becomes what she has fought against for the seven series prior.
- If the battle between the living and the dead (White Walkers) was actually given enough screen time and enough substance, again the fans reactions would have been quite different. Everything playing out in the one episode felt insignificant. It felt as if the writers just wanted to play hot potato with the throne, or the winners, so in episode three you have the battle against the Knight King (someone who was supposed to be the ultimate foe) then out of nowhere and all too quickly, he’s killed. Next, it’s onto Cersei who rises to the occasion and the battle at King’s Landing commences, only to anger audiences when Dany goes on a ‘slaughter the innocents’/ ‘Burn them all’ rampage – and then oh look, we now have another tyrannical King Pin to defeat, Daenerys.
- With seasons worth of build up to certain moments that should have taken place just plain ol not even appearing or being mentioned at all left more faces grimaced. Cersei’s death has been one of the most highly anticipated things since the pilot episode when the audience instantly recognizes the sociopathic and apathetic wife of King Robert. The hype over her prophecy which was given to her as an adolescent that she would be killed by a younger brother was something that has had fans burning to see how it would be played out. My personal favorite of all the fan theories (Which, frankly, a lot of which were better thought out then the script for season 8…) was that Arya Stark, who had trained with the faceless men, would wear the face of Jaimie Lannister to get close to Cersei and slay her down, fulfilling Cersei’s prophecy and also tying up Melisandre’s list for Arya: (You will kill one with brown eyes [many brown eyed men killed], blue eyes [Night King: Done.] Green eyes [Cersei has always had famously emerald green eyes]. In short, disappointments all round.
- Lastly, and this may just be a personal gripe…. The song Jenny of Oldstones had SO MUCH SIGNIFICANCE and tied into the backstories in prequels that Martin had written, it had the potential to embody some incredible foreshadowing. Alas…
Its a bittersweet post to write as sadly, this is the last episode that will ever air, but i’ll leave you with the moment that most viewers felt somewhat mollified their disappointment.