‘Game Of Thrones’ Series Finale Recap: Jon Snow Kills Daenerys, Bran Named King
The Seven Kingdoms still stand, even though the Iron Throne is gone.
Sunday night’s series finale of Game of Thrones started as calm as ever, as was expected. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) was one of the few people remaining who walked amongst the ruins of King’s Landing, taking in the breadth of the wreckage the “Mad Queen” Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) had brought onto thousands of innocent civilians. The shots of charred corpses and skeletons is utterly chilling, to say the least. The Lannister known as “the Imp” dug through the rubble to find his siblings Cersei and Jaime dead, crushed by what used to be the foundations of the Sept of Baelor, and wept over… both of them? in a touching moment. I think it’s safe to say Tyrion was upset over Cersei’s demise too, despite how cruel and selfish she turned out to be.
Meanwhile, Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and the Unsullied insist the remaining members of Cersei’s troops be slaughtered in accordance with Daenerys’s orders. Tyrion pleads with Grey Worm to keep them as prisoners, but the latter refuses and the soldiers are killed. The Unsullied and Dothraki celebrate their victory as Khaleesi stands atop the steps of the remains of the castle and delivers a rousing speech in Valyrian about how they have succeeded in their mission to eliminate a tyrant (even though that’s exactly what Daenerys has now become).
Daenerys chides Tyrion for committing treason by setting Jaime free before the invasion of King’s Landing, and Tyrion dramatically throws away his pin identifying him as Hand of the Queen. Bold move Tyrion, but the Queen is going to sentence you to die! And that’s exactly what she does. However, Tyrion and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) have a long, very drawn-out talk in a small prison cell about the implications and consequences of what Daenerys has done, and Tyrion even asks Jon point-blank if he would have burned down an entire city and killed that many innocents. Jon answers “I don’t know” and Tyrion responds in the same way most major fans likely would have: “Yes you do!” Tyrion rightfully lambastes Jon for his unwavering, blind loyalty to Daenerys. Arya essentially does the same thing as Tyrion, warning Jon that she has grown so power-hungry that she could kill anyone who poses a threat to her sitting on the Iron Throne — including (and especially) Jon, aka her nephew, Aegon Targaryen.
The Mother of Dragons finally enters the room where the Iron Throne sits and admires the big-girl chair she and Cersei were so desperately fighting over, smiling upon the sight of it like a giddy child.
Daenerys doesn’t sit on the throne, however, but merely touches the edges of it as Jon enters the hall. After he urges her to forgive Tyrion and everyone else who may have stood against her or betrayed her — using past examples of her capacity for showing mercy — Jon and Daenerys share a kiss and he pledges his loyalty by calling her “my Queen” one last time before he finishes her off by stabbing her, tears in his eyes.
One can only have assumed Daenerys would die. The less obvious answer leading up to the grand finale seemed to be whether it would be Jon or Arya (Maisie Williams) who would kill her. Seeing Jon heartbroken while murdering Khaleesi is not even remotely a surprise, but the scene still appeared to play out rather beautifully.
Just moments after Daenerys dies, Drogon rushes over and burns down the Iron Throne in a beautiful way — after an initial failed attempt — and flies away, carrying his mother with him and roaring into the unknown distance.
What seems like months later, in the middle of summer, the remaining survivors of the Last War — which include Tyrion, Jon, Grey Worm, Arya, Sansa, Bran, Brienne, Davos (Liam Cunningham), Jon and Robyn Arryn, Sam (John Bradley) and Yara — a long discussion is held about who should be named the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, even with the Iron Throne gone. As Grey Worm watches Tyrion chained and repeatedly voices his desire for the Imp to be sentenced to death — come on, Grey Worm, chill out and let the dwarf speak, will you? — the remaining Lannister makes the case for Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) to lead them all. Tyrion argues that Bran is not driven by an insatiable desire for power, but rather is simply intent on doing good in the world. Plus, there’s the fact that he’s essentially a prophet who can guide them all into the future. Sansa (Sophie Turner) voices hesitation, saying she is concerned about her crippled brother becoming a ruler partly because he can’t bear children, but Tyrion makes a very solid point to counter this: sons of Kings often become crazy and make stupid or evil decisions, a reality the series has proved time and time again in some form or another. (Here’s looking at you, Joffrey Baratheon!)
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) finishes Jaime’s story in a book Sam complies called A Song of Ice and Fire, while Sansa is named Queen in the North, as she requests that Winterfell be named an independent kingdom. The few members of Bran’s Kingsguard — which include Tyrion, Davos, Brienne, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and now-Grand Maester Sam — discuss the first orders of business to help rebuild Westeros’s infrastructure and economy, in a comical scene that plays out like a corny sitcom or a Monty Python sequence, truthfully. What should we build? Ships, clean water resources or brothels? Literally, that’s part of what these clowns are talking about in the final moments of the series: whorehouses.
Jon returns to Castle Black to rejoin the Night’s Watch, but not before delivering an emotional goodbye to his adopted family: Arya, Sansa and Bran. The farewell hug between a crying Arya and Jon definitely left me somewhat broken, even if he urged Arya to come visit. Arya also hints at her possibly exploring parts of the world beyond Westeros, if any such place even exists. Jon reunites with Ghost and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju). At least we got to see our favorite Stark direwolf get some love after he was disgustingly cast away earlier this season! Jon and the wildlings then head north of the Wall together, hinting at the supposed rightful heir to the now-defunct Iron Throne possibly becoming the group’s de-facto leader.
Overall, this finale appeared to be a satisfying enough way to close out the series. Sure, some moments were predictable, and it would have been nice to maybe see some more dramatic plot twists and possible mentions of a new threat as seen through one of Bran’s visions, or one last brief scene showing where Drogon headed off to. However, all of my favorite characters — Jon, Arya and Tyrion — got to stay alive and seemed on track to correcting whatever mistakes they may have made.
An overwhelming number of fans have already voiced severe disappointment and anger with the series’ conclusion — and with this entire season, evidently — apparently because of the lack of logic, the choice of which characters to kill off and the choice of Bran as the next ruler of Westeros. These people can’t be blamed, but I was content after the dismay I felt from the penultimate episode.
Head writers and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have taken this all in great stride, even after being named terrible writers and a petition from over 450,000 fans to redo Season 8 of Game of Thrones with someone else at the helm. It’s surely no easy feat to devise an ending to a story conceived by George R.R. Martin that contains so many characters and plot-lines. Benioff and Weiss have said they plan to get drunk and stay “far from the Internet,” something even die-hard fans may eventually want to do as well for peace of mind and in order to focus all their attention on a new series. We’ll surely known soon enough how many viewers HBO can boast for the series finale.