We finally made it. An eight-year journey has finally come to a close. I, for one, am satisfied. Some things happened that I had thought about, but I was also surprised. I think the finale episodes/final seasons are tall orders with lots of expectations. It’s rare that a show can finish up with knocking it out of the park. I think most shows, like Game of Thrones, do a satisfying job. With that in mind, what more can you ask for? Well, if you’ve looked at the comment section on anything related to Game of Thrones, many people are calling for “fire and blood.” There’s even a petition to have HBO just re-do this entire season. Well, you know what we say to the god of armchair quarterbacks? NOT TODAY, JERKS!
When we last left our heroes, Dany had just laid waste to King’s Landing with dragon fire. A lot of people were dead, and almost everyone was in a state of disbelief that despite the city surrendering, the onslaught was still continuing. Onto this episode’s events.
1.So the opening credit scene is pretty much the same as the start of the season. The light blue tiles aren’t in motion as the White Walkers move South has been forever halted. I’m not sure if the initial shot of King’s Landing shows the destruction, but the most significant thing to take note that there is no house sigil above the Iron Throne.
It is sad that there will be no new opening sequences to watch and no new hopes that we would get to see a new part of Westeros or Essos in this board game format. I leave that thought with Jack Black.
2. We start with Tyrion making his way through King’s Landing. The shock from the death and violence has clearly unsettled Tyrion (and the audience). Not only did the director litter charred and maimed bodies through the city streets, they instructed some of the actors to be writhing in paid as the camera pans across.
3. Tensions rise when Jon and Davos encounter Grey Worm ready to execute captured Lannister soldiers. Davos points out that the battle is over and that they’ve won. Grey Worm counters that things are not over until the Queen’s enemies are dead. Spears are drawn. Davos, not wanting to set the allies against each other, convinces Jon to speak to the Queen, abandoning the Lannister soldiers to their fate.
4. Tyrion is now in the ruins of the castle. He finds himself in Cersei’s chambers and eventually in the cellars of the Red Keep. He finds the piled rubble and then the bodies of his now dead brother and sister. He is overcome with grief for both of them, not just Jaime. While Tyrion was raised the son of possibly the richest man in Westeros, he still had a tormented life. Jaime did show him true kindness while Cersei did not. However, I do believe that Tyrion did find comfort in knowing that he was part of a family, and any pain that Cersei may have inflicted upon him was probably welcomed in some way.
5. We are outside the castle ruins where the Unsullied and Dothraki are congregating to celebrate their victory. By the way, there was a point where I thought all the Dothraki were dead, but there are at least 1,000 screamers still left.
We see Drogon arrive and then a very artful shot of Dany entering with Drogon’s flapping wings behind her, casting the illusion that she is dragon-like herself. Dany moves to the top of the stairs to address her most loyal soldiers.
So let’s take a quick timeout here. I’ve always have found this a dilemma in any story where microphones and speakers are not a thing. Daenerys is addressing a few thousand soldiers positioned over several hundred yards. Even the loudest person would have difficulty being heard. I guess I will just chalk this up to dragon magic.
The other interesting thing is Dany starts her victory speech speaking Dothraki. She then shifts into High Valyrian to promote Grey Worm.
6. We now start to get to the agenda of Dany’s inauguration/coronation speech. She promises to continue “liberating” the rest of Westeros and the known world. You can almost see Tyrion and Jon understanding that the world will be liberated whether it wants it or not.
7. So let’s address where we are with Daenerys at this point. Watchers have been critical of her story arc. If you have been on Team Dany for the last several seasons, I can understand why you may be upset. Your hero has faltered and is now spiraling into villainy. I would say that this is enough justification to be upset. However, to say that this is bad or lazy writing or that it is unearned is just not true.
Dany was not raised in an ideal situation. I have to imagine that since birth, she was always on the move for fear of those looking to finally end the Targaryen line. Her older brother Viserys was no example of kindness. One might say though, that it was his cruelty that established a sense of kindness in Dany. However, while we see Dany serve as the salvation for many, she brings destruction and a harsh justice to others. My point is that yes Dany can be a very kind person and I do believe that she does have the best of intentions. However, you have to be fully with her. If not, you are against her, and she has little patience or kindness for those who stand in her way.
While in Essos, she is welcomed with open arms and is revered by the people she saves. However, in returning to Westeros, that same adoration does not come from the people. Part of that in my estimation is that her first attempt is with the people of the North. Given the tribulation that they faced from the Boltons and the Lannisters in the previous wars, It is understandable that they would be wary of any foreign ruler. While Dany was born in Westeros, her army is Dothraki and Unsullied. And the Northerners probably consider anyone outside of the North a foreigner.
So since her arrival in Westeros, Dany has been dealt some heavy blows. Two of her dragons are dead. Two of her most trusted advisors, Jorah and Missandei, were killed. She now knows that there is someone who has a better claim to the throne than her. What makes that worse is that person is her lover. She is experiencing some very tough, but very normal, feelings, but her most trusted advisors are not there to help her through this. She feels alone and under attack.
So in the last episode, as Drogon sits upon the roof with the bells ringing, in that moment of reckoning, Dany looks upon Kings Landing and its people. She does not see a city of one million held hostage by Cersei, she sees a civilization that has allowed the events of the last several decades to happen. While these people did not actively overthrow her father and sentence her and her brother to a life of exile, they accepted those who made those things happen. And then, they thrived in the time after. To me, it is that thought that infuriates Dany. It is then and there that she decides that there is a price that must be paid.
The last thing I will say about Dany is that I do not believe in calling her the “Mad Queen.” To chalk her dissent as a result of lunacy is to remove all ownership of all her actions. I am of the mindset that Dany is not “crazy.” She knows exactly what she’s doing. These are choices that she has considered and decided to make.
8. Back to the castle, Tyrion has arrived. Dany is not happy to see her hand and she accuses Tyrion of releasing Jaime. Tyrion rather calmly counters that Daenerys has slaughtered a city. The disgust is now apparent on Tyion’s face. He removes his badge that marks him as Hand of the Queen and flings it down the stairs. Dany promptly has her men arrest him.
9. Jon watches all this transpire. As he is lost in though, Arya appears out of no where! Gosh, she is good at that!
In this brief interaction, Arya points out two things: The first being that Sansa will not bow to Daenerys. In that small statement, there is the hint of the further war that is imminent, given this impasse. Arya also points out that Daenerys also knows of Jon’s lineage and therefore sees him as a threat.
10. Jon comes to visit Tyrion. Tyrion is imprisoned, but they seem to have just locked him in a storage closet. This is probably due to Drogon’s burning all the real cells down.
Tyrion laments that he deserves his fate. He recounts all his terrible deeds over the last several seasons. Jon points out that the war is over, but Tyrion disagrees and cites Daenerys’ call to arms as she addressed her soldiers.
They argue about Dany’s intentions and what may lay ahead. However Tyrion is able to summarize Dany’s arc aptly and succinctly. We the viewers have cheered Dany on as she has killed evil men over the last several seasons. As this time has past, and with our approval, Dany grows more powerful and more sure that she is right. It is this certainty that she holds as the license to do as she will, no matter who is in her way.
It’s these one on one debates that have really made the show. There is more great discussion as Jon recounts Maester Aemon’s warning that “love is the death of duty.” As Tyrion makes his case about what will be best for the realm, it is clear that Jon is now agonizing about what lies ahead of him and how this will impact his family and the rest of Westeros.
11. Jon now looks for Daenerys… to just talk? Or has he decided his course of action already?
Before what I would call the climax of this entire show, let’s talk about the weather. I believed that it’s been snowing because you know, “Winter is coming!” And even those in the south in King’s Landing will experience snow for the first time in years. However, one of my friends believed that what’s actually on the ground is ash from all the fire.
Jon approaches a snow covered pile of debris… or is it? No, it’s a sleeping dragon! Drogon wakes from his nap, gives Jon a sniff and I guess you can say OK’s his audience with the Queen. If Drogon only knew.
12. Daenerys is now entering the Red Keep for the very first time. Recall her vision from the House of the Undying back in season 2. We’ve been here before where Dany enters the Red Keep. The roof is missing and the room itself is covered in snow. We’re back and her vision is now fulfilled. As she approaches the Iron Throne, a version of the opening theme plays. While she touches the throne with her hand, she does sit in the throne. Jon has arrived.
As she sees him, she begins to recount a story from her childhood when she first imagined the Iron Throne. Jon is not in the mood to reminisce as he heatedly describes the destruction that Dany has caused. Jon shifts and begins to plead with her. He pleads for Tyrion’s life. He pleads for mercy. As Daenerys responds, she begins to confirm everything that Tyrion has started to see and Jon’s worst fears. She asks Jon to help make this new world with her. He responds as he has often done this season and says, “You are my Queen now and always.”
The agony is plain on Jon’s face as he says this and as they begin to kiss. I should have known what was about to happen. As I hear the sound of the knife, I honestly asking who was dead as I had become a victim of my prediction that Dany was going to kill Jon. On second view, it is very clear as you see the surprise on Dany’s face and whole body as the ultimate betrayal becomes clear.
As Jon weeps, you can hear the wail of Drogon. GRRM has commented on the intelligence of dragons, and I don’t find it surprising that an animal you have bonded with would be aware of your distress or illness. And if that’s the case, it’s no surprise that Drogon would know when the woman who raised him had died.
Jon is consumed by grief, so much so that he does not notice the massive dragon over his shoulder. Jon doesn’t lose it and run for his life because he’s Jon Snow. Anyone else would be quaking as Drogon assesses the situation and you can say that the dragon has surmised that Dany is dead and Jon killed her. Drogon readies his flame and Jon stands resolute and ready to accept the punishment he has earned. To everyone’s surprise, Drogon’s flame skips past Jon and is unleashed upon the Iron Throne. It is melted down to nothing.
I suppose this is Drogon’s sense of poetic justice, destroying the very thing that led to the downfall of his mother. I will admit that that is a very cheesy pill to swallow.
Drogon picks up Dany’s lifeless body and flies away. And that is the climax of the show.
13. Arguably, the big climax was the destruction of King’s Landing in the last episode, but you can say we reach another peak with Daenerys’ death. I emphasize this point as there seems to be a lot of complaining that nothing really happened in this final episode. If you believe that, let me direct you to all the previous seasons of this show. The big events like the Red Wedding, Battle of the Bastards, The Mountain and The Viper, all did not occur in the very last episode. They were in the second to last episode, if not before. The last episode of each season was used to reset the board and put the players in their new positions to be ready for the next season.
As there is no new season to get ready for, you can say the rest of this episode essentially serves as the epilogue. And I do think it is important that we do have this epilogue because if we didn’t, most fans would be asking what happened to this and that character at the end?
I actually think that they do a good job of pretty much bringing back everyone you had a question about and telling us what happened. Before we get to that actual epilogue, let’s take a look at this episode’s ending re-imagined as a John Hughes’ movie.
14. So back to that update on all the characters. I’m not sure how much time has past, but Tyrion isn’t dead yet. He is brought to the Dragon Pit. He is accompanied by a pretty angry Grey Worm. If there was snow in King’s Landing, it is now gone. When he arrives, pretty much every high lord and lady is seated in council awaiting Tyrion. I could give you the minutes of this meeting (as I have been giving you the blow by blow of each episode), but the big points are that Bran “The Broken” was named King. The monarchy would not be passed on by blood, but the high lords would meet to decide on a new king or queen at the passing of the previous monarch. Tyrion was pardoned and reluctantly accepted the position as Hand of the King. Sansa did not approve of taking on Bran as King, citing the suffering of the north in the recent wars. It was accepted that the North would remain an independent kingdom.
And what of Jon Snow you ask? To appease the Unsullied’s demand for justice, it was agreed that Jon would return to the Night’s Watch.
15. So I noticed that the Dothraki are walking through the streets like normal citizens. We do learn that the Unsullied are sailing to settle in the Isle of Narth (where Missandei was from), but we get no news as to what the Dothraki will do? Are we to assume that they will assimilate to life in King’s Landing? That’s a little hard to believe.
16. We learn that Arya is not returning to Winterfell. We are not surprised to learn that she seeks more adventure and will take a ship to sail West of Westeros and see what is beyond all the maps. Her departure on her ship with the dire wolf on the bow is reminiscent to her voyage to Braavos.
17. In a previous episode, King Joffrey was mocking Jaime for his noticeably short entry in the Book of Brothers (or The White Book). This book records all the great deeds of the members of the Kingsguard. It is obvious that Jaime chafes at being known as the Kingslayer. Arguably, it has been his greatest deed and probably saved countless lives, but people seem to only dwell on the part where he breaks his oath.
Ser Brienne who is now the Lord Commander of the Kings Guard has decided to provide a lengthy update for Ser Jaime:
- Captured in the field at the Whispering Wood
- Set free by Lady Catelyn Stark in return for an oath to find and guard her two daughters:
- Lost his (hand)…
- Took Riverrun from the Tully rebels, without loss of life.
- Lured the Unsullied into attacking Casterley Rock, sacrificing his childhood home in service to a greater strategy.
- Outwitted the Targaryen forces to seize Highgarden.
- Fought at the Battle of the Goldroad bravely, narrowly escaping death by dragonfire.
- Pledged himself to the forces of men and rode north to join them at Winterfell, alone.
- Faced the Army of the Dead and defended the castle against impossible odds until the defeat of the Night King.
- Escaped imprisonment and rode south in an attempt to save the capital from destruction.
- Died protecting his queen.
18. Tyrion holds his first Small Council meeting, serving as Hand to King Bran. We see that Ser Davos now serves as Master of Ships. Ser Bronn has moved up in the world and how holds the position of Master of Coin. Sam has somehow completed the years of training and now is serving as the Grandmaester for the King. Are they waiving his other vows so he can also be Gilly’s husband and father to their child?
And nice to see Ser Podrick Payne, also now a member of the Kingsguard.
19. A very somber Jon Snow arrives back at Castle Black. And while Jon may still feel the weight of all that has happened and cannot muster a smile, this GoT fan was ecstatic to see Tormund awaiting his close friend’s return.
20. The last scene focuses on Arya, Jon and Sansa. As mentioned above, Arya is on her ship, headed west. Sansa is crowned Queen in the North. What is notable about her scene is the detail of Sansa’s dress. There seems to be a tribute to every character who helped Sansa become the woman that she is now.
Jon is met by the Free Folk. They certainly remember that he is responsible for saving them many times over. Jon rides out with them as they return north of the wall. I am not certain, but one might say that he is released from his Night’s Watch oath and may go on to serve the Free Folk as King Beyond the Wall.
What is great about the last scene is that it is a mirror to the very first scenes in the first episode. Jon rides out with Tormund north of the wall, just like the first rangers in that episode that started everything. One thing I hoped for was Jon quickly stopping to pay his respects at Ygritte’s grave (she is one of my favorites). The music that plays at the end seems to sound triumph and a new beginning.
THE LAST WORD:
The final episode and season were awesome! Quit your complaining!
Ser Justin Ledesma, King of the Castle