Review: Game of Thrones: We Finally Know Who Sits On The Iron Throne
“I suppose there is a crude kind of justice.”
This one line by Tyrion Lannister sums up the general feeling towards the finale.
Before we move on — A MOTHER OF ALL SPOILERS ALERT!
The 10-year saga has come to an end, with the ultimate episode of Game of Thrones getting aired on Monday, 20 May. The show, which entertained fans with unpredictable plot twists, irrational but relatable characters and the fascinating world of magic, dragons and zombies, concluded its narrative with Season 8 Episode 6, which is most aptly titled The Iron Throne.
So...who gets to sit on it?
Well, no one.
Don’t want to read? Tune in here:
As Predicted, Poetic Justice is Served
“I just died in your arms tonight, must have been some kind of kiss.”
These words from a song by Cutting Crew would have been an apt background theme to Daenerys Targaryen’s character arc, if HBO so considered.
While the show makers have tried their best at side-stepping fan theories and expectations to make it more ‘unpredictable’, which has often backfired massively, as we have seen from the reception of the last few episodes, for the finale they managed to deliver exactly what the fans had in mind, at least for Daenerys’ character.
She breathes her last, with a knife to her heart, murdered by the man she loved, Jon Snow.
Unpleasant, cruel, but with a pinch of poetic justice - that’s how the Mother of Dragons went out. Can’t say we didn’t see this coming.
No amount of theorising and prediction, however, should have prepared you for what happens next – distraught, angry and heartbroken Drogon melting down the Iron Throne and flying into oblivion with Dany’s body. If you didn’t shed a drop in this scene, you probably have an emotional capacity of a teaspoon.
The Irony of The Iron Throne
Pedantic fans would probably ask, “Why didn’t Drogon blow up Jon Snow?”
There is no right answer to it as we haven’t figured out how dragon psychology works, but what we can infer from the scene is that somehow the beast sensed that its patrons and mother’s untimely demise was a result of the Iron Throne. The series of unfortunate events that transpired from wanting that Throne was what had led us there.
Ironically, the Throne was built by Aegon the Conqueror, a Targaryen. We are reminded of its bloody history as Daenerys narrates her childlike aspirations for it to Jon Snow (right before he murders her). So it’s fitting that the Throne ceases to exist, after a Targaryen briefly claims it back.
Breaking The Wheel
It’s business as usual at King landing where the ‘most powerful lords of Westeros’ have gathered to pick the next ‘king’. After several disagreements, and a weak attempt by Samwell Tyrell to push for democracy, the ragtag team of Westerosi rulers did manage to pick a king.
And yes, unfortunately, they don’t even consider the possibility of a queen ruling them all. Guess Cersei and Daenerys has sealed that deal for us.
If you came from the school of thought that Jon Snow would reluctantly become the new ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, after Daenerys was out of the way, well you thought wrong. The writer managed to sidestep this prediction with a rather strange pick for the title of the ‘Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms’.
Oops, my bad.
It’s six Kingdoms now, with Sansa Stark claiming autonomy of the North and becoming the Queen in the North. That crown she dons in the end definitely suits her.
So who sits on the figurative Iron Throne?
Someone who has had been practicing sitting on a chair for the last few seasons: Brandon ‘I am no longer Bran’ Stark.
If you wanted the wheel broken, just like Daenerys thought she did, you have to be satisfied with the fact that Westeros just vetoed heredity as a way to pick future rulers. Not more dynasties for you. But hey, nepotism still exists.
King of the Six Kingdoms
Upon processing this for a few minutes, choosing Bran as the next King does make sense. Being a ‘cripple’, he doesn't look threatening enough, seems to not care for power, as Tyrion kindly points, and is apparently a walking talking human encyclopedia of the whole world. Cherry on the cake: he can warg into the now rogue Drogon - the deadliest weapon alive, as we learned from Episode 5.
But it is this all-seeing-but-doing-nothing nature of his that leaves you uncomfortable somewhere in the gut. Did he see this coming? Did he wait and watch thousands of people die, armies kill each other and lovers betray each other, just to sit on the throne?
And finally, did the show just tell us that a ruler's job is to see and know everything, but do nothing? His omniscience is also a fitting representation of powerful rulers that keep an eye on every integrity of their subjects.
Team Stark for The Win
Finally, Team Stark can pop the confetti and start celebrating for its not only a Stark on wheel-chair throne at Kings Landing, a Stark queen in the North, but a Stark beyond the Wall and a Stark exploring what’s west of Westeros also.
Arya Stark, as she had earlier hinted, doesn’t return to Winterfell. Instead, she sets off sailing to the unchartered territories. A girl has no home, I guess. All considered, Arya Stark’s character had the best arc in the entire series, with some extremely fulfilling moments and a befitting closure.
Can HBO commission a spin off series where we follow her adventures in the wild, wild west?
Jon Snow is sentenced to life imprisonment. Again, a healthy compromise between killing him off and angering the entire North (not to mention Arya ‘the assassin’ Stark), and letting him go scot-free and have the Unsullied and Dothraki go on another butchering spree.
But he doesn’t stay there long. From what we gather from the last scene, he leaves Casterly Rock to lead a band of free-folk beyond the Wall (which has been somehow miraculously restored and is protecting the Seven Kingdoms with god knows what now).
Whether you accept this conclusion to Jon Snow’s character arc or not, knowing Ghost the direwolf is part of his journey will give Snow lovers immense satisfaction.
We also get the much-awaited ‘petting’ scene. Internet, you can rest in peace now. Ghost got the screen time he so deserved.
In some ways, the last eight seasons of the show was a journey of the Stark kids, starting off with an unfortunate beginning in the pilot episode. Therefore, it only makes sense that the kids we had grown to root for ended up in pretty good shape in the finale. They are not only alive (well, except for Rickon), but each have a meaningful purpose now.
Having followed after ‘The Bells’, which was greatly disliked by the fans across the world, the last episode does manage to salvage the franchise. Or a tleast, the show makers couldn’t have done any better, after having butchered some character arcs, and leaving giant gaping plot holes throughout this season.
One could argue that they tried to wrap things up way too ‘nicely’. For example, Tyrion Lannister, a fan favourite, going scot-free after humiliating the Mad Queen in public, doesn’t sit well. That he managed to stall Daeneyrs, influence Jon Snow into killing Daenerys, survive Grey Worm, and end up picking the next king, is what would be called ‘OP’ in gaming language. His plot armour protected him through and through, ultimately restoring him as the Hand of King Bran Stark.
Grey Worm and the Unsullied leaving for Nath after refusing the land offered in Westeros may sound a romantic closure to his character arc, but have you thought what a war hungry troop would do in a place that Missandei once called ‘peaceful’?
Protect it? Well, we saw how their protecting went in King’s Landing.
And what about the long list of unanswered questions that the showmakers have conveniently forgotten and moved on? We still don’t know what was up with the Night King and his army of the dead, and on what level Bran was involved with it all. If the show makers plan to delve into that in the so-called prequels that HBO has announced, it's too presumptuous of them to think the fans would stick around and wait for their answers that long.
Finally, Game of Thrones Episode 6 is definitely a better written episode in its final season. After the second-last episode, fans should be glad that David Benioff and DB Weiss haven’t given them another reason to ask for a remake of the finale. This is an ending we must accept. But... "Was it right?”
To quote Jon Snow, “it doesn’t feel right.”