And now our watch has ended. There we have it. The final episode of Game of Thrones has aired. If that’s not sad enough for you then remember that also means the last ever GoT episode breakdown with Forge Press. Truly a double blow.
In the meantime let’s get stuck into the finale itself. Ending any multi-season TV show is very difficult, ending a show of this depth and scale must have been nightmare-inducing for Benioff and Weiss. How did they do? Let’s take a look at Season 8 Episode 6, ‘The Iron Throne’.
WARNING: This article is dark and full of spoilers.
When Aegon I conquered Westeros all those years ago the Targaryen reign lasted for over 300 years. Poor Dany’s rule lacked such longevity. Destroying half of King’s Landing and losing most of her allies, her defiance was unfloundering. She really did believe she was doing good, even after delivering a scarily Hitler-esque speech in front of her undyingly loyal Unsullied and Dothraki.
Fortunately for Westeros, Arya and Tyrion just about managed to convince stupidly love-struck Jon that the Dragon Queen had to be dealt with. It was an uncharacteristically sneaky move from the Bastard of Winterfell, stabbing his Queen mid-embrace. He still did so with grace, somehow, and there marked the end of Daenarys’ incredible run on the show.
After those magical, awe-inspiring first few seasons of underdog success, followed by the shaky Meereen years and the morally misjudged Westeros era, it’s sad to see such an iconic hero turn and be dealt with so quickly. It does feel like the right way to go, though. Nobody, no matter how fundamentally good, who seeks the Iron Throne will ever be anything but corrupt.
The Iron Puddle
Fortunately for the Seven Six Kingdoms that big old metal chair has finally been disposed of. The centrepoint of all the wars and political backstabbing we’ve seen for years, the only way the game of thrones was ever going to end is if there was no throne to play for.
The sword-based throne received as poetic a death as any character on the show. Centuries after being forged with dragon fire it was disposed in seconds courtesy of Drogon’s fiery rage. Dragons are often said to be incredibly intelligent creatures and their emotional intelligence has always been brought to life remarkably well by the visual effects teams. So it was a powerful moment to see the dragon direct his grief, not towards cousin and murderer Jon Snow, but towards the thing that corrupted his mother and drove her (and him) to commit atrocities.
Who knows where the last living dragon resides now and who knows where Dany’s remains lie. Perhaps they can go back to Valyria, the home of their ancestors, where Drogon can see out the rest of his days in retirement.
The Last Lannister
George R.R. Martin’s favourite character is easily one of the stars of the entire show. Having become a little weathered and broken since killing his lover and father, before fleeing the country, Tyrion hasn’t quite been at his lovable best in recent years. It was nice to see him be the driving force of the finale; saying goodbye to his family, defying his Queen, convincing Jon to kill his Queen and eventually convincing the Lords of Westeros to name Bran Stark as King.
It’s a beautiful reflection of his soft spot for cripples, bastards and broken things, as well as a nod to the importance of his conversation with Bran before the Battle of Winterfell. Guilt-ridden and broken down to his weakest, he was rewarded with the role he was born to have – Hand of the King. We believe in you Tyrion.
Bran the Broken
Following the tracks of House Stark founder Brandon the Builder – first King in the North and builder of Winterfell and The Wall – as well as Brandon the Breaker, another Northern King, Bran the Broken certainly has the name of a King.
And while he is far from the show’s most popular character, his appointment does make a lot of sense, you know, with the whole lack of emotion and desire thing.
With the remaining Lords of Westeros gathered there were several favourites ahead of Bran to get the crown. That was until Tyrion, in what felt like a tribute to his old friend Varys, realised that the best person to rule is someone who doesn’t want to. A true protector of the realm. The Spider’s spirit lives on.
The Queen in the North!
Despite Bran getting the big one, Sansa was not denied a crown of her own. Gaining the Northern independence she so fiercely wanted, the Kingdoms have been reduced to six and you can’t help but feel that’s the best thing for all involved. Sansa has proven herself a fine leader and with that beautiful dire-wolf crown and Godswood inspired dress, she looks the part too.
Grey Worm, Master of War
Torgo Nudho went full villain in the last few episodes. Without a Missandei to live for he butchered surrendered soldiers, beefed off with Jon Snow and generally became a bit mardy. Even after his Queen was dead he still continued to be a thorn in the side of political proceedings, even negotiating Jon’s exile to the Night’s Watch.
That’s until we see a glimpse of the humanity we once knew in his very last act in the show, ordering the Unsullied to sail to Naath, peaceful home of his one-true love. He’s still a big old romantic deep down.
A Knight’s Tale
In one of the episode’s most poignant moments. New Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Brienne of Tarth, notices the pathetically empty ‘Jaime Lannister’ chapter in the Kingsguard ledger. In the sweetest of moments, she decides to fill in the blanks and tell the honourable side of the Kingslayer’s incredible story. A beautiful gesture from the purest of people. She even notes that he returned to the capital to fight for his Queen, bitter exes everywhere need to take note.
And Now his Watch Begins (again)
Oh the irony. The wonderful, wonderful irony. Jon, having already died to get out of his Night’s Watch commitments, is sent back to where he began all those years ago. It might seem a harsh ending for a truly honourable hero, but you sense he much prefers the simplicity of Castle Black and life beyond-the-wall. Politics and knee-bending isn’t for him. He’s fallen in love twice and seen them die, twice. He’s seen atrocity after atrocity, fought the dead multiple times and even passed away himself. It’s time he went back to the serenity of the true North. Just like Tormund says, he has the North in him, the real North.
Boi Gets Pat
Happy now!? Ghost got his much-earned pat. Stop moaning about stupid things.
Big Names, Small Council
Perhaps the most exciting part of the unwinding end was seeing the elite group of heroes who form the King’s new Small Council. Tyrion (Hand), Sam Tarly (Archmaester), Davos (Master of Ships), Brienne (Kingsguard) and Bronn (Master of Coin and Lord of Highgarden) form an iconic squad.
Bronn got his castle (and then some), Davos is still alive and Pod is a bloody knight! Inject it all into my veins.
A Stark Story
The final sequence of a finale with as much fan service and neat endings as Return of the King quite rightly focused on the family which are at the core of the entire show. Each having had their own incredible individual journeys, they now split once more. Bran and Sansa rule, Arya and Jon explore. It all seems so perfect. And just like we started all those years ago, Game of Thrones closes just beyond the wall, as Jon Snow leads the free folk back to where they (and he?) belong.
There may be spin-offs, prequels and perhaps even sequels to come, but this marks the end of Game of Thrones. It’s the end of one of the greatest tales ever told, courtesy of the genius that is George R.R. Martin. We thank Benioff & Weiss for adapting it to the screen so well, to their incredible crews in Belfast, Dubrovnik and everywhere else, to the brilliant directors who handled their vision and to the perfectly casted troop of actors, who’ve given us some of our favourite characters in television.
It may have peaked around Season 4 and there are plenty of reasonable complaints that have been had with this final season (along with some very unreasonable ones), but it is undeniable that Game of Thrones will go down in history as one of the greatest TV shows to ever exist. Depth of world and depth of character have rarely been matched. An extraordinary fable told beautifully across almost ten years.
Our watch has finally ended and what a time we had. It’s sad to see it go. What we’re supposed to do with our lives now is a bit unclear. They told us that when you play the game of thrones you win or you die, but what happens when the game of thrones dies first?