I was, of course, up at some ridiculous time on Monday morning to watch the final episode. The Iron Throne.
I already knew that I wasn’t going to regret starting to watch Game of Thrones, all the way back on March 30th this year. And that I certainly wasn’t going to regret watching it in one big, mad gulp.
I also already knew that the reaction to that finale was going to be mixed.
Well, I loved it. I was expecting to have my heart broken a little more, but still, they made me cry again.
His devastation as he surveyed the devastation of Kings Landing, his reaction to finding Jaime and Cersei in the rubble, and then his courage in confronting Danaerys – and more than that, in admitting to his mistakes.
Danaerys really went full mad Queen, didn’t she? I’ve seen that some people were disappointed that she was not filled with remorse – but that was never going to happen.
Her speech! The visual impact of seeing her in those ruins with Drogon behind her, so dramatic – and then her batshit crazy speech to the Dothraki and the Unsullied was magnificent and chilling. Liberating the rest of the kingdoms when we have just seen the devastation through Tyrion’s eyes, and Jon Snow’s. Anyone who saw that and doubted her madness…
Yet, even as Tyrion was led away to the cells – yet again – she was still Jon’s Queen. Even as he had confronted Grey Worm over the slaughter of the Lannisters, now captive, and been told it was on the Queen’s order.
The look on Arya’s face – I thought for a while there that she’d added Danaerys to her list.
When Jon visited Tyrion in his cell, anyone who had any doubts about the foreshadowing of Danaerys’ megalomania got to hear Tyrion listing all the signs he had missed.
A new insight here for me was how their belief in Danaerys and her destiny had served the megalomania – how her advisers had not reined her in so much as fed her madness.
Tyrion, for all his eloquence, didn’t seem to get through to Jon.
Jon finds Danaerys virtually drooling over the throne and he makes an impassioned speech, trying and failing to get through to whatever humanity there might still be in her. “Children, little children, burned!”
And her answer is to blame Cersei, for using their innocence as a weapon.
When Jon said, “You are my Queen. Now, and always” – I genuinely thought that he had been won over by her – that he might join her in her mad plan to liberate everyone – from life, seemingly.
That was unfair of me. Jon’s place as a hero in this story was earned – and he acted, as always, to do what he believed was right – however difficult, however painful, however dangerous.
What really worked though was the contrast between his sureness and hers. He still had doubts. His actions were not so neatly aligned with what he wanted to do anyway. And he was tormented by what he’d had to do – not exulting in it.
Then Drogon’s response.
The dragon grieved. At last I was reminded that in the books, the dragons were intelligent beings – more intelligent than their human companions. I more than half expected him to burn Jon Snow – part Targaryen or no.
I loved it when Drogon destroyed the Iron Throne.
If anyone still has any doubts about the theme of this story, they really haven’t been paying attention.
I’ve also seen criticism of the next part of this finale – the tying up of loose ends. That it was boring. That it was unearned. That it didn’t make sense. That it was too long, and dragged. That it was too short.
I thought it worked pretty well.
Brienne made me cry again. And why didn’t she have any blotting paper?
Grey Worm, still devastated and angry but floundering because of the loss of his love and his Queen, tells Tyrion to shut up.
Then, the objections go, Tyrion continues to talk and to tell everyone what to do, and they do it.
The objections are answered by Tyrion’s own arguments. It’s all about the power of story – and he tells a good one here. One which does get through to Grey Worm, helped along by Ser Davos’ intervention. It’s a story which acknowledges his own failings, and all their failings. And it delivers, for me, the biggest surprise of all.
Bran the Broken, first of his name.
And Tyrion’s punishment – to serve as Hand. So my big objection from my previous Game of Thrones post – about the Gods’ intervention and the Three Eyed Raven and Bran and all that magic – is answered – in part, imperfectly. He is at the heart of the story as the person – not really a person any more – who gets rid of the dangers of hereditary monarchy. And he is in himself a repository of story. The story of Westeros. The real story with everything in it alive and real and no omissions – unlike the Song Of Ice And Fire which Sam Tarley later delivers to Tyrion.
I do have just the slightest worry about Bran. He knew what was going to happen. He knew – and he manipulated for that outcome with his interventions. He really doesn’t seem to WANT the throne – which clearly is the most important qualification. Still, I can’t help remembering he was touched by the Night King, and what that touch usually means. So I’m imagining what might happen if he wargs into Drogon…
Probably this is just my warped, thriller-twist ending mind at play.
But my uneasiness is fed by the way it all works out a little too perfectly. The lords and ladies all agree to the choice of Bran a little too easily, perhaps. Sansa standing up for the North is just perfect. I loved that in the end she had no desire for the Iron Throne herself – she wanted the North and she earned it.
Ser Davos – I was so pleased he survived. When he first appeared back with Stannis Baratheon, I was pretty sure he wouldn’t survive that serious. The most normal and decent human being of them all, apart from his curious grammar obsession.
Which takes me to his opposite. Of course Bronn the human cockroach survived. Of course he was rewarded with Highgarden.
Perhaps of all the things that seemed a little rushed, making the decision about Jon Snow’s fate off screen was the one which disappointed a little.
So as is good and proper, the Starks – except for Ned and poor Rickon – all finished as heroes. Northern, you see.
Arya goes off on her adventures, and Jon is banished back to the Wall, to the Nights Watch. He has come full circle – a good shape for a story.
He gets back to Castle Black, and there is reunited with Tormund and with Ghost.
And yes, he leaves with the wildlings. He’s wearing black, like a Crow. But really he’s one of them now.
I think Ygritte would have approved.
I certainly did.
I’m going to watch it all again, I think. And I hardly ever do that.
Just one last thought. When Tyrion talked about the power of stories to unite us all… I squirmed a little on behalf of the showrunners. How many signatures did that petition gather?
Stories are powerful, and they are necessary. I’m not sure there’s any story that works for everyone though.
This is why we write – to create the stories that work for us.