Warning: Nothing but spoilers ahead.
It's all over. After 73 episodes, Game of Thrones has come to a conclusion with "The Iron Throne". What did we make of that finale?
Last week, during the recording of our podcast, we joked about the worst possible ending for Game of Thrones. Imagine, I mocked, if they crowned Bran King of the World. Oh, the hilarity.
Flash forward a week and imagine my horror as I watched exactly that happen. I could have accepted it if everyone else was dead, leaving Bran the last man not-quite-standing. But no, somehow Tyrion convinced everyone Bran was the worthiest and most able ruler - ahead of his clearly more worthy and more able sister Sansa.
For a show that has prided itself on pushing the patriarchal boundaries that typically define television, that was a real kick in the lady balls.
To be fair, the first half of the final episode didn't suck. Sure it dragged a bit as Tyrion delivered three monologues too many and Jon took far too long to get with the programme (#danymustdie) but once he got on board, he didn't waste any time.
For my money, things could have ended there, with Drogon grieving the death of his mother and the future of Westeros left open to viewers' interpretation. Maybe Drogon would have burnt Jon to a crisp. Maybe Jon would be hailed a hero and claimed the Iron Throne for himself. Viewers could have mentally picked the path that tickled their fancy.
Instead, the producers decided to take us down the far more tedious path of choosing a new ruler and establishing a new Government. With some farcical asides thrown in for added tedium - including Samwell Tarly trying to invent democracy and the return of Bronn as the new Master of Coin.
It was a limp end for what should have been - and easily could have been - a far more satisfying and sensible conclusion.
Look, I'm going to start with a positive, because there's not going to be much of that in this recap, if I'm not mistaken. Sansa Stark, Queen in the North. Now that is a plotline wrapped up excellently. I'll never forgive the creators for that terrible scene earlier this season in which Sansa implied she only became strong from her abuse - but that aside, this resolution feels like an excellent payoff for a character that went to hell and back over the past eight seasons. Using her strength and intelligence (which she's always had!), Sansa ensured the north's independence, and became the ruler of a new nation. Plus, she looked beautiful in that gown and that crown. Incredible.
I wish I could say the same about the rest of the episode, but I can't. I think Daenerys needed to die, but it felt rushed - Emilia Clarke was barely given anything to do in her death scene. And Bran as the ruler of the (now six) kingdoms? Look, he would honestly be a good choice had the last two seasons of this show given him more to do. But once he acquired his new mystical powers, all the writers could think of was having him sitting in a corner, whispering vague, rather useless pieces of dialogue. Crowning him ruler feels anticlimactic because we barely even know who Bran is anymore, or how he thinks and responds to the world around him.
They were never going to be able to please everyone, but King Bran is something they should have put more time and investment into over the last two seasons. Anyway, I'm just glad to have this over with. I'm proud to have been a Sansa stan from day one, and yes, I will be smugly lording that over anyone who called her annoying in season one.
At one point during the grand finale of Game of Thrones, Tyrion furrowed his brow and said, "no one is very happy, that means it's a good compromise".
He could have been talking about this episode because it's hard to imagine anyone is very happy about how the show ended. Sadly, this does not mean it was a good episode. Because it was not. It was a total stinker.
I went into the episode feeling positive, excited to watch a rip-roaring conclusion and see how this thing wrapped up. I expected betrayals, beheadings and to be left feeling shocked, thrilled and satisfied. Well, the episode is a total shocker alright only not in the good way.
To be fair it starts strong; Jon and Grey Worm get set up for a sword-clashing confrontation, Tyrion is distraught to find his dead siblings and Daenerys goes quite mad before the first - and as it turns out only - gasp moment of the episode when Jon unsheathes his blade and plunges it right into her belly.
It was big and bold and you genuinely didn't see it coming or know what was going to happen next. I don't think anyone would have picked what actually did.
We fastforwarded an indeterminate amount of time to a council meeting where Tyrion and Jon's fates were being decided in the most boring way imaginable. Tyrion somehow convinces the Council that Bran - of all people - should be King because... he can tell a good story? Wait, wut? Because we've not had any evidence of his storytelling abilities in the last two seasons. All he's done is speak in riddles and gaze into the distance like a right old turnip.
But just because everyone agrees with the prisoner Tyrion and Bran becomes King and then there's a montage of the other Stark's riding, sitting and sailing to their respective fates.
And that was that. And that was deeply, deeply unsatisfying.
After the demise of Daenerys there was no spice or zing anywhere in the episode. Instead there was needless cameos from a cast of characters we'd already said goodbye to and a lot of boring conversations. Did we need Samwell or Bronn back, for example? No. No we did not.
Game of Thrones started off as a ruthless show where death was always lurking ready to strike without warning. It ended afraid to sacrifice any fan favourites lest outcry be loud and petitions be started.
There's dropping the ball and then there's this. It was a boring and dull end to a show that, for the most part, wasn't either of those things.
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