After eight seasons, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is officially over. Whether or not co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss concluded their fantasy saga as strongly as they launched it, there’s no denying the final episode will rank among the most anticipated events in television history. Below is a full breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of the final outcome. Whatever the reaction, be it now or “ten years,” there’s no denying how personally affecting the series has been for millions of viewers, forever immortalized in memory.
An Unpredictable Ascension to the “Throne” — “Game of Thrones” is at its best when it pulls a massive rug from under the feet without compromising internal logic. Much like Arya, Bran is one of the most pivotal characters in the series, hidden in plain sight — with the exception of one season — yet cloaked by the attention given to Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. Despite not always being physically present in the saga, he’s the most ubiquitous person in all of Westeros due to his clairvoyant abilities — and a Stark at that — making him the best candidate to be anointed King of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. However, “Bran the Broken” is an ableist moniker that the writers never should have assigned the young ruler. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss should have opted for “Bran the Seer” in honor of Bran’s visionary assets, allowing him to literally oversee all the Westerosi people he has sworn to safeguard.
Jon Isn’t Rewarded For Killing Daenerys — Rather than honor Jon for slaying a woman in cold blood that he loved and swore to protect, the finale thankfully refused him a coronation. The consequence of murder was met with how it always has been in Westeros: a life sentence serving the Night’s Watch. After everything Jon has been through, that might seem like a punishment for a renowned hero. Although, reuniting with Ghost and facing his accomplishment of building peace between the Wildlings and the men of the North is fitting for our modest protagonist. Furthermore, Jon’s actions would be validated if he went on to become King and the world was a much better realm to exist for it. With this more realistic outcome, the question will always linger in the viewer’s minds about whether his decision to assassinate the Breaker of Chains was the right one or not.
The Starks Are Beloved By Westeros and Suffer No More — This sentimental moment of heartfelt triumph was finally provided at series’ end. At long last, the people of Westeros paid respect and tribute to the benevolent and honorable House Stark. The inhabitants of the North have become an autonomous region thanks to Sansa, who they will follow devoutly as Queen of the North. After seasons of loss and suffering, in the end, the good guys truly won. The Stark sibling’s reunion at the King’s Landing docks was emotionally stirring and well earned, finally taking a moment to celebrate their victory of surviving together as a family, a pack. The Starks’ jubilee — even Jon once his fate truly dawns on him — is the best ending for the most upstanding family in all of Westeros.
Daenerys’ Death Scene and Concluding Arc — The creators’ decision to wrap up the series early consequently rushed Daenerys’ downward descent, thus feeling unearned and underwritten. She should have been allowed ample room to explain herself. Instead, the writers dedicating a longer scene featuring Tyrion essentially “mansplain” Dany’s evil turn before sending Jon on his brutal mission. Even after death, it was hard to discern whether Dany was delusional, deranged, both, or neither. Character insight is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an audience member, and being robbed that intimacy after so much dedication was its own form of aching betrayal.
Drogon and Bran’s Warg Connection Was Unexplored — An initial conspiracy theory was that Bran was secretly warging as Drogon when he turned the Iron Throne into a pool of magma instead of breathing flames of vengeance on Jon Snow. However, that idea has weakened after some pondering. Bran mentions later in the episode that his goal is to find and control Drogon so as to quell his threat level to the innocent Westerosi. The range of his powers and his ties to the ancient creatures should have been given context and exploration. Mentioning it arbitrarily as a means of giving Bran something meaningful to accomplish early on in his reign diminishes the prodigal Stark’s intrinsic connection to all living species close and beyond.
Tyrion Failing Upwards…Again — Tyrion has been put on trial for the murder of his father, strangled his partner, Shae, to her last breath, and provided horrific counsel as Hand of the Queen. And yet, he’s a man with all the luck in the world, surviving against all odds and promoted to the second-highest position in the realm. Instead of just demotion or punishment, Tyrion receives exaltation. That there was no blowback for ordering Jon to commit murderous treason against their Queen is ridiculous. Instead, Tyrion fails upwards and is given more chances to improve his flawed consultation.