This is it. The finale. The last episode in the series Game of Thrones. I ended up skipping the last two episodes because they didn’t quite settle well for me. So I decided to focus on the last episode as my remaining thoughts on the show and the ultimate meaning that was intended (as I interpret it).
First, the main issue is addressing Daenerys’ ruthless destruction of the city. I read some interesting write ups on how GRRM essentially told the story of a villain in how that person came to be. Effectively, with Daenerys’ utter destruction of King’s Landing, we see a side of her that many did not realize existed…or perhaps we did?
For myself, when I first encountered Daenerys in season 4, my first instinct about her as a character was, “Man, this is a bitch!” Usually, my instincts are never wrong. But the thing about the show is that her hints of cruelty are peppered throughout the seasons. One of the essential moments occurs when she encounters the Spice King in Qarth. Although the Spice King is not the most humble of people she encounters, he is one of economic reason. In turn, she threatens out of sheer anger to reduce the city because she feels entitled to anything and everything.
Emilia Clarke portrays Daenerys as someone who can be, bluntly stated, very bratty. In retrospect, her infamous “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?” incident had become a meme. In truth, despite questionable acting, it wasn’t necessarily unwarranted. That scene demonstrates Daenerys’ short temper and demanding personality. She does not succumb to tears nor weakness and her vengeful demeanor only receives encouragement from a blindly loyal Ser Jorah.
And while the character is accepted and worshipped as an icon of feminism, the character ends up turning on herself in the end. One of the characteristics people have identified in Daenerys is that she defies the stereotypical villain being an ugly, powerful being. Instead, she’s beautiful with an occasional kind heart and idealistic mindset. But her ultimate downfall is her jingoistic notions of a free world.
Enter Jon Snow after Tyrion tells him he has to make a choice. Jon Snow, being one who has learned the meaning of difficult choices and the highest value of freedom (being that of making ones own choice) realizes at the end that Daenerys’ lacks the empathy and hubris to allow others to decide for themselves. Her world is only her world and she becomes a tyrant because she does not want to allow others to choose.
It’s at that moment Jon Snow decides that he needs to end her life. Was it necessary though? That’s a question both Tyrion and Jon Snow would be wrestling with for the remainder of their years. In truth, Daenerys becomes a symbol of the last spoke on the wheel she wants to destroy because she’s a tragic figure that people wanted to love but in the end could not accept.
From there Tyrion faces judgment in the Dragon Pit with all the remaining lords and ladies in the realm. At this point, I felt that the show had become very preachy as Westeros would effectively start democracy with the first king, being Bran, getting elected by a group of people.
The Dragon Pit scene is very ideological and dialogue heavy but ultimately comes back to the idea of stories being the most important driving force for leadership. I feel this is a very GRRM thing in that it’s Dan and Dave speaking about how they fell in love with the series. In truth, the Dragon Pit scene makes absolutely no sense to me because Tyrion is a prisoner but manages to elect Bran as King. If he’s a prison how and why should anyone listen to him? He’s on trial for treason.
Also, I don’t understand how Greyworm can sit by and watch this take place. He’s obviously still very upset that all his loved ones are dead and that he seeks justice. That’s where the dialogue feels contrived and just trying to fit towards an ending.
Bran becoming king feels really stupid and it’s odd why everyone ended up just blindly accepting him after Tyrion’s proposal. Outside of supposedly knowing all of humans’ history, he has no credentials to leading. If anything his situation makes me very suspicious that he was leading people on so that he could become the ruler of the 6 kingdoms. Also, according to Tyrion’s viewpoint, how is Bran’s story more special than anyone else’s who managed to live? The only thing that is a statement here is that good story tellers make good rulers. Huh?
For the rest of the story, it’s mostly just wrapping up. Jon Snow goes North to rejoin the Night’s Watch, which would allow him to avoid further persecution by the Unsullied (although I still have to ask why should they care at this point?), Sansa becomes Queen of the North while the North becomes independent, Arya goes West to find out what’s beyond and Tyrion ends up as Hand of the King with Ser Davos, Bronn, Brienne and Sam are his council.
We know that Drogon took off with Daenerys’ body heading east. No one knows what happens to him although Bran says that he would try to follow. Jon arrives back at Castle Black and escorts the remaining Freefolk with Tormund to the real north, where I presume Jon will join them.
Overall, I felt that the ending was a bit messy. It felt rushed. Daenerys dying just like that felt weak. I honestly felt bad for her. Really bad. Ironically, despite what she did to innocence, I never really felt she was a villain. I dislike the excuse that Dan and Dave gave in how she snapped, making things personal when she saw the Red Keep. But even then, I felt in the end she was less of a villain than what people are making it out to be.
The main reason is that she simply never got psychological help. If you looked at her upbringing, you cannot completely fault where she was going. Her brother abused her and planted seeds of a psychopath in her. She was raped and convinced herself that it was love by a brutal warlord whose people only valued raw strength. Most people she encountered on her journey were either out to kill her, use her or humiliate her. And the people who did serve her were sycophants that simply fed into these misguided notions.
The thing she valued was being a revolutionary that people like her would not face similar consequences. However, at some point she become overzealous in herself to the point where her isolation brought upon her the inability to trust in others. People like Lady Olenna did her wrong in feeding into negative emotions (which I believe was a calculated move since Lady Olenna knew she wouldn’t live much longer). It’s a true shame we did not have another season for her to develop this new side of her because only in the end did she become a really fascinating character.
Then there’s the Bran issue. People are complaining that he has done nothing the entire time. I personally think he knew for the most part and had waited on the sidelines for people to eliminate themselves. I recall a quote from Tyrion in season 7 where he mentions that doing nothing sometimes is the best option when he advises Daenerys not to pursue Jon. That pretty much might sum up how Bran wins the game. Even people like Sam, Tyrion, Ser Davos or the others that survive really don’t do much. Yet they win.
When I think of Ser Davos and Sam, I think of cowards. But perhaps that’s a lesson in itself where he who runs lives to fight another day. It reminds me of online games where people would tell you that survival is more important than your DPS; if you can’t survive, you can’t do DPS.
What about Sansa becoming Queen? Originally, I envisioned her becoming a possible Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, perhaps being the one to depose Cersei. Her story arc is interesting in that she envisioned herself being betrothed to the king. Now, she’s more learned from her own trials. If anything though she’s managed to make peace with Jon. I think it’s fitting though as she seems to be the one to take leading the North seriously.
Finally, we have Jon Snow. It’s unclear if he’ll remain with the Night’s Watch. But I have a feeling that he’s joining the Freefolk permanently. I think he sees himself more of an adventurer and being in the North (the REAL North) with Tormund and gang suits him more than anything. Perhaps, at the end of the day, he managed to receive a pardon or that he simply wanders off never to be found again like Mance Rayder.
At any rate, I suppose the story concluded as well as it could given the time constraints. I’m not happy with the brevity in terms of what needed to be told. But most of the basic broad strokes have been wrapped up. There’s a lot of missing components like the other Red Priestesses, the Faceless Men, Daario and Yunkai, Drogon, Quaithe, etc. I think there’s enough left over for sequels but at this point, I’m glad the main adventure is over. It’s not how I would have finished the series but I suppose it makes sense if this is what GRRM wants.