The series “A Song Of Ice And Fire” by George R.R. Martin built a beautiful and fantastical world where good people died for no reason and evil people triumphed time and again. This was a part of what made the books so enthralling: the notion that one could be a good person but still die in a horrifying way, with justice seemingly nowhere to be found. The TV show “Game of Thrones” carried this element some of the way but drastically changed course once it reached the end of the books. The series finale of Game of Thrones, titled “The Iron Throne”, ends by neatly tying up the various character arcs and yet muddying the core themes of the show along the way.
Tyrion walks through the rubble of the city, reeling in the wake of his many bad decisions. Arya tells Jon that Daenerys is probably going to kill him and Sansa, but Jon is still (still!) loyal to his genocidal queen. Dany apparently thinks her actions in last week’s episode were a slam dunk and gives herself a pep rally about how she’s going to free the entire world from the wheel of slavery (by apparently murdering everyone). Tyrion publicly resigns as Hand of the Queen and gets taken away and imprisoned.
Jon visits Tyrion in prison and they relate over their terrible decision-making. This mirrors the scenes from the last few episodes of Tyrion and Varys debating Daenerys’ sanity, but this time Tyrion is the one trying to convince Jon to betray her. Jon refuses to be king, but Tyrion reminds him again that Dany will most likely kill Jon and Sansa if he does nothing.
Daenerys shares an intimate moment with the Iron Throne, and then regales Jon with a story of a happier time when she didn’t know how to count. Jon meekly confronts her about last episode’s genocide, which she quickly brushes off. She asks him to be with her and help her rid the world of tyrants, and he tells her she’ll always be his Queen. They kiss, and then he stabs her, probably (definitely) ending his chances with her. She dies in his arms, and Drogon shows up to mourn by burning the Iron Throne (if Mom can’t be Queen, no one can!) He takes her body in his toe-claws and flies away, leaving Jon with a melted throne and a broken heart.
A few weeks later all of our favorite characters meet, as apparently they’re the only Lords and Ladies left alive to make any decisions. Tyrion is brought before them by Grey Worm, still a prisoner (but apparently a guest of honor and allowed to speak for the entirety of the meeting). The council decides to abolish the monarchy and invent democracy by choosing a new king via election rather than birth (it turns out GOT was just a massive metaphor for the founding of America). Bran is chosen as king, because apparently what we need in a leader is a good storyteller. He’s unanimously elected, although Sansa holds out with the caveat that the North must remain an independent kingdom (making the North 'Texas' in this metaphor). A cross-eyed Bran accepts, making a reluctant Tyrion his hand (he’s gonna make a brilliant leader).
Since Jon killed Daenerys and The Unsullied are stlll pretty pissed about it, they reach a compromise and Jon Snow is sent once again to The Wall to join The Night’s Watch. Grey Worm sets sail to Naath, probably in the hopes of dating Missandei’s sister or something. The Starks have a farewell, with Sansa apologizing to Jon for being the literal worst person in the world (he sort of forgives her). Sansa takes on the mantle of Queen in the North, Jon leaves for The Wall, Bran becomes King of The Six Kingdoms, and Arya decides to… sail the world? This has to be some sort of nod to the Elves sailing away at the end of “The Lord Of The Rings”, or else it’s just bizarre.
Brienne takes a quick moment to add the ending to Jaime’s story in the History of The Kingsguard, notably omitting the part where they had sex (give us the full story, Brienne). She then joins the first meeting of Bran’s council. The new King’s council consists of Tyrion as Hand of the King, Brienne as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Bronn as Master of Coin, Ser Davos as Master of Ships, Samwell Tarly as Grand Maester, and Podrick Payne as the “person who pushes the king around”. Samwell presents Tyrion with the book, “A Song of Ice and Fire” (meta!), but Tyrion is disheartened to find out he’s not mentioned in it. Their first meeting lasts about ninety seconds, with Bran off to search for Drogon and everyone else off to deal with the massive problem of winter that everyone’s conveniently chosen to ignore.
Arya hits the high seas for reasons beyond anyone’s comprehension, Sansa takes her place as Queen in the North, and Jon is reunited with Ghost back at The Wall (I knew that lame goodbye a few episodes ago wasn’t the last time they’d see each other). He also reunites wordlessly with Tormund Giantsbane, as they lead a ranging of wildlings beyond the wall to… who knows? For a hike?
And with that, Game of Thrones comes to an end. It wasn’t the ending we deserved, nor the ending we wanted, but it was the ending we were given. The themes of moral ambiguity, and petty political squabbling amidst a backdrop of impending global climate change and darkness, were abandoned in favor of a tidy ending that sacrificed the most interesting aspects of the story in favor of the most banal. But at the end of the day, Winter Is (still) Coming, in the form of the continuing book series, so hopefully George R.R. Martin can give us the ending we deserve.