Warning: Spoilers for "Game of Thrones" below.
The "Game of Thrones" final episode, “The Iron Throne,” was filled with divisive decisions and an attempt to wrap up the past eight years and eight seasons of the HBO hit. Finishing the many storylines and plot threads was a nearly impossible task for showrunners/directors Dan Weiss and David Benioff to tackle.
The show’s finale opens with the aftermath of the battle at King’s Landing where Daenerys killed thousands of innocent civilians in an attempt to take the Iron Throne for herself. With beautiful cinematography, like the dragon’s wings spreading behind Daenerys as if they’re hers, and the montage of the Stark children walking to find their new paths in life, are all scenes filmed with a great amount of character and style showcasing why the show has become so popular. However, the episode exhibited many of the same problems that the past two seasons have had: poor writing.
Many would say the main storyline's conclusion seems inconsequential There was very little set up for Daenerys' descent into madness. While not out of character, the audience wasn’t given enough time to watch her truly change from the breaker of chains into the Mad Queen. As for Jon Snow, he’s the true heir of the Iron Throne, but honorable to a fault.
There were many opportunities for tension between the two characters as they struggle to find who would make a better ruler for Westeros. Or scenes that featured their growing dissonance as Daenerys’ methods become more extreme. Instead, viewers get a few episodes of the two happily together and then romantic tension after they learn the truth of Jon’s parentage. It ends with Jon killing Daenerys because she’s finally gone mad.
The story of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” is a story of clever people playing the game of thrones. Two of the biggest reasons people were drawn to the show were the sharp dialogue and dynamic character development. It was a miracle that a character like Jaime Lannister became a fan favorite after killing the king and breaking his oath, pushing a 10-year-old boy out of a tower and having a destructive relationship with his twin sister. Viewers followed him as he lost his hand, found honor and decided that he was always willing to sacrifice his reputation for the honor of the people he loves. Except, from season 5 and on, his story arc mostly included him learning to fight again and deciding whether or not to stay with Cersei. His ending seemed a bit rushed as many aspects of the end of the season felt.
The final episode returns to the politically-driven drama the show was once known for, only using combat as a plot point and not the culmination of a character’s entire story. The series was concluded with a discussion of the government’s duties and the king’s qualifications. Choosing the person who has the memory of all of history and the person who doesn’t want power to be king was an interesting story direction. Despite the intriguing decision to choose Bran the Broken over Jon Snow, the heir to the throne, the decision comes out of left field to many audience members.
The main challenge faced by show creators Weiss and Benioff was wrapping up all the intricate story threads set up in the past seven seasons and being surprising enough to shock audiences. With only six episodes and 432 minutes to complete the many different stories. Doing what they can, it was rushed and there were many moments of character inconsistency. Jamie returning to Cersei, Bran becoming King and Daenerys going mad were all examples of characters acting not necessarily out of character, but not given the proper amount of time to develop.
The series finale of “Game of Thrones” is a divisive but fitting end to the story of “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Jon ending in the North and the North becoming a separate kingdom are all events that are believable for the show, although any council of Lords wouldn’t decide to allow two Starks rule two separate kingdoms — returning to the political commentary and centering around conversations between powerful people and demonstrating how “the wheel” that Daenerys was concerned with since season 1 has finally been broken.
The final episode was a fitting but not an entirely satisfying end to one of the greatest shows in television history. Having nearly impossible expectations to live up to and countless storylines to close up, the series ends with clumsily-tied loose ends, but wraps up as tightly as it could in only eight seasons.
Contact Matt Mee at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.