This post contains spoilers about the Game of Thrones finale.
The Game of Thrones finale. Who would die? Who would survive? Who would sit on the Iron Throne? Before the Unburnt set King’s Landing ablaze last week, this was building up to be one of the most anticipated episodes in television history. After last week’s episode, there was anger towards the writers and a stunning sense of apathy about the finale. The buildup was anti-climatic. The finale was similarly tepid.
Season Eight Finally Wraps Up
Much like the previous seven seasons, the last run of Game of Thrones episodes was uneven. It was spectacularly produced, superbly acted, and inconsistently written. The first two episodes were among the best written episodes from a character development standpoint. Allusions were made to the first season and long-running story arcs finally tied together.
The third episode, “The Long Night,” was an epic battle that pitted the living against the dead. It felt like a Game 7. Arya Stark’s slaying of the Night King capped an action-packed, hour-plus struggle. At the time, I was happy and did not care how the show would end. Game of Thrones reached its peak, but the potential for the next episodes was just as great as the Battle of Winterfell.
Unfortunately, the next two episodes were terrible. Rushed writing ruined all buildup from the previous episodes. Tyrion had a pointless monologue that was appropriately recast into a Monty Python mashup. Daenerys lost one dragon because of stupidity. She also spent an hour burning King’s Landing to the ground, yet we never even saw her face as she committed genocide.
As poor or as great as the finale could be, it was doomed by those two episodes. The show had to pick up the pieces and assemble a good story. Jon Snow expectedly killed Daenerys Targaryean. Bran Stark was the least-predictable choice to become King. The series scattered its main characters once again, sending Jon Snow to the Wall, Sansa Stark to the North, and Arya Stark abroad.
Game of Thrones Finale Reaction
The finale began with Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Davos Seathworth walking through King’s Landing. Much like most of the last episode, the seventy-third episode of Game of Thrones was padded by an overemphasis on the extent of the damage and a lack of drama.
This dramatic void even included a scene that should be the most intense scene of the series: Jon Snow killing Daenerys Targaryean. Instead, Jon merely said “you are my queen, now and always” and killed her as he held her in his arms, with the Iron Throne behind them. It was a scene that had little tension (or bodyguards). Only a dragon who understood the symbolism of the Iron Throne enough to melt it.
Other disappointments included the final fates of most characters. The show took eight seasons to bring everyone together to decide who sits on the Iron Throne. Now those characters are once again in different parts of the world, with only the new Small Council providing any semblance of unity.
The final stories were mostly predictable, “meh,” or uninteresting. Instead, the least-inspiring choice to become king now rules Westeros. Not on a throne of a thousands swords. Instead a disinterested Stark who possesses no gifts that anyone can understand rules Westeros. It was a choice so displeasing that even his sister, decided to separate the North from the Seven Kingdoms. No one, not even Daenerys, was able to sit on the Iron Throne. Ultimately, the comfortable selection of Bran and the scattering of characters were undramatic choices that only induced apathetic emotion.
How The Game of Thrones Finale Stacks Up
Great television series are best remembered for how they end. The Game of Thrones finale is going to be compared to other great last episodes in television history. The top finales reside with Breaking Bad, VEEP, and The Americans. Otherwise great shows like The Sopranos and Seinfeld occupy the bottom.
It is a unique challenge for TV creators to end a series. They begin and extend show. Wrapping them up in a way that pleases the bulk of their audience is a tough ask. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss met the challenge of writing the finale well enough. Unfortunately, the previous two episodes had dug the series into a deep hole that killed any momentum the show had after the Long Night.
Game of Thrones was somewhere in between the finales of those other great shows. It was not as disappointing as its preceding two episodes. It did not rank with the show’s best moments. It was somewhat bittersweet, but was not emotional or unpredictable enough to produce any satisfaction or gratification. Benioff and Weiss produced little fan service. All in all, it was just okay. It was the period on a last sentence that did not finish with the exclamation point that defined so much of the show’s eight seasons.