With last night’s series finale there is only one thing for certain: we are all waiting with bated breath for George R.R. Martin to release the last two books so we are not left with…whatever that was. While the last two episodes didn’t seem to be pushing the show in the direction we had expected on any level, I most certainly wasn’t expecting a major character to be killed half way through and never mentioned again. I wasn’t expecting every major plot twist and storyline introduced to be ultimately completely ignored. What even happened last night? I know I normally say beware of these articles so filled with spoilers, but I genuinely feel jealous of you, if you missed last night’s episode.
The episode opens with Tyrion, Jon, Davos, and others surveying the damage that was done to King’s Landing. Jon comes across Grey Worm ready to execute the last five Lannister soldiers and tries to stop him, but the Unsullied make it clear to Jon he is not to interfere with the Queen’s orders. Yes, Daenerys is Queen. This is the moment I had been waiting for since Kahl Drogo poured melted gold onto Vaserys’s head, and it finally happened. She’s been saying it all along that all of her enemies must be destroyed. I had zero issues with these last five men being executed, but Jon is definitely taken aback by the destruction he finds. Innocent men, women, and children are found burnt alive in the streets. He knows this isn’t what he was fighting for, but lucky for him he does have a claim to that super fancy throne he has the option to exercise.
Tyrion immediately takes off to go into the castle on the pretence of finding Daenerys, which isn’t wise considering he committed treason by setting Jaime free last episode. Jon and Davos both warn him not to, but Tyrion has no intention of going to see Daenerys right away. He heads to the dungeons to learn if his brother and sister were able to make it out alive. After crawling through the rubble that blocks it off from the rest of the castle, he finds amongst the debris Jaime’s gold hand. No matter your feelings about Jaime, Tyrion, or Cersei the moment Tyrion moves the bricks to find his slain siblings is absolutely heartbreaking. Keep in mind: these are all Tyrion’s people. As much as he was away from King’s Landing after the whole clan turned on him, he is still a Lannister that watched his whole city burn.
This moves us into the most iconic shot in the whole season, probably the whole series. After Daenerys flies in on Drogon, there is the shot of her walking towards the edge of the platform as his wings rise behind her. In this moment she is a dragon, not just the Dragon Queen. Her speech to the Dothraki calls back to one she gave many seasons ago before having them cross the sea to fight for her. Based off of this speech alone, I thought we would see a turnaround in her character. I was really hoping the madness was fleeting and now that her enemies had been destroyed, she could rebuild. Then she speaks to the Unsullied and there is a clear world domination theme. It is in this moment it becomes apparent she must be stopped. “The war is not over” she tells her Unsullied after making Grey Worm Master of War. It isn’t enough that she has what she wants, now she must free all of the slaves in all the world. If this had actually built up to anything of value, it would be a remarkable moment.
Jon stands by with Tyrion watching this exchange, unable to understand a word of Valyrian or Dothraki, believing it is all over. Tyrion seems to have finally regained his sanity and intelligence, and he knows exactly what is happening. He takes his Hand of the Queen pin and tosses it down the steps. This immediately silences the fleet of Unsullied and Dothraki. At first Daenerys seems to be willing to forgive him for releasing Jaime from her imprisonment. After all, he’s dead anyway along with everyone else from King’s Landing due to Dany’s absolute disregard for humanity. Throwing the pin sealed the lock on his prion cell.
Jon, who has lost all ability to think for himself, decides on his next move based on his conversations with Arya and Tyrion. Arya approaches him after Dany’s big show, and she makes it quite clear that Daenerys is nothing but a killer. Arya should know, she only took out an entire house and the Night King. Jon, on the other hand, isn’t quite ready to admit that his Queen has gone absolutely wild. Tyrion makes him face this head on when Jon visits him in his prison cell. Tyrion casually reminds Jon that he is the only one who can stop her. What follows this encounter is a result of lazy writing and lack of enthusiasm to continue the story on the writers’ part. There is a great moment here for another war. Aegon vs. Daenerys, Targaryen vs. Targaryen. Instead, Jon faces Queen Daenerys head on. She makes it clear in this exchange that she isn’t ready to tame her fiery ways, and Jon has no choice but to put his dagger right through her.
Drogon, who isn’t present, seems to notice right away something is amiss. He immediately comes soaring in, and we are left with another heartbreaking moment. Drogon is screeching, looking from Jon to Dany’s lifeless body. He gently nudges her with his nose, but when she doesn’t rise he takes his revenge. This would have been another profound moment. Imagine Drogon burning Jon Snow, but Jon is still standing because Targaryen blood? Then we would know we have a true King! No, instead Drogon knows what really killed his mother and completely melts the Iron Throne. Folks, we are only about a third of the way through the episode entitled ‘The Iron Throne’, and the titular seat no longer exists. The Queen is dead, and Jon Snow is immediately thrown in a prison cell.
I’m sure you’re left wondering, like I was, what could possibly happen next? After all, this isn’t the worst middle we could expect. That is to say it wouldn’t be so bad if any of the plot points that lead us to here had any relevance after this moment in time. A council is called, in which someone from each surviving house of the Seven Kingdoms is called to decide on the fate of these kingdoms and select a ruler. Houses Tully, Stark, Baratheon, Tarley, and Aryn are all present in addition to some others. This leads us to my favorite moment in the show. Tyrion asks the council who they believe should be the next ruler, and Edmure Tully takes a stand. He starts rambling about how he is one of the wisest there, and Sansa not-so-kindly tells him to take a seat. He was a prisoner of House Frey for years, which is the only reason he’s still standing. Samwell Tarley, the beautiful soul he is, comes up with the idea of a democracy. Everyone is going to be ruled, so everyone should have a say. It is the most logical, and yet everyone finds it to be a joke.
Enter Tyrion. He clearly already has an idea of who should rule, someone with a good story. His whole speech I was getting ready for him to say Jon Snow, formerly thought to be a bastard who is really Aegon Targaryen and true heir to the throne that doesn’t exist. But when you don’t have a throne, you should probably give it to someone who already has their own, like Bran Stark. From the way the books are written the choice of Bran makes sense for who should rule. The books place a much heavier emphasis on magic, but the show skirted that in favor of bloodshed and fire. It is quickly agreed that Bran would be King, and in preparation of his death the council would meet again to choose the next ruler. Sansa, instead of voting, appoints the North as an independent Kingdom where she will be Queen. Absolutely fabulous ending for Sansa, she deserves nothing less than to be Queen.
The rest of this episode calls back to the history of West Eros and even first clips from the pilot episode. Brienne comes across a book of all those who served as members of the King’s Guard, and she finishes Jaime’s entry. She had the biggest opportunity here to be petty, but even she understood he died protecting his Queen. When the show transitions into the first meeting of the King’s Council, it has more comedy than I expected. Sam presents Tyrion with the history of Westeros beginning with Robert’s Rebellion in a book cleverly titled A Song of Ice and Fire, in which Tyrion does not appear at all. He served as Hand to two kings and one Queen, he stood trial for killing one of those Kings, and was the mastermind behind the Battle of Blackwater. Why would Tyrion be in it?
Bronn shows up, Lord of High Garden and Master of Coin. Ser Davos is of course Master of Ships, Brienne is head of the King’s Guard, and Sam got his Maester chains. I feel like this is a scene I would want to be left with even if the rest didn’t completely let me down. Watching Bronn try to prioritize the rebuilding of brothels over a fleet of ships is the exact Bronn I want to see. The only threat they really face is if Drogon ever decides to come back, but have no fear Bran is already looking for him.
Jon has been banished to the Night’s Watch yet again. After all, bastards and criminals will always need somewhere to go. This is definitely a call back to Maester Aemon, a Targaryen and heir to the Iron Throne who was instead forced to join the Night’s Watch. Sansa is Queen of Winterfell, where the Starks should have been all along. Arya goes off traveling to find whatever lies West of Westeros, just like Uncle Benjen. Grey Worm and the Unsullied are off to the Isle of Naath, just like MIssandei wanted when everything was over. More importantly, we get to meet Tormund and Ghost once again. That pet we didn’t see after the Battle of Winterfell we finally got last night, when Jon greets his best friend knowing they will never be separated again. It’s important to note here that Jon never had any intention of staying at the Night’s Watch. Instead, he is joining the Wildlings, North of the Wall where there are no Kings or bastards, only people. The last shot of Jon Snow leaving the wall to go North mimics the very opening scene of the show where two Night’s Watch members leave the wall to head out North. Everything has come full circle, which is the most poetic thing this series could have ever pulled off.