After an incredibly long journey amassing eight seasons, six currently written books and immense hype spanning the past 10 years, Game of Thrones has finally reached its climactic ending. There’s a lot to go over and so many spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched the final episode the time to avert your eyes is now.
In a recent interview on 60 Minutes, writer and creator of the original books George RR Martin, discussed the nuances in the endings for both the books and the TV series. He said: “I don’t think Dan and Dave’s ending is going to be that different from my ending.” After careful review of this interview, it at least makes a morsel of sense as to why we got the ending we all witnessed last night. It even offers insight into what went wrong with the episode.
Undoubtedly, episodes four and five were heavily (and rightfully) criticized for the lack of substance displayed in each of the characters and the ultimate wrap for their story arcs leading into the final installment. In fact, last week’s episode may very well go down as the worst in the series’ history. Time and again in this past season, co-creators David Benioff and DB Weiss have proven their lack of storytelling ability when they don’t have source material to work off. Quite frankly, the only thing that kept me interested were the breathtaking cinematic sequences, stunningly choreographed battle scenes, and the looming question of who would end up ruling the seven kingdoms in the end. However, even all of that isn’t worth it in the end if there is no interesting dialogue or storytelling ability to sustain it.
And that’s exactly what this episode was — substanceless and downright disappointing. In what was already a rushed relationship developed over the course of a few episodes in season seven, Jon Snow ends up killing his loving Queen, Daenerys, for her recently displayed madness. However, instead of feeling sorry for Jon and his lost love, what was felt actually was a loss for such a great character. Daenerys had come so far only to have her character arc thrown away so quickly before our eyes.
From that moment on, a series of fast-paced, seemingly unintelligible/contradictory conversations and actions took place. This led to a small counsel comprised of all the important characters in the series voting about who should sit on the Iron Throne. Although the actual chair no longer exists because Daenerys’ dragon, Drogon, melted it away after seeing his mother murdered.
I wish I could say that after all the disputes surrounding who should rule the seven kingdoms, Jon Snow would be the clear candidate with Daenerys now out of the way. But apparently there wasn’t a viable ending written for Daenerys’ loyal army after she died; and so Greyworm (the captain of the army) only agreed to spare Jon’s life if Jon was sworn into the Night’s Watch again so that he’d repay the debt of killing their queen and never rule in his lifetime. Talk about anti-climactic. When that troubling fact was agreed upon, the noble lords and ladies—at the counsel of Tyrion Lannister—elected Brandon Stark as the new leader of the six kingdoms. That’s right, six kingdoms. We’ll get to that part.
If there is one overarching truth about what this series sought out to become, it’s that the ending George RR Martin imagined could not possibly have been completed within these past two seasons. Something to remember here is that these narrative conclusions are highly symbolic of events that happened in the books that either weren’t made clear in the TV series or were glossed over as minor developments that didn’t fit the story the co-creators sought out to tell in the first six seasons. The final two seasons represent an entirely different story from the one told earlier. That’s because it was regrettably left to two writers devoid of the imagination prevalent in the source material they were given in the previous seasons by George RR Martin.
One such revelation that may have been symbolically foreshadowed in the books was Brandon Stark’s ascent to the seat of power. In an interview back in 2012, George RR Martin said Bran was the most complex character to write. Not only that, he also emphasized how the book series opens from Bran’s viewpoint. How fitting, in turn, that we end with the character thrown into the most complex seat of power in all of Westeros and with his viewpoint to close the series. If that’s not symbolism, then there’s not much else to say on the matter.
However, in tune with the rest of the episode, there’s a lot of forced dialogue and we’re not exactly given much development to this event. The same goes for the other endings. Sansa becomes Queen in the North and splits it from the rest of the seven kingdoms, Tyrion is given power as the new hand of the king to Bran, Podrick becomes a knight, Brienne still reveres Jaime for all of his triumphs even though he betrays everyone in the end for Cersei, Bronn comes back in the final minutes to become the lord of Highgarden and Jon is permanently exiled to the Night’s Watch.
It is not necessarily that the ending we were given was wholly undeserving. It’s the overwhelmingly flustering fact that the proper development to deliver us to these events are simply not present in the narrative. If there is one thing to be happy about with the ending of this series, it’s the simple fact that we can now look forward to George RR Martin eventually completing his story the way it was meant to be, and not from the distorted view of the co-creators of the television show.
I hope you enjoyed the long road we all took to get to this point. It was definitely seven seasons and three episodes of magic and cinematic bliss. Thank you so much for reading!