After a decade, HBO’s crown series, Game of Thrones has ended, and with it the tales of some of our favorite TV characters. Like the majority of this season though, the series finale is plagued with convenient events, messy writing, and a sense of urgency to wrap things up that all other common sense is discarded.
As always, SPOILERS.
If there is one thing this finale did right, aside from FINALLY giving us a touching moment with Jon and Ghost, it continued the way a season finale runs. By that I mean, Game of Thrones typically saves its major events for the episode before the season finale and then they use the finale to tie up loose ends and wrap things up. We see that here, but everything felt way too rushed and had a lot of convenience for convenience sake. I get that it’s a series finale and the need for closure, but the finale suffers from things being established previously that now need to all be wrapped up in one episode.
Within the first twenty minutes or so, Jon kills Danny and like that everything this show has built towards is over. The way the show wraps things up is awkward. We have the “big stuff” pretty much finished within the first half hour and the last hour just feels anticlimactic. There is this sense of emptiness that circles around this finale, not because we don’t know what we’ll do with ourselves once the credits roll, but because everything has been such a sprint to the finish, we’re left feeling like we missed how we got here. It sucks, honestly. For a show that has captivated millions of fans around the world for years, to just throw everything out the window in favor of ending the show just to end it, rather than giving characters the endings they need for everything they’ve done up to this point to make sense is a travesty.
Benioff and Weiss double down on their mad queen in this finale, which is portrayed in a way that leaves you rolling your eyes instead of caring that this “breaker of chains” all of a sudden wants to rule the world. I was excited to see tense conversations between Danny and Tyrion, and/or Danny and Jon, especially coming off of their decisions in “The Bells”. Danny even tries to justify her actions, but even her justifications fall on deaf ears because everything up to this point has made us believe that she is this heroine figure. There was never any insight into her change of heart. It doesn’t matter that she made these choices, it matters HOW she arrived at those crossroads, and that explanation is missing.
Cersei and Danny both received piss-poor endings that are an insult to the characters Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke worked so hard to create. There is no empathy for either of them because they’ve both been transformed into shells of their former selves. Literally, no one gives a shit if Danny is now a mad queen because it all happened rather abruptly. Whether it was supposed to be a surprise or not, there were narrative ways that could have delivered a much more groundbreaking reveal. Time could have been taken to bring us to her breaking point, but instead, we only see her how the show wants us to view her. We don’t get a chance to make any insights into what is pushing her to this complete shift. Skipping what makes her change ten years of convincing us that she cares about innocent people, women and children especially, makes everything she’s done in the past two episodes not really mean much of anything.
None of it really matters anymore, if we’re supposed to go off how the show wants us to think or feel anyways. This penultimate episode feels SO stale even though we should care about what is happening on the screen. It’s weird, honestly. I expected to get a little choked up, maybe some kind of surreal feeling would rush over me as I watched characters I’ve grown to care about for over a decade end their time in Westeros and on our screens, but I felt nothing. That, of course, is most likely from the careless, “get from point A to point B” writing that plagues the last few episodes, but it’s a damn shame regardless of the reason. You just feel nothing for the entirety of the final hour and twenty minutes.
There is a good amount of things that happen to the remaining characters. Bran becomes King of the SIX Kingdoms. A ridiculous, meaningless assignment of power to a character that has perfected the “Dead-eye stair”. Sansa is Queen of the North, a now independent territory a statement which should have an entire fucking episode dedicated to it on it’s own. Arya sets off to explore “whats West of Westeros”, a moment dripping with sequel potential, but do we really want it now? Jon is imprisoned for killing Danny, held captive for 3 weeks (though it’s 3 minutes on screen), reinstated into the Night’s Watch (a crock all on its own since he is the only member currently), and then ventures North with Tormund and Ghost to live out his remaining days. The remaining, governing kingdoms assemble and decide a new way for the King of Westeros to be chosen, again, critical information that is barely given time to resonate with anyone.
A. LOT. HAPPENS.
Sadly, it’s all glossed over at a breakneck pace, and the result is a confusing, rushed, tied up story that should be given an award for “fastest conclusion ever”. Every one of the aforementioned events should have had at LEAST 20-30 minutes dedicated to EACH event. If this had happened in earlier seasons it would have, but Benioff and Weiss have a Star Wars trilogy to write, so this shit needed to end toot-fucking-sweet.
The finale does something most shows set out to avoid. Demolishing everything it built itself towards.
The choice to rush the ending leaves every big moment in this season lacking any sense of true purpose. When you rush to a conclusion, how you got there becomes a moot point. For a show that used to pride itself on having engrossing characters and making the journey as important as the big moments to just throw those integral factors out the window is baffling. It’s also a clear indication that the writers obviously wanted to just be done with the whole show.
There is a small light at the end of this dark tunnel though. Even if the ending to the show was a train wreck, we can at least look forward to reading how things were truly supposed to go down once George R.R. Martin finishes the last few novels. Of course, “if” is the opportune word here. It would be a very “Thrones-thing” for Martin to do if he just died before the books were ever finished.